Reviews

Rejoycing in the literary luminaries of Paris | The Post

Kevin power reviewed A Little Circle Of Kindred Minds: Joyce In Paris by Conor Fennell in The Sunday Business Post this weekend. It was a smashing review (which, as the publisher, I heartily agree with), here’s a flavour and a link:

Conor Fennell’s excellent new book is bursting with similarly memorable anecdotes.

A Little Circle of Kindred Minds (the title is from Joyce’s story A Little Cloud) is thoroughly researched, cleanly written and full of sharp-eyed critical insights.

But you could just as easily enjoy it as a compendium of literary gossip, a guidebook to artistic Paris or even as a potted history of how various Irish artists responded to the policies of the nascent Irish Free State.

via Rejoycing in the literary luminaries of Paris | The Post.

You can buy the book for €19.99 for free delivery worldwide here, or in Kindle ebook here.

Quick Link | n+1: We All Die There Now

Good review this! I’ve not seens Kick Ass yet, I may  not after reading this!

One of the major differences between Kill Bill and Kick-Ass—besides the twenty-seven years that separate Uma Thurman from Chloë Moretz—is that Kill Bill is good and Kick-Ass is bad. Tarantino’s action sequences are as elegantly constructed as a well-turned phrase. When Thurman kills Gogo Yubari, Gogo’s metal ball drops to the floor, ending their fight as neatly as a period ends a sentence. The only part of Kick-Ass at all worthy of comparison with Kill Bill is one that has drawn dutiful outrage from critics: Hit-Girl, dressed in a white blouse and plaid skirt, is granted entrance to D’Amico’s lobby by his guards, whom she shoots quickly and quietly. In a movie full of jet-packs and gigantic explosions and burning warehouses, the scene seems spare and refined. But the sequence is one reason why critics have called the movie’s violence pornographic.

via n+1: We All Die There Now.

Quick Link | Yet another history of Ireland – Galway Advertiser – August 05, 2010.

A nice review from Des Kenny for Thomas Bartlett’s new Ireland: A History.

The dedication to “my grandson Roc Bartlett McDonnell (b.2008) in the hope that his Ireland will be both peaceful and prosperous” – a wish we all aspire to – and the opening line of text – “May I begin in the year AD 431?” – suggest that a closer examination may be indeed worthwhile.

I was definitely not disappointed with the possible caveat that the book should carry with it a health warning in that it is so informative, so engrossing, so refreshing, so probing, and so accessible to the normal punter that it may change all personal preconceptions of what it means to be Irish.

via Quick Link | Yet another history of Ireland – Galway Advertiser – August 05, 2010..

Quick Link: Midleton & Fermoy Books: Appaloosa – Robert B. Parker

A nice review on the rather excellent review blog over at Midleton & Fermoy books.

The novel is narrated from the viewpoint of Everett Hitch the friend and partner of Virgil Cole. The two are itinerant lawmen in the American west of 1882, hired to sort out the problems of the town of Appaloosa in New Mexico Territory by the town’s Board of Aldermen. Rancher Randall Bragg and his hands have taken effective control of the town having murdered the Sheriff and one deputy, his men take what they want, they do not pay, if you object you will be shot. Cole and Hitch are sworn in as lawmen and set about applying the law – as written by them.

via Midleton & Fermoy Books: Appaloosa – Robert B. Parker.

What I'm reading: Thirty Years of Woe

Peter H Wilson's Europe's TragedyAs ever my reading list is long with both History and Science Fiction but I think it is worthwhile mentioning a few of the history books here as they are most enjoyable.

The first and best of the lot is Europe’s Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson. There are excellent reviews around so I’ll point you to them rather than write my own right now. I’d point out one small irritant which is that Wilson has a tendency to shift what seems to me abruptly between theatres of conflict. I’m getting used to it, but combined with the huge line up of notable actors in the period, it can make reading harder going that I’d like.

