Book Chat- July 1

Members of library staff and volunteers who are avid readers have put together these book recommendations. Where indicated the books are available in our digital library at

A House Without Walls by Elizabeth LairdA house without walls

Thirteen-year-old Safiya is forced to flee her home in Syria with her brother and father when war came. Safiya knows how lucky she is, lucky to be alive and lucky not have to live at a refugee camp, instead they are living in a tent in her uncle’s garden. Life is a struggle, Safiya has to abandon her education and is told to stay in the tent and look after the men of her family. Her Father and brother leave the tent every day for work and she feels very lonely. She does not get along with her aunt who is displeased to have guests living in her garden and there is something not right with her father.

Safiya is a plucky character who is full of spirit and very relatable. She takes what life deals to her and makes the best of it. This book is eye-opening and heart-warming as you experience a year with Safiya and see the hardships of life and how to be grateful with what you have.

Available as an eBook.

After the Fire by Will Hillafter the fire

Moving backwards and forwards in time you follow Moonbeam’s journey of what life was like before and after the fire. Father John controlled everything. Father John liked rules. Father John was the leader. Father John keeps everyone together. Disobeying Father John comes with horrific consequences. Members of the cult are unable to leave or to communicate with the outside world.

When Moonbeam is promised to Father John as one of his numerous wives, it fills her with horror, even though the gesture is supposed to be an honour. She begins to question life inside the cult.

The author explores Moonbeam’s emotional state of horror, neglect and abuse. As Moonbeam starts to heal through therapy you experience her journey and bravery before and after living in a cult. The story is a compelling and thrilling read.

Available as an eBook.

The Taking of Annie Thornethe taking of annie thorne

 Annie is just a small girl when she disappears one night.  There are extensive police searches and appeals for information, but her parents fear the worst.  Then, miraculously, Annie comes home 48 hours later…but something is very wrong.  Outwardly Annie looks the same, but something has changed and her brother, Joe, is acutely aware of it.  Twenty-five years later Joe returns to the mining village where he grew up, escaping a life of gambling and debt, but can he find out what happened to his sister and stop the past repeating itself?

 This is a dark and unsettling book, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.  It’s very reminiscent of Stephen King and perfect for horror fans. 

Mum and Dad by Joanna TrollopeMum and Dad

 Twenty five years ago Gus and Monica moved to Spain to start a new life, establishing a vineyard and wine business from scratch.  Now the business is flourishing, but Gus has suffered a major stroke that has thrown their future into doubt.  Their three children arrive from London to help – but it soon becomes clear that they all have very different ideas about the best way forward for both their parents and the business.

 This book is typical of Joanna Trollope’s ability to observe and describe the dynamics of family life.  The characters are all very believable, if not always likeable, and the novel captures perfectly the tension that can exist even amongst people who love each other and ultimately want the best, but can’t always agree how to get there.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harristhe colour of bee larkham's murder

 This novel tells the story of Jasper Wishart, who is a very special thirteen year old.  Jasper has both synaesthesia, and he spends his days surrounded by a riot of colour as each different noise creates a unique hue.  He also has prosopagnosia, leaving him unable to recognise the people’s faces, and he relies on the colour people’s voices generate and the clothes they usually wear to identify them.  Jasper’s ordered world is turned upside down with the arrival of his new neighbour, Bee Larkham.  They quickly bond over a shared love of parakeets.  When Bee goes missing, however, Jasper is immediately suspicious and fears the worst – but with his less than impeccable record with the local police how can he convince them to help?

 This is a beautifully written novel with a very unusual style which reflects Jasper’s unique way of looking at the world.  As a reader we question whether Jasper is a reliable narrator, and this adds to the mystery as the novel unfolds.  A poignant and moving novel.


