Recommended Reads – our favourite books of the year

For those who only get to read at Christmas – welcome home!  Here is a selection of books that will draw you in from the beginning, and make you feel like you have never been away…

Thrillers

Perfect Remains  Helen Fields  Some may find this a little gory, but it is compelling and addictive

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Daisy In Chains  Sharon Bolton  Supreme psychological thriller – grips from the first pages to the last

Famous killers have fan clubs. Hamish Wolfe is charming, magnetic and very persuasive. Famed for his good looks, he receives adoring letters every day from his countless admirers. He’s also a convicted murderer, facing life in prison. Who would join such a club? Maggie Rosie is a successful lawyer and true-crime author. Reclusive and enigmatic, she only takes on cases she can win. Hamish is convinced that Maggie can change his fate. Maggie is determined not to get involved. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of such a man. But maybe not this time . . .

Fourth Monkey J.D. Barker Classic thriller – suspense – race against time

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil…Do No Evil

A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy. Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims. But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late

The Word is Murder  Anthony Horowitz Quirky and unusual murder mystery with the author appearing in it as himself, Horowitz. Interesting insight into the life of an author

She planned her own funeral. But did she arrange her murder? Buried secrets, murder and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new detective series. A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own and a reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control. What do they have in common? Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.

Heart Warming

Songs Of Love & War  Santa Montefiore Gripping historical love story – first of trilogy. Just add cup of tea and roaring fire for perfect Christmas escape

Welcome to Castle Deverill, and the incredible sweeping story of love and family from bestselling author Santa Motefiore.Their lives were mapped out ahead of them. But love and war will change everything…Castle Deverill, nestled in the rolling Irish hills, is home to three very different women: flame-haired Kitty Deverill, her best friend and daughter of the castle’s cook, Bridie Doyle, and her flamboyant English cousin, Celia Deverill. When war breaks out, their lives will change forever.

A Man Called Ove   Fredrik Backman  Three grown (male) customers have confided that this book made them laugh, then cry.  The book everyone should read
 

Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association.
He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible…

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days   Juliet Conlin Sometimes you meet characters in book that you remember for a long time – Alfred Warner is one of these.  An engrossing read for all but especially for the jaded reader looking for something different

Shortly before Christmas, 79-year-old Alfred Warner arrives at Berlin’s busy central train station, to meet his granddaughter Brynja for the first time. When she fails to arrive, Alfred, afraid and alone, is taken in by a stranger, Julia. He knows that he only has 6 days left to live and must tell Julia about his life.  It has been a most uncommon life, but the one constant during each stage of his journey are the voices which accompany him, voices which for other members of his family, including Brynja, have been far less benign. Now Alfred’s final duty is to make sure that Julia understands so that Brynja does not become yet another family tragedy.

Non Fiction

Admissions  Henry Marsh Following on from his memoir Do No Harm this is an interesting and intriguing glimpse into a life less ordinary

Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical frontline. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what forty years spent handling the human brain has taught him. Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital, to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering.

Literary Fiction

To The Bright Edge Of The World  Eowyn Ivey Perfect gift for the heavy duty reader who likes a poetic feel to their prose. Wonderfully descriptive writing

Nominated for the international Dublin literary award 2017, this beautifully written novel is set in the Alaskan landscape. It is 188 and Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester accepts the mission of a lifetime, to navigate Alaska’s Wolverine River. It is a journey that promises to open up a land shrouded in mystery, but there’s no telling what awaits Allen and his small band of men. Allen leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Sophie would have loved nothing more than to carve a path through the wilderness alongside Allen – what she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage of her that it does of her husband.

General Fiction

We Were The Lucky Ones  Georgia Hunter  No matter how much you have read about the second world war, getting to know a family and following them through the horror is deeply moving.

In the spring of 1939 three generations are living relatively normal lives in Poland, despite the hardships Jews face. When war breaks out and the family is cast to the wind, the five Kurc siblings do everything they can to find their way through a devastated continent to freedom.

