Friday 31 October 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - The Tubridy Show Book Club choice for October

The Reluctant FundamentalistThis novel is written as a monologue that Changez, a young Pakistani, delivers to a mysterious American at a café table in Lahore. Among the brightest and best of his graduating class at Princeton, Changez is snapped up by an elite New York financial company. He thrives on the energy of New York and the intensity of his work and falls in love with a beautiful – and unavailable – young woman. But everything changes when Changez realizes that he is half-gladdened by the World Trade Centre attacks and this begins a process of inner transformation that results with his return to Pakistan. As the monologue progresses, we never learn the American man’s identity and by the end of the book, the author Mohsin Hamid lets us decide for ourselves whether Changez is the hunter or the hunted. A novel filled with tension that entertains at the same time as it makes you think, The Reluctant Fundamentalist was published by Penguin in 2007.

"Paddington Here and Now" - Paddington’s fiftieth anniversary year

Paddington Here and NowAdult fans of Paddington Bear will treasure this new creation from Michael Bond. This solid hardback with charming illustrations will transport Paddington lovers back in time on a journey of nostalgia. The same old Paddington gets caught up in all sorts of scrapes, with the police, with travel agents and he still has the odd run-in with Mr. Curry from next door, coming out on top in a satisfyingly predictable way. This is Paddington’s fiftieth anniversary year so what better time to choose the book as an ideal gift for children aged 8 or 9 who can read it independently or for adults who would like to share it with their children. Paddington Here and Now is published by HarperCollins, 2008

Times have changed at Mills & Boon

E-book, image courtesy Design ContinuumMills and Boon has joined the e-book revolution by converting 200 of its books to e-book format. The downloads on the Mills and Boon website went live in October and are also on sale at Waterstones. The publisher will now convert 70 of its titles a month in an attempt to have as many of its books as possible available as e-books. Harlequin (Mills and Boon's Canadian parent company) has been selling e-books for two years and it has grown month upon month. Mills & Boon has launched a crime and thriller series in its first venture beyond romance publishing since it was founded 100 years ago. Black Star Crime kicked off in August with five titles, and will initially publish five titles every two months. In a sharp departure from the traditional Mills & Boon offering, the publishers will also launch a new raunchier series of books next year under the Spice imprint. Claire Somerville, Mills & Boon's marketing director says “You can chart the development of social and sexual mores, the history of women and the evolution of women's role socially and sexually, all through Mills & Boon." However, the publishers are still guaranteeing its readers a happy ending!

Children visit the library in their thousands for Children’s Book Festival 2008

Miriam Lambert Puppet ShowChildren’s Book Festival in Clare libraries was an outstanding success this year with all branches packed to capacity for a bumper programme of events which included the best in children’s entertainment. Puppet theatre, drama, art and craft workshops and visits by best-selling children’s authors were just some of the events that took place during the month-long celebration of books and libraries. The aim of the festival is the celebration of books and reading and the encouragement of library use from a very early age. With this aim in mind, librarians throughout the county welcomed children and teachers from local schools to their individual programmes of events. The library service would like to thank all teachers, parents and children who supported the festival this year. One of this year’s most popular events was the Super Furry Animals Show. During this show children were treated to an interactive demonstration lecture on the wild mammal species found in Ireland with the added bonus of seeing first hand the special features of these elusive animals as presented in “stuffed” specimens. Artist Alan Shoosmith brought his Halloween art workshop to half of Clare County Library’s branches. Cereal boxes became haunted towers, dungeons and homes to dragons & scary creatures in 3D collages, that now decorate the young artists’ homes for the weekend ahead. Authors Karen McCombie, Kate McMahon, Áine Ní Ghlinn, Judi Curtin and Roisin Meaney did the rounds speaking to children and teenagers about writing and publishing their books and proved that drawing on your own experience is the best way to become a writer. They provided much food for thought for young book enthusiasts, some of whom left the libraries with thoughts of becoming writers themselves. Storytellers Joe Brennan and Niall de Burca were simply first-rate entertainment from beginning to end of their hour-long sessions. Stories new and old were delivered by both with a generous helping of myths and legends, plenty of humour and stimulation for the imagination. The Miriam Lambert Puppet Show performed a very special version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for young children introducing them to an imaginative puppet world with lots of interactive fun to entertain and stimulate them. Sean O’Laoghaire from Cork presented ‘It’s My Planet Too’ a puppet show for older children set in Nature’s Garden, where the animal inhabitants are threatened by the villain Pollution. Growing up in a house full of stories, magic and tradition, Sean has a wealth of experience to draw on. He has written and performed puppet shows and run storytelling workshops for many years now. Clare County Library would like to thank all local businesses who sponsor Children’s Book Festival each year. One of Ireland’s biggest arts festivals, CBF provides approximately 1,500 free events for children all over Ireland each year.

Friday 24 October 2008

Booker Prize Winner

The White TigerAravind Adiga was named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008 for his debut novel The White Tiger. The winning novel is described as a ‘compelling, angry and darkly humorous' novel about a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an ‘unadorned portrait' of India seen ‘from the bottom of the heap'. One of the Booker judges, Michael Portillo, explained that the novel had won overall because of 'its originality'. He said that The White Tiger presented 'a different aspect of India' and was a novel with 'enormous literary merit'. Balram Halwai is the White Tiger – the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi where he takes the violent action that secures his place among the rich.

Potter best-selling book ever on Amazon

Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has been revealed as the biggest selling book on's website since it began trading ten years ago. In fact the chart has been dominated by the wizard since Amazon started trading in 1998. In its first year, The Prisoner Of Azkaban was’s best-selling book. The following year, The Goblet Of Fire topped the chart. The Order Of The Phoenix was its biggest-selling book of 2003 and The Half-Blood Prince was No.1 in 2005 and is the best selling book on Amazon ever. In July 2007 two million pre-ordered copies of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows were delivered around the world by Amazon in a single day. The Deathly Hallows - the final book in the series – lies in 2nd place on the chart of best-selling books ever. The top ten is entirely comprised of titles that were published during the past five years. The website had its origins in the online retailer Bookpages, which began trading in 1996 and was bought by in 1998.
The top 10:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J K Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
The Dangerous Book for Boys - Conn and Hal Iggulden
QI: The Book of General Ignorance - John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson
Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions - Mick O'Hare
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions - Mick O'Hare

BookFest: The Children’s Book Festival’s Recommended Reading Guide

The Children’s Book Festival’s Recommended Reading Guide, edited by Liz Morris and Sarah Webb, is a collection of age ranged books for eveyone from babies to young adults.
The review panel is made up of teachers, librarians, booksellers, editors, lecturers, authors, illustrators and parents and their selection offers a wealth of excellent books to choose from. Copies of The Children’s Book Festival’s Reccommended Reading Guide are available free of charge from all branches of Clare County Library and the featured books are available for borrowing from library branches.

Language Centre at Clare County Library

The Shannon Language Centre, a joint initiative of the Shannon Town Commissioners and Clare County Library, offers access to modern language learning resources in a comfortable, private setting in the Seán Lemass Library, Shannon. Language learners have access to booths fitted out with cassette, compact disc, video and satellite television facilities. The Centre provides access to many modern languages, as well as various other languages including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Thai. Learners can choose their preferred level - beginners, intermediate or advanced - and select appropriate material. The Centre caters for a wide cross-section of the community, including secondary and tertiary level students, holiday makers, adult learners, business people and professional linguists. The audio-visual resources of the Centre are backed up by a selection of print resources, including dictionaries, grammars, word lists and vocabularies. Contact: Sean Lemass Library, Shannon Town Centre, at 061 - 364266.

Music Recording Scheme - Clare Arts Office

The Arts Office of Clare County Council is offering musicians, singers and storytellers based in Co. Clare the opportunity to record. The scheme will provide a number of hours in a recording studio (including sound engineer) in a selected studio in County Clare. “The scheme offers musicians, singers and storytellers of Clare an opportunity to record, whether it be for a commercial cd or for a demo. Making a recording is still quite expensive so this scheme aims to help artists in tough economic times when other doors seem to be closing” comments Tara Connaghan, Traditional Arts Specialist with the Clare Arts Office. The scheme is open to musicians, singers (in any genre) and storytellers. Interested artists should contact the Clare Arts Office on 065-6846267 or email to register their interest and complete an application form by Friday 14th November 2008. Application forms can also be downloaded here… Late applications after this deadline cannot be accepted and studio time must be used by December 31st, 2008.

Friday 17 October 2008

The Builders - new book by Frank McDonald and Kathy Sheridan

The BuildersIn the past fifteen years, Ireland has gone from being one of the poorest countries in the EU to one of the richest in the world. Of all the factors in this extraordinary transformation, none has been more prominent than the astonishing boom in construction. The transformation was created by a relatively small number of men, mostly from humble, rural backgrounds. In The Builders, Frank McDonald and Kathy Sheridan tell the stories of these men, of the local and national governments that have helped them, and of the changes - physical and psychological - they have brought about. They also go behind the facades of these secretive men, explaining what drives them and what they do with their vast wealth. The story of Ireland's property developers has been the great untold story of the country's growth - until now. The Builders is published by Penguin Ireland, 2008.

