Kingdom of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris

Kingdom-of-Strangers.jpg

Katya Hijazi is one of the only women in the police force in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She actually works in the lab in forensics but her dream is to be an investigator. Through a combination of hard work, being in the right place at the right time and doing some investigating out of hours Katya is allowed assist in a case involving a serial killer who has murdered at least nineteen women. Inspector Ibrahim Zahrnai is the lead detective on the case, more women start to go missing including the detective’s mistress, Sabria and the disappearances are linked to the serial murders. Adultery is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and Zahrani has to take Katya into his confidence if he is to find the culprit. Time is of the essence as the kidnapped women could still be alive

I always find novels based in different countries very interesting. Being set in Saudi Arabia, there are lots of cultural references which gives an insight into life there and lots of different customs and traditions. There are several twists in the plot which will keep you guessing until the end.

—–

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

Advertisements

The Ladybird Book of The Hangover

hangover.jpg

This is a must for all readers who remember learning to read using Ladybird series(which I do myself). From bestselling authors Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris – a nugget (or not!) of wisdom in the phenomenal Ladybirds for Grown Ups series.

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them. The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.

You will literally laugh your socks off and immediately want to pick up the next one. Best enjoyed on your own…in case people nearby think you’re nuts!

—–

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

Master of Ceremonies by Joel Grey

MasterOfCeremonies_comps_revise_42315_revise.indd
Joel Grey is an icon, of that there is no doubt. As the Master of Ceremonies, or Emcee, in Cabaret, he created that role with the writers that made his career, but the parallels go far deeper than just the role.

Well-written and engaging, this book charts Grey’s life from his youth, when he was Joel Katz, and performed with his father, and then was a star of the nightclub scene, which he hated – since he always wanted to be seen as a serious actor.

That, and heterosexual. These desires; to become a world-renowned actor and to beat the homosexual feelings that had “plagued” him since he started fooling around with boys at the age of ten, are the main drive of the book. Whilst he achieves the former, he never manages to achieve the latter. The book is a document of a section of gay men a few generations ago who felt the crushing desire to conform and have a wife and kids – it should be noted that Grey seemed to desperately want a family of his own, independent of this conformity – and he stamped down his homosexuality as much as possible, which is very sad. However, interestingly, Grey doesn’t veer away from his failings with his marriage to his wife, Jo. He browbeat her into marrying him, into having his child, and ultimately to give up her promising career (she was also an actor on broadway) as HE was the star, not her – he couldn’t deal with her having her own career and when they had their second child, Grey got his way and she gave up work.

There is much discussion of the Emcee and the notion that although he’s smiling and inviting and asking you to come play, he is callous and soulless underneath and the parallel between Grey and the Emcee rings out loud and clear, in the way he treated his wife. They had happy times, sure, but I never got past the sense that his wife had to subsume herself to his career, his way, and that was that. And when, years later, he confessed that he had been with men years ago, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and she divorced him. Much like his Emcee, I found Grey utterly engaging although not at all sympathetic.

That is, until the end, when he says that after his divorce, now that he’d finally dealt with all of his guilt, shame and fear about being gay, that he hoped he would meet a man that he would have a connection with the way he did with Jo, but that that never happened. He concludes that he is a better family man, than a gay man. And despite his selfishness, there was a love between him and his wife, and now that he was free to be himself, I did hope that he’d find a little happiness but that appear to be the case.

A fascinating memoir, that at times flies by years and lingers over others (the book could’ve been longer in parts, more detailed in others), that is a portrait not only of a bygone era of nightclub acts, variety shows and the “golden age” of Broadway, but of a man who excels at being someone else because he could never truly be himself.

—–

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

The Silent Ones by William Brodrick

The silent ones
Always  a pleasure to read about Father Anselm Barrister turned Gilbertine monk often called back to solve crimes . Even though the crimes in this book were grim it was still a lovely gentle read lovely descriptions of monastic life. Very interesting courtroom scenes ,and the simplicity os the monastery shines through it all.  I wonder why the BBC haven’t made a series of  it spite of the Catholic ethos which is quite understated it is quintessentially British.

—–

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

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

child garden.jpg

Gloria Harkness lives in a ramshackle cottage with only her aging dog and cats for company. The cottage lies within the grounds of a care home in which Gloria’s teenage son lives.  Her life is quiet, her days filled with work as a registrar and her evenings spent visiting her son and trying to keep the cottage in a habitable condition.  All this changes one night when a childhood friend turns up at her door.  He claims that he is being stalked and has been coerced into meeting his stalker nearby.  Gloria finds herself in the middle of a situation which she fears could threaten the very future of the care home and her son.

