THE WORLD OF BOOKS 2019                                                              


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The Widow by Fiona Barton



Recommend:It’s not a page turner, but it’s an OK read.

We’ve all seen him; the man – the monster –

staring from the front page of every newspaper,

accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm

on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted; her Prince Charming. But then he became that monster on the front page, a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

Now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

From the back of the book this looked like a good read.  Like the blurb says we’ve all seen those people staring out from the newspaper. “How on earth could they do something like that?” we ask ourselves.

The victims’ families have an outpouring of sympathy towards them, rightly so. But do we ever think about these monsters’ families? Aside from an unfortunate connection through birth, marriage or association, they are tarred with the same brush and held up to the same kind of abuse hurled towards the monster. Is that right?

So a book which deals with this side of the story has to be applauded for its originality.

By the time I got to Chapter 14 though I was not enjoying it.

The crime itself, without giving anything away, personally I found a little uncomfortable to read about.

However, the book is well written and an easy read, but it’s one of those books written in the 3rd person as a series of diary entries. The down side being that not all entries are by the same person and they are not all in the same time period. I found myself constantly flicking back and forth to work out where I was.

I was inclined not to finish, but I knew I needed to plough through. After all you can’t write a book review by only reading a little bit of the book. And who knows, it could get better.

The good news is, it did!

After Chapter 14, the diary entries mainly focussed on the time period of the crime itself and the investigation by the police. What actually happened was that as time progressed, the later diary entries became closer and eventually you were reading in a chronological order.

From an investigation point of view, it was interesting to read how the police went about their work and what they did, what they didn’t do but then subsequently did and on the flip side to get inside the mind of the monster and how he managed to do what he did.

But, and here’s the but – the end was one of those blink and you miss it, dealt with in the last few pages of the book. Call me demanding, but I needed more than a few lines of what happened. The story was complete about the victim’s family, but we never find out what happens to The Widow, or what really happened at the crime scene bar a few lines. The book just ends, and you feel a bit cheated.

Another book is due out with the same reporter catapulted into another investigation. Will I be reading it? Probably not.

Claire Millins

It’s the first time that an author has ever won both the Gold and Debut Daggers in one year with the last Double Dagger title achieved in almost ten years ago by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) for Sharp Objects in 2007.


For fans of THE WIRE, GEORGE PELECANOS and CLOCKERS, Dodgers announces the arrival of an exceptional new talent. This gripping literary thriller, with an ensemble cast, fuses a moving, coming of age story with a meditation on the very nature of belonging.

When fifteen year old East, a low-level lookout for a Los Angeles drug organisation, loses his watch house in a police raid, his boss recruits him for a very different job: a road trip – straight down the middle of white, rural America – to assassinate a judge in Wisconsin.

Having no choice, East and a crew of untested boys – including his inscrutable, trigger- happy younger brother, Ty – leave the only home they’ve ever known. Setting off in a nondescript blue van, with a roll of cash, a map and a gun they shouldn’t have, this amateur crew embark on a life-changing odyssey into the unknown.

Along the way, the country surprises East. The blood on his hands isn’t the blood he expects. And he reaches places where only he can decide which way to go – or which person to become.

An intense, dangerous thriller delivered with a poignancy that will break your heart, Dodgers is the American road trip for our times. From the mean streets of south LA to the hinterlands of the American Midwest, the pared down, raw prose of Beverly’s incredible debut will keep you spellbound, shocked and thrilled to the very last page.

BILL BEVERLY (right) was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He studied literature and writing at Oberlin College, including time in London studying theatre and the Industrial Revolution. He then studied fiction and pursued a Ph.D. in American literature at the University of Florida. His research on criminal fugitives and the stories surrounding them became the book On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover’s America. He lives with his wife and daughter in Maryland, and teaches American literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington D.C. He collects beer cans.

‘There’s not much in this little nugget of a debut novel that doesn’t impress...Beverly’s writing turns the most banal setting into a thing of beauty. Terrific.’ Paul Connolly, Metro

BOOK REVIEW – The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Genre:General Fiction



“Noah is a little boy who knows things he shouldn’t and remembers

thing he should have forgotten. Because as well as being a

four-year-old called Noah, he remembers being a nine-year-old

called Tommy.

He remembers his house.

His family.

His mother.

And now he wants to go home.

Two boys. Two mothers.

One unforgettable story…”

From the blurb on the back of the book, this looked a really interesting story. A definite and welcome change from thrillers!

And do you know what? I really enjoyed this story.

I liked the characters from the get-go and the author drew you in, in such a way that I actually cared about the characters’ journeys.

Whether you believe in the concept of reincarnation or not, this story makes you think just a little bit deeper. Maybe there is some truth in it?

The author has cleverly interwoven real-life case studies by real-life doctors into the body of the book at points where the action switches, almost to re-emphasise that may, just maybe, the concept of reincarnation is not so “wacky” as people think.

Why does Noah think he’s a nine-year-old called Tommy? What happened to Tommy?

