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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Submitted by Emily from Chichester Library

 

Cover of Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale is a page-turning tale of a dystopian society ruled by a Christian fundamentalist regime. With the birth rate decreasing and women being treated as property of the state, their only option to survive is to bear children to elite couples. The author, Margaret Atwood, focuses on the life of Offred (a handmaid) in Gilead and her perspective of her new 'life'.

 

The book is full of brutal religious-based order, including the creation of labour camps, public hangings, and the executions of academics and social order. Atwood's novel has been compared to the world-famous book, 1984 by George Orwell. A few comparisons are they're both based on a totalitarian society with the main theme being the manipulation of power. Atwood wrote this book in 1986 during the rise of the opposition to the feminist movement. As a supporter of the movement, Atwood was inspired to write this book based on the battle of the feminist movement. Her work is a warning of what females stand to lose if the movement were to fail. This is significant as over 30 years later, Atwood's work has been created into a successful TV show, young minds have studied it in education, and it is to me, and many others, a novel people never forget.

Book Review Book Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Submitted by Rose from East Grinstead

 

 

Cover of Harry Potter and the cursed childThis is the book of the play, so it's a little hard to read as opposed to actually seeing it on the stage. However, it's still a good book.

It follows Harry, Ron and Hermione's children as they're growing up, going to Hogwarts and finding themselves in all sorts of trouble just as their parents did when they went to the famous school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's interesting to see how they have all developed as they've grown older as well as seeing how Albus (Harry's son, named after two famous Headmasters, Dumbledore and Snape) copes with being the first Potter to be put into Slytherin and how his friendship with Draco's son develops.

The story is good, the stage directions can be skipped over as they don't really do much unless you're seeing it on stage, but it kind of would have been nice to have it as an actual book instead of just the book of the play which is why I've only given it 4 stars.

But hey, who knows, maybe we will get it one day!

Book Review: The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Submitted by Maggie from East Grinstead

 

I very much enjoyed reading my August challenge book which was The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. It fulfilled the genre as it was based on a real event and was first recommended by a friend. It is not the sort of book I might readily have chosen for myself so I am pleased to have had that reading experience.
 
Cover of The LamplightersThe real event was the disappearance of three men working on the Flannan Isle lighthouse in 1900. This mystery has been treated in many ways already including a 2019 film The Flannan Isle Mystery and a famous poem from 1912 by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson called Flannan Isle.
 
Emma Stonex takes the same event but places it on a different lighthouse and in the 1970s looking at the repercussions for the families left behind decades later in the 1990s which works well. I feared that there might be too much description of the sea around the lighthouse as in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea but the author manages to set the scene extremely well, often looking at the threatening turbulence of the sea without spoiling the balance of the book.
 
As lighthouses are now automated, and this is one of the few 21st century automations that I actually agree with, she depicts a lost and traditional occupation in a modern way while using the event as a basis for a whodunnit kind of interpretation even including hints of the supernatural. Though three male characters are the centre of attention on the lighthouse, the viewpoints and relationships of their spouses and female partners on the mainland form an important part of the plot.
 
I would give The Lamplighters a score of 8 out of 10. There are about 24 copies in the county all on loan at the moment so I think this is a popular read and I am lucky to have received my reservation in time for the August challenge.

Book Review: Daisy Cooper's Rules for Living by Tamsin Keily

Submitted by Rose from East Grinstead

 

Well, here's a new take on Death that I never realised I needed. The capital ‘D’ is on purpose, and you'll see why in a second.

Cover of Daisy Cooper's rules for livingThis was recommended to me by a librarian at my local library, and the concept so intrigued me that I immediately reserved it.

Basically, Daisy Cooper, a 23 year old woman living in London, is about to move into a flat with her other half. She slips on some ice, ends up dying - stick with me here, it sounds depressing, but it's really not - and appears in some neat little office where a guy walks in with a name tag of 'Death’, hence the capital.