I found this book fairly slow to get moving but it was very atmospheric and Gloria is a very likeable character. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that the care home was briefly used as an alternative school until the death of a pupil resulted in its closure.  The fate of its former pupils becomes intrinsically entwined in the current mystery.  I must confess to having some difficulty keeping track of who was in the school at the start but just as Gloria becomes familiar with their stories, so do we.

I would recommend The Child Garden if you enjoy a tense, slow-burning mystery.

—–

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

The Good Father by Noah Hawley

GoodFather_hbk2.jpg

This is such an epic book!

It tells the story of Dr. Paul Allen who lives a happy, near-idyllic life with his second wife and their twin boys. Then a knock comes on his door which blows his world apart: a popular presidential candidate has been shot and they say the person who pulled the trigger is Daniel, Paul’s son from his first failed marriage.

How could this have happened? Daniel was always a good kid and Paul is convinced his quite boy is not capable of murder. Ask yourself how would you react if this happened to you?

Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, evasive son, The Good Father is an emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.

A definitive recommendation.

Riveting, moving, unique. This novel deserves to become a classic”… Sophie Hannah

—–

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

 

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Annie-Proulx-Barkskins.jpg

Real vintage Proulx , spanning centuries and telling the story of the destruction of the forests and ecosystem of Canada and north America.

Using a device she used in Accordion Crimes  she follows two families across the centuries.  It’s not an easy read and it’s very sad although it does end on a slightly hopeful note for the world we inhabit. It is very well researched as you would expect and very interesting culturally both European and Native American. It took me a while to read because of the breadth and sheer  numbers of characters but I was glad I persevered.

—–

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

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

everyone brave is forgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven tells the stories of three characters and how their lives intersect during the tumultuous years of World War Two. Mary is a socialite who decides to volunteer for the war effort more to shock her parents than from any sense of duty.  Tom works in education administration and crosses paths with Mary when she is assigned to teach the children who haven’t been evacuated.  Finally, Alastair is an art restorer who decides to enlist, much to the horror of his best friend, Tom.

This started as an almost light-hearted look at the beginning of World War Two, when nobody took it too seriously, especially London’s bright young things. The language is arch and reflects the attitudes of the time, which takes a bit of getting used to.  As we follow these three young people, we see the way in which the war changed the lives of those who lived through it.  This book is wonderfully written and I found the storyline gripping.

—–

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

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

golden hill

It’s 1746 in New York and a young man, fresh off the boat from England, rocks up to the door of Mr Lovell’s counting house in Golden Hill Street. He introduces himself as Mr Smith and produces what appears to be a note for one thousand pounds.  As you can imagine, this causes quite a stir and Mr Smith himself does nothing to lessen the suspicion with which he is greeted.  News of this mysterious young man spreads and so begins Mr Smith’s adventures in this young city.

This book is written in the style of a historical novel and yet it is eminently readable and quite often humorous (I particularly liked when the narrator abandoned trying to describe a card game on the grounds that it was too complicated!). The plot itself is a bit meandering but curiosity about Mr Smith and his motives made sure I finished it.  The ending was not at all what I expected but it was nonetheless thought-provoking and satisfying.

I think Golden Hill is a masterful piece of writing and a deserving winner of the 2016 Costa First Novel award.

—–

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

The Night We Met by Rob Byrnes

the-night-we-met

You’ve heard the term ‘romp,’ right? That describes this book perfectly.

Andrew is a book editor who’s managed to publish two novels to absolutely zero notice and no acclaim. Frank is a gangster, who has just opened a new gay bar called Benedick’s (which throughout is constantly mispronounced by people as Benedict’s, perhaps so they don’t have to realise that the original name, well, Frank is Italian and ‘bene’ in Italian means ‘good…). After being harangued into drag for the first time on Halloween, he stumbles through the wrong door in Benedick’s and meets Frank. They have a lovely evening, but of course, Frank is straight, right?

Well, kinda.

What follows is a madcap rollercoaster romp including book tours, gangsters with names like Crazy Anna Franco (who just happens to be Frank’s fianceé) and Big Pauline Macaroni. Andrew’s hum-drum life is completely turned upside and he ends up on the run from the cops, two families of gangsters, the FBI and the grande dame of literary crime. It’s ridiculous at times but it’s that kind of book. The book has the great supporting characters of Denise and David, Andrew’s two best friends who throughout are trying to talk sense into Andrew and make him drop Frank who has, intentionally or otherwise, completely wrecked his life. But Andrew can’t, he’s in love, and having been recently dumped at the start of the book, he never thought he’d find it again.

With shades of Armistead Maupin, this book is the right blend of clever and silly, and had me reading to the very end, and even had me worried if Andrew and Frank would get their Happily Ever After.

(Postscript: I absolutely hate the cover, and the blurb on the back is pretty crap too. It was a friend’s review that actually spurred me onto read this – I don’t think I would’ve picked it up, so it just goes to show important reviews can be *koffkoff*)