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Recommended Reads - Fiction

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy  

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
Published by Bloomsbury Circus 2022

Trespasses is Louise Kennedy’s first novel following the publication of her very successful short story collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac.
Trespasses tells the story of Cushla, a young teacher, and her falling in love with Michael, a married man from Belfast, during the time of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The story describes how daily life continues amidst violence and slowly reveals the impact the division amongst the communities has on everyone.
This very readable story is also very real and Kennedy clearly has deep sympathy for each of her characters highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and how they try desperately to lead normal lives despite the simmering violence around them.
Trespasses accurately captures the time and place but is also heartbreaking as the story reveals what happens to Cushla, Michael and those around them. - Highly recommended by a library staff member

Breaking Point by Edel Coffey   Breaking Point by Edel Coffey
Published by Sphere 2022

Susannah has two beautiful daughters, a high-flying medical career, a successful husband, and an enviable life. Her hair is glossy, her clothes are expensive; she truly has it all.
But when - on the hottest day of the year - her strict morning routine is disrupted, Susannah finds herself running on autopilot. It is hours before she realizes she has made a devastating mistake. Her baby, Louise, is still in the backseat of the car and it is too late to save her.

This novel needs to come with a trigger warning. A heartbreaking and thought provoking debut novel which pulls you into the two intertwined stories and leaves you thinking about the book days after you finish it. - Recommended by a Kilmihil Library Member

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty   Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Published by Penguin 2021

The Delaney family love one another dearly - it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .
If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

"LianeMoriarty has a way with her characters making them all slightly unlikable with visible flaws. There are plenty of revelations along the way within this dysfunctional family. The story has multiple layers and it does leave you with questions at the end that are never answered". - Recommended by a Kilmihil Library Member

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri  

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri
Published by Manilla Press 2021

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. Now she spends her days caring for someone else's daughter while her own waits for her return, half a world away. For Petra, it is only natural to hire a domestic worker to keep her house clean and her family fed. Their lives have nothing in common, except the love they feel for their daughters. Then one day, Nisha vanishes. No one cares about the disappearance of a foreign domestic worker, except Petra and Nisha's secret lover, Yiannis, the only connection to her daughter back in Sri Lanka. As Petra and Yiannis desperately search for Nisha, they realise how little they knew about her. What they uncover will change them both forever.

"This was a really thought provoking read. Based in Cyprus, it deals with migrant workers. Most families have maids, and when one of the maids disappears, her employer tries to find out what has happened and where she is. While it is about the woman who is missing and her life, her friends and the people she knew and helped, it’s also about her employer, finally taking a look at the life she and her neighbours live and all they take for granted. Well worth a read". - recommended by a Kilkee Library Bookclub.

Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor  

Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
Published by HarperCollins 2021.

Robert ‘Doc’ Wright, an Antarctic explorer is married to Anna, a climate change scientist. Due to the nature of their careers, they live apart for long stretches of time. Doc is the hero in the relationship. He faces into the Antarctic landscape full of courage and determination, however, when he suffers a stroke, Anna is obliged to take on the role of carer, and so the focus of the book shifts onto her.

"On the surface, this is a book about an Antarctic research expedition that goes horribly wrong. But that is only half the story. Beneath the surface, this is a book about communication, the human impulse to tell stories, and the consequences of what happens when that ability is lost, when a person loses his voice, his story gets stuck, and communication breaks down. In this powerful portrait of one couple’s battle against illness, McGregor explores the notion of heroism, and what it really means to be brave. Lean Fall Stand is a really worthwhile read". - recommended by a Clare County Library member.

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior  

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
Published by Transworld Digital 2020

Granny McCreedy is about to go on the journey of a lifetime…

"I was delighted to discover this gem on Borrowbox. Short witty chapters and likeable characters make this book a thoroughly enjoyable read. Moving between Scotland and the Antarctic and filled with loveable penguins this has become one of my favourite books". - recommended by Orla in Kilmihil Library

Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett  

Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett
Published by Faber & Faber 2021

Joe is 17, a gifted artist and a brilliant older brother to 12-year-old Finn. They live with their Ma and Da in a Dublin tower block called Bojaxhiu or 'the Jax'. It's not an easy place to be a kid, especially when your father, Frank, is the muscle for the notorious gang leader Dessie 'The Badger' Murphy…

"Have the tissues beside you when you read this wonderful book. This is a gritty story set in modern Dublin with an emotional heart tugging feel to it". - recommended by Orla in Kilmihil Library

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell  

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Published by Cornerstone Digital 2019

In a large house in London a baby is awake in her cot. Well fed and cared for she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up. In the Kitchen lie three decomposing corpses…

"A page turner mystery with plenty of characters to keep you wondering until the end". - recommended by Orla in Kilmihil Library

Mexican Gothic Paperback by Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

Mexican Gothic Paperback by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by Jo Fletcher Books 2021

Noemí Taboada is a young and wealthy socialite, who receives a concerning letter from her newly-married cousin, Catalina. Catalina has written asking for help. She sees ghosts and believes that her husband, Virgil, is poisoning her. Virgil Doyle comes from a once-wealthy family that has run out of money.

Noemí heads up to High Place, a mountainside mansion where the Doyles reside. Before long, she starts having visions, hallucinations and dreams of a golden woman in the walls. Meanwhile, in town, rumors abound about the cursed Doyle family and their sordid past. In this atmospheric and creepy tale, Noemí finds herself faced with the secrets hidden in this inhospitable place and among this strange family.

"If you are looking for a grown up Halloween read, then look no futher. Described as part Daphne du Maurier and part Guillermo del Toro, it is dripping in gothic spookiness and a perfect read for a cosy night in by the fire". - Recommended by a Shannon Library Staff member.

That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry  

That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry
Published by Canongate Books 2020

Set in the West of Ireland, Kevin Barry’s latest collection of short stories features the kinds of marginal characters that aren’t often applauded in literature. Loners, oddballs, misfits and mavericks people the pages of Barry’s stories bringing a large amount of black comedy with them and a large amount of magical realism too. And so, we meet melancholy men like Seamus Ferris, Timothy Jackson and Con McCarthy, a lovestruck woman named Hannah Cryan, and a lost Roma child called Kizzy.

"There is a unique haunting quality to each of the stories. This is down to the evocative landscape Barry conjures up mixed with his genuine sympathy for the tortured souls he portrays. The beauty of his protagonists is that they are flawed victims of character and circumstance who are heartbreakingly real. By reaching out to these folks in their own familiar places and by letting them speak for themselves, Barry avoids sentimentality, showing a deep sensitivity, instead, for the range of outcasts that populate this brilliant collection of short stories". - recommended by a Clare County Library member.

