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Showing posts from September, 2017

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

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Lucy Adlington is a writer and costume historian. I was aware of her non fiction books about fashion history such as the excellent Stitches in Time but I had not realised that she was also a YA author. Lucy has previously published a number of Young Adult books as L.J Adlington. This is Lucy's first foray into historical fiction and it is a fantastic story, deeply moving and full of intricate detail. The book is the story of Ella who must pretend to be old enough to work if she is to survive and as a talented dressmaker she is determined to work at the sewing workshop at Birchwood. We know it as Auschwitz. It is also the story of the people she meets; Marta, Carla and Rose. If, like me you believe in the importance of historical authenticity in children's fiction then you will really appreciate this book. It is painfully truthful about the horrific conditions that Ella and her friends endure. This is a story about friendship, survival and hope, about what it means to collabor…

The Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling

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The second book from Gregory Dowling to feature secret agent Alvise Marangon in Eighteenth century Venice is as fast paced and unpredictable as the first. The book opens with intense action as Alvise is chased by some casino bruisers after apparently insulting their boss and is promptly arrested as the brawl spills into St Mark’s Square. Brought before the Missier Grande he is asked to investigate the mysterious death of another agent. A seemingly quiet, bookish man Sior Padoan fell from the roof of his home in what was apparently a tragic accident. Alvise however is certain that the man’s missing diary will provide some clues. There is a connection to a secret society known as The Four Horsemen and Alvise once again must seek help from the bookseller Fabrizio and his beautiful daughter Lucia and his gondolier friend Bepi. Though his investigations are blocked at almost every turn by the city’s Inquisitors and he is caught up in the dark and shadowy world of a scandalous noblewoman, …

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life

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Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd illuminates the life of a fascinating 17th-century woman LISA REDMOND Janet Todd’s masterly biography of the first professional lady of letters has been reissued by Fentum Press 21 years after it originally appeared. In the intervening years Behn has become a regular feature of many English degrees. I asked the author how she feels Aphra Behn’s critical reputation has changed and one of the things Janet Todd is wary of is that on many English courses Behn is often examined without sufficient reference to her cultural and historical context. “She is securely taught in many universities now, in women’s and post-colonial studies and where Restoration literature is a course within an English degree. Only in the last is she put firmly within her historical and literary context. Critical work has tended to concentrate on The Rover and Oroonoko, discussing issues of interest to us now and often finding modern ideas of gender, race and class in her work…

Jane Austen; The Legacy of a Lady

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The Legacy of A Lady

'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife' Probably the most famous opening line in literature. The author was of course Jane Austen who died on July 18th 1817, so this year marks the two hundredth anniversary of her death. There are countless events being organised across the world to celebrate and remember a writer who is undoubtedly one of the most popular novelists of all time, when it comes to the classics Jane Austen is one of the few who is still regularly read for enjoyment and her stories have helped to create a whole industry; Austen-mania is big business.
I am the first to admit that I am a devoted Janeite and just recently attended a fantastic afternoon organised by Jane Austen Ireland in the splendid Georgian room at the Teacher's Club in Dublin. The event featured the performance of Regency music and singing including some of Jane Austen's own favourite pieces a…

A Pearl for My Mistress by Anabel Fielding Blog Tour

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An enchanting first novel from author Anabel Fielding, A Pearl for my Mistress is the story of Hester a bright, ambitious working class girl who longs to escape the dreary Northern town where she grew up. Her sister, a singer with a jazz band has already escaped to London and Hester too dreams of the bright lights and the chance to find love and to be herself. Hester believes that a job as a lady's  maid will offer that escape. She finds employment with the Fitzmartin family, accepting a tiny salary for the chance to find excitement as lady's maid to their wild and unpredictable daughter Lucy. This is 1934 and many aristocratic families are living in straightened circumstances and a life in service doesn't appeal to the majority of young women but Hester is soon caught up in the whirlwind of Lucy's exciting, aristocratic life and entranced by Lucy herself. but her loyalty to Lucy will be tested when she realises that her Mistress is involved in a dangerous game. Lucy …

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

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Hazel Gaynor's fourth novel is based around the amazing true story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths; young cousins in Cottingley Yorkshire who in 1917 claimed to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden. The girls take the photographs for their own amusement but nothing stays a secret in Cottingley for long and soon the whole village is talking. In the aftermath of war people need something to believe in and soon the girls and their photos and the Yorkshire fairies are the subject of newspaper and magazine articles and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sends them cameras to take more pictures, but what is the truth? Hazel Gaynor weaves this true story with the fictional tale of Olivia Kavanagh in 2017, who inherits her grandfather's bookshop in Howth. Olivia discovers a manuscript at the bookshop written by Frances which tells the truth of the Cottingley Secret. Olivia is captivated by the story and getting caught  up in the mystery means she can avoid having to make d…

The Books that Made Me by Sinead O'Hart

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Today I am delighted to have a guest post from Irish author Sinead O'Hart. Sinead's debut novel Eye of the North is published by Alfred A Knopf in the U.S. It is aimed at Middle Grade readers and is currently enjoying some rave reviews on amazon and goodreads. The novel tells the story of  Emmeline, when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear she must take ship to a safe house in Paris. On board she befriends a scruffy orphan boy; Thing but before she reaches safety Emmeline is kidnapped by Dr Bauer and Things sets off to rescue his new found friend. It's a fantasy adventure which will appeal to fans of Shane Hegarty, Dave Rudden and E.R. Murray 

The Books That Made Me
THE CHILDCRAFT LIBRARY/WORLD BOOK: When my brother and I were kids, back in the distant 1980s, our parents invested in the best encyclopedias they could afford. I loved them, particularly the sturdy, colourful Childcraft books; some of the illustrations in my most-read volumes remain bright in my memo…