The Light Between Oceans


Okay, it has been a while, I miss doing book reviews and a LOVELY girl called Laura whom I was at school with and used to work with pops in to my current job sometimes and her and her hubby bum me up about my blog, they demanded more book reviews so here we go. (Hi Laura and Eoin!)

I had been wanting to read The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman for a long time. I picked it up in work quite a lot, and when I heard it was soon going to be a film I thought no time like the present.

The crying persisted. The door of the lighthouse clanged in the distance, and Tom’s tall frame appeared on the gallery as he scanned the island with the binoculars. ‘Izzy!’ he yelled, ‘A boat!’ He vanished and re-emerged at ground level. ‘It’s a boat alright,’ Tom declared. ‘And -oh cripes! There’s a bloke, but-‘ The figure was motionless, yet the cried still rang out. he hoisted out a woollen bundle: a woman’s soft lavender cardigan wrapped around a tiny, screaming infant.

Tom Sherbourne, released from the horrors of the First World War, is now a lighthouse keeper, cocooned on a remote Australian island with his young wife Izzy, who is content in everything but her failure to have a child.

One April morning, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man- and a crying baby. Safe from the real world, Tom and Izzy break the rules and follow their hearts.

A decision with devastating consequences.

This is a beautiful, difficult book mostly about love. And ‘a story about right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.’

You do really try to think what you would do in this situation, on a tiny island with nothing but a lighthouse on it, and three painful miscarriages, and so much love in your heart.

Tom is reeling from WW1 when he takes this quiet post on the windswept island of Janus. He tends to ‘the light’ with as much care and dedication possible. The reverence with which all who are responsible for the light protect it is poetic and beautiful .

Later, when the old man spoke about the light, his voice changed, as though he were talking about a faithful dog or a favourite rose.

I have always have a fascination, a romantic notion of lighthouses. When and if I grow up I’d love to live in one and fill it with books. No big deal. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and I love how everything is thick with salt on the island. Salt lends itself wonderfully to prose.

On a visit back to the mainland, he meets Isabel Graysmark, she’s 10 years younger and knows what she wants as soon as she sees it. She arrives in his life full force and they are soon married. After so much heartbreak, the arrival of Lucy seems to be an answer to Izzy’s prayer. Tom wavers in his strict records and they go against every regulation little by little. By the time he realises what they have done it is too late.

This book is so, so worth reading. It made me weep. It really is a beautiful story, masterfully told. Been recommending it to everyone. Michael Fassbender better not mess this up.


Mood Walk Update and Thank You


So, we did the Aware NI Mood Walk last night. It finally stopped raining (The dementors were circling after the EU Referendum results) and we had a sunny 10k walk in our fetching yellow tshirts. It’s a lovely route starting at Ebrington and along the Waterside Greenway and back over the Foyle Bridge, up along the Quay. Had my very best girls Aisling and Caoimhe and we put the world to rights while walking (and shouting when passing over the windy bridge).

It felt good to be raising money to help those with Depression and Bipolar, everyone has loved ones affected and it’s such an important cause. Especially on a day of such uncertainty, it was nice to be a bright spot on the horizon, literally. There was a great turn out, music to see us of and a really nice atmosphere.

I just really wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my readers and social media friends who donated, between the three of us we raised about £240 for Aware, which I am very proud of.

We were raging we forgot to take proper pictures. But weren’t we all looking well after the event. Thank you Caoimhe for the pictures! Bring on next year. And if you ever find yourself in the hateful, dark place of depression, please reach out, again and again to those around you.

My JustGiving site one more time, for pure cheekiness. I’m hopefully working on a few book reviews today for you. Thank you, lemon cakes x


Supporting those living with Depression #AwareNi


On Friday 24th June I am talking part in the Derry Aware NI Mood Walk, a 5 (or 10k) walk to ‘lift your mood’ and raise money to support local people living with depression and bipolar disorder. To me, this is a vital service. I have definitely suffered a form of depression in my life, and to watch someone you care about suffering is painful. It’s important that as much support as possible is available! I would really appreciate it if you could spare a few pounds for this worthy charity, Aware NI.

Easiest way to do it is this Just Giving link:

Thank you so much x

AWARE is the only charity in Northern Ireland working exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder. A Derry born charity they now have two offices; one in Londonderry and a second office in Belfast where the helpline is based.

AWARE has an established network of 24 support groups in rural and urban areas across the country, which are run by our trained volunteers. Support groups welcome people with depression and bipolar disorder as well as carers for people with the illness.

AWARE deliver mental health and well being programmes into communities, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. These programmes include our suite of Mood Matters programmes, Living Life to the Full, Mental Health First Aid and Mindfulness.

AWARE has a fundraising department organising fundraising events in schools and communities throughout Northern Ireland.

At AWARE, we believe that the people who use our services should have a say in how they are developed and delivered, so we employ people with experience of depression at every level in the organisation, including the Board of Trustees.

We rely on our dedicated and caring volunteers who run our support groups and helpline. Many of our volunteers began as service users themselves and as such are an excellent asset to us and keep us informed on staying in touch with people’s needs. Become an AWARE volunteer. 