Elsewhere: one woman, one rucksack, one lifetime of travel by Rosita Boland   Elsewhere: one woman, one rucksack, one lifetime of travel by Rosita Boland
Published by Transworld Digital 2018

In her book Elsewhere: one woman, one rucksack, one lifetime of travel, Rosita Boland records a lifetime of travel to several countries, starting with a trip to Australia in her twenties and ending with a trip to Bali in her fifties. By means of constant reference to her travel diaries, the book not only chronicles Boland’s many physical journeys, but also recounts numerous personal journeys from the point of view of a solo woman traveller across a thirty-year timespan.

" Elsewhere was the perfect Lockdown read. I became the true definition of ‘an armchair traveller’ as I joined Rosita Boland on nine journeys from nine different moments in her life. I don’t often read travel books but this one engaged me from beginning to end. There is a real authenticity about the writing that makes this book as much a memoir as a travelogue. I highly recommend it!". - recommended by a Clare County Library member.


The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon   The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon
Published by Orion 2020

Set between 1950s Victorian England and Florence Nightingale’s Crimea, this is the story of two cousins, Rosa and Mariella, and their individual responses to the war effort. Inspired by Mariella’s fiancé, Henry, who is a surgeon, and following the lead of the Nightingale nurses, Rosa volunteers for the battlefield hospitals. Meanwhile Mariella remains in the shelter of the family’s English home. She keeps a war scrapbook, runs a sewing-circle and writes regularly to both Henry and Rosa. When communication begins to break down, Henry becomes ill, and Rosa is feared missing, Mariella makes a life-changing decision to travel to the Crimea. She is accompanied by an Irish servant named Nora, (a particularly strong character). The adventures that follow form the core of this book.

"Originally published in 2007, The Rose of Sebastopol has been re-issued for Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary and The Year of the Nurse/Midwife 2020. If you like historical fiction and have an interest in medical themes, you will definitely enjoy this book". - recommended by a Clare County Library member.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré   The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Published by Sceptre in 2020

This debut novel revolves around Adunni; a Nigerian girl regarded as property at the age of fourteen. Her life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. And despite her situation going from bad to worse, she has a plan to escape: she will find her 'louding voice' and get her education, so that she can speak up for herself - and all the girls who came before her.

"Lovely story set in Nigeria, told in the first person it details the life of a young girl who is married off and then sold into servitude. Her love of learning means she questions everything. Her descriptions of what she sees and experiences are so vivid". - Recommended by an Ennistymon Library staff member

The Long Gaze Back edited by Sinead Gleeson  

The Long Gaze Back edited by Sinead Gleeson
Published by New Island books in 2015

The Long Gaze Back is an anthology of short stories written by Irish women whose collective work spans four centuries. They are presented in chronological order, thereby offering the reader the chance to observe how much, and how little, has changed in women’s lives.

Most of the stories revolve around family life and the associated day to day battles faced. There are tales of birth and death, of both the old and the young; the impact of collective decisions made without consultation; how expectations can lead to resentment, particularly across the generations.

"The Long Gaze Back is full of wonderful short stories which is a format that I was not used to. I now love the short story format and how it just seems to jump straight into the action and is so concise. It felt like a real privilege to discover all of these Irish female authors, some of them I had heard of before but there many new writers that I will enjoy reading again in the future". - Recommended by a Scariff Library Staff member

Ask no Questions by Claire Allan  

Ask no Questions by Claire Allan
Published by Avon in 2021

Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick-or-treating with friends. It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating and realises the Doherty family are not as they seem – but someone dosen’t want her to know the truth.

"A fast moving tense read, with plenty of twists, kept me on the edge of my seat!". - Recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member

A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler  

A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by Headline in 2020

In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door - an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter.

With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard.

"A thought provoking novel about prejudice, preconceived notions and injustice. The heart-breaking conclusion shows the devastating impact one person’s intolerant can have on the lives of others". - Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member

The Shelf by Helly Acton   The Shelf by Helly Acton
Published by Zaffre in 2020

Everyone in Amy's life seems to be getting married, having children and settling down (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she's falling behind.

So, when her long-term boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday, she thinks he's going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when, instead, she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.

“I picked this e-book from the Borrow box app. A thought provoking novel set on a reality television show. Funny one liners and the characters are likeable. This is popular fiction which will appeal to readers of Beth O’ Leary, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. A story to lose yourself in and realise that this lockdown is not that bad!” – recommended by a Library staff member

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier   A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
Published by The Borough Press in 2020

Set in 1930s Britain, the story centres on Violet Speedwell who has moved to Winchester to pursue an independent life. Her fiancé was killed in World War One and Violet has rebelled against a projected future as her mother’s companion and one of society’s ‘surplus women’. She finds a job as a typist, moves to a lodging house and starts to find her feet as an independent woman. One of her discoveries is a woman’s group associated with Winchester Cathedral where volunteers embroider kneelers and cushions for the mass goers. As her circle grows, we see the realities of contemporary female life – the obstacles faced and overcome and the strength and resilience of women.

“An enjoyable, gentle read from the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring. A quiet gem.” - recommended by a Clare County Library staff member

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones   How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Published by Tinder Press in 2021

This debut novel is set on the island of Barbados, a destination that markets itself as paradise, but beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.

The book opens with a murder and follows a cluster of characters connected to it: a beach gigolo; a rich tourist’s widow; the man who murdered him; the detective on the case. The centre of gravity, however, is Lala, a young woman trapped in a violent marriage – as her mother had been before her. Over the course of the narrative, things go from bad to worse for Lala.

“A debut novel featuring murder, rape, domestic violence and patriarchal control, this book still manages to move you so that Lala’s voice remains with you long after the final page” – recommended by a Clare County Library staff member

This is Happiness by Niall Williams  

This is Happiness by Niall Williams
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 2020

This book tells the story of Noe, short for Noel, who is reflecting back on a time when he stayed with his grandparents in a fictional West Clare village, Faha, just as the village was to get electricity. Noe had just left the seminary and was looking to find his way in life, so goes to spend time in the country. He meets Christy who works for the ESB and is also boarding with his grandparents. As Noe discovers love for the first time, he & Christy strike up a friendship in their mutual love of music and Christy reveals the true reason why he has turned up in the village.
Life in Faha had remained unchanged for many years. It was a time when neighbours and the local goings on were the only entertainment for everyone. So the bringing of electricity to the village was a huge event. We learn all about the sourcing of the wood from Finland to the salesmen who came to ply their electrical goods to the local housewives, to the labourers who erected the poles and the electrician who decided the height of everyone’s’ switches in their homes based on his own height. Noe & Christy bond over music and each evening travel throughout the countryside in search of a local musician, Junior Crehan. They travel by bike and stop in local pubs all in the search of Junior.
"The thing about music in Clare was that its location was always unknown. There were not set venues or session times as such. Places garnered reputations because of music that had sprung up one evening, and become in memory legendary…"
How to be and finding happiness in a moment in time is one of the main themes of the book.
Christy tells Noe, ‘This is happiness. It was a condensed explanation , but I came to understand him to mean you could stop at, not all, but most of the moments of your life, stop for one heartbeat and, no matter what the state of your head or heart, say This is happiness, because of the simple truth that you were alive to say it.’
I loved William’s gentle humour as he describes the various characters in the area. Doady, Noe’s grandmother, is a quick witted Kerry woman. Whereas Ganga is a country gentleman who has a deep kindness emanating from him. Together they provide Noe with the emotional support he needs as he finds his way in life. William’s also writes with great affection of the rural way of life that existed in Ireland right up to the 1940s & 50s. People travelled by horse and trap. Life revolved around the church, the ceremonies, sport, amateur dramatics and the music. But ultimately pleasure came in telling stories, about themselves, others and village life. I even remember visiting my grandmother as a young child in the 1970s, and although she had electricity in the house, everything else was very similar to what William’s describes. It is very nostalgic for an old way of life, the slower pace and the wit and humour that existed amongst neighbours and friends. The style & theme of Williams’ writing also reminded me of other writers such as Joanne Harris in Chocolat or James Herriot’s memoirs on his life as a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales.
Occasionally the telling of the story resembles the slow pace and rambling way of life that existed in the village but the author writes with great affection on the story of remembrance. Remembering a time when the narrator was young, his grief, his loves, his friendship and his family. Most of all he remembers a way of life that is now long gone. - recommended by Cora, Library Headquarters.

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl   The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl
Published by Head of Zeus 2018

Cecilia Wilborg is living a dream life in the small, exclusive, and privileged town of Sandefjord Norway. With a kind and loving husband, two daughters, and a beautiful home, her life is one many would envy….
The Boy at the Door is a mind blowing, twisty tale of a woman who will stop at absolutely nothing to hang on to the things she holds most dear.

“I started this book on a Friday evening after work and tore through it until the early hours of Saturday morning. I was hooked. The story line dragged me in and made me want to read quickly to find out what was happening on the next page. There are lots of twists and turns and it’s a really excellent Nordic Thriller. “ - recommended by a Kilmihil Library staff member.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig   The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Published by Canongate in 2020

Her cat has just died and she’s been fired from her dead end job at a music shop, full of misery and regret, Nora Seed attempts to take her own life. Between life and death, she finds herself in the Midnight Library, a sort of parallel universe, where the impressive librarian Mrs Elm shows her the books detailing the millions of different versions that her life might have been had she made a different decision. She is given the chance to try and find ‘a good life’ that will make her happy and she tries on many lives: an Olympic swimmer, a rock star, an artic researcher, a philosophy lecturer, a mother, a volunteer in an animal shelter to name but a few. Slowly the realisation comes that no life is perfect and just to be alive is a miracle but will she get the chance to reshape her old life with the new insights she has gained?

“Nora is such a compelling character, warm, funny and philosophical. A cleverly constructed, uplifting story that will stick with you.” – recommended by a Shannon Library staff member.

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard   The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
Published by Atlantic Books in 2020

“I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man. Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…”
These are the opening lines from the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago. Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was - is – the Nothing Man.

“By far the best thriller I have read all year. The detail of each attack made you feel that you were right there beside them. Was a chilling, creepy read, that made me check and double check that each window and door was locked in my own house when reading this book! If thrillers and suspense are your thing, then this book is just for you!” – recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member.

Weather by Jenny Offill   Weather by Jenny Offill
Published by Granta in 2020

Lizzie Benson’s busy life just got a whole lot busier. On top of the usual family ups and downs, she has taken a job from her old college professor, who’s become famous for her podcast Hell and High Water. Lizzie answers the mail she receives dealing with ecological disaster and the decline of civilization, all of which serves to re-inforce her own fears and sense of helplessness and she starts planning her own ‘Doomstead’. The novel is played out against the turbulent backdrop of the 2016 US election casting more uncertainty over Lizzie’s life.

“Written throughout in short paragraphs, full of quirky observation and dark humour, unsettling and intriguing. A climate change novel to set you thinking.” – recommended by a Shannon Library staff member

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce  

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Published by Doubleday in 2020

The butt of one cruel joke too many, Margery Benson walks away from her dead end job and, fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, embarks on an expedition to search for the legendary Golden Beetle of New Caledonia on the other side of the world.

With a poor response to her advert for a companion to join her, she has to settle for the utterly unsuitable Enid Pretty and off they set, contending with vengeful consul’s wives, difficult custom officers, pregnancy, illness, hostile terrain and the unwanted attentions of disturbed POW Mr. Mundic. But, unbelievably, glass three-quarters full Enid and glass half-empty Margery turn out to be just what each other needs.

"Sweet, funny and uplifting" - recommended by a Shannon Library staff member.

The Liberation of Brigid Dunne by Patricia Scanlan  

The Liberation of Brigid Dunne by Patricia Scanlan
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2020

When three generations of the family get together for a reunion all hell breaks loose! Marie-Claire is reeling from heartbreak, Reverend Mother Brigid is eighty and looking forward to the celebrations while Keelin and her mother Imelda who have never got along are all forced to confront their pasts when bitter, jealous Imelda makes a shocking revelation at the party!

"A fantastic magical read, thoroughly enjoyable, full of love, heartbreak and life’s lessons. Made me laugh out loud and also moved me to tears!" - recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid  

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Published by Bloomsbury in 2020

Social influencer Alix is slightly obsessed with her black babysitter Emira, a 25 year old recent graduate who is struggling to find her feet. When she has a shocking encounter with a security guard in an upmarket grocery store who accuses her of kidnapping her white charge, Emira is put in the path of Kelley, Alix’s high school boyfriend, setting off a series of explosive events.

"Entertaining and intelligent, this compelling page-turner deals with themes of race, class, woke culture and more. Its intricate plot reversals will cause you to change your point of view with every chapter. Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize."- recommended by a Shannon Library staff member.

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew  

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew
Published by Hodder in 2019

Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers Cottage and killed thirteen women. Then himself. But no one can say why. This story is told through the eyes of Ryan’s mother Moira; by Ishbel the mother of his first victim and by DI Helen Birch who is put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job.

"An excellent book – I couldn’t put it down. Loved how the heart-breaking story was pieced together by each character and the effect it had on them. A gripping read." – recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig  

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del ray in 2019

With shades of Stephen King (The Stand), this book gathers a diverse group of people and sends them on a mysterious journey across a frightened and suspicious America.
As society crumbles around them, they stumble towards a finale that threatens the very planet around them.

“This epic tale will satisfy all fans of fiction. I would highly recommend it.” - recommended by a DeValera Library staff member.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave   The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Published by Picador in 2020

This is a historical novel inspired by real events of the Vardø storm of 1617 and the 1620 witch trials. The book opens with the storm on Christmas Eve 1617 on the Norweigian island of Vardø which occurs just as the island's men have left on a fishing trip. No man survives leaving an island of women, young children and older men to fend for themselves.

The story follows 20 year old Maren who has lost her father, brother and husband in the storm. She along with her friend Kristen and a small group of the women are the first to attempt to take on the men’s jobs left in the wake of the storm.

Eighteen months later Commissioner Cornet, arriving on the island from Scotland where he was involved in the witch trials of the Northern Isles, sees only a place flooded with a mighty evil. With him is his young wife Ursa who is completely unprepared for life on an island and who turns to Maren as a housemaid/ teacher and then friend.

“This is a beautifully written book following strong characters through their changing relationships and kept my attention throughout. I really enjoyed it.” - recommended by a DeValera Library staff member.
One Split Second by Caroline Bond   One Split Second by Caroline Bond
Published by Corvus in 2020

When a car carrying five teenagers home from a party crashes onto a brick wall, the consequences are devastating. No one escapes unscathed, but some are more deeply scarred than others, and one of the group will not survive. In their grief and confusion, those left behind question who was to blame for the accident, and what price they will pay.

“A very thought provoking read, every parent’s worst nightmare, told through the eyes of the families involved. How in one split second so many people’s lives can change forever. A story that will stay with me for a long while…” - recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member.

Guilty by Siobhan MacDonald  

Guilty by Siobhan MacDonald
Published by Constable in 2020

Doctor Luke Forde has the perfect life. A respected heart surgeon, he has a rewarding job, a successful wife, and a daughter, Nina. From their beautiful house overlooking the fictional Carberry Lough in County Clare, they present a portrait of family bliss. But Luke harbours a dark secret and over the course of a weekend, his life spirals into chaos.

“A psychological thriller that shows the depths that some people will go to to exact revenge. Set against a background of shady local politics and influence, it will keep you gripped until the end.”

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite   My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Published by Atlantic Books in 2019

Beautiful, popular Ayoola has just committed her third murder, the one that confers the label of serial killer, and ever-loyal sister Korede is once again waiting in the wings to clean up the mess. But when Ayoola sets her sights on Tade, a doctor in the hospital where Korede works and for whom she nurses a secret passion, something shifts. Has the worm finally turned? Add to the mix, Korede’s only confidant, the coma patient in Room 313 who was never expected to recover and to whom she has confided all, suddenly wakes up.

‘A darkly comic novel set in a sweltering Lagos which had me rooting for an accomplice to multiple murder and one which considers the age-old question of sibling rivalry and family loyalty in a page-turning thriller’. - recommended by a Shannon Library staff member

The Middle Place by Kealan Ryan   The Middle Place by Kealan Ryan
Published by Mercier press in 2019

A man and his wife are out for the night when he is confronted and struck by another man. One punch and he’s dead, leaving his wife to raise their son alone and his whole family and circle of friends devastated. He is left in ‘the middle place’ where he hears all the thoughts of his loved ones and more importantly, his murderer’s thoughts.

‘A thought provoking and very interesting read. At times funny and very moving.’ - recommended by a Kilkee Library staff member

The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor  

The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor
Published by HarperCollins in 2020

The year is 1668. James Marwood, a traitor’s son turned government agent, and his friend Cat Lovett, daughter of a disgraced regicide, find themselves caught up in an intrigue with Richard Cromwell, the exiled son of Oliver, whose questionable motives for returning to London place them in great danger. Marwood has also made an enemy of the powerful Duke of Buckingham who seeks to use the Cromwells for his own treasonous ends.
‘ I was looking forward to this fourth instalment of The Ashes of London series by one of the best historical crime writers around. Restoration London leaps into life with a cast of memorable characters drawn from all levels of society.’ - recommended by a Shannon Library staff member

Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney   Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney
Published by Book Outure in 2019

This is book 7 in the D.I. Lottie Parker series, and another addictive read from this author!
When two women are found murdered within 24 hours and then the scene staged with both wearing wedding dresses, Lottie is in a race against time to find this twisted and dangerous individual before another victim can be claimed. The killings seem so personal that Lottie is convinced the girls have been killed by someone they knew. Lottie takes this case into her own hands risking her own life, when she comes face to face with the killer.
‘ I’m such a fan of Patricia Gibney and love how the character D.I. Lottie Parker, flaws and all, has developed through this series. This book went top of my picks to read, and I look forward to book 8!’ - recommended by a Kilrush library staff member.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell  

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Published by Tinder Press in 2020

Maggie O’Farrell’s latest book Hamnet is named after Hamnet Shakespeare, the only son of William Shakespeare and Anne (or Agnes) Hathaway. William Shakespeare remains nameless throughout the novel and it is Agnes – a healer, considered wild and eccentric - who is the central character. O’Farrell imagines the couple’s early life together and the family’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon where William was often absent pursuing his theatre career in London.

When tragedy strikes the family, William throws himself into his work producing the play considered by many to be his greatest work, giving its tragic hero a variation of his dead child’s name. The death threatens to tear the couple apart as they struggle to cope in its aftermath.

"This book is a vivid reimagining of Shakespeare’s family life. Above all, though, it is about grief and loss, and the means by which people find their way through. Set in plague-stricken England in the 16th century, the story has particular significance in current times." - recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope   Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope
Published by Macmillan in 2020

It’s been twenty-five years since Gus and Monica left England to start a new life in Spain, building a vineyard and wine business from the ground up. However, when Gus suffers a stroke and their idyllic Mediterranean life is thrown into upheaval, it’s left to their three grown-up children in London to step in . . .

"Addressing issues such as aging, family dynamics, self-harm and relationships between men and women, this is classic Joanna Trollop territory featuring normal people, neither good nor evil, often making mistakes, faced with decisions they are uncertain about and sometimes breaking out of the mould. An enjoyable read" – recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Last Impressions by Joseph Kertes   Last Impressions by Joseph Kertes
(an eAudiobook available on Borrowbox)
Published by Penguin Canada in 2020

This is the story of Zoltan Beck a Hungarian Jewish refugee who is coming to end of his life in present day Canada surrounded by a loving but long-suffering family. Zoltan is a survivor of a Nazi prison camp and later Soviet invasion.

Zoltan is an irascible, funny character who does not believe in looking back but his son Ben and his wife want to uncover the secret’s Zoltan has buried deep inside. Zoltan only wants to be an ordinary man living an ordinary life but everything about him from his terrible driving to his terrible eating habits make him stand out. Intertwined is the story of young Zoltan and his beloved brother whose privileged life in Hungary could not protect them from the evils of Nazi persecution.

" I found myself compelled to keep listening and the actor’s voice and ability to tell a story made it all the more enjoyable." – recommended by a Kildysart Library staff member.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel   The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Published by Fourth Estate in 2020

Hilary Mantel does not fail to deliver in the final book in the Wolf Hall trilogy; the story of Thomas Cromwell who rose from humble beginnings to great power and notoriety as Henry VIII’s chancellor. This book focuses on Cromwell’s downfall brought about by his scheme to marry Henry to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleeves a good German Protestant, but not to Henry’s liking.
Mantel tells the story from inside Thomas Cromwell’s head and she channels him almost as a psychic would. Her writing gives incredible detail of Cromwell’s domestic household and the poisonous politics of the Tudor Court which brings the reader to the centre of the action.

"A must for anyone who has read her Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies." - recommended by a Kildysart Library staff member.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins   American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Published by Flatiron Books in 2020

American Dirt follows a middle-class Mexican woman and her son, who find themselves on the migrant trail to the US border, after surviving the massacre of 16 members of their family by a local drug cartel. They join the thousands of others risking all to escape the violence and horror of their home place. They witness great acts of kindness and of appalling cruelty in the desperate hope of a new start in the United States.

Cummins has been accused of racial stereotyping and misappropriation in this book. Nevertheless American Dirt is a gripping read which brings into sharp focus the harrowing experience of thousands of migrants who cross the US-Mexico border each year. - Recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak   10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
Published by Viking in 2019

This book tells the story of Tequila Leila, an Istanbul prostitute who lies murdered in a rubbish bin on the city’s outskirts. During the 10 minutes and 38 seconds that her mind takes to fully shut down, Leila goes back in time to trace the story of the little girl from the provinces who ended up in a brothel in Istanbul. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life. This is the story of a woman who retains her humanity despite a world bent on crushing her at every turn.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

‘I loved this moving, atmospheric book that gives a voice to those on the edges of society.’ -
Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes  

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
Published by Michael Joseph in 2020

This book is about the Casey family and their extended in-laws who spend a lot of time together. They all get on well until Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. With the entire family present at a birthday party, Cara starts spilling out all their secrets.

"It’s a while since I’ve read a Marian Keyes book, always picking up a thriller or murder mystery instead, but have to say that I was blown away with what a good read this book was. It was hilarious. I laughed so much my kids came in to see what was so funny. The book was also very touching and serious at times. A fantastic read (all 633 pages of it). I would highly recommend it – top marks." - Recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard  

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard
Published by Blackstone Publishing in 2019

An explosive story about a murder caught on a hidden camera in Shanaway Holiday Cottages, where Andrew the manager watches his only guest in her room. Who is the murderer and how did they know about the camera? To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking it is!

‘A great read with loads of twists in the plot.’ - Recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe  

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe
Published by Penguin Books in 2020

Winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2019 and with good reason. Lizzie Vogel and her eccentric family return in this laugh-out-loud, moving read with real heart. Lizzie begins her journey to adulthood as a dental assistant to the inept Dr. Wintergreen whilst living in a flat above the practice and starting a slow-burning romance with Andy, who becomes her free-spirited mother’s lodger. A charming coming of age book, set in the 1980’s, that will have you reaching for Stibbe’s other Vogel novels.

‘Read this a few months ago and loved it.’ - Recommended by a Shannon Library staff member

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton  

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton
Published by Picador in 2018

A riveting read, told energetically with no punches pulled. Two disparate characters form a relationship which enables them to grow past their life experiences as harsh and parched as the Australian desert in which the story unfolds.
The boy’s background is heart breaking and gives a very good understanding of why teenage boys can come across as tough on the outside.

‘Absolutely loved this book.’ - Recommended by a Scariff Library member

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See  

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Published by Scribner in 2017

This is a powerful and thought provoking novel about the changing lives of the Akha people, an ethnic minority living on the mountains in China. Li Yan lives with her family here, they obey Akha rules and harvest tea on the terraces to survive.
When outsiders visit and begin to purchase the teas, their lives change in many ways. The story is mainly based on Li Yan and the trials and hardships she had to endure and overcome, and the daughter she had to give up, who was adopted and lives in America.
I must admire the author for the research that was carried out on both China, Pu - Erh tea trading and harvesting, and how it added so much to the story. As it was set in the recent past it resonated even more with the reader. The difficulties encountered by the adopted Chinese children in America, was also delved into – this was the first, but not the last Lisa See book I’ll read. This was our book for this month’s book club and I must say I enjoyed it immensely.

Recommended by Kilkee Library bookclub

Anatomy of a Scandal by Susan Vaughan   Anatomy of a Scandal by Susan Vaughan
Published by Simon and Schuster in 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. The wife is sure that her husband is innocent and desperately tries to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Meanwhile the barrister who will prosecute the case is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

“This is a fast-paced contemporary read. I really enjoyed it.”

Recommended by a deValera Library staff member

When All is Said by Anne Griffin  

When All is Said by Anne Griffin
Published by Sceptre in 2019

Maurice Hannigan sits alone at the bar of a hotel in a small Irish town raising a toast to those who have meant most to him. His story is tragic and heart-warming and tells the tales of times past. This town could be any town in Ireland and will resonate with all of us. Anne Griffin writes beautifully and this story will raise many emotions in the reader.

Recommended by a Kilmihil Library staff member

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay  

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay
Published by Orion in 2018

Eight months ago Paul found two dead bodies in the back of a co-worker’s car. He was attacked, left for dead and now gets confused and has sudden panic attacks. He hears things no one else can – either he’s losing his mind or someone wants him to think he is.

“I love Linwood Barclay’s thrillers and this is possibly his best yet. Plenty of suspense and twists throughout – an excellent read.”

Recommended by a Kilkee Library staff member

Middle England by Jonathan Coe  

Middle England by Jonathan Coe
Published by Viking in 2018

A topical book which begins in 2010 and tells the story of a group of friends in the UK living through a tumultuous period culminating in the lead up to Brexit in 2018. From the highs of the London Olympics to the lows of the Brexit referendum, this is an insightful look at the times in which we’re living and the reasons why our nearest neighbour chose the Brexit route. It is told through the eyes of ordinary citizens as they go about their daily lives while cracks appear in society and start to show within families and between generations. It is a light-hearted read with plenty of humour from a writer the Observer called ‘a writer of uncommon decency’. The characters have previously appeared in The Rotters’ Club but the book can be read separately. It was an enjoyable read, a gentle way to understand the complexities of British society.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member

  The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Published by Little, Brown in 2019

In an isolated part of Australia, the Bright brothers are each other's nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart. When Cameron Bright is found dead from dehydration beside a local landmark, 9km from where his well-stocked Land Cruiser is parked, everyone is baffled. The assumption is suicide, but older brother Nathan – ostracised by the sparse local population for reasons that become clear– isn’t convinced. After an uncomfortable return to the family home, he discovers that the rest of his family have secrets to hide. Fabulously atmospheric, the book starts slowly and gradually picks up pace towards a jaw-dropping finale.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member

Dublin Palms by Hugo Hamilton
Published by HarperCollins in 2019

If you have read Hamilton’s The Speckled People, and I recommend you do, you will find that the protagonist in this, his latest book, delves deeper into the same themes of belonging and preoccupation with the desire to feel at home in one’s rightful place. Like the author the narrator is born to a German mother and an Irish nationalist father and grows up in a multi-lingual home. Working through everyday family events and experiences he has to contend with a job that has become just a means of surviving and the collapse of his and his wife’s business, a wellness café modelled on one they used to frequent in Berlin. As the creditors harass them for payments, Sean, Helen and their two children contemplate leaving everything behind. Is this the right decision? What will change and will it be for the better?

