We’re Shortlisted for Best Books and Literature Blog of the Year!

Hi everyone! South Dublin Reads is shortlisted for Best Books and Literature Blog at the 2018 Blog Awards Ireland! Delighted and chuffed to make it onto the shortlist? Can we place two years running? All will be revealed on 25th October at the Awards – which are Dios de los Muertos themed (as evinced from the image below!).

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The Ghost by Jessica Gadziala

ghost

Blurb: 

Sloane has everything she thought she ever wanted- a great career, a great apartment, great clothes, a life she had worked hard for.

Until one night, one chance encounter, one decision that changed everything.

With no options left, she enlists the help of Quinton Baird & Associates, who promptly inform her that she has to leave it all – the career, the apartment, the life she had worked so hard to build for herself – behind.

If all that wasn’t enough, her entire future – and life in general – was in the hands of a man whose coworkers called ‘The Ghost.’ Because that was what he did; he ghosted people, hid them, gave them new lives, made them impossible to find.

With no other choice, she agrees to his terms, climbs in a car with him, and travels almost clear across the country toward her new life. But the long hours on the road – and even longer hours in cabins and hotel rooms – together start to show her things. Like how unhappy she had actually been, how hollow her life was, how much she had denied herself in the name of superficial success.

And maybe, just maybe, how much she was starting to see how wrong first impressions can be, and how much a person can begin to mean to you when you decided to let them in…

Review:

5 The Ghost Stars on Goodreads

Where do I start… The Ghost is the second book in the Professionals series by Jessica Gadziala.

From the get go I had so much admiration for Sloane. She keeps her cool even though she is in so much pain, mentally and physically.

She has witnessed an awful crime and has to leave her life, her company and everything she has worked so hard for in her life. Gunner assumes conclusions from her appearance but he can see that she’s in pain and in his gruff way does want to help her.

Being stuck in a car and road tripping it across the country helps melt some of Gunners gruffness and grouchiness towards Sloane and he begins to see the real woman behind the designers clothes.

I hardly trusted anyone.
I barely trusted myself.
But I trusted him.
Implicitly.
Without hesitation.
That, well, was terrifying.
Because I could get used to it.
And I was only going to lose it.
Sooner rather than later.

These two were made for each other and the chemistry coming from them was exciting, I just couldn’t wait to read their story. I couldn’t put this book down. I read it in one sitting and that says a lot, I rarely get to do this anymore. As always there was a great epilogue and I loved hearing about the other men within this series. I’m very excited for more in this series.

Into? by North Morgan

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I nearly abandoned this book a number of times. It’s very easy to read, I’ll give it that. But it’s one of those satirical books that satirises vapid people with vapid lives. Everything is pretty much surface. And unless you’re Bret Easton Ellis, that is rarely entertaining (and even then, only sometimes).

Into? is as someone said ‘Less Than Zero with an Instagram account’. It details the life of Konrad Platt who moves to the US after breaking up with his cheating boyfriend and details his quest for conquest – for a book all about desire, it’s very short on actual descriptions of sex, but that of course is the point. Everything is filtered through the social media sheen, an Instagram filter.

And whilst the book and its relentless vague details of another Facebook conversation with a new man is interesting for a while, it just becomes, well… boring.

About halfway through, something relatively real happens: Konrad’s boyfriend essentially turns out to be an emotional Catfish, he’s moved in but wants nothing to do with him, won’t sleep with him and is living off him financially. But even this feels unreal. It doesn’t last. And Konrad is back to pool parties and circuit parties and – did I mention the book is in 69 chapters (*sigh).

Look, I get it. I applaud what Mr Morgan set out to do but satire always runs that knife-edge of becoming what it satirises, and Into? unfortunately does. I would recommend instead Guillaume Dustan’s In My Room which – also whilst not perfect, and definitely with its flaws (and out of print) – does the same thing but more successfully and in early 90’s Paris.

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

Brilliant Book Titles #236

swish

Blurb: 
Joel Derfner is gayer than you.

Don’t feel too bad about it, though, because he has made being gayer than you his life’s work. At summer day camp, when he was six, Derfner tried to sign up for needlepoint and flower arranging, but the camp counselors wouldn’t let him, because, they said, those activities were for girls only. Derfner, just to be contrary, embarked that very day on a solemn and sacred quest: to become the gayest person ever. Along the way he has become a fierce knitter, an even fiercer musical theater composer, and so totally the fiercest step aerobics instructor (just ask him—he’ll tell you himself).

In Swish, Derfner takes his readers on a flamboyant adventure along the glitter-strewn road from fabulous to divine. Whether he’s confronting the demons of his past at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to “meet” men—many, many men—or plunging headfirst (and nearly naked) into the shady world of go-go dancing, he reveals himself with every gayer-than-thou flourish to be not just a stylish explorer but also a fearless one. So fearless, in fact, that when he sneaks into a conference for people who want to cure themselves of their homosexuality, he turns the experience into one of the most fascinating, deeply moving chapters of the book. Derfner, like King Arthur, Christopher Columbus, and Indiana Jones—but with a better haircut and a much deeper commitment to fad diets—is a hero destined for legend.

Written with wicked humor and keen insight, Swish is at once a hilarious look at contemporary ideas about gay culture and a poignant exploration of identity that will speak to all readers—gay, straight, and in between.

Brilliant Book Titles #235

the heart is a lonely hunter

Blurb:
Carson McCullers’ prodigious first novel was published to instant acclaim when she was just twenty-three. Set in a small town in the middle of the deep South, it is the story of John Singer, a lonely deaf-mute, and a disparate group of people who are drawn towards his kind, sympathetic nature. The owner of the café where Singer eats every day, a young girl desperate to grow up, an angry drunkard, a frustrated black doctor: each pours their heart out to Singer, their silent confidant, and he in turn changes their disenchanted lives in ways they could never imagine.

Admission: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

admissions

Henry Marsh was consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley’s/ St. George’s hospital for almost  thirty years. Following the success of Marsh’s first book, “Do No Harm”(2014), he has produced this excellent volume. If you have enjoyed the first instalment, I think you won’t be disappointed in this sequel. However, it’s not necessary to have read “Do No Harm” to appreciate this instalment.

“Admission” is a reflection on a life spent in the high pressure world of the neurosurgeon. Marsh is now almost retired, but not quite. Overshadowing this book is the realisation that life is entering its final stages, Marsh is in his late sixties. There is something universal in his musings on life and his annoyance at how his body id aging and letting him down. Marsh‘s previous book stood out for its honesty, but the honesty in this one reaches a new level. Marsh does not spare himself, or anyone else in his cold-eyed judgement of situations. Mistakes are admitted, squared up to, in himself and others. There is a great maturity in his conclusion that mistakes will be made and if a surgeon is too timid to take risks, he will also end up doing harm. The final impression is of a caring, fiercely honest,  brave and sometimes infuriating individual. Marsh strikes one as a man of great decency and that he has paid a high price, in terms of the pressures put on him by his work and the expectations of patients and their families, but most of all by the pressure he routinely puts on himself. At the end of this book, I feel that I know the man and as I reach the final page, I quietly wish him many years of happy retirement, he has certainly earned it.

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

Fix It Up by Jessica Gadziala

fix it up

Fix It Up by Jessica Gadziala

“The chance of a lifetime. With one little catch.”

All Brinley Spears has ever dreamed about since she completed design school four years ago was getting noticed. By the right people. By the right companies. Anyone who could finally help launch her career onto a new level.

Unfortunately, the opportunity comes to her in the aisle of a home improvement store while she was arguing with the world’s most irritating contractor… Warren Reyes.

It was everything she ever wanted, the chance to star in HITV’s hit show Fix It Up. There’s one problem though. The producers think Brin and Warren are married. And want them as a pair… or not at all.

So, desperate for the opportunity she has always wanted, Brin hatches a plan. One fake marriage. One season of a show. And then they can both go their separate ways.

You know, if they don’t kill each other first…

Review:

Fix it up is not your typical Jessica Gadziala novel. It’s not her usual dark and mysterious read. Even though I’m lucky to get her books in advance, I automatically purchase them as well. So it’s no secret that I love all her books. This one however I didn’t really connect with. Yes I enjoyed the story, found it hilarious at times and laughed out loud through several parts but I didn’t really connect with Brinley however I did love Warren and liked his easy going even tempered personality.

This book is really good. As Jessica forewarned: Nothing goes boom but that’s ok, sometimes you don’t need a boom to enjoy a book and I did enjoy this book. It just wasn’t in my top ten books by Jessica but that ok too. If you love enemies to lovers, fake marriage, a good fight and a slow burn build up you will love this book.

4 Stars

Brilliant Book Titles #234

people who eat darkness.jpg

Blurb: 

*** Richard Lloyd Parry is the Winner of the 2018 Rathbones Folio Prize ***

In the summer of 2000, Jane Steare received the phone call every mother dreads. Her daughter Lucie Blackman – tall, blonde, and twenty-one years old – had stepped into the vastness of a Tokyo summer and disappeared forever. That winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a desolate seaside cave.

Her disappearance was mystifying. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? What did her work, as a ‘hostess’ in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve? And could Lucie’s fate be linked to the disappearance of another girl some ten years earlier?

Over the course of a decade, Richard Lloyd Parry has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story and been given unprecedented access to Lucie’s bitterly divided family to reveal the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate.