Holiday reading (1)

Happy New Year to all readers everywhere!  We have decided that this is the year to start blogging in earnest again and we have plenty of great books to entertain you!  Apologies for our absence for a while, we have been three people running two busy libraries in a split site school, and now, with an eagerly anticipated new member of staff arriving, we hope to return regularly!

As usual, after the Christmas holidays, we asked our well-read members of staff to provide recommendations for the New Year and so we’ll highlight these over a few posts, and would welcome any comments you may have…

The first reflects the holiday readings of our illustrious Head of Economics, Mr Cowie.  He has suggested both fiction and non-fiction and begins with Peter May’s series of books known as The Lewis Trilogy which comprises The blackhouse, The Lewis man and The chessman.  Of these novels, Mr Cowie says:

“Set on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides – three detective novels. Quite dark in terms of the plots and brilliant descriptions of the locality. It always seems to be raining!”

The stories’ central character is Fin Macleod, born and bred on the island, who returns after a time spent working a Detective Inspector in Edinburgh, and finds himself caught up in investigating crimes on the island which take him back into his past and then on into his present…

Mr Cowie’s second and third choices reflect his interest in current affairs and history.  The first of these is entitled The Germans and Europe by Peter Millar.  Mr Cowie’s thoughts invite further investigation by new readers:

“Of interest to the few Germanophiles around. Written from and about 9 German cities – of which 3 are no longer in Germany.” 

“Based on a lifetime living in and reporting on Germany and Central Europe, award-winning journalist and author Peter Millar tackles the fascinating and complex story of the people at the heart of our continent. Focusing on nine cities (only six of which are in the Germany of today) he takes us on a zigzag ride back through time via the fall of the Berlin Wall through the horrors of two world wars, the patchwork states of the Middle Ages, to the splendour of Charlemagne and the fall of Rome, with side swipes at everything on the way, from Henry VIII to the Spanish Empire…  Not just a book about Germany but about Europe as a whole and how we got where we are today, and where we might be tomorrow.” (Nielsen Bookdata Online, accessed 23 January 2018).

Finally, we encounter Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution by John Morrill.  Of this, Mr Cowie says:

“The French are always boasting about their ridiculous revolution but ours came first and was far superior. Why it is not taught in the 6th form I shall never understand.”

“John Morrill has been at the forefront of modern attempts to explain the origins, nature and consequences of the English Revolution. These twenty essays — seven either specially written or reproduced from generally inaccessible sources — illustrate the main scholarly debates to which he has so richly contributed: the tension between national and provincial politics; the idea of the English Revolution as “the last of the European Wars of Religion”; its British dimension; and its political sociology. Taken together, they offer a remarkably coherent account of the period as a whole.” (Nielsen Bookdata Online, accessed 23 January 2018).

With such an interesting collection of books for reading during the holidays, I think this takes care of my reading list for next summer!  I believe that I’ll need more than the shorter period we had for these winter days.  If you are a reader of crime novels and interested in well-written history books, here’s a ready-made selection for you.  Do write to us with more suggestions and comments on these, if you have read them as well.

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Christmas reading (6)

The Christmas reading recommendations are still coming in!  Mrs Kelly, one of our Assistant Librarians, read three books: two in English and a third in her mother tongue of Polish, our second novel from foreign literature discussed in this series.

Mrs Kelly’s first novel is The good liar by Nicholas Searle.  She says:

“Nicholas Searle’s first novel, The Good Liar, is a story principally about Roy (one among his various identities), a conman, who is planning to pull off his final financial scam. He hooks up with a wealthy widow and plans to run away with her life savings.

The structure takes you backwards and forwards, revealing Roy’s life bit by bit, starting in contemporary Britain, and then reverting back to 1938 Berlin.  I must admit, I was considering giving up at the beginning, as I simply couldn’t get into the story, but I am so glad I persevered! Loved it! The story unfolds, culminating in a fabulous ending.”

Sounds like an arresting story (no pun intended)… One I’d very much like to read, and, although my to-be-read list keeps growing, I have already started on one of the previous recommendations (S J Watson’s Before I go to sleep, after comments by Miss Anderson made it so intriguing).  Book number two on Mrs Kelly’s list is Austin Wright’s Tony and Susan:

“It grabbed me straight from the beginning! The story is about Susan, an English University lecturer, who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward, requesting an honest opinion. Since Edward’s ambition of becoming a writer was partly to blame for the breaking of their marriage, Susan is anxious about reading it. She does, however, and submerges herself into the novel, titled Nocturnal Animals. The reader then is drawn into yet another novel; very dramatic and gripping, about some tragic events in a life of Tony – a maths professor. Both stories interchange with one another, keeping you on your toes! Excellent read. Nocturnal Animals was actually adapted into the 2016 film, of the same title, by Tom Ford, its director.”

