Fairy Tales by Joanne Larby


The term ‘online influencer’ has entered into common usage when it comes to talking about those bloggers and Instagramers who use these platforms to showcase and document their lives as well as advertise items to their followers. One of the largest ‘online influencers’ in Ireland is Joanne Larby, or as she is better known to her followers, ‘The Makeup Fairy’.

As the name suggests, one of Joanne’s passion is makeup and beauty. She also regularly blogs about fitness, travel and life advice. It is these topics that make up most of the content of her book ‘Fairy Tales’.

Joanne’s book is a mix of autobiography, life advice, beauty and fitness tips and a large dollop of relationship guidance.

Overall, I enjoyed Joanne’s book. I learned a lot about her personal life, especially before she started blogging. If you have recently started following Joanne on her social media, it’s a great way to get to know her quickly and see how it shapes her personality.

The parts of the book focused on relationships was full of good advice when it comes to dating and making sure that you don’t settle. I also enjoyed the health and fitness tips. Joanne has gone from a plus-size model to a fitness model so has spent a lot of time and effort changing her body shape. She honestly talks about the struggles and the rewards that come from this journey. This is definitely a book that promotes body confidence and looking after yourself.

The only criticism I would have is that some of the information provided by Joanne is out of date, especially regarding her favorite makeup products. From watching her Snapchat and Instagram, it’s obvious that she now has new products that she prefers.

Overall, this is an easy read and is perfect for anyone that is interested in bloggers or vloggers. It gives an inside peak into the life of an ‘online influencer’.


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


5 New Horror Books to Watch Out For

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan (3 May 2018)
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‘Will sweep you away to a time of magic, love, and loss . . . Mesmerizing’ Tish Thawer

‘Deftly captures the greatest magic of all: the love between mothers and daughters’
Jordanna Max Brodsky


‘It’s true, ma petite. If they know – if they discover what we are – they will try to kill us.’
Brittany, 1821. After Grand-mere Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her. Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew. The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.

But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever – not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

A Secret History of Witches is a moving historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters – witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift. Perfect for fans of A Discovery of Witches, Outlander and Nora Roberts.

‘A deeply satisfying and magical work of great craft’ Carol Goodman, author of Incubus

‘Enthralling . . . Deeply moving and richly conceived’ Kay Kenyon

‘I loved it. A beautiful generational tale, reminiscent of Practical Magic . . . Grounded and real, painful and hopeful at the same time’ Laure Eve

‘Epic in scope and heartbreakingly tender . . . Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts’ Booklist

The Spirit Photographer by Jon Michael Varese (3 May 2018)
the spirit photographer
With dramatic twists and reminiscent of Gothic novels, The Spirit Photographer is replete with fugitive hunters, voodoo healers, and dangers lurking in the swamp. Varese’s deftly plotted debut is an intense tale of death and betrayal that will thrill readers as they unravel the mystery behind the spirit in the photograph and what became of her. Boston, 1870. Photographer Edward Moody runs a booming business capturing the images of the spirits of the departed in his portraits. He lures grieving widows and mourning mothers into his studio with promises of catching the ghosts of their deceased loved ones with his camera. Despite the whispers around town that Moody is a fraud of the basest kind, no one has been able to expose him, and word of his gift has spread, earning him money, fame, and a growing list of illustrious clients. One day, while developing the negative from a sitting to capture the spirit of the departed son of a senator, Moody is shocked to see a different spectral figure develop before his eyes. Instead of the staged image of the boy he was expecting, the camera has seemingly captured the spirit of a young black woman. When Moody recognizes the woman, he is compelled to travel from Boston to the Louisiana bayou to resolve their unfinished business. But more than one person is out to stop him…

The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan (17 May 2018)
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Sometimes the past endures—and sometimes it never lets go.
This best-selling debut by an award-winning writer is both an eerie contemporary ghost story and a dread-inducing psychological thriller. Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.
Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O’Callaghan’s hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.

