Erasmus Hobart and the Golden Arrow

How true are legends? We’ll never know. To know the truth behind legends, we’d need to travel back in time. Which is just what Erasmus Hobart, a school teacher (History and Physics) is able to do. He’s developed a time machine and decides to find out the truth behind the legend of Robin Hood ahead of the school play.

The opening chapter reads like the opening to a James Bond film as we’re introduced to Hobart and his time travelling machine. He’s travelled back to when Lady Godiva took to the streets and is lucky to escape. His journey back to Robin Hood’s time is trickier when he makes an enemy of Guy Gisborne and gets separated from the machine. He soon discovers what Robin Hood was like and has to ensure that he doesn’t ruin history. What was Robin Hood like? Well, that would spoil the book!

An easy to read and enjoyable book. Hobart’s adventure is a great one to follow and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Give it a go and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Rating (out of 5): *****


Don’t lean out the window! A European misadventure

Don’t lean out the window follows the authors, who are in a band, on their tour of Europe via the inter-rail tickets they have bought. Whilst they can travel where they want in Europe, it’s not all plain sailing, leading to the second part of the title. For example, their plan to finance the trip through busking is not always universally popular. However, they do encounter some incredibly generous people.

It’s an easy to read, humorous book. The narration switches between the authors, so I did have to check who was writing at times, but this is a small gripe for an enjoyable book.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Mind boggling book of over 5000 facts

There are indeed over 5000 facts in this book, with the facts ordered alphabetically (this makes ‘T’ a very long section due to the number that begin with ‘The’). There are plenty of interesting facts, but quite a few facts are repeated a few times, often under one another. Dipping in to the book will result in an interesting fact being found and is probably better than reading it from start to finish.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Viking Panzers: The German 5th SS Tank Regiment in the East in World War II

The book, as the title implies, follows the 5th SS Tank Regiment from 1942 until the end of the war. The book is made up of reports and diary entries from members of the regiment as well as maps and a narrative. The book can become hard to follow in places where it switches from one diary entry to another and it is not clear who it is from, but it offers an authoritative history of the regiment and flows from encounter to encounter seamlessly. Not a book that I would necessarily read again, but a different perspective to usual books about the war.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Very British Problems Volume 3: Still Awkward, Still Raining

There seem to be so many unwritten rules in Britain and Very British Problems highlights them. The problems are separated into different areas and it’s amazing how many you have encountered or, even better, do yourself. I would have to agree that it’s close to impossible to watch cricket without miming a forward defensive shot. The ones I recognise myself doing were the ones I found funniest.

As well as being an enjoyable read (although being British, I should probably say it’s, ‘alright’) it got me thinking about other things that may be termed British problems. I wonder if I’m the only one who will cross the road at traffic lights checking that the light has turned red; it’s for two reasons: I want to make sure that the green man actually means I can cross and also to let the drivers waiting that I can see it’s red so I know I should be crossing.

It’s a short book and quickly read, but every page is excellent.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Portrait of an icon

Portrait of an icon takes a brief look at some of the best known names in recent world football. Each profile is short (I don’t think any are longer than 8 pages) and focus more on quotes (from the person and others in world football) and anecdotes than statistics; an excellent approach, especially for the portrait of Pierluigi Collina.

Goals are the currency of football, so it is perhaps little surprise that the majority of those profiled are attacking players. Despite this, there are still portraits of defensive players and managers are also included.

As well as being an excellent book, it’s also the type to provoke discussion about who has been included and who has been left out. A final reason to buy this book (as if another were needed) is that proceeds go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Memoirs of a bar steward

Jacob Cox is named as the landlord for the pub his family have bought on the coast. He has the vision to make the pub one of the most successful in the country, nevermind the town. His family just can’t see his plans and how they will lead to success. Of course, it might just be because the ideas aren’t actually that great…

A short book that’s easy to pick up and get in to. It is humorous throughout and ends on a cliffhanger after Jacob’s visit to a rival pub. Well worth a read.

Rating (out of 5): ****