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Book Review – I Wanted To Be Close To You by Katie Oliver

I Wanted To Be Close To You by Katie Oliver is a collection of darkly humorous and sharply written short stories exploring the female experience in particular, written at a snappy pace that perfectly suits their short length. In fact, these stories are so short – some merely a page long – that they emerge…

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Interview – Paper Visual Art

At a time when the Irish cultural scene is alive and kicking with predominantly literary journals, PVA is an initiative which has carved out a very special place of its own. With its origins as an art journal, it has since evolved into a space where contributions on visual art, contemporary culture and literature sit…

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Book Review – Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

One time we had the whole world in our hands, but we ate it and we burned it and it’s gone now.  Written in 1966, Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison is a novel that merges science fiction and the dystopian with detective story and a little bit of a love story thrown in…

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Book Review- I, Antigone by Carlo Gébler

It’s fair to say that most stories are never as straightforward as they might initially seem, and we seem to be living in a heyday of readapted and reimagined stories from antiquity, with a focus on revealing new perspectives and unleashing unheard, or even silenced, voices. Inevitably, the female voice is now often placed centre…

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Book Review – The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo

The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo, billed as a classic Japanese murder mystery, is a tale about a family fortune, a family feud and family secrets, revolving around the explosive, divisive and extremely complex will left by Sahei Inugami, patriarch of the Inugami Clan. When Detective Kindaichi gets a tip-off that the old man has…

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Book Review – South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami is a story of childhood soulmates, who drift apart in adolescence before meeting again years later. Hajime, our narrator, and Shimamoto meet as children and, as two rare only children in their neighbourhood, they naturally develop a bond; but, as time progresses, this bond…

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End of Reading Challenge

The 20 Books of Summer 22 reading challenge, instigated by Cathy at 746books.com, has come to a close for another year and, while I didn’t read all 20 from my original list, this was the most I have read in years and I enjoyed it so much that I have every intention of keeping it…

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Book Review – How to Gut a Fish by Sheila Armstrong

How to Gut a Fish by Sheila Armstrong is a strange and sharp collection of short stories, that packs so much into a small book. The stories are so different, the main unifying element being a foray into the unsettling and the jarring. There are stories where things may or may not have happened; or…

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Book Review – The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan is a sharply spun tale from an unnamed Irish town, resonating with familiar societal elements yet crafted with care so that each story gains unique significance and emotional depth. Told from an array of different perspectives – men, women and children, of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances – this…

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Book Review – Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura is a magical but ultimately profound tale that weaves Japanese culture and tradition, fantasy and Western fairytales with a meditation on the complexities and pressures of adolescence.  Kokoro has been staying home from school, following a traumatic incident, as she weighs up the option of transferring to…

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Book Review – The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan

The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan is a tender and poignant multigenerational story about the Aylward women from a small, rural village in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. These are women who have known heartbreak, tragedy and judgement, and yet they love so fiercely, fight on in life, and hold each other up; and it’s…

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Book Review – Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan

We are ourselves, and we are also stories people tell.  Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan is a reimagining of the classic Irish fairy tale The Children of Lir. When Aífe’s imposed marriage to her dead sister’s widower, King Lir, dissolves into a state of unhappiness, Aífe enacts a cruel revenge by condemning her stepchildren…

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Book Review – The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

No more regrets for what I haven’t done. Now only regrets for what I have done.  The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller is a story that expands on a pivotal 24 hours in our narrator Elle Bishop’s present, by slowly revealing 50 years of her past that starkly illuminate how she came to this…

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Book Review – Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

My name is Calla and I wanted to choose.  In a world where a key element of a woman’s fate is decided by a crude, ticketed lottery system, Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh is the story of one woman’s rebellion against this imposed destiny, compelled by a dark and powerful driving force within her.  In…

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Book Review – The Raptures by Jan Carson

