The Sisters by Claire Douglas

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When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive.

Haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets twins Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle.

When one sister lies, she must protect her secret at all costs. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention? When the truth outs, will either sister survive?

The Sisters is a great psychological thriller that will send chills up your spine. The plot is well-written. Every character is flawed and in some way dislikeable!  The story twist and turns with each turn of the page. You will be questioning everything you thought you knew about these characters. The suspense oozes from every page. You won’t know who to trust!

A fantastic read.

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

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Brilliant Book Titles #86

It’s the ‘and’ that makes this title for me.

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

Blurb:
The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, director and teacher has written a blunt, unsparingly honest guide to acting. In True and False David Mamet overturns conventional opinion and tells aspiring actors what they really need to know. He leaves no aspect of acting untouched: how to judge the role, approach the part, work with the playwright; the right way to undertake auditions and the proper approach to agents and the business in general. True and False slaughters a wide range of sacred cows and yet offers an invaluable guide to the acting profession.

Brilliant Book Titles #85

Post-modern? Post-post modern? Nope, I’m post-everything, says Mr. Haines (which is a very Hainesian statement). Luke Haines, as well as having a solo career and founding the bands The Auteurs, Baader Meinhof and Black Box Recorder, is also notable for being a wonderful grouch who does things like call a National Pop Strike when asked to promote a new album!

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

Blurb:
In Post Everything, Luke Haines demonstrates that the only way to survive the tyrannical scourge of Britpop is to become an Outsider. The ‘avant-garde Arthur Scargill’ calls upon the nation’s pop stars to down tools and go on strike. We learn the story of Haines’ post-Britpop art house trio Black Box Recorder (Chas and Dave with a chanteuse), we meet a talking cat, two dead rappers (Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur), and a mystical England football manager. Haines even finds time to write a musical for the National Theatre.

Blisteringly funny and searingly scathing, Post Everything may quite possibly be the first and only truly surreal comic rock memoir. It even contains a killer recipe for scrambled eggs.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

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I’d like to take you back to a time. No, not to the early nineties when Twin Peaks first aired, but to the year 2000. The world was worried that everything was going to crash because of the Millenium Bug but I didn’t care because I finally, finally, got broadband. And the first thing I did, was download Twin Peaks.

It’s safe to say that I’ve been a fan ever since. A fan that has been eagerly following all of the announcements about the new series, from the 200+ cast list, to the countdown to this novel.

The kindle version was released in Europe two days before the print version, and being impatient I got that, something I kind of regret now. Mainly because I have seen pictures of the actual book and it looks so *beautiful*.

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But what about the content? Does it stand up?

The Secret History of Twin Peaks is a novel about a dossier found from a crime scene in 2016. The dossier begins in the 1800’s and goes right upto the present day. I don’t want to give too much away, but it explores all of the spooky going’s on of Twin Peaks’ woods, as well as giving a massive backstory to the site, and latterly, the characters, such as the relatively minor characters of Dwayne and Douglas Milford, who feature prominently throughout. This books is about UFO’s, mysterious going’s on and it has all been compiled by someone called The Archivist, who is commenting on the dossier throughout. Also commenting, via footnotes, is the FBI Agent in 2016 tasked to decipher what exactly is going on.

Weaving in large swathes of American history – from the plight of the Native Americans, to Richard Nixon, to Roswell, and beyond – seamlessly into the history of Twin Peaks is no easy feat, but Frost manages it effortlessly. And again, the book is just beautiful – some delights that we are treated to are lots of articles from the Twin Peaks Post and Gazette, the galleys to Dr Lawrence Jacoby’s widely panned psychology book, intelligence reports on Josie Packard and so, so, much more.

Is it a book that can be read by non- or new Twin Peaks fans? Perhaps – it has its own standalone story, but I definitely would suggest having watched the original two series and the movie first. It does, however, work much more as a standalone book, than say, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks is an incredibly engaging story, a beautiful artefact, and something that I really – try as I might for objectivity’s sake, given that I said I was a fan – can’t find anything to fault. Just perfect.

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

5 New Biographies/Memoirs to Watch Out For

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The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan 
by Patricia Bosworth (31 Jan 2017)
Acclaimed biographer Patricia Bosworth recalls her emotional coming of age in 1950s New York in this profound and powerful memoir, a story of family, marriage, tragedy, Broadway, and art, featuring a rich cast of well-known literary and theatrical figures from the period.

