Brilliant Book Titles #31

Ah, those one word titles! Also, weirdly, I first heard of this book when one character recommends it to another in the HBO drama Six Feet Under.

stiff 2

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

What happens to your body after you have died? Fertilizer? Crash Test Dummy? Human Dumpling? Ballistics Practise?

Life after death is not as simple as it looks. Mary Roach’s Stiff lifts the lid off what happens to our bodies once we have died. Bold, original and with a delightful eye for detail, Roach tells us everything we wanted to know about this new frontier in medical science.

Interweaving present-day explorations with a history of past attempts to study what it means to be human Stiff is a deliciously dark investigations for readers of popular science as well as fans of the macabre.

The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde


I spotted this book as it was on the CBI Book of the Year awards shortlist and couldn’t wait to read it. The Wordsmith is set a future where the world is a very dangerous place, the environment has been destroyed, water is not safe to drink and wild animals run free.  Letta lives in the Ark and in a time where survival is paramount it is a safe haven. It was created by John Noa and to live there means to abide by the rules he imposes on society- no music, no dancing, no art, freedom of expression is not encouraged  and even words are controlled.

Letta is the Wordsmiths apprentice. The Wordsmith, Benjamin, produces the list of words that people are permitted to use as set down by John Noa. He also collects books and words to keep them safe so that they cannot be used by society in the ark. Only a chosen few can use words not on the prescribed list including the Benjamin and Letta. Benjamin disappears, a boy from outside the Ark turns up on the run and Letta finds out a terrible secret- John Noa has a plan to abolish language altogether.

This is a great story, full of suspense, I love that words are seen as important and powerful, that you must choose your words carefully and that they are seen as something to collect-not that they are restricted though!  The background to the story is also thought provoking, a world that has reverted back to nature, wolves roam free and conservation is on everyone’s minds. This dystopian young adult novel is a fantastic read, hoping there will be a sequel!


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

5 New Poetry Collections

ted hughes bestiary
A Ted Hughes Bestiary
(12 Jul 2016)
This selection of Ted Hughes’s poetry is arranged chronologically and brings together poems that embody animals, rather than just describe them. Some poems are here because, although not strictly speaking animal, they become so in the process of writing; and in keeping with the bestiary tradition there are plenty of imaginary animals – all concentratedly coming about their business.

half light
Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart (13 Jul 2016)
Gathered together, the poems of Frank Bidart perform one of the most remarkable transmutations of the body into language in contemporary literature. His pages represent the human voice in all its extreme registers, whether it’s that of the child-murderer Herbert White, the obsessive anorexic Ellen West, the tormented genius Vaslav Nijinsky, or the poet’s own. And in that embodiment is a transgressive empathy, one that recognises our wild appetites, the monsters, the misfits, the misunderstood among us and inside us. Few writers have so willingly ventured to the dark places of the human psyche and allowed themselves to be stripped bare on the page with such condor and vulnerability. Over the past half century, Bidart has done nothing less than invent a poetics commensurate with the chaos and appetites of our experience. Half-Light encompasses all of Bidart’s previous books, and also includes a new collection, Thirst, in which the poet austerely surveys his life, laying it plain for us before venturing into something new and unknown. Here Bidart, finds himself a “Creature coterminous with thirst,” still longing, still searching in himself, one of the “queers of the universe.” Visionary and revelatory, intimate and unguarded, Bidart’s collected works are a radical confrontation with human nature, a conflict eternally renewed and reframed, restless line by restless line.

Six by Julie Marie Wade (22 Aug 2016)
Why”SIX”?Because the collection is comprised of six poems.And because the perspective in this collection shifts like a kaleidoscope, each image viewable from six possible angles.And because these poems, like the prevalent hexagons of the natural world honeycombs, for instance derive strength from their compression and their accumulation. I call six times just to be sure you heard, this speaker announces on the first page.These poems are also the six calls calls to attention, calls to action, calls to account for something of our own.The speaker in”SIX”is insistent, scrupulous, and unflinching as she plumbs six essential aspects of human experience that have shaped us all: art, language, desire, vocation, faith, and life-changing love.

