What Library Staff are Reading – August


The Court Reporter by Jamelle Wells (eAudio via BorrowBox) – compelling and entertaining. 4/5 stars

Five ways to kill a man by Alex Gray (eAudio via RBdigital) – More gritty Glaswegian crime with the wise and compassionate DCI Lorimer and psychologist Solomon Brightman trying to stop a serial killer. 5/5 stars

Our uninvited guests: the secret lives of Britain’s country houses 1939-45 by Julie Summers – a look at some of the grand houses of Britain during WWII.  Some were requisistioned by the government for housing various ministries and departments which had evacuated from London, one became a home for children, one a maternity home (where unmarried mothers were shamed and made to work for their keep, unlike the married mothers), Blenheim Palace became the temporary home of public school Malvern College.  One in the highlands of Scotland was a training base for the Special Operations Executive which trained spies to be dropped behind enemy lines in Europe.  This is an interesting social history and one for fans of stately homes.  3/5 stars

1983: the world at the brink by Taylor Downing – what a thriller, and it’s all true; you just couldn’t make this stuff up and expect readers to suspend disbelief.  This is the story of how the world was nearly destroyed by nuclear armageddon in November 1983. ‘Able Archer’ was an annual NATO war games exercise. In 1983, however, a coincidence of circumstances meant that the leaders of the Soviet Union were convinced Able Archer was a cover for a real nuclear attack by the USA.  Some of this can be seen in the excellent SBS drama series Deutschland 83.  “False alarms were frighteningly common throughout the Cold War period.  There were accidents, technical failures, computer malfunctions and human errors galore.  Looking back it is nothing short of a miracle that nuclear war did not break out . . .” (p.190).  Armageddon didn’t occur in the end because one or two men listened to their gut feelings and not to their leadership. And it seems not much has changed. “NATO grew anxious in September 2017 when a military exercise called Zapad 17 seemed to threaten the Baltic states” (p342) .  Not for the faint-hearted. 4.5 stars

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively- read for my book group.  The majority of the group loved it but it didn’t do much for me.  I give it 2.5/5 stars.  The other book I’m reading is…

Confessor by Terry Goodkind (No.12 in the Sword of Truth series) –  I read another of his – Chainfire, which I couldn’t put down and just had to find out more.  These two books I give 5/5 stars and they are probably why I didn’t enjoy the book group book because it took me away from what I wanted to read!

The Parisian Seamstress by Natasha Lester – Everything I look for in an escapist novel – set in Paris (oh and in New York), period drama (WWII), characters with life-changing and scandalous secrets, family drama where the secrets are uncovered generations later while the stories are inter-woven….Main character is Estella Bissette, a seamstress that flees Paris falling to the Germans. Have I got you hooked yet?  Page turning drama with wonderful relatable characters.  Was sad to finish it as I don’t get to hang out with my friends every night anymore.  4/5 stars


H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker – Imagine a perfect world where everything is known, where everything is open, where there can be no doubt, no hatred, no poverty, no greed. Imagine a System which both nurtures and protects. A Community which nourishes and sustains. An infinite world. A world without sickness, without death. A world without God. A world without fear. Could you…might you be happy there? Well, you can guess that the protagonist, Mira A, isn’t very happy. Endless tinkering with her brain gets her nowhere, and then there is the mystery of Mira B. This is a very unconventional novel, with blank pages, endlessly repeated words and coloured text, all used to represent Mira A’s state of mind. I would have to say I found it more interesting than compelling. 3.5/5 stars

Descender vol 1 by Jeff Mires – interesting story, but I don’t love the art. One to continue with. 3/5 stars

The Vegetarian by Han Kang – not sure about a rating yet, but hoping the vegetarian in question doesn’t come to the same fate as the one in Roald Dahl’s short story Pig.

Cicada by Shaun Tan – Brief but beautiful.  Goes from being sad to happy to funny in its few short pages, and, as usual, is beautifully illustrated. 5/5 stars

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again


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