Time to start an Autumn Reading List

Now that the busy mayhem of getting Back to School has abated, it is time to start thinking about what books we can curl up with as the evenings grow shorter. Happily, there is an abundance of new titles from both new and familiar authors to get you started.

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The new Eimear McBride novel, ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ is a story of first love and redemption. One night in London an eighteen year old girl, recently arrived from Ireland to study drama, meets an older actor and a tumultuous relationship ensues. Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties north London, this is a story about love and innocence, joy and discovery, the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again.

 

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In ‘The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo’, Amy Schumer shares stories about her family, her relationships, her career, good – and bad – sex, recounting the experiences that have shaped who she is today: from the riches to rags story of her childhood to her teenage quest for popularity (and boys) to becoming one of the most sought-after comedians on the planet and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.Whether she’s experiencing lust at first sight in the queue at the airport, discovering her boot camp instructor’s secret bad habit, or candidly discussing her father’s multiple sclerosis, Amy Schumer proves to be a fearless, original, and always entertaining storyteller. Her book will move you, make you laugh, catch you completely off guard, and answer this burning question: is it okay for a 35 year-old woman to still sleep with her childhood teddy bears?

 

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From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, ‘Unravelling Oliver’, ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants … “A tense, taut, almost gothic thriller where the tension tightens to near unbearable proportions … impossible to stop reading. A brilliantly written, stand-out novel.” Marian Keyes “Taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book. It has the eeriness of The Turn of the Screw; but as these screws turn, a mighty tension takes hold. Masterly” Sebastian Barry .”Liz Nugent’s characters are as unforgettably monstrous as they are believable. A superbly crafted novel and an absorbing portrait of the purest kind of evil.” Jane Casey.

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Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb. Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.

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‘Martin Toppy is the son of a famous Traveller and the father of my unborn child. He’s seventeen, I’m thirty-three. I was his teacher. I’d have killed myself by now if I was brave enough. I don’t think it would hurt the baby. His little heart would stop with mine. He wouldn’t feel himself leaving one world of darkness for another, his spirit untangling itself from me.’ Melody Shee is alone and in trouble. Her husband does not take her news well. She doesn’t want to tell her father yet because he is a good man and this could break him. She’s trying to stay in the moment, but the future is looming – larger by the day – while the past won’t let her go. What she did to Breedie Flynn all those years ago still haunts her. It’s a good thing that she meets Mary Crothery when she does. Mary is a young Traveller woman, and she knows more about Melody than she lets on. She might just save Melody’s life. Donal Ryan’s new novel is breathtaking, vivid, moving and redemptive. This novel is astonishing. The characters will stay with you long after you have finished the final page.

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A captivating, emotional and uplifting tale of unspeakable secrets and enduring love. When Emma returns to Dublin to put her estranged father’s affairs in order, she begins to piece together the story of his life and that of Grace, the mother she never knew. She knows her father as the judge – as stern and distant at home as he was in the courtroom. But as she goes through his personal effects, Emma begins to find clues about her mother that shock her profoundly. A tale of enduring love and scandal that begins in 1950s Dublin and unravels across decades and continents, digging up long-buried family secrets along the way, The Judge’s Wife asks whether love really can last forever.

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Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and a new play by Jack Thorne,’Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Which books are on your Autumn Reading List or TBR pile? As ever, you can contact us via the message box, or directly on NCW Bookshop Facebook if there is a book you would like to review, or to suggest. Happy Reading till next time!

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‘The Reunion’ by Roisin Meaney

‘The Reunion’ is a superbly enjoyable summer read filled with warm characters and charm. Meaney writes with empathy and layered detail and the story is absorbing, compelling and moving.This is the perfect holiday read. 

Don’t forget to pick up your copy on Friday 22nd of July, in N.C.W Bookshop when  you will have the opportunity to meet the author and have it signed. We are pleased to announce that members of local trad group Draíocht will perform for us on the evening. The event begins at 5pm. Spread the word – everyone is welcome. 

Summer Holiday Reads for Children 

The weather has been a bit disappointing lately, and with that in mind, we thought some holiday reading recommendations might be welcome for those of you who are travelling away on holidays, and those who (like us) will be remaining at home in Ireland for the Summer. 

David Walliams seems to be the man of the moment.His latest offering gives us ten cautionary tales and a delightfully dreadful cast of characters. Are you ready to meet the World’s Worst Children? Five beastly boys and five gruesome girls! Like Sofia Sofa – a TV super-fan so stuck to the sofa that she’s turning into one! Or Dribbling Drew – a boy whose drool gets him into trouble on a school trip! And not forgetting Blubbering Bertha – a girl who bawls and tells terrible tales!Also featuring a special appearance from fan-favourite Raj! These are wickedly funny and deliciously mischievous tales. 


Tilly can’t believe it when her best friend Matty is asked to be a bridesmaid. In Tilly’s favourite daydream, she’s kitted out in the most beautiful bridesmaid dress, walking down the aisle behind a beautiful bride. The one wedding she’d really like to attend is her own mum and dad’s. But as that’s never going to happen, it’s time for Tilly to make her own dream come true – and put her bridesmaid services up for hire . . . A fabulous, funny and moving story about the power of friendship from the mega-bestselling author of Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and Katy. Full of beautiful illustrations by much-loved illustrator, Nick Sharratt. This will delight any fan of Jacqueline Wilson. 


Martin’s parents are strapped for cash: it’s going to be a budget Christmas this year. So Martin plans to buy his own presents – and attempts, unsuccessfully, to get a job. Padraic puts in a word for him with his Auntie Bridget, who runs the local butcher’s shop. But her shop is struggling as the fish shop across the road undercuts her and Bridget just can’t compete. No one knows how the owner, Francie Feeley, does it – especially since he doesn’t seem to employ anyone at his fish factory. No one goes in; no one goes out – it’s a mystery. Intrigued, Martin decides to go undercover and find out the truth. This book is a riot! Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid will love it! 


Return to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless classic, The Secret Garden, in this magical sequel by bestselling author Holly Webb. It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary, and a garden. A very secret garden… This is a wonderful read which will appeal to parents as much as children. A great book to share. 


When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler. Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape. We recommend this for 11+ readers. It is compelling and engrossing and well worth the effort. It is a perfect choice for Michael Morpurgo fans. 


Holly Sparkes is just your average 12-year-old, that is, until she’s hit by a bolt of lightning. Now Holly is EXTRAordinary. Like a human battery Holly can generate a massive amount of electricity in seconds, which could come in handy if she’s ever going to solve the mystery of her best friend’s disappearance. Because when you’re dealing with the likes of Professor Macavity and her mysterious CyberSky corporation, you need all the help you can get! This exciting story includes black-and-white graphic novel style illustrations. Our book club unanimously gave a five star rating to this book. 


A stunning, operatic and epic drama like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? But Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. Francesca Simon’s wonderful first foray into teen fiction.  We are familiar with Francesca Simon’s Horrid  Henry series for younger readers. This is her first YA novel and it is superb. 


‘Oasis’ is a thrilling coming-of-age adventure set in a dystopian universe where personal freedom is almost non-existent and human values like friendship, love and creativity. This is a particularly fascinating read, not least because it was written by a teenager who knows exactly how to appeal to her target audience.


On a dark, silvery moonlit night, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant. Luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant, the BFG, who only eats snozzcumbers and glugs frobscottle. But there are other giants in Giant Country: fifty foot brutes who gallop far and wide every night to find human beans to eat. Sophie decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her! With a new foreword by Lucy Dahl and exclusive fun activities inside, you simply have to read (or re-read) this classic before seeing the new movie adaptation by Steven Spielberg. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND HAPPY READING! 

You can leave your own suggestions / recommendations in the comments below. We love to hear what you are all reading and enjoying. 

Give Your Dad a Book this Father’s Day

Choose a book this Father’s Day. It’s a gift he can open again and again! We have a large selection of books catering for all interests. Below are some of our currently popular titles. 


Remember, if he’s a fussy reader, or if he prefers to browse himself, you can always treat him to a N.C.W. Bookshop gift voucher. 

Happy Father’s Day! 

“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” – A Review

“Did you save him?”
“I tried. Maybe he saved me?”
“Yeah, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We save each other.”

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This is a quiet, short and beautifully moving book, which tells the intertwining stories of four teens in Alaska in 1970, all of whom have reasons to fantasize about other people’s homes. The author illustrates the characters’ situations and relationships in few but vivid words. The narrative seems slow to begin with, but builds and twists to become incredibly powerful and moving.  All four narrators have distinct voices and while some of the story is gritty, it never feels grim, because of the hope which keeps each of these teenagers going, and which lights every page of this book and links us, the readers, to the characters as tentatively and as tightly as the piece of red ribbon which is used as a linking plot device in the story. It is difficult to believe that this is a debut novel. It is extremely well-written, tightly paced, and cleverly plotted.

The Alaskan landscape has a powerful and vivid presence in the novel; the structure of the book is divided into the four seasons with their wildly different weather. There is an abundance of fishing scenes, and descriptions of a terrain still bound by the laws of nature rather than built up by man. Smells are key to the story, as the title suggests – from the transformative smell that a mother can bring to a house, to the visceral smell of deer blood, the pungent odour of caught fish on the Yukon, to the scents of other people’s belongings in a charity shop. This was an innovative approach to narrative, which worked surprisingly well, and suited the gentle nature of the story. While we are rarely given a physical description of any character, the scents we come to associate with them – a face cream, deer blood, a bunch of bluebells in a whiskey bottle, make them seem real and tangible in a way that a physical description alone could not accomplish.

