How the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards shape my reading @BGEIBAS #BGEIBA

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So if you’d seen me on twitter last year, you’d have seen me gushing about The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, which puts everything I love together in one room for one night only and, my word do I get excited when I even think about it. So normally, this is what I do: I wait and wait and wait for the shortlist to come out. I listen even more intently to Ryan Tubridy’s show in the morning to see if he’s announced his show’s nominations and pop into Eason to see where they’re at on the whole matter. When all is announced I begin to trawl through the nominees see if there are many authors and books I know, search out the ones I don’t and begin to read. I do this so that I can make an informed decision and vote fully legally (yes I do realise how I sound), and generally I get all forms of review requests in the meantime and panic as I realise to get through them all may not be so realistic! So I’ll be honest, this years awards is full of books whose names I’ve written on pieces of paper, or who are on my Kindle. I have not read that many of them (sob). The three I have reviewed are The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington (read my review here) , Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard (I wrote about it here), and Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (read the review here) .

Sitting on my Kindle, just ABOUT to be read is The Girl from The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor (I reviewed A Memory Of Violets and it was my number one book for 2015, read that review here) and the next book that jumps out at me, but which I shall have to go hunting for in paperback is  Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)- I heard the interview with this author, who’s is quite young, (or at least much younger than me!) on Ryan Tubridy and she BLEW ME AWAY. These are followed closely by The Book of Shadows by ERMurray, Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern, The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan and I generally read Marian Keyes at Christmas for my ‘I’ll sit here and read for as long as I want to, dammit!’ time;). After that I know I’ve to get going on Graham Norton‘s book, Holding because, not only have people been raving about it, but also it’s a tale set in a little Irish village, and I have to read all such books in a quest to see if mine is way off the rest of the author population’s! As well as that it’s a sin not to have read the Maggie O’Farrell book , and I really want to read ‘Fat Chance’ by Louise MacSharry. Then I’m a bad reviewer because I haven’t read Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, which sounds AMAZING and I’ve The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to read as a result of a book group I’m in. Now, moving along, since I’ve seen Claire Hennessy speak and can’t wait to read Nothing Tastes As Good , well that’s in there too, plus to be Irish and not to have read Donal Ryan’s All We Shall Know beggars belief (plus I heard him speaking on the radio when he got his first book deal and I’ve meant to read his books since then!) so, um, yes. In the kiddies section I’m definitely going to get ‘Goodnight Everyone’ by  Chris Haughton and Historopedia by Fatti and John Burke, which I was looking at today in Eason and is perfection for the kiddies! I adore all cookbooks so, yes, need to get looking into them too! So, there you go. This is what happens every year, and to be honest, the books I have listed are only the ones that I previously said I really had to get going on, I have to wade through the rest too!

Anyhoo, this post is gone a bit nuts, the reason I was posting was actually to let you know that, thanks to the amazing people at Evoke.ie , I’ll be there!!!! At the awards! Yes, this is a huge, huge, huge thing for me. I will be  sitting in the green room alongside my best friend and fellow writer and blogger Deirdre Reidy from https://countingtheminutestilbedtime.com/ and I’ll tell you now, I can’t wait! Will fill you in on social media where I can, and will blog about it after, but for now, here’s the shortlist, taken from the Irish Bord Gais Energy Ireland Book Award website. I hope you enjoy going through the titles as much as I have, and find something you didn’t know existed:)

Eason Novel of the Year

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack (Tramp Press)

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)

The Wonder – Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan/Picador)

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)

The Journal.ie Best Irish published Book of the Year

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

Dublin since 1922 – Tim Carey (Hachette Books Ireland)

Looking Back: The Changing Faces of Ireland – Eric Luke (The O’Brien Press)

Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks – Edited by Fintan O’Toole (Royal Irish Academy)

The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016 – Michael Dervan (New Island Books)

The Glass Shore – Sinéad Gleeson (New Island Books)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

Himself – Jess Kidd (Canongate Books)

Red Dirt – EM Reapy (Head of Zeus)

The Last Days of Summer – Vanessa Ronan (Penguin Ireland)

The Maker of Swans – Paraic O’Donnell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The Things I Should Have Told You – Carmel Harrington (HarperCollins)