Witch Wood by John Buchan (22 Mar 2018)
witch wood
Buchan’s favourite of all his novels, Witch Wood deals with the hypocrisy that can lie beneath god-fearing respectability. The book is set in the terrifying times of the first half of the seventeenth century when the Church of Scotland unleashed a wave of cruelty and intolerance. Minister Sempill witnesses devil worship in the ‘Witch Wood’ and is persecuted. It comes with an introduction by Allan Massie.

The World of Lore, Volume 2: Wicked Mortals by Aaron Mahnke (29 May 2018)
A chilling, lavishly illustrated who’s-who of the most despicable people ever to walk the earth, featuring both rare and best-loved stories from the hit podcast Lore, now an online streaming series.

Here are the incredible true stories of some of the mortals who achieved notoriety in history and folklore through horrible means. Monsters of this sort – serial killers, desperate criminals, and socially mobile people with a much darker double-life – are, in fact, quite real . . . including H. H. Holmes, the infamous Chicago serial killer; William Brodie, the Edinburgh criminal mastermind who inspired The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and Bela Kiss, a Hungarian tinsmith with a most disturbing hobby: collecting women in gasoline drums.

As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore.

What Do You Think of That? by Kieran Donaghy

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For anyone who has even a passing interest in Gaelic football, the name Kieran Donaghy will be familiar. The big man with the big personality is impossible to ignore, as many opponents  on the field of play have learned to their cost. For those who are consumed with the detail of important matches, there’s a lot to enjoy here.  Donaghy writes with an intensity  and honesty that characterised his play. Donaghy fills the role of warrior, whether it’s basketball of Gaelic football and this book is full of the highs and lows that sport brings to the life of a dedicated competitor.

For me, the personal story of the big man was every bit as fascinating as the sporting exploits. He writes with raw emotional honesty about his difficult relationship with his father and he acknowledges the love and support given him by others in his life.   His devotion to his wife and young daughter is a joy to behold. The photos in this book are an integral part of understanding Kiernan Donaghy the man, as well as the sports star. My favourite one is of him lying on the turf of Croke Park after losing to Dublin in  2016, watching his beautiful baby, Lola Rose enjoying her time with Daddy.

Books like this are very important as we tend to forget that our sporting heroes are human beings, rather than there merely to fulfil our dreams.  I highly recommend this account of life as a high profile sportsman, it’s honest, passionate, sad, funny and above all so real.  What do I think of that? As a person with no Kerry connections, I think it’s pretty impressive, Kieran, well done.


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

Brilliant Book Titles #188

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For months, Cass has heard her best friend, Julia, whisper about a secret project. When Julia dies in a car accident, her drama friends decide to bring the project, a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, to fruition. But Cass isn’t a drama person. She can?t take a summer of painting sets, and she won’t spend long hours with Heather, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school and has somehow landed the leading role. So Cass takes off. In alternating chapters, she spends the first part of summer on a cross-country bike trip and the rest swallowing her pride, making props, and, of all things, falling for Heather.

This is a story of the breadth of love. Of the depth of friendship. And of the most hilarious musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

Brilliant Book Titles #187

my fake boyfriend

Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer—on the first day of school she’s tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she’s totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna’s in every way. Things are going great—unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing—until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance.

A Woman to Blame: The Kerry Babies Case by Nell McCafferty

a woman to blame

In light of the recent re-visiting of this dark period in Irish society, one could do worse than read this excellent account by someone who was a witness to the shameful events of 1984-85. For those of us who are old enough to remember it, this account brings us back to all the horror of the daily reports coming out of the Tribunal of Enquiry. For those too young to remember, accounts such as this serve to illustrate how recently such a witch hunt happened. If one was asked to guess when this whole sorry state of affairs occurred, one might hazard a guess at the 1930s -1950, not a mere 34 years ago.

Nell McCafferty tells the story in plain, dispassionate language and the book is so engrossing, I read it in two sittings.  McCafferty writes with tender respect towards Joanne Hayes and her family, who found themselves caught up in this nightmare. The compassiom she shows is reflected in the attitudes of local people and the common decency of ordinary Irish people shines through.  The context of the Ireland of that era is deftly drawn. The position of women in society, the power of institutions, such as the church, the judiciary and the Gardai is outlined with great clarity. There is an underlying feeling of righteous anger at the inequalities of the times. The question for us all is, are we as far removed from those days as we would like to think we are?

