The Librarian’s Cellar Book Recommendations: My Dark Vanessa

Compelling, yet deeply unsettling! Author, Kate Elizabeth Russell has created a riveting page-turner that depicts an unflinching account of the grooming and manipulation of an underaged girl by an adult male in a role of trust and power. And of the consequences for both of them.The psychologies of both characters are fascinating. This one will linger.

My thanks to Netgalley and Publishers (4th Estate) for the opportunity to read this book, which is due for publication in March 2020.



Caroline Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. Author of the novel, LADY BETH, she is the screenwriter/director of FRAMED (2018). Caroline has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She curates for literature and film events, is a former Librarian and holds a Teaching qualification in Adult and Community Education. 


The Librarian’s Cellar Book Recommendations 2020: Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Liz Nugent has done it again. Has written a page-turner filled with devious and broken characters that we hate to love – but love anyway! A compelling read with all the clever twists that we have come to expect from this very accomplished storyteller.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Books for the opportunity to read ‘Our Little Cruelties’. Publication date is March 20th, 2020.


Caroline Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. Author of the novel, LADY BETH, she is the screenwriter/director of FRAMED (2018). Caroline has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She curates for literature and film events, is a former Librarian and holds a qualification in Adult and Community Education. 

The Librarian’s Cellar 2020 Book Recommendations: Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain

Starting the new year with a plan to keep a ‘Book Diary’ listing all I manage to read this year, though I will only, as ever, blog about the titles I have enjoyed.

First up is ‘Six Wicked Reasons’, another great read from Jo Spain, queen of the ‘whodunnit’! You might think you know who killed Frazer, and some say he had it coming. All of his children are suspects, but the narrative twists and turns so craftily that you only think you know – until the rather satisfying end!

Thanks to Netgalley and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this latest title from a very accomplished crime author, which is due for release on January 16th, 2020.


Caroline Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. Author of the novel, LADY BETH, she is the screenwriter/director of FRAMED (2018). Caroline has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She curates for literature and film events, is a former Librarian and holds a qualification in Adult and Community Education. 


A fantastical weekend for FRAMED!

What an incredible weekend for FRAMED, picking up the ‘Best Short Horror Film’ award from Underground Cinema Film Festival! Very honoured to be in the company of some fantastic filmmakers, and thanks to Dave Byrne and the Underground team for their continuing support of independent filmmakers, in Ireland and abroad.



AND THIS from Devil’s Night Gallery Film + Art Event!


Devil’s Night Gallery is an independent film and art show which takes its name from its two inspirations. The first is “Night Gallery”, a classic, horror anthology television series, hosted by Rod Serling, from the ‘70s. The second is the aggressively independent spirit of the city of Detroit, represented by the ominous “Devil’s Night”. Like the namesake tv series, Devil’s Night Gallery features screenings of short films preceded by an introduction and the reveal of an original piece of art inspired by the film. Film submissions were received from around the world and were narrowed down to 10, from Michigan and beyond, which best represented the experience of the “Night Gallery”. A handful of amazing local artists were selected to create original works of art inspired by those same films. Just look at this incredible work – based on FRAMED – from artist Joyce Swope. Fantastical!!!

Chiari Days, and swearing like a Super Trooper!

Since my diagnosis in March of this year, I have been doing my best to learn about – and to learn to live with – Chiari Malformation. You can read my first post HERE

Most of the time, I look at the positives. Yes, I have this thing – but I could have some other thing that is worse – things can always be worse. However, there are days when my body feels so fatigued and too damn sore to do much of anything. I have begun to name these ‘Chiari Days’, which really translates to ‘Fuck It’ days.

On the one hand, I know what I am dealing with, and that it is common sense to allow myself to rest on those days that are tougher than others. If I don’t, I will suffer the consequences of being, and feeling sore and absolutely, fucking useless.

On the other hand, I find myself feeling guilty for my ‘Fuck It’ days. As with all ‘hidden’ disorders, people can’t see what’s really going on. I don’t carry a sign that says ‘Neurological Disorder’. Even saying those words makes me fucking squirm.

Nope, the implications don’t sit easy with me.

