The Blog Awards!

What a brilliant night we had at the blog awards last night!

First off, for the ceremony, we all went off to the circus (!)
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It was a beautiful evening full of buzzing and blogging – phones livetweeting the lot!
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I got to try a VR headset for the first time, but I don’t have a picture of that, unfortuneatly!
*insert picture of me, open-mouthed, in love with the VR headset, planning to run away with it*

The awards ceremony was held inside the big top
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There was some fantastic entertainment
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And even their very own transformer!
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But, the reason why we were there was because of the awards. This blog, and my colleague Eleanor’s Young Adult blog, YAPS, were both nominated in the Best Arts & Culture Blog of the Year corporate category!

And we both won!

BALLYROAN READS WAS AWARDED BRONZE IN THE CATEGORY
AND YAPS *WON* THE CATEGORY!

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We almost fell off the chair!

I’d just like to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who voted for us, the judges and everyone who reads this blog. We’ve only been going six months, and to placed in this category is a MASSIVE SUCCESS – beating out established big hitters like writing.ie and The O’Brien Press!!!

And HUMONGOUS congratulations to my work bestie, Eleanor, for WINNING BEST ARTS & CULTURE BLOG OF THE YEAR with YAPS! So proud! Here’s a picture of her with the gorgeous award!
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And to finish, here’s a picture of the two of us celebrating, with her award!
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Thanks so much to the Littlewood’s Ireland Blog Awards 2016 for a fantastic night!

A sincere thanks to everyone who reads and likes this blog and a shout-out to our most frequent commenters S. J. Higbee, Book Heathen, MySestina and The Genre Minx!

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Brilliant Book Titles #45

The lie that will get anyone, anywhere:

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

Blurb:
From the author of the bestselling novel, The Clasp, hailed by Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, and J. Courtney Sullivan.

Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays from Sloane Crosley is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. New York Timesbestseller.

From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions — or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character who aims for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is. I Was Told There’d Be Cake introduces a strikingly original voice, chronicling the struggles and unexpected beauty of modern urban life.

Sloane Crosley is also the author of How Did You Get This Number, The Clasp and the ebook Up The Down Volcano.

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

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Any kids aged 9+ looking for a great read for the summer look no further. I was looking forward to getting my hands on this book for a while and it didn’t disappoint.

Denzian Hardwick lives in an orphanage and has no relatives that he knows of, until one day he hears from a long lost aunt who invites him to come to stay for the weekend. Denzian starts to realise that he has certain powers and is introduced to a new world of the shady Tenebrous but magic has consequences as he soon finds out. He is one of a long line of Knights of the Borrowed Dark, his aunt is a very famous knight, and he has a big decision to make. When the Endless King is robbed, Denzian and the Knights have to step in to save the world as we know it.

This book has great characters, an exciting story line and vivid description, just waiting for the next installment out next year.

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

5 New Graphic Novels


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The Longest Day of the Future by Lucas Varela (22 Sep 2016)
The crash of an extra-terrestrial flying saucer will, perhaps, change everything. This masterfully crafted, witty and irreverent graphic novel is the debut from Argentine cartoonist and graphic designer Lucas Varela. Inspired by the pioneering comic books of the early twentieth century, Varela has crafted a wordless thriller reminiscent of the work of silent master Jason. Under the guise of science fiction, Varela has spun a fable, almost an indictment, against consumerism and unfettered capitalism.

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Username: Regenerated by Joe Sugg (22 Sep 2016)
BOOK 2 IN THE USERNAME SERIES

Evie is safe at home, but her heart remains in e.scape, the virtual world her father created for her. She’s desperate to return, but the app that transports her has corrupted in the great reboot.

When besotted geek, Lionel, offers to help, he doesn’t just restore the gateway as she had planned. He opens up a series of revelations that calls into question everything Evie treasures in life. With a momentous discovery to be unearthed in the virtual realm, and an e.scape fugitive on the loose in reality, can our sidelined schoolgirl save not one world but two?

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Trees Volume 2 by Warren Ellis (29 Sep 2016)
Collecting the second TREES story, TWO FORESTS. A survivor of the Blindhail Event looks for signs of imminent global disaster among the megaliths and relics of Orkney, while the new mayor of New York plans to extract his revenge for the awful thing that happened the day the Tree landed on Manhattan

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The Massive: Ninth Wave by Brian Wood & Gary Brown (29 Sep 2016)
In the pages of The Massive, the Ninth Wave was struggling to repair a broken world. But before that, they were the preeminent global environmental-rescue unit, taking on criminals, polluters, politicians and rogue states. The Massive: Ninth Wave tells these stories in a stylish, high-action, done-in-one format, reuniting the entire creative team from the original series. Critically acclaimed writer Brian Wood and artist Garry Brown go back to the beginning with the Ninth Wave environmental action unit.

