Saturday, 1 December 2018

Christmas Book Selection 2018

'Six Books to Make Christmas Giving Easier' 

 titles to amuse, intrigue and captivate!

It’s the run up to Christmas! Looking for the perfect present for a bookworm? Or something a little bit different for the man, woman, aunt or uncle who seem to have everything?  We’ve got some really unusual, classy and yet affordable titles on our bookshelves which may well be exactly what you’re looking for, whichever member of your family you have in mind (not forgetting your cat or dog!)

Here are my top six to which please visit our shelves reserved for ‘Little Bookworms’ where you’ll find some absolutely enchanting children’s story-books to delight both boys, girls and toddlers.

Although ‘Unladylike’ doesn’t sound very ‘Beatons’ this really speaks to our values of treating everyone as an equal and honoured individual. What’s more, it’s got an infectious shot of sparkle too – perfect for young and/or global-conscious women. It’s described on the website of the same name as ‘the guide for women and girls everywhere who are trying to find their way in the world.’ Authors Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin combine the history of feminism and make it zing with relevance, advice – and as an added bonus it’s packed full of infographics and witty illustrations by Tyler Feder.

For the gentleman? Petersfield best-selling author Mike Klidjian has just brought out another naval thriller of a novel – ‘Blue Streak’. I gave this to my father who admitted it kept sleeping as he kept on saying to himself, ‘just one more page’. His verdict: ‘Gripping. Plunges you straight in from the start.’

For all you budding (or aspiring) entrepreneurs? We spotted the extraordinary perspicacious Seth Godin has just published a new book: ‘This is Marketing’. Pulling the best of his advice from his blog, fresh gems when it comes to looking at how to get your products and services to the right audience, this is one we think will appeal to a broad audience (I’ve already devoured my copy and am already thinking of ways to apply his thinking to my out-of-hours Biodanza enterprise!)

Talking of consumption, we’ve picked ‘Tarts’ as our ‘Eat, Drink, Cook Book’ choice, because it’s a true classic at a very affordable price. The author, Frédéric Anton is holder of three Michelin stars and his innovative takes on classic dishes are inspiring, and the layout clear, precise and beautifully illustrated.

For something really fascinating for home, garden, nature AND ‘culture-vultures’ we’d recommend a fabulous book published by Unbound titled ‘Ladders to Heaven’. It’s about the fig tree and is utterly mind-blowing. A beautifully bound book which may hold secrets to saving the world underneath its fig leaves!

Finally, we have two stocking fillers for all our animal-loving customers. Local Beatons Tisbury author Gail Garbutt has a perfect present for all dog lovers: ‘Spot on – Dogs Names’. It’s is a real bit of fun about that peculiarly difficult task of naming a dog.

And for the purrfect (sorry Ed!) present for all cat lovers, we couldn’t resist stocking ‘Cats Paws’, an oddly smile-inducing little book of portraits of… cats’ paws! 

May your Christmas include time in front of the fire snuggled up with one of our very good reads.

  Liz Darcy Jones
Book Ambassador

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Book of the Month: Lost Children

'Lost Children' 

by Christopher Hart

Our ‘nest of novels’ category at Beatons is deliberately small, its titles sparkling jewels within their genre. This new addition – by our most recent Beatons Tisbury author Christopher Hart – was described in a recent review in The Sunday Times as ‘edgy and totally gripping… feels appallingly authentic.’ It’s like a black pearl, dark with an irresistible lustre and a cracker of a story!

To tell anything of the story-line would deprive you of its gritty blood – as red as the soil of the village which indelibly stains the heart of Dr Nicholas, one of the novel’s two protagonists. Yet with immense delicacy Chris Hart drips moments of innocence and even tenderness as we follow its other heroine - a child - through a poisoned paradise somewhere unspecified in Central America.

I have never made a prediction about a book. Here’s my first…

This will one day be a blockbuster film. If it hasn’t been snapped up yet and you have the contacts, send them to ‘Lost Children’.  In the meantime, for our readers, here’s the deal. You'll need a strong stomach and heart, and to be ready for a visceral ride into an unknown land of nightmares, its skies peppered by stars of humanity (most of them children) and earth by indifference and tyranny.
Parents, give this to every teenager contemplating a gap year travelling. It will tell you something of their mettle if they still pack up and go. Don’t blame them if they stay at home or change their itinerary!  I’m not going to pretend this book didn’t make me squirm in places, but its finely drawn characters and plot had me read it in two sittings. Would make a great Christmas present for any frequent or retired travel-lovers who want transporting out of their comfy chairs into a totally believable landscape ravaged by greed and corruption.

