Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honour of St. Patrick's Day and all things Irish, I thought I'd pass on a few recommendations of great books set in Ireland, featuring Irish characters, or by Irish authors.

For Children 5+: Across A Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of the Irish monk Columcille (Columbia) whose passion for books caused a war. Guilty about his role in the bloodshed he founded a monastery on the Scottish Island of Iona where he and his followers copied early manuscripts and sent the books, "like small boats on a dark and wild sea, to places where reading and writing had been forgotten or ignored."
For Middle Grade Readers: the Artemis Fowl series by Irish author Eoin Colfer. Besides being really fun, action-packed adventures, these books also draw much from Irish legends- leprechauns, fairies, etc.

For Young Adults (14 up): The Chronicles of Faeries series, The Druid's Tune and The Singing Stone by Irish Canadian O. R. Melling. I devoured these books as a teen!
The books are all fantasies featuring teens caught up in fantastical adventures with Druids, faeries and other characters from Irish myth and legend.

Adult Mystery Readers:
If you like historical mysteries, you'll love My Lady Judge, the first book in a new series by Cora Harrison set in the 16th century in the remote region of Ireland called The Burren. Fans of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma series will enjoy these books. The second book in the series, The Michaelmas Tribute is coming out in May in Canada. Aside from being entertaining mysteries, the books incorporate a lot of period detail, including excerpts from Irish lawbooks written in the 15oo's. Literary mystery readers might want to pick up Benjamin Black's Christine Falls and the recently released The Silver Swan. Benjamin Black is the pen name for John Banville, and the books feature the investigations of Dublin pathologist Quirke. If you like the books of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, or other Police Procedurals, you'll want to pick up the book Borderlands by Brian McGilloway. I've blogged about this one before, so I won't go into the plot aside from saying that it's the first in the series featuring Inspector Benedict Devlin set in the border area between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I've just finished the advance reading copy of the second book in the series (coming in April) called Gallow's Lane. It's just as good, if not better than the first book. If you like your mysteries on the dark/noirish side- you can't miss the Jack Taylor series by Ken Bruen. The series features a troubled ex-Garda officer turned PI and has been nominated for many, many awards. The series starts with The Guards, then follows with The Killing of the Tinkers, The Madgalen Martyrs, The Dramatist, Priest and most recently Cross.
Adult Fiction Readers: If you like reading the books of James Herriot or enjoy the TV show Ballykissangel, you'll love Patrick Taylor's books, An Irish Country Doctor and An Irish Country Village. The books follow the trials and tribulations of young Belfast native Doctor Barry Laverty as he trains under the crusty Dr. O'Reilley in the remote Irish village of Ballybucklebo in the 1960's. Full of humour & warmth.

Adult Nonfiction Readers: A highly enjoyable armchair travel book, Round Ireland With A Fridge by Tony Hawk is a must read for anyone whose ever made a drunken wager and lived to regret it. Englishman Tony Hawk was bet one hundred pounds that he couldn't hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland with a refrigerator in one month. This book recounts his adventure as he tries to do just that. It's funny and a great way to discover more about the Emerald Isle!

Happy Reading!

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