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Sunday 29 July 2012

Settling The Score

There may be some older cricket fans reading this who remember a little gem of a play on television called Arthur's Hallowed Ground. Written by ex-Derbyshire cricketer, Peter Gibbs, it starred Jimmy Jewell as Arthur, the groundsman whose life's work is spent maintaining the perfect pitch on which to play cricket and then hating it when cricketers turn up to play on it, ruining his creation.

In Settling the Score, Peter gives us a similar character though only in a minor role. Here it is the three day game between an imaginary Derbyshire team and the home team, Warwickshire, which takes centre stage on the placid Edgbaston ground. That and the rivalry between two brothers vying for a place in the England team. Not so placid however, are the antics of the members of the team after each day's play. Set in the late 60s, when an evening at a strip club or drinking to the early hours was more common for professional players than perhaps it is now, there are fights and disclosures that play a major part on the field of play.

Peter pours all his knowledge of the game into this rare work (for there are few pieces of fiction in the cricket world) and the result is an engrossing novel based on a nail biting cricket match, determined by the off field events and revelations as much as the action on the field itself. The plot seamlessly joins the events on field and off and those who have played the game will recognise the truth of it. Those who follow the game may also recognise many of the characters (despite the usual disclaimer). Both will enjoy the vivid description of the play, the comical banter and the sometimes bitter rivalry.

If there seem to be the odd cliche here, it is because Heaven's only sport is made up of them. Impossible catches follow farcical run-outs, bad balls take wickets, good ones clear the ropes and a three day match boils down to the last half hour, the last over, the last ball. That's what makes cricket such a wonderful game and what makes Settling the Score such a wonderful book.

With the tension of a great Test Match, this is a first class read which every cricket lover should own. I for one, cannot wait for the return match.


Tuesday 24 July 2012

Held Up by Christopher Radmann

Held Up by Christopher Radmann
Hardback at £12.99
This novel works superbly in so many ways. The plot is gripping, the subject matter rare and enlightening, the characters always believable and the writing fizzes with intelligence and leaping, unexpected connections. Even the title has several layers to it.
What’s it about? In South Africa, a recent recruit to an ad agency, Paul, drives out in his new BMW, only to be hijacked and dumped in the road as the car drives off. Only then, does he remember that his precious baby daughter is still in the car. That’s the first 10 pages and 1 minute of the tale. The next 11 years concerns his search for his child and perhaps for himself as he rapidly heads towards insanity. It is a thriller and a moving love story, of a man for his child and his country. Any more than that, you will have to read for yourself - I’m giving no more of this brilliant book away. However, the South African author might for he tells you about the book at

Not a dog - Unhooking the Moon

No, this isn't a photograph of a dog. Not at all.

I know you are all getting hacked off with our blog being dogs only and no books so I've deliberately included this pic which is not of a dog.

This is young Reece who helped in the shop for a while and wrote us a book review.

'Yer 'tis -

Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes
Paperback at £6.99
Meet Marie-Claire, also known as The Rat: an infuriating, bizarre, gangster-wise prairie kid who, together with her brother, Bob, experiences a road trip of a lifetime. This is an adventurous story of a brother and sister, whose dad has recently died, as they go on an extraordinary road trip to New York to get away from the city of Winnipeg. Having nothing left for them at home, they decide to pack up and to visit their Uncle, encountering an hilarious con-man, a famous rap star and escaping numerous dangers along the way. But is their uncle all he seems to be? Will there be a happy ending for The Rat and Bob? This is a teen read involving many ups and downs, thrills and spills, that is genuinely different from any other.

By the way, that animal in his arms is Alfie.

Monday 23 July 2012

Sweet dog

Yes, OK. OK. I know this is supposed to be a book blog but one more dog can't hurt, can it!

Especially when it's a lovely silky haired springer like this one.

She loved everybody and everybody loved her.

Trouble is, I didn't write her name down.

Something to do with sweets I think. It couldn't be Bullseye. Much to fierce and ugly. Buttons? I'm thinking Chocolate here. Candyfloss would suit but that's not it. Peppermint Cream? Getting warm. Caramel? Nearly there.

It''s Toffee!

Thursday 19 July 2012

Dogs on the Blog - Puddle and Gypsy

Always the way isn't it. You wait for ages and then three come along at once.

The pup, Puddle (we've had a puddle before, I think) is a trainee hearing dog and at only 7 months old, a beauty.

I can honestly claim to have been thoroughly washed by a Puddle.

And look at that tail go!

Then came Gypsy.

A collie, a little larger than average, as can be seen from this photo.

She's the one on the left.

No, sorry, right.

David's the other one.

Tuesday 17 July 2012


There was I, thinking to myself, 'Haven't had a dog on the blog for a while.' when in walked a friend of a friend.

Several ages and many posts ago, we featured a delightful hound called Jamie.

Well, here's his mate, Maisey.

A Collie/Elkhound apparently and a real charmer. Nina (off duty today) missed a treat.

Sorry about the focus Maisey, but you wouldn't keep still!

Monday 16 July 2012

The Hobbit - new edition

As we near the release date for Peter Jackson's next visit to Middle-Earth (The Hobbit in December) the book will increase in popularity.

Though the jacket for the new edition does not show a shot from the film (still very much under wraps) it shows a younger Bilbo Baggins just stepping out from Bag End and beyond him, the village of Hobbiton in The Shire.

I am lucky enough to have been to Hobbiton and find, as I gaze at the new jacket, that I am quite moved, but then I'm a big softy.

It really is a great looking edition and the advice on its face bears thinking about.


But then, I suppose, as Gildor once said    '... advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise, to the wise...'