This Living and Immortal Thing – Austin Duffy (Granta Books)

National Book Tokens Nonfiction Book of the Year

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy – Paul Howard (Picador)

Ireland The Autobiography – John Bowman (Penguin Ireland)

The Hurley Maker’s Son – Patrick Deeley (Doubleday Ireland)

The Supreme Court – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (Penguin Ireland)

Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir – John Banville & Paul Joyce (Hachette Books Ireland)

When Ideas Matter – Michael D Higgins (Head of Zeus)

RTE Radio One Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

Conclave – Robert Harris (Hutchinson)

Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Transworld Ireland)

Victim Without A Face – Stefan Ahnhem (Head of Zeus)

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year

In Glasnevin – Jane Clarke (From: The Irish Times)

Patagonia – Emma McKervey (From: The Compass Magazine)

Suppose I Lost – Andrew Soye (From: Abridged Magazine)

Love / Hotel / Love – Michael Naghtan Shanks (From: Poetry Ireland Review)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

A Child of Books – Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Goodnight Everyone – Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

Historopedia – Fatti and John Burke (Gill Books)

Pigín of Howth – Kathleen Watkins (Gill Books)

Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits – Julian Gough & Jim Field (Hachette Children’s Group)

Rover and the Big Fat Baby – Roddy Doyle (Pan Macmillan)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

Knights of the Borrowed Dark – Dave Rudden (Puffin)

The Book of Shadows – E.R. Murray (Mercier Press)

The Making of Mollie – Anna Carey (The O’Brien Press)

Needlework – Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island Books)

Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessy (Hot Key Books)

Flawed – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Avonmore Cookbook of the Year

Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown – Sophie White (Gill Books)

The World of The Happy Pear – Stephen and David Flynn (Penguin Ireland)

Natural Born Feeder – Roz Purcell (Gill Books)

The Little Green Spoon – Indy Power (Ebury Press)

Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)

The Brother Hubbard – Garrett Fitzgerald (Gill Books)

Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year

Game of Throw-Ins – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)

Lyrebird – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)

Rebel Sisters – Marita Conlon-McKenna (Transworld Ireland)

The Girl From The Savoy – Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins)

The Privileged – Emily Hourican (Hachette Books Ireland)

Holding – Graham Norton (Hodder & Stoughton)

Ireland AM Popular Nonfiction Book of the Year

Adventures of a Wonky-Eyed Boy – Jason Byrne (Gill Books)

Fat Chance – Louise McSharry (Penguin Ireland)

Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)

Pippa – Pippa O’Connor (Penguin Ireland)

Talking to Strangers – Michael Harding (Hachette Books Ireland)

Mr. Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember – Alan Amsby/David Kenny (New Island Books)

Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year

Blood, Sweat & McAteer – Jason McAteer (Hachette Books Ireland)

Coolmore Stud, Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story – Alan Conway (Mercier Press)

My Life in Rugby – Donal Lenihan (Transworld Ireland)

Out of Control – Cathal Mc Carron (Simon & Schuster)

The Battle – Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)

Win or Learn – John Kavanagh (Penguin Ireland)

Writing.ie Short Story of the Year

Here We Are – Lucy Caldwell (Faber&Faber)

K-K-K – Lauren Foley (Ol Society – Australia)

The Visit – Orla McAlinden (Sowilo Press)

Green Amber Red – Jane Casey (New Island)

The Birds of June – John Connell (Granta Magazine)

What a River Remembers of its Course – Gerard Beirne (Numero Cinq Magazine)

Crime Fiction Award

Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic Books (Corvus)

Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)

The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)

The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)

Me vs. Netgalley: The week ahead in REVIEWS

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I have read a number of rants recently on people who are taking advantage of the system, accepting review requests or requesting books from Netgalley and not fulfilling their duties. All aforementioned authors and bloggers were just plain mad over the nerve of the average blogger when they took on a book and then a post appeared sometime later saying that life had popped up and stopped them from reading or reviewing. I have to admit they most definitely had a point.

