The Rise of Ferryn by Jessica Gadziala

ferryn

Blurb: 

She left a broken girl.
Damaged in a way no one should ever be.
But determined to make a difference in the world.

She stayed away.
Training. Learning. Hardening.
Bending and breaking herself into what she needed to become to

fulfill her mission in life.
Something righteous, but wicked in its own way.

She returned a warrior.
There were promises left unfulfilled.
Questions left unanswered.
Hearts to be unbroken.
Maybe most especially her own.

Review:

The Rise of Ferryn by Jessica Gadziala is a long awaited book for Jessica’s book fans. It tells the story of Ferryn a kick ass girl that turns into a woman. After The Fall of V we didn’t know where Ferryn had gone or what she was doing.

From the first line of this book I was hooked. I wanted to know what her mission was and what she needed to do to get there. Her survival, her training and her dedication to complete her mission that she had set for herself so many years ago.

But when she returns home to face her family and friends she’s hoping they will forgive her and not judge where her journey has left her. Does she still have feeling for Vance, can she even still love not only her family but anyone. These are questions and uncertainties that she has going through her mind has she rides back into Navesink Bank.

“I killed myself to be reborn into the body and mind and soul of someone who could do what needed to be done. I didn’t do all of that just to shrug it off like a sweater that no longer fit right, go back to my old life, be that old person.”

Ferryn’s story is a great end for her but it introduces so many great and exciting newer generation from the Henchmen Legacy series and to Navesink Bank. Fallon, Finn, West, and Colson to name but a few characters that I can’t wait to hear from. Great secondary characters are a must for me and Jessica does them so well. They make a story great and it was no different in the Rise of Ferryn! Another must read and 5 stars from me.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #323

odd men out
Blurb:
Odd Men Out is a social, cultural and political history of gay men living in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s. It follows a chronological narrative and covers a number of thematic issues in detail, starting with the establishment of the government s Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution in 1954 and ending with the emergence of the British Gay Liberation Front in 1970. During this period new perspectives on sexuality were beginning to emerge, and the book looks at contemporary public, political and legal attitudes towards homosexuality and gay men.

The book also focuses on the emergence of gay identities, the opening up and the limitations of social spaces and contacts, the operation of the law, and the legal reform process up to and beyond partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

The book is based on new and original research, and there is an emphasis on the personal experiences of gay men and other witnesses to the period through a range of written, oral and broadcast evidence. These witnesses include well-known individuals who made significant contributions to the political, social and cultural debates of the period.

The book uses a wide range of sources (many of which have not previously been examined) and offers a fresh angle on new as well as familiar themes.

Brilliant Book Titles #322

brief

Blurb: 

In his startling and singular new short story collection, David Foster Wallace nudges at the boundaries of fiction with inimitable wit and seductive intelligence. Among the stories are ‘The Depressed Person’, a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman’s mental state; ‘Adult World’, which reveals a woman’s agonised consideration of her confusing sexual relationship with her husband; and ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’, a dark, hilarious series of portraits of men whose fear of women renders them grotesque. Wallace’s stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many different guises. Thought-provoking and playful, this collection confirms David Foster Wallace as one of the most imaginative young writers around. Wallace delights in left-field observation, mining the ironic, the surprising and the illuminating from every situation. His new collection will delight his growing number of fans, and provide a perfect introduction for new readers.

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You can reserve this book online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

the unhoneymooners

Blurb: 

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review:

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren is not bad at all. Ethan is Brother of the groom, and Olive’s arch-nemesis. Olive is twin of the bride and has been unlucky her entire life. The day of the wedding takes a turn for the worst and everyone gets sick from the seafood buffet. Well except Olive who’s allergic to seafood and Ethan is just damn fussy when it comes to sharing food! So there’s nothing else for it they both have to go on the free honeymoon that Olive’s sister has won.

Is an all exclusive, all expenses paid trip to Hawaii worth spending 10 days with someone you utterly despise? 

I can treat this trip like an actual vacation on a tropical island.
Yes, it’s with my nemesis, but still, I’ll take it.

The back and forth and banter in this book was great. There’s a thin Line between Love and Hate! So entertaining and heart-warming funny. Very enjoyable read for me and I had more than a few Laugh-out-Loud moments throughout. This is my first Christina Lauren and these two authors really know how to click when writing. It will definitely not be my last read. I’m off to the library to pick up more titles.

“That’s the point of luck: it happens when and where it happens.”

5 stars!

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ Catalogue here.

5 New Biographies to Watch Out For

Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss by Rachel Clarke (30 Jan 2020) 
dear life
‘What a remarkable book this is; tender, funny, brave, heartfelt, radiant with love and life. It brought me often to laughter and – several times – to tears. It sings with joy and kindness’ Robert Macfarlane

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Life in My Hands comes this vibrant, tender and deeply personal memoir that finds light and love in the darkest of places.