From Bosworth acclaimed biographer of Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, Marlon Brando, and Jane Fonda comes a series of vivid confessions about her remarkable journey into womanhood. This deeply-felt memoir is the story of a woman who defied repressive 1950s conventions while being shaped by the notable men in her life.

Born into privilege in San Francisco as the children of famous attorney Bartley Crum and novelist Gertrude, Patricia and her brother Bart Jr. lead charmed lives until their father s career is ruined when he defends the Hollywood Ten. The family moves to New York, suffering greater tragedy when Bart Jr. kills himself. However, his loving spirit continues to influence Patricia as she fights to succeed as an actress and writer.

Married and divorced from an abusive husband before she s twenty, she joins the famed Actors Studio. She takes classes with Lee Strasberg alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and others; she works on Broadway opposite Paul Muni, Helen Hayes, and Elaine Stritch; Gore Vidal and Elia Kazan become her mentors. Her anecdotes of theatre s Golden Age have never been told before. At the zenith of her career, about to film The Nun s Story with Audrey Hepburn, Patricia faces a decision that changes her forever.

The Men in My Life is about survival, achieving your goals, and learning to love. It s also the story of America s most culturally pivotal era, told through the lens of one insider s extraordinary life.

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Thomas Jefferson – Revolutionary: A Radical’s Struggle to Remake America by Kevin R C Gutzman (31 Jan 2017)
“In this lively and clearly written book, Kevin Gutzman makes a compelling case for the broad range and radical ambitions of Thomas Jefferson’s commitment to human equality.” – Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

Though remembered chiefly as author of the Declaration of Independence and the president under whom the Louisiana Purchase was effected, Thomas Jefferson was a true revolutionary in the way he thought about the size and reach of government, which Americans who were full citizens and the role of education in the new country. In his new book, Kevin Gutzman gives readers a new view of Jefferson a revolutionary who effected radical change in a growing country.

Jefferson s philosophy about the size and power of the federal system almost completely undergirded the Jeffersonian Republican Party. His forceful advocacy of religious freedom was not far behind, as were attempts to incorporate Native Americans into American society. His establishment of the University of Virginia might be one of the most important markers of the man s abilities and character.

He was not without flaws. While he argued for the assimilation of Native Americans into society, he did not assume the same for Africans being held in slavery while at the same time insisting that slavery should cease to exist. Many still accuse Jefferson of hypocrisy on the ground that he both held that all men are created equal and held men as slaves. Jefferson s true character, though, is more complex than that as Kevin Gutzman shows in his new book about Jefferson, a revolutionary whose accomplishments went far beyond the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

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Blue on Blue: An Insider S Story of Good Cops Catching Bad Cops  
by Charles Campisi with Gordon Dillow (7 Feb 2017)
This eye-opening, richly authentic memoir by the longest serving chief of NYPD s Internal Affairs Bureau reveals what it s like to expose and put away the bad cops so that they won t tarnish the majority who wear the uniform.
Charles Campisi headed the NYPD s Internal Affairs Bureau from 1996 through 2014, gaining a reputation as hard-nosed and incorruptible. During Campisi s years at IAB, the number of New Yorkers shot by cops every year and the number of cops failing integrity tests plummeted. But to achieve those exemplary results, Campisi had to triple IAB s staff, hire the very best detectives, and put the word out that corrupt cops wouldn t be tolerated.
In Blue on Blue, Campisi brings us into the real world of cops: We listen in on wiretaps. We experience the rush of exposing those who ve betrayed their oath. We learn of new threats to the force. We also see the investigations that stretched IAB s capacities in the 1990s: from the choking death of Anthony Baez to the killing of Amadou Diallo, who was shot nineteen times by police. Along the way, we obtain fascinating glimpses of the mayors and police officials Campisi served under, from Rudy Guliani, Mike Bloomberg, and Bill de Blasio to Howard Safir, Bernard Kerik, Ray Kelly, and Bill Bratton.
The most authentic, deep-textured portrait of life inside the NYPD since Ed Conlon s Blue Blood, Campisi s story describes what it s like to fulfill a childhood dream of joining the world s largest police force, only to spend almost half of his career putting bad cops behind bars. A compelling, fascinating, and often harrowing read.

