Full review upcoming, but I just HAVE to say this ... this is NOT a one-sitting book, but, even though I planned to do other things, once I started, I...moreFull review upcoming, but I just HAVE to say this ... this is NOT a one-sitting book, but, even though I planned to do other things, once I started, I could not stand putting it down! Absolutely fabulous read!(less)
As a foul-smelling fog rolls in, Irish potato farmer Liam Hanley senses disaster. Bitter with life's disappointments, he is saddled with a wife who, for two years, has been mad with grief over the loss of their youngest child, and with five other mouths to feed. He feels that the weight of the world is on his shoulders and he can't stand any more misfortune.
This is the story of one family and a friend who strike out for America with the last of the family money to find a way to make a living, but it's so much more. It's the tale of the Irish who came in the 1800's, hoping for a land of opportunity, only to find that doors are shut in their faces and the opportunities are for others. Many of them ended up just as poor as they started out, only now they're in a foreign land, with no way to return home.
Many were taken advantage of on the journey, robbed by bandits and thieves, sick and dying of illness in steerage when they paid full fare for their passage, marked as fair game when they finally landed on shore and taken advantage of some more.
In this story, Clare Hanley and her brother Seamus, along with their friend Pierce Brady, leave Ireland during the Potato Famine to make their way to America. Along the way, there are many precarious situations and an interesting surprise when they follow instructions given by Madame O'Riley, a professional keener back in Ireland, to ask for a Patrick Feagles once they reach America. She also gives them a pendant that they are to show to him.
There are some definite twists to keep you reading, and a sad surprise nearer the end of the story. There's a bit of romance as well.
This novel kept my interest based on the history and the obviously impeccable research that went into it. When it came to the story, however, it fell a bit flat for me. Although there are lots of happenings, much of it felt flat and one-dimensional, maybe even superficial: "this is what happened", not a feeling of being involved as it was happening. At times the writing was also very "wordy", especially noticeable near the beginning of the novel. Example: "Davin rubbed the feral brown tufts of his hair." The word "feral" brings to mind ferocious, slavering beasts, definitely not hair. :)
This is billed as "Christian historical fiction", but I think it fits well into mainstream historical fiction. It is the first in a trilogy. I don't regret reading it; I did enjoy the history and some insights into subjects like the Irish Army of the Mexican Republic, where Irish soldiers switched sides to fight with Mexico against America, but I never truly connected enough to be curious about what happens next in the series.
QUOTES (from an eGalley; may be different in final copy):
Their voices emanated from the one-room, thatched-roof mud hovel where many of the Hanley ancestry were birthed with groans, raised in squalor, and died without distinction.
Liam struggled to console himself with the belief his life was too full of misfortune four God to strike him yet another blow.
BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.
Writing: 3 out of 5 stars Plot: 4 out of 5 stars Characters: 3 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 3 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 3.25 out of 5 stars
Sensitive Reader: Very mild and rare profanity
Book Club Recommendation: Maybe. For those that are interested in the historical aspects, yes. (less)
New York in the aftermath of a dirty bomb or two; residents traveling with portable Geiger counters to avoid the most radioactive parts of the city. Central Park is now a camp - a sort of modern Hooverville. Those with money who remain dwell almost exclusively in the limnosphere - a computer-generated reality they create for themselves. The rest take their reality as it comes, or pay for "hits" in generally dirty, one-off "dorms" where you pay by the hour.
Enter Spademan; a hitman who self-titles himself as a garbageman - he doesn't care why you want someone dead - he only wants to know who it is. His latest assignment is to kill a young woman who now calls herself Persephone - the daughter of a famous and powerful evangelist. What he quickly finds out is that Persephone is skilled in knifework, and killing her won't be as easy as it seems.
I absolutely loved this book. Quick bits of dialogue bring to mind a crime noir, interlaced with a biting humor as well as compassion. I quickly found myself immersed in Spademan's world. Great secondary characters, a pervasive theme, and an anti-hero that you find likeable in spite of yourself make this a fabulous must-read for almost any reader and already gave me my first five-star read of the year.
If that's not enough to convince you, take a look at some of the following quotes.
QUOTES (from an eGalley; may be different in final copy):
I had a wife. Believe it or not. And I was a garbageman too, if you're interested, a real one. The kind with garbage, like my dad. Left that too. Left most everything eventually. Whatever hadn't already been taken away. Now I kill people. The end. People get upset when you say you kill people. Fair enough. But wait. What if I told you I only kill serial killers? It's not true, but what if I told you that? Now what if I told you I only kill child molesters? Or rapists? Or people who really deserve it? Wavering yet? Okay, now what if I told you I only kill people who talk loudly in movie theaters? Or block the escalator? Or cut you off in traffic? Don't answer. Think it over. Not so self-righteous now. I'm just kidding. There's no such thing as movie theaters anymore.
Cut a city in half and you're left with half a city. But you definitely notice the ones who are gone just as much as the ones who stayed.
It's not the doing-it part that's hard. It's the justifying-it part. And I don't do that. I'm not the decision. I'm just the action. I'm just the bullet. So I don't need to justify it. Or live with it. That's your job.
I wonder if I'm expected to answer. I was always taught not to talk with my mouth full of teeth.
Writing: 5 out of 5 stars Plot: 5 out of 5 stars Characters: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 5 of 5 stars
Sensitive Reader: Occasional profanity, some violent (but not graphic) subject matter.
Book Club Recommendation: Yes; as long as members are comfortable with occasional profanity; I think that this book would initiate some interesting discussions on morality. (less)