Tanna is an island forming part of the nation of Vanuatu in Polynesia. Its inhabitants adhere to traditional values rather than falling for useless modern inventions like Christianity or Islam. Instead they stick to true religion as old as man with a few embellishments. A book explores religious beliefs and their development.
The second book in the Belgariad takes readers on a ride of exploration through three kingdoms. While the first dealt with misty, orderly Sendaria and the Viking kingdom of Cherek, this one takes them through Arendia, Tolnedra and Nyissa on the quest set for Garion. Join the teenage sorcerer apprentice in trying to get answers and explanations.
Sometimes, mystery novels take you places you didn't think of before. Everyone knows Delphi and its beautiful temples and ruins. There isn't a single scene in this book played out anywhere there. This book takes you out of tourist Delphi to the real Greece hidden just around the corner from the money haunts.
What pops into your mind when you read the word reincarnation? Are past lives flashing through your mind stirring imagined memories? I found a book that can take you out of the cycle of reincarnation. Not the usual one. The cycle that somehow makes you look back thinking past incarnations are important. It's a guide to reincarnate your life now.
Take a trip down memory lane to long summers spent at the camp or at the family house on the coast. The memoir is lovingly built and gives a believable and charming picture of family summers spent in Maine in the 1960s. Up to the point where tragedy strikes and the reader encounters the dark side of backwater America.
Who would ever want to go to Dijon? This question and variants thereof is the most asked in this book. But it all starts in London with a kidnapping gone wrong. Flight and chase take the reader through France to Paris and from there to Dijon. No car races and police investigation, I'm afraid, the year is 1780.
When you look at Christmas traditions in Britain, they look quite German. The reason lies with the Royal family which excelled at importing German Princesses and with them all kinds of traditions to England. While the Christmas tree and its decoration is a German import, there are other foreigners to be named, too. Pantomime, turkey, and Santa Claus are among them.
|Queen Elizabeth II|
The Pyrenees Mountains are impressive enough with any need to make them even more mysterious than they already are. But trust Mary Stewart to manage just that. If you know the mountains, you will know she has been there. As with all her mystery novels, this one is as much travel guide as it is mystery story. It is bound up in the local history of this wild region marking the border between France and Spain.
Dive into Paris and Versailles during the time of King Louis XV. Corruption and intrigue are ripe. France is an open playing field for the Duke of Avon. the English peer has earned the nickname Satanas from his enemies. Broke as a young man, he had toured Europe as a gamester. He gambled a young Austrian noble out of his fortune and retired to enjoy a lavish and sumptuous lifestyle.
This mystery book will take you to Austria's beautiful countryside. As it is all about a horse, you also get a lot of history about the Imperial Stud and the Spanish Riding School. As usual with Mary Stewart, her landscape descriptions are masterful and may sway your decision as to where to take your Austrian holiday. And the mystery will keep you guessing to the end.
If you think that writers or authors are a happy family, think again. They may be part of one big writing family, but the family can be highly dysfunctional. Authors are in fact able to be vitriolic in their abuse of other writers albeit with some style. Unlike the often incoherent mutterings of common internet trolls, their comments come with truly horrendous barbs, sharp like scalpels, and honed like harpoons.
If you are planning on going on a holiday in Scotland, this book should give you a valuable hint of where you have to go at all cost. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart takes you to the Isle of Skye and won't let you leave until you have finished the book. And if you go there, this book should be part of the reading stuff to take along. Consider it a guidebook extraordinary when you read on site.
Ghosts are a fascinating matter. There are people who believe in quarks and black matter; there are people who believe in gods and demons; and there are people who believe in ghosts. The first two are amply covered by one or more science fields, the latter finally receives recognition in a book dealing exclusively with it. The writer grew up and spent all his youth in ghost haunted buildings and is therefore an expert on the matter.
HM The Queen famously asked 'Did no one see it coming?' when referring to the shambles banks made out of the world economy. The answer is surprisingly, yes, there was at least someone who did predict the economic abyss. Cassandras are ignored, and so was this book. Robert Beckman’s Downwave was published by Milestone Publications in 1983. It has two telling subtitles: Surviving the Second Great Depression, and Everything All the Experts Would Tell You if Only They Dared.
