For anyone yet to have discovered Urbane – where have you been?. I joined the Urbane Book Club last year and you can catch up with that post here. I decided it would be nice to feature my club books each month in a separate feature (there is no truth in the rumour that doing so makes my weekly acquisitions listing look less profligate).
I was away last week and arrived home to discover a parcel had been left with my neighbour, when we finally caught up I was delighted to discover that what I thought was my rather mundane order of Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (don’t ask but it does work!) was actually my Urbane parcel of January’s publications. So what did January bring.
A Filthy Habit and Other Stories by Fergus Linnane.
(Love the cover and looking forward to dipping into this)
Perhaps it’s time you embraced the wilder side of life….
A subversive military campaign to wipe out pensioners … a sadistic newspaper editor who bullies and humiliates his staff while worrying about his translation of Horace … an Italian soccer maestro is hired to teach English players to spit … a tiger loose on the 3.30pm from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells … a fantasy biography that leads to an international incident … an author hiding in a library, watching in secret as a beautiful young woman inserts new pages into his book to form a completely different story …
From shadow catchers to obsessive collectors, broken book groups to bullying bosses, Fergus Linnane shares a wealth of bizarre, entertaining and often darkly hilarious stories which subvert our expectations and give life a totally new perspective.
Release Your Wow by Rennie Gould
(Might need to find it first but I’m sure I’ve got some somewhere!)
Our lives are full of challenges, drawing on our reserves of physical and mental energy as we strive for what matters to us, and those we care for. As we progress through each new day we develop new skills, undergo new experiences, and grow as individuals. But how do we harness all that experience, how do we find the energy to take life by the scruff of the neck and discover the strength and truth of what were capable of achieving? Drawing on the very latest thinking behind Mindfulness, Authenticity and Human Flourishing, Release your WOW! shows YOU how to unleash that irresistible force that often lies dormant but ready within all of us, an energy which has the power to change every aspect of your life for the better. Using 7 simple steps, you will be led on a journey of self-discovery to reveal your essential self an insight that provides the foundation to make the changes you want to make to your life. Take the 7 steps to self awareness and personal fulfilment and release your WOW!
Debris: New poetry collection by Chris Parker
(I need to broaden my horizons as far as poetry is concerned so this should help)
Through his consideration of debris, Chris Parker develops the themes of communication, learning and relationship he first shared in The City Fox & others in our community. Through the voices of some of the original characters in The City Fox and a range of new ones, we are invited – and sometimes challenged – to consider the impact of our communications, beliefs and social structures on others and ourselves. The word debris, we learn, refers to broken or torn pieces of something larger. So just what is our relationship with debris? To what extent do we create it and what are its effects on others and us? Is debris only a form of waste, or can it be empowering and useful? And if debris is a part of something larger, just what is that something? These are the questions we are encouraged to address in this new collection of poems that explore just what it means to be human and how we influence each other.
Two Dogs at the One Dog Inn and other stories by David John Griffin
(Another intriguing title that makes you want to read more.)
Dogs are reported for their constant barking …and so begins one of the strangest stories you will ever read. Audrey Ackerman, sent to visit the dogs at a 17th century coach house, is unsettled by paranormal sightings. Stella Bridgeport – manager at The Animal Welfare Union – communicates with Audrey via emails. And those Stella receives are as startling as they are incredible: descriptions of extraordinary events concerning a science fiction writer’s journal; giant swans; bizarre android receptionist; a ghost dog. Insanity or fantasy? Fact or fiction? The only given is, it all starts and ends with two dogs at The One Dog Inn…and other stories: 12 short stories with aspects of the macabre, the surreal or the strangeness of magical realism to entertain and delight you.
Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson
(This January publication actually arrived prior to this parcel and my review can be found here.)
The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at ‘Hampstead Nick’. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed ‘a love letter to the detective novel’.
Last but not least a selection of children’s titles from Lotte Moore. Buy all 5 direct from Urbane for £9.99. (These should earn me some Auntie brownie points!)