Saturday 14 July 2012


Geekhood by Andy Robb (Close Encounters of the Girl Kind)
Paperback at £6.99

There are dozens of books for girls in their early teens in which the heroine falls for the cool handsome guy but seems to have no chance till the last chapter, many of them great reads (Jenny Valentine’s Broken Soup’ comes to mind). However, there seem to be few books for boys carrying the equivalent theme (though the Airborn fantasy books by Kenneth Opel are excellent).
   In Geekhood, Archie is a very ordinary boy of fourteen who's family background is in flux. The divorce is going through, his Dad is moving away, he has poor relations with his Mum's new boyfriend and, on top of all this, he's bullied at school. However, he can escape all this by spending all his spare time painting small model characters and playing Dungeons and Dragons with three close friends, that is, until he meets Sarah. Sarah is beautiful, is willing to join the boys in their roleplay games and, most amazingly, seems to like Archie. His journey away from his friends and into romance is funny and sad and ultimately rewarding for him and all those round him.
   This book for young teen boys is a great read which fills a gap with humour and great honesty, even to the point of occasional vulgarity. Sensitive yet great fun.

If you too, paint small characters look up our Games Workshop blog

Thursday 12 July 2012

Justin Thyme is ageless

We had a customer in today who told us he'd very much enjoyed Justin Thyme.

He left us pleased to be clutching
Thyme Running Out.

The customer is 88 years old!

Is this a record?

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley
Paperback at £6.99
Six months ago I was enthusing about The Magic of Christmas by this author and here we are, in the middle of summer (!) and Trisha has another cosy tale to tell. Tansy Poole leaves her long term partner, Justin, on discovering his guilty secret and goes home to ‘Nan’ whose shoe shop is failing. It’s just the thing to make Tansy forget (if only Justin would let her) and she throws herself into running the shop selling specialist wedding shoes and shoe shaped chocolates. ‘Home’ is the village of  Sticklepond where we meet old friends from previous books and Tansy meets her next door neighbour, an old flame.OK. So much is predictable but there are surprises and Trisha’s writing always seems like a personal letter rather than a book. An enjoyable and amusing love story with recipes.

All The Things You Are

One of the most popular military books over the last few years has been Another Dawn Another Dusk by Kenneth Ballantyne.

Now there is a brand new title by Kenneth, All The Things You Are, 'A collection of short stories from men and women who lived through WW2 on the home front and beyond'.

We now have plenty of both books in stock and copies of All The Things You Are, like Another Dawn Another Dusk, are all signed.

In truth, these are short memoirs which bring to life a wide selection of experiences from the period, each one as fascinating as the next. From a housewife in the blitz, a nurse, a Land Army girl, a survivor of the Laconia sinking, WRNs and WAAFs, a paratrooper who fought at Arnhem with1st Airborne and many others. There are many photos too which add to the already evocative text.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

The Mystery of Wickworth Manor

The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott
Paperback at £5.99

When Paige Owens, on first arriving for a week at Wickworth Manor with her friends, first meets a rather unhappy lonely boy, Curtis Okafor, she thinks him too posh and serious for her. However, soon the pair become friends and find themselves on the trail of a ghost, secret tunnels and hidden treasure.

If it sounds too Blytonesque, it has some fresh ideas on display. It deals with bullying and unusual friendships and racism in a subtle way and the writing makes all the characters come alive. It would be nice to think that  Paige and Curtis have more than one outing together. A good, funny adventure story with a generous helping of thoughtful realism.

Rebecca Tope at Naunton

A quick note to say that our good friend Rebecca Tope,
author of the hugely popular series of
Cotswold Murder mysteries starring Thea Osborne,
will be opening the
Naunton Rural Olympix & Fete
on Saturday 21 July at 1pm.
She will also be signing her books there.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Panama Oxridge JT and TRO special

A month ago, I commented on a forthcoming special deal on Thyme Running Out for those of you who have not yet bought your copy of Justin Thyme.

Justin Thyme, the first in the Tartan of Thyme series of time travel books by 'Panama Oxridge' (not his real name, of course) is priced at £7.99.

The even more fiendish, tricksy and downright astonishing sequel, Thyme Running Out, is priced at only £6.99, despite having many more pages and surprises.

These two amazing paperbacks are already special but now you can buy the pair at Cotswold Bookstore at only £12.99.

If you don't know what the fuss is about (perhaps you've lived in a coal mine or on the other side of the moon for years) look in on 'The Justin Thyme story' on this blog or go to or .
Or all three. 

Monday 9 July 2012

Goblin from Denmark

A young visitor from Denmark, 12 year old Mathias Herup, called in late one day to ask if we sold erasers.

No, we don't, but the one we had was getting past it so I handed it over after Mathias explained that he wanted to keep up with his drawing while on holiday.

Late today, Mathias and (I guess) his older brother called in and I was presented with this excellent drawing.

That was really kind and thoughtful. It will go up on the shop wall behind the counter. Thank you.

Friday 6 July 2012

MC Beaton vote

Our favourite local author, MC Beaton, has been kind enough to vote us her favourite bookshop on the Guardian/Indies site. What kind words too!

Here she is at one of her popular signings.

Link below. Old photo of the shop though.

Monday 2 July 2012

Henry Porter visit

Good to see authors using Indies in Independent Booksellers' Week.

An old photo, I know, but this gentleman of gentleman authors called in today. If you want a fast paced spy/thriller, he's your man.

Henry Porter, good to see you again. The new novel sounds interesting. Most of your books will be in tomorrow, there's a small delay on one.

The hijack on the word 'your' has nothing to do with us.