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!

Angel With Two Faces by Nicola Upson

I hestitated over Nicola Upson’s first novel, An Expert In Murder, for a long time in the library.

The cover was eye-catching. The premise was intriguing. Writer Josephine Tey travels to London for the premiere of her play, only to witness a muder in London’ theatre-land. The murder is investigated by her friend (and the man on whom she based her own detective, Alan Grant) Archie Penrose.

My concern was over whether it was right to use a relatively recent real person as a fictional character.

In the end I did bring the book home, and I was glad I did. The plot was clever, the setting was well evoked and the blend of fact and fiction was well done.

I looked forward to the next entry in the series, even more so when I discovered the setting was my native West Cornwall.

Angel With Two faces

Inspector Archie Penrose has invited Josephine Tey to stay at his diapidated family estate on the Cornish coast. She has been struggling with her new novel, and hopes to find inspiration in her new surroundings.

She finds rather more than that!

Her arrival coincides with the funeral of a young estate worker, killed in a strange riding accident at a lake said to claim a life every seven years.

Then a local boy disappears.

And then there is an audacious murder at the Minack Theatre – an open-air auditorium carved out of the cliffs.

Drama indeed! Archie is obliged to investigate and finds his loyalties split between his friends and neighbours on one hand and his professional obligations on the other.

The plot twists and turns. A wide range of characters and locations are vividly evoked. The twist at the end is startling. There is much to praise, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as An Expert in Murder.

The problems? There was much too much going on in one small village community, and the Tey-Penrose team didn’t work as well as it did before, and didn’t quite seem to belong.

The story was engaging, but it felt a little bit stagey, a little bit contrived.

Could be though that I just know the locations too well!  But just look at the Minack Theatre.

The Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre

Isn’t it wonderful?! It could have been the scene for a great mystery, but I’m afraid Angel With Two Faces doesn’t quite make the grade.

It’s only fair to say though that Nicola Upson can write, construct a mystery, create great characters and evoke settings. I’d love to see what she could do without the constraints of a series.