• BOOKS

    DRIVING OVER LEMONS

    Given the ban on travel because of the current pandemic, and a series of unfortunate events that have prevented us from even wandering around Ireland, I've taken lately to travelling vicariously through other people's accounts of their journeys and life experiences in various parts of the world. In this adventure we're off to Andalucia in the 1980s with the first…

  • ART,  THINGS

    PACK ALPHA

    Being the leader of the pack is a responsible job and sometimes it's necessary to let the other pack members know where they stand. In my little pack I sometimes have to remind Klaus (a tiny chiweenie who thinks he's a Doberman) that I'm the Alpha. I thought us Alphas should have a subtle way of recognising each other when…

  • ART,  THINGS

    KINDA CAMO

    I made a decision at one point during one of the gulf wars to stop wearing camouflage trousers and jackets because there was a proliferation of clothes using pseudo-military colours and design and I couldn't help thinking it was a subtle ploy to acclimatise us to a state of war. In hindsight that may have been just me overthinking the…

  • ART,  THINGS

    HEART TO HEART

    My daughter (paparali.com) was going through a phase of matching pink or yellow with grey when decorating her new home and that inspired me to come up with this design. Combining the heart with a recurring pattern of lines challenged me to come up with something that would work over a wide range of products and as a recurring pattern.I…

  • BOOKS

    MORIARTY

    Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz Sherlock Holmes is dead. Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.…

  • BOOKS

    NECROPOLIS

    Necropolis by Anthony Horowitz Evil has been unleashed on the world and only five children – with special powers – can save it. Matt and the other three desperately need to find Scar, the final gatekeeper, who has been trapped in Hong Kong, where puddles of water turn into puddles of blood, where ghosts, demons and hideous creatures stalk the…

  • ART,  THINGS

    BASSET MOMMA

    If you've read earlier posts you'll know I have two chiweenies in my 'pack' that have weaseled their way into my life in a way only tiny lapdogs can do. We've long ago given up thinking of them as 'dogs' and now they're just family members. I'm not sure how I got here. I've always believed dogs were family pets…

  • ART,  THINGS

    MY REDBUBBLE REVOLUTION

    Okay I realise everybody at some stage looks at other peoples art and says to themselves “I could do that”. Sometimes we’re so off track that as soon as we try we realise it’s a non-runner, but then sometimes that’s all we need to recognise our own ‘art’ is quite good, in its own way. It took me years, no…

  • FOOD

    THE KILLUMNEY INN

    A quick call to the Killumney Inn on a Saturday evening in July to make sure there would be a table available and we were off and seated by 8pm. We needn't have worried about getting a table because only one other table in the restaurant was occupied and on a summer Saturday evening that seemed a little off putting.

  • BOOKS

    YEAR ONE

    This is my first Nora Roberts novel and it won't be my last. Okay I realise she appears to mostly write romantic fiction and while it has it's place it wouldn't be something in which I'd want to invest enough time for a whole novel, but that aspect received a light touch in this book and was used only to…

  • TV

    BLACK SPOT

    This thriller with supernatural tendencies is set in probably the bleakest and most dilapidated location ever to have been broadcast into anyones livingroom. Think Fortitude without the pretty white snow, mixed with a dash of Fargo and rounded off with the weirdness of Twin Peaks.

  • BOOKS

    A BOOK OF BONES

    The new Charlie Parker novel is always a highly anticipated event for me. It's like getting together with a group of old friends that studiously avoid social media and the way that medium devalues the joy and sometimes sadness of "catching up". A Book of Bones was more like being invited to a wedding to which those old friends had…

  • BOOKS

    GONE

    Gone is the first in a series of YA of six novels which pitches a group of young people against forces they can't begin to understand and ultimately each other. Once again we have Lord of the Flies meets Stephen King's under the dome with a touch of Marvel's Xmen thrown in for good measure.

