Abandoned and stranded on the Red Planet, he faces certain death as his oxygen and water systems run out – but this is a story of human endeavour.
Even against the odds, Watney battles for survival in this uplifting read.
Reserve The Martian
I’m currently reading… Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card! Borrowed from Downham Market Library, no less!
Great book. First read it around 15 years ago and when I saw it on the shelves at the library I thought it was time for a re-read. Am hoping that you’ve got the sequels as I haven’t read them.
Reserve Ender’s Game
Prior to this I read Jane Eyre. Hardest book I’ve ever read, I think. Such small print. So much of it!
And such odd language. Won’t be reading that one again, though glad I finished it if only to get to the famous line that I’d been expecting. Took me longest to read, too.
Reserve Jane Eyre
Reviewed by James on Downham Market Facebook Page
Gillian Anderson has co-written this with Jeff Rovin (no, I’d never heard of him before either). Reviews are probably best described as mixed, but SFX says “The prose is crisp, the main characters are well-defined and likeable”*
Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mum trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre love life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts having violent visions. Maanik’s parents are sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father – a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels – but when children start having similar outbursts around the world, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a stranger force at work … ‘
*In the interests of balance, Tim Martin at the Telegraph describes it as “a deeply confused and almost anti-suspenseful book, lumbering grimly towards the cumulative cliffhanger through a fog of implausible chit-chat”
Oh what a year it has been! I’m a great fan of fiction and here’s a round-up of the best of 2014.
I’m such a fan of these Jack Nightingale books, and this is the fifth, and they just keep getting better and better. A killer is murdering Goths with relish – skinning and butchering them. The cops aren’t getting anywhere so Jack Nightingale’s nemesis, Superintendent Chalmers, asks him for help. Nightingale discovers that the murdered Goths had one thing in common: a tattoo connected to the secretive Satanic child-sacrificing cult called the Order of Nine Angles. As Nightingale closes in on the killers, the tables are turned and he finds himself in the firing line, along with his friends and family. The Order will stop at nothing to protect their secrets and Nightingale realises that there is nothing he can do to protect himself. Nor can he run, for the Order has connections across the world. It leaves him with only one way to stop the carnage – and that’s to take his own life .
This is such a madcap tale that’s perfect for fans of Jonas Jonasson’s the hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared though with a little less history and a lot more humour. One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand new bed of nails. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in the wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer.
Yep, another trilogy for teenagers that appeals just as well to adults! For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs. Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead. Divergent is followed by Insurgent then Allegiant
In case there’s someone out there who doesn’t already know this…Robert Galbraith is none other than J K Rowling writing her first crime novel, and our crime book club loved it! When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger.
I’m not sure I’ve recovered from the wonderful Me Before You, but this is once again a delightful mix of laughter and tears.
Suppose your life sucks. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your stepson is being bullied and your daughter has a once in a lifetime opportunity – that you can’t afford to pay for. So imagine you found and kept some money that didn’t belong to you, knowing it would pay for your daughter’s happiness. But how do you cope with the shame? Especially when the man you’ve lied to decides to help you out in your hour of need. Jo is in hell – Ed has saved her family – but is their happiness worth a lifetime’s soul-searching?
This is the first novel of Bauer’s that I’ve read and I’ll definitely be reading more!
Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, and infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university. When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems, and that there have been many more lies closer to home.
This is such a bizarre story – completely unexpected! Part sci-fi/fantasy, part love story.
Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, he boards a flight for a remote and unfamiliar land, a place where the locals are hungry for the teachings of the Bible – his ‘book of strange new things’. It is a quest that will challenge Peter’s beliefs, his understanding of the limits of the human body and, most of all, his love for Bea.
Ooh this is so clever! Who knows? It might just happen one day!
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.
This is the perfect book for crime fiction lovers who are a bit fed up with the usual police procedurals.
When a severed arm is discovered by a couple on honeymoon in the Florida Keys, former police detective – now reluctant restaurant inspector – Andrew Yancy senses that something doesn’t add up. Determined to get his badge back, he undertakes an unofficial investigation of his own. Andrew’s search for the truth takes him to the Bahamas, where a local man, with the help of a very bad monkey (who allegedly worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) is doing everything in his power to prevent a developer from building a new tourist resort on the island, with deadly consequences.
Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his post round every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle – Bilodo has taken to stealing people’s mail, steaming open the envelopes and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Segolene’s letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Segolene, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision – he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Segolene under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for?
A first novel and the best crime thriller of the year for me!
Can you commit the perfect crime? Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.
Another first novel and very different from my last choice. This tells the tale of a British Mormon family who are coming to terms with the loss of a child. It is just truly heart-breaking but at the same time a wonderful read!
This is the story of what happens when Issy Bradley dies. It is the story of Ian – husband, father, maths teacher and Mormon bishop – and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife Claire’s lonely wait for a sign from God and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with what’s happened. It is the story of the agony and hope of Zippy Bradley’s first love. The story of Alma Bradley’s cynicism and reluctant bravery. And it is the story of seven-year-old Jacob. His faith is bigger than a mustard seed, probably bigger than a toffee bonbon and he’s planning to use it to mend his broken family with a miracle.
I tried to whittle my list down to just a top ten, but I couldn’t do it. So here’s my top 14 books of 2014! I read a lot more books published this year than I normally get around to, so my list has more of the 2014 big hitters than I would have expected it to. There’s some non-fiction; poetry and young adult books get a look in too.
The Goldfinch – if I had to pick a single book of the year, this would be it.
Americanah – difficult to sum up, this is a magnificent book.
MaddAddam – a fitting end to the brilliant Oryx and Crake trilogy. Well worth waiting for!
Flight Behaviour – A wonderful return from Barbara Kingsolver. I adore her books.
Bone Clocks – bonkers yet brilliant complicated fiction from David Mitchell.
A girl is a Half-formed Thing – brutal, distressing, hard to read and outstanding.
The Martian – The best page-turner of the year, a cracking space-set thriller.
Shadow and Bone – Book One in a fabulous Young Adult trilogy which gets better and better! This deserves to be the next Hunger Games, the films are already in the works.
Orlando – I’m trying to get around to all those classics one ‘ought’ to read – I didn’t expect any of them to be this much fun! What a wonderful book.
All the birds, singing – A book that toys with all your expectations to deliver a fine and ambiguous read.
Spillover – Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about infectious diseases which spread to humans from other animals. A fantastic read, scientific yet accessible. Although written before the current Ebola outbreak, it will teach you a lot about that virus.
Incognito – A mind-altering book about the subconscious. Wonderfully thought-provoking non-fiction.
The history of the world – the first time I’ve willingly picked up a book on history since I left school. Impressive and maybe even enjoyable!
Unincorporated persons in the late Honda dynasty – Simply the best book of poetry I have read in a very long time. Outstanding.
Dersingham Library has just celebrated its 40th birthday. To remind everyone of what was happening in the world of popular reading, we called in a selection of the hottest reads of 1974. What have you read? What would you try now?
Compulsive daydreamer Isadora Wing doesn’t want much – just to be free and to find the perfect, guiltless, zipless sexual encounter.
Pursuing this ideal across two continents, she discovers just how hard it can be to make one’s dreams come true.
Though Isadora fears flying (in all possible senses), she forces herself to keep travelling, risking her marriage and even her life for her own special brand of liberation. This intensely witty and exuberant novel is about how she achieves her freedom and loses her fear.
It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures with their razor sharp teeth and the taste for human blood began to be realised by a panic-stricken city.
For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time – suddenly, shockingly, horribly – the balance of power had shifted.
‘Alive‘ tells the true story of a group of plane crash survivors. Weakened by starvation, extreme cold, and by the awful knowledge that the search for them had been called off, the survivors had to eat the flesh of their dead companions to survive.
Carrie White is no ordinary girl. Carrie White has the gift of telekinesis. To be invited to Prom Night by Tommy Ross is a dream come true for Carrie – the first step towards social acceptance by her high school colleagues. But events will take a decidedly macabre turn on that horrifying and endless night as she is forced to exercise her terrible gift on the town that mocks and loathes her .
It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble – a warning of what was to come – took the form of a young woman’s body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach . . . A summer of terror has begun. Peter Benchley’s JAWS first appeared in 1974. It has sold over twenty million copies around the world, creating a legend that refuses to die – it’s never safe to go back in the water .
Blubber is a thick layer of fat that lies under the skin and over the muscles of whales . . . When Linda innocently reads out her class project, everyone finds it funny. Linda can’t help it if she’s fat, but what starts as a joke leads to a sustained and cruel ritual of humiliation. Jill knows she should defend Linda, but at first she’s too scared. When she eventually stands up to the bullies, she becomes their next victim – and what’s worse, Linda is now on their side .
This book traces our rise, both as a species and as moulders of our own environment and future. Covering invention, from the flint tool to the theory of relativity, it demonstrates man’s ability to understand nature and to control it.
Guy Adams has more than 20 books to his name. He likes to ask himself the question “What would happen if Genre A was crossed with Genre B?” in order to inspire his slightly off the wall takes on familiar themes.
For Clown Service, the question was “What would happen if the traditional vintage spy novel was crossed with a nerve-shredding horror novel?” and the result is surprisingly successful!
“Toby Greene has been reassigned. The Department: Section 37 Station Office, Wood Green. The Boss: August Shining, an ex-Cambridge, Cold War-era spy. The Mission: Charged with protecting Great Britain and its interests from paranormal terrorism. The Threat: An old enemy has returned, and with him Operation Black Earth, a Soviet plan to create the ultimate insurgents by re-animating the dead.”
If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’re in for a wild ride!
This is a really captivating book! The central character is an astronaut trapped alone on Mars after an ill-fated manned Mars landing. This might put you off (“That sounds like sci-fi, I don’t read sci-fi”, you’re thinking). Please do give it a chance! The book started off as a self-published e-book and quickly gained such a following that the author was awarded a six-figure book contract!
Well-written and extremely convincing, the feel is that of reading a thrilling non-fiction account of a space mission. There is plenty of science and not a little humour- the main character is practical and very appealing. A quick read which will have you racing to finish it.
We meet every month and usually have two (or sometimes three) books to discuss. In December we meet to look back at the year of great reads and scoff a few mince pies.
At the top was The universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. This is a fabulous little book that encompasses great themes of childhood, illness, and death. Gavin Extence does it all with a surprising amount of humour and it’s a great book club read!
The rest of our favourites are:
Here’s to lots more great reads in 2014!