Irish Bestsellers 6th June 2020

The book chart scene still isn’t back to normal this week, as although many of the Top 20 are 2020 publications, there are still lots of older, favourite books making the grade as people seek familiarity, comfort and enlightenment. As well as, of course, the best ways to eat during quarantine without gaining too much weight (The Daly Dish, Trisha’s Transformation and both Pinch of Nom cookbooks, I’m looking at you). There’s a substantial difference in the two Fiction charts, too. While the Mass Market Top 10 shows clear signs of comfort reading—Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and nothing from this year—the Original Fiction chart is much more up to date, with all 10 entries being 2020 releases.

This week’s featured book is also a 2020 release, and a good one to see right now, in the current climate. Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri is in the Paperback Non-Fiction chart at no. 10 and hopefully we’ll see it around for a good long while. Here’s the blurb:

‘Groundbreaking . . . a scintillating, intellectual investigation into black women and the very serious business of our hair, as it pertains to race, gender, social codes, tradition, culture, cosmology, maths, politics, philosophy and history’ Bernardine Evaristo

From women’s solidarity and friendship to forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids, the scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don’t Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.


And now the charts, with the Top 20 followed by the Top 10 in each category.

Data Supplied by Nielsen BookScan taken from the Irish Consumer Market week ending 6th June 2020
TitleAuthorPublisher GroupSales
1Normal PeopleRooney, SallyFaber Grp1,804
2Where the Crawdads SingOwens, DeliaLittle, Brown Book Grp1,593
3Conversations with FriendsRooney, SallyFaber Grp1,325
4Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse,TheMackesy, CharlieRandom House Grp1,213
5Trisha’s TransformationLewis, TrishaGill Group1,055
6Silent Patient,TheMichaelides, AlexOrion Grp761
7SlimeWalliams, DavidHarperCollins Grp739
8American DirtCummins, JeanineHeadline Grp622
9Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesCollins, SuzanneScholastic Ltd. Grp610
10Girl, Woman, OtherEvaristo, BernardinePenguin Grp579
11Daly Dish,TheDaly, Gina & Daly, KarolGill Group531
12Our Little CrueltiesNugent, LizPenguin Grp524
13Little Fires EverywhereNg, CelesteLittle, Brown Book Grp492
14Beekeeper of Aleppo,TheLefteri, ChristyBonnier Books UK Publishing Grp410
15JumpMoyles, DaniellaGill Group373
16Exciting TimesDolan, NaoiseOrion Grp356
17Guest List,TheFoley, LucyHarperCollins Grp355
18Grown UpsKeyes, MarianPenguin Grp331
19Good Vibes, Good LifeKing, VexHay House Grp308
20This is Going to HurtKay, AdamPan Macmillan Grp282
Data Supplied by Nielsen BookScan taken from the Irish Consumer Market week ending 6th June 2020
Mass Market Fiction
1Normal PeopleRooney, SallyFaber & Faber1,804
2Where the Crawdads SingOwens, DeliaCorsair1,593
3Conversations with FriendsRooney, SallyFaber & Faber1,325
4Silent Patient,TheMichaelides, AlexOrion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )761
5Girl, Woman, OtherEvaristo, BernardinePenguin Books Ltd 579
6Little Fires EverywhereNg, CelesteLittle, Brown Book Group492
7Beekeeper of Aleppo,TheLefteri, ChristyManilla Press410
8Flatshare,TheO’Leary, BethQuercus Publishing Plc222
9Hunting Party,TheFoley, LucyHarperCollins Publishers217
10Family Upstairs,TheJewell, LisaArrow Books214
Original Fiction
1American DirtCummins, JeanineTinder Press622
2Our Little CrueltiesNugent, LizPenguin Ireland524
3Exciting TimesDolan, NaoiseWeidenfeld & Nicolson356
4Guest List,TheFoley, LucyHarperCollins Publishers355
5Grown UpsKeyes, MarianMichael Joseph331
6HamnetO’Farrell, MaggieTinder Press229
7Restaurant,TheMeaney, RoisinHachette Books Ireland181
8Cutting Place,TheCasey, JaneHarperCollins Publishers178
9Hungry Road,TheConlon-McKenna, MaritaTransworld Ireland143
10Rules for Perfect MurdersSwanson, PeterFaber & Faber140
Paperback Non Fiction
1Trisha’s TransformationLewis, TrishaGill Books1,055
2JumpMoyles, DaniellaGill Books373
3Good Vibes, Good LifeKing, VexHay House UK Ltd308
4This is Going to HurtKay, AdamPicador282
5How to Be Good With MoneyMcGee, EoinGill Books263
6EducatedWestover, TaraWindmill Books212
7Arms Crisis of 1970,TheHeney, MichaelHead of Zeus208
8Power of Now,TheTolle, EckhartHodder Paperback206
9Atomic HabitsClear, JamesRandom House Business Books177
10Don’t Touch My HairDabiri, EmmaPenguin Books Ltd 174
Hardback Non Fiction
1Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse,TheMackesy, CharlieEbury Press1,213
2Daly Dish,TheDaly, Gina & Daly, KarolGill Books531
3Wean in 15Wicks, JoeBluebird270
4BecomingObama, MichelleViking241
5Pinch of NomFeatherstone, Kay & Allinson, KateBluebird201
6Mrs Hinch: The Little Book of ListsMichael Joseph196
7Gaff GoddessBarra, Laura deTransworld Ireland186
8Secret,TheByrne, RhondaSimon & Schuster Ltd153
9What I Know for SureWinfrey, OprahMacmillan150
10Pinch of Nom Everyday LightFeatherstone, Kay & Allinson, KateBluebird119
1SlimeWalliams, DavidHarperCollins739
2Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesCollins, SuzanneScholastic610
3SlimeWalliams, DavidHarperCollins179
4Dog Man: Fetch-22Pilkey, DavScholastic U.S.141
5Ice Monster,TheWalliams, DavidHarperCollins123
6Midnight Gang,TheWalliams, DavidHarperCollinsChildren’sBooks121
7Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRowling, J. K.Bloomsbury Publishing PLC120
8Grandpa’s Great EscapeWalliams, DavidHarperCollinsChildren’sBooks119
9Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball (Book 14)Kinney, JeffPuffin116
10Giraffes Can’t DanceAndreae, GilesOrchard Books116
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.