Come and enjoy a farewell glass of fizz with Jasmine

We are so proud to announce that Jasmine has been offered a job in publishing with David Fickling Books in Oxford!

Call into the shop this Thursday afternoon and enjoy a festive, farewell glass of fizz with Jasmine as we toast the beginning of her new career in publishing with David Fickling Books, Oxford. Our smiley superstar will be leaving after Christmas so do come and say goodbye anytime between 2 - 6pm, 22 December. 

If you're not free in the afternoon, you're very welcome to crash our Knitting and Poetry session later the same day - come at 7.30 for an evening of Yuletide poetry, fizz, mulled wine, or mulled apple juice (£7) with home-made mince pies. It will be a very special evening. 

And if you can't make that either, call in on Christmas Eve - but we'll ask you to make a donation to our charity, www.fcrs.org.uk, for your glass of fizz! 

Whenever you can come, do come and say goodbye, or email us (info@wenlockbooks.co.uk) to send Jasmine a farewell message. We're so sad to see her go, but so very happy and proud for her, she deserves every success. 

Happy Christmas!
Anna x

Book Review | The Wrong Train

written by Wenlock Books bookseller Jasmine

The Wrong Train by Jermey de Quidt
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 220
Format: Hardback
Price: £10.99

The Wrong Train by Jeremy de Quidt is a collection of creepy short stories joined together by a central plot. It’s the first book that I’ve read by Jeremy de Quidt and I really, really enjoyed it.

It’s late. Dark. A boy rushes to catch a train, leaping aboard just before it pulls away. Suddenly he realises that it’s the wrong train. He’s annoyed of course, but not scared…Yet. He gets off at the next station, but the platform’s empty, and it doesn’t look like any station he’s seen before. But he’s still not scared…Yet. Then a stranger arrives – someone with stories to help pass the time. Only these aren’t any old stories. These are nightmares, and they come with a price to pay…Scared yet? You will be.

I love the concept of The Wrong Train because the central storyline of a man telling unsettling stories to a boy who is lost gives purpose to the collection of stories and allows the stories to be read as 1 book. I’ve not read a YA short story collection before but I loved the intensity that a condensed story is able to achieve and I also really enjoyed being able to read a whole story in one go, much like the boy who is hearing these stories. It’s interesting to hear that Jeremy always planned for The Wrong Train to include a central plot (instead of writing a collection and then deciding to tie it all together) saying:

‘The central plot, rather than the stories, was there from outset. The plan was always for a character to be told a series of stories. I had to frame it so that the character had nowhere to go and no choice but to listen to the stories, which is how we end up alone on a railway halt in the middle of the night. I wrote the stories first, one by one, and in the same order that they appear in the book and only then wrote the linking narrative to join them together. It was very much the case that the central plot came before the stories.’

I also really enjoyed the variety of the stories that Jeremy tells in this book. Even though all of the stories are set in the present day and centre a teenager, each story feels completely unique and very different from the others in the book. What is most impressive about The Wrong Train is how the everyday is twisted to become so frightening. From babysitting 2 young children to being home alone, Jeremy is able to play with the reader’s mind in so few pages but make an impression that stays for days:

‘One of my favourite master ghost short story writers is M.R.James. He wanted his scary stories to be contemporary and able to convince people that but for a bit of good fortune the awful events of the tale could happen to them. But he was writing at the turn of the last century and his model of Edwardian English ghost stories has become so popular that everyone now misses the point that he wanted them, and the whole point of them was, to be modern and everyday.
So, I wanted to set my stories not in distant Edwardian school holidays but in the here and now, and fill them with the normal everyday things and technology that we all have – then make that normality frightening.’

The inclusion of technology is another aspect of The Wrong Train that I loved, and I think it really adds to the thrilling and exciting nature of the stories. Jeremy weaves everyday technology into the stories in such a clever way that the terror felt by the characters in the The Wrong Train feels very close to home and left me wondering how I would cope in the same situations.

The Wrong Train is the perfect autumnal read – it’s dark, exciting and the each story is the perfect length for reading before bed or in a spare half an hour. I will definitely be seeking out more short story collections and look forward to reading more from Jeremy in the future!

Book Club Review: Nigel Nit-Boy

This week we read Nigel Nit Boy from The World's Worst Children by David Walliams. Here's what Book Club thought!

Nigel Nit Boy review by Ellie

Nigel Nit boy is about a boy who loves getting nits but gets a few too many and then goes a bit too far. I like this story because it is very very funny. I think this story is for people aged 6 and over.

If I could improve anything about this story I would make it a bit shorter because it is a few more pages longer than the other stories in The World's Worst Children. This a quote from Nigel Nit Boy:

"As far as I know no nit has performed brain surgery or been involved in rocket science."

