Christmas Books | A Wishlist of Fiction and Politics

Do your friends give you Christmas books? I’ve forgotten most of the toys I received at Christmas as a child but I still remember many of the books.

So, today I thought I’d look ahead to the festive season and share some Christmas books I hope to receive this year.

Fiction wishlist

On the fiction front, I’m keen to read Conclave by Robert Harris. Set in the Vatican, it’s about the election of a pope. I heard someone review it recently and they described it as an intelligent page turner. Vatican stories are usually good for intrigue and conspiracy and this one sounds like an enjoyable read.

I’m also keen to get my hands on a copy of Ian McEwan’s Nutshell. McEwan is sometimes hit and miss with me. Mostly I enjoy his novels but I found one or two almost unreadable. Nutshell sounds quirky. I’ll have to wait and see if that’s a good thing.

For a longer read, I’ve heard good things about the Hanya Yanagihara novel A Little Life. It’s about four Massachusetts school friends who move to New York where their relationships deepen and darken. Some readers rave about Yanagihara’s writing while others describe A Little Life as overly long and depressing. I think it sounds interesting so I plan to make up my own mind if I get the chance.

Politics on the Christmas books list

Former Taoiseach John Bruton reviewed Cameron at 10 — The Verdict by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon. He says it’s a well-researched and enjoyable read.

Trump Revealed — An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power by Michael Kranish is also on my list.

Another non-fiction title that I would like to read is The Twilight of the Elites by Chris Hayes. I saw someone tweeting about this and it looks like an interesting read.

Before I end, I thought I’d include a quick look back on the stand-out book of the year which, for me, was Vanessa Ronan’s The Last Days of Summer.

I love how Ronan creates and sustains a world that draws you in so that you lose all sense of time as you turn the pages. The story takes place in a small, rural American community. When Jasper Curtis returns from Huntsville State Penitentiary, he claims to be done with trouble. But Jasper’s sister Lizzie fears that trouble isn’t done with him. Their neighbours distrust him and there’s vengeance in the air.  If you like stories about revenge and redemption, keep an eye out for The Last Days of Summer. I think it’s a good read.

In praise of page turners | a selection of thrillers

Page turners —those books you can’t put down — are great for relaxation. While I enjoy literary fiction, history and current affairs, it’s hard to beat a good thriller for pure entertainment. Whether it’s psychological suspense, chick noir, domestic thrillers or crime fiction — as long as they’re not too gory or disturbing, I’m happy to add them to my ‘to be read’ table. I’ve been looking back over some of the thrillers that I’ve reviewed in the last year or so. Listed below are six page turners I enjoyed.

Six Twisty Page Turners

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent [Penguin]

Blurb: Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma. In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation. Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.

ReviewUnravelling Oliver | A Compelling Debut


The Widow by Fiona Barton [Bantam]

Blurb: We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

ReviewMarried to a monster. Or is she?


Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz [Pan Macmillan]

Blurb: I’m not a bad person, but maybe I did a bad thing . . . Life is good for Anna Wright. She’s a successful media executive working for one of the UK’s largest TV corporations. She’s got a great boyfriend, some close friends and a lovely home. She adores her dog, Wispa, and she loves to run to help her de-stress. But Anna’s perfect life starts to crumble from the moment when, out jogging on the Heath one day, she meets a handsome stranger. She takes a route into unfamiliar territory, and then she has to face the consequences. There’s a dark, growing creepiness as the atmosphere becomes unsettled and, as Anna’s professional life becomes increasingly pressured and poisonous, her obsession with the intriguing stranger intensifies.

ReviewRebound by Aga Lesiewicz | a dark thriller


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins [Black Swan]

Blurb: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

ReviewThe Girl on the Train — A page turner debut by Paula Hawkins


Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington [Penguin]

Blurb: One hot August night, Rachel Power gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away? With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees. Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence? Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend? How come she has never heard of him? The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is. Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

ReviewSisters and Lies | A twisty domestic thriller


The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes [Harper]

Blurb: The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…

A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.

1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.

Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…

ReviewThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

For more book lists on, see ‘book lists‘ in our categories listing.

Looking forward to these Fall Winter 2015 books

Woman reading book
Image: © Denis Shentyapin |

I haven’t had much time to read recently because I’ve been busy starting up a new business but one of the things that I learned in the process is how to create and distribute a newsletter so if you’re interested in getting updates when new posts go up, here’s where to get a free newsletter from this blog. You’ll get an email when new blog posts go up and you can unsubscribe anytime in the unlikely event I update the blog too frequently!

One thing I did get around to reading in the last few weeks was the Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2015 Fall/Winter guide and, boy am I glad I took the time. It’s a guide to forthcoming books from various publishers and I’m excited to see that some of my favourite authors have new books on the way. Two well-known Irish authors feature in Fall/Winter catalogue —John Banville has a new novel called The Blue Guitar and Colum McCann has a novella and three short stories on the way in a work entitled Thirteen Ways of Looking.

The Fall Winter 2015 books catalogue mentions works by a number of debut authors and one that caught my eye, based on an excerpt of her forthcoming book is Susan Barker. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Incarnations which is about a Beijing taxi driver haunted by his previous incarnations.

I’m also looking forward to Umberto Eco’s new historical thriller. It’s a long time since I last read Eco but I remember enjoying The Name of the Rose so Numero Zero is near the top of my TBR list.

Crime fiction is an interest I share with my sister and a couple of her favourite authors whose new works will make their way into our family Kindle collection are Ian Rankin’s short story collection, The Beat Goes On, Tess Gerritsen’s Playing with Fire, Ruth Rendell’s Dark Corners and the David Lagercrantz title The Girl in the Spider’s Web which continues Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. There’s also a new Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley mystery on the way called A Banquet of Consequences.

On the non-fiction side, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Sonia Purnell’s biography of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine and I’ll take a look at Amy Cuddy’s book . Presence, which is about developing confidence — something that may be helpful for me in my new venture.

Thanks to for the opportunity to preview so many forthcoming titles. I can’t wait to get my hands on the books!