This Is How It Always Is  Laurie Frankel  21st century sexuality is fluid in a way we could not have imagined 30 years ago. This book deals with the transgender issue in a way that promotes compassion and understanding

He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world.

SciFi / Fantasy

Gather The Daughters  Jennie Melamed  A haunting story of an isolated island cult, for fans of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.

On a small isolated island there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day reign inside and outside the home, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood. But as the summer draws to a close, one of the younger girls witnesses something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home, muddy and terrified, clutching in her small hand a truth that could unravel their carefully constructed island world forever.

Dark Matter  Blake Crouch  The universe is bigger than we can understand.  What if there are multiple versions of our lives happening at the same time? Will suit general readers as well as fantasy lovers

‘Are you happy with your life?’Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before the man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back.’ In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows.

Irish Interest

Glencairn Abbey : A Year in the Life  Beautiful photography – thought provoking book

The book charts the days and seasons of the past year of monastic life in St. Mary’s Abbey in Glencairn.  Candid, humorous moments combine with the more mystical atmosphere that pervades the Cistercian life of prayer and worship, community life, work and solitude.  The sisters have shared their ‘why monastic life?’ vocation stories and what drove them to give up their full lives of work, family and friends to come to the monastery to seek God.  Proceeds from this book will support the building fund for the next phase of the Glencairn Abbey Building and Renovation Project.

 

Glendalough by Christiaan Corlett  Important new work about one of the most visited historical sites in the country. Well presented and engaging
Glendalough takes its name from the Irish gleann dá locha, which translates as the ‘glen of the two lakes’. Glendalough’s most famous resident was St Kevin, who founded a small monastery here at the end of the 6th century. Over time St Kevin’s monastery at Glendalough became one of the most important church sites in Ireland, and today is considered one of the premier National Monuments in the country. In this book you will be taken on a journey through the majestic valley of Glendalough, exploring the monuments, legends and history that make this one of the best preserved early Christian church sites anywhere in the world.

 

The Little Book of Wicklow  Chris Lawlor  Stocking filler with a difference – book on Kildare also available

The Little Book of Wicklow is a compendium of fascinating, obscure, strange and entertaining facts about County Wicklow, the last Irish county to be created and one of the most beautiful, the `Garden of Ireland’.  A reliable reference book and a quirky guide, this can be dipped into time and time again to reveal something new about the people, the heritage and the secrets of this ancient county.

Botany and Gardening

The Hidden Life Of Trees   Peter Wohlleben A walk in the forest will never be the same again

In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

History

Homo Deus : A Brief History of Tomorrow  by Yuval Noah Harari Sequel to Sapiens – our non fiction bestseller of the year

War is obsolete – you are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict. Famine is disappearing – you are at more risk of obesity than starvation. Death is just a technical problem. Equality is out, but immortality is in. What does our future hold?

Mythos  Stephen Fry  My personal book for Christmas – tattered and much loved Greek Myths book from my childhood to be revisited

A retelling of the Greek myths in a humorous engaging way.  No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly and brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. They are like us, only more so – their actions and adventures scrawled across the heavens above. From the birth of the universe to the creation of humankind, Stephen Fry – who fell in love with these stories as a child – retells these myths for our tragic, comic, fateful age.

Irishmen in the Great War  Tom Burnell  Unique insight into life in the trenches of the first world war, told by our own countrymen

The year 1916 brought new experiences for Irish soldiers fighting hard overseas. Through letters and poetry they shared  their experiences with loved ones at home shedding  new light on what life was like on the front line, and telling heroic tales of the Irishmen by the Irishmen. The Irish newspapers of the time drew on the content of such correspondence to fill their pages and inform locals of their loved ones. These rare and untapped stories have been utilized for this book, to give a unique insight into life on the front line and on the home front during the First World War.
Sport

Green Shoots  Michael Walker  Something a little different than the usual autobiographies

An engrossing account of the inside stories, dramas and dreams of the game in Ireland. Above all it is the definitive history of a footballing nation and its many paradoxes.

Humour

This is Going to Hurt : Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor  by Adam Kay  Extraordinary how such a serious topic can make you laugh and feel better…

Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships .. . Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

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