Books

Europe: An existential crisis

The vision of Robert Schuman who founded the European Coal and Steel Community - precursor of the EU - was well justified for political, economic and social reasons. However the European project has been tested to its limits by the recession and the introduction of the Euro, according to Jospeh Stiglitz. JP O’Malley considers two accounts of the EU today

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Book review: The View from the Cheap Seats

His first book was a biography of Duran Duran, but Neil Gaiman quickly moved into the comic book world and from there to a successful multi-media career in fantasy and sci fi.

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Book review: Paper Cuts

COLIN BATEMAN’s Divorcing Jack (1994) is one of the most influential books in Irish crime fiction, and Bateman has written more than 30 novels since, all of them crime or mysteries to varying degrees.

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Book review: Listen, Liberal

THE author of Pity The Billionaire and The Wrecking Crew continues his anatomisation of the American Dream’s collapse.

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Book review: The Judge’s Wife

A LOVE story hovering between the Philomena territory of Ireland in the 1950s and the perhaps more enlightened 1980s is told with skilful ease by Ann O’Loughlin who is likely to have an easy-reading hit on her hands after the great success of her debut, The Ballroom Café.

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Book review: The Lauras

THE follow-up to Sarah Taylor’s debut novel The Shore, that was shortlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award and longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, is a coming-of-age novel in the form of a road trip. 

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Book review: Minds of Winter

EVERYTHING is very plain and modern now,” a dying man tells the author Jack London roughly halfway through Minds of Winter, warning the writer against the gothic, supernatural excesses of the yarn he is spinning in a hospital ward.

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Book review: Why Did You Lie?

A JOURNALIST working on a historical child abuse story tries to hang himself in his garage.

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Books for kids...

Terry Perkins Upside Down Frown by Felix Massy (Frances Lincoln, €7.10) 
Terry is an ordinary little chap — that is until he opens his mouth and speaks upside down. 

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Book review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two

IT’S BEEN a long time since a script has topped the bestsellers list, but that’s just the kind of magic JK Rowling and her boy wizard can create.

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Book review: The Death of all Things Seen

Sue Leonard talks to Michael Collins, who has drawn on his own experiences and those of earlier, tragic, generations of emigrant Irish to breathe life into his latest novel.

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Book review: Final Solution. The Fate of the Jews 1933-49

In David Cesarani’s posthumously published book on the Holocaust, Neil Robinson learns that the Nazi policy of murdering millions of Jews was more complex in its origins and implementation than is traditionally believed.

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Book review: Before the Fall

NOAH HAWLEY sprinkles this propulsive thriller with a little literary fairy dust to make it a very entertaining novel that engages with some of the big contemporary themes of the multi-media world. 

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Book review: Lying in Wait

LIZ NUGENT’s second novel opens with a shockingly provocative line: ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ 

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Book review: Pumpkinflowers — A Soldier’s Story

THE PUMPKIN was the name given to a fortified hilltop in south Lebanon in the late 1990s, when the Israeli army was attempting to defend the border with Israel; “flowers” was the military code word for casualties. 

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Books for kids...

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton (Walker, €14.30HB) 
If this beautifully illustrated book doesn’t persuade reluctant toddlers to settle down for a night’s sleep then nothing will. 

 

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Gloriumptious, word-guzzling genius of Roald Dahl

Ahead of Roald Dahl Day, and on the anniversary of his birth, Suzanne Harrington celebrates the life of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author and his fantastic literary journey dedicated to entertaining children. 

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Book review: Heroes of Jadotville: The Soldiers’ Story

Des Breen reads an account of 156 Irish UN troops who battled impossible odds in the Congo, only for their courage to be airbrushed from history.

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Book review: Zionism and Our Separate Ways

The foundation of the Jewish state was full of empty promises that would be impossible to keep — the endgame is likely to be a civil war or ethnic cleansing, or a non-democratic state writes JP O’Malley.

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Book review: Guilty but Insane: J.C. Bowen-Colthurst: Villain or Victim?

JOHN BOWEN-COLTHURST, a British Army officer from Cork, became notorious as a result of ordering the death of the pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington in cold blood on April 26, 1916, during the Easter Rebellion.

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Book review: Easternisation: War And Peace In The Asian Century

SINCE 1500 the ‘Western’ nations, initially the warring, seafaring European kingdoms, and latterly America, have dominated the world economy. 

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Book review: Hide

THIS debut novel from Matthew Griffin is a deliberately paced, poignant story of two men in love against all the odds. 

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Book review: The Nakano Thrift Shop

HIROMI KAWAKANI is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists and, thanks to Allison Markin Powell’s translation, we get to enjoy this meandering and innocent novel. 

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Book review: The Blocks

WHAT stays with you long after you finish The Blocks are the images, the words and, even more than that, the sounds.

