Drugs and Rock N’ Roll – New Non Fiction this week

Every week we get new books delivered to our libraries across the city. These are a few of the latest non fiction books that have arrived in the last week.

Theres somethingThere’s something I’ve been dying to tell you by Lynda Bellingham

In 2013, actress, television personality and Sunday Times bestselling author, Lynda Bellingham was diagnosed with cancer. Until now, Lynda hasn’t spoken publicly about her illness – she has felt strongly that everyone’s experience of cancer is so different, and she wanted to keep what she has been going through personal to her while she came to terms with her life now. But in this memoir, Lynda talks with beautiful poignancy about her life since her diagnosis, her family and how together they came to terms with a future they hadn’t planned. This is a brave and brutally honest memoir and yet even when talking about these deeply personal experiences, Lynda manages to spread her infectious warmth and humour bringing light to a very dark time.

Getcha rocks offGetcha rocks off: sex & excess, bust-ups & binges, life & death on the rock ‘n’ roll road by Mick Wall

Hanging out with rock stars, trying to steal their chicks, or throwing up over their guitars after launching into the hospitality a little too enthusiastically, Mick Wall spent much of the 1980s sprawled in limos and five-star hotels with the biggest rock bands in the world, including Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Motorhead and more. ‘Getcha Rocks Off’ is a rock apocalypse ‘Cider With Roadies’, and a more frank and disturbing ‘Apathy for the Devil’.

soundtrack to my lifeThe soundtrack to my life by Dermot O’Leary      

This is the story of Dermot’s life so far, from growing up in semi-rural Colchester with his Irish born parents, to landing one of the biggest jobs in TV. Throughout this journey, music has been a constant companion: a best friend, a confidant, a really annoying sibling, and at times a tormentor.

rival queensThe rival queens: Catherine de’ Medici, her daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the betrayal that ignited a kingdom by Nancy Bazelon Goldstone

Set in Renaissance France at the magnificent court of the Valois kings, this book tells the history of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm. Catherine de’ Medici, the infamous queen mother of France, was a consummate pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for 30 years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous ‘Queen Margot’, was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control. When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his Huguenot followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.

seymours of wolf hallThe Seymours of Wolf Hall: a Tudor family story by D. M. Loades

Although the Seymours arrived with the Normans, it is with Jane, Henry VIII’s third queen, and her brothers – Edward, Duke of Somerset, and Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley – that they became prominent. Jane bore Henry his longed-for son, Edward VI, and both her brothers achieved prominence through her. Her brother Edward was central to Henry’s activities in Scotland and become Lord Protector for the young king, his nephew, a hugely powerful position. This title tells the epic rise and fall of the family at the heart of the Tudor court and of Henry VIII’s own heart; he described Jane as ‘my first true wife’ and left express orders to be buried next to her tomb at Windsor Castle. The family seat of Wolfhall or ‘Wolf Hall’ in Wiltshire is long gone, but it lives on as an icon of the Tudor age.

good morning mr mandelaGood morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda La Grange

Zelda la Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet just a few years after the end of Apartheid she would become a most trusted assistant to Nelson Mandela, growing to respect and cherish the man she had been taught was the enemy. ‘Good Morning, Mr Mandela’ tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time.


last act of loveThe last act of love: the story of my brother and his sister by Cathy Rentzenbrink

In the summer of 1990 – two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school – Cathy Rentzenbrink’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries. He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty – they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty – and for themselves – was let him go. With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her family’s lives forever.

the infiltratorThe infiltrator: undercover in the world of drug barons and dirty banks by Robert Mazur

Robert Mazur tells the story of Operation C-Chase, one of the most successful undercover operations in the history of US law enforcement, and how he helped bring down the unscrupulous bankers who manipulated complex international finance systems to serve drug lords, corrupt politicians, tax cheats and terrorists. It is a shocking chronicle of the rise and fall of perhaps the biggest and most intricate money-laundering operation of all time, and a stunning and vivid portrait of an undercover life and the sacrifice it requires

Poem of the week – No 43 by James Nash

some things matterThis week we are celebrating on of our local poets James Nash. James lives in Leeds and runs creative writing workshops in schools, universities and the community. James is also a brilliant host for literary events and has hosted events for in Leeds Libraries as well as literature festivals such as Ilkley and Wakefield. This sonnet is taken from his collection; Some Things Matter: 63 Sonnets.


