The Libraries NI Book Blog
March 24
Blood Family by Anne Fine

Blood Family

Does our past ever leave us? Are we allowed a second chance in life? In this book we learn that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a past full of happy memories. Edward was kept inside for seven years until the day a nosey neighbour saves him. I would only reccommend this book to more mature readers as there are many serious topics in this book which I feel would not be appropriate for a younger audience and also wouldn't be appreciated. I read this book in 2 days as I found it impossible to put down! The constant changing point of view was engaging and this book was full of drama and suspense. All the way through I was hoping the ending would go in one direction and I was completely shocked by the end. I also found this book heart-warming as it shows clear unconditional love and understanding from family members whether they are blood related to you or not. I love Anne Fine books and this book is now another one of my collection.

Submitted by Sophie

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March 24
Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

holding up the universe

Addictive! Heart-wrenching! Totally adorable! This book is now one of my all time favourites. It breaks all the usual stereotypes and throws caution to the wind. This is the first book I have read which involves the issue of face blindness which I didn't even know much about. Above average weight girl plus the coolest guy in school doesn't normally spell love, but in this case it does. This book teaches self-confidence and also respect for others. I love books that have the point of views changing and every chapter switched between Jack and Libby. I highly recommend this book to all readers both male and female.

Submitted by Sophie

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March 21
The Loney by Andrew Hurley

the loney

This is an excellent suspense thriller with an atmosphere of mystery throughout. Hurley has created a novel where the reader is constantly nervous, wondering with dread and excitement at what will happen next. For his first novel, Hurley clearly has an eye for suspense and mystery.

The setting is almost like a pressure cooker left unattended, we are waiting for something to happen, something to explode. With somewhat disturbing religious undertones throughout, sometimes we are led to wonder who the real villains are. 

We are taken through the story through the flashbacks off a seemingly disturbed narrator, who is recalling specific points in his childhood, a childhood, which it seems, he cannot shake the memory of.

Although set in the English northwest, it could almost be set in Ireland, with the religious undertones and the backgrounds of the characters. This wild and lonely setting aids in cutting off the characters from civilised society, and cuts the reader off from salvation from the growing tension and creepy goings on.  

The book is filled with detail and is very re readable, and makes the ending no less disturbing. It is haunting and difficult to forget.

Throughout the novel, we and the characters are torn. Between the wilderness of the Loney, and the civilised world. Between traditional faith and the superstitious goings on. Between what we are told and the reality of what has happened.

The many characters in this novel work to leave an individual impression on us, whether it be disgust, sympathy or complete distrust. Some characters are explored more thoroughly than others, but each provides more detail to a brimming and disturbing story. 

An excellent debut novel, it will be exciting to see what Hurley comes up with next.

Submitted by Rachel

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March 21
The Revenant by Michael Punke

the revenant

This book details the life of Hugh Glass and his desire for revenge. After an interesting and dangerous life, Glass finds himself in the employ of a fur trapping company under Captain Andrew Henry. 

We are thrown in the deep end early in the novel, with Glass almost losing his life at the brutal attack by a grizzly bear. The descriptions Punke produces of his wounds are gut wrenching. His throat has been slashed, his scalp is hanging loose from his skull and there are deep cuts to his back. How he survives this is incredible, and the gradual healing and painful reopening of his wounds are truly horrific. 

Despite this however, he does survive and the Captain will not leave him behind until difficult terrain makes impossible to carry such delicate cargo. 

It is decided that two men from the company will stay behind with Glass until he dies, then bury him and return to the group. In this way the Captain hopes to give Glass a decent burial. Two men choose to stay behind. However, one of them clearly has his own agenda, while the other is young and easily bullied. We fear for Glass’s safety at this point, just as much as when he was mauled. 

After a few days, hostile Indians are sighted and the two men leave Glass alone, and still alive. They rob him of almost all his equipment which could help him survive. This scene stands out against all others within the book. Glass is conscious of what is happening and a deep rage begins to bubble inside him, we root for him to get his revenge. 

Glass’s struggles and arduous journey are truly captivating and it is easy to see why this book was made into a film. The gripping story of retribution against all odds is spellbinding. 

Submitted by Rachel

Available in book and eBook format

Reserve or download it here​

March 20
Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

Look who's back.jpg

When Adolf Hitler awakens on a waste patch of ground in modern day Germany, he is bewildered by his surroundings. Where is his bunker? The thunder of artillery fire? Eva? Upon further investigation of the area, he finds a newspaper kiosk and comes to the realisation that, somehow, he has travelled through time to 2011. And things have certainly changed a lot since he was Führer.

After being mistaken as a comedy impersonator who never breaks character, Hitler finds himself thrust into the media's spotlight, eventually being given a platform in the form of his very own show. With his newfound foothold in present-day society, he begins to gain a political following again.

It was intriguing to read a book from the perspective of such a villainous protagonist. The author successfully manages to push the boundaries on a taboo subject respectfully and in a way that will make you laugh out loud many a time. This novel was originally published in German, but due to rapid globalisation, it can resonate with audiences in much of the Western world, meaning that its humour and significance wasn't dulled any during its translation into English. Admittedly, I'm not a history buff so I felt quite a few references were lost on me, but there is a handy guide at the back of the book with brief descriptions of many of the relevant historical details.

