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BEAUTY AND ATTRACTION: A Novel ~Liz Rosenberg

Monday, October 31st, 2016
beauty-and-attention

beauty-and-attention

An Advanced Reader copy of this story arrived in my inbox and I just thought the cover of this book was a good first hook.  I found this story about a young woman in the 1950s to be very interesting and a good read.  The story is about a “freedom” which can manifest after a death; it is about how to express and explore this new stage in a time period known for being quite restrictive.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.  It is a good read.

The precision of the writing truly pulled me into the story of Libby Archer, a  naïve, young woman living in Rochester, New York as her father has just died and left her an orphan.  Her aunt and uncle who live in Ireland ask her to come and spend time with them and she choses to do just that as her friends push her to get married to be cared for and a young, smart enterprising local fellow is hoping she will say yes.

The banter between her cousin, an English Lord, and Libby is quite remarkable and compelling as Libby is quite outspoken and feisty.  Libby has very few resources at her disposal except her wit, charm, and kindness.  Her rather narcissistic aunt takes charge of her future and introduces Libby to a fascinating friend.  There are trips to Paris for clothing and style and Libby is loosing herself with each chapter.  She becomes more and more molded into a rather pathetic person and then falls in love or is manipulated into a relationship, when in Rome.  Money has come her way and this makes her an even greater “mark”.   Death keeps signaling change in Libby’s life – and then in a surprise twist she takes hold and takes a new direction.  Makes it worthwhile to read to the very last paragraph.

I enjoyed the book and liked that it was short and to the point.  There was good context material, such as reference to the McCarthyism pervasive in the USA and the focus on the development of computers.   I so liked how the story ended.

“The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravity and The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.” (TLC book tours)

Liz Rosenberg Wikipedia

Related:
The Moonlight Palace
The Imaginary Life
The Time Travelers Boyfriend

REBEL SISTERS: Irish History shared through story ~Marita Conlon-McKenna

Monday, June 20th, 2016

I do think learning history through story is such a good idea. This book is about three specific sisters, who truly existed, and were part of the 1916 Freedom Rebellion in Dublin, Ireland.  Two of the sisters were married to leaders of the uprising; one sister was a volunteer with the organization.  There are songs written about this insurgence and about the young women and their husbands, who became martyrs to the cause for generations to come.

The beautiful sisters are just 3 of the six girls in a family of 12 children. They are protestant and are reared in the wealthy, privileged part of Dublin.  Their mother is strong willed and attempts to thwart their efforts to become part of the Citizen Army, and it is reassuring to know that  she does grow to love her kind and loving son-in-law.  Mother Gifford does see to it that each of her daughters receives a university education and has a plan for her life.  A daughter who is a journalist has left the home fires for America and hopes for a bigger career in writing.   It is also the start of WWI, so the Freedom Fighters are feeling that London will be too busy with the Germans and the war to be able to stop the fight for freedom.  REBEL SISTERS is caught up in the energy of the times and yet has found three individual stories to tell with lots of courageous detail making it also a wonderful love story.

TLC Book Tours sent an early e-copy of the book for  review.  Irish love story and rebellion – it is bound to be a hit and a success for the 100 year celebration of this historic event.

“Marita Conlon-McKenna is one of Ireland’s favourite authors.  Her books include the award-winning UNDER THE HAWTHORNE TREE, set during Ireland’s Great Famine, which has been widely translated and published and is now considered an Irish classic.  Her other books include the bestseller THE MAGDALEN.  She is a winner of the International Reading Association Award in the USA.  She is a former chairperson of Irish PEN.  She lives in Dublin with her husband and family of four children.” (From book cover)

Marita Conlon-McKenna Website

Although REBEL SISTERS is about war on many fronts, it is just beautifully written and it is held in high esteem.  The research is extensive and the personal is well included.  The style has been compared to Maeve Binchy’s form and detailed representation.  The sisters had full lives after the rebellion and made a big difference in the lives of their community from setting up a museum history lesson, to art, poetry, and preserving their husband’s legacy and work.  They are included in the history books as brave spirits to the causes of justice, relieving poverty and hunger, and working towards a more Irish educational system.  Their colleagues are a virtual who’s who of Ireland’s history and leaders.

You may just want to make a fresh pot of tea and enjoy warm Irish Soda Bread while you settle in for a fine read.

Irish Soda Bread link

Related:
Playing St. Barbara
In The Garden of Stone
Letters From Skye

The Passage: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Give a middle aged American Irishman a bar fight, put him on his sailboat headed to Ireland to find the true taste of Guinness and an amazing story emerges from Hurley’s imagination.   I could not put this book down, I was possessed by the story and the frame and range of the surface right to the depth the heart can reach.

I am so very happy Mr. Hurley asked me if I wanted to read it and that he sent me a PDF copy.  WOW.  Lucky ME!

I even read THE PASSAGE on two 4-hour car rides.  I could totally identify with the main character’s life – “Fitz” was just right and complete and steadfast and I just wanted to know how he was fairing on his path to salvation, redemption and his progress to shore up his self-worth.  The tragedies and mistakes were sublime and the droplets of humor and descriptions just tickled and delighted my imagination – holding my attention steadfastly.

