Review: The Princes of Ireland (The Dublin Saga, #1) by Edward Rutherfurd

This is my second Rutherfurd book. I admit that I should bump this and give it 4 stars. The history is there, however, I just didn’t care for any of it…okay…I lied…I loved the start of the book and the Druids…after that I quickly lost interest and although I found a couple of the characters enjoyable, I never really connected or deeply cared about any of them. They were forgotten as soon as Rutherfurd stopped writing their names.

There are some really fantastic historical writers out there that really know how to engage the reader with a mixture of facts and fiction. My favourites that come to (my) mind are, Cornwell, Penman, Follett, and now Rutherfurd. Just because I didn’t care for this book doesn’t mean that I don’t love Rutherfurd.

Reading his novels is both depressing and refreshing. It’s depressing to realise yet again that once we no longer walk the earth that we are soon forgotten. That we can spend our entire life devoted to bettering our world and our family’s fortune (a fortune not always need be counted by gold coins mind you) and as soon as we pass, that family we strove so hard to provide for may not even know our name…

OTOH, it’s refreshing to know that we, as individuals, can make change for future generations…even if they do not know our name or the sacrifices we made for them.

I can’t wait to dive into another Rutherfurd book, even if this one wasn’t to my liking.

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

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Review: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Really hard to get my thoughts around this novel. Yes it’s a novel about war. Yes it’s a novel with a love triangle. Most of all it’s a novel about the human condition.

Why do people do the things they do? I’m still not sure what motivated these combat photojournalists. Why they continued to push the boundaries. I’ve read other novels (both non fiction and fiction) about journalists and war…but none have touched me this way. Often after reading these novels I am left angry. Angry at politics, angry at impossible circumstances people find themselves in. I’ve even been angry at journalists that seem to place themselves in danger and danger to others with nothing but fame and glory on their minds. However, I felt none of that with this novel. I felt incredible sadness, and an inability to understand the motives of these journalists. I guess that’s not exactly true. I did understand, but it was all so complex. Almost as if everything was right there…I could see it, but it just remained a sliver of air out of my grasp.

That’s why I really loved this novel. I’m not so sure I can explain, but Helen, Sam and Linh had so many parts that made the whole. The depth of what drove them forward day after day and shot after shot…well…it left one breathless. It shows us just how complex the human psyche can be. There might be one thing that started them each on their journey, but there were so many facets that all combined to build them into the people that they were. So many parts that pushed them through day after day. Yes, glory was part of it, but only a small part. They were all products of their history…they were all products of their present. They were all products of their future. Products of their jobs. Of their countries. Of their families. And finally, products of each other. You take away one single element and the whole thing collapses.

How they started their journeys, how they took those journeys and how they ended those journeys were all part and parcel of who they were. But who they where could not have existed without the journeys that shaped them. One would be hard pressed to decide where one started and the other one ended.

Again, all of this continued to go around my head as I listened and really felt for these characters. It’s a novel that contained, for me, far more ideas than could be contained within the pages. For me, this is the best kind of novel. One that makes you exam more than just the words you are reading…

Extraordinary characters…well done, Tatjana Soli!

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Review: Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

Maybe not my favourite of David’s (NOT DAVE) books, but it was the most telling for me. It was fascinating to note the difference from the start to the finish. How different he was at the start. Still somewhat sarcastic and funny, but I felt that there wasn’t much enjoyment (I guess that’s pretty understandable when you’re sleeping in vomit covered rooms and showering in tubs that have your own vomit in them).

A couple of things. It was a lightbulb moment for me when David writes in his diary towards the end about his birthday wish. When he wished for not more…but for less. When he reflects how he can just go and buy what strikes his fancy, whilst in the past he was content with just being able to borrow a book for a library and have a cup of coffee uninterrupted at McDonald’s. I imagine we have all been there. Hopefully we are all in a better place than we were a couple of dozen years ago. I mean that’s how it’s meant to work. You work hard and then you can enjoy and stress less as you’re older….but how nice to remember that you were perfectly able to survive with less and still be happy. Seriously…it was a stop the book for a moment and reflect moment for me.

Another thing. Poor Hugh. I mean seriously….Poor poor Hugh. And thank goodness for Hugh. The honesty in David and Hugh’s relationship, in even a few short sentences from a diary entry…well…it’s amazing…and humbling as well. I wonder where David would be if he hadn’t met Hugh. I also wonder where Hugh would be. Talk about two opposites attracting. And the strengths of one complimenting the other…whilst the weaknesses of one smooth the rough edges off the other at the same time. I just imagine a household where there is a lot of eye rolling on both sides!

Another thing…I challenge ANYONE to read one of Sedaris’ novels without laughing out loud. I just don’t think it can be done.

Finally, when I’ve thought of diaries, or have kept journals in the past, I always imagined they had to have some sort of deep thought process…or that they had to be pages and pages long. Now I know they don’t have to be daily…and they don’t have to be word for word. They can be random. They can be funny. They can be sad. They can be angry. They can be just a single sentence. They don’t have to thought provoking…but funnily enough, a single sentence about an observation of a stranger CAN be though provoking!

