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!

True Murder by Yaba Badoe

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True Murder – a striking title that this book more than lives up to.

Ajuba is eleven years old and she has been left at a Devon boarding school by her Ghanaian father, the married couple who run the school appointed as her guardians. She has been through difficult times. Her mother had a breakdown following the death of a child. When her parents’ relationship broke down her mother fled to London with Ajuba, but things quickly fell apart.

Polly Venus is a new girl, the kind of girl born to be the leader of her set. Ajuba soon falls under her spell, and the girls become close friends. And when Polly invites Ajuba to come home with her for the weekend, Ajuba is charmed by the Venus family, and they by her. Soon she is spending all her time with them.

One day the girls find what they think are dead kittens, wrapped in an old coat in the attic of Polly’s new family home. But they have actually found the remains of dead babies. The girls, who have been avidly reading copies of the American magazine, True Murder, attempt to emulate the detectives they have read about and uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, Polly’s parents’ marriage is breaking up, and they are handling it badly. And Ajuba is introduced to the new woman in her father’s life and beginning to deal with the reality of what has happened to her mother.

All of this, together with the girls’ lack of understanding of what is going on in the adult world around them, will lead to more tragedy and change lives irrevocably.

True Murder has a wonderful mix of elements: coming of age, boarding school stories, an old mystery unravelling, family issues and the clash of Ghanaian and British cultures. Every element is masterfully handled and they come together to form an extraordinary whole.

Yaba Badoe is a wonderful storyteller: she writes wonderful rich and evocative prose, weaves her different themes and plot strands together perfectly and slowly but surely builds tension as the story advances.

And she has created a wonderful narrator in Ajuba: she is both charming and intriguing, and she draws you into the story so well that it is nigh impossible to pull away. Indeed all of the characters and relationships are perfectly drawn. You can empathise with them all, and that makes the unfolding tragedy all the more heartbreaking.

True Murder is a dark and disturbing book, and a remarkable debut novel. Do read it!

Teaser Tuesdays / It’s Tuesday, where are you?

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

Here is mine:-

“Even now, after all these years, I can hardly bear to look in a mirror. If I had my way, I would shatter every mirror in the house rather than glimpse my reflection unawares..”

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB

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Hello, I’m Ajuba. My home is in Ghana but, because my mother has had a breakdown after my sister died, my father has sent me away to boarding school. So I’m in England, in Devon. I have friends, but things are so different here. And I miss my mother, my home…

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

This all comes courtesy of True Murder by Yaba Badoe

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?