Several years ago I reviewed another of Hurley’s books – THE VINEYARD.  The story was interesting and well written, but I could not identify with any of the 3 women characters.  None of them became real.  The book went on to win awards and I just thought “Oh well, we all have different tastes in reading.”

The twists and turns in the writing of this novel, were remarkably paced and just slid into this readers psyche with sometimes a sigh, a laugh or a didn’t see that coming.  It is so like life – no matter the taste of Guinness – no matter where.

“Do you believe in everlasting Love?”

My favorite quote came at PDF page 146: “Genre fiction uses plot to tell you a story about someone else’s life.  Classic fiction uses characterizations to tell you a story about yourself.”

What is holding onto you?  What is making you define yourself incorrectly?  How do you care and like yourself?  What pieces/peaces are you missing in your own journey?  What are the meanings you hold dear? And are those things, which you value – programed at age 10 true or false?

Life is definitely a journey and a process and so many of us have a middle-aged change of heart and endeavor.  It would be hard not to relate to this character and his story.  Irish magic just short of leprechauns and fairies adds just the right leverage to this tale.  I am passing this on to several friends for sure.

A remarkable read and I would give it a “10” and hope that it might reach the award phase and become a best seller.

About the Author (from book cover)

“Michael Hurley is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.  His debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, won the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for Book of the Year in 2013.  This second novel, THE VINEYARD, won the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.  A memoir, ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOM, was published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.  His essay collection, LETTERS FROM THE WOODS, was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2005 by ForeWard Reviews.  Between 1995 and 2003, he published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing, now collected in single hardcover volume entitled HURLEY’S JOURNAL.  He wrote THE PASSAGE while living in England and Wales.  He keeps a journal and stays in touch with readers on his website, www.mchurley.com

Related:
The Vineyard
US
Becalmed
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

THE MOONLIGHT PALACE: A Young Adult Historic Novel ~Liz Rosenberg and Amy McFadden

Friday, October 10th, 2014

“Let’s agree right here at the outset that memory is made up of one part perception, one part intuition, and one part pure invention.” (Page 9 of PDF uncorrected advance copy)

THE MOONLIGHT PALACE is a delightful read and an historic look at an International city and provides a global perspective to historic events of the early 1920s.   Agnes Hussain lives in the Kampong Glam Palace in Singapore with her British Grandfather, her Chinese Grandmother, and her Indian Muslim Great Uncle Chachi, along with 3 male students who are boarders.  The rest of her family, including her Mother, Father and Brother all died in the influenza outbreak many years ago.  Agnes, descendant of the last Sultan of Singapore, is 17 and thinking about how to keep her family alive and well, how to repair the Wedding Cake looking palace after she graduates from high school in the spring near her 18th birthday.  The background story is full of the rise of Mao and the torture of Chinese within the city.   Agnes’s British Grandfather was awarded the Palace for his outstanding military work and diplomatic care and concerns during his career in Singapore.

Agnes is very forthright and opinionated and she has adventures as she takes on her adult role in caring for her family, who are very protective of her.  Her family background and the diversity of the boarders renders the reader a wider view of the Singapore Community and how they treat and accept foreigner’s into their society.  A young British emissary wants the Palace for himself.  It is a very different reveal of the 1920s; THE MOONLIGHT PALACE explores one family during a period of great transition in the world.

“I am one-half Chinese, One-quarter Indian Muslim, and one-quarter British…” (Page 4 of uncorrected PDF advanced copy)

I started a mother daughter book group for each of my daughters and we worked on reading more worldly reads and not just the commercial books being advertised.  We studied the dynamics of the situation of the book we were reading and these gatherings proved to be a very fun experience.  We often included foods associated with our discussion and topic.   Chicken Rice would have been our menu for sure!  I believe that everyone would have appreciated this story and the mom’s would have enjoyed the story as well.  Oh! To live in a Palace!

TLC Book Tours  sent me the advanced reader’s PDF copy for this review.  It was very interesting to see what the finished copy looked like when I went to the final copy site. A well written book and I am sure that it would make a good gift – THE MOONLIGHT PALACE.

From the Publicity Material included in the PDF:

“Liz Rosenberg was born on Long Island.  She has written more than thirty books for adults and young readers, including novels, poetry, and nonfiction. Liz teaches English at Binghamton University, where she won the Chancellor’s Award for excellence in teaching.  Her first husband was the late Novelist John Gardner, author of Grendel.  Her second husband was the brilliant teacher and writer David Bosnick.  She lives in Binghamton, New York, with her daughter Lily and their two shih tzus.  Her son, Eli, is an actor and magician in New York City.  In 2014, Rosenberg was a US/UK Fulbright Fellow at Queens University, in Belfast, North Ireland, UK.”

Amazon’s Author’s page for Liz Rosenberg
Wikipedia for Liz Rosenberg

Related:
Imaginary Life
The Quick
The Garden Plot
Coincidence