It's been at least six months since I wrote a new blog post, so I thought I'd better get back to it before it's too late.
I've been reading lots and writing even more. The good news is that I've been doing major revisions on one of my novels, which has finally caught the attention of a publisher. But - more on that in later blogs!!
I thought I'd ease back into the blog by highlighting some great books I've read that I hope you'll enjoy too.
THE CURIOSITY by Stephen Kearns
This debut novel tells a powerful emotional story while posing profound questions about scientific ethics and how far science should go in playing "God."
Dr. Kate Philo embarks on a scientific project run by the egotistical Dr Erastus Carthage, a man more interested in money and self-promotion than actual scientific discovery. They travel to the Arctic in search of small plankton-like creatures frozen in the ice, with the intention of bringing them "back to life" with groundbreaking new techniques that have worked on other expeditions. In the process, they uncover the body of a human frozen and preserved in the ice. Heedless of the possible consequences, Carthage insists they transport the body back to Boston where they successfully "reanimate" him and discover he was Jeremiah Rice, a former judge who remembers everything about his life until he plunged into the Arctic waters in 1906.
News of the Lazarus Project soon spreads resulting in a media frenzy and massive protests by religious fundamentalists. In the meantime, Kate tries to reconcile the importance of the scientific discoveries with the realization that Jeremiah is a vulnerable human being, transported into a bustling future he can barely understand. Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, their relationship intensifies and soon Kate is questioning where her loyalties lie and how she can protect Jeremiah from exploitation.
This well constructed story is told from several viewpoints, though I found Kate's and Jeremiah's the most interesting and convincing. Jeremiah's quest to understand modern technology was very believable and made for some gently humorous moments. In the end the story makes clear that though humanity may have advanced further in terms of having more "toys" at our disposal, we have still essentially remained the same greedy, egotistical, compassionate, curious, loving creatures we always were.
THE SECRET SCRIPTURE by Sebastian Barry
For me, the main attraction to Barry's books is his glorious prose. His books are so lyrical and filled with gorgeous language you almost forget you're reading a novel. This particular story is centred around Rose McNulty, approaching her 100th birthday as a long-time resident of the soon-to-be-closed Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. Dr. Grene is charged with assessing the residents to determine who can return to the community, but when he comes to interview Rose, his fascination grows as he attempts to discover why she was actually admitted and - in the process come to understand some difficult truths about his own life and relationships. Told from both Rose and the doctor's point of view, the haunting and poignant story of Rose's life emerges, though Dr. Grene's research of hospital records unearths a different version of events. Rose's own story, hidden under the floorboards of her room tells of Ireland's changing character, the dominance of the Catholic church and the terrible power wielded by priests and the patriarchy over a young, uneducated, impressionable girl forced by poverty and ignorance into circumstances she cannot control. Barry also focuses on the haziness of memory and how truth can be a fluid, changing thing that is impossible to determine.
THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton
If you're looking for a quick read that also qualifies as a page-turning psychological thriller, this book will definitely work for you. Told from differing points of view this is the story of Jean Taylor, recently widowed and now being interviewed by go-getter journalist Kate about her husband, an accused pedophile who dodged child kidnapping charges several years earlier. Jean was always the dutiful wife, turning a blind eye and always staying loyal despite her husband's growing addiction to "nonsense" on the internet. But now he's dead she doesn't have to keep her mouth shut any more. The story jumps back and forth between the various players and slowly uncovers the truth about Jean's life, her husband and herself.
A well-written page turner that poses some interesting questions about loyalty, duty and control within the close confines of a marriage.
Monday, 2 April 2018
I'm sure many people across North America and Europe are asking themselves when Spring is actually going to arrive. From snowstorms in the most unlikely places to extreme and unrelenting cold, the prospect of warmer weather is exactly what we're all longing for.
Though I did manage to get away to the sun for a week in lovely Los Cabos, Mexico it was painful to come back home to another 2+months of freezing cold.
Over the next couple of frigid months I stumbled across a few terrific books you can read on these last cold nights before spring. Here goes:
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J FINN
After reading a couple of disappointing psychological/suspense thrillers, it was a refreshing change to read one that's skilfully - at times, beautifully written. A.J. Finn's debut novel is impossible to put down once you've entered the narrow, messed-up prison of Dr. Anna Fox's life. The plot is as dark and twisty as the best Hitchcock movies, the language smooth and the suspense intense. The real tour de force in this novel, however, is not the surprise ending - which I predicted quite early on in the novel - it's the absolutely in-depth portrayal of a brilliant but depressed, alcoholic woman afraid to step outside her front door. A woman torn between crippling fear and the moral imperative to do what's right after witnessing a terrible crime. A woman so muddled by alcohol and prescription medications that she can't even trust her own recollections. I was surprised to discover that A.J Finn is actually the pen name of Daniel Mallory, an executive editor at Morrow, the publisher of the book. I could be sarcastic and say it helps to know people on the inside, but this book is so well written I'd like to think it would have been published if the author hadn't been an insider. A great book!
FAITHFUL PLACE by TANA FRENCH
Another masterful suspense/crime thriller by the great Tana French. Set in Dublin in the first decade of the new millennium, it's the story of undercover cop Frank Mackay. A guy who pulled himself out from the poverty stricken tenements of Dublin and escaped the clutches of his abusive parents. He's forced to return and face them again when the suitcase belonging to Rosy, his missing first love turns up in an abandoned house on his childhood street. Twenty years before they were planning to run off together to England. The story then follows Frank's quest to find the killer. With its incredible characterization, authentic dialogue and major plot twists and turns, this is a book that can't be put down once you've started it.
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