Category Archives: Book reviews

Lies, more lies and the Carnegie Shortlist

Lies, more lies and the Carnegie Shortlist

Surprisingly this year, the Carnegie shortlist has no less than three books with the word ‘lie’ in the title! They are all about both the untruths we tell about ourselves in order to feel better about the way we are acting and about unpicking the lies/morally dubious beliefs of those around us, including those in Authority.

I have already reviewed The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, so will look at the other two Shortlisted books ‘There will be Lies… and then there will be the Truth’ by Nick Lake and The Lies we Tell Ourselves’ by Robin Talley.

There-Will-Be-Lies-Nick-Lake-uk-pb‘There Will Be Lies’ was not at all what I was expecting. It started as a suspenseful thriller, set in modern America about a girl called Shelby who lives with her mother. It is quickly very obvious that all is not what it seems as her mother home schools her and is adamant that although she is 17 she cannot go out alone or talk to anyone (especially any males).

Then Shelby is in a car accident and she sees a Coyote, who speaks to her in her mind and tells her that ‘There will be two lies, then there will be the truth. And that will be hardest of all.’ The plot then has two angles, ‘normal life’ and a ‘Native American style quest/fairy tale’ that Shelby must complete to find peace.

I really enjoyed the book and the way that reality was interwoven with the ‘Quest’ – which may have been ‘magic’ or a fantasy played out in Shelby’s mind, it is unclear.


Lies We Tell Ourselves is very different, it is also setlies we tell ourselves in America, (Virginia) in 1959 at a time when ‘Coloured’ people (this is what Sarah, a black girl calls herself) are faced with appalling discrimination. Sarah is also 17 and she is about  to be ‘integrated’ with a group of other friends into an all-white High School. I must confess that I didn’t realise exactly how linear the segregation was at this time in the USA.

The book is based on true accounts and details how the black kids were spat at, bullied, called names and had to act in a deferential way towards their white peers. In addition to this, girls and women are treated as second class citizens by the men in their lives.

Sarah is forced to work with Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Gradually Sarah realises that she is attracted to Linda and is terrified of the way that she feels.

Personally, I found this book illuminating, I felt extremely angry at the way various characters in the book were treated and glad that we are now less defined by our gender, race and sexuality. This book made me think hard about the lies we tell ourselves to justify our prejudices and the lies that we are told by others to maintain the status quo.

I would recommend both of these books, ‘There will be Lies’ was exciting and fast-paced, ‘Lies we Tell Ourselves’ was thought-provoking and really made me think.  I’d love to know which you prefer?

A Faustian tale of greed and wickedness – what would you do with God-like powers?

A Faustian tale of greed and wickedness – what would you do with God-like powers?


I have just finished reading the first in the Graphic Novel series ‘The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act.

The premise for this book (aimed at 15+) is that ‘Every 90 years 12 Gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead. It’s happening now. It’s happening again.’

The story follows a young teenage girl, Laura, who meets the Pantheon and befriends ‘Luci’ a David Bowie like pop star with the demonic powers of ‘Lucifer’ himself. Other Gods within the Pantheon include ‘Amaterasu, Sakhmet, Baphomet and the Morrigan. We are gradually introduced to the other Gods as the narrative unravels.

These young Gods are unsurprisingly pop stars with all of the adoration and glamour this entails. Of course, ‘with great Power comes great responsibility’ but the characters in this story are hedonistic and end up having to face the consequences of their actions.

I really enjoyed the book, although I admit to frantically googling the characteristics of the Gods! I was particularly entertained by ‘Luci’s’ resemblance to David Bowie. There were other references to current events/attitudes making this a clever retelling targeted at an intelligent reader.

The graphic novel was clearly laid out and well-paced. I look forward to watching ‘Dr Faustus’ this week and comparing the Elizabethan reworking of the Faust legend to the 21st century retelling.

We have just updated our selection of graphic novels and manga – visit the Library over the next few weeks as the stock becomes available.