Death then proceeds to read off a file, calling her by the wrong name, at which point she interrupts and tells him who she actually is. Death is rightly bewildered, grabs her file, confirms who she is and then asks what the hell she's doing in his office as she isn't supposed to have died for another 69 years.

The story is so original, heart wrenching and sweet in equal turns, leaving you in fits of laughter one minute and in tears the next. It is a truly beautiful book about death, the time after death and the slow burn friendship building between Daisy and the stickler-for-the-rules, shut-down emotions of Death (who is later renamed), who is forced to contend with a human stuck in the realms between life and death who is constantly interfering with his job of ferrying souls from one place to the next.

Considering the subject matter, it's a pretty light hearted tale; full of endearing characters, black humour and adorable moments that you want to see more of. It makes you reconsider everything you know about Death (the concept, as well as the person), makes you cheer for Daisy when she stands up for herself and weep for the friends and family she's left behind. Death as a character is funny, sarcastic and has buried his emotions to his job after centuries of dealing with sadness and grief; whereas Daisy is his opposite in every way, forcing him to open up and change how he views the world.

Overall, a brilliant debut novel!

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If Rose has inspired you to give this book a go, reserve your copy of Daisy Cooper’s Rules for Living by visiting our library catalogue.

 

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The views expressed in this review are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of West Sussex Libraries.

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The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde

Submitted by Rose from East Grinstead

 

Cover of the perfect matchThis is one of those authors where once you've read one, you've kind of read them all. However, they're so happy-go-lucky, easy reads that I never hesitate to pick one up when I'm feeling in need of a cheer up!

The plot follows Bella Castle, an estate agent selling houses in the Cotswolds, whose boyfriend has just proposed and ends up returning to the town where an old flame dumped her three years ago.

You can probably guess what happens next...

Said old flame turns back up! Shocker! Thus making Bella question whether she is happy with her current fiancé or whether she should try rekindling her romance with the old flame.

Yes, you can guess what happens in the storyline, although some of the side characters have moments where they surprise you, but overall, it's an escapist read perfect for long winter nights!

10 Books Everyone Should Read 10 Books Everyone Should Read

10 Books Everyone Should Read

Submitted by Rose from East Grinstead

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers

I came across this by accident, but it’s been super helpful. It basically does what it says on the title, which is gives you guidance on how to deal with anxiety, turn negatives into positives and how to take charge of your life. It’s short, but no less worthwhile because of it.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

All about family, friendship and freedom for four sisters in America. A true classic that I’ve only recently read but will almost certainly be returning to.

 

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

This is a great treat for bookworms! Set in the Cotswolds and centred around Emilia, a young woman intending to save her family’s bookshop while trouble comes calling. It easily interweaves other side plots with characters that interact with Emilia and some of the outcomes are quite surprising!

 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachael Joyce

A lovely, heartwarming story about one man’s mission to walk the length of England to go and visit his dying friend who gets help along the way from a variety of colourful characters.

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I have never read anything quite as immersive as this and I probably never will. It focuses on a black and white circus and its troupe of characters, all of whom know nothing of the deadly stakes behind its creation and the two ruling men who are using the circus as a pawn in their game. The nice thing about it is it involves the reader in the story, inviting you to imagine the circus’s sights, smells and tastes.

 

Anything by Shakespeare!

Take your pick, but my personal favourite is The Tempest as little to no people die in it!

 

The Flat Share by Beth O’ Leary

This author quickly became a favourite after I read her debut novel all about Tiffy and Leon, who share a one bedroom flat but don’t meet in person for ages due to their conflicting work schedules. The communication via post-it notes around the flat is adorable and their eventual relationship is too.

 

Memories by Lang Leav

A lovely collection of poetry you can dip in and out of at any time.

 

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

A short, enthralling tale all about rediscovering lost love.

 

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

A beautiful children’s book about an orphan, a dragon, a mushroom obsessed brownie and their adventure to find a new home for the dragons.

 

You can reserve any of these books to borrow from your local library for free by visiting our library catalogue.

 
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