A Royal Christmas

Don't blame Prince Albert when looking at Christmas traditions in Britain. They look quite German, but that's all your fault. It all started with the Glorious Revolution and the subsequent import of German George, or King George I. And other foreigners are present, too. Just think pantomime, turkey, and Santa Claus.



Inspector Minahan Makes A Stand

The age of sexual consent was and is a source of perpetual dissent. In 1874, that age of consent was 12. Brothels were illegal in the United Kingdom and thrived. Policemen were invited to sample the goods. They made use of girls and boys on offer. In return, they happened to overlook the brothels’ existence. And that is the more salubrious part of the story.



The Secret History Of Georgian London

If ‘Georgian London’ conjures pictures of large, white, representative buildings, then this book will take you down a peg or two. If you think that your earlier incarnation was sweeping down majestic staircases in beautiful gowns, chances are much higher you would have lived in the gutter. Come to meet the girls and boys widely ignored by Georgette Heyer in her period novels.




Star

Writing biographies is a difficult undertaking. It becomes virtually impossible when writing about a subject where there is nothing interesting to say about. The other extreme can be found when there is so much of the same to tell that it becomes repetitive. This happened to Peter Biskind.



This Party’s Got To Stop: A Memoir

Rupert Thomson has written a novel under the title of memoir. With it, he takes his readers for a ride through hell called family. Numerous book critics were taken in by the word memoir and fell for his ploy of pretend biography; they actually believed it. Reading the published reviews, he was extremely successful despite the fact that plot, style, and hyperbole used are a dead give-away.




The Forgotten Garden

Pan Books published The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. The author tells the stories of three women of three generations in search of their roots covering a hundred years in the process. While two of them were displaced by no choice of their own, the third is set upon a quest by her grandmother to solve a family mystery.



Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective

Let me correct you impression that trolls are an invention of the internet. Better, I let someone else do it for me. A book I found will disabuse you of any such preconception. It holds a collection of truly vicious comments that were written by writers about other writers. The book is a must read for any troll aspiring to do it in style; it’s a necessary guide on how to be truly insulting.


Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation Of A World War II Fighter Pilot

Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation Of A World War II Fighter Pilot by Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross was published by Hay House. The book covers the search for the past of the Leininger’s son.




Jack Tar: Life in Nelson’s Navy

Every cartoon about seamen and sailors and many a horror story is built on the old adage of 'no women on board'. Someone might know where the saying comes from, I certainly don't. What I do know is that is wrong. This book will tell you why.



Pirates of Barbary

The Coast of Barbary extends from the Straits of Gibraltar to Tripoli in the Mediterranean Sea. That means it runs from modern Morocco to Algeria. The name Barbary was derived from Barbarians, but this epithet shouldn’t be applied to the inhabitants of that coast but to the truly barbarian pirates that used the coast as their base. They were for the greater part European.




Arthur Miller

Writing biographies is a dangerous business. Autobiographies should be the easiest to write but end up as a pack of lies as authors want to present life according to their wishes instead of the truth. Unauthorized biographies don't have access to all the facts and end up gossip mongering and stating the obvious. And then there are authorized biographies which combine the worst of both the ones mentioned before.



A Natural History of Ghosts

Can something not made of matter matter to science? We are talking ghosts. People might believe in atoms, neurons, and black matter. People might believe in gods, demons, and eternal beings. But people also believe in ghosts. The first two groups are amply served by scientific research in several fields. Ghosts finally receive the recognition they deserve in a book dealing exclusively with them.



Through The Language Glass

Linguistics is a science that is at best a bit murky; it can become a quagmire, too. The language barriers I mention in the title refer to the barriers put up by linguists on their own understanding of languages. A new book tries to get rid of a few 19th century hold-overs embedded in our minds.



Mark of The Dragonfly

How should I tell you this? Too many, too fast, too few, too early, too late; this sums up the book;and yet at the end I will recommend it to you. I'm afraid my review will be as contradictory as the book. It's main weakness lies in the fact that the story has as many holes as Emmental cheese. But it could make sense; which gives me some suspicions and a possible culprit. I might be wrong, too, about the latter.


These Old Shades

Enter Paris and Versailles in the time of Louis XV. Corruption and intrigue are ripe in France and give an open playing field to the English Duke of Avon, affectionately known as Satanas to his enemies. Starting broke as a youngster, he had gambled a young Austrian noble out of his fortune to pay for a lavish and sumptuous lifestyle.



Special Forces Heroes

Special Forces Heroes by Michael Ashcroft was published by Headline. It is a collection of heroic incidents. The royalties of Milord Ashcroft are donated to Help For Heroes, a charity supporting servicemen injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.




Downwave

Robert Beckmann’s Downwave was published by Milestone Publications. Its two subtitles are: Surviving the second great depression, and: Everything all the experts would tell you if only they dared.




Notes From Walnut Tree Farm

Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin is published by Hamish-Hamilton. A book about change and sameness in country life, it is filled with observations of the wild and not so wild. Published after his death from the notes he left behind, the editors have done their work to satisfaction.



The Well-Fed Writer

Thousands of books have been written on how to become a freelance writer. Most of the publications are a total waste of paper or storage space. Some books are a waste of time but do no harm, but only a handful are worth reading. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman is one advice book that might teach you some useful things. But as with all advice offered to you, be it personally or in any other form, you'll have to work it your way.



Pawn of Prophecy

When writing fantasy stories, everything from the set-up to magic has to work perfectly. Pawn of Prophecy is one of those books that really work. It is funny, the story keeps you wanting to read on, and magic is strictly controlled. If you plan on a holiday in the land of make-believe, this book is not a bad choice.



The Redemption of Althalus

Althalus was a thief; he was probably the best thief in the world. And this fantasy story book is all about his adventures. Or it should be about his adventures, but a few things went wrong. That might seem normal for any story worth writing about. But a few things went wrong with writing the book itself. Which makes it either a bad book, or an interesting one. It depends on your point of view.