Books Monthly April 2015

Two brilliant new books commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music... and then there's Lisa Faulkner...

 C o n t e n t s

Adult fiction

Crime & Thrillers

  Science Fiction & Fantasy

  Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference
  The Nostalgia Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

  The J.F. Norris Book Blog

 

 

LISA FAULKNER: TEA AND CAKE WITH LISA FAULKNER

Published by Simon and Schuster, Hardback, 26th February 2015

 

Number One bestselling author of Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter, and Celebrity MasterChef winner, Lisa Faulkner invites you to join her for Tea & Cake. A regular on BBC's Saturday Kitchen, ITV's This Morning and Channel 4's Sunday Brunch, Lisa really, really loves a cup of tea. As we all know, whether it's a broken heart, a crisis at work or just 'one of those days', reaching for the kettle is halfway to making everything better. But for Lisa, it's also about setting aside a moment, whether on your own, with your best friend or even in a bigger group, and taking a few minutes to just be. And so that's what this book is all about: delicious things to dunk, slice and eat on your tea break so that you can have the perfect cup of tea moment too. Tried and tested easy recipes for biscuits, cakes, tarts and pies - as well as fancier, pretty things for special occasions and an entire chapter devoted to all things chocolate. From the perfect dunking biscuit, orange blossom baklava, strawberry milkshake and Earl Grey tea loaf to savoury bites, pastries and even a G & Tea cocktail, you have everything you need to sit back and enjoy Tea & Cake with Lisa Faulkner.

 

When books arrive late in the month and it's too late for me to include them on the relevant page, they occasionally end up here on the home page. That means they are something special. From being a brilliant actress (in Holby City, Spooks and Murder in Suburbia, to name just three of her successes), Lisa went on to a change of career after she won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010; her first two recipe books have been number one bestsellers, and there is no doubt in my mind that the third, this one, TEA AND CAKE WITH LISA FAULKNER will be also. Lisa is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and a thoroughly nice person. Her recipes are stunning and simple to follow. The book is a treasure trove of candid family photos and sumptuous food, from biscuits to cakes, from savouries to complete meals. A triumph of modern publishing, a showcase of one celebrity chef's extraordinary talents, a cookbook that has pride of place (along with Lisa's first two books) on my bookshelf.

 

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This month it's all about superlatives... Whilst I was reading the two new SOUND OF MUSIC books I was reminded of that enchanting scene in THE GREEN MILE when John Coffey gets to watch the cinema, and sees Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as they dance their way through "Dancing Cheek to Cheek". The line "Heaven, I'm in Heaven," springs to mind...


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My thoughts on some of this month's book selections...

 

In 1965 I went to the Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, in London, to see the newly-released Todd-AO production of The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. I had always been a romantic, and this sumptuous, most perfect of films tugged at my heartstrings in a way that I hadn't believed possible. My two younger children hate the film... my wife lets me watch it occasionally, grudgingly, because, she says, she's seen it before... For me, there are the great musicals, Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge, West Side Story, Show Boat, Evita, Fiddler on the Roof, and then there is The Sound of Music. It towers above every other great musical like a colossus. It's the fiftieth anniversary of The Sound of Music this year, and anyone who loves the film as much as I do will want these two sumptuous new books, The Sound of Music Story, published by Bantam Press, and The Sound of Music Companion, published by Pavilion Books (these are the UK publishers, of course. You can track them down elsewhere in the world on Amazon and you can begin by reading my reviews on the non-fiction page...)

 

 

HARD CASE CRIME TO PUBLISH AN ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF STEPHEN KING'S JOYLAND IN SEPTEMBER...

 

Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels from editor Charles Ardai and publisher Titan Books, announced today (March 19th 2015) that in September 2015 they will publish a new illustrated hardcover edition of their bestselling title of all time, Stephen King’s JOYLAND. The acclaimed coming-of-age story set in a possibly haunted small-town amusement park spent more than 25 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List in paperback and ebook format. Aside from certain extremely limited editions for collectors, however, no hardcover edition of the book has ever been published. The new edition will feature a brand new cover painting by popular Hard Case Crime artist Glen Orbik, whose other covers for the series include books by Gore Vidal and Michael Crichton; a map of the Joyland amusement park illustrated in the classic ‘mapback’ style by Susan Hunt Yule; and more than twenty interior illustrations by acclaimed artists Robert McGinnis, Mark Summers and Pat Kinsella. Since its publication, JOYLAND has won raves worldwide. The Washington Post called it “a moving, immensely appealing coming-of-age tale” while Canada’s National Post called it “a small marvel of a book, a novel of loss and heartbreak, of growth and discovery…one of the writer’s finest works.”  Entertainment Weekly called it “some of King’s most graceful writing”; the New York Times wrote, “The book delivers chills [and] a mournful sense of life’s fragility”; and the Guardian in the U.K. called it “a far gentler, deeper, more thoughtful book…and all the more intriguing for it.”

 

Whilst I was waiting for a new batch of books to arrive last month, I re-read KENOBI, the definitive Star Wars novel by John Jackson Miller, and I noticed something I missed first time around... There's a passage towards the end in which Ben Kenobi is reminiscing about the liaisons with females he's had in the past, and, remembering that this episode in his life is when he's taken on the guise of Ewan McGregor, there's a passing reference to Satine, who was Ewan's female love interest in Moulin Rouge. It's a lovely touch... I've read loads of Star Wars novels and novelisations, but this one really does stand head and shoulders above all the others I've read, and it's not just because of the amazing front cover artwork. This is science fiction at its very, very best! There's more superb SF and fantasy on the Science Fiction and Fantasy page, of course...

 

 

WINSTON GRAHAM'S MAGNIFICENT POLDARK SERIES IS GIVEN A NEW LEASE OF LIFE BY PAN BOOKS...

 

Sunday nights looked like becoming a desolate waste in terms of televisual entertainment after CALL THE MIDWIFE finished its fourth series, but then the BBC very kindly came up with the brilliant new POLDARK series, and Pan Books have kindly published the first two books in the series, ROSS POLDARK and DEMELZA. Those of us who remember the 1970s TV series with Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees won't want to make comparisons, because the new series doesn't aim to replicate what went before, but rather to bring the series to life with the latest cinematographic techniques (HD, stereo etc.) and an altogether stellar cast. I'm reading DEMELZA right now, and having read ROSS POLDARK, I can tell you that in my opinion the new TV series is absolutely faultless in terms of adaptation. The acting is brilliant, the scenery breathtaking. I hope this might lead to a second series, and that Pan can be persuaded to release more books...Head to the Adult Fiction page for more information and my reviews...

 

VIRGINIA NICHOLSON's SUPERB BOOK ABOUT WOMEN IN THE 1950s is my nostalgia book of the month...

 

In Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes, Virginia Nicholson tells the story of women in the 1950s: a time before the Pill, when divorce spelled scandal and two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm. Turn the page back to the mid-twentieth century, and discover a world peopled by women with radiant smiles, clean pinafores and gleaming coiffures; a promised land of batch-baking, maraschino cherries and brightly hued plastic. A world where the darker side of the decade encompasses rampant prostitution, a notorious murder, and the threat of nuclear disaster. Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes reconstructs the real 1950s, through the eyes of the women who lived it. Step back in time to where our grandmothers scrubbed their doorsteps, cared for their families, lived, laughed, loved and struggled. This is their story. Head to the Nostalgia page for my extensive review...

 

 

 

There are loads of brilliant new books that deserve your attention in this issue! If you're my sort of age-group (knocking on 70), head for the Nostalgia page first for news about some terrific spy yarns from the grandfather of Luther star RUTH WILSON...

 

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A quick note about next month's issue: 'Twill be positively Shakespearean in its aspects, for Sir Anthony Sher's new book, YEAR OF THE FAT KNIGHT - THE FALSTAFF DIARIES, is published by Nick Hern Books in April, and in the same month, Robert Nye's new book THE LATE MR SHAKESPEARE is published by Allison and Busby (who previously published Nye's FALSTAFF - which I'm also hoping to cover at the same time). Anthony Sher has long been one of my favourite actors, and we saw him play Falstaff at the back end of last year at the Theatre Royal in Norwich, having previously seen the two Henry IV plays in live cinema broadcasts earlier in the year. I should add that our daughter played violin and harp in both of these productions, and is captured forever on the DVD release of the two productions, something of which we are immensely proud. So, a positively Falstaffian issue next month - plus, the paperback issue of MR MERCEDES from Stephen King, along with several other splendid books that have already arrived but which came too late to include in this issue. Happy reading, Happy Easter!

 

Paul Norman

Editor, publisher and author...


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now in its seventeenth 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 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.