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolfmrs dalloway

If you want to try something slightly challenging why not look at revisiting this classic by Virginia Woolf? Mrs Dalloway follows a  June day  in the life of wealthy socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in post World War 1 London. The brilliant stream of consciousness narrative conjours up the sight, sounds and impressions of the capital as Clarissa considers past loves and the way her life has developed. It’s rather like reading a long poem, intense and brilliant. It also formed the basis for the award winning film The Hours.

This title is available as an ebook





Book Chat- June 24

Members of library staff and volunteers who are avid readers have put together these book recommendations. Where indicated the books are available in our digital library at

Wonder by R.J. Palaciowonder 1

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

Get ready to love Auggie. He is an ordinary boy inside. He plays on his Xbox, he eats, he laughs but he also makes children in the playground run away screaming. Auggie was born with a terrible face abnormality. He has been home-schooled for most of his life but now he is getting ready to attend a mainstream school.

This book is an incredible book. It is very relatable story and one which is useful for both adults and children to read for empathy. You don’t just experience Auggie’s point of view but also the view of his family and classmates. His story inspires compassion and wonder 2kindness as you grow with the character throughout his first year of school.

Wonder is available as an eBook and eAudioBook. The follow up picture book, We’re All Wonders, is available an an eAudiobook.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jonesan american marriage

Roy and Celeste are a newly-wed, black couple who are visiting Roy’s family. They are staying in a motel and end up having a little argument. Roy leaves the room for air and to get some ice, on his way he meets a white woman who needs some help in her room. He helps her, gets the ice and returns to Celeste, they then reconcile and fall asleep. In the morning police storm into their motel room and arrest Roy for raping the woman he helped, a crime both Celeste and Roy knew Roy could not have committed. Roy is sentenced and imprisoned.

This is their story of what happens next, of how Roy copes with being wrongly accused and the impact this has on his family, his marriage and friends. Celeste is on the outside, she has always been independent and on the cusp of becoming a successful artist. Now Roy is out of the picture, his best friend, Andre, who has always loved Celeste, is supporting her.

This book is very emotional and portrays how lives are ruined and the unfairness of wrongful justice. Definitely worth the read.

Available as an eAudiobook.

Toffee by Sarah CrossanToffee

Allison has run away from home escaping an abusive father and ends up in a seaside town on the north coast of Devon. She hiding out in an empty shed of an abandoned house. Except the house is not abandoned, it is the home of Marla who is an elderly woman with dementia. Marla is confused and neglected, her son does not know how to speak to her and her carer who is supposed to call in every day misses days.

When Marla and Allison meet, Marla believes Allison is her old friend Toffee, so Allison becomes Toffee. The two strike up an unlikely friendship, Toffee gains a place to eat and sleep and has someone looking out for her and Marla gains a champion and someone to care for her.

This is a wonderful, character-driven story told in verse and it will really pull your heart strings.

Toffee is available as an eBook.

The Foundling by Stacey Hallsthe foundling

 It’s 1754, and Bess Bright has returned to London’s Foundling Hospital to claim the daughter she was forced to leave six years ago.  The last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter was claimed almost immediately – by her.  Bess is determined to find her daughter, and her search brings her into contact with a reclusive widow who has only left the house to attend church for the last decade.  Their worlds will collide in a way that will change them forever.

 This is a novel that’s rich in historical detail, from the poverty that Bess and her family live in as they struggle to survive to the decadent world of the upper classes.  The two women at the heart of the novel are very different but it’s possible to feel sympathy towards them both.  This is a very interesting read.

The Noise of Time by Julian BarnesThe noise of time

 Dmitri Shostakovich, just thirty years old, reckons with the first of three conversations with power that will  shape his life. Stalin has suddenly denounced the young composer’s latest opera. Certain he will be exiled to Siberia (or, more likely, shot dead on the spot), Shostakovich reflects on his predicament, his personal history, his parents, his daughter—all of those hanging in the balance of his fate. And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror, he will twice more be swept up by the forces of the Communist state: coerced into praising the Soviet state at a cultural conference in New York in 1948, and finally bullied into joining the Party in 1960.
The novel examines the impossible dilemma of the artist trying to work under a totalitarian regime. It is a highly interesting if demanding read on an important area of history.