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Book review: Langrishe, Go Down

NEW ISLAND BOOKS has marked the 50th anniversary of Aidan Higgins’ masterful Langrishe, Go Down with a new edition that features an insightful introductory note by Alannah Hopkin, Higgins’ widow, and an arresting cover design. 

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Books for kids...

* The Bet by David Grant, illustrated by Garry Parsons (Bloomsbury, €7.10)
* I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury, €7.10) 
* Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield (Electric Monkey, €9.40) 

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Book review: Churchill and Ireland

Winston Churchill shaped the relationship between Ireland and the UK more than any other British politician but his motivation was not nationalism but personal ambition, according to a new biography, writes Ryle Dwyer.

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Book review: Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered the World

Frank McGlynn’s insight into Genghis Khan tells of man driven by vision and circumstance to take over most of the known world with brilliant and brutal efficency by Neil Robinson. 

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Book review: Narcotic Culture: A history of Drugs in China

Drug culture and the Irish Famine. The connection? Well, while our ancestors were starving and their food was being shipped off to feed the British,

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Book review: The 3rd Woman

SET in an ‘alternate’ present, in a US very much in thrall to the People’s Republic of China so that the latter has a say in the national affairs of the former, with military bases all over the country, The 3re Woman is Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland’s first work of fiction under his own name.

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Book review: Manhattan to West Cork: Alice’s Adventures in Ireland

ALICE CAREY’s memoir is both entertaining and thought-provoking, telling several stories. 

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Book review: Lauren Elkin

THE flaneur is the emblematic figure of urban life, and even more so of psychogeography; the interested ambler, wandering wherever the city’s currents take him. 

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Book review: Augustown

KEI MILLER’s third novel invites us to Jamaica in 1982, to a poor suburb of Kingston called Augustown — which, the 2014 Forward poetry prize-winner assures in the preface, is a fictionalised version of t August Town. 

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Book review: Lie With Me

SABINE DURRANT is the former assistant editor of The Guardian who has turned her hand to writing brilliantly creepy, psychological thrillers. 

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Books for kids...

* Four Silly Skeletons by Mark Sperring (Bloomsbury, €8.10) 
* Why Are People Different Colours? by Emma Waddington and Christopher McCurry (Frances Lincoln, €11.60 HB) 
* Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown (David Fickling, €15.10 HB) 

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Book review: Britain’s Europe — A Thousand Years of Conflict and Co-operation

Neil Robinson cannot take Britain’s wish to sever political ties with the continent at face value. As Brendan Simms’ new book explains, the two will forever be interlinked.

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Book review: The Fall of the House of Wilde

Oscar Wilde was the most famous — and notorious — of his family but they were already a wild bunch long before his scandalous downfall. Mary Leland reads between the lines of a chronicle of fortune and misfortune.

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Book review: Me and My Mate Jeffrey

IT’S a little difficult to know what exactly Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin’s first book, Me and My Mate Jeffrey, actually is. 

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Book review: Nina Is Not OK

ALTHOUGH Shappi Khorsandi is best known for her comedy chops, her debut fiction novel Nina Is Not OK is a gritty and realistic portrayal of a 17-year-old girl’s spiral into alcoholism.

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Book review: Truly, Madly, Guilty

THE Australian author of the international bestselling books The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies (which is set to become an HBO TV series in the US), is back with her latest domestic thriller.

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Book review: Find Me

HAILED by Salon as “the best young writer in America”, Laura Van Den Berg’s debut novel, Find Me, is set in a dystopian future in which a deadly, unnamed disease has spread throughout the United States.

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Book review: Do Not Say We Have Nothing

MADELEINE THIEN’s third novel is a deeply profound tale where music, mathematics and family history are beautifully woven together.

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Book review: The Unfortunate Englishman

WHAT do you think you ought to read in a ‘very English’ book about post-war Europe, Spies and the Cold War? 

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Books for kids...

Why Do I Have To Eat My Greens
by Emma Waddington and Christopher McCurry
(Frances Lincoln, €11.50 HB) 

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Book review: The Way We Die Now

Many terminally ill patients that hospital consultant Seamus O’Mahony sees fail to die with dignity because they are in denial. He argues for a more truthful response from the medical profession, as Brendan Daly discovers.

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Book review: The House of the Dead

While Siberian gulags will forever be associated with the Soviet era, Neil Robinson finds that the Tsars were the first to send their people on the long march across the Steppes.

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Book review: I’m Travelling Alone

SCANDINAVIA is cool, and not just in terms of climate. It is cool for crime. 

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Book review: The Secrets Of Wishtide

Meet Laetitia Rodd, a widow in ‘reduced circumstances’ who also happens to be an ace undercover private detective. 

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Book review: Lily And The Octopus

Lily And The Octopus is a moving story of Ted, a gay man living in California with the love of his life, Lily the sausage dog.

