Books Monthly July 2015 Best Summer Reads!

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Macmillan Publishers celebrate 150 years of Alice in Wonderland in some style...

 

 

Stephanie Jones: Upcycle Your Furniture

Published by Apple, hardback, 7th May 2015

 

From faux marble topped tables to hand-painted fabric, Upstyle Your Furniture is a comprehensive and inspirational guide to techniques for furniture that has been lovingly customized. Packed with helpful charts, tips and advice on how to treat a number of surfaces and tutorials for a host of versatile techniques, Upstyle Your Furniture also includes a number of engaging case studies that provide a valuable insight into the various challenges faced by other non-professionals, encouraging readers to take the plunge and have a go for themselves. Featured examples provide stylish inspiration for every room in the house, from lounges and bedrooms to kitchens and bathrooms, as well as fun and practical ideas for kids’ bedrooms. Emphasizing the notion that absolutely anyone can try their hand at DIY décor, Upstyle Your Furniture has an appealingly fresh, sophisticated aesthetic and features the latest contemporary styles in DIY furniture treatments, making it a far cry from the dry instructions and dated fashions that can be found in many other books on the subject. Beautifully illustrated tutorials and easy-to-follow instructions cover a wide range of techniques, arming readers with the skills and confidence to tackle their own projects. Bursting with inspiration and focusing firmly on core techniques rather than prescriptive projects, Upstyle Your Furniture has strong backlist credibility and is perfectly placed to tap into the huge market of design-savvy creatives represented by blogs and hip brands such as Design*Sponge, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Apartment Therapy. More on the nonfiction page...

 

Post-Election Comment:

Now that the dust has settled on the general election, it may be time to reflect on the possibility that the true socialism of the early twentieth century is no more. A recent survey indicates that respondents want the new leader of the labour party to be like Tony Blair. It is true that we worshipped him when he won the 1997 election, we had high hopes that, once he had his feet under the table, he would reverse everything from the Thatcher years, her vision of greed, of self, of ignoring the needs of the many in her maniacal pursuit of wealth and the destruction of the unions. her selling off the country's assets into private ownership. We hoped he might bring back into public ownership all of those things that should be in public ownership: energy, railways, water, in fact all of those things that now make vast profits for individuals rather than for the public good, with the end result that we pay through the nose for them in order to make millionaires and billionaires that little bit richer... But he let us down rather badly, and oversaw the demise of socialism, a demise that continued with Milliband and will almost certainly continue with the new Labour leader. There is now no one to speak for and defend the working class poor and debilitated. Those below the poverty line can only look forward to years and years of getting poorer and poorer as the rich get richer and richer. It is so sad, so desperately sad, and there's nothing to look forward to, no left-wing saviour to ride to our rescue, because the cult of self-advancement and personal ggreed is so deeply engrained following those twenty years of Thatcherism, it would take a revolution to shift it. There are very few really decent people left in this country. Sad, but unfortunately true. Desperate times...

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The children's classic ALICE IN WONDERLAND is 150 years old this year and Macmillan, who published the original book, are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the event with a major publishing extravaganza. Spearheading the event is the publication of THE COMPLETE ALICE, on "Alice Day", Saturday 4th July. This lavish, beautiful, 480-page hardback volume is a sumptuous gift edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, including the original John Tenniel illustrations, reproduced from his original colour artwork held in the Macmillan archive. The book contains a brilliant foreword by Philip Pullman, and contains both books, complete and unabridged, together with a rarely seen deleted episode, The Wasp In A Wig, Lewis Carroll's Poems and Prefaces, and The Story of Alice, an engaging illustrated account of the creation and first publication of Alice. THE COMPLETE ALICE is priced at £30 but is already coming up on Amazon at £20.40. No one who has been inspired by Alice will want to be without this sumptuous hardback. Macmillan are also publishing a number of other versions of Alice and Looking-Glass, and you can find out about some of them on the Children's Books page in this issue.

