Tuesday, August 27, 2013

173. Deadly Animals Ultimate Top Tens by Kim Dennis-Bryan

Meet the World's Most Dangerous Creatures

The author has come up with rating systems to determine the most deadly predators in three categories: Dinosaur Hunters; Lethal Killers; Fierce Predators. The lists contain well known species like the African Lion and Killer Whale, as well as a few surprises and lesser known creatures.

Monday, August 12, 2013

172. The Mountain of Adventure by Enid Blyton

 The four children, their parrot Kiki, mother/aunt and "Old Bill" plan a quiet holiday in North Wales. However, as usual, adventure finds the children when they go off riding donkeys on a camping trip. First published in 1949 this story does not meet today's standards of political correctness particularly in Blyton's handling of black and Japanese characters.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

171. The Messanger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

Zouroudi asserts that when living in a village on a small Greek island, social mores, family pride and long memories shape your decisions. Hermes Diaktoros, frequently referred to as "the fat man" arrives from Athens to solve the mystery surrounding the death of wife of a local fisherman. Was it murder or suicide? And if Diaktoros isn't a policeman, who is he?

Monday, July 29, 2013

170. With All Due Respect by Ronald G. Morrish

Keys for building effective school discipline
A guide for teachers on how to use discipline instead of negotiation and consequences to achieve an effective, safe learning environment. Moorish's method is broken down into three triplets: Training (rules, limits, authority; Teaching (skills, attitudes, knowledge) and Management (independent choice). A good resource to keep on hand.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

169. The Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton

Jack, Phillip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann befriend a feral "gypsy" girl named Tassie who joins in their adventures when exploring an abandoned castle with a mysterious past. Secret passages, hidden rooms and suits of armour all figure in the plan to capture the criminals and recover of the treasure.

168. The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton

The children are off of school so that the can recover from the measles. When their mother falls ill, their old friend Bill agrees to take them to a remote island in Scotland. He is hiding out from a band of rogues that caught on to his trailing them. As always, it becomes an adventure featuring their parrot Kiki, rats, puffins and "the enemy".

Thursday, July 25, 2013

167. The Wealden Iron Industry by Jeremy Hodgkinson

A very accessible and well illustrated history of ironmasters and gunfounding in the Weald from Roman times to the 18th Century. Hodgkinson explains the processes used to make iron and the workforce, buildings and transportation aspects of production.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

166. The Valley of Adventure by Enid Blyton

 After stowing away on the wrong airplane, the children find themselves in a remote valley hiding from treasure hunters. Using their wits and survival skills, the four kids and their amusing parrot Kiki help capture the rogues and save an elderly couple who have been guarding the treasure for years.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

165. Erewhon by Samuel Butler

First published anonymously in 1872, this novel is set in nineteenth-century New Zealand. A young man leaves the sheep station he's employed at to scout out distant valleys in the hope of finding pasture land he can claim for himself. What he discovers is the land of Erewhon (Nowhere) and its odd civilization. All machines and technology have been destroyed and outlawed. Being sick is treated as a crime and crime is treated as illness. Interesting social and political satire that can, to some extent, be applied today.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

164. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

In the final battle between the Olympians and the Titan Kronos, Percy and the demigods get help from surprising sources.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

163. Fun for the Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

The children befriend an elderly man who desparately needs help paying the vet bill and caring for his lame horse. The Secret Seven save the day by raising funds which inspires the grown ups to help too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

162. The Piltdown Mystery by Donald Miller

In 1912, the discovery of skull fragments near the village of Piltdown, Sussex caused a great stir in the scientific world. It appeared to be the skull of the "missing link" between ape and man. For decades few questioned the find and it wasn't until 1943 that it was proved a fake. Was it a hoax or a forgery? And who was in on the act?