The Telepgraph
Worse than the Black Death, worse than the First World War, worse than the Second World War, worse than the Holocaust – that is how the Thirty Years War lives on in the collective German memory. This is just one of many arresting pieces of information to be gleaned from this colossal history of one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history.

The Times
The lead-lined window that sparked it all is still there, of course: you can even open it, and peer down to the dry moat into which the three Catholic imperial counsellors were cast on May 23, 1618 by a group of enraged Bohemian Protestant gentry. The room itself is on the fourth floor of the great Hradschin Palace, which looks over the river to the city of Prague. All is peaceful now, but it wasn’t then; it was the epicentre of a storm that was to engulf much of Europe for the following three decades.

Californian Literary Review
Wilson, whose grasp of 17th century politics and diplomacy is most impressive, makes two significant contributions toward understanding the origin of the Thirty Years War. First, the Holy Roman Empire, which unified the German and Slavic states of Central Europe under Habsburg rule, was a much more effective political force than is generally realized. Differing in organization from a modern nation state, the Empire was an elective monarchy which kept order and cohesion among the component dukedoms, electorates and free city-states.

BBC History magazine
Perhaps most importantly Wilson is an enemy of historical inevitability. The first 300 pages of this book, far from being a countdown to inexorable catastrophe, are largely about why the war should not have occurred. Against the familiar line that a chaotic and enfeebled Holy Roman empire of German principalities, cities and micro-territories was already long past its sell-by date in 1618, Wilson offers a feisty defence of imperial institutions and of their remarkable success during the later 16th century in solving problems of territorial inheritance, religious rights and political rivalries.

One final observation before I leave it for today, the cover for the British and Irish edition is top left and it really is a nice cover but the US edition is really something, far superior and much more attention grabbing so I’ve included it below right.

See what I mean?
Eoin

Christmas Books Special – 2009 – Part 2 of 4

Sci-fi & Fantasy today
It is a difficult thing to hold my list to three books in this post (and so cheekily I’ve chosen some series based books). I have read some incredible sci-fi and fantasy books over the last year, some of which have really broken through to the mainstream of sci-fi readers and some of which have only done passably well. The three I’ve selected simply ran away with my imagination.

Fire Upon The Deep

Fire Upon The Deep
Vernor Vinge is by many people’s standard one of the modern greats of Science Fiction. Until I read a post by Jo Walton about his book Fire Upon The Deep on Tor.com the emerging online hub of science fiction and fantasy, (which goes to show the value of a good educational role for online communities). There was so much in the post that appealed to me that I went out and bought the book and have since bought another, I will probably buy anything and everything he writes or has written. Fire Upon The Deep is an absorbing read with strange and wonderful characters, exciting and yet extremely limiting realities (FOR THE AUTHOR THAT IS). What a book to read if your creative insights are running dry, it is sure to spark imagination and profound thoughts.

Empire in Black & Gold

Empire In Black & Gold (The Shadow of the Apt Series)
I was not convinced at first by this book. The pace seemed slow, the language stilted. Yet it was good enough for me to keep reading. And then, boy did it take off like a rocket. Perhaps THE most exciting and inventive series I’ve read in a while. It offers new perspectives on a host of fantasy memes. I was sent book two and three by another fan and I’ve decided that it is that kind of series, the kind that converts readers into zealots. I think you should all become zealots! Read the first four in rapid succession and you’ll feel bereft when it comes to the last page and you’ll be dying for the next book!

The Blade Itself

The Blade Itself (The First Law Trilogy)
Joe Abercrombie is a fine writer. One who knows a lot about fantasy. In this remarkable series he pretty much subverts the accepted narratives of fantasy while creating new and exciting versions around the carcass. A berseker (and an evil one at that) central hero, a torturer who holds our pity, respect and I suspect for most people, our admiration and a wise central enigmatic character that is almost the exact opposite of your Belgarath or Gandalf.

Tomorrow, History,
Eoin

Honourable Mention: The Long Price Quartet, by Daniel Abraham (AMAZING)