The Libraries NI Book Blog
August 25
The Book of Unexplained Mysteries: On the trail of the Secret and Strange by William Pearson

the book of unexplained mysteries

I dipped into this book in anticipation of gaining some further insight into some significant historical and archaeological mysteries. Stimulated by various TV programmes ranging from explorations of the Rising Star Cave, Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, the Nasca Lines, the Marie Celeste, sinkholes and their underworlds are some of the enigmas covered in it. I did pick up some extra information and it did provide some answers not reported on in the TV programmes eg Conclusion to Flight 19 and the Bermuda Triangle.  

The content of the book, to my surprise, stretched deeper though than these conundrums from the past. It touched on the mystery of time itself and the quantum world’s defiance of even the great Einstein. Other puzzles such as evolution feature and indeed fact is so often stranger than fiction. He gives quite a good, informed synopsis of some of the more recent technological developments in astronomy too. Definitely a title to engage the enquiring mind.

Submitted by Sheila

Available as a book

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June 29
North Korea Journal by Michael Palin
North Korea Journal 

The TV programme was compelling viewing just to get a glimpse of the country and its people. Admittedly, the TV crew were only seeing what the guides wanted to show them but even so it awakened my curiosity sufficiently to read the accompanying book. The book gives more detail and is well illustrated with photos. Michael Palin’s style is down to earth and informative. To his consternation the North Koreans have a more respectful view of their leaders unlike our media’s  interrogating ways. It was interesting to hear the people’s views and outlook on their history. Indeed the country itself is very beautiful in places and it was a different and refreshing read. It gives a keyhole view of a “closed society.” ​

Submitted by Sheila

Available as an audiobook

Download it here​

June 17
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

​Isabel Allende is a favourite author of mine and I love her historical fiction which bring life and interesting characters to events which affect populations as a whole. The Spanish civil war force a fractured family to exile first to France then ultimately to Chile where they attempt to start a new life. Separated from his mother on the Spanish border, Victor looks after his brother Guillem's pregnant fiancée Roser, a pianist and after the baby Marcel is born, they enter into a marriage of convenience in order to secure a place on the refugee boat, The Winnipeg' funded by Pablo Neruda and his sponsors. At the end of a terrible crossing they arrive in Chile where the ship is initially refused entry. After much negotiation the passengers are eventually allowed to disembark and Victor, Roser and Marcel struggle to start up their new life in this alien, yet strangely familiar country.  After years of struggle they find their feet and begin to feel as if they can relax and have a future when, once again society around them implodes with political unrest and oppression. Arriving in Venezuela as refugees once again, their fortunes finally change and we are rooting for them to find peace. We follow them through trials and tribulations made all the more real by the knowledge that the author herself lived through these tumultuous days in Chile and was forced into exile herself.

A fascinating read well told.

Reserve or download here​

Submitted by Jillian

June 17
Failthful by Alice Hoffman


Faithful is a raw, emotional novel bringing to light the struggle of one young girl and her self sabotage due to survivor guilt. ​The story of Shelby begins with a tragic accident. Her best friend suffers life changing injuries and Shelby has cuts and bruises. How is that fair? Shelby was driving, it was her fault, right?

A stay in a psychiatric hospital, drugs and the wrong men mean a hard punishment for Shelby. But she has a guardian angel looking out for her, whom she caught sight of, the night of the accident. Will this angel bring her back to life?

This is a beautiful story depicting the life of a young woman who is adamant she doesn't deserve to live a happy life. Well worth a read and can be borrowed from Libby. Alice Hoffman has written over 30 novels, one of which was turned into a movie. Practical Magic is my favourite but Faithful comes close.

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Submitted by Lyndsey

June 17
Finding Harmony by Sally Hyder


Life was good for Sally and Andrew, hill walking and travelling the world while progressing in their chosen careers.  Sally was at University when they met and while enjoying the stunning scenery of Mount Everest, Andrew produced an engagement ring and asked Sally to be his wife.

First home, pet dog, charity volunteers, both working hard; Sally a nurse, Andrew a surveyor, and then a devastating blow.

Sally pushed on and with courage and fortitude returned to work. Their family was complete when their third child was born. Then, another devastating blow.

Life seemed bleak but sometimes in your darkest hours a miracle happens, and this came in the shape of a beautiful golden Labrador named Harmony.  Eventually hope and a zest for life returned to Sally and she realised that although their lives would never be the same again, life could once again be good.

This is a life story of wonderful highs and deepest lows, of perseverance and despair and of forging a life of love and fulfilment while facing myriad challenges.

Life can be good again.

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Submitted by Lesley

June 11
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  


To Kill a Mockingbird is the famous book by reclusive author Harper Lee. Many know it better as the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck. However the book has become a modern classic and truly deserves its Pulitzer Prize and more than its school curriculum status. It is a beautiful and ground breaking novel, part of the BBCs 100 Novels that Shaped the World and was enjoyed by Suffolk Library Reading Group during Lockdown.