Chiari Malformation causes painful physical symptoms; where the cerebellar tonsillar ectopia moves below the level of the foreman magnum. Now there’s some fine medical terminology to get your head around! Speaking for myself here, but I am finding that it can also mess with emotional and mental health, especially when I allow myself to dwell on what might happen next.

For my sins, I am a deep thinker. What writer isn’t?

I can only report on what it’s like to live in this skin, with this useless disorder, and I’ll get used to Chiari Days, eventually. I won’t stop saying yes to whatever opportunities and challenges rock up to greet me either – that would kill me altogether, but I’ll also have to stay honest with myself and everyone around me, and learn to be at ease with more ‘Fuck It’ days.

Road-tripping Discoveries: Finding Flannery

This past September, while visiting Savannah, Georgia for a couple of days, I trudged my loved ones through the oppressive heat of that hauntingly beautiful city on a quest to find Flannery O’Connor’s house on East Charlton Street, Layfayette Square.

Birthplace of a Genius.

The house is now a museum that honours her memory and work, and we were treated to a wonderful and very informative tour from a fabulous lady, Cody. You can find out more about the house HERE.

Mary (Flannery) O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925, the only child of Edward F. O’Connor and Regina Cline (Who lived until the ripe old age of 99, passing away in 1995). Edward was diagnosed with lupus in 1939, and died on February 1, 1941 when Flannery was 15.

A very poignant moment to learn that Flannery’s extremely ill father spent many a day resting here.

Flannery would entertain her little friends in the family bathroom, sitting in the bath to read stories – until her friend’s parents realised that she was scaring these little girls with ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’, and they weren’t allowed to play with her anymore!

Flannery was also diagnosed with lupus, in 1951, at the age of 26, and although she was only expected to live for five more years, she survived for thirteen more. While battling her illness, she completed more than two dozen short stories and two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear it Away. She died in August, 1964, her third novel unfinished.

Queen of the ‘Southern Gothic’. An incredible woman.

I couldn’t resist leaving a copy of LADY BETH in the FREE LITTLE LIBRARY outside Flannery’s house. The feckin’ cheek o’me!!!

Michael Mullan Cancer Fund: Writing Competition Results

For the second year running, it was a honour to judge the Flash Fiction competition on behalf of the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund Writing Awards. I am always keen to congratulate all of the shortlisted writers. It is some achievement to get that far in any writing competition. Indeed, respect to anyone who finishes a piece of writing and submits it to a contest. It’s proof to yourself that you are a real writer!

Flash fiction is a rather particular art form – the telling of a complete story while being very economical with words. As a reader, I need to connect with the heart of the narrative. I need to care about the characters, and while there doesn’t have to be a happy ending, there does need to be a satisfying one – and for this particular competition, all in 500 words or less. Not an easy task for any writer. I read six shortlisted stories, and I liked all of them — each for different reasons. However, I could only pick one winner and one runner-up.

In second place, I chose a story that concerns the heartfelt ending of a relationship, told from the point of view of the rejected character – and there is a hint in the title: A ROUGH BREAKUP, written by Johnathon McLaughlin. The winning story is a concise and descriptive window into a mature relationship – a glimpse of the gentle nature of love in action, the theme evoked wonderfully in its title: MINDING, written by Anna Harrison.

Writer, Martin Malone, judged the Short Story Awards, but as Martin was unable to attend, I had the pleasure of presenting the winners. Placed second is a story that deals with a secret that finally erupts, leaving the reader to ponder its ramifications on the boy, his mother, his sister…and the victims his father has left in his wake: ON THE MOVE, written by Dee Scallon. The winner of the Short Story Award 2019 is a story of murder, intrigue and suspense, about a family who unwittingly walk into a perilous situation: SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, written by Helen O’Leary.

Writer, John MacKenna, judged the Poetry Awards, and as John was unable to attend, I also had the pleasure of presenting the winner – in this case with First and Second Prize – to Paul O’Brien for his poems, A HAND IN ANSENTIA and THROUGH A LENS IN OMEY.

All entries were judged anonymously.

It was a great night that celebrated the very deserving writers, a lovely audience, and wonderful hosts from Newbridge Library and Kildare Readers Festival. Congratulations again to all the winners and shortlisted writers! You can find out more about the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund HERE