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text 2018-03-23 14:44
Friday Reads - March 23, 2018
Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur,Imperial War Museum
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong

I ADULTED so hard this week that I have only reading scheduled for this weekend. I aiming to finish Forgotten Voices of the Great War over the weekend and finish The Irish Americans during the week. Then it is on to my library borrows, I Contain Multitudes. Time to buckle down and clear March's currently reading shelf.


Have a good weekend!

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review 2018-03-16 17:26
BLANKY by Kealan Patrick Burke
Blanky - Kealan Patrick Burke


BLANKY is a powerful novella, full of grief, pain, and horrors previously unknown-those both real and imagined.


You can't let Kealan deceive you with that innocent looking cover. Any of you already familiar with his work wouldn't fall for that anyway. This is a tale that touches on everything it is to be human, both good and bad.


The time we spend with our families, even the irritating or angry times, are all something special. We may only want to focus on the fun, good memories, but that's not reality. BLANKY makes you think about, made ME think about- exactly what reality is.


With this story, be prepared to bring a piece of yourself and leave it upon the altar of Kealan Patrick Burke.


My highest recommendation. Period.


*I bought this novella with my hard earned money and reading it cost a small piece of my soul.*

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text 2018-03-16 16:54
Friday Reads - March 16, 2018
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan


I am of Irish descent on my mother's side and as usual I am making corned beef and cabbage with carrots for dinner tomorrow (crock pot) and something sweet for dessert. I go with corned beef rather than ham because the husband and daughter don't eat pork.


So this weekend I am focusing my attention on one book, The Irish Americans: A History because if I don't I will just leave it on my TBR forever with less than a chapter read. I just need to get over this hump (the Irish Americans who were living in the US pre-1840s Great Famine mass exodus) but colonial history/Early Republic history is a slow slog for me. I just don't get interested until we get mass immigration and railroads and the Gilded Age.  


Happy Reading!

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review 2018-03-13 11:30
A delightful read, full of great characters, inspiring, and heart-warming. Also recommended to dog lovers!
When the Stars Sang - Caren J. Werlinger

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

I occasionally read romance novels although I am not their number one fan, but there was something about this book that called my attention from the very beginning. I am always attracted towards stories that are set in special locations (real or imagined) and the description of the island definitely fitted the bill for me. And, in this case, first impressions were right.  I loved the story and the place, and I wish it existed and I could be a part of the community in Little Sister.

The story is narrated in the third person from the point of view of two female characters, Kathleen, who returns to Little Island as an adult (after a traumatic breakup with her on-and-off girlfriend of 14 years), and goes to live to the house of her recently deceased grandmother (although she had not been back there since she was a child due to a very traumatic event), and Molly, the island’s sheriff, and also a handywoman, who loves restoring and repairing boats, but can set her hand at anything that needs repairing (even a broken heart). Although they are suspicious of each other at first, it is clear that they are meant for each other, but, as we all know, the path of true love never does run smooth, and there are a number of obstacles on their way, some of their own making, but others to do with childhood trauma, dysfunctional family relationships, and a past that refuses to be buried. If you are a big fan of romances, LGBT or otherwise, you do not need to worry. Although I won’t discuss the ending to avoid spoilers; I think you’ll be happy with it.

The author creates realistic characters we care for, and not only the protagonists. While Kathleen and Molly can be stubborn and blind at times (and even annoying, but ultimately likeable), there is a full catalogue of fabulous secondary characters, including Molly’s family (her wonderful parents, and her brothers, including Aidan, who is an integral part of the incident that made everything change for Kathleen), sisters Olivia and Louisa (who always carry the ashes of their father with them), Rebecca, the librarian and depository of the island’s traditions, and many more. Oh, and let’s not forget Blossom, a stray dog adopted by Kathleen (well, the adoption is mutual), that is both a totally realistic dog and a fantastic and heart-warming character.

There is lovely food, a variety of ceremonies and traditions, a strong sense of community [including matrilineal heritage that reminded me of the book The Kingdom of Women by Choo Wai Hong (you can read my review here)], secrets, deception, ecology and renewable energy, and plenty of love, not only between the two women, but between all the members of the community. The sense of belonging and the healing and growth of the characters is intrinsically linked to the way of life in this island that mixes Irish folklore and beliefs with Native-American (First Ones) ones. Werlinger creates a beautiful setting, both in its landscape and spirituality. Readers feel a part of this wonderful community, and I, for one, was sorry to come to the end of the book and would love to live in such a place.

The writing ebbs and flows, allowing readers to enjoy the descriptions of the island, its inhabitants, their actions and also their mental processes, although I did not find it slow and I was hooked to the story and the feeling of becoming one with the inhabitants of the place. As a writer, I easily empathised with Kathleen, who is an editor and also creates book covers, and I enjoyed the fact that female and male characters are diverse, are not restricted to standard gender roles, and the attitude of the islanders towards same-sex love is open and unquestioning. There are certain necessary characteristics that make a relationship truly compatible, but gender is not one of them.

As readers, we share the thoughts and experiences of the main characters although the third person narration also gives us enough distance to be able to make our own minds up. There are some surprises, some quasi-magical elements, some light and fun moments, but there are also nasty characters (although these are always outsiders), and intuition and family connections are very important. As for the love story, there are some sexual elements, but not a full-blown graphic description of events, and I found it rather delicate and in good taste (and I am not a fan of erotica).

I wanted to share a few things I highlighted:

Normally, those messages would have torn at Kathleen’s heart. But she wasn’t sure she had a hart any longer. She tapped her chest, half expecting it to sound hollow, like the Tin Man.

“It should be a mix. None of us is just one thing, complete in and of ourselves. We are the island, and the island is us.”

“That is not how it works. Love that has to be deserved or earned was never love to begin with.”

A joyful read, which I recommend to readers who enjoy books set in special locations, who appreciate a strong sense of community and belonging, and love solid characters. There are ups and downs, happy and sad events, although it is not a book for lovers of adventures and frantically paced novels. This is a contemplative and inspiring book, heart-warming and positive. If you need a pick-me-up, this is your book.

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text 2018-03-09 10:01
Friday Reads - March 9, 2018
Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur,Imperial War Museum
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan
Touching the Clouds - Bonnie Leon

I survived #thebeastfromtheeast (aka Storm Emma) last week. Now we are getting #thepestfromthewest, which will be bringing lots of rain to our area but warmer temperatures. Seriously, I just want one nice weather weekend to enjoy.


We got a Boy Scout Pinewood Car Derby on Saturday and on Sunday I am taking the kids to see A Wrinkle in Time. In between the chores, errands, and activities I hope to get through the year 1915 in Forgotten Voices from the Great War, some of The Irish Americans (it is so academically dry though...), and start Touching the Clouds. I also have a bunch of reviews to write and updating various reading trackers.


Happy Reading!

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