with Tilly Wrestleman
Greetings friends! 'Tis almost that most Romantic time of year again. That especial day, when the gallant lover gets out the batter-pan and addresses the pancakes in honour of the Jewish Patron Saint of Scottish watercourses, Rabbi Burns.
I am singing of that night when an heap of steaming crepes is laid out for the delectation of our lover and his lass, in honour of Shrove, the Pagan God of Shove Ha'penny (or Shrove Ha'penny as it was in the days of yore).
And all this, because Saint Valentine feasted upon dormouse pancakes the day the Barbarians entered Rome.
"But soft!" I hear you cry. "What has all this talk of batter and shove ha'penny and barbarians to do with the new books, Tilly dear?" To which I reply, "Hold fast, my friends. We shall have books enough, anon.
"In fact, before very long you will be screaming for your batter-bowls and your lemon-juice and syrup. For I have a right load of them for you this month."
by Grant Bale
The gritty tale of a greyhound trainer who puts greyhound training before love, this evocative novella - the second part of Bale's "Dogtrack Trilogy" - was shortlisted for the Prix de Todmorden by mistake.
"I never realised there was so much about greyhounds that I could happily live without." - Ferrets & Ferreting
Borscht Belt Blues
by Fyvush Lipschitz
Morey Klutzbaum is a downbeat divorcee comic playing the summer resorts of the Catskills in the 1950s. Totie Hymen is the cloakroom attendant who makes him feel young again and cooks him a borscht his grandmother would have been proud of. This is the saddest book I have read for a long time. Why? Old jokes like these are why:
"My wife and I were happy for 25 years. Then we met."
"The wife and I were having breakfast when the doorbell rang. I opened the door. 'Who is it?' I asked. 'The Boston Strangler' the guy replied. 'Honey, it's for you!' I said."
I didn't think there was any connection between beetroot soup and romantic passion before I read this book. Now I know there isn't.
"Explains why the Borscht Belt is a dead duck." - Golders Green Gazette
by Arthur Shandy
Mr Shandy has woven a gossamer-fine plot around the story of two lonely shoeshop workers who find each other on a reflexology course in North Jutland. Oppressed by the strict regimen of the group, they make a break for freedom. Sheltered by an elderly female artist, they learn about freedom as she teaches them a Jutish dialect. Unable to speak their love in English, they find release in the local vestjysk tongue, and plight their troth on the beach in a storm.
"The best thing about this book? It's short. Oh, and it's good to know the Jutes have 23 different words for seaweed." - Hats And Hatting
A Steppe Too Far
by Dick Fidler
13th century Mongolia: the Great Khan is poised on the brink of conquering the Khazimandian Empire. His warlords counsel total war. But a chance encounter on the eve of battle changes his life forever. The story of the young shepherdess who teaches him to write poetry, play the Bishguur and leave politics to his generals occupies 1256 truly astonishing pages.
"Makes Barbara Cartland seem like Tolstoy." - The Savoury Blancmange
by Dolores Vixen
Nidar is a time-travelling vampire in trouble. Driven out by his Clan to seek fresh blood, he lands in 1970s Belfast, at the height of the Troubles. Niamh has the rare blood group the Clan craves. She is instantly attracted to the sexy new boy in the Lodge, and desperate to help him get ready for the Parade, but has no inkling of the dark truth about why he really wants her. As their passion grows, Nidar realises that he loves her too much to sacrifice her, and a desperate battle with the Clan ensues during the Parade.
"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they had to drive a stake through Ian Paisley's heart" - Wire Netting Quarterly
by Heidi Doody
Josh Guppy is a zoo-keeper married to his work at failing Grimchester Zoo, until he sees high-flying accountant Carla Stiletto getting out of her sports car in the staff car park. Carla needs to balance the books to save Grimchester from liquidation and she wants to sell Josh's beloved Thomson's Gazelles to rival Whipstead Zoo - until Josh shows her the gazelles doing their famous 'stotting' bounds and zig-zagging runs. Their relationship takes a quantum leap after this, and zig-zags its way to mutual joy.
"A book to awaken the inner Thomson's Gazelle in us all" - Knurls & Knurling
My Kingdom For A Horse
by Toby R Pylgryme
Will dandy and rake Prince Ferdinand Guillem Trattenbilder XXI, the Luppsberg Scharzenfettle Meiningenberger of Drandelheim, find true love and give up everything for Gelda Spittlewife, Ostler's daughter, Gooseherd and the only person who can control his fiery steed, Schopenhauer? Or will cold-hearted Princess Hildebrand Blitzenkrieg of Grappleschmerz have her way, get her claws into him and marry into the Grand Duchy of Piffler-Hashburg? At least, I think that is what these 750 pages were getting at, but really, your guess is as good as mine.
"Perhaps if the names had not taken up so many pages, there would have been more room for a story" - Hoof & Horn