The Greatest Films by Faizal Deen (1 Sep 2016)
A gay poet deeply influenced by films, Faizal Deen attempts to retell a story of adoption and immigration through filmic language and through the violence of sharp edits and splices. He explores what it means to live in identities that are truncated and where, rather than mourn such slicings, individuals come to celebrate states of becoming something else entirely. There is, of course, a sadness to his poems, a melancholy and even states of madness, but there are acceptances of diasporic struggles, and for this poet those acceptances are the result of his sexuality, his desire to make art, and a curiosity about the ways in which the Caribbean and its signifiers might spill out into the larger world.

i must be living twice
I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems by Eileen Myles (13 Sep 2016)
A collection of thrilling verse, including both new poems and beloved favorites, from the celebrated poet, modern cult icon, and author of Chelsea Girls.

Eileen Myles work is known for its blend of reality and fiction, the sublime and the ephemeral. Her work opens readers to astonishing new considerations of familiar places, like the East Village in her iconic Chelsea Girls, and invites them into lush and sometimes horrid dream worlds, imbuing the landscapes of her writing with the vividness and energy of fantasy.

I Must Be Living Twice brings together selections from the poet s previous work with a set of bold new poems that reflect her sardonic, unapologetic, and fiercely intellectual literary voice. Steeped in the culture of New York City, Myles milieu, I Must Be Living Twice is a prism refracting a radical world and a compelling life.”

Diary of the Fall by Michael Laub

diary of the fall

This is an amazing and powerful book-which is truly a heart breaking read.

The story focuses on 3 generations from one family:

The narrator-who goes to an elite Jewish school-and is involved in a cruel prank which leaves the only Catholic student badly injured; his father who develops alzheimers and obsessively records every memory that comes to mind; and his Grandfather-an Auschwitz survivor- who also obsessively records things-in his attempt to forget Auschwitz.

The story/novel is written in the form of notes-each paragraph is numbered. This allows the author to move between characters and through different timelines.

I especially loved the start of this novel-which begins with the fall….. By the end of it can the narrator move forward and prevent future generations from falling??

In truth it’s not the kind of book I normally read-but I started & finished it in one sitting.

A definite thumbs up from me!

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

Brilliant Book Titles #30

You all know I love subtitles, but this is hands-down my favourite subtitle of a book ever (and the book itself is great!)

exile in guyville

Here’s the diary of a man who in mid-life found himself uprooted and dumped into West Hollywood, an unfamiliar place not exactly known for stability. White explores his neighborhood ? “queens: 6 percent; cranky 70-year-old Russians who give you the evil eye when you walk past: 2 percent; blonde girls with big, round, hard fakeys who think Jennifer Anniston just got lucky: 10 percent; miscellaneous cool kids, hustlers, and actual crazy people: 5 percent.”

White gets gigs as a freelance writer, goes to the grocery store where his Russian neighbors ask him questions because they think he’s from the old country; and encounters Sara Gilbert at the Laundromat, Leonard Maltin at the movies, and Ben Affleck driving a Rolls-Royce so ridiculously conspicuous he might as well be driving Chitty-Chitty, Bang-Bang.

What began as weekly diaries emailed to out-of-state family and friends evolved into a blog called “Dave White Knows” and in 2003 became a monthly column in Instinct called “Exile in Guyville.” Alyson Books now presents White’s blogs in expanded form with loads of new material that will be even more irritating to the Instinct readers who didn’t like his column. “They requested more fashion and skin-care features in its place, which makes me kind of proud.”

Dave White is a freelance journalist specializing in music. His reviews and features have been seen in E! Online, IFILM, LA Weekly, Dallas Observer, Instinct, The Advocate, Glue, Cybersocket, Total Movie,Unzipped, and Frontiers. White lives in West Hollywood with his boyfriend, the Morocco Mole, and is locally esteemed as the “King of Pancakes.”

