Two titles to talk about today, first up The Library by Bella Osborne. This is my 6th. book for the Bookish Books challenge which is being hosted by Susan at Bloggin' 'Bout Books.
Tom is sixteen and lives with his father, Paul. His mother died when he was eight and his father has never fully recovered, he drinks too much and Tom has had to learn to deal with this as well as preparing for his GCSEs, and falling for Farah Shah who is in some of his classes. His problems have made him chronically shy and in order to try and connect with girls he decides that as they seem to like reading he should try too and then he might have something to talk to Farah about. So off he goes to the local library where there's a book group in progress. Seventy two year old, Maggie, is in attendance. She lives on a small holding, farming sheep, on her own since her husband died. Outside, sometime later, Maggie is mugged and Tom tries to come to her aid. Thus a friendship is struck up and Tom becomes a fixture at the library, loaded up with romance books by a well meaning librarian that he's said are for his mother, and joining the book group. He sees Farah there too but is still tongue-tied. Then news arrives that the council are considering closing the library, 'cuts' being the excuse of course. Maggie, Tom and Farah head the campaign to stop this happening but real life often has a habit of getting in the way of the best laid plans. Parts of this must sound a bit grim and in truth it was a bit heart-breaking in places. Tom is a neglected teenager, struggling to cope with his father's drinking and exams. Maggie recognises this immediately because she herself is lonely, judging each day on whether she chatted to someone on the bus or the postman stopped to talk or she saw and spoke to no one and thus the day was not a good one. She takes Tom under her wing, he helps her on the farm and in return she feeds him properly and has the company she craves. It's heart-warming and delightful to have a depiction of two such disparate characters, not only in circumstance but also age, get along well and connect. There're up and downs of course. Maggie has secrets too, that she'd rather no one found out about. Tom wants to go to uni but his father wants him to work in the local factory to bring in some money. All life is here in this gentle but realistic tale and I challenge anyone not to enjoy this unlikely friendship and celebration of Maggie's simple life so close to the land. I loved it. Bella Osborne's books are usually a little different to this I gather, being more in the romantic vein than this one. She didn't know how this departure would go down, well I fancy it's gone down well and I for one hope she has more in the bag.
My second book is 14, a science fiction horror story by Peter Clines.
Nate has a poorly paid job he hates, no prospects, no girlfriend, no nothing really. He needs cheap accommodation in LA and is told about the Kavach building which has a vacant appartment. It's cheap and seems too good to be true but he's desperate and takes it. He learns that they can't keep tennants because people find the place odd and spooky and are unnerved by it. And Nate admits there are oddities, some appartments are padlocked up and not used, light bulbs don't work, the cockroaches are luminescent green and have an extra leg... and where does their electricity come from? He meets Veek a computer geek who also lives there - she's been investigating the weirdness of the building for some time and they join forces with several others willing to share their experiences and search for answers. Well, this comes under the heading of so weird it's Dead Peculiar. I, of course, loved it. It's a slow burner. Abut 40% of the book had passed before there was any real action, before that it's small investigations and conversations and I admit I was ready for something more concrete. I wasn't expecting what I eventually got though! The tie-in with a famous author's work took me by surprise, luckily I have read him extensively so it worked for me, I'm not sure if it would be the same for anyone who had not. The horror in the story is not of the gory variety, it's more based on ideas and concepts and more similar to a story by, say, Jules Verne (he's not the author concerned). The sci-fi element was just as strong but also of an old-fashioned variety... adventurous and a bit mad. That's probably why I liked it so much. This is book one of Clines's 'Threshold' series but the books are loosely connected I think, not necessarily having the same characters. 14 very much stands alone but I like the sound of the other books and will read on with a great deal of interest. The next book, The Fold, sounds so good.
I shall be busy now for a few days. It's The Coronation tomorrow and then a milestone birthday on Monday, family around, that kind of thing. I hope you're all well and finding some excellent books to read.