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: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

Okay…this should have been enlightening…and it was…I should feel better about my new understanding of food in the USA…..I should take the knowledge and do good with it. There are so many “shoulds” with this book…instead I find my blood boiling…I find myself so pissed off yet again by how my government has decided to control yet another aspect of my life. I am pissed that I have little or no choice in the matter. I am pissed that our choices are hidden within layers of lies and false advertisement, that no sane person would be able to wade through with a true understanding. I am pissed enough that I could go on and on…

but what I am most pissed about is that I sound like just one more conspiracy theorist…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

Urania Talks Book Lists…

So here is where I ramble on about a book list I ran across last week. It all started with an email I received from Off The Shelf containing this list (13 Books to Make You Ugly Cry)

Here are the books they listed. Watch the Vlog to hear my (RAMBLING) thoughts…

Buy Them Now
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi
Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Lucky by Alice Sebold
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Make sure to keep updated so you can see what I think of my two picks from this list…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Jessica Harlow (love that name) and John Shepard went to the FBI academy together – and everything was a competition.  After six years in different offices, they’re back in their hometown of Chicago, working an undercover operation… together. 

Julie James did her thing with this book – infused the right amount of levity, tension, witty banter, fierceness, and tenderness. In The Thing About Love, James gives us cool bromances, family get togethers, a trendy bar scene, and a trashy egomaniac of a mayor that you’ll love to hate. By the middle of the book, I KNEW Jessica and John, I rooted for them as they figured out how much of themselves to share, my jaw dropped when they moved their relationship in various directions, and I cried when Jessica finally saw her own truth. 

I couldn’t put down this book for the life of me. I read it while I brushed my teeth and then stayed up really late and by that time I was at 84% so I just stayed up even later to finish it.

I finally saw the last page at 2:30am, got 4 hours of sleep, and I’m not even sorry. It’s a really good story with badass FBI agents. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a Gucci happily ever after, too. 

-calliope

Buy THE THING ABOUT LOVE

Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

8686068Errrrr….I’m speechless. Mr Higashino can certainly teach the world about devotion. And of tragedy as well. The last 5% of this book about ruined me. It was a perfect ending for me. Not because it was happy, but because it was so true to the book.

I won’t say more, except that this is one of the better mystery books I’ve read in a very long time. It is also one of the most aptly titled books I’ve ever encountered. You think the name is fitting, but just as the entire novel is full of misdirection, the brilliance of the title doesn’t truly show itself until the very end.

Well done, Mr Higashino…you now have a new devoted fan…

What a fantastic book…

*walks away slowly shaking her head in wonderment…wow…just wow…*

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino