What Library Staff are Reading – November

Monk in White, Seated, Reading – Corot

Wake in fright by Kenneth Cook  – It was for my book group.  I found it predictable, a ‘coming of age’ story, but I have to say the writing is good.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I’ve also listened to a number of M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin which are entertaining but of no great literary merit.  If you want a light hearted read these are for you.

Complicit by Nikki French, eAudiobook on RB digital (also available in AF – print format) – crime novel that keeps you guessing not only about who did it, but what exactly happened in the first place. The chapters alternate between “Before” and “After” a death, giving different perspectives on what may have happened and why. The narrator on the eAudiobook is a little irritating – all the male characters sounded quite similar to me (and none particularly believable as men) – but, setting aside that minor irritation, I enjoyed listening. 3/5 stars

The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater (audio book) – Loved it, very interesting. Set in Estonia (1941) during Stalin’s rule. I don’t know how those people survived the brutality of Russians and Germans at that time was amazing I felt warm and safe listening to it in comfort. 5/5 stars

Sitting down to watch a film which is based on a loved book is usually a perilous endeavour. Will the film be as good as the book? Will the film ruin the book? Will the characters look and sound as you expect? Can a novel turned film ever be both a loved book and a loved film? And if you really love a film, will you necessarily love the book on which it is based?

For me, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society seems to be that rare beast that succeeds both as loved book and loved film. If you haven’t read Mary Ann Schaffer’s novel, then do so immediately … and if you loved the book but are wary of the film, take courage and watch the dvd. With the story switching between German-occupied Guernsey and post-WWII Guernsey, and with a cast of endearing characters, both the film and book are charming and engaging. 5/5 stars for both book and film.

The Snowman with Michael Fassbender (DVD), from the book by Jo Nesbo – love the Scandi stories. Again felt safe within my own walls watching this so many twists in the story but totally enjoyable and will keep you guessing until the end.  4/5 stars

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish – it’s a detailed and fascinating story of a young woman scribe in the Jewish community in England around the time of the Plague (1660’s) intertwined with the story of an academic in London towards the end of her career in the 2000’s. It is a very rich portrait of these women, their lives, and loves. The sense of place in the London of the 1600’s is very lush and tangible. 3/5 stars

The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood –  is a return to the bread baking and detecting life of Corinna Chapman, set in modern day Melbourne. You get a great sense of the time and place and characters in the same way as her Phrynne Fisher novels are very evocative of 1920’s Melbourne, and Corinna is a great character. A good quality fun and light read. 3/5 stars

The Golden Age by Joan London – her third novel. I picked this up accidentally and was well rewarded. London is a contemporary Western Australian writer, and again I was struck by how well she creates a rich picture of Perth in the 1950’s in this novel. (Clearly I like a writer who can immerse me in the world she is creating in.) The story revolves around two young people recovering in a polio hospital for children. The hospital is based on a real place in Perth that was called The Golden Age! The novel is much more than just that though, encompassing issues of refugees and belonging, war, love and relationships, and creativity. 4/5 stars

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith – excellent and will keep you guessing and very hard to put down. 5/5 stars

The Break by Marian Keyes – Oh boy …. Does this book open a whole can of worms with regards to relationships.  I haven’t finished it yet but am loving the characters and the thought-provoking idea of having a mid-marriage “gap year” (although in the book it is only 6 months). 4/5 stars

For more information https://www.mariankeyes.com/books/the-break/

Red dog  by Louis de Bernieres – a lovely (except for the sad ending – spoiler alert!), quick, easy read.  3¾ out of 5 stars

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. I give it  4/5 stars.

I also (tried to) read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and gave up after forcing myself to persist for 100 pages. I’d give it ½/5 stars.

The King’s witch by Tracy Borman – I was attracted to this because it is about a woman accused of being a witch in the reign of James VI of Scotland once he has travelled down to London to become James I of England.  The heroine, Frances Gorges, is based on a real character whose mother was a close friend of Queen Elizabeth I.  Frances is taught about herbs and healing as a girl and this brings her into conflict with the king when she comes to court as lady in waiting to his daughter, Princess Elizabeth.  James VI & I famously wrote a book against witches and instigated witch hunts in Scotland and England. The time is 1605 and the gunpowder plot is underway and Frances gets herself caught up with one of the conspirators.  Tracy Borman is an excellent historian turned novelist so one can be fairly confident of historical accuracy but the romance aspect of this book didn’t appeal to me and I’m giving it 3/5 stars.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – it was hard to read this without the David Suchet version playing in my head (I am not a fan of the more recent version with Johnny Depp et al).  I knew the ending but the journey was still fun.  I always miss all the clues Agatha Christie gives along the way, but enjoy her novels as a light, easy break from the everyday. 3½/5 stars

In a house of lies by Ian Rankin – the latest in the long-running Rebus series.  Rebus has been retired for some time now. He spent a while in the cold case team but has retired for good (or has he).  While much older, out of breath and dragging a dog about, Rebus isn’t sitting by the fireside to enjoy a quiet retirement. He just can’t keep out of Siobahns case, where he is joined by his old nemesis, Malcolm Fox.  A taut, twisting crime novel as always from Rankin – 4/5 stars

Edward’s Menagerie Dogs by Kerry Lord – 50 canine crochet patterns, beautifully illustrated. Using a basic pattern crocheters can make three different sizes of 50 different breeds of dog.  Patterns are for both beginners with patterns suitable for those coming to crochet for the first time, and some for advanced crocheters and which follow on from the beginners patterns. Find out more by Googling #edsdogs and/or #edsanimals.  I am going to be dropping some very broad hints for my family for my Christmas. 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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