The Book of Learning by E. R. Murray


When Ebony Smart’s grandfather dies under strange circumstances she is sent from her cottage in the countryside to live with her Aunt in atmospheric 23 Mercury lane in Dublin. Ebony’s family has a mysterious background, she is part of a society of people who reincarnate and have 9 lives. Over the years people from the order have been disappearing and Ebony makes the discovery that her Grandfather was murdered. She finds herself caught up in a race to find out what has been happening to people from the order of nine lives. Ebony is very mistrustful and suspicious of everyone except Winston her pet rat and starts to rely on the mysterious book of learning found in the study of Cornelius, her most unusual uncle.

The story is full of quirky  characters, is fast paced and compelling and is set against the back drop of Dublin.Lots of the action takes place around well-known places  such as the National Library, St Stephen’s Green and the Botanic Gardens. This all helps to make the story come to life and appear more real.  There is a lot going on in the plot and it’s quite spooky in places which I love, slightly older readers around 9+ should enjoy this.


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


In My Room by Jim Lucey


Jim Lucey is a psychiatrist who has been working for over 25 years with patients in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin. He is a regular contributor to RTE on mental health matters on the “Sean O’Rourke Show”

This book is a collection of stories about the people he encountered in his practice and it makes for surprisingly interesting and uplifting reading. A book you can dip in and out of, it was an unexpected best seller when it was published in 2014. What shines through the stories, is Lucey’s immense compassion and respect for the patients who come to him. What also struck me was how diverse the range of psychological problems that  beset the human race can be  and how crippling such difficulties can become.

Jim Lucey manages to always instill a note of hope into the narratives he presents and refers to the “recovery journey” as a possibility for all his patients. This book is of interest to all who are curious about people and what makes them tick, but they will find more that that here, they will come to awareness that we are all vulnerable but also all resourceful. For those who deal with their own pain or that of a loved one, Jim Lucey offers an optimistic view that there is help available and there is light at the end of the tunnel.


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

Brilliant Book Titles#26

It’s yer only man, apparently (although I’ve never cared for it meself!)

#brilliantbook titles

a pint of plain

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

When Bill Barich moved to Dublin, he began searching for a traditional pub to serve as his local. Although he had no shortage of choices, he had trouble finding one that measured up to the archetypal ideal. As he roams from hectic urban pubs to their dwindling rural counterparts, he chronicles the state of the ‘Irish’ pub today, both in Ireland itself and all over the world. Entertaining, charming and full of insight, “A Pint of Plain” chronicles Barich’s quest for the perfect pint, at the same time examining Irish culture at a time of great change.

Mistaken by Neil Jordan


This is a story of identity; two parallel lives in Dublin intersecting and switching over due to the similarities in physical appearance and personality between two people from the nineteen sixties to the present. Two boys who have grown up in different environments; one of South Side privilege the other from a modest Fairview background. Friends and acquaintances mistake each for the other the similarities in their natures allow them, in particular, the narrator, Kevin, to slip for a short time into the life of his doppelganger, Gerry. The book is superbly visual, the picture of sixties and seventies Dublin clear in the background of the stories of two very different lives intertwining. Like many of Neil Jordan’s stories there is a sense of displacement in the main character, he seems an onlooker to his own life which parallels what happens when he is actually misidentified as Gerry and passively acts out that role.

The other major subject of the novel is the relationship between Kevin and his mother and the enviorns of Marino Crescent, Fairview and Clontarf. The two of them are close; a favourite activity for them is bathing in the sea off the bull wall. His father in contrast, is a distant figure an on-course bookmaker increasingly absent from home who returns after a tragedy

There seems to be the screenplay for a great Neil Jordan movie in this novel a great movie about Dublin, Dublin people and how people interact, relate and how we all play a role in our lives. I’d definitely recommend it.


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

Dub Sub Confidential: A Goalkeeper’s Life with – and without – the Dubs by John Leonard

dub sub

Whether you are a sports fan or not, you will be gripped by this honest, funny, sad story of a footballer on the Dublin panel, living in the shadow of Stephen Cluxton.  Thought by many to be the outstanding sports memoir of 2015, I can but agree.

This is an account of what it’s like to find the one thing that you excel at in life and the frustrations of not being able to shine as you wish to do. The book grips you from page one, with it’s raw emotion and wit. John’s story is one of achievement, addiction and rehabilitation, but we are dealing with no saint here, rather a man who struggled with his demons and found a reason to pull back from the brink of destruction. What shines through is the importance of family and the support and love of John’s father, thorough all life’s ups and downs.

If you want a book that moves you to laughter and tears, a book that you cannot put down until you reach the end, then read this. Highly recommended!


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

Woman in the Making: A Memoir by Rory O’Neill (aka Panti)

woman in the making

First things first, Rory can write, which was a nice surprise – sometimes people from other fields who write a memoir aren’t always suited to it, but he has a keen ear for a nice turn of phrase. His style is clean and very readable, but also at times quite beautiful.

His story is laid out chronologically starting with his childhood, talking about his art school days, his time in Tokyo, his life in Dublin, drag, HIV, and ending with his Noble Call, which made him world-famous.

I don’t have anything much more constructive than to say it’s quite brilliant, full of deftly observed characters and situations, full of warmth and memory and love.

If you’re interested in drag, this is a must-read. If you’re interested in Panti(gate), it’s also a must-read. I loved how it was the Panti/Rory that I’d seen in person at his shows that was speaking, as in, there was no censorship of events (there’s quite a discussion about his club days and anal adventures thereof – which to this day, is still something people in Dublin talk about). I ended up staying up until 3am finishing it!

It’s evenly balanced with not too much, or too little written about each chapter of his life. In short, it’s highly recommended. A word on the trade paperback and smaller, recent paperback – the recent one has a new prologue, set after the passing of the 2015 marriage referendum.


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

The Guns of Easter by Gerard Whelan

guns of easter

Jimmy Conway lives in the tenements of Dublin in 1916. His uncle Mick who supposed to take him to the Fairyhouse races at Easter never shows up and bitterly disappointed he goes out to find his friends to cheer himself up only to find total chaos on the streets of Dublin. In the meantime Jimmy’s sister gets very sick with a fever and he has to cross the city to get money from his well off aunt for a doctor. His aunt lives on Northumberland Road however, one of the scenes of the heaviest fighting in the Rising. As he crosses the city he encounters soldiers on both sides fighting and bravely tries to make his way to his aunt’s house

This book for 9-12 year olds provides an unbiased account of the rising and doesn’t favor one side over the other, both sides are equally represented in this gripping page turner.


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