Books Monthly April 2020 nonfiction books - a brilliant new Pen and Sword book about Norwich and Norfolk...
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My nonfiction book of the month is another Pen and Sword publicxation, this time about Norwich and Norfolk's history from the Stone Age to the Great War!


Book of the Month - Stephen Browning & Daniel Tink: Norwich and Norfolk Stone Age to the Great War

 Published by Pen and Sword February 20th 2020


This unique study traces the history of Norwich and Norfolk from the time of earliest life to the outbreak of the First World War. It is designed to appeal to the travellers, both single and in family groups, who wish to explore the host of fascinating places on offer in what the Norfolk-born authors believe to be the most unspoilt and mysterious county in England. Norwich has its own section along with three possible walks taking in many of the recommended sites. The vast coast is presented next and finally the book travels to central Norfolk: at all times, places of interest are grouped as much as possible so that travellers can make the most of the time available. Everywhere, legends and stories relating to an area are woven into the narrative. A final chapter considers Norwich and Norfolk through time using rare archive and archaeological material to give a taste of life in days gone by. Top Norfolk photographer Daniel Tink has taken 100 photographs especially for the book and presents these where appropriate alongside some wonderful contrasting old prints and etchings. The book concludes with a comprehensive index and bibliography designed to facilitate further study.Throughout, telephone numbers and websites of attractions are given, providing readers with a toolkit' to unlock the secrets, history, sites and stories of this vast county.

Stephen Browning and Daniel Tink take us on a magical journey through the streets of Norwich and around the countryside and coastline of Norfolk. There's even a tale about a ghost in the ruined priory which is less than a half mile from where we live! Superb stories, superb advert for the city and the county, full of information and very readable indeed. Magic!


Jane Mount (illustrator): Bibliophile Magic Keychain

 Published by Chronicle Books 3rd September 2019


For lovers of all things literary, this keychain says it all. Eye-catching black glitter enamel and beautiful gold text make this a handsome gift for any bibliophile.

• backing card, 2-1/8" x 3-1/4"
• imitation gold-plated brass keychain with glitter enamel: 1-1/4" x 1"
• 1" key ring
• polybagged



I'm proud to say that I am still using the Bibliophile keyring Chronicle Books sent me this time last year. It 's well-made, it's attractive, and it's practical. This year there's another keyring designed by the same lady, Jane Mount, and again it's well-made, attractive and above all, it's practical.

Travis Pietsch (illustrator): Great Outdoors Correspondence Cards

 Published by Chronicle Books 11th February 2020


Stationery that captures the spirit of adventure and the immense beauty of the great outdoors!

These cards feature stunning woodcut-style illustrations depicting a range of natural landscapes, from luscious woodland forests, stunning mountain waterfalls, and gorgeous wildflower fields to golden cactus-filled deserts and dreamy beaches with swaying palm trees.

• Use your correspondence to share your love of Earth's beauty! Whether you like hiking, camping, fishing, RVing, or traveling to national parks, these cards will remind you of your favorite outdoor pastimes.
• These cards work for all occasions-or you can use them as unique wall art!
• A great add-on gift or self-purchase for writers, artists, and outdoor enthusiasts
• 20 flat cards (10 designs repeating twice), 20 envelopes, full-color illustrations throughout

Again from Chronicle books comes a prime example of one of their specialities: stationery sets. Here we have a set of twenty cards, two of each design, along with specially designed envelopes. They're expensive, but they will turn heads, and that's what matters on special occasions - they call for special stationery.


Lisa Faulkner: Meant To Be

 Published by Ebury Press 5th March 2020


What happens when life doesn’t turn out as you expect?

When Lisa Faulkner learned that she wouldn’t have biological children, her plans and expectations for her life were derailed. But, in the months and years that followed, she discovered that there was more than one way to build a family – and that there is a lot of joy to be found in life’s unexpected detours.

In a raw and inspiring story of one woman’s journey through motherhood, family life and self-discovery, Lisa explores the many forms that family can take, and discovers the power of embracing your Plan B. For anyone who has ever found themselves facing the unexpected in life – whether that’s infertility, adoption, grief or any other personal challenge – this is an uplifting and honest account of finding love in unexpected places, and building your life on your own terms.



Lisa is one of my favourite actresses, and I've happily reviewed all of her brilliant cookery books in the past in Books Monthly. I'm proud and privileged to be able to read and review her new book, Meant To Be, which covers her desperate search for fulfilment as a mother, and how she found it through adoption. This is a heartwarming and charming story about family life. It's a title I missed when it was first published in hardback, and I'm pleased to be able to feature it now it's out in paperback. You won't be able to put it down once you start reading it.

