Reading roundup 26/01/22

Welcome to this week’s Reading Roundup! I hope you are reading some great books.

I have read two really different books over the last week. They were chosen randomly from the Library Service’s ebook catalogue. This is the first one…

The Devil and the Dark Water
by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a detective/mystery set on a 17th century Dutch ship sailing the high seas. Very different from my usual choices. This is the blurb:

“A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.”

Well, that sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I saw that the author had won a prize for his first book and that this one was his second. This is my response:

The Devil and the Dark WaterThe Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suppose it really deserves 3 and 3/4 stars.

This was an intriguing and, for the most part, an interesting and enthralling tale set on the high seas. Murder and mayhem take place on a 17th century Dutch sailing ship travelling across the Indian Ocean on the way to Amsterdam. I suppose you could call it a maritime locked room mystery, with the ship itself being the locked room.

I enjoyed reading about the characters and the setting but, for me, the whole book was a little too long and I found myself losing interest at times. At one point, I even put the book aside and read something else, then returned to it later. Now, this is most probably my own issue, as other reviewers have awarded the full five stars.

Anyway, the book is certainly different and has plenty of surprises in the plot that will hold most readers’ attention.

View all my reviews

After this, I again chose a book based on the blurb and came up with this…

Station Eleven
by Emily St John Mandel

It’s just as well that I read the blurb, because the cover used on the catalogue (not this one) was dire! Anyway, here is the blurb:

“Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.”

I also saw that the book had won or been nominated for several awards. This was my review:

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, what can I say about this book? I have just seen that several friends read this back when it was first published. I have just read it whilst in the middle (?) of a pandemic! We have no idea how our own disaster will turn out and, so far, we have not lost as many people as in the book. But, who knows?

There is certainly a poignancy about reading a book of this genre at the present time. In fact, I almost gave it a swerve, but I am glad that I didn’t. That’s because the book is soooo good! I loved how the plot moved forwards and backwards in time. How we met, left for a while, and then returned to central characters. How some of those characters also met up with each other, then left, then returned. How we, and they, found out things about their past and present lives.

Such an amazing, inventive and clever book. Don’t give it a swerve, even during our present crisis!

View all my reviews

This was a truly excellent book and well worth reading and it was definitely interesting to read my friends’ responses, written in such different times!

I am now about to begin a new book. I think I have read everything by the author to date and this is his new book and the start of a new series – so I am pretty excited!

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,



About The Librain

Retired School Librarian
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2 Responses to Reading roundup 26/01/22

  1. I’m also a retired(elementary school librarian) and look forward to reading more of your posts.


    • The Librain says:

      Sorry I am so late in replying. I am honoured that another librarian is enjoying my reviews. Thanks for visiting my blog. Best wishes, Anne


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