Oh no, the more reviews I read, my list increases in size!  And the third novel is one I’d like to read in translation.  Mrs Kelly says this about Bokserka by Grazyna Plebanek:

“It’s a multi-layered story about women, their desires, and breaking the stereotypes (the protagonist, Lu, fights in the boxing ring, whilst working in an embassy in Brussels, at the same time). The novel also discusses the whole generation of current thirty year-olds – people who are not afraid of many things and know no barriers. It did annoyed me at times, however, as it seems to portray feminism in the way I would not necessarily agree with. Glad I read it though!”

Many thanks, go to Mrs Kelly and all our readers, for their contributions.  It will soon be too late to feature Christmas reading so as and when we read more books and I receive more reviews, I will post them immediately.  In the libraries we are busy with History projects covering World War I and the Elizabethans, we are learning as much as the children from their fantastic teachers.

Further reading:

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle review – a thriller that will trip you up

Tony & Susan by Austin Wright

Grazyna Plebanak

World Book Day 2014: celebrations in school (2)

Welcome to part two of our posts about our celebrations for World Book Day 2014.  We took our lead from the World Book Day 2014 website  and decided to create our own ‘Writes of Passage’ noticeboard.  We had a banner made for each of our school libraries and placed them close to, or at the top of, a noticeboard.  We then invited as many people as possible to complete blank postcards with details of books which had meant a lot to them as they were reading them.  We had a terrific response!  Many were colourful and some contained entire illustrations.  Many congratulations and thanks to all who participated!

We were delighted that so many people participated – we received 322 cards and the majority of books shared were shared by only one person, and amongst them, there were only a few adults represented, thus providing an overwhelming impression that our children are reading and reading so diversely!  The children also voted outstandingly in favour of print editions over electronic versions of books.  Hooray!  Our top ten books, (including series) are as follows:

1.     The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

2.    The Fault in Our Stars John Green

3.     To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

4.     Harry Potter series J K Rowling

5.     The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

6.     The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Mark Haddon

7.     The Book Thief Markus Zusak

8.     The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Jonas Jonasson

9.     The Inheritance Cycle Christopher Paolini

10.   The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

Interesting that our top four also rank in the top four on the World Book Day 2014 list!

The Legacy (Katharine Webb)

Mrs Bailey has recently read Katherine Webb’s The Legacy. A synopsis of this book is below:

“In the depths of a harsh winter, following the death of their grandmother, Erica Calcott and her sister Beth return to Storton Manor, a grand and imposing Wiltshire house where they spent their summer holidays as children. When Erica begins to sort through her grandmother’s belongings, she is flooded with memories of her childhood – and of her cousin, Henry, whose disappearance from the manor tore the family apart. Erica sets out to discover what happened to Henry, so that the past can be laid to rest, and her sister, Beth, might finally find some peace. Gradually, as Erica begins to sift through remnants of the past, a secret family history emerges; one that stretches all the way back to turn-of-the-century America, to a beautiful society heiress and a haunting, savage land. As past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two terrible acts of betrayal – and the heart-breaking legacy left behind. THE LEGACY is an unforgettable, deeply satisfying story that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.”  NielsenBookDataOnline

Mrs Bailey thinks:

“I am currently reading The Legacy which is a mixture of 1900’s and current day and a bit of a “Family tree” story….with a crime/mystery element a very good read.”

Mr van Noordwyck’s summer reading

We asked all members of staff to tell us what they had been reading during their summer holidays and received some really interesting replies.  Here is Mr van Noordwyck’s selection:

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

In this prequel to “The Da Vinci Code”, Mr. Langdon attempts to discover the  killer of a prominent physicist who was looking to prove that science and religion are intermingled. He crosses paths with the Vatican, along with the Swiss Guard, but the most surprising and unexpected twist occurs at the end, when the real murderer is discovered….   allreaders.com

Deception Point by Dan Brown

Rachel Sexton, a gister (data summarizer) for the National      Reconnaissance Office, gets an unexpected meeting with the  President of the United States.

Before she knows it, she is up at the North Pole, examining one of  the greatest finds in the history of mankind. NASA found a  meteorite containing life from outer space! This meteorite could win the election for current President Herney, because his adversary, Senator Sexton, is a popular critic of NASA…  allreaders.com

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

When the National Security Agency’s invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant, beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power.  NielsenBookDataOnline

 

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-  night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly    curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the  museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of  baffling codes. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist,  Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they  are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo  Da Vinci – and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vault of history. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the pieces of the puzzle, a stunning historical truth will be lost forever…   NielsenBookDataOnline

Mr Van Noordwyck is working his way through Dan Brown’s series of books and is just finishing The Lost Symbol. Watch this space for when he’s completed the saga…

Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

On Thursday 4th March, 2010, World Book Day, we asked teachers to talk to their classes about their favourite books or books they are currently enjoying.   Ms McColl shared her thoughts with classes about Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece ‘Crime and Punishment’:

‘Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.’  Nielsen BookData

A fantastic story, wonderfully told, do set aside some time to read Russian favourites…

