QES Staff Post Quick Reviews of Books They've Just Read...


Picture of L Cafferty (Teacher)
The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters
by L Cafferty (Teacher) - Friday, 16 January 2015, 3:36 PM

A quite unusual book, it's not really a whodunit, rather a whodidnot.

The central characters are very vividly drawn and as with all Waters' books it's the domestic, everyday descriptions that make the novel sing.

I like Waters' characters because they are never flawless; Frances is by turns boring and a little unstable whilst Lillian is unpredictable and as we only see her through the prism of Frances' eyes it's hard to know what she is really like.

This isn't as good as some of Waters' other novels but it is excellent and now I face the long wait whilst she writes another!

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
by A Rawson (Staff) - Thursday, 15 January 2015, 11:46 PM

This book has been on my 'To Read' list for quite a long time and, having now read it, I am quite annoyed that I didn't put it higher on my list of reading priorities.

I am pleased to see this book on the A-Level syllabus for English at present but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone younger than ...

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David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
by M McNulty (Teacher) - Thursday, 15 January 2015, 11:46 PM

Don't be put off Dickens because he's just another DWEM!

His books drawn you into the most amazing worlds that are full of captivating characters. Charles might not look like much of a laugh - but his books are also seriously funny. Yet he's also pin-sharp about social politics, with some dark ...

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The Children Act by Ian McEwan
by C O'Neill (Teacher) - Friday, 21 November 2014, 1:19 PM

McEwan said that he chose to write about the law and a Judge's life because it seemed that "all life was found there".  Sure enough there are religious, philosophical and moral decisions to be made, interesting relationships break down and are built up, and we follow the judge's life in a well-crafted page turner.  I'm a real McEwan fan and this didn't let me down.  I read it in one sitting, moving from hospital ward to court room and following the tension-filled plot with real interest.  An adult, mature and gripping novel.



Picture of H Burkitt (Teacher)
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
by H Burkitt (Teacher) - Thursday, 15 January 2015, 11:45 PM

Wuthering Heights and the Horse Whisperer all mixed up. This is not a new book but well worth a read.

A woman (March Murray) returns to her home town and meets her old boyfriend  (Hollis). The relationship is complicated because he was taken in by her family when they were young. (like Heathcliffe and Cathy in Wuthering Heights) He is jealous and emotional and when she returns without her husband...

The thing that really kept me on the edge of my seat though was the animals and natural surroundings. 

I wanted to finish it to find out the fate of the horse and the dog.

Picture of G Sosnowsky (Staff)
'Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea' by Guy Delisle
by G Sosnowsky (Staff) - Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 3:23 PM

Not your traditional comic book!  'Pyongyang' documents animator Guy Delisle's two month stay in North Korea’s capital city. Although the dynastic dictatorship of North Korea is a fascinating subject matter, I probably wouldn't read a regular book on the subject, however Delisle's simple yet effective illustrations, and insightful writing make it very accessible.  In parts it's funny too, which is no mean feat when discussing such a dark totalitarian regime.  Well worth a read!

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Blood Meridian (or The Evening Redness in the West) by Cormac McCarthy
by D Clarke (Staff) - Monday, 13 October 2014, 9:16 AM

Blood Meridian is the fifth novel by American author Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men).

An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the...

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Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra
by V Pimblett (Teacher) - Monday, 13 October 2014, 7:36 AM

This is a story about a life long friendship between four boys. Having spent a year in prison as teenagers following a prank that goes wrong and suffering at the hands of the guards years later they grow up and decide to get revenge. I have read this book several times and each time I am completely gripped by the story and always end up in tears. Not a fun read but very inspirational and moving.

Picture of J Kirpalani (Teacher)
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
by J Kirpalani (Teacher) - Thursday, 4 September 2014, 7:56 AM

It's a spy thriller about a very smart ex-CIA black ops guy codename "Pilgrim" who is sent undercover to track a very smart Terrorist who plans to attack the US with a bio-weapon. The story moves from the USA to France to Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan and then finally to Turkey. The reader gets a lot of background information on the character Pilgrim so it's obviously planned to be the first in a series of books featuring this character. I recommend it and suggest you read it before it becomes a Hollywood blockbuster. 

Picture of G Rowlands (Teacher)
The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks
by G Rowlands (Teacher) - Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 2:58 PM

I seem to be the only person I know who sees the humour in novels by Kevin Brooks, and even I found it hard to see the funny side of this one. It's even more quirky than usual -  passes way beyond the point of disturbing.  The hero wakes up trapped in an underground bunker and "things" - people ...

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Left Hand of God Trilogy - Paul Hoffman
by G Rowlands (Teacher) - Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 2:42 PM

Think "Game of Thrones" made simpler and you won't be far wrong.  It's essentially the story of  Thomas Cale, (the hero - though by no means a good guy), who is a member of a religious group, (the Redeemers) that trains its acolytes to fight, and his part in the martial and political activities that take place when the Redeemers set out on their quest to take over the world,   Power crazed leaders; great battle scenes; political intrigue are described in a many layered plot with well crafted characters.  It all adds up to an exciting read, with some real surprises in store.

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The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
by I Burnett (Teacher) - Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 3:07 PM

As a massive fan of the Japanese film "Battle Royale" I was a little bit suspicious of any other government forces children to fight to the death story arcs, assuming they would be inferior and watered down. However, Hunger Games is both engaging, thought provoking and multilayered, I'm just a little disappointed my prejudices stopped me from reading it earlier. The best fiction aimed at young people since Pullman's Dark Materials.