Thursday, 27 February 2014

NEW BOOK RELEASES IN MARCH 2014

Here are some new book releases in March 2014 in the UK
Are you looking forward to any of them?   
Do you have any of them to read?


March

  

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Book News: Decline of the Independent Bookshop as UK figures fall below 1,000 for the first time

The number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen to just 987, with Surrey's oldest bookshop the latest victim 

Children reading Harry Potter books in the Lion & Unicorn Bookshop in Richmond, which closed down last year
The number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen below 1,000 for the first time as a combination of Amazon, e-books and High Street rent increases puts them out of business.
Another 67 bookshops closed last year, leaving just 987 across the country. In 2005, the figure was 1,535.
The figures were released by the Booksellers Association, which warned that the situation has reached crisis point for independent retailers.
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said: “Bookshops are important cultural and community hubs, and make a vital contribution to the health of our high streets and local economies in particular, so it is always disappointing to see them close.
“Everyone should sit up and take notice of this. The book trade, the government and the general public need to realise that if we don’t take action now, the future of our bookshops – and therefore the health of the publishing industry and reading itself – is at risk.”
Among the closures last year was the Lion & Unicorn Bookshop in Richmond, south-west London, which closed its doors after 36 years. It was one of the few booksellers in the UK devoted solely to children's books, and Roald Dahl was guest of honour at its opening in 1977.
Amazon and other online retailers are held to be the chief reason behind the decline, along with supermarkets offering hefty discounts. The rise of e-readers such as the Kindle have also played a part.
In addition, high rents are making life difficult for shop owners, while parking charges are deterring customers.
The Booksellers Association said there was some reason to take heart – 26 new independent bookshops opened last year.
But this year will see more closures. The latest victim is the Ibis Bookshop in Banstead, Surrey, which will close next month after 76 years. It is believed to be the oldest bookshop in the county.
The owner, Linda Jones, said Amazon had killed her business.
Loyal customers had pledged £62,000 towards buying the lease in a bid to keep the shop open and protect it from rising rents, but it was not enough.
Ms Jones said: “Our customers have been wonderful but I have kept the business going for much longer than I should have.
“The books industry is changing. We tried to change with it – we offer great service including a next-day delivery. But in the last year or so, things have really taken a tumble.
“The e-reader has had an impact but Amazon has been our biggest problem. People don’t want to purchase from shops any more. It’s a different generation.
“I feel so angry about what they have done to our industry.”
Independent bookshops offer a sense of community that Amazon cannot match, Ms Jones said.
“In the shop we recommend books, we know our customers by name. They sit down in the corner and have a cup of tea. For so long in this country we had a sense of community, and bookshops are part of that.
“But people need to support bookshops. There is this ideology of ‘Oh, isn’t it wonderful having these shops in our towns, it makes us look so cultured’. But people still shop on Amazon. If they don’t vote with their feet and walk into a bookshop, then bookshops are not going to be there any more.” 

Taken from The Telegraph newspaper. 22 Feb 2014

When did you last visit an independent bookshop?
Are there any near you?
Why do you visit them?

There has not been an independent bookshop in my local town for several years.  Just before Christmas 2013 a small Waterstone's shop opened, selling mainly discounted but also some new books.  It was only supposed to be temporary but, due to demand, it is still open.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Book Review: A HIGHER DUTY BY PETER MURPHY

A HIGHER DUTY
BY

Paperback -- 351 pages

I Rated this 9/10

About the Book (blurb from the back)

Early 1960's London.
Four barristers in two fiercely competitive chambers represent the opposing sides of a bitter divorce.
Intrigue, hypocrisy, blackmail and long concealed murder result in a deadly game of double bluff.
As innocent lives become entangled, nothing is sacred - not even justice.
'Anne, we have to talk.' he said. 'This is very dangerous for both of us. If anyone should find out....'

A Higher Duty is an absorbing insight into the world of Barristers, Lawyers, the Law and the games they play.
The story starts in December 1960 with a Rugby Club dinner at Cambridge University when, fuelled by alcohol, some of the students think it's a good idea to throw a young man into the icy cold river......unfortunately for them, and him, he drowns.  Afterwards no-one is charged with his murder.
Fast forward to October 1962 and we're introduced to the principal characters, including Philip Dougherty husband to Anne who is being sued for divorce on the grounds of cruelty; the opposing Solicitors and Barristers who are going to represent them in court, along with other members of the Law Society who make up this intriguing novel.

I do enjoy a good courtroom drama and, while, most of the story takes place outside of the courtroom, it makes for fascinating reading.
In those days the law courts were dominated by white male University graduates but Peter Murphy introduces us to the Jewish Ben Schroeder and a woman (gasp) who are trying to break the conventional stereotypes, where they encounter prejudice and become entangled in an intrigue which could make or break their futures.
I enjoyed all the conspiring, manoeuvring and colluding between scheming Barristers.
This is the inside story of what goes on underneath those wigs, tight collars and cloaks and it's not always pretty.
Overall a compelling and entertaining read with an original storyline.

The character of Ben Schroeder is to be featured in Peter Murphy's next book A Matter for the Jury ..... this is the first in a new series and will be published in July 2014.
Peter Murphy is well qualified to write this type of book as, after graduating from Cambridge University he spent a career in the law, as an advocate and teacher, both in England and the United States. His legal work included a number of years in The Hague as defence counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. He lives with his wife, Chris, in Cambridgeshire.

