Belonging

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”The Mill River Rescue’‘ by Darcie Chan is a story set in Mill River town and reaches from the 1940 till the XXI century. It is about the lives of the community, of one member in particular – Mary. When the older times are described the book has a vibe of a periodical novel with horses and a marble mansion. It is a gripping tale where two story plots intertwine, the young years of Marry Hayes with the modern days when she becomes Mary McAllister.

Mary has been raised by her father and was taught to appreciate what she had. They lived modestly and she was used to helping him on the farm. In fact she loved working with horses, far more than interacting with other people. She was a shy and vulnerable girl. Her trustworthiness led her to believe that her future husband was a kind and caring man and not a spoiled rich man he turned out to be. He came from a family of marble owners and there was nothing he couldn’t afford to buy. Marrying into the fortune didn’t change Mary’s good heart and she keeps looking for ways to reach to others in need, but there are obstacles in her way. Something makes her stay inside of the walls of their impressive house and it is not her abusive husband. Her only contact with the outside community is through her friend, Father O’Brien, whom she shares her secrets with.

As in every community there are people who are in its heart and there are outsiders. There are people who contribute, who gladly give a helping hand to their neighbours and others, misguided, angry or vicious, who choose to cause havoc. The first two groups do not necessarily reflect the latter divide. We can see all that in the little town of Mill River. Somebody provides the mysterious gifts and somebody else sets houses on fire.

Mary is an outsider but she is deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the town people. She has always wanted to be a part of the community and she was, in her own peculiar way. Nobody apart from a handful of people really knew her though. She wouldn’t, couldn’t let them. If you are intrigued to find out why, go ahead, it is a good read worth 3 Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px cars, stars or pencils.

Cars, stars or pencils rating

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – one of the best books I read

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – charmed

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – good read

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – don’t waste your time

Wear something green today

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What other book comes to mind on St. Patrick’s Day if not the impressively illustrated Book of Kells? St.Patrick insisted on preserving the scriptures. The Book of Kells contains four Gospels of the Life of Jesus Christ by evangelists: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Regardless of weather or not you are a religious person, the book is a national treasure dating back to the medieval times and worth seeing. It is on exhibition in the Trinity College in Dublin. The Old Library itself is a must see. Have you already been there and were impressed by the book? Go again, they change the pages at display.

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Happy Paddy’s Day!

 

The Language of Music

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Jessica is the main character in the ”The Language of Others’‘ by Clare Morrall. She has been unusual since she was a child. Her parents wondered if she was autistic but one doctor dismissed the idea and they never pursued the subject again, despite their daughter’s struggle to interact with other people. Even as a grown up she sometimes struggles to understand the people around her. Why would people lie, she often wonders until she discovers herself that it can be quite useful at times. She loves music and has been working impressively hard since she was about eight years old, she learns how to play the piano and then the violin. She graduates from a music college with a degree. Her inability to read other people and their intentions leads her to marry a man who might be a musical genius but is inconsiderate, selfish and prone to anger.

The combination of music, the love she feels for her husband Andrew and for their son, gradually drags her out of her own little world, invites her to finally be more adventorous, to get to know the world. However Andrew builds a new wall around her, doesn’t allow her to spread her wings secluding her into a new, confined world of insecurity and fear. Despite his difficult character, she sees him as one of a few people she was able to connect with and cannot believe at first that he wants a divorce. She is left with their son Joel, who as it seems, has inherited some of her awkwardness in the social area.

The reader accompanies Jessica’s venture through her childchood, college times, her marriage and its breakdown. She eventually sees that the separation from her husband gave her freedom and she is finally able to breath and anjoy her space, nearly, her grown up son doesn’t seem to be in much of hurry to fly from the nest. Moreover her husband suddenly decides to contact her directly after all these years.

The author is a qualified musician herself and the descriptions of the music are impressive. They add to the book’s value, I believe. I also enjoyed visiting, through Jessica’s eyes, her large family house where she grew up. Characters in the book were well drawn, including her ex-hippy mother Connie, a bit absentminded and carefree in contrast to her caring and gentle father Roland. Her pretty and outgoing sister Harriet. Their mean and cruel cousins Philip and Colin, and others that she meets later in her life.

I have decided to award this book 4 lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px owls, towels or monkeys.

Owls, towels or monkeys rating

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – one of the best books I read

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – charmed

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – good read

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – don’t waste your time

World Book Day Ireland

 

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In 1995 UNESCO has established a World Book and Copyright Day to pay a tribute to books and their authors and to encourage people, especially children, to read. The official date is the 23rd April but individual countries tend to choose their own day and so Ireland is celebrating the World Book Day Ireland on the 2nd of March this year.