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And I’d Do It Again by Aimée Crocker (9 Feb 2017)
Aimée Crocker was an heiress to gold and railroad fortunes and a daughter of Judge Edwin B. Crocker (1818-1875), legal counsel for the Central Pacific Railroad, Justice of the California Supreme Court in 1865 and founder of the Crocker Art Museum. Her father was a brother of Charles Crocker, one of the ‘big four’ California railroad barons.

Aimée had a tale or two to tell. Aside from lavish parties, husbands and lovers, she travelled widely in the Far East. She tells of escaping headhunters in Borneo, poisoning in Hong Kong, and avoided murder by servants in Shanghai. While away, she was christened Princess Palaikalani Bliss of Heaven by King David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii, and then Princess Galitzine when she wed her fifth and final husband, Prince Mstislav Galitzine. And I’d Do It Again is her autobiography.

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Size Zero: My Life as a Disappearing Model by Victoire Dauxerre (9 Feb 2017)
A memoir of a brief career as a top model – and the brutally honest account of what goes on behind the scenes in a fascinating, closed industry.

Scouted in the street when she is 17, Victoire Dauxerre’s story started like a teenager’s dream: within months she was on the catwalks of New York’s major fashion shows, and part of the most select circle of in-demand supermodels in the world.

But when fashion executives and photographers began to pressure her about her weight, forcing her to become ever thinner, Victoire’s fantasy came at a cost. Food was now her enemy, and soon, living on only three apples a day and Diet Coke galore, Victoire became anorexic.

An unflinching, painful expose of the uglier face of fashion, her testimony is a shocking example of how our culture’s mechanisms of anorexia and bulimia can push a young woman to the point of suicide. It is the story of a survivor whose fight against poisonous illness and body image shows us how to take courage and embrace life.

Gold by Geraldine Mills

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Gold is a dystopian children’s fiction book for ages 10/11+ set in the future after a climate change has taken its toll on the earth, volcanic eruptions have destroyed the world, terrible storms ravage the landscape and the bees have become extinct which means people have to try and pollinate plants themselves to have food to eat.

Starn and Esper find a book in a forbidden room in their apartment, very rare as everyone uses electronic E-pistle’s, books usually only exist in Biblion where the defender of the page controls what book is on display each day. In the book is a map which leads to treasure, but it is on one of the islands near their home, impossible to reach as the seas are infested with dangerous zanderhags and aeroplanes don’t exist anymore. Starn hatches a plan to get to the islands and find the treasure and so their adventure starts in trying to escape their home and the nasty Sagittars who rule the orchard territory . This book is a great read, a thought provoking page turner which leaves me wondering what happens next at the end of the book.

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

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Working It by Christine D’Abo

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One the best romance books I’ve read this year.

My first by Christine D’Abo – I was kinda glad that I just read the description and saw the cover and requested it through NetGalley based on that, as she’s a lot of kinky dom/sub books which I wouldn’t read that would’ve probably tarred me against this, rather unfairly.

This was a flawless romance. Strong, well-written characters, clear arcs, good supporting characters, realistic problems.

Nolan suffers dreadfully from anxiety after a car crash that resulted in PTSD. It impacts all aspects of his life, but he is still a bright, confident, attractive young man.

Zack is an asshole – almost everyone in the book calls him one, including himself – but not in a boring Christian Grey dominant way. An astute and dedicated businessman, he has anger issues and somewhat realistic expectations on people. He takes a chance on Nolan, his first male assistant, as he’s been burning through his assistants at about one a month, and has been told off by HR for it.

What follows is a great workplace romance. They are both complicated men, but their lust, and love, is remarkably simple, and grounding for both of them. They fight it, of course – one is the other’s boss – but there is something beautiful about their relationship.

Beautifully written, with a very sure hand on the wheel, D’Abo’s well-crafted prose looks effortless. I’m even tempted to dip my toe in her kinkier romances, due to her way with words.

The subtitle, A Ringside Romance, is interesting. Ringside was a boxing club that Zack attended as a teenager, that had a boxing program for LGBTQ teens, something that helped that often furious Zack channel his anger in a healthy way. Zack wants to reopen it, and reinstate that program. This introduces a whole world of possible romances that D’Abo can write, which excites me greatly (although I suspect – and hope – that the next Ringside Romance will feature this book’s supporting character, Max, owner of the nightclub Frantic. UPDATE: I was right!).