The COMPLETE ALICE celebrates 150 years since Macmillan first published what was to become one of the world's favourite books for children, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It brings together Lewis Carroll's two extraordinary stories in one volume and has been lovingly re-originated; the pages observe the precise layout of text and image agreed by Carroll and Alexander Macmillan for the first edition in 1865. Both stories are complete and include Carroll's preface to the 6/- editions, his delightful Christmas and Easter greetings written to his readers, and the rarely seen deleted espisode, The Wasp In A Wig. The foreword by Philip Pullman reminds us that Alice is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential children's books of all time: "In ALICE, for the first time, we find a realist child taking part in a story whose intention was entirely fun. Both children and adults loved them at once, and have never stopped doing so. They are as fresh and clever and funny today as they were a hundred and fifty years ago."

The COMPLETE ALICE is in full colour, containing the sixteen coloured plates by Harry G Theaker from 1911, and Diz Wallis's further colour work from 1995, all based on John Tenniel's original black and white line illustrations. Theaker's delicate watercolours established an image of Alice - with blue dress and striped stockings - that has since become iconic. The unique cover design takes the reader directly through into Wonderland and the reader experience is further enriched by following Alice through the Looking-Glass as you turn the page and begin the sequel.

The end of THE COMPLETE ALICE has an exclusive section called THE STORY OF ALICE: a sixteen page account of the creation and first publication of Alice, told for younger readers and featuring previosuly unseen material from Macmillan's rich historical archive. Anthony Forbes Watson, MD, Pan Macmillan says, "Macmillan was instrumental in turning Alice into a literary and cultural phenomenon and it is through the artists we commissioned that Alice's iconic look was established in the public mind. We are delighted to be able to put the heart back into "The Macmillan Alice" for 2015 and beyond." Macmillan have their own Alice website, lavishly illustrated and brilliantly compiled, which you can find here.

Stephen King: Finders Keepers

Published by Hodder and Stoughton, hardback, on 2nd June 2015

'Wake up, genius.' So begins King's instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn't published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel. Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he's released from prison after thirty-five years. Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life - for good, for bad, forever. Read more on the Crime page...

 

Mark Watson: Hotel Alpha

Published by Picador, paperback, on 2nd July 2015

 

Howard York - self-made man and founder of London's extraordinary Hotel Alpha - is one of those people who makes you feel that anything is possible. He is idolized by his blind adopted son, Chas, and Graham, the inimitable concierge, whose lives revolve around the Alpha. But when two mysterious disappearances raise questions that no one seems willing to answer, Chas and Graham must ask themselves whether Howard's vision of the perfect hotel has been built on secrets as well as dreams . . . Captivating, brilliant and full of surprises, Hotel Alpha is an ingenious novel about the incidental and life-changing ways in which we connect with one another. You can discover more about the hotel and its inhabitants in 100 extra stories at www.hotelalphastories.com. Read more on the Adult fiction page...

The Victorian House Manual

Published by Haynes, hardback on 15th September 2015

Many of Britain's four million Victorian and Edwardian houses were shoddily built and often require 'essential repairs'. Problems like rising damp, timber decay, bowed roofs and subsidence are well-known, but how can you tell if your house has major defects or is just typical for its age? Forget 'makeovers': this easy-to-use manual shows where to look for danger signs, what's 'normal' and what isn't, and how to fix common defects. Equipped with this book, you can talk the same language as builders and property professionals. This is the first book to cover logically all defects common to Victorian houses. Read more on the nonfiction page...

 

 

 

Terry Pratchett & Steven Baxter: The Long Utopia

 

Published by Doubleday, hardback, 18th June 2015

 

2045-2059. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption humanity is spreading further into the Long Earth, and society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang lives in disguise with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He’s convinced they’re leading a normal life in New Springfield – they even adopt a child – but it seems they have been guided there for a reason. As rumours of strange sightings and hauntings proliferate, it becomes clear that something is very awry with this particular world. Millions of steps away, Joshua is on a personal journey of discovery: learning about the father he never knew and a secret family history. But then he receives a summons from New Springfield. Lobsang now understands the enormity of what’s taking place beneath the surface of his earth – a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth. To counter this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice . . .  Read more on the fantasy and science fiction page...

 

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.

 

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