Books Monthly October '15

  The Best Autumn Books! This is the Books Monthly Home Page... welcome back!

October 2015 Contents


Fantasy & Science fiction titles

Crime & Thriller fiction titles

Adult fiction titles

Nonfiction titles

Children's fiction titles

The Nostalgia Page

Feature articles

Jerry Dowlen: Michael Holroyd

  Pretty Sinister Books

  2001: A Space Odyssey

Contact me


November 3rd - mark it in your diary, as that's when the next issue of Books Monthly will be published... because that's the publication date of Stephen King's Bazaar of Bad Dreams...



More about my Cook Book of the month on the nonfiction page...



Back to top of page...



My book of the month for October is Carlton Publishing's brilliant new book by Steve Turner: The Complete Beatles Songs... Lynda La Plante turns in a stunning prequel to the Prime Suspect series with a brilliant novel published by Simon and Schuster about the young Jane Tennison, and Dorling Kindersley look forward to the new Star Wars film with a celebration of the whole enterprise so far... Jerry Dowlen writes about Michael Holroyd in a packed issue of fabulous autumn books...

Steve Turner: The Complete Beatles Songs

Published by Carlton Publishing, hardback, on 8th October 2015

For the very first time: All the songs. All the stories. All the lyrics. The Complete Beatles Songs contains the full lyrics of every Beatles song ever written by the Fab Four alongside a painstakingly researched, insightful commentary on the meanings of the songs. The author, Steve Turner, is an internationally acclaimed Beatles expert and he examines the origins and influences behind the songs, and identifies the characters, places and themes contained therein.


Read my review of this magnificent book on the Nonfiction page.

Lynda La Plante: Tennison

Published by Simon and Schuster, hardback, on 24th September 2015

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.
In 1972 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. Tennison is my Crime and Thrillers book of the month.




Dorling Kindersley: Ultimate Star Wars

Published by Dorling Kindersley, hardback, on 1st September 2015

Your ultimate guide to the Star Wars™ universe! Open this ultimate visual feast and explore the iconic characters and storylines from the Star Wars galaxy. Beautifully illustrated, Ultimate Star Wars is packed with information about every single character from Mace Windu to Darth Maul through detailed analyses of their stories throughout the saga. Explore the Star Wars universe in chronological order to follow the whole story or dive in and out to relive your favourite moments, key battles and iconic characters. A must-have for Star Wars fans, Ultimate Star Wars will enhance your knowledge of the characters and storylines before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Including characters from the Star Wars movie saga, Star Wars Rebels and the Clone Wars, this is the only guide that explores the entire Star Wars universe in such detail. Includes concept art, wire frame images, props and behind-the-scenes shots of cast and crew from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus two beautiful behind-the-scenes prints. Read my review of this stunning book on the Nonfiction page.


Jeff Lynne and ELO Live in Hyde Park

The Electric Light Orchestra, led by one of rock's most iconic songwriters and producers, Jeff Lynne, are one of the most successful British bands of all time with global sales of over 50 million albums. In September 2014, Jeff Lynne's ELO headlined BBC Radio 2's Festival In A Day in London's famous Hyde Park. It was the first time in almost 30 years that the band had performed on a festival stage. The 50,000 tickets for the event had sold out in a matter of minutes and the fans sang along to hit after hit performed by Jeff Lynne and the band accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra. The Times called the show near perfect in their 5* review and the Evening Standard said that ELO still have the power to flick switches in their 4* review. Neil McCormick of the Telegraph noted how fifty thousand grown men and women sang along in joyous rapture to some of the greatest pop music ever heard.


Whilst you spent the last month trawling through BOOKS MONTHLY looking for the next book you would purchase, I celebrated my 69th birthday, quietly, with family, and when family had gone home, my wife and I settled down to watch this concert. I've deliberately chosen the illustration of the Blu Ray edition, because that's what we watched, and of which more in a moment. My brother-in-law kindly treated us to a brand new 40" Celcus Full HD TV when one of his insurance policies matured, and the difference in quality between "ordinary" and Blu Ray is phenomenal. My wife bought me this concert for my birthday - it was released two days earlier, so couldn't have been timelier. If you ask me who my favourite rock group is, I would always, with no hesitation, reply "The Beatles". But really, they're a close second to ELO and the genius behind ELO, (and the Travelling Wilburys), Jeff Lynne. I remember buying OUT OF THE BLUE back in the 1970s,and, as I had a friend who ran the local record store, I also walked out of the shop with the enormous cardboard cut-out of the ELO spaceship. OUT OF THE BLUE was literally out of this world in terms of how brilliant the songs and the performances were. Album after album followed. I've replaced some of them with CDs, of course, but it's OUT OF THE BLUE and various "best of ELO" albums that I play nowadays. And now this...


I caught a few moments of this concert when it was on BBC2, and I was overjoyed when Wendy bought it for me for my birthday. There are several things about Jeff Lynne that need saying: firstly, he is a brilliant musician, songwriter and arranger. Only two of the songs on this DVD were not written by Jeff: ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN, and HANDLE WITH CARE, which is credited to the Travelling Wilburys, the supergroup Jeff formed with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. My guess is that it was probably pretty much another of Jeff's compositions. Secondly, he is probably the most humble and modest super-musician ever to walk this Earth. He was genuinely amazed at the reception he received at the Hyde Park concert, and there is anecdotal evidence that he honestly thought most of the audience would have gone home by the time it came for him to step out on the stage and wrap things up with his "set". Thirdly, he is a really, really nice bloke. Fame and fan adulation have not changed him one iota. I remember watching the ZOOM concert (which I really must change to a Blu Ray version), and at the end, various fans spoke of him as though he were the Messiah. To me, he is the most important, most brilliant "pop/rock" musician in the world.


Now to the concert. I told you I chose the illustration for the Blu Ray version. The clarity of the image, the film, is the very best I have ever seen in my life. The musicians are all at the top of their game, it's like listening to a studio recording that's been honed to perfection. The solo performances are staggeringly good, and reproduce the sound of the original classic tracks to perfection. This, for me, is the very finest music video I have ever seen in my entire life, which is now, as you now know, quite long. Ask me now who my favourite rock group is, and I'll tell you without hesitation - it's Jeff Lynne and ELO. You'll read about my adoration of the Beatles on the nonfiction page when you read my review of my Book of the Month. They were and still are, one of the greatest groups ever, and their influence certainly extended to Jeff Lynne and helped his creative genius along the way. Other supergroups have reformed after many years and made glorious comebacks, but not in the same way as Jeff Lynne and ELO. This is a really, really great concert, captured to perfection on DVD, and especially in the Blu Ray version. There are no superlatives that really do it justice other than "perfection".


Paul Norman

Editor, publisher and author...

The small print: Books Monthly, now in its eighteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by me, Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from it, it's free. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.


Back to top of page...