The Vertical Plane by Ken Webster

the vertical plane

There is a podcast I love called This Paranormal Life. In it, one ‘paranormal investigator’ presents this weeks case to the other, full of whatever evidence they can find, to the other. These two guys are absolutely hilarious, and this comedy podcast presents the world’s weirdest and wackiest paranormal cases, which whilst hilarious and first to make fun of it, is also seriously interested in its topic.

Anyway, this is where I heard about this book, and case, which was featured in a rare two part episode (part 1 here and part 2 here, or check your podcast provider). The Vertical Plane details a paranormal case that happened in England in the 1980s. The book was published in 1989 and went out of print, with prices fetching into the hundreds for it. As a result, the book was republished late last year.

The blurb for the book sets up the story quite well:

A unique supernatural detective story.

For a period of two years, Ken Webster found himself in the extraordinary position of corresponding directly with an individual who had lived on the site of his own cottage four centuries earlier. The correspondence began with messages left on his home computer on the kitchen table, and ended with communications scrawled directly onto paper. Fully prepared for some form of elaborate hoax, Webster found to his consternation that the language of the messages tallied precisely with 16th century English usage.

The Vertical Plane is a riveting personal experience of an inexplicable fault in the fabric of time – and a moving account of a relationship mediated across four hundred years.

This book is an in-depth account of this relationship, and the messages. Is it real? Who knows. The story is certainly a rollicking good read with twists and turns, and it is strangely moving – you can tell Ken and crew grow to view this person/hoax/paranormal event as a genuine friend, which makes it all the sadder that their time is limited. Throw in messages from the future which begin to happen later, and you get a really interesting account.

Recommended for those who like their stories weird and wonderful, and maybe, possibly, even true…

(and of course listen to the This Paranormal Life episodes!)


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.


Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

then she was gone


As a reluctant reader, I picked up this book expecting to lose interest a few chapters in but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Having thought of Lisa Jewell as a chick lit writer, I didn’t hold much hope for her first thriller. This book was a real page-turner for me, it’s a great story and is more than just a little bit disturbing. I’ll definitely be reading another of her books soon.

From the beginning I was hooked, all the characters are relatable, some are likeable and some aren’t. Poppy in particular really gave me the creeps! It got a little bit predictable in the second part of the story when we learn what happened to Ellie, but then went on to give us some more good twists and turns. The ending came as a bit of a shock to me and, as someone who usually spots a plot twist a mile away, that was a really nice treat!


She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long s THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Title #213

man of war

“A rollicking good ride.” –Jay Winik, bestselling author of April 1865

It’s the middle of a heat wave, and Charlie Schroeder is dressed in heavy clothing and struggling to row a replica eighteenth-century bateau down the St. Lawrence River. Why? Months earlier, Schroeder realized he knew almost nothing about history. But he wanted to learn, so the actor–best known for his role as Mr. Pussy on Sex and the City–spent a year reenacting it.

Man of War is Schroeder’s hilarious account of the time he spent chasing Celts in Arkansas, raiding a Viet Cong village in Virginia, and flirting with frostbite en route to “Stalingrad” in Colorado. Along the way, he illuminates just how much the past can teach us about the present.

Brilliant Book Titles #212

bring me the head

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

As a teenager, Cox dreamed of sporting immortality. For four years he devoted himself to the game of golf. And then, one day, he walked away. But as he got older, those dreams kept coming back. Perhaps it was turning thirty, perhaps it was having his first hole in one, but he decided it was time to start again, to live the dream for real.

So he switched off his computer, grabbed his checked trouser and headed for the golf course. To turn pro. The Open Championship was only five of the best rounds of his life away, and given a few warm-up tournaments, how hard could it be?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


The most important lesson you will learn from this book is to never be without your towel!  Hitch a ride around the surreal galaxy with plodding Earthman Arthur Dent. Be amazed by improbable starship “Heart of Gold” and disgusted by the dastardly Vogons.  Mostly be prepared to chuckle your way through the adventures of Arthur, Ford Prefect, Trillion and Zaphod Beeblebrox as they zoom through the marvellous imagination of Douglas Adams.

This is one of the most original and delightfully strange books I have ever read.  At this point it has become one of my go to books if I am in need of a boost.  Adams populates his galaxy with a whole host of memorable oddballs who you will be delighted to revisit many times.  So take a chance and most importantly, Don’t Panic!