I like this quote because it is quite funny. This story is very good and I think I would give this story ★★★★ out of 5.

by Ellie aged 10


Nigel Nit Boy review by Meg

Nigel Nit Boy is a fantastic story. It is very funny and will make you laugh out loud. This story is about a boy who has nits and becomes obsessed with them! My favourite character is Nigel because he is very naughty and he is the main character. The genre of this story is comedy and adventure but the only thing I don't like about this book is that its a bit too long. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars and I think this book is for children aged 7 and above. My favourite quote is 'ALL HAILNIT BOY!'.

David Walliams is a great author. I love all of his books. So read this one it's great!

by Meg aged 11


Nigel Nit Boy review by Jack 


Nigel Nit Boy review by Sam

The story Nigel Nit Boy is very funny and makes kids laugh. It's about this boy who has loads of nits and decided to be a super villain. His nits cover the town. Nigel Nit Boy did not have any dogs or cats so he treats the nits as his pets. It's really funny for little kids age 4 to 12. I would give the story Nigel Nit Boy 5 stars out of 5 stars.

from Sam age 9

Guest post: Friends of Conakry Refugee School

New Trustee Needed for Friends of Conakry Refugee School

Do you have a little spare time? Are you interested in helping make a real difference to children in a refugee school in Guinea, West Africa so that they can look forward to a positive future?
If so, please read on.

Friends of Conakry Refugee School is a registered charity based in South Shropshire. The Board of Trustees and a small group of helpers are all volunteers. Every penny we raise goes directly to Conakry Refugee School to help the 550 children and young people get the best education possible. 

Due to retirement, we are looking for a new Trustee. We don’t require a large time commitment. Trustees are asked to attend four meetings a year and beyond that it is up to each Trustee how much further commitment they would like to make. You don’t have to have any previous experience working for a charity, just the enthusiasm and interest to be part of our friendly team.

If you are interested please go to our website www.fcrs.org.uk and take a look at what we do.  If you’re still interested, please email our Chair of Trustees, Rolf Levesley rolflevesley@btinernet.com or telephone him on 01952 433594 for a chat.

Wenlock Books have supported Friends of Conakry Refugee School for the last 12 years, through fundraising events and publicity.

Bookshop Day

Join us on Saturday 8 October as we celebrate #bookshopday! Last year we hosted a bumper day of bookish celebrations for Books Are My Bag day so instead of attempting to rival last year's party, we've decided that on Bookshop Day this year we will celebrate the beauty of high street bookselling by displaying our favourite picks of the autumn and helping you find the perfect read.

As usual we'll be open 10 am - 5 pm and will be serving coffee and cake from about 12.

You will also be able to pick up one of these fabulous limited edition Books Are My Bag bags on Saturday!

Book Club Review: Bertha The Blubberer

This week we read Bertha the Blubberer from The World's Worst Children by David Walliams. Here's what Book Club thought!

Bertha the Blubberer review by Sam

Bertha the Blubberer is a girl that loves pudding and everyday she cries about everything. 

I really like Bertha the Blubberer because it was really funny. There's one thing I did not like about it and that is that on one page there was loads of food and it made me hungry. It's really good for kids for age 6 and older.

I would give it 4 and a half stars out of 5.

by Sam age 9.


Bertha the Blubberer review by Jack

I enjoyed the first 2 pages because some of the things that Bertha cries about are silly and funny and it made me laugh. I think that readers would laugh too!!! I do not like page 39 because it talks about a load of food and it made me hungry.

What does Raj think?   

The poor children who have read this book must be starving I know I am.
*he smacks his belly, it wobbles*
Mr Willy Willy Bum Bum is meaner than I thought. And I thought he was mean enough making the book. He is so mean I can't talk.

Me: 4 & 1/2 stars
Raj: 1/2 a star


Bertha the Blubberer review by Ellie (SPOILER ALERT!!)

I enjoyed this story because it was quite funny that Bertha didn't like so many things. I was happy for her brother at the end because he got quadruple puddings each night and Bertha would have to watch him eat them.

I think this story would be for people aged 6 and over. I would give this story 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

My favourite sentence from Bertha the Blubberer was:
'He had endured a lifetime of bawling and had therefore fashioned earplugs out of marshmallows!'

By Ellie aged 10.


Bertha the Blubberer review by Meg

INTRODUCTION BY ME RAJ, BY THE WAY THERE IS 20% OF MY YUMMY SCRUMMY ROLOS ENJOY MY 1 YEAR OLD CHOCOLATE HURRY MY OFFER DOESN'T LAST!!!! If you bought this book by willywilly bum bum destroy it, stamp all over over it, burn it, tear it up just to be TOTALLY SAFE!!! 

