The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

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Book Review: The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

IMG_0017My love for Literary Fiction is beyond any words I could think and/or write, I follow many of the critically acclaimed reviews of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Colum McCann & Zadie Smith (to name a few). 

Within this piece, I am going to challenge myself with reviewing this piece. I first read Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn back in 2009 and his style is simply delicate, yet steeped in detail
and it is that easy current that draws you in and makes you part of the story.

I have also read The Empty Family and I raved so much to my partner that he went and purchased a signed first edition for my birthday. Since then I have heard Tóibín speak at the Kilkenny Literature Festival in 2012 and have personally received a signed copy of an earlier piece The Master. 

So this brings me to his newest work of literature, as Tóibín was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 I was apprehensive at first to buy it, the backdrop to the story seemed very… well boring. I really don’t care to gain an insight into Mother Mary’s life and I really don’t care to relive Jesus’s story if I want to regain my religious side I will read the Bible (maybe not).

However when I started to read it I was very surprised, but many questions made me research the reasoning behind Tóibín’s idea for such a strange character, and to make it Fiction in a very Catholic Ireland seems somewhat out of place, I know the Catholic Church are not going to jump on this and review in a good or bad light, however the people of Ireland are still very spiritual, more so than one might think. If some have left their churches they still have the faith in the what our religion has given us; A higher being.

The voice I start to hear is one of a woman with many hopes, but on the flip side has many losses within her mind, these losses do not seem so surprising to this woman, she wishes for these returns but knows within her heart that these will not be given to her. She has a disbelief about her voice, a questionable tone towards the events she is re-enacting.

The events detail the circumstances behind Jesus’s story, a political context with a viewpoint of a mother who just wants to keep her son safe, these contexts of a religious story has a modern edge, no longer a tale it now holds a contemporary concrete reasoning to it.

A intelligent and very thoughtful read, the voice had a deep rooted element to it, her thoughts and feelings, even her determination made me take note of the events surrounding Jesus’s death.

This is Tóibín’s expertise, he gives you this voice that burrows into your heart and moves through you, makes you visualise the events so deeply that you become to love this character and the story even if the topic would not be a personal favourite.

A quick read, yet an intense and eye-opening topic, it has done what Tóibín has set out to do; give Jesus’s story a different lens!





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Book Review: “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo

IMG_0347I find myself lately picking up all my books reading a few pages and not being impressed, so I asked myself what do I want? The answer is I don’t know!

So with annoyance I took a book from my partners bookshelf.

Alongside this I sought the blogosphere to see other reviews, but you have to be careful as you don’t want the whole story. Goodreads gave good ratings, another gave good review from the Netherlands lastly, a professional book reviewer. 

At first not much attention was given to the story however as I found myself wondering about the following page I realised I better start taking note!

Based in Oslo, Norway and translated from Norwegian into English it is a surprising good read. Having read and loved Jeffrey Deaver and Michael Connelly I began getting tired of the same structure of a Crime/Thriller but here Nesbo does something different. He gives you little questions that you keep asking as you turn the pages, and because I was not paying much attention by the time I got to the letter he had received I thought I had missed something entirely, but by rereading I hadn’t missed anything Nesbo in a sneaky way just dropped in the middle of his theory containing a serial killer! I really better pay attention!

As the book develops Nesbo keeps you on your toes by giving you the making of an actual murder, and leaves trails of clues. For instance; the present day missing woman, the scarf, the mobile phone, but we are still left questioning what it is the detective Harry Hole is really thinking. My early thinking of trying to ask or even answer the questions Hole is thinking follows on from this, that Nesbo is leaving us to decide if the reader wants to do this or if they can!

What really made me sit up and think, is the story of his childhood and how he could “taste the darkness” and before you know it he is in the present day reliving it, the darkness that he portrays is so dense and eerie, that for a minute you can imagine how it does taste.

The character of Jonas really intrigued me, the kid could tell alot more than what is being asked of him and yet again I am left frustrated by the father who questions what Detective Hole might know or might not know, Nesbo has given me a bad feeling about this man through the child’s behaviour earlier on, however there is more to this family that meets the eye…

Not even half way through the book it gets a little lost, it hits on a link between the 1st missing woman and now an actual murder while still trying to find links to other possible missing woman and the conclusion to Hole’s theory…a serial killer. After it hits on this link it drives really fast in various ways and all of a sudden we are given a third potential victim, however slightly confusing backdrop to her thoughts???

The investigation that Hole is on spans over 24 days, so in-between these days Nesbo jumps back and forth not only through historical events of the snowman’s victims but to potential leads within each current investigation and his own personal life….. This list of characters is going to get very tangled very quickly!

The story gathers momentum just over halfway through however it comes to a questionable abrupt stop whereby they have seemingly found the killer…I am not impressed as this is another structure of thrillers that annoy me,why give me a killer on page 210, I do know there are another 35o odd pages to read!

What Nesbo does add in the middle instead is a raunchy account of his sex life, it seems like Nesbo is really trying a bit too hard to show just how broken Harry Hole’s life is, addiction to alcohol, his ex and his job, I get it I don’t need explicit scenes to tell me, now can we catch this killer already!

As the book develops and leads are found and then found dead, and more sex scenes are added, the story does loose the point of the book – ‘the snowman’ and to my greater annoyance Hole’s so called partner is a bit nuts and has been adding to the killings, the only reason I am going to finish this book is in the hope I am very surprised! From here I shall add that I will not be reading another Jo Nesbo book, sorry bout that!

So I was correct in my killer, I am proud, but not surprised! There was always something a little to perfect about this partner of his ex, however I had not made a few connections to which I am surprised I did not pick up on but then I was thinking if I have an idea of who the killer is I really don’t want to be right.

So, it is the end of my ‘quick read’ and first Jo Nesbo book, a good story and I did have fun playing his guessing game, however I really did not need so many cul de sac’s filled with endless silly leads and sex!


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Striving as a Pro!


“Core Values & Ethical Principles are often percieved as one and the same, but as we have often seen are in fact somewhat different in definition and application” (Koehler 2005)

Professional Practice is in my eyes, simple to define, its what you are good at, because if you are good at your work, even though it may not be the best position or even profession that are are in, you as a person has expectations and skills that you want to enhance.

Within developing the many assignments for the MLIS the one theme that keeps reacurring is “Creativity”. To express your ideas in many shapes, either through Blog’s or creating the module to your intrests, ideas and experiences.

Throughout my years working in Hospitality you are engineered to be organised and prepared for the worst, it looks very bad if you run out of wine an hour into service or you don’t have enough food prepared when you have forth warning that the restaurant is going to be busy!

Creativity buils your confidence, I find the feedback you get from collegues and educators is so fulfilling that you just want to try more.

Competencies is a new word within the world of professions for me, I never once thought that my abilities, knowledge and skills gave impact to an organisation. I was there to provide a service, like anyone else, they needed someone to serve drinks and organise a function I had those skills… so the job got done. However looking back over my time in various Hotels many instances arose where it was busy and I was called on to manage these large functions because I was certain it had to be a success, nothing was to go wrong, that is not professional!

Being prepared is essential with the Hospitality industry you need to plan in advance so that when the time arrives to actually get the room ready you have everything you need you just need to arrange it.

Having excellent communication skills is a must to make sure everyone knows what page there on, if the chef has only 40 salmon portions and you have 100 sitting down to eat plan with you staff to recommed the Beef or the Pasta dish and “go easy” on the salmon.

Know what you selling, if you get a new wine in stock, research it.. if you don’t have previous knowledge or this particular label or grape. Another example is, if a new dish has been made, ask the chef questions, there is nothing worse than a customer asking a question and you having to leave the table to go find information elsewhere.

All the skills I have gained in my previous career are so important and transferable to this discipline, however there are many more areas that I need to work on, for example presentation skills, even though I am a bubbly and talkative person the minute I have to give a presentation I will crumble and fall. It is these esteem building skills that I would be prepared to focus on.

The idea of PLN is definitely not new, the old saying rings true. “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” is often heard to network people within areas of your expertise. However now it seems that what you know should be given to others in order to get them into your cirle. The book by Bedell speaks of social bookmarking, which I am really enjoying, for instance one of my classmates posted on her blog about the website which I found excellent and will use.

The last aspect that I find new and exciting is the compoent of a live event, being prepared to attend conferences and events within the library and information studies fields is dauting, the recent event I got invited to in Trinity was a perfect example. I arrived in my own college wear, however the guy that was talking was a marketing executive and everyone was in suits and dressed impeccable, hence I sat at the back and once it ended I fled!!!

I am hoping that this blog and the other 2 I have created will help me in my journey to entering the career of Information and Libray Studies, social networking is something that I think will help me build on my presentations skills, the ability to talk to people who you don’t know and ask questions about areas you are not really sure of will make me more confident to stand up and talk about an area that I truly love and understand.

That’s all folks !!!!



My Favorite Place


The monastery library, The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

We’ll never get tired of the library-as-maze metaphor: it’s just so satisfying on both metaphorical and literal levels. Eco’s secret, labyrinthine library, though set in the real world of a 14th century monastery, is based on Borges’s Library of Babel — after all, its blind librarian is called Jorge from Burgos. “It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring,” Eco writes, “an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.”

After a day of getting my social networking sites up to date and sorting my ever building “To-Do” list, I received an email from a very nice person (whom I only know via these online networking sites) with an invitation to one of his talks in Trinity, only available on special invite!

To say I am chuffed is an understatement, as the semester flies on, and we are being encouraged to build and search for other people’s ideas and blogs and network your way around the world, I did think it very daunting experience, so this nice invite has really given me the confidence to keep going and find people who normally I would think outside my circle.

It is also very addictive, I would normally do college work all day on a Friday and in between readings, notes etc, I would “take a break” and go online, Facebook, Twitter, etc, now it’s part of my college work a constant up date of who’s who and links that just keep on adding up.

A classmate introduced me to “Web note” and an addition on it is you can track and keep all the websites you like, similar to bookmarking, already I have 50 with various tags attached!! I think I am getting the drift!!!