THE NEWS FROM IRELAND by William Trevor

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I doubted a lot before doing this review. Usually, I like reviewing only books that I can recommend without any doubt. Maybe not perfect ones themselves, but interesting enough in some senses to deserve a review. This book made me think a lot before deciding, but I believe that after all can be good reading for a lot of different readers.

Twelve short stories which develop in Ireland, Italy, and other places. The truth is that is a book about failed, unhappy or lost in memories relationships. All the stories are well written. The characters are well presented, and their stories as well. I don’t have any doubt about the author knowledge of human nature, but not even one of the stories has an optimistic or happy ending. It is a continuous fight to survive, to save the relationship or the contact with the family or with friends. Everyone feels lonely and deserted.

The conclusion is that this book needs to be faced completely prepared to read about real life and its delusions without any sweetener.

This are the titles included in this book:

The News from Ireland

On the Zattere

Lunch in Winter

The property of Colette Nervi

Running Away

Cocktails at Doney’s

Bodily Secrets

Virgins

Her Mother’s Daughter

Music

Two more Gallants

The Wedding in the Garden

Novelist and short-story writdownloader William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1928.

He was educated at St Columba’s College, County Dublin, and Trinity College, Dublin. He worked briefly as a teacher, and later as a copywriter in an advertising agency before he began to work full-time as a writer in 1965. He was also a sculptor and exhibited frequently in Dublin and London. His first novel, A Standard of Behaviour, was published in 1958.His fiction, set mainly in Ireland and England, ranges from black comedies characterised by eccentrics and sexual deviants to stories exploring Irish history and politics, and he articulates the tensions between Irish Protestant landowners and Catholic tenants in what critics have termed the ‘big house’ novel. He is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, and has adapted a number of his own stories for the stage, television and radio. These collections include The Day We Got Drunk on Cake and Other Stories (1967), The Ballroom of Romance and Other Stories (1972),Angels at the Ritz and Other Stories (1975) and Beyond the Pale (1981). His early novels include The Old Boys (1964), winner of the Hawthornden Prize, and Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neill’s Hotel (1969). The Children of Dynmouth (1976) and Fools of Fortune (1983) both won the Whitbread Novel Award, and Felicia’s Journey(1994), the story of a young Irish girl who becomes the victim of a sexual sociopath, won both the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Sunday Express Book of the Year awards. The Hill Bachelors (2000), a collection of short stories, won both the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Short Stories and the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction in 2001. The Story of Lucy Gault (2002), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. William Trevor’s latest short story collections are: A Bit On the Side (2004), on the theme of adultery; The Dressmaker’s Child (2005); and Cheating at Canasta (2007). His most recent novel isLove and Summer (2009). Also in 2009, his Collected Stories was published.

William Trevor was awarded an honorary CBE in 1977 for his services to literature, and was made a Companion of Literature in 1994. He was knighted in 2002. He is also a member of the Irish Academy of Letters and was awarded the David Cohen British Literature Prize by the Arts Council of England in 1999 in recognition of his work. He lives in Devon, and was awarded the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award in Irish Literature in 2008.

UPROOTED by Naomi Novik

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Agnieszka is the next maiden that will live with the “bad” Wizard who protects the AREA. She will never leave the tower for the next ten years.

She wasn’t supposed to be the one. Her friend, the most beautiful, intelligent and skilled of all the maidens born the year of the dragon, was for sure the one. But, the day of the ceremony, the Dragon arrived, and Agnieszka was the chosen one.

Until here the story is pretty the same as usually. A maiden forced to pay the price for the security of her family and friends, living with bad men into a tower. But the story is not about this.

The author took some of the most usual topics of the fantasy stories and had made something completely different.

The main characters, Agnieszka is not beautiful, she is a small disaster with her personal appearance, and usually makes everything wrong. The Dragon (Wizard), is the best Wizard of the Kingdom, but is not handsome, is not tall, is more than one hundred-years-old.
The evil comes from a different place and can manipulate and make a hell of everyone lives.

The heroine and hero will be fighting together, and sometimes far away from each other, because both of them are strong, and they know their real duty.

The heroin doesn’t need to be rescued, and who doesn’t faint (Thank God! Finally a healthy woman), and the hero is not the one who knows better.

It is a refreshing story, and different from others fantasy stories. I will remember this one, for a long, long time.

Naomi Novik was born in New York in 1973, a first-generation American, anddownload raised on
Polish fairy tales, Baba Yaga, and Tolkien. She studied English Literature at Brown University and did graduate work in Computer Science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide.

