Charles Dickens, one of the most popular and accessible novelists died 150 years ago in June 1870. His novels are still popular and they have been adapted for television and cinema. They have been turned into popular musicals on stage and screen. Many novelists have acknowledged his influence and expressed admiration for his novels.At the age of twelve he was sent to work in a blacking factory by his affectionate but feckless parents. From these unpromising beginnings, he rose to scale all the social and literary heights, entirely through his own efforts. When he died, the world mourned, and he was buried - against his wishes - in Westminster Abbey. Yet the brilliance concealed a divided character: a republican, he disliked America; sentimental about the family in his writings, he took up passionately with a young actress; usually generous, he cut off his impecunious children.Dickens created an array of memorable characters - Miss Havisham dressed in her wedding finery every day since she was jilted at the altar in Great Expectations. The contrasting characters Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. In David Copperfield, the novel he described as his favorite child, Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Charles Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes of the vast London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to task for rendering this world in such a compelling, believable way, but readers over the last 150 years have delivered an alternative judgment by making this story of the orphaned Oliver Twist one of its author’s most loved works.His novels were originally published in instalments in weekly or monthly magazines. This is the reason there are some dramatic “cliffhanger” scenes which made the reader want to know what happened in the next instalment. This helps to make them “pageturners” for modern readers. (It also allowed Dickens to get feedback from his readers about what they thought of his stories and characters before he had finished his novel!)There are 24 ebook and eaudiobook copies of Dickens’ novels available on Borrowbox and you will also find there an excellent biography of the author by Claire Tomalin.Claire Tomalin is the award-winning author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs Jordan's Profession; Jane Austen: A Life; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and, most recently, Charles Dickens: A Life. A former literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, she is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.Submitted by Philip in Finglas Library.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
If you’ve ever been trapped reading a boring book to a young person, I feel your pain. These books are NOT boring. They’re really well written, beautiful and interesting. Even better, they’re about magic, strange happenings, special powers, and mysterious characters. What’s not to love?Cream Buns and Crime is the perfect collection of short stories for buddying young detectives. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are famous for solving murder cases, but there are many other mysteries in the pages of their casebooks. Join them as they solve two new, never-before-seen cases and pick up some helpful tips along the way. The perfect story for Nancy Drew’s everywhere.A Question of Magic. Serafina’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a letter from her great-aunt Baba Yaga, who by the way is a powerful witch! Summoned to her great-aunt’s cottage to begin her new life, Serafina finds it difficult to leave her family and the boy she loves behind. As she gets familiar with her new role, Serafina learns that strangers can ask her one question and she must tell the truth… but telling the future doesn’t necessarily mean knowing the right answers. E.D Baker’s re-imaging of Slavic folklore captures its readers from the first page and reminds us to be careful with what you wish for! I loved that Baker was able draw from Slavic folklore. Baba Yaga is such a famous character and it is nice to see her being written about in the 21st century. In her own unique way, bestselling author E.D. Baker has crafted a funny and romantic story that combines some fabulous details from the original Slavic tale, with a wonderful new twist!Strange Star. Villa Diodati. Switzerland, 1816. It’s a dark and stormy night. Four freethinkers join their host Lord Byron at his estate for a night of chilling tales. Felix, Byron’s serving boy, cannot wait for the night’s festivities to begin. He plans to hang onto every morbid word! Frantic banging at the door quickly brings the night’s festivities to a halt. A young girl is at the door and she needs help.Her clothes are in tatters and a strange scar is clearly visible on her neck. The story is far from over because a monster rides in her wake! Strange Star is another great hit from author Emma Carroll. Beautifully written, haunting and sinister. I couldn’t put in down.Submitted by Eimear from the Relief Staff Panel.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