  • TV

    THE SOCIETY

    Have you noticed how many books and TV shows have taken the Lord of the Flies premise and run with it? This outing is definitely above average and despite coming across as a YA version of Stephen King's The Dome it holds its own with above average acting, an intelligent plot (once you get over the initial 'how it happened'…

  • BOOKS

    THE REDBREAST

    This is the 3rd Harry Hole novel and in this instalment in the very successful series of bestsellers, the level of complexity we have grown to expect from Jo Nesbo begins to show itself. The story combines elements of both a whodunnit and a who-will-do-it by delivering a very well integrated combination of stories from the second world war and…

  • BOOKS

    ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE

    This is my first Nora Roberts novel and it won't be my last. Okay I realise she appears to mostly write romantic fiction and while it has it's place it wouldn't be something in which I'd want to invest enough time for a whole novel, but that aspect received a light touch in this book and was used only to…

  • BOOKS

    FEVRE DREAM

    FEVRE DREAM by George R.R. Martin Abner Marsh has had his dearest wish come true – he has built the Fevre Dream, the finest steamship ever to sail the Mississippi. Abner hopes to race the boat some day, but his partner is making it hard for him to realise his ambition. Joshua York put up the money for Fevre Dream,…

  • SOAPBOX

    WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?

    The second statistic informed me that 10 women are murdered each year in Ireland by their husband or partner in their own home. At home where they should be safest and by the one person they thought would love and protect them. I don’t recall their sad demise being reported in banner headlines and that’s probably because it’s no longer…

  • BOOKS

    THE BOY WHO SAW

    This is the second in a series of novels about the enigmatic figure that is Solomon Creed and, in my opinion, this outing is far superior to the previous novel. Good conscience insists that I confess that any novel set in France has already gained some points from me because of my love for the country, but putting that aside…

  • BOOKS

    SOLOMON CREED

    I'd read previous books by this author and knew I was in for a decent novel that would be entertaining enough to hold my attention (during a busy time of the year for me) and provide good value for the time I'd invest. I was pleasantly surprised to find Solomon Creed an engaging character with a good balance of personality…

  • FLUFF

    MEANWHILE…#4

    This is what I’m getting up to lately… Reading: Not reading anything like the volume of books I should be reading since I’m in holiday mode for the past couple of weeks. Just finished Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. It’s a really satisfying twist on the whodunnit. Just started The Rise and Fall of DODO by Neal Stephenson and Nicole…

  • BOOKS,  THE BIG BOOK CHALLENGE

    LADY MIDNIGHT

    It's summertime so my head turns to YA fiction to get away from the pressure of "grown up" books - that's an insult to some of the YA fiction that outstrips the so-called mainstream novels by a country mile and especially when it comes to addressing social issues and generating a useful conversation, but in my case it simply means…

  • BOOKS

    AUTHORITY

    To be fair to Authority, book two in the Area X trilogy, I haven't read book one Annihilation. I saw the Netflix movie and despite some very mixed reviews I really enjoyed the disjointed nature of the story and the amazing special effect images. Given the fact there's unlikely to be a sequel to the movie I decided to check…

  • BOOKS

    SLEEPING BEAUTIES

    Apart from the fact that a Stephen King novel is almost always an entertaining read, what attracted me to this novel was the notion of a father/son collaboration. I hadn't read any of Owen King's other work, comedy not being one of my areas of interest, and it appealed to me to see what his influence on the story might…

  • BOOKS

    SEVENEVES

    The best way for me to describe this novel would be to call it The Silmarillion in Space. It's almost as epic and mythical as Tolkien's major work behind The Lord of The Rings and at times just as much hard work to read. In fairness it is described as 'hard science fiction' and while I am a sci-fi fan I'm…

  • BOOKS

    SHERLOCK HOLMES vs. CTHULHU

    I'll admit I'm a Holmes fan and enjoy the character in (almost) all of his manifestations. That's what caught my eye when I came across Lois H. Gresh's novel, along with the sub-title The Adventure of the Deadly Dimensions. Sadly the book didn't live up to my expectations, but that may not entirely be the author's fault.