So glad he published this one. Sure, I’ve read his other books and I know he’s had a substance and alcohol problem…but reading this novel really was an eye opener for what has really made David Sedaris the person that he is today. From social attitudes, how strangers have treated him, from family, to jobs, to being poor, from teaching, from lack of taking control, from a thousand different things that have shaped him…I think I love him even more…as if that was possible…and as only David can make you feel, I at times, absolutely dislike him…but that’s only the social pressure that says you shouldn’t allow people to say some of the things he does out loud….but I can’t help it…his honesty is one of the reasons I love him the most…and how can you stay annoyed at someone whilst at the same time you’re laughing your head off as well?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Theft by Finding by David Sedaris

Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

firefly-laneThis is the story of two best friends and follows their 30 year friendship. This was an alright read..it’s not the best I’ve read but certainly it isn’t the worst either….it’s just that it seemed like it went on and on for 30 years as I was trying to read it! Yammer Yammer Yammer…that’s all I heard in my head…the longer it went on the more I was annoyed. Honestly, no matter how good a book is (or isn’t) you don’t want it to feel as if you are actually experiencing every single one of the 30 years…

Have you guessed yet? I didn’t much like this book. It was a miss for me…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Review: The Terror by Dan Simmons

terrorHave you ever had friends rave about a book? Tell you how terrifying it was? How amazing it was? Have you rushed out to buy that book? Been so excited to start that book that you actually put it off for a few months (OKAY OKAY OKAY, maybe the size of my TBR list had a bit to do with that as well) just so you can savour it?

Yea, me too! The Terror by Dan Simmons was one of those books! Once I finally dived in I was beyond excited to finally get started! Do you know what I found once I did? Here it is…are you ready? My review in just a few short words…

All I can say is that I was about ready for the Tuunbaq to come and put me out of my cold misery long before this novel ended…..

That’s it…

The End…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now (or not) The Terror by Dan Simmons

Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

wildI really enjoyed this book, but it was a bit depressing. It really gives me pause and makes me think about how many people are out there like Chris McCandless. If he had chosen any other place he might still be alive today….but what would he be like? How many people do you know that march to a beat of a different drum? So many of those people who do so are geniuses in disguise. If we don’t find an outlet for the thoughts that go though our minds, what happens? Obviously, Chris wasn’t stupid. He obviously had a lot going on inside his head. It also appears that he kept a lot of that to himself. What if he had found someone to share those thoughts with? What if he had some type of outlet to deal with those thoughts? What is “wanderlust”? Was Chris rebelling? Was he protesting? Was he trying to find himself? Was he trying to reconcile his past relationships in his head? Or was it nothing so complex as that? Was he simply just “being” and going where that led him?

I’ve known people who I’ve thought could seriously live anywhere and with nothing and they would be happy…..material items mean nothing to them. They don’t worry about tomorrow….they know it will come regardless of how you prepare for it…and they know that it usually takes care of itself. I’ve often admired their courage to set forth and not know where they shall end at the end of the day. Staying in hostels or sleeping under the stars…..I’ve also though that there was a bit of madness there as well 🙂 I’ve wondered if they are running from something. Or just simply living life as they *want* to live it….

I’ve often wondered about really successful artists. Authors. Musicians. Painters. Really anyone that is successful doing things in a different way. I’ve often wondered what would happen if they hadn’t found their chosen fields. Or if they hadn’t been successful in those outlets. IOW if Stephen King couldn’t make a living from writing, what would he do? If Prince couldn’t do the same with music, where would he be? If Steve Jobs has never found tech…..The list goes on and on. Of course there are plenty out there that couldn’t…and they died penniless…only to be discovered long after their deaths…

But take it a step further….what if those people had never found that outlet in the first place? Would their search for it be termed “wanderlust”?

Face it, you see someone a bit unkept standing on a street corner and *if* you see them, you might make an automatic assumption…..if you see a young guy standing on the beach going, “Whoa, Dude”, again an assumption is made….

I’m pretty f**king sure the co-workers of Chris McCandless’ at McDonalds who jokingly offered him a bar of soap to get rid of the smell were making assumptions as well. However, they were wrong. Turns out that he was probably the most educated person there. He wasn’t stupid and unable to get work somewhere else. He wasn’t unmotivated. His family was probably more “well-to-do” than any one else’s. Chris didn’t have to be alone. Chris didn’t have to be flipping burgers at McDonalds. He *chose* to…..

I’m not saying that Chris was a closet genius and he would have changed the world. I’m only saying that these are the thoughts that ran though my head as I read this book.

It just all reinforced what I already know….We ALL have these *things* going on inside our head. Some of us just mask them better…..or find a way to deal with them…..no one ever knows everything that goes on with someone….even our loved ones…..we all have our secret thoughts and feelings….and sometimes motivations aren’t clear….even to ourselves…..

a little bit of kindness can go a very long way…..but so can a little bit of judgement…so be generous with your kindness and stingy with your judgement….

and finally…..

“we are all stories in the end”……

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

bottom-pieI just love little Flavia…so wish I could go back in time and read these as a 10 year old! I would have been mad for her then! Such a cheeky little bugger! But whom I kidding? I love her now as a 46 year old!

If you think this is a short review, well you’re wrong…You don’t need me to tell you what the book is about, you just need me to tell you to go out and read it…so I am telling you now…it doesn’t matter how young or old you are…go out and buy this book…we all need a little Flavia in our lives!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley