Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

oh my god what a complete aisling

Oh my God…what a complete let down. Okay that’s a bit extreme but I don’t think it quite lives up to the hype. I’ll start by saying I haven’t yet seen the Facebook page (I requested to join but they haven’t accepted me). I was expecting great things from this, judging by the length of time it stayed at the top of the best sellers list, and the fact that I had to join the reserve list in the library at number 468!

The story itself is quite good. It starts with Aisling, who everyone (except me) knows from Facebook. She’s a girl from Ballygobbard (Ballygobackwards) in rural Ireland, where she lives with her parents, she’s been dating a local GAA player John for years. She’s watching all her friends get married and is expecting a proposal from him any day now. When it’s made clear that this proposal isn’t going to come anytime soon the pair split up. Aisling decides it’s time for a change and moves from her parents’ house in rural Ireland into a room in a plush penthouse apartment in Dublin City with two girls from work (for which she somehow pays very low rent), and so the shenanigans begin. Cue endless Rosé drinking, a ridiculous drugs mix up, and plenty more hijinks. Then circumstances change, Aisling needs to return down home for a while as her dad is unwell. The tone of the book turns a lot more serious as we deal with a sick parent, a friend with a serious problem and a parent with a secret to reveal.

This book is funny in parts, and sad in others, but is overall quite predictable. There are a lot of typically Irish turns of phrase, that gave me a giggle at first but get a little bit repetitive as the book goes on. I didn’t particularly take to Aisling either, I found her quite self-involved and a bit of a drama queen if I’m honest. She and I would never be friends! It also deals with the subject of abortion, which is quite topical at the moment. While that’s an important issue, and I understand what the author was trying to do with it, to me it felt like it was thrown in just to have it included in the book.

All in all, it wasn’t the right book for me. It would be a good holiday read, and probably better suited to someone young and carefree in their early twenties, rather than a cynical woman in her early thirties!


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

Brilliant Book Titles #221

how to avoid being killed
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Whether you’re a war correspondent or an aid worker, a tourist worried about an increasingly hostile world or an armchair traveler concerned that your own backyard is fast becoming a war zone, How to Avoid Being Killed in a War Zone will help you survive some of the world’s most volatile environments.
Well-traveled journalist Rosie Garthwaite offers practical advice drawn from her own personal experience and that of others, including many seasoned colleagues, who have worked in some of the world’s most hostile regions. Topics covered include everything from avoiding land mines and hostage situations to amputating a limb and foraging for safe food. The book is a true survival manual (all medical advice has been vetted by doctors from Doctors Without Borders), but it is also a transporting read, filled with vicarious thrills and written with brio and humor by a woman who has seen it all. Perfect for those planning short trips or extended stays in dangerous destinations, or-much like the popular Worst-Case Scenario handbooks-for readers who simply prefer to be thoroughly prepared, wherever life may take them.
Rosie Garthwaite began her journalistic career as a freelance reporter in Basra, Iraq, just after graduating from college, and learned about survival in dangerous regions firsthand. She wrote this book to answer some of the questions her colleagues seemed to face daily in the field. Garthwaite works as a television journalist in the Middle East and is based in Doha, Qatar. This is her first book.

Brilliant Book Titles #220

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

From E. Lockhart, author of the New York Times bestseller and Zoella Book Club 2016 title, We Were Liars, comes this hilarious and heart-warming series.

15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver

Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has:

lost her boyfriend (#13 on the boyfriend list),
lost her best friend,
lost all her other friends,
did something suspicious with a boy (#10),
did something advanced with a boy (#15),
had an argument with a boy (#14),
drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
got caught by her mom (ag!),
had a panic attack (scary),
lost a lacrosse game,
failed a math test,
hurt Meghan’s feelings,
became a social outcast,
and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom.

But don’t worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she’s ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

time traveller's wife

I have to start off by saying I LOVE this book.  I have read it at least 10 times.  Strangely, the first time I tried it I didn’t finish it.  It took the very bad movie adaptation to bring me back to it.

Henry has a rare genetic mutation.  He suffers from involuntary time travel.  The story follows his relationship with his wife Claire as he meets her at different times of her life.  The Time Traveller’s wife is hugely romantic, terrifying, sad and exhilarating all at once.  You experience Henry’s fear and panic when his trips go horribly wrong or Claire’s worries about whether he will make it home to her or not.

The format of the book looks a little complicated when you first start and I think that’s why I put it down the first time.  However DO NOT let this put you off.  You will come out the other end utterly enchanted and dying to read it again.


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

5 New Gay Non-Fiction Books

Bit late for Pride, but nonetheless.

Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein
torch song trilogy.jpg
A new edition of the classic drama portraying gay life in New York in the 1970s and 80s–winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, now coming to Broadway in a revival hailed by The New York Times as “irresistibly compelling.”

