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This month's features and stories:


The Button Box by Briony Coote*

 Blind Injustice in Girls'  Comics by Briony Coote*

Common Categories... by Briony Coote*

The Way We Were

Interview: Jessie Keane

 Interview: Elizabeth Chadwick
 About Elizabeth Chadwick

P G Wodehouse

 Mills & Boon Cover Designs
 Dorchester's Classic Film  Collection
 Harry Roland's Blood & Gold

Heraklion: Outcast Part 2

Rafe McGregor: Secret Agent Part 2

Through a Glass Darkly

Owen Owen Painting

 Competitions (see below)

Archives - well worth a look!



Rick Random ~ one of several nostalgia titles released this month - read my review on the Comics/Nostalgia page and the feature on Nostalgia in this issue.

Books Monthly is published on the first day of every month by Paul Norman. You can contact me via email at:

[email protected]



Second volume of Stephen King's comic book version of THE DARK TOWER is due for release at the end of October, collecting issues 1-5 of the comics. It will be reviewed in Books Monthly, of course.

*More of Briony's fascinating articles on comics and comic strip characters can be found in the archives

A fabulous competition this month for children or nostalgia/retro fans, in which you can win a set of the three new Enid Blyton's Enchanted World titles, and one of two copies of the Famous Five Survival Guide - full details of this one on the Enid Blyton competitions page


Reviews, news and features about books

October 2008


Making the news this month:

Coming in 2009 - The Birthing House...

Ultimate Burlesque...

Titan Books publish second volume of Nemi...

Kelley Armstrong and the Supernatural...

Penguin launches E-Book tasters...

International My Little Pony Convention...

Helen Oxenbury...

Cult documentary sparks hunt for movie drama script...

Nostalgia...a hankering after literature that describes a way of life fondly remembered...

Fifty-one years ago, in the summer of 1957, I was at a loose end. My next-door-neighbour friends, twins Norman and Nigel Hughes, were four years older than me, and too old for a game of cowboys and Indians, or Robin Hood; none of us was particularly interested in football, and I don't remember ever playing football with them, as it happens, though I did often play football with my schoolmates. I was ten years old, and waiting to go up to Grammar School. Summer holidays were often lonely at times, because I was the only boy from my school year to pass the 11+ exam, and in any case, the village was spread out over a wide area. With the twins unwilling to "play", I did the only other thing I could think of to amuse myself – I read. On that particular day in late August, I realised that I didn't have a copy of my own of my (then) all-time favourite book ~ Enid Blyton's The Rockingdown Mystery. One of the twins did, so I borrowed their copy and immersed myself in the world of Roger, Diana, Snubby, Loony and Barney. More>>

SPHERE's lead title for 2009 (January) is Christopher Ransom's THE BIRTHING HOUSE... When Conrad Harrison impulse-buys a big old house in Wisconsin, his wife Jo doesn't share his enthusiasm, reluctant at the idea of leaving their LA life - so Conrad is left to set up their new home as she ties up loose ends at work. But Conrad's new purchase is not all that it seems. Soon Conrad is hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor and being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo. With his wife away, Conrad becomes obsessed by the pregnant girl next door, Nadia, who claims to be a victim of the evil in the house. The crying leads him to a bricked-up body, and the mystery of the Birthing House unravels, pulling in Jo, Nadia and leading Conrad to a nightmarish conclusion...  (Back to top of page)

Hourology guide
The more I read about books the more enthralled I am by the many characters and the different amounts of reserach that people put into them. After recently reading a mystery novel where the main character is said to be rich and eccentric yet wears a watch I had never heard of I began to do more research. As I'm writing my own novel I am focusing on creating a character who wishes he was rich, but instead wears Nixon watches. In my research I found a cool website on Nixon watch reviews, it's amazing the things you learn while writing!