This is not an action-packed novel but a powerful thought-provoking read that is subtly full of suspense.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member


Her Husband’s Mistake by Sheila O’Flanagan
Published by Headline Review in 2019

After twenty years, and with two carefree kids, she and Dave are still the perfect couple. Until the day she comes home unexpectedly and finds Dave in bed with their attractive, single neighbour. Poor Roxy begins to question all aspects of her life – her marriage, her father’s business that she had taken over - and make decisions about her future and that of her family. Things have to change.

A great read, very humorous and enjoyable, kept me reading right to the last page!

Recommended by a staff member at Kilrush Library


This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Published by Headline Review in 2017

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever. A novel everyone should read.

Recommended by Sixmilebridge Library Bookclub

The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien   The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien
With a foreword by Eimear McBride
Published by Faber & Faber 2019

This trilogy contains the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girls and Girls in Their Married Bliss, all originally published in the 1960s. In them we meet Caithleen (Kate) Brady and Baba Brennan, two country girls growing up in County Clare, mid-west rural Ireland. We join them on their journey of friendship, love, loss and their efforts to escape the ties of not just their rural lifestyle but also the ties that bind them as young women in a male-dominated world.

In The Country Girls Kate and Baba are dealing with the many issues of maturing from young girls to young women and moving from their countryside homes to bigger, not necessarily better, surroundings. It is a coming of age novel with a story that was all too common at the time it was written.

In The Lonely Girl the two country girls have entered their twenties and are living in a boarding house in Dublin. Kate is still on her romantic quest to find true love while Baba continues her search for adventure and fun. Their differences cause inevitable conflict and push them further apart.

The last book of the trilogy, Girls in Their Married Bliss, sees a change in the narrative style with two narrators alternating throughout. The girls move further afield to London and, despite the book’s title, continue to struggle to find the bliss they desire in life.

These novels were written in a time when being open about sexuality and the hardship women endured was not considered acceptable. They were, in fact, banned and some accounts claim that the priest in Edna O’Brien’s home parish burned the books on the church grounds. They were revolutionary and set O’Brien aside as being way ahead of her time. These novels, along with her subsequent works, are testament to her determination, both as a writer and a woman, to portray the female experience with honesty, realism and wit.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain   Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain
Published by Quercus in 2019

“Death stalked the Vale. In every corner. Every whisper. They just didn’t know it yet. Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.
In the gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. But there’s just one problem. Olive Collins dead body has been rotting inside number four for the past three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished. The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless façade begins to crack”.

This book was a great read. Behind each front door is a web of lies and deceit. Each family member had their own flaws and secrets and differing opinions of their dead neighbour. Everyone had their own reasons to want Olive Collins dead but I had to read it to the last page to find out how Olive died! Really enjoyed it.

Recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member

Dissolution by C J Sansom   Dissolution by C J Sansom
Published by Macmillan in 2003

This is the first in the Matthew Shardlake series of books by Sansom. It’s set in 16th century and begins with the lawyer Matthew Shardlake being summoned to Westminster by his boss Thomas Cromwell. An investigator who had gone to a monastery to begin the dissolution of same has been brutally murdered. Matthew and his apprentice Mark Poer have to go to Scarnsea monastery to find out what happened and just who is responsible for the murder. Unfortunately, the murders don’t end there…

This was a really good read, a very nicely woven story and it was enjoyed by most of our bookclub. It gave a really good picture of society at that time – people were ruled by fear and there was so much uncertainty with all the changes that came with the dissolution of the Catholic Church in England. Shardlake was a likeable character who was fundamentally good, but naïve to a lot of evils done for advancement and status. This book sees him question things that he believes to be true, and has him change some of his views on the people he admired.

Recommended by Kilkee Library Bookclub

Twelve Thousand Days by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne   Twelve Thousand Days by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Published by Blackstaff Press 2018

This book is a memoir telling the story of the author’s thirty-year relationship with her late husband, folklorist Bo Almqvist. In it she eloquently deals with the topics of love, loss and grief and makes candid observations on Irish life and culture and the shortfalls of the Irish health system. She tells the familiar story of the one who is left behind after a partner leaves this world and the plethora of emotions and responsibilities tied in with that. She also gives a deep insight into the relationship she shared with her husband, going right back to when she met him in college, allowing the reader to see parts of their relationship that one might expect to remain private. In fact, the author emerges as a very private person but it makes the information she shares all the more honest and real. Dermot Bolger described this book, in The Irish Times, as being “a memoir nobody would wish to ever have to write but the journey of loss it charts that will chime with readers who know the double-edged price of love”.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver   Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Published by Faber & Faber in 2018

How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family’s one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own.

In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town’s powerful men.

Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult  

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2018

A Spark of Light is set in a centre for women's reproductive health in Mississippi where a gunman has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage. The book unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people - the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment - to this point. And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

“As usual Picoult tackles controversial subject coaxing us out of our prejudices and preconceptions and invites us to things through the eyes of those with different opinions to our own. A very timely book in light of the change in abortion legislation in Ireland.” - a Clare County Library staff member

The importance of being Aisling by Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen.   The importance of being Aisling by Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen.
Published by Gill Books in 2018

Aisling is 29 and she's still a complete Aisling. After a tough year, things between herself and John are back on track, and life with Sadhbh and Elaine in their Dublin apartment is more craic than ever. But when a shock change means moving Down Home might be her only option, Aisling is thrown. Can she give up the sophistication of brunch and unlimited Pinot Greej? Will she and Mammy kill each other living back under the same roof? And where does that leave her and John? When a girls' trip to Vegas gives Aisling some unexpected confidence, she decides it's time to grab Ballygobbard by the horns. Hilarious funny – book number 3 is on the way.

Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

The Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky   The Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky
Published by Harper in 2007

“This novel is a tense family drama with a few twists along the way. A story of two families looking into their past to get answers for the present. The Family Tree is a compelling read and makes it hard to put the book down until you get to the last page.”

Recommended by a Kilmihil Library member

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson  

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
Published by Two Roads in 2018

This debut novel by Sally Magnusson, writer and broadcaster, is based on real events from 1627 when Barbary pirates raided Iceland and abducted 400 men, women and children. These people were brought to Algiers to be sold as slaves. One abducted family consisted of a pastor, his pregnant wife and two children. This is the fictionalised account of Asta, the pastor’s wife. The story tells how Asta copes with separation from her homeland and family, life in the harem, exposure to another culture and her relationship with Cilleby, the slave-owner. Asta is a storyteller and the Icelandic sagas provide comfort and escapism as she adapts to her new life. Historical accounts remain from this time including one from Asta’s husband Olafur but the voices of women were silent. Magnusson choose the female voice to look at the themes of exile, slavery and motherhood and Asta’s story is engrossing and memorable.