Source:  I received a copy of this book from Nudge Real Readers in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


A Higher Duty

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Book Review: ONCE UPON A TIMEPIECE BY STARR WOOD

ONCE UPON A TIMEPIECE
BY
STARR WOOD

176 Pages

I rated this 9/10

About the Book:

When Conrad Sands returns a wristwatch to an old flame after 20 years apart, a remarkable chain of events begins.
The watch passes through the hands of a gold-digger, a journalist, an enchantress, and a professor. It touches the lives of a rogue art collector, a domestic helper, and an environmental campaigner. It influences a reverend's apprentice, a kept wife and a self-made man. All of them are strangers, yet all are intricately linked in ways that none of them see.
A deeply thought-provoking novel, Once Upon a Timepiece is told through twelve inter-connected short stories. Each story can be read on its own, with a distinct plot and a sting in its tail. But the stories also join together to form a longer narrative. Along the way, the book explores humanity's relationship with time, and the unseen threads of history that bind us together.

Once Upon A Timepiece is 176 pages of pure pleasure.  

Each chapter is set in a different month of the year, starting in January when Conrad Sands attempts to return a wristwatch: a 1946 Breitling Chronomat made from rose-coloured gold: to his ex-girlfriend but things don't go according to plan and from then on the watch manages to belong to a different person each month.

Each story is unique, some are funny, some have little twists, some are thought-provoking, some are a little sad but all have moral questions. The chapters are only short, but Starr Wood manages to cram so much detail into them that the characters seemed so real.  Excellent story-telling.

What I enjoyed most were the novel and unusual ways that the watch changed hands, from a mistake to a set up to an accident and so on.

A delightfully entertaining book.

Once Upon a Timepiece is the debut novel from British writer, journalist and economist Starr Wood.  To find out more please visit the website.

Source:  I was provided with a copy of this book from Bo Tree Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Book Review: MERCY SNOW BY TIFFANY BAKER

MERCY SNOW
BY
TIFFANY BAKER

I rated this 9/10

About the Book:
In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.
June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne'er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her--and the town--nothing but grief.
June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town's past.

"Mill business wasn't always pretty - no one was trying to say otherwise - but when was anything lovely in Titan Falls?"
Mercy Snow is a wonderfully atmospheric and beautifully written novel which centres on the families living in the small town of Titan Falls.  The Androscoggin River, a long-troubled stretch of water, beautiful on the surface but poisoned underneath, sulphur dioxide escaping from the paper mill which dominates and employs most of the towns people.
The mill owner's wife June McAllister is still considered (even after 20 years) an outsider because she 'tries too hard'.  Head of the local ladies Sewing Circle she is manipulative and feared by the other ladies.

When 19 year old Mercy Snow and her back woods siblings arrive in Titan Falls looking for their long dead father, they are met with distrust and dislike from the townspeople.  The Snows had a reputation for being elusive on the best of days and downright shady on the rest of them.
Life hasn't been easy for Mercy and her family, making their living from the land, picking herbs, fungi and plants, killing and eating wild animals, travelling from town to town getting work wherever they could, never settling anywhere until they arrive in Titan Falls.
When the local bus crashes in a ravine, killing a young girl, the local people suspect Mercy's brother, Zeke, of causing the accident, the loudest accusing voice belonging to June McAllister.
Mercy was the most amazing character, she was not bitter or jealous, she tried hard to scrape a living for herself and her little sister, did not make any trouble, and she was determined to clear her brother's name.  Secrets and lies come to the surface, and Mercy has her own of sweetening the whole town!
This is the same slowly flowing style of descriptive writing as Tiffany Baker's debut novel The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, (read my thoughts here) the same sort of quirky characters in a small town, though Mercy Snow is a little darker.

I was totally engrossed from start to finish, I sympathised with Mercy and her sad life, wanted her to be happy, I felt like I lived in the town due to the richly detailed writing.  I feel that Tiffany Baker has written another best seller and I heartily recommend it.


Available to buy from ..... Amazon.co.uk ...... Amazon.com
Source:  I received a copy of this eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.

June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne'er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her--and the town--nothing but grief.

June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town's past. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/tiffany-baker/mercy-snow/9781455512737/#desc

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Book Review: THE SILENT WIFE BY A.S.A. HARRISON

THE SILENT WIFE
BY
A.S.A. HARRISON


I rated this 8/10

About the Book:

Todd and Jodi have been together for more than twenty years.  They are both aware their world is in crisis, though neither is willing to admit it.
Todd is living a dual existence, while Jodi is living in denial.  But she also likes to settle scores. When it becomes clear their affluent Chicago lifestyle could disintegrate at any moment, Jodi knows everything is at stake.  It's only now she will discover just how much she's truly capable of......
Having nothing left to lose changes everything.

"He knows and she knows that he's a cheater, and he knows she knows, but the point is that the pretence, the all-important pretence must be maintained, the illusion that everything is fine and nothing is the matter."

As long as Jodi's life is orderly and predictable and things are running smoothly, she can put up a front, go through the motions, be silent

She has a good life, living in a lovely apartment overlooking a lake, no children, no demands on her time, works from home as a Therapist with a couple of clients a day, she can turn a blind eye.

As long as her partner of 20 years, Todd, comes home from work every day, takes the dog for a walk, puts the trash out, pays her credit card bills, she can act as if all is well.

But when Todd changes the rules by falling in love with his best friend's young daughter and threatens her neat and precise life ..... this becomes a blow to her orderly daily routine and she finds that she now has to do something.....

Each chapter is by either Him or Her, it's not in the first person, but we get to know their thoughts and feelings in quite a detailed way.  I enjoyed reading their trivial details but I can see how this could make for boring reading to some.

I couldn't really sympathise with Jodi, and I didn't like Todd too much either, he wanted his cake and eat it!

The writing was smooth and flowed easily, I liked the Him and Her chapters and I thought it was an interesting read overall.

Source:  Thanks to Nudge (Real Readers) for sending me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Buy it Now from Amazon.co.uk .... Amazon.com ......



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