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Dubray Review

#Girlboss Bookclub: Dubray Books is supporting this event by offering a €5 discount on copies of #Girlboss to ticketholders - just show your confirmation email at the checkout, or email info@dubraybooks.ie to confirm your discount on online orders. See event listing for more details.
|Astra is travelling with her Mum and Dad and baby brother to their new home on Nova Mundi. Tucked up in their sleeping pods, they expect to arrive on the new planet, light years away – but trouble strikes! Astra wakes up early to discover the ship is in danger. The canteen is full of flying space cakes with beady eyes and sharp, giant teeth. Everybody loves cake, right? Not these cakes! People should eat cakes – not the other way round. Stranger still, the ship has been invaded by a gang of Poglites. Who are they and what do they want? Along with her robot friend Pilbeam, Astra must fight the mutant cakes and get the spaceship back on course for Nova Mundi. This is another splendiferous adventure from the duo that brought us Oliver and the Seawigs. You'll gobble this one right up!

- Josie van Embden, Dun Laoghaire|When her husband walks out on her, Eve rents a rather grim flat in Bray, with the upside that it overlooks a playground in the square. Determined to create an ideal life for her adored daughter, Addie, Eve sets out to integrate herself into the small disparate society of the square and especially of the playground. She also acquires a lodger, an impulsive act that she soon regrets. The playground gradually begins to take on a central and sinister role in Eve’s life and this all comes to a head when there is a terrible accident for which she is blamed. Eve finally realises that life is not a game and that the playground is no place to hide from reality. This novel is by turn both funny and sad and is beautifully written by one of the freshest voices in Irish fiction.

- Noeline Coffey, Rathmines
|In this fascinating and accessible new history, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari examines the entire span of human history through some of the most catalytic processes that have ever taken place – such as the development of agriculture, the advent of mythology, and the dawn of the scientific age. The approach is thematic rather than chronological, drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, and the text is enlivened by images throughout. This book is for anyone who wants to better understand some of the theories behind how and why our species and societies have evolved in the way that they have. At the same time, the author never loses sight of the everyday history of ordinary people. As he says: “History is something that a very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.”

- Aoife Roantree, Blackrock
|Station Eleven is a dazzling and intelligent page-turner about lives lived in the face of catastrophe. On the same night that a virulent new strain of flu starts to devastate the world’s population, Arthur Leander collapses and dies on stage during a performance of King Lear. Twenty years later, a group of actors travel between small pockets of survivors, performing Shakespeare under the motto Survival is Insufficient. When threatened by a sinister, cult-like figure known as the Prophet, they are torn apart and make their way separately to the safe haven of an abandoned airport. Unfolding brilliantly, the story returns to the effortless comfort of the years before the disaster to reveal the links between the characters – all of whom are in one way or another connected to Arthur Leander, whose death foretold the end of the world as they knew it.

- Martin Shannon, Stillorgan
|Station Eleven is a dazzling and intelligent page-turner about lives lived in the face of catastrophe. On the same night that a virulent new strain of flu starts to devastate the world’s population, Arthur Leander collapses and dies on stage during a performance of King Lear. Twenty years later, a group of actors travel between small pockets of survivors, performing Shakespeare under the motto Survival is Insufficient. When threatened by a sinister, cult-like figure known as the Prophet, they are torn apart and make their way separately to the safe haven of an abandoned airport. Unfolding brilliantly, the story returns to the effortless comfort of the years before the disaster to reveal the links between the characters – all of whom are in one way or another connected to Arthur Leander, whose death foretold the end of the world as they knew it.

- Martin Shannon, Stillorgan
|In Tana French’s fifth Dublin Murder Squad novel, Detective Stephen Moran joins the team to investigate a murder at an exclusive girls’ boarding school in Dublin. The year previously, a teenager from the corresponding boys’ school was also found dead in the grounds. Holly Mackey, a teenage witness who is the daughter of another detective, comes forward with the evidence of a note declaring ‘I Know Who Killed Him’ that has been posted anonymously on a noticeboard at the school – the Secret Place of the title. A tissue of lies and allegiances muddy the waters of the re-opened investigation. One of Ireland's foremost thriller writers and the winner of an Irish Crime Fiction Award, Tana French sets the scene brilliantly. Her take on the inscrutable world of teenage girls is startlingly familiar to those of us who have experienced it.