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Book review: The Ponzi Man

LIKE the conclusion of the latest court case involving a disgraced former banker, by the end of Declan Lynch’s fourth novel, The Ponzi Man, you’ll be left asking, is that it?

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Book review: Blackwater

Author James Henry has taken what he learned from writing three prequels to R.D. Wingfield’s popular DI Jack Frost series and created this police novel set in Essex, featuring DI Nick Lowry, a hard-bitten cop with a talent for boxing. 

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Books for kids...

FIRST DAY AT BUG SCHOOL
by Sam Lloyd [Bloomsbury €8.20]
Bug school will serve two purposes- for toddlers it will demystify the trauma of first day at school, and generate interest in the lives of bugs. 

 

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Book review: Irish Education, 1922-2007 Cherishing All The Children?

The education of Ireland’s greatest resource, its children, was entrusted to the Catholic Church by figures as enlightened as Daniel O’Connell. Ryle Dwyer wonders why its hierarchy proved to be so hostile to their welfare.

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Book review: Finding James

Aedín Johnston was intrigued to learn of her granduncle’s time in the British Army during the First World War, despite coming from a Republican background. She spoke to Colette Sheridan.

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Book review: Underground Airlines

VICTOR’S latest mission is proving trickier than usual. A former slave turned slave catcher, he inhabits an America that’s the same as the country we know today... only different.

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Book review: Turner: The Extraordinary Life And Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

FRANNY MOYLE starts her biography of Turner at his death. His living arrangements are scandalous and irregular — potentially reputation ruining. 

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Book review: Six Four

Despite such lame story tropes, it’s worth bearing with Six Four, which has sold more than one million copies in Japan, as the intricacies start to interlope.

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Book review: Wild Quiet

BABIES, be they stolen, dead, unexpected, or mysterious changelings, are the subject of four of the twelve stories in this promising debut. 

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Book review: The Narrow Bed

The Narrow Bed makes no pretence to mimic the verismo of life as we know it, and recalls the worst excesses of Agatha Christie.

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Book review: Falling

MOVING to the suburbs and falling in love with a hunky man is a fantasy for many women, but author Jane Green is proof of a success story. 

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Books for kids...

Lulu and the Noisy Baby by Camilla Reid and Ailie Busby (Bloomsbury, €8.30) 
Lulu is a busy little girl who likes to read, paint, dress up in fancy clothes, and most of all play games with her Mummy. 

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Books for kids...

Though school doors are now closed, Paul Cookson’s Crazy Classrooms Poems (Frances Lincoln, €8.40) will raise many a laugh.

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Book review: Death by Water

WATER is the metaphor and the phrase “taken by the current” is the recurring motif for going away and never returning, as happened to his fictitious father who drowned during a stormy night, in this autobiographical novel by Nobel prize winning Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe.

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Book review: On The Other Side

YOU can’t be a celebrity these days if you only have one talent. You have to be a multi-faceted variety act who can turn your hand to pretty much anything.

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Book review: The Unseeing

THE UNSEEING is based on the so-called Edgeware Road murder of 1837, when laundress Hannah Brown was murdered, her body dismembered and her head, torso and limbs scattered all over London. 

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Book review: New Irish Writing

GRANTA is a literary magazine published quarterly in the UK in book form, usually with a couple of photo essays to accompany its distinctive mix of new writing in the form of memoirs, travel writing poetry and fiction.

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Book review: Nothing on Earth

A FERAL-looking girl of about 12 turns up in a desperate, filthy state at the house of a priest and from the moment he allows her inside, his world is turned upside down.

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Book review: I Found You

SINCE her debut, Ralph’s Party, in 1998, Lisa Jewell has been notching up bestsellers left, right and centre, and her latest superb offering, I Found You, is sure to join the ranks.

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Book review: Death And Mr Pickwick

Did Charles Dickens execute the most audacious literary fraud ever or was the Pickwick Papers a work of stunning originality? Mary Leland unravels the threads of a riveting fictionalised account of the book’s origins.

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Book review: The Crime Writer

Obsessed with the prolific Patricia Highsmith, author Jill Dawson decided to blur the lines between fact and fiction in new book ‘The Crime Writer’. She explains why to Sue Leonard.

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Book review: Exposure

A renowned poet, children’s author, and short story writer, Helen Dunmore is at her finest in the novel form. Her 14th, ‘Exposure’, about a London spy ring in the 1960s, is superbly rendered, writes Billy O’Callaghan.

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Book review: Red Dirt

Despite seeing ‘Red Dirt’ rejected by 14 publishers, EM Reapy stuck with the writing and it’s finally paid off, as her debut novel garners the plaudits. She talks to Sue Leonard.

