staff picks

Crime Fiction of a Truly International Flavour

Crime sceneMy crime fiction reads have taken me to many lands and long may that continue. In my previous blog post I visited Italy, Iceland, Sweden, South Africa and Botswana. In this latest compilation of crime reads I revisit Italy and South Africa, while also venturing to the USA, Sweden, Norway and France.

IreneStarting with France and moving in a clockwise-direction, we first encounter Pierre Lemaitre, whose book 'Alex' I have covered previously and thought very highly of. Now it is time to mention 'Irene' 4.5 stars, the prequel to 'Alex', yet which followed it in translation. But reading 'Alex' first, as I did, can prove a bit unfortunate for obvious reasons, so I do recommend you stick to the proper order if you haven't yet read either. And read you must, for I can't recommend this author highly enough. He writes so well, and he is excellent on plot, characterization, atmosphere and tension building. But there is a word of caution: his portrayal of violence is not for the meek, and may put off some. So while you would be forgiven for moving quickly on at some points, you should not let it detract from your pursuit of otherwise top quality crime writing, which both 'Alex' and 'Irene' are. It would be good to know though that an author of Lemaitre's obvious talent could produce just as capable a work without the need for such graphic depictions of violence.

Contemplating our past

History scrollThe Dublin Festival of History has just come to a close, after a very successful run. It covered a huge variety of topics, ranging from the Battle of Clontarf to the Spanish Civil War, and hopefully the festival will have whetted your appetite for more exploration of our past. Public libraries offer plenty to read on all of the subjects covered in the festival, and plenty of other historical topics besides.

To err is human, to arr is pirate

Skull and crossbonesOk, I stole that heading, but in a blog about piracy, a bit of thieving is only to be expected. Of course, the romance of piracy is very different from the reality, which usually meant an outlaw life of hardship and brutality – and still does; nevertheless the romantic view lives on, and is especially celebrated every year on September 19: International Talk Like A Pirate Day. This is a convention that’s been going on for a good few years now, and has a substantial following, replete with costumes, grog, and pretty much every cliché going. Say arr.

the war to end all wars

Red poppies for remembrance. White poppies for a peaceful futureAs you’re probably aware, last year we entered what’s being called the decade of commemoration. It began with the centenary of the lockout, and continues now with the onset of World War One. This war was such a catalyst: The world was a completely different place at the end of those four years than it had been at the start of them; and the sheer bad luck of that generation, finding themselves plunged into a maelstrom, is heartbreaking. The centenary brings a surfeit of material, and with it a danger of overkill, but that will pass, and the commemorative material and research will be invaluable down the line. In the meantime, here is a sample of both fiction and non-fiction looking at the war from different viewpoints.

Thicke'ing' all the right boxes but leaving 5 Marooned

Music CDThis Post was submitted by Guest Blogger Amy Connolly.

I saw Maroon 5 perform in the o2 in late January of this year. I had waited a long time to see them as they were initially supposed to be in Dublin June 2013, but postponed their dates by nearly half a year! As their new date did approach I was pleased to see that Robin Thicke was their support act! In fact, I think, as the date got closer, I was more looking forward to Robin Thicke than Maroon 5.

Blurred LinesRobin Thicke's performance on the night was fantastic. Everyone there seemed to enjoy it. He made use of every inch of the stage strutting his stuff. His songs were fun and light with bags of swagger. I would definitely get a ticket to see him again. If you would like to hear his album 'Blurred Lines' check out the deluxe edition available at the Music Library. His performance of his chart-topping hit 'Blurred Lines' on the night was fantastic. It was bouncy, fun and had everyone moving to the beat. Thicke is an all round entertainer; he can sing, he can dance and most importantly he can draw every single member of his audience in to enjoying every moment he’s on stage.

Crime Catch-Up!

book jacketsI've fallen so far behind with my book reviews (being amply complimentary to myself in calling them such!) that I had to revisit the archives in order to discover when I last posted and about what. In fact it was back in late May, and in my defence I declare that work and life has been too 'involving' and not afforded me the time to indulge myself in the pleasurable pursuit of putting on paper (metaphorically speaking) my thoughts on the books I read and then sharing those here on the library blog.

While I have read quite a few crime novels over the past couple of months, I will restrict my mention here to five of those, in so doing jumping from southern Europe to northern Europe and finally to the southern portion of the African continent.

Desert Island Picks

DESERT ISLAND PICKS

desert islandSo. If you were marooned on a desert island, and could have only one book, one film, and one cd with you, what would they be? Frankly I’m doing well to get it down to five of each: choosing just one is incredibly difficult, and, in a couple of months time, I’d probably give completely different answers. It all depends on what mood we’re in, and where we are in our lives. So I’ve simply gone with: which ones do I keep coming back to over time. Feel free to post your own up.

D-Day, 70th Anniversary

D-Day. Into the Jaws of Death70 years ago today the Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches, thus beginning the Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe (Operation Overlord). The Normandy landings on D-Day, codenamed Operation Neptune, involved the largest seaborne invasion in history. A myriad of books have been written about the war, the events of June and afterwards, and a myriad of documentaries and films have appeared on our TV screens ever since.

Utah, Gold, Omaha, Juno, Sword - the names of the Normandy beaches where thousands of landing craft poured ashore. Over 160,000 soldiers crossed the English Channel on D-Day, and many soldiers lost their lives before they even left their landing point. Then too there was the airborne assault, with thousands of planes involved, soldiers landing behind enemy lines in order to secure bridges and other strategic points.

It's Almost a Crime!

I can see in the dark, Therapy, Daddy's Girl, CockroachesAs I approach the end of a book my thoughts turn to what I'll read next, but I never really worry on that score as I have a ready-made (long) list of titles to read and it is usually a case of which one of two or three titles ready to hand I pick up first. And for certain that list never gets any shorter as fresh discoveries are made and soon to be published titles are announced. So happy days! I'd nearly go so far as to say that it's almost a crime not to have a book to hand or to have had the pleasure of one recently.

And that pleasure for me goes on, so let me share with you here some of my recent crime fiction reads, all in the hope that I might lead you to a book or three that help keep you from committing that aforementioned crime of omission!

2013: My (Crime Fiction) Year in Review

2013 5-star readsUpon reading a blog post recently where book reviewers highlighted their favourite crime fiction reads of 2013, I got curious as to how my year just gone had fared in similar respect. So I took a look back over my 2013, what I had read, what I had thought of the various authors and their books, and in so doing see what overall impression I was left with, and what books made it to the top of my list.

Right: The Top 4 of 2013 (see below for more details)

I should preface what is to follow by stating that most, but not all, of the books I read tend to be either recently published or, if in translation, recently translated. After reading a book I give it a star rating, 5 being the maximum number of stars. Anything that gets 3.5 stars or more I can well recommend, 3 stars is borderline, while anything less disappointed. The star system of course is not a precise measure, but can be used as a rough rule of thumb. But enough of that!

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