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

Checking Your Flu

It’s almost impossible to get through the winter without hearing about the flu. While we often use the word flu to describe any miserable feverish head cold, a cold (rhinovirus) is NOT the same as the flu (influenza). A head cold is 10 days of misery. Flu will disable you for weeks, if not outright kill you.

Flu shots are a government conspiracy. I got the shot and still got the flu.

Preventing death and permanent disability is not a conspiracy. Complications of a cold include sinus and ear infections, asthma, or rarely pneumonia. The most common complication of the flu is pneumonia – the #4 killer world-wide, but can also leave you with organ damage or failure,  encephalitis, and even sepsis. If you get the flu shot and then feel lousy, it’s not flu; it’s your body charging up its antibodies. If you get a flu shot and then get a cold, it’s not the flu. Recombinant flu vaccines don’t even contain flu. CAN you get the flu after getting a flu shot? Of course you can, the same way you seem to get the same cold every year. Here’s why:

Is there more than one type of flu?

There are actually three flu viruses, A, B, and C. A is common, B less so, C mild and rare. Each type has two parts: the hemaglutinin protein (the H) and an enzyme to let it reproduce (the N, for neuraminidase). There are 18 types of H’s and 11 types of N’s – thousands of combinations of H1N1’s, H2N3’s, H6N4’s. Now, not all of these can be caught by people (some are limited to animals), but viruses can mutate and change very rapidly. With all those combinations, the Centers for Disease Control have to make a best guess at what flu will prevail that winter, and make enough vaccine a year in advance. If your shot is for N1H1, and you catch H2N3 – you’ve got flu. Better flu shots (called trivalent or quadravalent) will give you immunity to the top three or four likely flus, quadrupling your chances of staying healthy. Even if you do manage to get a flu, your partial immunity will give you a much milder case.

What are the odds I will get the flu?

What are your chances? In the winter of 2016-17, more than 2500 Connecticut residents showed up at the Emergency Department for flu-like illnesses. 80% of those were type A, and of those , 98% of them were of the H3N2 variety (the others were the old H1N1). Sixty-five of them died. That’s not a total of reported cases; that’s just how many wound up hospitalized. If you have diabetes, heart problems, take immune suppressors, pregnant, sickle cell disease, cancer treatment, are over 65 or under 2, you are considered high risk. If someone in your family or workplace fits these categories, you are placing them at risk.

Now, of course, some years are worse for flu than others. The biggie was 1918, when the H1N1 (yes, that same one you’re getting vaccinated for right now) had a new mutation to a form no one had ever had before, and it became a world-wide pandemic for two years, killing as many as 50 million people. Fifty. 5-0. Million. The next major flu was 1957 Asian flu (H2N2), which killed two million people. The 1968 Hong Kong flu (H3N2) killed more than a million. That’s not counting disabled, or lost 30 days from work, or sick as a dog. That’s the number dead.

Why do so many flus start in Asia?

Many flu strains are animal-only. They’re limited to birds, or horses, or pigs. In Asia, people, chickens, and pigs are often living in close or crowded conditions, and many Asian cities are very densely populated. Pigs are very similar to people in their genetic makeup (surgeons can use pig organs in people for short times). A bird flu can mutate and jump to pigs, and from pigs it doesn’t take a lot of mutation to become a Human flu. This is why scientists worry every time there’s a breakout of swine flu or bird flu, and millions of animals may be slaughtered to keep it from spreading. All it takes is a new mutation to start a mega-deadly 1918-style pandemic.

Should everyone get a flu shot?

So who should NOT get a flu shot? Check with your doctor first if you’ve got Guillain-Barre Syndrome, if you have immune disorders such as HIV, children on aspirin therapy, severe egg allergies, people with certain metabolic disorders, if you have kidney disease or severe respiratory issues. Sometimes it’s worth the risk, sometimes it’s not, depending on the year.

Washing your hands constantly remains the next-best flu preventative. And while you’re avoiding the flu, or perhaps recovering from it, check out these really awesome books on the flu (I’ve read them!) – and some excellent (scary) novels on flu (check for movie versions, too!) :




Our staff’s favorite books of 2017

What was the best book you read in 2017? This is the question I posed to my fellow staff members at CPL. Interestingly, I got no duplicate answers! We have a wide variety of reading preferences among our staff, which means there’s something for everyone in this list. Maybe your next great read is below:

Our Library Director Ramona  picked the audiobook edition of  News of the World by Paulette Jiles, read by Grover Gardner. In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction.

Teen Librarian Kelley really liked Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. In this urban fantasy, Jenna, who died  too soon, works to regain the years that were lost to her. But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Bill is our Head of Adult Services, and he picked the Bruce Springsteen autobiography Born to Run as his favorite read of 2017. In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s half-time show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it, which is how this extraordinary autobiography began. Springsteen traces his life from his childhood in a Catholic New Jersey family and the musical experiences that prompted his career to the rise of the E Street Band and the stories behind some of his most famous songs.

Children’s Librarian Lauren went with The Sun is Also a Star, a young adult novel by Nicola Yoon.  In this story Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American on his way to a prestigious college admissions interview, cross paths in New York. They unexpectedly fall in love during an intense day in the city.


More books our staff loved last year:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Illusion Town by Jayne Castle,  The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, Border Child by Michael Stone, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman, Glass Houses by Louise Penny

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…