books & reading

You can choose your friends...

The Addams FamilyThe family is a rich source of material for novelists – the dramas, feuds, bonding, support, recriminations, and downright insanity of families have kept writers in ideas for centuries. Happy families don’t tend to make for good reading: all happy families are alike, and who’d want to be a Walton anyway? Here are a couple of suggested reads which revolve around the ups and downs of family life.

 

Everything ChangesEverything Changes by Jonathan Tropper is the story of Zack, a thirtysomething who finds life becoming increasingly complicated: unhappily engaged to the ideal woman, secretly in love with the widow of his best friend who died in a car crash, and, along with his brothers and mother, still suffering the fallout from being abandoned twenty years earlier by philandering Norm. Norm’s reappearance on the scene, derelict and Viagra-fuelled, and his (pretty funny!) attempts to patch things up with his family, form the catalyst for Zack to take back control of his life. Lots of great characters,  particularly Norm and housemate Jed. Tropper looks at the complications of family loyalties and the sheer inertia that can take over people when going through tough times in a way that’s both humourous and realistic.

Life On Mars?

Science Fiction is 'Literary Marmite' for most readers. Either you love it or you hate it - although, curiously, any scepticism about the genre disappears once it is dressed up as 'literary fiction', e.g.   1984, A Clockwork Orange, Never Let Me Go, Cloud Atlas, The Road, anything by the great J.G. Ballard.

Curious Ear and curious ear...

book cover taking sidesNo, this post hasn't anything to do with Alice in Wonderland - I just couldn't resist the lame pun (I'm a tabloid sub-editor in an alternative life). The 'curious ear' I refer to is the RTE radio programme The Curious Ear, part of RTE radio's Documentary on One. The Curious Ear team were at the Central Library on Monday 10th October to record a visit by Irish children's author Brian Gallagher and his young readers and listeners. Brian has just published his second historical novel for young readers, 'Taking Sides' set in Dublin during the Civil War. The book is an exciting read, following the fortunes of a group of young friends, as they get caught up in a Civil War that tears families and a country apart.

Every book it's reader

Banned Books Week was on recently, a week in the US to highlight some of the books that are "challenged" and reasons for these challenges.  I thought about talking about reasons to ban a book.  After some thought, I actually couldn't think of any real reason to ban a book. Some books might irritate me or try my patience (don't get me started on Twilight!) but as an adult I have the choice.  I can choose to abandon a book mid-way through, and I have.  There aren't many and they really aren't books I'd recommend to anyone, but I know there are fans of those books and I'd hate to tell them they're wrong.

Rachel Allen's New Book 'Easy Meals'

Rachel Allen Easy MealsRachel Allen’s new cook book 'Easy Meals. Over 180 Delicious Recipes to get you Through your Life' is now available to borrow from Dublin City Public Libraries. Included in her new book are lots of quick and trouble-free recipes and plenty of great ideas such as her one pot recipes and recipes that have just five ingredients.

As always her book is full of colourful pictures and has lots of interesting and original combinations of ingredients for example Pork, Chorizo, Haricot Beans with Red Wine and Chickpea and Aubergine Salad.

Everyone remembers their last summer of Primary School

The Unforgotten Coat

A tear wells in my right eye, spills over and rolls slowly down my cheek. I can't help it. As it drips off my chin I sigh with satisfaction and close over the last page of 'The Unforgotten Coat' by Frank Cottrell Boyce. I read this book in one sitting, and I challenge anyone to put it down once begun. 'The Unforgotten Coat' was commissioned for the Reader's Organisation 'Our Read' programme in the United Kingdom and was inspired by a true story of refugees, immigration and deportation. 

The Danish Invasion

The KillingWhen the Vikings raiders first arrived in Ireland towards the end of the 8th century, they came from Norway rather than Denmark, the Danish Vikings preferring to plunder the English coastline. But in more recent times the Danes have made their mark here and elsewhere with a conquest of a different sort.

French crime writer extraordinaire

Fred VargasThink crime fiction, think France, and the name that ought to come to mind is that of Fred Vargas. In my estimation one of the best fiction crime writers around today. Vargas, born Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau in Paris in 1957, is an archaeologist, historian political agitator and crime writer, but best known for the latter. She, along with her twin sister, adopted the name Vargas having seen the film 'The Barefoot Contessa' starring Ava Gardner. She is BIG in France, but elsewhere too, and rightly so. Vargas's works can be bizarre, quirky, humourous, refreshing, are definitely imaginative, and certainly well written.  Her series starring Commissaire Adamsberg you will find a joy to read; I waited so impatiently for the latest instalment, An Uncertain Place (2011), which I read in June.

The Leitrim Fancy

McGahernPop Zeus found himself in lovely Leitrim last weekend for the opening of the John McGahern Summer School, run by Dr John Kenny of NUI, Galway.

George R R Martin

Game of ThronesSo I have to ask, was anyone else as glued to the Game of Thrones series as I was?  Oh man, it turned me from being fond of the series to completely caught up by it.  Eagerly awaiting the next episode to see what happened next.  I also managed to get my husband completely hooked on it and eagerly awaiting the next episode.

George R R Martin is an engaging man, I knit my way through a talk he did at Octocon where he was the guest of honour and I was very glad that the socks I was knitting weren't that complicated! 

We just got some new copies of the first book, Game of Thrones in, and if you're trying not to spoiler yourself for the rest of the series there's a Graphic Novel that involves some peripheral characters called The Hedge Knight and in the books Legends and Legends II where this story starts.

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