Etiquette handbooks might seem out of fashion; they probably are, as having atrocious manners seems to become the norm. But this book is a treasure for several reasons. It was written in the 60s by a writer looking back to the 20s. All this makes double the fun, and that is not even all to have a good laugh while reading it. Just don't ever contemplate to follow the advice you're given.
If ever you planned to go on a holiday to the South of France, this mystery novel is the ideal way to take yourself on a spin through all its best landscapes and cities. And when you really go there on your holiday, don’t forget to take the book along; Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk may serve as guide book and mystery novel at the same time.
There is nothing noble about it. A biography about the life of the 7th Marquess of Bath and current holder of the title gives an in-depth psychological analysis of one of aristocracy’s most prominent nut-cases. While many visitors flock to Longleat’s Safari Park, few of them are aware of the constant private warfare waged on the estate though some of it has swapped over into the newspapers recently.
In fantasy stories, everything from characters, props, through geography to magic has to work in perfect harmony. Pawn of Prophecy is one of the fantasy books that really work all the way through. Dialogues are funny, it has the necessary cliff hangers, and magic has strict rules to follow. You could take a holiday in the land of make-believe with this book anytime. It is, though, the first in a series of five; you better reserve some time for the others, too.
The English and the French are well known for their long lasting friendship built on mutual esteem, or maybe not. The Entente Cordiale is but a thin veneer over the gulf that separates the two countries. But indeed, there is a lot of fun to be got out of a situation playing the French against the English.
Enter the world of fantasy writers: Althalus was a thief, a crook, and an occasional murderer; he was probably the best thief in the world. And this fantasy story book is all about his adventures in a world of make believe. Or it should be about his adventures, but a few things went wrong along the way. That might seem normal for any story worth writing about. But a few things went wrong with writing the book itself. Which makes it either a bad book, or an interesting one. It depends on your point of view.
Whereas Guy Fawkes failed to blow up parliament, a woman succeeded in doing so if virtually. Heather Brooke is the journalist who had the unprecedented cheek to question the expenses of MPs (that's member of parliament). By doing this, she managed to blow up 649 fraudsters in the Commons including all cabinet ministers and the complete shadow government as well as several hundred in the Lords. Good show.
1941, Josslyn Hay, Earl of Errol, was shot dead in Kenya. The death of the debauched jet-setter at the heart of Kenya’s Happy Valley set gave the tabloids a heyday and headlines to spare. Rumors were ripe, contradictory, and mostly completely false. The murderer was never apprehended. A new book tries to pin down a new suspect.
Macmillan published Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by William Shawcross. The book suffers from the usual bug all autobiographies and official biographies suffer from: It shows the life of the subject as the writer of those who authorized it wants it to be remembered, not as it was. Official biographies are nothing more than a propaganda tool to bend history.
Biographies may turn out to be just about anything; they come as pack of lies, as means to drop names, as a way to shift blame to others, or as a collection of pointless anecdotes. Every once in a while, a biography is published that stands out presenting a riveting life's story. The biography written about Bert Trautmann is one of the latter.
If you are dying for a holiday, I've got some tips to make your wish come true. Alternatively, it might give you an idea why I am all for staycations. If you believe in statistics, it will sway you in one direction. If on the other hand you believe statistics aren't worth the memory space they take up, it will go the other way.
Splendour & Squalor by Marcus Scriven was published by Atlantic Books. The book offers a kaleidoscopic view of members of the British aristocracy that behaved with anything but noblesse. It’s a treasure trove of stories for friends of the weird, the wacky, and the wonderfully eccentric.
Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation Of A World War II Fighter Pilot by Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross was published by Hay House. The book tells the story the search for the past of the Leininger family’s son. The book is a revelation, but probably not in the sense intended when written. There are lessons to be learned, though.
Arthur Miller died in 2005 at the age of 89, and the reactions were not universally of grief. Lights were dimmed on Broadway and one paper cleared its front page, but several dissenters made themselves heard over the empty rituals of public praise. The most famous of America’s playwrights had always called forth divided reactions from critics and public, so reactions after his death were in keeping with that.