"John" - new book by Niall Williams

John, by Niall WilliamsNiall Williams, who lives in Kiltumper, Co. Clare has written a lyrical re-imagining of John the Apostle in the final years of his life. Now a frail, blind old man, John lives in exile on the desolate island of Patmos with a small group of his disciples. As he awaits the second coming, which he believes to be imminent, he goes over events distant in time but vividly present to his mind. Together the group has endured their banishment, but after years awaiting Christ’s return, fissures form within their faith. They wait for signs that never come. Their belief starts to turn into agonising doubt as they are ravaged by bewilderment and impatience. In John, Williams has taken a powerful look at faith and how it lives and dies in the hearts of men. John is published by Bloomsbury, 2008.

Reading for the Recession

Grow Your Own VegPast experience shows that during hard times, people don’t like to read about doom and gloom but instead like to read about the good times. Booksellers have been looking over the bestseller lists from previous eras of financial uncertainty to try to predict what cash-strapped readers will be buying. Back in the recession of the early 80s, readers were lapping up Jackie Collins’ novel Lovers and Gamblers about the glittering world of rock parties and concerts to limos and mansions of the power-brokers. This also held true for the recession of the early 90s when Jilly Cooper’s book Polo – based on the ritzy, wild, and promiscuous polo set - was number one in the fiction bestseller charts. "Stories of the mega-rich and royalty also seem to hold a perverse fascination when times are tough," says Viking editorial director Joel Rickett. "We're thinking more widely about the kind of books that sell when times are tight," says Rickett. "Escapism is one answer: crime and thrillers will go on selling by the truckload. People will want to bury themselves in fast, compelling stories." Romance publisher Mills & Boon says it has traditionally enjoyed stronger sales in times of crisis, as miserable workers live an imaginary high life among handsome Arab sheikhs and smouldering Italian tycoons. "Billionaires are here to stay - we've always been aspirational, that's part of our promise; we've never tried to be achievable." However, sales of books on how to survive the recess are already on the rise. Waterstones has seen a 200% increase in sales of two titles about keeping chickens in recent weeks. And sales of Carol Klein’s Grow Your Own Veg are double what they were a year ago as people look for ways to save money. This Christmas will see the launch of a slew of thrifty titles as publishers look to profit from this demand, headed up by a timely new edition of Delia Smith's classic Frugal Food. India Knight, who previously penned the book The Shops: a guide to retail therapy, is also tightening her belt with the publication of The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less. Knight tells us how to make jam and preserve foods, make beautiful but cheap dinners and use a sewing machine – all the time saving money and looking fabulous!

School’s Out for the Children’s Book Festival

Hundreds of children and their teachers are a regular sight this month on the footpaths and roads of Clare, on their way to their local library for Children’s Book Festival Events. Poetry workshops, children’s puppet theatre, Halloween art workshops, storytelling and author visits are just some of the events that have taken place in libraries around the county so far. The Miriam Lambert Puppet Theatre performed to packed venues and kept children and adults mesmerized with their version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Best-selling children’s author Karen McCombie met with six hundred children from primary and post-primary level to share her books, and her inspiration and love of writing with her many devoted fans. Storyteller Niall deBurca and author Áine Ni Ghlinn provided bi-lingual stories and readings for gaelscoileanna and children from senior classes in primary schools. And that’s not all! The Super Furry Animals Roadshow is one of the last events of the Children’s Book Festival. Scariff and Killaloe Libraries will host this event on Thursday the 23rd of October and Ennis and Corofin Libraries on Friday the 24th. The show focuses on the importance of bio-diversity and a healthy environment with the added bonus of a “stuffed” animal display for children to explore. Contact your local library for details or visit

Ennis Fashion Week

Clare County Library has organised a display of books at the De Valera Public Library, Harmony Row, Ennis during Ennis Fashion Week which runs from 18th – 25th October 2008. Call in to see, or borrow, a wide selection of books on fashion, costume, style, beauty, etc. etc. On Wednesday, 22nd October at 8.00 pm a talk on “Fashion in Ireland” will take place at the same library. The speaker is Liz Clery. Her talk will deal with Irish fashion in the 1950s and 1960s and, in particular, with the work of Neillí Mulcahy and her Irish haute couture salon. All are welcome and entry is free.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Tulla Céilí Band stamp of approval

The Tulla Céilí BandOne of Clare’s most cherished traditional groups has been honored by An Post by being included in a new series of stamps celebrating Irish traditional music. The Tulla Céilí Band are featured in a set of four stamps which also depict Planxty, The Bothy Band and De Dannan, with whom of course Clare's Maura O'Connell sang so memorably. "The series of four stamps celebrates the phenomenon and the legacy of Irish traditional music. The bands are captured at the height of the trad boom during the purple patch of the seventies. Each of the stamps is painted by Irish artist Finbarr O’Connor, with typography by Steve Simpson." Click for more...

Friday 10 October 2008

Birds of Ireland: Facts, Folklore and History by Glynn Anderson

Birds of Ireland: Facts, Folklore and History“Hearing the hoot of an owl is associated with bad luck. However, if you hear an owl, all is not lost: you must immediately take off your clothes, turn them inside out and put them back on. Luckily, most owls appear at night...” This is just one of the many informative and entertaining facts contained within this attractive book on Irish birds. The book starts with an overview of the history and folklore of Irish birds. In Irish mythology, birds were sometimes seen as omens, and there were countless beliefs, proverbs and curses associated with them. The book tells us that birds inspired poets such as Hopkins, Yeats and Heaney and influenced place names in Ireland like the Curlew Mountain in Roscommon and Hawk’s Nest, County Antrim. Physical descriptions and facts and figures on each species of birds found in Ireland is given together with the associated beliefs and traditions, proverbs and similes, curses and poetry, weather lore and culinary traditions. So if you are trying to ensure your husband’s fidelity, sew a swan’s feather into his pillow; if you need a cure for baldness, burn a raven and boil its ashes with mutton fat which then should be rubbed into the head; if you have jaundice, fix your gaze on a Yellowhammer - the bird will die but you will be ok. These and other useful snippets of information are contained in this book that can be dipped into again and again to provide entertainment for anyone with even a passing interest in Irish birds or Irish folklore. Birds of Ireland: Facts, Folklore and History is published by The Collins Press (2008).

Creature of the Night – new book by Kate Thompson

Creature of the NightWhen Bobby's mother moves the family from Dublin to a rented house in the country, she hopes they will escape the moneylenders who make her life hell and that a fresh start in the country will steer Bobby away from the undesirable habits and people he is involved with in the city. But Bobby yearns for city life and getting back to what he does best: stealing from the crowded shopping streets and racing stolen cars at night. Parallel stories running simultaneously in Thompson’s books are a regular feature of her writing, and here again the personal journey of Bobby is paralleled by the story of a previous tenant who once lived in their newly rented house and who mysteriously disappeared. The longer Bobby spends in the old cottage, the more convinced he becomes that something very strange is going on there. Was there really a murder? And if so, was it the one he has been told about? Thompson’s characters are, as always, well rounded and truly authentic. Combined with an excellent story line with a touch of fantasy, this book is an excellent read for older children and young teens. Kate Thompson was a founder member of the North Clare Writers Workshop and has many stories and poems featured on the library website. Creature of the Night is published by The Bodley Head (2008).

Be a judge for the Costa Book Awards

Do you love books? Have a passion for reading? And like to express your opinions on both? Then the Costa Book Awards want to hear from you! For the first time, Costa is offering one avid reader a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the final judging panel of this year's Costa Book Awards and have a say in which book is named Costa Book of the Year 2008. To enter write a 300 word piece telling what you believe to be the perfect book to read with a cup of coffee and why. Then in less than 500 words write about your relationship with books and reading and why you think you should join the final judging panel. Closing date for submissions is 31st October 2008. A shortlist of 12 entrants will be chosen and asked to come to London on Tuesday 25th November for a book review debate on 'Day' by A.L. Kennedy. The Costa Book Awards team and author Joanna Trollope will oversee the debate, as a result of which one winner will be selected. Standard-class travel expenses for the 12 shortlisted entrants will be reimbursed by the Costa Book Awards. If you win, you will be required to read all five Costa Award-winning books. You'll then attend and participate in the final judging meeting to select the overall 2008 Costa Book of the Year. You'll also attend the Costa Book of the Year awards gala dinner and ceremony with a guest on the evening of Tuesday 27th January 2009. You and your guest will stay overnight in a central London hotel following the awards dinner and ceremony. And to top it all off, your winning book review will be published on the Costa Book Awards website. See for further details. Good luck!

