Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

Welcome to my In My Mailbox this week. This is a lovely meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received my latest book parcel from Kennys Bookshop in Galway, Ireland over the weekend and I wanted to share. All books were purchased by me but chosen by Des Kenny.

Fool's Sanctuary by Jennifer Johnston
from the back cover:
The Great War is over; but the war in Ireland is only just beginning, as the IRA and the Black and Tans move on to the attack. It all seems very remote to Miranda Martin, during that miraculous Indian summer. Her father, hoping to forget his dead wife, thinks of nothing but his trees; Miranda thinks of the future, a future which must surely include Cathal, who brings news from Dublin. Everything seems calm and serene.

But then Andrew, her officer brother, comes home bringing his eccentric, likeable friend Harry, and as the Indian summer fades, the scene is set for tragedy.

Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
summary from Goodreads:
Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories about despair and desire in the timeless world of modern-day Ireland. In the never-before-published story “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer awarded a stay to work in Heinrich Boll’s old cottage has her peace interrupted by an unwelcome intruder, whose ulterior motives only emerge as the night progresses. In the title story, a priest waits at the altar to perform a marriage and, during the ceremony and the festivities that follow, battles his memories of a love affair with the bride that led him to question all to which he has dedicated his life; later that night, he finds an unlikely answer in the magical healing powers of a seer.
A masterful portrait of a country wrestling with its past and of individuals eking out their futures, Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart

Lights in the Distance by Susan Millar DuMars
A collection of short stories.

The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman by Flann O'Brien
from Goodreads:
"Along with Joyce and Beckett, [Flann O'Brien] constitutes our trinity of great Irish writers. And who is funnier?"
- Edna O'Brien

The cream of Flann O'Brien's comic tour-de-force, the Keats and Chapman stories began in O'Brien's column in the Irish Times. He called them "studies in literary pathology" -- monstrously tall tales that explore the very limits of the shaggy dog story. As one critic wrote, they will accumulate the fantasy to the point of sadism, and then cash home with the flat, desolating pun.

"The Brother" is another of O'Brien's funniest creations. He is the archetypal Dublin man -- an authority on every one of mankind's ills, from the common cold to the court case. Forget the experts, The Brother knows best.

"The best comic writer I can think of."
- S. J. Perelman

Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
summary from Goodreads:
Living alone with his dog in the remote cabin in the woods, Julius Winsome is not unlike the barren winter lands that he inhabits: remote, vacant, inscrutable. But when his dog Hobbes is killed by hunters, their carelessness—or is it cruelty?—sets Julius's precarious mindset on end.
He is at once more alone than he has ever been; he was at first with his father, until he died; then with Claire, until she disappeared with another man into a more normal life in town; and then with Hobbes, who eased the sorrow of Claire's departure. Now Hobbes is gone.
Julius is left with what his father left behind: the cabin that he was raised in; a lifetime of books, lining every wall of his home, which have been Julius's lifelong friends and confidantes; and his great-grandfather's rifle from World War I, which Julius had been trained to shoot with uncanny skill and with the utmost reluctance. But with the death of his dog, Julius's reluctance has reached its end. More and more, simply and furtively, it is revenge that is creeping into his mind.
Fresh snow is on the ground as the hunters lumber into his sights. They're well within the old gun's range. They pause, and they're locked into the crosshairs. Julius's finger traces the trigger. Will he pull it? And what will that accomplish? What if he simply has nothing left to lose?

Old Swords and Other Stories by Desmond Hogan
description from Goodreads:
These eleven stories by Desmond Hogan, his first publication since Larks' Eggs: New and Selected Stories (2005), collect newly minted shards of experience focused on the lives of the dreamers and marginalized who populate his imagined worlds. They range in time and place from France, Germany and Italy in the nineteenth century to Ireland of the 1950s and the present day. Their concerns are fragility and identity expressed through the outer semblances of dress and deportment, and inner realities of involuntary memory and the retrieval of shared pasts. Close observation of nature combines with psychological unveilings, much of it in the form of erotic reverie. This bricolage of melded history and a fragmented modernism renders truth-to-experience like no other contemporary voice.

This author's linguistic resourcefulness is unique to Irish letters, and each new gathering enlarges upon his reputation as one of Ireland's most fearless and invigorating writers, who, in the words of film-maker Neil Jordan, "remakes the world every time he puts pen to paper'"

The River Field by John MacKenna
from the back cover:
This magnificent collection of short stories by one of Ireland's finest writers is set over the centuries and bound by one connecting factor - a field near the author's beloved Castledermot, Co. Kildare. Each story showcases MacKenna's incredible gift of capturing a moment, an emotion, a time in sensuous yet stark language.

Without My Cloak by Kate O'Brien
description from Goodreads:
When Anthony Considine creeps into Mellick town with a stolen horse in 1789, it sets the destiny of his family for decades to come. By the 1850s, through thrift and hard work, his son Honest John has made the Considines a leading Mellick family. In turn, his son Anthony builds a fine house in the country for his wife and children—most especially for his adored son Dennis. Little does he know that when Dennis grows up he will threaten the toil of generations with his love for a peasant girl. A stirring family saga of divided loyalties and individual freedom; of matches made and lost; and of the constraints of religion and family pride

A Donegal Trilogy by Little John Nee
from back cover:
This book contains three plays by Little John Nee: the Derry Boat, Rural Electric and The Mental. John is a writer, performer, songwriter and storyteller. Raised in Glasgow until the age of 12, he then returned with his family to his parents' native Donegal. John's work is rooted in the stories of the ordinary people of Ireland, and in particular his home county of Donegal, that most Scottish of Irish counties. His work though is not ordinary. It is lyrical, moving and precise: each word, each song, each note each gesture plays its part in crafting his stories. Audiences everywhere identify with those stories for their simplicity and humanity in telling the experience of the ordinary man.

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
description from Goodreads:
Following a car crash, for several seconds, Dublin photographer Sean Blake is clinically dead. When he plummets back to life, it is into a world which, for him, has profoundly changed. This is not the first time that he has been given a second life. At the age of six weeks he was taken from his mother, when as a young girl in rural Ireland, she was forced to give up her baby for adoption. Beginning the quest for his own identity, Sean determines to find his natural mother. This leads him on a strange and absorbing journey. Bolger exposes a dark wound from Ireland's history to explore how we must not only reclaim the past but try to redeem it. As Sean closes in on the truth of his birth, A Second Life builds with a resonance that is both through-provoking and utterly moving.

Crannog 25 - a collection of fiction and poetry

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Eighth Scroll

The Eighth Scroll by Laurence B. Brown
kindle edition purchased from Amazon.com
Description from Goodreads
Stirring the flames of age-old controversies, The Eighth Scroll by Laurence B. Brown draws on the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to create an unbelievably dynamic and powerful story. Set in a world that teeters between orthodoxy and heresy, this thriller is packed with intrigue and adventure. When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project hides one of the scrolls because of the heretical message it contains, no one is the wiser until decades later, when a prominent archaeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archaeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll . . . or die trying.

My Take:
I've received a few emails from this author wanting me to read and review the book as well as participate in some blog events.  I passed on the extra stuff, but I did read the book because the descriptions intrigued me and it sounded interesting.  I don't know if the book lives up to some of the blurbs on the cover and amazon review pages, but it was definitely a fun read.  I read this book in just about one day without having to put much effort into it.  It is very fast paced and the events are exciting and the story did hold my interest. 

I've seen several reviews comparing The Eighth Scroll to works by Dan Brown - and I think the comparisons are fair.  Conspiracy. History. Murder. Intrigue. Controversial topics. Although, I must say that there were not any ideas that I hadn't encountered in other places. Some people may find some of the ideas in the book regarding the Bible and Christianity controversial, but I had no issues with any of it. 

If you like history, archeology, and thrillers, you may enjoy this book.  I found it an easy, enjoyable read. However, if you are easily offended by differing religious views, you may want to avoid this book.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. It is where we share the books that we have managed to acquire this week.  This week I was lucky enough to receive the following books:

Stasiland by Anna Funder
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. She meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist." Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together—or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.

Fante: A Memoir by Dan Fante
As father and son John and Dan Fante shared a relationship characterized by competition, resentment, rage and silence. As men, both were driven to succeed by damaged by uncontrollable drinking. As writers, both were gifted with inextinguishable passion. In Fante, Dan Fante traces his family’s history from Los Angeles, where John struggles to gain literary recognition and turns instead to the steady paycheck of Hollywood screenwriting, to New York, where Dan finds an escape from his troubled childhood in a life of words and vices.
John was a writer whose literary contributions were not recognized until the end of his life. Dan was an alcoholic saved by writing, who at the age of 45 picked up his father’s old typewriter in order to ease the madness in his mind. Fante is the story of the evolution of a relationship between father and son who eventually find their way back to loving each other. In straightforward unapologetic prose, Dan Fante lays bare his family’s story from his point of view, with the rage and passion of a writer, which he feels was his true inheritance and his father’s greatest gift.

Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World without God by Greg Graffin & Steve Olson
A provocative look at the collision between religion and science-by the founding member of the cult punk band Bad Religion who is also a professor.

“I’ve always had a problem with authority.” —Greg Graffin

The world knows Greg Graffin as the lead singer of the cult punk band Bad Religion which he founded in the 80s— what they may not know is he also also a Ph.D. and a Professor of Life Sciences at UCLA who is immersed in the debate on religion. In Anarchy Evolution, Graffin puts forth his bold ideas about “naturalism” and the connection between science religion and art. In this provocative and timely book, Graffin tackles head on the “intellectual dishonestly” of creationism; he also shares compelling stories about his childhood and how science saved him when he ran into trouble as a teenager. Anarchy Evolution will appeal to the fans of Bad Religion (which as sold over 2.8 million albums) as well as readers of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The book coincides with a major national Bad Religion reunion tour that will start in October of 2010

Friday, October 7, 2011

Follow Friday

Hello! And happy Friday to all.  It is time for another Follow and Feature Friday. This super fun meme is hosted by Parajunkee.com and Alisoncanread.com.  This week's feature blogs are

 Jagged Edge Reviews

Go check out their blogs and follow along.

Q. If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

A. Harry Potter is going to be a popular choice, I think. I think I'd like to swap places with Jenny instead of Hermione though because I just love the Weaseley family. I also love Jane Austen's novels and I love the lifestyle - to a point. I don't think it would be ideal in reality though -- I have a hard time holding my tongue and I would be in so much trouble all the time.

A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...