This page features beautiful gift books from Carlton Publishing… There’s a brilliant new Led Zeppelin book, and a celebration of the greatest musical ever: Les Miserables, plus many more, and more to come in the new year!

Treasures of Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary Edition

 Published by Carlton Books October 2018

812acSell-out tours in packed stadiums, records going platinum on preorders alone, three-hour long concerts night after night, girls, booze, drugs…Led Zeppelin did it all. ‘Treasures of Led Zeppelin’, an unofficial publication, tells the story of the amazing journey of four talented young Englishmen on the path to rock ‘n’ roll glory. It is probably the greatest story of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll ever told…And the facsimile memorabilia takes you there, with ticket stubs, programmes, beautiful posters, superbly-designed contemporary flyers and other fascinating pieces of musical history in your hands…

Led Zeppelin are not my favourite rock band, let me make that quite clear from the outset. In terms of my musical choices, they simply don’t figure anywhere. However, I have to say that as a rock band book, this one from Carlton takes some beating. It’s one of those books that only Carlton do, where you have envelopes and pockets inside which are significant and invaluable artefacts such as concert programmes, tickets etc., included with the book as souvenirs. This is a collectors’ item, and in years to come will be recognised as such. The production values are sky-high, the photographs will delight any LZ fan, and any LZ fan will be proud and pleased as punch to have it in their collection.

Brian Southall: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

 Published by Carlton Books 6th April 2018

812ax2017 marked the 50th anniversary of what many think is the greatest Beatles album. This book is a new way of telling the album’s story and is split into two distinct halves: A: The “A-side” is all about the Beatles, the music on the album, the recording process, how the disc was received at the time and how subsequently it has been acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever recorded. B: The “B-side” looks at the state of the world in 1967. It covers the Summer of Love, anti-war protests, the Six-day War, the death of Che Guevara, the launch of Rolling Stone magazine, Jimi Hendrix’s first UK tour as a solo artist – and many more events of global significance. Fascinating photographs and text build up a complete picture of the world as it was when one of the most famous albums of all time was released.

This is a title from Carlton’s back catalogue, published to mark the 50th anniversary of possibly the most iconic album of the last century. Brian’s stunning book examines each track on the album in minute detail, and at the same time looks at the social changes taking place during the most radical decade of the century. With many previously unseen photographs and in-depth analysis of the album and its unique hold on people even to this day, Brian’s book is a fitting tribute to the greatest album by the greatest band that ever lived. Anyone who lived through the 1960s will derive utter joy from the pages of this beautiful book. Absolutely breathtaking.

Rhodri Evans: Capturing The Universe

 Published by Carlton Books 7th February 2019

812ayThe very best images captured by the new generation of terrestrial telescopes, orbiting telescopes and deep-space probes and landers have been collected in this magnificent volume. Detailed captions explain the equipment and technicalities of producing such images, which are not only mesmerising but also provide a huge amount of information about the geology and atmospheres of celestial bodes, and the formation of distant galaxies. From the world’s gigantic telescopes in the Canary Islands, Hawaii and Chile to the New Horizons probe now heading into the Kuiper Belt to examine other icy mini-worlds, each page reveals extraordinary images that take us deeper into our universe. Our enduring fascination in our solar system and the wonders of the universe is now being fed by images of breathtaking detail, whether from data sent back 7.5 billion kilometers to bring Pluto into focus, or our first direct encounter with a comet by the Philae lander.

This one’s not published yet, but it arrived in time for inclusion and of course it’s one to look forward to early next year. Quite by chance, I was testing connections between my new TV and the DVD player and happened on a BBC blu ray called Wonders of the Universe. I was only supposed to check everything was working but I ended up watching about a half hour, mesmerised by the stunning images of space. This magnificent book had much the same effect on me – it’s crammed full of images from various probes and telescopes, both space-borne and terrestrial, and the word stunning is the only one I can think of to describe a book that’s bang up to date and so inspirational. The universe is a wondrous place, and this beautiful book does it justice quite spectacularly. Watch out for it in February of next year. More 2019 books from Carlton in the January issue, of course.

