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August 13
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

the road
 

Stories which are set in futuristic worlds do not usually appeal to me, they are great to read if you are someone who likes science fiction novels that offer fantasy, escapism and adventure. I would certainly say that Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road contains these elements but in a way quite different to usual futuristic novels. This is because the story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, one which a father and son have to travel through on a journey of survival. 

The landscape of this world is barren and the reader is not given much information about what has brought about this apocalypse, but I think that this sense of the unknown created a really eerie atmosphere that made you want to keep reading on as you wondered what possible danger lay ahead for this father and son. Without giving too much away, there are moments of action where the characters have to fight to stay alive, and I think that there was a good balance between these exciting scenes and more emotional moments where the reader is given an insight into the bond that the father and son share.

What I found most engaging about this novel was this family relationship because among all the futuristic events of the story, these characters and their difficult feelings towards one another made the novel feel real. I especially liked the moments when the father reflected on his family’s past before the apocalypse, it made me really sympathise with these characters and want them to have a happy ending!

I would recommend this novel because it paints a complicated picture of the bond between parent and child in the most extreme circumstances and it makes you think about what really matters when all you have left is the will to survive.

Submitted by Michelle

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August 13
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo
 

Lincoln in the Bardo, which was awarded the 2017 Man Booker prize, is grounded in fact. President Lincoln was struggling to gain the upper hand against the secessionist Confederate States during the early years of the American Civil War when, in February 1862, his son Willie died from typhoid. Understandably, this death has a more profound effect on the President than the slaughter of thousands and newspapers at the time reported that a grief-stricken Lincoln visited the crypt several times to hold his dead son’s body. 

Probably the novel is most notable for the innovative technique used by George Saunders in that the story is interspersed with quotes from historical texts and the academic convention of citing the source is used. When there are differing opinions, Saunders provides multiple sources to make it clear that readers should question everything – at one extreme even the colour of Lincoln’s eyes appears to have been a matter of dispute. 

The story itself is related in a way more akin to drama than prose because the action is described by the dead who are trapped in the bardo - an intermediate space between life and rebirth in Tibetan tradition. Events are described by a variety of characters who represent the range of voices in American society before and during the Civil War. For example, there are slaves, slave owners, prostitutes, rapists and victims of rape. 

Lincoln in the Bardo is recommended because it is so different from anything most of us will have read previously and it is always interesting to see if we agree with the decision of the Man Booker judges. 

Submitted by David

Available as a book or eBook

Reserve it here or download it here


August 13
An English Country Manner by Rory Clark

An English Country Manner
 

Written in a similar style to You Did What, My Lord? Embarking on married life at a time when farming is not altogether profitable the author takes another job as estate manager to a wealthy aristocrat who is a widower.  The sort that is able to employ butlers and even footmen in an oversized mansion but is not technologically astute and prefers to drive an old style banger!  The son is more at home as a member of staff in the rarefied atmosphere of one of the most prestigious universities in the land. Even he in his reclusive way lands a few surprises. Light hearted reading guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Submitted by Sheila

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August 13
You've Done What, My Lord? by Rory Clark

You've Done What My Lord
 

Full of humour about the goings on in a rural setting of a big estate. Semi – autobiographical about being a deputy manager on the estate for the aristocracy and their tenants. Royal connections exist although the narrative has more to do with the lives of ordinary folk living and working on it. He expands too quite eloquently on the expensive tastes and whims of those who marry into this opulent family. The eccentricities and capers of the owners are not without their funny side.

Submitted by Sheila

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August 13
The Spy's Daughter by Adam Brookes

The Spy's Daughter
 

Meet Pearl Tao: an American girl with a lethal secret.

Pearl longs for the life of a normal American teenager: summers at the pool, friends, backyard barbecues in the Washington DC suburbs. But she is different.

Her gift for mathematics means overprotective parents and college sponsorship from a secretive technology corporation. And now, aged nineteen, she is beginning to understand what her parents intend for her. The terrifying role she is to play.

Her only hope of escape lies with two sidelined and discredited spies: Trish Patterson and Philip Mangan. Finding out the truth about Pearl will be the biggest mission they'll ever undertake.

The Spy’s Daughter concludes the exciting international spy trilogy from Adam Brookes. It follows on from Night Heron and Spy Games.

Submitted by Pete

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August 02
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama

seventeen
 

Seventeen may only be the second of Hideo Yokoyama’s books to be translated into English but already new audiences are appreciating the diversity of this talented Japanese author. The novel is semi-autobiographical because it provides a fictionalised account of Yokoyama’s time as an investigative reporter in the area where there was the largest loss of life due to a single plane crash. Yokoyama became disillusioned with the indecent haste that a tragedy on this scale could disappear from public consciousness which led him to quit his job and concentrate on writing stories which ‘stand the test of time’.


