Fledgling review: Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan

Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan
Review by Sine


Mup, a normal girl, is driving home from seeing her ill aunty when a strange sight greets her. In the trees are what looks like witches. She thinks she is safe but the witches come to take her Mam away to the sparkling kingdom. Luckily Mup, Badger the dog and the ghost of her aunty manage to get her back. When they think the danger is gone they hear on the radio that Mup's father has disappeared.They all knew he had been taken to the sparkling kingdom. Reluctantly, Aunty follows Mup, Mam,Tipper (Mup's baby brother) and Badger over the border where they meet Crow, a rhyming raven who can turn into a boy, who follows them on their mission to save Mup’s father. Mup and her rather large group meet lots of new people as they travel around the sparkling kingdom to save Mup’s Dad.

I enjoyed this magical adventure story as you never knew what would happen next.

We Are Loving Erin Kelly

We Are Loving ….Erin Kelly

Journalist turned psychological thriller writer Erin Kelly is one of those writers who has hit their stride and is just getting better and we would like to help spread the word. To celebrate the forthcoming release of Erin’s new book He Said/She Said next month we are offering Erin’s paperbacks at £2 off for a limited period. Just to whet your appetite!


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The Poison Tree £8.99 £2 0ff

'Tense and menacing right from page one, filled with foreboding and a terrible sense of the inevitable. Erin builds a feeling of claustrophobia and of seemingly ordinary people driven to do extraordinary things. It's a gripping psychological thrill evoking the brooding atmosphere of Rebecca.


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The Sick Rose £8.99 £2 0FF

Paul has been led into a life of crime by his schoolyard protector, Daniel. Now, at nineteen, he must bear witness against his friend to avoid imprisonment.Louisa, who years ago fled from her own dark secrets, spends her days renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan mansion. A relationship develops between them, and Louisa starts to believe she can finally experience the happiness she had given up on; but it soon becomes apparent that neither of them can outrun their violent past .



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The Burning Air £8.99 £2 0FF

A clever tale of a life of repressed hatred and years of planned revenge and retribution. It all ends in tragedy for some and an uncertain peace for others. Questions are left unanswered. The reader's imagination must fill in the gaps which means that days later you are still thinking about it.


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The Ties That Bind £8.99 £20FF

A wonderfully written tale of an investigative journalist, Luke, wanting to write a book about the criminal world of the 60s and in particular an ace safe cracker. You learn from the prologue that he has got himself into a very nasty predicament and might not survive. As you read on it is unclear as to who is responsible for there are several candidates to choose from. 


wayne winstoneErin, Kelly
We Are Loving Mick Herron

We Are Loving…

Mick Herron's first Jackson Lamb novel, Slow Horses, was described as the 'most enjoyable British spy novel in years' by the Mail on Sunday and picked as one of the best twenty spy novels of all time by the Daily Telegraph. The second, Dead Lions, won the 2013 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger. The third, Real Tigers, was shortlisted for both the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and the Sunday Express wrote that it 'revitalised the spy thriller genre'.


Slow Horses Jackson Lamb Thriller 1 by Mick Herron

The first of his series about MI5 and a character called Jackson Lamb, one of the great monsters of modern fiction. He's a wonderfully cynical writer and there's a lot of dark humour in it. I'm not clever enough to write this sort of thing -- Bernard Cornwell 

Dead Lions by Mick Herron

Sharp, biting and hugely enjoyable. The series focuses on Slough House where MI5 agents who are out of favour, who’ve screwed up one too many times, are assigned for light duties but inevitably end up outshining their ‘proper’ MI5 colleagues. 

Real Tigers by Mick Herron

The novel begins, incongruously, with a rooftop battle between Batman and Spiderman but quickly moves on to rivalries within MI5 and the sad lives of some of the characters while Herron wonderfully blends the thriller element and the humane as he orchestrates a most complex but believable plot like a watchmaker. At times darkly hilarious, at others gripping and intense, this confirms Herron and his series as a future classic. 

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We are Loving..This is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

We Are Currently Loving...

This is Going to Hurt, Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

by Adam Kay £16.99,  £2 off

What’s that saying about “keep a diary and one day it will keep you”?

The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.

Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis.


