Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

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I wasn’t expecting much from this as I read Behind her Eyes and wasn’t a huge fan of it.

This one was a different story, much more realistic and I found it to be a page-turner. Lisa lives with her 16 year old daughter Ava and is of quite a nervous disposition. She seems overly aware of her surroundings and it always looking over her shoulder as if there’s someone watching her. From the beginning you wonder why she’s behaving like this; is she just an anxious person? Has she escaped an abusive partner? Is she in a witness protection programme? Is she a fugitive? However the day after her daughter rescues a drowning toddler, her pictures appear in all of the papers and then everything becomes clear. It’s hard to say much about the story line without spoiling it. Suffice to say, it’s a very gripping and disturbing thriller. There are some explicit scenes in this so maybe not suited for younger readers or anyone of a sensitive nature.

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

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The Penguin Book of Haiku, translated and edited by Adam L. Kern

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An interesting book, showing the depth and breadth of haiku. The last book I read was an imperial-arranged book of 100 tanka that was very ethereal and pretty. Large swathes of this are pure filthy, showing a whole other side of haiku that I wasn’t aware of – the lowbrow, and unerotic.

Kern’s introduction is worth the price of entry alone, deftly explaining the culture, cultural importance and development of haiku. And the haiku selected were well chosen and varied (although perhaps a little too ‘dirty sexy haiku’ as he calls them – I would’ve liked more variety; some more emotional haiku, some transcendental haiku.

His notes at the end – in the glance I gave them – don’t seem to add much, so I skipped them.

An interesting collection. 3.5 stars.

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

Repeat by Kylie Scott

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BLURB: 

From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes an irresistible new romance.

When a vicious attack leaves 25-year-old Clementine Johns with no memory, she’s forced to start over. Now she has to figure out who she was and why she made the choices she did – which includes leaving the supposed love of her life, tattoo artist Ed Larsen, only a month before.

Ed can hardly believe it when his ex shows up at his tattoo parlour with no memory of their past, asking about the breakup that nearly destroyed him. The last thing he needs is more heartache, but he can’t seem to let her go again. Should they walk away for good, or does their love deserve a repeat performance?

REVIEW:

Repeat is the latest book from Kylie Scott. Let me first start by saying I love Kylie’s books there all one slick for me, but Repeat just took me so long to get into and then it dragged a little for me. I could see what was going to happen a mile off and that didn’t appeal to me either. Just a little disappointed but that’s not to say you won’t like it. Give it a go we all have different tastes and I might have just been having an off week.

Love and life sure can be scary. But not living your best life, not loving as hard as you can…what a terrible waste that would be. And the man standing in front of me is the best of everything.

I liked Ed and I really liked Clem, although I thought she was over her head injury way too quickly and it was a little unrealistic. I also felt Ed forgave her way to quickly for what he thought she’d done to him. But I liked the scenes in the book store with Iris and her sister at times. They were funny and easy to read. Ed’s brother Leif was also a great secondary character that I loved he was so funny at times.

Overall I think you should give it a read and make up your own mind on it. That’s generally what I do with books that don’t always get a great review.

3.5 Stars

Poetry Roundup #1: January – June 2019

I read a lot of poetry and because of this I don’t review as much as I should, so I thought I’d do a little poetry round-up (Jan – Jun 19) of books I recommend, and books I recommend you avoid. It should go almost without saying that these were merely books I read during these months, and not necessarily new releases –

Avoid:

 

Public Property by Andrew Motion
Illumniate by Kerrie O’Brien
The Resignation by Lonely Christopher
Lavenderblack by Adam Lowe
Best American Poetry 2018, ed. David Lehman
Junk by Tommy Pico
Big Pink Umbrella by Susan Millar DuMars
The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins

The problem with writing reviews for poetry collections you didn’t like, or sometimes occasionally even hated, comes down to a few things. Firstly, like all poetry, it could be that it just wasn’t to your taste, like Billy Collins’ style whom I just found incredibly flat, as I did for Andrew Motion. Sometimes, it’s a book that didn’t impress you as much as another you’ve read (Adam Lowe’s Precocious, with the excellent ‘Vada That’ seemed very much a step up from Lavenderblack). Sometimes, the style just irritates, as in The Resignation by Lonely Christopher, bought on a whim from Amazon for cheap, or Junk by Tommy Pico. Mostly though, the reason why these are all on the Avoid list – some of which you might love, one of which is by a US Poet Laureate, and a whole book that has been dubbed ‘Best’ of that year – is because I don’t remember a single line from any of these collections.

