Fantasy & Science Fiction Books
Pen and Sword Books
of the Month - Kate Riordan: Sanditon
by Trapeze 31st October 2019
A novelisation of ITV's lavish period drama, Sanditon, adapted for television by
Emmy and BAFTA-Award winning writer Andrew Davies and based on Jane
Austen's unfinished novel.
a chance accident transports Charlotte Heywood to the seaside town of
Sanditon, her life changes forever. And when she meets the charming and
slightly wild Sidney Parker, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind
of romance, betrayal and changing alliances - nobody in Sanditon is
quite as they seem.
the world Jane Austen left behind and meet the characters brought to
the page by Kate Riordan. Every coastal town has its secrets - but
Sanditon has more than most!
is no suggestion that Kate's novelisation of Andrew Davies's adaptation
of Jane Austen's fragment: Sanditon is an attempt to finish the novel -
this is based solely on what Andrew Davies and his team have come up
with for their eight-part extravaganza that has dominated Sunday nights
for the last two months. Leaving aside the furore at Davies's ending,
which suggests, more than anything, that a series 2 is planned but not
yet confirmed, Kate's novel owes more to Georgette Heyer's Regency
romances than to anything Jane Austen ever wrote. It is indeed true
that Sanditon was quite unlike any of Jane Austen's other novels, but
not to the extent that Davies wrote. This is a standalone novel that
celebrates the TV series to perfection - reading Kate's Sanditon is
like watching the series all over again - nothing is left out. It's a
Regency romp par excellence - Kate has caught the characters to
perfection and the plot - well, those of us who watched the series will
know it by heart anyway. I'm one of those who would welcome a series 2
with open arms - I truly believe that Sanditon was a worthy replacement
for Downton Abbey, and the lead actors, Rose Williams, in particular,
captured my heart. And yes, Kate's novel ends just as the TV series
ended - no surprise happy ending for Charlotte and Sidney! I enjoyed
reading Sanditon almost as much as I enjoyed watching the TV series.
It's absolutely brilliant, and a worthy successor to those fabulous
Regency romances by Georgette Heyer that so epitomise the period.
Austen: Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon
by Alma Books 25th January 2018
epistolary novel Lady Susan is the darkly humorous tale of the amatory
schemes and machinations of an ambitious and unprincipled coquette. The
Watsons is the story of the refined and well-educated Emma Watson,
forced by the second marriage of her aunt to return to the house of her
impecunious father and face the marital plots and intrigues of her
sisters. Begun by the author in the last few months of her life,
Sanditon, set in a fast-growing former fi shing village, swiftly
becoming a fashionable resort, pokes fun at the inhabitants of the new
coastal town, with all their hypochondria, witlessness and
volume is part of The Jane Austen Collection, a comprehensive
collection of Austen's best and much-loved works.
is no finer collection of classic English literature than the current
editions published by Alma Books. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to
it. It's a shame that I'm having to review this lovely book because of
Andrew Davies's adaptation of the fragment that Jane Austen wrote and
never completed in the last year of her life. It does provide a modicum
of character information which splendidly informs Davies's adaptation,
and provided Davies with enough material for one half of one of the
eight hour-long episodes. But the fragment provides so much more,
especially the warning that Jane Austen was about to break the mould,
to embark on an altogether new path with her writing. There is, of
course, no suggested incest (it wouldn't have been incest anyway), no
nudity, and no such frivolous goings-on as we encountered in the TV
series. But it is enjoyable, and it would have been so much more
enjoyable had she finished it! This Alma Classics edition is the best
available, in my opinion, and has so much more than just Lady Susan and
the two unfinished snippets, including photos and notes about Austen
and her world. Fantastic!
Austen: Love and friendship
by Alma Books 26th January 2017
and Friendship' and 'Lesley Castle' provide parodies of the gentry and
the fashionable idea of sensibility of the time. 'A History of England'
supplies us with a lively chronicle of English monarchic history. Also
included in this collection are 'The Three Sisters', 'Catharine', the
series of vignettes known as 'A Collection of Letters' and 'Lady
Susan', an epistolary story which was recently adapted for the cinema.
Taken together, these pieces display all the wry humour, shrewd
observation and satirical insight of Emma or Pride and Prejudice.These
inventive and entertaining pieces display the early sparkles of wit and
imagination of Jane Austen's mature fiction. Written when she was only
in her teens, they are by turns amusing, acerbic and occasionally
volume is part of The Jane Austen Collection, a comprehensive
collection of Austen's best and much-loved works.
