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!

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.

The Librarian’s Cellar Book Recommendations: Laura Cassidy’s Walk of Fame

Image result for laura cassidy's walk of fame

 

Laura’s movie-obsessed father always told her that she was destined for fame. And Laura will do whatever is necessary to see his, and her own, dream realised.

I loved this book by Alan McMonagle. A journey of grief, desperation and hope. It is funny, poignant and packed with familial tension, drama and yearning. You’ll follow Laura’s walk of fame through the streets of Galway long after you’ve turned the last page.

My thanks to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan / Picador for the opportunity to read this novel. Publication date is March 5th, 2020.

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Caroline Farrell is a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland: carolinefarrellwriter.com

The Librarian’s Cellar Book Recommendations: The Jewel by Neil Hegarty

The Jewel is a painting that hangs in a Dublin gallery. A vibrant work of art with a fascinating story, unfolding through a complex narrative that begins with a rather morbid and haunting decision by its creator – a long deceased female artist.

The novel weaves in and out of the lives of three very different, but equally troubled characters. A lonely curator, a disillusioned artist turned forger and thief, and an expert in art theft tasked with recovering the painting. A common thread to each of these lives is their sense of disillusionment. The same emotion that perhaps, drove this victorian artist to act as she did. As this gripping story unwinds, in all its complexity, three lives become intrinsically linked to The Jewel, and fleetingly, to each other. Vivid and original storytelling, beautifully written.

The Jewel by Neil Hegarty | Head of Zeus Ltd | 2019

 

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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. 

 

Lady Beth: Books By Women

What an honour to be included in BooksbyWomen.org recommended reads!

“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

 

 

‘Just finished reading Lady Beth. What a fast-moving story, very well researched, written with a lively imagination and I personally would love to see it made into a film. That storyline has Oscar written all over it.’ Mary Malone. Reader

More Reviews on Goodreads HERE and Amazon HERE

 

Caroline E Farrell is the author of the novels, Lady Beth and Arkyne, Story of a Vampire. She is also the writer and director of the short film FRAMED  and writer and co-producer of IN RIBBONS and ADAM.

The Librarian’s Cellar: ROOM LITTLE DARKER by June Caldwell

Much praise has already been heaped upon this collection of short stories, and rightly so. Caldwell’s writing exposes a brutally truthful voice, and perhaps, is responding to the fundamental underbelly of human nature – the murky and the painful – stuff that readers can relate to, however uncomfortably the narratives punch out from the pages. You may laugh, gasp, cringe or cry, each story with the capacity to leave you a little battered and breathless, but that won’t stop you turning the pages for the next assault on your senses!

ROOM LITTLE DARKER is published by New Island

 

Caroline E Farrell is the writer and producer of films, In Ribbons and Adam, and is the author of the novel, LADY BETH.

Lady Beth: Free until Tuesday!

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

Check it out HERE

And all the good vibes HERE

 

Many, many thanks for your support.

Lady Beth: The Perfect Antithesis to Valentine’s Day!

Excited to announce the ebook release of my novel, LADY BETH.

(Paperback release date to be confirmed soon!)

lady-beth-banner

Beth has been keeping secrets from her beloved son, refusing to tell him who his father is. When an unforeseen tragedy takes him from her, she is compelled to face the demons she has been running from all these years. She has come full circle, and with nothing left now but her memories and her knowing, the need for revenge scratches inside her veins.

Available from Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First off, as this story originally came to me as an idea for a screenplay, I would like to thank the original members of The Kildare Screenwriters Group for the initial sparks of encouragement to keep going with it. Also from the film world, deepest appreciation to Michael Kinirons, Dermot Tynan, and Ozzy and Gabriel Villazon. To the late Gill Dennis – my eternal gratitude for the confidence instilled in me through his kindness and support. I would like to thank The Attic Studio Actors for the public script reading that almost scared me to death, but ultimately was hugely helpful and inspiring: Geraldine McAlinden, Joe McKinney, Sinead Monaghan, Michael Bates, Blayne Kelly, Laura Way and Melissa Nolan – your collective feedback was invaluable, then and now. To The Writers Guild of Ireland and the amazing group of writer friends I found there: for the readings, the feedback and the laughter! BIG THANKS! To my wonderful soul friend, Julie Luttrell. To my editor, Averill Buchanan, for putting some manners on my scribblings. To the amazing Lindsay J. Sedgwick for her support through the blood, sweat and tears proceedings, and to the lovely Celine Broughal for the constant encouragement. Special thanks to Mike Murray ( www.13thdoor.net ) for the beautiful cover design, and to actress and producer, Sinead O’Riordan ( www.sineadoriordan.com ) and photographer, Anita Kulon  ( www.facebook.com/Anita-Kulon-Photography ) for permission to use the stunning image. To my readers: what good is a storyteller without you? And it goes without saying: to the most patient man on the planet, my better half, Errol, as always.

