Keep them occupied!

The summer holidays are here! Time for kicking back and relaxing. Or, if you are a parent of children of a certain age, a six week quest to keep them occupied. Here in Leeds Libraries we have just bought a whole load of new children’s non fiction books that should be arriving in your local library any time now and we have a range that should be of interest, whatever your child is in to. If the right book doesn’t make it to your library, then you can reserve it for free to bring it to you.

Crafters and Artists

My daughter could, from an early age, create anything she wanted provided that we had sellotape and paper. Sometimes you need to harness those creatives and this selection of books should do just that.

CNF lets sewLet’s Sew, pub Dorling Kindersley

Your child will learn how to sew in no time with this book. From threading needles and sewing a running stitch to following patterns, ‘Let’s Sew’ teaches your child how to create their very own collection of eye-catching toys and accessories, including a decorated book bag, felt elephants, and jungle-themed pen toppers.

CNF Paper craftsPaper Crafts by Annalees Lim

This series is aimed at kids who love to be creative. By following the clear and simple step-by-step instructions, they will be able to create fashionable, original, cute, and humerous creations.

CNF How to drawHow to draw by Nick Sharratt

Jacqueline Wilson’s world of characters has been brought to life brilliantly with Nick Sharratt’s illustrations. Now your budding artist can learn how to draw them themselves.

CNF 23 ways23 ways to be a great artist: a step by step guide to creating artwork inspired by famous masterpieces by Jennifer McCully

This text is for aspiring artists. The book is packed full of step-by-step projects for crafty kids eager to discover the secrets to creating a masterpiece.


Is your child the kind that likes to take things to bits as well as putting them together because they want to see how it works? These books are for them.

CNF SpaceSpace pub Franklin

Planets, asteroids, space travel and exploration are just some of the incredible topics you will learn about in this book. Discover what they are, what we know about them and how scientists intend to find out more about them.

CNF ExperimentsSuper Science: experiments!: 80 cool experiments to try at home by Tom Adams

This exciting lift-the-flap novelty book is packed with simple science experiments for kids to try at home. Each page will see keen young scientists try their hands at anything from building bridges to making food explode and mixing up meringues – all in the name of science! Every experiment is accompanied by a simple explanation of the science involved, making it hands-on educational fun.

CNF wacky scienceTotally wacky facts about exploring space by Emma Carlson Berne

Do you know which astronaut played golf on the moon? Ever wondered how much a space suit weighs? Have you thought about what astronauts do with their dirty underwear? Out-of-this-world facts and a bright, bold design will keep struggling and reluctant readers wanting more!

CNF your bonesYour Bones by Sally Hewitt

How many bones are in your body? Which bone protects your brain? What are bones made of? Find the answers to these questions and much, much more in this picture-packed introduction to the human body.

CNF OceanOcean: a children’s encyclopedia by John Woodward

A stunning visual encyclopedia for kids, packed with stunning photography and amazing facts on every aspect of ocean life. From the Arctic to the Caribbean, tiny plankton to giant whales, sandy beaches to the deepest depths, our oceans are brought to life with astonishing images.
The Next Bill Gates
Makes those hours in front of a screen mean something. Let them make the game, not just play it!
CNF Learn to programLearn to program by Heather Lyons
This looks at the basics of programming – what is an algorithm, basic languages and building a simple program. We then look at how simple programs can be developed to include decision making and repeat activities, and then how they can be fixed using debugging techniques. Throughout the book there are practical activities to assist learning, and links to online activities where they can practice newly learned skills.
By breaking this daunting subject down into the 10 ‘super skills’ needed, young readers can to get to grips with computer coding, and build on their skills as they progress through the book.
CNF Maths journey
Go on a real-life maths journey to practice the core topics of numbers, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion, algebra and measurement. Through data visualisation methods, including colourful diagrams, pictograms, illustrations, photographs and infographics, ‘Go Figure!’ brings maths into the real world in an innovative, exciting and engaging visual way. It makes even the trickiest problem easier to understand and builds valuable confidence in maths!





Librarian’s Choice – Ferret Books

Generally when I ask a librarian to recommend a selection of books for the blog, I know what sort of books that I might get. However this list has come from total leftfield. These books are compiled by Montse, an Assistant Community Librarian based in the East of the city. I hope it is useful for anyone who is, or wants to be a ferret lover!

Dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters are 4 of the most usual pets people have at home. Fish, reptiles and birds come next; you’ll find ferrets towards the end of the list. You may have seen ferrets racing through pipes at country and game fairs, or biting Richard Whiteley on telly back on 1977 (if you are not just a nipper).

Maybe you know someone who keeps ferrets or perhaps you may be thinking of getting one or two yourself? Whichever the case you’ll find many a book in the library to furnish you with knowledge and tell you all about how to look after, care, train and enjoy playing or even hunt with ferrets. Here are a few I’ve borrowed myself. I keep my friend’s 3 jill at home on a “part-time” basis and I’ve learned lots by reading these books.

Montse Ferrets McKimmeyFerrets by Vickie McKimmey

Ferrets are lively, domestic pets that can provide great entertainment and companionship. In this book you can find out how to prepare your house for adopting a ferret, as well as essential care information to ensure he is healthy and happy. It has about 100 pages of information from pet care and animal experts—with a family-friendly design, over 60 full-colour photographs, and helpful tip boxes. It comes also with advice on feeding, housing, grooming, training, health care, and fun activities.

Montse Ferrets RickardFerrets: Care and Breeding by Ian C. Rickard

The author is an experienced ferret owner and breeder and he provides the reader with lots of info about all aspects of the ferret’s care and management. It looks at the history, origins, and scientific classification of ferrets; their anatomy and physiology; handling and housing; breeding and rearing; feeding and nutritional requirements; colour-breeding genetics and colour standards for showing; and health and welfare. This is a very useful book if you’re thinking of not just keeping but breeding ferrets.

Montse Ferret SchillingFerrets for Dummies by Kim Schilling

Like any other “for dummies” book here you’ve got THE ultimate reference to all aspects of keeping a ferret. Almost 400 pages – I still haven’t finished reading my own copy – of information organised by chapters so you can go directly to the topic you need. So there’s extra info on things like diets, teeth, diseases, housing, games, vets, etc. etc. The only downside is that it’s not as colourful and hasn’t got as many illustrations as other books.

Monste Ferret BuckleHalf my Facebook friends are ferrets by J.A. Buckle

Ok, so this is not a reference book but Teenage Fiction, but you learn one or two things about ferrets when you read about Josh’s life in his diary and his struggle to achieve some goals before he’s 16. When I picked this book I thought he was going to have lots of ferrets (by looking at the title) but he only has one, Ozzy, who bites and escapes of its cage all the time. Easy read, very funny and realistic; many subjects other than ferrets are included in this book like being popular, becoming a rock star, girlfriends, life at home when you are a teen, etc. totally recommended if you want a good laugh.

Montse Ferret WhiteheadFerreting: An Essential Guide by Simon Whitehead

Here’s a really good book by a professional ferreter with lots of information about how to catch rabbits using ferrets and nets. He gives good advice on looking after the ferrets, transport, collars and finder units, working together with dogs, nets and digging, and the like; but also you’ll learn about rabbits, their habits, feeding, and behaviour. You may not need this book if you just want to keep ferrets as pets, but it will be appreciated by those with and interest in country pursuits.

Monste Ferret WellsteadThe Ferret and Ferreting guide by Graham Wellstead

I liked this book very much because it gives clear and useful information about ferrets in all main aspects and it’s a good guide to read when you are a beginner. Advice is given on selecting ferrets, their care, feeding and housing, and how to breed from them. It has some funny anecdotes by the author and  his experiences on training ferrets to hunt; the techniques and use of equipment is fully described and there is a guide to the legal aspects of hunting. Distinguishing coat colours in B&W photos was a bit tricky, though.

Montse Ferret BuckleStudies in the art of rat-catching by H.C. Barkley

This is a very special and old book, published in 1896, and you will only find it in the Information and Research department of the Central Library. It’s reference only, so no taking home allowed. Despite the book’s title, as much of the content is devoted to ferrets and rabbit control as it is to rat catching. It details such varied subjects as Ratting Tools, Learning Dog Language, Rabbit Catching, Long Netting, Ratting Dogs etc. This excellent title is recommended for all true countrymen. Many of the earliest sporting books, particularly those dating back to the 1800s, are now extremely scarce and very expensive, so having a read of this book for free makes you feel part of a lucky elite.

Montse Ferret ColsonFerret (the pet to get) by Rob Colson

This is a good reference book for children; aimed at 9+ year olds, it gives easy to understand information and advice about what entitles to have a ferret as a pet. This book is a good read is you need to decide whether a ferret (or ferrets) would be a suitable pet for you and your children. It tells about character and behaviour, good and bad habits, how to look after them, etc. It also has a section about polecats and hunting with ferrets. With 32 pages this book is not too long to bore and has lovely photos.

