A Note About Postage

When you order something from us, the website will add a 'standard' postage and packing charge of £3.95.

We can't make a more detailed estimate because that would entail us weighing every single book and logging the weight online. 

If however you order something lightweight such as a book voucher, we will NOT charge you this amount. 

Each payment is firstly authorised by you, the customer, and subsequently 'captured' by me. I am able to take LESS than you authorised, but never more! So I will simply reduce the postage charge to an envelope and post.

Most of our packages need to be shipped as 'small parcel' via the Royal Mail as they are too big to be registered as a letter. This usually means they cost approximately £3.10 for packages up to 2kg. I don't send them 'signed for' as a rule but I can do this if you prefer, just email us and let us know. It's an extra £1 to do this via Royal Mail.

If you have a large quantity of books or other items, we may have to come back to you for more postage once the parcel has been prepared, but I will always let you know. 

For Christmas and Birthdays, we can offer an additional gift wrapping service at £1 per book. 



November 16, 2020 by Linda Murray

Review of The Nickel Boys ( read in October 2020)

The Nickel Boys is a great example, like all ‘good’ novels, of a story that reveals more cleverness and subtlety the more you dig and discuss.  It starts with a factual part of history and builds a fictional narrative around it, the author setting himself up to be the voice of the young black men that are under-represented, even in today’s survivor and justice groups.
October 31, 2020 by Linda Murray

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Racism. Black Lives Matter. Coronavirus! All subjects and words that have appeared far too much in our 2020 lexicon, and all subjects that are complicated, emotive and divisive. The discussions we had branched way beyond the book and into a spectrum of topics, which indicate how complex ( and yet interesting) this subject is.

Without actually being a black person who has suffered first hand racist commentary, it is almost impossible to speak with authority on the subject, indeed each and every black person no doubt has their own nuanced opinion and standpoint. All we can do, is try to understand, to mentally put ourselves in other shoes for a time and see the world from another perspective. In many ways, that is the gift that books like this can give us.

Pecola’s shoes were hard to be in. For some, too much altogether, and indeed early criticism of the book was that it was too heavy handed, too “melodramatically brutal and overly symbolic” There is no arc of progress, no redemption or hope at the end. Toni Morrison does not try to make the story more palatable, if anything she tries to cast no blame on individuals but lets their opinions and (sometimes unforgiveable) actions seem like the natural outcome of an individual’s circumstances. More victim than resilient survivor. It is worth noting that the civil rights injustices and protests were ongoing in the US throughout the 60’s - and Morrison wrote this from 1965 -70. No wonder the raw bitterness is still there.

Where the story falls particularly hard, though, is on Pecola – who as a vulnerable and unloved child, has no self worth to fall back on, no resilience to see her through. Claudia, our narrator, is a feisty and strong child, which contrasts all the more with Pecola. Neither mother is particularly loving, but we do see that Claudia’s mother cares, in less obvious ways.  The central theme of the book is therefore not that Pecola, or any other child, particularly wants to be white – or have blue eyes- but it’s all about the perception of beauty, and the sense of self-worth.

Setting the subject matter aside, all readers were impressed with Morrison’s spectacular writing. At times even with humour, the prose is so densely and skilfully crafted that it is hard to believe it was her debut novel. Some of the structural parts, such as the chapters by season, and the ‘Dick and Jane’ chapter headings, didn’t work quite as well for some, but overall it is hard to doubt her skill. Even incidental characters such as the prostitutes, add colour, character and texture to the narrative.

As a side note, Toni Morrison has written approximately another eight novels, as well as plays and copious speeches and essays. This work is probably one of the most accessible, so fair warning to those looking to find some more of her brilliant prose!

