Hastings District Libraries

Sunday, 20 August 2017

A Woman Betrayed by Barbara Delinsky

For me there is no other delight (at least in the book world) as when I discover an author to add to my list of guaranteed great reads. The last time this happened was when a very well read friend asked me if I had read Charity Norman’s After the Fall. Finding I hadn’t she replied with the description: “excellent writer”. And now I have another writer to add to my favourite author list - Barbara Delinsky.

Delinsky has a large stable of books to her credit including 19 New York Times bestsellers. Her writing comes under the genre of romantic fiction and I think it is this label that has stopped me from reading her books.

A woman betrayed tells the story of a Laura Frye happily married, with two children and a successful restaurant and catering business (is using Frye for someone working in the food business intentional?). Within a few short pages the reader learns that her husband of twenty years, Jeff, has disappeared. Certain that Jeff would not have left his family voluntarily, Laura is distraught. As her husband’s secrets start to emerge and Laura struggles to make sense of her marriage, she strives to keep her family and business together.

Although this plot has been well explored by other authors, it is Delinsky’s compelling story telling that makes this book stand out. Emotions play a large part in the story telling and although I didn’t sympathise entirely with Laura’s character, it is her flaws that makes her believable. More like a contemporary family novel with a dash of romance, this novel is as relevant now as when it was written in the 1990s. And just like eating chocolate (one piece a day rather than eating the whole bar in one sitting), I will read three other authors before reading another Delinsky book; savouring rather than devouring.

Barbara Delinsky’s books are available in print and large print and as a downloadable ebooks on the Overdrive platform.

Posted by Miss Moneypenny

Catalogue link: A Woman Betrayed

Thursday, 17 August 2017

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Karen M. McManus has hit a home run with her debut young adult novel One of Us Is Lying. A friend sold this to me with the line ‘it’s just like The Breakfast Club!’ The Buzz online sell it as a mixture of The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars; for once, I couldn’t agree more.

Monday afternoon’s detention is made up of five unlikely attendees ; all of whom claim they don’t belong there after cell phones were found in their schoolbags. Cooper, the jock; Addy, the popular princess; Bronwyn, the straight A high achiever; Nate, the criminal and Simon, the outcast and creator of an app, About That, that outs the secrets of all his classmates.

Before the end of detention, Simon is dead. A police investigation reveals that his death was no accident. It also quickly comes to light that Simon was about to post the juiciest gossip about his fellow detention attendees on About That. Simon knows everyone’s secrets and he is NEVER wrong. This raises the question - who was willing to kill to keep their secret safe? As the secrets begin to leak out the stakes just keep getting higher.

The danger with using characters that fit so well into teen stereotypes is that they can stay very two- dimensional but I believe not in this case. One of Us Is Lying is told from the points of view of the other four who were in the room that day. It did take me a few chapters to develop a connection with each of them then I quickly found my rhythm. I was rooting for each of them the whole way.

I have been in a pretty severe book slump for the last few months and I am so lucky this book came along. I could not put it down. I even managed to read it in one sitting even though I looked like a zombie the next day at work. I have been recommending this book left right and centre to anyone who will listen and have even gone as far as driving it to a friend’s house so they would have something to read while they were home sick. A must read.

Posted by Kristen 

Catalogue link: One of Us Is Lying

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - reviewed by Jane Redward

A friend of mine had offered me her series of books by Diana Gabaldon a while ago and I thought – meh…...historical novels aren’t my thing.  However, when I looked at all the challenges in this adult reading programme I realised I had read most of (and then watched) pretty much all of the suggested books/movies apart from this one.  So, stepping out of my comfort zone I put on the DVD...

OH MY! What a series! Claire – what a fantastic leading lady – full of passion, fight and intelligence.  And Jamie, the ruggedly handsome, thoughtful, kind… (did I say handsome?!) ...highlander!  The series held more than I expected.  It showcased some stunning scenery (not just Jamie), dealt with some incredibly intense issues, was racy, sad and funny and totally held my attention. 

The only problem now is should I just get series two on DVD or read the whole series?!

Reviewed by Jane Redward

Monday, 14 August 2017

Book Chat's July Reading

The Boy They Tried to Hide by Shane Dunphy

This is the true story of a sexual predator and the child he had hidden in a forest in Ireland, brought to Dunphy’s attention by a concerned mother. There is something of a vendetta involved, as the author gave evidence that brought the criminal to justice previously. Dunphy is a journalist as well as a child protection worker, also the author of Wednesday’s Child. His new book is compulsive reading.

The Chinese Proverb by Tina Clough

Clough is a local author who sets her mystery novels in New Zealand. Her latest book follows the story of ex-army Hunter Grant, who saves the life of a young Chinese woman he finds in the bush. But that is just the beginning, as Dao is still in danger and then by association, so is Hunter. A well-written and page-turning novel that will please mystery fans.

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

Archaeologist and police adviser, Ruth Galloway, is called to investigate some remains found in tunnels, part of a complex of underground chambers associated with disused chalk mines. At the same time, DI Nelson is dealing with the disappearance of a homeless woman. Is there any connection? The Chalk Pit is another top read in this engaging crime series set in Norfolk.

The Swedish Girl by Alex Gray

This police procedural focuses on the murder of a Swedish student in Glasgow, whose body is found by her flatmate Kirsty, while another flatmate is accused of the crime. Kirsty is eager to prove his innocence while DS Lorimer works with criminal profiler Solly Brightman to discover the truth. A well written mystery with a really good surprise ending.

