Book Reviews and Recommendations
Some of our members' favourite reads and new books in the library

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.

New books in the library  bought by FOGL

AUTHOR                          TITLE

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 hilarious book mode

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 to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes

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

Dickmann,Nancy           Easter

Dickmann,Nancy           Hanukkah

Elder,Charlie                  The everyday guide to British birds: identify our common species and learn more about their lives

Fry,Stephen                   Mythos

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 your inner adventurer

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

Neal,Christophe         Everyone...

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

Recommendations:

Elizabeth Strout - Olive Kitteridge and Olive Again

 

Richard Osman - The Thursday murder club

 

Stephen Fry's Mythos is also a good non-fiction 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.)

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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.

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 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.

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.

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.