I would urge everyone to read this highly significant book. The past may indeed be another country, but it’s not so long ago since our people inhabited it. Read it and weep.


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

5 New Cultural History Books to Watch Out For

A Walk Through Paris: A Radical Exploration by Eric Hazan (27 Mar 2018)
a walk through paris
Eric Hazan, author of the acclaimed The Invention of Paris, leads us by the hand in this walk from Ivry to Saint-Denis, roughly following the meridian that divides Paris into east and west, and passing such familiar landmarks as the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pompidou Centre, the Gare du Nord and Montmartre, as well as little-known alleyways and arcades. Filled with historical anecdotes, geographical observations and literary references, Hazan’s walk guides us through an unknown Paris. He shows us how, through planning and modernisation, the city’s revolutionary past has been erased in order to enforce a reactionary future; but by walking and observation, he shows us how we can regain our knowledge of the radical past of the city of Robespierre, the Commune, Sartre and the May ’68 uprising. And by drawing on his own life story, as surgeon, publisher and social critic, Hazan vividly illustrates a radical life lived in the city of revolution.

Work: The Last 1,000 Years by Andrea Komlosky (27 Mar 2018)
By the end of the nineteenth century, the general Western conception of work had been reduced to simply gainful employment. But this limited perspective contrasted sharply with the personal experience of most people in the world-whether in colonies, developing countries or in the industrializing world. Moreover, from a feminist perspective, reducing work and the production of value to remunerated employment has never been convincing. Andrea Komlosy argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts. Globalizing labour history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, she sheds light on the complex coexistence of multiple forms of labour (paid/unpaid, free/unfree, with various forms of legal regulation and social protection and so on) on the local and the world levels.Combining this global approach with a gender perspective opens our eyes to the varieties of work and labour and their combination in households and commodity chains across the planet-processes that enable capital accumulation not only by extracting surplus value from wage-labour, but also through other forms of value transfer, realized by tapping into households’ subsistence production, informal occupation and makeshift employment. As the debate about work and its supposed disappearance intensifies, Komlosy’s book provides a crucial shift in the angle of vision.

Highland Homespun by Margaret Leigh (12 Apr 2018) 
In May 1933 Margaret Leigh took over the tenancy of Achnabo farm, in a beautiful corner of the West Highlands overlooking the isle of Skye.
In, Highland Homespun – this unsentimental yet exquisitely written book – she recounts a year of farming life there, from the burning of the land and ploughing in March, through planting and sowing in April to haymaking and harvesting in September. Incidental details – such as a visit to the smithy, the arrival of some new bulls and the annual journey of the cows to the summer shielings – provide fascinating insights into farming life. Local characters and customs feature too, adding another rich dimension to this reflective and poignant memoir of a world now vanished forever.

Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to Present, edited by Simon Avery and Katherine M. Graham

Sex, Time and Place extensively widens the scope of what we might mean by queer London studies. Incorporating multidisciplinary perspectives including social history, cultural geography, visual culture, literary representation, ethnography and social studies this collection asks new questions, widens debates and opens new subject terrain. Featuring essays from an international range of established scholars and emergent voices, the collection is a timely contribution to this growing field. Its essays cover topics such as activist and radical communities and groups, AIDS and the city, art and literature, digital archives and technology, drag and performativity, lesbian Londons, notions of bohemianism and deviancy, sex reform and research and queer Black history. Going further than the existing literature on Queer London which focuses principally on the experiences of white gay men in a limited time frame, Sex, Time and Place reflects the current state of this growing and important field of study. It will be of great value to scholars, students and general readers who have an interest in queer history, London studies, cultural geography, visual cultures and literary criticism.

A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture by Shachar M Pinsker (15 May 2018) 
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A fascinating glimpse into the world of the coffeehouse and its role in shaping modern Jewish culture.

Unlike the synagogue, the house of study, the community center, or the Jewish deli, the café is rarely considered a Jewish space. Yet, coffeehouses profoundly influenced the creation of modern Jewish culture from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. With roots stemming from the Ottoman Empire, the coffeehouse and its drinks gained increasing popularity in Europe. The “otherness,” and the mix of the national and transnational characteristics of the coffeehouse perhaps explains why many of these cafés were owned by Jews, why Jews became their most devoted habitués, and how cafés acquired associations with Jewishness.  Examining the convergence of cafés, their urban milieu, and Jewish creativity, Shachar M. Pinsker argues that cafés anchored a silk road of modern Jewish culture. He uncovers a network of interconnected cafés that were central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization, from Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, and Berlin to New York City and Tel Aviv. A Rich Brew explores the Jewish culture created in these social spaces, drawing on a vivid collection of newspaper articles, memoirs, archival documents, photographs, caricatures, and artwork, as well as stories, novels, and poems in many languages set in cafés.   Pinsker shows how Jewish modernity was born in the café, nourished, and sent out into the world by way of print, politics, literature, art, and theater. What was experienced and created in the space of the coffeehouse touched thousands who read, saw, and imbibed a modern culture that redefined what it meant to be a Jew in the world.

There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry

there are little kingdoms

I don’t believe there’s a more imaginative writer in Ireland today than Kevin Barry. In this collection of short stories, he turns his attention away from the big city of Bohane to the anarachic and frenzied rural towns of Limerick, North Tipp and the East Clare region that looms so large in his psychic landscape. Writing stories about rural desolation is nothing new in Irish literature, but I’ve never encountered a writer who did it with such righteous anger and with the humour that can only come from a deep and abiding love of the very places he excoriates for the crimes they inflcit on their people.

Wildly funny and brutally accurate, some of these stories will stay with you for a long, long time. Doesn’t hit the heights that City of Bohane did but still a very enjoyable read.


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

Brilliant Book Titles #186

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

First published in 1971, Revenge of the Lawn is Richard Brautigan in miniature and contains new fewer than 62 ultra-short stories set mainly in Tacoma, Washington (where the author grew up) and in the flower-powered San Francisco of the late fifties and early sixties. In their compacted form, which ranges from the murderously short ‘The Scarlatti Tilt’ to one-page wonders like the sexually poignant poetry of ‘An Unlimited Supply of 35 Millimetre Film’, Brautigan’s stories take us into a world where his fleeting glimpses of everyday strangeness leaves stories and characters resonating in our heads long after they’re gone. Revenge of the Lawn is Brautigan’s only collection of short fiction and is generally regarded as the most autobiographical of his published work.

Brilliant Book Titles #185

homicidal psycho jungle cat
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Calvin and Hobbes are at it again, and this time, our irrepressible friends are taking a walk on the wild side.

Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat chronicles another segment of the multifarious adventures of this wild child and his faithful, but skeptical, friend. If the best cartoons compel readers to identify themselves within the funny frames, then all who enjoy Calvin and Hobbes are creative, imaginative, and … bad, bad, bad! Calvin, the irascible little boy with the stuffed tiger who comes to life are a pair bound for trouble. Boring school lessons become occasions for death-defying alien air battles, speeding snow sled descents elicit philosophical discussions on the meaning of life, and Hobbes’ natural inclination to pounce on his little friend wreaks havoc on Calvin’s sense of security. Calvin’s the kid we all wish we’d been. Sassy, imaginative, far more verbal than his parents can manage, Calvin is the quintessential bad boy — and the boy we love to see. He terrorizes little Susie, offers “Candid Opinions” from a neighborhood stand, and questions his parents’ authority. “What assurance do I have that your parenting isn’t screwing me up?” he demands. Calvin and Hobbes manages to say what needs to be said about childhood and life: “Eww, mud,” says Calvin. “Look at this gooshy, dirty, slimy, thick, wet mud … Bleecch … Talk about a kid magnet!”