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.


Don’t judge a book by its cover – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Several people have told me in the past that this is a good book. I considered it, but then always put it off as it is classed as a Sci-fi novel. I know that shouldn’t influence me but I am not naturally drawn to Sci-fi novels.

However Flowers for Algernon was chosen as our book group book of the month so home it went with me. The copy we were reading was one of the specially produced yellow covers for Gollancz Publishing 50 year anniversary. I am sure that if you are a Gollancz fan, then the cover is iconic, but it really didn’t float my boat. But I got past it and I am so glad that I did.

Flowers for Algernon was first published in the 1960s and is classed as Sci-fi due to the nature of the technology in it. Other than that it is set in a very real world and written about a very real character called Charlie. Charlie is an adult with learning difficulties, although as the book was written in the 60s he is referred to as retarded. This caused me to gulp a bit as I read it, but I persevered.

Charlie is relatively happy with his life, he has friends at the bakery where he works, he attends a literacy class with other adults like him in the evenings where he gets on well with his teacher. He likes his class but never seems to remember anything he is taught. Charlie wants to be clever and is offered a chance to change and he accepts it. He enters an experimental programme to alter his brain function. This programme has been previously tested on animals and has a success story with Algernon the mouse.

As the book continues Charlie’s and Algernon’s fates become intertwined and Charlie’s world completely changes as his IQ rises. I won’t give any spoilers to the end, but the clue is in the title of the book. Be prepared – you may need tissues.

I am really looking forward to the book group discussion about this book as the book raises so many questions. Should Charlie have taken part in the experiment? Would he ultimately have been happier if he had stayed ‘dumb’. Does being very intelligent cause its own problems? Is it better to not remember when people are unkind to us?

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that hasn’t read it. Don’t be put off by the cover!

Have you read Leeds Libraries top 10 #mostborrowedauthors?

image-medium (12)So who are our most borrowed authors in the last six months? By far the most popular overall is our friend James Patterson — but he does publish a lot! Many of the other authors publish various series and all originate or now live outside the UK. Is your favourite here?

1     Patterson, James – American author, largely known for his novels about fictional   psychologist Alex Cross; world’s best selling thriller writer

 2    Beaton, M. C.– UK author of the much-loved Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth crime fiction books published in the UK

 3    Baldacci, David  Another American who sells shed loads of crime novels and makes the NY bestsellers. Publishes various ‘series Shaw Series, Camel Club Series, King & Maxwell Series, John Puller Series, Will Robie Series

 4    Jacobs, Anna  English novelist who grew up in Rochdale, Lancashire, before emigrating in 1973 to Australia. She writes various series – 50+ novels to date  including historical sagas and romances, modern novels and SF/F.

5    Roberts, Nora  – American bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels. Also writes crime as J. D. Robb

6    Robinson, Peter  Canadian crime writer born in Britain. He is best known for his crime novels set in Yorkshire featuring Inspector Alan Banks

7    Connelly, Michael American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller

8    Robb, J. D The ‘In Death’ series She also writes as Nora Roberts – see above

9    Macomber, Debbie  – Best-selling American author of over 150 romance novels and contemporary women’s fiction. Over 170 million copies of her books are in print throughout the world, and four have become made-for-TV-movies

10  McCall Smith, Alexander Writes the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (over twenty million sold) Other series include the Scotland Street novels, the Sunday Philosophy Club starring Isabel Dalhousie, the von Igelfeld series, and the new Corduroy Mansions novels.