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Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhand (29 Sep 2016)
The existential dread associated with getting out of bed terrifies Cat Rackham to his cat core. However, despite his efforts, he seems to consistently find himself dewclaw deep in trouble, often deeply strange trouble. All of his adventures are here along with a poem by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward! Steve Wolfhard lives and works in the small town of Midland, Ontario, with his wife, two cats, and the occasional bat. He draws comics like Cat Rackham and Turtie Needs Work and works as a storyboard artist on the Emmy Award–winning animated televisions series Adventure Time.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

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This novel won the prestigious Dublin International Literary Award 2016 and it is easy to see how it made an impact on the judges. It is a work of amazing power. The language is spare and clean, without any flourishes.

The story is heart breaking and all the more devastating for being delivered in the sparse, cool medium of Sharma’s prose. Reading this work is not easy, from an emotional point of view and it is unflinching in its depiction of the effects of a catastrophic event on a family. While reading this book, I swung between, hope, despair, pity and frustration- mirroring the feelings of Ajay, the young protagonist. Sharma is to be commended for his brave and honest exposition of this tragedy. Apart from the central event, he also touches on the immigrant experience, through the eyes of a child. Sharma has said that it took him over 10 years to write this novel, but it was well worth the wait, on the reader’s part .

A word of caution about this book, be prepared to go through the emotional wringer with this.  “Family Life” is not of the category of a “holiday read” and certainly not light reading but in its merciless engagement with its central topic, it has the power to move you like few other novels. Reading it is a profound experience, you are not likely to forget this book.

Brilliant Book Titles #44

Blunt, and to the point 🙂

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

Blurb:
From the physician behind the wildly popular website NutritionFacts.org, How Not to Diereveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.

The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of NutritionFacts.org, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America-heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more-and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to live healthier lives.

The simple truth is that most doctors are good at treating acute illnesses but bad at preventing chronic disease. The fifteen leading causes of death claim the lives of 1.6 million Americans annually. This doesn’t have to be the case. By following Dr. Greger’s advice, all of it backed up by strong scientific evidence, you will learn which foods to eat and which lifestyle changes to make to live longer.

History of prostate cancer in your family? Put down that glass of milk and add flaxseed to your diet whenever you can. Have high blood pressure? Hibiscus tea can work better than a leading hypertensive drug-and without the side effects. Fighting off liver disease? Drinking coffee can reduce liver inflammation. Battling breast cancer? Consuming soy is associated with prolonged survival. Worried about heart disease (the number 1 killer in the United States)? Switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet, which has been repeatedly shown not just to prevent the disease but often stop it in its tracks.

In addition to showing what to eat to help treat the top fifteen causes of death, How Not to Die includes Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen -a checklist of the twelve foods we should consume every day.Full of practical, actionable advice and surprising, cutting edge nutritional science, these doctor’s orders are just what we need to live longer, healthier lives.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #43

My favourite subtitle of the year (so far)
#whoyougonnacall

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

Blurb:
As seen in the Sony Pictures 2016 film Ghostbusters, the ultimate guide to identifying, understanding, and engaging with any paranormal activity that plagues you

Years before they made headlines with the Ghostbusters, Erin Gilbert and Abby L. Yates published the groundbreaking study of the paranormal, Ghosts from Our Past. Once lost to history, this criminally underappreciated book is now back in print, revised and somewhat updated for the new century.

According to Gilbert and Yates, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, you’ll find the information you’re seeking right here in this extraordinary book, including:

· The childhood experiences that inspired Erin and Abby’s lifelong passion for the scientific study of the paranormal;
· The history of ghosts and other supernatural entities, the science that explains their existence, and profiles of the groundbreaking paranormal researchers who have investigated them;
· An illustrated guide to Class I through Class VII ghosts;
· Helpful sidebars like “A Ghost by Any Other Name” and “Ectoplasm Cleanup Tips”;
· Updates including “The Ghostbusters’ Arsenal” by Jillian Holtzmann and “Haunted History” by Patty Tolan;
· A new Ghostbusting Resources appendix, featuring the “Paranormal Quickstart Guide”, “Is It a Ghost? A Handy Quiz”, “A Supernatural Stakeout Journal”, “The Devil’s Dictionary: Paraterminology You Need to Know”; and more.

With this helpful—and hilarious—official Ghostbusters guide in hand, you’ll be prepared for almost any spirit, spook, or spectre that comes your way. As for the rest, you know who to call.

All the Rage by T. M. Frazier

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They call me Rage.
My real name is like a shadow, always close behind, but never quite able to catch up.
I fly under the radar because no one ever suspects I’m capable of the kind of brutal violence I commit each and every day.
You see, I’m a girl. I’m nineteen.
And I’m a killer.
This life is all I know. It’s all I want to know. It keeps the s**t buried that I need kept buried. It allows me to live without thinking too much.
Without dwelling on the past.
Until him.
It all changes when an ordinary boy becomes my next target.
And my first love.
I have to choose.
The only life I’ve ever known has to die, or he does.
Either way, I’ll be the one pulling the trigger…

Review:

5 Rage Stars

“The only thing Nolan Archer would need saving from… was me.”

