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The Book Gnome, a site for book reviews and reading ideas for adults, teenagers, and children

The Book Gnome

The Book Gnome is a site for those of all ages who love reading. It includes reviews of books, new and old, well known and obscure. It aims to provide inspiration and suggestions to adults, teenagers, and children wishing to find something to read for themselves or someone else.

The site was inspired by being asked repeatedly by friends, students, and aquaintances for ideas on what to read. It made sense to capture my thoughts and ideas in a place that anyone could access at any time.

The opinions on the site are solely my opinions. Other readers will have their own views and so will at times agree and sometimes disagree. That is just one of the many delights of the world of reading.

On The Book Gnome you will find a wealth of reviews, recommendations, suggestions and links about books for adults, children and teenagers, along with classics and literary prizes.

The Farm at 64

The Farm at 64 is about my collection of pets I don't really have a farm. I don't even have a small holding. I just keep a number of small animals.

I live in Whitton in the UK about 10 minutes from Heathrow between Hounlsow and Twickenham in Greater London. I live with my wife, 3 children, 1 dog, 2 rabbits, 7 Pekin ducks, a flock of Pekin bantam chickens, 4 chinchillas, several guinea pigs, a group of African Pygmy hedgehogs, and numerous birds like a number of budgies, various finches, diamond doves, Zebra doves, and Chinese painted quails.

I let my chickens wander around the garden on sunny days periodically so they are free range chickens. They help keep my garden free of pests and in return my family and I receive free range eggs from my own free range chickens. There is something very relaxing about watching the chickens range freely around the garden. Our dog is so used to them in the garden, that she ignores them.

Tuition and Study Assistance for Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry

If you are studying Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, it is good to read around the subject to broaden and clarify your knowledge. If, for example, you do not understand a particular topic like gravitational potential energy, the best approach is to find and read a number of explanations. Each will tackle the subject a little differently, and this will give you a full understanding of the subject.

Even if you feel you understand a topic, it is worth reading other authors on the subject to be sure that you are correct. You wouldn't be the first student to think they understood something but find they don't. Reading multiple sites and text books is a sound strategy to ensure you understand completely.

Visit the KS Learning site for links to explanations, notes and past papers on various topics across exam boards relevant to A level Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

Study Assistance for English Literature

Are you studying English Literature at school, A level or GSCE? Reading will generate new ideas, increase knowledge, and clarify thoughts. Visit KS Learning Resources for articles and notes on the following books and plays for help with essays, critiques and coursework.

Would you know if your child were taking drugs?

UK National Drugs helpline: 0300 123 6600

It is not only done by bad, neglected and undisciplined children. Children from good homes with loving parents also experiment and can be drawn into the world of illegal drugs. Don't be complacent.

Drugs are a fact of life. Furthermore, drugs are readily available at school, all schools, plus temptation and peer pressure are huge.

Every parent, teacher, guardian, or person who has contact and/or responsibility for a child or young person should therefore know about drugs in order to be able to respond quickly and effectively should a young person or child ask or experiment.

Understand the most commonly used illegal drugs in the UK.

Best Science Books of 2016

The Obsever's Robin McKie's best science books of 2016 are

  • The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson
  • In Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield
  • A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes by Adam Rutherford
  • The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Reality Is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli
  • A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams
  • I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves by Charles Fernyhough
  • Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

The Benefits of Reading to your child

Among the numerous benefits of reading to a child are that it

  • helps to develop a young child's brain
  • imparts a love of learning leading to improved school performance
  • improves listening skills, attention span and concentration
  • ignites a child's creativity and imagination.
  • develops social awareness and empathy
  • fosters strong language skills such as a richer vocabulary
  • has a calming effect
  • enhances bonding between parent and child
  • promotes increased communication between parent and child.
  • demonstrates that reading is highly pleasurable developing a life long habit

Teach Reading Early
The Book Trust, Inspire a Love of Reading
The Benefits of Reading to your Child

Some outstanding books of 2016

  • The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
  • All That Man Is by David Szalay
  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  • The Many by Wyl Menmuir
  • The Schooldays of Jesus by JM Coetzee
  • My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal
  • The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  • Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
  • Feeding Time by Adam Biles
  • The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
  • The Living by Anjali Joseph
  • Vertigo by Joanna Walsh
  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

Why reading matters

There are numerous sound reasons for reading for people of all ages including

  • It increases intelligence
  • It reduces stress
  • It inspires new ideas
  • It teaches and encourages creative thought
  • It improves your imagination
  • It improves your focus and concentration
  • It develops your verbal abilties
  • It keeps your brain sharp
  • It improves your memory
  • Reading before bed can help you sleep
  • It can increase emotional intelligence
  • It may delay the onset of dementia
  • Last but in no way least, for pleasure

Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out
reviewed by Gene Lopez, 29 January 2017

This book is an oral history of Bill Graham, the founder of modern the music concert scene. If you're a baby boomer and into the music of the 60s and 70s, you'll enjoy the "behind the scenes" stories in this book. The style makes for an easy read - a series of different episodes in Graham's life.

