Cook #Books #readinglist

When one hears of Cook books, one’s mind automatically turns towards recipe books. At TSL we don’t have recipe books as such but we do have the Sir Chocolate series where each book contains simple recipes illustrating the story which young people can make.
Similarly, Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town also has some recipes to illustrate the story and enjoy.

But we also have a book or two by or mentioning Cook:

Brian Cook’s Home Ground tells the story of families farming in the Yorkshire Dales, international business and the search for love.
A little more obscure is Andrew Samson’s The Moon is Toast – well, you’ll just have to buy the book to see if Alistair Cook is mentioned (or find the index on the TSL website).

And then some related titles:
Beatrice Holloway’s Facts, Folklore and Feasts of Christmas and Debbie Nagioff’s collection of drama pieces, An American Lunch.


Why distinguish?

Not long ago I had a discussion with a printer who told me one of my authors had said they were an indie author. The publisher took this to mean the author was self-published. Then I came across this list of Indie best books for 2017. Why is this list separate to the other Best books of 2017? And who determines what list a book features on? One can assume that the ‘real’ best books of 2017 are by the big-name recognised publishers who work in the traditional way and control most of the market, dictate the processes of sales and have the systems work in their favour. Where Indie and Independent fit in, I’m not quite sure – what I do know is that TSL publishes books although our model is rather different to those of most publishing houses. And then there’s self-publishing.

All I see the labels do is place a value-judgement. One assumes that because a book is self-published it’s going to have an unprofessional look and have an amateur cover – whatever that may mean. In all honesty, many self-published books jar on the eye but so did some of ours when we started out. It’s all part of the learning curve. Similarly, the big name publishers tend to convey money, investment, marketing, book launches, huge returns, authors being ripped off in terms of royalties but status for the author. Yes, some might operate like that but there might well be others who are ethical and do what they can for authors and readers but we don’t get to hear of them. Similarly some Indie/Independent publishing houses take their authors for a ride, only in it for making money for the publisher and not the author.

The same with authors, JK Rowling, Peter James, John Samson, Sue Hampton and Arnie Wilson are all authors irrespective of how many books they’ve sold and how many audiences they appear in front of. An author is someone who writes books. Some started off self-publishing such as John Samson and Josie Arden, others do both – Paul Ross for example, but it doesn’t stop them being authors. There seems to be a stigma about self-publishing – the author couldn’t get a publisher or agent so their writing can’t be any good. I’m often asked what we at TSL publish and I hesitatingly say ‘anything’ – but I need to qualify that. It’s got to be readable and hang together. Whether the author can spall or not is not an issue – that’s for the publisher and editorial process to sort out. If the author has a story to tell and can tell it coherently, and fit within our ethical framework, then we’re in business.

When asked to clarify about quality of story, I throw the question back – how many books on the top 10 list at your local bookshop do you think are ‘good’ books and worth reading? The answer is invariably ‘none – there’s so much rubbish out there.’ So, why if these books are put out there by ‘big-name publishers’ should they have more status than a book which doesn’t make it to the shelves because it doesn’t have big money backing?

I can’t help but recognise this is the way to go – I’ve seen Vocational A-Levels ruin the intended parity with A levels; reverse racism is still racism as is reverse discrimination and discrimination. It’s not undoing, it’s simply refocusing. Why do we worry about whether a book is written by someone of a specific gender? What is a woman’s book and a man’s book? I enjoy a story for what it is and read different books for different reasons. The only time I do take note of what I’m reading is when it comes to history material for research purposes, but then it’s no so much the author I’m concerned about, as I know many ‘enthusiasts’ as opposed to ‘professional’ historians uncover amazing stories, as their references and source material. That’s what gives historial writing its credibility.

Isn’t it time we got rid of all these distinctions and let books stand for themselves? That’s the only way I see we’ll eventually get true equality.
Celebrate diversity – don’t treat it differently.

Originally posted on 07/02/2018 @ 20:20



It’s been a week of the Circus, and just about everyone I know loves the circus.

First was George and Flora Head to the Country where the cats join the circus.
Then there was the Bafta award winning film Marvellous which tells the story of professional clown Neil Baldwin.
And today, Hillingdon Libraries shared some books about the circus and PT Barnum in honour of the film The Greatest Showman.

In West London you can take courses in Circus Skills with Tiggy And Circus who has taken over from Albert and Friends. It’s incredible what young people can achieve in a week. Growing up in South Africa, we had the famous Boswell Wilkie Circus. It was courtesy of the circus that I can honestly say I’ve see elephants walking along the highway near Edenvale. There’s also Giffords Circus in Gloucestershire and the famous Cirque du Soleil.

