The Irish in Fiction: 10 New Books

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day and what better way to celebrate than with some new fiction that either takes place in Ireland or has main characters who are Irish. So when you’re wearin’ the green you can also be reading the green, too.


 Murder at an Irish Wedding by Carlene O’Connor
(Available as a Book and Downloadable Audiobook)
Any wedding is a big deal in the small village of Kilbane-even more so when the bride is a famous fashion model. It’s also good for business; Siobhan O’Sullivan’s bistro will be catering the three-day affair. When the drunken best man is dis-invited, Siobhan’s own beau, Macdara, gladly steps in. But finding the original best man murdered in the woods casts a pall over the nuptials. And when a second member of the wedding party is poisoned, Macdara goes from being best man to prime suspect.


 Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
At the start of the twentieth century, a young girl and her family emigrate from Lithuania in search of a better life and end up in Ireland.
In 1958, a mute Jewish boy locked away in a mental institution outside of Dublin forms an unlikely friendship with a man consumed by the story of the love he lost  two decades earlier. And in present-day London, an Irish journalist is forced to confront her conflicting notions of identity and family when her Jewish boyfriend asks her to make a true leap of faith. These three arcs, which span generations and intertwine in unusual ways, come together to tell the haunting story of Ireland’s all-but-forgotten Jewish community.


 Days without End : a Novel by by Sebastian Barry (Available as an Audiobook on CD, Book, E-Book and Downloadable Audiobook)
Entering the U.S. army after fleeing the Great Famine in Ireland, seventeen-year-old Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, experience the harrowing realities of the Indian wars and the American Civil War between the Wyoming plains and Tennessee.


 The Stolen Child : a Novel by Lisa Carey
St. Brigid’s Island is a place that people move away from, not to–until an outspoken American, also named Brigid, arrives to claim her late uncle’s cottage. Brigid has come for more than an inheritance. She’s seeking a secret holy well that’s rumored to grant miracles. Emer, an inhabitant of the island, has good reason to believe in inexplicable powers. Yet Brigid has a gift too, even more remarkable than Emer’s. As months pass and Brigid carves out a place on the island, a complicated web of betrayal, fear, and desire culminates in one shocking night that will change the island, and its inhabitants, forever.

 The Last Night at Tremore Beach by Mikel Santiago
Recently divorced and in the middle of a creative crisis, Peter Harper decides to take shelter on Ireland s scenic and isolated Tremore Beach. But after he is struck by lightning after one stormy night, he begins experiencing terrible headaches and strange dreams. As the line between his dreams and reality begins to blur, Peter realizes that his bizarre dreams may be a warning of horror still to come.

 Through Your Eyes by Shannyn Schroeder
Deirdre Murphy has had her life planned for her since she was born: Work in her parents’ noisy pub in rural Ireland. Live with her family until she marries. Marry her childhood sweetheart ASAP, since he’s decided sexy fun time should wait for marriage. None of it excites her. But before her fate closes in, Deirdre’s got one last visit to her Chicago cousins–where she can spend her mornings in a peaceful bakery, keep to herself, and savor the space she needs… Until she meets Tommy O’Malley.

 Saints for all Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
(Available as an Audiobook on CD, Book, E-Book, Downloadable Audiobook, Large Print Book)
Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan–a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children and Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. A sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago.

 Beyond Absolution : a Mystery set in 1920s Ireland by Cora Harrison
Reverend Mother Aquinas must discover who murdered a much-loved priest in the third of this compelling new Irish historical mystery series. Pierced through to the brain, the dead body of the priest was found wedged into the small, dark confessional cubicle. Loved by all, Father Dominic had lent a listening ear to sinners of all kinds: gunmen and policemen; prostitutes and nuns; prosperous businessmen and petty swindlers; tradesmen and thieves. But who knelt behind the metal grid and inserted a deadly weapon into that listening ear?

