“1972: A novel of Ireland’s unfinished revolution” Morgan Llywelyn

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** 2005. Irish Century Novels #5. Tom Doherty Associates. 365 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, the Bipartisan Declaration from 1949, Source Notes and a Bibliography.)

1972Barry Halloran, Ursula’s son and Ned’s grandson, now takes up the centuries long fight for Ireland’s independence in Llywelyn’s latest book.

Eager to fight for his country Barry joins the IRA as a foot soldier, and is soon enamored with the feeling of camaraderie amongst the men in the army. He has hope for his country’s future but, when he actually killed someone, Barry decided there had to be a way to make a difference without killing. In time he became a demolition expert for the IRA, but insisted his targets be places where lives would not be lost. Soon, he became the best demolition expert in the army.

With Northern Catholics experiencing severe civil rights violations, various political factions within the country sought to copy the nonviolent civil rights movement undertaken in America in an effort to reunite the country. Now an experienced photojournalist, Barry is in the midst of the action as Northern extremists clash with Catholics. Ireland and Barry’s coming of age story are uniquely joined, culminating in the terrible events known to history as Bloody Sunday.

Recommended for Adults.

“1949: A novel of the Irish Free State” Morgan Llywelyn

February 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** 2003. Irish Century Novels #3. Tom Doherty Associates. 485 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, the Ireland Act from 1949, Source Notes and a Bibliography.)

1949With Ned off fighting for the Republic and Henry living in America, it is up to Ursula Halloran to take up the story of Ireland and her struggles for freedom in this newest edition to the Irish Century series.

After two years at a Swiss finishing school, Ursula arrives back at the home of Louise Hamilton determined to get a job at a radio station and become more heavily involved in Ireland’s quest to become a Republic. Determined not to marry and to remain independent, contrary to what the Catholic Church has instilled into the consciousness of her countrywomen, she forges a strong path for herself.

Ursula’s strong willed tendencies make her extremely attractive to two men. With each determined to win her love Ursula refuses to give in to her feelings, even when she becomes pregnant. Without telling the father of her child, she travels to Switzerland to work for the League of Nations and to give birth as a single mother outside of the condemnation of the Church. Unfortunately Adolf Hitler and the rise of Fascism have led to a thirst for power and land among various leaders. With almost all of Europe falling to his army, she and little Barry are no longer safe.

Ireland’s role during the war, along with its own internal battles for freedom, form a background to Ursula’s story, the rise of Hitler and the horrors of World War II. Readers will learn of important historical events while continuing to follow the highs and lows of the Halloran clan who we have grown to love.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“1921: The great novel of the Irish Civil War” Morgan LLywelyn

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** 2001. Irish Century Novels #2. Tom Doherty Associates. 445 pp. (Includes Irish Declaration of Independence, alphabetical list of Historical Characters, Source Notes and a Bibliography.)

1921The story of Ireland’s struggle for Independence from Great Britain is continued through the eyes of Ned’s friend Henry Mooney. As a well-respected reporter Henry travels the countryside to recount the many battles and political maneuverings which took place in the attempt to free Ireland from the clutches of the United Kingdom.

Through a series of unfortunate events, a treaty was signed making Ireland a Free State but angering those who had fought for her to become a Republic. Unwilling to agree to the partitioning of the Northern counties, and continued allegiance to the Crown, those who had fought together in the Easter uprising of 1916 broke ranks. Insisting on full Republic status, and a completely united Ireland, the Irish Republican Army and the new Free State Irish government became sworn enemies.

“1921” is the great and sorrowful story of Ireland’s civil war against her own people, leaving cities, families and friendships shattered and destroyed. Against this background of horror and confusion Henry struggles to maintain a neutral stance while reporting on both sides of the devastation for posterity’s sake.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion” Morgan Llywelyn

February 6, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** 1998. Irish Century Novels #1. Tom Doherty Associates. 447 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, Maps, Notes and a Select Bibliography.)

1916When Ned Halloran was 15 years old, he and his parents left their small town in County Clare Ireland for his sister’s wedding in New York. Her fiancé had purchased second-class tickets for them to sail on the Titanic, and he was excited to be on board such a magnificent ship.

Though his parents were among those who perished that fateful night, Ned survived and returned to Ireland where he was sent to Scoil Eanna (Saint Enda’s School) for boys. Padraig Pearse, Headmaster, was a kind, gentle poet and lover of all things Irish and, under his years of tutelage, Ned grew into a man who learned to love his country and countrymen.

In Ned’s coming of age story readers are introduced to real Irish men and women who chafed and suffered under the yoke of British tyranny and dominance in the years leading up to 1916. Other uprisings over the many years of dominance over their country had failed, but the poets and revolutionaries who took part in The Easter Rising of 1916 were sure their fight would succeed and would create a free Republic for their beloved country. In great detail Llywelyn intermingles Ned’s story with those brave Irish men and women who, against all odds, fought against a more powerful army for the right to rule themselves in the country they loved.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“The Same Sky” Amanda Eyre Ward

January 31, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Published January 20, 2015. Ballantine Books (Random House).

TheSameSkyIn five-year-old Carla’s poor and crime riddled village of Tegucigalpa Honduras the only income comes from trying to sell trash from the town dump, so Carla’s mother made the dangerous trip to the United States to search for work. Her job enables Carla’s grandmother to provide food and clothing for Carla and her two baby brothers.

After a few years her mother saved enough to pay passage for one child to join her but, when her grandmother died a few years later, ten-year-old Carla and six-year-old Junior were left alone. As they slowly began to starve, Carla was desperate to get to her mother in Texas. With nothing but water and a few dollars, she and Junior set out on an almost two thousand mile journey on foot to, hopefully, survive marauding gang members, murderers, rapists and robbers.

Cancer has rendered Alice infertile, and she is desperate to be a mother. She and her husband Jake have tried to adopt for 10 years, but have faced numerous disappointments. Nothing fills the hole of sadness she feels inside and, with bitterness slowly poisoning her marriage, Alice will have to look within to find the true answers to her sorrow.

In alternate voices Carla and Alice tell their stories of sorrow, pain, heartbreak and hope amidst despair. However, despite coming from two different worlds, they manage to leave a stamp on each other’s lives that will never be forgotten.

“The Same Sky” is a touching story of survival and love, shedding light on why so many undocumented workers and unaccompanied minors make the harrowing and incredibly dangerous journey to the United States. Their plight, and the circumstances they go through to get to America, broke my heart and had me reaching for tissues many different times. It will do the same for you.

Mature themes. Recommended for ages 16 and older.

“The Do-Nothing” Brannon Perkison

January 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 2 stars *** ebook. 2014. Rabbitboy Books.

TheDoNothingAfter an argument with his overbearing father, seventeen-year-old John pushes him off the second floor landing of their home. With his father’s sightless eyes burning into his memory, he flees into the darkness of the nearby woods. After crashing his car, he is rescued by a strange, hairy beast – the monster of his childish nightmares, and befriended by a group of ethereal women.

From this inauspicious beginning, John’s story continues to be fraught with a combination of fantasy and realism as he travels the Texas countryside without money or prospects, yet always manages to land on his feet. Readers are constantly overwhelmed with confused thoughts about his father’s death, an obsession with a strange Bigfoot-like creature, and an inability to make a decision without second guessing which was the crux of the problems he had with his father.

Perkison spins a web of deceit, which is obvious to everyone except John, but managed to confuse me with constant references to the bogeyman of John’s imagination. The ending left me scratching my head, asking myself “what just happened??”

I wasn’t happy with “The Do-Nothing,” but will leave it up to you to Decide if You want to Read it or Not.

“The Shell Seekers” Rosamunde Pilcher

January 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** 1987. St. Martin’s Press. 530 pp.

TheShellSeekersAs the story begins readers are introduced to Penelope Keeling who is 64 years old and recovering from a recent heart attack. Her oldest daughter Nancy and son Noel, described as greedy, grasping and overbearing, are the complete opposite of their generous, caring and loving mother. Her second daughter Olivia is a strong businesswoman, understanding her mother’s ways more than her siblings and respectful of how she has chosen to live her life.

Penelope’s most precious possession is a painting called “The Shell Seekers,” painted by her famous father and given to her as a wedding gift. Despite Olivia’s objections Nancy and Noel want to get their hands on the money it would bring at auction but, as Penelope tells her story, it is clear “The Shell Seekers” holds a role in the Keeling household they will never understand.

Through flashbacks and the present time, readers are introduced to a cast of characters going back to World War II when 19 year old Penelope, who had a rather bohemian upbringing by her father Lawrence and his French wife Sophie in the English countryside of Cornwall, decides to join the war effort when World War II landed on their doorstep. War had a way of bringing a bit of happiness amidst its constant sorrow, and Penelope was no stranger to its fickle mind.

“The Shell Seekers” tells an extraordinary tale of the sights and sounds of Cornwall during World War II and the strength of its people which continued to the present day. Penelope is just one of many strong women who tell their story in this tale of despair, hope and love, leaving readers to hope that the characteristics of these women from a bygone era might still be realized in today’s generation.

Recommended for Adult readers.

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