Indoors, Outdoors, Triumph and Murder - BBC Oxford Book reviews for Summer

We've been popping up on BBC Radio Oxford a few times over the last week - with Summer reading recommendations and books which are creating a bit of a buzz in the shop at the moment.

With the libraries in Oxfordshire running a 'Reading Challenge' all Summer, if you have children looking for inspiration and a book to really get their teeth into, the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series by Robin Stevens is a really exciting series of mysteries for 9+. They involve two schoolgirls (Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong) and in the third book in the series just out ‘First Class Murder’ the girls investigate a dastardly crime whilst on holiday on the Orient Express in the 1930s. Cleverly inspired by the classics of Agatha Christie, Stevens is an American who grew up in Oxford, and she has great fun with the staples of murder mysteries, with bags of appeal for kids – these books really are addictive and we know from the children coming in eagerly wanting book three how good they are!

It’s fair to say that – despite his incredible double Tour de France win, the public haven’t warmed to Chris Froome in the same way they have to other recent British Cycling greats. And Froome is definitely one of the greats. So 'The Climb' – written with the help of journalist David Walsh – will go some way to do that. Through Froome’s upbringing in Kenya, his route to Team Sky, the tensions between him and Bradley Wiggins, through to his triumphant first TdF win, this tells the tale of a driven, focused and remarkably ruthless competitor who overcame numerous hurdles to reach the pinnacles of his sport. We are living through a golden age of British cycling, and Froome may just be the greatest of them all...

"There are at least 19 different ways to navigate by tree...everything from the spread of the roots to the lichen and moss on the trunk". So explains Tristan Gooley in 'The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs'. This endlessly readable, modern-day guidebook which has more than its fair share of ‘oh really?’ moments (lost in the city? Just look for satellite dishes – they all point south-east). It definitely competes for the title of greatest book on natural navigation ever written, and Gooley’s folksy style, as well as his expert blend of human satnav and boy scout makes this fun and enjoyable - whilst you learn.

We love Kate Clanchy – we’ve particularly loved recommending her debut novel ‘Meeting The English’ since a wonderful event we held with her in our courtyard garden last year. But the former Oxford city poet now has a collection of short stories published - 'The Not-Dead and the Saved and Other Stories' - and it’s an utter delight. The title story won the BBC National Short Story Award 2009 and the V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, and it is joined in this collection by stories which show the whole range of Kate as one of our most talented and thoughtful writers.

We've also enjoyed recommending ‘Black Rabbit Hall’ by Eve Chase. This is a debut novel from an Oxford-based author that is published by Michael Joseph. It has all the elements of a great holiday read – a Cornish setting, a mystery across the generations and intriguing characters, but it’s the house at the heart of this brilliant debut which really leaves its mark on your imagination. When primary school teacher Lorna discovers the perfect old house for her wedding reception, she becomes obsessed by this strange, rundown place. The story then jumps to the 1960s, when the house was a holiday retreat for the Alton family and their children. But why does time seem to run more slowly here, and what lies behind the mystery of the Alton children? A wonderful, slow-paced, gorgeously written treat.

(You can listen to the show on BBC iPlayer here - just fast-forward to 2 hours and 42 minutes to hear more)

We've a brand new, rebuilt Summer reading table which you'll see immediately on entering the shop - come in for some Summer reading recommends and see what we're getting excited about!

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