The Girl Across the Sea by Noëlle Harrison – #AudiobookReview – #fictionsagas

The Girl Across the Sea by Noelle Harrison

Book Blurb:

“I need you to find out what happened to my mother. The woman who sent me across the sea to Ireland. And never came to find me.”

Mairead’s world is falling apart. Recently separated, she has returned to her beautiful childhood home in Ireland to nurse her dying mother. But as Brigid sits pale and papery thin, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, she has one last request for her only daughter . . .

Brigid hands Mairead a stunning turquoise necklace and a small black-and-white photograph of her mother, Ellen, a woman she never met. She begs Mairead to go to New York, the last place Ellen was seen alive, and find out what became of her. Mairead cannot ignore her mother’s dying wish.

But when Mairead arrives in America, she is shocked by the secrets she uncovers. In an old church in Arizona she discovers her grandmother was a wanted woman in Ireland, accused of murder. What lies in her family’s past? And what does the turquoise necklace mean?

As she digs deeper, the trail leads Mairead to a small mossy graveyard in Ireland where she might finally learn the truth. But if she does, will she re-open old wounds, and put her own future into terrible danger?

My Review:

Ellen Lavelle realizes she can’t risk returning to Ireland with her husband and young daughter as she harbors a dark secret she hasn’t shared. She leaves them to sail from New York without her and flees, hoping to find a new life.

In the telling of the multi-plotted generational timeline, we are gradually fed the tragic story of Ellen Lavelle, her daughter Brigid, and her daughter Mairead. It is not until the 1980s when Mairead has a tragic turn in her marriage and is made aware of her mother’s terminal condition that she really gets to know the mother who was so cold in her affection for Mairead. Brigid begs her to find Ellen and discover the reason behind her abandonment.

The Girl Across the Sea by Noelle HarrisonAs the reader is taken through the different timelines, the plot digs ever deeper into the characters’ lives, struggles, and talents. We gradually begin to understand how the events that began with Ellen shaped the lives of her daughter Brigid and her granddaughter Mairead.

I had a little difficulty accepting Ellen’s deadly response to the two men who were initially an unexpected rescue. It seemed a bit extreme, although I could certainly understand the anger. And Mairead, rebounding from her failed marriage reacted on the extreme side as well—what I thought was totally out of character.

Mired in the subplot is the family home and the call back to Ireland—there to discover once and for all just who Ellen was and the circumstances that created the misfortune that shaped three generations.

Still, it is well-plotted, well-paced with flipping between the different timelines and characters. The characters were so well developed that when they stepped unexpectedly into the extreme it was disturbing. Descriptions of locations whether Ireland or the US (especially Arizona) bordered on prose, poems, and quotes often lent weight to the often nostalgic atmosphere.

It is an engaging and entertaining narrative, if not emotional and disconcerting at times; the resolution of the castle a bit fanciful, but there is a drive to resolve all the loose ends which are covered admirably in conclusion. It keeps the reader reading (or listening, the narrator also performing admirably).

The CE read The Last Summer in Ireland in October 2022, and greatly enjoyed it. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library and enjoyed it as well. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Sagas, Women’s Fiction, Family Saga Fiction
Publisher: Tantor Audio
ASIN: B09YVPMN8T
Listening Length: 11 hrs 7 mins
Narrator: Esther Wane
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Girl Across the Sea [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

Noelle Harrison - authorThe Author: Welcome to my Author’s Page!

I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.

My books have been published in over 12 different countries.

I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.

In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.

I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.

I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.

If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets, and always, always a love story set against evocative landscapes, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard. Want to know more about me and my writing, go to http://www.noelleharrison.com

©2022 V Williams

K, luv u, bye

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops: A Memoir by Allison Hong Merrill – #Audiobook Review – Asian & Asian Americans Biographies

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill

Book Blurb:

Allison Hong is not your typical 15-year-old Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men’s will, she disobeys her father’s demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.
After serving her mission in Taiwan, 22-year-old Allison marries her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But 16 months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her two-hour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don’t make sense—and winning isn’t what she thought it would be.

My Review:

When I got a request from the narrator of this memoir, I had to accept the request to listen to the audiobook. As mentioned in my response to her, the CE and I spent a little more than eighteen months on Taiwan in Taipei back in the late 60s (during the ‘Nam conflict). The CE was in the Navy at the time but his rank did not afford base housing, so we lived in the community (experiencing two typhoons while there). (Also, I met a young Taiwanese girl who asked if I would help her with her conversational English. I did.)

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong MerrillLiving on the economy, we saw first hand the lifestyle, noted the patriarchal society. The women worked tirelessly whether at home or in the rice paddies. A difficult existence. Still, reading much of the abuse by the author’s father, much less by her own mother as well, was difficult. I couldn’t imagine a world where my own mother would be so hateful to me.
Allison is abandoned in Texas by a missionary she had met in Taiwan through the outreach program of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. While Cameron was basically putting in his time, however, Allison took the teachings to heart and relied heavily on the Elders for guidance and wisdom—even against her own family—a saving grace.

So having established a connection to her local LDS church in Texas and left with no recourse, little English and less money, she turned for help to the only sanctuary she had.

I must mention the chorus of proverbs mentioned throughout the narrative, ancient Chinese sayings, pearls of wisdom that were greatly enjoyed. Allison’s thoughts though many times reminded me of just how different the cultures are, unwritten rules almost unfathomable to Westerners. Her biggest stumbling block to immersion into American society was understanding a culture so perplexing, so alien to her own.

In the meantime, Allison managed a divorce and the beginning of social activity which also served to examine a philosophy strange to my own when she juggles men attracted to her. While being blown away by her resilience, intelligence, and fortitude, there were times when some of her attitudes and values clashed with my own.

Smart as she is, however, she managed to not only succeed in classes but well enough to garner additional post-graduate studies.

I had a little difficulty with the somewhat unusual delivery of the narration but the style of writing and revelation of painful memories created waves of emotion from shock to anger. Descriptions of the people of Taiwan brought back a lot of memories—also poignant—as was this triumphant memoir.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from Kathleen Li (thanks for the contact, Kathy). These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Asian & Asian Americans Biographies, Biographies of Religious Figures
Publisher: Allison Hong Merrill
ASIN: B0BDNZ7Q78
Listening Length: 9 hrs 26 mins
Narrator: Kathleen Li
Publication Date: September 9, 2022
Source: Request from narrator
Title Links: Nine-Nine Fire Hoops [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Allison Hong-Merrill - authorThe Author: Allison was born and raised in Taiwan and arrived in the U.S. at age twenty-two as a university student. That’s when she realized her school English wasn’t much help when asking for directions on the street or opening a bank account. By recording each of the classes she took––including physical education––and reviewing the tape every night for a year, she eventually learned English well enough to earn an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. But please excuse her if she misuses the verb tenses or mixes up the genders in third-person pronouns when she speaks. It’s no secret––English is a hard language to learn.
Allison writes in both Chinese and English, both fiction and creative nonfiction, which means she spends a lot of time looking up words on Dictionary.com. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her work has won both national and international awards, including National Championship in the Life Story Writing Contest (Taipei, Taiwan), Grand Prize in the 2019 MAST People of Earth writing contest, the inaugural winner of Sandra Carpenter Prize for Creative Nonfiction, first-place in the 2019 Segullah Journal writing contest, and first-place in the 2020 Opossum Prize. Her work appears in both national and international publications. Her memoir, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops, is forthcoming from She Writes Press, on September 21, 2021.
Allison is an instructor at Sotrymakers Writer’s Conference. Aside from writing, she also models and acts for print and film. But her greatest joy is sharing her life with her husband and their three sons. Visit her at http://www.allisonhongmerrill.com where you can sign up for her extremely short monthly email.

Kathleen Li - narratorNarrator: Kathleen Li has narrated 40+ audiobooks on Audible and is expanding into other types of VO work, including audio dramas, animation, dubbing and corporate VO. Her voice is warm, engaging and empathetic.