Sara Cedar Miller: Seeing Central Park

 Published by Abrams 7th April 2020


An authoritative visual survey of New York City’s Central Park, with new photography and updated text

For more than 160 years, Central Park has been the centerpiece of New York City, with more than 42 million visits each year. In Seeing Central Park, Sara Cedar Miller takes readers through America’s most popular and celebrated park, where natural and manmade features are interwoven into a spectacular work of art. Combining superb research and writing with breathtaking photographs, Seeing Central Park is not only a guide through every significant design feature but also a gorgeous gift book.

Since the book was first published in 2009, the Conservancy has completed a number of renovations and opened new areas of the park, including the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, Rhododendron Mile, and Dene Slope. This updated edition features these landmarks alongside revised entries and new photography throughout. With its pastoral and picturesque landscapes, roads and paths, bridges, buildings, structures, and sculpture, Central Park is a living museum of superb Victorian decorative arts and landscape design. From the Pond to Harlem Meer, it’s all covered in Seeing Central Park.

Abrams and Chronicle specialise in stunning photographic books, and I was expecting this title about Central Park to be a large format book, but I'm not disappointed. The photography is exquisite, and the information and maps throughout this handsome little book are absolutely top class and equally stunning. This is a fine introduction to a place that looks as natural as anything on Earth. The information is first rate, the maps are brilliant, and the whole thing is a triumph from start to finish. One of the new natural wonders of the world...

Geoff Thompson: Notes From A Factory Floor

 Published by Urbane 23rd April 2020


BAFTA winning screenwriter, penning multi-award winning films for luminaries such as Ray Winstone, Paddy Considine, Orlando Bloom, Maxine Peake, Anne Reid, Alison Steadman and James Cosmo, Geoff Thompson is also one of the world's highest ranking (8th dan) martial arts teachers. The prestigious Black Belt Magazine USA polled him as the most influential martial artist in the world since Bruce Lee.

Further to his bestselling first memoir, Watch My Back, Geoff is often asked to fill in the gaps of his fascinating and inspirational life story by eager fans.

How did he manoeuvre himself from a tiny room in a Coventry bedsit to the hallowed halls of BAFTA Piccadilly? How did he transcend his designated class and matriculate into a reality where class holds no relevance? What was the trajectory, and who did he meet along the way - who were the angels and demons of destiny? And what can we learn from his incredible journey?

Ultimately people want to know the real Geoff, the inner thoughts, the essentials of his pilgrimage, the lessons of his unique experiences. Or more succinctly, now that he's made it this far, `what does he actually know?'.

Notes From A Factory Floor has the answers and is the ideal read for anyone who feels there is more to life. Geoff is the proof.


The name Geoff Thompson means nothing to me, I'm afraid, but his pedigree seems to be endless, and his new autobiography, Notes From a Factory Floor is as impressive as his pedigree and reputation. Brilliantly written, Geoff reveals a life of total inspiration and fascination as he recalls his experieinces and what he had to go through to achieve his ambition and make it to the top of his profession. A terrific account of a most extraordinary life.

DC Comics Year By Year - A Visual Chronicle (New Edition)

 Published by Dorling Kindersley 3rd October 2019



 Embark on an amazing adventure through more than 80 years of DC Comics history!

Explore the evolution of DC Comics from Superman first taking to the skies in 1938 to the Rebirth of the DC multiverse and the final countdown of the Doomsday Clock.

Comics, characters, and storylines are presented alongside background information and real-world events to give readers unique insights into the DC Universe.

Now fully updated, this spectacular visual chronicle is written by DC Comics experts and includes comic book art from legendary artists such as Bob Kane and C.C. Beck to latter-day superstars like Jim Lee and Tony Daniel, and many more of DC's finest talents.

Includes two stunning prints.



This stunning new edition of an old favourite is, quite simply, comic book history at its very finest. When I was a youngster, my uncle Leslie somehow seemed to get hold of a huge number of American comics in the early 1950s. Most of them were DC comics, Superman, Batman, Supergirl, Superboy, Wonder Woman etc. It was he who introduced me to the brilliance of Tarzan of the Apes, who went on to figure large in my literary preferences - at one time I had every single Tarzan book in existence, and went on to co-found the British Edgar Rice Burroughs Society with like-minded lovers of ERB and his creations. Tarzan came to DC comics courtesy of the great Joe Kubert in the 1970s/80s, along with Korak (Son of Tarzan) and John Carter of Mars. These are among the finest Tarzan and ERB comics ever, although they don't get the coverage they deserve in this magnificent book. DC Comics will forever be remembered for Superman and Batman. For me, it's about quite a lot more, but the book's coverage is extraordinary and superb in every detail. An instant collectors' item if ever there was one!