Most of Kay’s anecdotes are probably not the kind you would trot out at dinner parties. There’s the one where he was invited to a Halloween party after a gruelling shift and thought his blood-soaked gown might be a suitable costume. There is also the infamous degloving injury. This is where skin is traumatically torn from the underlying tissue, in this case the penis. The owner of the penis had been dancing on the roof of a bus stop, then jumped on to a lamppost and tried to use it as a fireman’s pole. When he asked if it could be “regloved”, the consultant had to explain that the glove was spread all over the lamppost.

The book is also a timely account of the horrendous demands made on junior doctors - both physical and mental. At least once Kay fell asleep in his car in the car park after work and woke to find he was due on the wards again.

The arduous hours had a detrimental effect on his relationships and maybe also on his own emotional health. While he might have felt like “superman” when he saved lives, that didn’t make up for the pain of seeing lives slip away. Never mind the cancelled holidays and the inability to buy a house and settle down because junior doctors are always being moved from hospital to hospital...

In the end it all proved too much for Kay, hence the career move into the much more stress-free comedy world.

With its witty candour, this book will make you appreciate the sacrifices doctors make on a daily basis. Infusing his gruelling experiences with humour, Kay gives us a peek into life on the NHS frontline. 

 `Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.' - Stephen Fry

Fledgling review: Tender Earth by Sita Brahmachari

When Laila finds her grandmother’s Protest Book, she is instantly inspired.  Her first move is to become a vegetarian, after she sees the unfair way animals are treated.  She uses her grandmother’s handpainted banner on her first march – a women’s march.  When she meets Pari, a refugee, she sees the conditions the family lives in and knows she has to do something…  This is a story perfect for firing up young protestors, showing how we can all live on this Tender Earth.  

Reviewed by Edie

Fledgling review: Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

InkDeath is the final enthralling chapter to the InkHeart trilogy. After being pulled into the InkWorld by Meggie’s voice in InkSHeart (the first book) she and Farid have finally split ways due to the rift created by the sacrifice of Dustfinger in exchange for Farid’s life. But the death of Dustfinger is not the only tragedy to befall them, for The Adderhead has become immortal and set his brother-in- law the Milksop as ruler of Ombra. Mo has fully transformed into the Bluejay, a masked hero who fools the rich and defends the poor, known as the White Hand of Justice. In a foolish venture Mo is captured and is taken to the Castle on the Lake by Her Ugliness to await her father the Adderhead’s arrival with all her hope staked on one card.

But who are the heroes of this story? Can the Black Prince, Mo’s fellow Black Hand of Justice, save him and all the children of Ombra from the Piper, The Adderhead’s tin nosed herald? Will the Ugliness’ bet pay off? What does death really mean? Find out by reading the grand finale to the InkHeart trilogy!

 Cornelia Funke uses some amazing description when setting up her locations in this whole trilogy. Every place has at least a paragraph devoted not just to where a place is and what it looks like, but why it is the way it is as well. For example, when Fenoglio walks into Ombra castle with Meggie in the second book InkSpell, he thinks about how happy he is with the way it came into existence, through his writing of course.

 Funke describes the birdsong of the Gold Mockers of Ombra castle and how Fenoglio spent so long describing them in his InkHeart. When the Castle on the Lake is described Funke draws in your mind how the lake was the best defensive weapon imaginable; as the lakes bridge was only wide enough for one rider and it was so deep a giant couldn’t walk through it, nor boats cross it due to the monsters Her Ugliness’ great-grandfather bred in it. The plot is filled with unimaginable twists and turns alongside characters who come back to haunt you. This is my second favourite set of books.

Review by Sam

Fledgling review: The Last Duchess by Laura Powell

Dragons and duchesses..Pattern meets them all. Her Highness Eleri, Pattern's mistress and best friend, suspects her uncle Prince Leopold of disguised crop destruction and child kidnapping. Accusing her uncle of plotting murder, Eleri's suspicions take a turn as a wonderful twist takes place.
An amazing mystery story perfect for fans of Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine and other mystery writers.

Review by Sine

One adventurous girl, sent to work for the duchess-to-be of Elfinheim, one ancient conspiracy…  What could possibly go wrong?  When Pattern is sent to be lady’s maid in the far kingdom of Elfinheim she is caught up in a plot lasting for decades whilst making a friend for life.  Can she stopthe conspiracy and save countless souls, or will her mistress and best friend become the Last Duchess of Elfinheim.  A fast-paced, action-packed tale full of fun, feisty, females, The Last Duchess is the ultimate comeback for people who say girls can’t star in adventure stories!