In Seventeen, the journalist who heads up the Crash Desk for the North Kanto Times is called Yuuki. The plane crash means Yuuki cannot make his planned climb of the challenging Tsuitate rock face and, unknown to him, neither does his climbing partner Anzai who has suffered a brain haemorrhage. Yokoyama uses the storylines about the crash and Anzai’s descent into a vegetative state to highlight the petty-minded selfishness that is prevalent in so many office environments. Even the scale of the plane crash does not prevent individuals from pursuing their own agendas. The novel’s title refers to the number of years that elapse before Yuuki eventually climbs the Tsuitate rock face, this time with Anzai’s son. During the ascent, Yuuki makes sense of his own life and understands what his now deceased friend had been trying to tell him before their lives had been changed by the plane crash and illness.


Seventeen is recommended as an insightful portrayal of human traits that are common to all cultures and societies. Do not be put off by unfamiliarity with Japanese names because there is an excellent glossary of characters and an organisational chart to remind you who’s who in the newspaper.


Submitted by David​


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August 02
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey
 

Northanger Abbey is a satire of the gothic novels which were popular at the time that Jane Austen was writing this book.

The main protagonist Catherine Morland who is 17 years old is one of ten children of a country clergyman. She is invited by The Allen’s, who are friends of the family to go to Bath with them and partake in the winter seasons of balls.

During her time in Bath, Catherine befriends Isabella Thorpe and her brother John who has taken a fancy to Catherine and is also a friend of Catherine’s older brother James.  She also befriends Emily Tilney and her brother Henry, much to the annoyance of Isabella and her brother who are not keen to the Tilneys and try to sabotage outings that have been planned between Catherine, Emily, and Henry.

Despite all this, Catherine friendship with the Tilney’s and she is invited to go and stay at Northanger Abbey, where the Tilney’s live. Catherine is excited about this and due to her love of Gothic literature is expecting the abbey to be exotic and frightening – something which Harry teases her about.

The main storyline in Northanger Abbey is really about Catherine’s love for Mr. Tilney and how that pans out. The book is a must-read for Austen fans and those who love the classics, though I do think everyone should read the book. 

Submitted by Jo Anne

Available as a book, eBook and downloadable audiobook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​


August 02
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

three things about elsie
 

Most of the story is written from the central character’s point of view, Florence, who is a pensioner at Cherry Tree Home, a care home for the elderly. The story opens in the present after Florence has fallen in her room and she has time to ponder recent events. 

When a new pensioner, Gabriel Price, appears at the home, Florence recognises him and is convenience he is someone from her past. As the story unravels we come to realise that Florence had problems with her memory and struggles to recall important events that happened in her life. Small items start to disappear and reappear in her quarters and the staff and others around her question whether the new pensioner is doing these things, as she claims, or whether it is her deteriorating memory. 

Along with her best friend, Elsie and a fellow pensioner at the home, Jack, they begin to uncover the events in question, dating back to the 1950s. An unusual mystery in that key to the secrets in the past lay in Florence’s mind which she needs to delve into and unlock, the storyline held my attention all the way to the end. There were parts that were fairly predictable but most of all I enjoyed reading from the view of the elder protagonist, Florence, and her counterparts as it is unusual to read fiction from main characters in this age group. 

Submitted by Ruth

Available as a book or eBook

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July 24
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
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After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it's casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years... and panic sets in.

 

They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun with unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots  - but, mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results.

 

The surprises turn to shocking discoveries and when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all...

 

 It was funny and a bit sad in places but I couldn’t put it down. I read it on holiday and it was an easy and enjoyable read. I would recommend it.

 

Perfect fun  holiday reading with a few twists and turns.

 

This story has it all - wit, humour and lots of drama!

 

I would definitely recommend this book if you need a bit of laughter in your life!

 

Reserve your copy here

 
Submitted by Bríd
 
 
 

 

 

 
July 24
Never Greener by Ruth Jones

 

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THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER, PICKED FOR THE ZOE BALL TV BOOK CLUB

 

This is a story about the one that got away, the one that still makes you think ‘what if’. The story line will keep you hooked throughout the entire journey.

 

In her debut novel, actress and screenwriter Ruth Jones delves into trying to recapture that which was once lost and failing to realise the beauty of what we already have.

‘We spend most of our lives wishing we were somewhere else, or looking forward or harping back. Always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But it never is. It’s still grass. Just a different patch of it, that’s all.’
*****
Second chances are a rare gift in life. But that doesn’t mean they should always be taken . . .

When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.

 
Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.
 
But then Kate meets Callum again.
They are faced with a choice - walk away from each other . . . or risk finding out what might have been!!
 
 
submitted by Bríd
 
 
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