  • MOVIES

    INCEPTION

    IN A SENTENCE: A mind-bending intelligent sci-fi thriller that keeps you on your toes from the first scene to the last.

  • BOOKS

    AMERICAN GODS

    The emergence of the new TV phenomenon that is American Gods seduced me into watching the first episode online. I read the novel some years ago and was engrossed not just by the weirdly literate style, plot and characters, but also by the concept of old gods and new gods meeting up in the new world.

  • BOOKS

    THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

    Every now and then a book comes along that you very badly want to talk about but you also very badly want not to spoil for others. This is one of those books. Let's just say it puts a new spin on a very current horror genre by telling the story from not only the point of view of the…

  • BOOKS

    OMENS

    Let's get this out of the way, we have a young woman with a problem who goes to live in a strange town and meets up with a socially stunted young professional with a past. She also hooks up with a 'bad boy' who isn't really a bad boy and part of her troubles include an ex-fiancee with a definite personality…

  • BOOKS

    MR. MERCEDES

    Stephen King said this was his first hard-boiled detective book and indeed it is. The plot makes it a page turner and the characters are as real as any King characters have ever been, and that's about as life-like as they get. His retired detective (to be played on TV by Irish actor Brendan Gleeson), complete with middle-aged health problems, is sufficiently weather-worn…

  • MOVIES

    XMEN – APOCALYPSE

    IN A SENTENCE: The re-emerging Xmen must do battle with an all-powerful mutant to save the world and themselves (and the franchise of course).

  • BOOKS

    SAPIENS

    I've developed the habit over the years of balancing my fiction addiction with reading some thought balancing non-fiction. That's not to say I don't learn a lot about the "real world" and life from good fiction, but sometimes my inner-nerd needs feeding. On this occasion the meal was less of a mental snack and more of a full-on feast.

  • BOOKS

    FRANKENSTEIN – THE SERIES

    I've been reading Dean Koontz novels on and off for decades, so when I saw he was rebooting the Frankenstein story I was intrigued, to say the least. The concept of updating old stories to a modern setting isn't a new one and it certainly is in vogue as far as TV is concerned - Grimm,

  • via Bons Bonbons
    THE WEB

    BON’S BONBONS

    Quite by chance flipping through blogs I came across one of those sites that always give me a tiny sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. We’ve all come across them and probably feel differently about what they mean to us. What am I talking about? A blog that once flourished but then came to a sudden stop. The…

  • BOOKS

    THE FIREMAN

    I like Joe Hill's work and reviewed his debut novel too and this book is no exception to that emerging rule, but I'd have to question when the blurb compares the "epic scope" of The Fireman with The Passage. Thankfully though it also got it wrong when it drew a line between Hill's novel and The Road - The Fireman is…

  • BOOKS

    STALLO

    Secret societies, conspiracies, kidnapping and trolls, yes trolls, sure what else would you need to create a seriously literate supernatural thriller? Throw into the mix the varied and mythical landscape of Sweden and characters that are both immediately everyday and extraordinary, and you get a novel that makes you want to read at double speed just to see what happens…

  • BOOKS

    THE WHITE ROAD

    In this the fourth Charlie Parker outing, John Connolly takes a definite step nearer to the supernatural. The move from Maine to the deep south adds another flavour to the tale and allows Connolly's lyrical style to flourish. He makes good use of the combination of standard crime thriller and supernatural horror story to maintain his own brand of thriller.

  • BOOKS

    THE TREES

    I have to confess it was the amazing cover that attracted me to this book in the first place. It deserves to be framed and put on a wall so that every time you pass it by you can pause and see something new that appeals to your eye. Happily the novel, The Trees, actually lives up to the cover and…

  • BOOKS

    THE KILLING KIND

    The third instalment in the Charlie Parker detective series introduces us to Elias Pudd and his secret weapon of eight-legged assassins. A long-time arachnophobe I squirmed my way through the passages where Pudd does his dirty work. Enough to keep me awake and begging for more.