Her first novel, His Majesty’s Dragon, was published in 2006 along with Throne of Jade and Black Powder War, and has been translated into 23 languages. She has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. The fourth volume of theTemeraire series, Empire of Ivory, published in September 2007, was a New York Times bestseller, and was followed by bestsellers Victory of Eagles and Tongues of Serpents.

On April 26, 2011, she published Will Supervillains Be on the Final?, volume one in a new graphic novel series titled Liberty Vocational. She is also currently writing League of Dragons, the final Temeraire novel.

She is one of the founding board members of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the fair-use rights of fan creators, and is herself a fanfic writer and fan vidder.

Naomi lives in New York City with her husband and eight computers. (They multiply.)

THE PAPERCHASE by Marcel theroux

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Damien March is a journalist of the BBC in London. When his uncle Patrick dies, and he is the heir of his uncle’s house, Damien decides to cross the ocean and take a short holiday of his lonely life, and maybe become a hermit as his uncle.

The experience will show him all the things that never fitted correctly about his family, and it will reconcile him with his existence.

This story feels like diving into an old picture book, where you can discover the past lives of your elders, to find out that they were young, reckless, and sometimes silly as well. Maybe you will learn some weird stories about their lives, and you will uncover that some of them are much more similar to your life that you could never realise before. Damien will meet the family ghosts and will accept them as his own.

It can be a real story, and I read it as a real one. There are things that can not be changed, and you need to accept as they are. But, it doesn’t matter, because sometimes is better to know the truth than to have a “perfect” life.

Travel into the past to understand the present. It is a slow story. Enjoy the words, and the “pictures”. A book to relax.

Marcel Theroux is a screen writer, a broadcaster and novelist.download (4) He is the son of travel writer Paul Theroux and brother of acclaimed film maker Louis Theroux.

He was born in Kampala, Uganda, in 1968. He grew up in England, was educated at Westminster School, before studying English Literature at Cambridge University and International Relations at Yale.

He has published five novels. His second novel, The Paperchase, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His fourth novel, Far North (2009) was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award, the Arthur C Clarke Award, and was awarded the Prix de l’Inaperçu in 2011.

Far North has been translated into German, Dutch, and French.  A Japanese edition prepared by the celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami was published in April 2012.

Theroux’s fifth novel,  Strange Bodies, was published by Faber and Faber in the United Kingdom and Ireland in May 2013.  It will be published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February 2014.

In addition to his books, Theroux has written a number of original screenplays and written and presented more than a dozen documentaries on subjects ranging from climate change to the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi.

 

A WAYNE IN A MANGER by Gervase Phinn

download (1)Christmas and Nativity representations by children between six and eleven years old. The stories are hilarious. The idea that some of those children have during the rehearsal of the Nativity at their schools are fabulous. I spend almost all my time reading the book and laughing without a break.

It is incredible how children can put the point, and the seriousness of things that don’t matter anymore for us, but means the world to them. Sometimes we should remember those things, and smile.

I won’t say anything else about this book. It is a short one, full of anecdotes, and I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

Professor Gervase Phinn taught in a range of schools for fourteen years befordownload (2)e becoming an education adviser and school inspector. He is now a freelance lecturer, broadcaster and writer, a consultant for the Open University, Honorary Fellow of St. John’s College, York, Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) of the University of Leicester, Doctor of Letters  (D.Litt) of The University of Hull and the Fellow and Visiting Professor of Education at The University of Teesside. In 2005 the highest academic award of Sheffield Hallam University, Doctor of the University (D.Univ.) was conferred upon him by the Chancellor, Professor Lord Robert Winston. In 2006 he became President of The School Library Association.

THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES by Roald Dahl

downloadMy second book by the author, and again a great surprise. These are not stories for children. Some are just for laughing, others are peculiar, and few of
them a little uncomfortable to read, but all of them are pretty originals and worth the time reading.

The first story that gives the title to the book tells the story of a machine able to write books for every kind of reader. You will need to introduce some variables, and a little time and you will have books finish for readers of adventures, wars, fantasy or whatever your taste is in literature. I don’t like the idea of a machine knowing what I want to read, but that doesn’t matter, the story kept me reading every word until the end.

Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat. About an unfaithful woman thinking of herself as such a smart person, to finally discover the story of her husband.

The Butler. New rich people, completely deceive by their workers.

Man from the South. A crazy man?

The Landlady. This story remembered me a lot to the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. But the movie was funny, and the short story is a little creepy.

Parson’s pleasure. I discovered at the beginning how the story was going to finish, and I couldn’t stop myself of thinking: What a shame the Chippendale!

The umbrella man. A funny, intelligent and naughty man.

Katrina. A war story. Maybe, inspired on one of his experiences during the war. A sad one.

The way up to heaven. Sometimes vengeance must be served in its right time.

