Hastings District Libraries

Monday, 24 April 2017

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

I don’t know how to describe this novel in ways that will make sense – is it magical realism? A teen mystery novel? A fairytale? Or a story that takes place in a slightly alternative reality, so close to our own that it looks familiar until all of a sudden it doesn’t? I’m not quite sure, it seems like all of those things and yet none of them at the same time.

This book is told from two different perspectives. Finn (a.k.a ‘Moonboy’) is beautiful but strange, and no one quite knows what to do with him. One night the girlfriend of Finn’s older brother Sean goes missing, and with Finn the only witness, no one quite believes the strange tale he tells. The second perspective is Roza (Sean’s girlfriend) who at first is a two dimensional character who arrives in the boys’ lives bloody and broken, only to disappear a few months later. It isn’t until about halfway through the book that she starts to become a likeable, fleshed out character that we can truly start rooting for.

Most of the town believes that Roza ran away (like the boy’s mother), but the others think that Finn had something to do with her sudden disappearance (Sean included).

While my description of the book might make it seem like I didn’t enjoy it, I actually really loved it. It dragged a bit for the first half of the book, but when it clicked into place suddenly this confusing, wonderful book had to be read all at once because I was suddenly so invested in it.

By the end of the book I still didn’t know how to describe it, or what to make of it, but I definitely recommend it. It’s unlike anything I have read in a while, and it will definitely stand out as one of the most interesting reads of 2017.

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Bone Gap

Saturday, 22 April 2017

What Is It About Scottish Islands?

I have just read The Malice of Waves, the third in Mark Douglas-Home’s series featuring his sea detective and oceanographer, Cal McGill. It was a terrific read about a bereft father who has Cal map the tides to help find the son he lost five years before. This case takes a more sinister turn as the anniversary of the disappearance approaches, and he finds himself working again with DS Helen Jamieson.

The island setting of Eilean Dubh in the Outer Hebrides makes for a wonderfully brooding atmosphere, with mistrustful locals and a history of suspicion and bitter feelings. Of course there will be another death before long and emotions run high before the truth finally comes out.

This isn’t the first time McGill’s investigations have taken him to remote Scottish islands, and it reminded me of other novels set in these potentially romantic but all too often challenging locations.

There’s the Lewis trilogy by Peter May, which has another maverick detective – aren’t they always
the best kind? - in this case Edinburgh detective Fin MacLeod, sent to Lewis to investigate a brutal murder in The Blackhouse. Fin has a lot of baggage to do with his childhood on Lewis, and the case brings out a few surprises. Like The Malice of Waves, the wild and stormy location adds to a thrillingly tense ending. There’s enough to enjoy about the scenario for another two books, and once you’ve devoured the first you’ll be eager for The Lewis Man and The Chess Men, which complete the series.

Of course, when it comes to Scottish islands, you can’t overlook Anne Cleeves’ Shetland series featuring police detective Jimmy Perez. This series has been made into a stunning TV series, which is not surprising with its winning combination of likeable characters, gritty and gripping storylines and the beautiful setting of the Shetlands. The first book Raven Black describes Perez’s investigation of a murdered teenager in oddly the same location where a child disappeared eight years before. Perez has his work cut out to turn suspicion away from the local hermit oddball.

All of these series have a lot in common: brooding atmosphere, wild nature, wary locals, just for starters. And all of them are first rate detective fiction, not to be missed.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue links:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett. Arguably the greatest comic fantasy writer in the history of comic fantasy. I say “arguably”, but personally my mind is made up, and I am a firm believer. Terry Pratchett is the author of the Discworld series (among others), a series of 41 books set in an alternate universe in which the world is flat and disc shaped and rests on the backs of four elephants (Berilia, Great T’Phon, Tubul, and Jerakeen) who themselves stand on the back of a Giant turtle named Great A’Tuin.

The first Terry Pratchett book I ever read was Mort, and I was instantly hooked. Even now, many years later, I love re-reading them all. I am currently reading Maskerade for the umpteenth time, and though some of you may baulk at the idea of reading a book again (and again and again), for me it is like my happy place - I often refer to them as my security blanket books. If I need something comforting, and in a hurry, I will instantly pick a Discworld book. As for a favourite, I would be very hard pressed to pick only one (I’m trying to think about it now and I just cannot choose. I love Death and his burgeoning humanity but I also love reading about Sam Vimes and how he has matured throughout his many appearances in the series). Though the Discworld books are technically a series of 41, any book can be picked up and enjoyed on its own. There are also a few fan-written reading order guides which follow the major story arcs. This is a good way of dipping a toe into the series, which can seem overwhelmingly large from an outside perspective.