Review by Edie

Fledgling Review: Demon Headmaster: Total Control by Gillian Cross

I didn’t think I would, but I loved The Demon Headmaster: Total control

Lizzie, the troublemaker, acts like any other girl quiet and shy at times but all together a big bundle of fun.

Tyler, the mechanical magician, helps the group in an extraordinary yet peculiar way.

Angelika, the coffee stall owner, again finds a way to save the school in an accidental but crazy way.  

Last but not least Ethan, the brains, the thinker, the smart one, thinks up strange ideas that end up being spectacular and extremely inventive.

 I think that any mystery lover should read this book as I couldn’t put it down!

Review by Rosie

Fledgling Review: Chase by Linwood Barclay

If this was the shortest review in the world I would just say 'I loved it, you should just buy it'. But it isn't. The book was amazing. The characters were so funny. If I met one of these characters I would straight away become friends with them. Chase was so unique in a brilliant way.

 The book is about a boy (Jeffery) and a dog (Chipper) who find each other while running away. Later Jeffery finds out the dog is special. He hides it from his aunt who does not like dogs. Find out what happens in the rest of the book, Chase.

 This book was amazing, but a little slow start. There wasn't much description. I would recommend it to ages 9 and over for there is a couple of bits of quite mild bad language. 

 It's funny, thrilling and an adventurous book. What's not to like? It is no ordinary book. It is a book that stands out and practically glows. If you haven't read this yet you aren't alive. Beg your parents for this. You can't miss this book. Whatever you do, don't doubt it! 

Review by Albie



Sophie's Choice...


In a world where social media runs teenage lives, it's easy enough to get caught up in the whirlwind that is the Internet in 2017. McManus's One of Us is Lying offers a refreshing perspective on social media, and its relevance in modern society. 

As a teenage girl who believes herself to be rather accomplished at navigating her way through the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr, it's all too often that I hear the horror stories of the impacts of these apps, which were first offered to us as innocent means of communication. What came from this simple and effective idea was in fact exposure to scandal, gossip, and the chance to express the angst that comes with adolescence. This novel is an example of how typical high school gossip can be amplified by the phones in our pockets, with detrimental effects...

The blurb reads: "Five students walk into detention. Only four leave alive. Everyone has secrets right? What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them."
What gripped me with this book were its similarities to the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club, with its five archetypal characters who meet in a school detention. A geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess and the Outsider. However, what prevents itself from being an exact duplicate is Karen M. McManus' addictive writing style as she leads readers through the twists and turns of the murder of Simon Kelleher, the founder of the school's gossip page About That. A thrilling summer read for fans of Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why. 


Children's Book of the Month July

Tilly and the Time Machine by Adrian Edmondson (Penguin) £6.99. Aged 7 plus

We seem to be awash with celebrities and particularly comedians writing children’s books- David Walliams, Julian Clary, David Baddiel and Sandi Toksvig to name a few. I often think, well, they have a job. Why not give genuine writers a chance to break through? But then I read Tilly and the Time Machine and I felt bad. This is a great read, with gentle and subtle humour, which the author has clearly put a great deal of love and care into. He writes wonderfully for children. Tilly is seven and a half- and about to make history. When Tilly’s dad builds a time machine in the shed there’s only one place she really wants to go: back to her sixth birthday party, when she ate too many cupcakes and her mummy was still here.  But then something goes wrong! Tilly’s dad gets stuck in the past and only she can save him… Will they make it back in time for tea? Tilly is a resourceful, practical girl who navigates famous history like the Battle of Trafalgar and a tricky Queen Victoria to find her father and bring him home. Edmondson has a great voice in describing how children think about death and captures a seven and a half year old’s world splendidly. The gags are not in your face like his comedy, but understated and subtle. A great summer read.

This is one of the best books that I have ever read. The main character, Tilly, is having a tricky time and it’s moving but also funny at times. I am not quite finished, but I don’t want to put it down so it won’t be long before I am. Then I will just have to read it again!
Alex, aged 9.

