Like many of us, we started the new year full of positivity and high hopes for a much better year than last. We are certainly delighted to see so many of you walk through our doors to browse, choose and order books from us. It’s wonderful to hear new titles from our customers and many of your order requests end up on our shelves as well, so thank you for bringing them to our attention.
Our monthly book club and cook the books sessions with The Cooks Place continue to be popular and more information is available in store if you are interested.
Here are our four book picks this month. As usual, we have chosen a fiction title and a non-fiction title for adults and the same for young readers. We hope you enjoy.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Have you ever wondered how you would react if you woke up to a phone call explaining that today would be your last day on earth? What would be your priorities and how would you choose to spend your last minutes? For Mateo and Rufus, it’s the devastating truth, and they have to think quickly about how they want to spend their last day, managing to squeeze an entire life in under 24 hours. On September 5, around midnight, Mateo and Rufus both receive a phone call from “Death Cast” telling them that they will die that day, although they don’t know when or how that will happen. As complete strangers, each with a different story and background, the two unfortunate teenagers meet by chance, communicating via an application: the “Last Friend”, specially designed to help those for whom death is terribly imminent. Eager not to waste time and aware that every second that passes is precious, they embark on an unforgettable adventure, discovering another facet of life specially designed for ‘Deckers’. As the hours pass too quickly, their relationship blossoms and an intimate bond forms between the two. For us as readers, however, it becomes increasingly heartbreaking and futile as we are continually aware of their painfully inevitable fate. Through friendship, love, heartbreak and the emotional portrayal of LGBTQ, Silvera effectively explores the utterly upsetting experience of loss and the terrifying knowledge that time is running out. The final short chapters, while surprisingly unavoidable, give me goosebumps; I believe this Young Adult A bestseller ‘Tik Tok Famous’ has the power to truly influence our perception of the fragility of life, teaching us to seize every moment and cherish the time we spend together.
Published by Simon & Schuster £7.99 Paperback ISBN 9781471166204
Atlas of Amazing Migrations by Matt Sewell and Megan Lee
In his latest book, Matt Sewell takes us on a beautifully illustrated journey around the world through the migrations of all kinds of flora and fauna.
When we think of migration, we often think of birds like the Arctic Tern which holds the record for the longest regular migration on record. However, Sewell reminds us of other animals such as wildebeest, elephants and even our own common toad which have all undertaken their own arduous and often perilous journey in search of food, warmth or a place to breed. Not only that, but we’re also introduced to the migrations of more surprising lifeforms such as the coconut palms that use the ocean for their travels and the corn aphid that catches a lift on the jet streams of the American Midwest.
The book comes alive with Sewell’s distinctive and characterful watercolors of the many amazing creatures that undertake these epic journeys. It comes with engaging text that is informative in a conversational way, making it universally appealing. Overall, it’s a beautiful book that offers a fresh perspective on our earth through the journeys of some of its most interesting creatures.
Published by Harper Collins £16.99 Hardcover ISBN 9781843654995
Piranesi by Susannah Clarke
When first introduced, and especially when compared to her debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susannah Clarke’s Piranesi may seem like “speed reading.” However, to paraphrase an age-old saying, you should never judge a book by the number of its pages! Piranesi is a remarkable work of fantasy fiction. It’s both fascinating and disorienting, beautiful but with an undercurrent of disquiet; a kind of dream become narrative.
The story revolves around Piranesi’s experience whose story is told through a series of diary entries. He’s a character who doesn’t recognize his own name, and although someone the reader instinctively trusts, he can prove to be an unreliable narrator. Piranesi likes to think of himself and the only other human living in the house as beings of reason and logic who collect facts and record experiences in order to make sense of the dizzying world they inhabit. However, this attempt at rational stability is undermined for the reader as the book unfolds and an ambivalent exchange between science and magic is revealed. Through this thematic collision, Clarke offers us a believable world that makes no sense: is it real or is it imagined?
What is perhaps most interesting about the Chamber is that it means many things to many different people. Piranesi himself finds a kind of spiritual solace in this space he considers his home, as he repeats throughout the novel: “the beauty of the House is immeasurable; his infinite kindness. However, the Other is afraid of the destructive potential of the tides and is clearly of the opinion that the house cannot sustain it. Likewise, readers have interpreted the house and what it means in different ways.
It’s no wonder Susannah Clarke won the Women’s Prize for Fiction with this labyrinthine novel. It is, in a way, a psychological of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for adults. Clarke created a space in which to meditate on the binary opposites of our world: real and imagined, kindness and cruelty, life and death, reason and madness. Indeed, The House is a world that you will never forget and, equally, that you will probably never be able to fathom.
Published by Bloomsbury £8.99 Paperback ISBN 9781526622433
Lady Lumley: Life and Legacy by John T. Smith
Lady Lumley’s name is well known in Ryedale. Thousands of pupils have attended the local secondary school, Lady Lumley’s School, in Pickering, the origins of which date back over 450 years, there are almshouses in Thornton Dale and two further schools in Thornton Dale and Sinnington have been granted to these communities by Lady Lumley. However, before the publication of this most interesting book, little else was known except the name of this generous benefactress.
A former history teacher at Lady Lumley’s School and now a lecturer at the University of Hull, Dr John Smith has meticulously studied the life of Lady Lumley, a most notable, but rather elusive, 17th-century noblewoman. who seems to have “breathed no notoriety”. . Born around the start of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, she was the fourth child of a wealthy and influential Catholic family living in London and Suffolk. Her long life – she lived past the age of 80 – was littered with personal conflicts, including scandals related to her sisters, the accidental death of her brother, the death of her beloved first husband and separation from his second. At her death, her wealth was certainly reduced but she made good use of it and her generosity towards the locality remains a legacy that continues today.
Dr. Smith’s research is broad and deep, painting a clear picture of aristocratic life in 17th century England and bringing us the finer details of the life of the woman who lived it. It is also written in an engaging style, and the personal accounts of his interest in Lady Lumley convey a genuine affection for the school he worked at for 24 years. By recording, documenting and preserving the life of this “truly progressive woman”, Dr. Smith created her own legacy for the school and this book is most certainly a fitting tribute to the woman who created it.
Published by Blackthorn Press £12.99 Paperback ISBN 9781906259662
(Blackthorn is a local publication based near Pickering)