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 January 2011 Issue 148
 Reviews

Crime

Fantasy & Science Fiction

Popular, Romance & Westerns

History & Nostalgia

Nonfiction & Reference

Children's books

 Stories

The Honey Bird Sang: part 3

 Art

Owen Owen:

 Features

Countryside Books

Magbooks

Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries

 

From an unexpected visitor on Christmas Eve in "The Christmas Mouse" to an unwanted change of plan in "No Holly For Miss Quinn", Miss Read recounts some of the most memorable Christmas events where often, despite best-laid plans, things do not always go as expected. For heart-warming reading there is no writer to rival Miss Read, and this charming collection of Christmas tales is packed with unforgettable characters, enchanting stories and festive cheer. A Carleton Hobbs Award Winner, Carole Boyd has worked extensively in radio drama and features, and is famously known as Lynda Snell in The Archers. In 1998 she won an APA Audio Award for The Land Girls and a British Talkie Award for The God of Small Things. In 2001 she won an SWPA Silver Award for Middlemarch. Carol has read numerous Miss Read titles for Orion Audiobooks. Miss Read, or in real life Dora Saint, was born 17 April 1913. A teacher by profession, she started writing after the Second World War for Punch and other journals and as a scriptwriter for the BBC. She is the author of many immensely popular books, including two autobiographical works, but it is for her novels of English rural life for which she is best known. The first of these, Village School, was published in 1955 and Miss Read continued to write about the fictitious villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green until her retirement in 1996. She lives in Berkshire, and in the 1998 New Year Honours list was awarded an MBE for her services to literature. What could be more relaxing than to sit back and listen to Miss Read on the CD player? I remember my time in the public library service in the 1960s, and Miss Read was  regularly borrowed. Now, with the added bonus of Audio CDs, you listen to these charming stories read to you just as if you were listening to A Book at Bedtime on the BBC. Delightful, relaxing, soothing...a welcome change from the harsh realities of the modern world.

You are here: Books Monthly Home Page Reviews Popular, Romance & Westerns

 

June Francis: Sunshine and Showers [Allison and Busby PB]

 

Liverpool 1926. Patsy Doyle is settling into her role as live-in maid in the Tanner household, but her new job is not going smoothly. Caught between the warring Tanner spouses, Patsy becomes an unwilling confidante and a keeper of more secrets than she'd care to acknowledge. Joy Kirk is busy planning her wedding. When her first love was killed in the war, she vowed she'd never fall in love again. Now a little older and wiser, Joy realises that there could be some benefits to being a wife and, having spent many years working as Robbie Bennett's cook and housekeeper, she finally accepts his proposal of marriage. But is she letting herself in for more than she bargained for?

 

This is, of course, a paperback version of last year's hardback bestseller, and very welcome it is too. June Francis captures the essence of the 1920s perfectly, and Patsy is a terrific character. Heartwarming story of the period between the two world wars, charming, full of great characters and a story that just sucks you in.

 

 

 

TYLER HATCH: DEAD-END TRAIL [Black Horse Western HB]

When does a decent, law-abiding man turn into a bounty hunter? When a forest fire wipes out his horse ranch and he's left with nothing but small change in his pockets and an empty belly. That's how it happened with Chet Rand, and when he came across the outlaw Feeney with a $1,100 reward on his head, it seemed like a gift sent from heaven. Unfortunately, others wanted a piece of the action as well - outlaws from the Cherokee strip, tough men from the local saloon and a greedy sheriff. Rand was all that stood between them and the $12,000 Feeney had stolen - a more pressing matter than the bounty itself. So it was inevitable that when guns were drawn, blood would flow and men would die...

 

 

 

 

LANCE HOWARD: THE KILLING KIND [Black Horse Western HB]

 

Jim Bartlett thought he could put his former life behind him and forge a new one as small Texas ranch owner but he was wrong...dead wrong. Someone from his past has followed him and is systematically and permanently trying to destroy his new life, piece by piece. With his friends and the woman he loves being threatened by a man who knows no remorse and no boundaries, Jim finds himself in a desperate struggle - not only to escape his past, but also to hold onto his life...

 

 

 

 

 

CARL WILLIAMS: FOOL'S PLAY [Black Horse Western HB]

 

Royce rides into Jawbone looking for a doctor and finds nothing but trouble. But then how can he expect anything else when he lives by the gun? Royce signs on with land baron Yale Jamerson, hoping for a job that will give his conscience a rest, but Jamerson's plans to dam the river and charge tolls on the road lead the townspeople revolt. Now Royce is forced to choose between his livelihood and his conscience. Will he choose the right path, especially if it means a showdown with his closest friend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

E V Thompson: Beyond the Storm

Allison and Busby HB

 

When the fiercest storm in living memory pounds the shores of 19th century Cornwall, wrecking ships and bringing death and destruction to seafarers and coastal communities, a young girl is found, barely alive, washed up among the rocks of a remote North Cornish cove. Her arrival and the mystery surrounding her background will affect the lives of those who come to know her and, for Alice Kilpeck in particular, nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Thompson fans will relish this - conjures up images that stay with you, and characters that you can identify with. Reminded me of Daphne du Maurier. Terrific read.

 

 

Rebecca West: The Return of the Soldier

Virago Modern Classic PB

A soldier returns from the front to the women who love him. Shell-shocked, he can only remember Margaret, his first love, of 15 years before. His cousin he remembers as a childhood playmate; his wife he remembers not at all. They have a choice: to leave him where he wishes to be, or to 'cure' him.

 

This is almost like Edna O'Brien - just a pity it's not terribly long, more of a novella than a novel, but West is on top form in a book first published in the twenties, evoking the harrowing experiences of tommies returning from the Great War. The triangle of characters carry it along nicely. Poignant, thought-provoking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Books Monthly is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. Web design is by Gateway. Submitting to Books Monthly: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Books Monthly, I do it all for fun! For Advertising rates in Books Monthly please contact me at paulenorman@yahoo.co.uk Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me: paulenorman@yahoo.co.uk