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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’s libraries. To check the location of a particular title, make a request or to contribute a review, contact your local library or visit www.fifedirect.org.uk What’s New? A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb Weirdo by Cath Unsworth Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina Books Reviewed this month How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese The Sugar Girls by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay The Lighthouse Keeper by Alan K.Baker The Woman in Black by Susan Hill A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James All editions of Right Guid Read are available on www.fifedirect.org.uk


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

Reader Reviews How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff I picked up a World Book Night book at a conference where it had been ’set free’. ‘How I Live Now’ is by the teen author Meg Rosoff. Now WBN books don’t have blurb on them so you open them up with a leap of faith, and this time it was worth the leap. As there was no blurb on it, I’m not going to give you any blurb. It’s funny and sharp and warm and unsettling and a really good read. I wish there had been books like it when I was a teenager—I would have thought much more about the world around me. Try this yourself, or give it to your teenage daughter. Available in SW

These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggah This title has recently been republished as ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ to tie in with the film of the same name but has actually been around as a novel for a good few years. It follows a group of elderly Brits who are enticed to spend their retirement not in a care home in Britain but instead relocate to a hotel for the elderly in Bangalore. The glory days of the Raj that many of them imagined are not quite replicated in the slightly shoddy and run down building, but they soon settle in and start building up new and sometimes surprising relationships. I found this a bit slow, although the different characters are sometimes amusing and the idea of sending your elderly parents to live in India is an interesting one! Although not a heart stopping page turner, this was a gentle, pleasant read. Available in LP and SW

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese This is a stunning book – one of the best I’ve read for a long time. It had me totally engrossed and I’m sorry it had to come to an end. Starting in Ethiopia in the 1950’s, it’s an epic saga of a Indian nun who meets a British doctor and ends up following him to a mission hospital, where their illicit love affair culminates in the birth of twin sons. The book follows the life of the sons, Marion and Shiva, from their Ethiopian upbringing, to Marion’s move to America and his training to be a surgeon, like his absent father. It’s a tale of love, betrayal and redemption and it had me in tears on several occasions but also had me smiling. By the end, I felt that I was a part of the twins’ family and felt as if I’d lived through their happiness and sadness. A wonderful book and a fantastic read. Available in SW


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

Reader Reviews The Sugar Girls by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi Following the lives of four girls in the 1940’s and 1950’s as they embark on careers with Tate & Lyle in London. A major employer at that time, this tells the stories of Ethel, Joan, Gladys and Lilian as they experience the ups and downs of life and the hardships of factory life. Tate & Lyle was a good employer to work for providing canteen facilities, a doctor on site and sports and recreation facilities for its workers, and the girls made full use of all that was on offer. A fascinating insight into a different era, this is almost a family saga, although it’s a true account of these women’s lives. If you like sagas set in London, give this a try – I loved it.

Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay I’m always pleased when I discover a crime writer I haven’t tried before and so was happy to settle down with this book. Set in Whitely Bay, the run down coastal town provides a stark back drop for the horrific murder of a teenage girl. DI Jack Brady, just returned to work after recovering from a shooting injury, is flung in at the deep end. He’s struggling with returning to work and with the break up of his relationship with psychologist girlfriend and struggles even more when he finds his colleague, DI Matthews knows the dead girl. When Matthews disappears and becomes a suspect, DI Brady thinks things can’t get any worse. A tense, thrilling book with the almost obligatory, dysfunctional detective, this was really enjoyable. Clever plot and interesting characters, I’m looking forward to the second book by this author. Available in SW

The Lighthouse Keeper by Alan K.Baker In December 1900, three lighthouse keepers vanish from the remote Scottish island of Eilean Mor, part of the Flannan islands. There has never been an explanation for their disappearance but assumptions have been made that all three must have been swept out to sea in a freak storm. When the boat arrives bringing relief keepers, all that is found is an upturned chair in the lighthouse, the clocks all stopped and no clues as to what has occurred. Alan K. Baker has taken this true story and goes on to write the imagined events that led to the disappearance of the keepers in 1900. Written between a present day environmental trip the island, and jumping back in time to 1901, this is a story that gripped me immediately. I liked the true historical background and eagerly read, wanting to know how the author would weave the facts and fiction together. The story is frightening and fanciful but very engaging and cleverly brings past and present together, culminating in a startling, supernatural ending. And who knows, perhaps this is what really happened on Eilean Mor in 1900?