My hometown city Wroclaw was named by UNESCO the World Book Capital of year 2016.

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I remember the long hours spent there in libraries with academic reference books… I am glad I can now read purely for pleasure.

Today I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog. Here is a little screen shot showing all the countries and continents where somehow there were people interested enough in reading my blog 😉

 

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Thank you all very much again and I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

What happened tomorrow

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”Time Present and Time Past” by Deirdre Madden is a book of small volume yet powerful. Reading it was like slicing through a rich multilayered cake. We are invited to see just a piece of Fintan’s and his immediate family’s life, with no particular event starting or ending the story, just a slice of their lives. It was a philosophical insight into time and our relationship with it.

It was a reflection on the past generations, how they influenced us and how close or distant we feel from them, as well as a reflection on how we think about the future. I recall one description that I particularly liked: ”To engage too much with the future, in all its fragility and uncertainty, can make us feel dizzy with unease.” I don’t know about you, but this is exactly how I feel when I concentrate too much on thinking about the future. I personally also did some digging into the past when I was gathering information for my family tree, and I know how fascinating it can be to be able to see how people used to live, especially when they were your relatives. You are acutely aware that whatever happened to them has probably influenced your life in some way. They might have never known you, might have not ever met you or imagined your existence, yet you feel so close to them. You may be looking at their pictures, if you are lucky to have them, and see the resemblance to yourself, your mother or your father.

Fintan experiences moments when he feels detached from his reality. He takes interest in old photographs and through them tries to glimpse into the past. He has discussions with one of his sons, Niall, on whether or not the pictures show a truthful image of the past times. In the background, other members of his family are trying to come to terms with their past. His aunt Beth grieving after her husband’s passing and his sister Marina helping her but herself carrying a heavy secret.

Fintan also thinks about the future, as every parent probably does, he wonders about the choices his adolescent sons are making and what future they are going to make for themselves. The economic times of the early XXI century in Ireland are also shown as having a strong impact in shaping their future lives, as they have had for many other families. All the reflections that you come across while reading about the Buckley family are quite universal. 

Yes, I enjoyed this book and I am gladly awarding it 3 long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300px arrows, sparrows or binoculars. Did I mention I paid 3 euro for it?

Arrows, sparrows or binoculars rating

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxone of the best books I read

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxcharmed

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxgood read

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxdisappointed, I thought it was going to be better

long-arrow-up-right-300pxdon’t waste your time

Maybe next Friday

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Maggie in “I Still Dream About You” by Fannie Flagg, decides she should end her existence. She doesn’t have anything to look forward to. She is middle aged and single, no children to watch them grow, no possibility of ever having grandchildren. Maggie’s decision to end her life was so matter of fact that it made me frown, it was funny in a black comedy kind of way. Furthermore it was comical to see the everyday things getting in the way of her plan – she promised her friend they would go to the Theater together, so she changes the date on her goodbye letter, postponing her suicide. I am not sure if this was convincing for me though. Maggie claims she has been sad for a while, and it very well might be true, but the sadness did not come through the pages, she seemed far too busy to have time to be sad. More importantly, can such a final decision really be made so emotionlessly?

As a former Miss Alabama, a winner of a beauty contest, that in her state apparently meant a lot, she grew very tired having to live up the expectations of others. What was intriguing is how Maggie became happier and more carefree once she stopped worrying about everyday things. She notices that herself but again is quite indifferent to it, she barely comments ”Oh, well.”.

The book has it strenghts. The descriptions of the Birmingham city in Alabama and the way it has been changing throughout the years, are particularly good. However the story line wasn’t as gripping as I had hoped it would be. It didn’t call to me to keep reading. I felt that I didn’t get to know the protagonist quick enough. I was about half way through the book when it finally, though still slowly, started to reveal events from her life enabling me to understand what might have lead Maggie to her decision. Without getting to know Maggie in time, I wasn’t given a chance to like her enough to care to keep reading, to relate to her in some way.

There is a little story hidden in the book involving previous owners of a house that Maggie, who works as a real estate agent, tries to sell. As much as I enjoyed the mystery about Edwina and her twin brother Edward, I do wonder if perhaps the book wouldn’t be interesting enough witout it.

Overall, I will give the book 3 adam-lowe-blue-kite-300px adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxkites, clouds or ice-cubes but it had to fight for it. So, if you are curious to find out if Maggie’s live will get in the way of her dying plan or if she carries it out, you will have to read the book and see for yourself.