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! This story begins with a girl called Bertha who is a very big blubberer. She blames everything on her brother like when she said, 'Ouch! He pinched me'. Bertha's brother gets told off all the time and one day he couldn't listen to her blubbering anymore so he made some marshmallow ear plugs. 

I like this book because it is funny and my favourite part is the page with all the pudding on. YUM YUM. This book is aimed at children 7-12 years old. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read it. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. 


Bertha the Bubberer review by Cerys

Book Review | Eden Summer

written by Wenlock Books bookseller Jasmine

Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 280
Format: Hardback
Price: £10.99

Eden Summer is Liz Flanagan’s debut novel and is a pacy and exciting contemporary YA!

It starts like any other day for Jess – get up, draw on eyeliner, cover up tattoos and head to school. But soon it’s clear this is no ordinary day, because Jess’s best friend, Eden, isn’t at school . . . she’s gone missing.

Jess knows she must do everything in her power to find Eden before the unthinkable happens.

So Jess decides to retrace the summer she and Eden have just spent together. But looking back means digging up all their buried secrets, and she starts to question everything she thought Eden’s summer had been about …

There are so many aspects of this book that Liz deserves praise for but what stood out most for me is the main character. Jess is a goth and I am so pleased that Liz wrote her as such. Growing up, goths were always seen as being weird and at school would often sit in small groups along with anyone else who was a bit different as they were targets of abuse.

On TV and in books that unpleasantness towards goths always continued, with the strange girl at school being obvious by her black eyeliner and red hair. I’ve never read anything where the goth stereotype is addressed and I think Liz does an amazing job of showing that Jess is just like anyone else, that she shares the same ambitions and fears as any other teenage girl. She’s not defined or governed by her appearance and I think that’s really, really important.

Eden Summer is quite unusual in that it’s both character and plot driven, and both aspects are fantastic. In the first couple of chapters we’re introduced to a handful characters that could all be suspects in the case of Eden’s disappearance and Liz so cleverly makes the reader believe that everyone is guilty. The small details that are given about each character made my mind race thinking up motives and alibis before I’d even reached chapter two and I sped through the book in no time at all – if I had enough time this would have been a one-sit read.

The plot is really mysterious and thrilling which is definitely helped by the back and forth style that it’s written in. The search for Eden takes place over the course of one day but the story is broken up with flashbacks to key moments from the past year of Eden’s life helping to unravel the reasons behind her disappearance. ‘I decided that the day-long structure interspersed with flashbacks might work for this story, again for drama and drive. I visualised it like a clock face in the end!’

Much of Jess’ time spent searching for Eden takes place with her running on rocky and uneven hills which left me almost breathless so I really like the clock face analogy as a way of describing the race against time to find Eden. Also as time begins to run out for Jess, you’ll find yourself inching closer towards the edge of your seat with a dry mouth and pounding heart – honestly, it’s the most fearful I’ve ever felt whilst reading a book!

Eden Summer is an incredibly powerful book that deals with awful issues in the most honest and sincere manner. So much of the story is heartbreaking and yet I never lost hope in the characters because the overwhelming theme throughout is love. Liz has clearly written this from the heart and I think it’s important that she cites her inspiration for the writing about a missing teenager as, ‘partly because, as a parent, it’s my worst nightmare. Partly because in narrative terms it creates instant drive and drama. Partly for personal reasons – because I was missing my best friend who’d recently died, and so that atmosphere of loss felt like somewhere I wanted to go.

The sincerity of Eden Sumer continues beyond the subject matter into the detailed descriptions throughout, ‘I felt I owed it to the story to go as far as I could with it, to be as emotionally faithful to the difficult parts as possible’, and I really believe that the heart of this book comes from the fact that it’s set in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. ‘It’s based on a version of my home town, somewhere I love very deeply, somewhere I grew up and where I live now. I like that I have overlapping memories of the town, as a child, a teenager, as an adult.’

I cannot recommend Eden Summer highly enough to everyone- it is truly fantastic. There are few books that keep me thinking about them for days after finishing but this is definitely going to stay with me for a very long time. I hope that Liz continues to write more YA fiction in the future, but until then, I hope that Eden Summer is nominated for as many awards as possible!

Book Review | Strangers on a Train

written by Wenlock Books' bookseller, Jasmine

Strangers on a Train
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Price: £8.99

Strangers on a Train is a psychological crime novel, written and set in 1950s America. In the first chapter we are introduced to Guy Haines, an architect travelling south to organise his divorce, and Charles ‘Bruno’ Bruno, a young and unhinged New Yorker. During this train journey, the reader is introduced to the troubles that these characters face; Guy’s wife is pregnant by another man and Bruno’s rich father is with-holding money from him. After an alcohol fuelled evening, Bruno brashly proposes that he and Guy exchange murders, suggesting that Guy kills his father and in return he will kill Guy’s wife. The story follows these strangers through murder, investigations and the unbreakable connections that form between them.

