The Librarian’s Cellar TBR Battle: November Reads

The ‘To Be Read’ battle continues! The goal I set for myself was to read 20 titles between September and December. So far, I have read 12 books , see September Reads HERE and October Reads HERE

So, maybe I won’t reach my original target, but I am enjoying the challenge anyway, and making time to read in a busy day is the best thing there is, so I’m winning! Here are four books I’ve enjoyed this November.

Good Samaritans by [Carver, Will]

Good Samaritans by Will Carver is a nasty book! A compelling, sharply written, nasty book! One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach! No spoilers, but you get the picture? Carver has created an ensemble of sharply observed, three-dimensional characters and a cracking good story of twisted desires – and the evil that festers while in the grip of those desires. I can see the movie rising from the pages. Not one for the squeamish though!

 

When Your Eyes Close: A psychological thriller unlike anything you’ve read before! by [Farrelly, Tanya]

When Your Eyes Close by Tanya Farrelly has an unusual premise, which could have been quite difficult to execute (excuse the pun!). However, the author has managed to do just that. The story weaves around Nick Drake, a troubled alcoholic, now seriously ill, and in search of the clarity he needs to get his life back on track. Through the unlikely catalyst of Hypnotism, Nick’s journey will uncover long-buried secrets, twisted lies, and will lead to the eventual unmasking of an unlikely murderer.

 

In Pieces by Sally Field is both honest and courageous. Field conveys a childhood that was far from perfect with a candid flow that never leans into self-pity or moroseness. The book took seven years to write, with highlights from her acting career and her love affairs, but the most impressive element of this memoir for me is the deep love she holds for her mother and family that permeates every page.

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a riveting read, a chilling suspense thriller that encompasses the supernatural and a good old-fashioned tale of a journalist with attitude, still haunted by her sister’s death 20 years earlier. The story moves back and forth between past and present, and features Idlewood Hall, a now derelict building that was once a school for girls – girls that were trouble-makers, unwanted, or just too smart for their own good in an era that did not protect nor cherish them. A shocking discovery when a new and mysterious owner of Idlewood Hall begins renovations, sets in motion a riveting, twisting mystery that will unearth some painful truths.

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Caroline E. Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. Her novel, LADY BETH was awarded BEST NOVEL by the Carousel Aware Prize in 2017. She has also written and directed the short film, FRAMED (2018) currently on the festival circuit, and has written and co-produced the award-winning IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She is currently working on her latest novel. 

 

On Writing: A Heroine’s Journey – Writing Through the Dark Tangle

One thing that all writers can agree on is that we are fascinated with the surface of things, or rather, with picking away the veneer from the surface of things. That invisible gauze between thought and process, where all the ‘what ifs’ wait for us to discover them. To decode. To create story, the stuff of good and evil, of life and death. Through the written word, I lean into the path of freedom of expression. My writer’s palette is abundant with words and tones that build worlds around my troubled characters, writing through the tangle of the dark, I like to call the process. I am currently back there, in the beautiful mire of my next novel, a ghost story. My heroine is a complex character with a dark past, similar, yet different to the female protagonist of my last novel, Lady Beth – primarily a suspense thriller, but as the story darkens, a tone of otherworldliness creeps into the subtext.

I am comfortable with the gothic nature of my fiction, my heroines are generally deeply haunted protagonists – but when asked to define what kind of writer I am, I find it a struggle to come up with a single term that fits. I’d rather not be categorised by genre, and just let the reader decide, for like all writers, I just want my work to be read, to be understood, to be impactful, and perhaps, if I’m lucky, to be remembered. The visual artist, without rules or constraints, uses colour and imagination to build his or her vision on canvas. The filmmaker uses images and action. No-one questions the independence or uniqueness of their creations, how they blend and sculpt. As creators, we all have something in common, the universal medium of storytelling. And hero or heroine, we are all unique.

I am one who regularly wakes up between the hours of three and four in the morning, the witching hour, some might call it, when the in-between spaces open up and invite my imagination to step right in. It is between these layers where story lives, a pure form of escapism, like vivid dreaming, and when I go there, however dark the ideas become, I am happy to stay. Many writers develop an intrigue for the dark side of human nature from a personal place; early trauma or a challenging experience. I am no exception. My experiences have become my personal mythology, the stuff that gives meaning to my life and work and helps me to make sense of the world I live in, and all of that directly affects the stories I choose to tell.