Fledgling Review: A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis

On a small boat one man tells a story of the one possession he took with him… This is a deep and moving tale of people who are probably Syrian refugees and a man who took with him a violin.  As he plays the violin, he tells the beautiful tale of the horse who gave its tail hairs for the bow of the violin.  I would recommend this book for people over 8, as it has a slightly sad ending.



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Fledgling Review: Rose Campion and the Curse of the Doomstone by Lyn Gardner

When a precious stone rumoured to be cursed is stolen, Rose and her friends are on the case.  And when one of Rose’s friends is framed, they know they have to work hard to solve the mystery.  But with so many people acting suspiciously, who could have done it?  The gripping second novel in the Rose Campion series, the Curse of the Doomstone has a brilliant plot with a surprising twist at the end.

Review by Edie

Fledgling review: One by Sarah Crossnan

 This story is rather intriguing as it shows what life is like for conjoined twins - a disability most don't realise. From the moment you pick up the book, to the moment you put it down you feel as though you are connected to the twins (Tippi and Grace). I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, young adults and adults alike!


Review by Laura

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Fledgling review: Me and Mr P by Maria Farrar

Football crazy boy, Arthur, has an annoying little brother called Liam.
He wishes he had a ordinary brother but no, he's ended up with Liam.  But to make Arthur's life even more crazy, a chocolate ice cream loving POLAR BEAR ends up on his doorstep! The funniest football photo competition is almost upon them, Arthur wishes he could enter…

From ladders to topsy turvy words, Maria Farrer decorates her writing like a drawing.  I think this book is funny and entertaining so if you like Polar Bears, chocolate ice cream and football this is the book for you.

Review by Sine

Fledgling Review: The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda

This picture book for older children captured me as soon as I started reading.  With the memorable characters and the beautifully dark and mysterious illustrations, this book is perfect for anyone looking for a more unusual read.  The witty puns make it not too humourless that you’d get bored, yet not so slapstick you get fed up and want to be taken seriously.  A great read!

In this story a family of six, or seven if you count the cat, live together with an unusual hobby of making lists.  From ghastly illnesses to fun stuff to do, each member of the family has their own thing to list – apart from the cat, he copies Grandpa and lists his worst enemies and greatest admirers.  One day an unexpected visitor comes because the door was open and tries to greet the Liszts, but he is not on the list so they dismiss him until he meets the middle child Edward.

Kyo Maclear has written a beautiful story, made even more beautiful by illustrator Júlia Sardà, whose use of colour has made it intriguingly mysterious.  This book is a must-have book to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.  What’s more, it’s sitting right in front of you, so why don’t you buy it now?

Review by Edie

Children's Books Lots by Nicola Davies

Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth

Nicola DaviesEmily Sutton £12.99 £2 off 

There are living things everywhere: the more we look, the more we find. There are creatures on the tops of the tallest jungle trees, at the bottom of the coldest oceans, even under the feathers of birds and in boiling volcanic pools. So how many different kinds are there? One, two, three … lots!

With beautiful words from Nicola Davies and exquisite illustrations by Emily Sutton, this groundbreaking book is certain to enchant and inspire children.

This stylish new non-fiction picture book introduces young readers to the wonderful world of ecology and conservation in an exciting and approachable way.

The book directs younger readers to the amazing diversity of life on our earth in all its forms, from giant whales to the tiniest micro-organisms, presented through rich and colourful illustrations that are engaging and entertaining, lots here to see and discover.

Lots is the kind of book  that can awaken every child’s inner scientist and conservationist; not surprising since the author is a zoologist, BBC science writer and award-winning author of many outstanding books for children, including some of my favourites: Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes and A First Book of Nature. Highly recommended for ages 4 and up.


We Are Currently Loving Elly Griffiths

Elly's books has been gaining fans at a rate of knots, the plots are gripping, the writing is accessible and very entertaining. our particular favourites are the Ruth Galloway series.

We are offering £1 off selected titles.

Ruth Galloway makes a great lead figure as the forensic archaeologist who finds her expertise called upon to help solve crimes. Entertaining and full of suspense with the back drop of the wild Norfolk coast giving an extra chill to the bones.

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Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing for many years. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Stephens and Mephisto series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two children.

Coming in June Red Sky Noon

Red Sky At Noon by Simon Sebag Montefiore June 2017 £16.99

See Meet the Author .

