Books Monthly's book of the month: Stephen King's Revival

Your search for fantastic Christmas gift books begins here...

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 November 2014 Contents

Adult fiction

Crime & Thrillers

  Science Fiction & Fantasy

Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference
  The Nostalgia Page

The Stephen King Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

  New from MagBooks

Out now...

Julia Dweck: Crowned!


Illus. Beth Trott


Sleepy Sheep Productions, 10th October 2014


From best selling childrenís author, Julia Dweck, comes a tale of fantasy, adventure and bravery. Quinn is a fairy sprite who dreams of becoming queen. But how does one become a queen? All the books Quinn has ever read claim that damsels in distress are rescued by princes and then live happily ever after. Quinnís search for a handsome prince is brought to an abrupt halt by a nasty two-headed ogre who threatens the safety of Fairy Land. And suddenly, a dreaded sound, As something wicked stomped the ground. A gruesome ogre, wide and tall, And both heads said, ďIím King of all!Ē Now looking round, Quinn was alone. How could she stop it on her own? But fairies always locked their doors When ogres came to settle scores. Can Quinn summon the queen inside her heart to outwit this evil foe? Crowned! is a clever fairy tale, which teaches young readers that two heads arenít always better than one--especially when youíre dealing with one very determined young fairy. Artist, Beth Trott, waves her magic paintbrush, blending color and fantasy into each breathtaking page. Young readers will be dazzled not only by the story, but also challenging activities that extend the learning and fun. Crowned! is a crowning achievement.


There isn't a great deal I can add to the above - except to say that this is a magical experience, a tale of fairies and magic, ogres and princesses, and it ticks all the right boxes for little people. The colour is absolutely superb, as are Beth Trott's wonderful illustrations - this is the perfect young children's book!


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Imperial War Museum: First World War A-Z

Imperial War Museum, hardback, 8th October 2014


A pocket-sized guide to who's who and what's what in the First World War. The alphabetical entries not only cover leaders and battles but quirky items such as songs, superstitions and slang, making it a perfect little book to dip into. Throughout there are snippets of testimony moving, funny from the people who took part in the war.


The beauty of this superb little book is that it is genuinely pocket-sized, perfect for pulling out and dipping into on the bus or the tube - not only that, it is comprehensive, informative, and educational. Everything you could possibly want to know about WWI is referenced here - with enough information either to satisfy you or to inspire you to carry out further research by referring to the now vast library of titles on the conflict. This is absolutely brilliant - a companion WWII volume will be published in 2015, but this is the important one, really, published in the centenary year. Full marks to the IWM for such a brilliant concept!


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Greetings one and all! Now it really is time to think about the books you're going to buy for Christmas, for your family and friends, and possibly for yourself - or at least the ones you're going to include on your Christmas wish list. I often hear people say "I can't think what to get", or "what to ask for..." That's never been a problem for me. Even if I already have all of the DVD boxed sets I want, and all the CDs I want, there are always more books, and it's my privilege to have been able to seek out and publicise at least a selection of the month's best titles. The books in the following pages of this magazine are brilliant and will make perfect Christmas gifts, starting with a selection on this page...

The Late-comers, including another three blockbuster titles from Dorling Kindersley...

A History of the World in 1,000 Objects

Published by Dorling Kindersley, hardback, on 1st October 2014

A treasure trove of human creativity from around the world. History of the World in 1000 Objects takes a fresh look at world history, viewing cultures and early civilizations through the objects that they created. Humanity is defined by our talent for making things from everyday objects to inventions that changed the world. From a Viking wooden comb to a 1950s fridge-freezer you can uncover what the people's priorities were at the time from what they created. Each culture's objects are grouped under key themes, from art to the history of technology and together build a story that gives real insight into civilization, plus the accessible visual approach to history makes it easy to compare how people lived at different times and in different parts of the world. The objects, from swords and spears to astrolabes and maritime atlases, are showcased through stunning photography from around the world. Celebrate our extraordinary legacy of creativity with History of the World in 1000 Objects.


Dorling Kindersley continue to publish books of the very highest standard - this isn't just a coffee table book, it's a treasure trove of objects, brilliantly photographed, which mark the progress of mankind through history. Sensational!


