Teenage and Young Adult books have grown in popularity over the past number of years, thanks to the successes of Twilight and The Hunger Games. However, with such a wide and diverse range of genres out there, where do you even begin to choose the highlights of the year?
Well, how about starting with some oldies (but not really that old) and classics.
First published in 2001, Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman is one of the original dystopian series out there for young adults. This hard hitting tale of love, death and betrayal is set in an alternate world where class and race decide our role in society, and it’s a must-read for ANY fans of The Hunger Games. We have the first two titles in the series in a handy bind-up.
Another amazing series for those who have moved on from Twilight and are looking for something slightly more edgy, but also featuring demons, vampires, warlocks and werewolves, is The Mortal Instruments Series Box Set by Cassandra Clare. With a massive movie due next year starring Lily Collins, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, this is a must-read for those who like to be ahead of the curve.
Teen Thriller is the new Vampire Lit and you can’t go wrong with the Queen of Thrills, Sophie McKenzie. Book Three in her enthralling ‘Girl Missing’ series, Missing Me, picks up where Sister, Missing left off. It’s tense, taut, edge of the seat stuff.
Finally, I know he’s not technically for teenage readers but he is read by a lot of them so I’d have to say Lord Derek Landy and his Skulduggery Pleasant : Kingdom of the Wicked is a must-have for any teens who love an action packed, comedy filled adventure full of all sorts of madness and mayhem.
Now, when I looked at my overall list of books of the year, I found that they were all actually from the teen/ young adult genre. So, from these, here are my Top 3 Absolute Must-Reads :
First up is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This poignant, funny, tragic tale of a cancer support group for kids and it’s teenage heroine, Hazel , was one of this year’s gems. I implore you: read it and weep. It’s time for everyone to see what all the fuss is about. I predict that 2013 will be the year John Green’s star shines brightest and he becomes a global superstar.
Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, by Veronica Roth is my favourite dystopian series since The Hunger Games. This edge of the seat novel is filled with chaos, warring factions, brutal governments and an empowered and strong lead female character, Tris. Again, this is one that I’ve re-read numerous times and it just gets better and better with every read. Amazing stuff, which will leave you breathless. Next up is Fear, part of the GONE series by Michael Grant. Think Heroes meets Lord of the Flies but darker. Teens and younger kids are trapped in a world where adults have vanished, powers have been accessed, both good and evil, and chaos is the norm. If you have teen boys or girls in need of some adrenaline-fuelled reading material, this is the series for you. Love it!
And finally, we have Wonder by RJ Palacio. A book of beauty and class that had me laughing, crying and basically wanting to walk around handing out copies of it and forcing people to read it. Like The Fault in our Stars, this tale of a young boy and how he and his peers deal with his facial disfigurement is not a tale of sadness and negativity, but more an uplifting tale of battling against the odds to feel, simply, normal.
It’s that time of year when the papers are full of round ups of the best books of 2012, and we hope that you’ll indulge us if we sum up the books that we have read and loved in the last twelve months. Hopefully you’ll find something here that I’ve picked out six of my absolute favourites, and then we’ve a full list of recommendations from the Eason books team for you to enjoy!
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Absolutely and unequivocally my favourite book of the year, and one that features on the lists of almost all of our book buying team (credit for discovering this one must go to our colleague Stephen Boylan, who was the first to spot it!). Set in a small American college, following the fortunes of talented outsider Henry and his baseball team, it’s a book that takes in a huge sweep of human experience. Forget the fact that it’s about baseball (unless, of course, you’re a baseball fan, in which case read it immediately): this book is about hopes and dreams and striving to win – or even to keep going – when things are tough. It’s a huge and satisfying novel but nonetheless I literally read it in one sitting, absolutely spellbound.
Broken Harbour by Tana French
We all have our favourite genres and I must confess that I’m not much of a crime reader, but a new Tana French is always a forsake-all-other-books event for me, and Broken Harbour did not disappoint. A deserved winner of this year’s Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction, this is a superb piece of writing. Opening with the brutal murder of a family of four in a ghost estate in north Dublin, the book is in turns gripping and unsettling but always compelling and insightful. Tana captures the hopes and aspirations of the Celtic tiger and the dire disappointments of its aftermath in a way that no other writer has.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This is ‘the one that got away’ for 2012: a brilliant book that didn’t sell nearly as many copies as it deserved to! The premise of the book is simple, but very chilling: the earth has begun to slow. Days and nights start to last longer. Birds fall out of the sky, confused by the change in gravitational pull. Crops slowly fail. Society divides into those who observe the old clock, and those who try to keep pace with the new one. Suspicions grow and communities divide. In the midst of this slowly creeping dystopia, teenage Julia is struggling with her new life as well as the usual challenges of that stage of life. A brilliant, thoughtful and atmospheric book: definitely worth a read!
