Tag Archives: books

The British Library on Steroids

The Invisible Library

By Genevieve Cogman

Book Review

The Ultimate.

Every book ever written. bookpile1.jpg

In every Universe.

In every time.

Outside Time.

Outside Space.

And you and I can’t go and read these books – only the Librarians can!

Shame on them!

A British Library on Steroids and I’m not allowed in?

I fume against it – except that no-one has ever known that it existed so secretive is it.

So this is a fantasy story where librarians go adventuring and are trained spies and infiltrators. And are also trained in self-defence – to some extent – even if sometimes dragons need to assist – and to know a magical language. So what fun it would be to one of these Librarians…

Overall, I enjoyed this story as the basic premise was excellent and the heroine worth following in her future adventures – even if not yet written – but which I am sure will appear.



Classroom antics and Southern prejudice

Girl meets Class


Karin Gillespie

A Netgalley Review


Teaching in deprived areas is very much a challenge to a newly qualified teacher, and add to that, teaching those with educational difficulties and the challenge is doubled. How can I be sure this is true? Well. Because my first and second teaching posts were in areas that were far from middle-class, clean and salubrious. Rather I was teaching in schools where the children came from difficult home backgrounds.

I can justify this statement as in my second school I went on a training course so that I learnt to teach classes in baby and child-care to our many pregnant or new made mothers – it was a very popular class with regular attendance!

And in my first job I home tutored a young pregnant pupil, so young mothers were common in both areas – even though they were in different towns.

Additionally, in my first school I taught the class of pupils who needed life skills rather than history or geography. Lessons were about filling in forms and calculating change and making out shopping lists. And yes, I have been threatened by a pupil, who then went onto to punch the teacher who came to rescue me. So this story really resonated with my own experience- except that my experience was perhaps even more distressing – though the pupils’ homes I visited were largely in better condition.

In my second school, I found that the way to get the large lads reading was to provide them with comics. Today, I guess they would be the comic books that are popular or even computer games where they are required to read and type. Play to what interests them and also play games in class that are slyly educational whilst also being fun.

So, from the point of view of someone who has experienced the same situation, the book resonated.

Of course, teaching experience aside, the book is a light frothy chick read. With enough romance to satisfy.

What was however, disturbing, was the description of racial discrimination and prejudice that apparently still exists in Southern US States. To still have private clubs where black people are denied membership but are the majority of employees reinforces what we see on TV about the number of black males who are shot for no apparent reason other than their race and the fact that the police have guns available to them. To hear about the racial slurs that people in inter-racial relationships are called, and that they would be shunned by certain sections of the population was very distressing. It just reinforces our perceptions that Southern US can be a backward uncivilised area and somewhere you would not want to live. Weather aside of course – which would also be a real no-no.

So, is the book good? Well, there are some interesting social and cultural issues that are introduced in a light way but are there for us to notice – if we can. For this reason alone, I would recommend this book. But it is also a romance and a description of the coming of adulthood and adult behaviour of a spoiled child and adolescent with emotional difficulties and issues in relating to others. All of which are hidden in an easy flowing style and text.

So 4 stars for content and dealing with important issues within the story.

Canaries out of work

The Major’s Faux Fiancée


Erica Ridley

A Netgalley review

This author is definitely the successor to Georgette Heyer in writing Regency romances but with a soupcon of sex.

There is a well portrayed female who takes up ‘causes’ but actually doesn’t quite understand the full consequences or the complete reasons behind the sad stories, but rather follows and champions those who shout the loudest eg about income tax.

Additionally she was naive about how to achieve successful societal change – not realising that you need power and influence. She knew that she, as a women writing letters, would not be considered so rather she gave herself male names to sign her letters. But a sheltered clergyman’s daughter of that time did not have a full education about politics and economics, and did not realise what was really needed – and this was brought out later in the story.

I would have appreciated a little explanation, for the uninformed reader, as why these issues had arisen. I knew some of them. For instance home weavers’ jobs had seriously declined due to the automation of weaving in mills, and that income tax had been needed to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. But what was the problem with the Davy Lamp? Other than that canaries were no longer required?

So off I trotted to the Internet to find out about the Davy Lamp.davy lamp

I knew that the Davy Lamp was used in coal mines to detect the presence of gases which could harm the miners. The gas that was detected  was methane and tended to occur in small pockets as the mines grew deeper.

The final design was very simple: a basic lamp with a wire gauze chimney enclosing the flame. The holes let light pass through, but the metal of the gauze absorbs the heat.  The lamp is safe to use because the flame can’t heat enough flammable gas to cause an explosion, although the flame itself will change colour. [http://www.rigb.org/our-history/iconic-objects/iconic-objects-list/davy-lamp]

Once the lamp was put into production, deaths in mining decreased dramatically, however, deeper mines could then be dug which increased the danger although but not as much as before. One can only assume that the complaints were coming from miners who had to then dig further into the mines, but the lamps were not faulty nor directly at fault.

There were also the protests about income tax.  This was a result of the changes that had been implemented in the late 18th century. Previously, tax was paid on land and everyone who had land whether gentry or tradespeople or innkeepers all [aid it. Additionally indirect tax was paid in the form of excise duties – custom duties we would think of them now or VAT. Household necessities such as salt, candles, soap etc were all taxed as were luxury items such as horses, silk, wines etc. These excise duties varied according to the need for money by the Govt and during the Napolenic wars of course, many items could not be shipped into the UK legally – hence the increase in smuggling during this period.

With the coming of war and the ideas of Adam Smith, taxes were rationalised and new taxes introduced. There was some protest but as corruption was also dealt with revenue for the Govt increased until 1793 when the first Napoleonic war started. To pay for this war higher taxes were required. An inheritance tax and an income tax were introduced and were very unpopular as you can imagine. It was considered intrusive and impolite to know what people were earning – and it is still not something people in Britain are happy to share with others – but after a time it was realised that the war needed financing and it became a sign of support and patriotic duty to pay the taxes.

I give this 3 stars with the potential for 4 r even 5 if these real historical issues are properly discussed rather than alluded to and requiring the reader to enquire further.