From the time we meet Rage in Soulless, I knew I wanted to hear more about her story! I was so excited when I heard she was getting her own book! She’s not like Frazier’s normal heroine she’s ten times better!

All the Rage is unpredictable. It’s dark and gritty like I’ve come to know and love from all of Frazier’s books, and it’s also sexy and funny. The story itself was brilliant and I couldn’t put it down. I loved both the hero and the heroine. It’s a must-read if you’re looking for a dark romance!

“You’ll learn that when it comes to you, I’m going to do what I want to, and more than that, ….”You’re gonna love what I want to do to you”.

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T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier resides in sunny Southwest Florida with her husband and three feisty fur kids.

She attended Florida Gulf Coast University where she specialized in public speaking. After years working in real estate and new home construction, she decided it was finally time to stop pushing her dreams to the back burner and pursue writing seriously.

In the third grade she wrote her very first story about a lost hamster. It earned rave reviews from both her teacher and her parents.

It only took her twenty years to start the next one.

It will not be about hamsters.

 

5 New Literary Fictions

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Here I Am by Jonathan Safron Foer
(6 Sep 2016)
A monumental new novel about modern family lives from the bestselling author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Abraham replied obediently, ‘Here I am’.

This is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. Over the course of three weeks in present-day Washington DC, three sons watch their parents’ marriage falter and their family home fall apart. Meanwhile, a larger catastrophe is engulfing another part of the world: a massive earthquake devastates the Middle East, sparking a pan-Arab invasion of Israel. With global upheaval in the background and domestic collapse in the foreground, Jonathan Safran Foer asks us – what is the true meaning of home? Can one man ever reconcile the conflicting duties of his many roles – husband, father, son? And how much of life can a person bear?

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (20 Sep 2016)
In Emma Donoghue’s latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.
Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

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Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood (6 Oct 2016)
‘It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge.’

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, revenge and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.

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A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem (18 Oct 2016)
The author of “Motherless Brooklyn” and “The Fortress of Solitude” returns with a devilishly entertaining novel about an international backgammon hustler who thinks he’s psychic. Too bad about the tumor in his face.
Handsome, impeccably tuxedoed Bruno Alexander travels the world winning large sums of money from amateur “whales” who think they can challenge his peerless acumen at backgammon. Fronted by his pasty, vampiric manager, Edgar Falk, Bruno arrives in Berlin after a troubling run of bad luck in Singapore. Perhaps it was the chance encounter with his crass childhood acquaintance Keith Stolarsky and his smoldering girlfriend Tira Harpaz. Or perhaps it was the emergence of a blot that distorts his vision so he has to look at the board sideways.
Things don’t go much better in Berlin. Bruno’s flirtation with Madchen, the striking blonde he meets on the ferry, is inconclusive; the game at the unsettling Herr Kohler’s mansion goes awry as his blot grows worse; he passes out and is sent to the local hospital, where he is given an extremely depressing diagnosis. Having run through Falk’s money, Bruno turns to Stolarsky, who, for reasons of his own, agrees to fly Bruno to Berkeley, and to pay for the experimental surgery that might save his life.
Berkeley, where Bruno discovered his psychic abilities, and to which he vowed never to return. Amidst the patchouli flashbacks and Anarchist gambits of the local scene, between Tira’s come-ons and Keith’s machinations, Bruno confronts two existential questions: Is the gambler being played by life? And what if you’re telepathic but it doesn’t do you any good?”

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The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle (25 Oct 2016)
A deep-dive into human behavior in an epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, from one of the greatest American novelists today, T. C. Boyle, the acclaimed, bestselling, author of the PEN/ Faulkner Award winning World s End and The Harder They Come.

It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them.

Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C. “God the Creator” for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2 s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere s seal to be broken and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.

Told through three distinct narrators Dawn Chapman, the mission s pretty, young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2 s sexually irrepressible Wildman The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T.C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself. “

The Drowned Detective by Neil Jordan

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This is on the surface a detective novel set in an un-named eastern European city, possibly Kiev or Lvov in Ukraine and features an English couple Jonathan and Sarah with their daughter, Jennifer. Jonathan, an ex-British Army soldier has set up a business specialising in finding missing persons while Sarah works as an Archaeologist. One day, an elderly couple come to the office and Jonathan and Istvan, his partner are hired to investigate the disappearance, years earlier, of the couples child, Petra. From this point the novel diverges from the usual lines of the detective story as Jonathan engages the help of a psychic and former beauty to help locate the girl. Meanwhile, Sarah is having an affair with Frank, another employee of the detective firm. One evening, while returning to the office, Jonathan saves a suicidal girl from drowning while crossing a bridge and begins a relationship with her though all is not as it seems…

The story has many twists to it with the mitteleuropa architecture of the city echoed by the gothic twist in the storyline and the tension heightens with the increasing political turmoil. I loved this book. Neil Jordan turns his hand to detective writing with the same skill as he shows in all his writing and film directing.

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