Friday, June 12, 2009

What we're reading.

From the outset I should confess that ever since seeing Pan’s Labyrinth three years ago I have been an avowed fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s films. Few directors I have come across seem to have such an understanding of fable, myth, and the traditional tale of wonder. So when I first heard about the forthcoming novel from the Mexican Marvel, written in conjunction with video-store-clerk-turned-best-selling-thriller-writer Chuck Hogan I was, naturally, a little excited.

So does this tale of viral vampires in modern day New York hit the spot? Whilst Booker Prizes obviously won’t be beckoning, this cracking piece of sci-fi horror will certainly keep fans of the genre entertained from start to finish. With plenty of gore, wry humour, and some genuinely creepy moments (one scene in particular, where an evening visit to a neighbour’s house goes badly wrong for one wealthy suburbanite, had me quite unnerved), The Strain does exactly what it sets out to do. With plenty of nods to its source material and a palpable sense of nerdish enjoyment, Del Toro and Hogan are clearly out to frighten and entertain diehard vampire fans and newcomers alike.

The high concept biology behind The Strain’s unique brand of zombie-like Strigoi adds a truly engaging element to the narrative and in a literary landscape where the vampire-as- icon has become increasingly domesticated and friendly, thanks to the runaway success of the Paranormal Romance genre (authors like Stephanie Meyer, P.C. Cast, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris numbering among the biggest sellers of the past twelve months), it’s refreshing and fun to meet Creatures of the Night who most certainly don’t want to be anyone’s boyfriend, and are solely interested in the one thing a blood-sucker should be interested in, sucking your blood!


The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Published by Harper Collins, in-store now, €13.99

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Around the world in a book

We all know a good book can transport you to another place: to India with Vikas Swarup's Q&A (a.k.a. Slumdog Millionaire) and Aravind Adiga's White Tiger, to Nigeria with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, to Afghanistan with Khaled Hosseini's Kite Runner. Inspired partly by these books, and also by the Jules Verne classic Around the World in 80 Days, Chapters Secondhand would invite you to take a trip to another country with us, without leaving Ireland.

For the month of June we are focusing on all-things travel. You can read (and we can recommend) Michael Palin's numerous globe-trotting adventures, Hector's World, the expolits of Bill Bryson, Jonathan Raban and other seasoned travel writers, not to mention the selection the travel guides we always have in stock. We currently have a taster of what's available in our window, but do call in for more titles.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What we're reading

If you are a man like me, you’ll be, well, scared of a book that people describe as a romance. We’re manly men, we don’t have time for romances, right?! But what if it’s a romance with time-travelling? Ah, I see your attention perked up.

The Time-Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, is such a thing. Sure, it’s too melodramatic and lovey-dovey at times, but it’s a darn good book. Niffeneger manages to write a good time-travelling tale (although in a more personal scale, it’s all done only along the time-lines of the main characters) where we have the clich├ęd boy meets girl but in this case, Clare first meets Henry when she’s 6 and he’s 36, and Henry first meets Clare when he’s 28 and she’s 20. Don’t worry, it will all make sense.

I don’t want to give out too much about the book (here’s a wikipedia link, but be warned, spoilers ahead!) so I’ll just say that I was surprised with how much I was able to enjoy this romance and still be a manly man.

There’s a film of it coming out soon, if you’re more visually inclined, with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, but this is a book I definitely recommend reading before you watch it. Who knows, you might find that them romances can be good books too.


The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Published by Vintage Books, available in-store