The Thirteenth Tale

Cover of The Thirteenth TaleRecently, I have found that my book choices have been a little disappointing – in fact I could categorically state that they have not captured my imagination at all! A sad state of affairs. But that was before I came across The Thirteenth Tale… During my short Christmas holiday I spent any free time actively seeking out a quiet ‘nook or cranny’ where I could sit down and catch up with the action going on at Angelfield House

the imposing home of the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins

YES, a Gothic mystery that has got me page-turning with great speed. Oh, I love a good Gothic novel – Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black to name but a few.

Cover of Bellman & BlackWritten by Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale has received a 4-star-rating in our catalogue and has elicited around 60+ positive comments by readers. I’ve started to look at ratings and comments in earnest, although I like to think that I am not swayed too much by opinion – I don’t want to miss something that I might enjoy. Setterfield’s latest offering, Bellman & Black, sounds promising and I might be persuaded to give it a whirl.

What ‘haunting’ reads would you recommend? And, tell me, do you read the comments in the catalogue? If so, do you let them guide your selections?

Naxos Theatre presents…

Logo of Naxos Video LibraryWhilst making myself aware of what library resources we have via the Source today I came upon ‘a gem’. Now I quite understand if you don’t think this tidbit of information is mind-blowing, because, let’s face it, we all appreciate different things.

If someone mentioned in passing that they had found a fantastic library resource all about the history of football which showed vintage games of yesteryear, you would probably find me in the foetal position banging my head on any available wall (not as easy as it sounds!).  But theatre productions – now, that’s a totally different ball game (every pun intended).

I clicked on Music, audio & video and chose the option Naxos Video Library. I then selected the option Genres and Programmes which showed me Theatre.  I would have had much more immediate fun if I hadn’t clicked on Opera, Monuments/History/Geography and Feature Films first, but maybe I had to wade my way through the potential of these first to truly experience the excitement I felt when – alphabetically by playwright’s surname – I found plays and theatre productions I had never heard of before. Some of these productions go back as far as 1960 with the most recent being a Shakespearean play put on at the Globe Theatre in 2011.

Cover of Much Ado About NothingAnyway, back to the 1960s and 70s…  Eli Wallach, Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman, Ingrid Bergman, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Jason Robards, Walter Matthau are just a few of the American actors who ‘trod the boards’ in their younger years before Hollywood beckoned. Some of the offerings are literally on stage sets, whilst others are televised versions of plays.

Chekov’s The Seagull , Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are just a few of the more recognised plays, but there are also playwrights and plays I’ve never heard of before.

After much dithering I’ve decided to watch the 1979 production of Mourning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill’s ‘classic American drama of love, revenge, murder and suicide’ with hopefully not a football in sight!

Have a look at the Naxos Music or Video Library next time you are on the library website – there’s a HUGE amount of material to cast your eye over.

 

Motivation and stamina essential

Cover of A is for Alibi - photo by Karen Bishop
The very first Kinsey Millhone book I bought, back in 1992

On a dark, bitterly cold evening in November 1992 I was both  ‘killing time’ and keeping warm in W H Smith waiting with increasing impatience for my delayed home-bound train to make its appearance at  platform 7.

I glanced at the shelves of books and found myself drawn to the large A embellishing a book cover – a cover that looked as menacing and moody as I felt!  Turning to the back cover I decided that I liked the sound of Kinsey Millhone – primarily because she was my age and sounded feisty (an attribute that still eludes me).

She’s 32 years old. Twice divorced, no kids. Sometimes the independence suits her better than it should. Meet Kinsey Millhone, private investigator…

I purchased the book and ran (a practice I haven’t attempted for several years now) the length of platform 7 where I was guaranteed, if not a seat, then at least ‘a lean against’ the side of  a seat in the middle of the carriage. This running remained limited to catching public transport for several years, UNLIKE Kinsey who chose to don training shoes every morning and go jogging. I resonated on every level with her except that one!!

She cut her own hair with nail scissors (brave but foolhardy) and owned the one black dress which she grudgingly climbed into when her investigations necessitated fitting in somewhere more exotic than her office or apartment. Kinsey had life pared down to essentials and I admired that.

Cover of W is for WastedBy the time I had been introduced to Sue Grafton’s character, she had already had G is for Gumshoe published so I had some catching up to do. Now W is for Wasted is in the libraries and I am eagerly awaiting news of the ‘X’ title and then only two more to go.

What motivation and stamina Sue Grafton possesses – to continue with a PI who, even now, has only reached the late 1980s with regard to her case-load (and has only aged a few years – unlike her reader!).

The research that must be done to achieve the successful completion of complex storylines; the well-drawn characters  that have featured alongside Kinsey is an amazing feat of dexterity. I have a mental image of notepads galore scribbled with names of past characters and brief histories of each which would have to be feverishly consulted to ensure names, plots, historical time frames don’t go awry.

Female PIs abound on the shelves of the libraries. Do you have any personal favourites and if so, what appeals to you about them? I’m going to be in need of an older but still feisty character to relate to shortly.

The Beauty of Lists

Cover of The Librarian's Book of Lists Memory – as you get older – seems to fail you at the most inopportune moments…  And if, heaven forbid, you are a little ‘distracted’ or ‘stressed’, then it completely goes out of the window.

Once upon a time I could remember the titles of books and authors’ names without having to play mental ‘charades’  with myself (or rope in increasingly bewildered colleagues) to acquire them! Ah, those were the days…

Thank heavens for our catalogue’s nifty little function entitled Lists. I was asked a question the other day: ‘what books could I recommend’. Well, this time I was prepared. I had a List, you see. Quick as a flash I went into My Account on BiblioCommons, clicked on My Lists and there they were – my top books (in no particular order) that I have access to via the library collection.

Cover of PersonalYou don’t have to make lists public if you are of a reticent nature; whilst I make my own private  lists, I also peruse the public list titles on the catalogue page and find that some of them are really rather quirky and/or list very unusual topics. I’ve actually found quite a few books to place reserves on via this method.

Who could fail to be impressed with titles such as If you like… fiction for hipsters or If you like… Chick Lit – Beyond Bridget Jones and Marion Keyes? And, if you are desperate to find Lee Child-like books by different authors, THEN miraculously there is a list called If you like… Lee Child which puts forward 21 different authors to try. Yeah!!

Have you ever created or made use of a list? Check out the Staff Picks lists created by our librarians (you can choose from Adults, Kids and Teens) – I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the range they cover.

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