The Reverend Silas Cummerbund asks a question…

The Reverend Silas Cummerbund, vicar of the parish of Runswick, Yngerlande in the year 1795, found himself baffled by the one question he couldn't answer. See if you can help him, by reading "The Watcher and The Friend", the thrilling new fantasy adventure by R J Barron, set in the wild and wonderful North Yorkshire moors and coast, and the beautiful Georgian city of York..

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Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

This book looked right up my street – an affectionate memoir of a group of seventeen-year old friends in Glasgow, forever bonded by their shared experience of growing up together as a band of brothers with their love of music holding them together. Then add to the mix a fast forward to contemporary Britain to see how they have fared in the intervening thirty-five years. It’s structured in two halves -then and now-  and it’s almost brilliant. Almost, but not quite. The first half, an evocative portrait of a group of friends on a mythical weekender to Manchester for a festival, with the obsession of the possibility of catching a glimpse of Morrisey in a club, is beautifully done. Anyone who experienced the salvation provided by a like-minded group of anti-establishment friends at that age, with the same passions, the same obsessions, the same devotions, will read this with a tear in their…

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Where the Crawdads Sing – Warning! Lukewarm review on the way.

Last summer's literary sensation is just a Netfix mini-series in waiting. Twitter has been agog all year, or so it seems, about this book from first time novelist, Delia Owens. It firmly established itself as the book to read this year, and in normal summers, it would have furnished many a beach bag as the go-to holiday read. I was intrigued. Could it really be that good? Or was it just the latest example of marketing triumphing over substance? There was only one way to settle it and, firmly behind the curve, I bought it and settled down with a raised eyebrow, waiting to be convinced. Unfortunately, dear reader, I was not. Convinced that is. There is a lot to admire and enjoy about it. I finished it in three days, for a start. So, yes, it’s a page turner, and in my book, that is a powerful attraction. It’s an often under-appreciated…

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The Secret Commonwealth -Philip Pulman

This is the long awaited second instalment of Pullman’s trilogy, The Book of Dust, a sequence that revisits the fantasy parallel England of His Dark Materials. Anyone interested in children’s literature or the fantasy genre as a whole, will have been counting down the weeks until this release, such is the power of Pullman’s fictional world, and the impact that the original trilogy had when first published in 1995. Those original fans will soon be joined by a whole new group generated by the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials which is set to air on Sunday November 3rd. The trailer certainly suggests that it will be a much more successful rendition than the ill-fated dog’s dinner that was the 2007 blockbuster starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Not that that would be too difficult mind you. So Pullman is hot stuff at the moment. But what about the book? Let’s just get…

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The Watcher and The Friend – published on June 11th!

What I've been reading recently is endless proofs of my first novel for children, "The Watcher and The Friend". And finally, publication day is approaching, with June 11th confirmed as the official launch date. It's a very exciting prospect and one for which I must offer some thanks to those who have played a big part in the book's journey. Firstly to Richard Mayers, whose patience and support were so important during the editing process. His skill and experience in suggesting changes were invaluable. Next, to my beta readers who generously gave their time to read an early version of the story. Once again, their perceptive comments, and their enthusiasm for the book, gave me extra impetus to complete the project. Finally, I must thank the students of Mayfield Grammar School in Gravesend, who were the unwitting participants in the book's first public outing. This is the time for my confession, as I…

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