Monday, 30 September 2019

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

From the back cover:
"Dublin, 1918. At the end of the First World War, Lilly Bere and her sweetheart Tadg are forced to flee Ireland for America. They plan to marry and forge a new life together, in the hope that their past will not catch up with them.
Seven decades later, Lilly, mourning the loss of her grandson, tries to make sense of her own life and the lives of the people she has loved. At once epic and intimate, On Canaan's Side is a novel of memory, war, family ties and love."
Another master piece by Barry, who is one of my favourite authors. He never disappoints you. This time he tells the story of Lilly, an Irish girl who has to leave Ireland when her husband is accused of collaboration with the English. Set just after World War I, it is another enchanting story by Barry. Lilly looks back at her life and the different paths it took. Must revenge and sorrow follow you all your life? Don't you deserve a little bit of happiness?
"Because the ingredient we had missed was the actual enormous violence of it, the tearing out, the vigorous unstoppable intent, the distraction for Tadg of the portrait, me seeing the killer come, me trying to alert Tadg, and  then the huge war of it, the suddenness, the completeness, the colossal ungenerosity of it, implacable eternal hatred of it, that they wouldn't let us go, forgive us our trespasses. That they wouldn't allow us to cross into Canaan, but would follow us over the river, and kill him on Canaan's side. The land of refuge itself. "
As we follow Lilly through her life, Barry lets us reflect on our destinies. Even if we try to run away from life it seems to catch up with us. Lilly is such a likeable character, true to herself all through her life, and in her contacts with other people. Such a well structured story, realistic with the hopes and wishes we have for our lives. Beautifully written, this novel stays with you long after finishing the last line.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

The Content Reader

Another week and another challenge for a good book beginning and interesting quotes from page 56. This week I have found On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry. A short review will be up on Monday, 30 September.

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader
"Bill is gone.What is the sound of an eighty-nine-year-old heart breaking? It might not be much more than silence, and certainly a small slight sound."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda´s Voice
"Amazement and delight were Mr Eugenides' bywords. When Bill was going into the army, just a couple of years ago, Mr Eugenides bought him a copy of Homer in translation, which Bill dutifully brought with him to the war.In this way, Bill and I, on very separate occasions, received the same book, in different editions and translations, as a gift."

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Your Lucky Spin Number is...

The Classic Club spin #21 for books to read until 31 October 2019, turned out to be #5. Book #5 on my list is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj. It is a book I wanted to read for a long time, but it is a very thick one. I have a beautiful, old hardback translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett and illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. It is printed by Doubleday & Company, Inc. in New York in 1948. As you see from the image below, the illustrations are beautiful.

It will feel special to read this version. And as you see...I have already read the very famous beginning of this book.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Classic Club and Spin # 21

Time for another Classic spin. It is a favourite challenge of mine and guides me towards reading the classics. I have updated my list with a new book, to replace Orlando.  Here is my updated spin list.

1. The Master and Margarita by Michail Bulgakov
2. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Carter
3. Daisy Miller by Henry James
4. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
7. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
8. Child Harold by Lord Byron
9. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
12. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
13. A Merchant in Venice by William Shakespeare
14. Jaget och det undermedvetna (Die Beziehungen zwischen dem Ich und dem Unbewußten)
by C.G. Jung
15. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
16. Moments of being by Virginia Woolf
17. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
18. The Divine Comedy by Dante (reading)
19. Orlando by Virginia Woolf replaced by: The Brothers Karamazov by Fjodor Dostojevskij
20. A Writer's Notebook by Somerset Maugham

My 50 classics list, with still 21 books to go. Although I have replaced this list with others along the way. Now I will save this one, and new books will enter a list no 2.  Looking forward seeing which book will come up and what you are given to read. There are a few, really good books I think, but very thick. I will leave it to destiny to choose.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

This week, I have chosen the book Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood. A historical fiction, with an unusual story line. My review under link above.