Monday, June 24, 2013

161. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

 Annabeth gets her wish - a quest of her own  - and she and Percy have to outwit the enemies of Camp Half-Blood and find their way through Daedelus' Labyrinth.  Grover also gets his wish - to find Pan - with surprising consequences.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

160. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

When Percy, Thalia and Grover rescue siblings Nico and Bianco from the clutches of Dr. Thorn, Annabeth goes missing. When Artemis likewise vanishes, a quest to find her and Annabeth leads the heroes into a trap set by "the General" who is working for Kronos.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

159. Guinea Pigs Far and Near by Kate Duke

Charming illustrations help to teach opposites, relational words and adverbs.

158. The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket

In typical Snicket fashion, this book presents the instruments of the orchestra in a way that's fun and easy to remember. Paired with Nathaniel Stookey's music, on CD with the book, a great teaching tool.

157. All My Friends are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John

A quirky book that will make you shake your head and smile. Funny and thought provoking at the same time, a fun read for people with warped senses of humour.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

156. The Pirate Prince: Discovering the Pricelss Treasures of the Sunken Ship Whydah by Barry Clifford

Written with Peter Turchi, this book has two timelines - 1717 when the Whydah Gally sunk off the coast of Wellfleet, Massachusetts and the 1980s when Barry Clifford and his team find the wreck after years of searching. The financial, legal and ethical battles faced by private salvors also makes for interesting reading. Clifford concludes with, "The real treasure is the story".

Thursday, June 13, 2013

155. Real Pirates: The Untold Story of The Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship by Barry Clifford

Stunning paintings by Gregory Manchess and artifacts from the wreck photographed by Kenneth Garrett richly illustrate the text. Cape Cod based underwater archaeological explorer,  Barry Clifford, details the history and the fate of the Whydah Galley, built in 1715 and wrecked just two years later.

154. The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan

An anthology of short stories, puzzles and illustrations based on Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Includes the aptly titled "Son of Magic" penned by Riordan's 16 year old son Haley who was the inspiration behind this popular series.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

153. Disasters at Sea: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks by Liz Mechem

An interesting collection of shipping disasters both natural and man made - from storms and ice bergs to casualties of war and poor design. Many maps, historical paintings, photos and diagrams put these tragic events on a human scale

152. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

In this second book of the series, Percy and Annabeth must travel through the Sea of Monsters to rescue Grover from the cyclops Polyphemus. Their ultimate goal is to steal the Golden Fleece from Polyphemus and bring it back to Camp Half-Blood so that it's healing powers can stop the destruction of the camp.

Friday, June 07, 2013

151. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This first book in "The Olympians" series is based on the premise that Greek gods are truly imortal. Set in today's world it is Greek Mythology retold with an ironic twist. Interesting characters and exiting battle scenes make the story come to life.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

150. The Engagement by Chloe Hooper

Not since Yann Martel's Life of Pi have I been undecided about the true nature of a book's characters and the truth behind the story line. Liese Campbell left her debts behind in England and started working at her uncle's real estate business in Melbourne, Australia. Her affair with farmer Alexander Colquhoun begins when she is showing him properties for sale. They continue their assignations, for money, in homes for sale. When Liese tells him that she's leaving Australia to return to England he offers her a four figure sum to spend the long weekend at his property in the bush. This psychologial thriller leaves you wondering who wrote the bizarre letters slandering Liese to Alexander.

149.Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

A biochemist discovers an anti-aging compound when running tests on a lichen found in Manchuria. The moral, legal and ethical implications of giving people injections of a substance that will extend their life expectancy to two hundred years causes grave consequences.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

148. The Adventurous Four: Stranded! by Enid Blyton

Siblings Pippa, Zoe and Tom visit their friend Andy who takes them to see the Cliff of Birds on his fishing boat. They inadvertently discover that the island is being used by smugglers and get taken hostage. Quick thinking helps them turn the tables and escape.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

147. Chocky by John Wyndham

At first, Matthew's parents think that Chocky is his "imaginary friend". But events lead them to a deeper understanding of the being that he communicates mentally with.

