House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J Maas

house of earth and blood

I enjoyed her previous works (Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series). I was very excited when I heard she was writing a new series. I was curious about her foray in Adult fiction as her previous series were both Young Adult. As with any first book in a new series there is the laborious task of settling up and establishing the new world for the reader; this world took me a while to wrap my head around because of the varies ins and outs of the different types of creatures in the world.

I found the lead characters were a style of characters she has used before (she has a favourite type and seems inclined to stick with it). The lead male was the typical strong domineering type and the female lead character was the usual feisty, underestimated type. Some of their interactions made you cringe; some made you blush but that just seems to be the way the author writes the dynamic between her lead characters.

Despite all this, once I had gotten a hang of the characters and the setting; I could not put this book down! I was constantly waiting to find out how every little twist or revelation would turn out. Curious to see how the mystery at the centre of the story would be solved or if it even would be because of all the antagonists and their battle to keep things quiet.

If you have read her previous works you will definitely enjoy this new series. I am already eagerly awaiting the next installment; but will have to wait a while for it to be released (not due to be published until 2021).

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

 

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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Sadly I have come to the end of The Master and Margarita, and I now realise that other people know best what kind of books I like to read.

The cover didn’t appeal to me (a crazy looking black cat holding what looks like a globe, with a deformed pig scrambling across it) and the blurb at the back did nothing to entice me either (devil, demons, asylums). I wanted something lighter and more entertaining than this.   Well, “NEVER judge a book by the cover”.

The Master and Margarita is a crazy, magical (the black variety!) mind bending, funny, ridiculous, definitely light and entertaining book and had me hooked, and wondering where Bulgakov’s imagination was going to take me next.   A crow driving a taxi or a (very funny, but evil) talking cat were just a natural part of the magic.

The main story is about the devil, Woland, and his followers (including the black cat) wreaking havoc among the members of MASSOLIT (The Literati) who meet at Griboyedov House.   Bulgakov says of one unfortunate character “The ruins of yesterday were piecing themselves together….” Most of the ‘chosen’ characters had their lives in ruin, some weren’t lucky enough to be able to piece them back together!

The book starts in Bulgakov’s Russia. The second chapter goes back to the days of Pontius Pilate and the crucifixion of Jesus (Yeshua).   Then back to Russia and bedlam. Towards the end of the book we’re back with Pontius Pilate again and ‘Judas of Karioth’ and the Burial of Jesus (Yeshua). All I could think of was Monty Python, this was so funny, and not exactly how I know it!   The Pontius Pilate story is linked to The Master and Russia (in case you were wondering!)

Bulgakov was told by Stalin that he was not to write novels.   He was only allowed to write for the theatre.   He knew when he was writing this novel that it would never be published in his lifetime and yet, or maybe because of this, The Master and Margarita is not depressing but on the contrary it has lots of sarcasm, fun and escapism.

There are also lots of brilliant observations.   He gives a very detailed description of a hangover “……… He found talking difficult ………He could feel his hangover developing a new symptom: the floor beside the bed seemed to be on the move…….”

The Master and Margarita is more fun than I can explain here and I would highly recommend that you read it if you want to step out of reality and be whisked away on a fun adventure.

Sometimes you read a book and “…when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours….”  Ah, if only, now that would be magical.

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

When to Go When: The Americas by Craig Doyle

where to go when

If you are thinking of travelling to America some day this guide has everything you need to plan your perfect holiday.

With large full colour photos, it suggests the perfect time to go to enjoy these places at their best. Whatever month you choose to go on your holiday this book will give you advice for that particular month and when your planning your holiday this is a great read to get the information you need.

I really enjoyed this book!

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

Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen

superman secret

I’m usually very much a Marvel reader but I got this Superman alternate origin story out from the library and I loved it so much I went out and bought it for myself.

Set in what is supposed to be reality or our own world it asks what would happen if Superman was not an alien but somebody who gains his powers in a world where Superman and super heroes exist only as  comic book characters.  This is the problem faced by the young Clark Kent, who is already mocked for his name.

I have always loved that mix of the supernatural and reality and so am a big fan of the Urban Fantasy genre.  This hits the nail right on the head. Poor Clark has to deal with his new powers with no support network and yet manages to live his life. It really is about a man trying his best to live a normal life in extraordinary circumstances. You still meet familiar characters along the way but they veer away from your expectations and all the better for it.

The artwork is just beautiful and with the story it makes me go back to this book over and over again.

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

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

carnegie's maid

I like a novel that throws in some historical facts like Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict, which is about a personal maid working for Andrew Carnegie’s Mother. It gives some of the  history of the Carnegie Family emigrating from Scotland to America and how Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry in Pittsburg.

The book is very interesting and well written and I would recommend it!

It inspired me to do some research on Andrew Carnegie. He married later in life and was the first person in America to have a prenup agreement. He became one of the richest people in the world at that time, and as he was self educated, was very aware of the need for learning through books. This is why he sponsored over 3,000 libraries and also the famous Carnegie Hall in New York. He gave away 90% of his vast fortune. A fascinating man!

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

The Shoemaker and His Daughter by Conor O’Cleary

shoemaker

The Shoemaker and His Daughter is a rare gem. The book is a mix of family history, strategic geography and  important historic events. It is both easy to read and historically accurate.

It starts with the finding of the grave of the grandfather, while this is a very personal moment, it links into the numbers of casualties and the effects this had on the emerging USSR.

We get to see into life in Grozny, from the point of view of  a displaced Amenian family. The Chechen problem, which still rumbles to this day, is rooted in deep historical injustices and rivalries.

We see how communism and entrepreneurship were experienced. The punishment for a visible offending of the law and it’s long term effects on the family.

We also see an ordinary family over a period eighty years, made extraordinary by solidarity and hard work.

O’Clery was the Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times during the dismantling of the USSR.

He allows us to see the contrast between Moscow and Siberia at that time.

There are family photographs which give the reader a real affection for the people, especially Stanislov and Marietta, the authors in-laws.

If you would like to read modern history but do not like wading through dry facts this is the book which will change your mind, give it this remarkable book a try.

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

 

Primaveal and Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk

primeval

Set in a mythical village in Poland , the novel is the saga of three generations and is telling the history of two families. The individual people are extremely authentic and real. They are struggling with historical circumstances as well as moral dilemmas.

To me it is a story, despite its ferocity, full of compassion for the people, animals and nature.

Primaveal and Other Times is a wonderful book. It has been translated into many languages. The author. Olga Tokarczuk is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker International Prize.

The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson

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The tale of an average American teen , who with a little (mis) direction, went on to become one of the most controversial figures in modern rock/metal. The Long Hard Road Out of Hell , recounts the tale of how one Brian Warner went on to become , the one and only Marilyn Manson.

If you have read any autobiographies of other rock/metal stars , you will be at a good starting point for this particular book. It begins with his early life in middle America , and the upbringing that brought with it confusion and hypocrisy. Tales of anguish , felt and caused are tinged with humour and there are many of both.

Manson is brutal with his putdowns to everybody and even more so when directed at himself. I think most fans of rock/metal autobiographies will enjoy this. But be warned , the rockstar excess detailed in this book is not for the faint hearted or weak of stomach.

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