The Lesser Bohemians

Upon her arrival in London, an 18-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in—she’s young and unexotic, a naive new girl—but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the […]

Address Unknown

Reread for my book club. And on second read it is just as powerful, if not more so than on first reading. Original review from 2010 below ISBN: 978028563293 ; DDC: 813.54 Read for the 1930’s Mini-Challenge Author’s wiki page Address Unknown is a very slight book. It is told in letters between Max Eisenstein […]

The dollmaker

I originally read this book in October of 2010, my original review is below but I have a few additional thoughts after my reread.

It is still a hugely powerful and effective read, I reread it because I suggested it for a new book club I’ve joined and thought I should refresh my memory. I’m not sure it was a great choice for the club, it is quite hard to find here in in Ireland and the second hand copies people have been buying has quite small print. Plus it is a big long book. But it is a great book club read because of its contents, imo anyway, we will see when we meet up at the end of the month.

I adore the character of Gertie Nevels. She is just a wonderful person, and yet at the same time she isn’t idealised or held up as some shining example. She is a person who makes the best out of what she got, and what she got is not a lot.

Spoilery discussion to follow.

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It is a great book and everyone should read it.


original review :

ISBN: 0380009471

The world is at war, and the army is stealing away the men, and those that are left are being hauled off to work in the factories in order to assist the war effort. In rural Kentucky Gertie is lucky enough to still have her husband around, he drives the coal truck, but knows that this situation cannot last. He has his date with the army already lined up. But she is preparing as best she can. She has been saving her money and almost has enough to offer on a nearby farm. Without having to pay half what they earn on rent Gertie and her family will be able to plan for the future. But on the eve of her plans coming to fruition all is ruined and she must uproot her family and follow her husband to the city of Detroit.

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The borrower

The Borrower

I’ll admit I picked this book up because I liked the tagline, She borrowed a child. He stole her. Lucy Hull who is a children’s librarian runs away with Ian Drake when she finds him hiding out in the library one morning. She’s always enjoyed him when he visited the library, even if she did worry over his mother and the insistance that Ian only be allowed borrow books with the “breath of God” in them. And definitely not those ones with magic and satanism in them!

And then Lucy finds a note making her believe that Ian is being sent to anti-gay classes. She isn’t really kidnapping him, she is rescuing him.

Swamplandia!

ISBN: 9780701186029

Our mother performed in starlight.

Ava Bigtree lives in Swamplandia! with her family. They wrestle alligators in front of tourists for a living. Until recently Ava’s mother Hillola was the star of the show, her moonlight swim through the gator pond was always a hit with the audience. But then she got sick, and died. And Grandpa Sawtooth has been taken to the old folk’s home. Tourist numbers are down, and things are only getting worse. Chief Bigtree, Ava’s father, goes off to the mainland on a business trip looking for investors, and Ava’s older brother Kiwi has abandoned the swamp, taking a job with the arch-enemy, The World of Darkness, a more modern and lucrative amusement park. And now Ava’s sister is dating ghosts.

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How many miles to Babylon?

ISBN: 9780141046969 ; Quotes

Because I am an officer and a gentleman they have given me my notebooks, pen, ink and paper.

Growing up Alec has always been isolated. His parents despise one another, he is one of their battlegrounds, and his mother refuses to send him to school. Instead he has tutors and lessons at home. But no friends, for he is one of the Anglo-Irish at a time when Home Rule was everywhere. But through his love of riding and horses he meets a local boy, Jerry. As they grow older however the barriers between them grow more evident. Jerry understands this more than Alec, but nevertheless they mostly remain friends until Alec’s mother forbids it. Jerry is working at this stage, and Alec is taking more of an interest in the running of the estate and, in some ways, bonding with his father. And then war comes.

Alex doesn’t really see any need to join up. But his mother thinks it would be a good idea. And in the end she gets her way. Alec meets up with Jerry and discovers that he too is signing up, although for more practical reasons, he needs the King’s Shilling.

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Touching earth lightly

ISBN: 1864488239

Growing up is hard. Even when you have encouraging responsibly parents, like Chloe. When you don’t, when your parents are like Janey’s, consistently putting you in harms way and causing your damage how do you cope? Chloe and Janey are best friends, they live their lives entwined in each other. Chloe is sensible and practical. She keeps Janey somewhat rooted. But nothing can keep janey from trouble. Free-spirited is a charitable description of her life-style. Some of the girls from her school used much harsher terms, she was worse than a prostitute, she didn’t even charge for what she did in the boy’s toilets! But free-spirited is the more accurate description. Janey can’t see the dangers in her life. Or perhaps it is because she has so many that she doesn’t look for an escape. There are no ways out for her.

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Nicholas Dane

This is the sort of book I don’t usually read. You know the ones, from the “sad story” section of the bookshop. The misery-books as I call them. But a few years ago I’d heard of Melvin Burgess as an author to look out for. I’ve read his Lady : My life as a Bitch and to be honest I wasn’t all that impressed, but I’ll always give an author a second go. So I tried this one.

In the 1980’s Nick Dane is growing up as an average, if bright kid. He comes from a single parent family, and his mother has a secret. She never got off the drugs, not completely. And in the course of having a “taste” she accidentally overdoses and Nick is left all alone in the world. Soon he finds himself carted off to a “home” for boys, and soon learns that the violence and random beatings are not the worse this place has to offer.

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The devil in the flesh

ISBN: 9781906548254
translated by Christopher Moncrieff

Although the 1930’s mini challenge has come to an end, when I spotted this book at work I thought it might fit, and wanted to read more books of that time. Of course then I read the details and discovered that it was actually written earlier than that… Oh well :)

The devil in the flesh created quite a bit of a scandal when it was published, semi-autobiographical, the author wrote it from the age of sixteen to eighteen, after his own affair with a married woman. And that, my dears, is the central theme to this book. In fact, it is the end all and the be all of everything in this book. Our 15/16 year old narrator’s affair with a married woman. And I found that incredibly off-putting.

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Rupture

ISBN: 9780330511636 also published as A thousand cuts This is the story of a school shooting. A teacher walks into assembly and kills four people, three students and a teacher, he then commits suicide. Lucia May is the police officer who is supposed to “wrap up” the investigation and file it under psycho teacher, terrible […]

The Lace Reader

Author: Brunonia Barry

When I first started reading this book I’ll admit to being a little bit confused. It was group read, for HistoricalFavorites, where was the history aspect. I kept waiting for flashbacks to old Salem and witch hunts. But instead I got the story of Towner Whitney and her family, and how the past is always around, especially when you try to ignore it.

Many of the Whitney family have the gift of reading lace, they can tell a lot about a person and their future, but ever since her sister committed suicide Towner has tried to escape that life. She herself suffered so much from the trauma of that experience that she felt she needed electro-shock therapy in order to overcome her anxieties. But that treatment ripped away many of her memories; now, back in Salem after her aunt’s disappearance Towner is forced to reconnect with people; friends and enemies from her past.