March Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello April—and Spring Snow Showers!

 

We certainly aren’t clear of snow forecasts (have one for tonight). Spring doesn’t happen here as early as the southern states and it’s still plenty cold. March is usually a celebration, however, in that it is Reading Ireland Month, Women’s History Month, and my birthday. A huge surprise in store for me this year when our son and Croatian son joined forces to get me a new cell phone. OMG!! I haven’t had time to play with it yet, but already so jazzed with the amazing colors, photos, and speed. Maybe it’ll read my books for me now!

The CE and I read nine books for #readingirelandmonth21 and I read two for #womenshistorymonth.

We posted seventeen book reviews for March, which included ARCs from NetGalley as well as author requests and my audiobooks from our local library.

The Shortest Day (shortest book – #begorrathon21 *)

The Pull of the Stars *

Murder in an Irish Bookshop *

Long Island Iced Tina

A Matter of Life and Death

Lying in Wait *

Dead Even

The Castilions

First Love *

Normal People *

Last Port of Call *

Vagabond Wind

Alley Katz *

The Chain *

The Cotillion Brigade (longest book)

Search for Her

The Hiding Place *

I hit 97,000 views in the month of March, still working toward my goal of 3,000 followers with a ways to go. My schedule has become overwhelming, however, and I’m thinking of taking a breather by exclusively posting reviews from the CE in a concentrated effort to clear the backlog of his reads.

March and April filled up fast and I’ll be laying out a new plan shortly to post reviews. (The CE reads faster than I for sure!) Despite my backlog of his books, I’m still running at 94% on NetGalley and well ahead of my 175 book goal on Goodreads.

Four books for the Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 12 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Historical Fiction – Four books in March and two considered for Women’s Historical Month.

NetGalleyNine additional books in March bringing my total to 27 in a goal of 75.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

Apologies to my readers for the awkward format of this post. WP is having fun with me again and has refused my access to the “classic” word editor (again!) I don’t do “blocks” well.

As always, welcome to my new followers—and those who continue to support the blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow and keep me going. Thank you!

(c) V Williams

Last Port of Call: The Queenstown Series by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – Historical Irish Fiction #readingirelandmonth21

Last Port of Call by Jean Grainer

#1 Best Seller Historical Irish Fiction 

Book Blurb:

Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland
April 1912

Twelve-year-old Harp Delaney is an unusual child, quiet and intelligent far beyond her years. She would rather spend her days in the library of the grand Georgian house that she sees as her home than playing on the streets with other children.

Her mother, Rose, is the reserved and ladylike housekeeper at the Cliff House. The local women envy her grace and poise while the men admire her beauty. She behaves not as a servant should, but as someone who belongs at the ancestral home of eccentric loner Henry Devereaux.

Nobody ever visits the Cliff House, but Harp, Rose and Henry have a happy life together, each accepting the idiosyncrasies of the others.

The day Titanic sails from Queenstown, taking with it the hopes and dreams of so many, Harp’s life too is devastated. The small port town is shaken to its foundations at the loss of the unsinkable ship, but the revelation of a long-held secret means that Harp and Rose have a much more pressing issue to solve, one that could destroy them if they cannot find a solution.

Unexpectedly, fate takes a hand, and mother and daughter find themselves thrown a lifeline, one that inextricably links them to the stories of men, women and children for whom Queenstown was the last-ever sight of Ireland as they sailed away to new lands and new lives.

Last Port of Call is the first book in The Queenstown Series.

My Review:

Those of you who have a problem reading a book in the middle of the series should be delighted to learn that this is the first in a new series by the masterful Irish storyteller Jean Grainger. Now is your chance to get in on the bottom rung—don’t say I didn’t warn you as this is already a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. There is a reason for that.

Last Port of Call by Jean GraingerThe author delights in describing her Ireland, the people, the culture, and its famous landmarks and it shows in her prose. While I must admit that the first portion of this book begins slow and includes some repetition, there is the full fleshing of Rose, the housekeeper and her 12 year old daughter, Harp, as well as the explanation of their occupancy of the grand Georgian mansion known as Cliff House. The multi-story mansion sits high above the Queenstown Bay and the entire harbor commanding a magnificent view. It is the last port of call for the Titanic (of the White Star line) before she leaves on the fateful journey that still creates chills more than a century after sinking.

The story of Harp and Rose is described as they care for the aging owner, Henry Devereaux, and the shock of his passing. Henry, a benevolent eccentric leaves the decaying mansion to Harp with whom he’d enjoyed a very unusual relationship. Along the way, we learn fascinating new tidbits about the land (fairy ring forts, castles, and Phoenicians).

Saved from being turned out into the street, they must now devise a way to stay in the old house. And then Rose has an idea. She and Harp will open a guest house. Their first guests are comprised of a wide variety of Irish, each with a story of their own, and as we get to know each individual, invest in their hopes and dreams.

The stories are immersive, gentle or suspect, and pull at the emotions. Somehow, the author manages a perfect resolution for each. However, there is one thread introduced early that is not revisited until the conclusion resulting in a cliff hanger (!). Book #2 of the series is scheduled for release the third week of May, 2021.

“…speculation based on no information whatsoever was pointless.”

I have read many books written by this prolific author, some prior to posting reviews, several as standalones, some in series: Robinswood, The Tour, and the Conor O’Shea series. I considered many were five star novels, including The Star and the Shamrock, Return to Robinswood, Trials and Tribulations, and The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary. Her characters are always engaging and relatable, the stories entertaining, and most unique in their plots and pacing. This is a great start to a new series. In for a penny, in for a pound. (Or is it ha’penny?) If you missed Ms Grainger’s Soda Bread recipe, you can find that page here.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction, Saga Fiction, Family Saga Fiction

  • ASIN : B08RS885CH
  • ISBN : B08WZJK285

Print Length: 476 pages
Publication Date: February 26, 2021
Source: Direct Purchase
Title: Last Port of Call [Amazon]

 

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR,
SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS,
WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

Truncated…

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

Find Ms Grainger at her official website or Facebook page.

©2021 V Williams

Happy St Patrick’s Day – Celebrate Safely at Home with Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Reading Ireland Month 2021
What in the world were we thinking?

Driving an old Class A RV to the coast where I’d signed up for a craft booth to sell my grandfather’s books on Rockaway Beach, Oregon. Too expensive to stay at a park there, we found a cheaper one a few miles south where we parked and shuttled into the Pirate Festival. One of the other booth sales ladies told me about the pirate festival in Oregon when I rented craft spaces in the Yuma Winter Craft Shows. I thought it sounded like so much fun I put in my reservation and after we got home to Idaho planned the trip for the following June for the CE’s and our son’s birthday.

But, hey, it’s the Oregon coast. Can you say R A I N? (Cold…wind)

Arriving in the rain Friday evening, I was a little dismayed thinking about trying to set up our display in the wind and rain on Saturday. I was prepared with boxes of my grandfather’s books (his books regarding sailing often included stories of pirates), a “treasure chest,” trinkets, and pirate scarves. My daughter got right into the whole scene, hand  made hair braiding strings (she even decorated the Jack Sparrow look-alike with one), and we had other pirate related gedunks.

To celebrate the birthdays (son born on my hubby’s birthday), we found a special traditional Irish café and ordered a big pot of corned beef and cabbage. The lady there—SOOO gracious and generous—threw in soda bread for us all. (We bought the cake and candles separately.)

So it is that I remember with fondness the soda bread, though I’ve not done so grand a job as the lady in Rockaway Beach. Just in case, however, that you also have a fondness for traditional Irish Soda Bread, I’ve attached a page here containing a special family recipe from one of my favorite Irish authors, Jean Grainger, who just released Last Port of Call, her first book in a new series she calls The Queenstown Series (as well as a second recipe I’ve yet to try but sounds easy). Jean posted her soda bread recipe a couple years ago in response to requests. Last Port of Call is the #1 Bestsellerin the Historical Irish Fiction genre. Do yourself a favor and check out her new book—my review scheduled on Friday, March 19.

Have a safe and happy March 17! 

©2021 V Williams

Soda bread attribute: Jean Grainger

Murder in an Irish Bookshop (An Irish Village Mystery Book 7) by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“…in a murder inquiry everyone needs to be treated guilty until proven innocent.”

MY Third CONTRIBUTION TO THE #BEGORRAHTHON.

