WARNING – lengthy catch up Blog


Good afternoon from a rather guilty feeling DRAKE – The Bookshop, where it was discovered the last blog was in March!

You’d thing we had nothing to talk about (like that’s ever happened), but as you will see….. far from it!

So, take a big, deep breath cos here we go.

Green Duck and Richard went to their 1st Book Launch at the start of June. Teesside author and Uni of Teesside lecturer Gabrielle Kent released the second of her Alfie Bloom series (signed copies available of both book in the shop). Then afterwards there was a staff trip (including the U3A work experience girl) out for tea!

In celebration of the unveiling of our James Patterson Storytime Corner we were lucky enough to convince Bethan Woollvin ot read to us live via Skype. The kids loved Little Red and were all comfy at the same time!

We have had 1 or 2 other live via Skype events (Will Mabbutt, “This is not a Bedtime Story”) and we are always on the look out for other author to join us.

Kids artwork and a piece by a fantastic illustrator!

Independent Bookshop Week was AMAAAAAAAZING thanks mainly to these 3 fantastic ladies. 3 days, 6 schools and hundreds of happy kids as Ros, Gabrielle and Sally wowed everyone with their artistic talent and storytelling skills. Thanks again ladies it was a blast! Signed copies are still available in the shop by the way.

Never one to miss an opportunity to don the Wally costume, The British National Road Race Championships gave me the perfect opportunity! Famous cyclists (Dame Sarah Storey, Hayley Simmonds), a trophy and members of the Council who should have been at work?

A fantastic Saturday in July saw one of my favourite authors venture to town. How appropriate that local author Peter Robinson should come to Stockton to do a signing given the geography of his latest  Banks novel When the Music’s Over. Thanks Peter and thanks everyone who came along to make it such a successful afternoon.

Anyway, that’s us pretty much up to date. I’m sure I have forgotten lots that has happened and lots that is due to happen, but keep watching and reading.


More from Michael

Michael is rapidly becoming our “go-to guy” when it comes to children’s book reviews and he’s doing an awesome job.

daisy  Daisy and the trouble with Jack by Kes Gray.

This book was really funny. My favourite part was when Jack was describing what a giraffe would sound like if they were robots.I also really liked how you could read what both Jack and Daisy were saying along side each other.

enid  The Famous Five-When Timmy Chased the Cat by Enid Blyton.

This story was about four children and there dog Timmy. On the way to the Cinema, Timmy chases a cat and loses his name tag. When the children go back to look for it they end up saving somebody’s life.

Excellent work again, Michael, thanks for those.

dict  Oxford Children’s Dictionary

Meanwhile, Michael decided he needed a dictionary to help him with some of the new words he is reading these days. It appears this is a winner!

Michael loves that dictionary we bought from you. It’s very good. (Not Michael-esque in it’s review but to be fair mum didn’t expect it to end up on here!)

Thanks guys, looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Latest Guest Reviews

Michael MacDonald, aged 6, is our latest reviewer and he’s been a busy boy!

stick   Stick Dog Wants a Hotdog by Tom Watson

This book was really funny! The story is about a group of dogs who are trying to plan out how they can steal some frankfurters from the man in the park, one of the dogs called ‘Mutt’ calls a Racoon who is also trying to steal the frankfurters ‘Philys’ which is an old ladies name. They get up to lots of funny things.

arthur   Arthur and the Yeti by Johanne Mercier.

‘I like this book because Arthur thinks there is a Yeti around but it turns out to be CENSORED DUE TOSPOILER ALERT!!!!!

stan   Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown.

‘ This book was very funny. Stanley wakes up one morning flat after a board falls on him overnight. He gets to do lots of fun things and even gets posted to America, which is awesome.’

hank  Young Hank Zipzer: Bookmarks Are People Too by Henry Winkler.

‘I would give this book 10 out of 10. It is so funny. The main character is Hank. He ends up getting a part in the school play as the bookmark after forgetting his lines in his audition.In the end he saves the day when the bully forgets his lines.’

They are excellent reviews Michael (even though I amended one!), thanks very much I’m really glad you enjoyed reading those books.

Death Note Black Volume 1 Review

Another guest review has come in to us and we would like to thank Emma Carveth-Marshall for doing it.


