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Guest Post: The Truth Behind the Cluck

Guest Post: The Truth Behind the Cluck

A guest blog by Jean Blakey.   A mountain of people have asked me about the meaning behind my children’s book Cluck Cluck Duck and a smattering have given me their interpretation of the book. I love that! I love that people are trying to read something into my cheeky little story about a duck who has lost his quack. If you are wondering what I’m talking about then read on. I am Jean Blakey, a friend of Iain Mansfield…

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The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is available to order now

The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is available to order now

My new book, The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas, is now available to order. A compendium of mind-bending and perplexing questions guaranteed to set your mind boggling. With twelve quizzes, each with its own theme, The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is the perfect way for any quiz fan to while away the winter hours. Consisting of a compilation of my twelve Christmas Quizzes to date, it’s a great brainteaser for those Christmas times with family, as well as the perfect present…

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Two Charlies

Two Charlies

I recently reread Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It’s fascinating that for two books that are so similar – same author, same series, same length, similar vocabulary levels and sentence structure – there are still several features of the latter  that make it a noticeable, if small, step up in difficulty. Most obviously, Chocolate Factory has 30 chapters while Elevator only has 20.  As the books are the same length, chapters in Elevator…

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Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

‘Magisterial’ and ‘epic’ are all words that come to mind to describe Kissinger’s magnum opus, written in 2014 when he was 91. Certainly a book that begins a consideration of the modern international order with a detailed analysis of the Thirty Years War deserves that description – but what is more impressive, is that Kissinger then goes on to consider similar seminal moments in the history of other nations, including China, Russia, the US and the Islamic world. As the…

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Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

The quarterly book review provides a non-exhaustive list of some of the books I read and enjoyed in the previous quarter. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) I always feel mildly guilty reading Archer, given the perjury issues, but this was a hugely enjoyable book. It followed two people from very  different backgrounds, their rivalry and their rise to success, in this case in the United States in business between about 1910 and 1960. Archer’s gift, as in First Among Equals…

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Party Game: Lord of the Rings Exegesis

Party Game: Lord of the Rings Exegesis

As Shakespeare tells us, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” And indeed, throughout history there have been many occasions in which people on either side of an argument have both drawn from the Bible (or other holy book) to support their aims. Although a party game based on using the Bible itself in this way would be irreverent and indeed somewhat offensive, fortunately there is another weighty tome, which many people have more than a passing familiarity with,…

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Guest Post: Cosmos, The Infographic Book of Space

Guest Post: Cosmos, The Infographic Book of Space

This is a guest post by Dr Chris North, astronomer and prolific commented on this blog, about his book Cosmos, The Infographic Book of Space. Over the years I’ve written a few popular science books, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing. So far they’ve always with a co-author (such as Sky at Night colleages Patrick Moore and Paul Abel), which is useful for sharing ideas – as well as spreading the workload! I think it’s fair to say that the…

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The Annotated Pratchett

The Annotated Pratchett

Spreading awareness of a very enjoyable site I found recently, The Annotated Pratchett – a site that explains many of the references in Terry Pratchett’s books. It’s particularly good for areas where one may have a specific lack of knowledge: I, for example, know essentially nothing about detective/cop shows from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but it turns out the early Watch books are riddled with references. Of course, it doesn’t have every reference by a long way, and sadly…

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Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Minimal spoilers only – less than reading the blurb of the three books. Quite simply the best science fiction I’ve read in a decade. Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem, with its two sequels (the trilogy is collectively titled ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past) is both gripping and immersive, intensely human in its depiction of characters yet of almost unimaginable grandeur in its scope and scale. The science feels robust, firmly rooted in today’s theories and possibilities, even when speculating on future…

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Quarterly Book Round-up – April 2018

Quarterly Book Round-up – April 2018

Reviving a series from the former incarnation of this blog, the quarterly book review provides a non-exhaustive list of some of the books I read and enjoyed in the previous quarter. This particular edition covers the period January – March, published late because I only began blogging on 16 April. Sidney Grice/March Middleton series (first four) (M. R. C. Kasasian): An enjoyable detective series explicitly in the Sherlock Holmes style, set in late Victorian London. Grice and Middleton are both…

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