Book Review: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

elizabethismissingBy Amanda – Library Assistant, Ruislip Manor Library

Have you ever wondered what it must feel like to be in the mind of someone who is losing their memory? Ever wondered how their minds can jump from this time to the past instantly?

Welcome to Maud’s world, a place which is becoming more confusing by the day, and she cannot get a hold of her friend Elizabeth. Ye she must find out where she has been taken. Despite a mind which is beginning to merge the case of her missing friend Elizabeth with the unsolved missing person case of her sister from 1946.

In Emma Healey’s novel, Elizabeth is Missing, we are taken on a journey from the point of view of Maud, an 80-something year old woman who is gradually forgetting who she is, where she lives, whether she ate this morning and what she needs from the shop. However, she can’t shake this nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. Healey seamlessly guides the reader between  Maud’s present-day life and 1946,the year when her older sister Sukey mysteriously disappears. We follow young Maud as she tries to solve the mystery, spending time with Sukey’s husband, dressing in her clothes and going to Sukey’s old favourite dances in the hope she will show up.

As Maud’s mind begins to slip, the reader spends more and more time in the past, and we feel Mauds frustration as the people who are meant to love her continually misunderstand what she means to say, how she feels, why she needs to find Elizabeth and how it is connected to Sukey.

An intriguing read, full of mystery and memory, that you can hardly put down until it’s finished.

Reader Review – Charlotte’s Web by E B White

By Raj Shah

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A book that will get people wanting to read. With a magical plot – this book is one for all the family. Charlotte’s Web is about a girl named Fern, a pig named Wilbur and a spider called Charlotte. They live on a farm and Fern is horrified when she finds out that Wilbur as a piglet is to be slaughtered . She rescues Wilbur only then to have him sent away to her uncle’s farm where he is friendless and snubbed by all the other animals except Charlotte, the spider. This is where Wilbur’s adventures begin and I loved every minute. This book is great because of it’s magical plot and superb ending.

Reader Review – Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

By Raj Shah from Northwood Library

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This book is set in London in the nineteenth century. The main character, Wild Boy, gets his name because he is covered from head to toe in thick hair. He was abandoned when he was a baby and brought up in a workhouse, where he was put in an attic room and left on his own because of his strange appearance . As the story starts, he is being bought by a showman from a circus to be put in a freak show. Anyone who reads this book will feel terribly sad about the boy’s miserable life and angry that a human being could be treated like he was. I can’t imagine how he must have felt having no one in the world to love him.

At the circus, Wild Boy meets a number of unusual people and makes friends with a couple of other people in the freak show. He also meets Clarissa Everett, an acrobat, and he argues a lot with her. Wild boy has developed an amazing talent, as probably he has only looked at life and not been part of it. He has extraordinary powers of observation and can gather a huge amount of evidence about people just by looking at them. He becomes involved in a dreadful murder and he is accused of being the murderer. He finds out about the plans for a machine that might change people for ever. But which of the characters in the book would be prepared to kill for it?

I found this book violent but exciting and I couldn’t put it down because of the ‘who dun it’ mystery!

Ruislip Manor library celebrated St George’s Day in style

On 23rd April in honour of St.George’s Day we had a special dragon themed storytime at Ruislip Manor. After we read the brilliant books ‘The Kiss that Missed’ and ‘King Jack and the Dragon’, we sang a song called five little dragons and some other nursery rhymes.

ST GEORGE DAY

All the parents, children and babies met our friendly dragon and had their pictures with him. Everyone was very taken with our Dragon who we happen to also call George , because of course he is very friendly and doesn’t breathe fire (well hardly ever but it depends if you bring your books back late – just kidding). Our Bookstart bear joined in the fun by dressing up as St George, and battling it out with the Dragon to save the Princess (that was one of our staff dressed in her finest tiara ). It was a very enjoyable afternoon ,and keep an eye out as you never know when George the Dragon might make another appearance!

By Sharon, Ruislip Manor library

St George's Day

Book Review – Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye

I’ve just seen the news that ‘Summertime’ by Vanessa Lafaye has made the Richard & Judy Summer 2015 reading list and I’m just so happy for Vanessa. I was lucky enough to read a copy of ‘Summertime’ last year as Orion publishers kindly sent the Ickenham library reading group a set to read before the book was published.

I was totally blown away by Vanessa’s writing and ‘Summertime’ became my favourite book of 2014. It is also a book that every member of my reading group enjoyed, it is one of those books that has something for everyone.

Horrifying and beautifsummertimeul, Summertime is a fictionalised account of one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history.

Florida Keys, 1935. Hurricane Season.

Tens of thousands of black and white men scarred by their experiences of war in Europe return home to find themselves abandoned to destitution by the US government.

The tiny, segregated community of Heron Key is suddenly overwhelmed by broken, disturbed men with new ideas about racial equality and nothing left to lose.

Tensions flare when a black veteran is accused of committing the most heinous crime of all against a white resident’s wife.

And not far off the strongest and most intense hurricane America has ever witnessed is gaining force.

For fans of The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird, this is the story of the greatest tragedy you’ve never heard of.

After finishing ‘Summertime’ I made contact with Vanessa on Twitter and she very kindly agreed to come and visit my reading group. She joined the group as part of their normal reading group meeting to talk about where the idea for ‘Summertime’ came from and to give us some more background to her writing and her research.

Huge congratulations to Vanessa on her success and we looking forward to welcoming her back to Hillingdon for our Culture Shot Festival in October this year.

Here’s my review

 One of the things that really drew me to Summertime was the cover – I love it! Just that touch of a storm approaching and the children sitting on the beach – a picture postcard with perhaps a little bit of darkness to it. I am also a sucker for books set in Florida as it is one of my favourite places to visit although I have not made it as far south as the Keys yet.

Summertime was my favourite book of 2014 when you consider that I read just over 150 books last year then I think you will realise just how good I think this book is. It’s actually taken me a few weeks to be able to sit & write this review as on finishing Summertime I was left totally stunned unable to put into words my feelings & thoughts about the book. It is one of those books that even having read it a few weeks ago has really left it’s mark on me & I know that others in my reading group felt the same.

I’ve tried to remember the last time I was so captivated and consumed by a book and it’s hard to come up with something perhaps it really was over 20 years ago when I read To Kill A Mocking Bird for my GCSEs. Summertime opens on Heron Key, Florida in 1935 and right from those very first pages Lafaye has you totally hooked, pulling you in & gripping you just like the jaws of that alligator from the opening chapter. The story centres around three very different communities – a group of WW1 veterans let down by their government and forced to camp on Heron Key whilst they work on a government works project. Then we have the black community and the white community that they work for as maids, nannys, handymen, so before the veterans even arrived on Heron Key there was already racial tension and divide bubbling away.

Every 4th of July the islanders have a beach BBQ. Both communities coming together yet still divided with the whites on their side of the beach & the blacks on theirs. This year though the townspeople are joined by the veterans & tensions look set to overflow as some look to settle old scores & new arguements take centre stage. The evening ends with a white women being attacked & left for dead and all eyes looking to the veterans community for the culprit.

Meanwhile off the coast of the Atlantic, a storm is brewing threatening to bear down on Heron Key and ultimately change the residents lives forever. Who will left standing and who won’t?

This book was a pure adrenaline rush, a highly addictive read that I couldn’t put down. Lafaye had me absorbed from start to finish and a lot of that is down to knowing that the story is actually a fictional account of a huge hurricane that really did hit the Keys in the 1930s.This adds so much to the suspense and tension that the author builds – at first slowly but as the storm hits the pace picks up.

Summertime is well plotted and well researched. I didn’t know anything about the WW1 veterans and the march on Washington, I was given a really fascinating insight into a subject I now need to go and find out more about. I love books that teach me something about history and make me need to go learn more. The other wonderful thing about this book were the character, some you loved & some you despised but there were none I loved more than Missy. Missy works for the Kincaid’s taking care of their baby son Nathan and is one of the central characters in the story.

This book really did have everything – a community divided, racial tension, morals, relationship troubles on so many fronts, a little bit of politics,history, class differences, a wonderful location, fantastic characters and so much more. We have the storm brewing out at sea but there really has been a storm brewing for a very long time amongst the locals and it all comes to a head the night of the beach BBQ. Summertime left me totally breathless and I came to the end feeling I had done battle with Mother Nature herself.

An incredible debut that is so well written you feel as that you are there on Heron Key living right through the hurricane. Lafaye picked me up & swept me along like the storm with her beautiful writing and brilliant character development-an outstanding storyteller. I am very much looking forward to seeing where Vanessa Lafaye takes me with her second book.

Book Reviews – Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronovitch

We ate, slept and breathed ‘Rivers of London’ by Ben Aaronovitch throughout April with our action packed month for Cityread 2015. Our reading groups read it, our staff read it and hopefully a lot of our readers picked it up as well. A wonderful mix of crime, magic and fantasy is certainly captured the imagination of many.

Probation10086357ary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic

If you didn’t get the opportunity to read ‘Rivers Of London’ then why not pick up a copy from a Hillingdon library today

Here’s what some of our library staff had to say about the book:

4 out of 5 – An enjoyable and fun book that gives you more than you are expecting! Harry Potter meets The Bill.   –Lara at Harefield Library

Would not normally choose fantasy books to read but pleasantly surprised by Rivers of London. Loved the way the plot weaves magic and London folklore into a crime story. – Tracy at Northwood Hills Library

I loved ‘Rivers of London’ so much I read it twice! And then followed that with the rest of the series! I love the magical, the geography, the history and the characters (Nightingale being my favourite). The Gods and Goddesses of the rivers were captivating and and I am now, surprisingly, reading more about the history and legends of rivers. – Louise at Hayes End Library

I’ve just finished Rivers of London and I have to say it really swept me along and I couldn’t put it down!  It was a genre I enjoy and I found it funny , interesting and to be honest a bit scarey ! I didn’t like Punch and Judy as a child , and I have to say this book hasn’t helped a lot with that fear ! I will be moving onto the next books in the series now to see how things develop for P C Grant & co! #cityreadLondon #that’sthewaytodoit – Sharon at Ruislip Manor Library

Transparent Language Online – Quick Start lessons

If you don’t have much time left to learn the basics of a language before your sunny summer holiday, then Transparent Language Online’s ‘Quick Start’ lessons are ideal for you! ‘Quick Start’ lessons allow you to learn the basic words and phrases that you’ll need for simple communication in your selected language. From covering the basics of asking questions such as ‘excuse me, where are the toilets?’ to how to say ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening,’ these lessons cover all of the bases you’ll need for your holiday language essentials!

  1. The lessons consist of the following steps:
  2. Preview – listen to the word, then read the English meaning.
  3. Recognise and say it – read and listen to the word, then say or think the meaning and see if you are correct.
  4. Pronunciation practice – listen to the word, then record yourself saying it.
  5. Multiple choice – listen to the word, then select the correct answer from a multiple choice, by either typing or recording.
  6. Matching – match the word to its meaning.
  7. Produce and say it – read the English meaning of the word, then say or think the word and see if you are correct.
  8. Dictation – listen to the word, then type what you hear.
  9. Produce and write it – read the English meaning, then type the foreign word and see if you are correct.
  10. Final Assessment – elements of all of the above.

You can repeat each step as many times as you’d like, and retake the assessment to get the best score possible! On average, each ‘Quick Start’ lesson should take 10 – 15 minutes, depending on your learning pace and if you repeat any steps for deeper understanding. The important thing to remember is to learn at your own pace, in a easy way! Start learning a new language today, for FREE! Simply log onto Hillingdon Libraries website to find out more.

May Day fun

West Drayton Library staff and the Mobile Library had a fantastic time at the May Fair on The Green in West Drayton last Saturday!

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We met and spoke to several hundred people promoting the library service, giving out free books and goodies and of course stirred up some excitement for Record Breakers, our new Summer Reading Challenge starting on 11th July!

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Those who attended were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of our wonderful StarBorgs characters who will be featuring on trading cards which will be given as rewards for this years Summer Reading Challenge.

Children could also take part in a treasure hunt on the Mobile Library and we asked adults and children to guess how many books are in West Drayton Library.

By Christiane

Book Review – The Bees by Laline Paull

When I initially read the blurb on the back of this book I got a tingly feeling that I only get with a handful of books and I knew this book was going to go one of two ways – I was either going to LOVE it or HATE it. By the end of the third chapter I knew that LOVE was going to win out for The Bees.

51N7JrL9bKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This being the first novel of Laline Paull, who has previously written for screen and theatre, I was slightly cautious – I have read too many books that are trying too hard to be screenplays, but I was proved wrong, very wrong in fact. The Bees is a action-packed, fantasy-adventure that takes place within the confines of a hive. It is actually about literal bees if you were wondering and plays on the notion of the standard bee community being a rigid totalitarian regime.

The reader journeys through the life of the hive through the eyes of Flora 717, a sanitation worker and the lowliest of her kin – only fit to clear up waste and despised by all the other bees. She is born and immediately identified as ‘different’ which is normally punishable by death – but she is saved by a member of an elite group of priestesses and is noted for her having valuable skills that would benefit the hive. So Flora does what no sanitation worked has ever done before and slowly but surely moves up the ranks to even wait upon the ‘Queen’ herself.

The vivid and liquid prose of this piece move the story along so naturally that you end up completely enveloped and lose hours, if not days in this bee anti-world. Tracy Chevalier is quoted as saying ‘I finished it feeling I knew exactly how bees think and live’  and I must admit that I feel the same. I feel intimately acquainted with bees and their society and also the awful plight about the demise of the honeybee that is a general worry worldwide.

I finished this book with a lot more sympathy for bees and one thing is for definite – I will be buying a lot more local honey.

By Lara

The End of Cityread and a Quiz

As I’m sure you all know – London Cityread 2015 finished on Thursday 30th April and Hillingdon Libraries celebrated this by holding a special Quiz Night in the Great Barn in Ruislip.

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Ickenham Library staff were the main organisers of the event, setting the questions so that they were relevant with the London theme and also the fact that it’s Hillingdon Council’s 50th Birthday this year. So there were a fair few 60’s questions thrown in there.

Quiz 1

The spot prizes went down very well – the best ones being a pink feather boa and some fabulous pink glasses. The lady who won them was very pleased as she’s going to a hen weekend next week!

Quiz Wins

There were six teams competing against each other but after some very tight and risky rounds it was the ‘Allsorts’ that won in the end. All the winners got a bottle of rose and we made sure that the losers went home with a very nice gift too.

As we say farewell to Cityread we start planning a whole host of other events, namely the Summer Reading Challenge events and we’re also looking ahead to our literature festival ‘Culture Shot’ in October. Watch this space for more info.

By Lara