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

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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.

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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:

ROUND 1

ROUND 2

ROUND 3

(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!

The Paris Enigma by Pablo De Santis

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The first thing to say about The Paris Enigma is that it is stunning to look at. Not just the front cover – the back is in the style of a newspaper trailing the contents of the book and inside the front cover is a series of headlines.

A lot for this debut novel to live up to. Does it? Very nearly.

Sigmundo Salvatrio is the son of a shoemaker and his ambition is to work with one of the world famous “Twelve Detectives”. And he does. He wins a place at a school for assistants created by the great Argentine detective Renato Craig. He gets the job, not necessarily because he is the best candidate, but because he is the last man standing.

It’s a busy and entertaining start.

Craig falls ill and Salvatrio is sent to Paris, where the World’s Fair is about to begin, to attend the first ever meeting of “The Twelve” in place of his mentor. It is at this point that the twelve meet for the first time, and it was at that point that I needed to make a list to keep track of who was who:

The Twelve Detectives

Renato Craig (Argentina)
Magrelli (Italy)
Caleb Lawson (England)
Tobias Hatter (Germany)
Louis Darbon (France)
Viktor Arzaky (Poland)
Madorakis (Greece)
Fermín Rojo (Spain)
Zagala (Portugal)
Jack Novarius (USA)
Anders Castelvetia (Netherlands)
Sawaka (Japan)

A lot of characters to keep track of, especially when you factor in assistants, associates and all of the others. I suspect “Eight Detectives” would have been plenty – a number of the great detectives have little to do.

At this point things take a different and interesting turn, as we meet the great men, see their rivalries and amd hear their views on the nature of crime and the art of detection.

The plot is suspended for a while, but it soon takes off again. There is a startling murder, a complex investigation, a remarkable solution and a lovely final flourish.

There is a lot going on, but it would be unfair to say more.

The door is left open for a sequel – maybe that is where the more under-used members of “The Twelve” come to the fore.

This was a fast-paced and entertaining tale – at times a little too fast,  and maybe a little too much was crammed in.

The plot was clever, though some elements didn’t join up as neatly as they might have.

But overall this is a great debut, and I look forward to reading Pablo De Santis’ next book.

Translated by Mara Lethem

Teaser Tuesdays / It’s Tuesday where are you ?

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My name is Sigmundo Salvatrio. I am very proud to be acolyte to Renato Craig. His name I know must be familiar to you as a founding member of the Twelve Detectives, the group that brings together the finest detectives in the world. I am sorry to tell you that he is not well at the moment. It is for that reason that I will leave Buenos Aires tomorrow and travel to Paris as his representative when the Twelve meet at the World’s Fair.

It’s Tuesday, where are you? is hosted by raidergirl3.

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Just quote a couple of spoiler-free sentences the book you’re reading to tempt other readers.

Here is mine:-

“I convinced him to come back with extravagant promises, which I didn’t make to him so much as to myself. Once he was back at the house it only took me a few minutes to notice how his French had been corrupted, how his manners had changed, how his gaze had become sidelong and given to surreptitiousness and betrayal.”

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB

This all comes courtesy of The Paris Enigma by Pablo de Santis

Library Loot

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Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Alessandra to share the library books we find each week.

I haven’t been in the library much this week because my ticket is nearly full and I need to catch up on my reading arrears. But two reservations arrived and I spotted two more that I couldn’t resist on the shelves.

So here’s my quartet for this week:

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True Murder by Yaba Badoe

“Eleven year old Ajuba has been abandoned at a Devon boarding school by her Ghanaian father. Haunted by the circumstances of her mother’s breakdown and the ghosts of the life she left behind in Ghana, she falls under the spell of new girl Polly Venus and her chaotic, glamorous family. But all is not what it might seem in the Venus household and Ajuba struggles to make sense of things as they tear each other apart in front of her. One day the girls find what they think are a dead kittens wrapped up in an old coat in the attic of the Venus’ manor house…the bones turn out to be those of a dead baby.Obsessed with the detectives of the American magazine serial “True Murder”, the girls set out to find out what happened to the baby. As the summer draws to a close, three tragedies conflate, with catastrophic results.”

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The Paris Enigma by Pablo de Santis

“In late nineteenth century Europe, Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of London and the city of Paris marvels at a new spectacle: the Eiffel Tower. As visitors are drawn to glimpse the centrepiece in an exhibition of wonderful scientific creation, another momentous gathering is taking place in the city. Twelve of the world’s greatest sleuths have gathered to dicuss their most famous cases and debate the nature of mystery. When one of them is found viciously murdered, however, the symposium becomes an elite task force dedicated to solving the outrage. For a young apprentice detective, Sigmund Salvatorio, this is the chance to realize a dream of working with some of the finest criminologists to ever practice. But as, one by one, members of the committee fall prey to the mysterious killer, the dream becomes a shocking nightmare!”

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Madresfield by Jane Mulvagh

“Madresfield Court is an arrestingly romantic stately home in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. It has been continuously owned and lived in by the same family, the Lygons, back to the time of the Domesday Book, and, unusually, remains in the family’s hands to this day. Inside, it is a very private, unmistakably English, manor house; a lived-in family home where the bejewelled sits next to the threadbare. The house and the family were the real inspiration for “Brideshead Revisited”: Evelyn Waugh was a regular visitor, and based his story of the doomed Marchmain family on the Lygons.Never before open to the public, the doors of Madresfield have now swung open to allow Jane Mulvagh to explore its treasures and secrets. And so the rich, dramatic history of one landed family unfolds in parallel with the history of England itself over a millennium, from the Lygon who conspired to overthrow Queen Mary in the Dudley plot; through the tale of the disputed legacy that inspired Dickens’ “Bleak House”; to the secret love behind Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”; and the story of the scandal of Lord Beauchamp, the disgraced 7th Earl.”

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Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

“The story opens with a member of one of London’s most unusual police units being blown up in his office. He is John May, partner to Arthur Bryant, who now starts to investigate his death. The search takes Bryant back to the time of their first meeting in 1940. London is struggling to survive the Blitz when a beautiful dancer is found without her feet. Bryant and May’s investigation uncovers a weird gothic mystery, involving a killer who appears to be faceless. In the present day, May speculates whether that old adversary might be the killer. He needs to solve a riddle that began more than 50 years earlier.”

So what do I read first?

And what did you find in the library this week?