We’re now a FINALIST for Best Arts & Culture Blog of the Year!



First we were shortlisted, and now BALLYROAN READS is one of seven finalists for Best Arts & Culture (Corporate) Blog of the Year! We are absolutely delighted!

You can view the Corporate Finalists here and the Personal Finalists here.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us in the public vote!

And, my colleague Eleanor, who runs YAPS (on her own!) a library blog aimed at young adults/teenagers, is also a finalist in the same category!

Next step is us dusting off our glad rags for the circus themed Awards Ceremony on the 15th September *eek*. Can’t wait!


5 New Young Adult Novels to Watch Out For

iron cast
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
(11 Oct 2016)
It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths those afflicted with the ability to create illusions through art captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny s crowds, and by day they con Boston s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realises how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron s hires are shot and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray s The Diviners.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (13 Oct 2016)
Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter and Nik Malikov is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Together they struggle with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, blissfully unaware that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall with news of the Kerenza invasion.

Picking up about five minutes after Illuminae ends, Gemina is the electrifying sequel to the hottest YA novel of 2015.

Nemesis by Anna Banks (13 Oct 2016)
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponise it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his a grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude. Tarik has just taken over ruler ship of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face to face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined. Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

WhatLight - cover
What Light by Jay Asher (20 Oct 2016)
Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon – it’s an idyllic place for a girl to grow up, except that every year they have to pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other. . .

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike (15 Nov 2016)
From #1 “New York Times” bestselling author Aprilynne Pike comes a truly original new novel “Breaking Bad” meets Marie Antoinette in a near-future world where the residents of Versailles live like it s the eighteenth century and an almost-queen turns to drug dealing to save her own life.
Outside the palace of Versailles, it s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it s the eighteenth century with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls is one risk she has to take.”


Stoner by John Williams


Never has the title of a book been so misleading!

Published in 1965, Stoner managed to be as The New York Times described it in their 2006 classics review ‘ The Greatest American Novel you have never heard of’

This has all changed since it was reissued by Vintage and also Penguin Classics and in recent years it has topped best seller lists worldwide.

Stoner tells the life story of William Stoner, a young man from Missouri farming stock who heads off to University to study agriculture and instead falls head over heels in love with literature and thus sets off on a journey into Academia. We follow him through a life peppered with disappointment throughout.

Now here is why Stoner fully deserves all it’s praise. It is, quite frankly exquisite. Williams writes so sublimely and beautifully. If you were looking for a piece of elegant prose to quote, you could quite simply allow the book to fall open on any random page. William Stoner is a man who can look deeply into the tragedy’s of life and our human frailties and John Williams has crafted a character that makes me feel all manner of emotions. His writing is exquisite. I have reread this book many times as it is, simply put, perfect.

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

Brilliant Book Titles #40

stranger in the house

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

‘It is as if I have been waiting for someone to ask me these questions for almost the whole of my life’

From 1945, more than four million British servicemen were demobbed and sent home after the most destructive war in history. Damaged by fighting, imprisonment or simply separation from their loved ones, these men returned to a Britain that had changed in their absence.

In Stranger in the House, Julie Summers tells the women’s story, interviewing over a hundred women who were on the receiving end of demobilisation: the mothers, wives, sisters, who had to deal with an injured, emotionally-damaged relative; those who assumed their fiancés had died only to find them reappearing after they had married another; women who had illegitimate children following a wartime affair as well as those whose steadfast optimism was rewarded with a delightful reunion.

Many of the tales are moving, some are desperately sad, others are full of humour but all provide a fascinating account of how war altered ordinary women’s lives forever.

