Reviews of the latest books.
Stories of success by people with learning disabilities – in their own words. edited by Saba Salman. reviewed by Chris Richards. As the strapline tells us, success is the inspiration for the essays. How they found it, what it means to them, and what influence their success has on society. There are nine in total,
reviewed by Chris Richards. Junglenomics is a non-fiction text on Ecosystem Economics. For those with a fervent interest in correcting climate change, natural conservation on a global scale, or capitalism in a sustainable world this will contribute to your library. It is thorough and supports an ambitious but potentially attainable prospect for our future. Written
reviewed by Martin Brisland. Over 60 successful years as a professional in show business including a Guinness Book of World Records appearance is hard to overestimate. David St John has taken the opportunity to reminisce about his early days when the rock ‘n roll phenomenon changed many young lives. This is a superb, life affirming read.
by Frances Churchward. Sarah Horsfall is a Southampton mother with two children who attend a local primary school. She has recently produced a series of books, The Owlbert Series, published by Tricorn Books written in rhyme, for primary aged children. Sarah explains why she decided to write the books: “There have been several times during my time
reviewed by Chris Richards. Whether you believe in fairies or not this book needs to be on your summer wish list. Set in and around Southampton and more particularly by the Hamble River, we the locals are sure to recognise much of the scenery in the story. Izzie and Robin meet back in the mid-eighties
reviewed by Chris Richards. A View from the Bridge: A Collection of Southampton Stories written by Scam Likely is a collection of short stories all based in Southampton. Scam Likely is a penname and their true identity is currently a closely guarded secret. No matter, we have their work to admire until fame calls them
reviewed by Chris Richards. The Magical Bookshop was originally published in Germany last year as Der zauberhafte Wunschbuchladen. The translation is by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and will be released next month, in July 2020. Both editions have beautifully charming and sympathetic illustrations by Florentine Prechtel. Clara Jacobsen is a quiet girl who seeks solace and
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This book tells the story of the Greenwood family who have just won £17.8 million on the lottery. Initially, long standing friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, claim shares in the win as they assert that they have always been part of a syndicate. However, Lexi and Jake Greenwood contend that
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This book is the story of a young girl, Romilly, who lives in a ramshackle house with her father. Before moving to this house Romilly, from the age of four, and her father led a nomadic life, at one point as part of a travelling circus. They move into this house,
Southampton’s radical bookshop October Books, has launched a crowdfunder like no other – this promises a 100% return to all who contribute. The folks at October Books are encouraging the public to buy October Books vouchers via a crowdfunding campaign in order to keep the tills ringing until they can open their doors once more.
reviewed by Chris Richards. In Beneath a Polish Sky we see three lives change in one night. It is a story with emotional intelligence, compassion, and a strong moral compass. The three main characters come together in a hotel in Poland each from a distinct background. Harry Graves is a young British man starting out
reviewed by Chris Richards. Abductions, stalkers, and lies, Oh My! This story has what it takes to keep you interested until the very last word. It’s a flawless balance of mystery and romance, flanked by tense frustration and charming wit. I found myself rolling my eyes occasionally at the protagonist’s naivety, but it felt complicit
reviewed by Chris Richards. Ben and the Bug is the second book in the Split Perspectivz series by Natalie Reeves-Billing with illustrations by Lisa Williams. This story artfully describes the circumstances of COVID-19 to young children without fudging the facts. There have been many child-friendly approaches doing the rounds on social media to explain the
reviewed by Chris Richards. This is the first of a new, incredibly special series of children books called the Monstrous Me Collection written by Liverpool based author Natalie Reeves-Billing and illustrated by Lisa Williams. I read this with my children (5 & 8) in week 5 of the Lockdown. At its launch it’s marketed as
reviewed by Charlie Hislop. It was one of those moments, not unlike Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning, or the Panama Papers, when the sordid workings of the powerful are laid bare for everyone to see. In the case of Edward Snowden and the US National Security Agency, it was the exposure of how the US government
EDITED: New deadline, updated to state 1st June 2020. by Chris Richards. May Day! May Day! Juliette Jones: Editorial Services are compiling a book of stories written by our children and the closing date is approaching fast! Juliette Jones is a wonderful woman with a name reminiscent of a Marvel superhero! Working from home while
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This novel is set in Trinidad and has three protagonists; Betty, a single mother, Solo, her teenage son who grows into a young man over the course of the story, and Mr Chetan who is Betty’s long term lodger. Each character tells their story from their own point of view as
reviewed by Richard Jones. For a man who loves maritime history, I didn’t know much about the Mayflower until recently save for the basic facts. I was delighted to finally get a chance to read about this important period of history that is arguably, a household name. Picking up The Mayflower Missing I was intrigued
reviewed by Will Vigar. Even a seasoned comic fan like myself can get a little disillusioned with comics from time to time. As much as I love the recent spate of Superhero movies, modern comics fans are quite likely to have never picked up an actual comic book or graphic novel. Captain America, Thor and
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This work of non fiction is written by Sophie Walker, the feminist activist and founder of the Women’s Equality Party. Walker considers that activism is needed today perhaps more than ever, in these times of populism and austerity. Her five rules, which set out how to incorporate activism into our lives,
Reviewed by Frances Churchward. Notes from an Apocalypse is a work of non-fiction from prize-winning author Mark O’Connell. It begins with O’Connell reflecting on the depression that he suffered and which had, as it root cause, his consuming apprehension of imminent catastrophe largely relating to climate change. After reading the introduction, I wasn’t sure I
reviewed by Chris Richards. I like this book; I think if you like police procedurals, whodunnits and murder mysteries of the digestible, moreish ilk then you’ll like it too. It opens with a chilly, neurotic prologue. It reads as a fly on the wall account of the murder report. But we’re not on a wall.
reviewed by Frances Churchward. Robert Webb will be familiar to many as one half of Mitchell and Webb and, perhaps even more so, as Jeremy in PeepShow. Come Again is his first novel. His previous book, How Not To Be A Boy, Webb’s first foray into book writing, was autobiographical. Initially, I was pleased to
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This is Amaka’s first novel and is somewhat unusual because it is narrated by the spirit of a slave woman, taken from Africa, who managed to escape from the plantation, where she had been a slave over two hundred years ago and who has been searching for her descendants ever since
by Sarah Groszewski. Martin Brisland is a highly experienced, qualified local tour guide and founder of See Southampton, so it stands to reason that his latest book, A-Z of Southampton Places-People-History is full of interesting and little-known facts. There seems to be a booming market for local history and local interest writing. I admit to
reviewed by Frances Churchward. The title of this book is the title of a painting by John Singer Sargent, painted in 1881, of Samuel Pozzi. This is a non-fiction history book set during the time of “La Belle Epoque” and draws a very colourful, and not necessarily flattering, picture of many of the characters who
reviewed by Frances Churchward. This is a very short novel totalling 132 pages and the action takes place during the course of one evening during the winter months in Norway. Jon, who will be nine years old the next day, has been accidently locked out of his house by his mother, Vibeke, who believes that
Book review: A short history of falling: everything I observed about love whilst dying by Joe Hammond
reviewed by Frances Churchward. When I first read the blurb inside the cover of this book, I must admit felt somewhat reluctant to read it. The book, amongst other things, charts the author’s progress of motor neurone disease and his experience of living with the disease and moving towards his own death. I am by
reviewed by Georgina Lippiett. The Wonder Girls is a fast-paced, full-hearted, total romp of an adventure. The story takes place in England in 1936 and is set against a backdrop of the rise of fascist ideals. The Blackshirts are marching the streets, unrest is in the air and if you’re a young girl without parents,
by Chris Richards. Shirley Library, Southampton are Winners of the Best Library Display of the Booker Prize Short List 2019. “The hardest thing to source were the rubber ducks!” says Fran Simonis, who along with colleague Cath Brear of Shirley Library, Southampton, set up the winning display. The competition is managed by The Reading Agency,
reviewed by Dan O’Farrell. All sensible people care about climate change. We are all worried about it. But are we really worried? Do we actually believe it? This is the central question around which Jonathan Safran Foer’s new non-fiction book revolves. Using examples and anecdotes from both world history and his own family history, Foer
reviewed by Sarah Groszewski. A story worthy of Halloween, the book is an unusual and atmospheric, twisted fairy-tale for adults with a liking for eerie horror and fantasy. Laird Hunt’s seventh novel is a contemporary fairy-tale that follows a young Puritan woman’s journey as she sets off into a forest to pick berries. Under the
reviewed by Frances Churchward. The latest book from award-winning Attica Locke is set mostly in Texas shortly after Trump’s election to the presidency. Immediately following the election there appears to be a rise in the activities of the far right. In East Texas, a nine year old boy has gone missing. The boy is the
reviewed by Frances Churchward. The Burning Land is George Alagiah’s first novel. Alagiah is, of course, well known as a presenter of BBC news. Before becoming a news presenter, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC during which time he covered several major conflicts and he has previously published two works of non-fiction.
