Posts Tagged ‘ Books ’

The Spinning Heart By Donal Ryan-A Brief Introduction

donalryanThe Spinning Heart is Donal Ryan’s first published novel. Set in a small town in rural Ireland circa 2010, it gives voice to the confusion and uncertainty felt by twenty one different characters in a period of great upheaval in their lives. In many ways, the book is a fictional chronicle of the living present as it delves deep into the people and place it aims to describe.

As the reader of these stories you may feel like the local parish priest sitting in a confession box, or a therapist with a notepad on your lap, as it is unclear who the characters are speaking to. Either way, you will discover the innermost thoughts of a variety of characters yet find they are not all too dissimilar from each other. Bobby Mahon can’t “find the words” to talk to his wife. Réaltín tries to hide her “lonely life”. Brian doesn’t want to be the “tragic figure” of an unemployed young man going abroad. They are all caught in a difficult time in their life and are always regretting the past and looking to the future. Continue reading

Why Ross Is Still The Boss, Roysh.


Ross O’Carroll Kelly has entertained us for so long now, so what better way to spread some festive cheer by charting some of his most memorable quotes. There’s a few Christmas crackers in here.

I end up letting her believe we’re, like, an item, but I tell her that if we’re going to, like, give this thing a proper crack, we’re going to have to be PONPA for the time being, as in Private Only, No Public Appearances, just because of all the pressure that’s going to come on us from all sides, bullshit bullshit bullshit. I don’t know how I keep a straight face sometimes She was pretty alroysh looking, I have to say, went out three or four times and got on fine, until this one particular day, roysh, when we were driving back to her gaff after being at the cinema and she said those dreaded words: I don’t believe in sex before marriage. I basically told her to get the fock out of the cor. Don’t get me wrong, roysh, I pulled over first. She was there, Ross, I live miles from here.? And I was loike, There’s a bus stop over there. Use it. Continue reading

Parent Taming: A Tot’s Eye View Of The Formative Years

parent taming

Parent Taming is a parenting manual with a fairly significant and not-so-subtle difference; it’s written entirely from a child’s perspective. And what a child. Ryan James Stickebachher is a self-styled baby guru and, indeed, guru baby. His opinion? “When you’re a baby you gotta rely on your household staff to get you everything you want. The problem is, they think they know better than you. So you gotta break ‘em in.” And in Parent Taming – The Several Habits of Highly Successful Babies: 0-2 the Early Years, Ryan shares his secret techniques about how to do just that. Continue reading

Forgotten Side Of Society To Be Examined In New Book


Artists Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix have collaborated to produce a photo-essay that has urban exploration – or Urbex – at its heart. Urbex is an artistic concept that focuses on the exploration of architectural structures – sometimes derelict buildings, sometimes unfamiliar aspects of other man-made buildings. Their book, “States of Decay”, journeys through forgotten hotels, desolate transport hubs, abandoned asylums, derelict houses of worship and industrial monoliths to tell a fascinatingly atmospheric story. Continue reading

Book Review: Pandemonium (Delirium #2)

paFollowing the devastating cliffhanger at the end of Delirium, Lauren Oliver returns with the eagerly anticipated sequel Pandemonium which surges the story forward and shows two polarized worlds on the brink of revolution.

This books switches between “Then” and “Now” conveying Lena’s story after she escaped past the barrier and into The Wilds at the end of Delirium.

The “Then” chapters focus on Lena’s arrival in The Wilds, where she is nurtured back to health by Raven and her group of Invalids – that is, those that are “uncured” or infected by the disease of love – and forced to reach deep within herself and call upon her inner survivalist in order to stay alive. The Wilds are wholly different to the world she once knew and she struggles on a daily basis with the thoughts of never seeing her family, her best friend Hana, or her lover Alex again. But to keep her momentum and hope alive, she settles on the fact that this is what she and Alex wanted: freedom; the option to make her own decisions and decide her own path. However, she soon comes to realize that her ideal of freedom is much more warped than she ever could imagine and life in The Wilds is not as perfect as she once thought it to be. Continue reading

Film Review: The Host

Film adaptations of popular books are a regular occurrence in the world of cinema nowadays but oftentimes, aspects of the book fail to make the connection when on the big screen.  Andrew Nicholls’ attempt at transferring Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling book The Host onto the big screen suffers from this particular problem.

The Host is set in a time where Earth has been invaded by aliens – known as souls – that inhabit the bodies of humans, indicated by their glowing eyes. Humans are believed to be destructive creatures hell-bent on destroying the planet through warring and violence, and the souls’ solution to this is to take over the bodies in order to make the world a more peaceful place. Continue reading

Book Review: Delirium

Though the number of dystopian novels is on the rise, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium breaks through the mould and redefines itself as a love story first and foremost set to a dystopian background. The world in which Delirium is set plays its formidable part in the story but underneath that world lays burning questions about love and how it is perceived in the real world, away from fiction.

‘It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected the cure’ is the opening line of this book and immediately thrusts us into the world of Delirium. To the people of this world, love – or amor deliria nervosa as it is known – is something that needs to be eradicated. It is a danger that causes chaos, instability and ultimately, death. Continue reading

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

beautiful-creatures_high-res1When it comes to the lucrative Young Adult genre, it would seem that the supernatural theme is still a major presence. The success of the Twilight Saga sparked a revolution of sorts with vampires, werewolves, witches and ghosts which have become more popular now than they have been in years and thus, from this comes a series of books known as the Caster Chronicles; a four-book collection dealing with the relationship between Mortal Ethan Wate and Caster  Lena Duchannes. Continue reading

The Seven Cookbooks Of Christmas

Cookbooks make great Christmas presents and stocking fillers, they are bright and have the most beautiful pictures that could send even the most kitchen-fearing member of your family running for the flour and eggs! However, often there are so many cookbooks in a bookshop that, unless you are a foodie at heart, you can be left feeling overwhelmed and perhaps grab the nearest you see, which could lead to disappointment on the present receiver’s part! My guide to cookbooks is based around the notion that Irish cookbooks are the best to buy, not only because in Ireland today it is essential to buy local and buy Irish but also you eliminate the risk of lack of produce that may be widely available in Britain or Europe but have not quite reached our shores yet. Often Irish cookbooks will tell you which fruits and veg are in season and when which is very helpful as you are using a recipe in which you know the ingredients will be fresh, in season and readily available! Have a look at some of the cookbooks below and you will see there is one for everybody in your family! And remember, always buy local and buy Irish!

For the Sweet-Tooth

Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe has become a welcome and permanent fixture on our bookshelves. Her recipes are simple, well-informed and easy to follow.“Cake” is absolutely no exception. The photos in the book are bright and beautiful, a welcome addition to any home cook’s bookshelf!  Buy this for the sweet-tooth in your life and you could be receiving baked goods for life, result!


For Granny 

I know exactly what you are thinking; my granny would never give up her own recipes to follow anybody else’s but this book, written by the Countrywomen’s Association contains all things traditional and loving that even the most precise and pernickety or grandmother’s will appreciate!


For the Italian Foodie

I’m not sure about you but I absolutely love seeing Catherine Fulvio on her tv show; she is bright, bubbly, smiley and her recipes are easy to follow whilst her authentic Italian creations are greatly inspired by the Irish landscape and produce around her in the beautiful Ballyknocken. This cookbook won’t disappoint and has lots of simple, delicious and hearty Italian recipes for you to try at home!


For Dad

Men love hearty and wholesome food, yes,I hear you, they also love to eat apple pie, but only those of you lucky to own one of those men will rarely see them faffing around with pastry. This book, “Surf’n’Turf” by Shanahan and Flynn will engage the male cook through its hearty and fulfilling recipes. There is even a pint of Guinness on the front cover, if that doesn’t make them turn the page, nothing will so just stick with the socks for Christmas!


For the Vegetarian

Café Paradiso is one of the most beautiful and amazing restaurants in Cork city. The things that thechefs can do with vegetarian food is truly a treat and this cookbook means you open up the world of awe-inspiring vegetarian cooking in Café Paradiso to the veggie in your life who is sick of the same old veggie risotto! This book is haute-cuisine vegetarian at its very best.


For your Brother

Donal Skehan has had a successful year, starring in both his own RTÉ show and on Junior Masterchef. Having come to attnetion through his cooking blog and offered a book deal and subsequently approached by RTÉ it is safe to say this boy is going places. However, one look at his simple, easy to follow and delicious looking recipes leave no question as to why he has come so far and will continue to do so!


For the Yummy-Mummy

Sheila Kiely’s book “Gimme the Recipe” is designed for busy schedules and a hectic lifestyle. They are tried and tested by herself (a mother to six children!). If anybody knows how important it is to feed your family nutritious, healthy food under time and work constraints, it’s Sheila! So, for the busy working mother in your life why not get this! The colourful, clear and bright pictures add a beautiful touch to a very popular cookbook.


The Perks Of Being A Wallflower…

Based upon the critically acclaimed book of the same name by author Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Perks) first published in 1999 and released on the big screen here in Ireland today is undoubtedly one of the best teen movies of all time. Yes, really. Foregoing the kind of condescension so typical of the teen genre Perks tells the story of a quiet and somewhat troubled high school freshman called Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) and his yearlong journey to find himself. This journey he completes with the help of a lovable group of outcasts and one particularly caring English teacher (Paul Rudd) who sees something special in Charlie and quickly becomes his mentor…

Although bright, caring and loyal Charlie enters high-school a friendless and shy loner with poor social skills. Naturally, it is not long before we learn that Charlies “difficulties” stem from the fact that he has been carrying some pretty heavy baggage around with him since his seventh birthday when his favourite aunt (played in flashbacks by Melanie Lynsky) died in a car crash – a tragedy which he cannot help but feel partially responsible for. Sadly that is not all that has gone wrong for Charlie and he is still struggling to come to terms with the recent suicide of his best or rather his only friend. What is it they say, when it rains it pours? Just when it seems the kid is destined to live out his remaining 1,385 days of high-school (Yes, he’s started a countdown!) in total anonymity, a fate we know can even be worse than constant ridicule from classmates – at least then you’re on the map – things take a turn at a school sporting event.