Recommended:

 


Liminal Blue by Theodore Deppe
Orpheus on the Red Line by Theodore Deppe
Beautiful Wheel by Theodore Deppe
The Wanderer King by Theodore Deppe
Touched by Luther Hughes
Soho by Richard Scott
Sister by Nickole Brown
Anyone Will Tell You by Wendy Chin-Tanner
On Balance by Sinead Morrissey
Leaf and Beak: Sonnets by Scott Wiggerman

Reading Theodore Deppe for me this year has been a revelation – I have ploughed through everything he’s written, all of it consistently brilliant, and can fully recommend all of these. A particular standout is Liminal Blue, dealing primarily with the death of his parents, that still sticks in my mind and heart.

Regarding queer poets, this half-year’s standouts include the much-lauded (and rightly so) Richard Scott, whose first collection for Faber, Soho, is a treat: dark and lyrical, he has a deft hand. As does Luther Hughes in his debut chapbook, Touched, which I really enjoyed (and read twice straight through!). Also by Sibling Rivalry Press is Nickole Brown’s Sister which I loved – a dark story of childhood sexual abuse, the poetry is expertly wrought and demands to be read. Finally, Scott Wiggerman’s collection of nature sonnets, Leaf and Beak, shows how nature, time and the sonnet form should be done.

Speaking of SRP, I enjoyed Wendy Chin-Tanner’s Anyone Will Tell You – she is the master of short, short lines, and although I’m not sure it quite reached the heights of my personal favourite Turn, it is still an excellent book nonetheless. Finally, Sinead Morrissey’s award-winning On Balance features a vast cornucopia of topics, although it’s the title poem that, for me, still stands out.

Highly Recommended:

 

Survivable World by Ron Mohring (Round-Up Pick)
The Road, Slowly by Liz Quirke
Millennial Roost by Dustin Pearson

Millennial Roost by Dustin Pearson was another cheap Amazon impulse buy and it knocked me for six. Covering similar ground to Nickole Brown’s Sister, either could equally be in the top, but I think what tipped it for me is that I happened into this blind and it heightened the reading for me, whereas I knew what I was going into with Sister. Millennial Roost is a beautifully written exploration of the aftermath of sexual abuse, and what it does to a person: how it changes everything. How it can confuse everything, like intimacy, and sexuality, and relationships. This is not an easy read at all, and one that took my breath away at times, as the book is addressed to Mr Hen, his abuser, but by god is it a finely written, necessary read.

Have you ever read a book and you’re unable to fault anything in it? That’s how I felt reading Liz Quirke’s The Road, Slowly. Telling the story of her family life in Cork with her wife and children, the writing above all is excellent and the sheer ferocity of talent and control on display here is wonderful.

Out of every poetry collection I’ve read the past six months, the one that stands out, above all, is Survivable World by Ron Mohring. Ron’s sole collection from 2004 is a collection of love and loss, due to AIDS. There are many poetic reactions to losses from AIDS but what elevates this, above all the rest, is the sheer finery of the writing. This book is perfect, and sad, and heart-breaking, and beautiful, and you all absolutely should read it and hunt down a copy. It is a book that a poet could happily be remembered by, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. As well as other places, you can buy it direct from him here (and I recommend checking out his press, Seven Kitchens, which has the finest poets, and lovely HANDMADE CHAPBOOKS).

And because Survivable World is my pick for this round-up, here’s a poem from it:

Telling the Family
by Ron Mohring

It was not the virus, but the opportunistic infections.
He never wanted you to worry. He swam too far
and couldn’t fight the undertow. It pained him

that you never called. He slammed his car into a bridge.
He insisted on flying alone – a sudden downdraft
swatted him into Lake Michigan. He was afraid

he might go blind. The virus had entered his brain.
The water heater exploded. He fell from the extension ladder
while cleaning the gutters. His neck. He walked out

into the deepening snow and just kept going. The twister
lifted off the roof and plucked him from his chair.
It was nothing specific. He left a note and swallowed

all his medications. He’d talked it over
with his doctor. His face covered with lesions.
The intruder slashed his throat. He died of boredom.