And to take a detour, Anna Ryland and Arnie Wilson mention Oxford Circus in their books, A Second Chance and Big Name Hunting respectively.
There’s also the famous Circus in Bath.

Want to read more about real circuses?
Emma Caroll recommends 10 books, while Bustle has a list of 12.
For something a little more factual, there’s the Circus Book Store.
Marthe Kiley-Worthington researches animal behaviour in circuses in Family are the Friends you Choose and see her in action on Youtube.

updated Dec 2019

Originally posted on 02/02/2018 @ 20:20


The people you meet: market selling

For a time TSL sold books at markets as part of our attempt to get a fair deal for readers and authors. Sadly, we no longer do as few cater to our model of working.
In my experience, for shoppers markets are either exciting with innovative and varied items or ‘more of the same’ where multiple stall-holders are competing to sell the same thing. For the stall-holder it’s a sometimes rushed off your feet experience but more likely sitting and waiting trying not to look bored.
It’s also an opportunity to get to meet other people, shoppers and stall-holders alike, and that can be absolutely fascinating.
Here are some of the stallholders we’ve met along our journey:
Izipikili – ( – an innovative nail painting resource
Blue Amber Crystals – ( – beautiful stone lamps amongst other stones
Natural Quilts – – quilts that fold into pillows when not needed.
Joanne Shaw designs – – gifts and cards which definitely caught my eye
Bernadine’s creations – – handmade jewellery
Natural Fragrance Company –
The Harrow Marquetry Group (the craft and art of making pictures, decorative designs and patters using woods) – in Hatch End, HA5 4DZ
Sarah’s Scentsations –
Serenity Sciences semi precious stone bead earings – and
Made by Hels – unique hand knit and hand crotchet designs –, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (madebyhels)
Little Prints – making little moments into memories that will last –

A pity some didn’t have websites but if you happen to see them at a market, their tables are worth exploring for a little gem:
Crescent Cards at Boxmoor – handmade quality cards (something a little different in my view)
Pillows at Northwood, thanks for the photo (it – the pillow – now adorns my reading corner)
Bags at Northwood and Beaconsfield – specially made bags for books – what more could a book buyer ask for?
A Bead Bookmark – made from recycled beads (I’ve put one to the test and it rates amongst the most practical yet)

Keep an eye on our calendar to see where we’ll be.
Markets to date include:
Northwood Craft Market
Fishery Wharf Sunday Market, Boxmoor
And as TSL works in partnership, you are likely to meet at least one author helping to look after the stall or popping by to support.

Originally posted on 16/11/2017 @ 20:20


Jennie Willett

About Jennie Willett

Jennie Willett
Jennie is a free-lance lecturer, trainer, therapist and writer. As a lecturer in adult teacher education, specialising in the way people learn Jenny facilitated courses at a London college on personal development. Many of her students suffered from low mood, anxiety and depression prompting her to devise tasks to lift their mood. These tasks have been included in this book. Her private practice covers personal development, stress management and cognitive behaviour therapy. She can be contacted through TSL.
Follow Jennie’s blog offering regular hints and reminders on building confidence and well-being.

Jennie has a series of titles planned for Easy Ways including dealing with managing stress and meetings.
As part of her work to help reduce stress and improve mental health, Jennie runs an art group, Art4All, in Northwood. During 2020 they could not have a physical exhibition so did one online. Jennie believes there’s an artist in everyone.

Dr Peter Connell
As a General Practitioner for forty years Peter was to dealing on a daily basis with patients suffering from depression, anxiety and a range of similar illnesses whether expressed or hidden. He found talking therapies often worked better than medication. This book incorporates many of those successful methods that eliminated the need for medication.

Books by Jennie

Originally posted on 09/06/2018 @ 20:20


Sue Hampton

About Sue Hampton

Sue, author of over 30 titles describes herself best.

I am Me was written by Sue Hampton and illustrated by Paula Watkins to help fundraise for People Not Borders, a charity supporting refugees. All profits go to People Not Borders.
I am Me was a finalist in the 2018 People’s Book Prize
Review of Instead

Listen to Sue talk about Ravelled and other Stories.
Sue reads from Ravelled.

Sue talks about Intact. Intact was awarded the Red Ribbon in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2021.

Books by Sue

Originally posted on 07/06/2018 @ 20:20