As a mother, in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea what I would have done in Janie’s shoes (Janie, being Noah’s mother). Like Janie, I would have been shocked, hurt, unsure and all the emotions that go with it, and I’m sure that, just like Janie, my first port of call would have been Doctor Google and trawling the internet for hours searching in the vain hope that I would find some glimmer of hope.

Without giving too much away, it’s obvious from the back of the book that the boy Noah believes he is – Tommy – is dead, but as you travel on the book’s journey you get into a question of ethics and moral dilemmas, especially when tracking down and meeting the dead boy’s parents comes up.

In the realms of fiction is it that far-fetched for a random stranger to knock on your door and announce that their child believes he is your dead child? But in reality, what are the protocols in these situations? Are there any?

By the end of the story you do get a sense of completion, which is great. Each character is afforded time in the book to be given an ending, a sense of closure and a chance for a new beginning. 

Maybe a little bit like the idea of reincarnation itself?

I really enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.


Local author has his second book published

"Grandad What was Football like in the 1970s ?"

Interested then click below.

Link -

2018 The Food Teacher Wins ‘Best in the World’ at the Gourmand Cookbook Award.

Following success in national business awards and a string of appearances at Food Festivals and Community events, Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher, has won her second world renowned Gormand Cookbook Award.

‘Now We’re Cooking!’

Teaching cooking and nutrition was brought back into primary schools in 2014 and since this time Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher has been supporting schools to successfully deliver the curriculum but most importantly make cooking and nutrition education purposeful, engaging and fun. Her latest book ‘Now We’re Cooking!’ was co-authored with Tim Baker, Headteacher of Charlton Manor Primary School in Greenwich and experienced class teacher Marie Reynolds. (pictured below with Katharine on the right)This focuses on supporting schools to deliver the National Curriculum through food, an education model delivered at Charlton Manor Primary that has proved highly engaging and motivating for pupils.

The book aims to support other schools who wish to follow this ethos themselves. It outlines what can be done in class and the school to develop positive food culture, how to take food education beyond the classroom, effective parental engagement and how Charlton Manor and The Food Teacher can support you.



“Head Teacher Tim Baker, The Food Teacher, Katharine Tate, Marie Reynolds, his staff, and the pupils have created a brilliant book here. Schools and local authorities need all the help they can get, and this book contains brilliant ideas for lesson plans that bring food into every part of the curriculum.” Jamie Oliver, MBE

“The impact of these changes at Charlton Manor has been significant particularly around pupil engagement and enthusiasm for learning within a purposeful, hands on theme – food.” Tim Baker, Head Teacher at Charlton Manor Primary School.

Katharine is delighted to have won a special award in the Gourmand, which is often described as the ‘Oscars of the Food Awards’.  “For our book to have won from over 26,000 food and wine books produced each year is a huge achievement. As the Food Teacher I encourage children and families to think about what they eat and to embrace a healthy lifestyle.  When writing Now We’re Cooking we set out to use our expertise to support schools to put food at the top of their agendas. The impact of developing school food culture can have wide reaching benefits included greater engagement, improved long-term health and community inclusion. To get this level of recognition for this book is an amazing achievement.”

Book sales income was up 5% on the previous year, according to annual figures released by the Publishers Association (mid July 2018). Delivering the record year for the UK industry was a 31% rise in hardback book sales income, as well as a 25% increase of income from audiobooks and an 8% uplift from exports. Income from fiction and non-fiction also rose, by 3% and 4% respectively, which the Publishers Association’s chief executive, Stephen Lotinga, said proved that people’s love of books showed no sign of waning. “Publishers are catering to modern consumers who are reading books in different formats across different platforms, but still showing a very significant attachment to the printed word, as we continue to see the resilience and popularity of print across publishing sectors,” he said.

Nicola Solomon, the chief executive of the Society of Authors, hailed the figures as “excellent news for authors and for wider society”. She said she was concerned that publishers were investing in a shrinking pool of established writers and celebrities.

As a result, authors on the verge of success may never reach it, she said, pointing to the children’s author Geraldine McCaughrean, who was dropped after disappointing sales but has since won the Carnegie medal. “Publishers are acquiring lots of authors, but not always really investing in what they acquire, especially when they haven’t paid a fortune to acquire them,” Solomon said.

Award winning Canadian author Michael Redhill visits Harpenden publisher No Exit Press via his appearance at the Edinburgh Festival on Aug 15.

Harpenden based book publisher boss Ion Mills hosted a dinner at The Harpenden Arms on Aug 13 for staff to meet Michael on an informal basis.

I will be reading his new Book BELLEVUE SQUARE (which won Canada’s prestigious Giller prize.) and publishing a review on Harpendia soon.

Ron Taylor. Editor

Above centre rear; Ion Mills; Front far right Michael Redhill with Ron Taylor adjacent .

Aug. Huge agricultural book sale in London yields £1.6 million for the Lawes Agricultural Trust.

(Auctioned on July 10/11 by Forum Auctions)

The books were a private collection which was owned by the Lawes Agricultural Trust, which is the landowner of the Rothamsted estate. They comprised items which were mainly acquired using Trust funds during the 1920s and 1930s by Sir John Russell (an Institute Director at the time) to provide a resource for his personal study of the development of European agriculture, and were not intended to support the day to day work of the Rothamsted Experimental Station. With c 3,000 books this was one of the finest collections of agricultural books ever assembled.