What begins as a chance encounter in a New York nightclub leads drag performer Arnold Beckoff on a hilarious yet touching pursuit of love, happiness, and a life he can be proud of. From a failed affair with a reluctant lover to a committed relationship with the promise of a stable family, Arnold’s struggle for acceptance meets its greatest resistance when he faces off against the person whose approval is most important to him: his mother.

This edition contains for the first time ever both the original scripts for the three one-act plays (TheInternational Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First!) as they were performed in the 1970s, as well as the revised script for the 2017 revival that condensed all three into Torch Song. It also includes a never-before-published introduction by Harvey Fierstein, as well as photographs from both the original production and the revival starring Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl and directed by Moisés Kaufman.

Praise for Torch Song Trilogy

“Harvey Fierstein has created characters so vivid and real that they linger in the mind, talking the night away, long after the lights have been turned out and everyone has left.”Time

“Gorgeously funny . . . a devastatingly comic play with just the right resonances.”–New York Post

“Sassy, sweet, and moving.”People

Gay Inc.: The Nonprofitization of Queer Politics
gay inc
A bold and provocative look at how the nonprofit sphere’s expansion has helped—and hindered—the LGBT cause What if the very structure on which social movements rely, the nonprofit system, is reinforcing the inequalities activists seek to eliminate? That is the question at the heart of this bold reassessment of the system’s massive expansion since the mid-1960s. Focusing on the LGBT movement, Myrl Beam argues that the conservative turn in queer movement politics, as exemplified by the shift toward marriage and legal equality, is due mostly to the movement’s embrace of the nonprofit structure. Based on oral histories as well as archival research, and drawing on the author’s own extensive activist work, Gay, Inc. presents four compelling case studies. Beam looks at how people at LGBT nonprofits in Minneapolis and Chicago grapple with the contradictions between radical queer social movements and their institutionalized iterations. Through interview subjects’ incisive, funny, and heartbreaking commentaries, Beam exposes a complex world of committed people doing the best they can to effect change, and the flawed structures in which they participate, rail against, ignore, and make do. Providing a critical look at a social formation whose sanctified place in the national imagination has for too long gone unquestioned, Gay, Inc. marks a significant contribution to scholarship on sexuality, neoliberalism, and social movements.

Not Everything Thrown Starts a Revolution by Stephen S. Mills 
not everything thrown
“‘[W]hat does it mean to crave the land?’ Stephen S. Mills asks in this ambitious book of poems that imbricates 18th– and 21st-century narratives, domestic tension and national strife, profligate sex and the accountability of gay marriage, forms of incarceration and suicide by proxy. In these poems, New England, Texas, Florida, Indiana, and New York cohere into a collective land that produces personal melancholia, an ‘excess of black bile.‘ Mills’ precision of language acts as link, as hinge, as community-builder and balm for times when words are Twitter-cheap. We’re starved for truth and Mills knows it. His language doesn’t flinch in poems that live up to his adage, ‘words / are our currency—our lifeline.'”

– Richard Tayson, author of The World Underneath and The Apprentice of Fever

“’Spoiler Alert: We are all monsters,’ writes Stephen S. Mills in his empathetically explicit Not Everything Thrown Starts a Revolution. Audacious and fascinating, Mills investigates our demons, linking his 21st century speaker to 18th Century Mary Agnes. The two have red hair and ‘a redheaded / temper or so they used to call it.’ They both wind up in prison ‘guilty’ of passion and desire. Mills’ poems expertly balance lyricism, reportage, and a haunting narrative. This is phenomenal book.”

– Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout and Scald

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arcenaux
i cant date jesus

Featured as one of Summer 2018’s most anticipated reads by the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, ELLE, Buzzfeed, and Bitch Media.

In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can’t Touch My Hair, Bad Feminist, and I’m Judging You, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.

It hasn’t been easy being Michael Arceneaux.

Equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being Black in America is…well, have you watched the news?

With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

Perfect for fans of David Sedaris, Samantha Irby, and Phoebe Robinson, I Can’t Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it’s like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.

The Gay Heritage Project by Damian Atkins, Paul Dunn and Andrew Kushnir 
gay heritage.jpg
Is there such thing as gay heritage? Three of Canada’s most gifted performers set out to find the answer by going beyond Google to discover forgotten heroes and stories (and a few well-known names), compiling everything into one extraordinary history lesson that shines new light on contemporary gay culture. A hilarious, thought-provoking meta tale that connects queer communities everywhere.

La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman

la belle sauvage

Can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a book as much as I did for this one. I went as far as re-reading His Dark Materials in preparation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype but it’s still a worthy edition to Lyra and Will’s saga.

We’re back in the familiar environs of Lyra’s Oxford and this alternate England is every bit as evocative and exciting as it was in its previous outing. It’s quite apparent how much Pullman must truly relish painting this quixotic version of an early 20th century England with its simple way of life, its vibrant communities, the pervasive sense of social rectitude and the resourceful thrift with which the normal Englanders go about their days.