Montse Ferret McNicholasFerrets (keeping ‘unusual’ pets) by June McNicholas

This is another really good book for children as introduction to ferrets. It explains the good points and not-so-good points about keeping ferrets and how to become the carer of healthy animals. Find out about the basic requirements, such as housing, food, water and exercise, and how to provide companionship for your ferrets. It contains information on the natural behaviour of ferrets, expert advice and tips on how to be a good ferret carer and a glossary of difficult and unusual terms.

Montse Ferret FrainThe Pet Ferret Handbook by Seán Frain

I haven’t read this book myself but the synopsis given online sounds quite good: “specifically designed for keepers of domestic ferrets in homes and apartments, this book covers the history of the ferret, how to choose the right pet, housing, feeding, house training, hygiene, exercise, breeding and even exhibiting.” The author is a well-known Patterdale terrier breeder from Cumbria, who has written lots of books on related subjects. It will definitely go onto my “To Read” list.

Librarian’s Choice -Past Favourites

This weeks blog is from Lynn, one of our Senior Communities Librarians. There are some real classic blasts from the past here, as well as a more recent recommendation.

Although I’m an avid reader of crime I thought I would give you a taste of some of my favourites from the past, starting with

Lynn Lady of HayLady of Hay – Barbara Erskine

I can’t believe this book is 30 years old!

This story is about Jo Clifford a successful 20th Century journalist, who is set to debunk the idea of past life regression but when she is regressed under hypnosis she finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, the Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

Jo learns of Matilda’s unhappy marriage and of her love for another man and of the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John.

The plot is full of twists and turns as Matilda’s life and pain threaten to take Jo’s life as she spontaneously regresses…………………

Lynn Lorna DooneLorna Doone – RD Blackmore

A teenage favourite!

Lorna Doone is a romance set in 17th Century in Somerset and Devon and is the story of John Ridd a farmer who finds love amid religious and social turmoil. John is just a boy when his father a respectable farmer is murdered by the outlawed Doones, a lawless clan who live in Exmoor. Battling his desire for revenge John also grows into a respectable farmer looking after his mother and siblings. He falls in love with Lorna a girl he meets by accident who turns out to be the granddaughter of the Lord of Doones and is destined to marry (against her will) Carver Doone. A tale of secrets, lies and deceit. A fantastic story of star crossed lovers.

Lynn RebeccaRebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

The novel begins in Monte Carlo where our orphaned lady’s maid is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter- carried along on her giddy adventure it’s not until they arrive at his impressive country estate that she realises the threat his late wife is to their new relationship. Young, shy and socially awkward the new Mrs De Winter finds herself lonely and alone as she battles to establish herself as the lady of the house in a tense, sinister household headed by the mean and spiteful Mrs Danvers who is loyal to the ghostly presence of Rebecca. Surprisingly scary with a psychological edge.

Lynn Black BeautyBlack Beauty – Anna Sewell

One of my favourite childhood stories.

Black Beauty is a horse with a fine black coat, a white foot and a silver star on his forehead, a real beauty indeed.

Seen through his eyes, the story tells of his idyllic upbringing living on Farmer Grey’s farm with his Mum frolicking in the fields. When he turns four he’s trained to carry riders and pull carriages and then sold and goes to live at Birtwick Hall where he meets Merrylegs, Ginger and Sir Oliver.

Hardship and cruelty follow as he is sold to a number of different homes and worked hard until he collapses from overwork before he finds security and happiness in a new home.

Lynn Little WomenLittle Women – Louisa May Alcott

The novel follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. The four girls live with their Marmee in genteel poverty, whilst their father is away fighting in the American Civil War. Their mother encourages them to be the best version of themselves at all times and to celebrate their uniqueness, which for some of the sisters is hard, they pull together as a family in times of need, the loss of loved ones, feelings of failure, talent unappreciated, fear of the future and ever changing family dynamics just a few of the situations the family have to deal with.

Any finally something a little more up to date;

Lynn Elizabeth is missingElizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Maud an ageing gran is slowly losing her memory – yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth who she believes is missing and in terrible danger, no one will listen.

Vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, could Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth – a hauntingly beautiful book.

Librarian’s Choice – Sweet Treats

This week’s blog comes from Kat, an assistant community librarian based in the North East of the city.

