Recommended Reads from the Librarian’s Cellar!

I have been invited by Tallaght Library to recommend some of my favourite books from my current reading stacks. This will be a ZOOM event on Monday, 21st June at 7:30pm. (Summer Solstice – what better day to chat about books to borrow for the Summer months!)

I’ll be chatting for about 30 mins so do sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/recommended-reads-with-caroline-farrell-tickets-154071157981

Horror Zone – Horror Thrills!

It’s my favourite time of the year, and I’m delighted to chat to Fiona Cooke for her October / Halloween series Horror Zone. 

Check it out here: https://unusualfiction.wordpress.com/2021/10/21/horror-zone-horror-thrills-with-award-winning-writer-screenwriter-and-director-caroline-farrell/

And while you are there, check out Fiona’s latest collection of creepy short stories, The Nightmare (E.B.Hogan) published by Spellbound Books.

Happy Halloween!!

Book Recommendations: June 2021

Here is the list of titles I discussed last night at our recommended reads session for South Dublin County Libraries, Tallaght. Hope you check some of them out and let me know what your think.

1: The End of The World is a Cul De Sac by Louise Kennedy. Published by Bloomsbury

There’s a quote that I heard many years in relation to writing…If you scratch the skin of pain, you’ll find beauty – and that certainly applies to this debut collection. Dark, funny, sad and sometimes visceral, I highly recommended these short stories.

2: How the Moon Travels by Oein DeBhairduin. Published by Skein Press

A magical collection of folklore tales that the author has gathered from his own childhood, passed down through the generations of the Travelling Community through the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s a gorgeous book, very connected to nature, wildlife and landscape, and beautifully written. 

3: Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller. Published by Penguin

The story revolves around a brother and sister, middle-aged twins, their lives turned upside down when their mother dies. There’s a darkness to the story but there’s also resilience and I just loved the character of Jeanie. 

4: Panenka by Rónán Hession. Published by Bluemoose Books

Hession’s debut, Leonard and Hungry Paul has been hugely successful, and deservedly so, as it’s a wonderful book. Panenka, his second novel is equally brilliant. I think the author’s great gift is that he writes gentle characters and places them in very relatable worlds, in this case, a middle-aged man, making amends for the mistakes of his past and learning new ways to mend his broken life. Just beautiful. 

5: The Sound Mirror by Heidi James. Published by Bluemoose Books

Spanning three generations of women and thousands of miles, the story begins with Tamara who is visiting her mother for the last time. Along for the journey are the ghosts of her past generations, their stories woven in to reveal the secrets, joys and struggles of Tamara’s life. LOVE!

6: The Beasts They Turned Away by Ryan Dennis. Published by Epoque Press

If you’re looking for something a little different, I highly recommend this book. Set in a stark rural community, an aging farmer is burdened with looking after a strange little boy who does not speak, and whom the local villagers believe to be cursed. Told with a real sense of place, and sharp and haunting prose.  

7: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. Published by Granta.

A super-slim volume packed with tension and dread, Ghost Wall unravels the story of a young girl called Silvie and the hold that her strange, obsessive father has over her. Perfectly paced, beautifully written, this story will creep up on you.

8: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Published by Viper

If you’re looking for a well-written psychological thriller/horror/crime novel, this is the book for you. It’s quite a challenge to describe it without giving some of the plot away, but basically, it is the story of a man named Ted who lives with his daughter and his cat, Olivia, who is one of the main narrators of the book. Stick with it, it’s an unsettling, heart-stopping read, with an ending that is far from predictable. 

9: Laura Cassidy’s Walk of Fame by Alan McMonagle. Published by Picador

Set in Galway, it’s about a young woman called Laura whose father always told her that she was destined for fame. Now Laura is on a mission. The books explores grief, yearning and family tension, and it’s also funny and hopeful. Loved it. 

A Whole New Plan for Living by Jim Lucey: Published by Hachette Ireland

10: There aren’t many of us who haven’t been affected in some way by the events of the past while – I for sure have had my own share of grief and the anxiety that goes with it. This is a gentle, easy to read guide to achieving balance and wellness.

And always remember, If you can’t find what your looking for, ask a Librarian. if they don’t have it, they know how to get it!

Leaving 2020 between the pages…

This is my diary for 2020.

Projects progressed. Notes on cancelled creative, teaching and facilitative work. Notes on other offers of work I have declined. Work that under normal circumstances I would have enthusiastically leapt in, head first.

The energy of 2020 did not permit that.

This diary is also bundled with many notes, cards and tokens. Blessings from the friends who kept in touch, those connections that proved so vital to our mental health. To our resilience.

And what a year for paper-cuts. Some healed, others still open sores. I’ve dealt with personal ill-health. Watched my elderly father decline, and just recently, experienced the devastation of a family member’s death during brutal Covid restrictions. This diary is a log of heartache. Of anxious days. Of a year for questions and revelations, of feeling battered and bruised.

For all of it, I hope I will emerge a little wiser. Right now, all I really know for sure is that the universe has plans for us. A future that we cannot control.

