Book Reviews and Recommendations
Some of our members' favourite reads and new books in the library
Elizabeth Strout - Olive Kitteridge and Olive Again
Richard Osman - The Thursday murder club
Stephen Fry's Mythos is also a good non-fiction read
Some new books recently purchased by FOGL for Ukrainian families settled in the village
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.)
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Unsettled Ground is Claire Fuller’s latest novel and akin to Bitter Orange it touches on themes of parental secrets, deep-seated lies and the family dynamic and explores what unfolds when a dependent brother and sister face unacknowledged family trauma and financial straits after their mother dies. This is a story of resilience and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized but remarkable people take centre stage. It's compelling, compulsive and thoroughly evocative with a refreshingly original plot and beautiful prose. Alongside the psychological relationships aspect of Unsettled Ground, there is a dark wryness and a tense thriller too.
Perfectly plotted, and beautifully written with brilliant characterisation, Unsettled Ground is Claire Fuller crafting the narrative at her most sublime. I thought it was a wonderful book.
Hungry by Grace Dent
This brought back so many memories. How food has changed over the years for the better and how it can shape our emotions. Grace's book made me laugh and cry but showed us a woman trying and succeeding to juggle life with her family at the heart of it.
This story is not only about Grace's rise to fame. There are many hilarious sections as she recollects growing up, a long way from the London foodie scene as well as many tender moments as Grace heads back to her childhood home to care for her parents as they become ill. A satisfying read and a really good book.
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.
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.
New books in the library bought by FOGL
Adamson,Jean First sleepover
Allinson,Kate Pinch of nom - everyday light: all under 400 calories
Amstutz,Lisa J. Chinese New Year
Baddiel,David Birthday boy
Baddiel,David The person controller: press A+B+UP+DOWN to unlock
Beaumont,Claire The complete bike owner's manual
Beckinsale,James The triathlon training book
Blyton,Enid Five are together again
Blyton,Enid Five go adventuring again
Blyton,Enid Five on a treasure island
Burnet,Graeme Mac His bloody project: a novel
Caldesi,Katie The diabetes weight-loss cookbook: a life-changing diet
Cha,Steph Your house will pay
Cleverly,Sophie The dance in the dark
Cottrell Boyce,Frank Millions: the not-so-great train robbery
Dahl,Roald Charlie and the chocolate factory
Elder,Charlie The everyday guide to British birds:
Henry,Lenny Who am I, again?
Holzwarth,Werner The story of the little mole who knew it was none of his business
Honigsbaum,Mark The pandemic century: a history of global contagion from the Spanish flu to Covid-19
Horowitz,Anthony Never say die
Hudson,Jack Swim wild: dive into the natural world and discover
Krastev,Ivan The light that failed: a reckoning
Llewellyn-Waters,Kate The immunity cookbook: how to strengthen your immune system and boost long-term health, with 100 easy recipes
Obama,Barack A promised land
O'Flynn,Catherine What was lost
Pang,Hannah We're going on a bear hunt: my adventure field guide
Pope,Roxy One pot vegan: 80 quick, easy recipes, using only one dish
Robinson,Michelle The world made a rainbow
Rooney,Anne You wouldn't want to be in a virus pandemic!: a crisis you'd rather not live through
Ross,Tony I don't want to wash my hands!
Rowling,J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling,J.K. Harry Potter and the half-blood prince
Sedaris,David The best of me
Shepherd,Andy The boy who flew with dragons
Thomas,Heather The tofu cookbook
Williams,Michael On the slow train
Letters from lockdown: a selection of Covid Chronicles from BBC Radio 4's PM programme
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.
New books bought by FOGL since Christmas:
Adamson,Jean Halloween party
Adamson,Jean Topsy and Tim go on holiday
Allan,Alex The calm book
Berry,Mary Simple comforts
Borman,Tracy The devil's slave
Bourne,Stephen Under fire: black Britain in wartime 1939-45
Broom,Sarah M. The yellow house
Butterfield,Moira The secret life of trees
Cleverly,Sophie The lights under the lake
Corbin,Pam Pam the jam: the book of preserves
Dahl,Roald James and the giant peach
Don,Monty My garden world: the natural year
Down,Jim Life support: diary of an ICU doctor on the frontline of the COVID crisis
Eckford,Jennifer Baby [symbol of a heart] calm: an ABC of mindfulness
Farrington,Karen The Repair Shop: tales from the workshop of dreams
Flynn,David The Happy Pear: essential tips and techniques for delicious plant-based cooking
Goodall,Chris What we need to do now: for a zero carbon society
Gordon,Bryony No such thing as normal
Green,Rosie How to heal a broken heart: from rock bottom to reinvention (via ugly crying on the bathroom floor)
Griffiths,Andy The 91-storey treehouse
Haig,Matt The comfort book
Hamer,Marc Seed to dust: a gardener's story
Hopgood,Tim My big book of outdoors
Howard,Catherine The Nothing Man
Hussain,Sairish The family tree
Kay,Adam Twas the nightshift before Christmas
Lawson,Nigella Cook, eat, repeat: ingredients, recipes and stories
Lefteri,Christy The beekeeper of Aleppo
Mann,Steve Easy peasy awesome pawsome dog training for kids
Mantel,Hilary Bring up the bodies
Matthews,Helen The Chilterns & the Thames Valley: local, characterful guides to Britain's special places
McIntosh,Tor Slow adventures: unhurriedly exploring Britain's wild places
Mount,Harry How England made the English: from why we drive on the left to why we don't talk to our neighbours
Myers,Dave The Hairy Bikers' veggie feasts
Owen,Amanda Adventures of the Yorkshire shepherdess
Pilkey,Dav Dog Man and cat kid
Rowling,J.K. Harry Potter and the goblet of fire
Schuh,Mari C. Trains
Sethi,Anita I belong here: a journey along the backbone of Britain
Stirling,Sarah Rewild your life: 52 ways to reconnect with nature
Strout,Elizabeth Olive, again
Thorogood,Robert A meditation on murder
Tindall,Gillian The pulse glass and the beat of other hearts
Welsh,Louise Tamburlaine must die
Wicks,Joe Joe's family food: 100 delicious, easy recipes to enjoy together
Williams,Michael On the slow train again
Winn,Raynor The wild silence
Woolmer,Annabel The tickle fingers kids' cookbook: hands-on fun in the kitchen for 4-7s
How to garden
Wake up, Thomas!: a slide and play book
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.
The Survivors by Jane Harper
This is an easy to read and enjoyable book. Kieran and Mia return to the beach town they grew up in to visit Kieran's parents, who are preparing to move away due to his father's increasingly worsening dementia. Their return isn't welcomed by everyone as Kieran left town under a cloud several years earlier and some people still hold him responsible for the tragic events that took place It also coincides with a murder and the resulting investigation brings up secrets that have been hidden since that time twelve years ago. I loved the book and didn’t guess the guilty party. I have read and enjoyed every book that Jane Harper has written and this one was no exception. I felt like I was in Tasmania and was invested in the outcome for the Start.
I was immediately drawn to The Lamplighters from the synopsis, especially given that the story is inspired by real events - the unsolved disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from the Flannan Isles lighthouse in 1990. Revealed over two timelines, the plot follows the ill-fated shift of three lighthouse keepers stationed at the Maiden Light Tower. The Lamplighters was an easy book to read; a genuine pleasure. The writing glides effortlessly from one distinctive voice to another, from the mundane to the poignant. A heady mix of love and loss, drama and mystery and the quirks of human nature, The Lamplighters is a brilliant mystery, shining a light on a profession that no longer exists but still speaks to the imagination.
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.
Beautiful World where are you
by Sally Rooney
I enjoyed this book less than Normal People or Conversation with Friends. Sally Rooney still writes beautifully but the basic premise seemed unlikely. In particular, the relationship between Alice, the best-selling international writer and the warehouse packer, Felix seemed implausible from the beginning. Ultimately, the book was a disappointment because neither of the two women were likeable characters and therefore it was difficult for the reader to invest in them. Only Simon seemed to be a person of integrity and substance. Sally Rooney is undoubtedly a fine and talented writer and I devoured her previous two books but I felt I was wading through treacle during some parts of this novel.