The train creeps across Yorkshire into moors,

Small mountains where stone cottages have grown

And spread along the ridge and valley floors

Like rock outcroppings amongst the green.

I sit there watching mills and chimneys pass,

The towns and villages long built on wool,

High summer, and I see how green the grass

Is before it browns, and how the trees are full.

The promise is at it’s highest and yet,

This holds the seeds of death and decay,

I search my heart and find no regret

As outside the sun glitters on the day.

Sixty-three summers I’ve seen and go,

This mimic birth ad death is what I know.

#whatsyourstory – Meet Wayne

Our Leeds Libraries #whatsyourstory campaign had its big launch this week. This post tells you all about another of our inspirational Leeds Libraries ambassadors – Wayne Levitt.

WayneWayne had always been interested in his family history, but never had the computer skills to be able to access online archives, and didn’t realise how close the facilities for learning these skills are, right here in Leeds.

One day, Wayne, from Belle Isle, took a shortcut through his local cemetery on the walk back to his house. Here, he noticed the headstone of a lady who shared the surname ‘Levitt’. Inspired to find out more, Wayne enquired about the facilities available at Morley library, picking up information about basic computer tuition. From this, he found out about the Leeds Local and Family History library, based at Leeds Central Library. Wayne soon became a regular.

The first step on Wayne’s journey back through history was to find out about the lady on the tombstone. After tracing his family tree back two generations, he discovered that this was his great-grandmother.

Step-by-step, Wayne went further and further back through his family history – and made a ground-breaking discovery. He found that he was related to local war hero Arthur Lewis, the only person in Leeds to win a Victoria Cross for his bravery in World War Two. Looking deeper into this story, Wayne uncovered that Arthur Lewis was shot in the jaw, chest and arm, but managed to keep himself alive long enough to fly his plane to safety. Despite his fatal injuries, Arthur made it back to England but died nine hours later.

Wayne has currently traced his family tree back as far as 1803, to his great-great-great-great grandfather and wife, David and Anna Levitt. In the past month, Wayne has found a family of Levitt’s in Brierley that fit with his existing links, as well as some warm connections in the Hull and Goole area, where he assumes that the family followed the river up to Selby where later generations lived.

Now you’ve met our first two Leeds Libraries ambassadors, could you be the next? If one of the many services available at Leeds Libraries has helped you, we want to know. Tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk, and let us know how we’ve helped you.

Keep an eye out for Wayne and Ma in your local area, as you’ll be seeing their faces popping up around the city soon…

#whatsyourstory – Meet Ma

We’re very excited to announce that our #whatsyourstory campaign has officially launched! Designed to make our Leeds community aware of all the different services available at your local library, today, we’d like to share with you the story of one extremely inspirational Leeds resident.

Ma MaposaMa Maposa’s story is all about having the strength and courage to follow your dreams – you never know how far they might take you.

Ma had a tough childhood. Growing up with limited prospects, he always dreamed of something bigger. After a particularly bad day, Ma walked into the town centre to get some much-needed space. He found himself walking past Leeds Central Library, where Jamie from Studio12 was handing out flyers. Attracted to Studio12’s free music production studio, Ma began to visit. He finally had a place to be himself, and do what he loved.

Ma went from strength-to-strength, and soon found himself taking part in ‘Writing Britain’ alongside Studio12, a national project led by the British Library. You can see the short film that Ma created for Writing Britain here – which led to his work being shown on BBC3.

With a clear stepping stone formed – and a strong support network behind him in the form of Leeds Libraries and Studio12 – Ma set up his own YouTube channel, BigOnRoadTV, that promotes the talents of local up-and-coming music stars. As this grew, so did his passion for music, and he developed BigOnRoad to form his own record label under the same name.

Ma then partnered with Leeds University to run a competition called Undiscovered: Leeds, with the same aim of empowering young, talented people to get into music, with the winner receiving a record deal with BigOnRoad.

By this point, Ma had created a growing business empire. Expanding on his natural entrepreneurial flare – he had an idea for a smartphone app. Ma created Cardnet, a virtual business card sharing app, that allows you to carry and share your business cards virtually. Cardnet is a huge success, and he’s recently sold this business on.

Currently in pre-production for a film that he’s written and produced himself, Ma teaches us that you can achieve goals that you never thought possible. With the right support network – and access to the facilities you need – you never know what’s around the corner.

Now you know Ma’s story, we’d love to know yours. If Leeds Libraries has changed your life for the better, tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk – and it might be your story that we’re telling next.

Poem of the Week – Heather by Blake Morrison

Shingle StreetAs holiday season happens upon us, this poem from Blake’s new collection of poems, Shingle Street amused me. Does it bring back memories for anyone else?


The heather threaded through the radiator grille

was proof we’d been to the Highlands,

and the canvas on the roof-rack that we’d camped.


What else can I say? That it rained all week,

That the windbreak blew over on the shingle,

That the saucepan on the Primus failed to boil.


Home seemed as far away as Africa.

The yellow pills I took to stop me feeling carsick

were the first thing I threw up.


Grey lochs. Black glens. The sepia troutbeck

where the horsefly stung me. Ferns too tall

To see over and mist too thick to see through.


In the photos I seem to be enjoying myself.

So it’s strange how I remember hating it

And even stranger how I long to have it back.







Book Review – The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

the light between oceansThis book was one of our readers group collections that was read by a number of our readers groups across our libraries in the city. Halton Readers group were the last group to read it, and I received a number of reviews from them this week.

Here’s what they thought of it:-

“I loved this book. I ended up reading until late to find out the ending. I must admit I cried at the last chapter – it was beautifully written and the characters made your heart go out to all of them. You wondered what you would do in such a dilemma. I also found the description of the island and  the working of the lighthouse intriguing. The soldiers stories on their return from the war was so sad.”

If you are intrigued and want to read The Light Between the Oceans yourself we have a number of copies of the book available to borrow.

If you are interested in coming along to one of our readers groups a full list can be found on our website.


Britain’s favourite bird

robin-539789_640Yesterday the results of a very special poll were revealed, the search to find Britain’s favourite bird. A long list of 60 candidates had been shortened to a final ten most beloved feathered friends. Garden species are well represented with bird table regulars the blackbird, robin, wren and blue tit all charming their way into our affections. Then there are the water birds, the regal mute swan and the enigmatic little kingfisher. Representing coastal birds are popular puffins. Birds of prey top off the list with a trio of aerial hunters, the charismatic barn owl, the critically endangered hen harrier and finally the magnificent red kite thriving once again in England and Scotland thanks to a successful reintroduction program.

The Christmas card favourite, the Robin fought of all the completion to maintain it’s place as our national bird, despite the originator of the poll admitting that he would have preferred the Blackbird to win.

The poll has proved that the diversity of British bird life is something worth celebrating. So whether you’re a back garden amateur or a dedicated twitcher and want to learn more about British birds why not expand your knowledge with this selection of avian themed books:

RSPB Handbook of British Birds. A comprehensive and jargon free guide to our national birdlife and the perfect field companion for birdwatchers of all levels.

Birdwatching by Rob Hume. Expert tips on getting the most from your bird watching experience covering everything from the best viewing sights in Britain and Europe to the correct kit for the greatest results.

Our Garden Birds: A Bird for Every Week of the Year by Matt Sewell. Boasting 52 beautiful watercolours this enchanting book is a lovely and unique tribute to some of our garden favourites.

Garden Bird Behaviour by Robert Burton. Get more out of your garden bird experience with this guide to recognising and interpreting everyday bird activities.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden by Stephen Moss. Perfect for the armchair ornithologist this practical guide to creating a bird friendly garden will encourage birds to your home environment as well as helping to support native species throughout the year.

Whilst Flocks Last : An armchair birdwatcher goes in search of our most endangered species by Charlie Elder. An amateur ornithologist sets out with a field guide and binoculars on a mission to find 40 rare birds and to uncover the reasons why they are in such serious decline.

A History of British Birds by D.W Yalden. Packed with information this fascinating book explores the archaeological background and historical importance of our native wild species as well as exploring the debates around issues such as their future preservation and the reintroduction of lost species.

Adventures Among Birds by W.H Hudson. Story’s and anecdotes fill this reissue of a classic and very personal collection of writings about a life spent studying birds.

The Poetry of Birds. Simon Armitage and Tim Dee gather together some of the most beautiful and inspiring verse written in celebration of birds for this unique anthology.

Birds Britannia: How the British fell in love with birds by Stephen Moss. Brits seem to have a peculiar passion for wildlife and birdwatching is a pastime shared by many. This fun book explores British birds and our national fascination with them.