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader
"Screams echoed in every corner of the room, and in her mind. 
There was agony, humiliation and confusion... Her dress torn, her skin ripped, and a man intent on possessing her, no matter the cost. She had never felt more helpless, worthless, or alone.  
Amy woke with tears pouring down her cheeks, but the incessant cries she could hear were not her own.  
It was the consequence of that hideous night: a baby born of sin. Motherhood had been thrust upon her, her life irrevocably altered."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda´s Voice
"Henry was inwardly bubbling with anticipation at the idea of spending some time with her as he took her home, completely alone. But first there was a job to be done, and it was more challenging than shifting hay."

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

20 books of summer and beyond

20 Books of Summer
20 Books of Summer was hosted by 746 books, and I daringly joined in the end of May. It was at a time when my reading was at its highest. Even in June I finished 11 books. Looking at the list now, I realise is a little bit on the ambitious side. Some of the books are rather thick and take time to read and consider. Having read only four books from the list is somewhat a failure.

My summer reading was SLOW! I was travelling, camping, had visitors and visited family, so there is a little bit of an excuse. From having read 11 books in June, I went to 1(?) in July and 7 in August. We are already a third into September and I have only read one book. What is happening?

1. Ashdown-Hill, John - Eleanor, the Secret Queen - Read
2. Barry, Sebastian - On Canaan's Side - Read
3. Boyd, William - Ordinary Thunderstorms - Read
6. Freud, Esther - Mr Mac and Me - Read
10. Larkin, Philip - The Whitsun Wedding (poetry) - Started
14. McBain, Laurie - Tears of Gold - Started

The full list is found here.

I will keep the list and see how many I have finished by the end of the year. Considering that they are all on my TBR it would be good to finish some of them. It seems I have read a lot of thrillers this summer, mainly by Swedish writers. You can't avoid them living in Sweden. They seem to 'spam' the market.

Read this year
I have read 62 books so far this year, and I am pleased with that. Every time I read your posts, read a review in the paper, there are so many interesting books. Almost panicking a little bit, that I can't read them all. But that is life.

From my shelves, and for Bev's Mount TBR challenge, I have read 23 books (books purchased before 2019). I have aimed for 48, so a few to go. I better get starting. All in all I have read 33 books from my shelves.

Print only 
As told by Tina's challenge of Print only books, I have read 46. I have the privilege to borrow books at the library now, as well as a, Borrow and Read club at the local book shop.

Calendar of Crime
Another challenge from Bev at My Reader's Block. A crime book a month with certain criteria for every month. April and July are missing otherwise I managed to find the right books. Still looking for September.

The year of Shakespeare
Hosted by Hibernator Library, the aim is to read one History, one Comedy and one Tragedy. I managed the Comedy with The Taming of the Shrew, missed out on King John for history, but might make it before the end of the year. Still to come is Hamlet for tragedy.

What's in a Name
I just recently joined this and have read three titles that fit in to the six mentioned. It is hosted by Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook. Three to go. Full list under Challenges 2019.

The European Reading Challenge
I have finalised this one with five books by authors or books set in five different European countries. Hosted by Rose City Reader means I took a 'Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) tour.

Read 52 books in 52 Weeks
Another great challenge which, due to my lack of reading in summer has big gaps through several weeks. Hosted by Robin. I have missed out weeks; 18, 20 and 28-33.

Moby Dick Read Along
This is the first read along I am participating in. Hosted by Brona's Books, I think I will be able to read this classic. It should be read between August 2019 - February 2020. I am on chapter 18.

A small summary of my summer reading and a re-cap of the challenges I am participating in.  On, on, for the next books.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood

Charlotte Brentwood reached out to me in 2014 to ask if I wanted to review her first book The Vagabond Vicar. I accepted with pleasure, being a fan of historical fiction (review under link). She has recently finished her second book, Gloved Heart, and I am happy to have the opportunity to review also her second novel.

From the back cover we learn:

"Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household. A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again. 
Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her. A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save both of them.
The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy’s past will change them forever, and jeopardise any chance they have for happiness. Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need?"
The genre of historical fiction (Regency in this case) often has an element of romance in it. How much of romance differ from author to author. Personally, I like when the story has a streak of 'realistic' life rather than too much romance. Charlotte Brentwood manages this balance perfectly in her novels. Although we usually know which two characters will end up in the end, Charlotte keeps us guessing to the very end.

There are no straight lines in this novel, and the story takes off in unexpected directions. Charlotte has recently become a mother, and that is maybe why a baby has a big part in her latest novel. As historical fiction goes, the beginning is quite unusual and surprising.
"Screams echoed in every corner of the room, and in her mind. 
There was agony, humiliation and confusion... Her dress torn, her skin ripped, and a man intent on possessing her, no matter the cost. She had never felt more helpless, worthless, or alone.  
Amy woke with tears pouring down her cheeks, but the incessant cries she could hear were not her own.  
It was the consequence of that hideous night: a baby born of sin. Motherhood had been thrust upon her, her life irrevocably altered."
The beginning takes you directly, and without further ado, to the heart of the story of Amy and her baby. How will they survive in England in the beginning of the 19th century? A baby born out of wedlock after a rape. It is a different approach to historical fiction and makes for interesting reading. Maybe because Charlotte is herself a mother now, the relationship between Amy and her son is very well characterised in the book. Is it possible for Amy to love her baby? Looking at him, will she forever remember that traumatic night? Can she put her past behind her and find love again?

Charlotte's prose is beautiful and so easy to read, like a river slowly flowing through the landscape. Gloved Heart with its secrets and mysteries, keeps you wondering until the very end.

In Charlotte's thank you note at the end of the novel, she reveals that she is busy on her next book, Barrington Meets His Match. Barrington is the man who imposed himself on Amy. I can't wait to see what Charlotte Brentwood will do with his story. I have learned that one can never be too sure where Charlotte will take her stories, and how they will end. Looking forward to her next story. 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

What's in a Name 2019 - Challenge

In 2019 this challenge is hosted by Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook. It extends from January 1 to December 31, 2019.  You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates. For more info use link above. The six examples of subjects we want to find in the title are:


I am just signing up now, and have read three out of the six subjects. Hope to finish by the end of the year. 

Monday, 2 September 2019

After the summer

Hello again. Long time no see! It has been quiet on this blog for some time. From mid-July I have been travelling, seen family and have had visitors. A busy time which gave no time neither for blogging, nor for reading. In July I only finished ONE book! Scandalous, but what can you do.

We have been camping among other things. We visited the island of Gotland and Fårö on the SE coast of Sweden. Wonderful place and more about that later. This picture is from the mainland, but it is not so bad to fall asleep and wake up to this view!

Now things are calming down, but I have been reluctant to come back to the computer. I have tried to follow my usual blogs, commenting some, and even following a read-along of Moby Dick. Slowly, slowly, I also have finished a few books. Mostly thrillers which tend to be easily read.

I have had a few thoughts during the summer on where I want to go with my blog. I am still thinking and planning a few changes. They will be revealed soon.

I did manage to read seven books in August, of which there will be one review and a few short ones. I have now enrolled in my book store's annual book group, 'Borrow and Read'. You pay around 40€ and you get to borrow and read 55 books. A good deal if any. You get to keep the last book you borrow as well. I started with a favourite author and a book that has got good reviews among my blogger friends, Kate Morton's The Clockmaker's Daughter. So far so good.

I will also continue with Moby Dick read along hosted by Brona @ Brona's Books. Feel free to join, it will continue until end of February. I find it excellent to read it this way. I notice that some bloggers don't seem to have a problem reading it all at once! Like Deb Nance @ Readerbuzz! Well done, and excellent blog post about it as well. Me, I take it rather easy. Although must admit that the writing is very good, and so far, not so difficult as I expected. Let's see what I think, once I have finished it.

Yes, it is me swimming in the Blue Lagoon on Fårö
Now, I am thinking back of the wonderful holidays camping. Such a simple life and close to nature. A lot of swimming, like on this photo, since it was another nice and warm summer here in Sweden.

Looking forward catching up with you all and be inspired for more interesting reading and blogging in the autumn.