Brilliant Book Titles #39

friendship and other weapons

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

Long before most school programs begin anti-bullying campaigns, young girls are getting a full education in social aggression. Girls as young as age five are experiencing acts of bullying, disguised as friendship, that shake the carefully laid foundations of their self-image, personal values, and beliefs about peer relationships. Based on thought-provoking discussions, engaging games, strength-discovering exercises, and confidence-boosting fun, the hands-on activities in Friendship and Other Weapons build critical knowledge and friendship survival skills such as: Recognizing the Red Flags of Girl Bullying Responding Assertively to Bullying Behavior Realizing Personal Strengths Becoming an Ally to Others Facing Bullying Resolving Conflicts Directly Using Technology and Social Media Ethically This photocopiable resource book provides educators, social workers and counsellors with a complete, ready-to-use group curriculum to help young girls aged 5 11 build constructive and fulfilling friendships.

Patience by Daniel Clowes


Even by Clowes’ own estimation, he thought he’d spend maybe two years working on this book, and not the five it eventually took him (I’m, of course, avoiding the obvious joke given the title).

Patience is the story of Jack and his wife Patience, and what happens when he comes home one day to find Patience dead and later gets his hands on a time machine. Sounds kitsch, but it isn’t. It’s a beautiful book, full of heartbreak and longing, full of reliving one’s past, putting oneself at risk for someone else. I’ve read everything Clowes has every put out and more than anything this book seems to be a distillation of his entire oeuvre – part Ghost World, part Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, part David Boring, part The Death Ray, it’s parts of them all really, but so much more than the sum of them.

The thing that struck me the most is how human this book is, how heartfelt and real the emotions are, how we follow Jack’s desperate search to somehow save his already dead wife. And that’s a humanity that I felt was lacking in his previous couple of books, Wilson and Mister Wonderful.

A rumination on love and loss with some of Clowes’ most gorgeous and striking art. His mastery of the page, and the panel, clear in this book; little things like overheard speech are shown as partially visible speech bubbles – nothing new there, he’s been doing that for years – but his craft is quite breathtaking. The book really is something that defies easy summation but it has lodged in brain ever since I read it, and I find myself thinking it over – always the sign of a good book.

One of America’s finest cartoonists and this is very much the book he was always meant to write. I cannot recommend it enough.

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

patience back cover

5 New Thrillers to Watch Out For

cold killers
Cold Killers by Lee Weeks
(25 Aug 2016)
Eddie Butcher, one of four brothers from a notorious  East End family, is tortured and brutally murdered while visiting London from his home in Marbella. SIO Carter and DI Willis monitor his extravagant funeral in case Eddie’s violent brother Terry, under house arrest in Spain, tries to make an appearance. Terry is wanted for robbery, drug trafficking and murder – and the police strongly suspect he is even prepared to kill his own family to maintain his power.
What Carter hasn’t told all of his colleagues is that this family’s history is personal to him. More than ten years earlier, he was part of an operation that tried to trap Terry as he made his first big drugs deal. Carter was an undercover agent then, along with a female operative, Della. She and Carter were an item until she fell for Eddie Butcher and the case collapsed. She became Della Butcher – and now, a widow at the mercy of the remaining Butcher brothers, her life is in danger.
When Della offers Carter a chance to finally catch Terry, he knows he cannot refuse. But his reunion with Della comes at a heavy personal, and professional, cost – and Willis must protect them all as the Butcher family’s enemies close in, wanting money and revenge.

never never
Never Never by James Patterson (25 Aug 2016)
When Sydney police department sex crimes detective Harriet Blue is called into her boss’s office, she never imagined it would be to tell her that her brother is the prime suspect in the brutal murders of three women.

Shocked and in denial, Harry is transferred to Perth to avoid the media exposure this case will attract. Harry is sent into the outback – the never never – to investigate the disappearance of mine worker Danny Carter. The mining town is a seedy place, full of money and immoral ways to spend it. As Harry delves deeper into the murky lives of these miners, she finds that Danny isn’t the first to go missing.

closed casket.jpg
Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah (6 Sep 2016)
Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a co-ordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully-authorised Poirot novel. The new book will be published in 2016, which marks the centenary of the creation of Christie’s world-famous detective Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

the ice beneath her
The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe (8 Sep 2016)
NO ORDINARY PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER …For fans of Jo Nesbo and The Bridge, The Ice Beneath Her is a gripping and deeply disturbing story about love, betrayal and obsession that is impossible to put down. Fast-paced and peopled with compelling characters, it surprises at every turn as it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a twist you really won’t see coming …A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway. The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace. But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete? Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation. As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

stay dead
Stay Dead by Jessie Keane (8 Sep 2016)
Stay Dead is the heartstopping sixth book in Jessie Keane’s bestselling Annie Carter series.

