The title says it all: Slow Cotswolds is a methodical, meandering guide through what the author calls “the most beautiful part of the UK.” Caroline Mills is a Cotswolds native, and it shows; you couldn’t ask for a more thorough guide: each town or village gets a brief history, some interesting factoids, a list of local attractions and restaurants, and their contact info. The occasionally wall-to-wall writing could put off the casual reader, but it belies a pleasant and essential guide.
Slow Cotswolds, by Caroline Mills, is published by Bradt Travel Guides, £14.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email email@example.com.
2014 is, apparently, the year for history-inspired biographies. In The Man with his Head in the Clouds, Richard O. Smith follows the chaotic and brilliant life of James Sadler – pioneer of lighter-than-air flight and mobile steam engines. The book makes you wonder, more than anything, why Sadler is not more of a household name, for his is a life of whimsy, adventure and humour; one that saw the uneducated pastry chef crashing balloons into the Thames and various parts of Yorkshire, sometimes accompanied by a cat, sometimes not.
The author is at once the polar opposite of Sadler and the perfect man to write his story. Smith is a comic writer who contributes to shows such as Radio 4’s The Now Show and Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, and it at first seemed strange that Smith’s story not only competes with Sadler’s, but pulls focus. His attempts to tame his various phobias, from stairs to heights, are surprisingly endearing. Smith aims to complete his trials by attempting a hot air balloon ride that mirrors one of Sadler’s – a neat end to what is otherwise a chaotic and hilarious read.
The Man with his Head in the Clouds, by Richard O. Smith, is published by Signal Books, £14.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like your crimes gritty then look no further than Malcolm Mackay’s “The Sudden Arrival of Violence”. Where better to set a novel about the a hit man trying to escape his past than Glasgow? There’s no dialect problems as the language is clear calm and at times terrifying. Malcolm Mackay’s characters come off the page and inhabit the reader’s life with haunting clarity.
The Sudden Arrival of Violence, by Malcolm Mackay, is published by Mantle, £12.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email email@example.com.
We are being deluged with First World War Publications. But Helen Dunmore’s “ The Lie” stands out as beautiful and gripping novel. It’s 1920 and a still young man faces a bleak future, having lost family and friends through the horror of the Great War. He is adrift in the wonderfully captured Cornish landscape and must face the fall of the dice having told one great lie. Dunmore’s prose deserves accolades and hundreds of thousands of readers.
The Lie, by Helen Dunmore, is published by Hutchinson, £14.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Clement’s “Prayers for the Stolen” is going to be one of the stand out books of 2014. It tells the story of Lady Di , a young Mexican girl who ,like so many, is victim of the brutality of Mexican Drug Lords’ whims. It is an astonishing book that manages wit and tenderness while describing the harrowing lives of innocent village children. This Lady Di will become one of the literary characters of the decade.
Prayers for the Stolen, by Jennifer Clement, is published by Hogarth, £12.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email email@example.com
Everyone has a picture of an Essex crime novel. But David Thorne’s “East of Innocence” is a fresh take on this famous county. Forget Ross Kemp’s gangs and uncover the real middle class crime of this redbrick, tennis playing London suburb. “East of Innocence” is the story of a failed lawyer clinging to the crusts of family and friends while battling to do good in a dark place. David Thorne takes you places you may have been to before. But you will never view them in the same way again.
East of Innocence, by David Thorne is published by Corvus, £12.99. To order a copy, call us on 01608 641033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (Little, Brown, £20.00)
Theo Decker is going to become a great Character in twenty first century literature. Donna Tartt’s eagerly anticipated third book in three decades does not disappoint. It’s a thumping good read. It tells the story of a boy who loses a mother but gains a priceless painting when he is witness to a terrotist bombing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All 700 pages scream “read me”. This without doubt should knock Dan Brown aside as the best seller of 2013
To the Letter, a Journey Through a Vanishing World, Simon Garfield (Canongate, £17.99)
Simon Garfield’s books are always hard to categorise, which is frustrating for big chains and his publisher. But they are always riveting, entertaining and a joy to possess. “To the Letter” is no exception. Garfield takes us on a wonderful historical tour of letters and letter writing. He captures the essence of what is about to disappear from the noise a letter makes as it comes through our letter box to some of the most powerful and poignant letter ever written.
Three Brothers, Peter Ackroyd (Vintage, £12.99)
Peter Ackroyd has written a riveting tale set in 1960s London. On the surface this is an ordinary story of three very different brothers making their way in in the world’s most fascinating city. But there’s a shroud of the supernatural hanging over these boys which makes Peter Ackroyd’s novels so distinctive and unique
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Under a Mackerel Sky, Rick Stein.
Rick Stein has had no ordinary life. More importantly he writes beautifully. I expect this book to sell more copies than Nigel Slater’s “Toast” (285,000 copies). He copes with the death of his Bipolar father by escaping to Australia and returns to open a Padstow night club where his plans for sophistication are drowned by the well paid and well oiled fishermen. This is not a celebrity memoir . It’s the lyrical and poignant story of a man who has trawled the depths and reached beyond.
Under a Mackerel Sky, Rick Stein. Ebury, £20.00
Expo 58, Jonathan Coe.
Jonathan Coe Never disappoints and “Expo 58” is another brilliant beautiful literary romp. A naïve and ambitious civil servant ,Thomas Foley, is plucked to oversee the British offering at The Belgium World Expo. His only qualification is his father was a publican. He certainly is not ready or equipped to deal with coming together of Russians , Americans and so many beautiful woman so soon after the Second World War. This is a fabulous farce that captures a forgotten moment in history when the modern and Europe’s memories collide.
Expo 58, Jonathan Coe. Viking Press, £16.99
The Broken Road, from the Iron Gates to Mount Athos
This is one of the most eagerly anticipated books in publishing. It is the third volume of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s amazing journey across Europe on foot. If that wasn’t enough it has been edited by Artemis Cooper , Fermor’s brilliant biographer, and Colin Thubron , the master travel writer.
The Broken Road, from the Iron Gates to Mount Athos, Patrick Leigh Fermor. John Murray, £25.00