What we CAN control are the energies we allow to share that future with us. The people who make it bearable. The ones who think outside of themselves to ask how YOUR day is going. The ones always ready to offer support. To listen. To be on standby with a supply of bandaids for those pesky paper-cuts that might never heal. Cherish THOSE people.

For 2021, my friends, I wish you all the happiest of days. We only have to do one at a time. There will be no new year resolutions, though I will try to be resolute in avoiding the following:

1# Rumination: fuck that noise!

2# Dry January in Lockdown: fuck that too!

The Librarian’s Cellar: Boys Don’t Cry by Fíona Scarlett

Set in the soul of inner city Dublin, a family struggles with the lot of their circumstances and the wolf of criminal menace at their door. At the core are two brothers, one fading, the other lusting for an alternative life that they both deserve. Gritty. Devastating. This story will linger.

My thanks to Netgalley and Faber Books for the opportunity to read this ARC, due for publication in April, 2021.

Librarian’s Cellar: Some recommended reads…

WALKING WITH GHOSTS

A joy to read. Byrne’s memoir is beautifully told, his visual writing evoking laughter, but also profound sorrow through powerful and deeply personal reminiscence. Whether describing aspects of his childhood, his life in Ireland or his career adventures abroad, every experience is recounted with honesty, dignity, humility, and a riveting sense of place. My thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this book.

 

A GHOST IN THE THROAT

“Perhaps the past is always trembling inside the present…” It’s true what they’re saying. This book is a treasure. A haunting. The extraordinary within the ordinary, a tale within a tale, told beautifully.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

“That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.” Nora Seed has hit rockbottom… until she finds herself in the Midnight Library. Matt Haig explores the complexities of life through magical realism. Superb!

AS YOU WERE

Elaine’s poetic writing carried me along, page over page. If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital ward you’ll identify with these characters, so beautifully and sympathetically drawn. Particularly Sinead, flawed, stubborn, wounded. Heart-wrenching.

 

 

BOOMER TRUDY: A Short Story

Delighted to share a short story of mine, recently published by Epoque Press in the 7th Edition of their é-zine, on the theme of ‘Isolation’.

You can read BOOMER TRUDY alongside some other wonderful work, HERE

Feature Image is copyright of Epoque Press. 2020

The Librarian’s Cellar Recommended Reads 2020: Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Ten years ago, Heidi survived a horrendously savage attack, during which her best friend was murdered and her little sister went missing. Amnesia has plagued her, but now, she is beginning to remember…

Monstrous Souls is a tough read in relation to the sexual abuse and trafficking of children, though it is extremely well handled by the author, Rebecca Kelly. A taut thriller, the reader journeys alongside Heidi as she discovers clues from her slowly re-emerging memories… and the truth that shocks her to her core.

 

My thanks to Netgalley and Agora Books for the opportunity to read an ARC copy of Monstrous Souls. In all good book stores now.

On Writing: It’s just you and the words

Unprecedented days. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone – and you know what – unless you are one of our magnificent and brave frontline/essential services workers, not afforded the option of self-isolating – staying safe, healthy and sane are all that most of us need to concentrate on right now.

For the writers among us, productivity may have waned, which may also have us feeling a strange kind of guilt, so I thought I’d share this Facebook post from 2011:

This was a much appreciated ‘break in the clouds’ at the time, and if it helps any emerging writer to go easy on themselves, I’m happy to share that it took me so many years to finish Lady Beth. It was always a marathon. It was never a sprint.

For most of that time, I was riddled with self-doubt. Convinced myself that no-one would want to read it. That no-one would be interested in what I had to say. Then it happened. I got a break – someone saw the potential. And it fired me up again. I kept at it – for another six years until I published it on 2017 – though I continued to struggle. (Still do!) But what I’ve learned is that if it’s in your blood to be a writer, you’ll be one.

It will and should take time. You will and should have difficult days when you question why and what for. You’ll be sticking your neck out, your ego out, your vulnerability. Not everyone will be kind and supportive. Those voices might even deafen you. Paralyse you.

Consider those battle scars as ammunition. Wear those nasty paper cuts with pride as you learn to push aside the negative forces. Shove them out of your way so that you can hear those others. The positive voices. The encouragers. The mentors. The enablers.

Take your time. You’ll be honing your craft ‘til the day you die. Be open to making mistakes, but also be open to learning from them. It’s not a competition. It’s just you and the words. Tell your stories. Take all the time you need to tell them in your unique voice.

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A writer and filmmaker, Caroline is the author of the novel LADY BETH and the writer/director the short film FRAMED (2018). An award-winning screenwriter, she has also written the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). 

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Actress by Anne Enright

 

“Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theatre legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother’s celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother’s and her own.”

The narrator, Norah is a writer. In order to make meaning of her own experiences (the ghost in my blood) she remembers her mother’s life and career. A tumultuous life that culminated in great sadness…

There is pain and grief for Norah, but there is also catharsis, and for the reader, so much more between the lines of Enright’s beautifully constructed sentences… of a generation of women gone, and the truth of their lives…

I loved this book.