Kites, clouds or ice-cubes rating

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxone of the best books I read

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxcharmed

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxgood read

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxdisappointed, I thought it was going to be better

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxdon’t waste your time

Not for the faint-hearted

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How do you pick you books? I skim through the synopsis on the back cover (though I can never concentrate on reading those for some reason, my mind just wonders off whenever I try…) I also check the first couple of sentences and maybe a few randomly picked lines from further along the book, just to get a feel for it – but never the ending, wouldn’t want to spoil the read. After the not so elaborate decision process, with the price of under four euro sped up a lot, I knew I was getting a crime novel with an FBI agent. To my surprise I later found out later that the book has been written by an Irish author who did some necessary research in the United States.

The Killing Ways’’ by Alex Barclay wasn’t the type of thriller that I am used to reading. It was like watching ”Criminal Minds’’, shocking, intense, dark with a sadistic serial killer and a rapist running loose. A joung agent Ren Bryce is in charge of the investigation into the brutal murders he is commiting. Ren, a good hearted but not without personal issues, is more of a lone wolf when it comes to her work rather than a team player. She is on good terms with her work colleagues socially but so determined in her search for the psycho that she takes risks, jumps into dengerous situations often without any backup. As the list of victims grows Ren becomes more anxious. Her boss is pressing her to continue the therapy sessions she attends and insists that she takes the medicines the doctor is prescribing, the drugs that she is avoiding, afraid they would cloud her mind. Has the killer got her on his radar or is she getting paranoid? Are the people she cares about in danger? Is the monster on a mission to get them in order to hurt her?

If you feel like turning the TV off when the news is on, not wanting to hear about the dark side of the human nature, the book won’t bring you an escape as it shows humanity at its worst. It shows how lack of love and mercy can damage an innocent and turn them into a monster. Almost graphically describes an underworld of abusers and sadists. A dangerous word that agent Bryce steps into in order to do her job and doesn’t come out undamaged. She drinks too much and parties till the wee hours almost every night – to forget? Every new victim shakes her up even more. Will she catch the killer or will she become one of his many victims?

How do I grade the book? 3 fountain pens pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px, dots or badges.

 

Fountain pens, dots or badges rating

pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px – one of the best books I read

pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px– charmed

pluma-300px pluma-300px pluma-300px – good read

pluma-300px pluma-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

pluma-300px – don’t waste your time

A long winter

                                                                 imag1464

I am getting a little fed up with the winter now, but that’s how I usually feel come February, Christmas long gone, no snow and still a month or so of the rainy, damp and windy weather ahead. Are you looking for something to read to pass the time? It was a paper back I opted for this time around. Hard to resist for under 4 euro, ‘’The Shadow Year’’ by Hannah Richell.

Lila is looking for an escape. She is grieving her miscarried baby. Her marriage doesn’t seem to be handling the strain it has been put under. She is not coping with the loss and she doesn’t welcome her husband’s constant efforts to make her feel better. She just wants to be on her own. She is far from being pleased that her mother has been called for help. The unexpected and mysteriously anonymous gift of the land and a cottage in the middle of nowhere seems to be what she is looking for, but is the remote and isolated location a good place for her to be right now?

Lila cannot remember the events that led to her miscarriage. Her mother found her at the bottom of the stairs, but everything shortly before, and the fall itself has been errased from her memory. She is tossing and turning at night, the lost memories trying to surface. She is starting to believe that she wasn’t alone just before her accident, but who was with her and why have they left her unconcious?

The project of restoring the old cottage, that she takes on herself, gives her a new purpose. Her mother and husband don’t approve. It is a cold winter in full swing and the thought of her being there by herself doesn’t put them at ease. While Lila is trying to make the abbandoned place habitable, she wonders what is the meaning of the strange drawings on the walls in one of the rooms? Is the noise that wakes her up at night just a creation of her feverish mind? Who were the previous owners and what has happened to them?

We, as readers get to see who the previous occupants were. Charismatic and controlling Simon, shy and secretly fancying him Kat, easygoing couple Carla and Mac, practical Ben and Kat’s carefree sister Fraya. Handful of friends who one day decided to move into the cottage, attracted by the idea of selfsustainability, of living in a desolated place, separated from the rest of the word and its modern commodities. A decision that will change all their lives forever.

Will Lila figure out who used to live in the house and what has happened to them? Why have they abbandoned the place so abruptly leaving unwashed cutlery and other belongings behind? Is there more to know? What is their connection to Lila? Why was she given a key to the house and by whom?

The story plot is gripping and well thought through, suspenseful, full of surprises and twists, dark and even shocking in places – well written. A good read indeed, deserving 3 beakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300px feathers, scarfs or hats.

