Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann

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Blurb:
The Scandinavians excel at comfort— family, friends, a good atmosphere, long meals, relaxation, and an emphasis on the simple pleasures. They even have a word for this kind of coziness that comes with spending quality time in hearth and home when the days are short: “hygge”. Trine Hahnemann is the doyenne of Scandinavian cooking, and loves nothing more than spending time in her kitchen cooking up comforting food in good company. This is her collection of recipes that will warm you up and teach you to embrace the art of hygge, no matter where you live.

Review:
This cookbook was so beautiful to look at, the pictures where stunning. The recipes where easy enough to follow and the food is real comfort food. It was nice as I’ve never been to an Scandinavian country but it was delightful to try foods from there. I’m really into soups at the moment, nothing better then a bowl of yummy soup on a cold evening. I cooked the Mushroom soup which turned out really well. I also gave some of the salads ago as well. This is definitely a cookbook I’d go back to again and again.

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

Lead Me Not by Ann Gallagher

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Blurb:
Isaac Morris has devoted his life to preaching against the sin of homosexuality. But when his sister proposes a documentary to demonstrate once and for all that it’s a choice—with Isaac choosing to be gay as proof—he balks. Until he learns his nephew is headed down that perverted path. Isaac will do anything to convince the teenager he can choose to be straight . . . including his sister’s film.

When Isaac’s first foray into the gay lifestyle ends with a homophobic beating, he’s saved and cared for by Colton Roberts, a gentle, compassionate bartender with a cross around his neck. Colton challenges every one of Isaac’s deeply held beliefs about gay men. He was kicked out by homophobic parents, saved from the streets by a kind pastor, and is now a devout Christian. Colton’s sexuality has cost him dearly, but it also brought him to God.

As the two grow closer, everything Isaac knows about homosexuality, his faith, and himself is called into question. And if he’s been wrong all along, what does that mean for his ministry, his soul, his struggling nephew—and the man he never meant to love?

Review:

I loved this.

I read the blurb and the premise intrigued me. I knew that in other hands it could be campy and unbelievable but that in Miss Witt’s hands it would work. And work it did.

I loved Colton and Issac, Colton more so (which is understandable considering where you start with Issac, with him shouting abuse at people at a Pride parade).

Both characters were really well-drawn. I really liked the supporting characters too; Ruth, Griffin, Issac’s family, Pastor Mike.

This book isn’t as steamy as L A Witt’s other stuff, and in the context of the story, it totally works, in fact, proper L A Witt sex would seem totally out of place here. It also (and this probably goes without saying) is very heavily about religion given Issac’s family and Colton being heavily involved with his own, more liberal, church.

An interesting, modern story of a man struggling with himself. What I liked was even after they (inevitably, it is a romance after all) Issac still had a lot of doubts.

I loved this. I loved the pacing, how it progressed. When the shit hit the fan, it was 3am and I had to put it down and couldn’t get back to it for, like, 18 hours, and I spent the whole time wondering what was going to happen next.

Even the ending, which could seem a little easy, wasn’t. Well-paced, thoughtful, meditative and romantic, I highly recommend this.

 

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

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Blurb:

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

Review:

Wow just wow! I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It had been sitting on my Kindle since its release date and I had been just too busy with blog reads for me to get to. But I’d heard great things about Punk 57 from one of my book groups on Facebook and everyone was saying I needed to read it! They were right I needed to read it. It was just brilliant. I was hooked from the very get go and could not put it down.

Punk 57 is one of those over the top high school coming of age stories. Misha Lare and Ryen Trevarrow have been pen pals for years, ever since their teachers mistakenly thought they were the same gender in elementary school and assigned them as pen pals for a class project. They’ve been writing to one another ever since. 7 years of letters to one another becoming best friends in every sense of the word. There’s twists and turns in this book that you may not see coming, with a strong message.

