What Library Staff are Reading – August

The Daffodils have spoken – spring is just around the corner. While some of us may now be tempted outdoors, the wise know that The Reading Season is not quite over. Here is a selection of titles that library staff have been reading recently.

One of us is lying by  Karen M. McManus – This book is an interesting take of a who done it. The story is based around the 4 teenagers that are suspected of murder. The  4 teenagers have detention with another teenager, whose water during detention is “poisoned” and dies via allergic reaction. The story is interesting as the story writes from all 4 perspectives and keeps you guessing for quite a bit! I will say that myself and my book club all figured it out WAY before the characters did, but it was still an interesting read if not a little predictable. It’s got drama, romance, and a little action thrown into a big mystery. It was an interesting read but I probably won’t be returning to this again any time soon. 3/5

Steal like an artist : 10 things nobody told you about being creative Show your work! : 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered both by Austen Kleon – both have both really got my cylinders firing. Now that I’ve stolen some of his fantastic ideas and I’m slightly encouraged to show my work, I’ll be sneaking in time for creativity wherever I possibly can. I’m even inspired to get up an hour earlier each morning to get in some time before the rest of the household wakes up. This is balanced by the fact that I go to bed about 3 hours earlier with an electric blanket, a book and a spread of cats. I’ve just begun reading his original book, Newspaper Blackout, which was what inspired me to order in all 3 of his titles for the library. I have myself a permanent marker and I’m not afraid to use it. The Gazette never read so well!

The strange library – by Murakami – just didn’t get it at all.  1/5

Whatever happened to inter-racial love? – by Kathleen Collins – a book of short stories.  I am generally not a fan of short stories so don’t really know why I gave this one a go. I didn’t like it. 1/5

A dog’s purpose – by Bruce Cameron.  Read this one because the picture on the front cover was just soooooo cute.  I loved it!  It should have come with a warning label though as I must have gone through several boxes of tissues while reading it.  5/5

Letters to Alice, on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon – I read this many years ago, but have just re-read it. Weldon’s fiction is a little too blistering for this faint-hearted reader, but Letters to Alice is an enchanting stroll through the country of literature by one who most comfortably lives there, and knows its highways and byways. Aunty Fay writes letters to her niece about writing. I will keep revisiting this book down the years, I suspect.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – You all know the story; Eliza, Mr Darcy, balls, perfidy, shameful younger sisters and embarrassing mothers… but in case you’ve forgotten the architecture of Austen’s language – have another look. I am always bowled over by the musicality of her prose, its rise and fall, its poise, its perfect grammar!

Outline by Rachel Cusk – A terrific book. These publishers’ notes give a concise picture of what it does:

Rachel Cusk’s Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner and discourse. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbour from the plane.
The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

I’ve gone back to the beginning of Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.  I got to about Book 4 last time and I gave up because of the brutality but having watched some episodes on Youtube I’ve realised the book is better hence the restart and I’m devouring it.

I also read Harp in the South by Ruth Park for my book group.  It is definitely well written but some of the ‘brutal’ bits got to me again.

The Orkneyinga Saga (pub. c. 1230)- this is in preparation for my upcoming trip to Scotland. Now I know that Sigurd the Mighty killed Máel Brigte the Bucktoothed of Scotland through treachery on the battlefield, but Sigurd got what for when he scratched his leg on the Scottish earl’s tooth, (his opponent’s head having been hung from Sigurd’s saddle), and the wound turned septic and killed him. He was only the second earl of Orkney, and I still have several to go before I reach the end.

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern – I went on a bit of a Cecilia Ahern binge and this was the first one I read.  A beautiful story that captures fame and reality television and love.  4/5


The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern – If you like family sagas and mysteries then this is right up your alley.  I learnt more about marbles than I ever needed to!   4/5


Don’t Tell Mum I work on the rigs (she thinks I am a piano player in a whorehouse) by Paul Carter –  Aimed at a male audience with too many blokey stories that might work at the pub but did not translate well to print.   2/5


Prince by Matt Thorne – If you want to learn more about the music behind the man then this is the book for you.  Matt Thorne is a music journalist so concentrated on the music rather than the social side of Prince.  Really interesting read. 3/5


Weightless by Sarah Bannon – A timely and on-the-pulse book about highschool bullying. If you have teenagers, read this book. 4/5


Raw Spirit by Iain Banks – A raucous read of visiting Scotch Whiskey distilleries in Scotland – purely to taste of course! 3/5

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home –Set in Edinburgh which is always a draw-card for me, this novel is a bit different from the usual Tartan Noir in that Cal McGill, the eponymous Sea Detective, is an expert on how sea currents and tides move objects about and mostly consults for corporations who have lost containers overboard and want to know what happened to them.  Here he is drawn into an investigation after feet are found washed up on beaches on the east coast of Scotland. A complex plot involving Cal’s own family history, people smuggling and political activism makes a compelling read.  It is the first in the Sea Detective series.  I gave it 4/5

Ice Cold Alice by C P Wilson – another Tartan Noir, also set in Edinburgh. Alice is a serial killer who is getting rid of men who abuse their families and giving their families the opportunity to disappear to a new life.  DI Kathy McGuire is trying to track her down. The narrative flips between the present day and about 15 years ago for both characters. Definitely not for lovers of Cosy Detective novels, this had just enough to keep me turning the pages so I could find out what happens, but only just. Again, this is the first in a series called Tequila Mockingbird. Scored 3/5

So High a Blood: the life of Margaret, Countess of Lennox by Morgan Ring – Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister, and her second husband, Archibald Douglas.  She was also mother of Henry, Lord Darnley who disasterously married Mary Queen of Scots and fathered James VI of Scotland.  James VI became James I of England also after the death of Elizabeth I.  This rather dry at times book follows the highs and lows of Margaret’s life – she was imprisoned several times and schemed endlessly to further her family’s dynastic fortunes.  Scored 3/5

Silly Isles by Eric Campbell – ABC Foreign Correspondent Eric Campbell has a lovely, dry sense of humour and loves to point out the absurdities of life. In this book he writes about his travels to a number of the world’s islands and takes a look a life.  A fun book to dip in and out of, it’s been my lunch time reading for a couple of weeks.  Scored 3.5/5

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