April 2018

I was reminded by a student last week that there are only 8 weeks of term left so it is not surprising that, with exam season and deadlines for end of course/year looming, study skills has been our focus for the month.  This has included:

  • study skills being the theme of our displays
  • a review of the revision and study skills resources to identify any that need to be replenished.

In the past two weeks the Maths and English departments have launched competitions (with very generous prizes) aimed at GCSE and Foundation stage level students, as incentives to help motivate, engage and support them in their studies.  We are helping to promote this through providing all the information required (including the entry forms) and competition entry boxes, which are now available at each site library.


The start of this month saw iPads being installed at the counters of two of our site libraries which give direct access to search the Library Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC).  This has been the result of a successful trial, so now we have this service available at our three main sites – just one to go!  Students can now search for all library resources from the OPAC with staff on hand to give support if required.  We have found this to be a positive step towards helping students to become independent learners as well as developing their research skills.

World Book Night

lucky dip WBN

On a lighter but important note, to re-affirm the need to include rest/leisure time as part of a study regime as well as the significant role of reading as a basic and rewarding life skill, last week we supported World Book Night with a free lucky dip and a book swap.  The former proved very popular though there were some hesitant students who needed to be reassured that this was a genuine offer.  Some book winners were particularly delighted with the selection they had to choose from.  The book swap had steady interest throughout the week as well.

If looking for a good read, as a break from studying or just for leisure, the following book review may be of interest as the book comes highly recommended.

Book Review

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours is the third novel written by Kate Morton and is a great choice for fans of historical and gothic-inspired fiction.

Morton tells the story of Edith Burchill (Edie), the daughter of an evacuee who was sent to live at Milderhurst Castle in Kent during World War II.  There she discovers that it is the home of Raymond Blythe, author of the children’s classic The True History of the Mud Man and his three daughters; Percy, Saffy and Juniper.  When an old letter arrives for Edie’s mother Meredith, Edie is drawn in by the mysteries surrounding her mother’s past, her connection to the dark history of the Blythe family and the haunting truth behind The Mud Man.

Morton takes the reader on a complex but cleverly structured journey back and forth through time.  The story is split into five parts.  It alternates between 1992, written in the first person from Edie’s perspective and to fifty years earlier, predominately from the viewpoint of the Blythe sisters.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Distant Hours and would highly recommend it.  For those of you familiar with Kate Morton’s previous work, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden it has all you could expect from her and more.  The novel is beautifully scripted with its gothic backdrop and elaborate characters, each with their own mysteries.

Morton has an exceptional ability at bringing her characters to life and at the same time, weaving multiple story lines together so seamlessly to create a very satisfying conclusion.  Her attention to detail is also commendable, as is her ability to gradually reveal subtle hints to keep you in suspense until the very end.

Highly recommended A**


March 2018

4. Bulletin March 2018One of the first tasks of the month was to publish the March edition of the Library bulletin.

This edition focuses on journals and has been prompted by the high number of research related queries that have come our way recently.

We have been reminding students of the facility to borrow them on short term loan (over night or over the weekend) as well.

Money matters RH 2018This term leading up to the Easter holiday is usually when the display team are seeking out resources for spring related displays, but the Beast from the East and the resulting snow has put that on hold for now. However, the March Money Matters displays went ahead giving up to date advice and information on how to make money go further on a student’s budget.

world book nightWe are also currently planning activities for the annual World Book Night celebrations which (due to the Easter holidays happening in the meantime) will be here before we know it. Posters are up, and book prizes have been ordered!

In addition, details of the Derby College Library opening hours during the Easter holidays have noe gone on display in each site library and are available on the Library Moodle page.

And finally…

As promised last month there follows a book review of one of the 2018 Quick reads publications

Book Review

The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton

Review by Marian

Three features taken from just the cover of this book attracted me to this Quick Read. These were its length (a little time out to distract from everyday life), the title (insinuating the story is holiday based) and the location (Cornwell is a favourite of mine). Reading the first few pages where the name of the Hollywood star at the centre of the story is revealed sealed the deal.