As the pandemic mandated lock-down largely continues, albeit with some welcome easing on the horizon, there are still some wonderful opportunities for a little gentle escapism with a huge array of eBooks and eAudiobooks available with Dublin City Libraries using Borrowbox. Please note that you will need your Dublin City library card number and PIN and also to download the BorrowBox app.'Sidney Chambers and the persistence of love' is the sixth installment in the popular 'Grantchester' mystery series by James Runcie which began in 2012 with the publication of 'Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death'. It hews fairly closely to the formula of the traditional British 'cosy' genre (a sub-genre of crime writing in which the reader is largely spared direct exposure to the murder or gore; boasts an amateur sleuth and an attractive bucolic setting). It opens in 1971 when Archdeacon Sidney Chambers, his seven year old daughter, Anna and elderly labrador, Byron, literally stumble on the corpse of a bohemian folk singer who, mysteriously, is carrying a basket laden with an array of highly poisonous flowers and herbs. Struggling to juggle the impact this discovery might have on young Anna, Sidney investigates and encounters a world filled with obsession, home made drugs, free love and yet more death.One of the most attractive features of Runcie's writing is the multiple overlapping plots and developments that never feel forced or artificially truncated which he dips in and out of throughout his work and it is not just murder which our protagonist must face but an array of more mundane challenges, also. From a frighteningly efficient and disruptive, new parish secretary, to an auction art attribution mystery, or the mishandling of the church collection or even simply the little travails of finding a suitable wedding anniversary gift for his wife. Runcie slips back and forth, effortlessly, between them with a genuine lightness of touch and excellent pacing Somewhat unusually for a cosy mystery, there is a sexual assault sub-plot but this is handled sensitively and while it does not shy away from the emotional suffering and horror of the event, the reader is, thankfully, spared some of the more harrowing details of the attack.Runcie also has a truly sublime turn of phrase. At several stages throughout, I actually had to pause and go back simply to re-read a line or paragraph that was particularly striking or attractive (something of a rarity when i am reading crime fiction) and his deceptively simple use of language lends a fluidity and ease to his writing so that immersion is readily facilitated making this a genuine pleasure to read. I was most pleasantly surprised to pause reading at one point and discover that far more time had passed than I imagined.One of the joys of this series of works is that Chambers comes across as a genuinely human character. This is not a flashy, cold Poirot or Holmes that astounds us with superhuman cognition or pyrotechnic intellectual gymnastics but a normal, flawed man with all of the limitations and foibles that this entails. From forgetting his wedding anniversary, to worrying about the upbringing of his child, to dealing with awkward work colleagues or regretting flashes of jealousy he is believable both as a religious and father and husband but yet maintains an innate decency, compassion and humanity as he tackles matters both criminal and theological, alike.It should be noted that there are recurring characters from previous installments and this is the sixth installment in the series; while I do not feel there is an impediment to jumping in in, some readers may prefer to go through the works in order to derive maximum enjoyment of them. Happily, all five of the previous volumes are also available via Borrowbox.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
If you like a good detective story and are a fan of books like the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens check these titles out, recommended for you by our colleague Veronica. Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime and mystery fiction in which an investigator (often a detective), either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder. The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine DoyleWhen Fionn and his sister Tara are sent to the island of Arranmore to stay with their grandfather for the summer, Fionn discovers that the island is not quite what he expected. It is full of magic but there is also an evil lurking beneath the surface. Fionn must unravel the mysteries of the past and discover what secret Arranmore is hiding in order to fulfil his destiny.By the same author:The Lost Tide Warriors A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan. Violet moves to the town of Perfect with her parents. She soon realises that something isn’t right with the town as everyone in Perfect has gone blind and they can only see if they wear rose-tinted glasses. Strange things start happening around her and suddenly there is more at stake when her father goes missing.By the same author:The Trouble with PerfectThe Battle for PerfectThe Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher. Orphan Seren is sent to live in Wales with her Godfather and his family. On her journey there she receives a mysterious package from a stranger. When she arrives in her new home she finds herself left alone in a mansion with secretive servants who won’t give her any information about the location of the family, and her only real companion is a talking clockwork crow. She must solve the mysteries surrounding her new life.Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St. John Twelve year old Kat starts a pet-sitting business, but after the mysterious disappearance of her very first customer Kat has to take matters into her own hands. It is up to Kat and her friend Harper to unravel the mystery as the local police chief doesn’t believe them when they report the disappearance. A great book for anyone who likes detectives and animals.By the same author:Kat Wolfe Takes the CaseWatch our how-to video on Borrowbox.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN.Members of other library authorities will need to access BorrowBox using a different link.