Feathers, scarfs or hats rating

beakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300px– one of the best books I read

beakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300px– charmed

beakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300px– good read

beakman-black-feather-300pxbeakman-black-feather-300px– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

beakman-black-feather-300px – don’t waste your time

Spelbound

                                                                gardenspells

I am charmed by Sarah Addison Allen’s books. They are beautifully written and I couldn’t wait to share them with you. If reading for you is about escaping into a different reality just for a little while, you will enjoy them. In her work she stamps on a solid ground and touches the supernatural at the same time, with the latter so subtle that if one is not careful enough, they may miss it sometimes.

If you want a taste of the aforementioned magical feeling she brings, you are invited to the moonlit garden that Claire, in “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen, tends to during her sleepless nights. The garden seems to have a life of its own. Plants just appear and blossom overnight, the temperamental apple tree, the heart of the garden as it seems, bears fruit regardless of the season. Claire learned how to listen to the garden, she knew that ‘’Something was about to happen, something the garden wasn’t ready to tell her yet.”

Claire is content with her life, with the catering business she runs, where she uses her own produce made from herbs and plants. But it’s not all about fragrant gardens, stargazing and sunny days throughout, not for her sister Sydney anyway. Claire lives peacefully in an inherited Waverley family home but her troubled sister has been gone for a decade. Sydney, so used to playing with fire, has drifted onto a dark path that she is now desparated to escape. In a search for a safe place, she is determined to bring her daughter Bay, of whose existence Claire didn’t even know, to the Waverley house – or perhabs she is being led to it by the various fragrances of the garden.

Magic in S. A. Allen’s books is perhabs not as unearthy as it may sound to you right now. Don’t we all sometimes get that unsettling feeling or experience a strange chill? Maybe this is part of us all, maybe the Weverleys women are just more tuned to it. Their unusual abilities haven’t been left unnoticed by their neigbours, eager to purchase the gourmet produce Claire makes out of the herbs and plants she grows, for their various properities.

Both sisters feel betrayed by their mother who left them early in their childchood at their grandmother’s care. Claire is full of regrets as to the way she has treated Sydney when they were kids, although isn’t the sisterly rivarly just a part of the siblings dinamics? At the same time she feels anger towards Sydney for abandoning her family home. Sydney wanted to cut herself free from all the quirks that being a Weverley meant, all that Claire has been cherishing, but now the family home is her only safe place. Will the sisters recocile?

Witty, humorous, insightful. I will gladly award this book 4 simplestar-300px simplestar-300px simplestar-300px simplestar-300px stars, bookmarks or bicycles.

Stars, bookmarks or bicycles rating

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– one of the best books I read

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– charmed

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– good read

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

simplestar-300px – don’t waste your time

Another one I have picked

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“The Daisy Picker” by Roisin Meaney kicks off with good pace and humour. It is a lightly written book about finding yourself, if I was to summarise it in one sentence.

Characters in R. Meaney’s books often have a strong inner drive to be who they want to be, rather than what is expected of them. It is a pleasure to see how much happiness this brings them when they succeed. It never seems to be too late, neither for the forty something year old Lizzy in the “The Daisy Picker” nor for Sarah, the busy young mother with a full time job, in “Something in Common”.

One day Lizzy decided she wasn’t happy. Maybe it was the fact that she was already in her forties or the article that she read in the dentist’s office – most likely both. Whatever it was, it made her realise how quickly the time was passing. She knew that if she wanted what she was so passionate about, she needed to act quickly. She too had a talent that had been left untouched, waiting for her to gain some courage and make use of it. She was finally eager to give it a chance. In order to do that she had to abandon her old life.

Once she leaves the nest, she doesn’t look back until the old life catches up with her. Just when all the pieces seemed to be falling into place, Lizzy is once more reminded how fast indeed the time flows. Are people able to just pack up, find their dream place and settle there for their happily ever after, or do they, just like after a nice long holiday, need to eventually get back to their old routine and settings? Is the unexpected crash with hard reality a realisation that every chance she took lately was a mistake or just a little setback that life is full of? Was she right in abandoning her old life without looking back? Does she have regrets? Can her new idyllic life be saved?

Lizzy’s character is quite beliveable. She isn’t flawless but she is likeable and fun to read about. I enjoyed the inner monologue, the smirky replies she was having in her head – which she stops, and rightly so, as she grows happier in herself. I enjoyed the other characters too. Her warm, welcoming and merry, though brokenhearted friend Angela, amongst others. There was a bit more romance that I would normally welcome in a book but it was nicely written, not overly sweet and romantic, set in as a part of life events more than a point of focus in itself.

Has the book earned my usual 3  waterdrop-300px waterdrop-300px waterdrop-300px rain drops, pots of gold or rainbows? Yes, I think it has.

3 rain drops, pots of gold or rainbows rating:

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – one of the best books I read

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – charmed

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – good read

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

waterdrop-300px – don’t waste your time