The Librarian’s Cellar: spill simmer falter wither

Mistakenly assuming that it would be heavy-going, I was saving Sara Baume’s debut for a time when I felt I could give it the attention that such a thoughtful book deserves. However, having found that time, it turned out to be the fastest read I’ve enjoyed in a while. Sara’s visceral prose, alive and relentless, hooked me in through this dark and heartfelt journey of a motherless man; a grieving man, and a one-eyed dog. If you are a reader, you’ll be a better reader for having read it. If you are a writer, you’ll be a better one for having read it. If you haven’t read it, do it.

Publisher details Here

The Librarian’s Cellar: Orla McAlinden Reviews ‘After the Lockout’ by Darran McCann

A series of guest reviews on inspiring work, old and new: Orla McAlinden reviews After the Lockout by Darran McCann

Most debut authors could only dream of having a cover quote on their first novel from Hilary Mantel, and here’s what she has to say about After the Lockout: “A wonderful novel…deeply intelligent and self-aware…entertaining…” I’d have to agree with her, it’s all of those things.

The early chapters are set in the Montgomery Street brothel district of Dublin in 1917, in a city that is wracked with social and political strife. The “Lockout” of 1913 looms large in the past, when the commercial and manufacturing heart was torn out of the city’s working class by the ruthless crushing of a mass campaign of strike action against starvation wages and job insecurity. For a detailed fictional account of the Lockout, you can’t get better than James Plunkett’s “Strumpet City”, but McCann explains enough of the bare bones of the history to allow a reader to grasp the severity and the cruelty of the crushing of Dublin’s nascent Labour movement.

The remainder of the narrative then moves to the village of Madden in Armagh, whence the protagonist, Victor Lennon, has fled, 10 years previously, after the suicide of his mother, and the refusal of the local Catholic hierarchy to grant her a Christian burial. Victor is a socialist, a Marxist, a veteran of the Lockout and much more importantly as far as the almost exclusively Catholic population of Madden is concerned, a veteran of the Easter Rising of 12 months earlier and a hero of Irish Republicanism.

Is Victor going to find out that his idea of a socialist, secular republic doesn’t suit the notions of the orthodox Catholic population of Madden?

The male characters in this novel are well drawn and well realised. I particularly enjoyed the character of Bishop Stanislaus Benedict, who I was feared was going to be yet another in a long line of Irish Catholic Priests I have read recently, upon whose malevolent shoulders rests every ill in Ireland since the marriage of Aoife and Strongbow. Instead, he reveals himself as a very complex, well developed character, with his own history of suffering, and a large dollop of compassion, although administered severely, and tempered with the morals and mores of his time. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church is the villain in this novel, but the character of the Churchman himself is nuanced and sensitive.

There are really only three female characters, unless we count the deceased mother of Lennon, and I think it’s understandable, given the nature and the topic of the novel that there are more men than women. I like the put-upon housekeeper in the Parochial House, she’s bursting with authenticity. The contrast between the two other females is rather too black-and-white.

I learned a lot from this book, in a very enjoyable way. There is a plethora of fiction relating to the 1916 rising, and to the Civil War, but this is the first novel I have read dealing specifically with the period of ratcheting tension prior to the War of Independence. Although Victor sometimes speaks a lot of exposition, and occasionally speaks like a political pamphlet, I can’t think of any other way that so much political history and background could have been included in a work of fiction, and I know I benefitted from having certain elements of the backstory explicitly explained, even if it made the dialogue occasionally clunky.

Highly recommended.

Publisher details for After the Lockout Here

 

Orla McAlinden is an Irish writer and book fanatic. Her debut collection of short stories The Accidental Wife will be published by Sowilo Press, Philadelphia in August 2016 and her novel The Flight of the Wren was chosen for presentation at the Greenbean Novel Fair, 2016. Orla is the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Emerging Writers Bursary. and blogs about books and writing at www.orlamcalinden.com