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Book review: The Lonely Sea and Sky

THIS is such a boy’s own yarn about a seafaring adventure that it could be called Code of Honour or Men of Courage with that gusty and gutsy prose of ‘waves to the left of me, waves to the right’ but because this is a new Dermot Bolger novel it isn’t just guts and glory, there is an attentiveness to the emotional lives of all the men aboard.

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Book review: Daniel O’Connell: A Graphic Life

DANIEL O’CONNELL developed a distinct aversion to revolutionary violence after witnessing some of the excesses of the French Revolution. 

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Book review: Words Without Music — a Memoir

ONE day in the 1970s, the art critic Robert Hughes came into his New York kitchen and saw that the plumber kneeling on the floor was the city’s most talked about avant-garde musician.

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Book review: The Dog Who Dared To Dream

THE Dog Who Dared To Dream is the latest release from South Korean author Sun-Mi Hwang, most famous for her bestseller The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. 

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Book review: Straight Jacket: How To Be Gay And Happy

IN THE watershed 1970 film The Boys In The Band, a character remarks, “Show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse.”

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Book review: Thirst

FANS of post-Apocalyptic fiction will welcome Benjamin Warner’s debut novel. 

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Books for kids...

Cruel Heart Broken by Emma Haughton (Usborne, €8.40)
We get straight into the story when heroine Laurie tells us that she is a murderer. 

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Top 10 reads for the summer

Richard Fitzpatrick selects an eclectic mix of summer reading options

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Books for kids...

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair By Lara Williamson (Usborne, €8.30) 
and
Squirrel Me Timbers by Louise Pigott (Curious Fox, €8.30) 

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Book review: The Tidal Zone

ADAM GOLDSCHMIDT is a stay-at-home dad whose world view changes dramatically when his 15-year-old daughter’s heart stops beating on the school playing field for no apparent reason. 

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Book review: A Long Long Way

RECENTLY issued as a paperback, having been first published in 2005 and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Sebastian Barry’s First World War novel is brilliant in its evocation of the killing fields in Flanders and the tragedy of the protagonist. 

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Book review: Death at Whitewater Church

SOMETIMES you come across a crime mystery that is so good it reads like a regular novel, and Death at Whitewater Church is one of those. 

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Book review: Cold

RARELY is a book so engrossing and pacey that it makes me miss my train stop. But such is the case with BBC Newsnight reporter John Sweeney’s first thriller, Cold. 

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Book review: Wilde Lake

THE best-selling author of more than 20 novels, including After I’m Gone and 2015’s Hush Hush returns with Wilde Lake, an evocative tale about the Brant family in Columbia, Maryland.

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Book review: Cycling Munster: Great Road Routes

WHEN you have the option of downloading apps such as Strava and Map My Ride to your phone, creating your own cycling routes or browsing someone else’s, why would you buy a book compiling nearly 50 cycles around Munster?

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Book review: The Judge’s Wife

Ann O’Loughlin digs deep into the sins of Ireland’s past for her novels’ source material. She tells Colette Sheridan that her job as a legal reporter means she sees injustice every day.

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Book review: The Assassination Complex: Inside the US Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program

Drones steered by military personnel in Nevada, in the US, routinely and anonymously kill people on target lists half a world away, in places like Yemen and Afghanistan, careless of who else dies in the attacks, says Des Breen.

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Book review: I’ll Drop You a Line: A Life with David Marcus

I’ll Drop You a Line, his habitual closing words in conversation with his authors, is Ita Daly’s story of the literary editor David Marcus and her life with him followed by the grief of his death. Here she recalls how they met.

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Book review: Solar Bones

After being dropped by Cape, Mike McCormack, once described as Ireland’s most underrated writer, has returned with an original novel of ideas, writes Sue Leonard.

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Book review: Liffey Green Danube Blue — The Musical Life and Loves of László Gede

EIBHLÍN Mac Máighstir Gede begins her biography of her late husband, László Gede, by praising the unsung heroism of quiet lives, the extraordinariness of the ordinary, which can give hope and courage to others. 

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Book review: Wandering Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

AT THE western fringes of Co Galway at the hamlet of Claddaghduff an old road leads down to a beach. 

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Book review: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

IT’S impossible not to fall for Helen Oyeyemi’s new book, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours — the physical object, at least. 

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Book review: Paper: Paging Through History

PAPER is ubiquitous. We use it for everything from mopping up a spill to creating art. It carries news, heartbreak, love, and spreads knowledge and culture.

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Book review: The Muse

IT’S NO surprise that Jessie Burton’s second novel, The Muse, is one of the most anticipated books of 2016. 

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Book review: Barkskins

ANNIE PROULX is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author best known for The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain. 

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Books for kids...

The Great Dragon Bake Off By Nicola O’Byrne (Bloomsbury, €8.20)
Only dragons with fiercesome and proven reputations for cruelty are admitted to the Ferocious Dragon Academy to study a degree course. 