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

Brilliant Book Titles #29


scarlet's women

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

One of the most successful books ever published and the basis of one of the most popular and highly praised Hollywood films of all time, Gone With the Wind has entered world culture in a way that few other stories have.

Seventy-five years on from the cinematic release of Gone with the Wind, Helen Taylor looks at the reasons why the book and film have had such an appeal, especially for women.

Drawing on letters and questionnaires from female fans, she brings together material from southern history, literature, film and feminist theory and discusses the themes of the Civil War and issues of race. She has previously written Gender, Race and Region in the writings of Grace King, Ruth McEnery Stuart and Kate Chopin and The Daphne Du Maurier Companion.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

when breath becomes ir

This book has had phenomenal sales worldwide, since it’s publication in January 2016.

Paul Kalanithi was a 35 year old neurosurgeon with the world at his feet and a glittering future ahead, when  he was stopped in his tracts by a diagnosis of terminal cancer. This  book, published posthumously, is the record of his journey towards the inevitable and while this sounds like a gloomy book, it is anything but.

Kalanithi was clearly an immensely talented man, having majored in English and Biology before turning to medicine. His story will grip you and refuse to let go, told in elegant, language that soars to heights of power and wonder. One of the most striking features of his account is the degree to which he gains comfort and meaning form literature, this is rarely so evident in a man of science, but then Paul Kalanithi was a very rare and unique individual.

Be aware that when you read this book, it will remain with you and resonate with your own personal quest, to come to terms with your own mortality and the meaning of your life.

The book is enhanced by an epilogue written by Paul’s wife, Lucy and a forward by Abraham Verghese, author of “Cutting For Stone” In between these “bookends”, is a story like you never heard before, heartbreakingly sad, moving and life affirming, all at once.

Read it.

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

Also, this post is our 100th post!


5 New Humour Books

how to be miserable
How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J Paterson
(30 Jun 2016)
There are stacks upon stacks of self-help books that will promise you love, happiness, and a fabulous life. But how can you pinpoint the exact behaviors that cause you to be miserable in the first place? Sometimes when we’re depressed, or just sad or unhappy, our instincts tell us to do the opposite of what we should-such as focusing on the negative, dwelling on what we can’t change, isolating ourselves from friends and loved ones, eating junk food, or overindulging in alcohol. Sound familiar?

This tongue-in-cheek guide will help you identify the behaviors that make you unhappy and discover how you and only you-are holding yourself back from a life of contentment. You’ll learn to spot the tried-and-true traps that increase feelings of dissatisfaction, foster a lack of motivation, and detract from our quality of life-as well as ways to avoid them.

So, get ready to live the life you want (or not?) This fun, irreverent guide will light the way.

Dont go to jail
Don’t Go To Jail! by Saul Goodman (13 Jul 2016)
There are some crazy laws out there. Did you know that in New Mexico there’s a law that says “idiots” can’t vote? Or that Massachusetts still has a ban on Quakers and witches? Or that in Georgia it’s illegal to put a donkey in a 1 bathtub? Even if you’re not bathing a donkey (and hey, if you are, no judgment from me!), you could be breaking the law right now and not even know it. That’s why you need Don’t Go to Jail. Now, you can carry the advice of a seasoned legal practitioner with you anywhere you go, helping you to stay out of the courts and in the good graces of the criminal j justice system. Want to be your own attorney? Want to avoid getting hauled in on a warrant? Want to find an explanation for the baggie of “your friend’s” marijuana the cops found in your car? Here’s your chance to get this and much more indispensable legal advice, and all for much less than my hourly fee.