Look Who’s Back is not your average “fish out of water” trope. It is brilliant, hilarious, and very clever, but also a stark, sobering warning about the idolisation of celebrities and the thin line between entertainment and politics that's more relevant now than ever. Controversial? Perhaps. Although one might argue that the most thought-provoking books usually are.

Submitted by Natasha

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March 20
Snugville Street by Angeline King; The Traveller's Guide to Love by Helen Nicholl; The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen

snugville streetthe traveller's guide to love.the lonely life of biddy weir
We recently have a visit to our library by the above three authors, reading all three books at our March Reading Group. Three very different books, with different themes and writing styles.  It was very interesting to hear each author read exerts from their books, and tell us how they had come to write them, how their journey was and were they got their inspiration from.

‘Snugville Street’ by Angeline King, is set in a street off the Shankill Road in a post conflict time in Northern Ireland.  A French student comes to stay in an exchange visit with Hannah and her family, who are dealing with their own problems as a result of the troubles.  The book is interwoven with lots of Belfast humour, an enjoyable read.

Helen Nicholl’s book ‘A Travellers Guide to Love’.  Is a light hearted tale of falling in love while exploring historic sites around Co Down.  A lovely little easy to read book.

‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’ by Lesley Allen.  Poor Biddy Weir she certainly does led a lonely life.  However she is happy in her own life, but of course there is somebody out there who wants to bully her.  Rated very highly by all who read this book, we follow Biddy on her journey hoping for a happy ending, and of course there is a twist.  

Three local authors who are all well worth the read.

Submitted by Larne Reading Group

Available in book format.

Reserve Snugville Street here
The Traveller's Guide to Love here  
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir here​


March 20
Make Me by Lee Child

make me

Make Me is the twentieth book in the Jack Reacher’s series, and to me it one of the weakest stories.

Reacher is ex-Military Police but is now a nomad who goes from town to town just for his own amusement, but wherever he goes trouble inevitably follows him.

In Make Me, Reacher by way of train finds himself in Mother’s Rest.  He got off the train at that particular stop because he was interested in the name of the town – why would a town be called Mother’s Rest - Reacher wanted to know the story behind the town. He was curious and as we all know curiosity can get us into trouble

Reacher’s visit to Mother’s Rest sees him bumping into a private detective who is investigating the disappearance of another private detective.

The story sees them going to different places in America in order to discover the truth – the truth of the detectives disappearance and to find out what is actually happening in Mother’s Rest.  And like other Reacher novels, a lot of violence happens in order to get to the truth. A truth which doesn’t want to be found out. 

For me, Make Me is not a strong story, it did not have me hooked as other Reacher novels did. However, I will continue to read the Reacher novels as the man is captivating and I do want to know what happens next in his life.

Submitted by Jo Anne

Available as a book, spoken word CD & eBook

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March 20
Fallen by Lia Mills


Fallen is an historical novel set in Dublin in 1916 amidst the turbulent and dramatic events of the First World War and the Easter Rising. These historical events are explored and described vividly in the novel as it cleverly intertwines historical fact with fictional narrative throughout to illustrate how a young woman finds life and independence amid a backdrop of death, destruction and grief. 

In spring 1915, Katie Crilly gets the news she has been dreading, her beloved twin brother, Liam, has been killed on the Western Front. A year later, her home city of Dublin is suddenly overtaken by violence and Katie finds herself caught up in the ensuing disorder. Taking refuge in the home of a friend, she meets Hubie Wilson, a friend of Liam’s from the Front who has returned home broken and scarred by what he has experienced during the war. This is the start of a momentous encounter between these two young people who are both wounded in their own way and both trying to imagine a new life that is not governed by despair, loneliness and sorrow.

I enjoyed this book immensely and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. It is beautifully written, the language in many ways is both poetic and lyrical, the characters are well-rounded and very believable. For me, most importantly, the descriptive talent of the writer Lia Mills really brings history to life. To see how historical events can shape and affect ordinary people’s lives forever gave me a fresh perspective on topics that I had only previously learned about in school.

Submitted by Shelley

Available as a book and eBook

Reserve or download it here ​

March 20
Earth One: Volume 2 by J. Michael Straczynski

earth one

The Superman: Earth One tales are written by J. Michael Straczynski who will be a name familiar to television and sci-fi fans as the creator of Jeremiah, Babylon 5 and most recently, co-creator of Sense8 on Netflix. His work in comics has also seen him win the Eisner Award and Inkpot Award for his contributions. There is therefore no doubting the pedigree of the man behind the writing. 

