Book Reviews and Recommendations
Some of our members' favourite reads
We're very excited to announce the winners of this year’s eBook Short Story Competition, which for the first time features a children’s category for ages 5-11.
The winner in the adult category is Hannah Blanton’s The Gingerbread Man, a modern day fairy tale that’s all sweetness on the surface but things may not be as they seem. A highly original and clever take on some familiar stories.
The young adult winner is Meredith Corley for Nightmares. “Everyone knows that horror films have nothing to do with real life. Don’t we?” A genuinely spine-chilling tale which starts with a bored teenager and ends with……!
The winner in the inaugural children’s competition is Marvellous Max and The Choccy Whoccy Woof Bar by Erin Ellis, a heart-warming and magical tale – based on a real-life dog – from a very talented young writer.
All the stories are on the Overdrive platform and Libby app for all to borrow. Each title is available to listen to in eAudio (including a wonderful narration of her own story by Erin) as well as on traditional eBook.
I can thoroughly recommend Hamnet by Maggie O`Farrell. It was recommended by Waterstones. It is based around the historical note that in the 1580`s a couple living in Henley Street, Stratford, had three children: Susanna, then Hamnet and Judith, who were twins. The boy Hamnet, died in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the father wrote a play called Hamlet.
This book kept me riveted. a real page turner, I couldn`t put it down. Three other friends also read Hamnet, and loved it. It is extremely well written, and Maggie O`Farrell keeps the tension going throughout.
A new book has arrived at the library to celebrate local history month - Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids – a Journey through the English ritual year
Elizabeth Strout - Olive Kitteridge and Olive Again
Richard Osman - The Thursday murder club
Stephen Fry's Mythos is also a good non-fiction read
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The story is about families and the problems that life brings with it. It’s the story of Kate and Peter, neighbours who have known each other since childhood. But the families have a past, a friendship turned sour where one night changed it all. Spanning four decades, the characters were well developed, and were realistic in their decisions and attitudes. No character remained unscathed and they developed throughout the book. It is a story of family relationships, friendships and how tragedy and illness can have such far-reaching effects. Even though the writing occasionally falters, the understanding never does. A really good read.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is a truly beautifully written, thought-provoking novel set in the future. The story is written from the perspective of Klara, an 'Artificial Friend' as she gradually makes sense of the world and the people around.
Once I started to read , I rarely put it down.
(Kazuo Ishiguro also wrote The remains of the Day & Never Let Me Go.)
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
This is a beautifully written book. It really evokes a sense of the Orkney landscape and weather with an interesting juxtaposition to the author's inner turmoil. It is touching, raw and honest. The author touches on the vulnerability in all of us and makes you realise the fragility of the human condition and the power that nature can give to restore and heal. I loved the swings in contrast from city girl addiction to the freshness and joy of the Orkneys. Amy Liptrot writes beautifully but also with real honesty about her battle with alcohol and her struggle to build a new life without it. Definitely recommend.
American Marriage by Tayari Jones
An American Marriage follows newly married Roy and Celestial when Roy is wrongly convicted of a crime. The book follows the characters over the course of his prison sentence and what unfolds when he is released. I really enjoyed the book, mainly because of the writing style which was conversational but sparse - that is nothing in there that wasn't absolutely required, also some of the descriptions were so original and good I had to read them over again. The story was well-told and very engaging throughout. Highly recommended.
We have especially enjoyed:
Lost for words by Stephanie Butland - a quirky read featuring an unlikely/unique "heroine" but beautifully written and a very clever plot which keeps all guesses open until very nearly the last page - a real page-turner;
The Yorkshire shepherdess - the autobiography of a really extraordinary woman who fits no norms of behaviour, could have been a disastrous life but turns up trumps;
Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang - a very solid read but an amazing biography of an extraordinary woman and gives a good insight into the Chinese nation and the reasons for its current behaviour.