Classics is committed to make available the widest range of literature
from around the globe. All the titles are provided with an extensive
critical apparatus, extra reading material including a section of
photographs and notes. The texts are based on the most authoritative
edition (or collated from the most authoritative editions or
manuscripts) and edited using a fresh, intelligent editorial approach.
With an emphasis on the production, editorial and typographical values
of a book, Alma Classics aspires to revitalize the whole experience of
reading the classics.
Alma Books publish
a complete set of Jane Austen's works, and this one contains a number
of (unknown to me) treasures, including another version of Lady Susan,
which is also in thge Sanditon volume above, together with essays on
the subject of love and friendship that perfectly display the fact that
Jane Austen had a keen eye and an even keener sense of humour. Her
piece on the monarchy alone is worth the cover price. Fans of Jane
Austen will want this one for completeness; those of us who love her
work but are not so obsessed, and maybe come to this great author only
when prompted by a major TV series or film, as was the case for me with
Sanditon, will value it for the extra, delicious morcels of prose that
mark Jane as the greatest romantic female novelist that ever lived.
Alma Books have done Jane proud.
James: The Secret of Cold Hill
by Macmillan 3rd October 2019
From the number one bestselling author,
Peter James, comes The Secret of
Cold Hill. The spine-chilling follow-up to The House on Cold Hill. Now a
smash-hit stage play.
Hill House has been razed to the ground by fire, replaced with a
development of ultra-modern homes. Gone with the flames are the violent
memories of the house’s history, and a new era has begun.
much of Cold Hill Park is still a construction site, the first two
families move into their new houses. For Jason and Emily Danes, this is
their forever home, and for Maurice and Claudette Penze-Weedell, it’s
the perfect place to live out retirement. Despite the ever present
rumble of cement mixers and diggers, Cold Hill Park appears to be the
ideal place to live. But looks are deceptive and it’s only a matter of
days before both couples start to feel they are not alone in their new
is one thing that never appears in the estate agent brochures: nobody
has ever survived beyond forty in Cold Hill House and no one has ever
truly left . . .
is the sequel to The House on Cold Hill, which I've often been tempted
by at boot sales and in charity shops, but then discarded in favour of
a Roy Grace or a book by someone completely different. Macmillan sent
me a copy of this one at my request, for which thanks very much, and I
can honestly say that it is one of the finest ghost stories I have ever
read, with overtones of M R James, it really is that good. The
characters are pure Jamesian, but the setting is more reminiscent of
one of those stories from the Victorian era, when people simply
believed everything, and writers like Conan Doyle and Dickens were
engaged in frightening people as well as entertaining them. There is a
sense of burgeoning menace even in the passages where, apparently,
nothing untoward is happening; and all the way through, you're never
quite sure what, if anything, is real, and what will be the eventual
outcome of whatever is going on in the Danes's house. It's not horror,
there's nothing Stephen King-ian about it in that sense, but it is the
perfect ghost story, and it is supremely entertaining, more so, in
fact, than James's day job - the continuing adventures of Roy Grace. I
thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.
Robinson: Many Rivers to Cross
by Hodder & Stoughton 19th September 2019
A skinny young boy is found dead - his body carelessly stuffed into
Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called to investigate. Who
is the boy, and where did he come from? Was he discarded as rubbish, or
left as a warning to someone? He looks Middle Eastern, but no one on
the East Side Estate has seen him before.
the local press seize upon an illegal immigrant angle, and the national
media the story of another stabbing, the police are called to
investigate a less newsworthy death: a middle-aged heroin addict found
dead of an overdose in another estate, scheduled for redevelopment.
finds the threads of each case seem to be connected to the other, and
to the dark side of organised crime in Eastvale. Does another thread
link to his friend Zelda, who is facing her own dark side?
The truth may be more complex - or much
simpler - than it seems . . .