Robert Winston: Explanatorium Of Science

 Published by Dorling Kindersley 5th September 2019


Welcome to the Explanatorium - the only science encyclopedia for children you'll ever need, with amazing photography that shows and explains how chemistry, physics, and biology work.

Open up this book to reveal how science really works! Watch as mixtures merge and matter changes state. Discover how some chemical changes can be reversed, yet others can't, and why some reactions produce a bang! See bacteria at work in the world around us, and even inside the human digestive system. Understand the tricks that light plays and unlock the secrets of electricity to find out how it powers your home.

Whether it's elements, evolution, or energy, the world of science is brought to life by stunning photographic explanations that answer the biggest and smallest questions about our Universe.

Packed full of astounding close-up images, Explanatorium of Science is the ultimate guide to how the world works, explaining every aspect of science from gigantic galaxies to tiny cells and miniscule atoms.

Professor Robert Winston is one of those extraordinary people who have the capability of being able to communicate with people in a way that commands attention, like Sir David Attenborough. This latest book is one of a series written by Professor Winston, and introduces people of all ages to the wonders of science. I know it's intended for younger readers, but I'm exploding that myth and saying that it has taught me so much about science that I didn't know, in a very short space of time. It's a wonderful treatise on science to which I shall return time and time again. It should win awards...

Jane Rockett & Lucy St George: Extraordinary Interiors in Colour

 Published by Ryland Peters and Small 8th October 2019


In Extraordinary Interiors In Colour, self-confessed colour addicts Jane Rockett and Lucy St George follow on from their best-selling first book by tackling the topic of choosing colour for the home.

Such is their passion for colour that Jane and Lucy launched the Rockett St George paint range in August 2018 sophisticated, earthy shades that work perfectly together. This new book allows them to explore the world of colour and reveal their inspirations – travel, hotels and restaurants, Instagram, the natural world and vintage design. Starting at the beginning, Jane and Lucy investigate colour theory before plunging into the history of colour and how it affects our emotions. Next, they take a look at the natural world and explore what colour means in different cultures around the globe. They then tackle the million-dollar question – which colours should you choose? A final chapter explores inventive ways to decorate with colour, from bold blocking to brave use of contrasting hues. Each chapter is interspersed with a real-life home that exemplifies the Rockett St George style. If you want maximum impact when updating an interior, there’s no better way to achieve it than with bold, clever and creative use of colour.

Extraordinary Interiors is an apt name for this stunning book, which not only celebrates the intensity and the vibrancy of interiors decorated with Rockett St George paint, it also takes the reader on a journey through what colouir is, how it works, what colours go together and why in a truly extraordinary celebration of colour. With reference to the Natural World, amongst other things, this remarkable book shows how nature blocks colours together, and why it works. This truly is the century of amazing books, and this one, from RPS, is a shining example of a book that's both practical in terms of advice on the use of colour in interior design, and is also a stupendous book that's a pleasure to look at and to have on your bookshelves.

Ros Byam Shaw: Farrow and Ball Living With Colour

 Published by Ryland Peters and Small 8th October 2019


Iconic brand Farrow & Ball began in the 1940s as a small firm based in Dorset specializing in paints made in the traditional way from traditional ingredients.

Despite its success, Farrow & Ball has stayed true to its origins. It is the quality of the paint, with its exceptional depth and subtlety of colour, that has made the company famous worldwide. Farrow & Ball paints look as good on the walls of a slick apartment as they do in a period drawing room and are as perfect for a cottage as in a castle. Divided into chapters according to style, including Classical, City, Modern Country, Cottage and Country House, the first part of the book shows Farrow & Ball paints and wallpapers in a variety of beautiful interiors. Part Two is devoted to colour. From All White and In Neutral to Softly, Softly and Bright and Beautiful, each chapter explores a particular palette and shows how colour can be used to create atmosphere and character. Inspiring, instructive and celebratory, Living with Colour brings out the painter and decorator in us all.

Slightly more practical than the Rockett St George book above, Farrow & Ball Living With Colour is another prime example of a beautiful book that;s also exemplary and helpful when it comes to interior design and its use of colour. We all want to make the most of our houses, in particular the rooms in which we spend most of our time, the living room, the bedrooms etc., and this book and the one above celebrate the decoration of such rooms in grand style. The printing of these two books is stupendously good - the colours in both are vibrant and stunning. There are loads of makeover programmes on TV, but I'd choose a book (or books) such as these two over TV programmes any day. Inspiration by the bucketful in both of these amazing books!



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 22nd year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at paulenorman1@gmail.com and I'll let you know where to send it.



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These great new books are on the fiction page: