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Book Reviews

Reviews and recommendations from our staff and readers

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An Post Irish Book Awards

Thanks to all you who sent in reviews of the books that have been nominated for The An Post Irish Book Awards.  



Home stretch by Graham Norton                                                                

Review by Jennifer  An Post Irish Book Awards Home stretch

Book Genre: Fiction

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a real page turner. I thought it was predictable at the start but by the end it touched on a subject that was never spoken of. I would highly recommend this book.

Star Rating:

5 star rating

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan ThomasThe Nothing Man

Review by Fran Devlin

An Post Irish Book Awards

The Blurb: At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man—the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.

Jim soon begins to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first …

Review by Fran: If you are looking for a book to keep you reading page after page then this is the book. The stories keep pace with each other and keep us enthralled by their symmetry. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author and I’m looking forward to reading her other books.

Star Rating

5 star rating

Bealach na Spáinneach by Liam Mac Cóil

Bealach na SpainneachReview by Siobhán Butler

An Post Irish Book Awards Leabhar den chéad scoth is ea “Bealach na Spáinneach” leis an údar Liam Mac Cóil. Baineann an t-úrscéal leis na blianta corraitheacha callóideacha in Éirinn i ndiaidh Teitheadh na nIarlaí. Sa leabhar seo léirítear an turas anróiteach a bhí ag Lúcás Ó Briain agus é i mbun taistil chuig Aodh Ó Néill, Iarla Thír Eoghain, sa Róimh. An dualgas a bhí ar Lúcás ná litir phráinneach thábhachtach a thabhairt d’Aodh.

Tugtar léargas dúinn sa leabhar ar shaol agus ar chúrsaí polaitíochta na hEorpa ag tús na seachtú haoise déag agus Lúcás ar a bhealach chun na Róimhe. B’iomaí eachtra baolach contúirteach a tharla do Lúcás agus é ag taisteal trí chathracha agus bhailte na Mór Roinne, Bruges, Louvain, Basel, Lucerne agus Milan chun a cheann scríbe,an Róimh, a bhaint amach.

Cé gurb é seo an leabhar deireanach den triológ agus an chéad ceann díobh atá léite agam ní mór dom a rá gur leabhar fíorspéisiúil siamsúil taitneamhnach é. B’fhiú go mór d’aon léitheoir a bhfuil spéis aige /aici i gcúrsaí staire na hÉireann an t-úrscéal seo a léamh. Ní bheidh díomá ná aiféala air!

Set in the aftermath of the Flight of the Earls in Ireland in the early part of the 17th century, this is the final book of three historical novels written by Liam Mac Cóil.

“ Bealach na Spáinneach ” follows the main character Lúcás Ó Briain as he makes his way across Europe before he reaches his destination, Rome, with the all-important letter he was entrusted with in Ireland. His mission is to deliver this letter into the hands of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and into his hands only. What we see in this novel is the arduous journey undertaken by Lúcás and the dangers and difficulties he encountered along the way.

While Lúcás is the main character in the novel he is by no means the only one. As he crosses Europe, Lúcás connects with several unique personalities. La Veuve Thorel and her daughter Marodite, who nurse him back to health when he is left behind injured and in poor health following a storm and a shipwreck off the coast of Normandy. Katelyne, who sets a trap for him from which he is fortunate to escape with his life. Sáirsint Mac Carthaigh and his small group of men who guided and accompanied him for most of the journey.

On the negative side, Lúcás encounters some dangerous characters whose sole aim is to prevent him from carrying out his mission. These characters remained nameless. The only information given was either their nationality or a physical description - “an fear fionn” (the fair haired / blonde man ), “an fear téagartha” (the strong man) etc.

The author, Liam Man Cóíl, gives us an insight into life in the early 17th century with his detailed descriptions of people, cities, towns and the landscapes as they existed at the time. The images of horses, mules and coaches as means of transport, the use of candles as sources of light, the clothes worn by the people of the different classes, transport us into an era long forgotten but nonetheless important. The historical situation in Europe at the time, the power of the King of Spain, the efforts of the English to keep control of Ireland and its people and the authority of the church are all shown to us in great detail and with great clarity.

In this novel, Lúcás’s journey through Europe from Normandy to Bruges, Louvain, Basel, Lucerne, the Alps, Milan and finally Rome, illustrate to us how difficult and dangerous a journey this was.

Readers interested in Irish history, in particular the period after the Flight of the Earls, will be most impressed with this novel. Despite its length (600 plus pages), it is a fascinating and worthwhile read.

Readers of this novel need to have a good understanding of the Irish Language in order to appreciate the world of treachery and murder into which they are drawn.

Despite not having read the first two novels of this trilogy this book held my interest from beginning to end. “Bealach na Spáinneach” is a jewel waiting to be discovered.

The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

The wild laughterReview by Karen

The Wild Laughter has everything a great novel needs: memorable characters, drama, relatable abs a dash of hummer.An Post Irish Book Awards

The story of an Irish farming family during the Celtic Tiger and the crash that followed. Illness, desperate measures, grief and guilt. A family torn by desperate times leading to desperate measures.

This wonderful read moves from family drama to courtroom drama, as the consequences of the family’s actions catch up with them.

A great read, something to really get stuck into and a perfect stocking filler.

Star rating:

5 star rating

Strange flowers by Donal Ryan

Review by Aoifé Ledwidge Egan

Strange flowersAn Post Irish Book Awards Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan is stunningly beautiful. Forbidden love, racism, the Church, shame, regret, unrequited love, Ryan covers it all with such compassion. A truly moving and intimate portrayal of rural life in Ireland. I enjoyed this book even more than The Spinning Heart, a story that stays with you long after the last page.

Star rating:

5 star rating 5/5

Thirty-two words for field by Manchán Magan

Review by Geraldine Gaughran

32 words for fieldAn Post Irish Book Awards

I’d often heard that Eskimos have 50 words for snow and thought how wonderful it was to have this descriptive ability, and I never realised that the Irish language had as similar breadth in descriptive terms.

I love listening to Manchán when he’s talking about his travels, and his voice lifted from the pages as I read this book. It’s an easy read, divided into short, well-rounded chapters.

I found it fascinating to learn of his regular life growing up in Dublin doing all the regular things city kids did, but how he and his brother spent months each summer with their grandmother in Kerry, learning and lapping up a totally different life and language.

 I’m not an Irish speaker; I’m probably similar to the majority of the Irish population of my vintage who struggled with Peig Sayers, and the modh coinníollach. But I felt a great sadness and sense of loss reading this book because of the richness of language, identity and culture being lost to us. And it was no surprise to read that there’s an Irish word which captured and described this feeling, díláthair, which means absence, and as Manchán describes as “the feeling the next generation will experience in a world without coral reefs or glaciers. It’s also the feeling our descendants may have when they realise that we willingly chose not to pass this language onto them.

I thought this is a really lovely and special book, and an important lexicon and record to pass on to those future generations so our language isn’t completely lost to them.

Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican

Glorious Guuinness GirlAn Post Irish Book Awards Reviewed by Susan Duffy

This is one of those books that you pick up and look at the clock 3 hours later, you just get engrossed in it and you can imagine what all the people look like and wear you feel you are nearly watching a movie reading this book. I have only one thing I would say I wish at the end the Author would have given more detail on what happen to the Guinness Girls and their parents such as how many kids did they have, did they keep up the lifestyle they had. This book is about the Guinness Girls and their family based during the Irish Civil War and their glamour life they life in London. It is told by Fliss who is a girl who is in between the two youngest Guinness Girls in age. When her family fall on hard time her Dad was killed in World War One and her Mam just could not look after her she goes to life with the family first to kind of look after the girls and then later Cloe their Mam starts to depend on her. She can see both sides of the Civil War, she knows about how hard some people are having it in Ireland, but she is also a part of the fascinating life that the Guinness Family are living in London with parties and balls.

Star rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/ 5

Love by Roddy Doyle

Review by Niamh

Love by Roddy DoyleAn Post Irish Book Awards Have you ever been having a drink with a friend when you both gradually fall silent in the mutual understanding that you’d rather eavesdrop on the conversation at the next table? Well, that in a nutshell is the delight of Roddy Doyle’s new book, Love. Especially in the year that’s in it when overheard conversations of any callibre are few and far between. Davy and Joe, two middle aged men, meet for a catch up that becomes a pub crawl around Dublin. Both have stories to tell and secrets to hide. At times their drunken ramblings become repetitive but the story is worth sticking with. Roddy Doyle’s unmistakable prose is a love letter to the art of conversation and the simple joys of a crowded pub. Given the year that’s in it, for that alone it’s worth a read.

Star Rating
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/ 5

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

An Post Irish Book Awards Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Reviewed by Verena Stapleton

Two sisters on trial for murder.  They accuse each other.  Who do you believe?
'911 what's your emergency?' 'My dad's dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She's still in the house. Please send help.'
'My dad's dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She's still in the house. Please send help.'
One of them is a liar and a killer. But which one?

Book Genre: Crime fiction

After reading this I am not surprised it made the shortlist for crime fiction novel of the year. Steve Cavanagh wrote an excellent novel with strong characters, a great story line, plot twists and a few dead bodies along the way. It has everything you want from a great crime fiction book. It was the first book I read from this author but will not be the last!

Star Rating

5 star rating

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

An Post Irish Book Awards Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Reviewed by Shirley Lennon

Book Synopsis: Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it. But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret. How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach - Connor's wife Rebecca. Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss.

Book Genre: Love (Poetry), Marriage, Relationships.

When I first started this book, I found the style of writing - a kind of non rhyming poetry - hard to read but I quickly got used to it.

While I enjoyed the story, and kept reading to find out what happened, I have to say that two things about it didn't appeal to me. The first is the constant flicking backwards in time to flesh out the back story - sometimes it's hard to know if the writer is in the present or past. The second is the sheer unlikeability of all the major characters - Ana and Connor, their spouses, work colleagues and friends are all rather unpleasant people!

I would read more works from the author but would hope for a more pleasant cast in a future book!

Star Rating

3 star rating

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Reviewed by Gillian from Dunboyne Library.

Book cover

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This book was recommended and literally put into my hand by a friend, and, I’m very glad she did. Hamnet was not on my list of books of interest but now having read it, I feel it deserves careful review.

On August 11th 1596 William Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, was buried. He was just 11years old. Four or so years later, Shakespeare wrote Hamlet ; considered by many to be his greatest work, given the fact that its tragic hero is a variation of his dead son’s name. The story of Hamnet also reveals for the very first time in fiction the tragic story of loss which inspired Shakespeare’s most famous and celebrated play.

Shakespeare’s name is not mentioned once throughout the whole story, he’s referred to as just ‘he’. He’s the husband or he’s the father or the playwright or the actor – this was very clever of Maggie O’ Farrell because his name carries so much weight ,so, by not mentioning him by name, the story was never in danger of being just about him!  Here he’s just the son of Mary and John, the husband of Agnes and the father of Susanna and the twins Hamnet and Judith. Perhaps because so little is known about Shakespeare’s wife, gave the author license to create such a mystical ethereal person…almost fairy tale like.  I found Agnes captivating, and for me, right from the beginning, the story felt like Agnes’s story- as a girl belonging to the forest, remembering her mother, learning the healing power of plants and herbs and her ability to interpret her dreams and premonitions.

At the heart of this story is the grief of the death of a child that is portrayed so well you feel you’re there in the room witnessing it as you turn the pages, you can feel the depth of the Mother’s pain, it’s heart wrenching and brought me to tears.

It takes a master Author to be able to create a story so rich like Hamnet  out of such meagre pickings; a story so distant but yet  brings you in close and makes you feel very much a part of this intimate, heart-breaking  story surrounding the family of Shakespeare.

Maggie O’ Farrell has rekindled a curiosity in me, and, for anyone with even a passing interest in visiting the birthplace of Shakespeare on Henley Street, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Anne (Agnes) Hathway’s house;  I bet will feel the same way after reading this book too.

I was hugely disappointed to hear that Hamnet didn’t make it on to the Booker 2020 longlist.  I, without a shadow of doubt- rate this unique and very imaginative novel a serious contender for any of the literary competitions and right up there with the best of them!

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens

Reviewed by Ciara from Trim Library

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/ 5

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The first thing I will say about this book is that it definitely was one of the longest library request lists I have ever seen. This book was in such hot demand, I was only delighted when it finally came in the delivery for me, after months of anticipated waiting.

And this book certainly did not disappoint.

It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. The language Owen’s uses throughout this entire novel is like reading pure poetry. The descriptions and word alliteration was absolutely stunning- something I have never seen done so well before.

Probably the biggest detail that stood out to me was Owen’s use of deep southern accents, vernacular and slang. I absolutely loved this addition to the story, I really felt I knew the characters. I know this detail might deter some people; it got a thumbs up from me though.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a gentle yet symbolic depiction of the survival of Kya Clark—a reclusive young girl who has been abandoned by her parents, siblings, school system, the entire town surrounding her, and what ultimately feels like life itself. Mother Nature has literally become Kya’s caretaker, and deep in a lonely Marsh along the North Carolina coast is where Kya will not only hide, but blossom into an independent young woman.

This novel is ultimately a love story with a murder mystery in the mix. The revelations and prejudice of the towns people against the sheer intelligence and resilience of a girl who has spent her life rearing herself. Owen describes Kya, from a 6 year old child to a young woman; her surroundings, her thoughts, her relationships, her hardships, her loneliness with such minute and intimate detail the entirety of the book. I was so engulfed in flora and fauna descriptions I felt I was in the marsh with her too.

However, as the book comes to an end, the last 40 years of Kya’s life are squished into two chapters. From such a beautiful, intimate story to a rushed ending- it’s the only bad thing I can say about this book.

This book was absolutely beautiful. I would read it again and have recommended it to several family, friends and library patrons. The only thing I would have to mark it down on was the ending.

A light, beautifully written novel best recommended to readers and lovers of Maeve Binchy, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Katie fForde.

The Daly Dish Cookbook by Gina Daly & Mr. Dish

Reviewed by Ciara from Trim Library

The Daily Dish This book is exactly what it says on the (tin) cover- ‘100 masso slimming meals for everyday’.

My mam pre-ordered this in the anticipation of our current lockdown situation and it has not disappointed on any level.

The book is laid out in an easy and readable format- lots of mouth watering pictures to motivate you throughout. What I liked most, was the able of contents at the start telling you the best and necessary basics you should have in your pantry, some you probably already have in your cupboard, others all easily available to be purchased at your local shop or supermarket.

The recipes are all very family friendly, quick and no mess; I've already made a few of these healthy but delicious dishes.*

It’s definitely comfort food with bursting flavour, but here’s the twist, they’re good for you! Gina explains swapping up different ingredients with different spices to achieve the same taste bud sensation, without the calories. A definite cookbook staple for every Irish kitchen this summer.


D.I. Lottie Parker Series by Patricia Gibney

The D.I. Lottie Parker Series by Patricia Gibney

Reviewed by Ciara from Trim Library

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/ 5

This fictional Irish crime series follows troubled Detective Inspector Lottie Parker. I have read, and loved, each of the 7 books so far. Book 8, ‘Buried Angels’ is due to be published May 26th 2020.

The series consists of ‘The Missing Ones’, ‘The Stolen Girls’, ‘The Lost Child’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Tell Nobody’, ‘Final Betrayal’ and ‘Broken Souls’.

Based in the fictional Irish town of Ragmullan, somewhere in Ireland’s midlands- D.I Parker brings us intently a long on all her cases. The books take different character tones and point of view segments which I really liked; it made me think like the other characters and not get caught up on one belief or story.

I really enjoyed the ‘Irishness’ of these novels. The vernacular and accents added so much to each case story and character. I have both read and listened to some of the novels as eAudiobooks and the narrator had a distinct Irish accent each time. A small but effective step in understanding and feeling we know the characters even more.

These are fast paced, suspense filled, page turning novels. I would recommend reading in order as we learn so much about Lottie’s past and troubled  family life, but it is not totally necessary.

Best recommended to readers and lovers of fictional Irish crime authors like Jane Casey, Aidan McKinty, Tana French, Jo Spain, Liz Nugent and Sinead Crowley.

A Keeper by Graham Norton

A Keeper by Graham Norton

Reviewed by Ciara from Trim Library

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/ 5

Again, keeping in with the Irish theme- this book was  absolutely brilliant. Norton has a distinct and very likeable writing style which kept me turning from page to page. I originally read this book (Norton’s 2nd novel) before the 1st one (Holding) - but do not fret, they aren’t linked or in a series, so fire away and read as stand alone novels.

When Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother’s passing, she’s focused only on saying goodbye to that dark and sad part of her life. Her childhood home is packed solid with useless belongings , her mother’s presence already fading. But within this mess, she discovers a small stash of letters—and ultimately, her life’s truth.

Forty years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet except for the constant wind that encircles her as she hurries deeper into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.

This story is definitely one I will remember. Norton grasped the skill of skipping back and forth from the 1970’s to the present day so well. This constant skipping back and forth keeps you guessing, I had scenarios made up in my head as to what could/should have happened, only for them to be debunked by stepping back in time once I reached the next chapter.

A Keeper is a light Irish detective story, it won’t keep you awake at night but rather turning the pages late into the night to delve deeper into the story.

Best recommended to readers and lovers of Irish writers like Marian Keyes, Sheila O Flanagan, Brian McGilloway and John Boyne.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett 

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Do we judge a book by its cover? Well I certainly did in the case of this book.  The author was certain she neither wanted a picture of a house, or any part of a house on the cover, but instead had the idea of having a portrait of Maeve, one of the main characters in the story. So she asked local artist Noah Saterstrom to paint Maeve’s portrait set in the 1950’s, and it’s this very portrait on the front cover that exists throughout the story and also drew me to reading the book.

The Dutch House is sometimes described by some as a modern day fairytale, and, I would agree but I would add the word ‘dark’ to this description.

The story of this family is told by the narrator Danny and follows the lives of him and his sister Maeve over many years as they struggle to make sense of their childhood.  The house is nicknamed the Dutch house, after the wealthy Dutch family that previously owned it, and it almost feels like an actual character in the book too, because of its own interesting story. The story begins in 1946 when their Father Cyril Conroy, an ambitious property developer   acquires the house along with all its contents and servants from the Van Hoebeeks after they go bankrupt. After moving the family in to their new home, Elna, the children’s mother finds it hard to accept their new found wealth and slowly starts to unravel, this sparks the beginning of the end of the marriage and when Maeve is just 10 and Danny 3, she just abandons the family. Their distant and cold father is too busy with his own life to oversee their care and leaves this to the cook and the housekeeper, who, thankfully are warm and kind-hearted. In time Cyril Introduces a young widow called Andrea and her two daughters to the Dutch House and within two years they marry. Maeve and Danny’s fragile lives are destroyed as they are systemically pushed out by Andrea, who epitomises the role of evil stepmother as she gives her own children preferential treatment.  

People who like character driven books with lots of family dramas will love this book. It’s also about sibling love and sacrifice and how our past shapes who we become as adults. Sadly, the conclusion of the story didn’t quite ring true for me, and I felt a little let down over this, but, this is no reason to not read the book, it’s a great story, well written and a great choice for book club groups to read. People will most likely have differing views on the end, so it should make for lively discussion and debate.

Also, check out Noah Saterstrom’s art website, you won’t be sorry!

The Dutch House has been longlisted for The Women's Prize for Fiction 2020.

Filter This by Sophie White

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This gorgeous debut novel from Sophie White is set in the cut throat setting that is Irish social media scene. Instagram is #lifegoals and Ali Jones has figured out, or even better, landed herself straight into a situation that is going to secure her lasting Instagram fame; even if it is a complete lie.

This book is one of the best page turners I’ve read in a long time. I’ll be recommending this to borrowers and friends far and wide. With an underlying hint of Sophie Kinsella and Dawn O Porter, it would best suit lovers of the ‘OMG What a Complete Aisling’ series; A novel not to be missed.

The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey

available as an eaudiobook on BorrowBox

According to Oprah Winfrey, "Your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be, and begin to honour your calling in the best way possible."

A compilation of Oprah’s 25 years in the television industry- re-interviewing those who had found their meaning through all different situations in life. Oprah reflects a lot on her own life while talking to some of the world’s greatest personalities, including Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou & Eckhart Tolle.  

Although it didn’t exceed my expectations, I really enjoyed this listen for its relaxing and reassuring qualities. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an audio book for holidays or a short journey.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

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This review is written by Gillian, Library Assistant in Dunboyne Library.

I had the great fortune of being invited to the 2019 international Dublin Literary Award ceremony in the Mansion house on the 12th of June last, and feel truly blessed to have met and spoken to this year’s winner, Emily Ruskovich for her novel, Idaho. As soon as I started reading this book I was in awe of this young author’s obvious talent, how can someone so young have such wisdom? Her writing is beautiful, haunting, elegant and melancholic, it felt comforting to read and I was reluctant to put it down even though it’s in sharp contrast to a shocking event that takes place at the beginning of the story. Idaho is the love story of Ann and Wade whose world fell apart when his first wife Jenny inexplicably murdered their younger daughter May and their other daughter June goes missing in the confusion, the scene appears set for a murder mystery but this is definitely not the case. Structurally the novel is complex, requiring your full concentration as it zigzags between multiple perspectives and time periods from 1973 to 2025, but you’re rewarded with the rich quality of her writing, it’s as much about what’s not said, as in what is articulated. There are mysteries at the heart of this story that are not resolved and will leave you thinking of them long after you’ve finished the book, and you will be dying to discuss them with someone who has also read the book, that’s why I’d highly recommend Idaho for book clubs, It’s a sad story but with so much kindness shining through.

Quote from Idaho

‘’Kindness that is nothing special is the rarest and most honest.’’

This is Going to Hurt Book Cover

This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay

Available on BorrowBox as an ebook and eaudiobook

Here Kay presents the highs and lows of being a junior doctor and gynaecologist for the NHS for 6 years. In an easy to read and appealing ‘diary’ format, this book will make you laugh out loud while teaching you about the loss and sorrow that goes with the job. This would make a great holiday read or a gift for someone to brighten their day. 


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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The gentleman in question, Count Alexander Rostov, is one of the most charming men I have ever come across in literature. I adored his character. The book starts in 1922 in post-revolution Moscow. The Bolsheviks have slaughtered most of the nobility who haven’t fled into exile. However, the protagonist’s life is spared due to an earlier poem he wrote that appealed at the time to the revolutionaries. Instead, he is sentenced to house arrest for life in the Hotel Metropol in which he has been living for the last four years. He will be shot if he leaves. The story depicts the Count’s life as he adapts to living in a small attic room after vacating his luxury suite. His kindness and courtesy serve him well throughout many escapades.

The book is beautifully written. Every detail feeds into the story and the subplots are woven in with elegance. A line that really moved me was ‘The bees… wheeled above their hives as pinpoints of blackness, like the inverse of stars’. Taken in context, it’s stunning. I could taste the food – and what food, as the two restaurants of the hotel numbered among Russia’s finest. I loved learning about the inner workings of the hotel – the back stairs, the politics between the manager and the kitchen staff, even the trials of the seamstress. I enjoyed the banter in the foyer when he meets a famous actress whose two large dogs on leads are causing mayhem. I was fascinated by ten men taking ten days to remove the labels of all the bottles in the wine cellar under the orders of the Bolsheviks. The Count excelled at seating arrangements having learned it at his grandmother’s country estate and it came in very useful in his later life. A romantic at heart, he never lost an opportunity to promote a love affair, as his attempts to gently nudge along the romance of a young couple over a bottle of wine attest. His friendships with 9-year-old Nina and, later, with the even younger Sofia, are exquisitely rendered.

It’s hard to believe the novel wasn’t written by a native as it seems quite Russian in tone. It’s a literary delight as Amor Towles manages to weave in the essays of Montaigne, the short stories of Gogol and the work of Dostoevsky, adding richness and depth.  Apparently the Metropol is an actual hotel and I would now love to visit it. It’s a universe in itself.

For people who like character-driven novels, this book will be a joy. Those who prefer a more plot-centred approach may become impatient with the pace, but the action from the main storyline builds up to a climax towards the end which may make it worth their while persevering. Though the book includes secret police and gulags and other aspects of the tough regime, grisly details are kept to a minimum while the story yet conveys the turmoil of living through the era.

I have an unanswered question which I haven’t raised here, as I didn’t want to include any spoilers, but I look forward to discussing it with my book club.

I’ve only covered the bare bones of the book and it’s far more than the sum of its parts. Though it’s a literary gem, it’s an easy read. When I finished it, I really missed the company of Count Rostov. This is one of those rare books that leave you feeling like a better human being after reading it.

Reviewed by Nicola Garrett-Elovsson (member of the Dunboyne Library Adult Book Club)



Hard Pushed A midwife’s Story by Leah Hazard

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Life on the front line of the NHS is not easy, but Hazard brings us on a journey of not only her self- discovery & vocation to midwifery but all the different walks of life she encounters on a daily basis. From the bloody to the beautiful, the vulnerable to the perfect, this compassionate story is one to remember. Best for ages 16+

Reviews of Children's Books

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Over the line by Tom PalmerOver the line

Review by Corey Clinton, age 13.

Book Genre: World War 1

The book is about the life of Jack Cock who had just become a professional footballer, but before he could get his career going the war broke out and he enlisted.He fought in the war and then came back to football and became one of the best footballers in England. He got to live up his dream of playing for his country and now Chelsea want to sign him.

Star rating:

5 star rating

Time after time by Judi Curtin

Reviewed by Aoife Duffy, age 12

Time after timeBook summary: Molly and Beth are best friends and love spending time together. But when their two families move in together, maybe they are a little too close for comfort! Out shopping one day they need to avoid the most embarrassing encounter ever with Molly’s mum, and hide in a shop they had never noticed before. When they leave by the side door, they realise immediately that something is not right! Transported back to the past, where mobile phones don’t work and the world feels very different, they realise that they have a chance to see the world through their parents’ eyes. Before finding their way home, can they see what their own pasts looked like?

I really liked this book. Every time I finished a chapter I would be dying to read the next one.
It took me three days to read. I loved how it was about two best friends. As I was reading I could get a very clear picture of what was happening in my head.

Star rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/ 5


What we'll build by Oliver Jeffers

Review from Kevan Connor (age 4.5) and parent

What we'll buildAn Post Irish Book Awards Lovely book to read together. Beautiful colorful illustration, with simple but meaningful easy to read text. Sparks the imagination as you read through the book whilst adding your own interpretation.. Tells a story of a strong united bond between a parent and child, and that you can achieve your dreams as well as anything else that happens along the way. Another Oliver Jeffers hit.

Star rating:

5 star rating


Girls Play Too by Jackie Hurley

An Post Irish Book Awards Girls Play Too by Jackie Hurley

Reviewed by Aisling Foran, age 11 and Ella, aged 10 and Shannen Elliott-Thompson, age 7

Book Genre Children's Non-Ficiton, Biography, Sport

Review by Aisling 
The book is about all the Irish female heroes in sport. The book title means that it isn't just men that play, women could be even better!
I like the way it's all about the female heroes. I also really like the illustrations .I didn't like that there was only 1 page for every story, I would've preferred it to be longer, but I loved everything else.
My favourite part was about Cora Staunton because I love playing GAA, its my favourite sport.

Star Rating

4 star rating


Review by Ella.

I really enjoyed the sports stars stories. I enjoyed the stories so much. I wanted the stories longer and another book!!! Overalll the book was absolutley amazing

Star Rating

5 star rating



Review by Shannen

The book I read was about girls that play sport from Ireland. These people take part in sports both in Ireland and around the world.

The author describes how each girl got interested in sports when they were about my age. They go on to explain the sports the girls now play as grown-ups and how successful they have become.

I enjoyed learning about sports I have never heard about before like modern pentathlon. I also liked reading about the events the girls took part in and the medals they won. I found the pictures in the book helped to explain what is involved in each sport the girls played.

The only thing I disliked about the book was that some of the words were difficult to read by myself.


Star Rating

5 star rating


Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost by Pamela ButchartToilet ghost

Review by Cara Clinton, age 7

Book Genre: Children,crime, mystery

The children solve a mystery to try and discover who is the toilet ghost. The boys thought the boys' toilet was haunted. One day Gavin had to go to the toilet and that's when he thought the toilets were haunted. When Gavin came out of the toilet he was soaked.

I thought the book interesting and it had a good story and funny pictures. I liked it and I would like to read her other books.