Having plucked up the courage to sit beside and introduce himself to an outgoing, funny and gay senior by the name of Patrick (The sensational Ezra Miller who played Tilda Swintons psycho son in We Need To Talk About Kevin) from his school shop class Charlie makes his very first friend. It is through Patrick that he is introduced to Sam (Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame) another senior with a reputation for being somewhat promiscuous – You needn’t have read the book to see where this one is going folks! With this begins the greatest adventure of Charlies life thus far as he is taken under the wing of these seniors and becomes acquainted with the finer points of adolescence such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, cool bands (truly the films soundtrack which features numbers from the likes of Pavement and Cracker is just sublime!) drugs, style and of course romantic and sexual relationships.

While the movie does of course get many things right (hence its opening to rave reviews in America) one of Chbosky and Co.s greatest achievements is the way in which they manage to capture the excitement that goes hand in hand with the wet yourself like fear of being a newcomer to a crew of older, infinitely cooler and seemingly self possessed role models. Starting off as a sort of surrogate brother we see Charlie become a sort of repository for the groups deepest and darkest secrets and eventually a fully fledged and truly loved member of the gang. Watching the groups friendship deepen and strengthen over time Chbosky somehow manages to make us, the viewers, feel as if we too are becoming beloved members of the group. Now, when people say this kind of thing I’m usually the first to dismiss it with a cynical wave of the hand and a “Yeah Yeah” but believe me, you will get sucked in, and you will become invested in these characters and their respective stories no matter how hard you try to resist. Despite drawing attention to all that teenage angst and hardship this is one of those movies that will leave you feeling nostalgic for a time when making mixed tapes (or in my case CD’s) was your sole passion in life and a way to express all the goings on of your hormone-addled brain, a time when friendships meant the world to you and crushes were so intense you felt you would die if your feelings weren’t reciprocated! Certainly this is one of those rare films that could potentially achieve the legendary like status of others such as The Breakfast Club.

Despite being the films biggest star I have to say Emma Watson gave what was perhaps the weakest performance of the entire film. Naturally there are those who feel the actress has truly escaped her Harry Potter past in which she played Hermione Granger but it seems to me that the actress has yet to graduate as it were. Perhaps it’s just that I can’t see the super smart and clean living actress as the promiscuous dater of losers that is Sam or perhaps she was just concentrating too hard on getting that American accent just right but for some reason there was a disconnect. Whatever you do however, do not let that put you off as Logan Lerman gives a stellar performance as the young Charlie and Ezra Miller is a superb and scene stealing tour de force from start to finish!

While there are countless coming-of-age movies out there detailing the harsh realities shy kids and outcasts must face up to during adolescence not many can compare to Perks which can only be described as a heartrending and hauntingly honest production. Undoubtedly this comes as a result of Chboskys getting the oh-so-rare opportunity to direct this, the film version of his novel. As we all know there are countless horror stories out there about how beloved works are destroyed by uncaring and clueless directors and producers whose goal is to make a quick buck but with Chbosky directing this was never going to be an issue. As such his genuine affection for and understanding of the story, its setting and its characters shines through in every single scene. From the very beginning viewers get the sense that this undertaking was a real labour of love for the writer/director. Speaking to reporter Karen Durbin, Chobsky elaborates;

“Charlie was my guardian angel. In my mid twenties I went through a bad break up. It was so painful, I was either going a little crazy or I was going to write something. I’ll never forget it. It was a Saturday morning, and I woke up thinking about this boy and two older friends flying at night through Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnel. And I realised that I’d had the title The Perks of Being a Wallflower in my mind for years.”

Charlie, as it turns out soon became the guardian angel of many others. Beginning work on the film Chbosky told his cast and crew “Whatever you’re doing on this movie, you may also be saving a life” and no, he wasn’t exaggerating. Since the novels release over a decade ago the author has received a myriad of letters from readers the world over claiming that it has helped them to make it through the darker times ultimately saving their lives. Is it any wonder then that the director wanted so badly to make the film version of this beloved work a success? It was no longer about him alone, now he had an obligation to his fans and boy did he come through.

Leaving the theatre and stepping back into the light of day I felt both old and young all at once and so will you but there is nothing quite like the feeling you are left with, knowing as you walk away that you have just experienced something good, something raw, something real. Perhaps now Hollywood will finally realise that authors do in fact know a little something about their own work?  One can only hope!

P.S. Now based in Los Angeles with his wife and newborn baby, Chbosky is writing a second book. This one he describes as an emotional horror written in tribute to one of his favourite writers Mr Stephen King. Watch this space folks!