Ms Best’s books for World Book Day 2010

On Thursday 4th March, 2010, World Book Day, we asked teachers to talk to their classes about their favourite books or books they are currently enjoying.  Ms Best talked with her students about Scandinavian books and authors she’d read when she lived in Norway.  The first book mentioned below is one that she has actually read in Norwegian (I am very impressed!):

‘Grainy CCTV footage shows a man walking into a bank and putting a gun to a cashier’s head. He tells her to count to twenty-five. When he doesn’t get his money in time, she is executed. Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case. While Harry’s girlfriend is away in Russia, an old flame gets in touch. He goes to dinner at her house and wakes up at home with no memory of the past twelve hours. The same morning the girl is found shot dead in her bed. Then Harry begins to receive threatening e-mails. Is someone trying to frame him for this unexplained death? Meanwhile the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery. Gripping and surprising, “Nemesis” is a thriller by one of the biggest stars of Scandinavian crime fiction.’   Nielsen Bookdata Online

Next comes a book by Swedish author Henning Mankell, whom many of us know through the recent BBC tv adaptation of his Wallander stories:

‘In woodland outside Ystad, the police make a horrific discovery: a severed head, and hands locked together in an attitude of prayer. A Bible lies at the victim’s side, the pages marked with scribbled corrections. A string of macabre incidents, including attacks on domestic animals, have been taking place, and Inspector Wallander fears that these disturbances could be the prelude to attacks on humans on an even more alarming scale. Linda Wallander, in preparation to join the police force, arrives at Ystad. Exhibiting some of the hallmarks of her father – the maverick approach, the flaring temper – she becomes entangled in a case involving a group of religious extremists who are bent on punishing the world’s sinners. Following on from the enormous success of the Kurt Wallander mysteries, Henning Mankell has begun an outstanding new chapter in crime writing.’

Her third is a book by Icelandic novelist Yrsa Sigurdardottir – ‘ Last Rituals’:

‘A young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out. A student of Icelandic history in Reykjavik, he came from a wealthy German family who do not share the police’s belief that his drug dealer murdered him. Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir is commissioned by his family to find out the truth, with the help — and hindrance — of boorish ex-policeman Matthew Reich. Their investigations into his research take them deep into a grisly world of torture and witchcraft both past and present, as they draw ever closer to a killer gripped by a dangerous obsession…’Exhilarating…matches Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs in the bloodchiller stakes.’ — Waterstone’s Books Quarterly ‘Given the dark subject matter, this is a surprisingly funny book…a quirky and interesting read.’–Guardian’

And finally she recommends ‘The Fourth man’ by Norwegian Kjell Ola Dahl:

‘In the course of a routine police raid Detective Inspector Frank Frolich of the Oslo Police saves Elizabeth Faremo from getting inadvertently caught in crossfire. By the time he learns that she is the sister of Jonny Faremo, wanted member of a larceny gang, it is already too late – he is obsessed. Suspected, suspended and blindly in love, Frolich must find out if he is being used before his life unravels beyond repair. ‘

A more diverse selection for all  fans of crime and mystery, try and leave comments here…

All quotes and synopses are taken from Nielsen Bookdata Online.

Hold Tight (Harlan Coben)

Mrs Bailey has sent in another review, this time of Harlan Coben’s ‘Hold Tight’.  Here’s what happens…

“Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d become the type of overprotective parents who spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his classmate Spencer Hill – the latest in a string of issues at school – they can’t help but worry. They install a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer, and within days they are jolted by a message from an unknown correspondent addressed to their son: “Just stay quiet and all safe.” Meanwhile, browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill is struck by a photo that appears to have been taken on the night of her son’s death and he wasn’t alone. She thinks it is Adam Baye standing just outside the camera’s range, but when Adam goes missing, it soon becomes clear that something deep and sinister has infected their community…”  Nielsen Bookdata Online

Mrs Bailey says of this book:

“Detective work and family secrets make this book a riveting read! I couldn’t put it down.  Some good characters. Will make you question your actions. Would appeal to young and old.  I finished it at 1.30 this morning, couldn’t put it down!!!”

Sounds like a must…  If you’ve read this or any other books by Coben, please let us know.

The girl with the dragon tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

On Thursday 4th March, 2010, World Book Day, we asked teachers to talk to their classes about their favourite books or books that they are currently enjoying.  Ms Doggett talked to pupils about The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  Here follows a synopsis of the book:

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.”   Nielsen Bookdata Online

And this is what Ms Doggett says:

“I have talked to all my classes today about Steig Larsson’s trilogy and particularly The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the film is soon coming out!…   They all enjoyed hearing why I read the whole thing in a day because I could not put it down, and the amazing story of Larsson and his untimely death and the fact that there is a fourth one on a laptop, unpublished.”

We hope to have a review of the film just as soon as Ms Doggett has seen it!  Please share your thoughts about these enormously popular books here…

The other two books in the trilogy are: ‘The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest’ and ‘The girl who played with fire’.