146. Five go to Billycock Hill by Enid Blyton

The Famous Five camp out on Billycock Hill near their friend Toby's farm. They meet up with some interesting characters including moth and butterfly enthusiasts Mr Gringle and Mr Brent, and Toby's little brother Benny who's always chasing after his pet pigling Curly. When two experimental planes go missing from the nearby airfield, the Five help solve the crime and find Toby's cousin Flight-Lieutenant Jeff Thomas who had been accused in the theft.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

145. Enid Blyton: A Biography by Barbara Stoney

Enid Blyton is arguably the most prolific children's writer of all time. During a career that spanned four decades, she wrote poetry, plays, books and magazine articles. In the 1950s she was churning out over 20 books per year. This biography helps the reader discover the woman behind the work, who was hard-working and dedicated to her audience on one hand but immature emotionally and temperamental on the other.

Monday, May 27, 2013

144. Five Go Adventuring Again by Enid Blyton

The three cousins are back at Kirrin Cottage for Christmas Holidays with George and her dog Timmy. A tutor, Mr Roland, has been hired to help the boys catch up on their studies. Uncle Quentin's very important research notes go missing and the Famous Five solve the mystery and save the day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

143. Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

In this first book of the Famous Five series, first published in 1942, siblings Julian, Dick and Anne meet their cousin Georgina, who wishes to be called George, for the first time. George is unfriendly at first but the children win her over and she willingly shares her island with its derelict castle and submerged shipwreck. During a storm, the ship gets washed up on the beach and the search for a long lost horde of gold bars begins. George's dog Tim becomes the fifth member of the group.

142. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

When the village of Midwich is visited by a strange silver, egg shaped object, all its inhabitants are put to sleep for about 48 hours. Days after this incident it comes to light that all of the women of childbearing age are pregnant - over sixty of them. The babies all look alike,with golden eyes, white hair and translucent skin, and have a central consciousness. What one boy learns, all the boys learn; what one girl knows all the girls know.

Friday, May 24, 2013

141. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Following a meteor shower, everyone who witnessed it goes permanently blind. Add to that the proliferation of "triffids" which are tall, intelligent, venomous, mobile plants that prey on humans and you've got an apocalyptic sci-fi horror story.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

140. White Shadows by Elwy Yost

TV talk show host and film historian, Jack Parris, and his German research partner Georg, have been obsessed with unravelling the myth of actor and film producer who is known by at least 18 pseudonyms including Philip Kurzon. Kurzon's magnum opus is a film of unprecedented length, 43 reels and 8 hours 10 minutes,  that has only been viewed in public. Add in a romance, Nazi and resistance operations, a primeval tropical forest and you've got a page turning plot.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

139. Magic Moments from the Movies by Elwy Yost

Bubbling with enthusiasm, in true Elwy Yost style, the author details his favourite movie moments. Set out chronologically, there are a lot fewer entries for the 60s and 70s(the book was published in 1978)than there were for the "Golden Era" of films the 1930s-40s. Makes one realize how spoiled we are today that we can look up and watch almost any film we wish, where as Yost relied upon his memory and film libraries.

Monday, May 20, 2013

138. Secret Seven Win Through by Enid Blyton

It's the Easter Holidays and the Secret Seven find that their clubhouse is out of bounds so they seek out a new place to meet. Deciding to use a well hidden cave, they stash their treats, pillows and books. Things mysteriously start to go missing and the Secret Seven help the police by uncovering the intruder.

137. The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

On their honeymoon cruise, journalists Mike and Phyllis Watson are eyewitnesses to odd red fireballs that fall from the sky into the ocean. Months later, ships start suddenly vanishing in tropical seas. The Russians blame the capitalists who suspect the Russian. The reactions of world governments and individuals are entirely believable in this sci-fi tale of monstrous beings lurking in the deeps.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

136. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell

First published in 1949, when Britain had been through two brutal wars in the previous 35 years, this novel is set in a world where war continuously rages. Throughout this dystopian tale, Orwell introduces a new language, Newspeak and unforgettable characters like Winston Smith and Big Brother.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

135. The Secret of the Wooden Lady by Carolyn Keene

Girl detective, Nancy Drew, and her friends are enlisted by Captain Easterly when strange things start happening on his clipper ship the Bonny Scott. Through research and following clues, Nancy finds the treasure and the thugs get their just desserts.

