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review 2019-10-12 11:44
A lyrical and romantic story set in a magical Ireland
Seven Letters - J.P. Monninger

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Because I read an early copy of the story, some of the details mentioned might not fully correspond to the final published version of the book.

I had never read any of the author’s work before, but the description of the setting, the protagonist and her reasons for visiting Ireland drew me in. I had read about the Blasket Islands in a previous book and become fascinated by what I came across, and, personally, I would love to have the opportunity to be a scholar researching the topic, in Ireland. The novel offered me the chance to vicariously live that experience through the main character, and I did enjoy it enormously. The beautiful writing, interspersed with Irish sayings, stories, and references to books were pure delight.

I am not a big reader of romance, and perhaps for that reason, the aspects of the novel that I most enjoyed were not the truly romantic ones, that I found a bit over the top. Kate, the protagonist, has a strong Irish (and Blasket Islands) connection, and she seems more than ready to fall in love —and under the spell— of Ireland, and the islands in particular. I did love the setting of the story, the description of her life at the university, her research, the people she meets there, and I would have loved to know more about some of the secondary characters (the Bicycle  Society members, for example, Gran, Seamus, Daijeet, Dr Kaufman, and even Milly although we learn more about her later). Also, and I suspect I might be in the minority here, I would have loved to have had more details of Kate’s research, for example, samples of the stories she reads and of the book she writes (she is studying women’s accounts of the life in the Blasket Islands before they were abandoned and the few inhabitants left there had to move out), although I know there are accounts published and available, but her work process, and her description of how she felt as she engaged in it resonated with me (yes, I have a PhD and re-experiencing that period was a huge bonus for me).

Of course, Kate’s experience in Ireland would not be complete without a romance, and we meet the man in question very early on, and no, readers don’t need to be avid romance consumers to spot him and know where things are headed. As I said, not being a habitual romance reader, I wasn’t too convinced by that side of things. I never felt we got to know Ozzie well, but that is reasonable in the context of the story, as Kate seems to falls in love/lust with an idea or an image in her head, more than with the real man, and neither one of them give each other much chance to know what they are getting into and who with. Because we see the story from Kate’s perspective, we are expected to see him through rose-tinted glasses, at least initially, although things (and him) don’t fit neatly into the romanticized image she has in her head. (Oh, there are sex scenes as well, but they are not explicit and are overly romantic and totally unrealistic, but hey, as I don’t like sex scenes, I was pleased they were not many and didn’t mind they were unrealistic). Theirs is the perfect embodiment of a whirlwind romance. As we all know, the course of true love never did run smooth, and there are separations, trials, and many obstacles in the way, some that go well beyond what most people would expect from a typical novel in this genre, and deal in some very serious issues (like the Mediterranean refugee crisis), so although this is a romantic novel, it is not a light and cheery read (although yes, there is the mandatory happy ending that I won’t spoil for you).

The structure and the way the story is told is quite original, as it revolves around letters, the seven letters of the title, some formal and official, some personal, and they help create the backbone of the novel, written in the first person, from Kate’s perspective. In fact, although the novel is classed as a romance (and I’ve mentioned some of the more conventional romantic aspects of the story), for me it seemed to fit better into the Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story (although the character is perhaps a bit older than most of these kinds of characters tend to be), and it is written as if it were a memoir, where the letters serve as anchors, points around which the protagonist organizes her memories of the events, because although the story is told chronologically, it is not linear and there are jumps in time, during which life has gone on and settled, but the narration is only retrieved when something of some significance to Kate’s journey and to her relationship with Ozzie takes place. (There are scenes that showed potential, for example, an archeological trip Kate gets involved in, but it ends up becoming only a setting for an encounter with Ozzie, and we are given no details as to what else might have happened during the trip). Although she is not the typical innocent-abroad of many XIX and early XX century novels, she does not know herself, her trip abroad changes things and she goes back to the USA a changed woman, although there are many more things that she must learn, not only about herself but also about others, before the end of the book. Her process of discovery felt realistic, and I empathized with her struggle between her idea of what her life should be like, what her heart wants, and her attempts to reconcile the two, if possible.  Oh, there is also a prologue including a lovely Irish story about a man falling in love with a fairy woman, although, to me, in this case Kate plays the part of the man —who cannot settle in the magical land and misses home— and Ozzie that of the fairy woman.

