Thursday, August 18, 2016

Two Irish Tales

How awesome we are having more participation right now!  I wanted to jump in here with two reviews of books written by Irish authors, one set entirely in Ireland, and the other partly in Ireland, and partly in America.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan is contemporary fiction set during the financial stresses of 2008.  The language is rough at times and also it took me a while to get a firm handle on the time frame it was set in.  But what was really fascinating about the book is that each chapter was written in the first person of one of the characters.  I have never seen a book take that voice, if you will.  It was interesting because you learned more about previous characters that had already spoken, by hearing what someone else was saying later, and the story came together in that way.  The spinning heart is small iron bauble on Bobby's father's rusted iron gate.  Bobby and his Dad were never fact from Bobby's perspective, his Dad was a loser and doesn't deserve his respect.  He goes to see his Dad every day however, somehow hoping to find that the old man has finally passed on.  Things get complicated when Bobby's Dad is found murdered by someone who is sure he saw Bobby leaving his Dad's place right before.  It was interesting to see how each character's life entwined with other's lives and to observe the way the financial difficulties affected each one.  I would certainly recommend this book.  It was different and kept the reader's interest.

The second book, however, is now one of my all-time favorites!  If you are looking for happy endings, On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry won't be for you.  But, it was such a beautiful, sad tale of one woman's life.  It begins in Ireland where Lilly's Dad is a high ranking police official in Dublin (a Royal position) and she becomes engaged to a member of the Black and Tans (a Irish Independence group).  Because of something that occurs the young man and she are forced to leave Ireland, and receive help from her father in doing so.  In the course of Lilly's long life, she can never quite escape what happened back in Ireland.  Lilly begins by losing her home, but has many losses in the years that follow.  The book is a series of "memoirs" she is writing down that tells about everything that she went through.  It is beautifully written, and Lilly becomes a friend as you read it, someone you care about and wish better things had happened to.  It's like finding old letters about someone that breaks your heart as you read them.  Or as I said in my Goodreads review, it's like unravelling a finely woven Irish shawl, and as each strand comes apart, more is revealed until all comes into full view.  I loved it! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

The More of Less

Do you want more money, more time, and less clutter and stress?  Blogger Joshua Becker's The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, published this year, may be the book for you.
Winning The More of Less in a giveaway at Cheryl's blog, Homespun Devotions, came as a big surprise.  I had commented on her giveaway post about minimalism without giving it much thought, so when Cheryl wrote to say I had won, I did a double-take! "Wait...I entered a giveaway?!  Oh, come to think of it, I guess I did."  A few days later, I received it in the mail.  I was a skeptic, but decided to read it through. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Tale For The Time Being

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
Ruth Ozeki

I know I'll never forget this book. It inspired and enchanted with equal measure. I kept using its more humorous quotes, over and over on my creative writing blog. It spurred so much creativity. It just kept giving. 

There's something in it for everyone. Your time will be well spent.  First we meet the distinctive voice of Nao, a Tokyo teen struggling with serious issues. She was forced to leave her life in America behind and return home. But, it's not really home anymore. Her peers tell her she stinks of hamburgers and bully her relentlessly. At her ramshackle new apartment, her world is crumbling like a sandcastle at high tide. Her dad has lost his way. And so has Nao. Until a summer with her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun, makes her time on earth a little more beautiful. This was my favorite part of the book.

We also meet Ruth. A writer struggling with life on an isolated island.  Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunch box washed ashore after a storm. The plastic wrapped contents become the central mystery of the story. 

It's an inventive read.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Burying The Honeysuckle Girls

I was looking for something with a tad of mystery to it and boy, did I find it in 'Burying The Honeysuckle Girls' by Emily Carpenter.

Althea is fresh out of rehab and heads for Mobile to reconnect with her family (a father near death and a politically ambitious brother). Once there, Althea is not received well, much as she suspected she would be. Then the hint of a deep, grim secret leaks out. Althea remembers that the last day she saw her mother alive, her mother told her to wait for the honeysuckle girl. And, if she didn't come, for Althea to find her. It involves Althea's mother, grandmother and great grandmother, and what happens to the women in that family on their 30th birthday.

Determined to find out the whole truth behind the instruction her mom gave her, Althea sets out to unravel the mystery. It revolves around the mental hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the mountain region in North Alabama and Mobile.

I had a bit of a problem keeping all the characters straight but not enough so that it kept me from thoroughly enjoying every page.... and it was a page turner. Surprises were at every turn. It's not a long book so would be nice for some late summer evening reading or on vacation. I'd say that you all would probably enjoy this book...

Back to the Beginning!