  Liz Darcy Jones
Book Ambassador

Monday, 1 October 2018

Book of the Month: The Vinyl Revival and the Shops that Made it Happen

'The Vinyl Revival and The Shops That Made It Happen' 

by Graham Jones

I’m not going to pretend I’ve read ‘The Vinyl Revival and the Shops that Made it Happen’ from cover to cover. For a start it would take me 6 months and it’s not that kind of book. It's a dip in and out of book and a DELIGHT. Meet Graham at Beatons Petersfield on Monday 24th Sept, details here

I’m not an obvious fan – hailing from the CD era, having a music collection which (until a year ago) topping 12 hrs listening time max and having been into less than half a dozen record shops in my lifetime! But I love people, and so does Graham Jones. And I love good writing too. This is the perfect book for a Guest Room or the resting place of the best collections of books – the Loo. Its even made me want to visit some of these glorious independents, each with their own quirky owners!

I suspect it’ll have you exploring new place to meet the characters you’ll encounter through its incredible 345 pages.

Sadly, we won’t be able to meet Margaret Finch who the premises of the ‘Book and Record Bar’ in West Norwood was originally named after in its first incarnation as a pub, The Gypsy Queen. Ms Finch ‘could usually be found sitting on the ground, chin resting on her knees, smoking a pipe, with her faithful dog by her side… Her body became so contorted that when she died in 1740, she had to be crammed into a specially-constructed square coffin.’ [Reputed age 108!] Curious. And for the music-lover you’ll be enchanted by anecdote after anecdote about the musicians who populate your record collections.

There’s humour in buckets, too. Especially from the customer comments and conversations Graham Jones has carefully preserved. No doubt many of the shops he features will be bemused by their colleagues’ visitors. Questions such as, ‘Where is the plug on a wind-up gramophone?’, ‘Are the records for sale?’ and ‘How do I skip to the next track on vinyl?’ are bound to raise a smile. I’m still leafing through to discover the shop where John Lennon was reduced to tears…

This is a practical guide, grouped into counties with addresses, contact details and stock listed, along with a plethora of tips. Unusually for a large paperback it boasts some stunning colour photographs. You will be guided by a remarkable man on a mission, Graham Jones has visited more record shops than any other human!

What’s more, Graham’s is a born raconteur who isn’t afraid to sell himself or his titles. He invited himself to do an evening gig at Beatons Petersfield which Tearooms Owner Fifi has been delighted to organise for her customers! Read more here.

I gave this tome to my dad to peruse and I confess he found the print on the small size, although to have increased the font would have probably made it too heavy for taking with you on your travels.  Small matter, a magnifier will redress.

Graham’s a Petersfield local so grab yourself a signed copy there – and of course our Book of the Month is stocked in all our units, although you'll have to wait until October 1st unless you're in Petersfield! 

Liz Darcy Jones
Book Ambassador

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Book of the Month: Wilding

'Wilding - The return of nature to a British farm' 

by Isabella Tree 

As someone who is not a landowner, hated history as a child and who treats ‘facts’ with healthy suspicion and unhealthy dread, I am an unlikely fan of ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree. But when a book sparkles with literary flair, passion and insight after insight relevant to ‘the common man or woman’ it is bound to be compelling. It is book to treasure and I shall certainly re-read it in a more leisurely fashion than reviewing permits.

However, this review starts with an odd request: skip the intro and read it as a reminder of the journey accomplished when you’ve reached the end. Head straight for Chapter 1 to meet a remarkable tree man – Ted Green – and a couple facing a mountain of unpalatable facts.  From there you’ll be drawn swiftly into the story of the re-wilding of the Knepp Estate told with searing honesty and humility. Seeded with humour ‘Wilding’ presents a harvest of knowledge from the earth beneath your feet whilst constantly drawing you skywards to feast your eyes on turtle doves, the yaffle (Sussex name for a green woodpecker) nightingale and rare butterflies. Enter the world of Knepp – it enlightened and enchanted me. It also made my heart ache at our arrogance and refusal to learn from nature herself.

This is a nationally important book, not just for those interested in the future of agriculture and the land but for those worried about the ‘extinction of experience’. It is a salutary thought to consider that 40% of children never play outdoors at all. ‘Wilding’ also challenges myths about Britain’s ecological history with logic and evidence dug out of peat and sharp observation, revising my picture of a forested Britain in favour of wooded pasture inhabited by grazing animals.

Isabella Tree | Photo credit Anthony Cullen ©
Like the Knepp project itself this is a book which deserves a slow read with a note-book beside you if you like expanding your vocabulary. The quotes from literary figures and references to little-known customs and ancient lore give it depth but also ensure it feeds the spirit at every turn. Thank you Isabella!