The bridge collapsed. It was something in the water.
It was a sudden stroke. Food poisoning. He’d lost
his job. It was the shock of seeing

through you. He’d had the same pneumonia
twice before. It’s been in all the papers;
you must have heard of it by now. Lightning,

it was lightning. His liver failed. No one knew
he’d bought the gun. He had time to arrange everything.
He never knew. It was a blessing. He dropped

seventy pounds. Choked on a piece of plastic.
Yanked out all the tubes. Fell on his sword.
He would have wanted you to know.

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So that’s the Poetry Roundup for January – June 2019. We’ll be back again in January for the July – Dec 2019 roundup.

The Babysitter by Jessica Gadziala

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BLURB:

He went to the woods to get away from it all. His past, the demons ever at his heels. And, perhaps most importantly, people.
One million miles away from anyone.
Save for the occasional visit from a client he had to endure.
And that was exactly the way he liked it.
Until one night, he finds her.
Battered, scarred, tortured by the memories, in need of a safe haven.
So he does the unthinkable.
He offers to share his with her.
It’s not long before feelings start to arise.
Yet the demons refuse to stay at bay.
And two fractured people will have to see if it is possible to come together… without breaking everything apart.

REVIEW:

The Babysitter is the fifth book in Jessica Gadziala’s Professionals Series. 

Ranger lives in Pine Barrens woods which is owned by the government and well he’s not exactly supposed to be there. But the years pass and he is still left alone in his safe haven deep in the woods. Ranger has a self-sufficient cabin that he shares with his dogs, goats and Hens. He can go months without seeing another person. He’s works for Quin and helps with people that need to disappear for awhile

He hears things within the Woods and usually leaves things alone but one night he hears something he can’t ignore, a woman’s scream. What he finds is a woman who has been brutally attacked and left for dead.

This was one hell of a read and a little darker then Jessica has done for a while but let me say I really enjoyed how Meadow found herself within Rangers safe haven and then in turn helped pulled Ranger out of himself. This was a fantastic 5 star read for me.

Time (Laws of Physics #3) by Penny Reid

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BLURB:

From the New York Times Bestselling Author Penny Reid

A (broken-hearted) physicist.
Now an infamous (who is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!! UGH!) Musician.
The worst has already happened.

Mona has learned that she has nothing figured out and plans are meaningless. After leaving her in Aspen, Abram is now breaking sales-records, rising to rock star fame almost overnight. Mona can’t seem to escape him. He is literally everywhere, or at least images of him are.

Just when she thinks things can’t get any more confusing, Abram returns . . . What happens next? Only TIME will tell.

REVIEW:

Where to start… I’ve been dying for this book after reading the previous in the series I’ve been so looking forward to see how Mona and Abram’s story ends. It was worth the wait! I won’t be going too much into it as I really don’t want to give anything away. This is a three part story and should be read in order. You’d really be lost otherwise!

This story is about a super brainy and beautiful scientist, Mona and a super-hot, talented musician Abram. A very unlikely pair, but yet the crash into each other’s lives. This story was so lovely and I highly recommend giving it a read.

5 Stars!

Space (Laws of Physics #2) by Penny Reid

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BLURB: 
From the New York Times Bestselling Author Penny Reid

One week.
Private cabin.
Famous physicist.
Still an unrepentant slacker.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona’s meticulously planned allotment of relaxation is thrown into chaos by the unscheduled appearance of her older brother’s band of friends, including the one person she’d hoped to never face again. Abram still makes her feel entirely too much, which is one of the reasons she disappeared after their one week together. But now, trapped on a mountain of snow and things unspoken, Mona will have to find a way to coexist with Abram, chaos and all.

Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliff-hanger.

REVIEW:

Space is the second instalment in the Laws of Physics Books. It takes place 2 and a half years after the last book. I don’t want to give too much away but my heart broke for Mona all over again. She is nowhere near over Abram and now she is snowed in with him and her brother and all their friends. One thing that struck me in this book was her brother’s selfishness. Mona’s Family don’t seem to get her. I felt so sad for Mona at times throughout I was on the verge of tears for her.

I stared at her. I stared at her, and stared at her, and stared at her. I stared at her and I worked to keep my balance, because the floor and the earth moved beneath my feet. The cavern opened and stretched in front of me. I stared at her and I was afraid, because I knew. My whole life, from this point forward, I would be a fool for Mona DaVinci.

I’m not sure where it will go after this in the third part but I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Again the secondary characters where amazing and we got to see Kaitlyn and Michael from the Elements of Chemistry Books which I loved. Another 5 star read from my and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Penny Reid.