Book Blurb:

Murder in an Irish Bookshop by Carlene O'ConnorBetween training the new town garda and trying to set a wedding date with her fiancé, Macdara Flannery, Siobhán O’Sullivan is feeling a bit overwhelmed. She’s looking forward to visiting the new bookshop and curling up with an exciting novel—only to discover the shelves contain nothing but Literature with a capital L. The owner not only refuses to stock romances, mysteries, and science fiction, but won’t even let customers enter his store unless they can quote James Joyce or Sean Hennessey.  

Despite the owner deliberately limiting his clientele, he’s hosting a reading and autographing event featuring up and coming Irish writers who will be taking up residency in Kilbane for a month. Among them is indie author Deirdre Walsh, who spends more time complaining about the unfairness of the publishing industry and megastar bestsellers instead of her own creative works, causing a heated debate among the writers. She seems to have a particular distaste for the novels of Nessa Lamb.

Then Deirdre’s body is found the next day in the back of the store—with pages torn from Nessa’s books stuffed in her mouth. Now, Siobhán must uncover which of Kilbane’s literary guests took Deirdre’s criticisms so personally they’d engage in foul play.

My Review:

I do enjoy this series with protagonist Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan in the small village of Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland. Book 7 has the little town all excited over the opening of a new bookshop and as the owners have been rather private about it, pushed the buzz to a new level. Unfortunately, opening day finds a body near the bookshop, a real buzz kill…followed later by a second inside the shop during a storm blackout.

The new bookshop owners Padraig and Oran McCarthy had invited a host of well-known writers as well as an agent to help celebrate the opening, and now they as well as several of the townspeople are suspects as well.

Murder in an Irish Bookshop by Carlene O'ConnorGarda O’Sullivan is partnered with her betrothed, Detective Sergeant Macdara Flannery, as well as a new recruit, on hand to observe and learn. The investigation is as twisted as the manner of death—a new one to me. That is, not the agent, but the method of application—very unique! Lots of secrets, revealed in bits and pieces along with the red herrings.

Siobhan is part of the O’Sullivan Six, brothers and sisters in her care who are gradually growing up even as Siobhan turns another birthday—an important one. Maybe it’s time to set the date with Mac, but theirs is a very laid back relationship and she doesn’t seem to be feeling that biological clock ticking away quite yet. They do have a good working relationship but she’s still a bit of a mystery to me. I like the character of Mac, and what little I’ve gleaned of her siblings, though there is not a lot of development of the support characters, including those of the village.

That Irish sense of humor shines through in the prose, the dialogue, while the descriptions of the weather and the village paint a somewhat dreary picture. I’m cheered when she gets out her little pink Vespa—a sunny day. The back and forth between Siobhan and Mac and the identical twins Emma and Eileen Curley is a hoot as is the discussion of “No crying in the baseball,” and the side knowledge of books, authors, and writing styles shines throughout the book in little quotes and clues. I snickered every time I read about John Butler, owner of Butler’s Undertaker, Lounge, and Pub. At least you didn’t have to go very far…snort.

The mystery is not a hard one to solve, but as always, it’s the ride not the destination and these are always a fun ride. I also read Books 4, 5, and 6, Murder in an Irish Pub, Murder in an Irish Cottage, and Murder at an Irish Christmas and have enjoyed them all. Always an enlightening peek into life in Kilbane, atmospheric and entertaining.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B089NDHR36

Print Length: 258 Pages
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Carlene O'Connor - authorThe Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

2021 V Williams

 

The Shortest Day by Colm Toíbín – A #BookReview – Literature & Fiction – #readingirelandmonth21 – #TuesdayBookBlog

Our first contribution to this years’ #begorrahthon

Book Blurb:

The Shortest Day by Colm ToibinIn Ireland, a man of reason is drawn to a true mystery older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge in this enthralling story about ethereal secrets by New York Times bestselling author Colm Tóibín.

During the winter solstice, on the shortest day and longest night of the year, the ancient burial chamber at Newgrange is empowered. Its mystifying source is a haunting tale told by locals.

Professor O’Kelly believes an archaeologist’s job is to make known only what can be proved. He is undeterred by ghost stories, idle speculation, and caution. Much to the chagrin of the living souls in County Meath. As well as those entombed in the sacred darkness of Newgrange itself. They’re determined to protect the secret of the light, guarded for more than five thousand years. And they know O’Kelly is coming for it.

His Review:

Can archaeologists be considered scientists or grave robbers? Colm Toibin explores this question in this book. A site in Ireland called Newgrange or Bru’ na Boinne was built 3200 years before Christ as a resting place for those who have passed on. Professor O’Kelly is exploring the site and trying to decipher the meaning on various carved rock slabs at the site.

The Shortest Day by Colm ToibinThe spirits who inhabit the site are not particularly fond of this meddling educator. The secret of the site is the inclusion of light once a year that allows a spiritual energy rebirth for the inhabitants. This happens on the winter solstice when the entire chamber is alight. The local town folk prefer that the interloper stay away but he does not take the hint. The overall feeling is to let the dead rest in peace!

I enjoyed the interplay between the spirits and Professor O’Kelly. One of the more traveled of the spirits warns the others as the Professor comes near. Clever anecdotes between the spirits add a flavor of community to the site and are humorous to read. Road blocks are thrown in the professors’ way to help keep him from discovering the overall secret of the structure.

This quick read begs the question; should graves be exhumed or desecrated for historical and/or scientific knowledge? Many great treasures have been found in graves and monuments built thousands of years ago. True, we do learn some things from these discoveries but at what cost to the original inhabitants and their intent? The argument that we can discover how they lived during that time period doesn’t seem to be strongly valid to me. Exhuming a corpse, grave, or sarcophagus for historical knowledge seems a very selfish and weak argument.

The small town near the structure has kept the secret of the design of the structure. Shouldn’t mankind show the same reverence and consideration? 4 stars – C.E. Williams

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars 

Book Details:

Genre: 45-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads, Kindle Singles Literature & Fiction, Literary Short Stories
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

  • ASIN : B08GBPRXQC

Print Length: 31 pages
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: The Shortest Day [Amazon] 

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Colm Toibin - authorThe Author: Colm Tóibín is the author of four previous novels, The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, and The Blackwater Lightship, which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

 

 

Reading Ireland Month 2021 – My March Reading List and Cathy’s Irish Celebration!

Beginning March 2nd I’m participating in the Begorrathon–#readingirelandmonth2021 this year (as I did last) and have put together a list of the books I’ll be reviewing along with their links to Amazon and hope that you’ll join us!

Reading Ireland Month 2021

The books may be about Ireland, have an Irish protagonist, or be written either by an Irish author or author with Irish roots. Most books on my list were previously released. In the States, we normally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, pub specials, and corned beef and cabbage. Last year the celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic and has this year as well.

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the fifth annual celebration of all things Irish, in the company of her partner, Niall of The Fluff is Raging.   

You may want to check Cathy’s website to see her theme schedule. Additionally, she will feature film reviews, poems, music, interviews, and giveaways. (I am hoping to provide a soda bread recipe and possibly another poem written by my grandfather.) She has a monster list of 100 books you can peruse and a collection of recommendations. Connect with Cathy on Facebook and be sure to use her hashtags #readingirelandmonth21 and #begorrathon21.

Have you found a favorite Irish podcaster yet? I still recommend the Celtfather, Marc Gunn, at the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast. I’ll add in another poem written by my grandfather, Patrick J Rose (aka Stanley McShane) who (as far as we can tell) hailed from Cork.

So here is my schedule of my books so far (subject, of course, to constant revision):

1.      The Shortest Day by Cólm Toíbin – Literary Short Stories – March 2 – a CE review

2.      The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – Audiobook – #1 Best Seller in Medical Fiction – March 4

3.      Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 7) by Carlene O’Connor – Ghost Mysteries to be reviewed on Friday, March 5

4.      Normal People by Sally Rooney – Audiobook review on March 11

5.      First Love by Steven Henry (An Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 10) Police Procedurals, Review on March 16

6.      Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent-Psychological Fiction, Audiobook review on Thursday, March 18

7.      Last Port of Call by Jean Grainger – Book 1 of The Queenstown Series, Review on March 19

8.      The Hearts of Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Family Sagas, Audiobook review on March 25

I’m excited about the books again this year that includes new authors (to me), as well as several I’ve previously reviewed (Carlene O’Connor, Steven Henry, Jean Grainger).

Have you read any of the above? Which ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts or recommendations!

©2021 V Williams