The Longest Night by Otto De Kat

longest night

This is an exquisite novel, translated from the Dutch original. The central character is Emma Verweij and she is a woman of 96 facing her own death, while looking back over her long and eventful life. The writing is superb, with not a superfluous word to be found. Reading this achingly sad and deeply moving book was in a paradoxical way a pure pleasure. It was akin to meditation, as the author draws us in to the inner world of Emma as the key elements and turning points of her life are revealed. The story unfolds in a cinematic series of memories as they come to Emma, as she prepares to let go of everything. This novel does not deal in graphic images or torturous long winded descriptions of the horrors of war, but rather it distils the essence of what happened and illustrates impact on those caught up in war with telling little details and suggestions rather than bold statements.

To read “The Longest Night” is to engage with our own attitudes to life, relationships and suffering. If this sounds gloomy, it isn’t, instead it’s uplifting and life affirming. The cultural context of the Dutch attitude to end of life decisions was a bit difficult and challenging for me but other than that, I thought this a beautiful read. It has given me more insight into the effects of the Second World War on those who lived through it than any amount of factual accounts.

Do yourself a favour and give yourself the gift of this wonderful little (200pages) novel. You will be changed.

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

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Grudge Match by Jessica Gadziala

grudge match
Blurb:

An underground fight club.
A woman who shouldn’t have been there.
And the man who owns it.
**—**

Ross Ward is bound by the chains of his past he never could seem to shake, leaving him living in darkness, detached from the world around him, and an obsessive workaholic with really only one rule : mind your own business.

Until one night, there was Adalind Hollis – scared, confused, in need of help. And for the first time, he couldn’t convince himself to walk away, to mind his own business.

Even after she was getting the care she needed, he couldn’t seem to make himself stay away. But keeping her close meant he would eventually have to let her in, would have to offer over the horrors of his past, and hope she could accept them.

But even if she would embrace his past, could she accept his plan to exact brutal, bloody vengeance against the man who hurt her?

Review: 
5 Grudge Match Stars

I’ve been waiting for Ward’s Story from the minute he kept popping into some of Jessica’s previous books, Ryan’s book in particular. He has intrigued me from day one. His story did not disappoint. I may even go as far as to say that he may be my favourite of Jessica’s Alpha Males! But that’s always tough as all her alpha males are all so damn cute!

Ward and Addy are just dynamite from day one. From the first look that Ross gets on her he is hooked. Their story is full of passion and warmth. It had me in one big gooey mess just reading it! This is a standalone book and you can read it as is, but I highly recommend getting your mitts on Jessica’s previous books as they are well worth the read.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #163

i have no mouth
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
A Grand Master of Science Fiction and the multiple-award-winning author of A Boy and His Dog presents seven stunning stories of speculative fiction.

Hugo Award winner I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is living legend Harlan Ellison’s masterpiece of future warfare. In a post-apocalyptic world, four men and one woman are all that remain of the human race, brought to near extinction by an artificial intelligence. Programmed to wage war on behalf of its creators, the AI became self-aware and turned against all humanity. The five survivors are prisoners, kept alive and subjected to brutal torture by the hateful and sadistic machine in an endless cycle of violence.

Presented here with six more groundbreaking and inventive tales that probe the depths of mortal experience, this collection proves why Ellison has earned the many accolades he’s received and remains one of the most original voices in American literature.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream also includes “Big Sam Was My Friend,” “Eyes of Dust,” “World of the Myth,” “Lonelyache,” Hugo Award finalist “Delusion for a Dragon Slayer,” and Hugo and Nebula Award finalist “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.”

Brilliant Book Titles #162

this is how you lose her
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb: 
Junot Diaz’s new collection, This Is How You Lose Her, is a collection of linked narratives about love – passionate love, illicit love, dying love, maternal love – told through the lives of New Jersey Dominicans, as they struggle to find a point where their two worlds meet. In prose that is endlessly energetic and inventive, tender and funny, it lays bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of the human heart. Most of all, these stories remind us that the habit of passion always triumphs over experience and that ‘love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever.’

Henry and Glenn Forever & Ever by Tom Neely and Friends

henry and glenn.jpg

I’ve always been a big fan of Henry Rollins. I love his speaking tours, where he can talk for three hours almost, it seems, without taking a breath. I had heard of this comic, where Henry Rollins and Glenn from Danzig are portrayed as a gay couple, and thought I’d give it a try. It struck me as curious that these two were chosen for the protagonists. Henry, bless him, has never read it, but knows it exists and doesn’t have a problem with it (he’s also very pro-gay rights). Mostly, these are a lot of short stories about Henry & Glenn’s relationship, which at times can be quite sweet. However, a lot of the stories are wisps of nothing and, whilst some of the art is gorgeous (Neely’s and Wuvable Oaf’s Ed Luce’s art – and Oafie turns up in this too!), a lot of it is – well – terrible. The comic’s roots as a zine shows through and the more I read of this collection, the more that I felt it didn’t warrant a collection. I wish instead of lots of friends telling mostly pointless stories, that Neely used this space to tell his own story, with his own art, both of which are strong in places, but sadly that didn’t happen. Might be worth looking at for curiousity sake, but that’s about it unfortuneatly. (I really hate writing bad reviews, but sometimes they have to be done!)

5 New Poetry Collections to Watch Out For

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (3 Oct 2017)
the sun and her flowers.jpg
The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

From Rupi Kaur, the bestselling author of Milk and Honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. Illustrated by Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. It is a celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year 
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

Praise for Sunday Times bestseller Milk and Honey:

‘Kaur is at the forefront of a poetry renaissance’ Observer

‘Kaur made her name with poems about love, life and grief. They resonate hugely’ Sunday Times

‘Poems tackling feminism, love, trauma and healing in short lines as smooth as pop music’ New York Times

‘Caught the imagination of a large, atypical poetry audience…Kaur knows the good her poetry does: it saves lives’ Evening Standard

‘Breathing new life into poetry…It has people reading, and listening’ The Pool

‘Every so often, a book comes along that seems to have a life of its own, that is passed lovingly from one reader to another with recommendations that insist, “You must read this”. Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey is one such book’ Red Magazine

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope (2 Nov 2017)
christmas poems.jpg
For more than thirty years Wendy Cope has been one of the nation’s most popular and respected poets. Christmas Poems collects together her best festive poems, including anthology favourites such as ‘The Christmas Life’, together with new and previously unpublished work. Cope celebrates the joyful aspects of the season but doesn’t overlook the problems and sadness it can bring. With lively illustrations to accompany the words, it is a book to enjoy this Christmas and in years to come.

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry (2 Nov 2017)
mythos
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems by Charles Bukowski (14 Dec 2017) 
bukowski.jpg
A timeless selection of some of Charles Bukowski’s best unpublished and uncollected poems

Charles Bukowski was a prolific writer who produced countless short stories, novels, and poems that have reached beyond their time and place to speak to generations of readers all over the world. Many of his poems remain little known, material that appeared in small magazines but was never collected, and a large number of them have yet to be published.

In Storm for the Living and the Dead, Abel Debritto has curated the very finest of this material—poems from obscure, hard-to-find magazines, as well as from libraries and private collections all over the country—most of which will be new to Bukowski’s readers and some of which has never been seen before. In doing so, Debritto has captured the essence of Bukowski’s inimitable poetic style—tough and hilarious but ringing with humanity. Storm for the Living and the Dead is a gift for any devotee of the Dirty Old Man of American letters.