The collection contained a variety of antique books and manuscripts from the 15th to 19th century (many duplicated a number of times) on areas such as estate management, agriculture, gardening and veterinary science.

The key reasons for selling these assets are that they were very rarely consulted or used and have been an insurance risk for the Trust for some time - as a result the Trustees considered that it was better to realise the cash which was tied up in these assets so that it can be used to support the charitable Trust's* ongoing needs.

The 800+ lots included an early 14th century manuscript presenting the almost complete text of Walter of Henley’s ‘Husbandry’ in the form of a sermon from father to son. It made £40,000. Cato’s 1598 ‘De Agricultura’ (illustrated) sold for £20,000. A woodcut from the first illustrated edition of Pietro Crescenzi’s ‘Ruralia Commoda’  printed c. 1490-95 sold for £36,000. ‘The Assise of Breade, what it ought to Weygh, after the price of a Quarter of Wheat..’ dated 1580 (illustrated) sold for £15,000. Bee books sold well inc a dust soiled 1634 ‘The Ordering of Bees’ by John Levett made £4,800 and the writings of Jethro Tull in the form of his 1731 ‘The New Horse-Houghing, Husbandry: or an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation sold at £8.500.

*The Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT), established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research's national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.

Background information courtesy Antiques Trade Gazette

Above. ‘The Assise of Breade,

Above Cato’s 1598 ‘De Agricultura’

Above Pietro Crescenzi’s ‘Ruralia Commoda’

The early March 2019 book charts from WHSmith in Harpenden


  1. 1.Fing by David Walliams

  2. 2.Veggie Lean in 15 Mins by Joe Wicks

  3. 3.Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start

  4. 4.The Sting by Kimberley Chambers

  5. 5.Lose Weight For Good by Tom Kerridge

  6. 6.Becoming by Michelle Obama

  7. 7.BOSH by Henry Firth

  8. 8.Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking

  9. 9.The Ice Monster by David Walliams

  10. 10.Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine

  11. 11.I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

  12. 12. War Doctor by David Nott

  13. 13. Happily Imperfect by Stacey Solomon

  14. 14. Top Gear Cool

  15. 15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The Meltdown  by Jeff Kinney

  16. 16.Jamie. 15 Minute Meals

  17. 17. !8th Abduction by James Patterson


  1. 1.Still Me by Jo Jo Moyes

  2. 2.You Were Gone by Tim Weaver

  3. 3.Wild Fire by Ann Cleves

  4. 4. The Tatooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

  5. 5.Cross Her heart by Sarag Pinborough

  6. 6.A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

  7. 7.The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

  8. 8.Listening To The Animals by Noel Fitzpatrick

  9. 9.Diary of a Wimpy Kid -The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

  10. 10.A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

  11. 11.Bad Dad by David Walliams

  12. 12.Mary Queen of Scotts by John Guy

  13. 13.The Brooklands Girls by Margaret Dickinson

  14. 14.Broken Ground by Val McDermid

  15. 15.Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante

  16. 16.Watching You by Lisa Jowell

  17. 17.Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

  18. 18.Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

  19. 19.The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride

  20. 20.The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

  21. 21.This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

  22. 22.the Fast 800 by Michael Mosley

  23. 23.The Dream Daughter by Diane  Chamberlaine

  24. 24.Accidental Heroes byDanielle Steel

  25. 25. The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine

SEE WHO MET THE AUTHOR at the WHSmith BOOK SIGNING Harpenden  on Saturday Aug 25. ‘BUDDY WIZARD’
Author Ralph Brammer.

A magical realism book for all primary,middle and senior school pupils Aged 9-16.

‘Bullies, beware - or you will face me to give you a scare.’

Lots of shoppers were buying signed copies as gifts.

LEFT. Store manager Allan Roberts with author Ralph Brammer (right)

Sept 2018 New libraries under construction at local fire stations

Building work has started on new libraries for Redbourn and Wheathampstead. The libraries will be moving from their current homes to modern new facilities on the same site as their village fire stations.

Work began at both sites on 10 September and the new libraries are due to open to the public in the spring. The fire stations will operate throughout the works, with minimal disruption expected. Plans are in place to make sure that fire engines will be available to cover the villages at all times. The fire stations will also be refurbished as part of the development and will operate alongside the libraries once they open.

The aim is to deliver bright, attractive, welcoming, flexible, tech-enabled libraries in convenient locations, and free up the existing library sites for alternative uses.

Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Fire stations and libraries are both at the heart of the communities they serve and it makes perfect sense to use space more flexibly at our village fire stations to support other important local services. This scheme will help to support the long-term future of both our local fire stations and local libraries. It’s a great example of how public services can work together creatively to improve value for money.”

Terry Douris, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said: “Sharing sites will keep our running costs down without sacrificing services. We are committed to sustaining library services across the county, and this shows how we are working creatively with partners and communities to achieve this and creating a library service to meet current needs.”

Redbourn and Wheathampstead Libraries will continue to operate from their current locations until the new buildings are ready.