Thirteen may be considered unlucky for some, but not to the thirteen on the Man Booker Prize longlist which includes three Irish authors this year. Donal Ryan’s "From a Low and Quiet Sea" is his second nomination for the prize after "Spinning Heart" in 2013. Anna Burns and Sally Rooney both receive their first nominations for "Milkman" and "Normal People" respectively. Belfast born Anna Burns was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, now the Women's Prize for Fiction, in 2001 for her debut; "No Bones". Sally Rooney, at 27, is the joint youngest author to be nominated this year. She can add that to an already impressive resume that includes being the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Upon ditching the requirement of the author to be either from the U.K. or the Commonwealth two years ago, the two most recent winners of the prestigious accolade have both been from the U.S. Ireland can hold its head high to have the same number of nominations as the U.S. this year. There is only one previous winner nominated this year, Michael Ondaatje, whose book "The English Patient" was crowned the best Man Booker Prize winner of the last 50 years. This year he is nominated for his captivating novel "Warlight", set in post Blitz London in 1945. In a departure for the prize, this year sees a graphic novel, "Sabrina" by Nick Drnaso, nominated for the first time. Judges are quoted as being blown away by Drnaso's "oblique, subtle and minimal" style in a work that explores the chilling effect of 24-hour news after a girl has disappeared.Farouk's country has been torn apart by war. Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John's past torments him as he nears his end. From a Low and Quiet Sea centres around the refugee, the dreamer and the penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with the Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. "Milkman" is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years. Sally Rooney's second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it's also a novel about love. It's about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It's wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. Normal People will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.As a nation that has the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world, Ireland has always punched far above her weight in the literary world. Donal Ryan, Anna Burns and Sally Rooney continue the hallowed Irish tradition of captivating their readers with their touching and unflinchingly human stories. We wish them the very best of luck and hopefully one of them will be the fifth Irish Man Booker Prize winner.The Man Booker Prize Longlist:Snap, Belinda BauerMilkman, Anna BurnsSabrina, Nick DrnasoWashington Black, Esi EdugyanIn Our Mad and Furious City, Guy GunaratneEverything Under, Daisy JohnsonThe Mars Room, Rachel KushnerThe Water Cure, Sophie MackintoshWarlight, Michael OndaatjeThe Overstory, Richard PowersThe Long Take, Robin RobertsonNormal People, Sally RooneyFrom a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal RyanPress on the Man Booker:Three Irish Authors nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (Irish Times)First Graphic Novel nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (The Guardian)About the Man Booker:The Man Booker Prize is one of the world's most famous literary prizes for contemporary fiction. From 2014 eligibility for The Man Booker Prize was extended to include novels originally written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the nationality of their author. Previously it was only awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
Crime fiction books are forever popular, as a look at any weekly bestsellers list will demonstrate. Think 'The Girl on the Train' (which I've just finished reading, and enjoyed), it's been a bestseller for umpteen weeks. Liz Nugent was topping the Irish bestsellers for a number of weeks recently with 'Lying in Wait', while James Patterson's name features regularly on such lists, albeit with books penned by other authors.Right: Donna Leon in Dubray Bookshop, Dublin, April 2013. (See larger image)Most of my reads are of crime novels in translation, as I like to travel the world a bit, at least in print. This literary journey recently took me even as far as Argentina and new-to-me author Claudia Pineiro (see below), an author I might not have discovered if it weren't for the International Dublin Literary Award. The inclusion of novels in translation adds greatly to the standing of this Award and differentiates it from most other book awards, and you could do worse than visit the Award site where you will be presented with hundreds of books to choose from, many in translation.Without further ado, here are five more crime fiction reads worthy of your consideration, four of which have been translated into English. Can you guess which one of the five was written in English? (answer at the bottom)The star ratings are mine, but I also include the ratings from two of the big book sites.A Climate of Fear by Fred VargasThe murder of a woman, made to look like suicide, is soon followed by another. A strange symbol is found near both bodies, and both victims were members of a doomed party that travelled to Iceland ten years before. The victims also seem to have had an association with a secretive society for the study of Maximilien Robespierre. Plenty of mystery here then!Commissaire Adamsberg and his team are really challenged in their efforts to solve the growing number of related murders with evidence at first pointing one way and then another. While the Icelandic connection seems to lose traction with most of the team, with Adamsberg is does not, resulting in friction and loyalties being called into question. The reader too is challenged to decide if clues are real or merely false trails.I can't say this delighted me as much as previous books by French writer Vargas. I rate her very highly so maybe I had high expectations, however the whole Robespierre angle just didn't grab me I'm afraid and at times I found it a bit tedious. But there is still enough here for me to recommend it, if not heartily; maybe you will think more of it than I did.Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.1/5 Goodreads - 3.9/5A Crack in the Wall by Claudia Pineiro Pablo Simó is a married, middle aged architect in a Buenos Aires practice, living a rather ordinary life, neither happy nor unhappy, and with no great expectations of life. But together with his two work colleagues, he harbours a secret that resurrects itself with the appearance one day of a young woman called Leonor who arrives at their practice asking about a certain Nelson Jara. Keeping the secret under wraps becomes more difficult when he strikes up a relationship with Leonor who has asked him to accompany her around the city on an architectural journey. As the day unfolds and details of the three-year old secret become known to us, one thing seems certain: Pablo's life in so many ways is about to change for ever.Not your typical crime story this, it is as much about one individual looking at his life and finally deciding to do something to change its course. In that regard the ending might surprise a little. I liked this.Ratings: Amazon UK - 3.7/5 Goodreads - 3.34/5The Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna LeonCommissario Guido Brunetti is back, this time attempting to discover if, some 15 years before, then 16-year old Manuela Lando-Continui fell into the canal or was pushed. The incident left her brain damaged and forever with the mind of a six year old. Her now elderly grandmother, the Contessa, is keen to discover the truth or otherwise of the outcome of the original police investigation, which concluded, with little or no actual investigation, that she fell.The 25th book in the series starts with a dinner party at which Brunetti is present together with his wife Paolo and her parents. Food always plays a part in the Brunetti series, which I welcome, as I do the home scenes involving Paolo and their children Chiara and Raffi. Ever present also are computer whizz Signorina Elettra, and officers Vianello, Patta and Scarpa, the latter two being as ever less than sympathetic to Brunetti but who the Commissario invariably outwits and out manoeuvers. No different here.An enjoyable enough read enhanced as ever by insights into Venetian life and Venice itself.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.7/5 Goodreads - 4.07/5).Midnight Sun by Jo NesboJon, going under the name Ulf for most of the story, is a hapless criminal on the run from his Oslo drug boss known as the Fisherman. His criminal involvement is driven by his desire to pay for his dying child's medical treatment. He somehow becomes the Fisherman's fixer but as an assassin he is an abject failure. As a result he heads for the north of Norway above the Arctic circle where he hides out in a small town. Here he befriends some of the locals including 10-year old Knut and his widowed mother Lea while he waits for the inevitable arrival of the fisherman's henchmen.This differs in so many ways from Norwegian Nesbo's Harry Hole crime series, being shorter (a novella), less violent, having a far simpler plot line and a likable criminal as the central character. It is more about the characters than the crime, it is about second chances. Nesbo is a storyteller first and foremost, thus the prose is simple and you will find this an easy and quick read.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 3.9/5, Goodreads - 3.61/5)Blade of Light by Andrea CamilleriInspector Salvo Montalbano is here investigating an armed robbery that ends with a kiss, and strange goings on at a shed with a disappearing door. Throw in a body that has all the hallmarks of a mafia hit and the involvement of the anti-terrorist police and you have the makings of yet another intriguing and entertaining Camilleri novel.This is the 19th in the Montalbano series and ever present too is the eclectic mix of characters, the beautiful Sicilian backdrop, and Salvo's love affair with food and women, though he has more success with one than the other. Should I maybe mention the presence of yet another love interest to challenge Salvo's long term, long distance relationship with the lovely Livia? If only Livia would come back to live on Sicily instead of making her sad to say brief appearances, sometimes only on the phone at that!Camilleri's crime mystery books are invariably clever, full of twists and humour, and always a great pleasure to read.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.6/5, Goodreads - 3.96/5)Below: Donna Leon and myself in Dubray Bookshop in Dublin , 11th April 2013, when she was talking about her work and signing copies of her book 'The Golden Egg' (Commissario Brunetti, #22).And the book written in English is... 'The Waters of Eternal Youth' by Donna Leon. American Donna Leon lives in Venice where her books are based, and all the novels in the Brunetti series (25 to date) have been written in English. Although they have been translated into many languages, she refuses to have them translated into Italian, her explanation being that she doesn't want to be famous where she lives, preferring a certain level on anonymity in her own back yard. Now you know!