Who Reads Poetry: 50 Views from “Poetry” Magazine by Fred Sasaki and Don Share (18 Dec 2017)
who reads poetry.jpg
Who reads poetry? We know that poets do, but what about the rest of us? When and why do we turn to verse? Seeking the answer, Poetry magazine since 2005 has published a column called “The View From Here,” which has invited readers “from outside the world of poetry” to describe what has drawn them to poetry. Over the years, the incredibly diverse set of contributors have included philosophers, journalists, musicians, and artists, as well as doctors and soldiers, an iron-worker, an anthropologist, and an economist. This collection brings together fifty compelling pieces, which are in turns surprising, provocative, touching, and funny. In one essay, musician Neko Case calls poetry “a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress.” In another, anthropologist Helen Fisher turns to poetry while researching the effects of love on the brain, “As other anthropologists have studied fossils, arrowheads, or pot shards to understand human thought, I studied poetry…I wasn’t disappointed: everywhere poets have described the emotional fallout produced by the brain’s eruptions.” Even film critic Roger Ebert memorized the poetry of e. e. cummings, and the rapper Rhymefest attests here to the self-actualizing power of poems: “Words can create worlds, and I’ve discovered that poetry can not only be read but also lived out. My life is a poem.” Music critic Alex Ross tells us that he keeps a paperback of The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens on his desk next to other, more utilitarian books like a German dictionary, a King James Bible, and a Macintosh troubleshooting manual. Who Reads Poetry offers a truly unique and broad selection of perspectives and reflections, proving that poetry can be read by everyone. No matter what you’re seeking, you can find it within the lines of a poem.

Foster by Claire Keegan

foster

It is a hot summer in Rural Ireland. A small girl is taken by her father and sent to live with strangers on a farm in Wexford. She does not know when/if she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And in this house where affection grows and there are meant to be no secrets- a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realises how fragile her idyll is.

This book is beautifully written; sad , melancholy and moving. It is a story of longing to belong. It is short, only 87 pages, but it still won the Davy Byrnes award and I would gladly have read more.

Recommended!

[Editor’s Note: Another contributor reviewed this on the blog before here]

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

Brilliant Book Titles #161

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

Blurb: 
Cult movie heroine Winona Ryder starred in the film of the best-selling book by Susanna Kaysen, adapted and directed by the creator of Copland and Heavy. Girl, Interrupted charts the experiences of eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen as she is suddenly – and without warning – incarcerated in a mental hospital, then made to spend the next two years of her life in a ward reserved for teenage girls, within an institution renowned for its famous clientele: Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, Ray Charles. Mangold’s adaptation of Kaysen’s extraordinary memoir is unsettling but unflinching, funny but deeply poignant.

Brilliant Book Titles #160

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

Blurb: 
Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in this small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and full of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation.

Mari Strachan’s unforgettable novel was one of the most acclaimed and successful debuts of 2009. It is a heart-breaking and hugely enjoyable story.

The Creative Entrepreneur by Isa Maria Seminega

the-creative-entrepreneur-isa-seminega.png

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Are you an artist, author, photographer but have yet to take the leap into the business world. This might just be the book for you!

The Creative Entrepreneur by Isa Maria Seminega is the perfect introduction into starting your own business. The book is really accessible with plain english throughout. It also has helpful illustrations and workbook-like feature that you can work through as you read the book.  

It really does go through everything you need to start a business. Here is how the book is broken down:
Laying the groundwork
Purpose and vision
Building the foundation
Creating actionable goals and intentions
Branding your business
Making it happen by accurately pricing your product or service
Promoting your work
Growing your business
Life as an entrepreneur

Another feature of the book is that it is full of real life case studies of creative businesses. Their interviews are honest and engaging. It’s interesting to read how so many businesses have the same issues when they are starting.

One of my favourite parts of the book was about how to create a purpose statement for your business. This was something I had never done before. But with the questions provided in the book I was able to create a purpose statement for my own business that gives me a clarity that I never had before.

Look out for the section on branding your business as it is full of useful tips and ideas and has a great part about how to position your brand.

When reading this book, be sure to have a pen and paper nearby, because you will want to take notes!

if you have found business books dry and boring in the past, this is the book for you! It is aimed at creatives but any entrepreneur could read this and learn.

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