The artwork on the first two volumes was handled by American artist Shane Davis. The artwork on show is what initially drew me to the series in the first place. Davis’ soft lines and stunning imagery are extraordinary and really pull you into the story as if it was unfolding in front of your eyes. Indeed, the sequence of Clark pulling on the blue suit for the first time in Vol. 1 is beautifully choreographed by both Davis and JMS. A special mention also goes to Barbara Ciardo whose colouring is absolutely wonderful. She adds a real depth and eye-catching palette to Davis’ artwork that just makes it all the more vivid. Sandra Hope on inking duties gives Davis’ pencils a real sense of polish. The end result from all these gifted people is that we are given a take on one of the most iconic characters in literature in a way that remains loyal to the facets that we have come to love but also shakes things up with a new take that completely refreshes our thoughts on who Superman is. For those who favour their nostalgia, there are also subtle references and nods to the characters past that ardent fans will appreciate. 

There is however one problem. Unfortunately, at present, the first volume in this series is unavailable from Libraries NI. I would encourage readers though to get their hands on a copy somehow to appreciate this completely new and fresh take on this iconic characters origin. It really is a great story at its core about one man trying to find his place in the world and make sense of what it is his life is meant to stand for. That being said, if you cannot get a copy do not worry and do not deny yourself the opportunity to read the remaining two volumes. While there are links present throughout that refer to earlier events, each story is more or less a standalone tale and so it is not completely necessary to have read Volume One to read the rest. For those interested, the next section will briefly summarise the events of that book should you want to know before reading Volumes Two and Three.

In Volume One, we have a Clark Kent struggling to find his place in the world. It really drives home the idea that he is among us but not one of us. This is a Clark that has no idea of who he is or what he is supposed to do, he just finally wants to belong. This leads him to make the move to Metropolis to find a job and live a life like anyone else, while fulfilling his promise to support his mother back home. What we end up with is a much more grounded and relatable Superman. He is someone who has literally been alienated his whole life and now just wants to fit in and be normal; despite his parents repeated assertions he is meant for something better than merely blending in. This gives us a more reluctant hero version of Superman who is not spurred into action until his new world is threatened by the same alien race, the Dherons, that assassinated his home world. Their leader, Tyrell, reveals to Clark that his race and the Kryptonians were planetary neighbours and enemies and they were responsible for his planets destruction. Fuelled by the quest to avenge his people and history repeating itself on his adopted home, Clark has to embrace his true destiny and come out of the shadows and into the light as…Superman! 

Volume 2 presents us with a man who previously had no idea of his real identity, but now has to try and balance two lives. Clark is trying to follow up his lead story at the Planet with another to keep his job. While he is busy with this juggling act, unbeknownst to him, a suspicious Lois Lane is unconvinced the seemingly mild-mannered Kent is all he portrays himself to be. So while Clark is dealing with moving into his new apartment, and the attentions of unconventional love interest, Lisa Lasalle, Lois is digging into the his past to see where exactly he came from. 

While on the Superman side of things our hero is still struggling to strike the right balance between what he can do and what he should do. All Superman wants to do is help people everywhere, regardless of race, religion or affiliation; yet the world seems reluctant to allow him to do so. We have analysts arguing over his right to enter areas without consent and despots eager to stop him over throwing their regimes. If this seems a jaded and clinical view of the world, that notion is further enhanced by the fact his so-called ‘home’ government in the US is looking at ways to neutralise him should he become a threat. 

All this is running concurrently with events taking place elsewhere in the country where a serial killer called Raymond Jensen has inadvertently been exposed to high-energy neutrinos, resulting in him becoming the creature known as Parasite. Parasite is a creature that feeds on power and it isn’t long before his hunger turns his attention to the most powerful being on the planet; setting him on a collision course with Superman. During one of their battles, Parasite is able to siphon of all of Superman’s powers, leaving him no more powerful than any other mere mortal. This gives Clark a real insight into what it means to be human, the fragility of life and its true value.

This is one of several key themes that run throughout this book. The idea of being an outsider and how that conditions our lives in the future or indeed how we actually respond to this isolation, positively or negatively. It also looks at how we judge people and react to them on our perceptions, how we decide who we help, how we help them and when we help them. There are many different strands tackled but JMS is able to weave them all into one fantastic story backed up by a colourful supporting crew of artists and collaborators that illustrate it beautifully.

Submitted by Don

Available as a book

Reserve a copy here

March 20
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

his bloody project

Shortlisted for the 2016 Booker Prize was a Scottish novelist I’d never heard of.  This is the second novel from this prize winning author and it is superb.  The novel is set in a remote part of the North of Scotland in 1869.  Culduie is a small crofting community and the remnants of clan antagonism still linger.  Three brutal murders have taken place and 17 year old Roderick Macrae , the son of a crofter has confessed to those killings and is in prison awaiting his sentence.  Whilst in prison he tells us his story and we are given other ‘historical documents’ to supplement his case.  In a way we are like the jury in the book.

Roderick Macrae’s father was a dour repressive man whose wife’s death left the family devastated and at the mercy of his violent temper.   In the tiny village even amidst the grinding poverty there are social levels and Roderick’s family are the lowest and fall victim to the local bully.  In this novel  we are exposed to the claustrophobia and savagery of Highland life when poor crofters are at the mercy of the constable and the laird.

His Bloody Project is a well written, gritty historical thriller which kept me spellbound until the last pages.

Submitted by Sharon

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Reserve a copy here​

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