reviewed by Chris Richards. Exciting and satisfying, Richard M Jones presents an adjacent history beginning back over 200 years ago, showing the ripples of choices and snap judgements made down the years in his new fiction novel Austen Secret. This is the second adventure with Sidney, Ali and Gemma as its lead treasure hunters, following
reviewed by Frances Churchward. Laura Lippman’s latest novel is set in 1960s USA, in times when many women were expected to stay at home and look after house, husband and children. It was also a time of huge racial discrimination, when attacks on Negro women attracted little attention from the police, newspapers or the public.
Review: Our Women on the Ground: essays by Arab women reporting from the Arab world, edited by Zahra Hankir
by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. A first of its kind, this collection of writing by Arab women journalists is both challenging and thought-provoking. It’s not comfortable reading but it’s well worth picking up, because it totally delivers. The nineteen essays cover an enormous range – from Lina Attalah’s “On a belated encounter with gender” which tenderly examines
by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. “Should we believe in God? Do we need God in order to explain the existence of the universe? Do we need God in order to be good?” asks the back cover blurb on Richard Dawkins latest book. Dawkins does not just return a list of answers to these standard questions in Outgrowing
Reviewed by Sally Churchward. I defy anyone to read even the cover of Claire McGlasson’s debut novel, and not be intrigued. “This is the Garden of Eden. Hidden in plain sight. It was here in Bedford all along. Welcome to the Panacea Society, a terribly English cult.” McGlasson’s work of fiction is expertly constructed, based
reviewed by Chris Richards. John Sellars’ Lessons in Stoicism is a slim volume introducing Stoicism to a new audience; inspiring readers to become followers. Any and all readers will find wisdom and tangible pathways to contentedness in some form. Like many of the best ideas and wisdom, once found these ideas are obvious, innate and
reviewed by Chris Richards. This history book is about the RMS Titanic and its links to Bridlington in Yorkshire. The tone is sensitive and celebratory of the people who made history over the last hundred years. Richard M Jones was an eleven-year-old boy when his enthusiasm for the Titanic story was sparked. The book is
reviewed by Will Vigar. To my shame, Naguib Mahfouz is not a name I knew before receiving his book ‘The Quarter’. When you consider that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, this oversight seems all the more shameful. But rather than descend into a Catholic guilt spiral and spending the rest of
reviewed by Georgina Lippiett. Dead Popular is a Young Adult novel set in Mount Norton School, one of the most expensive boarding schools in the country. With its coastal setting and state-of-the-art facilities, the students are entitled, confident and guaranteed to succeed. It’s the beginning of term and Kate Lynette Jordan-Ferreira is the newly appointed
Reviewed by Chris Richards You don’t read this story. You feel it. Luan Goldie’s Nightingale Point is visceral, not cerebral. It is powerful, engaging, important, and at times painful. A tale of chances, chaos, and consequences. There are criticisms that can be made but, ultimately, it is perfectly imperfect. Nightingale Point is inspired by a
by Sally Churchward. For the staff and volunteers at October Books, there is delicious irony in the fact that the building in which the radical bookshop is now based used to house a bank. “I love it, it’s so ironic,” exclaims volunteer Glyn Oliver, who has been helping with fixing up the new venue, around