We invite children to delve into the world of Ebony Smart, a 12-year old girl whose world has just changed forever - a new home in Dublin that is full of secrets, a magical book that unlocks the mystery to her past and a mysterious boy called Zach who befriends her – for the Citywide Reading Campaign for Children 2016.The campaign is run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Public Libraries, in partnership with Mercier Press, and runs from January to March 2016.The Book of Learning by E.R. Murray is a story of mystery and adventure, and will appeal to both girls and boys of 9 years and older. There will be author visits to branch libraries as well as city-centre based events to promote the campaign, which encourages children to read for pleasure. The book features many well known Dublin landmarks such as Glasnevin Cemetery, the Botanic Gardens, the Natural History Museum, the National Library and Saint Stephen's Green.An t-Ardmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh said: "The Book of Learning is a book that will enchant and engage boys and girls from aged 9 upwards, and I encourage children and their parents all across the city to read it and to visit their local Dublin City library to find out more about the fun events taking place. Is scéal draíochtach é a bheadh taitneamhach do éinne thar 9 mbliana d’aois.""I'm delighted The Book of Learning has been chosen for this year's Citywide Reading campaign, especially since Dublin is so central to the story." says E.R. Murray. "I wanted to capture the city's essence in an adventure story that was both magical and mysterious – so get ready for wildcats, enchanted books, underground lairs, and shark submarines! I can't wait to meet lots of young readers at events in the New Year – after all, it's the readers that bring stories to life and make writing so worthwhile."Details of the campaign will be available in early January here and at www.dublincityofliterature.ie. The project is funded by Dublin City Council's Library Service and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
In recent months I have continued apace with my crime fiction reading, and here I share with you just some of those reads, they being books by Gillian Flynn, Donna Leon, Thomas Enger and Fred Vargas. So read on!Who at this stage is not familiar to some degree with the story that is 'Gone Girl' seeing how the film version was such a hit? Gillian Flynn's book, upon which the film is based, has proved a huge success, being the 25th bestselling adult fiction title of all time and spending 8 weeks at the top of the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list. 'Gone Girl' is the classic tale of a wife going missing and the finger of suspicion regarding her disappearance pointing at her husband. Where is Amy Dunne, and has loving husband Nick got something to do with her disappearance?This is a well crafted thriller with twists and surprises that will keep you guessing and likely ensure you are always one step at least behind the storyteller. Amy's diary and the gradual release of its contents adds to the mix and has you second guessing at the turn of every page. Nick's actions and thoughts don't help matters. As you delve further into the story things get even darker and the truth behind the seemingly happy marriage begins to unfold. The switching back and forth between the two narrators (Amy & Nick) is done intelligently and in a way that ensures your interest will not wane. This book begs the question - how well can you really know someone?I can well recommend 'Gone Girl', so get reading!. By Its Cover is the twenty-third title in Donna Leon's Venice-based crime series featuring Commissario Brunetti. The theft and vandalism of antiquarian books from a prestigious Venetian library form the basis of this story, and while the staff suspect that an American researcher has stolen them, Brunetti doesn't quite buy in to this theory.As the investigation proceeds, Brunetti seeks to enlighten himself about the stolen books, it being the subject matter rather than the physical beauty of such rare texts that is the appeal. Events take a sinister turn however (albeit half way into the story before so doing) when one of the library's regular readers, an ex-priest, turns up dead, murdered in brutal fashion. As the story progresses, developments point towards the black market in antiquarian books and the involvement of more than one person in the thefts from the library.To my mind, the focus on antiquarian books, in particular the subject matter of the stolen books is likely to be the strongest draw of this story, but if only for bibliophiles. Missing for me was the usual mix of interesting characters and the interactions between them and Brunetti, also the near absence of Brunetti's family and the Venetian cuisine we have become so accustomed to. Add to this the sudden, and for that reason, unsatisfying ending and this all adds up to, for me, one of Leon's least enjoyable works.Pierced by Norway's Thomas Enger is the follow up to 'Burned' and the second in the series featuring Oslo-based journalist Henning Juul. The series is centred around Juul's struggle to deal with the death of his son, which he largely feels responsible for, and his efforts to get to the bottom of the fire that resulted in his son's death and he receiving extensive injuries.In Pierced, Tore Pulli, a prisoner with an upcoming appeal into his conviction for a murder, challenges Juul to find evidence of his innocence, Juul's incentive being that Pulli knows something about the fire that resulted in his son's death and will share it with him in due course. Convinced that something untoward resulted in the fire, Juul has no choice but to investigate despite the weight of evidence against Pulli and the type of character he is. With assistance from fellow journalist, Iver Gundersen, who also happens to be his ex-wife's partner, Juul sets about delving into the seedy and dangerous world of underground gyms and clubs in Oslo.A parallel story involving