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Book review: Broken Vows: Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power

John Duggan reviews Broken Vows: The Tragedy of Power, where author Tom Bower outlines how Tony Blair confused British electoral success with a mandate to change the world and a belief that he was saving civilisation.

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Book review: This is Now

Ciara Geraghty may examine big themes in her books, but clearly cares most of all about the people in the foreground, as do her readers. Self-declared fan Sue Leonard met her for coffee.

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Book review: The War Against The Assholes

THE problem with this is that the language is so densely packed, the sentences so staccato and hunched, that the prose can’t breathe properly. 

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Book review: The Girls

THIS much-anticipated debut novel of Emma Cline, already a well-regarded short story writer and fiction reader for the New Yorker, will probably get summarised a lot as ‘that Charles Manson novel’. 

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Book review: End Of Watch

FORMER police detective Bill Hodges, now a private investigator, knows time is running out. 

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Book review: Now & Again

STANDING up for what is right is at the centre of this big novel but there’s also a strong sense of the righteous here being unhinged and unreliable. 

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Book review: The Senility of Vladimir P

IN RUSSIA, in the reasonably near future (a couple of decades from now), former president, Vladimir Vladimirovich is slipping ever deeper into the mire of senility.

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Book review: The Fallout

THIS fast-paced novel, the second from accountant and author, Margaret Scott, is set in Dublin’s International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in 2011. 

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Books for kids...

* The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood (Bloomsbury, €8.40) 
* Superfairies — Dancer The Wild Pony By Janey Louise Jones (Curious Fox, €6) 
* Oh, Freedom by Francesco D’Adamo (Darf Publishers, €8.40) 

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Book explores political transformation of RFK and what lessons it provides

In a new book Larry Tye, former reporter at The Boston Globe, explores Bobby Kennedy's political and personal transformation and asks what lessons it provides for an equally divided modern day America. In this exclusive excerpt, Tye suggests Bobby's metamorphosis mirrored that which the US was undergoing as it moved from the 1950s self-satisfied era of Eisenhower to the tumultuous 1960s.

This story is enriched with multi-media content

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Book review: The last Days of Summer

The idea for Vanessa Ronan’s debut came from a news report about a man from a small town who, having committed a horrible crime and shown no remorse, was going back, writes Sue Leonard.

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Book reviews: ISIS A History and Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World

Not all countries in the Middle East aspire to a western-style democratic model and it is this misunderstanding of people’s needs that has led to the inexorable rise of IS, writes JP O’Malley.

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Book review: The Fireman

STEPHEN KING’s son Joe Hill has his own successful run of novels, including Horns, which was made into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe. 

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Book review: Portland Place: Secret Diary Of A BBC Secretary

READING this entertaining story of a highly unusual affair between two BBC employees in 1971 will unlock bitter-sweet memories for anyone who lived and worked in “Swinging London”.

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Book review: Currahoo to Santiago My Camino

James Keoghan makes the discovery made by all pilgrims on the Camino — the more you walk the easier it gets.

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Book review: She Died Young

COMPARED to the infamous Cambridge five, the search for spies among the dreaming spires of Oxford might seem like poor gruel indeed.

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Book review: Echowave

IT’S 1941 and a US plane crashes in Co Mayo with goods destined for the US embassy in London.

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Book review: The Many Selves Of Katherine North

DEBUT novelist Emma Green’s foray into literary science fiction focuses on Katherine ‘Kit’ North, a 19-year-old who projects her consciousness into animals for research purposes.

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Books for kids...

The Homeless Bumblebee and Me by David Greaves
(Friends of the Earth, €16.90 or €22.00 HB)

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New book chronicles the changing of time for the Irish pub

A new book documents the history of the Irish pub, how times have changed it, and emerging challenges. Author Kevin Martin talks to Noel Baker

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Feminist Gloria Steinem hasn't let age slow her down and is as outspoken as ever

As she prepares for her trip to West Cork, feminist icon Gloria Steinem, 82, is as active and outspoken as ever, writes Marjorie Brennan

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Sarah Crossan is gaining huge recognition for conjoined twin story

Sarah Crossan’s young adult tale of conjoined twins has won her a pile of praise and a slew of awards, writes Marjorie Brennan

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This mum gave her kids an 1950s-style summer - here's how they got on

Pam Lobley set out to give her kids an 1950s-style old-fashioned summer. She tells Áilín Quinlan how she turned the experiment into a book.

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Book review: The New Russia

Mikhail Gorbachev’s latest book contains plenty of righteous anger at the state of modern Russia but is marred by being one-sided and presenting a lack of context for the general reader, writes Neil Robinson.

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Getting to know author Christine Hamill

After university Christine wrote poetry, but she never published any. She had various jobs; she worked in the Arts in Bristol; she managed an art gallery, worked on an arts magazine, and wrote a grammar for foreign learners for IBM.

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Best books for children

Harrison Loved His Umbrella by Rhoda Levine (New York Review, €12.60 HB) Harrison persistently refuses to part with his constantly open umbrella to the annoyance of his parents.

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Book review: Becoming Nicole

THIS is the inspiring, New York Times bestselling true story of a transgender girl and her family’s journey to understand, help and celebrate her uniqueness.

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Book reviews: Tongulish and In A Hare’s Eye

GALWAY-based poet, Rita Ann Higgins, has written a poetry collection (her tenth) that never bores. 

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Book review: Independence or Union - Scotland’s Past and Scotland’s Present

TM DEVINE’s new book is an excellent guide to how Scottish nationalism has revived to become a threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. 

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Book review: The Nest

WITH one of the best opening lines for a book I’ve read in a long time, LA-based Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney plunges her readers into the chaotic lives of the Plumb family, which all revolve around the charismatic golden boy Leo.

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Book review: Hearing Voices Seeing Things

WILLIAM WALL’s fine short story collection is drawn from a rich imaginative palette that gives voice to the fragility and absurdity of life, the alienated, the romantically disappointed, and those at the receiving end of the cruelty of men, including a boy in a boarding school run by priests.

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Book review: The Gift Of The Gab: How Eloquence Works

DAVID CRYSTAL is probably Britain’s best-known populariser of linguistic science.

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Book review: The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History

The Roman Empire is a somewhat neglected part of history, but Peter H Wilson’s tome sets the record straight and reveals new secrets, writes Michael Duggan.    

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Book review: One Bold Deed of Open Treason: The Berlin Diaries of Roger Casement

EVER since Roger Casement was hanged in 1916, controversy had surrounded his diaries, but there was no controversy about a diary that he began while in Germany during the early months of World War I.

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Getting to know author Catherine Banner

Catherine Banner started her first novel when she was 14.

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Best books for children

The Jungle Book, Mowgli’s Story Reimagined by Robert Hunter (Frances Lincoln €16.60 HB) When Baby Mowgli is kidnapped from his home by Shere Khan, other jungle creatures are horrified by his wicked scheme which breaks the age-old law of the jungle. 

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Book review: Zero K

DON DELILLO’S 16th novel arrives after a six-year pause for thought which initially appears to have zero effect on theme or form.

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Book review: Delta Lady

Singer-songwriter Rita Coolidge was at her peak in the 1970s. Though her marriage to Kris Kristofferson was marred by his boozing, the recent murder of her sister has hurt her most, says Hannah Stephenson.

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Book review: The Heart of Everything

MAGS JENSEN’S memory isn’t all it was. And although she hasn’t, yet, got a diagnosis, both she and her doctor fear that her many lapses herald the onset of dementia. 

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Book review: Dancing to the End of Love

ROBERT LANAGHAN is a writer. Or, at least, he was, but, since his second book was published, he hasn’t written. Life has got in the way.

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Book review: The Gustav Sonata

WHETHER she’s writing about life during the Restoration, family dramas in the south of France or the plight of eastern European immigrants, Rose Tremain is a consummate storyteller.

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Book review: Are You Watching Me?

RTÉ’s arts correspondent Sinéad Crowley has come up with a carefully structured police procedural that can stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the offerings packing the crime shelves of your local book shop.

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Book review: The Private Lives Of The Tudors

THE glittering, jewel-encrusted private world of Britain’s five Tudor monarchs returns gloriously in these pages.

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Book review:  War Against the People

A new book argues that the knowledge and weaponry developed by Israel in its wars against the Palestinians have allowed it to carve a place in the world’s military-industrial complex, TP O’Mahony is not convinced.

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Book review: This Must Be The Place

NORTHERN Irish author Maggie O’Farrell has, since she wrote the After You’d Gone, revealed a knack for capturing the bald truths of marriage in all their spiky, broken, loving fragments.

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Book review: Dietland

THE lead character in Dietland, Plum, is unusual in a novel — she’s fat. She’s unhappy, living a very small life that barely takes her anywhere other than her apartment and her local cafe, where she is embarrassed to be seen eating a scone in public, and she suffers cruel looks and comments.

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Joanna Walsh uses minimalist language to tackle complicated ideas

For someone who came late to writing, the fiction of Joanna Walsh has an accomplished tone and has all the signs of a maturity forged from life’s experiences, writes Sue Leonard.

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Book review: Lingua Franca

MILES PLATTING is the disengaged founder of naming rights company Lingua Franca, which matches corporate sponsors with cash-strapped towns.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Roisín O’Donnell

Brought up in England to Northern Irish parents, Roisín has always felt a sense of dislocation. A writer since she was small, she had completed three novels by the time she was 24.

