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LitVox's Best Books of March

There has been a dizzying amount of amazing new titles published over the last few weeks, but we've somehow managed to narrow it down to the few we've been most excited about....

Fiction Title of the Month - Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

In the publishing world, the hype for this novel, Ishiguro’s first since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, has been immense. Thankfully, it lives up to every ounce of hype, and is bursting with the same deft lyricism and subtle stylistic brilliance that has become a signature of Ishiguro’s work. Klara & the Sun is genuinely astounding.  Ishiguro’s social novels have arguably been the titles that garnered him the public esteem that led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize. A Pale View of Hills, An Artist of the Floating World and The Remains of the Day are all astoundingly well-paced period pieces, but it’s when Ishiguro marries science-fiction with his high-literary style that he truly shines. 

While his dystopian masterpiece Never Let me Go brought him to previously untold heights of name-recognition, his most recent sci-fi infused novel The Buried Giant was met with at best lukewam praise. This novel has struck an almost impossibly perfect balance. 

In this, his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly-changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

Klara and the Sun

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

The plot will seem familair to anyone who enjoyed Spike Jonze’s wonderfully crafted 2014 movie Her. In much the same style as that film, this novel refuses to bash the reader over the head with its lore and world-building from the outset, but rather provides tiny, well-crafted morsels for the reader to slowlyt digest theougout the course of the book, unaware as we do that we are falling amdluy in live with Klara with every turn of the page.

You can buy Klara and the Sun from the LitVox Bookshop.

Crime Title of the Month - Who Took Eden Mulligan? by Sharon Dempsey

Who Took Eden Mulligan?

This is one of the freshest and best written thrillers we’ve come across in the last couple of years here at LitVox. It’s deeply atmospheric, and does for Belfast crime what Tana French’s books have done for Dublin. There’s a keen psychological edge to the writing here, and anyone who has enjoyed Jane Casey, Liz Nugent or Linwood Barclay is sure to find this novel pretty compelling stuff.

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’

Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast.

Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles. But this case is different. Right from the start.  Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false….

You can pick up your copy from the LitVox Online Bookshop.

Non-fiction Title of the Month - Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston

In February 1991, the media mogul and former MP Robert Maxwell made a triumphant entrance into Manhattan harbour aboard his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, to complete his purchase of the ailing New York Daily News. Crowds lined the quayside to watch his arrival, taxi drivers stopped their cabs to shake his hand and children asked for his autograph. But just ten months later, Maxwell disappeared from the same yacht off the Canary Islands, only to be found dead in the water soon afterward.

Maxwell was the embodiment of Britain’s post-war boom. Born an Orthodox Jew, he had escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, fought in World War 2, and was decorated for his heroism with the Military Cross. He went on to become a Labour MP and an astonishingly successful businessman, owning a number of newspapers and publishing companies. But on his death, his empire fell apart, as long-hidden debts and unscrupulous dealings came to light. Within a few days, Maxwell was being reviled as the embodiment of greed and corruption. No one had ever fallen so far and so quickly.

What went so wrong? How did a war hero and model of society become reduced to a bloated, amoral wreck? In this gripping book, John Preston delivers the definitive account of Maxwell’s extraordinary rise and scandalous fall.

Preston is the authorof the incredible runaway bestseller A Very English Scandal, which detailed the downfall of liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe. Like that brilliant book, his latest effort is written like a thriller, and manages to make a scandal of this magnitude even more entertaining than it ought to be.

You can pick up your copy of Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell from the LitVox’s online Bookshop.

Children's Title of the Month - The Boldness of Betty by Anna Carey

Anna Carey has been a solid favourite of so many Irish kids’ booksellers for years now. Through the introduction of a brave young suffragette in The Making of Mollie (2016), Carey has brought Irish history alive for countless young girls. Her latest children’s novel turns to the Labour movement and the 1913 Dublin Lockout.

My name is Betty Rafferty. A few weeks ago I had to leave school and go out to work in a cake shop, serving fancy cakes to rude, rich people. No choice. But since then so much has happened. It all started when old Miss Warby took our pay away. And we walked out!

The whole city – well, all us union members – are going out on strike. Even my dog Earnshaw has joined in! Life on the picket line in the lashing rain isn’t much fun. Lots of people, like Peter Lawlor, just don’t understand how unfair everything is. But we workers have to stand together – no matter what!

As ever, you can order your copy of our Children’s choice of the month from the LitVox Bookshop.

The Boldness of Betty

Science Fiction Title of the Month - Dead Astonauts by Jeff Vandermeer

Dead Astronauts

Jeff Vandermeer’s science fiction is seriously mind-bending stuff.

Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters ― Grayson, Morse and Chen ― shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit.

A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden.

Jeff Vandermeer’s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth – all the Earths.