5 Stars!

Pride Month at South Dublin Reads – Part Three

As some of you may know, June is Pride Month across the world and here we want to highlight some new LGBTQ+ books. We’ll be highlighting, over a number of Sundays, the winners of the 31st Lambda Literary Awards, as well as the longlists (out 10th June) for the Polari Prizes.

Our third of three features on the 31st Lambda Literary Awards, we cover the LGBTQ categories. Next week, we’ll be featuring the shortlists for the Polari Prizes.

WINNER – LGBTQ Nonfiction
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Winner of the 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
Winner of the Shilts-Grahn Triangle Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018

A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work—until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” and Imani Perry’s multi-dimensional, illuminating biography, Looking for Lorraine.

After the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry used her prominence in myriad ways: challenging President Kennedy and his brother to take bolder stances on Civil Rights, supporting African anti-colonial leaders, and confronting the romantic racism of the Beat poets and Village hipsters. Though she married a man, she identified as lesbian and, risking censure and the prospect of being outed, joined one of the nation’s first lesbian organizations. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians, including Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. Looking for Lorraine is a powerful insight into Hansberry’s extraordinary life—a life that was tragically cut far too short.

A Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Book for Nonfiction
Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction
A 2019 Pauli Murray Book Prize Finalist

WINNER – LGBTQ Anthology
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“We are homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals and whateversexuals, burning to rescue this continent…” —Pwaangulongii Dauod

The second offering in the Gerald Kraak annual anthology, As You Like It, is a collection of the short-listed entries submitted for the Gerald Kraak Award. This anthology offers a window into deeply located visions and voices across Africa. It brings together stories of self-expression, identity, sexuality, and agency, all located within Africa and its legacy.

WINNER – LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult
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Prepare to be swept up by this exquisite novel that reminds us that grief and love can open the world in mystical ways.

Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

WINNER – LGBTQ Drama
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The hilarious and deeply moving story of conservative Muslim mother at her wits’ end, a Muslim father who likes to tell jokes, and a queer American woman trying to make a good impression on her Indian in-laws. In a story about family and love and the things we do to be together, one immigrant family must come to terms with a child who defies their most basic expectations of what it means to have a daughter…and one woman will redefine the limits of unconditional love. This unique play compassionately brings to life the often ignored struggle that a family goes through when their child transitions from one gender to another.

“[DRAW THE CIRCLE] chronicles, with surprising empathy, not just what it was like to slowly, painfully come to terms with transition, but what it was like for loved ones who shunned everything about it.” —Washington Post. “…an insightful work that is noteworthy for the compassion with which the playwright…explores viewpoints different from his own…even the most intolerant of characters are allowed to come across as warmly sympathetic in their own ways.” —TheaterMania.com. “…essential viewing…Deen’s extreme vulnerability and creativity coalesce to make it a vitally important piece of theater…DRAW THE CIRCLE is a singular theatrical experience.” —BroadwayWorld.com. “The effect of Deen’s storytelling technique and artistry is arresting…a masterful act of writing…If you believe theater can teach us something important about who we are as gendered beings—or even if you just have a hunch that America cannot be great if driven by hate—DRAW THE CIRCLE is an epochal inquiry into identity…and some of the most pressing questions of our time.” —DCMetroTheaterArts.com.

WINNER – LGBTQ Erotica
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Miles has experienced a lot of new things since he fell into his cute neighbor’s orbit, but he never dreamed Honesty would whisk him away to a space-themed queer sex party in a swanky downtown apartment.  It’s not at all what he expected, and Miles has a lot to learn about his friend-with-benefits as well as himself.

WINNER – LGBTQ Graphic Novels
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Parrish’s emotionally loaded, painted graphic novel is is a visual tour de force, always in the service of the author’s themes: navigating queer desire, masculinity, fear, and the ever-in-flux state of friendships.
—-You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here—-