Ultimate burlesque: feathers, frivolity and fundraising
Anthology created to raise money for Macmillan through Burlesque Against Breast Cancer and Xcite Books. The rise of the burlesque movement has brought glamour back into women's lives and now a new anthology looks set to use that glamour to help people with cancer gain practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Created as part of the Burlesque Against Breast Cancer campaign, 'Ultimate Burlesque' is an anthology of 30 erotic stories with a burlesque theme from best-selling authors including Katie Fforde, Jo Rees, Kristina Lloyd, Maxim Jakubowski and Olivia Darling. Contributions range from sweet stories of couples revitalising their relationship with a hint of glitter and flash of feathers to torrid tales of group sex, domination, bondage and more. The anthology is co-edited by Scarlet founding editor, Emily Dubberley, Scarlet Cliterature editor, Alyson Fixter, and introduced by best-selling author, Chris Manby. All writers donated their stories free of charge and a minimum of 15% of the book's cover price goes to Macmillan. Chris Manby says: "I lost my cousin Clare to breast cancer when she was just 35. In our conversations as she neared the end of her brave fight, she reminded me how important it is to enjoy life to its fullest. Don't worry about having an extra inch on your bottom. Just stick on your high heels and wiggle it! That's why I've jumped at the chance to be involved with Burlesque Against Breast Cancer." Acclaim for the book comes from Mil Millington, author of 'Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About'. He says: "A worthy charity, and filthy, perverse, sexually aberrant writing. Nope - this really doesn't have a down side, does it?" Ultimate Burlesque is released on October 1 priced £7.99 from Xcite Books.  (Back to top of page)

Titan Books publish second volume of Nemi

Nemi Montoya, the cool, romantic, strong-willed, cynical, sexy and all-too-honest twenty-something goth, returns to share more frank and hilarious moments in this brand new collection from artist Lise Myhre! Hang out with Nemi and her mates, including her best friend, the blue-haired Cyan, as they deal with love, friendship, inebriation, sex, and the other really important things of life. A superstar in her native Norway thanks to the immense success of Nemi, and now hugely popular in the UK thanks to her daily cartoon strip in the 1.35 million-circulation UK Metro newspaper  you too can enter Lise Myhre s witty, wonderful world! Reviewed on the Comics/Nostalgia Books Page  (Back to top of page)


Kelley Armstrong and the supernatural...

Just a month to go before Kelley's new book LIVING WITH THE DEAD is published and in this issue I get to quiz Kelley about her books and her beliefs. Kelley Armstrong (born 1968) is a Canadian author, primarily of fantasy works. She has published ten fantasy novels to date, all set in the world of Women of the Otherworld series, and one crime fiction novel. Armstrong has confirmed contracts with her American, British and Canadian publishers for novels seven through ten in this series. The seventh novel in this series was published April 1, 2007. She has also written several serial novellas and short stories for the Otherworld series, which are available free from her website. Armstrong's first crime novel was released in July 2007. Kelley is married with three children; the family lives in rural Ontario. She was born in 1968, the oldest of four siblings in a "typical middle class family" in Ontario. After graduating with a degree in psychology, Armstrong then switched to studying computer programming at Fanshawe College so she would have time to write. Her first novel Bitten was sold in 1999, and it was released in 2001. Following her first success she has written a total of ten novels and a number of novellas in the world of the Women of the Otherworld series, and her first crime novel, Exit Strategy, was released July 2007. Armstrong has been a full-time writer and parent since 2002. Her novel No Humans Involved was a New York Times bestseller in the hardback fiction category on May 20, 2007. Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series is part of a recently popular contemporary fantasy subgenre of the fantasy genre that superimposes supernatural characters upon a backdrop of contemporary North American life, with strong romantic elements. Within that subgenre, she is notable for including many types of supernatural characters, including witches, sorcerers, werewolves, ghosts, shamans, demons and vampires, rather than limiting herself primarily to a single type of supernatural creature. Most of her works have a mystery genre plot, with leading characters investigating some novel situation or unsolved question. In Otherworld novels to date, most supernatural powers are either hereditary, or arise from the act of an existing supernatural of the same type. The Otherworld, while it has overarching conflicts and plotlines that span multiple novels is, thus far, not an epic battle between good and evil. The novels are largely episodic with the continuing plotlines primarily involving the developing lives of the main characters.  (Back to top of page)

Penguin launches ebook tasters

London, 03 September 2008 … Penguin announced today the launch of Penguin ebook Tasters to coincide with the launch of the new Sony Reader, on sale from tomorrow at Waterstones and Sony retailers across the UK. 