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
The outstanding Irish literary debut of 2012, without a doubt. This book became an instant word-of-mouth favourite in the Irish bookselling world, and we were all delighted when Donal won the Best Newcomer Award at the Irish Book Awards this year. Set in small town Ireland, centred loosely around one violent event, it has huge emotional range. The many voices of the community tell the story, and the scope of Donal Ryan’s writing talent is showcased as each voice is honest, powerful and unique. Disturbing and at times brutal, but with an underlying warmth and understanding of human nature, this really is a magnificent book. We look forward to hearing more from Donal Ryan.
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
This was certainly one of the most hyped books of the year – would it live up to the magic of Harry Potter? I must confess, I read it more out of a sense of duty initially: the machinations of a small town English residents’ committee didn’t seem like the most appealing subject matter! But a few pages in and I was hooked. All of human life is featured in the small town of Pagford and its community: from petty vanities and rivalries to the depths of grief, and the complexities of love and obsession. The book explores social class and snobbery with a sharp and critical eye. A very satisfying read, and one that establishes JK Rowling as an adult writer to follow.
Wonder by RJ Palacio
Warm, wise, funny, inspiring and heartbreaking, this is a gorgeous ‘crossover’ novel – one that works for both adults and kids. Ten year old Auggie is born with a serious facial disfigurement, and it is in his voice that the story is told. Loved and supported by his parents, he makes the decision to move from home school to high school, where he is met with a huge range of responses: from kindness to cruelty, embarrassment to attention, encouragement to avoidance. Auggie’s voice is brave and honest, and stayed with me for months after I put the book down.
Our Eason Team Favourites
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
The House of Memories by Monica McInerney
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
In the first of two parts, Eason Children’s Category Manager, David O’Callaghan, throws his beady eye over books for kids aged 0-12.
Christmas time… Mistletoe and books… What is not to love about a period of the year when there is an overwhelming choice of books that will have your bookshelves creaking, your head scratching (as you try to figure out which one to read next) and your family guessing as to what to buy you, as you seem to have read everything out there? Below is a list I’ve put together of books that, if I had a stocking large enough, I’d fully expect to find hanging on my fireplace (if I had a fireplace).
In the 0-4 age group, I can’t look any further than a trio of picture books that I adore for very different reasons. Pirates Love Underpants is a whacky, zany, madcap tale that kids will adore. Be gone those Aliens! Those Dinosaurs can walk that plank! It’s the Pirates’ turn to become obsessed with underpants. On a much calmer and more beautiful note, Guess How Much I Love You: Here There & Everywhere by Sam McBratney is another timeless classic in this beautifully illustrated series, with four more tales featuring Big & Little Nutbrown Hare. Stunning. Finally, I have to go with This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. As is to be expected from Mr Jeffers, Moose is a quirky tale of a boy and his Moose…or is it HIS moose?! That seems to be the question. Brilliantly conceived and amazingly designed – I loved every bit of this book.
In the 5-8 age group, I have to start with Captain Underpants & the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey, comic strip madness & mayhem from what I consider the original ‘Wimpy Kid’. You want bonkers? Well, this book is stuffed to the rafters with it & the kids will fall off the couch with laughter when they read it – so have plenty of cushions lying around.
Next up are two perfect gift books for fans of the hottest brands among 5-8 year old boys & girls: Bringing together all their favourite characters in a nice little gift hardback, Beast Quest: Complete Book of Beasts and Rainbow Magic : Complete Book of Fairies are a stocking filler’s delight. You can’t go wrong with these. Nor can you go astray with The Wind in the Willows (Gift Edition) by Kenneth Grahame. This classic tale gets a contemporary look from the wonderful David Roberts, illustrator of Dirty Bertie. Cute, feisty and stunningly produced… This is a must-have gift for families everywhere.
Another one that caught my eye is Spellbound: Tales of Enchantment from Ireland by Siobhan Parkinson & Olwyn Whelan. This gift book features classic Irish tales told through beautiful imagery and the words of Siobhan Parkinson. For anyone who loves a seasonal Irish-themed gift book for younger readers, this is a must-have.
The 9+ age group is our biggest, most popular children’s category and the choices are endless. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel is such a no-brainer, and a sure-fire Christmas bestseller, that I feel I should be mentioning one of its successful ‘genre spinoffs’ instead. It has to be Dork Diaries 5: Dear Dork by Rachel Renée Russell. Nikki Maxwell’s latest adventure takes her on a mission to defeat her arch nemesis, with – as usual – catastrophic results! The Dork Diaries series has grown in popularity among girls in the past few years and continues to go from strength to strength. Other ‘Wimpy genre’ hits include Big Nate, Tom Gates and World of Norm.
Ratburger is a Roald Dahl-esque cracker from Mr. David Walliams. He is fast becoming the go-to guy for 9+ kids looking for hilarious, quirky and often touching novels.
Judi Curtin’s books are like a Hot Chocolate on a cold winter’s morning. With Leave It to Eva, she writes another cracker, retaining her title as Ireland’s answer to Jacqueline Wilson.
Finally in this age group, we have an oldie but a CLASSIC: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Every kid (and grown-up) will need to be in touch with their inner-Hobbit, as the movie trilogy is about to begin. Tolkien’s tale for younger readers sends us back to where it all began.
Check back on Friday for the second part of my Christmas Crackers, where I will be looking at what’s on offer for the teen and young adult gift-buyer.
The Coca-Cola truck, the Kellogg’s Ad, Walking in the Air… When these start appearing on our televisions, we know that Christmas has well and truly arrived. A slightly less obvious but no less consistent feature on the small screen around Christmas time is the BBC’s annual foray into wildlife documentary. Planet Earth, Frozen Planet… over the years, we have been treated to some of the most mind-blowing feats of documentary film-making, transporting us to the most amazing places on Earth. Thankfully, this year is no different, with Sir David Attenborough and the award-winning BBC Natural History Unit returning with a landmark new series starting on Christmas Day. Africa: Eye to Eye with the Unknown uses remote HD cameras to paint a breath-taking portrait of Africa as never before caught on film. What’s more, it is accompanied by a fantastic book of the same name, available in stores today (6th December). This lavish and unmissable companion to the BBC One series reveals the undiscovered side of Africa’s five unique regions. Inspiring photography captures unprecedented wildlife behaviour, mesmerising new creatures and magical landscapes that will astound and captivate, and will challenge what you think you know about Africa.
And while this all sounds fantastic, I haven’t even got to the best part yet, because this is no ordinary book. Read on to get the lowdown from publishers Quercus on what makes Africa: Eye to Eye with the Unknown such a special publication…
It’s December now so we are officially allowed to spread some Christmas cheer! There’s nothing quite like a nice Christmas book to get you in the festive mood and what is Christmas without Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman? There’s a Snowman for every age group, even the buggy-bound. And best of all? There’s even a SOUND book with a built-in jingle bell! Sing it together now: we’re waaalking in the aaaiiirrr……
If that’s all a bit much for you, there’s always the more sedate Michael Morpurgo, with his Christmas Collection. It’s been a great year for Michael, with War Horse and Private Peaceful still selling like hot mince pies (see what I did there?) and you can always rely on him to tell a great story. This book brings together three of his previous Christmas tales (‘The Best Christmas Present in the World’, ‘On Angel Wings’ and ‘The Best of Times’), along with a brand new one, ‘The Goose is Getting Fat’, all lovingly illustrated by Quentin Blake.
If your little ones are just learning to read, try Horrid Henry’s Christmas Presents by Francesca Simon. It has simple text for early readers and everyone loves Henry. Why? Because he’s so horrid!
For those old enough to read alone, give them Rover Saves Christmas by Roddy Doyle. This is kid-comedy at its finest, complete with Doyle’s trademark wit. My 8 year old cousin couldn’t get enough of Rover the Dog and his adventures.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, try this magical pop-up edition from Walker Books of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas I also highly recommend The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray, an absolutely beautiful book based on the classic rhyme. The illustrations are mesmerising and the cover even comes with a bit of sparkle!