Team Player for Team Read

Team ReadClare Inter County hurler Tony Griffin met with young library members from all over Clare on Friday evening the 3rd of October at Clare County Council Headquarters, New Road, Ennis. Hundreds of children were present with their families to receive certificates of merit and spot prizes as a reward for taking part in the library’s annual summer reading scheme, Team Read. 2,500 books were borrowed from library branches and read during July and August by young book enthusiasts as a result of the scheme. Clare County Library would like to extend its sincere thanks to Tony Griffin, the invited guest of honour for the evening, who not only presented certificates but signed autographs and posed for photographs with the many young hurling fans who attended.

Best-selling children’s and teenage author, Karen McCombie comes to Clare.

The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma ClubKaren McCombie has sold over one million books in the UK alone and has been translated into 15 languages. She is the author of the Ally’s World, Stella Etc. and the Sadie Rocks series as well as a number of stand-alone novels. The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma Club, Karen’s latest novel was published in June 2008. Before becoming an author Karen worked on several teen magazines, including Just Seventeen and Sugar. Originally from Aberdeen, and now living in London, Karen kicks off her West of Ireland Children’s Book Festival Tour in Limerick libraries on Monday 13th October. On the following Tuesday she will be in Tulla, Scariff and Killaloe Libraries and Ennis and Shannon Libraries on Wednesday the 14th before touring Galway and Mayo Libraries at the end of the week. She is one of Clare County Library’s most popular authors for girls with her books always on the top ten most borrowed books list. Library staff in all branches are expecting a large turnout for the event.

Friday 3 October 2008

Getting your Children into Books

NoddyPersonalised or custom made books for children are becoming increasingly popular according to The Bookseller. With digital technology continuously improving, these books are easy to produce. Customers can now amazingly create characters with their child’s skin tone, hairstyle, eye and hair colour. Young readers are thrilled to see not just their own names in books but their faces also. HarperCollins publishers launched personalised books last year featuring their Noddy character. They plan to offer similar books based on other brands featuring pre-school TV favourites such as Fifi and the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car in time for Christmas.

Sign of the Times

Frugal FoodDelia Smith is to tackle the credit crunch with a reissue of her classic 1976 cookbook, Frugal Food. The book includes 170 dishes including oxtail hotpot, kidney-stuffed onions, braised pork with prunes, kipper quiche and herrings fried in oatmeal. The original has never been out of print, and was designed to advise those struggling with rising food prices. The title has been updated with colour photographs and a new introduction by the author. But at €25, the new edition may blow some budgets!

Super Thursday

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of FoodThursday October 2nd has been dubbed Super Thursday by those in the book trade as 800 new titles were published simultaneously in the UK in the publishing run-up to Christmas. Thursday is the traditional publishing day anyway but three times the usual number of books were published on October 2nd. Among them are a lot of heavyweight titles tipped by retailers as Christmas bestsellers – titles by celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Gary Rhodes, sporting stars such as Darren Clarke and Jonny Wilkinson and TV personalities such as Dawn French and Michael Parkinson. Booksellers remain optimistic despite the recession as books traditionally continue to sell well during tricky times.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Frances Browne Poetry Competition

Granny's Wonderful Chair Do you write poetry in Irish, English, or Ulster-Scots? Would you like the chance to see your work in print? Would you like to win a top cash prize? A Donegal newspaper, the Finn Valley Voice, is launching this brand-new poetry competition with a difference. For the first time ever, poets are invited to enter work in any of Ireland’s three national languages, Irish, English and Ulster-Scots, with a guaranteed top prize of €100 and trophy in each category. The competition is in memory of Frances Browne, the Blind Poetess of Stranorlar, one of the world’s most popular poets and childrens’ storytellers in Victorian times. Frances Brown is today best remembered for a unique - and at one time very popular - collection of fairytales, "Granny's Wonderful Chair". Sixty years ago, her collected volume of verse "The Star of Attesgia" and her novel "Hidden Sin" were being widely read. Frances Browne came from the Finn Valley. The Finn Valley is unique in being the only part of Ireland where the three national tongues, Irish, English and Ulster-Scots, are spoken by large sections of the population as first languages. The Finn Valley is also the only part of Ireland where the religious and demographic mix matches that of Northern Ireland, and is often cited as a role model for a pluralist Ireland… In that spirit, all are welcome to enter. Young or old, Irish or non-Irish, Irish-speaking, English-speaking or Ulster Scots-speaking – send along your entry to this groundbreaking new competition. In addition to the main prizewinners a selection of the best entries will appear in the Finn Valley Voice over the coming months.
Entry forms may be obtained by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the Arts Page, Finn Valley Voice, Ballybofey, Co Donegal. Entry forms may also be available from your local library or by downloading at
Closing date for completed entries is Friday 17thOctober 2008