In 1631, the village of Baltimore, Co Cork was also raided by Barbary pirates. The Baltimore villagers were also sold as slaves in Algiers. That story can be found in Des Ekin’s ‘The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates’.

Recommended by Dolores, a Library HQ staff member.

Snap by Belinda Bauer  

Snap by Belinda Bauer
Published by Bantam Press in 2018

On a stifling summer’s day Jack & his two sisters sit in their broken down car waiting for their mother who has gone for help to come back for them. But she never comes back and life as the children know it has changed forever.
A great crime novel, full of suspense, makes you wonder what really goes on behind closed doors!

Recommended by Dianne, a Kilrush Library staff member.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler  

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Published by Chatto and Windus in 2018

When does one learn to live life on one’s own terms, and not on the terms of those supposedly our nearest and dearest? This is the dilemma faced by Willa Drake in Anne Tyler’s new novel though she is largely unaware of it for most of the book. Self-awareness and self-realization comes slowly and painfully to Willa at the age of sixty-one and at no little personal cost.

We first encounter Willa as an eleven year old child in Pennsylvania and we later see her as a college student in Illinois in the late seventies before her married life in Southern California. A second marriage takes her to Tucson, Arizona. Fate, chance and mishap takes her to Baltimore in 2017, when Willa is 61, and she begins unexpectedly to feel a sense of true family, community, belonging and self-awareness.

"Written with Tyler’s usual elegance and guile, Clock Dance is a heart-warming and life-affirming study of an ordinary American life with an engaging cast of characters – not all of them likeable – and the lessons to be learned when we finally wish to live our lives to suit ourselves and not be taken for granted by others". - a Local Studies staff member

Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearse   Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearse
Published by Picador in 2018

Emmeline Lake works in a couple of part time jobs in 1940s London. One of these jobs is to answer phonecalls after German bombs are dropped on the city. She applies for another job in a newspaper to fulfil her dream of becoming a war correspondent but is disappointed to be assigned to assist the paper’s agony aunt. But Emmeline finds a way to expand her role!

"This funny book provides a great insight into the everyday lives of women in London during World War 2". - a Sixmilebridge Library member

Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon   Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon
Published by Corvus in 2017

I read this books on Borrowbox – the library’s eBook service. This was my first read from Holly Seddon and I loved it - a thriller with a twist - unlikeable adult characters that ruin their children’s futures with their selfishness. I found it hard to put down and was grabbing a quick read whenever I got the chance. I have another of Holly Seddon’s books on reserve on Borrowbox! - a Kilmihil Library staff member

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll   I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Published by Thomas and Mercer in 2017

The opening chapter sets the scene for this novel. A woman on a train journey overhears two males strike up a conversation with two teenage girls. She debates warning these girls to be careful of their new found friends, decides to say nothing and concentrates instead on her own journey ahead. She awakes to terrible news the following morning and the fallout of her decision begins.
The story is told from a different character’s perspective in each chapter and slowly the truth comes out.

"This book is a real page turner, and I read it in two sittings. I really enjoyed it and have ordered more books by this author who I had never heard of before". - a Kilrush Library staff member

Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar   Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Published by Penguin Random House in 2018

Based on her dissertation this book has received a lot of hype from publishers. But it is completely merited – as it is a very well researched book – the story developed from a ‘real mermaid’ found in the British Museum. The author began writing fiction about unusual objects that she found in museums where she worked. But her research is evident throughout the book even down to the typeset that she chose.

The story begins with Jonah Hancock, a merchant, being given a mermaid in 1785 London. He decides to put it on display and meets up with Mrs Chappell who runs a brothel who wants to get it for her clients. She entreats Angelica Neal, one of her former girls, the heroine, to try to entice the mermaid away from Jonah.
The parallels between the women in the novel and the mermaid are obvious. They are trapped in their worlds but do their best to improve their situation by using their wiles. These are well rounded characters – earthy, bawdy and likeable and the story goes at a great pace.

“This is great historical fiction with similar to Austen & Dickens. I would totally recommend.” - a DeValera Library staff member

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth  

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Published by Hodder in 2018

“This book wasn’t my usual choice of reads, I’m more a thriller reader!
It had a feel of “Desperate Housewives” with the setting in a small suburb of Pleasant Court, three women each with their own secrets and an obsession with their new neighbour! I oved how the story went from present day to past events, made me laugh out loud and then tear up for the characters, who all had their own struggles despite the perfect happy family image that their neighbours saw.

A very enjoyable read, will be looking for more books by this author.” - a Kilrush Library staff member

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park  

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park
Published by Bloomsbury in 2018

A frozen winter setting with a father embarking on a roadtrip to bring his sick son home from a snowed-in Sunderland University where all the Christmas flights home are grounded, this book brings the father on his own personal journey through the struggles of a family in a crisis and his own inner turmoil.

“Beautifully written book, with many references to historical events that take us all on this personal journey. Loved this book!” - a Kilrush Library staff member

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie   Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Published by Bloomsbury in 2017

Home Fire is told through the viewpoints of its 5 main characters. Isma Pasha, a young woman who is finally free from the responsibility of raising her younger siblings after their mother's death; her twin siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz; Karamat Lone, a powerful British Muslim politician and his son Eamonn. The lives of the two families become inextricably, devastatingly entwined when Parvaiz decides to join ISIS after discovering that his absent father died en route to Guantánamo.

Home Fire is a novel about love, family loyalty and sacrifice. It offers an insight into the lives of Muslims in a world that often regards them with suspicion, and into how young men can so easily become radicalised.

“It took a while to get into this book but overall we found it an absorbing read.” - Kilkee Library Bookclub

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney  

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney
Published by Sphere in 2018

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

“Excellent book. Great read” – a Sixmilebridge reader

Dark Pines by Will Dean  

Dark Pines by Will Dean
Published by Point Blank in 2018

A thriller set in Sweden. This is Dean’s debut novel, told through its reporter heroine Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf woman working for the local paper. A pair of eyeless hunters are found dead in the woods – a chilling read, with a twist in the tale.

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin  

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Published by Faber in 2010

Willy Vlautin's third novel offers an insight into an America rarely seen in Hollywood movies. Vlautin's America is a place of deep poverty and isolation where the ‘American Dream’ doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Lean on Pete is seldom heartwarming but very real. Vlautin’s prose is sparse and beautiful but it is his characters that really stop you in your tracks. An excellent book.” – Scariff Library Bookclub

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney   Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Published by Faber & Faber in 2017

This modern story is centred on the character of Frances, a young Trinity College student and those that orbit around her. She is an aspiring writer and now performs Spoken Word Poetry with her close friend Bobbi. Bobbi is an anarchic character who prides herself on her non-conformity yet lives on inherited wealth. Ex-lovers, Frances and Bobbi continue to be entwined in each other’s lives. They meet photographer/writer Melissa who offers to do a profile of them. They become increasingly involved in Melissa’s adult world, meeting her actor husband Nick and becoming embroiled in their complicated marriage. Set in Dublin with a sojourn in France, the characters inhabit the Arts world and scene settings include plays, book launches and poetry performances.