AWARE is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC100561. Company No. N.I. 30447

Birthday Bubble

I turned 27 on Saturday, and am somewhat disturbed by this. However, after two nights out I think I have hit a bit of a depressive stage today. I have been feeling so loved and spoiled all weekend I thought I would let it spill into a blog post.

I had to work on my birthday, just from 2-7 (27!) and I did try to swap it, alas. But in the morning I was spoiled with a coconut cream finger, and many paper creations from Ellen and Jacob. Well really just Ellen. Jacob gave me 70 cents from the windowsill. Ellen who is 9’s masterpiece was a big map with a 3D library, a ‘gorgeous garden’ made from a Graze Box and our house complete with 10 family members. There was a really cute note on it saying I didn’t have to keep it if it was too big.

After my sweaty shift manning the stationery department, I rushed home and enlisted my lovely visiting Belfast sister to do my hair and make up which was happy days for me. She had bought me some lovely make up from Soap and Glory which we tried out. We have become really good friends of late. We don’t contact each other that much when she’s not at home, but we have late night chats and laughs when she’s back, we are weirdly similar and different, and herself and her boyfriend are so good to me and our family.

I got several lovely cards and packages, and because people know I love snail mail they probably feel under pressure, but they are not and it was a lovely surprise. Thank you Ruth, Mammy, Abbye and L! Too kind and generous. What funny, pretty birthday parcels.

Caoimhe and me had already had quite a good week of events, she got me a ticket to Lisa Hannigan in Belfast for last Sunday, which was beautiful and then we had the time of our lives at Sarah Millican on Tuesday! Still laughing about that. We are both more and more determined to make the most of it and it is working out well for now!

So, I was ultimately late to my own birthday night, but five of us went to Claire’s house to have a few drinks including pink prosecco before heading out. Two are friends for 16 years, one about 8 years and one is a new friend.

We got carried away and had such a laugh, and a serious conversation about sexism in the workplace. We celebrated being 27, some being single, that pHD, we took selfies and learned about snapchat. And this is what is so important to me about friendship, and in particular female friendship (one of my favourite subjects and indeed things) all of us have difficult things happening in our lives, some really hard stuff for some of my best friends that I know of, but there is just a constant circle of support, and closeness and yes, love. This often gives way to the best laughs, and teasing. There is nothing like it. We left it so late to go out that we weren’t sure where to go, but you know what? It didn’t matter. We got a wee corner to dance in and everyone was happy and I mostly remember laughing!

Aisling, the George to my Fred had sent me this quote which I love;

The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.

We met some interesting people as we weaved our way home, and my friends looked after me really well! Plenty to tease me about in future, I am sure but that’s ok!

I dragged myself out of bed after a few hours to do the Foyle Hospice Walk/Run and it wasn’t that pretty, but it was for a good cause and I got to see Ruth and baby Luke and properly meet her sisters and mum so it was all good.

A power nap and some Chinese food later, Claire and Aisling decided on Sunday Sips so away we went again! Quieter drinks in Claire’s and the bar later. But we all felt happy and I really appreciated the friendship and the love bubble.

I think I just really wanted to get my gratitude on, and really appreciate all the kindness that has been shown to me over the last few days, but really all the time with these girls! Again as I always say, I am at a bit of a funny place in my life, and I at least thought I would be married off by this stage, and making a bit more money but I really am trying to be appreciative of the wonderful gifts that I do have, and keep hoping. I did have a huge disappointment, and a mysterious bouquet of flowers within a week so I guess anything could happen, ha.

This could be our year! And I will get by with a little help from my friends.



Take Offs and Landings. Or Guy Garvey helped me through two break ups

In 2014, an almost 8 year relationship ended for me. I was 24. He dumped my stuff unceremoniously on the doorstep the next weekend, when he knew I was not going to be at home. I think my Mammy cried. He had a subscription to Q Magazine (which I had bought for him). The latest issue had ended up among my things and Elbow featured on the front. I really like Elbow. I read the article by Dorian Lynskey. It was gold dust.

Q is a music magazine, and Elbow (of London Olympics song One Day Like This fame) had just released a new album The Take-off and Landing of Everything. Front man wise, lyrical ‘funny bastard’ Guy Garvey had also recently had an 8 year relationship end. With a novelist, no less. (Emma Jane Unsworth)

His thoughts and attitude towards the break up were so valuable to me, I still have the magazine, and recently photocopied the article to pass on to a friend who is going through a tough split. (I sound a bit crazy, don’t I?)

At the minute I can’t stop listening to this album, the lyrics are so wise and kind and helpful. I have since recently went through another break up. Garvey says, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always have. I think it’s a form of defence mechanism to tell everybody everything.’ OMG me too, Guy.

In the song ‘Honey Sun’ he sings, ‘I cannot stay where all the broken plans were made’ and Garvey admits ‘My knee-jerk reaction was: get me the fuck out of here, run away as far as possible. But you can’t outrun things like that.’  In my experience that’s the exact male reaction to any break-up!