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Poetry Collections to Watch Out For

Perennial by Kelly Forsythe (23 Aug 2018)
The events of 1999’s Columbine shooting preoccupy Forsythe in these poems, refracting her vision to encompass killer, victim, and herself as a girl, suddenly aware of the precarity of her own life and the porousness of her body to others’ gaze, demands, violence. Deeply researched and even more deeply felt, Perennial inhabits landscapes of emerging adulthood and explosive cruelty―the hills of Pittsburgh and the sere grass of Colorado; the spines of books in a high school library that has become a killing ground; the tenderness of children as they grow up and grow hard, becoming acquainted with dread, grief, and loss.

Circus by Dante Micheaux (15 Aug 2018)
Dante Micheaux’s superb poetic aptitude is wedded to an eually superb poetic amplitude. Intimate soliloquy, lyric address, and linguistic allegory merge with resonating voices and personae. This poem is masterful, paradoxical and spiritual. The “holiness in all its unholy rejoicing” is variously scored in Dante Micheaux’s commanding Circus.

I still stand by words I wrote almost twenty years ago, when I read Dante Micheaux’s poems for the first time: “I am impressed by the serious depth and masterful technique of Micheaux’s poems. He is a true man of the world, mature beyond his years, one whose voracious intelligence and richly diverse background uniquely equip him for the literary vocation. Circus promises to be received as a masterpiece reminiscent of the best of Melvin Tolson’s work, and some of Micheaux’s poems bear an a nity to the delicate music and wisdom of Robert Hayden. But Micheaux’s in uences are not limited to the stars of African American poetry; his experience and reading ranges wide. Dante Micheaux is a code-switcher fluent in many languages. Some of his lines bring this reader close to heartbreak.”

Dante Micheaux’s Circus commands the reader’s attention. In this long poem, each line is tuned by breath and image, serious play and heartfelt critiue, but also by the modern urban motifs of grief and love. At times, signifying can get us to a desperate truth. The reader or listener has to possess a sense of history in order to be transported to the here and now. In Circus, the borders between the imaginary and the real dissolve as the poem delivers us into verisimilitude.

Safe Danger by Stephen Zerance (15 Aug 2018)
safe danger.jpg
In Safe Danger, here comes a Stephen Zerance poem sashaying down the street: snakeskin tights, clean-shaven legs, black tee–why it could be Satan himself. It’s a far cry from the baggy khakis and extra large shirt Zerance’s father would have him wear, clothes sure to make him feel like a real man. No dice. Instead, Zerance has demons under his bed and phobias–mosquitos, bees, roaches, spiders, ticks–a veritable house of horrors, his pain and longing all the more powerful for their formal restraint. These are elegant poems, knife thin, taut and edgy.

The post-apocalypse is happening now and in Baltimore in the steamy, exciting poems of Stephen Zerance’s Safe Danger, in which the mythic is mashed against the everyday to produce a strange and intoxicating juice fermented with pieces of his own body and accented with notes of lyric intensity.

Stephen Zerance’s Safe Danger is an anxious book, a book about desire and dread, worry and wonder, about how it’s possible to fear what feeds us. These marvelously brutal poems speak the body always on the verge of its own undoing, the body that is “all meat, learning how to suffer.” A skillful debut: artfully written, painfully naked, and radically disruptive.

Playtime by Andrew McMillan
In these intimate, sometimes painfully frank poems, Andrew McMillan takes us back to childhood and early adolescence to explore the different ways we grow into our sexual selves and our adult identities. Examining our teenage rites of passage: those dilemmas and traumas that shape us – eating disorders, masturbation, loss of virginity – the poet examines how we use bodies, both our own and other people’s, to chart our progress towards selfhood.

McMillan’s award-winning debut collection, physical, was praised for a poetry that was tight and powerful, raw and tender, and playtime expands that narrative frame and widens the gaze. Alongside poems in praise of the naivety of youth, there are those that explore the troubling intersections of violence, masculinity, class and sexuality, always taking the reader with them towards a better understanding of our own physicality. ‘isn’t this what human kind was made for’, McMillan asks in one poem, ‘telling stories learning where the skin/is most in need of touch’. These humane and vital poems are confessions, both in the spiritual and personal sense; they tell us stories that some of us, perhaps, have never found the courage to read before.

Appetites by Charles Rafferty (30 July 2018)
Though it might not be yet apparent, what the world hungers for—not just the poetry world but all sentient beings—are the rapturous, precise, lyrical revelations in Charles Rafferty’s Appetites, a startling collection full of poems that chart desire through an abandoned couch transformed into redeeming ecstasy, that channel the “popcorned and sawdusty air” of the circus tent where folks gather to turn away from themselves, that show us the subversive art of souvenir-taking in the form of a sliver of Picasso’s signature smuggled under a fingernail, and that give us a “Prelude” for our time. In the vein of Stephen Dobyns and Denis Johnson, but ever original and even more expertly-crafted, Rafferty is a major American poet. If you don’t know his work yet, you owe yourself this chapbook.
—Ravi Shankar

Undeniable Attraction by J B Heller

undeniable attraction


Ivy is straight laced, orderly and responsible. She’s also in love with her boss, Gabe.

When Ivy started working for him at his private investigation firm three years ago she was instantly drawn to him.

He’s everything she’s not and everything she wants— rough, gritty, sexy and impulsive.
Ivy decides to make some changes in order to gain Gabe’s attention, but in doing so, she inadvertently draws the eye of an unwanted admirer.

Gabe is forced to take her and her rambunctious cousin, Tessa, into his home for their protection. But with Ivy in such close quarters Gabe’s resolve to stay away from the once shy beauty begins to dissolve at a rapid pace.


3 Falling for your Boss Stars

I picked this up as the 3rd book in the series was recommended to me and I never read books out of order. I just can’t… So I picked this up.

Gabe is your typical alpha male with a load of rough edges who doesn’t quite see what’s right in front of him. Well he is a man, however for the first 25% of this book I wanted to knock him on the head and tell him to cop on!

Ivy is seriously pissed off with her boss, she is tired of seeing him drowning his sorrows as he gets over his ex. She decides it’s time to let him see the real Ivy and she confesses how she really feels about him. This doesn’t have the immediate effect she had hoped.

I name my guns, so shoot me. Pun intended.

To be honest I felt there was something missing from this. It was very choppy and at times I felt lost, other times I felt, how is this happening so fast?! And where did this come from?! The collateral damage was really unexpected and really unnecessary. Also if someone called my friend who had my best interest at heart, “Bitch Face” I would not be impressed!! It just was so childish and not what I would want in a man at all!

This is a nice story but it was not on power of some of the books I’ve been reading lately and I was disappointed as Heller is a new author to me and I was looking forward to something new. I really don’t know if I will read the next books in the series.

Brilliant Book Titles #211

we are never meeting.jpg

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.


Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire.

With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette–she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”–detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms–hang in there for the Costco loot–she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

Brilliant Book Titles #210

the infernal desire.jpg

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman’s mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor’s daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the warping of time and space to be with her, as the Doctor reduces Desiderio’s city to a chaotic state of emergency – one ridden with madness, crime and sexual excess.

A satirical tale of magic and sex, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is a dazzling quest for truth, love and identity.

Refugee Real Stories series


The above is a wonderful series of Picture Books written by Andy Glynne and illustrated and designed by talented artists such as Salvador Maldonado, Tom Senior, Jonathan Topp, and Karl Hammond. These stories, which were originally produced as award-winning BAFTA animations for the BBC, reveal the real-life stories of refugee children and teenagers from Afganistan, Erithrea, Iran, Zimbabwe, and a country in Eurasia. The children in the stories above have fled their home countries and have undergone the traumatic experience of war and separation, of social violence and abuse, of forced displacement, of rejection and deportation, until they are fortunate to find refuge in a place that responds to their urgent need for emotional and social support, a place which they may eventually call home.

These 5 books are highly recommended to parents and to educators. They are written with an immense sensitivity to the impact that these issues may have to primary school pupils who had themselves been once forced to flee their home countries (or whose parents had undergone a similar traumatic experience), but also to children who are unfamiliar with the realities of the refugees and the asylum seekers.

Indeed, this series of books is a perfect educational tool for informing primary school pupils about the harsh realities of the refugee crisis, for developing intercultural understanding and for promoting an education that encourages, supports, and cultivates a democratic and empathic experience for pupils.


You can reserve these books on South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.