When I wrote about my top ten books of 2015 there were quite a few mentions of food, and I will admit that I am a bit obsessed – I particularly love sweet stuff, but I try and restrain myself most of the time. I love baking – not just because I get to enjoy the sweet treats but also the opportunity to share them with the people I care about. These are my all fave baking books and the treats that I have made and shared, although sometimes I make the cookies just for me!

Kat Domestic goddessHow to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

This has got to be my longest serving and most frequently used baking book – I stole my mums copy when I first moved out for uni – and the one I always always go back to, because I know that pretty much anything is going to work. This book has everything I could ever want to bake and I love Nigella’s writing and how there is a little story before every single recipe. Some of my favourite bakes have been jam doughnut muffins, Coca-Cola cake, honey and banana muffins….. oh my gosh pretty much everything! I think the best recipe though has to be the butter cut out cookies; “It’s not hard to make biscuits that hold their shape well while cooking; it’s not hard to make biscuits that taste good and have a melting, buttery texture: what’s hard is to find a biscuit that does all of these things together. This one does it all, and with ease.” These have worked every time I’ve made them and always get compliments (which I reckon is the best way to judge a baking success!).

Kat Delia's CakesDelia’s Cakes by Delia Smith

This book is absolutely beautiful, and like Nigella I just know that I can trust Delia to help me make something yummy. One day my best library friend Beth randomly told me about a coconut and lime cake her Nanna used to make from ‘Delia’s Summer Collection’ which was the best cake she had ever had; a few weeks later just before her birthday I found the recipe for that cake in this book. A bit of a hunt later and I managed to find an obscure ingredient in a little shop in Chapeltown (thank you so much to the random lady in the shop who helped me find it!) and managed to bring her a special birthday cake to work (we may or may not have eaten most of it between the two of us with lots of coffee). Apparently it was just like her Nanna used to make, and she was very happy with it; I made the cake a few times that summer (it is the perfect summer cake!) including for Beth’s wedding and it was always perfect.

Kat Jamie's ComfortJamie’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver

All I made from this book was the hummingbird cake, which is probably the most impressive looking cake I ever made, and all I can remember about the process was looking in so many shops for edible flowers. Don’t bother, you can’t find them anywhere….. just use pansies from your mum’s garden. She will forgive you for stealing them because this cake is so good!

Kat GuGü chocolate cookbook

This was a book that I had seen lots of times at work and just randomly took it home just before my sisters birthday and made the only good chocolate cake I’ve ever managed (apart from a Betty Crocker mix, they are always good!). It was too big, it was too sickly, and it was perfect!

Kat the boy who bakesThe Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

My best friend went travelling for two years and she used to send me postcards from where ever she was – they always mentioned the food she was missing; one thing she mentioned was a brownie from Crust & Crumb in Chapel Allerton (which are perfect and you should probably go buy one right now) and the other was the chocolate chip cookies from this book. I have made these sooooo many times now (including when Vick came back from travelling -yay!), I did once have a failure, which was devastating and confusing, but I think that was a weighing scales malfunction.

Librarian’s Choice – Not for the faint hearted!

This weeks blog is from Julie, a senior community librarian based in the north east of the city.

As a fan of psychological thrillers I have probably read hundreds over the years. – Below is a small selection of some of my favourites…

Julie Crucifix KillerThe Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter

This was his debut novel, and had me hooked. The book introduces Detective Robert Hunter, who the killer taunts; as he believes the Crucifix Killer was caught two years ago….or was he?

His other books are: An Evil Mind, One by One and The Night Stalker. – All equally as gripping.

Julie HeartsickHeartsick by Chelsea Cain

She was imprisoned, but Archie still continues to visit her, to try and persuade her to confess the whereabouts of her other victims. And now there is another killer at large, and Archie needs Gretchen’s help….

At last, a series of novels about a woman seriel killer, – Gretchen Lowell. Detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking her down, but in the end it was him who became the captive, after she kidnapped and tortured him.

If you enjoy ‘Heartsick’, and want to continue to follow the relationship of Archie and Gretchen, the other books are: Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice, and Let Me Go.

Julie Into the darkest cornerInto the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes


Having escaped a violent relationship with Lee, Cathy is rebuilding her life. The book takes you back to her past, and you find out just how destructive the relationship was, and how Lee broke her down, little by little. She meets an attractive new man, but is he all he seems…..?   This book kept me enthralled, as I was desperate for Cathy to find happiness.