'Wilding' is also beautiful to look at and handle. An exquisite cover, as rich as the hedgerow it depicts, with gloriously thick crisp dark green endpapers make ‘Wilding’ an ideal Christmas present for the country gentleman or woman. Teamed up with tickets to visit Knepp on one of its nature Safaris would surely be the perfect gift for parents, godparents or grandparents.

I admit my right brain raced over a couple of pages in the middle which charted the frustrations and interminable complexities of securing funding from various government agencies. Nevertheless, no doubt for the landowner these pages will no doubt evoke sympathy and context.

Whether or not this ends up on your or your family’s bookshelves, let me leave you with a quote to bury into the soil of your heart, The great concerns of our time – climate change, natural resources, food production, water control and conservation, and human health – all boil down to the condition of the soil.’ (page 289). This book will give you a visceral understanding of how to treat earth’s skin in ways which might restore it and preserve it for thousands of years to come. It has given the ground beneath my feet new meaning.

P.S. Knepp is not far away from Beatons Petersfield. How about booking on one of Knepp’s nature safaris or workshops and either prefacing it or concluding it with Breakfast or Afternoon Tea? I’m earmarking it for a family member’s birthday treat! Further information:

Liz Darcy Jones

Book Ambassador

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Book of The Month: Milo Goes to The Seaside

'Milo Goes To The Seaside'

by Rachel Jane

This is more than a captivating story in rhyme for the three to seven-year olds. it’s the inspiring story of a young writer nurturing an idea into reality. 

Rachel Jane’s parents love VW Campervans – to the extent they have a business renting them out. Each has its own character and gets and adopted name, which sparked Rachel’s imagination. Stories began to emerge and with encouragement from family and friends a series has been born.  

Rachel took the brave step and decided to self-publish under her own imprint – wishpublishing – and enlisted the help of talented illustrator Jamie Flack. Her debut picture paperback is an absolute triumph and successfully creates all the magic of a first journey to that enigmatic sounding place ‘the sea’.  (The double page spread depicting it comes an equal first with the sunset for me, thanks Jamie). 

It’s true one or two of the rhymes need a wee stretch to scan but small matter. The pace itself is lively, the story simple and yet compelling. What will happen to Milo when he gets to the sea, and will he be able to get home again?   The next two in the series are in production and we can’t wait to share them, too, with our younger ‘Distinguished Guests’ here at Beatons. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Review: Children's - Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

This review comes from me on holiday, on the outskirts of Edinburgh supporting a friend performing at the Edinburgh Festival. No shortage of junior book-worms as you can see!

'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure' is about Dan, who has a rather strange friend - Wizzy! He's a highly opinionated and automated wheelchair who is more than the sum of his parts. Together friends, James and Sophie he and Dan (not forgetting Honey the labrador for some four-legged intelligence) a thrilling seaside adventure unfolds.

It would be tempting to tell you more about author Anthony Ridgway's achievement in writing 'the Wizzy books' - this is his second - but that would treat him differently to any other author, something I don't think Wizzy would approve of. So, with my professional reviewer's hat on - and the smiles of my neighbour's children to urge me on, here's a big thumbs up for 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'.

This is a book made for reading out loud. Wizzy's words are helpfully printed in a bright blue font. Expect all the 'ooos' and 'yuks' that children love as you romp into the seaside village of Haven and encounter thieves and... I daren't share more or I'll spoil the fun.

I can tell you that with Wizzy, Dan's and even Honey's powers of detection and deduction the baddies had better watch out¬

Every page of 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure' is charmingly illustrated. The coloured drawings by talented artist Suzan Houching will enchant young, old and all those in between.

This is a story six-year olds and upwards will want to read more than once. I hope number three of the Wizzy stories is in the pipeline.

Liz Darcy Jones, House Poet

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Review: The Curious Case of the Runaway Spoon!

Tony Flannagan's first children's book is recommended for children from eight to twelve but I’d say from eight to eighty! To be honest, the title slightly put me off as it reminded me of a nursery rhyme which never much appealed (I’m a bit serious for dishes running away with spoons…) But this is pure magic which girls and boys in that difficult time of growing up will warm to, especially if they like the weird and bizarre.

Once I dipped in I discovered a magical mystery or detective fantasy which got me hooked. There are traces of Alice, Narnia and Agatha Christie to name a few, all mixed up together in a very curious fashion by a master story-teller with an ear for dialogue (and humour).

Amelia doesn’t fall down a rabbit hole but she does encounter some very familiar characters who present themselves in an unfamiliar landscape with a cracking puzzle to solve. The solution is absolutely ingenious – and almost as intoxicating a ‘pooch’, a drink which sounds infinitely preferable to its cousin, ‘hooch’! As for the CODA at the end – it’s sublime.

Liz Darcy Jones, House Poet