Three library books I read recently

As I didn’t review any books in April due to the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge, and I am hoping to take part in some blog tours over the next few weeks, I have decided to catch up by posting three short reviews today.

Racing the wind by Patricia Nolan

Cover of Racing the wind

In Racing the wind: A Cumbrian Childhood Patricia Nolan recounts the story of three memorable years from her childhood in a remote village in Cumbria. I borrowed this book from the library and found it well-written and very interesting. As well as descriptions of many diverse characters, the way of life for country folk without access to most of the modern conveniences available in towns and cities is the backdrop for this memoir of a 20th century childhood.

This hardback book is published by Merlin Unwin Books and includes photographs.

The Pavilion in the Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

Cover of The Pavilion in the Clouds

This novel by the popular and prolific author Alexander McCall Smith is not part of any of his earlier series. The Pavilion in the Clouds is set in Ceylon as Sri Lanka was known at the time of the story. It is a historical novel set in the 20th century. The twists in the story surprised me. There is mystery, deception and all the loose ends are tied up.

This book is also available as an audiobook and for Kindle.

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Cover of Confessions of a bookseller

Like Shaun Bythell’s earlier book, The Diary of a Bookseller, Confessions of a Bookseller is in diary form. It covers the year 2015. Although I couldn’t keep track of the numerous characters, I found this book entertaining and informative. It is available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle.

Book review: The Crystal Crypt by Fiona Veitch Smith

Book cover of The Crystal Crypt Poppy Denby Investigates, which has illustrations of a young woman standing near some stone steps against which a bicycle has been leant. Through a window next to the steps a scientist can be seen working in a lab.

I received a copy of The Crystal Crypt: Poppy Denby Investigates as a Christmas present and read it over two days of the holiday period. This is the sixth Poppy Denby book. For new readers of this blog this series is set in the 1920s in England. Poppy Denby is a ground-breaking female investigative journalist. Her enquiries put her in danger.

This latest book sees Poppy’s personal and professional lives continuing to develop. It would be possible to read this as a stand-alone book. Some earlier adventures are mentioned. A list of the earlier books appears here.

I read the whole series soon after each book was published. If I remember correctly this is the first Poppy Denby book with a scientific background. The Crystal Crypt was published in November 2021. As with the earlier Poppy Denby books questions for reading groups are included. I enjoyed reading this book, which brought back some memories of my visits to the Royal Institution for lectures as a teenager. Another place Poppy visited in this book is Oxford. A map of Oxford at the time is included.

Two e-books I read in February 2021

I found these two books on Borrowbox. They are both fiction intended to be read by adults.

Book coverThe Weaver’s Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd is a historical novel. It is described as a Regency romance novel. The genres it falls into include Christian Fiction although the Christian element is only shown in a few church services and the character of the eponymous heroine. During the industrial revolution people employed in cottage industries connected to the textile trade were likely to be put out of work by increasing mechanisation in the large textile mills. This novel is set in a precise historical time with soldiers returning from the war in Spain. It is a good story with lots of excitement and a theme of reconciliation. It left me wanting to learn more about the Luddites and the history of Yorkshire.

The Last Family in England by Matt Haig (Paperback ISBN 9781786893222) book coverThe Last Family in England by Matt Haig is described as comedy. To me it was more like tragedy or irony. I enjoyed it less than other books I have read by Matt Haig. The pet Labrador narrates the story of the family he is pledged to protect at all costs. He learns the truth about all the events, which occur  – some of them surprising. His interventions do some good, but at what personal (or rather doggy) cost? Humour is not universal. What makes one person laugh does not necessarily amuse another. It was an interesting, haunting story.