​As a Chinese-American, she is familiar with Mandarin and Taiwanese pronunciations, as well as British, French, Japanese and Southern. Because of her audiobook experience, she is skilled at varying character voices, tone and pacing in VO.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

99 Fire Hoops - audiobook

Chinese character attributes: Top – Dragon
Botton left – Love

Rosepoint Reviews – April Recap—Welcome May! (at last)

Rosepoint Reviews – April Recap

Rosepoint Reviews Recap - April

Spring bulbsFinally, the trees are blooming and the tulips and other bulbs have bloomed. Haven’t had a freeze for several nights, but as we’ve been taught, that can turn on a dime.

The squirrel wars--I'm losingStill, in my usual early spring exuberance, I started the seeds (indoors). They usually do fine right up until I try to harden them off in preparation for transplanting. I no longer have to start tomatoes—they volunteer now like crazy. The bulbs are blooming in the back flower bed too. The fairy garden is a total winter mess and still WAY too wet to venture down there. Like my son says, not a fairy garden, it’s a swamp. And the squirrel war? I’m losing.

April was a fun month with visitors—our son and his wife, our daughter and her SO, and my granddaughter, her other half, and our great-grandbaby, David, four months. He is WAY too sweet, too cute, and very mellow. It was sure a fun, whirlwind visit, doing the Chicago thing (I’m not a fan), as well as a number of other sites close by. We keep trying to talk them into moving east—closer to our family—but apparently not his.

Monthly cup giveaway winnerAnd, I received the cup that I won in the monthly Giveaway by the author Annabelle Lewis, who wrote and I read and reviewed back in January 2021, Dead Cat Run. I love my new large-capacity cup! And by the way, that book is a hoot. If you missed it, check it out here.

Despite all the excitement, prep, shopping, breakfasts and dinners, we did manage to read or listen to sixteen books in April, most from NetGalley. I’ll be working on that badge all year no doubt, but I’m getting closer with a current count of 448 and my ratio continues to be 95%.

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander The Promise of the Pelican by Roy Hoffman The Darkest Web by Kristin wright The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi Mining for Murder by Mary Angela A Life for a Life by Carol Wyer A Slow Ruin by Pamela Crane They Will Be Coming for Us by Kim Catanzarite Family Money by Chad Zunker - author The Lost by Jeffrey B Burton The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger Cold Snap by Marc Cameron Dark Sky by C J Box Dark Seas by Jerry Borrowman The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander (blogtour)
The Promise of the Pelican by Roy Hoffman (CE review)
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi (audiobook)
The Darkest Web by Allison Barton (CE review)
The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden (blogtour)
Mining for Murder by Mary Angela (blogtour)
A Slow Ruin by Pamela Crane (audiobook)
They will be Coming for Us by Kim Catanzarite (CE review)
Family Money by Chad Zunker (CE review)
A Life for a Life by Carol Wyer
The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James (audiobook)
Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk Berger (CE review)
Cold Snap by Marc Cameron (CE review)
The Lost by Jeffrey B Burton
Dark Sky by C J Box (audiobook)
Dark Seas by Jerry Borrowman (CE review)

 

Reading Challenges

Reading Challenges

Okay, so I read and reviewed but didn’t get my challenges caught up. Soon come.  My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can check out the progress of my challenges by clicking the Reading Challenges page but so far I’m four books ahead on my Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 63.

Kindle Spring Challenge

Kindle spring challengeHave you noticed this little zinger when you open your Kindle app lately? The challenge, in case you needed another, lists days read, books completed (broken into categories), and mysteries (also broken into categories). I achieved “Voyager.” But there’s more… I just achieved a “Perfect Month” a one-month streak. This was something that I was apparently volunteered for in 2021 and never noticed. Not sure what that’s going to achieve. Maybe an attagirl/boy? Have you noticed it before?

Book Club and Reading/Listening Update

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is winding down. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner will be next and we’re already voting on the one after that. If you’ve read The Lost Apothecary, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Soap Box Soap box

Okay, the gurus, in their infinite wisdom have gone through and reformatted most of anything I thought I’d conquered.

Yahoo mail.

Yahoo new email formatThey’ve been at me for some time to graduate to the “new and improved” or better yet—something I’ll have to pay for–email. Not choosing to do either, the new email as it comes out no longer works on my cell phone leaving my blog posts looking like Twiggy. I mean, really? This was a banner on my computer screen. The pics are ruined and the text is plain. Who wants to open that?

Goodreads

And the sign-in for Goodreads? Changed. Mine changed. Did yours? Did they get together with Yahoo?

And wait.

I finally downloaded several books to the NetGalley Shelf. And before I got to them all-expired? What? Seriously? A time limit on the Shelf books?

Is it truly a conspiracy? Has anyone else had a problem with either of these two innovations? Changes don’t work real well for non-techy seniors.

One more (off the soapbox) observation: Wordle is now heavily messing with my morning wake time. Supposed to be a calm time with my mocha—not frantically trying to find the word before I give up yet another streak (two now!). Remember how I took up Pokémon to see what all the fuss was about? Will I never learn? Are you playing? Are you doing as well as the US VP? 100%?! Gawd! I’m competing against my daughter and daughter-in-law. Yeah—I’m masochistic.

I hope you are all doing well, excited for your own version of spring. Welcome to my new followers and a hardy thank you to those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. I do so appreciate you!!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Chill--It's Sunday

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne - banner

A Reading Ireland Month book 4 leaf clover w leprechan

“Ambition is putting a ladder to the sky.”
—American proverb

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent—but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall. . . .

Sweeping across the late twentieth century, A Ladder to the Sky is a fascinating portrait of a relentlessly immoral man, a tour de force of storytelling, and the next great novel from an acclaimed literary virtuoso.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

My Review:

Maurice Swift—to what ends will this brilliantly manipulative character go to cement his life’s goal—that of a successful literary author?

OMG, did this one fairly bury me in amazing characters; fascinating, narcissistic, bold, secure and begins naively enough with the introduction to aging author Erich Ackermann. Erich is inexplicably attracted to young Maurice who exudes fan adoration in Erich’s books. So when Erich invites him to act as his assistant on a book tour, Maurice jumps at the chance. Erich falls heavily for young Maurice and it doesn’t help that Maurice is exceedingly attractive and aware of his sexual appeal.

Maurice, who would LOVE to write the next prize-winning literary novel but doesn’t have a clue how to come up with his own original story is, unfortunately, willing to do anything. Then Erich entrusts him with his most shameful haunting secrets and there’s Maurice’s story. It’s dark and deliciously deadly. It ultimately destroys Erich when it comes out but Maurice basks in the success. He can neatly and effectively avoid any guilt. It is, of course, Erich’s disgraceful act during the war that leads to the public outcry against him.

But while Maurice as despot is the main character, there comes a succession of deeply emotive characters, gripping, engaging. The well-developed part of Maurice’s wife; easy to love, sweet unsophisticated, and trusting, her POV comes to the forefront—for a short while.

Remember that old saying, “When the Gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers.” [Oscar Wilde]

Maurice always wanted to have a child of his own. In the meantime, there is a series of name-dropping that includes Gore (Vidal) whose conversations lead to some very witty, insightful glances into the cut-throat world of the literary (…that hack Swift). Dog eat dog. How far is Maurice willing to go to succeed, to be the one with the next bestseller. His bestseller or not?

A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneAt each turn, the plot goes from benign to cancerous, bland to black, and soon this reader is turning pages over jaw-dropping twists you wouldn’t have believed, was it not for the continued fleshing of the moral character of Maurice. Is he capable of this? Oh yes, he is. And it’s becoming frightening.

Maurice is a master at rationalization—he can always see where the fault lay in the other—himself as the innocent who merely provided the catalyst to the story—made it better. Why shouldn’t he reap the reward?

And then the end, when you think it’s caught up with him? The irony? The last laugh is on you, fellow reader. It’s a gotcha!

Now, have you ever wondered what the words are under the title? I know what it is. Have you read this book? Want to discuss it or are you curious what it says under the title? Ask me in the comments.

One last thought: The narrators did a superlative job on this audiobook, most especially that inebriate voice. So realistic. This novel still resonates with me and will for some time. I’ll look for more books from this author.