Sadly Sir Terry Pratchett passed away last year after a short run battle with Alzheimers. Though he gave his daughter Rhianna permission to continue writing Discworld novels in his stead, she has chosen not to (and to be fair, this is a blessing and a curse - it’s hard to see how anyone could step into his boots, but it also means no more Discworld books…) However, don’t let this deter you from picking one and giving it a go. As well as the 41 books in the series there are also a number of related titles, both fiction and nonfiction, to keep you going. And like me, hopefully you’ll be hooked for life.

Posted by Hannah

Catalogue link: Discworld: Maskerade

Monday, 17 April 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

A science fiction story brought to you by the author of the incredibly popular Divergent series, Carve the Mark may feel a bit unfamiliar to Veroncia Roth's fans. To start off with, it is set in space, in a different galaxy, on a planet named Thuvhe by half its inhbitants, and Shotet by the other half. On this warring planet everyone receives a ‘currentgift’ as they grow, meaning that everyone has their own power. For some it can be as small as giving off a feeling of ease and trust to all those who meet you, for others it can be as powerful as bringing unbearable pain to anyone who touches your skin.

Cyra, daughter of the Tyrant ruler of Shotet, has not been able to touch anyone without bringing them (and herself) pain since she was small. She is feared all over the planet, and is used as a weapon by her evil father and brother. Then she meets Akos, a young Thuvhe who was kidnapped by Cyra's family at a young age. His power is to be able to stop the ‘current’ (rendering the powers of anyone he is touching useless) meaning that he can touch Cyra (and trust me, they do a lot of touching). The more time they spend together, the more they learn about each other, and themselves.

Carve the Mark is a really interesting book, and I am definitely looking forward to the second part that comes out next year, but be warned, parts of it do drag. Being set in another galaxy means that Roth has to spend a lot of time describing this alien world to us, and at times it can slow down the story. I did however really enjoy the book. Possibly even more so than Divergent.

However, this will no doubt be turned into a movie at some point soon, so read the book now and brag to your friends about how you read it before it was a film franchise.

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Carve the Mark

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

What makes Anthony Peardew, a writer of short stories, turn his study into a museum of random items he has found in the world outside? There’s a child’s umbrella, a piece from a jigsaw, a bobble hair-tie, and even a biscuit tin filled with what looks like somebody’s ashes, just for starters.

Laura, Peardew’s assistant/housekeeper, inherits this strange collection when Peardew dies, and is left the dubious task of returning the items to their rightful owners. Fortunately she has help from Sunshine, her neighbour who has Down Syndrome and an almost psychic ability for understanding signals most people miss, as well as Freddie, the good-looking gardener who makes Laura oddly shy.

As the novel progresses, two other story threads emerge – that of Anthony and his relationship with his lovely Therese, who dies suddenly on the day of their wedding. Then there is the publisher, Bomber, and his close friend/assistant Eunice, whose story has intermittent connections with the main action.

Peardew’s droll little stories written around some of the objects and Hogan’s use of humour can’t quite prevent the novel from becoming a little twee at times. However, I did enjoy the Bomber/Eunice thread and their dealings with Bomber’s horrible sister who has literary aspirations. While you can pretty much predict how things will turn out, for some reason you don’t mind too much because the characters are so sympathetic.

A charming, quirky novel that is a quick and relaxing read, recommended for anyone who enjoyed The Reader on the 6.27, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Keeper of Lost Things

Thursday, 13 April 2017

March Update: 101 Books to Read Before you Grow Up

March was a productive month. I have had conversations with many people who are undertaking the same challenge which has been great! I also managed to knock a few more titles off my list but I still haven’t managed to tackle 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
I have always been a massive fan of Dr. Seuss. Not as much as an adult because reading his books out loud always involve a mass of twisted tongues and mispronunciation on my part but as a child I remember pouring over the pages of many of his stories.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go
 has the most amazing message anyone can give to a child (or adult who needs a bit of a boost). A reminder that everyone has the potential to be great and even though there will be bumps along the road there is a 98 and ¾ per cent guaranteed chance that you will succeed.

Where the Wild Things Are
After Max is sent to his bedroom, he imagines a world filled with wild things. Eventually he begins to miss home and begins the long trek back to his family.

Although I think the illustrations in Where the Wild Things Are are amazing, I found I did not connect to the text in the way that I was expecting. In my opinion there are many other pictures books I would rather share with others.

The Snail and the Whale
Snail wants nothing more than to travel the world and see faraway places, much to the disbelief and
dismay of all his snail companions. Thus begins the tale of two unlikely travel companions - a whale and a snail.

I absolutely LOVED the rhyme and rhythm of this book. As I was reading it, I was tapping my foot along to the beat. I can’t wait to share this book with my classes this week.

Whoever You Are
All around the world people look different, live differently have different life experiences. This book reminds the reader that although this is true, beneath it all we are all the same when it comes to our feelings.

Whoever You Are
has a great message which people do need to be reminded of. It wasn’t the best picture book I have ever read but I believe it is a book to be shared widely.