As a specialist in palliative medicine, Dr Rachel Clarke chooses to inhabit a place many people would find too tragic to contemplate. Every day she tries to bring care and comfort to those reaching the end of their lives and to help make dying more bearable.

Rachel’s training was put to the test in 2017 when her beloved GP father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She learned that nothing – even the best palliative care – can sugar-coat the pain of losing someone you love.

And yet, she argues, in a hospice there is more of what matters in life – more love, more strength, more kindness, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion – than you could ever imagine. For if there is a difference between people who know they are dying and the rest of us, it is simply this: that the terminally ill know their time is running out, while we live as though we have all the time in the world.

Dear Life is a book about the vital importance of human connection, by the doctor we would all want by our sides at a time of crisis. It is a love letter – to a father, to a profession, to life itself.

One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square by Michael Cashman (6 Feb 2020) 
michael cashman
‘Passionate and true . A great book about love, pain and the whole damn thing’ Simon Callow, Guardian
‘A memoir to cherish’ Ian McKellen

‘A brave, good man’ Sheila Hancock

‘A book to be savoured’ Alan Johnson

‘There are so many reasons to love this book’ Armistead Maupin

‘A beautifully written, funny memoir’ Jo Brand

Michael Cashman has lived many lives, all of them remarkable: as a beloved actor of stage and screen; as a campaigner for gay rights; as an MEP and as a life peer.

Born in the post-war East End of London, young Michael’s life is changed when he is spotted in a school play, cast in Lionel Bart’s Oliver! and is transported to the glittering West End. Acting on stage and screen into adulthood, he finds his most defining role as Colin in Eastenders, making television history as one half of the first gay kiss ever broadcast on a British soap. But it is a chance encounter in a Butlins resort that leads Michael to the great love of his life: Paul Cottingham, who would become his husband and partner of 31 years.

We follow Michael’s second act, as with Ian McKellen he founds and chairs Stonewall, fighting tirelessly for civil liberties all over the world before entering the world of politics. His adventures and misadventures lead him and Paul as far and wide as high tea in LA with David Hockney to flirting with Joan Collins to flying the rainbow flag over the Albert Hall with Elton John. But Michael’s greatest triumphs are seasoned with bitter loss – and he continues his ceaseless fight bearing a profound grief.

One of Them contains as many multitudes as its author: glorious nostalgia, wicked showbiz gossip, a stirring history of a civil rights movement, a sorrowfully clear-eyed exposition of Britain’s standing in Europe, and an unforgettable love story. Told with warmth, wit and humanity, it is an account of a life lived both left-of-field and firmly embedded in the heart of all that makes Britain liberal and good.

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone De Beauvoir and Me: A Memoir by Deirdre Bair (6 Feb 2020) 
Parisian Lives
‘Fascinating… Wonderfully entertaining and absorbing’ Sunday Times

‘Gripping’ New York Times Book Review

In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted PhD who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett. He agreed that she could write his biography despite never having written – or even read – a biography herself. The next seven years of intimate conversations, intercontinental research, and peculiar cat-and-mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett: A Biography, which went on to win the National Book Award and propel Deirdre to her next subject: Simone de Beauvoir. The catch? De Beauvoir and Beckett despised each other – and lived essentially on the same street. While quite literally dodging one subject or the other, and sometimes hiding out in the backrooms of the great cafés of Paris, Bair learned that what works in terms of process for one biography rarely applies to the next. Her seven-year relationship with the domineering and difficult de Beauvoir required a radical change in approach, yielding another groundbreaking literary profile.

Drawing on Bair’s extensive notes from the period, including never-before-told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and gives us an entirely new window on the all-too-human side of these legendary thinkers.

Calamity: The Many Lives of Calamity Jane by Karen R. Jones (11 Feb 2020)
calamity
A fascinating new account of the life and legend of the Wild West’s most notorious woman: Calamity Jane Martha Jane Canary, popularly known as Calamity Jane, was the pistol-packing, rootin’ tootin’ “lady wildcat” of the American West. Brave and resourceful, she held her own with the men of America’s most colorful era and became a celebrity both in her own right and through her association with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. In this engaging account, Karen Jones takes a fresh look at the story of this iconic frontierswoman. She pieces together what is known of Canary’s life and shows how a rough and itinerant lifestyle paved the way for the scattergun, alcohol-fueled heroics that dominated Canary’s career. Spanning Canary’s rise from humble origins to her role as “heroine of the plains” and the embellishment of her image over subsequent decades, Jones shows her to be feisty, eccentric, transgressive-and very much complicit in the making of the myth that was Calamity Jane.

