Book of the Month Reveal - May 2024 Subscription Box

Come discover our latest book of the month picks as we reveal what's inside our May Book Box.

This month we're looking at How To Build A Book by Elaine Feeney, Spirit Level by Richy Craven and Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Local Voices: How To Build A Boat by Elaine Feeney  

How To Build A Boat by Elaine Feeney

What's the craic?

Jamie O'Neill loves the colour red. He also loves tall trees, patterns, rain that comes with wind, the curvature of many objects, books with dust jackets, cats, rivers and Edgar Allan Poe. At age 13 there are two things he especially wants in life: to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother Noelle, who died when he was born.

In his mind these things are intimately linked. And at his new school, where all else is disorientating and overwhelming, he finds two people who might just be able to help him. How to Build a Boat is the story of how one boy and his mission transforms the lives of his teachers, Tess and Tadhg, and brings together a community.

Written with tenderness and verve, it's about love, family and connection, the power of imagination, and how our greatest adventures never happen alone.

Why we love it

The book follows the story of Jamie O'Neill as he starts a new school year. Born to a teenage mother who died in childbirth and raised by his young father, Jamie is a smart, intelligent and neurodiverse boy, with a love for maths, engineering and Edgar Allan Poe.

Struggling to fit in with the rigid conformist culture of his local boys school, he nonetheless gathers around him an unlikely band of friends and allies, including teachers Tess and Tadhg. 

In an increasingly mad, mad world, there is something just so lovely about a book that's about connection, community and supporting the dreams of those around us, irrespective of whether you understand them or not.

This is a book about outsiders, dreamers, people who never really feel like they fit in anywhere and about stumbling across those rare like-minded souls who accept us as we are. But it's also a book about letting go of perfection and learning to go with the flow a little.

Elaine Feeney writes so beautifully, capturing the essence of each character perfectly with the changing flow and rhythm of her prose - the sheer poetic lyricism of the final chapter left me in floods of tears. An absolute must-read!

Order May's Local Voices Book Box Here


Science Fiction & Fantasy: Spirit Level by Richy Craven

Spirit Level by Ricky Craven

What's the craic?

Danny Hook is a directionless twenty-something year old fresh out of therapy. Dealing with his disappointed family and dead-end career, he's sure things couldn't get much worse, until a drink-driving accident leaves his best friend Nudge dead. Danny also discovers he can see ghosts - but only when he's drunk.

Saddled with a best friend who can't leave his side, they must figure out what's going on and why Nudge can't cross over. Can Danny negotiate family life, therapy and a ghost that refuses to fade into the background before time runs out?

Why we love it...

Oh this is so, so good - a heart-warming yet hilarious debut novel from Dublin-based writer Richy Craven. We were actually in two minds about whether to offer it as our Sci-Fi/Fantasy pick or our Local Voices one, but eventually opted for SFF just because we love it when we have a month where we get to feature two fantastic books by local writers!

Although technically a fantasy novel (hello ghosts and nether-worldly happenings), the first half of the book is actually more about loss, grief and the guilt that comes with surviving a traumatic event.

My heart broke for Danny, as he struggled to cope in the aftermath of the tragic, senseless drink-driving accident which claims the life of his best friend, Nudge early in the book.

Richy Craven sensitively captures the impact that the sudden death of a young person has on their family and friends, as well as the struggle that young men in their 20s might have in sharing their feelings  or in processing grief in a healthy way.

But fortunately, or unfortunately, for Danny, his own near-death experience in the accident has left him with the ability to see and converse with ghosts, including Nudge. This is where the fantasy element of the book kicks in as Nudge and Danny try to discover what's tethering them together and are drawn into a world of paranormal that neither knew existed.

It's a brilliant wee page-turner of a book - funny, empathetic and with shades of Terry Pratchett and Ben Aaronovitch. I loved every minute of it!

Order May's Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Box Here


Bucket List Books: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

What's the craic?

"The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!"

Jane Austen's novel tells the story of Marianne Dashwood, who wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her.

Through their parallel experience of love - and its threatened loss - the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Why we love it...

We get asked sometimes how we choose each month's books. We take great pride in the fact that we personally read and recommend every book we sell (and how many bookstores can say that?!) so it can be a bit of a random process based on sharing books we genuinely love.

Sometimes it's based on the season or triggered by a release of a new edition of an old favourite and sometimes it's just mood. This month, it's because I happened to catch the 1995 movie adaptation recently. Emma Thompson is so very good as Elinor Dashwood and Alan Rickman utterly swoon-worthy as Colonel Brandon that watching it put me in the notion to both re-read the novel and to share it with you. 

Published in 1811 and in print continuously since then, Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen's first novel and has all of the subtle wit and nuanced observation of society and convention that we come to associate with her later work. Adapted numerous times, it's an absolute must-read book from an iconic writer whose story-telling has inspired and entertained generations of readers and creators.

Order May's Bucket List Book Box Here

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