The story is centred around the lead character and the people he encounters when he has a mini breakdown during a film shoot in England. He yearns for a break in the Cornish fishing/seaside village in which he has some friends and a connection with. Fortunately, his driver who takes pity on him has a caravan in the same village and can take leave to accompany the actor there for a few days. What the film star does not anticipate is the immediate media frenzy generated by his sudden disappearance.

During this stay we are offered a fictional glimpse of the real person hidden behind the actor’s façade through his interaction with the strangers and friend he meets. This includes giving assistance in a brave rescue on as stormy night (and the clear up of the aftermath), helping a local builder repair a chimney and offering effective marriage guidance! Through all this his fatigue is obvious as he catches up on his sleep at every given opportunity.

I liked having a central character that I knew enough about to visualise him in the scenarios that unfolded as the story developed. It felt like I was watching a short film with its third-person writing style too. I was initially expecting romance like in the Notting Hill film style but was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case. There is humour as the friends in the small community work together to do their best to keep the celebrity hidden from the outside world particularly the press on their doorstep. His gratitude and the mutual affection between him and the main characters comes across too. The ending is predictable but done well and echoes the sentiment of the novel as a bit of escapism to make you smile.



February 2018

The month of February always feels fast paced due to its short length. We have just returned from the half term holiday making it a good time to reflect on the month’s events.

The display team have excelled themselves posting displays that have reflected topical events of the month as the below images show.

We have had lots of book renewals as well. There have been reminders about this being limited to two occasions on unseen book renewals (by email or using just your library card) so that we can keep tabs on the books themselves or in case they have been reserved by a fellow library user.

During the week leading up to the half term holiday our selection of travelling fiction books moved on and settled into their new site library for the next couple of months. These have already attracted the attention of some students and staff who borrowed them for reading over the half term holiday.

Last but not least this month also saw the arrival of copies (at each of our site libraries) of the six new 2018 Quick Read publications. These have just become available for loan and reviews will follow next month.

Reading Ahead 2017-18


The start of 2018 has seen the Reading Ahead challenge as the main event. This is our fifth year in supporting this annual national reading challenge (originally known as the Six Book Challenge). Early indications have been positive with registration figures being higher than previous years. It has also been our pleasure to issue the first of (we hope) many completer certificates.Reading ahead(real)

Promoting this challenge also gives us the opportunity to remind students of all the different types of resources we hold including journal and newspapers poetry books and our e books – all reads’ that meet the criteria of the challenge. Our selection of Quick Reads have been particularly popular. Below are reviews on four books from our extensive fiction selection which have been recommended by some of our students who are currently studying GCSE English.



Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin

Recommended by Nina

The day Denton is going to die is also the day of his prom. The book is about what happens during the day before as well as on the day he is going to die.I liked the book because it is very funny and distracts from the fact that he is going to die. It has lots of cliff hangers and surprises.

I would recommend this because it is a very funny book.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Recommended by Megan

I enjoyed this book as I’ve also watched the film, but the book goes into detail about each scene and why it happens. The plot is unexpected but also heart breaking. This book really pulls at your emotions.

I would read this again and I enjoyed everything about it. My favourite part is when Katniss Everdeen stands up for her sister. This scene is so iconic and shows a lot of feminine power.

I would recommend this especially if you have seen the film as it goes into more detail than the film.


From our selection of Quick reads

A Cruel Fate by Lindsey Davis

Recommended by Munsiah

This book is about war and King Charles 1st. Martin Watts is captured by Royalists. Nat is also taken. They are treated really badly as prisoners. Nat’s sister tries to rescue her brother, but it is too late.

I really liked this book because it was interesting and made me want to read more. My favourite chapter was chapter 14 because it finally told us what happened to Nat. I learnt about the English Civil War as well.

I would recommend this to people who like mystery and danger.

Hello Mum by Bernadine Evaristo

Recommended by Taranpreet

This book is about a 14-year-old boy called JJ who gets in with the wrong crowd within a gang culture in London and he gets killed. This book is written as if it is a letter to his mum telling her the events leading up to the moment he gets stabbed due to being caught up in bad things in the last 25 minutes of his life.