It starts out with Graham's interesting childhood. He was born a Jew in Nazi Germany, and fled on foot eventually arriving in the U.S. He grew up in New York, and finally landed in San Francisco in the early 60s.

For the music fan, the fun begins when Graham started the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Not only are Graham's experiences described, but those of some musicians and competing promoters, and the early days of the "flower child" movement. It follows Graham into larger venues as the live music scene grew nationally & internationally, like the Rolling Stones 1981 & 1982 tours.

As a baby-boomer music fan raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found this book most enjoyable.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish Bram Stoker in epistolary format. The story takes largely in England and Transylvania during the 1890s.

Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, visits Count Dracula in Transylvania to help complete a real estate transaction. In the castle, he encounters three female vampires, and barely escapes with his life.

Dracula moves to England hidden in a coffin and begines to stalk Lucy Westenra, a friend of Jonathan Harker's fiancée.

Lucy begins to waste away, Abraham Van Helsing recognises the cause of her condition. Van Helsing prescribes numerous blood transfusions, and a necklace of withered Garlic Blossoms to be worn at all times but Lucy continues to become worse. The doctors find two small puncture marks on her neck, and eventually Lucy dies.

The celebrated vampire-hunter Professor Abraham van Helsing sets out to find and destroy Count Dracula, leading to a well-told, imaginative story. The novel continues to enchant readers, and with good reason.

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The book reviews on this site are entirely the personal opinion of the author of the site. No money is received from the author or the publishing house, in fact, both are unlikely to know the book has been reviewed on this site..

The purpose of the reviews is to provide ideas of books for children, teenagers and adults to read: no commitment can be inferred by the reviews. Some people will agree and some will disagree, which is all part of the wonderful world of reading.

If you have thoughts and suggestions about reading and books that you would like to share then please feel free to fill in the form below. Ideas and feedback are always appreciated.

Similarly, if you have written a book review, please feel free to submit it. Please note that there is no commitment to use material received, and when used, the author of the site reserves to edit it in any way, always acknowledging the original source. Please say what details of your you would be happy to have published, if any.

Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schultz

Many people don't realize that giraffes ruin everything like birthday parties, going to the movies, playing in the park, Hide and Seek and Everything Else. "A giraffe will eat the ice cream right off your cone from half a block away," with its long spotted neck according to the boy narrator.

Giraffes aren't being mean, in fact, they just want to be good friends, helpful and appreciated. They really cannot help always being in the way.

The tables are turned when the boy is accused of being in the way and the giraffe demonstrates that he is a real friend.

The book reminds us that friends come in all shapes and sizes, and with understanding, friendship is rewarding even with a lanky, spotted friend who tests your patience. It is funny, mischievous and entertaining. It delivers aheartwarming message with engaging illustrations. Ideal for 5 to 7 years olds.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

The novel tells Matilda's story, a girl caught up in the brutal civil war on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville. While Matilda has the support of her strict mother and kind teacher, it is her relationship with Pip, the character from Great Expectations that maintains her desire to live.

When war breaks out, Mr Watts, married to Grace, a native of Bougainville, is the only white person who stays. With the school closed, he decides to teach the children, introducing them to the author Charles Dickens.

Dolores, Matilda's mother, determined not to let the white man pollute her daughter's mind, steals Watts' Great Expectations book. When soldiers find Pip's name carved into the sand, they are convinced that Pip is a rebel and without the book, Mr Watts cannot prove them wrong. The soldiers burn the village to the ground, kill Watts, and rape and kill Matilda's mother.

The novel blurs the boundary between fiction and reality. There is a lyrical quality to Jones' writing where people are "silly as bats" and "argue like roosters". It is an extraordinarily powerful book.

'They had issues': Sally Wainwright and Tracy Chevalier discuss the Brontës

Sally Wainwright's new drama To Walk Invisible offers a radical new take on the Brontës. She talks to novelist Tracy Chevalier about the siblings' extraordinary lives.


The 10 Best Books of 2016

The year's best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. 1 December 2016.


Charlotte Brontë, the filthy bitch

Enough of the Brontë industry's veneration of coffins, bonnets and TB. It is time to exhume the real Charlotte - filthy bitch, grandmother of chick-lit, and friend.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë to assist with A level English Literature revision, essays and coursework.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald to assist with A level English Literature revision, essays and coursework.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote to help with A level English Literature revision.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams for A level English Literature.

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