Ring by Koji Suzuki


The novel that started off the film franchise which consists of 12 films (and a few TV series) across the Japanese, Korean and American versions. For those not in the know, evil spirit Sadako (or Samara in the American films) has made a psychic videotape, which, if you watch it, you will die in seven days. It was at the forefront of the J-Horror (Japanese horror) film boom in the 90’s (other examples include The Grudge, Suzuki’s other novel-turn-film Dark Water and the disturbing Audition).

I was quite the fan of the American remake, The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, and thought it and its sequel were damn fine horror films. I had seen the original Japanese Ringu but never got into that series as a whole. That said, I thought I’d give the source material a try, particularly with all of this Covid-Stay at Home going on.

People normally say that the book is better than the film. This, however, is not the case. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The bones are there, but all of the good parts of the film, both visually and narratively, are essentially from the films.

The novel, Ring, tells the story of Asakawa, a journalist who delves into the mysterious deaths of four teenagers. The writing in the novel is pretty poor – and the translation can’t do much to elevate it, as evidenced from it having not one, but two translators – and the author somehow manages to make the main character have barely no character and still be unlikeable. And look, not all characters have to be likeable, but you need something.

And characters not being likeable brings me to my biggest issue with the book, Asakawa’s best friend and buddy Ryuji. Ryuji is a rapist, something he casually drops into conversation, something his best friend knows and whilst he, in theory, says he has a problem with it, he certainly doesn’t seem to. And Ryuji has raped multiple people, and Asakawa doesn’t care one jot.

This book is icily misogynistic. Sadako, is raped and murdered, by a man who basically just sees her and is driven into a frenzy. Both rapists in the book seem to have ‘zero control’ and the whole book talks over and over and over about how beautiful and seductive girls are.

To make matters worse, the book later suggests that Sadako influenced her rapist to rape and kill her. And further to this, Sadako’s rapist finds that she is intersex, and has testicles, and then the characters and the book go oh she’s not a real woman that explains why she wants this tape/virus to spread. All of it, is frankly, just vile.

A terrible book, badly written, nonsensical at times, wildly misogynistic and transphobic. Watch one of the movies instead.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Eleanor Oliphant is a reclusive office worker, who clearly has a dysfunctional background and lifestyle. Her phone calls from her abusive mother add a hidden backstory as Eleanor goes about her daily life. She develops a crush on a local singer, but meeting him crushes her belief he is the love of her life.

The final spiral will reveal dark secrets and Eleanor’s full story will finally unfold due to unlikeliest of friendships.


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

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Backman introduces us to the short tempered grumpy old man Ove Lindahl, drawing us into his reclusive world, after the death of his wife Sonja. Slowly but shortly through the random meetings of neighbours and acquaintances and a stubborn stray cat Ove is drawn back into a community and the world in general.

A very touching read that skilfully demonstrates the effect we all have on each other’s lives.


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

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens


Few novels have a more spirited and determined heroine then Kya Black.

Her struggle to keep a roof over her head and survive draws us into the vivid world of the marshlands in North Carolina. Through romances, murder suspicions and small town prejudice, you will find yourself rooting for the enigmatic marsh girl.


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

Witness by Caroline Mitchell


I have discovered Caroline Mitchell very recently and I am hooked on her books. This is the first of hers that I read, after a colleague gave it to me saying it might just be disturbing enough for my tastes! He was right, Caroline Mitchell has mastered the art of being twisted but still believable… making it all the more disturbing.

Rebecca’s ex Solomon went to prison for ten years based on her testimony. Since then she has put the past behind her and started a new life. Until Solomon catches up with her and has an unusual form of payback. She must choose ten people to be victims of crimes, each one increasingly serious, and she must be witness each one.

I loved this book, the plot was very original and unlike anything I’ve read before. You could actually feel the tension and stress of the main character as she witnessed each of the crimes. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes a good, tense thriller.


The Sleepover by Samantha King


Who would you trust to keep your child safe? is the tagline on the front of this book. Nick is a shy 12 year old who, having been routinely bullied, has isolated himself socially. So it is a great surprise and delight to his mother when he asks to go to his first sleepover. However the morning after the sleepover when his mother, Izzy, goes to pick him up, she faces every parent’s worst nightmare; Nick has disappeared.

I really enjoyed this book there were enough potential suspects for who may have taken Nick that I was left guessing and the actual perpetrator came as a surprise. There was a nice pace to the story, and it didn’t drag out or lose my interest at any stage. The characters were realistic and not all likeable. I found Nick’s stepfather Craig to be controlling and at times quite threatening.

Overall a good read, not too graphic, but just descriptive enough to be unsettling!


Truth and Lies + The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell

I am reviewing these together as they are the first two books in a series and I read them back-to-back. While still grieving the death of her police officer father, D.I. Amy Winters receives a letter from Lilian Grimes, one half of a husband and wife child serial killer team. She is also Amy’s biological mother.

Amy is searching for a kidnapped four year old girl. She must also play along with Lilian’s mind games in order to find the location of the bodies of Lilian’s past victims.

In Truth and Lies, the mother of a kidnapped child is sent 4 identical vials and a note telling her one of them is poisoned and the others are harmless. She must drink one of them in order to save her daughter. The note is also signed by someone who died in a fire years ago.

Both books are gripping from the very beginning, and the storylines quite sinister in parts. These books are psychologically disturbing and highly addictive…the perfect combination!


Using South Dublin Libraries’ online catalogue, you can reserve Truth and Lies hereand The Secret Child here.

The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

guilty wife

I ‘m guilty of many things.

But I’m innocent of murder.

Bethany Reston is happily married. But she also having an affair with a famous client. And no one can ever know.

When Bethany’s lover is brutally murdered, she has to hide her grief from everyone-but somebody knows her secrets-and soon Bethany finds herself the chief suspect as all the evidence begins to point to her. How can she prove her innocence-after concealing so much for so long?

The Guilty Wife is a gripping tale of betrayal, deceit, and duplicity.

The ending will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page. A real page-turner with  lots of twist along the way! Fabulous!


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

Brilliant Book Titles #330

home stretch

George K. Ilsley explores his complex relationship with his aging father in this candid memoir full of sharp emotion and disarming humor. George’s father is ninety-one years old, a widower, and fiercely independent; an avid gardener, he’s sweet and more than a little eccentric. But he’s also a hoarder who makes embarrassing comments and invitations to women, and he has made no plans whatsoever for what is inevitably coming over the horizon.

Decades after George has moved four time zones away, he begins to make regular trips home to help care for his cranky and uncooperative father, and to sift through the hoarded fragments of his father’s life. In doing so, George is forced to confront some uncomfortable family secrets and ugly personal truths, only to discover that the inexorable power of life’s journey pulls everyone along in its wake.

The Home Stretch is a beguiling, moving book about aging parents who do not “go gently,” and their adult children who must reckon with their own past before helping to guide them on their way.

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

dream house

A stunning, short read that captures the multifaceted dread of living with domestic abuse. Beautifully written with a unique framework that lifts it above mere memoir, this is a difficult read – one that left me, without realising, holding my breath as I tore through the pages – but an important, compelling one. Highly recommended.


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