It is a good book. It tells us about JJ’s life and how he wants to get out of the small flat and to own a plasma screen TV. This book has good morals and makes us think of what we have and things we take for granted. In my opinion the ending was predictable.

I would recommend this book because it has good morals and really makes you think about how we take the things we have for granted.


And finally…

we are also promoting Derby Book festival 2018. We hope that the above books will inspire budding writers amongst you to take part in its’ annual Flash Fiction writing competition which this year has the theme of ‘If only… The closing date is Thursday 8th February which still leaves plenty of time to enter.

World Mental Health Day 10th October 2017.

The following review is in regard to a book which recalls the experience of one young person’s first hand experience of mental health issues.

Mad Girl

by Bryony Gordon

The first time I heard of Bryony Gordon was in April 2017.  The Telegraph columnist interviewed Prince Harry for her first ‘Mad World’ podcast, an exclusive and honest portrayal of people’s experiences with mental health.  This interview with the prince made national news and brought mental health back into the forefront of people’s minds.

Bryony has had OCD since she was 12 years old and her book ‘Mad Girl’ frankly details her experiences with mental health.  With chapter titles including “I think I might be dying” and “I think my hair might be falling out” this book definitely isn’t a laugh-a-minute, however it explores Bryony’s relationship with her illness and those heavier moments with wit and honesty.

Knowing this book is based on real life events, I really warmed to Bryony and I finished reading it rooting for her to have a happy life.  Whilst I can’t say I enjoyed reading a book about someone in the midst of their mental health illness, I feel I have learnt from the experience so I am pleased I have read it.  I will remember reading ‘Mad Girl ‘for a very long time.

I would recommend this book to anyone suffering from mental health or anyone who would simply like a better understanding of it.


Review by Helen S

Derby College, is supporting the Young Minds #Helloyellow campaign with activities at each site and encouraging wearing yellow on the day.

You can find out more by on this subject by visiting –




Derby Book Festival Friday 9th June to Saturday 17th June

To coincide with Derby’s third book festival, we’d like to draw attention to the vast variety of fiction books we have in stock here at Derby college library and to promote a particular one by Sarah Perry, one of the excellent authors who participated in this event.

The Essex Serpent was recently voted winner of Fiction book of the year in the British book of the Year awards 2017.  We hope you enjoy the following book review


The Essex Serpent
By Sarah Perry
Book review by Hayley

A delightful novel set in Victorian London 1893, that weaves a tale of mystery surrounding the ‘myth’ of the Essex serpent. Our story centres on several characters littered throughout the pages of the novel, but of these characters Cora Seaborne is centred and linked to the lives of the others, and there the story develops.

Cora is a widow and decides to take up residence with her son and loyal maid Martha in Colchester. As an avid amateur naturalist she becomes curious of the rumours surrounding the Essex serpent that keep circulating.

Cora has no particular inclination to believe rumours, isn’t particularly suppositious and doesn’t consider herself religious.  However, things start to become muddled when she meets Reverend William Ransome.  They strike up an intense relationship despite their differences but are drawn to each other unexpectedly.

The Essex serpent is a constant ‘gripe’ between the characters, especially with Stella Ransome, the wife of the Reverend, their daughter Johanna and (curious, often peculiar), Francis Seaborne, Cora’s son.

A story where love, friendship, sadness and hope is woven intimately.


Lying in wait By Liz Nugent Review by Hayley

This novel revolves around the murder of a young woman in 1980’s Dublin.  The reason behind the murder is revealed through the narrative of three people, the wife of the suspect (Lydia), their son (Laurence), and the murder victim’s sister (Karen).

As the story unfolds we learn secrets to Lydia’s past and her reasoning behind hiding the murder of Annie Doyle.  The way Lydia handles the latter is quite disturbing.  Laurence begins to suspect his parents have something to do with the disappearance of Annie Doyle as it is reported in the media, and he slowly becomes entangled and obsessed with the case.  Annie Doyle’s sister Karen longs to find out what happened to her sister and tries desperately to find her.

The pace of the novel is ‘straight to the point’, and often many things are revealed over a few short pages which keeps the story flowing, and as these revelations are shown the story leads to a lively ending.