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.

Books into films 2014

image-mediumRead it first …..! Divergent, Maze Runner and The Giver are dark, action packed looks into what the future may hold:

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Rated 5 star by 24 of our readers, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a ‘perfect society’. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice Prior renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s Abnegation group, and chooses another faction… Kate Winslet’s in it

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. In the sci fi genre, fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games should like it. Tale of a mysterious maze and the ultimate fate of those sent into it — who have no memories upon arriving.  Stars Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario as Thomas and Teresa. Like Divergent it’s based on a young adult novel. 

 The Giver by Lois Lowry. Classic teen tale of a seemingly perfect future society that has a dark side. Lowry said “It seems to me that they all seem to be much more action packed (other books). They’ve been trying to make a movie of The Giver, but there’s not a lot of action in it. It’s relatively easy to make a move of The Hunger Games,” Brenton Thwaites is Jonas, Jeff Bridges the Giver, Taylor Swift  Rosemary.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Another teen novel/vampire adaptation.The heroine Rose, played by Zoe Deutsch, is in training at St Vladimir’s (shades of Hogwarts?) the Vampire Academy.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. With Jamie Dornan as Christain Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia. Needs no explanation

The hundred-foot journey by Richard C Morais. Hassan Haji, a boy from Mumbai embarks on a journey first to London and then across Europe with his loud family, before ultimately opening a restaurant opposite a famous chef, Madame Mallory, in the remote French village of Lumière. A culinary war ensues. Touches of Pixar’s Ratatouille and Slumdog Millionaire ..

Gone Girlbig suspense best seller by Gillian Flynn is being adapted with Ben Affleck and Rosamond Pike as the married couple.

I, Frankenstein probably not a lot like Mary Shelley’s original novel – it stars Aaaron Eckhart as the monster with loads of action and sword fighting!

Noah (from the story in the Old Testament) will star Russell Crowe with Emma Watson as his daughter Not based on it but The Ark before Noah:decoding the flood by Yitzchak Irving Finkel is one to read

10 Best Cycling books by Simon Usborne

 image-medium                                                                 Simon Usborne of the Independent has recommended these 10 best cycling books to ‘Experience the emotional and physical pain of professionals in a sport hit by a long-running drugs scandal’ We’ve seven of them in stock, reserve the others if you are interested in reading them.

1. The Secret Race, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

The award-winning, thrilling result of in-depth meetings between Hamilton, the man whose testimony precipitated Lance Armstrong’s belated downfall, and the brilliant writer, Coyle. The definitive account of a depressing conspiracy that has scarred a sport.

2. On the Road Bike, by Ned Boulting

The genial co-presenter of ITV4’s Tour de France coverage goes in “search of a nation’s cycling soul” as he meets the characters behind a modern, hi-tech obsession with modest roots.

3. Wide-Eyed and Legless, by Jeff Connor

Way before Armstrong or Sky’s heavily financed marginal gains, a British team called ANC Halfords battled against all odds in the 1987 Tour de France. Connor followed every pedal stroke in an account that has aged beautifully.

4. The Rider, by Tim Krabbe

In an idiosyncratic classic of sports literature first published in Dutch in 1978, the titular rider recounts in dark, compelling prose the pain and glory involved in a fictional race, covering 150km in 150 gripping pages.

5. Land of Second Chances, by Tim Lewis

The unlikely true story of two US ex-pros who travelled to Rwanda with visions of creating Africa’s first world-beating professional cycling team. After showing early promise in a country filled with natural athletes, their pursuit endures more ups and downs than a Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees.

6. The Rules, by The Velominati

A quartet of world-leading cycling snobs formalise the “rules” drawn up for the unenlightened rider on the Velominati website. They cover everything from jersey etiquette to the cultivation of tan lines (but not leg hair) – and beg to be broken.

7. Seven Deadly Sins, by David Walsh

The Sunday Times journalist recounts his dogged, career and life-consuming pursuit of Lance Armstrong and a story he knew was too good to be true. Now updated with the author’s reaction to the latest events in Armstrong’s exposure, including that Oprah confession.

8. Racing Hard, by William Fotheringham

The doyen of British cycle writing collects more than 20 years of reporting from the top of a transforming, transformative sport, updating and annotating his accounts of the triumphs, tragedies and – inevitably – the scandals that have defined the sport he loves.

9. Domestique, by Charly Wegelius

Few riders have better expressed the physical and emotional pain of life in grand-tour servitude. A startling and, at times, hard-to-read account by a British rider who never won a race but pushed himself to destruction.

10. Racing Through the Dark, by David Millar

The British doper who emerged from a ban to lead campaigns for clean cycling offers an eloquent, highly rated memoir about life in a troubled peloton.

£8.99, Orion

Angelfall by Susan EE – review

image-medium (12) Angelfall is Susan EE’s debut novel and it’s a variation on the apocalyptic novels so popular since the Hunger Games and Angel Fire (Leeds Book award winner)

Originally starting life as a self published eBook, you can now borrow it from Leeds Libraries.

The plot follows Penryn a 17 year old girl’s uneasy alliance with a mutilated angel (Raffe) in a quest to regain her younger sister Paige from the angels.

The angels of the apocalypse have destroyed civilisation and when the enemy angels fly away with Paige, Penryn is forced to team up with Raffe, an injured  and possibly treacherous angel who wants to get his wings back. Together, they journey to the heart of San Francisco and the angels’ stronghold, where an unimaginable horror awaits them …. At least Penryn has the advantage of being a martial arts pro and a smart cookie to boot. There’s lots of good banter in it and it does mange to live up to its hype.

By Lionel Aldridge


Is Jamie going frugal?

9780718158149Looking forward to these new cook books which we’ve got ordered.

Jamie Oliver’s new cookery book is ‘Save with Jamie’ We like the look of this one  as we’re all for being a cheapskate!

”Save with Jamie’ draws on knowledge and cooking skills to help you make better choices, showing you how to buy economically and efficiently, get the most out of your ingredients, save time and prevent food waste.’

Then there’s the healthy sounding ‘River Cottage fruit everyday’ by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. With 180 delicious recipes, it shows you how to enjoy a broader eating experience and make fruit easy, fun and irresistible. Recipes for seasonal fruit that grows in this country, and how to make the most of fruit from other parts of the world:  marinated lamb and fig kebabs; barbecued pork chops with peaches and sage; venison stew with damsons; and parsnip and apple cakes;  fresh and zingy salads as well as gorgeous cakes, tarts, pies, crumbles and puddings.

And this one will be our favourite: Michel Roux Jnr ‘The French Kitchen’. It’s got 200 recipes so if you feel inspired by watching Masterchef, this is the one for you


‘With its delicious dishes and exquisite ingredients as diverse as the regions from which they come, heritage cooking and family values from provincial France have stood the test of time. In this book Michel Roux Jr explores the heritage of his native French cuisine: from the rustic to the haute.’

Still looking for some recipe inspiration, here’s our 2013 cook books to browse through with everything from curries to meatless, superfoods, Mary Berry, Levi Roots and more !