My favourite part of the interview is Garvey saying, ‘I don’t regret a single second of my relationship and she feels the same way and we’re friends because of that. I grew as a person in her company. She’s the most excellent of people. It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t a waste of time because it came to an end. It was the best use of time.’

The article by Dorian Lynskey appeared in April 2014 issue of Q Magazine and has been rifled through by me numerous times since.

I think the reason I like this article so much is that I would want someone who has been in a relationship with me to think of me/the relationship in these terms. I possibly want Guy Garvey to break up with me. The next paragraph addresses the title track of the album:

‘There’s such a relief when something’s run its course and you put it to bed. Not, “Thank God I’m not doing that any more” but “Thank God I haven’t done too much damage to someone I care about deeply.” I wanted the song to be a celebration, not just of the throes of a great relationship but of the timely end of things. The landings are as important as the take-offs.”

I LOVE that. Some actual lyrics from the title song are

A prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

Leaving your lips as we took to the sky

And a prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

I’ll say for you and I will for all time.

Nothing is ever wasted. I really believe that, and as my mammy says, at the moment you are looking at the back of the tapestry. All rough and muddled and untied threads. Someday you will see it from the other side and everything will fall into place, and you will see the beauty in it. Everything you went through, or shared with someone has meaning and purpose in your life and theirs.

So thanks Dorian Lynskey and thank you Guy Garvey! Friends, let me know if anyone else wants me to copy this article for them. Ha.


Leaving a Paper Trail (of Letters)

It’s #sendsomehappy time again, a fun blog collaboration with my good fellow letter loving friend ZoeProse celebrating all things snail mail. Promoting picking up your pen and making someone’s day.

‘You can keep this, and when I’m a famous writer…’ I’m only half joking. But letters are such a physical, personal thing. I love the thought of actual examples of my writing, thoughts and sentiments -aged but treasured- turning up in a loved one’s attic or something years in the future. Yes, I know.

I’m obsessive about dating cards and letters. Something I think I have learned from my Godmother! I like to keep track of when things were sent and written. And have been known to pencil the date on to cards the younger siblings give me or letters I received with no date included.

I keep all my incoming correspondence in smallish boxes. Currently I’m running out of space in a gold perfume gift box. Usually my letters only come from the same four or five people. I should probably organise them better.

When you run out of space… Photo from here🙂

Weirdly, I like to think of my friends and loved ones I have written to for years lovingly keeping bundles of my letters, to be saved until further notice. It’s reassuring to have evidence of your life out there, you know? Even to be morbid enough to say that after death, there will be personal words to remember me by, now that people barely print photographs any more! I’d rather my words than my face be remembered anyway. Deep.

In saying that, I’m by no means Virginia Woolf and my letters will be doubtlessly embarrassing as I worry and whine about something or someone. However, letters can tell us something about someone’s thoughts and feelings in that snapshot of time. And that is precious.

Many a time I have wished I kept all the letters my cousin sent to me when we were 10 or 11. I have also mourned the burning of the majority of Jane Austen’s letters for confidentiality by her sister Cassandra, and Chris’s from my recent read Dear Bessie.

I have written before that one of the attractions of letters is that you can keep it to reread and comfort you, and it has physically been with your loved one, sent to you, and there is so much comfort in that! So let’s send as many letters as we can, and in turn be conscientious about hoarding-er saving them.

Challenge This time simply to create a small box where you can store letters and cards. The crafty among you could decorate with a mail theme. Let us know what you come up with!

#sendsomehappy !

All the Light…


‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her they way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the most beautiful book. It’s been on my list for ages, and is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner. I was so passionate about it, telling everyone about it and recommending it. I had forgotten that it is a WWII book, I find the subject so interesting, and because of the angle of French Revolution, really from the viewpoint of a child/16-year-old it is very unique.

I found the character of Marie-Laure a wonderful creation. Her relationship with her father is the most loving, magical thing. ‘The despair doesn’t last. Marie-Laure is too young and her father is too patient.’ The wooden replica of the city, the little wooden puzzle boxes that her father fashions with a bon bon or truffle inside for her birthday, are so precious and intricate. Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee to Saint-Malo and a ‘76% crazy’ great-uncle when the Germans arrive.

At the beginning I found Werner’s story boring, and I just wanted to get back to France and Marie-Laure, but Werner’s interest in science and technology and Etienne-the-great-uncle’s attic secret interconnect and I began to hope for/dread the connecting of the two characters. Werner is eventually posted in France…

Here are some tweets on the matter. Follow me on Twitter for such stuff!


The writing is absolutely beautiful. There are so many devastating moments made beautiful by the sentences. The observations, the relationships, the trust. I pretty much loved it and I think you should read it.

‘Do you think, Madame, that in heaven we will really get to see God face-to-face’

‘We might.’

‘What if you’re blind?’

‘I’d expect that of God wants us to see something, we’ll see it.’

The war intensifies and Werner is forced to do more and more things that haunt him, bringing him closer and closer to Marie-Laure who is doing her bit with her nervous great-uncle for France. The story flashes forwards and backwards and it flows. It’s full of suspense and is utterly captivating.

I can’t wait to read more by Mr Doerr, and this story will remain with me.