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

Reader Reviews The Woman in Black by Susan Hill Wow! What a fantastic read! I have no idea why I haven’t read any of Susan Hill’s books before but am certainly going to be reading them now. The Woman in Black is the story of Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer who is sent to a remote house to sort out the affairs of its recently deceased owner. The mysterious woman in black first appears to Arthur at the funeral of Mrs Drablow but when Arthur asks about her, he is met only with horrified looks and no one will tell him who the woman is. It is only when Arthur reaches the remote Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again, that he begins to become uneasy. I was absolutely entranced by this book. Susan Hill is a master of creating atmosphere and the descriptions of the house and its environs are chilling in themselves. I was completely hooked once I started reading this and loved every page.

A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson The death of a man in a London bed-sit leads Inspector Stratton to rural Suffolk and to investigate a strange religious sect, based in an old rectory there. When a young woman’s body is found in woods nears the rectory, the religious sect comes under more scrutiny. This is the fourth Inspector Stratton thriller, and having enjoyed the previous three, I was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed. The setting of 1950’s London makes a great backdrop for these crimes and I find this old fashioned detective fiction a refreshing change from some of the high tech and gory thrillers that are around just now. Good old fashioned police work saves the day in this book and I loved meeting familiar characters again. I’d recommend this if you like a gentler crime reading experience but with all the twists and turns of an excellent plot. Available in SW

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James If you haven’t read about this, heard people talking about it or spotted it in your local supermarket lately, then where have you been?. This book has become somewhat of a publishing sensation and because every one was talking about it, I felt I was being left out and had to read it. It’s been labelled as ‘mummy porn’ and whether you agree with that or not, I wouldn’t make up your mind until you’ve read it for yourself. It’s fundamentally a romance with very erotic undertones and is about the very rich, handsome and powerful Christian Grey who falls for college student Ana Steele when she comes to interview him. Christian’s dominating personality and lifestyle might not appeal to every young woman but Ana falls under his spell and is soon in a full-scale relationship with him. I found this book compelling reading, the ending very cleverly written to leave you wanting to find out what happens and so I’ve gone on to read the other two books in the trilogy. It is explicit in parts so if you don’t like that, then perhaps it’s not the book for you but that aside, the plot and characterisation are very good and it does make for a good read.


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

New Titles A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb 1937. In a village on the Dorset coast, fourteen-year-old Mitzy Hatcher has endured a wild and lonely upbringing - until the arrival of renowned artist Charles Aubrey, his exotic mistress and their daughters, changes everything. Over the next three summers, Mitzy sees a future she had never thought possible, and a powerful love is kindled in her. A love that grows from innocence to obsession; from childish infatuation to something far more complex. Years later, a young man in an art gallery looks at a hastily-drawn portrait and wonders at the intensity of it. The questions he asks lead him to a Dorset village and to the truth about those fevered summers in the 1930s ...

Weirdo by Cath Unsworth Twenty years ago, a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl named Corrine Woodrow was convicted of murdering one of her classmates. But now new forensic evidence indicates that Corrine didn't act alone, and Sean Ward - a private investigator whose promising career in the Met was cut short by a teenage drug dealer with an automatic weapon travels to the seaside town of Ernemouth, to try to discover what really happened all those years ago. But he quickly realises that what's ultimately at stake is not Corrine's reputation, but those of the people who ran the place then - and still run it now. In order to get to the truth, he has to take on retired Detective Inspector Len Rivett the man who headed up the original case and wants to keep it firmly closed .

Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse For the first time fans can follow Amy’s incredible story in full and discover the truth behind the headlines. With never before seen photos and personal notes and drawings, this book brings together the many layers of Amy’s life – the personal, the private and the public. From Amy’s mischievous early years, her rise to stardom and to her much publicised struggles with addiction, this is the definitive book on an iconic figure who, although tragically taken at an early age, has left a musical legacy that will enthral audiences for many years to come.

Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina A Glasgow post office one week before Christmas. Martin Pavel cowers on the floor, his eyes locked on those of a terrified child. Above them a masked gunman wields an AK47 while the boy's grandfather calmly volunteers to help the robber gather the money. Then the old man stands passively, hands by his sides, while the gunman raises the barrel and shoots him to shreds. Recently returned to work after the birth of her twins, DS Alex Morrow is called in to head the investigation. Why did the grandfather offer his help? Was it a moment of madness, a noble act of self-sacrifice, or did the old man and his killer share a dark past?


A Right Guid Read September 2012  

A Right Guid Read is an online reader reviews newsletter compiled by Fifes' libraries.

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