Sinners And Saints by Father Michael Seed was published by Metro Publishing. A Catholic priest tells anecdotes about well known and less well known people hovering around the perceived power center of the United Kingdom. Don't expect any earth shaking insights or a fount of wisdom from this book. But it is amusing enough to while away an hour or two.
The word hero conveys all kinds of images to us. When writing about heroes, you would expect that an author comes up with some sort of definition; it might even be a personal one. Lord Ashcroft wrote a book about heroes, and he didn't put a heroic effort into it. Special Forces Heroes is not that special and lacks in force. Heroically, though, I read it from beginning to end.
Peter Biskind’s book Star, a biography of Warren Beatty, was published by Simon & Schuster. The author tries and abysmally fails to get Warren Beatty out of bed, but the book makes good reading for scandal mongers. If you ever wondered how to start your Hollywood career: It starts in the bed of a producer or director. It helps if you aren't choosy about the sex of your mentors; they will get you roles even when lacking in looks and acting talent.
If you ever wondered why celebrities tend to publish their invented biographies while alive, here’s one to read at all cost. The author manages to stay out of most cat fights, but the truth is hurting enough without the need to add slander. This is not how historian Hugh Trevor-Roper imagined to be remembered.
Linguistics is a science that is at best a bit murky, at worst nationalistic and highly political; it can become a quagmire, too. The language barriers I mention in the title refer to the barriers put up by linguists on their own understanding of languages. A new book tries to get rid of a few 19th century hold-overs embedded in our minds.
Pan Books published The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. In it, she tells the stories of three women in search of their roots covering a hundred years of family history. While two of them were displaced by no choice of their own, the third is set upon her quest by her grandmother to solve a family mystery.
Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin was published by Hamish-Hamilton. A book about change and sameness in country life, it is filled with observations of the wild and not so wild. If you are living in the city and hope for country life, this is an exercise in what you can expect. And if you live in the country, it might open your eyes to what is going on around you.
The Man with The Golden Touch: How the Bond Movies Conquered the World by Sinclair McKay was published by Aurum. Is it a case of just one more writer jumping on the marketing train of James Bond movies and its bandwagon of licensed and unlicensed merchandise (or would that be a bondwagon)? Not quite for once.
When the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace was coming to the cinema, Penguin Classics published Quantum of Solace: The Complete Short Stories by Ian Fleming. What is the book's connection with the movie? What do its short stories tell us about the film? And how did Ian Fleming come by this odd book title?
It is always difficult to come second and later. When writing a biography, it makes your job as a writer that much harder and your research must be more thorough than that previously done. Still, the outcome might be a book that contains nothing new over what has already been written. It ends up being a rehash of well known and acclaimed books with no merit of its own.
Being offensive is an easy thing to do and something most people are quite good at; doing it intelligently, though, is a literary achievement. Auberon Waugh was a master of this craft and excelled at finding a hornet’s nest where none existed before. Enter the world of political incorrectness with me.
The Little Prince has grown big over the years, really huge, since its first double publication (French and English) in New York in 1943. There are few other books that have been translated into over 200 languages. Some of these languages have otherwise only ever seen the bible translated before. This book can therefore be said to have been and still being a huge success. But what makes it so special?
Adam Boulton, Sky’s former political editor, tried to write a book on the Blair years at 10 Downing Street: Tony’s Ten Years: Memoirs of the Blair Administration published by Simon & Schuster. If you expect objectivity and distance from a political editor, then you will be sorely disappointed. But it is much worse than just a failure to keep the distance.
Rupert Thomson has written a novel under the title of a memoir. He is out to take book critics for a ride. As far as I was able to find reviews, he was extremely successful even though plot, style, and hyperbole used are a dead give-away. But the book offers much more than schadenfreude at the expense of hapless professional book reviewers.
With many others, I think that HRH Prince Charles Prince of Wales is out of fashion. Unlike many others, I believe that you have to be out of fashion to be really fashionable; you can't be a trend-setter by slavishly imitating others. His new book is a trend-setting experience that goes counter to actual political trends.