Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Dickens by Peter Ackroyd - Dickens in December


Dickens in December (hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia), considering how busy I have been this month, most regrettably turned into Dickens in the last week of December. Dickens, however, did also turn into quite an obsession. I think I've mentioned before how much I adored The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. I am certain the year 2013 will see me read a lot more of Dickens, as much as I can fit into a year! This is the last day of the event and I don't suppose I'd finish reading either of these two books tonight, so here's what I think so far:

I'm about halfway through the book, which is saying something since I started reading it about an hour ago. This book by one of my favourite writers stars the Artful Dodger (right out of Oliver Twist) and Charles Dickens himself! The idea of an author meeting one of his own characters is charming and Pratchett has done justice to both. The book is written in a very quintessentially Terry Pratchett style and has at the same time a wonderfully Dickensian vibe about it - I mean, really, what's not to like?


This massive biography of Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, began interestingly enough, with his death in 1870. The biographer describes in haunting detail the scene of his death and what a stir it caused in the world. Even the prologue talks about his writing style, his social commentary and his influence on the readers as well as his role in the literary history of the world. The author then begins the biography right from his birth, making it a point to mention every little detail. You don't just read a book about Dickens, you witness his life.
It would probably be the end of February by the time I finish this book but I will definitely finish it. I have heard about Peter Ackroyd being a masterful biographer and this book, whatever I have read of it, justifies the praise.

Dickens in December has been a great event, a perfect ending, really, to the year. If it were to take place next year, I would certainly make it a point to participate!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - Dickens in December


Dickens in December is hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia.

Wow. The book is just... wow. It is absolutely brilliant. I really couldn't write a lot about the book without revealing anything that a potential reader might not like to know beforehand. I hardly knew anything about the book before I started reading it, except perhaps that it was amazing. The twists and turns in the plot and the suspense definitely added to the reading experience.

(From here) The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period.

There was a reason I read The Old Curiosity Shop before I read this: I wanted to read something that not many people recommend, so that I won't be obligated even in the slightest subconscious way to like it - although I did find out later that The Old Curiosity Shop is a particular favourite among the Dickens aficionados. I loved it and when I began reading A Tale of Two Cities, the heavier prose (in comparison to TOCS) made me doubt, initially, that I would enjoy it quite as much. The book isn't enjoyable, really: the wry, twisted humour doesn't quite make it ha-ha-funny and the characters aren't as eccentrically realistic as in TOCS.

The book is much darker and harder to get through; but that is the way it supposed to be: it couldn't have been otherwise. Though the book is about the Revolution, the fact that my knowledge of the world history is despicable didn't quite matter, as the ideas involved are far from redundant. Every revolution, every 'strike-back' must have that biased brutality, that makes you wonder just whom to consider the villian. It is heart wrenching and horrifyingly bone chilling and very graphic and gory and that is what makes it such a beautifully haunting tale. The themes and the characters are powerful, memorable: Sydney Carton has taken Levin's (Tolstoy - Anna Karenina) place as my favourite character in a novel. Their emotions, behaviour are terrifyingly genuine and saddening.

I couldn't initially see what people meant about the first and the last lines of the book being perfect, but I do now. The beginning and the ending form a beautiful wooden frame that perfectly holds the story, a crinkly sparkly gift wrap, if you may. The ending of A Tale of Two Cities contains the very essence of the book and if not for anything else, I do think everyone should read it to its very last page to experience that.

TOCS, though quite bleak, still had a touch of romance to it, something that made it unlikely to ever have happened: there aren't many Nells in this world, after all. On the other hand, A Tale of Two Cities as a historical fiction presents the sinister reality of the French Revolution in an unforgettable manner. This is a book I'd like to read over and over: I'm sure every read would reveal something new and even more amazing about the book.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Black Mountain by Greig Beck


He looked up at the black hole. He didn't see it as a cave mouth anymore; instead, he thought of it as a doorway. And something had come out of that doorway that should have been extinct. A ripple of nausea ran through his gut as he remembered another cave from his past. It wasn't true that deep caves were always dead and sterile places. Some caves were very much alive, and held secrets that were horrifying and deadly.