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Book review: All Things Nice

THE title of Sheila Bugler’s third book alludes to the fact that the crime novel is the adult version of the child’s fairytale Set in London, and featuring the dogged DI Ellen Kelly of Lewisham CID, All Things Nice is a police procedural rooted in the nursery rhyme that warns us boys are composed of slugs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails.

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Author Maggie O’Farrell talks about her latest novel 'This Must Be the Place'

An encounter with a celebrity that showed the misery of fame inspired Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel, she tells Jonathan de Burca Butler.

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Books for kids...

1. The 5 Misfits by Beatrice Alemagna (Frances Lincoln, €16.70 HB)
2.
Archie Loves Skipping by Domenica More Gordon (Bloomsbury, €16.70 HB)
3. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando (Bloomsbury, €10.30)  

 

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Book review: Girls on Fire

IF YOU go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. But what happens in Robin Wasserman’s Girls On Fire is no teddy bears’ picnic. 

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Book review: LaRose

LaRose is a slowly developing tale of grief, growth, and retribution, with revenge on the minds of just about everybody.

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Book review: The Violet Hour: Great Writers At The End

AMERICAN academic Katie Roiphe has a track record of tackling tricky subjects, such as pay inequality and sexual politics. 

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Book review: The Cauliflower

ONLY one thing is for certain when reading Nicola Barker’s latest and totally brilliant, yet unclassifiable novel — you have absolutely no idea which direction the story is heading in. 

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Book review: Mend the Living

Reading this book is like experiencing the act of surfing yourself, in successive crashing waves. 

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Book review: Best European Fiction 2016

Literature doesn’t get much stranger — nor more fun — than this. 

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Book review: I Am No One

He has an Irish name and an English accent but writer Patrick Flanery is an all-American boy, as Sue Leonard discovers.

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Book review: The Lives of Daniel Binchy: Irish Scholar, Diplomat, Public Intellectual

Daniel Binchy, Ireland’s ambassador to the Weimer Republic, once described Adolf Hitler as a ‘harmless lunatic’ but one of the country’s most perceptive and insightful intellectuals was not fooled for long, as Ryle Dwyer notes.

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Books for kids...

3 2 1 DRAW by Serge Bloch (Wide Eyed, €12.60)
and
The Best Medicine by Christine Hamill (Little Island, €8.80)

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Book review: We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Flames

STYLISTICALLY similar to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the characters in Jules Grant’s debut novel do not only speak in dialect, they narrate in it too.

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Book review: The Black Prince Of Florence

FLETCHER, a historian specialising in the Renaissance and whose work has been praised by Hilary Mantel, here excavates the intriguing figure of Florence’s first Medici Duke, born a bastard and possibly of mixed race origin.

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Book review: Simplified History — The 1916 Rising

This informative book should be a must for smart history teachers who want to engage their students, but it has much broader appeal too.

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Book review: Girl at War

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC gets one mention early in this novel and while Karadzic and Mladic are not referred to, they cast a long shadow over the people and places of this evocatively told story of surviving the genocide of the Bosnian war.

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Book review: Diary of a Body

RATHER like the dive suit worn by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, Daniel Pennac conveys the story of an entire lifetime from the perspective of his body. 

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Book review: Fellside

DRUG addict Jess Moulson wakes in hospital with no memory and a face scarred from reconstructive surgery to learn she is under arrest for the murder of a child, Alex Beech, who died in a fire at her apartment — a fire she supposedly started in a heroin-induced rage against her abusive boyfriend.

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Book review: This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World

The reign of Elizabeth I was the first time that Muslims began openly living in England. It stemmed from the queen’s isolation from Catholic Europe and her excommunication by Pope Pius V in 1570. Attitudes towards Islam then have parallels for us today, writes Josephine Fenton.

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Book review: Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare

 

An army doesn’t just march on its stomach but with the aid of psychotic drugs, according to a revolutionary book on modern warfare. But soldiers taking drugs was also a feature of ancient conflicts, says Geoffrey Roberts.

 

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Book review: The Privileged

Six months after securing a book deal, Emily Hourican was diagnosed with mouth cancer. Now finished the treatment, she’s published a bestseller, writes Sue Leonard.

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Book review: Raoul Wallenberg: The Biography

Ingrid Carlberg’s meticulously crafted biography of Raoul Wallenberg recounts the story of a man who had a hand in the survival of most of the Jews in Budapest who lived through World War Two, writes Neil Robinson.

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Book review: When She Was Bad

HOW well do you know your colleagues? You may have forged good friendships in the workplace, but this psychological thriller from Tammy Cohen will have you questioning everyone you know. 

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Book review: The Wing Orderly’s Tales

NINETY-NINE per cent of the time in prison consists of waiting around, bored, as Carlo Gebler observes via his narrator, Wing orderly ‘Chalky’ Chalkman, who is in charge of sundry duties — preparing breakfast for warders and making up welcome packages for new inmates at Loanend prison in Northern Ireland.