Book Details:

Genre: LGBTQ, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B07FW4C8BC
Listening Length: 11 hrs 32 mins
Narrators: Richard E. GrantRichard CorderyNina SosanyaLaurence Kennedy
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: A Ladder to the Sky [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

 

John Boyne - authorThe Author: John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of three Irish Book Awards, he is the author of thirteen novels for adults, six for younger readers and a collection of short stories. The international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than eleven million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over fifty languages. He lives in Dublin. http://www.johnboyne.com.

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Short Stack of Suggestions for Reading Ireland Month

Short Stack of Suggestions for Reading Ireland Month

Short Stack

Reading Menu

Good Morning Friends! I’m excited about the review lineup I have for Reading Ireland Month22 and thought I’d share. It’s a full list of varied genres, so hang on–my short stack may turn into a full menu of great reads!

First, in case you missed posted March reviews: (Titles are linked to Amazon; covers are linked to my reviews.)

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham

The Paris Network by Siobhan DurhamMy audiobook review of a WWII Historical Fiction based on true events, the determination and many ways the women of the resistance provided support. Powerful, emotional statements of war heroes and my hearty recommendation. I gave 4.5 stars

Chasing Time by Thomas Reilly

Chasing Time by Thomas ReillyA CE review of a medical thriller with a touch of fantasy. A talisman slips through time enhancing the lives of various individuals through two thousand years until one man’s desperate mission to save his wife. He gave 5 stars.

Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles

Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare BroylesMolly is a former private detective, now a mother and married to policeman Daniel. She would love to work with Daniel on the current murder mystery and befriends a new Irish immigrant.  Good for fans of the successful historical and cozy mystery series.

Second Chance by Mike Faricy

Second Chance by Mike FaricyA tried and true Jack Dillon Dublin Tales, Book 12, an international mystery and crime, cozy mystery read and reviewed by the CE. He gave 4.5 stars.

Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery

Wolf Catcher by Anne MontgomeryThis Native American literature is split into a dual narrative spanning nine hundred years from the tribe that buries a magician to the current storyline of the looting of archeological artifacts. Gripping; I loved it—5 stars.

And Still to come: (Blurbs in Italics)

(Titles are links to Amazon. Covers are links to Goodreads.) 

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCannIn the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter-mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in best-selling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

The Law of Innocence by Michael ConnellyOn the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can’t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.

Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder—as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.

But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he’s been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.

Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won’t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.
They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.
They think I’m working hard to impress them.
They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.
 They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne

Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel ByrneAs a young boy growing up in the outskirts of Dublin, Gabriel Byrne sought refuge in a world of imagination among the fields and hills near his home, at the edge of a rapidly encroaching city. Born to working class parents and the eldest of six children, he harbored a childhood desire to become a priest. When he was eleven years old, Byrne found himself crossing the Irish Sea to join a seminary in England. Four years later, Byrne had been expelled and he quickly returned to his native city. There he took odd jobs as a messenger boy and a factory laborer to get by. In his spare time, he visited the cinema where he could be alone and yet part of a crowd. It was here that he could begin to imagine a life beyond the grey world of 60s Ireland.

He reveled in the theatre and poetry of Dublin’s streets, populated by characters as eccentric and remarkable as any in fiction, those who spin a yarn with acuity and wit. It was a friend who suggested Byrne join an amateur drama group, a decision that would change his life forever and launch him on an extraordinary forty-year career in film and theatre. Moving between sensual recollection of childhood in a now almost vanished Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and Broadway, Byrne also courageously recounts his battle with addiction and the ambivalence of fame.

Walking with Ghosts is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking as well as a lyrical homage to the people and landscapes that ultimately shape our destinies.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire KeeganIt is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery that forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. 

Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneMaurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent—but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall. . . .

Sweeping across the late twentieth century, A Ladder to the Sky is a fascinating portrait of a relentlessly immoral man, a tour de force of storytelling, and the next great novel from an acclaimed literary virtuoso. 

Okay, the short stack turned into a whole meal! But what do you think? Have you already read one (or several?) or have I enticed you into putting one of these on your #tbr? Let me know, please.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Kiran ✨

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