And from the sublime to the downright ridiculous, we have Santa’s Christmas Munch, a board book complete with hand-puppet Santa. Stick your fingers in his beard and make him munch through everything the boys and girls leave out for him to eat on Christmas Eve! And after that, as is inevitable, it’s time for Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan! I always did wonder what Santa did when he needed to go…
If it’s an unusual gift book you’re looking for, I can’t recommend The Jolly Christmas Postman highly enough. For decades, Janet and Allan Ahlberg have been creating incredibly intricate books with the most minute details, like mini letters to pull out and read, and all sorts of tiny items to examine. There’s always something new to find every time you open one of their books and this Christmas edition is no exception.
If you need to keep them busy while you’re doing the annual pre-Christmas clearout, you can rely on the Usborne Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do, which is packed full of ideas and simple step-by-step instructions for decorations, cards and wrapping, as well as recipes and lots of stickers!
We started with Raymond Briggs, so we’ll finish with him, and my personal favourite, Father Christmas. So jump up on that sleigh and we’re all on our way, to another bloomin’ Christmas!
I love Amy Huberman. She is my favourite Irish personality du-jour for many reasons, not least because she went on The Late Late Show wearing shoes from Penneys. She also tweeted a photo of those cute M&S baby bananas the other night… What’s not to love!
Since their marriage in 2010, Amy and her rugby legend husband have firmly held onto the title of The Nation’s Favourite Couple but don’t be fooled, Amy is certainly more than your average WAG! Since filming wrapped on the second season of her Comedy Central sitcom, Threesome, Amy has kept herself busy: cultivating her status as Twitter comedienne extraordinaire, making a baby (!) and, of course, writing her second novel.
Her 2010 debut, Hello Heartbreak, was a huge bestseller here in Ireland, helped of course by her public profile in both The Clinic and her relationship with Brian O’Driscoll. Now though, with a UK sitcom under her belt, not to mention her attendance at a certain Royal Wedding, her new novel, I Wished for You,is likely to catapult Amy up the charts both at home and across the water. I really hope it does because for this effort, she really deserves it.
While The Sunday Indo compared her first attempt to “Jane Austen on ecstasy”, her second novel is definitely the product of a more mature, experienced writer. It’s still got that refreshing, slightly quirky tone to it and her trademark wit really shines through, but unlike the vacuous personalities often present in the ‘chick lit’ genre, her characters have real emotional depth and what you see is not always what you get. I loved the character of Verity, the mysterious old lady in the vintage shop with the heavily-guarded backstory and more Hollywood anecdotes than you can shake a 1930s silk flapper dress at. I also enjoyed the fact that Grace and Robbie’s story it wasn’t a typical boy-meets-girl scenario, but a relationship taking a less-than-traditional path. All in all, I Wished for You is a surprisingly accomplished novel and one I thoroughly recommend.
This month sees the last round of Eason Book Club titles until after Christmas so we thought we’d better make them good ones! This week’s title is The Absolutist by John Boyne. Though also set in wartime, don’t be fooled – this novel is a serious departure from John’s most celebrated work, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The Absolutist tells the story of 20 year old Tristan who, upon returning home from The Great War, must deliver an important stash of letters to the sister of his fallen comrade, Will. A simple enough task in itself but the truth is that Will and Tristan were lovers, a fact that both struggled with throughout the war. Furthermore, Will has brought shame and dishonour on his family by laying down arms and declaring himself a conscientious objector on the battlefield. This is a moving account of the futility of war and the desperation of two young men doing battle both inside and out.
Continuing on the war theme with The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky, we meet Helene Karol, a young girl who, neglected by her self-absorbed mother and distant father, longs for love and freedom. Growing up against the backdrop of The Great War and then The Russian Revolution, Helene is an angry young woman intent on destruction. Considering Nemirovsky not only grew up in this period, fleeing the Russian Empire with her family in 1917, but also wrote prolifically on the volatile and unhappy relationship she had with her mother, we can assume that this particular posthumous novel is largely autobiographical. A must-read for fans of Suite Francaise.
In a very different time and place, Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison takes us on an eye-opening journey into Mumbai’s seedy underworld and the nightmare of two orphaned girls swept into the international sex trade. On the other side of the world, Washington lawyer Thomas Clarke is struggling to cope after the death of his baby daughter and the collapse of his marriage. He takes a sabbatical from his high-pressure job and accepts a position with the Bombay branch of an international anti-trafficking group, only to embark on a desperate path to try and save not only himself and his marriage, but also the lives of the two sisters.
A.M. Homes’ new novel, May We Be Forgiven, has just been released so what better time than this to highlight her previous novel, This Book Will Save Your Life, which never quite got the recognition it deserved on this side of the water. Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorcé trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one – except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn’t even notice until two incidents – an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room, and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house – conspire to hurl him back into the world. A vivid, revealing novel about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you.
And finally, we have Seducing Ingrid Bergman by Chris Greenhalgh, a novel based on the sweeping and passionate love affair between Ingrid Bergman and Robert Capa, one they kept secret from both Hollywood and Ingrid’s controlling husband. Desperate to be together, Ingrid vows to abandon her marriage, but their happiness is brought to a crashing halt with a turn of events neither of them could ever have predicted. Greenhalgh was the screenwriter behind the beautiful French film, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009), which should give you some idea of the romance, passion and glamour in store for the reader in this intriguing work of historical fiction.
Let us know what you think of this month’s selections on Eason Book Club and be sure to let us know what you’re reading over Christmas!
Every month here at Eason Book Club, we choose a selection of titles that we think book clubs around the country will enjoy. The subject matter is always varied, always topical, with something to appeal to all tastes. This month’s choices include a harrowing story of a child on trial for murder (The Guilty One), a gripping account of the psychological impact of war (The Yellow Birds), a child born into a fragile world on the eve of the German invasion of France (The Confidant), a marriage with a dark ending (The Rose Petal Beach) and a new narrative on love and war from the critically-acclaimed author of Birdsong (A Possible Life).
As well as new titles, we also like to highlight authors’ older works that we feel deserve some more recognition. This week’s choice is David Guterson’s modern day reimagining of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex in which a risk assessor takes the biggest risk of his own life and sleeps with his not-entirely-legal au pair, resulting in a string of serious consequences, not least the birth of the eponymous character, Ed King.
Next up is Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question, which tells the story of a group of old acquaintances who come together one evening to reminisce about the past in this clever, darkly comical but ultimately very wise novel by the winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize and self-confessed “Jewish Jane Austen”.
Later in the month, we highlight one of our favourite novels of last year, Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side in which we meet Lily Bere, an elderly woman mourning the loss of her beloved grandson and looking back on the many difficulties she’s had to deal with throughout her life, from the moment she was forced to flee Ireland in the early 20th century and build a new life for herself in America. Covering several decades and continents, this is a story that is at once epic and intimate, as Sebastian Barry delicately weaves Lily’s tale with his trademark prose and attention to detail. Near perfect! And if you’ve already enjoyed Barry’s novel, may we recommend Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, involving another epic ocean crossing, this time to Australia. Sarah must embark on a journey into her past in order to save her relationship, in this novel about love, tangled histories and how it matters to keep stories alive.
And finally, to finish up the month, we have The Midwife’s Daughter by Patricia Ferguson, a moving tale of love, prejudice, tragedy, bravery and the changing lives of women in the early twentieth century. Violet has delivered many of the town’s children in her capacity as handywoman but with medical advances, her calling is dying out. For Violet and Grace, a young black orphan and Violet’s adopted daughter, the coming war will bring more upheaval into their lives: can they endure it, or will they, like so many, be swept aside by history’s tide?
There’s only one way to find out!
Nestled between the fifty shades of fiction, crime, and fantasy books in our stores, you’ll find two excellent examples of a genre that is often neglected: the comic novel. Both Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Family Fang arrive from the US laden with great reviews from readers and critics alike.
Bernadette is the second novel from Maria Semple, a Seattle-based novelist and former contributor to shows such as Saturday Night Live and Arrested Development. The book’s protagonist, Bernadette Fox, has become the infamous scourge of her town. An award-winning, pioneering architect in her day, she has been reduced to squabbling with the local housewives (who she refers to as ‘gnats’) over participation in after-school activities and the troublesome blackberry vines in her back garden. Her daughter, the talented Bee, takes it all in her stride as she prepares for her departure to boarding school.
Through a series of emails, memos, and articles, Semple constructs a madly self-obsessed world that opens up brilliantly in its final chapters. Fans of shows such as The Office and 30 Rock will find lots to love in the scathing satire here, as will readers of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
A family of a very different ilk takes centre stage (literally) in Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang. The Fangs are not only a close-knit family unit but also a performance troupe prone to springing their hackneyed “art” on unsuspecting members of the public. Scarred by years of ritual embarrassment, son and daughter, Annie (aka Child A) and Buster (aka Child B), have left home to pursue their careers far from the influence of Mama and Papa Fang. However, when it appears their parents’ latest performance may have gone horribly awry, Annie and Buster have no choice but to return home and become A and B once again.
The highlight of Wilson’s novel is the undoubtedly the accounts of the various “pieces” the Fangs perform through the years, particularly a memorable high school production of Romeo and Juliet, and young Buster trying to subvert the local teen beauty pageant. Full of inspired writing and laugh-out-loud moments, The Family Fang will also have you gripped until the very end.
There’s one statement my colleagues at Eason and book club friends have heard me say countless times this year: ‘2012 has been an amazing year for fiction!’ I’ve spent the last few years immersed in the worlds of young adult novels and now feel fully prepared for a dystopian future so I thought it was time to see what the world of general fiction had to offer. I picked up Tigers In Red Weather, brought it on holiday and melted into the glamorous, gin fuelled 40’s, 50’s and 60’s America captured so vividly within the pages.
The debut novel from Liza Klaussmann, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Herman Melville, will undoubtedly travel the world through word-of-mouth recommendations. This haunting story, which sweeps across three decades and is told from the perspectives of five characters, is addictive.
“If there’s one thing you can be sure about in this life, it’s that you won’t always be kissing the right person.” This motherly advice from the affluent Nick Derringer to her misunderstood daughter Daisy sums up the effect that the five main characters have on each other throughout their intertwined lives. We first meet Nick and her close cousin Helena as they are about to embark on their adult lives. Their shared experience of hazy summer days at the Martha’s Vineyard family property The Tiger House has obviously created an unbreakable lifetime bond. While the bond never breaks, the relationship becomes sour as we follow the saga of Helena’s spiral into passiveness and reliance, Nick’s erratic behaviour brought on by the distance between her and her husband Hughes, and the unsettling relationship between Daisy and her cousin Ed. A series of horrifying events make one summer unforgettable for the young cousins. The hazy summer days as seen through a child’s eye are far from comforting and reminded me of the early story in Ian McEwan’s Atonement.
Through extensive attention to everyday detail and the layers of human relationships, Klaussmann has recreated an atmosphere akin to Richard Ford’s Revolutionary Road. But don’t get me wrong, Tigers In Red Weather is fresh and original and stands out for me as one of the best novels I’ve read in 2012.
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann is one of Eason’s Books of the Month for August.
Every month here at Eason Book Club, we choose a selection of books that we think book clubs around the country will enjoy. The selection of 4-8 books is always varied, always topical, with something to appeal to all tastes. This month choices deal with a very broad range of subjects:
A single survivor in an apocalyptic world.
A lonely Irishwoman’s struggles on the plains of Africa.
A shocking crime.
An old man on a mission.
A relationship torn apart by war.
A woman scorned.
A family mystery.
Cannibalism, terrorism and castration in Siberia.
In Dog Stars by Peter Heller, we meet Hig, lone survivor of a flu that killed everyone he knew. He lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, and flies the perimeter of the airfield in his 1956 Cessna. Sometimes he sneaks off to the mountains to fish and pretends that things are the way they used to be. One day, a random transmission beams through his radio, the voice igniting a hope deep inside him that a better life exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return–not enough fuel to get him home–following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face is both better and worse than anything he could have imagined.
Duty and love collide on the arid plains of central South Africa in Barbara Mutch’s The Housemaid’s Daughter. It’s 1919 and Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland for South Africa, to marry the fiancé she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a harsh landscape, she finds solace in her diary and the friendship of her housemaid’s daughter, Ada. Cathleen recognises in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own husband and daughter. Under Cathleen’s tutelage, Ada grows into an accomplished pianist, and a reader who cannot resist turning the pages of the diary, discovering the secrets Cathleen sought to hide. When Ada is compromised and finds she is expecting a mixed-race child, she flees her home, determined to spare Cathleen the knowledge of her betrayal, and the disgrace that would descend upon the family. Scorned within her own community, Ada is forced to carve a life for herself, her child, and her music. But Cathleen still believes in Ada, and risks the constraints of apartheid to search for her and persuade her to return with her daughter.
A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. This is The Dinner by Hermann Koch. The sons of the couples in question have committed a terrible crime and each is looking for someone to blame. Touted as this year’s answer to The Slap, it may not be quite as shocking but it is very, very good.
Jonas Jonasson’s One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared begins, unsurprisingly, on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor will be there; the press will be there but… as it turns out, Allan will not. Slowly but surely, Allan climbs out of his bedroom window and makes his getaway, embarking on an epic journey involving criminals, murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn about his earlier life and how he came to be a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. This book is quirky, entertaining and a lot of fun.
