The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

autograph man

I was quite disappointed with this, perhaps because I’d heard so much about Zadie Smith that I had unconsciously built her up for an inevitable fall.

She’s definitely funny, one of the more talented comic writers I’ve come across and the story itself is very witty and idiosyncratic in this respect but there was too much fluff for me to really enjoy this book.

Didn’t at all get the Jewish religiosity running throughout. Tried to see it as metaphor, existential musings or whatever purpose it was intended to achieve but failed. Downright confusing at times but always tedious.

Really colourful cast of characters (the autograph men were particularly enjoyable) but I found it hard to relate to the core group of friends that surrounded Alex, especially his relationship with Adam. Their strange tenderness towards one another always felt out of place and just didn’t seem believable. It must also be said that Adam was the main culprit of the theological ramblings and Alex was a narcissistic alcoholic.

I didn’t like the ending either, which occurred aptly during a Jewish religious service. Nothing was realised, just more tedium heaped upon the reader.

For wit and imagination, 3/5.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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Brilliant Book Titles #281

you know you want this
Blurb: 
The truth was that if a woman bit a man in an office environment, there would be a strong assumption that the man had done something to deserve it . . .

From the creator of Cat Person – the first short story to go viral – comes You Know You Want This, a compulsive collection about sex, dating and modern life. These are stories of women’s lives now. They also happen to be horror stories. In some, women endure the horror. In others, they inflict it.

Here are women at work, at home, on dates, at the doctor’s, with their families and with their friends. Here are women grappling with desire, punishment, guilt and anger. These are stories that make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused.

You Know You Want This shows why Kristen Roupenian is the most audacious new voice in American fiction. Funny, furious, sly and explicit, she takes a long, hard look at the messed-up power dynamic between men and women – and messes it up some more.

‘You know you want to read this collection by the author of the viral short story Cat Person –One story in particular, The Good Guy, is chillingly accurate.’ ELLE

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Most Requested – March 2019

Welcome back to our occasional series, where we take you through the top five most requested books in Ireland’s Public Libraries. So starting, in reverse order:

#5
the year of the locust.jpg
Screenwriter Terry Hayes’ first novel, I Am Pilgrim, was a massive, massive hit, and he’s finally released a new novel, and it’s number 5 on our list with 183 holds. You can reserve it here.

#4
a keeper
Speaking of second novels, tv presenter Graham Norton’s second novel, after his smash hit Holding is proving just as popular with 452 holds. You can reserve it here. 

#3
normal people
Keeping with the trend of second novels, Sally Rooney’s Normal People is a massive hit. To the point that booksellers are keeping stacks of them by the tills because people are asking for them so much. Garnering great reviews from everywhere, she’s being called a voice of her generation. And there’s 632 people waiting on the book to see if that’s the case! You can reserve a copy here.

#2 
milkman
Jumping up hugely from the previous waiting list, Anna Burns’ first novel, Milkman, and winner of the 2018 Booker Prize is second in our list with a whopping 1049 holds. You can reserve it here.

#1
becoming.jpg
Topping our list is Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, which has garnered universal praise, and has a flabbergasting 1419 holds (including 104 people looking for the audio version read by the author – which I am currently listening to, and can recommend). You can reserve a copy here.

What The Heart Learns by Jessica Gadziala

what the heart learns pic

Blurb: 

Liam has always preferred spending his life inside books, only looking up to occasionally growl at customers in his shop. Until the day someone new comes to town. A woman who could keep up with him, someone who sees beyond his guards, who makes him want something decidedly non-fiction for a change.

The only problem is, Riley has a secret. One that just might tear them apart.

Review:

5 #Grandpasweatersforlife Stars

I’m a huge fan of the Stars Landing Series and have been “patiently” waiting for his book for so long. This series was one of the first books I read by Jessica and not going to lie made me fall head over heels for her books.

The chemistry between Liam and Riley from the start was pretty explosive even with a giant secret between them I felt that there toeing and froing was exciting and so damn good to read. You can’t help but root for them throughout the book. I loved seeing them bicker and talk about books and grow. I loved seeing names of characters pop up from previous Stars Landing books this makes me very happy. Over all I loved this instalment in the Stars Landing Series and hope that we are not waiting too long for the next book in this series.

False Memory by Meli Raine

false memory pic.jpg

Blurb: 

It all started with the bereavement flowers with my name on them.

Not the best way to wake up, right? I work in a flower shop. I know a funeral arrangement when I see one.

I know a killer when I see one, too. And one is standing in my hospital room right now, straight behind the man who saved my life.

I can’t tell anyone the truth, because that’s the fastest way to really die. So I do the next best thing. I “lose” my memory.

I fake my amnesia.

Pretending not to remember a brutal attempted murder has its perks. The killer is backing down, spending less time around me, loosening the noose.

The less I claim to recall, the more my rescuer, Duff, works to help me “remember.” I hate lying to him.

But he doesn’t understand that my memory is dangerous. To me. And to him.

Fooling everyone isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Except it’s starting to look like I’ve been fooling myself.

In more ways than one.

Read Book 1 in the newest series from USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine.

Review:

This is the first book in Meli Raine’s explosive brand new series False. Lily wakes up from a coma after 14 months and can’t communicate that she is awake. Now that’s having a bad day, but to see the guy that shot in her in the head in the room acting as innocent as can be and integrated themselves into her family.. Now that’s having a bad year. The only person outside her family she feels she can trust is Duff… or can she?!

Raine brings the excitement and thrill to False Memory; you are on the edge throughout wondering what’s going to happen next. This is the first in a trilogy and be warned it ends in a cliff-hanger.

5 Stars!

Until Cobi by Aurora Rose Reynolds

until cobi pic

Blurb: 

Cobi Mayson knows exactly who Hadley is to him the moment he sees her for the very first time. That doesn’t mean it will be easy for him to convince her to take a chance on him.

Hadley Emerson knows she could fall hard and fast for a guy like Cobi. A man who seems to show up every time she needs him, but she knows better than to just hand over her heart.

Knowing his future with Hadley is on the line, Cobi begins to tie their lives together. As the invisible rope that connects them tightens and things between them heat up, an unknown threat emerges threatening to take away their happily ever after and send them both into darkness.

Review:

Until Cobi is the seventh book in the Until Her/Him series. This book starts right up where UNTIL HARMONY left off, so there is no bog time line jump. Until Cobi brings us back to the Mayson’s with Cobi’s story and his BOOM!

Everyone has a destiny, you are mine!

Hadley is still very much shaken up by the events of the previous book. She comes from a totally different family then Cobi and has no one but her friend coming for her. From the moment Cobi sets eyes on Hadley he knows she is his everything and that he will do everything in his power to make sure she doesn’t get hurt again.

Like all Aurora’s books I devoured this book whole. Her secondary characters make her books so much better and her alpha males and strong female leads make them brilliant. I highly recommend reading Until Cobi and all her others books for that matter.

5 BOOM Stars!

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

hot six pic

This is one of the funniest books I have ever read! I dare you to read it on the bus and not laugh out loud. Stephanie Plum, world’s worst bounty hunter must track down her mentor Ranger whilst avoiding vice cop Joe Morelli. If that’s not bad enough she is saddled with Bob the giant orange mutt and her Grandma Mazur has decided to move in.

This is a madcap runaround mystery which will keep you laughing all the way to the bank. Stephanie Plum is one of the most accident prone people you will ever come across and keep your eye out for her bounty hunting nemesis Joyce Bernhardt (a nightmare with big hair). Oh and of course BOB!

This is the sixth book in the Stephanie Plum series and I have read them all at this stage. This is my favourite out of a fantastic series.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Finish by Jon Acuff

finish.jpg

Are you one of the 92% of people don’t finish their goals? Did you make a New Years resolution and make great strides in the first few weeks, only to struggle and give up before your goal was finished? If yes, then you need to read Finish by Jon Acuff.

Finish is the follow-up to Acuff’s popular book ‘Start’ – that as you guessed, is all about how to set up a project for success and have a strong start. After writing ‘Start’, Acuff was getting messages from people who had success with Start but were struggling to finish their projects. When Acuff read that 92% of people don’t finish their goals, he knew he had to investigate further and see what obstacles were preventing people from realizing their dreams.

In ‘Finish’ Acuff recommends taking six action steps to finish your goals:

1. Cut your goal in half.
2. Choose what to bomb.
3. Make it fun if you want it done.
4. Leave your hiding places and ignore noble obstacles.
5. Get rid of your secret rules.
6. Use data to celebrate your imperfect progress.

These sound simple enough but Acuff really does break down each step in his witty way and help you identify exactly what you need to do. What I really enjoyed about this book was that Acuff gives plenty of exercises to do, so the book is hands on.

If you really struggle with productivity and perfectionism, this would be the best book I could recommend on the topic. There is no BS and the book is written in an approachable way. Read this and finish your goals!

5 New Plays to Watch Out For

The Cane by Mark Ravenhill (6 Dec 2018)
cane.jpg
It will be the biggest send off any teacher has ever had. No teacher is as loved. After 45 years as a dedicated teacher, Edward is looking forward to the imminent celebration to mark his retirement. But his home is under siege. A mob of angry students have gathered. A brick has been thrown through the window, he and his wife haven’t left the house for six days, and now his estranged daughter has arrived with her own questions. Why would they attack the most popular teacher in the school? The Cane explores power, control, identity and gender as well as considering the major failure of the echo-chamber of liberalism.

Rise Up!: Broadway and American Society from ‘Angels in America to Hamilton by Chris Jones (15 Nov 2018)
rise up
Penned by one of Americas best-known daily theatre critics and organized chronologically, this lively and readable book tells the story of Broadways renaissance from the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, via the disaster that was Spiderman: Turn off the Dark through the unparalleled financial, artistic and political success of Lin-Manuel Mirandas Hamilton. It is the story of the embrace of risk and substance. In so doing, Chris Jones makes the point that the theatre thrived by finally figuring out how to embrace the bold statement and insert itself into the national conversation – only to find out in 2016 that a hefty sector of the American public had not been listening to what it had to say. Chris Jones was in the theatres when and where it mattered. He takes readers from the moment when Tony Kushners angel crashed (quite literally) through the ceiling of prejudice and religious intolerance to the triumph of Hamilton, with the coda of the Broadway cast addressing a new Republican vice-president from the stage. That complex performance – at once indicative of the theatres new clout and its inability to fully change American society for the better – is the final scene of the book.

Before by Pat Kinevane (6 Nov 2018)
before pat kinevane
Some folk are impossible to buy for. Mama said it’s because they are usually the ones who are impossible to know… Before is set in Clerys of Dublin, on the very day this iconic department store shuts – for good. Pontius is inside, trying to choose a gift for his estranged daughter, whom he hasn’t seen for almost 20 years. He will meet her in an hour. This father’s journey is both beautiful and strange, from the isolation of his Midlands home to the madness of O’Connell Street. Before is a new play with much music, which follows the runaway international success of Fishamble’s Pat Kinevane Trilogy (Forgotten, Silent and Underneath), which have won Olivier, Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel, Argus Angel, Adelaide Fringe and Stage Raw LA awards. This edition was published to coincide with the original production which was first produced by Fishamble: The New Play Company in November 2018.

You Stupid Darkness! by Sam Steiner (7 Feb 2019)
you stupid darkness
A new play from the writer of Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons.

‘I just think it’s, you know, important to look at the good things that are happening as well.’

In a cramped, crumbling office, four volunteers spend a few hours every Tuesday night on the phone telling strangers that everything is going to be okay.

As the outside world disintegrates, they teeter on the edge of their own personal catastrophes. Their hopes and fears become entangled as they try, desperately, to connect with the callers and with each other.

You Stupid Darkness! is an urgent play about the struggle for optimism and community amid the chaos of a world falling apart. It was first seen at Theatre Royal Plymouth in February 2019, in a co-production between Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Sam Steiner’s other plays include Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons and Kanye The First.

My Dad’s Gap Year by Tom Wright (10 Apr 2019)
my dad's gap year
Seriously William, you’re eighteen and you’re gay, for Christ’s sake. You’re meant to swim against the tide. A proper gap year is all about traveling. Seeing the world. Popping your cherry. This is our chance to start living. Me and you.

This is the story of Dave; a dad in mid-life freefall who takes his repressed, gay, teenage son William on a wild adventure to Thailand. Gay love, straight love, trans love, buddy-love, drinking games and beer bellies. Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a mad one!

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

little

For this month, we would wish to recommend a life-altering reading experience!

It is said that one should be reading this book three times in a lifetime: as a child or teenager, as a mature adult, and as an elderly person! This is the famous novella The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) written by the French writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Le Petit Prince was first published in 1943 and has since been translated into about 200 languages and dialects. This is a philosophical book tackling such themes as love and friendship, pain of loss, compassion and emotional freedom – a motivational read highly recommended to teachers and to parents.

Indeed our discussion of this book during our Ballyroan Junior Book club meetings has sparked the parents’ and other readers’ interest in re-reading their beloved book from their formative years and in truly remembering , rather than simply recalling, its profound and universal messages:

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Because

Growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is….

You will be surprised as to how many concepts in this wonderful book the children are able to grasp beyond any adult expectation! You will be surprised at your own ever-renewed understanding of this magical book, at any phase of life it comes to find you…

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.