Star Rating:

4 star rating

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle

Review by Pippa Lee-Gordon, age 9 and Alannah Gaughran

Miracle on Ebenezer Street An Post Irish Book Awards Book Genre: Children's adventure

Pippa's review: This is a story set at Christmas about a boy called George and his father, who go on magical adventures to make George's father believe in Christmas again.
The characters were so lovable and interesting, especially George's granny. I loved this book because it is so exciting and magical. There was nothing I disliked about it. I think this is a really good read and that other children would really enjoy it. I give this book a ten out of ten!

Star Rating (out of 5)

5 star rating

Review by Alannah: Overall I liked reading this book. It was quite interesting but not awfully funny. It also was a bit dreary at the start, but as you get into it, I enjoyed the characters because there was good dialogue & speech.

The story was believable and I especially liked Nana Flo – she was a lovely Granny and very kind. The main character, George, had a sad life since his mother passed away, but his Nana minded him when his father was at work. George’s Aunt Alice had a new baby called Tim. His father is a bit of a scrooge, because he doesn’t like Christmas since the mother died. But I was glad that the story had a happy ending as they all went to Aunt Alice’s house for Christmas dinner. If you are looking for something festive, you would enjoy this book. I would rate this book 7/10.

On midnight beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Review by Sarah FitzPatrick, age 14

On midnight beachAn Post Irish Book Awards Book Genre: Adventure & romance

Book synopsis:
Donegal, 1976. When a dolphin takes up residence in Carrig Cove, Emer and her best friend, Fee, feel like they have an instant connection with it. Then Dog Cullen and his sidekick, Kit, turn up, and the four friends begin to sneak out at midnight to go down to the beach, daring each other to swim closer and closer to the creature. But the fame and fortune the dolphin brings to their small village builds resentment amongst their neighbours across the bay, and the summer days get longer and hotter. There is something wild and intense in the air. Love feels fierce, old hatreds fester, and suddenly everything feels worth fighting for.

Sarah's review:
Such an excellent read. It should be made into a film. Read over 2 days found it hard to put the book down.
Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick a credit to you.

Star Rating

5 star rating

Break the Mould by Sineád Burke

Reviewed by Róisín King, age11

Break the mouldAn Post Irish Book Awards Book Genre: Emotional wellbeing
I loved this book very much. There wasn’t really any characters or a plot but there were very touching stories and moments from Sinéad’s childhood. There was also some brilliant ideas about how to be yourself. My favourite idea was the one about inclusivity, because there are lots of people who are different and people don’t really accept that and try to shut them down. Sinéad tells you that it is ok to be different and it’s ok for other people to be different because if we were all the same, everybody would get bored pretty quickly! I would definitely recommend this book to anybody and everybody.

Star Rating
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/ 5


Lily at Lissadel by Judi Curtin

Lily at Lissadell by Judi Curtin

Reviewed by Nova Sherwin, aged 10.

Book Summary: When Lily is a young teenager, the time comes for her and her friends to leave school and find work; some are emigrating to America, some going to work in shops. Lily is going into service in the Big House – Lissadell.  Lily’s employers, the Gore-Booth family, are kind, but life as a young housemaid can be hard: Lily works long days, she has to learn to get along with the staff, particularly her roommate, the sullen and uncommunicative Nellie, and she misses her home and family.  But when Maeve, daughter of Constance Markievicz and niece of the Gore-Booths, comes to visit and decides to paint a portrait of Lily an unusual friendship begins between the two girls from such different worlds.

Book Genre Friendship

I loved the book because I thought Lilly was really nice and helpful to the Gore-Booths. I liked the way she never gave up on Nellie and was always trying to be her friend. I thought it was also sad that Lilly only got to see her family once a week. It was excellent when Lilly said to let Nellie go instead of herself. I always like reading Judi Curtin books and I think this is one of her stronger ones. This Judi Curtin book is different to the other ones that I have read and it seems to be a different style of writing to the one I recently read.

5 star ratingStar Rating


Read the eBook or listen to the eAudiobook on BorrowBox

While We Can't Hug

An Post Irish Book Awards While We Can't Hug by Eoin McLaughlin & Polly Dunbar

Reviewed by Oonagh Walsh, aged 4½.

Reserve on Encore

Book Synopsis

Hedgehog and Tortoise were the best of friends. They wanted to give each other a great, big hug. But they weren't allowed to touch. "Don't worry," said Owl. "There are lots of ways to show someone you love them."

So the two friends wave to each other, blow kisses, sing songs, dance around and write letters. And even though they can't hug and they can't touch, they both know that they are loved. 

A gorgeous, uplifting, inspiring picture book that makes social distancing fun!

Book Genre
Childrens picture book

When I asked my daughter about the book after we read it for the first time. She asked were HedgeHog and Tortoise from the 1 family ? Then she said she really liked the rainbows they painted together.

Star Rating

5 star rating

Dragon Detective Catnapped!

Dragon Detective Catnapped! by Gareth P. Jones

Reviewed by Carolyn, age 9, who gave this book a 5 star rating

5 stars




Dragon Detective gets a phone call from Holly about her missing cat.  Dragon Detective Dirk Dilly finds out dragons are stealing cats and planting them at warehouses.  Dirk and Holly find out that men are putting the cats in crates and putting them in the sea to make a limpworm eat the cats so that if you shoot at her she will blow up and kill every living thing in a ten mile radius.  But after Holly and Dirk find out the limpworm didn't eat the cats but hid them.

Pugly on ice by Pamela Butchart

Review by Jennifer

Pugly on ice

Book Genre: children's book

This was the first chapter book that I have read with my 6 year old. She really enjoyed it and couldn't wait to go to bed each night to see how the next chapter was going to go. The chapters were also short and well broken up with lots of pictures for her to look at. I would highly recommend this book for all ages. It was funny with a hint of suspense.

Star Rating

5 star rating

 Mad Grandad and the Kleptoes by Oisín McGann

Reviewed by Ruby King, age 6

Mad grandad  The characters in this book are Grandad, Lenny, Old Mother Klepto, Nickit Klepto and Pinch Klepto. Lots of things go missing in Grandad's house. One day, Lenny sees two creatures come out of Grandad's sofa. Then Lenny and Grandad have an adventure down the back of the sofa. My favourite part was when Lenny and Grandad fell down the sofa - it was very funny!!
Thank you, I loved this book!

Star Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/ 5

Review picture


Diary of a Wimpy Kid Wrecking Ball

Diary of a Wimpy Kid : Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney

Reviewed by Sara Gavin who gave this book a 5 star rating

5 stars


Book Genre 

This book is one of the best books I have read. It is a page Turner and has related situations. Greg and his family are the main characters in this book along with Greg's friend Rowley. A family member passes away and his family have to decide what to do with the money. While they are trying to decide unbelievable things happen to them. This book is really funny and I would recommend it to every age, boy or girl

Star Rating

The Enchanted Egg by Kallie George

The Enchanted Egg by Kallie George

Reviewed by Nealie, aged 6 (and 3/4) who gave this book a 5 star rating.

5 stars



Clover is really good at looking after magical animals.  One day a magic egg hatches. Clover has to find the creature but what is it?

I think it's a good book because there is lots of magic and adventure in it and action too.

Clover is nice. I loved all the magical creatures in it.

The Legend of Spud Murphy

The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer

Reviewed by Maryam Miah, age 7 who gave this book a Star Rating of 5 

5 stars



The oldest brother, Will, was very funny, because his friend was a doll called Action Man.  I really liked the end because my favourite character, Will, thought that Spud Murphy was going to load her Spud gun, but she actually gave him a blue adult card.  Marty was very jealous when he saw the blue adult card in Will's hand.  Will and Spud Murphy became friends.  Will promised he would call her Angela.

The Getaway

Diary of a Wimpy Kid : The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

Reviewed by Ryan Davis, aged 8. Many thanks to Ryan for sending this in.

Book Genre (i.e. Crime, adventure, fantasy, etc.)

Great book, very funny.
Plot: Before Christmas, Greg and his family go on holidays to a paradise island (not!) called "Isla de Corales". Everything goes wrong and ends badly
Well done Jeff, well done.

Star Rating

Four Star Rating


The Girl who Thought in Pictures The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin’  Written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley

 Reserve this title on our online catalogue

 Meet Temple Grandin, a girl who has always been labelled ‘different’. She always related better to animals than humans; until one summer on   her aunt’s cattle ranch she makes one of the biggest inventions yet- the cattle chute system. Now, known for her quirky scientific discoveries,   Dr. Temple Grandin has made ground breaking improvements on farms all around the globe!

T his rhyming picture book is for anyone who has ever felt they didn’t belong. Best for ages 3-8 years.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

This review was sent to us by Olga Vaughan, aged 12. Thanks Olga.

Book Genre 
Adventure with a bit of magic

Inkheart is an amazing book about a girl whose father repaired old books. One day a mysterious person shows up in front of their house in the middle of the night. The girl finds out her father can read characters out of books just by reading the words! Sadly when something comes out..something has to go in.. the girl's mother was stuck in the book..In this story they go experience life threatening adventures.

I think this is a fantastic story for adults and children! It is very interesting and even though it starts slowly but it gets a lot better! At one point when I was reading it, I enjoyed it so much I didn't want to go to sleep! Overall this is a great novel and I recommend it to anyone who particularly likes adventure and fantasy novels.

Star Rating
5 star rating  5/5 

Shuffle the Shoe Maker by Enid Blyton

Reviewed by Aoife deBarra, aged 8.

Shuffle the Shoe maker   Book Genre 
   Mischievous adventure

   Great adventures with each chapter. Turns his cousin into a button & walls have ears. mischievous brownie. Lots of jokes. Shoes have          tongues!

   Star Rating

   5 stars

  5 star rating