What is the difference between historical fiction and fictional history? After reading this novel, I’m not sure it matters. Here we have, published this month, the third in a trilogy set in Russia during the Second World War, of which the first two, Sashenka and One Night In Winter, have already won critical acclaim, but which (unlike Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy) stand alone rather than needing to be read in chronological sequence. Benya Golden, a Russian-Jewish middle-aged writer, finds himself caught up in the atrocities involved in the German advance of 1942 towards the River Don and Stalingrad. He has been enrolled in a brigade of Shtrafniki, Stalin’s ‘penal battalions’ of imprisoned Soviet citizens released for cavalry training, owing to the shortage of tanks. The action swings between the broad grassy plains where the fighting is taking place, and the city of Moscow where Stalin's daughter Svetlana is feeling the stirrings of adolescent passion.  Dr Montefiore handles the plot like an old hand. The easy pace of the writing and dialogue belies its dynamic intensity. The characters spring into life and remain consistent yet surprising. There is a considerable cast of participants, some historical like Stalin, Beria and others, but mostly fictional or based loosely on real people. There is plenty of wanton cruelty and there are interludes of love, but none are described merely for their own sakes. The author’s credentials as a first-class historian allow confidence in the essential verisimilitude of the narrative, though in the Author’s Note at the end he insists 'it should be enjoyed as a novel, no more, no less.' Anyway, it’s no mere potboiler. Within a short fragment of human history (adjusted to suit the story) all humanity is here, whether in the relentless struggle for national and personal domination or in the still greater forces of freedom and love. It’s hardly War and Peace (for one thing, some of the language could be said to lack Tolstoyan gentility), but it shows impressive versatility from a writer and TV presenter who has given us Catherine the Great and Potemkin and The Romanovs and much elseI shall definitely turn up to hear the author himself later this month. If there’s room. By Mark Greenstock


A Fascinating Read: Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis By JD Vance

 Hardback £14.99

This book was not on my short list to read, indeed I had never heard of it, and when recommended it I did not hold out much hope of enjoying it. How wrong was I.

This is a memoir about white working-class America, written by someone who, having been born into it, can write about it very frankly without fear of being accused of any ‘ism’. In a year when the various American coastal elites have been shocked by the arrival of a populist new president not moulded from the usual Ivy League background, it certainly goes a long way in explaining his rise to power. But more than that this is a thought-provoking book about tribal loyalties, about nature v nurture, about patriotism and religion but, above all, about the importance of having someone in one’s life to provide inspiration and motivation to improve one’s lot.

JD Vance (known as JD by all) was born in 1984 into a totally dysfunctional and dirt-poor family, which originated from Kentucky’s Appalachia region. His mother is dependant on various drugs, his natural father is a distant character and his many and varied stepfathers come and go with monotonous regularity. However throughout all this JD and his sister have one constant in their lives, their maternal grandmother, ‘Mamaw’, a hard-living, sometimes violent (particularly when defending her family) and hard-swearing woman, much feared by both her extended family and the local community, who nevertheless provides that maternal love and inspiration that propels JD to college and eventually to Yale Law School, from which he graduates with a (non-hillbilly) wife, a sound middle-class career and some serious hang-ups from his childhood.

This moving memoir has some really colourful characters and a certain amount of ironic humour. It spares us nothing of the day-to-day stresses of living amongst a very closed tribal community that too easily falls into the welfare dependency traps that are as common here in Britain as they are in America. Having escaped this culture the author looks back dispassionately and asks many rhetorical questions.

He points out that achieving the ‘American Dream’ of upward social mobility is far more easily achieved in many European countries than in America. He wonders why, despite being white and Christian, he and his hillbilly culture get so little sympathy when compared to many of the ethnic minorities.

His world is a world of truly irrational behaviour. “We spend our way into the poorhouse.” “We choose not to work when we should be looking for jobs. Sometimes we’ll get a job, but it won’t last. We’ll get fired for tardiness, or for stealing merchandise…… or for taking five 30 minute restroom breaks in a shift.”

He also writes about the deep patriotism and Christianity inherent within his hillbilly culture: “Mamaw always had two gods; Jesus Christ and the United States of America. I was no different and neither was anyone else I knew.”

This is a book which, unlike any other that I have come across, gets to the core of a significant element of American society which mirrors many of the cultures or ‘tribes’ that are present within British society as well. It is well worth being included on anyone’s reading list. Reviewed by John Gaye