"The book gives an insight into the world of young Irish people – sexually liberated, educated, articulate yet pressured to “act unfazed”. Conversations often centre on culture, art, friendship and politics and take place through emails and instant messaging as well as conventional interactions. An emotionally-intelligent read, Frances belongs to the world of Dublin literati but still faces battles with low self-esteem, parental concerns and physical illness". - a Clare County Library staff member

Sally Rooney will perform with Mary Morrissy at The Friday Night Festival Club at the Temple Gate Hotel at 10pm on Friday 2nd March as part of the 2018 Ennis Bookclub Festival.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult   Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2016

Jodi Picoult tackles the issue of race and prejudice in this absorbing read. Ruth Jefferson is a maternity nurse in a Connecticut hospital. She is asked to do a routine checkup on a newborn baby but the parents ask for her to be reassigned because they do not want her to touch their child. Why? Because they are white supremacists and Ruth is African-American. When the baby dies, Ruth is blamed and charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public attorney, takes her case and the story encompasses the trial and how it affects Ruth, her family and Turk, the baby's father.

'The story is a topical one with current race relations in the US and provides an interesting glimpse of how ingrained racism can be and how the beliefs of white supremacy continue to prevail. Jodi Picoult has often tackled modern issues in her books but this tale of racism is a thought-provoking read.' - a Shannon Library bookclub member

Can You Keep a Secret by Karen Perry   Can You Keep a Secret by Karen Perry
Published by Penguin in 2017

Twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel or set foot in Thornbury Hall - the now crumbling home of the Bagenal Family - where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal's eighteenth birthday party, the night everything changed. Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. It’s not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. But some secrets should never be told.

‘This book was a real page turner, great plot and characters, kept my interest to the very last page. I thoroughly enjoyed it!’ - a Kilrush Library staff member
The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria   The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria
Published by Harper Collins in 2017

It’s been fifteen years since Stella last met George, an old flame from her schooldays. Despite the relationship ending badly, something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the class reunion invite, knowing that George will possibly be there. There is still a spark between them and despite the fact that George is now happily married to Ness, they have an affair. Thus begins a roller-coaster of ups and down for all involved with unforeseen and tragic consequences.

‘A gripping read from start to finish with twists and turns throughout. Once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down.’ - a Miltown Malbay Library staff member

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr   All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Harper Collins 2015

A beautifully written novel about a six year old blind girl called Marie Laure and a boy called Werner. The story revolves around how their paths converge during World War II. Marie Laure and her father take refuge in the Brittany coast when the Nazis invade Paris. Werner on the other hand is an orphan and is gifted at repairing and fixing radios which enables him to track the Resistance. After travelling through Hitler Youth and into Russia, it is in Saint-Malo that Marie Laure and Werner eventually meet.

‘A truly inspiring book from cover to cover. It captures the complexities of World War II and the love that survives hardship’ – a Miltown Malbay bookclub member

The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam   The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam
Published by Faber and Faber 2017

This beautifully written book tells the story of religious intolerance in modern day Pakistan. Pakistan is deeply divided along religious lines of Muslin and Christian, but is also divided from its nearby neighbour of India. Suspicion and extreme brutality are constant features of life here. Yet, Aslam, writes exquisite, deeply moving stories of love and loyalty despite the visceral violence present in all segments of society.

The story opens with Nargis and her husband, Massud attending the opening of a new library. Shots ring out and Massud is killed. Under pressure from Pakistani secret intelligence, Nargis fears her deepest secret will be revealed. She, her surrogate daughter Helen and Imran, a mysterious stranger seek refuge on an island. Here love, hope and resilience blossom despite all.

‘I found this book to be an enlightening read as I knew so little about Pakistan and its divided society. It is also beautifully written filled with visual images such as the paper buildings hanging in the architect’s library.’ – a DeValera Library staff member

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne   The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Published by Doubleday in 2017

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

‘This is a very emotive book, gives a greater understanding of social pressures. You will laugh and cry and you won’t want to put it down!!!!’ - a Lisdoonvarna Library staff member

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles   A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Published by Hutchinson in 2016

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. However, instead of being taken to his usual suite as a guest, he is instead led to an attic room and is sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. Thus begins the story of his life inside the small confines of this room.

‘A wonderfully written book, to be read slowly and savoured and most enjoyable for anyone interested in Russian history.’ - Miltown Malbay Bookclub

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline   Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Published William Morrow in 2013

This was an amazing story covering the past and the present of two orphans. Molly is living with foster parents, Dina and Ralph. She is caught 'stealing' a book from the library and has to serve 20 hours on a service project. Her project is to help 90 year old Vivian clean out her attic. Vivian and Molly talk about Vivian's life in America, her journey starting out travelling across the Atlantic Ocean on a ship to Ellis Island. Her family dies in a fire and so she is put on an 'Orphan Train', a train full of orphans looking for foster families. While cleaning out the attic, Molly takes a visit into Vivian's past, learning about her journey on the Orphan Train.

‘A really good book based on a true story – an eye opener.’ – Sixmilebridge Library Bookclub

  Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Published by Tinder Press 2017

This is a story of friendship and love and the power of art to make a difference in a life. The opening narration is by 46-year-old Ellis. His mother had a great appreciation of art which she passed on to Ellis. However, following her death when Ellis was still a teenager, his father refused to entertain his plan of becoming an artist. Ellis now works night shifts in an Oxford car plant and is a widower living a lonely life.
The second narrator is Michael, best friend of Ellis since childhood. He tells of his life in London and his memories of their special times together, including a trip to the south of France where, for a brief period, they were lovers.

‘The writing is powerful, the story is poignant and the language is beautiful. You’ll want to read it in one sitting but it’ll stay with you for far longer.’ - a Clare County Library staff member

The Good People by Hannah Kent   The Good People by Hannah Kent
Published by Picador in 2017

Nora struggles to care for her grandson following the death of her daughter and her husband. Mary arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Set in 1820s Kerry and based on a true story, this book shows the depths to which people in desperate circumstances are driven.

‘A compelling, though disturbing, book. Very atmospheric. People who enjoyed Burial Rites will not be disappointed.’ - a reader in DeValera Library, Ennis.

The Witness by Simon Kernick   The Witness by Simon Kernick
Published by Century in 2016

When Jane Kinnear sees her lover being murdered, she suddenly finds herself in danger. Taken to an anonymous police safe house, it soon becomes clear that her lover was an MI5 informant with important information about an imminent terrorist attack.

‘A very entertaining book. The plot is superb and keeps the reader glued to the pages right to the end. I will be looking for more books by this author.’ - a reader in Tulla Library.

 Coffin Road by Peter May   Coffin Road by Peter May
Published by Quercus in 2016

A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.

‘Great read – gripping from start to finish.’ - a reader in Sixmilebridge Library.

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