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Leisure and Culture Services—Libraries, Arts, Museums and Archives Welcome to Fife’s libraries reader reviews newsletter. All books reviewed in this newsletter are available from Fife Council Libraries. To check the location of a particular title, make a request or to contribute a review, contact your local library or visit

What’s New? The London Train by Tessa Hadley Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz Books Reviewed this month

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffmann

The Berlin Crossing by Kevin Brophy Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke American Tabloid by James Ellory Awakening by S. J. Bolton Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne Norwegian Handknits by Sue Flanders The History of the NME by Pat Long Blue Monday by Nicci French All editions of Right Guid Read are available on

Leisure and Culture Services—Libraries, Arts, Museums and Archives

Reader Reviews The Berlin Crossing by Kevin Brophy I have to be very honest and say that I surprised myself by enjoying Berlin Crossing much more than I thought I would. Great credit has to go to Kevin Brophy for the amount of work he obviously put into producing a book that's refreshingly original and highly stylish. The lead character is a guy who has to lose everything in order to find himself again and there's a real feel of loss and abandonment throughout the book on both a personal and a social level. Hard hitting, powerful and, in it's own way, deeply disturbing with an equal blend of violence, anxiety and raw emotion as people are thrown around in the the face of enormous change. Can't say that Berlin Crossing is quick paced and a real page turner, it's not, this is a book that takes some concentration and not one to dip in and out of but it's worth the read

Norwegian Handknits by Sue Flanders This knitting book is like no other I have seen. The patterns are extremely varied and are based on artifacts found in the Vasterheim NorwegianAmerican Museum in Decorah, Iowa. The authors have taken these artifacts, every day items, embroidered shawls, some knit items, and used them creatively to produce interesting knits. The patterns in the book are a starting point for more creativity. Use the mitten motifs in a sweater. Use the cross country ski socks as the basis for a whole outfit, socks, hat and sweater. I n addition to a wide variety of patterns, there is a lot of Norwegian American history thrown in, with pictures of the original artifacts used for inspiration with short histories of some of the owners. A truly beautiful, different knitting book.

Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne The first half of this book is set in Sri Lanka and is beautiful and evocative, full of colour, laughter and joy. The second half is heart wrenchingly sad. I read the second half with a permanent lump in my throat. It is the vitality of the first half that makes the second half so tragic. But for me none of this is what makes the book so memorable and kept me thinking about it for weeks after I had read it. The greatest achievement of this book is to give a name and a face and a story to what have become just numbers in the news these days. The book starts with a terrorist attack in central London, it then goes back to tell the story of one of the faceless "numbers" caught up in the attack. It is this life story that still haunts me, long after reading this beautiful book.

Leisure and Culture Services—Libraries, Arts, Museums and Archives

Reader Reviews Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale I'm not usually one for buying recipe books, but after seeing Lorraine on television, she made it look so easy to make really impressive and delicious goodies, so I ordered her book. Every recipe that I have followed so far has produced great results. The instructions are easy to follow and I really enjoyed cooking the items, eg the red velvet cake – a two tier delight! The Swiss roll – I hadn’t made one of these since school and it was really lovely, the pavlova – which I had never attempted before, but they were all excellent. It has encouraged my children to start baking and my son even made the scones which were amazing. I would not hesitate to recommend this if you are a baking newbie and even if you’ve been baking for the past thirty years, I still think you’d find something to tempt you in this lovely book

Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke I loved this installment in the Hannah Swensen series. I have read all of Joanne Fluke's books and this one was better than I'd hoped. Hannah had to try on the special order dress for her Mum's book launch and had a slight problem. It was too tight. There wasn't enough time for Hannah to order a new one so Hannah had no choice than to diet and exercise. Hannah works hard and goes with Andrea to the gym. As always Hannah is the one who finds the body, although not many tears are shed for the victim. Overall, I couldn’t fault this book. Good story line, good romance. Wonderful recipes. A light, fun read. There is even a diet recipe. I think Hannah is getting closer to choosing between her two men!