“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” is a beautiful book meant for those who enjoy reading about the lives of others. It’s meant to be savoured, not devoured, and therefore will probably be best suited for those not looking for a fast-paced plot. I can say that it is a story that will stick with the reader and deserves a re-reading. At its core, it is about failing and failing but never giving up. This is a beautiful book because it simply relies on the complexities of being human to tell a powerful story in a simple and touching way.

What Hitchcock loses by only skimming the surface of the larger issues in the book, such as teen pregnancy and domestic abuse, she makes up for with her lyrical prose, capturing characteristics with an adept turn of phrase. Her training as a journalist powers through the novel; the observations are succinct and potent: “She smiles as if the memory is a peppermint stick and she’s licking it, slowly savouring every bit.”

Read this book. Savour this book. You will not regret it.

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Exciting Times for N.C.W. Bookshop, thanks to James Patterson and his #jplovesbookshops Campaign

We have been keeping a secret from you…

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N.C.W. Bookstore has been the proud recipient of a SECOND  James Patterson Independent Bookstore Grant! We are thrilled to announce this and hope it will help us to continue to improve our shop, and improve YOUR experience of shopping with us.

Our first grant, which we received in 2015 enabled us to add additional signage to the exterior of the shopfront, and to create a child-friendly play area in the shop. We have also started a Children’s Book Club, which meets monthly. Further plans are afoot now that we have received additional support, so WATCH THIS SPACE!

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A reception for successful Grant recipients was held in London on 9th May, and we felt it was only fitting to attend in order to express our gratitude, and to meet the iconic James Patterson in the flesh.

James Patterson has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today. As of January 2016, he has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists.

For his initiatives to help children to become passionate readers and for his philanthropic efforts, Patterson was awarded the National Book Foundation’s 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. We were beyond excited to get the opportunity to meet with him in person!

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Patterson is modest about his literary and philanthropic achievements. He claims to be passionate about children’s reading because he believes that reading helps children in their education, and also helps them to grow into more empathetic individuals. A memorable quotation from his speech was “life is so complicated, I had to make it simpler: the future of civilisation depends on books”. It is difficult to disagree with such a profound statement. 


Once again, a massive Thank You to The James Patterson Independent Bookshop Grant for the support, encouragement and inspiration to continue as  a local independent bookshop.


 

‘The House at the Edge of the World’ – Review

Like a tide, slowly inching back to reveal its quirky, thinly concealed treasures, ‘The House at the Edge of the World’ tantalizes readers with the inner-workings of a dysfunctional family, exposed by one fateful night and laced with historical and mythical narratives.

Despite its slow start, thanks to our unlikely protagonist, the detached Morwenna Venton, the gently twisting plot descends into a gripping suspense as we both attempt to sort fiction from reality: how did her father come to fall off ‘the edge of the world’?

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Gliding between awkward juxtapositions of Valerie and John’s unsuccessful marriage, and the isolating closeness of their twin children, Morwenna and Corwin, this family’s world is anchored by their home in Devon and their reclusive grandfather, Matthew. Locked within the confines of Matthew’s painting of a family map, reaching only 10 miles beyond their house, which is grounded by its clutter of historical objects, each of the Ventons is trapped.

As the twins prepare to flee the nest, their father is prematurely released from the pressures of family life when he falls off a cliff. Morwenna’s blunt narration is scathing: “It was a stupid way to die.” Yet, as the novel meanders ever closer to the mouth of the mystery surrounding that fateful night, this so-called stupidity is called into question.

‘The House at the Edge of the World’ is a lonely tale, leaving its readers to ponder the weight of history upon the shoulders of the present. Love and compassion are distributed extremely unevenly, producing a cluster of romantic characters, and the sense that there is not enough to go around.

Each character’s quest for freedom – through travel, nature, love, art and control – is hinged on the events surrounding John Venton’s fall. As the narrative unravels and they venture closer to the truth, Morwenna closes her grip on reality. The completed story is symbolic, written and bound by her hand, she frees herself and her family from the narrative.

As Julia Rochester’s debut novel, ‘The House at the Edge of the World’ offers readers a unique and darkly funny mystery, towing them through an education on human behaviour. Once you get stuck into her world, it will be almost impossible to leave without examining the make-up of our familial bonds.

Read this if you liked ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey or ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ by Anne Tyler

As ever, you  can let us know what you thought of the book in the comment box below, or on Facebook.