This book is availabe as an eaudio book





Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Recommended Books No 1 Elizabeth Acevedo, Malorie Blackman and Kamila Shamsie

BAME LogoWokingham Borough Libraries have been proud to promote equality and diversity within its activities for many years. At this time where the need to tackle racism has become so clear, our Library Service has developed a list of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic authors and titles that are now available to borrow from our libraries. This is the first in a new series where library staff will be reviewing the books they have read and enjoyed. They are available as digital books at

Please also see our list of recommended reads at

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet and author. She has written three elizabeth acevedobooks, ‘Poet X’, ‘With the Fire on High’ and ‘Clap When You Land’. ‘Poet X’ and ‘Clap When You Land’ are written in verse and ‘With the Fire on High’ is written in prose. Elizabeth has also written a poetry collection called ‘Beast Girl & Other Origin Myths’. ‘Poet X’ won the Carnegie Medal in 2019 and in her acceptance speech she explained why she became an author.

“I was an eighth grade English teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland, when I began writing The Poet X. And the impetus came from a student I had who I loved. This student did not consider herself a reader. And I tried to put every exciting book at the time into her hands but she had no interest in sparkly vampires or teens playing survival games. Finally, I asked her, ‘What would you like to read?’ And her reply took me aback. She said, ‘None of these books are about us. Where are the books about us?’ “

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedoclap when you land

An emotional tale of a family told in verse.

Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her auntie, her father works in America and he comes to visit every summer. Excited, she arrives at the airport but finds loads of crying people. Searching on the arrivals board, she discovers her father’s plane crashed into the sea just after take-off.

Yahaira lives in New York City, her father travels to the Dominican Republic every summer but this summer is different, his plane never landed in the Dominican Republic.

Camino and Yahaira do not realise this yet but they share a father. Families can be quite complicated and their father’s secrets are about to be revealed. Grief, lies and regret threads through this story but it is also full of discovery, forgiveness, love and the meaning of family. The author writes incredibly vivid characters and I really enjoyed reading about the side characters too, they were very detailed and strong. I was not ready to leave this collection of characters behind.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo with the fire on high

Emoni lives with her grandmother and her Babygirl. She navigates school and caring for her family with severe judgement and criticism from all directions including Babygirl’s other grandparents and students at her school. She is under constant pressure not to fail. She is an aspiring chef and has a natural talent for cooking and putting together different ingredients and spices that evoke strong feelings for anyone eating her food.

When her school’s new culinary arts class offer her class a trip to Spain, it is her dream come true, but can Emoni afford it can she be apart from Babygirl for a week?

This story if full of love and motherhood swirled with food and spice. Emoni is a strong, hard-working and courageous young woman, who is a wonderful mother to Babygirl and cares deeply for all the people around her. You will enjoy walking in Emoni’s shoes and experiencing her hard work and overcoming prejudices and stereotypes.

Malorie BlackmanMalorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman is a British author who mainly writes stories for children and young adults. She held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She has written more than 60 books, including novels, short story collections, television scripts and a stage play. She is a highly acclaimed author having won over fifteen awards and was appointed an OBE in 2008. Prehaps her most well-known series is Noughts and Crosses, which has recently been made into a TV programme.

Noughts and Crosses Review

Sephy is a Cross, this means she is part of the elite in society, her dark skin is the ruling class. She lives a very privileged life and doesn’t understand what life is like for the white, lower class society, the Noughts. Callum is a Nought, his Mum is employed as Sephy’s nanny and as children Sephy and Callum grow up together.

They keep their friendship a secret and when Callum is integrated into an all Cross school, Sephy and Callum’s relationship deepens. As their relationship goes through twists and turns Callum begins to questions the world, for example, why there are no Noughts mentioned in the history books. His Dad and older brother join a terrorist group and pressure Callum to join.

This book delves deep into themes of racism, prejudice, segregation and terrorism. The twists and turns of first love when the whole world is against you and does not understand your love. The book is gut-wrenching and heart breaking and comes to a shocking conclusion. It is fast-paced, full of vivid characters that are explored not only in this book but throughout the series.

Malorie Blackman Books


Kamila Shamsiekamila

Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels. She wrote her first novel, ‘In the City by the Sea’, aged 25 and her most recent is ‘Home Fire’, which was long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2017 and won the Women’s Prize in 2018. The majority of her novels have been celebrated with award nominations.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie home fire

Home Fire is a story about a British Muslim family of two orphaned sisters and a brother. Their lives are overshadowed by their jihadist father. Isma, the eldest sibling, raised the younger twins and now they are nineteen she has decided to go to America, accepting a scholarship and to continue with her studies. Aneeka moves in with a close neighbour and their brother, Parvaiz, has run away following in his father’s footsteps. When Eamonn, the privileged son of the Home Secretary, comes into the girls’ lives, everything changes.

This is such an interesting story and insight into British Muslims. The two families differ greatly from each other especially in their ways of coping with British society and racism. The Home Secretary has moved away from Islam and speaks out in accordance to what he believes will keep him popular with the public, whereas Isma and Aneeka are devout Muslims. The author highlights every day racism that they experience for example, when Isma is in the airport ready to fly to America she is asked to go into interrogation, something that herself and Aneeka have practiced, knowing there is a high chance of this happening.

This story is definitely one to remember, it is very well plotted and moves backwards and forwards in time to reveal more information about their lives, leading towards a heart-breaking and shocking conclusion. It is incredibly relevant to life today with comparisons to current news stories. I learnt a lot from this story.

kamila books


Book Chat June 17

Members of library staff and volunteers who are avid readers have put together these book recommendations. Where indicated the books are available in our digital library at

The Woman Who Went To Bed For a Year by Sue Townsendthe woman who went to bed

Eva is fed up. She has looked after her family, her husband and twins – now grown up, for years and she has finally had enough of their carelessness and ungratefulness. One day she gets back into bed and vows not to leave. Her husband is upset, who is going to give him his dinner and clean the house?

As her stay in bed continues word starts to get around and soon Eva is famous. She is received in different ways, some believe she is protesting and soon she has a following. Others start to take a more religious view of her and seek out images of her in food.

Eva did not mean for this to happen, she just wanted to make a point and not attract all the fuss. As she continues to stay in bed the family dynamic changes, they all begin to reconsider who and what has been taken for granted, new friends emerge and secrets are revealed.

If you are looking for an easy read that will make you laugh then this is the book for you. The eAudiobook is narrated by Caroline Quentin and she narrates it brilliantly.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neillasking for it

This is a tough book to read and deals with the topic of rape.

Emma O’Donovan is eighteen, she is a normal, happy teenager. It is the start of summer and she is going to a party. The next thing she knows she wakes up on the front porch of her house with little to no memory of the night before and she is in pain. She will soon know what happened that night, not from remembering, but from the explicit photos that show, in detail what Emma was doing.

This is a hard-hitting, difficult book to read and it is incredibly well written. Louise O’Neill is not afraid to write the painful topics. The reader is taken right into Emma’s headspace with her thoughts and confusion. She uses repetitive sentences to show how horrible the situation is and how Emma is dealing and coping with what happened to her.

This book left me emotional. It was a horrible, heart-breaking, painful, despairing and depressing read. But it was such an important and powerful book that is still needed today.

Available as an eAudiobook.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnettthe versions of us

This book is about Eva and Jim. It begins in 1958 where they have a chance encounter, Jim is walking down a country lane and Eva is cycling towards him and swerves to avoid a dog. Three different possible paths branch out from this chance encounter and you explore them throughout the book.

The book centres on these two characters and meanders through their lives, their families, through love and loss and wraps up with a satisfying ending.

The story really makes you wonder about all the thousands of choices we make in a day and what a difference just one day could make. The plots are complex and require some concentration to follow but once you get into the flow of the narrative it makes an easy to read. The author does manage to differentiate between the different versions by using different names for the children etc. but this is definitely a book to devour in as fewer sittings as possible so your memory is fresh of who is who.

Available as an eAudiobook.

Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall grace after henry

 Grace sees Henry everywhere she goes – in the supermarket, on every street and even in the cemetery.  Except it’s impossible.  Henry was killed in a cycling accident just as he and Grace were on the verge of buying a house and starting their lives together.  Grace is struggling to come to terms with losing the love of her life.  Then she opens her front door one day to find a man who bears a haunting resemblance to Henry, who has some extraordinary revelations.

 This is a beautiful tale of loss and grief, with some very interesting themes around missed opportunities, identity and how our upbringing can influence who we become.  Grace is a very likeable character and it’s impossible not to get caught up in her story.

Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannahhaven't they grown

 Beth can’t resist when the opportunity to drive past her former best friend’s house presents itself.  Her timing is good, and she sees Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, for the first time in 12 years – except something is very, very wrong.  Thomas and Emily should be 12 years older than the last time Beth saw them, but the children getting out of the car are exactly the same age and haven’t aged at all.  Beth decides to find out more, but soon finds herself involved in a deep and complex set of circumstances

 This is a very interesting and unusual plot that will keep you guessing all the way to the end.  It has a wide-ranging and interesting cast of characters, and Beth’s feisty teenage daughter is particularly memorable!

Half a World Away by Mike Gaylehalf a world away

 Kerry and Noah live in the same city but inhabit very different worlds.  Kerry is a single mum, a cleaner and the world’s biggest Mariah Carey fan.  Noah is a barrister, living in exclusive Primrose Hill with his wife and daughter.  On the surface they have nothing in common – but appearances can be deceptive and their worlds are about to change forever.

 This novel is told from both Kerry and Noah’s viewpoints, which means as a reader we can follow the highs and lows of their emotions as they discover just how much they have in common.  The characters are realistic, warm and likeable and you will be drawn deep into their emotionally-charged story.





Book Chat June 10

Members of library staff and volunteers who are avid readers have put together these book recommendations. Where indicated the books are available in our digital library at

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen. the other half of augustus hope

Brilliantly written, the story take us into dual worlds – English suburbia and war-torn Burundi – skilfully interwoven.

The author’s love of and facility with words is expressed through the endearing character of Augusta as she, one of two very different twins, grows up, questioning everything and straining against the confines of her life.

Parfait, from Burundi, is desperate to leave his country and the horrific experiences of his childhood to follow his dream of a better life in Spain.

It’s a book of human aspiration and courage: funny, quirky, and deeply emotional.

It’s hard to put down and uplifting.


World without End by Ken without end

A saga set in the fourteenth century.

The lives of four children, who accidentally witness a murder, are followed as they are woven together through ambition, love, greed and vengeance. Pestilence, in the form of the plague, is a powerful influence on their life experience.

The story is pacy, informative and captivating.

A great read, perfect for long days of isolation from the coronavirus!


Little Women Louisa M. Alcottlittle women

Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth – four “little women” enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England, the charming story of the March sisters, Little Women has been adored by generations. Readers have rooted for Laurie in his pursuit of Jo’s hand, cried over little Beth’s death, and dreamed of travelling through Europe with old Aunt March and Amy. Future writers have found inspiration in Jo’s devotion to her writing. In this simple, enthralling tale, both parts of which are included here, Louisa May Alcott has created four of American literature’s most beloved women.

This is available as an ebook and an eaudio book


Queenie      Candice Carty-Williamsqueenie

Candice Carty-Williams’ wonderful debut is a  painfully funny coming-of-age story set in modern Britain. Fabulous but flawed, defiant but vulnerable, Queenie Jenkins is a great fictional creation, and her story is, by turns, hilariously funny, dramatic and movingly tender.

Caught between the Jamaican British family who don’t seem to understand her, a job that’s not all it promised and a man she just can’t get over, Queenie’s life seems to be steadily spiralling out of control. Desperately trying to navigate her way through a hot mess of shifting cultures and toxic relationships and emerge with a shred of dignity, her missteps and misadventures will provoke many emotions,frequently on the same page.

The novel tackles issues as diverse as mental health, race, class and consent and it does take us to some dark places but it is a really rewarding read and I found myself comparing it with Briget Jones, it is so much more than just chick lit.




Virtual travel via novels


For those of you who are missing their travel adventures this Summer, we have put together some suggestions for you to read your way around the world instead.

Take a grand tour around the great cities of Europe and beyond with these titles (all available as ebooks on our specially created bookshelf on RB digital)

London: Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Paris: Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Rome: The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

Venice: Miss Garnett’s Angel by Salley Vickers

Vienna: Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

Athens: Outline by Rachel Cusk

Moscow: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

Experience the world through other eyes by reading these authors from different continents (titles by each author available as ebooks on RB digital)

Africa: J M Coetzee

Asia: Arundhati Roy, Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami

Australia: Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas

Europe: Andrea Camilleri

North America: Margaret Attwood, Toni Morrison

South America: Paolo Coelho, Isabel Allende

For information on how to access eBooks visit the website

Not a library member? You can now register online at









Blue Peter Book Awards 2020


The Blue Peter Book Awards celebrates the amazing fact and fiction books that have been published for children in the last year. The judges were vlogging superstar Jean Menzies, poet and children’s author Joseph Coelho, and CBBC presenter Meryl Fernandez. They whittled down the longlist of 20 books down to 3 fact books and 3 fiction books.

The facts books nominees

Fanatical about frogs by Owen Davey

Leap into this fascinating illustrated guide to the most diverse amphibians in the world, from the lumbering common toad to the beautiful but deadly poison dart frog.

How to be an astronaut by Dr. Sheila Kanani and Sol Linero

Do you have what it takes to become an astronaut, a spaceship engineer or to work at Mission Control? Find out all about space and all the incredible space jobs you could do, from training to be a space chef or designing spacesuits to searching for new planets we could live on, or even blasting into space and living in the International Space Station. This book will inspire any girl or boy with an interest in science and space exploration.

Rise up by Amanda Li (Winner)

Tells the stories of girls and boys from around the world and the challenges they have faced and overcome. It features amazing tales of those who have achieved the unimaginable – whether their story is of sailing single-handedly around the world at the age of 14, surviving a plane crash in the jungle or a shark attack while surfing. There are tales of triumphing over illness and injury, and of fighting against the plastic in our oceans. Entries include Ellie Simmons, Boyan Slat and Phiona Mutesi, to name a few.

The fiction books nominees

Owen and the soldier by Lisa Thompson

Owen and his mum are struggling. It’s just the two of them now and they’re finding it difficult to ask for the help they need. When Owen discovers a battered old war memorial in the local park, he finds great comfort in confessing his worries to the memorial’s war wearied soldier.

Vote for Effie by Laura Wood

Join Effie Kostas as she fights to become Student Council President in her new school. With a campaign team of loveable misfits, she tackles the truly important subjects: gender imbalance, outdated school conventions – and good-looking boys stealing the last slice of chocolate cake at lunchtime.

Wildspark by Vashti Hardy (Winner)

In Medlock, a secretive guild of inventors have brought spirits of the dead back into the world, harnessing them in animal-like machines. Young Prue has joined as an apprentice, but she’s on a mission of her own: to bring her brother back to life. To find him, she needs to get the ghost machines to remember the people they used to be.

Viewers’ Vote Award

This year, there was a special category celebrating 20 years of the Blue Peter Book Awards, and the winner was…Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling!


Vote for Effie by Laura Wood, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are both available as audiobooks on RBdigital, our digital content service.



Book Chat- June 3

We would like to recommend you some books that have been read and enjoyed by library staff during this lockdown period. Where indicated they are available in our digital library at

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankelthis is how it always is

 This novel tells the story of the Walsh-Adams family, and their chaotic but wonderful life with their five boys.  The youngest of these, Claude, is an exceptionally bright three year old with lots of ambitions for when he grows up, including being a scientist, a farmer and a dinosaur.  He also wants to be a girl.  This is the start of a long and complex journey for Claude, as he makes the decision to become Poppy.  His parents and brothers do everything in their power to help, but unfortunately discover that society is not always as welcoming or understanding and difficult times lie ahead for the family.

 This novel deals sensitively with some complex and difficult themes around gender, parenting and what it’s like to be different in a world where conforming is seen as the norm.  It’s a moving and thought-provoking read, that has at its heart a remarkable child who can help us all learn something new about acceptance.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullenlost letters

 In this novel we meet William and Clare, who have somehow reached a point in their marriage where they no longer even seem to know how to talk to each other.  Williams spends his days in the Lost Letters Depot, trying to reunite wayward mail with its intended recipient.  He is a failed novelist, too scared to try again in case he fulfils his parents’ belief that he will never amount to anything.  Clare is a high-flying lawyer, building a career to prove she is a success and to escape a traumatic childhood, but beset by doubts that this is the life she really wants.  One day William discovers a letter addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, signed ‘Winter’.  He feels instantly that this letter was meant for him and that destiny has brought it to his desk.  As more letters arrive and William’s obsession with finding the mysterious Winter grows, his marriage to Clare comes under increasing strain and he feels torn between the reality of his life now and the promise of a life with Winter.

 Throughout this novel we hear both William’s and Clare’s viewpoints as they battle with their emotions, and it’s impossible not to get drawn into their story as they try to decide what their future holds.  Set in a time before emails and texts and instant messaging, it’s a gentle reminder of the joy that a simple letter in the post can bring. This is availabe as an ebook and eaudio book.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owenscrawdads

 This novel tells the story of Kya, or as she is known locally The Marsh Girl.  She is left alone at a young age to fend for herself in a landscape of marshland, isolated and shunned by the residents of the local town.  The marsh provides company, an education and a way to make a living, but what Kya craves most of all is human company.  This, however, will have unexpected and devastating consequences.

 This is a lovely novel, filled with detailed descriptions of the wildlife that surrounds and supports Kya.  It deals with some big themes, including domestic violence and racism and is an interesting social commentary on how people fear the unknown and what they don’t understand.

Our Dark Secret by Jenny QuintanaOur dark secret

 Life is not easy for Elizabeth as an overweight, clever teenager growing up in the 1970s.  Her life changes with the arrival of a new family, and their daughter Rachel.  Rachel is everything that Elizabeth yearns to be – popular, beautiful and slim –  and the two form an unlikely friendship.  Rachel’s life is not all it seems though, and her bright façade hides a darker side.  Twenty years on a body is discovered and Elizabeth finds herself being drawn back to events that she has spent her adult life trying to escape.

This novel is a brilliant illustration of what life is like as a teenager when you feel that you don’t quite fit and are struggling to make sense of an adult world.  The relationship between the two girls, and the impact this has even far into their adult lives, is fascinating to follow.

This book is available as an ebook













Entertainment on Pressreader and RBdigital


To keep in touch with what is happening in the worlds of music and film, you will find lots of magazines – for example, Total Film, Empire, Mojo and Q, among others – that you can download and read for free via our Pressreader site (

Or you could visit our RB Digital site (, where you will find biographies of Elton John, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miranda Hart, Sarah Millican, and more.


Book Chat-May 27

We’d like to recommend to you a number of titles that are available from our digital library to help you get through these days of lockdown. All books have been recommended by members of our library staff  and volunteers who are avid readers. They are available as ebooks or eaudio at

Of Mice and Men by John SteinbeckMice and Men

George and Lennie are two men searching for work in America during the Great Depression. Lennie is very ‘child-like’. He has an innocent mind that does not understand the world. All he wants is a rabbit to pet and to be with George. George is savvier with an understanding of the world, he has sacrificed a lot in the past for Lennie. They want to live the American Dream and earn money to buy their own ranch and do not have to answer to any master. But this is a dream. When they arrive at a ranch to work they try to fit in with the other men there, which sadly lead to some devastating developments.

If you are looking for escapism this book is for you. It’s full of descriptive landscapes in America reflecting on the isolation of these two men. The text is written in their dialect and their voices come through extremely vividly. The hot American landscape leads to an enticing plot. It is a short story with characters that will tug on your heart strings.

Available as an eBook.

Bloom by Nicola Skinnerbloom

Sorrell is a good person. She tries her hardest to be good, she is head girl – second year running – and is extremely conscientious. Sorrell lives in a town that is built of concrete, in a tired old cottage that moans ALL the time, with a hideous willow tree in the back garden. One day when Sorrell is home alone the roots of the willow tree crack open the concrete patio and reveal Surprising Seeds to Sorrell. Herself and her super science-y best friend, Neena plant these seeds. Surprisingly, these Surprising Seeds do not grow like regular plants, they sprout plants from people’s heads and they are incredibly quick at spreading with unusual and comedic consequences.

I absolutely loved this book, it is a beautiful book that teaches children (and adults!) how great plants and gardening are. The characters were completely relate-able, the environmental message was strong and clear! I loved the ending, it made me cry. The illustrations throughout the book were gorgeous – infact I could have done with more!

Available as an eAudiobook

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren Jamesthe quiet at the end of the world

Lowrie and Shen are the last two humans born in a crumbling London. They are the youngest humans after a virus swept the world causing a global pandemic. They enjoy mud larking, finding objects on the banks of the river Thames from the past. There is also another character, Maya, whose story you learn through messages left on social media about the virus set in our present.

Imagine a world where the majority of human life has gone because a virus made every human sterile. What would become of the planet? What would happen to the wildlife? How do we leave our legacy behind? This book is thought-provoking and leads to many questions about humanity and how we are today.

This book answers all those questions with so many unpredictable twists. I really enjoyed the ending and the moral of the story, everything was tied up together in the end with a powerful message about humanity.

This book is available as an eAudiobook.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughtyplatform seven

This is an exciting thriller fron the author of Apple Tree Yard which has some  eerie supernatural content. The narrator Lisa is already dead, she died on Peterbrough Railway station, 18 months previously and is unable to leave or find any peace. As the story unfolds we discover the events that lead up to her death on the railway tracks. It is a terrifying story of coercive control by her partner Matthew, who is to outward appearances a perfect young man and a respectable doctor.

As the novel opens another death takes place in the middle of the night as someone jumps from the same platform and Lisa must find out what connects them both as part of her path towards finding her way out of the limbo she is currently stuck in. There are a number of other interesting characters and their stories  which weave around the main action and add an extra dimension to the plot.

Available as an ebook and eaudio book

The Salt Path by Raynor Winnthe salt path

The Salt Path is a personal memoir  by Raynor Winn describing how she and her partner Moth deal with a very challenging situation when in middle age they become homeless after a bankrupcy hearing and Moth is also diagnosed with a terminal condition. With the minimum of preparation they set off to walk the south west coast path and the journal describes the high and lows of their journey. Physically  things are very tough indeed as they attempt to navigate steep cliff paths and wild camping with no facilities. They also find out what it is like to be outside normal society with barely enough money to live on. The book contains many lyrical descriptions of the coast and countryside and may leave the reader keen to taste the freedom of long distance walking .

The book was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography prize and a second book by Raynor Winn, The Wild Silence is due to be published later this year.

The title is available as an ebook and an eaudio book.