From a distance, Michael and Jolen Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid dependable marriage, exciting careers and children they adore. But after twelve blissful years together, the couple has lost their way. They are unhappy and edging towards divorce. Then an unexpected deployment tears their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm’s way and leaving the other at home, caring for the children and waiting for news. When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family. Home Front by Kristin Hannah is an intimate look at the inner landscape of a disintegrating marriage and a dramatic exploration of the price of war. Linksave.
First published in 2008, Ron Rash’s Serena received critical acclaim in the writer’s home country but was slow to cross the water. With a film adaptation starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence coming in 2013, now is the perfect time to introduce our Book Clubbers to this wonderful piece of American literature. The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive from Boston in the North Carolina Mountains to create a timber empire. Serena is new to the mountains – but she soon shows herself the equal of any worker, overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Yet she also learns that she will never bear a child. Serena’s discovery will set in motion a course of events that will change the lives of everyone in this remote community. As the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel, this riveting story of love, passion and revenge moves toward its shocking reckoning.
Emilie de la Martinieres has always fought against her aristocratic background but after the death of her mother, she finds herself alone in the world and sole inheritor of her grand childhood home in the south of France. An old notebook of poems leads her in search of the mysterious and beautiful Sophia, whose tragic love affair changed the course of her family history. As Emilie unravels the story, she too embarks on her own journey of discovery, realising that the chateau may provide clues to her own difficult past and finally unlock the future. From the author of the bestselling Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley’s Light Behind the Window is a breath-taking and intense story of love, war and, above all, forgiveness.
Siberia, 1919. In the outer reaches of a country torn apart by civil war lives a small Christian sect. Stationed in their midst is a company of Czech soldiers, on the losing side of the recent conflict and desperate to get home. Into this isolated community trudges Samarin, an escapee from Russia’s northernmost prison. His arrival intrigues many of the locals, including Anna Petrovna, a beautiful young war widow, but when the local shaman is found dead, suspicion and terror engulf the little town… The People’s Act of Love by James Meek is an epic drama of desire and sacrifice, a grand tale for modern times.
The choice is yours! Which one will you pick?
Heading over to London this week? Check out the wide range of books available to make the most of your time over there – navigate the city, see the sights, visit the best places to eat and drink, and of course take in some of the Olympics madness!
Lonely Planet London City Guide
Lonely Planet Pocket London
DK Eyewitness Guide to London
DK Family Guide to London
London AA Citypack
Top 10 of London
Time Out 2012 Things to do in London
Time Out London 2012 Olympics Edition
Want to find out everything there is to know about this year’s Olympics? We have plenty of books for that too.
For your little future Olympians:
And for something a little bit different, why not take a look back at how things used to be?
Austerity Olympics by Janie Hampton
Read Hampton’s vivid depiction of the last time the Games came to London in 1948. Her tales of teams ferried to events on double-decker buses, billeted in army camps or sewing their own kit are a world away from the lavish 2012 arenas and Olympic village. The cost of the 1948 Olympics was less than a hundredth of a percent of 2012′s massive budget – just £760,000! Nevertheless, heroes such as Fanny Blankers-Koen thrilled the crowd, and the famous spirit of Londoners cheerfully overcame all obstacles, from equipment shortages to terrible weather.
Ancient Olympics by Nigel Spivey
Nigel Spivey paints a portrait of the Greek Olympics as they really were – fierce contests between bitter rivals, in which victors won kudos and rewards, and losers faced scorn and even assault. Victory was almost worth dying for, and a number of athletes did just that.
Visitors Guide to the Ancient Olympics by Dr. Neil Faulkner
What was it like to attend the Olympics in 388 B.C.? Would the experience resemble Olympic festivals as we celebrate them today? This remarkable book transports us back to the heyday of the city-state and classical Greek civilization. It invites us to enter this distant, alien, but still familiar culture and discover what the Greeks did and didn’t do during five thrilling days in August 2,400 years ago.
Finally, with the Games now in full swing, why not pick up a book on one of the world’s finest sports stars:
Born to Ride by Stephen Roche
Cyclone by Barry McGuigan
Gold Rush by Michael Johnson
Inside the Peloton by Nicholas Roche
It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong
My Story by Kenny Egan
My Story by Tom Daley
No Limits by Michael Phelps
Open by Andre Agassi