Photography: The Definitive Visual Guide by Tom Ang

Published by Dorling Kindersley, hardback, on 1st October 2014

The definitive visual history, from the dawn of photography to the digital age. Photography is a beautiful lavishly illustrated reference book tracing the history of photography from its origins in the 1800s to the global phenomenon of digital photography. Photography celebrates the most iconic photos and profiles more than 50 of the most famous photographers of the past 200 years, with special features delving into the stories of especially arresting photographs, including Pulitzer Prize-winners. Discover the history of photography from key events and technological developments such as the first black and white photography and contemporary street photography. Perfect for any budding photographer or polished professional Photography captures the development of different areas of photography including portrait photography and war photography in a beautifully lavish reference book. Photography not only showcases incredible photographs, but tells the stories of how they came into being, perfect for anyone who appreciates the beauty of photography, from professional photographers to armchair enthusiasts.


If anyone should be charged with talking us through the history of photography, it's Tom Ang, whose books on digital photography are now a kind of multi-volume Bible for would-be photographers. Having said that, I think that Tom lets us down just a tad in the third part of this book, which concentrates not on photography as such, but instead showcases a number of famous and celebrity artists who choose to use photography as their medium; some of the results are just silly, some bizarre, and some simply don't belong in a book on photography, but rather in a publication about modern art. For me, the earlier part of the book is priceless, with fascinating and amazing photographs from the early years of the nineteenth century. The anatomy of cameras is also rather glossed over. An impressive looking book by a brilliant writer, but it disappoints towards the end.


Marcus Wareing: How To Cook The Perfect...

Published by Dorling Kindersley, hardback, on 3rd November 2014

Learn the essential skills behind exceptional results . 'Marcus Wareing oozes perfection and I can't think of a better cookbook to have by the stove' Gordon Ramsay. Winner of Great British Menu and Best Dessert, Marcus Wareing guides you through 80 enticing recipes, offering a chef's level of understanding, with step-by-step recipes so that you can achieve perfect results, every time. Inspired by his mother's home cooking, Marcus draws on his experience as Chef Patron at the Savoy Grill in London, and as a father teaching his young sons to cook food for the family. Every recipe has a Key to Perfection, with all the need-to-know tips and techniques that promise success, plus All-Is-Not-Lost advice to rescue you from mistakes. This book will give you the confidence to tackle any dish, safe in the knowledge that you will get perfect results every time.


I love Marcus Wareing - his recipes are usually based on something he's inherited from his mother or some other relative, and indicate a preference for home cooking that's missing in some other "celebrity" chefs. The baking section at the back of the book has recipes for flapjacks and scones, for example, that he has adapted from those handed down to him by family members. As always, the photography is terrific. This is a brilliant recipe book to have in your collection - easy to follow, very well written - absolutely superb!


Rose Shepherd: At Home With Henry VIII

Published by Cico Books, hardback, October 2014

Delve behind the facade to take an intimate peek at the life and times of this famous Tudor king. Henry VIII is one of the most recognisable of English monarchs, famous for his great weight, and his six wives. But what was it really like to be Henry, or to be married to him? How did he live, and where? Who were his servants and what did they do? What clothes did he and his wives wear, how did they entertain themselves, and who did they choose to spend time with? Behind the well-known image of Henry in his later years lies a fascinating story of a man driven by private passions - the desire for a legitimate son and heir, a compulsion to collect wealth and to spend it - and by the need to control the constant power struggles among his courtiers. Rose Shepherd reveals the day to day life of Henry VIII and his wives: from the young Henry, married to Katharine of Aragon, enjoying hunting, dancing, and music; his marriage to the original power-dresser, Anne Boleyn; happiness at Hampton Court with Jane Seymour; a brief time with Anne of Cleves, so crucially misrepresented by the portrait artist chosen to depict her; and the courtly intrigues and loose morality revealed in his marriage to Kathryn Howard; to his later years of increasingly ill health with Katherine Parr.


I would like to draw your attention to the fact that other books about Henry VIII are available... and many of them have turned up this very month, and you'll find them on the nonfiction page - it seems that the White Queen series inspired by the fiction (based on fact) of the wonderful Philippa Gregory, has prompted a fair few authors to put pen to paper (or finger to fingerboard) and give us more and more intimate information about those treacherous, turbulent Tudors. Cico books weigh in with a wonderful book that looks at Henry and his household from a slightly different angle. I can't say definitively that all of the illustrations in this volume are new to me, but there are some I've never seen before, and that's always a plus with books that cover ground you're sort of familiar with. I love Rose Shepherd's style, and the approach she takes with her subject matter is absolutely riveting, with minutiae and details that are missing from other similar books. A handsome volume, a perfect gift for Christmas, but at the same time a must-read for anyone who wants to get to grips with this most fascinating of subjects. First class!


All of the books on this page arrived too late for me to include them on the relevant page in the magazine - sorry!


Paul Norman

Editor, publisher and author...


The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by 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 this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.