The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor

A memoir that charts the day to day trials and tribulations of a small-island police officer. With twenty years on these islands off the coast of Cornwall and a popular Facebook page, there are plenty of humorous anecdotes to choose from. From collaring goldfish abductors to anchor thieves to rescuing birdlife from cats, Taylor captures a quaintly idyllic life that harks back to another age. Probably a nice way to recover from reading too much crime fiction.

Conclave by Robert Harris

If you’ve wondered about the machinations around the election of a new pope, Robert Harris’s novel is an excellent read with plenty of insights. Cardinal Lomeli is tasked with managing the process of the elections. Well researched, somehow this story of a political process turns into an unputdownable piece of fiction with a twist.

Posted by Flaxmere Library Bookchat

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Perhaps this isn’t the best book to read during chilly weather. Set in the winter of 1867, a Canadian winter at that, there are a lot of descriptions of snowy wastes. The story begins in the isolated settlement of Dove River when a trapper, Laurent Jemmet, is found gruesomely murdered in his cabin, and seventeen-year-old Francis Ross has disappeared. Several men from the Hudson Bay Company arrive to investigate, among them, young accountant, Donald Moody, recently from Scotland and eager to prove his worth.

First thoughts are that Francis may have been responsible, but the victim was his friend. Francis’s mother, the prickly Mrs Ross, will search for him on foot if she must, to prove his innocence. There are two sets of tracks leaving the cabin, after all. Soon several motives emerge - a missing cache of furs, competition from a rival trading company, a lost bone tablet which might prove the existence of a written native language, though perhaps Francis had a motive of his own.

There are further interesting story threads woven into the plot. Years before, two young girls disappeared from Dove River, possibly eaten by wolves, or kidnapped by a native tribe. There is Mrs Ross’s own story - her time spent in an asylum, her difficult relationship with her husband. Other characters take the narrative: Maria Knox, intelligent but often overlooked next to her charming sister, Susannah; Thomas Sturrock, the searcher who failed to find the girls.

Characters are lost and found again, some of them at death’s door, while the tenuous relationships between Native Canadians and the settlers, between the Company men and traders and even among family members, are all explored. The harshness of the environment makes for a tense read and reminds you that this isn’t a land for sissies.

The Tenderness of Wolves takes you to another time and place, and works as a stunning piece of crime fiction as well as a top notch historical drama. The novel won for its author a Costa Book of the Year Award in 2006. Her latest book, Under a Pole Star came out last year and, set in the Arctic, features even more snowy wastes.

Posted by by JAM

Catalogue link: The Tenderness of Wolves

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Road Home by Rose Tremain

The Turn Up the Heat adult reading challenge asks you to read a book that’s been sitting on the bookcase for years. For me that book turned out to be The Road Home by Rose Tremain.

Published in 2007, it is the story of Lev, who leaves his Eastern European village for London, a journey by bus over several days. Sitting next to him is Lydia who has a job to go to, speaks English well and is confident of her success in her new country. Lev is less well-prepared. Leaving his daughter in the care of his mother, and still grieving for his late wife, he has no job and only a hundred or so pounds to last him until he finds his feet.

The cost of living is a shock – Lev spends much of his money on a night in a B&B, but his landlady helps him with advice and slowly he begins to build a life for himself, making connections at the restaurant where he washes dishes, and with Christy, the Irish plumber who rents him a room, still decorated for the daughter he never sees.

Both Lev and Christy miss their families, though both are rescued by work and build new relationships. The Road Home is a perceptive look at the immigrant experience, the false hopes and the reality checks and cultural differences that make things difficult. But it is also a story of hope and the triumph of the human spirit.

What really keeps you reading is the characters. I don’t know how an author gets into the heads of such a range of people, but Rose Tremain certainly seems to have the knack – remember Restoration and last year’s The Gustav Sonata. Then there’s the writing which is rich and evocative without seeming over-written. I don't know why I left this book sitting on the bookcase for so long, for Tremain is a brilliant novelist.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Road Home

Thursday, 3 August 2017

No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark has been writing suspense novels since 1975 and to date has penned over fifty bestsellers. Having not read a Higgins Clark mystery in a long while I was curious to see how her books compared with the likes of more recent mystery writers Lee Child, Tami Hoag and Jo Nesbo.

Higgins Clark starts this thriller introducing us to her characters. This a technique she has used before so you know you have met the murderer even before the killing begins. Celia Nolan’s new husband Alex has bought her a house as a birthday surprise. What Alex doesn’t know is that this is the house where twenty-four years earlier, Celia aged 10, shot and killed her mother.

As Celia grapples with whether to tell Alex the secret she has carefully hidden, it appears someone else already knows. When a series of brutal killings start with the murder of their real estate agent, Celia not only becomes the prime suspect but she and her son Jack are in danger of becoming the next victims.

You cannot tell that this story was published more than ten years ago. Higgins Clark has the ability to make her characters contemporary and the way each character is explored had me suspecting, at some stage, nearly everyone in the story. The short chapters, a technique used effectively to move the story along quickly, means it is not long before the real killer is exposed. Although don’t read it too quickly as you might miss guessing who the killer is before it is revealed.

There have not been many writers who have consistently written good whodunit mysteries over a forty year span. Rest assured Mary Higgins Clark is still the queen of suspense; a tried and true thriller writer.

This title is available in print whilst her other titles are available in large print and as downloadable audio and ebooks.

Posted by Miss Moneypenny

Catalogue link: No Place Like Home