- Sandra Martin, Galway.
|Life isn’t fair. Being fourteen isn’t fair. Nobody is more aware of this than Apple, whose mother returns home in a swirl of chaos having left eleven years ago on a stormy Christmas Eve.
|Sometimes, a split second decision can change your whole life.  Harry has never come to terms with leaving his son Dillon alone for just ten minutes – ten minutes that led to the boy’s disappearance.  Harry and his wife Robin try to move on with their marriage, striving to put the devastating incident behind them, but the missing Dillon still haunts their lives. When Harry spots his son on a crowded Dublin street, Robin believes it to be a trick of his imagination – a hallucination brought on by guilt and grief. But what if it’s not? The Boy That Never Was is a taut, clever thriller that doesn’t let up – the story of an unimaginable loss and of the secrets people keep. There are not many books that can keep me guessing until the final page but this one certainly did.

- Anita Power, Kilkenny
|Audie Palmer has been stuck in prison for nearly ten years for an armed robbery in which two people died. Seven million dollars were never recovered and it is commonly believed Audie knows the whereabouts of the money. He’s been threatened and beaten almost every day by prisoners and guards alike, all of whom want to know where he hid the money. Audie took the beatings and kept quiet until the day before he was due to be released – and then he escaped.  Everyone is asking why he broke out of jail when he was so close to being free – a better question might be why he waited so long. This intoxicating, addictive novel has a masterfully layered plot with strong characterisation. The urge to know what happens next is so strong that you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough.

- Donal Harding, Bray
|Jack Reacher – renegade killing machine and Lee Child's man of justice – is back for the nineteenth time in Personal. Having drifted across America and finally settled down in Seattle, Reacher is contacted by the army through a coded message in the personal ads. Someone has tried to assassinate the French president and Reacher is needed to find the sniper. Set during the panic and paranoia immediately following the events of 9/11, this latest installment builds at a frenetic pace and it is impossible not to devour the book in one sitting. Reacher not only faces a race against time but also a dangerous foe from his past with an axe to grind. Brimming with confidence and with an ability to size up any predicament instantaneously, this is unmistakably Jack Reacher – back in business, fold-up toothbrush and coffee at the ready.

- Shane O'Reilly, Dun Laoghaire
|Fifteen year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home and a chance encounter with an elderly lady sets off a surreal and dangerous chain of events. These events echo throughout Holly's life, for she is an unconscious player in an endless Machiavellian battle for power and immortality. Hugely ambitious, The Bone Clocks spans time and space and features multiple characters from Mitchell's previous works. Like Cloud Atlas, the book is split into six parts and features themes of mortality, love, greed, and the terrifying consequences of humankind's ability to destroy itself. Both new and loyal readers will be gripped by Mitchell's impressive characterisation, his mastery of intricate plotting and the blurring of genres – not to mention the many laugh-out-loud moments.  This is one of our favourite reads of the year and it'll be a real crime if it doesn't win the Man Booker Prize.

- Réiltín Joyce and Helen Corcoran, Grafton St
|Fifteen year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home and a chance encounter with an elderly lady sets off a surreal and dangerous chain of events. These events echo throughout Holly's life, for she is an unconscious player in an endless Machiavellian battle for power and immortality. Hugely ambitious, The Bone Clocks spans time and space and features multiple characters from Mitchell's previous works. Like Cloud Atlas, the book is split into six parts and features themes of mortality, love, greed, and the terrifying consequences of humankind's ability to destroy itself. Both new and loyal readers will be gripped by Mitchell's impressive characterisation, his mastery of intricate plotting and the blurring of genres – not to mention the many laugh-out-loud moments.  This is one of our favourite reads of the year and it'll be a real crime if it doesn't win the Man Booker Prize.

- Réiltín Joyce and Helen Corcoran, Grafton St
|Little Lies is an enthralling read, full of momentum, social observations and a collection of characters that are familiar at every school gate. Jane cannot believe that her son, Ziggy – a peaceful and gentle child – has suddenly become the class bully, although something in her own past makes her question how much a child’s behaviour is decided by his genes. As battle commences in the school playground, Jane forges an alliance with Madeline and Celeste against the other parents who insist on condemning Ziggy before confirming what actually happened. The schoolyard politics turns sinister as rivalries deepen, public displays of family perfection start to unravel and disturbing home truths are revealed. Fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret will not be disappointed as the author has once again created a story fraught with tested friendships and family loyalties. 

- Karen McKay, Stillorgan|In this neglected classic of French literature, Michel Tournier beckons us inside the muddled mind of man-child Abel Tiffauges and it is a rare treat to stalk the blackened and begrimed passageways of this particular consciousness. For despite his humble origins, inadequate schooling and hardscrabble existence, Abel has an almost psychotic conviction that his life is of near-cosmic significance, ineluctably tied to the history of the world. He is also cursed with a wide array of strange preoccupations and with the protection of these ideals – specifically, an obsession with notions of purity and innocence. While as a civilian his nature labels him a monster-misfit, the outbreak of World War II grants him the opportunity to finally realise the heroic end he has always hoped for. If you read only one forgotten masterpiece this year, make it The Erl-King.

- Leon Hickey, Galway