In recent weeks our iPad, my laptop and phone all ceased to exist in quick succession. Our internet, as we live in the country (oh there’s a post coming on this one, believe me;)) started to only appear for minutes at a time, generally choosing a vital part of the day to cut me off from the world. My husband, who had been off work for some time with health issues, returned, taking HIS laptop with him then running programs by night so I couldn’t get near it. I lost a bit of my zest reading, blogging and writing-wise, have had kids wake up nightly, and also returned to writing (a good thing!). There is a chance that this period of time has had enough physical interruptions to justify my absence from my blog and indeed from the Netgalley books I took on, but actually I don’t really think so.

If I had a book on Netgalley I’m pretty sure seeing the requests appear for my book would get me very excited as to the buzz that was going to be created for my work, thus telling me that my (or my publisher’s) substantial fee was justified. I am telling you this as an author myself, one who got two thousand free downloads of her book which resulted in just two reviews on Amazon. So in the same breath that I’m telling you that not only am I back writing and motivated again on the creative front (the Wexford Literary festival led by the great Carmel Harrington and including authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Siobhan Davis and Catherine Ryan Howard and a refreshing Frankie Gaffney and Jax Miller and industry experts such as Margaret Madden and Mary McCauley was my tonic -yay!!), the breath that should be telling you I’m slowing down on the blogging front, I’m actually going to tell you instead that I am going to get going on clearing my Netgalley backlog and will review every book I ever requested. Because they’re worth it.

Do you ever struggle with commitments to reviewing?Does the word ‘tbr’ make you shudder? Let me know in the comments!

Top read of 2015: A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

 

A Memory Of Violets

What they say: The author of the USA Today and New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home has once again created an unforgettable historical novel. Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.

 

The review: It is very unusual to adore a book where the hype surrounding it is so momentous. From the second I began to read this book I was hooked. Unfortunately to now I hadn’t read much historical fiction but this is very likely to change that. The book opened with a prologue; ‘Florrie’ speaking to us of her sister as a baby, how she decided how and why she loved her so much and the bond that connected them. Life was hard for Florrie

“my leg won’t grow proper, see, cause of the polio I had as a baby. I’ve an old stick for a crutch”

and her sister, Rosie, who

“lives her life in the dark, so she does. Poor little Rosie with her useless eyes.”

Together they go about selling their flowers in Covent Garden, barely surviving and yet happy to exist solely because of their love for each other.

“And then we wait for the morning to come and the flowers to arrive. Just me an’ Little Sister. Waiting in the dark. ‘Don’t let go, Rosie,’ I whisper. ‘Don’t let go.’”

The descriptions of their living conditions reeled me in and contrasted spectacularly with those of the flowers they sold, spectacular beauties of varying hues that illuminated the dark, gloomy streets of London.

We were soon introduced to Mr Shaw’s Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls as Matilda Harper(Tilly) began her train journey to become assistant housemother. Throughout the book we were given snapshots of what Tilly was running from, and I felt for her. The characters she met here were wonderful, so alive that, again, I was right there with them, watching the bustling housekeeper and the girls, of varying disabilities, who had such a talent and dedication towards their work with flowers. I loved especially how Tilly had remembered them all in terms of what they were lacking, but she soon came to see and understand their personalities, teaching her a thing or two!

The drama in this book was flawless. My heart broke as I read the diary entries detailing ‘Flora’s journey’ and was nervous about what had happened to her beloved sister. The secrets that surrounded Florrie and Rosie Flynn, as well as that which Tilly was running from, were revealed perfectly, with surprises and shocks that hit you hard.

I read the paperback of this book and to be honest I couldn’t imagine an e-book version; the paperback was exquisite. It was everything the content was, beautiful, breathtaking, charming. On the bookshelf that displays our scant collection of adults books (we bring adults books to the charity to allow our childrens’ books collection to flourish) it was the one that screamed to be read, matching only Kate Morton’s gorgeous ‘The Secret Keeper.’ That being said, I think this could be perfect in audioformat, it reads the way I remember books such as ‘Under The Hawthorn Tree’ and ‘The Wildflower Girl’. At the end of the book, there are notes from the memoirs of Albert Shaw, and these were such a bonus, I absolutely devoured them and Ms. Gaynor shot up even more in my estimation that she could take notes such as these and yet do them justice in such a magnificent way. I’ve seen this as quite a few people’s top read for 2015 and I’ll join them. Cannot wait to read more of Ms. Gaynor. Top read of 2015.

Rating: 5/5