I have recently been on a Revolutionary War kick...well, actually more like an American Freedoms kick because of everything that has been going on in the news.  I go through periods where my interest goes from one subject to another, and I am a HUGE history buff.  We also watch everything dealing with history on TV that we can, and a show we enjoy is TURN: Washington's Spies, so the most recent season of that show (which ended a few weeks back) got my gears turning in this direction again.  I started a book I had had in my "to read" stack for a couple of months, called Original Intent, by David Barton and found it absolutely wonderful!  Our modern world, and the liberal press especially, would have us believe that our Country was not founded on Christian principles and that the Founding Fathers were not solid in their Faith, but that is just not true.  They want you to believe that "separation of Church and State" is in the Constitution, but that is also a lie.  The Founders believed strongly that our Law should be based on Christianity, but they safeguarded against there being a State religion, like in England, where everyone was expected to be Church of England, or much earlier, Catholic.  They believed in freedom of religion, but felt that all the Christian faiths were what this country should use a guide.  Original Intent proves this marvelously, because it is almost entirely the words of the Founders themselves, and also the original court cases that were presented soon after we became a nation.  When you read these original statements and letters, and speeches and court decisions, you realize how far flung our country has become!  It was such an important book, that I have to thank David Barton for his wonderful research and for bringing this all to light at a time when  it is desperately needed!  This book should be read by everyone who loves this Nation.  I highly recommend it!

But, back to Washington's Spies....TURN the show is not entirely factual, though it is based on the Culper Spy Ring that Washington started during the Revolution.  I of course wanted to learn the real skinny, but before I decided to read about the Culper Spy Ring, I decided I wanted to learn more about Nathan Hale, Washington's first spy who was hanged and is so well known for the wonderful dying quote: "I regret I have but one life to give for my Country."  The book I chose about Nathan Hale (called Nathan Hale, The Life and Death of America's First Spy) by M. William Phelps, was excellent.  I learned about a wonderfully patriotic young man, strong in his Christian Faith, and very well educated whose death was so tragic.  I enjoyed reading about him so much, and though I learned that his final quote is not exactly what I stated above, but was probably this similar statement: " If I had ten thousand lives I would lay them all down, if called to do it, in defense of my injured bleeding country,"  I was so enraptured by his willingness to face death.  It doesn't have the punch of the misquote, but says the same thing.  What we should remember is the sacrifice he made, and all who made similar sacrifices during that critical time!

And, on a side note...just a reminder that when a book review has been up at least five or six days that should give everyone enough time to read it, and hopefully comment, who are going to.  That's the point when, if you have a great book to share, you should consider writing a new review.  Since Mom's most recent review was posted on the 18th of this month, I started looking for a new review from someone a couple of days ago.  Since no one jumped on the train, I decided to go ahead with mine.  Let's all share...there's more variety that way!  Have a great week!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Not Without My Father

I just love reading entertaining books...

That's just me but that's what I like and the book I just finished was most entertaining!!

                                 It was "Not Without My Father" by Andra Watkins.

A true story.

Andra is at a crossroads in her life. Her business is a bust. She has an argumentative relationship with her mother and she has never gotten along with her father. 

What to do? Why not set out on a 444 mile walk of the Natchez Trace alone? Hey, wait one minute. She needs a 'wingman' some one who will drive a car with supplies, that will drop her off at a milepost in the morning, pick her up in the evening and take her for a nights rest in a nearby establishment.

Everyone works, can't leave their children, isn't interested. There is no one but good ole Dad. 
But, how will this work out. He is 80 years old and remember, they don't understand each other and aren't on really friendly terms. 

The book is filled with delightful adventure, great discovery about relationships, some funny but ridiculous mishaps and throw in her interest in Merriwether Lewis. 

I loved this book. I think you will, too. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

End of the Spear

I knew about this occurrence from news reports and possibly seeing things on TV...don't remember.  But I have been aware of the killing of the missionaries in Ecuador most of my adult life, and knew there was a movie called Through Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear, but had never seen them.  I also had never read the book, but when I finally did over a month ago I was totally enraptured by the story!  I became totally engrossed in the lives of not only the missionaries but also the people they were trying to reach.  This is a beautiful story!  At times very sad; at others totally uplifting and joyful.... I highly recommend it to everyone!  Check out my Goodreads review below:

This was an incredible book! If I could give it ten stars I would! Such an inspirational, uplifting, heart-rending true story. I have never seen the movies (Through the Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear) and I am glad I read the book first. NOW I'm anxious to see both movies! What a beautiful testament to faith and trust in our Creator. I was so enraptured by the lives of Steve Saint and his family (both his blood family and his adopted Waodani family) that I talked about it constantly as I read each chapter, and feel like I have found a connection to the story that will never fade. Everyone should read this amazing book!

And from You Tube--