Right from the beginning, my attention was held by the intense characters and ever changing and completely unpredictable storyline. What I particularly enjoyed was Highsmith’s depiction of Bruno, writing him as (I feel) an entirely believable character despite being a psychopath. In parts of this book, Bruno reminded me of the narrator of The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe because of his calm and calculated approach to murder and overwhelming need to kill. In contrast to Bruno, Highsmith wrote Guy as a relatable figure which allowed her to cleverly manipulate the reader’s sense of what qualifies as reasonable. This, in conjunction with the subjective plot, created a very thought provoking read, leaving me questioning where my own morals would lie in the same situations.

I love crime fiction so I was expecting to enjoy reading this book. However, what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be gripping without being scary. In the past I’ve read a lot of Linwood Barclay, which although I’ve enjoyed, I feel as if I was gripped with fear rather than by the storyline. Compared to the likes of Barclay’s novels, Highsmith’s storyline was much more mentally thrilling than frightening and because of the easy to read style, I was able to read for hours on end without becoming bored.

I’d definitely recommend Strangers on a Train to anybody looking for a fast-paced and interesting novel. I would also recommend this book to anybody who enjoys classic detective novels because essentially this book is a detective story from another perspective, told in a way that retains the investigation and intrigue that are so vital to the genre. There is nothing exclusively ‘grown-up’ about this book (Linwood Barclay novels are often unnecessarily sweary and sex sceney) so I’m sure that readers GCSE and upwards would enjoy it.

Book Review | Junk

written by Wenlock Books' bookseller, Jasmine

Junk by Melvin Burgess
Publisher: Anderson Press
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Price: £7.99

“It was a love story. Me, Gemma and junk. I thought it was going to last forever.”

Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn’t want to be tied down. She wants to fly. But no one can fly forever. One day, finally, you have to come down. Melvin Burgess’ most ambitious and complex novel is a vivid depiction of a group of teenagers in the grip of addiction. Told from multiple viewpoints, Junk is a powerful, unflinching novel about heroin. Once you take a hit, you will never be the same again.

Written in 1996 but set in the early and mid 80s, Junk is a fictional yet completely honest story about heroin addiction in teenagers. The main characters are Tar and Gemma who leave home and start their lives again in Bristol aged 14. Tar is running away from his abusive parents: his mum is an alcoholic and his dad hits him, while Gemma wants to lead a life of freedom that her parents won’t let her have. Their reasons for leaving home are completely different, and yet they both find comfort in heroin.

Junk is told through the voices of Gemma and Tar, as well as the people that they meet along the way. I really love the varying viewpoints and I think that as well as giving depth and balance to the story, it makes reading Junk such an important experience. Nothing is told as fact but every bit of this book is told as truth. As a result I felt so connected to each character’s story and felt understanding of their experiences. I finished Junk feeling more empowered and more educated about an addict’s life than I ever have before.

I was really surprised by how strongly I felt for the characters because I’ve never known anyone who’s in a situation similar those described in Junk. When Gemma and Tar run away from home they literally have nothing and consequently haven’t anything to lose by stealing or squatting. As the story progresses and their situation becomes much darker I really did feel for them when they were making incredibly difficult sacrifices to sustain their addictions. I think it’s so important that neither the characters nor the reader are judged by Junk, and Melvin gives every reader the chance to build their own opinions about what they’ve read.

I mentioned earlier about how I was surprised to have felt for the characters but really I shouldn’t have been because whether you’re an addict or homeless or a dealer or a prostitute, you’re still a person like everyone else, and human characteristics like love or empathy don’t stop because of the situation that you’re in. Melvin never once suggests that you should view a particular character a certain way and because of that every character is presented as a perfectly flawed human being just like the reader.

Another aspect of Junk that I think is so important is that the teenage characters are treated the same as the adults. For a lot of the characters their age is never mentioned and for those whose ages we do know, it’s often not revealed until many chapters after they’ve been introduced. It’s unsurprising that Junk is considered one of (if not THE) first YA novel as the younger characters aren’t patronised or spoken down and are instead listened to and have their issues and problems validated.

Junk is powerful, engaging, upsetting, and comforting all at once, and is honestly one of the most fantastic books that I’ve ever read. Along with Asking For It by Louise O’Neill I think this is a book that every teenager and adult should read. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but situations like those in Junk happen every day and I think it’s crucial that we allow ourselves to step into that world and challenge our preconceptions. Junk feels as relevant today as any contemporary YA novel that I’ve read recently, and I’m sure it will continue to be praised in years to come.