October 13, 2020 by Linda Murray

Review of Before The Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What is the message of the book? You can’t actually change the past, or influence the future, all you can do is realise the truth and trust yourself. And most importantly, perhaps, talk to one another before it’s too late.
July 08, 2020 by Linda Murray

Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Ronan Hession (May 2020)

A wonderful ' still life' with humour and sensitivity, greatly enjoyed
July 08, 2020 by Linda Murray

Girl, Woman, Other - review, April 2020

Without going into the details of the stories, positive adjectives abounded when we were discussing the overall effect of this book - “touching”, “emotional”, “contemporary”, “clever”, “diverse”, “sympathetic”, and “humorous” all cropped up.
May 05, 2020 by Linda Murray

Where the Crawdads Sing - review

Whilst some have said the murder mystery element was a bit weak, and the likelihood of actually creating bestselling books unlikely, and it was all a bit #resiliencefiction (OK, I made that up) … but overall the widespread popularity of this book is fully justified.
May 05, 2020 by Linda Murray

Wounds, Fergal Keane

“People don’t get their morality from their reading matter, they bring their morality to it” ( Clive James, who died the week we reviewed this!)

Keane’s skill is absolutely this, he is not our moraliser, he simply brings the facts to our attention and lays them out to demonstrate his points.

December 12, 2019 by Linda Murray

The Fire Starters, Jan Carson

Review – October 2019 BPS Bookclub - The Fire Starters, by Jan Carson

Even before Jan Carson dropped in to fill us with additional insights, not to mention lots of further reading suggestions, this book had created plenty of discussion. For all of its good points, there was still a relatively high ‘ irritation factor’ for about half of our readers.

The Irish Times argues “ her surrealist style works well to tell grim tales of violence and loss” but this drifting into magical realism, or surrealism, is what most divides her audience.

There are 3 quite distinct narratives – the Tall Fires and the immediacy of Belfast in July; the parallel stories of Sammy and Jonathan as parents, and the vignettes of the Unfortunate Children. Some felt the book was too disjointed with all these different elements, others that it did all wrap to a satisfying close after all.

Taking Sammy and Jonathan first – everyone thought these characters were excellently portrayed, even the dark and violent Sammy elicited our sympathy for the relationships he‘s struggling with. The post Troubles ‘anger and guilt’ is very obvious in Sammy, and well expressed.

Whilst Sammy seems ‘full of badness’, Jonathan is the innocent, the victim of truly appalling parenting and perhaps even susceptible to fantasy and make believe himself?  Each human is on the edge of rational self-control and appears to be living a false reality, keeping many secrets and being dishonest with themselves and others.

Then we get the background narrative of Belfast, and what is going on with the ‘fire starters’ – the language and context of the city is so good, so perceptive – but perhaps too  parochial? Does the book in fact paint too dark a picture of East Belfast altogether? The ‘fire and water’ theme works well in building tension in the streets, then to be washed away by the torrential aftermath after the Twelfth.

And finally, the various vignettes of the children. Classified as ‘Unfortunates’, but arguably gifted in their own ways, and interestingly all quite warm and positive children (especially Ella) despite their parents being stressed and secretive about their ‘gifts’. Jan explained that her deliberate use of magical realism is what allows her to explore the background of conflict and paradox that is Belfast, at ‘arm’s length’ and this is what makes the book also more interesting than a pure ‘realism’ narrative.  

In the course of our conversation she inspired us with a wealth of other writers, many of whom are using magical realism to comment on something more real, and I hope I’ve captured them all here. We spoke about the need for a beautifully concise short story, and how it is a particular art close to the hearts of the Irish. She also encouraged us to read more European writers in translation. A very inspiring and encouraging session.


Jan’s Best Reads !

 Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

Women Talking, Miriam Toews

Birthday Stories, and The Elephant Vanishes, Haruki Murakami

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

There There, Tommy Orange

The Redemption of Galen Pike, Carys Davies ( the perfect short story)

F is for Ferg, Ian Cochrane  ( a fine example of ‘Cullybackey Gothic’ !)

Fever Dream, Samanta Schwabin

Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires

In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders



December 07, 2019 by Linda Murray

Middlemarch, George Eliot (reviewed Sept 2019)

Huge sense of achievement in completing the novel, a fine and pleasurable read, but unless bedridden or on a desert island, it’s hard to imagine picking up another any time soon….
October 30, 2019 by Linda Murray