WINNER – LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
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Lamat Paed understands paradoxes. She’s a great mountain climber who’s never summited, the author of a tell-all that didn’t really tell anything. For years she guided pilgrims up the foothills of the Sublime Mount, leading them as high as God would let them go. And then she partnered the apostate Southern priest Mother Disaine on the most daring, most blasphemous expedition in history–an attempt to reach the summit of the sacred mountain, the top of God’s head. Disaine returned in triumph, claiming to be the first person since the prophet to have summited and lived. But Lamat went into hiding.
Now, late in life and exiled from the mountain, Lamat finally tells her story to her partner, Otile. It’s the story of why she really wrote her first book all those years ago, how she came to be cast out from the mountain-dwelling Holoh people, and how she fled to the anonymity of the city to hide from her fame. Most of all, it’s the story of her bond with Mother Disaine–the blasphemer, charlatan, and visionary who stole Lamat’s life to serve her own purposes–and what really happened on their last, greatest expedition.
”Not since The Left Hand of Darkness has any book conveyed to me the profundity of the winter journey and the intensity of relationships forged in it. But where Le Guin was always evasive about religion in her sublime mountain landscapes, Fellman is direct about it. She creates an immanence in her mountain, The Body of God, that her characters respond to with an authentic and credible religious passion, one that gets mixed up with all other passions in their lives.
”The creed of Asam is elegantly crafted, beautifully quotable: ‘Your bodies are the compaction of stars and your minds are the compaction of history. Be decent to each other; pity each other, for it is not an easy state to be made of so much and live for so little a time.’ The prose throughout is simple and luminous, with many sentences that hang in the mind: ‘Sometimes I think there is nothing sadder than a toy. They usually have faces, but they have no use.’ Altogether a book that is about much more than ambition to scale a peak.” Sarah Tolmie, author of The Stone Boatmen and Two Travelers

WINNER – LGBTQ Studies
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Toxic Silence: Race, Black Gender Identity, and Addressing the Violence against Black Transgender Women in Houston contributes to a growing body of transgender scholarship. This book examines the patriarchal and heteronormative frames within the black community and larger American society that advances the toxic masculinity which violently castigates and threatens the collective embodiment of black transgender women in the USA. Such scholarship is needed to shed more light on the transphobic violence and murders against this understudied group.

Little is known about the societal and cultural issues and concerns affecting black transgender women and how their gender identity is met with systemic, institutional, and interpersonal roadblocks. During a time period in American history defined by Time Magazine as “The Transgender Tipping Point,” black transgender women have emerged as social, cultural, and political subjects to advance our understanding of the lives of people who identify as a part of both the black and LGBTQIA communities. In the end, this book calls on the black community and culture to end the toxic silence and act instead as allies who are more accepting and inclusive of differing sexualities and gender identities in an effort to improve the generative power of black solidarity.

 

 

Motion (Laws of Physics #1) by Penny Reid

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BLURB:

Forced to lie to protect her sister . . .

From the New York Times Bestselling Author, Penny Reid

One week.
Home alone.
Girl genius.
Unrepentant slacker.
Big lie.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona is a smart girl and figured everything out a long time ago. She had to. She didn’t have a choice. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you graduate from high school at fifteen, finish college at eighteen, and start your PhD program at nineteen, you don’t have time for distractions outside of your foci. Even fun is scheduled. Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant.

Abram is a talented guy, a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out, nor does he seem to care. He does what he feels, when he feels, and—in Mona’s opinion—he makes her feel entirely too much.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliff-hanger.

Review:

OH MY GOD… I was blown away by this new series from Penny Reid. She is the queen of geeky and hilarious books and Motion is no different. This had all the feels that had me reading this book in one go!

“You have to tell me what you want,” he whispered gruffly. “If you don’t want me, tell me. But you have to know, you must know, I only want to make you happy.”

There is so much going on in this first part of the Laws of Physics book, Twin Swopping, Falling for someone who is the complete opposite of you but it all works and makes for one great read, I cannot wait to see where this story goes. I will be diving into part 2 immediately.

5 Stars!

 

White by Bret Easton Ellis

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People hated this. I didn’t. I thought it was an interesting series of essays about a wide range of topics. Sure, it’s not perfect. Sure, he sometimes says odd things, or that he doesn’t care about things when he probably does, but it’s a worthwhile series of essays.

Your view of politics and the internet certainly might influence how you read this book and Bret is a self-admitted troll, saying stupid things at times (which he discusses at length) and that people just need to get on with the day-to-day (his younger partner, a millennial – something he keeps talking about over and over – is perpetually freaking out about the regime over there, whilst Ellis doesn’t care).

A lot of the book is based on I Don’t Care, to be honest. Which, again, if we’re honest, is very much like one of Ellis’ characters, cruising through life.

This review makes it sound like I didn’t like it, but I did, and it’s worthwhile picking up if you’re interested in Ellis.

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