Annie Carter finally believes that life is good.

She and Max are back together and she has a new and uncomplicated life sunning herself in Barbados. It’s what she’s always dreamed of.

Then she gets the news that her old friend Dolly Farrell is dead, and suddenly she finds herself back in London and hunting down a murderer with only one thing on her mind . . . revenge.

But the hunter can so quickly become the hunted, and Annie has been keeping too many secrets. She’s crossed and bettered a lot of people over the years, but this time the enemy is a lot closer to home and she may just have met her match . . .

Our Endless, Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

our endless

Our Endless Numbered Days starts with Peggy, a 17 year old who has recently returned to her family after many years and having obviously suffered some traumatic experience.  The book then flashes back 9 years where we meet 8 year old Peggy, her German pianist mother, Ute, and her survivalist father, James.  One evening while Ute is away on tour, James and Peggy take off.   Their destination is Die Hütte, the exact location of which is something of a mystery.  As we’re relying on Peggy to tell us what’s happening and as she has only a vague idea what’s happening herself, details are a bit hazy.  The world has been destroyed, James tells Peggy, your mother and everyone else is dead, we are the only people left.  And so, their tale of survival begins.

First the positive, I really did want to find out what exactly had happened to Peggy and James, how they managed and how Peggy ended up back home.  The structure of this novel works very well, with gaps in the past gradually being filled in.  I thought the plot was an interesting one with a lot of potential.  However, I did think the pacing was a little bit off as the downside to Peggy never knowing what day/month/year it is that the reader is somewhat at a loss as to where we are timewise also.  Peggy herself is a difficult character to warm to although her ordeal may have caused her to disassociate herself somewhat from her surroundings.  The plot is disturbing and the ending shocking if not altogether surprising.


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

Brilliant Book Titles #38

Came across this book this morning!

power dressing

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

Some find the constant scrutiny an unwelcome intrusion; others use fashion as their secret weapon. Whatever their views, women in politics know they will be judged by how they dress more than their male counterparts. In Power Dressing, fashion journalist Robb Young offers an engaging perspective on the ability of style to influence the careers of women politicians and first ladies. Concise thematic chapters are interspersed with profiles of more than 50 serving and former women presidents, prime ministers, MPs, royals and wives from over 30 countries, ranging from such contemporary figures as Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Queen Rania of Jordan to such iconic women as Eva Perón, Imelda Marcos and Margaret Thatcher. Featuring hundreds of photographs that shed light on political context, and quotes from prominent figures commenting on each woman s style, this fascinating book reveals the milestone ‘fashion moments’ as well as the unspoken rules of the political fashion game.

Brilliant Book Titles #37

A patron brought this to my attention today! Love this title.

my grandmother

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

A must-read for fans of Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure, by the author of the New York Times bestselling phenomenon A Man Called Ove will charm and delight anyone who has ever had a grandmother.

Everyone remembers the smell of their grandmother’s house.

Everyone remembers the stories their grandmother told them.

But does everyone remember their grandmother flirting with policemen? Driving illegally?
Breaking into a zoo in the middle of the night? Firing a paintball gun from a balcony in her dressing gown?

Seven-year-old Elsa does.

Some might call Elsa’s granny ‘eccentric’, or even ‘crazy’. Elsa calls her a superhero. And granny’s stories, of knights and princesses and dragons and castles, are her superpower. Because, as Elsa is starting to learn, heroes and villains don’t always exist in imaginary kingdoms; they could live just down the hallway.

As Christmas draws near, even the best superhero grandmothers may have one or two things they’d like to apologise for. And, in the process, Elsa can have some breath-taking adventures of her own . .