Andrew Gatt: Master Builder Roller Coaster Marble Run

 Published by Carlton Books 5th October 2017

812azBuild your own 70cm tall marble run completely out of paper! Race two marbles against each other from two starting points, and watch them roll through a funnel, along separate paths including a gravity-defying loop-the-loop, and down fun steps and amazing slopes. Entertaining to build and play with alike, this pack will keep kids and adults alike busy for hours. Simple mechanics and principles of engineering and physics are explained in bite-sized text alongside your instructions to build this paper engineering masterpiece. As fun to build as it is to play with!

Another spectacular title from Carlton’s spectacular back catalogue – this time it’s a book from the pages of which you can build a roller coaster marble game – something like Mousetrap but made from the press-out pieces in the boo – all you need is a marble and some sticky tape (according to the tape – I’ll let you know how I get on with it in the coming weeks!). It’s a book, but it’s also a game – Carlton do have the most brilliant ideas! If you want to order it from Amazon, you’ll need to put in Master Builder: Paper Roller Coaster…

Benedict Nightingale: Les Miserables

 Published by Carlton Books September 2018

812adEver since its first performances in 1985, Les Miserables has been a smash success, and is now the longest running musical in the world with an award-winning Hollywood movie to its name. Les Miserables takes a look back through the storied life of this monumental show. Looking at the entirety of the Les Miserables theatre legacy, Benedict Nightingale examines the secret of why this musical has so strongly captured the hearts of the world, tracking back from Victor Hugo’s original fiction all the way to the set of the Les Miserables Hollywood set. Also included are several pieces of special memorabilia from the production such as annotated scripts, original costume sketches, and scene design notes for the 2012 film. This book is the ideal companion tome for any lover of Les Miserables and its 33-year history.

When I took the plunge and watched Les Miserables on TV a few years back, I was not prepared to discover that it was going to displace The Sound of Music as my favourite musical. I was mesmerised by the brilliance of Hugh Jackman and Eddie Redmayne, captivated by the magnificent music, and staggered by the pure spectacle. Since then, I’ve watched it maybe a dozen times, listened to the CD soundtrack even more often, and never tired of it. And now, from Carlton Books, I have this stunning account of how the musical phenomenon of Les Mis came into being. The story is brilliantly told, and accompanied by superb photos – a fitting tribute to the greatest ever musical.

Total Guitar Presents How To Play Guitar

 Published by Carlton 1st Septemmber 2017

812agA practical guide to everything you need to know about what is probably the most popular musical instrument in the world, How to Play Guitar teaches you how to play, how to read music, and the essentials of music theory. With sections on maintenance, performing and songwriting, this is a fully up-to-date guide, written to appeal to all age groups, from beginner to intermediate level. Written by the experts at Future Publishing, How to Play Guitar includes hundreds of diagrams and step-by-step exercises, help and advice, and even quotes from some of the great contemporary guitarists.

When I was teaching myself to play the guitar back when I was thirteen years old, there was only one man that could help me, and that was Bert Weedon. His simple cords and riffs were enough to whet  my appetite – I was never going to be the next Django Reinhardt, but I could pretty soon play along with the likes of Lonnie Donegan and all those skiffle and blue grass players. Had I had this wonderful book, I might well have ended up as the new Django – as it is, I’m proud to be able to say that I taught my two sons to play, and they are both now way ahead of me in terms of how well they play, so I must have done something right. This book is comprehensive and attractive, and I might well learn to play all over again, just for the hell of it…

Jay Wertz: The First Americans

 Published by Carlton 13th December 2018

812ahWithout a doubt, one event in the history of Native Americans overshadows all others in its impact on their culture – the discovery of the Western Hemisphere by European explorers. This catastrophic event is the main focus of The First Americans, which, having given an overview of Aboriginal concepts and history, traces the tumultuous relationship between Native Americans and Western settlers. Wertz explains the relationship between Native Americans and their cultural roots in the modern world, tracing their history into the contemporary era. It is illustrated throughout with artworks, maps and photographs as well as painstakingly researched documents from US archives and private collections.

