Friday, 24 April 2015

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The “Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry” is about an older married couple who have an ordinary life and who have feelings and thoughts inside them of the kind we all have. Regrets, and a certain view of the way things were and are, have been with them for years. A letter from someone Harold once knew sets him off on a physical and emotional journey across Britain whilst his wife Maureen goes through her own journey at home. 

This is an allegorical tale of ordinary lives given an alternative perspective through a simple mechanism of a journey undertaken. Whilst sad in places, it has positive theme and reminds the reader that contentment is as much a matter of how you interpret the life events as anything which has a more external reality. I would recommend this book.

Review by Linda McCulloch

The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle

Beagle, born 1939, was only in his late twenties when he wrote this, his first published novel. He’s made a living from writing since, but this remains his best-loved book. It’s a fantasy novel, but it’s short, the plot is simple, there’s a small cast of characters and it’s very well written. So in no sense your typical fantasy! It’s been sitting on my shelves (alphabetical order, so right up in the top left-hand corner, just in front of the dusty old John Buchan’s) for thirty years and I pulled it down at random. The best word I can use is gorgeous. The language is rich and ripe and relished. Every paragraph was composed for the joy of language rather than to advance the plot. He has a particular gift for simile – every one chosen with care, every one adding to the image he is constructing. The book is not flawless – there is a lengthy section where Beagle is having such fun with minor characters that he forgets about the unicorn, and you miss her. But for the most part it’s a joy and the ending is entirely satisfying.

Peter S Beagle, The last Unicorn, 1968. Short, simple, well-written – entirely gorgeous. The language is rich and ripe and relished and the ending is entirely satisfying.

Review by Mark Steinhardt

Ten books which inspired me to travel - part 2

Sister Carrie (Theodore Dreiser)

Sister Carrie was on the syllabus of a fascinating module on 19th century American Literature that I took in my first year of university, and paints a vivid picture of a young New York City growing up fast.

Brooklyn (Colm Tóibín)

Several years later I was browsing the ebooks from my local public library, and picked Brooklyn, which tells the story of an Irish immigrant making her way in the 1950s city. I was taken by the descriptions of the city in both books, and both contributed to my decision to take a trip to New York last year.

Have any books inspired you to travel?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Spring Tide (2014) by Cilla Borjlind and Rolf Borjlind

One of the World Book Night titles we'll be giving away is Spring Tide, a murder mystery from the writers behind the popular Swedish crime series Arne Dahl and Wallander.  The novel is centred around the unsolved murder case of an unidentified woman in the sea off a remote Swedish island in the 1980s, which is picked up by Olivia, a student training to become a police officer, as a summer assignment for college. As Olivia delves into the fragmented and incomplete pieces of the case, other characters and stories emerge, all of whom seem to be linked to the investigation somehow. The reader is quickly pulled into the story as the case becomes more complex and Olivia becomes more involved.

I found the style of writing a little jarring at times, when the text is broken up into individual sentences down the page, presumably for dramatic effect (or the whim of the translator?) – unfortunately I just found it irritating! However this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story, which kept me interested and wondering how it would all end. “Nordic Noir” is not a genre I have ever read or watched on television, so I wasn’t sure how I would find Spring Tide, but I think it made for a great introduction.

Review by Rachel Bickley, Academic Liaison Librarian.

Chickenfeed (QuickReads edition, 2015) by Minette Walters

Chickenfeed is Minette Walters' telling of the ill fated relationship between Norman Thorne and Elsie Cameron. When I first picked up the book, I did not see myself as a member of Minette Walters' target audience, but on completion I found the novella so be quite successful in what it aspires to be. Crime stories may not be for everyone but the book was not in bad taste and realistically could be read by young adults and above. The best compliment I have for this book is that it is an incredibly easy read and I was able to blitz through it in three sittings. Thinking about students that do not have English as a first language, I really would recommend a novella like this. Whether it be in an airport lounge, a long train journey or during a flight, Minette Walters' Chickenfeed is great light entertainment.  

Review by Avtar Natt, Academic Liaison Librarian.

Ten books which inspired me to travel - part 1

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Jules Verne) and Journey to the Volcano (Rose Tremain)
Let’s start with one of my favourite topics; volcanoes! I’ve been fascinated by them since childhood, and these are two books I read quite early on which made me want to go and see them for myself. Verne’s classic features characters entering the bowels of the Earth via a European volcano, which fired up my imagination, whilst Tremain’s children’s book, which is out of print now, tells the story of a young British-Sicilian boy who is whisked off to his mother’s village on the slopes of Mount Etna, and finds himself and his family caught up in a devastating eruption. This is one of the two volcanoes I’ve managed to reach so far, and climbing it was an amazing experience.

Have any books inspired you to travel?

By Rachel Bickley

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Book Swapping Event

Are you hungry for stories? Looking for a new adventure? Swap your old books for new ones at a our book swapping event taking place on the 23rd of April at both Luton LRC & Bedford Library. All you need to do is drop off a book and pick up a new title. If you can't make it on the day but still want to donate some books, feel free to come in and drop them off in advance.

Research has shown that reading for pleasure (rather than for your assignments!) is linked to many health and wellbeing benefits, including reduced stress levels and an improved ability to cope with tough situations, so why not give a novel a go when you need to unwind between exams, revision and assignment deadlines this term? Or thinking ahead, come and pick up a good read for relaxing on your summer holiday!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

World Book Night 23 April 2015

World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books that takes place on 23 April. To celebrate we will have nine free copies of the Chickenfeed and Spring Tide, at both Luton LRC (Level 1) and Bedford Library (Ground Floor) available on the 23rd of April.

Research has shown that reading for pleasure (rather than for your assignments!) is linked to many health and wellbeing benefits, including reduced stress levels and an improved ability to cope with tough situations, so why not give a novel a go when you need to unwind between exams, revision and assignment deadlines this term? Or thinking ahead, come and pick up a good read for relaxing on your summer holiday!

Chickenfeed (Minette Walters)

Based on the true story of the ‘chicken farm murder’ which took place in Blackness, Crowborough, East Sussex in December, 1924. Norman Thorne was found guilty of the murder of Elsie Cameron, but even at the time of his execution there were doubts about his guilt. Still swearing his innocence, Norman Thorne was hanged on 22 April 1925.

Bestselling author Minette Walters brings a thrilling story to life in this gripping short novel, written for the Quick Reads series. Winner of the Quick Reads Readers’ Favourite Award.

Spring Tide (Cilla Borjlind, Rolf Borjlind)

The spring tides are the highest of the year in Nordkoster; the beach will be covered in particularly deep water tonight. Three men on the beach are digging a hole, covertly watched by a young boy. His intrigue turns to horror as he makes out a fourth figure – the woman for whom the hole is intended. Buried up to her neck in the sand, the high tide is rapidly approaching. Still screaming in terror, the victim takes her last breath as water fills her nose and mouth – in her stomach, she feels her baby kick. And her waters break. 

Twenty-four years later, the abhorrent crime remains unsolved; gruesome violence however is still prevalent after all those years. Olivia Ronning hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the ranks of the police in the next few months after she completes her training; she has only one last hurdle to overcome over the summer break, a challenge from her professor to pick a cold case and solve it. Little does she know the world she is getting involved in, the danger she faces and the ugly truths she risks uncovering.