Death Note: Black Volume 1 by Takeshi Obata

Death Note vol. 1 shows well drawn graphics, an anti-hero as main character that surprises/shocks, a *monster* that becomes actually…endearing, controversial themes that will provoke raw emotions along with deep thoughts and a writing and dialog that make the characters look real and three dimensional without a doubt.
I think the plot could have been more developed, though. The Shinigami world better seen and much more exploited and maybe even contain a notable amount of interesting descriptions for the creatures inside it, because it lacked of it. Badly.
Nonetheless, one of the most original manga volumes I’ve had the chance to read in months!

Thanks for the review, Emma. Maybe I should give them a go.


Our customers have been willing “victims” in our attempt to have some fun with stories for National Storytelling Week.

We have asked them to play Folding Stories – the one where we give them some cues and they make up a part of the story each, without knowing the previous section.

Matthew, Mel and I test drove it on Sunday and we are feeling very pleased with ourselves, but more of that later, here is the 1st one, which is pretty awesome as a 1st go…folding storyblog.jpg

1st Review of 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s a review of a book I probably need to go back and finish from Mel…

RAILHEAD by Philip Reeve


Finally! A book which unites the two Nerdoms of Science Fiction / Fantasy writing and train spotting – what is not to like?

In Philip Reeve’s well thought out future universe of The Great Network, the galaxy is navigated by sentient trains. Train enthusiasts of The Great Network are known as Rail Heads. Zen Starling is a Rail Head, he’s also a petty thief living a nothing special life in an unimportant industrial back water of the galaxy. His expert thievery has caught the attention of the mysterious Raven, who has lived hundreds of lives and travelled to the farthest reaches of time and space. What could Raven possibly want with someone as seemingly insignificant as Zen? Is Zen just a disposable pawn to deliver a final act of galaxy destroying revenge for Raven? Or is Raven handing Zen a chance to find his own destiny?

Rail Head is a satisfyingly layered story; in turns an exciting race against time to unlock answers to the existence of The Great Network, and a story which explores the complexities of friendship, trust and love, especially when the person you need to trust with your mortal life is not a human.

Latest Guest Book Reviewer

Our latest review comes from one of the members of the book club that Mel joined, thanks to Clare Brennan.

brief hist

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

2015 MAN Booker Prize Winner

An ambitious book covering a diverse range of subjects, but it delivers; Tarantinoesque in style, featuring the CIA, Columbian drug cartels, Jamaican street gangs and stories narrated by ‘ghosts’. You won’t read anything else like it this year, a worthy unanimous Booker winner!

Thank you for that Clare, it’s definitely on my list!

Who would like to be our next guest reviewer?

Antoine Laurain


“What use is a bookshop that only has the book you are looking for?”

An so this was never a more true quote than when I was scouting around before we opened. My day’s work experience at The Little Ripon Bookshop culminated in me stumbling across this author. The Red Notebook is my favourite book. Quirky, funny, warm, and just the perfect amount of sweet and sickly! Laurent the bookseller, a stolen handbag containing no personal details but lots of personal information in the notebook and an ensuing search to reunite.

I couldn’t offer another book like it but AMELIE (the film) gave me the same warm, glowing feeling!

Meanwhile, The President’s Hat is just that. A man having dinner on his own at the table next to the President followed by a possession forgotten, followed by a tale that leaves no loose threads. To tell any more would be to lose the originality and enjoyment!

I have not regretted being able to read French better than I do until I finished these – I am sure they are even more charming in their native tongue.

Charlotte’s Web (page)

Our family have always been avid readers and it appears that even though she is upside down (being in Australia and all), the latest family bookworm Charlotte has been busy munching her way through books at a crazy rate. Below is a link to some of the ones she has read recently, with scores!

So, if you are a youngster around about 8 or 9, or a parent of such a person, with a voracious reading appetite, or any form of appetite,  but not sure what to read next, try some of these.

Charlotte’s List

Halloween Trail winners

The 2 day Cat in the Hat trail around independent shops in Stockton ended at the end of Halloween day (Saturday). Photos came in on twitter and facebook and once again the panel of judges was charged with the task of finding a winner. As with the BAMB competition the decision was not unanimous but we are happy to declare the picture below the winner.
halloween winnerThe, as yet, anonymous duo have been contacted and will be in soon to collect their prize and hopefully pose for more photos (presumably a little less green this time).
Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who took part and also to those who hosted a Cat for the contestants to find.