 The Irish Inheritance : a Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery by M J Lee (Downloadable audiobook)
July 8, 1921. Ireland. A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublinches. November 22, 2015. United Kingdom. Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father. How are the two events linked? Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery: a killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past.

 Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
Clara Kelley is not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills she doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as steel coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer.

A Delicious Mystery Series

I recently stumbled on the Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries by M.L. Longworth. These delectable stories are set in Aix-en-Provence and begin with Death at the Château Bremont.

Death at the Château Bremont‘s description says “Antoine Verlaque, the handsome chief magistrate of Aix and his sometimes love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet, investigate the death of a local French nobleman who fell from the family Chateau in charming and historic Aix-en-Provence.”

Simple, non? Well, that one-sentence blurb does not even begin to cover the colorful world waiting for you within its pages. Not only do you get a good mystery, the descriptions of the town and countryside are a virtual tour of Provence. Longworth, who has lived there since 1997, obviously loves her adopted home.

And the food! As the characters eat and drink their way though the story, I often became more engrossed in their meals than in their sleuthing. They partake of fine wines and cheeses. They visit vineyards and cafes.  They meet friends for scrumptious dinners at small restaurants owned by skilled chefs. I was completely consumed by lifestyle envy.

The story is liberally sprinkled with passages such as this:

He tore open the cannele and bit into the soft inner cake made of rum and vanilla. Crusty and caramelized on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, it was perfect.

The mystery floats in the background as the characters sit in cafes consuming fine French food and debating the merits of various wines. Verlaque often despairs of Marine. He is a gourmet and she will eat anything! Still, they enjoy an on-again, off-again love affair amid some meals that made me want to pack and move to France.

There are currently six books in this cozy mystery series. Warning: They are not only a good read, they will make you hungry!

Murder in the Rue Dumas

Death in the Vines

Murder on the Île Sordou

The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

The Curse of La Fontaine

It’s National Train Your Dog Month!

The purpose of Train Your Dog Month is to “promote training the family dog with everyday manners” as defined by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

If you’d like to get started on Fido’s social and behavioral skills, you don’t need to wait for a class! The Cheshire Public Library has you covered.

Dog Training 101 : step-by-step instructions for raising a happy, well-behaved dog by Kyra Sundance.
Using a visually driven, playful presentation, Dog Training 101 offers step-by-step instructions every dog owner needs to know as you care for and raise your canine best friend. From basic commands like sit and stay to everything you’ll need to prepare for a new dog’s arrival, renowned dog trainer Kyra Sundance is your friendly and expert guide.

The Power of Positive Dog Training  by Pat Miller.
(downloadable audiobook)
Renowned dog trainer Pat Miller gives you the positive training tools you need to ensure that you and your dog share a lifetime of fun, companionship, and respect. By following her step-by-step, six-week basic training program, you’ll learn how to develop a relationship with your dog based on friendship and positive reinforcement, not fear and punishment.

Zak George’s dog training revolution : the complete guide to raising the perfect pet with love  by Zak George.
(downloadable audiobook)
Celebrity dog trainer, YouTube sensation, and Animal Planet star Zak George presents a next-generation guide that uses his infectiously energetic style to teach dog-lovers everything they need to know about raising and training their unique pup. His fresh approach puts a strong emphasis on the relationship with the individual dog.

Dog Training for Dummies by Jack and Wendy Volhard.
This friendly guide shows you how to select the right training method for your dog, based on his unique personality, to reach your desired goals. Whether you want to teach Buddy to sit or master retrieving, you’ll get expert training tips and techniques for you and your dog — to ensure a mutually respectful relationship with your four-legged friend.

Cesar’s rules : your way to train a well-behaved dog by Cesar Millan.
Cesar Millan takes on the topic of training for the first time, by explaining the importance of balance as the foundation for a healthy relationship between you and your dog. In order to provide a variety of training options, he calls upon some of the foremost experts in the field to offer their advice so that you can find the perfect approach that works for you and your dog through a variety of methods. 