Royal Jelly. Another film came to my mind. The fly.

Vengeance is Mine Inc. We punch for you.

Taste. Everyone can be cheated but not always they will lose.

Neck. Marriage for money with a good end.

Roald Dahl,was born on September 13, 1916, in Llandaff, South Wales. In 1953, hedownload published the best-selling story collection Someone Like You and married actress Patricia Neal. He published the popular book James and the Giant Peach in 1961. In 1964, he released another highly successful work,Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was later adapted for two films. Over his decades-long writing career, Dahl wrote 19 children’s books. He died on November 23, 1990, in Oxford, England.

SERENITY . FIREFLYCLASS 03-K64. THOSE LEFT BEHIND by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad.

downloadThe first issue of a series of four that I bought at the last London ComicCon (May 27-29). I cannot criticise anything of this comic, maybe only that there are not more.

The introduction is by Nathan Fillion, speaking about his first contact with comics when he was a child, his feelings about superheroes and how Joss Whedon gave him an opportunity to become one of them.

The art by Will Conrad is great and not only make more real with his amazing drawings but gives more force to the story. The dialogues are great as a part of one of the series.

After we have an introduction to Firefly universe by Joss Whedon, when we know what we didn’t have the time during the emission or with the film.

Firefly fans have something here even if is not all the possibilities that we were waiting for with the TV series.

There are three more graphic novels of this series, and for me, this, the first and the last one are the best.

Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers – his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss’ mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon. Whedon was raised in New York and was educated at Riverdale Country School, where his mother also taught. He also attended Winchester College in England for two years, before graduating with a film degree from Wesleyan University.

After relocating to Los Angeles, Whedon landed his first TV writing job on “Roseanne”, and moved on to script a season of “Parenthood”. He then developed a film script which went on to become Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). Whedon was very unhappy with the final film – his original script was extensively re-written and made lighter in tone. After this he earned screenwriting credits on such high profile productions as Alien: Resurrection (1997) and Toy Story (1995), for which he was Oscar nominated. He also worked as a ‘script doctor’ on various features, notably Speed (1994).

In 1997, Whedon had the opportunity to resurrect his character Buffy in a television series on The WB Network. This time, as showrunner and executive producer, he retained full artistic control. The series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a popular and critical hit, which ran for several seasons, the last two on UPN. Whedon also produced a spin-off series, “Angel”, which was also successful. A foray in to sci-fi television followed with “Firefly”, which developed a cult following, but did not stay on air long. It did find an audience on DVD and through re-runs, and a spin-off feature film Serenity(2005) was released in 2005.

Other projects have included comic book writing, the sci-fi drama “Dollhouse” and the screenplay for Marvel blockbuster Avengers Assemble (2012).

Brett Matthews is known for his work on The Vampire Diaries (2009), TheChronicles of Riddick: Dack Fury (2004) and Supernatural (2005).

Co-wrote the comic miniseries “Those Left Behind”, which bridged the gap between the TV series, Firefly (2002), and its feature film follow up, Serenity (2005), with Firefly creator Joss Whedon.

Will Conrad has been a cover artist, inker and penciler for many series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Elektra, Serenity, She-Hulk and more.

RECOMMENDATION FIRST HALF 2016

BE WITH YOU by Takuji Ichikawadownload (2)

Takkun and Yuji have been living alone for a year, after Mio, wife and mother died. But as she promised, “When the rainy season returns, I will come back to see how the two of you are getting along.”

And she did so.

The ghost of Mio returns to take care of them

Love’s stories are completely different in Japanese literature. Their stories are full of memories, shared moments, delicacies. Their loves stories are more as art’s books about human feelings than romance.

I enjoyed the explanation of Mio’s returns mainly.

THE MAN WHO FORGOT HIS WIFE by John O’Farrelldownload (3)

Vaughan forgot his life on a 22nd of October. Every person, every place, his name all has been erased from his memory. Even his wife and children.

His disease is called retrogade amnesia, but is called second chance as well.

It is a funny story, and full of push-up. It must be horrible to lost your past, but Who wouldn’t like it to have a second chance with life.

download (4)THE LONG WALK by Stephen King

In the US where The Change and The Squads, have made life even more challenging for their citizens. The Mayor, who rules the country, organizes every year a competition for those young men that are not yet eighteen years old. One hundred of young men are chosen between all of those who wants to participate, but only one of them can win.

The prize, money and whatever thing the winner will desire. But, for the winner achieving his goal, will mean that the other 99 participants will die.

King wrote this book as Richard Bachman. I didn’t find any similarities between his horror stories and this dystopian story at all.

Sad, and make you think, Why most of the dystopian stories go through the destruction of the youngest, through some stupid competition for keeping their lives?