Top 5 Holiday Books for Adults and Children

For many of our guests, having a good holiday book to hand is a must. If you’re on the hunt for your latest page-turner to help you while away those lazy summer days, read on…

We asked The Harbour Bookshop, on Mill Street, Kingsbridge, for its top five book recommendations for both adults and children. Without further ado, here are its summer hotlists…

“The Harbour Bookshop is a lovely, well-stocked, independent bookshop in the heart of the South Hams in Devon. Friendly, knowledgeable booksellers & next day delivery”

Top 5 Fiction Books for Adults…

5. Salcombe Schooner Port: A Maritime History of Salcombe and its Merchant Sailing Vessels in the Nineteenth Century by Roger Barrett

Genre: Local maritime history

Written by Salcombe Maritime Museum curator, Roger Barrett, Salcombe Schooner Port is the first comprehensive account of Salcombe’s heyday as a shipbuilding and ship-owning port, famed for its clipper fruit schooners. It tells the story of the Haven’s maritime community in the nineteenth century and describes the ships, their trades and the men who built, owned and sailed them.

“The new book traces the rise of Salcombe from an obscure fishing village in the early 1800s, and describes how the port became famous throughout the maritime world for its beautiful clipper-like schooners, the ‘Salcombe fruiters’” Roger Barrett

4. Crisis by Frank Gardner

Genre: Crime, thriller, mystery

Introducing Luke Carlton – ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions.

Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America’s most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious.

Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.

“Fast, taut, tense, accurate. A terrific read.” Frederick Forsyth
“A terrific page-turner.” Sunday Times

3. The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey

Genre: Crime, thriller, mystery

On his train back to Scotland for a well-earned rest, Inspector Grant learns that a fellow passenger, one Charles Martin, has been found dead. It looks like a case of misadventure – but Grant is not so sure. Teased by some enigmatic lines of verse that the deceased had apparently scrawled on a newspaper, he follows a trail to the remote Outer Hebrides. And though it is the end of his holiday, it is also the beginning of an intriguing investigation into the bizarre circumstances shrouding Charles Martin’s death…

“Has all the Tey magic and delight.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Beautifully written and insistently readable.” New York Times

2. The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Genre: Modern & contemporary fiction

1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear.

Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, spending the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future.

In what would tragically be her final novel, in The Stars are Fire Anita Shreve delivers a virtuoso drama that sweeps in both the devastation of loss and the strange fortitudes tragedy can bring. Brilliant in unveiling its revelations and uncannily true in its observation, Shreve’s last work only underlines fiction’s loss of a profound storyteller.

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‘Long before Liane Moriarty was spinning her Big Little Lies, Shreve was spicing up domestic doings. She still is, as effectively as ever, this time with a narrative literally lit from within.’ – The New York Times

‘A compulsive read, this novel pulled me into an ordinary woman’s life and made me care too much about her to put it down.’ – Glasgow Herald

1. A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré

Genre: Crime, thriller, mystery

Chosen as a Book of the Year in The Times Literary Supplement, the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, The Times

After 25 years, Smiley is back…

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London.  The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. 

‘Utterly engrossing and perfectly pitched. There is only one le Carré. Eloquent, subtle, sublimely paced’ Daily Mail

‘Splendid, fast-paced, riveting’ Andrew Marr, Sunday Times 

Top Five Books for Children…

5. Paddington at St Paul’s by Michael Bond

Genre: Children’s, picture book

Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Paddington, the much-loved bear from darkest Peru, with this brand new classic picture book. For six decades, stories of Paddington Bear have delighted children all over the world.

When Mr Gruber takes Paddington on a special outing to St Paul’s Cathedral, there is one surprise after another. But the biggest of all comes when Paddington is mistaken for a choir bear and suddenly finds himself joining the choir for a most unusual rehearsal!

‘…a jolly ride through the best of the Paddington tales.’ The Times

‘…a delightful collection…’ Sunday Express

4. The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Genre: Children’s & teenage, fantasy, adventure

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn’t, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he’s got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods. Xar doesn’t realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds intersect and the fate of the land is changed forever. In a whirlwind adventure, Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring…

This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

‘World-conquering.’ The Guardian

‘Funny, thoughtful and surprisingly wise and lively, this is another coup from Cowell.’ The Sunday Times

3. Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies/Illustrated by Emily Sutton

Longlisted for The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018

There are living things everywhere: the more we look, the more we find.

There are creatures on the tops of the tallest jungle trees, at the bottom of the coldest oceans, even under the feathers of birds and in boiling volcanic pools. So how many different kinds are there? One, two, three … lots!

From the award-winning team behind Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes comes Lots, a beautifully illustrated introduction to the concept of biodiversity for younger readers.

With words from Nicola Davies and exquisite artwork by Emily Sutton, this groundbreaking book is certain to enchant and inspire children.

“Clear, direct, involving text, coupled with vivid, delicate illustrations make for a truly special work of non-fiction.” The Guardian

“This is a book to pour and ponder over, from reading the story to picking out the different creatures in each picture, to reading the funny and fascinating animal names. Great for small people who like nature or for in-depth discussion in a primary school classroom.” BookTrust

2. Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Genre: Children’s & teenage, adventure, general fiction, historical

Shortlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018

Something had happened on Hirta. End of the world or not, their people were not coming to fetch them off the Stac. They would come if they could, but they could not. No one was coming. No one would ever come… unless it was God’s angels and Judgement Day.

In the summer of 1727, a group of men and boys are put ashore on a remote sea stac to harvest birds for food. No one returns to collect them.


Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they have been abandoned to endure storms, starvation and terror.

How can they survive, housed in stone and imprisoned on every side by the ocean?

‘Brilliant, beautiful… as unpredictable as the sea itself.’ – Philip Reeve, author of Mortal Engines

‘Harshly beautiful, and stark with near-despair, this is an unsettling, deeply original historical novel.’ – The Guardian

1. Katinka’s Tail by Judith Kerr

The brand new picture book from the beloved and iconic Judith Kerr.

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This magical new book from the one and only Judith Kerr is brimming with her trademark warm humour and exquisitely imaginative artwork. Come on a wondrous journey with Katinka, a perfectly ordinary pussycat, with a not-quite-so-ordinary tail…

A classic-in-the-making from Judith Kerr OBE, recipient of the BookTrust Lifetime Acveivement Award and creator of the iconic Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat, this delightful story is the perfect gift for boys and girls of all ages.

“Beautiful drawings, precise language: Katinka’s tale has all the magic we have come to expect of Kerr.” The Times, Children’s Book of the Week

“…a beautiful, funny, warm and tender picture book, which takes a joyous and magical twist at the end. We’re in the presence of a true master of her art here…” BookTrust