The Story of Ferdinand
Ferdinand is a bull. He doesn't want to fight and butt heads with the other bulls, he loves sitting under his favourite cork tree and smelling the flowers. One day five men arrive to take the strongest, fiercest bulls to fight in Madrid. Ferdinand, stung by a bee, catches their eye and is taken be in the bull fights. Much to everyone's surprise he refuses to fight and returns home to sit under his favourite cork tree and smell the flowers.

I enjoyed this story and I really enjoyed talked to my co workers who remember this from when they were children or read it to their children. What I was most interested in was finding out about how the message of peace in this story got it banned in many countries, including Nazi Germany where it was burned.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Alexander's day starts of dismally, complete with gum in his hair, tripping on a skateboard and dropping water all down his front. The day does not get any better and the more that goes wrong the more frustrated Alexander feels. Will things start to look up?

Who doesn't have those days where nothing goes right? You really feel for Alexander even though some of his misfortune is of his own making. It is easy to see yourself in Alexander which makes this a fun read aloud and book in general.

A Long Walk to Water
A Long Walk to Water is told as two story lines following two 11 year olds in Sudan. In 2008, Nya does a four hour round trip walk, twice a day, seven months of the year to provide her family with drinking water. In 1985, Salva is forced to run from school with only the clothes on his back after it was attacked by rebels and bombed. He becomes a lost child moving from camp to camp hoping to find his family one day.

I was given it by a friend who had shared it with his 11 year old. This book is deceptive. It is small, only 128 pages but it is 128 pages that make you think, feel and remind yourself how lucky you are. There were times I had goosebumps and wanted to cry but I feel like it is a story that needs to be told. Salva is a real person and this book follows his journey across Africa and to America and his goal to help others back home.

The 13-Storey Treehouse
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton live in a treehouse as they write an illustrate books together. They
both managed to forget their latest book deadline and now have only 48 hours to produce a book to Big Nose, their manager, or they will be sent back to live in the money enclosure at the zoo. Of course, nothing goes to plan including procrastination, sea monkeys who are actually sea monsters and sea monkeys who are actual monkeys, flying yellow catnaries and a giant banana eating gorilla.

I was a big fan of Andy Griffiths when I was younger and after reading this book, I remembered why. He is a great author to recommend to get anyone to pick up a book and read and you will always have a good giggle.

Nicholas Allen cannot sit still, he has an idea and he runs with it. He has just entered the fifth grade and he has heard how strict his new teacher, Mrs Granger, can be. She is in LOVE with the dictionary and after a time wasting stunt goes wrong, Nicholas is forced to do some research about the dictionary and how words come about. Thus begins a war between Nicholas and Mrs Granger over the new word for a pen - a frindle. This is a story about how an idea can become bigger than just one person.

Who hasn't sat down an pondered who decided that a chair would be called a chair. Why can't it be called a fork!? This book perfectly captures the curiosity that is in all of us and the power that friendship and an idea and a great teacher can have.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Dorothy lives with her Aunt and Uncle in Kansas until, during a tornado, she is transported, along
with her house and dog Toto, to Oz. To find her way home she must make it to the Emerald City to visit the wonderful wizard of Oz. Along the way she makes friends and some enemies. Will she be able to make it home?

I have never read the book or seen the movie before so I was in for a surprise. Quite possibly, everyone is my workplace has heard my rant about how dark this book is in places. If you don’t believe me just read about how to tin man became the tin man. Otherwise, the book ticked along nicely for a quick read.

Brian’s parents have recently divorced and he is on his way to spend the school holidays with his dad. As they are flying, in a one man plane, over the remote Canadian wilderness, the pilot suffers a heart attack. The plane crash lands in the middle of nowhere and with no way to know how far away help might be Brian must learn to survive with only a hatchet gifted to him by his mother before he left.

Hatchet is a book that was read aloud to me while I was in school. I remember loving it and over the past month I have had many discussions with others who had the same experience. Not one person said “Oh yeah, we read Hatchet and I hated it!” I think it says a lot about the content and story line that it is a book that is still remembered 15 or 20 years on.

Reviewed by Kristen

Monday, 10 April 2017

Prick with a Fork: The world's worst waitress spills the beans by Larissa Dubecki

If you have ever worked in hospitality this book will give you a giggle; if you haven't then you will feel grateful; if you are a frequent diner this will positively horrify you.

Larissa Dubrecki spent 10 years working in dining rooms of all descriptions, and later as a journalist and restaurant reviewer.
From deranged chefs to entitled customers and passive aggressive waiting staff, Prick with a Fork is witty and at times nauseatingly honest.
Anecdotes also take a dark turn with  horrifyingly frequent accounts of sexual harassment and drug use.

Overall the book lacks cohesion but is mostly a good light-hearted diversion; and perhaps a warning to treat those who serve you, well.

Reviewed by Katrina

Catalogue link: Prick with a Fork

Catalogue link: Prick with a Fork eBook