Penguin ebook Tasters follow on the success of Penguin Tasters, which offer the first chapters of new novels free for download at www.penguin.co.uk.  Like Penguin Tasters, ebook Tasters allow readers to sample the opening chapter of top Penguin titles for free.  A range of books is available from the Penguin website, including the top-ten bestseller Things I Want My Daughter to Know by Elizabeth Noble.  Other titles include the acclaimed God's Own Country by debut author Ross Raisin, the classic title The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, Frank Portman's teenage novel King Dork, David Crystal's The Story of the English and the thriller King of Swords by Nick Stone. Penguin ebook Tasters allow consumers to browse the full prologues (where applicable) and the entire opening chapter, giving readers the opportunity to sample the product before deciding to buy it. Penguin was the first UK publisher to launch an online ebook store in 2001.  The store's relaunch, scheduled for 24 September 2008, will feature a vast selection of non-illustrated Penguin titles. Before 24 September, readers can purchase Penguin ebooks direct from www.Waterstones.com.  Penguin has supplied over 600 titles to Waterstone's ebook store, more than any other UK publisher. This selection includes key books from Penguin's current list, including Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, Gangs by Ross Kemp and Silks by Dick and Felix Francis.  Some of the most beloved Penguin Classics will also be available, including Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dicken's Bleak House, Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.  New autumn highlights will also be published simultaneously in print and ebook format, including The Believers, Zoë Heller's highly anticipated follow-up to Notes on a Scandal, The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Penguin Digital Publisher, Jeremy Ettinghausen said, 'It's thrilling to see so much enthusiastic activity around ebooks, seven years after their first incarnation. Our job as publishers is to make authors work as widely available as possible - ebooks give readers greater choice as to how, where and when they buy and read books, which can only be a good thing.'  (Back to top of page)

Editor's note: Look for the link that says "EBooks are back..."

International My Little Pony Convention:

Thought conventions were just for Spock lovers and sci-fi fans? Well think again! Hundreds of My Little Pony fans will be descending on Brunel University in October for the 5th Anniversary of the International My Little Pony Convention (Ponycon). The annual event attracts collectors and families from around the world, many of whom will be arriving in fancy dress. This year will see the return of the popular pony auction, where convention-goers can bid for rare and celebrity-signed ponies. Last year the convention auctioned off an astonishing selection of ponies, signed by public figures as diverse as Bill Bailey, Terry Pratchett, The League of Gentlemen, William Hague and David Cameron. Got ponies in the attic? Members of the public will have the opportunity to have their collections identified and valued at Antiques Roadshow style evaluations. There will also be display and trade stalls, an art exhibition and fashion show as well as children’s activities and competitions. The event is also attracting an increasing number of artists, who customise ponies to make them look like anything from their favourite Harry Potter characters to the cast of Doctor Who. American collector, Angela Garrett will be making the annual trip from her home in Michigan, USA especially for the event: “There’s such a great atmosphere at Ponycon,” Angela explains, “ You’ll never see so many ponies in one room, nor such excited looks on children’s faces.” Toy manufacturer Hasbro, the company behind the My Little Pony brand, may also be in attendance, giving visitors an exclusive preview of Pony merchandise due for release in 2009. Hasbro has generously donated a limited edition convention exclusive pony, made especially for the event and only available for sale to attendees. Convention organisers are hoping that this year’s event will be as popular as last year’s, which raised £5,000 for The Rainbow Centre. This year’s nominated charity is Wellchild, a children’s charity of which Prince Harry is royal patron. All profits raised on the day will be donated to the charity, which has been helping sick children and their families throughout the UK for over 30 years. Visit Wellchild’s website for more details about them: www.wellchild.org.uk
Full details of the convention programme, participants and events, along with admission fees can be found on the convention’s website.  (Back to top of page)