The novel is the story of 6 year old Scout and her big brother Jem and the life they live with their father, lawyer Atticus Finch, during the Great Depression in 1930s Alabama. Tomboy Scout narrates the story and tells us about her starting school, friends, summer fun and the mysterious neighbour Boo Radley with beautiful childhood innocence, many of us may have long forgotten. However it is a court case defended by their father that awakens Scout and Jem to the racial prejudices and divisions within their small southern town. Atticus defends Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl and this causes Scout and Jem to question the society they have grown up in against the principals they have learnt and watched in their father.

This was my second or third time reading To Kill a Mockingbird and I got more out of it again than my last read. This time the children’s voices and their innocent incomprehension at what was happening, really stood out for me. One of the group thought “I read it years ago and I think, being younger, the shock was in the trial and injustice…This time I was engaged in the relationships adults to children and the in-between.” 

Although this book depicts racism in the 1930s; was ground breaking to have been written in the 1960s; it is sad to think that it is still so relevant and has much to teach today.

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Submitted By Tinya

May 21
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

At first, I found this book rather slow to start; it took a chapter or two to get fully into. However, it quickly became one of my favourites! If you are a fan of Jojo Moyes, you will know how beautifully she grips your heart with her relatable characters and tales of dreamlike romance. ‘The Giver of Stars’ is no different and yet it is simultaneously worlds away from her usual theme. This book is based on the WPA’s Horseback Librarian programme in which a group of devoted women delivered books to rural families in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1930s.When writing this book Moyes journeyed to experience the lifestyle that the women would have lived and her passion for their stories is evident in her writing. 

This fictional story follows a young English woman, Alice Wright, who hastily marries an American man in the hope of a new life of adventure and excitement, far away from her own. Soon, she finds that her marriage is not as she had imagined.  As she navigates an unfamiliar and judgmental Kentucky, she pushes herself to her limits and discovers true happiness in a group of empowering women and their books. When a crime disrupts the town of Baileyville, their happiness is threatened, and the Horseback Librarians are faced with the possibility of losing all they have worked for. 

As a woman and a reader, I was personally inspired by the strong female characters in this story and captured by the colourful picture Moyes paints of life as a horseback librarian. This book is a must-read!

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Submitted by Tori McConnell ​


May 21
The Binding by Bridget Collins


Imagine you could erase grief. 
Imagine you could remove pain. 
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret. 

The Binding is a fantasy; a book about books that is totally different from others I’ve ever encountered. In a world that is vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England, books are terrifyingly powerful and dangerous things. 
When we meet our protagonist, Emmet Farmer, he has recently suffered some sort of mental collapse and is no longer able to keep up with his farm chores. Given his strained relations with his family, we surmise that he has caused some kind of disgrace but he doesn’t fully understand. He is sent to work as an apprentice for Seredith, a bookbinder; the old woman teaches him how to make endpapers, tool leather, and gild but Emmet soon learns that the true work of binding is magical. Distressed people arrive to see Seredith, asking to have their traumatic experiences put down on paper; they leave dulled but soothed. Seredith keeps their secrets safe in gorgeous books with the subject’s name on the spine in her cellar – into which Emmett is forbidden to go. Somewhere among these books is one with Emmett’s name on it, which contains the secret of his disgrace. 
Emmett learns that the bookbinding business is rife for abuse; there is an illegal market for the trading of books while others misuse the services for their own nefarious purposes; among them is Seredith’s son who, after her suspicious death, appropriates her stock of secret bindings and also takes charge of Emmett who, when he discovers the book with his name on it, is set on a path to recover his own lost past… 
Without spoiling anything, this is a phenomenal tale of forbidden love; compelling and spellbinding, this novel is unlike anything I have ever read and for that reason is entirely unforgettable. 

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Submitted by Mary-Ellen

May 21
The Confession by Jessie Burton

An engaging story about a daughter's quest to discover the truth about her mother who had disappeared 34  years before.. Jumping between 1980s and 2017 the story reveals itself gradually and we build up a picture of Elise, young,impressionable, searching for the next adventure and finding it with author Connie, an older woman who seduces Elise and bewitches her into going to LA with her when her novel is being filmed. The glamour and excitement of 80's Hollywood fails to capture Elise' s imagination  and she sees thru the facade of the parties and bling., her dissatisfaction growing as she sees how Connie has been taken in by it. Ultimately Elise is drawn away by a new lover resulting in an unexpected pregnancy, and as she spirals out of control into undiagnosed post partum depression her distress and agony is palpable. Years later her daughter finds an elderly Connie and under false pretences she Inveigles her way into the household and attenpts to unravel the past. 

Intriguing and decadent, this story swings us around as we sympathise with different characters in the different eras. The Confession when it comes only partly tells the tale, but our imagination fills in the gaps more than adequately. 
An excellent story and one which I thoroughly enjoyed -Jessie Burton has done it again!

Reserve or down here​ 

Submitted by Jillian


May 06
This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

After leaving a career in medicine Adam Kay came upon his old diaries as a junior doctor in the NHS.  He published these hilarious diaries which give us an insight into the stress, humour and compassion that is common place in the life of any NHS doctor.  Kay is now a full-time writer and so his particular retelling of these hospital episodes will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.  

Submitted on behalf of Warrenpoint Library

Reserve or download here​


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