There are a few reappearances of characters we’ve already met, including Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel and Farder Coram, but our story principally concerns Malcolm Polstead, an 11 year old boy very much in the mould of Lyra. Accompanying Malcolm on his journey is 15 year old Alice, a girl for whom hardness and hurt seem to have been daily companions. Malcolm’s innocence, so redolent of Lyra and Will’s naivety on their epic journey, is tempered by Alice’s bitter world view and her presence adds a greater sense of sadness that you can’t turn away from which His Dark Materials didn’t have.

The plot sees Malcolm and Alice recruited by unconventional means to protect the infant Lyra from her would be abductors during the worst flood in living memory. Luckily for us, Malcolm is the proud owner, and skillful navigator, of a canoe which proves invaluable in spiriting Lyra away while her enemies give pursuit.

The chase is probably a little too drawn out. As well as this it wades too deeply into mystical waters at times for reasons that don’t appear to be immediately apparent or significant. For example, the infant Lyra is stolen by her pursuers at one point and Malcolm and Alice are forced to rescue her from an industrial school-esque institution. I was expecting this to take sometime, much like Lyra’s escape from Bolvangar but Malcolm manages the whole ordeal in a matter of pages. I know La Belle Sauvage is one of a trilogy so unless this institution rears its ugly head again. I struggle to see why Pullman bothered to insert it into the story in the first place.

Pullman is a master craftsman and his prose is effortlessly beautiful but this book just meandered at times for me to be called truly great. An excellent book by anyone’s standards but by Pullman’s, inferior to his earlier masterpiece.

[Editor’s Note: South Dublin Reads has reviewed this book before with another reviewer. Compare and Contrast!]


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

Brilliant Book Titles #219

this is going to hurt

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

‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.’ – Stephen Fry

Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year
Winner of the Books Are My Bag Non-Fiction Book of the Year
Winner of Blackwell’s Debut Book of the Year
Winner of iBooks’ Book of the Year

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.


Brilliant Book Titles #218

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

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction

Twenty-three-year-old Zhuang (or Z as she calls herself – Westerners cannot pronounce her name) arrives in London to spend a year learning English. Struggling to find her way in the city, and through the puzzles of tense, verb and adverb; she falls for an older Englishman and begins to realise that the landscape of love is an even trickier terrain…

Xiaolu Guo was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists

Get Rich Vlogging by Zoe Griffin

get rich vlogging

A few months ago I read ‘Vlog Like A Boss’ by Amy Schmittauer and reviewed it on this blog. ‘Get Rich Vlogging’ by Zoe Griffin covers much of the same topics, but I decided to read it to see whose approach I preferred.

Zoe Griffin is a former Sunday Mirror gossip columnist and the founder and editor of Live Like a VIP, a lifestyle blog for women. She is also the author of ‘Get Rich Blogging’. I had read her other book about blogging early in 2017, however, even by that stage much of the content was out of date. That is the main issue with books of this nature. In the online world – the website, tools and advice the authors give can be useless because of an algorithm change or the creation of new social media platforms.

Vlogging at the moment is very on trend across all major social media platforms, with people watching more video than any other content that is uploaded.

‘Get Rich Vlogging’ obviously has some overlap with’ Vlog Like a Boss’, but there are some major differences. With ‘Get Rich Vlogging’, there is more emphasis on what to do when you are regualrly vlogging and want to create a business. It goes through how to get a talent manager, how to become sponsored and how to start up your own product line.

‘Get Rich Vlogging’ is also very targeted at the UK market with most resources and vloggers referred to are based in the UK.

My advice is if you have already mastered vlogging, this book will be of more use, however if you are a vlogging newbie I would go with ‘Vlog Like a Boss’.


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

Judas by Amos Oz


I’ve only read one other book by Oz (Panther in the Basement) but I’m very impressed by him. Israel’s baneful treatment of the Palestinian people, particularly in light of all the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, is one of humanity’s great failures in the 20th century. Oz manages to imbue his fiction with parables of how and why Israel have failed to live peacefully alongside their Levantine neighbours without ever laying the blame, fairly or unfairly so, at anyone’s doorstep. Stories of great personal trauma, of a generation post-independence Israelis struggling to understand their nation’s belligerence towards their Muslim neighbours whilst never questioning that fire can only be fought with fire.

One thing you’ll notice reading this book is that Oz tends to repeat himself, or rather, his characters do. Again and again, they tell the same stories, have the same arguments and complete the same domestic rituals. It’s wonderful prose, written with great humour, of a people seemingly locked in an eternal struggle for survival but the repetitiveness tells its own story. It’s Oz’s tribute to humankind, a celebration of banality, way of showing us that life goes on while the shots echo across no man’s land. If nothing else, I would advise anyone read Oz for the simple truth that you are what you read. If you want a two state solution between Israel and Palestine to remain a mystery, then keep reading thrillers and forget about Oz.


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