Punk 57 was crazy, twisted and very hot! One of my top favourites for this year so far. This was my first read from Penelope Douglas and I one clicked her fall away series after reading it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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If you want to engage with a novel that is truly timeless in its appeal, then look no farther than this classic. Inexplicably, this work is often found in the Children’s Fiction section. This is incongruous, as Jane Eyre is very definitely a book for grown-ups. Was there ever a more resilient heroine than Jane? The device of using the first person narrative adds a sense of intimacy and insight for the reader, as we are drawn into Jane’s world, a world in which she is completely alone. Jane has no support from others and has to survive on her own resources. From a feminist perspective, there is much to admire in Jane, she has a strong sense of herself and remains true to her own beliefs and principles, regardless of the consequences. While the narrative has a very gothic trajectory, the heroine’s approach to her challenges feels very modern. Charlotte Bronte had an astonishing ability to create a story in which what matters is, not what happens to the protagonist, but rather how she triumphs over adversity, and triumph she does.

I would urge anyone who hasn’t engaged with Jane Eyre, or who hasn’t read it in years, to immerse themselves in the world of Jane; a small quiet person, whose indomitable spirit wins out over all the obstacles life throws at her.

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

The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa

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Possibly the best book I have read all year! , It is the little known story of Roger Casement’s activities as a champion for human rights in the Congo and later in Peru. His reporting on the atrocities and the suffering he endured in bringing them to public attention earned him his knighthood. In the book, he is in Pentonville Prison awaiting sentencing and it tells how his consular work on behalf of “The Empire” eventually convinces him of the criminality of colonialism. From this realisation he is consumed by the injustices perpetrated by the British in Ireland and how he tries to embrace his celtic origins .

The story of this virtually unsung hero of 1916 is told so poignantly it would make a great book club read; it covers so many controversial topics and taboos at the time that it created as big an impact as Oscar Wilde’s earlier trial.

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

Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano

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This non-fiction book about organized crime in the Naples region of Italy and the region of Campania is part of the inspiration for the movie and tv-series of the same name. Saviano, a journalist and native of the region had spent several years investigating the Camorra “System”; some of it undercover working in the port of Naples and in the illegal factories. This is not a history; he does not go into the origins of the crime families or why that region more than any other in Italy is affected by crime. It’s like a review of the different aspects of the economy and society that are affected by the crime syndicates. He starts in the port, one of the major import routes for illegal narcotics and goods smuggling into Europe and then leads into illicit sweatshop manufacturers producing both genuine and counterfeit products. He also talks about political corruption and infiltration of town councils and the fact that most of them have had to be abolished by central government at one time or another.  He also deals with inter clan rivalry and warfare and how being part of “the system” the clans own term for the Camorra gives them protection and status. Those outside of this are vulnerable to scapegoating and assassination. In a largely patriarchal structure the role of women in the clans is also discussed some of whom have become clan leaders, particularly when the male members of the family are in prison.

I found this a fascinating if disturbing account of the reality of organised crime in a region where this activity is the major source of economic and social power.

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

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

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.

Straight Man by Richard Russo

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This novel by my much loved author Richard Russo has perhaps the funniest prologue to a book I have ever read! While explaining to us how he is not in fact a Straight Man,  Russo’s protagonist William Henry Devereaux gives us a wonderful anecdote about his stubbornness as a child, now a middle aged man he is the chairman of the English Department of a run down and underfunded college in Pennsylvania. He bumbles along without really caring taking potshots at his overly zealous and to his mind ridiculous colleagues.

In the course of a week after his wife goes away, he gets himself into all kinds of off the wall situations. Free to be the anarchist he will always be at heart. Russo paints a picture of small town American life like no other. He is often hilarious but also very tender in the treatment of his subjects. He explores relationships of all kinds in his customary thoughtful and humorous style. In short, Straight Man is classic Russo–side-splitting and true-to-life, witty, compassionate, and impossible to put down.

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

The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

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A gripping, mile-a-minute debut about selfishness, self-obliteration and one girl’s perseverance. The Killing Jar tells the story of Kerri-Ann who lives on a drug-riddled estate. She doesn’t know who her father is, and her mother is a junkie.

By the age of 10 she’s selling drugs at school. By 12, she’s been beaten up by a customer, hidden stolen guns, done time in a girl’s home, and already has a taste for whiz. She is also left to care for her little brother Jon.

She has one true friend, Mark who is the one person she can trust. Friendship turns to love- but can it stand the caustic world they live in?

This book is fast-paced and, to be honest, very chilling! Once I started I couldn’t put it down.

Definitely recommended.

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