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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

ONCE UPON A LIE: A Novel ~Michael French

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“Michael French is the author of 25 books, which include adult fiction and young adult fiction, art criticism, biographies, adaptions, and gender studies.” (Cover)

There is tremendous skill in the writing of ONCE UPON A LIE and the hooks captivate the imagination within the first few pages.  The characters are extremely well developed and the reader is able to empathize quickly; they pull at a feeling level as well as moving the story forward. Word usage is intelligent. The suspense is just right and definitely not to thriller level, keeping the reader figuring out what is next.  I liked the mix of voices; first and third person perspectives were finely synced.

The reader is meshed into a huge family drama, well two families with lots of drama and some huge lies to contend with and that makes for a lifetime of attempting to find the truth and a whole realm of situations that do not create relief from the tensions of the stories.

“…the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again.  Justice, Alex learns, can be a betrayal.  Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful –but dangerous- rock on which to build a life of honor and courage.” (Cover)

Alexandra is the daughter of a Los Angeles lawyer and a socialite mother and Jaleel is the only child of a black couple living on the financial edge in Texas.  The police are prepping Jaleel, who is 12, to be the murderer of his father – he is on the run.  The two children meet over a cup of lemonade and the author builds a good coming of age story around these two individuals and their survival.  The secondary characters are strong and agile in assisting the unraveling of the lies.

“Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and of Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism.  A native of Los Angeles, he also is a successful businessman, activist, and, with his wife, Patricia, a philanthropist raising money for programs aiding teachers in Santa Fe, N.M., public schools which are some of the most challenged in the country. They divide their time between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara, CA.”

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me an advanced copy for review.

Connect with characters on Online:
Alex
Jaleel
Author

Related Reading:
Whistling Women
The Moon Sisters
Water On the Moon

THE FURY: A Thriller ~Shane Gericke

Monday, September 14th, 2015

I could not put this book down and there are two reasons why THE FURY held on to me for 8 hours straight.   The first reason the author says someone assisted him in changing the timing of his writing which made the book just zoom in reading speed and flow and the second was this e-book came to me via advanced reading copy and Dropbox and I could find no way to save the PDF file; I had already started reading and I just kept going until I was at the very end.  I was afraid the book would disappear and I had to download it each time I needed to leave the read and do something else.   The book was incredibly good and interesting and I do so love these powerful women who take charge and solve the crisis.

Reassured several times that this is a work of fiction and imagination, there are lots of historic moments in the book, which eventually all tie together and make a complete package.  We begin on an oil rig platform as it is rupturing and falling into the Gulf of Mexico.  The integration of ideas and events indicates the relatedness of current circumstances and how we arrived at such a dire circumstance today.   A real event that pulls the previous events into the story, as we see how greedy fossil fuel guys are losing power and money to the new wealthy and powerful (and violent) drug cartel folks.  The disregard for the environment, humans, governments, most of life is passed on from one group to another, which is vying for control, power and money.  The victims are everyone actually and so many are caught in the crossfire and explosions.  From oil rig explosion to Nazi Chemical Warfare and Japanese Chemical weapons developers, it is a big hurdle back in time and then a leap to the present.  Jump again and we are with the Border Patrol in Arizona attempting to stop a Taliban multi-million dollar drug shipment from arrival and disbursement in Mexico and the USA and the killing keeps going.

There are lots of true events referenced in this story, and it is so interesting how they relate to current events, habits and practices.   WWII comes back and forth and all the mistakes we made as a country when attempting to stop the war and get our own chemical weapons in order.  We hired some of the International experts in Chemical killings into our own program.  I am remembering our torture programs we perfected and were exposed in THE SHOCK DOCTRINE by Naomi Klein.  Several Presidents are mentioned and how their actions affected the whole current drug war and the human dependence on drugs today.  The gun programs which armed the drug cartels in Mexico (fast and furious) and the global knowledge of guerrilla warfare; how to control people and how to make money – greed.

The backstories are good and bring the characters into a fullness of possibility and believability.  I got hooked on the opening quote that was the definition of FURY from storm to a woman’s anger and reaction to that anger.   Wow it was right in my face from that moment on and it all hung together and related.  Superstition Davis was just an amazing character and so true to her part and once again a feisty mother took some action into her own hands to help and remedy a horrid situation.   Yes, I want to believe there are these kinds of powerful woman at work for our behalf.  I felt my own feelings of contempt for those who don’t know history, the ignorant and suffered the fools who ignored what was real.  THE FURY is powerful story telling and I was happy to finish it and let go.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for asking me to review THE FURY.   I admire these writers who can pull so many events together and still write an amazing story.  I think you will find it hard to put down – THE FURY

About the author

“Shane Gericke is an American novelist living in Naperville, Illinois. Before becoming a published thriller writer, he was a journalist, most recently at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1982 to 1994”

Shane Gericke Facebook 

Related:
The Contractors
The Shock Doctrine 
The Fixer 
Ryder 

STONE MATTRESS: Nine Tales ~Margaret Atwood

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

I discovered that I could pre-order this book a full month before it would appear on shelves at the library or bookstore, I did just that.  I just felt hungry for the incredible writing of Atwood and as though I had been fasting and not indulging for a very long time.   I was not disappointed in the least.   I have already read the tales twice and will come back again to enjoy.

“A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: think Alias Grace.” (From Amazon’s page)

There is a creative psychological component to Atwood’s writing which just holds me to her words and the play she gives them.  The first three stories are loosely connected by an early on romance and Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady play with growing old, loss of a partner, and the choices made early on in a life returning to be studied as the body can no longer comply.  Ice and snow and winter are big themes as is escape and control.

Lusus Naturae is about a child born with a defect and how she learns to cope with her situation; is it really coping or more the hiding mode? What society fears?  As a man is “kicked out” of his relationship he purchases a storage unit at an auction and is amazed to discover its contents and the preserved relationship within its walls.    I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth and The Dead Hand Loves You are again exploring the writer’s world and where it has taken the author  or the character and then brought them back with some kind of protection or blindness to deal with the reality of the moment.

Stone Mattress brought revenge on an artic discovery cruise for a horrible crime perpetrated on a young girl, which radically changed her life and future.  The writing was precise, cold and successful; a bit chilling for the reader.   Torching the Dusties is about a woman with Macular Degeneration who can only see the periphery of her world, she is living in a senior center that is now under siege by a group calling themselves “Our Turn” and burning down home care buildings and the residents living there.   Once again the theme is about growing old and coping, worth and vision, and adversity and control.   Fascinating story and I am so glad I read it a second time.

The political climate of the day is so subtle and yet shouts of what we do not hear clearly within all the noise around us in our world.

I am very fond of Margaret Atwood as a writer and she is so prolific I can honestly say I have not read all of her work or even come close – just the highlights.  I am very fond of short stories and combining that fondness with this author’s tremendous skill was a gift to my experience.   I could not put this book down and just enjoyed it cover to cover several times.   I rate this highly and humbly top of the line and believe my readers would not be disappointed and instead relish this book –  STONE MATRESS

From the book:

“MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.  In addition to THE HANDMADE’S TALE, her novels include CAT’S EYE, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; ALIAS GRACE, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; THE BLIND ASSASSIN, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, ORYX AND CRAKE, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize.  She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.”

Related:
Our Love Could Light the World
Olive Kitteridge 
The Boys in the Boat
The Signature of All Things