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Garden Wildlife: Revealing Your Garden's Secrets, by Gerard E Cheshire (Published by Pen and Sword Books)
As I've come to expect as a regular reviewer for this publisher, any book from Pen & Sword Books is presented beautifully and this book is no different. In addition, the photography was as sharp as it was varied.

Whether you have a small garden or even a window box and if you live in a mansion with acres of land, this book will give you a broad understanding as to what wildlife you can find in it. From the tiniest spiders, snails and other bugs to deer, you will find answers to habitat questions in this book.

Beautifully presented with text and photos on virtually every page, anyone would be thrilled to have this book on their shelves. It would also make an excellent gift to any wildlife lover.

Reviewed by Sarah Banham of For the Love of Books for Pen & Sword Books
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England's Witch Trials By Willow Winsham (Published by Pen & Sword)
, , The cover of this book is as rich as its subject matter. Providing a draw for the eye, the idea of looking through a keyhole into the lives lived by others can be both revealing and dangerous.

Reading the acknowledgements told me instantly how much research Winsham had done. Her passion alone for English history is quite evident and with five incredibly detailed stories, including Ursula Kempe and the infamous Matthew Hopkins, this book is a must for anyone else who finds history a treasure.

I liked that Winsham has researched Ursula Kempe’s character specifically rather than just focus on her witchcraft allegations. It means the reader gets to learn about the actual woman.

Covering several of the country’s most interesting cases, it is a fascinating read for those interested in history and folklore.

Reviewed by Sarah Banham for Pen and Sword
A victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews (Published by Pen & Sword)
Elegant cover with pastels of cream, pink and shades of sepia. Illustrated with coloured pictures, this incredibly informative book gives a good idea of fashion between 1840 to the end of the century.

It provides information on clothing, varying activities for women of the time including horse riding, formal occasions and even what was worn on holiday. The restrictive and confining designs are a far cry from today’s fashions!

Aside from the fascinating aspects of fabric choice, needlework techniques and research undertaken for the cosmetics available at the time, this book would make a brilliantly helpful research companion for writers and artists focussing on that era.

Reviewed by Sarah Banham for Pen and Sword
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A History of Cadbury, by Diane Wordsworth (Published by Pen and Sword)
A hardback book with the cover printed in 'Cadbury' purple.

This book is filled with interesting facts about the household name, from the company's small beginnings to the days of the Cadbury empire. From mergers with Fry and then Schweppes, through to the hostile takeover from an American company.

A wonderful collection of photographs is included. From ornate chocolate boxes to the factory workers.

Some amazing facts are given. One of them is that Cadbury was an enlightened company, being the first to offer a Women's savings and pension fund.

A delightful reference book

Review by Elaine Carlo on behalf of For the Love of Books, for Pen & Sword Books
The Lady of the House by Charlotte Furness (Published by Pen & Sword)
Elite 19th Century Women and their Role in the English Country House

The Author's note suggests Furness cares deeply about her research. This alone engenders compassion and that is exactly how this book has been presented, compassionately. Focussing on the expectations of the lady of the house and her own expectations, it highlights what is often overlooked.

This book is quite unique in its subject matter. A great addition to anyone's bookshelf but probably more for the inquisitive reader looking for facts for research.

Reviewed by Sarah Banham for Pen and Sword
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Death on the Victorian Beat by Martin Baggoley (Published by Pen & Sword)
, , Martin Baggoley's book 'Death on the Victorian Beat' offers a fascinating insight to the often brutal nature of the murders of police officers. It has fascinated me in how there are parallels for high profile 20th century cases that most of us are familiar with.

I've chosen to comment on many although not all of the chapters. Martin's writing style is refreshingly plain and simple English, with the odd historical word such as 'Assizes', other than where he quotes Victorian text.

There are many interesting historic facts on the origins of the individual police services, many that no longer bear their historic titles, with the statutes that established them, such as the Municipal Corporations Act of 1837. There is also the story throughout of how the UK police services came about, basically through the need for professionalisation. The comparison could be made the recently established, historically, of the Home Offices' Security Industry Authority to regulate the modern security industry.

The pages flow and engage telling each of the stories with their often hideous outcomes and bizarre twists. The following comments are on cases that I found particularly fascinating.

In the murder of Adam Eves in Essex there was the rudimentary use one could argue of forensics, and the establishment of charity to assist the police widow and the dependents of the accused.
There is also the interesting mention of hangman James Billington.

In the murder of William Ross there are parallels with the murder of Keith Blakelock, in how he was cut off from help by a crowd who beat him with a stick and then pretty much kicked him to be mortally wounded before his men could rescue him. No knives, but inflicting life limiting injuries, all for breaking up an illegal prize fight.

William Tilsley was sworn as a special constable in strange circumstances to the modern mind, to protect his employer from a bitter and vengeful son. He died from a gunshot wound with the suspect taking flight to America, who was then betrayed on his return by a woman he abandoned.

Charles Thain's killer had his execution delayed so as not to spoil a royal wedding day in the UK! Although there is a reason for that....

The killer of William Jump, had a crowd of 70-100,000 people attend his execution, thought provoking statistics.

And the story of the murder of Charles Brett around the attack on a prison van is incredible and seems almost like the stuff of historical fiction.

Prosecuting evidence has undoubtedly changed greatly over one hundreds on.

As a writer of Victorian/Edwardian historical fiction I loved it, the amazing yet tragic stories, tragic particularly as I could relate to them.

I spent thirty years as a London policeman engaging in duties as diverse as walking the beat, police motorcycling and being a close protection officer. During that time I carried a gun for twelve years, but most sadly had three police acquaintances murdered on duty, and many more badly injured. I totally empathise with the text of the subject.

For anyone who likes the work of writers like Dick Kirby who does a lot on police history and bravery, 'Death on the Victorian Beat' is one to read too.

Reviewed by Bryan Lightbody on behalf of for Pen and Sword Books
FALLEN IDOLS, A Century of Screen and Sex Sandals by Nigel Blundell (Published by Pen and Sword)
Paperback Publication:

This book describes the rise and spectacular fall of some of the rich and famous names of actors, actresses, and Hollywood Moguls.

Sex, alcohol and drugs fuelled their lives and produced some truly outrageous behaviour from several that you know well and quite a few that managed to keep their antics private; until now!

This book manages to be both informative and an extremely good read.

Review by Elaine Carlo on behalf of For the Love of Books, for Pen & Sword Books
The Extraordinary Life of E. Nesbit by Elizabeth Galvin (Published by Pen & Sword Books)
, , An in-depth account of Edith Nesbit's life which was every bit as extraordinary as the title.

This book comes as hardback, with dust cover, and contains some wonderful photographs of her and her family taken at a time when normal families didn't run free and wild. It also describes how hard her life was at times.

A detailed account of an author whose life was full of drama, trauma, true friends, love and betrayal; but who used all of these personal elements to her to create wonderful stories.

A good insight into a complicated woman's character who was a true Bohemian to her last days.

Reviewed by Elaine Carlo on behalf of for Pen and Sword Books
A History of Trees, by Simon Wills (Published by Pen and Sword)
A beautiful hardback book. This is definitely a book to treasure.

filled with dramatic photographs and fascinating facts on trees from Alder to Yew.

Each species has been lovingly described and an explanation given on what the wood has been used to make, and what medicinal property of each tree has been used for, through the ages.

It is interesting to learn that many of these old remedies are now being reviewed in the current world of medicine.

Reviewed by Elaine Carlo on behalf of For the Love of Book, for Pen & Sword Books
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London's Armed Police - Up Close and Personal

London’s Armed Police – Up close and personal
by Stephen Smith
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