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book lover

Joseph O’Connor is a favourite of ours, so I read Shadowplay with obvious bias – his books have long been the doyenne of our book clubs and his first new book in five years does not disappoint.

Set in 1878, Shadowplay is a stunning account of the part of Bram Stoker’s life that led to the creation of his masterpiece Dracula. The book is set in London’s Lyceum theatre, where he worked as general manager. Stoker was heavily influenced by key people and events during his time here.

Having abandoned his boring office job in Dublin, Stoker heads to London with his young wife Florence at his side. In the Big Smoke he discovers the theatre is in a state of decay and disrepair.  

The character of Henry Irving plays a key role in shaping Stoker’s time in London. Irving is a demanding actor who owns the theatre with little interest in its day-to-day beyond plying his trade on stage seeking critical acclaim each night.

Ellen Terry, the third in the holy trinity on which the story is based, an alluring actor that both Stoker and Irving adore. She joins the regular cast at the Lyceum which is a turning point for Stoker’s marriage to disintegrate.  

Throughout the book there is an undercurrent of sexual desire – not least amongst the holy trinity but it’s also the time in London where the Ripper's crimes have led to a fevered atmosphere of terror and depravity.  There is an obvious connection between the blood lust on the streets and how it influenced the horror found in Dracula.

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Stoker struggled with his literary endeavours during his life – O’Connor depicts his struggles beautifully whilst also including echoes of Stoker’s Dracula throughout.  Please don’t let the mention of Dracula put you off if it wasn’t your cup of tea – this is not a horror story. It’s a beautifully written masterpiece. He weaves in magical mentions of Stoker’s peers at the time such as Oscar Wilde which further fuel the undercurrent of sexual frustration at the time.

The opportunity for discussion around this book is vast not least to explore the complexities of love that stand dangerously outside the social conventions of the time.  

This beautifully written novel firmly gets our thumbs up for your next book club read or as a different but enchanting companion to your beach reads.


The homeless crisis in Ireland seems to be worsening as more and more families are struggling to afford rent or in worse cases, can’t even keep a roof over their heads.

We can donate to homeless charities and throw a few euros into the cup of a homeless person sitting on O’Connell bridge, but we will never truly understand how difficult it is unless it happens to us.

A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington opened my eyes about the sheer heartache homeless people face on a day-to-day basis.


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This book made me realise just how lucky I am to go home to my warm house in Drimnagh. I’m sure we’re all guilty of complaining about our home. The wallpaper is too old-fashioned. The carpet looks grubby. My room is too small.

But we really have no right to do so, especially when people are sleeping on park benches and in run-down ‘boutique’ hotels.

The story of Ruth and DJ will move you and give you a well-needed reality check.

The single mother and her son never truly fit in, but they never cared about that, once they were always together.

When their home comes under threat, their quiet lives will change forever.

This tale will show you the harrowing realities of homelessness in Ireland. Too many people in our country are fighting similar battles to Ruth and DJ and Tom.


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DJ struggles to do his homework in his hotel bedroom, just like many other Irish pupils.

Ruth lives in fear of losing her job because she doesn’t have a stable home, just like many other Irish mothers.

Tom has become one of Dublin’s invisible, just like the many people we fail to notice as we rush down the city streets.


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Everyone has felt like an outsider at some point in their lives, this is the book to make you feel like you belong.

Carmel Harrington’s words will stick with you long after you finish the final page of this book. The lesson A Thousand Roads Home teaches you is one that’ll stay in your heart for a very long time.

A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington is published by Harper Collins. It will be released on October 18, 2018.


Happy Book Lovers Day, fellow bookworms. It’s one of the greatest days of the year where we can gush about our literary loves even more than we usually do.

There are so many things I wanted to write about for this week’s book piece, from my all time favourite books to reasons why you should read more.

However, I decided to pen a love letter to the literary world and talk about why being a bookworm is one of the most wonderful things.

Without further ado, here are The Perks of Being a Bookworm:

Sense of comfort:

Nothing warms my heart more than curling up in my room, switching my fairy lights on and reading a book. There’s something so soothing about taking a break from the world and diving into a different place, meeting new people and learning about their lives all from the comfort of your own reading zone, whether that’s your bedroom, a local cafe or your neighbourhood library. Reading offers the greatest sense of comfort and helps you escape the dull realities of everyday life.

Visiting bookshops:

Bookshops are a safe haven for so many people. They offer a sense of serenity from the hectic hustle and bustle of the city. I could easily spend hours scouring the shelves in dinky little bookshops. The peace and tranquility the stores offer also help me when I’m feeling anxious. They act as a safe place when the city can seem a tad daunting. They may be my favourite place to visit, but I’m afraid I can’t say the same for my bank account because I never fail to leave without purchasing at least one book, it’s impossible.

The perfect company:

It’s sad but true, people are feeling lonelier than ever before. Loneliness is affecting so many people all around the world for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s something as simple as not having enough time to socialise or a deeper reason like anxiety preventing you from leaving the house. Luckily, books can be a huge comfort if you are feeling pretty lonesome. You could delve into a timeless classic like Frankenstein and learn about Victor Frankenstein and his complicated mind, or perhaps unwind with the beautiful words of Rupi Kaur’s poetry in Milk and Honey.

Characters like Bridget Jones,Tracy Beaker, Matilda Wormwood and Katniss Everdeen quickly became part of my world throughout some of the dullest times in my life, and you’ll certainly feel comforted by the characters amongst the pages of whatever book you pick up.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers" – Charles William Eliot.

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