Awakening by S. J. Bolton Clara Benning is a wildlife vet in a small secluded village in Dorset. Traumatised by a childhood accident that left her horribly scarred, she hides herself away, relying on the company of the creatures she treats in her surgery. Clara’s reclusive existence is soon thrown into turmoil when an elderly neighbour is found dead from a snake bite. Reluctantly, Clara is drawn into a fifty year old mystery which threatens to shatter the tranquillity of English country life. As the death toll increases, Clara must race to find the truth behind what happened in 1958 and discover the identity of the mysterious killer, each step taking her deeper into her own psyche. The storyline is deeply chilling and Bolton has you drawn in from the beginning, leaving you hanging on every word. The tension starts building from the very first line making it a difficult book to put down. Bolton has built so much depth around her characters, you feel drawn into their lives. This is one mystery that will keep you guessing all the way through.

Leisure and Culture Services—Libraries, Arts, Museums and Archives

Reader Reviews American Tabloid by James Ellory If you're at all interested in the Kennedy assassination or the major events in American history from that era, and you're a fan of hardboiled crime, you'll love this book as much as I did. AMERICAN TABLOID is an intriguing combination of fact and fiction. This is a novel with a world-famous ending, the assassination of JFK. The time period covered is the two-year run-up to the 1960 US Election and the 1000-day tenure of JFK as President until his assassination in Dallas. If you've always wanted to know who shot him, why he was shot, and many other questions surrounding his brief presidency, then American Tabloid must surely be the most eye-opening source of information even if it must presumably have its inaccuracies. It truly is a revelation.

The History of the NME by Pat Long I consider myself to be a music fan but certainly not an expert and I thought that this book might be too earnest and intense for me, but thankfully I was wrong. Pat Long has produced a very informative and entertaining guide to a British institution, starting with its humble beginnings as the New Musical Express in 1952. For me the book really hit its stride when it reached 1970 and the legendary writers Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent are holding sway. This was before my time but Long successfully conveys just how powerful and influential these journalists were, often eclipsing the artists they were writing about in terms of fame and notoriety. The story stops in 2000 because, as Long explains, the digital revolution had such a profound effect on the way we listen to and read about music that it's really another story in its own right.

Blue Monday by Nicci French Not your run of the mill thriller, taken from a different angle from the usual who-dunnit. We follow Frieda Klien, top psychotherapist as she tries to unravel the abduction of a young child in London. She begins to suspect a link between one of her patients and the crime, this then leads to an unsolved, old case of a very similar type of crime. The twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing almost to the last page, where there are still surprises to be had. I can only say that if you enjoy thrillers, you’ll find this an excellent novel, I shall be looking out for more of "Frieda Klein" that are sure to follow this.

Leisure and Culture Services—Libraries, Arts, Museums and Archives

New Titles The London Train by Tessa Hadley I just loved this book by Tessa Hadley - much as I love all her other books. She has a subtle, elegant style of writing which doesn't shout for attention, preferring to quietly get under your skin. The characters, while not always lovable, provoke and continue to hold your interest from beginning to end. I'd recommend Hadley to any fans of Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes and basically anyone and everyone who loves good literary fiction.

Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates There is so much to enjoy in this second novel featuring the fascinating Sergeant Gunnhildur. She has been moved from her rural post to head-up a new serious crime unit in the capital,Reykjavik. She and her small team are faced with both tracking down a violent escaped prisoner and dealing with the murder of a female socialite TV personality. As the somewhat complex plot develops, figures in the political and business elite become suspects. Apart from an engaging plot, this novel touches on the many ways in which the financial crash effected the whole of Iceland and its citizens, and also there is the fantastically written character of Gunnhildur.

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz Dean Koontz has taken what could have been just another haunted house novel and bought it bang up-to-date. There are some themes in the book that aren't particularly original or new, but the plot is so tight and fast moving that it takes you along with it and I didn't find myself once second guessing the plot. I enjoyed all of the characters in 77 Shadow Street. Dean Koontz always seems to create characters that I bond with and so I get moved when the "bad" things start to happen to them and, believe me, in this book the character's have a great many "bad" things happen. This is a Gothic haunted house story for the modern reader with a real twist and a sting in the tail.

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffmann An unusual title for what turned out to be a pretty unusual book. Reading reviews from the USA, where it was released earlier, it appears to be a "marmite" kind of a either love it or hate it. I’m happy to say that I loved it! Admittedly, it took me a while to get into the story. Frequent changes of characters and switching from the first to the third person with startling regularity, can be confusing to begin with, but I urge readers to stick with it. I was gripped by Hoffman's writing and found it hard to put this one down. It’s a book I would highly recommended for its uniqueness.

Right Guid Read June 2012  

Book review magazine from Fife's libraries

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