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Book review: The Wing Orderly’s Tales

NINETY-NINE per cent of the time in prison consists of waiting around, bored, as Carlo Gebler observes via his narrator, Wing orderly ‘Chalky’ Chalkman, who is in charge of sundry duties — preparing breakfast for warders and making up welcome packages for new inmates at Loanend prison in Northern Ireland.

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Book review: The Possibilities

POOR old George Clooney in The Descendants not only has his beloved wife in a coma but he also has to contend with the discovery that she had been having an affair. 

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Book review: Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All

TAKE a disillusioned hotel receptionist, an embittered former priest and a recently released hitman and what do you get? 

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Book review: Digital vs Human: How We’ll Live, Love, And Think In The future

IT’S FITTING that futurist Richard Watson kicks off this tome with a quote from former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, as he comes out fighting.

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Book review: And Yet... essays

WHEN Christopher Hitchens died from oesophageal cancer in December 2011, the world of letters lost one of its most compelling and provocative minds. 

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Books for kids...

Wolfish Stew by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury, €8.90)
“There was once a rabbit whose name was Grey and he went to the woods to pick berries one day.”

 

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Book review: Exposure

The decade is associated with sex and music, but the Russians and the threat of annihilation loomed large, as they do in Helen Dunmore’s new spy novel, ‘Exposure’, says Sue Leonard.

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Book review: Empire of Things: How We Became A World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-first

Consumerism isn’t just about buying goods and services. It has come to define the way we shape our identities and how we interact socially every day, as JP O’Malley discovers in a supersized tome that traces its history.

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Book review: Crossing The Sea: With Syrians On The Exodus To Europe

EVERY now and then a photograph appears that brings the world to a standstill and makes us all pause for breath. 

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Book review: Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg

WHEN a sprawling yellow banner cascaded from the stands of Basel’s St Jakob-Park football stadium in late-2013 the world was suddenly alerted to a struggle for freedom thousands of kilometres away that had been waging for weeks.

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Book review: How To Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns From Puddles To The Sea

WHERE many writers involved in the current nature writing renaissance excel at poetic reverie, this accessible guide takes a more practical approach.

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Book review: Boundless: Adventures in the Northwest Passage

YES, the sights are wondrous in this retracing of the journey of 18th century explorer John Franklin. 

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Book review: Different Class

CHOCOLAT author Joanne Harris’s latest book is a sequel to her 2005 psychological thriller Gentlemen & Players, set in the same Yorkshire boys grammar school, St Oswald’s, a year after that novel was set.

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Book review: Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain

HAVING already made quite a name for himself in the theatre world, playwright Barney Norris is adding another string to his bow with his debut novel Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain.

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Books for kids...

* Coloures — First Wheels by Susan Steggall (Frances Lincoln, €15.10)
* The Fire Children retold by Eric Maddern (Frances Lincoln, €10.10)
* Fletcher And Zenobia by Victoria Chess and Edward Gorey (The New York Review, €12.60 HB)

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Book review: Mrs God: Trinity

MUCH like the character of Mrs God herself, author Mark Evans is a glutton for punishment.

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Book review: Islamism: What It Means for the Middle East and the World

It is the west’s blind myopia that leads it to go to war in the Middle East, with disastrous consequences, argues JP O’Malley on reading an account of Islamism which shows that, as an ideology, it is growing further apart.

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Book review: Some Rain Must Fall

Karl Ove Knausgard is Europe’s latest literary sensation, due to the success of his relentless memoir series. What, in its mundanity, makes it so compelling, asks Paul Ring.

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Book review: The Poacher’s Curse

THE Poacher’s Curse is so action-packed and fast-paced one wonders if it was penned with the big screen in mind.

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Book review: Viral

MANY of us who got our teenage romances, rebellions and rows over with before the era of Snapchat and Vine are truly grateful for this fortunate sequence of events. 

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Book review: The Crow Girl

MAKE sure you are not home alone when you tackle this Scandinavian thriller, which records detective Jeanette Kihlberg’s attempts to track a deranged killer.

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Book review: Expecting: The Inner Life Of Pregnancy

BECOMING a mother is a life-changing experience for women, yet many pregnancy books tend to focus on the scientific element: the day-to-day development and growing changes of the baby inside the placenta, what to pack in your hospital bag and what to expect during labour.

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Book review: Lunatics, Lovers And Poets: Twelve Stories After Cervantes And Shakespeare

SOME of the brightest lights of contemporary fiction celebrate the timelessness of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes in a collection of short stories to mark the 400th anniversary of both men’s deaths.

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Books for kids...

My Family Is a Zoo by KA Gerrard (Bloomsbury, €8.90)
This is a cheerful tale of shared interests told in simple rhyming narrative. 

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