A perfect romance that had me zip through it, and left me eager for the next installment. Recommended.

Brilliant Book Titles #84

Love a good allusion! I feel Mr. Reed would approve.

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

Blurb:
Lou Reed, who died in 2013, was best known to the general public as the grumpy New Yorker in black who sang ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. To his dedicated admirers, however, he was one of the most innovative and intelligent American songwriters of modern times, a natural outsider who lived a tumultuous and tortured life.

In this in-depth, meticulously researched and very entertaining biography, respected biographer Howard Sounes examines the life and work of this fascinating man, from birth to death, including his time as the leader of The Velvet Underground – one of the most important bands in rock’n’roll.

Written with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music, Sounes also sheds entirely new light on the artist’s creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol.

In the course of his research, Sounes has interviewed over 140 people from every part of Lou Reed’s life – some of whom have not spoken publicly about him before – including music industry figures, band members, fellow celebrities, family members, former wives and lovers.

This book brings Lou Reed and his world alive.

Brilliant Book Titles #83

Spotted this on the shelf this morning. I must say, as options go, it’s a little harsh – I much prefer the Eddie Izzard alternative.

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

Blurb:
There are a couple of hundred songs that are sung by millions across the world each day, that school children know by heart and sports fans belt out perfectly even after eight beers. And they aren’t pop songs – they are national anthems. These are songs which inspire the fiercest of feelings: for some they are a declaration of nationalistic pride; for others a rallying cry for revolution; and for others still they serve as a shameful reminder of past wrongs. And yet, despite the fact that for many of us they form a fundamental part of our national consciousness, the fascinating stories underlying the creation and adoption of each national anthem have rarely, if ever, been told.

In Republic or Death, Alex Marshall brings the incredible stories of the world’s national anthems to life. Taking in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas North and South, he embarks on an adventure that includes cycling the route along which French revolutionaries marched as they first sang La Marseillaise; entering a competition for the best singer of the Star-Spangled Banner; and attempting to bribe his way to an audience with the king of Nepal in order to uncover the story behind the only national anthem written on a Casio keyboard.

In the course of his enthralling and often hilarious travels, Alex encounters everyone from senior politicians and anthem composers to the sports fans and activists from whom these songs evoke such a wide range of emotions. Along the way, he uncovers the fascinating cultural and musical history of the world’s anthems, and also asks us to consider what they mean for us today.

Change of Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

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Blurb:

They’ve spent their lives pushing each other away, but what will happen when they need each other most?

Anita Martin doesn’t expect much from life. Growing up on the street, bouncing from one foster home to another, she learned to rely only on herself. Even after she finally found a loving family to take her in, she was still an outsider-something Abraham, one of the family’s older sons, never let her forget.

Abraham Evans doesn’t know how Ani always manages to get under his skin, only that’s she’s been doing it since they were teens. She is-and always has been-undeniably gorgeous. But he’s never met anyone as pissed off at the world as Ani.

For fifteen years, Ani and Bram have agreed on exactly one thing: they can’t stand each other-until one night when their anger gives way to passion. Yet even as Ani and Bram begin to secretly seek comfort in one another’s arms, they remain emotionally worlds apart. When Ani’s life takes a dramatic turn and she realizes she needs more than Bram can give, their fragile, no-strings relationship unravels. One way or another, Ani is determined to survive. But when Bram finally admits his true feelings, he may discover Ani has moved on without him..

Review:

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After reading Unbreak My Heart recently, I knew I needed Bram and Anita’s story. This series just keeps getting better and better. Nicole Jacquelyn has never done any wrong in my eyes I love her books and this one was no different.

This book pulled me in from the first chapter I couldn’t put it down. It was such an emotional roller coaster and it had me bawling like a baby through most of it. But this didn’t stop me totally devouring it and not putting it down until I had it finished!

This series is a must read and I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Author Bio:

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Nicole Jacquelyn is the mom of two little girls and a full time college student. She hasn’t watched television in well over a year, she still does things that drive her mother crazy, and she loves to read. At eight years old, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she wanted to be a mom. When she was twelve her answer changed- to author. By the time she was eighteen, when people asked her what she wanted to do with her life, she told them she really wanted to be a writer- but the odds of that happening were so slim that she’d get her business degree “just to be safe”. Her dreams stayed constant. First she became a mom, then she went to college, and during her senior year- with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, she sat down and wrote a story.

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