I agree with comments that say perhaps the story would have gained in depth and become more realistic if some part of it had been told from Ozzie’s point of view, but, considering Ozzie’s backstory, that would have been a completely different book, and one that would have taken the focus away from the romantic angle.

In sum, this is a story I enjoyed, and I don’t hesitate in recommending it to romance readers, in particular to lovers of Ireland and anything Irish. There are many elements that make the story worthy of reading even for those who are not big on romance, especially the setting, the beautiful language, and the protagonist, who although flawed and contradictory, loves books, scholarship, her friends, Ireland and has a wonderful zest for life. The descriptions, not only of Ireland, but also of New Hampshire, Italy, and other settings, take readers on a lyrical journey, and I was sorry it came to an end. Oh, and there’s a wonderful dog too.

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review 2019-10-09 23:43
Seven Letters
Seven Letters - J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters is beautifully written, and Monninger certainly knows how to paint a scene. It actually felt like more time was spent on the setting than on the love story, or maybe it was that those were some of my favorite parts. The romance was good, not great, but good, but that could be due to a lack of connection with Kate. I just never quite warmed up to her. I've seen that this one is headed for the silver screen, so I'm anxious to see how it all translates to film. I'm hoping to find Kate a little easier to like, and I can't wait for the terrific scenery described. In the end, Seven Letters fell just short of a really good story and landed somewhere in the mid-range for me.

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url 2019-09-23 12:32
Sacred Script of European Neolithic Shamans
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Script of Neolithic Shamans

Learning from the Egyptian Rosetta Stone and Christian Orthodox IconsSymbols and Signsconsciousness

 

Researching Rosetta Stone, and Cyrilic from Ancient Egyptian to Slavic Spiritual Wisdom

Symbols and Signs

ancient-egypt-mystical-knowledge-and-first-aphabete-letters-chart

Worshiping Sha, Ancient Egyptian and Slavic Mystical Knowledge of the first alphabets

 

 

Learning from Rosetta Stone about How Sh was replaced by M and W

Knowing all to be a vibration, while paying the deepest respect to sounds of each and every sacred letter, we find 22 consonants, in use 4,000 years ago. We also know that the ancient writing systems, I.e. Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Urdu Sindhi together with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean were right-to-left scripts.

Source: artof4elements.com/entry/259/script-of-neolithic-shamans
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review 2019-08-21 20:32
Masterly.
Thomas Cromwell: A Life - Diarmaid MacCulloch
Thomas Cromwell: A Life - Diarmaid MacCulloch,David Rintoul

Expansion into a full review to come (if I find the time), but for the moment:

 

If you even have the slightest interest in Tudor history and politics, run, don't walk to get this book.  And for a special treat, also get the audio version narrated by David Rintoul.  This is an intense, fact-packed read and (in either the print or audio version) not a book to rush through; but it is SO worth taking the time.  What a fascinating personality -- and what an amazing biography.

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review 2019-08-19 01:24
Review: Love Letters by Francine Pascal, Kate William
Love Letters - Kate William,Francine Pascal

Title: Love Letters
Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William
Series: Sweet Valley High, 17
Format: ebook
Length: N/A
Rating: 3 stars

 

Synopsis: Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
Caroline has everyone fooled even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline's life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she's been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?

 

Favourite character: Caroline?
Least favourite character: Jessica

 

Mini-review: I thought this was okay. Caroline Pearce, SVH's own personal gossip, creates a fake boyfriend via love letters and then is surprised when it all blows up in her face. Meanwhile Alice Wakefield considers a job in San Francisco. The twins are spoiled brats about it and refuse to let their mother do what she wants and as Ned says, "worked hard for" and scheme to keep their perfect lief and ruin their parents lives (shockingly, it's Elizabeth's idea). Tune in next time to find out what happens when Bruce Patman tries to seduce new girl Regina Morrow. 

 

Fan Cast:

Elizabeth Wakefield/Jessica Wakefield - Lili Reinhart

Caroline Pearce - Shannon Purser

Lila Fowler - Danielle Campbell

Todd Wilkins - Blake Michael

Alice Wakefield - Laura Dern

Ned Wakefield - Patrick Warburton

Anita Pearce - Riley Keough

Cara Walker - Sofia Carson

Bill Chase - Dylan Playfair

DeeDee Gordon - Katherine Langford

Jerry Fisher - Israel Broussard

Bruce Patman - Gregg Sulkin

Regina Morrow - Zendaya

Annie Whitman - Bailee Madison

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