  • SOAPBOX

    THE FAILED GENERATION

    PHOTO: Franklin / AP “I was a child in the sixties Dreams could be held through TV With Disney, and Cronkite, and Martin Luther Oh, I believed, I believed, I believed Nanci Griffith – It’s A Hard Life I’m in my mid-fifties and I was a child of the sixties. I grew up with the momentum of foreign protests igniting protest…

  • BOOKS

    DARK HOLLOW

    The second in the Charlie Parker series is every bit as chilling and thrilling as the debut novel. Connolly, rather cheekily some might think, manages to move his hero to Maine and then turn the dial up on the supernatural elements of the tale. Cheeky because the master of horror, Stephen King, based his tales of the unexpected in Maine…

  • MOVIES

    ONE MILLION DUBLINERS

    I don't normally review documentary films because I don't watch that many, but One Million Dubliners is such a special film that I just can't ignore it. Dublin, my hometown, is the capital city of Ireland and home to more than 500,000 people - Dublin county has a population of almost 2 million (almost 40% of the population of the republic).…

  • BOOKS

    HEART SHAPED BOX

    This is Joe Hill's debut novel and as such it justifies all of the nice things said about it by other authors. The writing is articulate without falling into the trap of being pretentious and it spares the reader from the over descriptive prose that ghost stories often subject us to.

  • MY STORY

    MY GRANDFATHER’S UNIFORM JACKET

    The legend of my maternal grandfather has survived almost 90 years of retelling down to his great grandchildren and yet we actually know very little of the man himself. Pretty much everybody in Ireland, especially last year which was the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, lays claim to having an ancestor on the rebel side and are proud to…

  • BOOKS

    CITY OF THE LOST

    Kelley Armstrong is best known for her supernatural thrillers but on this occasion she ventures into the world of detective fiction giving us a new hero in Detective Casey Duncan. I've reviewed other novels by Kelley Armstrong and the vast majority of them I really like and for a very good reason. She delivers on plot, keeping you interested in the…

  • FLUFF

    MEANWHILE…#3

    This is what I’m getting up to lately… Reading: I’m reading two books at the moment. The first is the latest from John Connolly Game of Ghosts and the other is for work Professional Development As Transformative Learning (!) by Patricia Cranton. Watching: Coming down from a staple diet of DC and Marvel binges, I’m on the lookout for something meaty. NCIS and…

  • PLACES

    IRELAND: THE STAR WARS CONNECTION

    The Ban Cheile* and I were fully charged and ready for our three-day adventure to South West Kerry to see if the Star Wars™ influence had changed the area in any way and also to enjoy a seriously chilled extended weekend break. If you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll know the cast and crew spent some time in and around…

  • BOOKS

    EVERY DEAD THING

    Charlie 'Bird' Parker is as robust a detective fiction character as any of the greats - including Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Harry Bosch - with a complexity that satisfies the reader and avoids any of the cliches. Parker is a sympathetic bad boy with a reason for revenge and an unapologetic approach to how he achieves it. Former cop turned…

  • PLACES

    IRELAND: VALENTIA – ISLAND AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

    While the Ban Cheile* and I were on our Ring Of Kerry trip last month we based ourselves in the Valentia Royal Hotel on the small island off the Kerry coast. The island is just 11km long and 3km wide with a population of only 665 permanent residents – about the same as a very small neighbourhood in Dublin. Having said that…

  • BOOKS

    NORSE MYTHOLOGY

    Neil Gaiman introduces us to his collection of Norse Myths by pointing out his introduction to this rich mine of fantastical stories was through Marvel's Thor™ as a child. I had an immediate resonance with the book because I too became aware and subsequently engrossed in Norse mythology in exactly the same way. Despite the limited source material available to him…

  • PLACES

    VALENTIA ROYAL HOTEL

    The Ban Cheile* and I were really looking forward to our three-day stay on  Valentia Island (Kerry, Ireland). We jokingly decided we’d go to South West Cork to see if we can follow the Force as it were.  All true Star Wars fans know by now that the amazing scene at the end of The Force Awakens, where Luke Skywalker…