The Dinosaur Who Ate a Piano – Doops the hungry dinosaur found a strange object which he gobbled down – and soon he was making music instead of growls!
The Flying Granny – Granny Buzz adores her bees, and wishes she could fly high in the sky with them. But sometimes wishes can come true…
Mobile Crocodile – Lily dropped her mobile phone when visiting the zoo …and now a giant crocodile is ringing in its pool!
The Teaspoon Family – When the cooking is over and the kitchen is quiet, the Teaspoon Family come out to play! This wonderful story is illustrated by children from Kew Green Prep School.
Saved – After a busy day in the classroom learning and being creative, the children head for home. But when the school is quiet all the rubbish in the classroom comes magically to life. Find out what happens before the rubbish collectors arrive!
So a great variety and something for everyone I think. Definitely worth what equates to £8.33 a month for an annual subscription of £99.99. If you still need persuading here’s a taster of what February has in store and I can’t wait.
The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes
Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.
Marching on Together by P J Whiteley
It is August 2014. Six Leeds United supporters set off for a short break in Bruges. Two brothers Allan and Johnny Collins – the former a successful businessman, the latter just out of prison – are visiting great-grandad’s grave on the Western Front, at the time of the centenary of the start of the Great War. They’re joined by Johnny’s mates, Craig and Terry; the tomboy Petra; and the out-of-sorts Yvonne, who failed to persuade estranged husband Tony to accompany her. For all the political events, historic and current, that surround them, they find it difficult to avoid discussion of the wildly eccentric new owner of their beloved football club as it languishes in the second tier of English football. He has sold the best striker and banned the Number 17 shirt as being ‘unlucky’. Meanwhile other obsessions, secrets and ambitions lie within their hearts. Can Johnny find love again, or a job? Will Terry make it as a photographer? Is Allan’s business as successful as it appears to be? What is the family secret behind the antique silver locket that Yvonne keeps in her handbag? And can she finally accept the result of the 1975 European Cup Final, and begin to move on with her life?
All the Places I’ve Ever Lived by David Gaffney
All the Places I’ve ever Lived is part ghost story, part murder ballad, part crime thriller and explores the themes of outsiders and difference, with a dark edge. People say it has a Twin Peaks feel.
It is set in West Cumbria, a semi-industrial, remote and unloved part of northern England on the edge of the Lake District and on the edge of just about everything else. the town is mainly populated by irish immigrants coming over to work in the iron ore mines and later Sellafield.
The action begins in 1976, when fifteen-year-old Barry wakes up one day to find that his body is covered in strange, metallic lumps. Living next to a thermometer factory and nine miles from Sellafield nuclear plant could be an explanation for this, but, actually, something more uncanny is going on. The evening before, a girl from Barry’s school, Philomena May, was brutally attacked and left in a ditch to die. Philomena’s ghost visits Barry and uses the metallic lumps to guide them both into the future, where Barry and the ghost girl’s purpose is to prevent a multiple shooting.
The book flicks between 1976 and 2010, and explores the effect of horrendous crimes on small communities and the way the gradual accretion of small grudges can drive a person to mass murder. It’s a thrilling mash up of Edward Scissorhands, In Cold Blood, and Back To The Future.
Peace Breaks Out by Robin Hardy & Donough O’Brien
When the IRA kill Bill Heathcote’s family in a botched bombing attempt, the scene is set for a revenge thriller that pursues the truth to the very top of UK and US government power… The IRA plan the assassination of scientist Bill Heathcote, a Northern Irish man just returned from development work in the USA. But the assassination is botched and Bill’s wife and young daughter are murdered in a car bomb meant for him. Overcome with remorse, one of the bombers, Danny, decides to help Bill track down his former IRA comrades to exact revenge, though the situation is complicated by ruthless political powers determined to use the situation for their own ends. When a choice can literally mean the death of innocence, how will you decide? Peace Breaks Out is a gripping revenge thriller set during the Troubles in Ireland. One for fans of Jack Higgins and Gerald Seymour.