Julie behind closed doorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


Jack and Grace are the perfect couple….or are they? Grace has a sister, Millie, who has Down’s syndrome, who also becomes involved in the deception. There are lots of twists and turns, as Grace looks desperately for a way out.

        ‘Sometimes the perfect marriage is a perfect lie’

In the woodsIn the Woods by Tana French

In 1984 three children go and play in the woods, but don’t return home. The police arrive and find one of the children gripping a tree in terror, but with no recollection of what has happened. Twenty years later the boy who was found is working as a detective, and a twelve year old girl is found murdered in the same woods. He and his detective partner investigate the murder, which has chilling similarities to the unsolved mystery of 1984.

julie the cutting room


The Cutting Room by Jilliane Hoffman


Two of Florida’s veteran law-enforcers are aiming to lock up Gerard Lunders, a reckless playboy who allegedly murdered a beautiful university student. A routine case soon takes a bizarre turn after the defendant’s mother is anonymously sent a minute-long video clip in which a woman is tortured and murdered

This is part of a trilogy, so if you enjoy The Cutting Room, try Last Witness and  Retribution.


Julie SleepyheadSleepyhead by Mark Billingham


This is the first novel in the series which introduces DI Tom Thorne. It introduces a serial killer with a difference, – he doesn’t want to kill his victims, just put them in a coma. – The victims can still hear and think, but are ‘locked in’ and unable to communicate.

If you enjoy any of these titles I would also recommend Richard Montanari, Mo Hayder, and Stuart Macbride who are also excellent writers of this genre.



Whatever happened to Westerns?

This blog is by Richard, our deputy head of service.

You’ve only read the title of this blog and already I can hear you scoffing? ‘Westerns’ you say, ‘they’ll never make a come back!’ Well if that’s the case, why have we had two new westerns (The Revenant and The Hateful Eight) at the cinema in the last month or so. Surely Tarantino can’t be wrong?!

Anyway – for those of you who are willing to keep reading here’s my Magnificent Seven ‘give it a go’ westerns to whet the appetite of the uninitiated…

Western Little Big ManLittle Big Man by Thomas Berger (1964)

Does this book require much description? – Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of the irascible Jack Crabb in the 1970 movie made this a very popular western, albeit a tongue in cheek take on the genre where Jack, a 121 year old, retells his life story to an oral historian – this sees Jack pretty much involved on the fringes of every major event covered by almost any other western you can pick up – he even survives the Battle of the Little Big Horn. So whilst most western fans will know that the only survivor of that battle was a horse called Comanche, the book offers a wonderfully colourful [and partly accurate] historical synopsis of the era – and that remains in some ways the main question posed in the narrative – is Jack a fraud?

Western The BloodingThe Blooding by James McGee (2013)

As a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series I was probably destined to become a fan of James McGee’s series about Hawkwood [I can’t read this series without imagining that Sharpe had left the Rifles as a Captain and returned to London’s rookeries as a Runner … but I digress]. Set in 1812 this outing sees Hawkwood stranded behind enemy lines, in America, a country at war with Britain for the second time (like many people I never knew there were two wars with America!)

As Hawkwood makes his escape to the Canadian border he uncovers an American plot to invade Canada. If it is successful, the entire continent will be lost. Pursued by a relentless enemy, Hawkwood sets off across the snow-bound Adirondack Mountains; the land the Iroquois call ‘The Hunting Grounds’.   And here we get more of Hawkwood’s back story with McGee taking his skills at historical storytelling in the direction of Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans.

If you like Cornwell’s Sharpe, historical crime fiction, or EVEN westerns then The Blooding and the rest of the series are waiting….

Western The sisters brothersThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011)

This is a new one for me – in looking up a few ‘best of the west’ lists I came across the usual titles: Riders of the Purple Sage (Zane Grey), True Grit (Charles Portis), even Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingles Wilder), [only Little Big Man from any of those lists was already on mine], and then I spotted this little gem (possibly – I should say nugget as the backdrop is around gold prospecting). It’s a relatively recent publication but the language and sentence structure, whilst easy to read, are certainly evocative of them olden days.

The book is darkly comic following the exploits Charlie and Eli, who are brothers with the last name ‘Sisters’ – ok I’ll admit this confused me to start! They are a couple of the best hit men in the Wild West, but like most siblings have their own rivalries and plenty of personal baggage which only serves to enhance the comic authenticity of their interactions. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, this is certainly worth a shot (sorry for the pun).

And for those who like books becoming movies I’ve just discovered that plans are afoot for a 2016 release starring John C. Reilly.

Western The gunslingerThe Gunslinger by Stephen King (1982)

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. So begins the first instalment of Stephen King’s iconic fantasy series, The Dark Tower.

Inspired in by Robert Browning’s poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, The Gunslinge , part sci-fi novel, part spaghetti Western, tells the story of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger [think Lancelot with a Colt peacemaker] who is tracking an enigmatic magician known only as the man in black.

A lasting memory I have reading this as a western is a scene with the gunslinger on a beach fighting off some weird see creatures – ok, that’s definitely not normal for a ‘guns at sunset’ kind of a western, but very little in Mid-world is normal.

The entire saga took over 20 years to create and, like Lord of the Rings for Tolkien, brings Stephen King to the forefront of imaginary world storytelling – everyone should try this, but with seven parts….be prepared to lose yourself in Mid-world for a long time.

And…you guessed it, another candidate for a movie – this one I hear will be around in 2017.

Western A study in scarletA study in scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)

The first seven chapters of A Study in Scarlet take place in London in 1881, and see the introduction of our two heroes – Holmes and Watson; this section of the novel ends with the capture of Jefferson Hope. The next section is a flashback to events many years earlier in America, culminating in Hope’s arrival in London. The third section of the book continues where the seventh chapter left off, providing Hope’s account – essentially his statement to the police of his activities in London, and ultimately the novel concludes in what becomes the traditional style for Holmes with his explanation of the case.

Like McGee’s The Blooding, the western narrative is an interesting read, particularly as Doyle was a contemporary author writing from another continent; but putting that aside – if you have never read Holmes you really, really must.

Western The tenderness of wolvesThe Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (2006)

The year is 1867. Winter has just tightened its grip on Dove River, a tiny isolated settlement in the Northern Territory, when a man is brutally murdered. A local woman, Mrs Ross, stumbles upon the crime scene and sees the tracks leading from the dead man’s cabin north toward the forest and the tundra beyond.   Within hours Mrs Ross will regret that knock as she discovers her seventeen-year-old son has disappeared and is considered a prime suspect.

A mix of people are drawn together following the crime and set off one by one to solve it….or to exploit it?   This is a an exhilarating thriller, a gripping murder mystery, and, like all the best westerns a wonderful example of fireside storytelling – no wonder it won Costa Book of the Year and First Novel Awards.

All God’s Children by Thomas Eidson (1996)

Pearl Eddy is a poor widow living in a small town in the prairies of Kansas, a Quaker in a Methodist town. Life becomes more difficult when she hides a black runaway from a lynch mob and later takes care of an immigrant family.

Also worth a look – The Last Ride (1995) – made into the film The Missing, starring Tommy Lee Jones in 2003

Thomas Eidson is, for me, an exquisite story teller. Each of his stories test the faith of his characters to the very limits. Whether these are religious beliefs, moral codes, or friendship loyalties, Eidson takes his characters to the edge – and sometimes gives just a little nudge to push them over. Unfortunately these titles are mostly out of print, but your extra effort in searching them out will be rewarded.

So, if you think westerns aren’t for you why not try one of these more fringe offerings and see how you get on.   And with a whole host of movie crossovers coming in during 2016, maybe there will be a revival….

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016

The winner of this years Baileys Women’s prize for fiction will be announced tonight at 7.30pm. The lucky winner will win a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven  as well as receiving a cheque for £30,000. Lucky them, that’s more than enough to buy a few bottles of Baileys to celebrate.

Have you read all the shortlisted books?

Baileys RubyRuby by Cynthia Bond

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe centre of the city, all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, 30-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realisation that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Baileys The Green RoadThe Green Road by Anne Enright

The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for one last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.

Baileys Glorious Heresies


The Glorious Heresies by Lisa Mcinerney

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a 15-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute, whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after 40 years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, she threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, but her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight.

Baileys The Portable VeblenThe Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Meet Veblen. She’s an experienced cheerleader (mainly of her narcissistic, hypochondriac, controlling mother), an amateur translator, and a passionate defender of the anti-consumerist views of her namesake, the economist Thorstein Veblen. She’s also a firm believer in the distinct possibility that the plucky grey squirrel following her around can understand everything she says.

Baileys The Improbability of Love



The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second-hand shop. Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two, only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece. But every painting has a story – and if it could speak, what would it tell us? For Annie has stumbled across ‘The Improbability of Love’, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the 18th century.

Baileys A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realise, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.