The 26th Inspector
Banks novel seems like another day at the office - or does it? Annie
Cabot is still very much alive and enjoying life as a Detective
Inspector, of course, and I still find it something of a puzzle as to
why ITV chose to kill her off when the creator, Peter Robinson, never
had any plans to do that. There is something satisfying about Banksy -
one can't help but visualise Stephen Tompkinson as you read about his
extraordinary exploits; his enigmatic and mysterious friend Zelda is
very much at the heart of what's going on in this excellent police
procedural that is, as Stephen King suggests, the best series on the
market. To be honest, it's perfection, the perfect read for a quiet
time, at bedtime, or when all the chores and the DIY are done. Peter
James and Peter Robinson are both at the top of their game right now,
as are Stuart MacBride and Bernard Cornwell. I'm sad that Ann Cleeves
has ditched the Shetland series and Jimmy Perez for something not quite
as enjoyable (at least not yet) but at least we have Peter Robinson to
supply top quality police drama, alongside Peter James and Stuart
MacBride. These authors never let you down. The perfect Christmas
James: Dead at First Sight
by Macmillan 16th May 2019
You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you . . .
man waits at a London airport for Ingrid Ostermann, the love of his
life, to arrive. Across the Atlantic, a retired NYPD cop waits in a bar
in Florida’s Key West for his first date with the lady who is, without
question, his soulmate. The two men are about to discover they’ve been
scammed out of almost every penny they have in the world – and that
neither women exist.
a wealthy divorcée plunges, in suspicious circumstances, from an
apartment block in Munich. In the same week, Detective Superintendent
Roy Grace is called to investigate the suicide of a woman in Brighton,
that is clearly not what it seems. As his investigations continue, a
handsome Brighton motivational speaker comes forward. He’s discovered
his identity is being used to scam eleven different women, online. The
first he knew of it was a phone call from one of them, out of the blue,
saying, ‘You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you’.
woman is now dead.
Grace realizes he is looking at the tip of an iceberg. A global empire
built on clever, cruel internet scams and the murder of anyone who
threatens to expose them.
is the latest in Peter James's brilliant series centering on Roy Grace,
and it's one of the very best, dealing with identity theft and with
financial scams against old and vulnerable people. It was published way
back in the Spring but a copy has only just made it to me for some
reason, probably my fault for not asking for one. I have to say I am
terribly confused, because at the end of the last Roy Grace adventure,
his right hand man, Glen, was hunting him down with a view to killing
him - I don't think I dreamt this, but here he is, large as life, in
Dead At First Sight, and still Grace's right hand man. Maybe I did
dream it, but in any case, it's Peter James and Roy Grace at their very
Boyce: Death Makes No Distinction
by Silverwood Books October 2019
Two women at opposite ends of the social scale, both
Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is surprised when his old
rival John Townsend requests his help to investigate the murder of
Louise Parmeter, a beautiful writer who once shared the bed of the
Prince of Wales. Her jewellery is missing, savagely torn from her body.
Her memoirs, which threaten to expose the indiscretions of the great
and the good, are also missing.
by the chief magistrate’s demand that he drop his investigation
into the death of the unknown beggar woman, found savagely raped and
beaten and left to die in the outhouse of a Holborn tavern, Dan is
determined to get to the bottom of both murders. But as his enquiries
take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, and
Townsend’s real reason for requesting his help gradually becomes clear,
Dan is forced to face a shocking new reality when the people he loves
are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary.
investigation has suddenly got personal.
always enjoyable to read about the early days of the police force in
the UK, and Lucienne turns in a rattling good yarn full of great
characters and a plot to die for - literally! Thoroughly enjoyable -
you won't find this in high street booksellers, but you will get it
from Amazon, and I heartily recommend that you do just that.
Mahfouz: Poems from a Green and Blue Planet
by Hodder Children's Books 3rd October 2019
stunning collection of new and classic poems from around the world
celebrating the diversity of life on our green and blue planet, to be
shared with all the family. With new poems from Raymond Antrobus, Mona
Arshi, Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish, Dean Atta, Sabrina Mahfouz and more.
into this book and be swept away on a journey around our green and blue
planet, from the peak of the snowiest mountaintop to the bottom of the
deepest, bluest ocean. Meet the birds circling its skies, the beasts
prowling its plains, and the people toiling in its fields and forests
and cities... Explore all the worlds that make up our world, and hear
the voices, past and present, that sing out from it. From haikus to
sonnets, from rap to the Romantics, this joyous collection celebrates
life in all corners of our beautiful planet.
not a huge fan of modern poetry, it's my honest belief that we've had a
succession of poets laureate who haven't really earned their crusts,
and if I was looking for a poem, I would turn to one of the classic,
great poets, like Tennyson, Keats etc., and Shakespeare. That's not to
say that this isn't a good selection of modern poetry, it's just that
I'm unqualified to judge it. It's an attractive book, and will keep you
in modern poetry for quite a while...
small print: Books
Monthly, now well into its 22nd
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is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul
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