I learned most of what I think I know about native American Indians from my comics, the Sun, the Comet, the Lion and the Tiger, all of which presented some tribes as troublemakers and to be avoided at all costs, or else woped out with the aid of the Seventh Cavalry etc. I did get to know the names of a great deal of tribes, about Manitou, and so on, but it was hardly a comprehensive knowledge of native American Indians that I ended up with. Jay Wertz’s The First Americans is a stunning book, crammed with information and brilliant illustrations, many of them early photographs, and I shall spend hours poring over the fascinating contents over the coming months, until I shall be able to say, truly, that now I do really know something about the native American Indians. A magnificent book.

My Perfect Puppy

 Published by Carlton 8th February 2018

812aiWith the My Perfect Puppy book and app, you can take care of your very own Augmented Reality pup! After all, what’s better than a cute, bright-eyed and waggy-tailed puppy that can’t wait to meet you? My Perfect Puppy is a unique puppy care book and app. The pages are bursting with the cutest puppy photos imaginable, plus all the info you need to know about keeping a new dog in tip-top condition. And that’s not all, there are 13 special interactive pages. Download your free app, point your phone or tablet’s camera at the book and say hello to your new virtual friend! You can name your puppy, feed it, play with it, and even choose the latest accessories. Keep it healthy and happy with exercise, tricks and training challenges, and capture photos of your favourite moments – ready to take pride of place in the My Perfect Puppy Hall of Fame.

I believe that Carlton are the only publisher to offer this kind of publication, one where you download an app onto your mobile, and then point it at certain specific images throughout the book, and it comes to life with videos and extra information. The illustrations are cute – no, adorable, and the book itself is absolutely irresistible. Dog lover or no, My Perfect Puppy will capture your heart and your imagination very quickly indeed!

Joel Levy: Hawking – The Man, The Genius and the Theory of Everything

 Published by Carlton 1st November 2018

812ajHawking explores the life and work, explaining the breakthroughs at the cutting edge of cosmology, from the Big Bang to black holes, and the ups and downs of Stephen Hawking’s extraordinary and often turbulent life. The death of Stephen Hawking in March 2018 brought to a close one of the most remarkable and inspiring scientific life stories of all time. This in-depth and comprehensive biography covers both the well-known aspects of his celebrated life and work, as well as the personal elements of his life, that make his astounding triumph over disability and his titanic achievements all the more impressive. Full of documents and photographs providing extra details and context to Hawking’s discoveries, this is the complete story of how Hawking defied medical science and the frailties of his twisted body to explore vast cosmic realms, tour the world, create a publishing phenomenon, embrace celebrity, experience incredible adventures and enjoy romance and family life.

My one regret about my grammar school is that it streamed students into modern (chemistry, physics and biology) and classics (modern languages, history), and as I was good at the latter subjects, I missed out on a scientific education. This book doesn’t put things right in that respect, but it does offer a great insight into the life and times of the greatest scientist to live in our lifetime, Stephen Hawking. I’ve seen the film about his life, I’ve been inspired by his dedication and determination and his lectures (even though I’ve understood only the occasional word). He has been an inspirational genius, and this brilliant book by Joel Levy is a fitting tribute to him. Brilliant.

Ultimate Eye Twisters

 Published by Carlton 10th January 2019

812akFrom the winner of Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize 2018. Ultimate Eye Twisters is a bumper collection of crazy and mesmerizing optical illusions and visual puzzles. It contains hours of eye-boggling, mind-twisting fun for kids who love the challenges of visual trickery.

Many of the pages rely on the reader having perfect eyesight, because I tried some of them and couldn’t get the results promised or suggested. Other pages are populated by the kind of images that are impossible structures and so on, and there are some mind-bending puzzles too. Not just eye twisters, but brain twisters as well. Hours of fun and entertainment. Superb.