Award-Winning Children's Illustrator Joins Forces with Storybox Magazine

Top British illustrator Helen Oxenbury has teamed with children's early learning
magazine Storybox to create an amazing September issue. Storybox magazine is published by French publisher Bayard and they are trying to
recreate  in  the UK the huge success the publication has on the continent.  The
French  Storybox titles are now practically seen as a rite of passage  for  most
French children. Helen Oxenbury's project with Storybox September issue has been to provide a set of beautiful drawings  to  accompany  "The Growing Story", a wonderful  classic  by  American author Ruth Krauss. Helen  Oxenbury's work has been critically acclaimed throughout her career.  She has  won  two  Kate  Greenaway awards most recently in  1999  for  Walker  Books illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and prior  to  that in  1969  for her The Quangle Wangle's hat and The Dragon of an Ordinary  Family for  Heinemann. She has also won the Nestle Smarties Book Prize with Farmer Duck and  her other titles include children's favourites, The Three Little Wolves and the  Big  Bad  Pig, We're Going on a Bear Hunt, and Ten Little Fingers  and  Ten Little Toes. Andrea  Chhan, (CORRECT) the UK Marketing Manager of Bayard said: "We're  really pleased that Helen has decided to come on board and join our team.  Her drawings really  are  inspiring  to children and add a dimension  of  engagement  to  the stories that relate to children in a non-patronising way. She is the ideal  name in book publishing to get Storybox off the ground in England." Storybox is a monthly magazine aimed at children aged 3-6 years to provide  pre-school  fun  learning activities that a child can do on their own and  with  the interaction of an adult. Each  Storybox title contains 52 pages; including an engaging and  exciting  25- page  story  complete with illustrations, animal and science pages to  encourage children's curiosity, plus poems, and number and letter skills. Christine  Auberger, European Marketing Director said: "What makes us stand  out is  that  we  are at a magazine price point, but our high quality magazines  are
built to keep.  We even provide a storage box for the series." The  range of magazines published by Bayard also includes Adventurebox  for  6-9 year olds, and Discoverybox for 9-12 year olds. Helen  Oxenbury's  Storybox issue will be on sale on www.storyboxbooks.com  from
1st September, issue 126.  (Back to top of page)

Cult documentary sparks hunt for movie drama script

New breed of authors about to cash-in on American craze – as the film industry embraces a new genre. Movie makers at the Venice Film Festival have been declaring the superhero is dead and the cowboy has long ago ridden into the sunset – the film world is looking for something new. A cult documentary from the United States could be the answer to its dreams – but only because it has finally caught on in the UK – and with its popularity comes controversy. The documentary – called The Secret - has never been on general release here or had widespread distribution in video rental stores – but it is estimated that it has been watched by more than a million Britons. It now has fans on both sides of the Atlantic making its themes more attractive to film producers. They are now scouting around for the right script which tells a story incorporating Law of Attraction. One author who has been approached is Kimberly Wickham, whose latest series of children’s books are the first to be published explaining the Law of Attraction philosophy to the under thirteens.  “I think the movie industry is anticipating that the ideas behind The Secret are gaining in popularity,” says Wickham, an American author who now lives in the UK. “The movie industry is sensing a new trend with stories about the law of attraction. I have been talking to a number of independent film producers about my books in recent weeks.”The Secret is a documentary style film which advocates a way of living based on a philosophy called the Laws of Attraction. It first gained popularity in the US when it was showcased by Oprah Winfrey. In the UK it received a frostier reception. However, the movie is now being watched up and down the country at a series of private screenings being staged by fans. It is even being shown in exclusive London Hotels such as One Aldwych. The film is also currently the biggest selling DVD on Amazon and is spawning a number of novels based on the philosophy. Wickham also claims there is a groundswell of interest in the subject matter behind her books which is reflected in a surge in sales – they are distributed by Amazon in the UK and the US and also stocked by Waterstones.The looming recession and the affects of the credit crunch are also hitting ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic. Many are looking for a new way to live their lives. The Philosophy behind The Secret and in Kimberly Wickham’s books may be the answer. Click here to go to official Secret site. (Back to top of page)

Books Monthly is published on the first day of every month. If you'd like me to publish a story you've written, please e-mail me at [email protected] ~ no payment, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from the magazine. The length of your story is no problem - long or full-length stories can be serialised. Similarly, if you have a feature article on a book, author or artist you would like me to publish, e-mail it to me and I'll fit it in. Deadline for inclusion in the next month's magazine is 15th of the month