2009: A Year in the Library … and a Year in the Pub


Let’s start in the library.

J. Kaye from J. Kaye’s Book Blog hosted the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

You could commit to reading 12, 25 or 50 library books in 2009. I went for the maximum, and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem.

Here are a few reasons why I love  libraries:

  • I am lucky to have a good public library service – I can order any book in the county or in a large reserve stock for just 50p.
  • I also belong to the wonderful Morrab Library. There are only 19 private subscription libraries in the UK and this one is just a few minutes walk from home.
  • I can still visualise where my favourite books were in the library when I was a child.
  • Without libraries I wouldn’t be able to read anything like as widely as I do.
  • I pass the library as I walk home from work. A little look around the shelves after a difficult day is wonderfully theraputic!
  • I like to think I can influence what the library stocks by ordering and borrowing books. I have been known to borrow under-borrowed books that I own to help their statistics.
  • Don’t book lovers have a duty to support libraries? If we don’t we can’t assume they will still be there and then how will people who can’t afford to buy books read and how will other people discover books?
  • I first met my fiancé in the library!

I’ve  read 106 library books this year.

Some wonderful new authors and a few books that I hadn’t heard of until I saw them on the shelves.

I’ve added some to my shelves since, there are more I’d like to.

And I’ve uncovered a few put of print gems.

The full  list is here.


And so to the pub

The 2009 Pub Challenge was hosted by Michelle at 1morechapter.com.

Read at least nine books published for the first time in your country in 2009. I’ve done 3 rounds – 27 books.

Here they are:




(There are a few more I’ve read but not written about yet and, I suspect, a couple I’ve missed.)

Some great books – the ones I’ve starred are la creme de la creme!

Chunkster Challenge – Done and Dusted!


I committed to 6 books of 450 or more pages for The 2009 Chunkster Challenge and I’ve done it!

Here’s the list:

Not a dud among them, but I would pick South Riding out as the star!

The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia

The Best of Men

A lot of historical novels fall into particular types. There’s the story of an adventurous hero, full of action and excitement. And there’s the family saga. Tales of royalty and real life historical figures abound. There are stories of plots and intrigues. And, of course, there are historical romances.

Some books cross over from one area to another, but The Best of Men covers the lot!

First there’s the hero.

In 1636 Laurence Beaumont wanted to escape the responsibilities of his role as heir to his father’s estate. And so he escaped to Europe. Over the following six years he has been a soldier, a spy and a cardsharp, and he has seen the best and the worst of human nature.

Stories of his adventures unfold through the book and go some way to explaining the man he became. He is a fascinating hero. A handsome and charming man, fundamentally good but with a dark side and some fairly fundamental flaws.

In 1942 he returns to England.

And so to the family story.

Laurence’s father is keen for his son to resume his responsibilities, and his mother is equally keen to find him a suitable bride. His sister is soon to marry and welcomes him. But Robert, his younger brother, does not. He resents his older brother – a classic case of the prodigal son. All of the characters and relationships are well drawn – particular the troubled relationship between the two brothers.

There’s more than enough already to sustain a story, but that’s only the beginning.

There is still royaly and much intrigue to come.

The relationship between the King Charles I and parliament has broken down, The situation seems irretrievably, and England is on the brink of civil war.

Laurence comes into possession of a cache of coded letters outlining a plot to assassinate the king. Soon the conspirators – one of whom is among the most powerful men in the kingdom – are on his trail, and he needs to make his case aginst them before they catch up with him. The Secretary of State’s ruthless spymaster looms, and laurence finds himself walking a fine line, with the prospect of imprisonment, torture or worse if he makes a single wrong step.

The story twists and turns, encompassing a large and diverse cast of characters.

And there is romance along the way too.

Laurence faces the prospect of matrimony, becomes entangled with a notable lady who may or may not help his cause, and a number of other ladies fall at his feet along the way.

If there is a weak link this is it. There’s just a little more detail than necessary, and the occasional lapse into cliche.

But, as a whole, The Best of Men works extremely well.

The many strands, characters and settings are expertly woven together. The pages are packed with vivid detail, dialogue and action. It all adds up to a wonderful story, and it is very well told.

A first novel ten years in the writing, Claire Letemendia has clearly put in a great deal of time researching and planning her first novel. It was time well spent!

Library Loot / Cover Attraction

I have just the one piece of Library Loot this week, and it was definitely a Cover Attraction. I was on my way out of the library when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and I just had to turn back.

Here it is:

The Best of Men

The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia

“It is 1642, and Laurence Beaumont has just returned to England after six long years fighting – and avoiding fighting – in the European Wars. Having fled his homeland to escape the responsibilities of his noble birthright, he has been a lowly infantryman, a spy, and a cardsharp in a Dutch brothel. He has seen the worst inhumanities visited on men, women and children by enemy and neighbour alike, and he no longer has faith in God, in causes, or much in humankind itself. Yet as the clashes between King Charles I and his mutinous Parliament come to a crisis and England is thrown into civil war, Beaumont is drawn back into the world of warfare and intrigue when he discovers coded letters outlining a plot to assassinate the king. Soon the conspirators – one of whom is among the most powerful men in the kingdom – are in hot pursuit, and he must find proof of their identities before they overtake him. Pressed into service by the Secretary of State’s ruthless spymaster, Beaumont finds himself threatened on all sides, facing the possibility of imprisonment, torture or worse if he makes a single wrong step. The ravishing Isabella Savage, a practised seductress, is interested in helping, but may only lead him deeper into the conspiracies within the king’s camp. And all the while, Beaumont is haunted by a prophecy and by the memory of a love betrayed.”

Doesn’t that look wonderful? It’s a debut novel ten years in the making!

Do visit Marg, who will corral your Libray Loot.

And Marcia, who brings together wonderful Cover Attractions.