134. The Secret of the Lost Empire by Elwy Yost

Jon Skye and his uncle Howard venture into the uncharted jungles of the Amazon with the mysterious Mr Plumm in search of the legendary Falls of Orellana, alegedly the highest in the world. The plot is filled with many twists, turns and unexpected results.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

133.The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon

This first book in the original Hardy Boys series was written in 1927 and then underwent significant plot changes, made by Harriet S. Adams, in 1959 and was republished. Brothers Frank and Joe Hardy solve their first crime, and recover stolen jewels and bonds, with some help from their father professional detective Fenton Hardy.

132. Billy Bunter's Tramp by Frank Richards

The title is a play on words - while out for a tramp (hike) Billy Bunter and the Famous Five of the Remove encounter a tramp(hobo)named Ragged Dick. The story takes many twists and turns surrounding the true identity of the tramp which is not revealed until the very end.

Friday, May 10, 2013

131. A Poor Black Cat by George Borrow

A charming story about a black cat who is scorned by the Calvinist-Methodist people of Llangollen, Wales as it's former owner was the Anglican Vicar. George Borrows is considered by many to be the father of the "travel book". This story appeared as a chapter in Wild Wales published in 1862

Thursday, May 09, 2013

130. After the Crash by Martin Spinelli

A powerful true story of faith, perseverance and recovery written by Martin Spinelli whose wife Sasha has killed and their 4 year old son Lio critically injured in a car crash. Despite the early prognoses by doctors, Lio survived and thanks to the single-mindedness of his father has made a tremendous recovery.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

129. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Conjoined twins, Marion and Shiva Stone are separated at birth. Their mother, a nun, does not survive their delivery and their father, a surgeon, flees the scene. Raised by Hema and Ghosh, Indian doctors living in Ethiopia, the twins share a special bond and an aptitude for medicine. Verghese skillfully weaves political history - the 1974 coup d'etat and 1975 abolition of the monarchy into his story lines

Saturday, May 04, 2013

128. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

A post-apocalyptic story centering around a group of young people that have the ability to communicate by thought-pictures. Their society abhors and destroys anything that strays from the norm, so when their gift becomes known they must flee to the "fringes" where mutants live in exile.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

127. Clough Williams-Ellis: a portrait in words by Amabel Williams-Ellis

A biographical booklet by writer and wife of Clough Williams-Ellis, Amabel. She quotes heavily from his books and so both of their voices are heard. The cover photo is of Clough on his 90th birthday in a pony-cart driven by his granddaughter Menna.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

126. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Imagine a world where firemen start fires and books are outlawed. Technology like Seashell ear radios and giant flat screen tv walls were predicted by Bradbury in this 1953 dystopian novel.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

125. The Railway Viaduct by Edward Marston

A landscape painter witnesses the body of a man being thrown from a train passing over the Sankey Viaduct between Liverpool and Manchester. Inspector Robert Colbeck travels to France and puts his colleagues and himself at risk during the investigation. Marston cleverly incorporates railway builder Thomas Brassey and authentic details of 1852 into the story.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

124. Clough Williams-Ellis: The Architect of Portmeirion - a memoir by Jonah Jones

A biography of Clough Williams-Ellis written by his friend - sculptor, craftsman and author Jonah Jones. Detailed information and anecdotes about Clough's early life, career, marriage and magnum opus Portmeirion are tempered with warmth and humility. Insights into Clough and wife Amabel's philosophy on architecture, planning, and politics create a more rounded portrait.