a news cameraman has you wondering for some time what relevance that story line plays but all eventually become clear. Its inclusion and outcome lends to a complicated and involving plot which, for me, was largely satisfying and deemed the book a worthy read despite the book maybe being unnecessarily long at over 500 pages.Juul's struggle to deal with his son's death, plus his relationship with his ex-wife and her current partner, add nicely to the story and indeed serve to enhance the book's overall appeal.Given that the series continues with 'Scarred', which I now look forward to reading, it might be safe to assume that Juul's struggle will continue a bit longer despite what this story might reveal. Enjoy, I did!It's always a joy to read a book by France's Fred Vargas, the creator of the fabulous Commissaire Adamsberg series. Dog Will Have His Day , though not from the Adamsberg series, predates all but one in fact of the Adamsberg titles. Originally published back in 1996, it is the second of three in The Three Evangelists series, the first being The Three Evangelists; we await the third in translation.This book features Parisian Louis, or Ludwig, Kehlweiler, who, having discovered a human toe bone that was deposited by a dog (!) near his regular park bench, sets about investigating its source and, as he suspects, a possible murder. This investigation takes Louis and his pet toad (!) ,which he keeps in his pocket, to a town in Brittany as he follows the trail of the offending dog and his walker. Here an old woman has been found dead on a beach, minus of course a toe!The book is full of interesting and colourful characters, some you might even think eccentric, which is what you come to expect from Vargas, character development though being only one of her many attributes as a writer. There is Louis of course, a former investigator with the Ministry of Justice; old Marthé, a former prostitute; Marc, a medievalist and one of the evangelists; and others. Vargas also here paints a vivid and interesting picture of a provincial town and Breton life.This book is a wonderful crime mystery and was my delight to read, you will certainly want to seek out other titles by Vargas having read it. And I would highly recommend you to!Happy reading!
Eleanor Catton, a 28-year old New Zealander born in Canada, has become the youngest ever winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize with her novel 'The Luminaries'. And The Luminaries, at some 832 pages, has become the longest ever novel to win the Award. Catton becomes only the second ever New Zealander to win the prize (following Keri Hulme with 'The Bone People' in 1985).The Luminaries is a murder mystery set in a New Zealand gold mining town in 1866. Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described the book as a "dazzling work, luminous, vast".The Luminaries is Catton's second only novel, her first being the much shorter novel 'The Rehearsal' (317p.) published in 2008 and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Books by three Irish authors were among the thirteen on the longlist announced last July. They were: 'Transatlantic' by Colum McCann, 'The Spinning Heart' by Donal Ryan and 'The Testament of Mary' by Colm Tóibín. Tóibín's book was the only one of the three to make the shortlist.Last year's winner was 'Bring Up the Bodies' by Hilary Mantel.Did You Know? Eleanor Catton appeared at the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival, in the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, on Wednesday September 4th, 2013! Photos on Facebook.ReviewsThe Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (Irish Times)The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, review (The Telegraph)The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – review (The Guardian)Book Review: The Luminaries, By Eleanor Catton (UK Independent)
Recent winner in the mystery/thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes for his novel '11.22.63', Stephen King is a name so well known that little introduction is needed; think The Shining, Carrie, It, Misery, Christine, Pet Sematary, Salem's Lot, Insomnia, to name just a few. I think it interesting that he has won this award insofar as I have seen it said that in the past critics have not viewed him as a serious writer. But whatever the views of the critics past or present, such a view if it is held has never detracted from his popularity with the reader.As an aside, also nominated in this category was Irish author Eoin Colfer for his book, 'Plugged', and the subject of a previous post here on our blog.'11.22.63' is the story of a time traveller from 2011, a young teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, who gets the chance to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. Author of more than fifty titles, King may be best known as a horror writer, but several of his writings cross over into other genres such as fantasy, western and suspense. Case in point would be 'The Dark Tower' series, volume eight ('The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole') of which has just been published (April 2012), and which I know is on its way to several of our branches (just not showing in the catalogue quite yet). Of course many of his stories have been turned to film, and if I should mention one it would have to be a favourite film of so many, including myself, namely 'The Shawshank Redemption', which in fact is an adaptation of King's novella 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption', which is in his collection 'Different Seasons'.King has also written under the pen name Richard Bachman, supposedly so that he could write more than one book per year, a limit imposed in order to avoid market saturation. He wrote eight books under this name, the last being 'Blaze' in 2007. Given that I have introduced King here as a recent award winner, let me add that he has also been a winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers' Association! Visit the Stephen King Official Website.