I think it’s safe to say that Jan Carson is now one of my go-to authors from this island; I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far, The Fire Starters in particular, and with The Raptures she’s done it again with a story that is gripping, thought-provoking and downright enjoyable to read, despite the…

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Dance Move by Wendy Erskine, a short story collection

Book Review – Dance Move by Wendy Erskine

Dance Move by Wendy Erskine is a collection of short stories that brings to life a broad and varied cast of characters, each trying to move forwards in their lives. Binding these stories together is the profound impact that moments in our past can have, either shaping how our lives have progressed or simply resurfacing…

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Book Review – Wunderland by Caitríona Lally

Wunderland by Caitríona Lally is a wonderfully conjured portrait of two siblings, each with their own quirks and each struggling with life in their own way. Roy has been swiftly and quietly exiled to Germany, after some rumoured scandal back home in Ireland, to work in Hamburg’s miniature model railway world. Gert, one of his…

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Book Review – Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell

Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell is a short story collection exploring the experiences of young women trying to make their way in this world. The cover design by Jack Smyth now seems particularly apt. These are particular women, yet these could be any woman; the stories detail experiences which are often both personal and, at their…

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Book Review – Of Sunshine and Bedbugs by Isaac Babel

Of Sunshine and Bedbugs: Essential Stories by Isaac Babel is a newly curated collection of stories by Russian author Isaac Babel (1894 – 1940), translated into English by Boris Dralyuk, that draws from previous collections of his stories also translated by Dralyuk. This collection opens with a new and enlightening foreword by Dralyuk, as well…

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Book Review – The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is a beautiful and captivating novel about love and loss, identity and displacement, devastation and renewal. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, the story spans several points in time across almost half a century, taking us from war-torn Cyprus of the 1970’s to London of the late 2010s.…

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Book Review – Fight Night by Miriam Toews

Fight Night by Miriam Toews is an exuberant and compelling story about three generations of women, living together in a house in Toronto which is loud, chaotic and full of cursing but, at its heart, brimming with love.  Our nine-year-old narrator Swiv lives with pregnant Mom and elderly Grandma. When Swiv is expelled from school…

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20 Books of Summer ’22

The Challenge 20 Books of Summer is an annual online reading challenge hosted by Cathy Brown of 746books.com, whereby you select a list of 20 books (a great way to make a dent in that ever-growing TBR pile) that you will read, and review, within the time frame (June 1 – September 1 2022). This…

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Book Review – Actress by Anne Enright

Actress by Anne Enright is a beautifully conjured portrait of the life of Katherine O’Dell, fictional star of the stage and screen, as told by her daughter Norah. As Norah is coming to terms with the more difficult later years of her mother’s life, and is approached by a student looking to tell Katherine’s story…

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Book Review – Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney is a story of intertwining and shifting friendships and relationships, infatuation, self-discovery, and learning to navigate unexpected emotions. College students Frances and Bobbi, now friends but once in a relationship, meet charismatic journalist and photographer Melissa, who becomes interested in their spoken word performances, and begins inviting them to…

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Book Review – A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

When 12-year-old Ellen Gallagher and her mother get into a heated argument on the drive home one night, along a dark and desolate road, a snap decision made by the mother is to have consequences that will reverberate, through their own family and their little community, for the rest of that summer. A Crooked Tree…

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Interview – —Love, says Bloom curated by Nuala O’Connor

—Love, says Bloom, is a new exhibition at MoLI (Museum of Literature Ireland), celebrating the love at the heart of the Joyce family. Irish writer James Joyce, his wife Nora Barnacle, and their children Giorgio and Lucia faced many hardships in their life together, but also shared a deep love and devotion to each other.…

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Book Review – The Last Resort by Jan Carson

The Last Resort is a collection of ten linked short stories by Jan Carson, each focusing on the existential plight of one of the residents staying at Seacliff Caravan Park. Far from the idyllic sun and laughter filled caravan parks of happy childhood summers, Seacliff is huddled at the edge of a remote, blustery cliff…

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