the joy of leaving
The Joy of Leaving Your Shit All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy
(15 Jul 2016)
The anti-clutter movement is having a moment. You may have heard about a book-an entire book-written on the topic of tidiness and how “magical” and “life-changing” it is to neaten up and THROW AWAY YOUR BELONGINGS. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s time to fight that ridiculousness and start buying even more stuff and leaving it any place you want. Guess what, neatniks? Science shows that messy people are more creative.* Being a slob is an art, and there’s a fine line between being a consumer and being a hoarder. Don’t cross that line. This book shows you how to clutter mindfully and with great joy. The results are mind-blowing. Your plants will stop dying. Your whiskey bottle will never run dry. Your drugstore points will finally add up to a free jar of salsa and some nice shampoo. You’ll go shopping and discover you’ve lost weight…It’s time to take back your life from the anti-clutter movement. *As well as smarter and more attractive.

Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump (11 Aug 2016)
Those not enthralled with Donald Trump’s ascendance have been shocked and appalled by it — and taken by surprise. Not Garry Trudeau, who honed in early, relentlessly and deftly highlighting The Donald’s profound character flaws since 1987.  It’s all there – the arrogance and narcissism, the callowness and sexism, the rudeness and condescension, the coarsening of public discourse; and a good portion of the Doonesbury cast has been tangled up in it.  Join Duke, Honey, Earl, J.J., Mike, Mark, Roland, Boopsie, B.D., Sal, Alice, Elmont, Sid, Zonker, Sam, Bernie, Rev. Sloan, and even Red Rascal as they cross storylines with the big, orange airhorn who’s giving the GOP such fits: Donald J. Trump.

sad animal facts
Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker (8 Sep 2016)
A delightfully quirky compendium of the Animal Kingdom’s more unfortunate truths, with over 150 hand-drawn illustrations to make you laugh and cry.

Have you ever wondered how expensive a jar of honey would be if a minimum wage for bees applied, or whether a dog cares what’s on television when they sit next to you? Once you enter Brooke Barker’s world, you’ll never see animals in the same way again.

This melancholy menagerie pairs the sweet and sad facts of animal life with their hilarious thoughts and reactions. Sneakily informative, and beautifully illustrated, this the perfect book for animal lovers (and haters) everywhere.


Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


heroes are my weakness

The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine. 
A man. 
A woman. 
A sinister house looming over the sea … 
He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs. 
But she’s not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they’re trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes. 
It’s going to be a long, hot winter

I just Love Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I had heard that this was a little different then her other books but really it had a quirky heroine and a brooding hot main man sure what else do you need! Oh yeah a dark hot story line 🙂

I absolutely adored the writing and the gothic setting. The mystery aspect, both about the tragic family past and the present issue of “who wants Annie out of the island”, were very well done. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is no mystery writer but she sure kept me in the dark the whole story.

I loved this book so much and as always wait with bated breath for her next one!

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

Brilliant Book Titles #28

Although I’m not a fan of the band (I still hold a grudge against what they did to Napster, #neverforget), I really like this title.


birth school

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

Metallica have sold in excess of 100 million albums and won seven Grammys. Their journey from scuzzy Los Angeles garages to the stages of the world’s biggest stadia has been an epic and often traumatic one, and one of the few truly great rock ‘n’ roll sagas.

No music writers have been afforded greater access to Metallica over the years than Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood, two former editors of Kerrang. Having conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with the band, they have between them gained an unparalleled knowledge of the group’s history and an insiders’ view of how their story has developed: they have ridden in the band’s limos, flown on their private jet, joined them in the studio, been invited to the quartet’s ‘HQ’ outside San Francisco and shared beers and stories with them in venues across the globe. There are countless memorable stories about the band never before seen in print, tales of bed-hopping and drug-taking and car-crashes and fist-fights and back-stabbing that occur when you mix testosterone and adrenaline, alcohol and egomania, talent and raw ambition.

Perceptive, emotionally attached, and intellectually rigorous, Birth, School, Metallica, Death will be the essential and definitive story of this extraordinary band. Volume I takes us from the band’s inception through to the recording and eve of release of their seminal, self-titled, 1991 album.