Storytellers cherish the power of memory, and the knowledge that even during fractured times, absorbing all of the experiences, good and bad, will grow that innate sense of knowing, of curiosity and empathy, the most essential components for any writer’s toolbox. My understanding of this deepened when I read Joseph Campbell’s books The Hero’s Journey and Pathways To Bliss. In the latter title, Campbell differentiated myth from history, and how myth is transcendent in the relationship to the present, “…any mythic tradition can be translated into your life, it it’s been put into you. And it’s a good thing to hang on to the myth that was put into you when you were a child, because it is there whether you want it or not. What you have to do is translate that myth into its eloquence, not just the literacy. You have to learn to hear its song.”

Serendipitously, while preparing to write this article, I searched for and found an essay that I wrote many years ago when I was studying for a post-graduate diploma in adult education. It was a summary of a learning journal that I had kept through a year of academic study and was filled with self-reflective insights and snippets of free-formed poetry and prose. Looking at it now, I find it quite a revelation to revisit my writing from that time, a bit like peering into the thought processes of another being, someone I used to know, using the written word to navigate and record my personal journey, and all the discoveries that I now realise are continuing to creep into the places and spaces of my creativity.

There is a sense of something tangible between the lines, of brewings, of new beginnings as I alluded to the journey of the heroine and how our paths twist and turn at any age, often without guidance or planned navigation, and sometimes, through circumstances completely out of our control. I quoted Maureen Murdock in the essay, from her book, The Heroine’s Journey which at the time, offered a vital insight from the perspective of my gender, “She is alone at night metaphorically, wandering the road of trials to discover her strengths and abilities and uncover and overcome her weaknesses.” And I see how far I have come, with the beneficial wisdom of that journey so far, writing my heroines into being – through the dark tangle.

 

I wrote this feature article for Booksbywomen.org and it appeared on their website in October 2017. 

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I am a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland. Author of the novels LADY BETH which won the award for BEST NOVEL at the Carousel Aware Prize and ARKYNE, STORY OF A VAMPIRE, I have also written several feature-length and short screenplays including ADAM [2013] and the multi-award winner, IN RIBBONS [2015]. I have recently written and directed FRAMED, due to begin a festival journey in 2018. I am a member of the Writers Guild of Ireland, the Irish Writers Union and The Irish Film and Television Academy.

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Desert Islands and Fictional Characters…

“If you had to be stranded on a desert island with three fictional characters, who would you choose, and why?”

I love this question, posed by book reviewer Emma Moyles on her excellent blog, BOOKS AND WINE GUMS

My reply? There’s a character in my novel, Lady Beth, called Roddy (no spoilers!) and he fascinates me, so he would have to keep me company, along with Dorian Gray, so we can discuss the pros and cons of eternal life, and Mary Poppins, because she is magic, and could dig into her carpet bag for food! You can read the full interview HERE

So, with thanks to Emma for the question, who would you choose, and why?

 

Lady Beth: Free until Tuesday!

Lady Beth, the ebook, is FREE to read until Tuesday. And sure why not!

Check it out HERE

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Many, many thanks for your support.

LADY BETH: Purchase a signed copy.

WINNER of Carousel Aware Prize (Best Novel) 2017

“The book has something—drive, pace, a feeling for the Dublin city centre drug scene and the welfare class milieu—and particularly a really well-judged scale. The number of players, the speed of the plot and the extent to which they interact with each other have a satisfying correctness to them.” – Books Ireland.

“Farrell’s writing is taut and grabs your attention immediately.” – Cornflakegirlsmusings. Blog Review

“An amazing read. I found it dark and captivating. Opened my eyes to the Dark Underworld of Dublin.” – BookBanter, Dundalk FM

“The language is rich, layered and gothic in style. This is a book that has stayed with me weeks later and it is no surprise that it won the Carousel Aware award. ” – Lisa Harding (Harvesting)
“Lady Beth is a perfectly paced page-turner of a novel which keeps the tension taut at all times. The darker side of Dublin city is perfectly judged, with well-rounded characters filling out the scenes around the titular Beth. Beth herself is a fantastic character moving seamlessly from unassuming office worker to avenging mother with an impressive lack of melodrama. Caroline has a filmic eye and the book swirls with a wonderful noir atmosphere as Beth digs deep into her past in order to build herself a future.” – 746books.com

“Lady Beth is stylishly written and has Gothic influences in its telling, which lend a splendid and chilling atmosphere to the story.” Martin Malone. Author

“Plenty of twists and an array of well-drawn characters you care about, propelling you forward to the end.” Lissa Oliver. Author

 

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