Mrs Paine’s Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy by Thomas Mallon (11 Feb 2020) 
mrs paine's garage
Nearly forty years have passed since Ruth Hyde Paine, a Quaker housewife in suburban Dallas, offered shelter and assistance to a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina. For nine months in 1963, Mrs. Paine was so deeply involved in the Oswalds’ lives that she eventually became one of the Warren Commission’s most important witnesses.

Mrs. Paine’s Garage is the tragic story of a well-intentioned woman who found Oswald the job that put him six floors above Dealey Plaza–into which, on November 22, he fired a rifle he’d kept hidden inside Mrs. Paine’s house. But this is also a tale of survival and resiliency: the story of a devout, open-hearted woman who weathered a whirlwind of investigation, suspicion, and betrayal, and who refused to allow her enmeshment in the calamity of that November to crush her own life.

Thomas Mallon gives us a disturbing account of generosity and secrets, of suppressed memories and tragic might-have-beens, of coincidences more eerie than conspiracy theory. His book is unlike any other work that has been published on the murder of President Kennedy.

 

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

secret commonwealth

I’m not sure if it’s relevant but The Subtle Knife was the shortest of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The Secret Commonwealth is certainly longer than the first installment of the new trilogy;  it’s quite the tome, in fact, and if it were any other writer or any other series, I’d be hoping the third and final book is considerably shorter. I suppose my musings on the novel’s length are for the reason that the book, good as it was, felt too long. They say the middle part of any trilogy is always the hardest to get right and maybe Pullman felt that challenge keenly here.

It’s a large and at times meandering story, delving into fable as often as it cuts you with realism. The novel crosses continents and viewpoints, with the narrative being shared principally between Lyra and Pan, although a strong supporting cast also features. Our familiar heroes separate to solve a mysterious secret but must contend with a dangerous new enemy as they do so.

Fans of His Dark Materials will enjoy revisiting Lyra, now an Oxford undergraduate, to observe her navigate the world around her as a young woman. However, the sheen of novelty is worn thin by the deeply troubling treatment that is meted out to her for the crime of being female. As an attractive young woman, Lyra is, and the novel makes no attempt to avoid it, very conscious of the intrusive male gaze throughout and there’s even one disturbing scene that, although I wont spoil for you, is quite difficult to read, especially for those who, having read and loved His Dark Material, feel a paternal instinct towards Lyra. Whether or not Pullman was acutely conscious of the MeToo movement while writing, or would this have always featured is difficult to say, but in Pullman’s hand, the book is very strong in its feminist values, if a little inappropriate for U16s.

The novel touches on on topics in the zeitgeist too with clear parallels with the current migrant crisis in evidence, as Lyra encounters refugees from the Middle-East and Levant fleeing to Europe from their war wracked region; conflicts fomented, naturally, by interfering Western powers. Mental health is a topic that is given plenty of exploration also. Lyra and Pan’s physical distance is equaled emotionally and spiritually and in the course of Lyra’s journey she meets similarly afflicted people. In Pullman’s Northern Lights, it took a kind of atomic-particle guillotine to sever the connection between a human and their daemon, and so, the reader is left to ponder what great upheaval could possibly cause a person and their daemon to willingly detach from one another.

Many of the characters of La Belle Sauvage also reappear as Malcolm Polstead, now one of Oakley Street’s most capable agents, takes the fight to the Magisterium. On a note of interest for fans of Pullman’s work, a curious insight is offered to the reader to explain the diverse and virulent structure of the Magisterium that dominates the political and social institutions of the world. John Calvin, the reader is told, died as the incumbent Pope; an office, of course, he never rose to in real life. Upon his death, the Church split into the many headed hydra that inhabits Lyra’s world, with each institution operating autonomously, jockeying for position in a constant and savage contest for power. Not altogether crucial to the plot but a very interesting tit-bit nonetheless.

Too long, too sprawling but still magical, beautifully written and deeply affecting.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #321

a liar's autobiography
Blurb: 
Graham Chapman reveals what it was like to be part of the revolutionary and zany Monty Python teamRequired reading for Monty Python fans, this true and false memoir is Graham Chapman’s own hilarious account of his life as a Python and as a homosexual. The book equals Joe Orton’s famous Diaries in providing an unblushing account of a gay lifestyle linked to entertainment. Full of outrageous fictions and touching truths, in telling surreal and outrageous lies Graham Chapman often uncovers a truth about himself and colleagues. The stories Chapman relates–whether as mountaineer or medical student (he was a doctor); actor or alcoholic (he was both); heterosexual groupie-guzzler or homosexual coming to terms with himself (bit of both)–form a surreal and crowded mosaic that is funny, disturbing, and moving by turns. A minor cult classic by a major comic talent.