Want to see everything we have on dog training? Click here.

Twelve Books for Christmas

The Cheshire Library has a lot of new books to help brighten your holiday. Here’s a sampler:

1. Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms (Romance)

A Christmas anthology. Each story features rugged cowboys, the women who’ve lassoed their hearts…and the Christmas miracles that bring them together. Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

2. Christmas with Southern Living 2017 (Cookbook)

For 2017, Christmas with Southern Living is completely new, with all of the menu and décor ideas that you’ve come to expect, along with more than 100 recipes especially created for holiday cooking, baking, entertaining, and gift giving. This year’s edition includes menus and decorating ideas for every corner of your home, as well as tips and tricks on surprising ways to use leftovers, serve dishes, and more!

3. The Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (Mystery)

When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime — exactly what the doctor prescribed. However,  her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

4. Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin (Fiction)

At first glance, Nell King’s cozy home in Yorktide, Maine, seems a step down from the impeccably decorated Boston house she shared with her husband. But in the six years since he abruptly left to marry another woman, Nell and her almost-grown daughters have found real happiness and comfort here. Now, faced with what may be their last Christmas together,  Nell is eager to make this holiday picture-perfect. But there’s a complication–and an opportunity . . . Nell’s first love, now a successful novelist, is in town for a book signing.

5. A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey (Mystery)

Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki are celebrating Chritmas with their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters. However,  there are dark forces, powers older than mankind, powers that come awake on Christmas Eve. Women begin disappearing in the dark of night.  The whispers only begin when they start to reappear—because when they do, they are no longer sane.  And when Nan and Sarah and the Watsons are called on to examine these victims, they discover that it was no ordinary horror of the streets that drove them mad.

6. The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers (Mystery)

Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on an espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures  will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe.

7. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Fiction)

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold. But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

8. Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden (Cookbook)

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate–Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other.

9. The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Brown (Mystery)

When private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however,  they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again.  No ransom note. No body ever found.  Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. ‘I’m Charlotte,’ she says. ‘I’ve come home.’

10. Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel of Christmas Past by Samantha Silva (Fiction)

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is a  flop, the critics have turned against him, and relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love.

11. Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire (Fiction)

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of this mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

12. The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak (Fiction)

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years Olivia,  Emma and Andrew Birch’s elder daughter, will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, has just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, and she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity.  In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

Christmas Comfort Classics

A library patron recently recommended a cookbook to me that brought back memories of Christmases past (without the ghosts!)

The  book is  Christmas Comfort Classics: A festive collection of warm and cozy comfort foods plus sweet ideas for sharing with family & friends.

A spiral-bound book with chapters titled with feel-good labels such as “Frosty Morning Breakfasts” and “Cozy Meals for Busy Days”, this cookbook delivers up such treats as Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake, Wonderful Winter Chowder, and Apple-Cranberry Bake. I got hungry just reading the titles. Each recipe is prefaced with a short tale from the contributor, reminiscing about a past holiday or family gathering and is followed by a holiday tip such as how to add holiday fragrance to a room or how to make your own tree ornaments.

There is one recipe, Connecticut Supper, that, being a Connecticut resident, immediately caught my eye. Ground beef, potatoes, and cheddar cheese plus cream of mushroom soup. It immediately conjured a kitchen warm with good scents, keeping the cold and dark winter night at bay.

It’s not all plain cooking, though!  You can find recipes for Sour Cream Spaghetti,  Warm Cranberry-Honey Brie, Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms, Port Wine Cranberry Dressing and more. Who says cozy can’t be special?

I’m not someone who adores cooking but this book has me interested in trying some of these recipes this winter. So thank you, dear library patron, for your recommendation. It’s going to make my holiday season.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, we have many holiday and cozy cookbooks on our shelves that can give you some great new ideas for your own celebration. Take a look:

Holiday Cookbooks

Comfort Food