Summary: Alex Hunter, code named Arcadian, wakes up with no knowledge of who he is, in the care of a woman he doesn't recognise, in a country not his own. But there is a calling deep within him, to return home to Black Mountain.
Formed a billion years ago, the Appalachian’s Black Mountain hosts a terrible legend. Only one elder remains to guard its long-forgotten, deadly secret and there is a fear that there is evil lurking again. Some hikers have gone missing, and the rescue team sent to search for them has not returned. Meanwhile, in nearby Ashville, Professor Matt Kearns is drawn into the mystery of an ancient artefact recovered from the mountainside, and an image too grotesque to be real.
A survivor is then found half-alive, covered in blood – blood revealed to be not quite human.
Alex must confront an age-old enemy of man and discover the truth about his past, and confront the horror that stalks the frozen mountain, and also the one haunting his very soul.

My thoughts: This book is awesome, fantastic, mind-blowing and many other superlatives. The author has taken one of the most popular legends - that of Bigfoot - and given it a brilliant twist, turning what could have been a very typical story into something endlessly interesting. My first thought when I started reading was: It's story about Sasquatch being real - what's not to like? I soon began to realize that it was a lot more than just that. It is at times hard to follow a book when there are too many sub-plots, too many things going on all at once. But in Black Mountain, the author manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Every little strand of story is just as engaging and the build-up is amazing. I could anticipate a big finish and it did arrive with a bang!

I have always been a fan of multiple points of view, and the author has pulled them off perfectly. I loved the fact that the book also offers little bits from the creature's point of view. The dialogue had a good flow to it and as the book progressed, I really started to care about the characters, which enhanced my reading experience even further. Not to mention, all the action. Saying that the book is action-packed would be an understatement. The author gives a move for move, blow for blow description of every fight, every interaction. I could visualize the scenes in the book perfectly and it was exciting to read. I am sure this book would make a great movie.

The book is fast paced, but not too fast either; just fast enough. This isn't just another run-of-the-miller thriller. Black Mountain, and I believe the entire series, has a lot to offer. There are touching, bittersweet moments when Alex struggles after his past, there are times which are funny, quirky and romantic and then there are moments of bone chilling terror.

There are many characters in the book, so for someone who hasn't read the entire series, it may be slightly confusing. Having read Arcadian Genesis, I was acquainted with the main characters and their story-lines, but there are things that I would probably understand better after reading the other books in the series. While it's not a perfect standalone, I would still recommend the book to people who haven't read rest of the series; better yet, I recommend you to read the whole series - trust me, it's worth it. Grab your copies right here!

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Dickens in December


Dickens in December (hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia) has to be my favourite event of 2012. I adored The Old Curiosity Shop, I'm halfway through and completely in love with A Tale of Two Cities and now this readalong. 

Here are a few of the questions I answered:

Is this the first time you are reading the story?
This was actually my favourite story when I was little. The funny thing is my book was called Mickey's Christmas Carol. It was based on the Disney version of Dicken's novella, with Uncle Scrooge as Ebenezer Scrooge, Mickey Mouse as Bob Crachit and Goofy as Marley, not to mention, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past. It had the cutest illustrations in it. I can't believe I never got around to reading the original book until now!

Did you like it?
I always the story was just magical. But reading the original version was an entirely surprising experience. Such a small book has such a a lot to say. The writing is seriously mesmerizing and the story is hauntingly beautiful. I loved it.

Which was your favorite scene?
It's hard to choose one scene, I liked the time when the first ghost showed up, the scene at the Crachit family's home was touching; but fittingly enough, I'd say my favourite was the last scene - with the new and improved (redeemed?) Scrooge.

Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

Which spirit and his stories did you find the most interesting?
When it comes to my Disney version, my favourite spirit is Jiminy Cricket. Because? Well. But in this one, it had to be the last ghost - the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Everything about the phantom was chilling, eerie. 
I knew A Christmas Carol was, like any story with a moral, obviously far-fetched. The idea that someone could so entirely change in just a night is hard to contemplate. I knew what the Ghost of Christmas Future was going to show Scrooge and I didn't think it would make the story any more believable, but the way it is described - so gory, so tragic, so real - made me believe. I loved what the third spirit showed Scrooge because it was the most convincing. It was kind of the essence of the story for me and I could really see the change that it triggered in Scrooge.  

Did Scrooge deserve to be saved?
I think everyone deserves to be saved.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens - Dickens in December


Dickens in December is hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia.

I may be a bit late in finding my way to Dickens but I am hooked. There are three things I realized in succession as I read the book, the three things which made me fall deeply in love with The Old Curiosity Shop.

First: Dickens was a great judge of character, I thoroughly enjoyed the occasional snippets about human nature. Not to mention, the characters in the story and their behaviours are strikingly real. Second: Wow, he could really write. The rich language and the beautifully apt descriptions made reading the book the most treasured experience. Third: He was certainly a masterful storyteller. Not a single moment of the story was particularly spectacular and yet none of it was dull. I do know it was bleak, but it just wasn't Thomas Hardy bleak. Okay. I don't quite know why or how, but I found the book very engrossing.

This tiny paragraph is hardly all that I want to say about the book. There will be more over the course of this month. Till then, here are some of my favourite moments from the book:

(on conscience)
In the majority of cases, conscience is an elastic and very flexible article, which will bear a deal of stretching and adapt itself to a great variety of circumstances. Some people by prudent management and leaving it off piece by piece like a flannel waistcoat in warm weather, even contrive, in time, to dispense with it altogether; but there be others who can assume the garment and throw it off at pleasure; and this, being the greatest and most convenient improvement, is the one most in vogue.

(on separation)
Why is it that we can better bear to part in spirit than in body, and while we have the fortitude to act farewell have not the nerve to say it? On the eve of long voyages or an absence of many years, friends who are tenderly attached will separate with the usual look, the usual pressure of the hand, planning one final interview for the morrow, while each well knows that it is but a poor feint to save the pain of uttering that one word, and that the meeting will never be. Should possibilities be worse to bear than certainties? We do not shun our dying friends; the not having distinctly taken leave of one among them, whom we left in all kindness and affection, will often embitter the whole remainder of a life.

(an old woman talks about her long dead husband)
Now that five-and-fifty years were gone, she spoke of the dead man as if he had been her son or grandson, with a kind of pity for his youth, growing out of her own old age, and an exalting of his strength and manly beauty as compared with her own weakness and decay; and yet she spoke about him as her husband too, and thinking of herself in connexion with him, as she used to be and not as she was now, talked of their meeting in another world, as if he were dead but yesterday, and she, separated from her former self, were thinking of the happiness of that comely girl who seemed to have died with him.

(...and, this is the kind of language I was talking about.)
It had been gradually getting overcast, and now the sky was dark and lowering, save where the glory of the departing sun piled up masses of gold and burning fire, decaying embers of which gleamed here and there through the black veil, and shone redly down upon the earth. The wind began to moan in hollow murmurs, as the sun went down carrying glad day elsewhere; and a train of dull clouds coming up against it, menaced thunder and lightning. Large drops of rain soon began to fall, and, as the storm clouds came sailing onward, others supplied the void they left behind and spread over all the sky. Then was heard the low rumbling of distant thunder, then the lightning quivered, and then the darkness of an hour seemed to have gathered in an instant.

I can't wait to start reading A Tale of Two Cities. After completely relishing this, I can only imagine what that would be like! Which is your favourite Dickens novel?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

14 Hours - An Insider's Account of the 26/11 Taj Attack by Ankur Chawla



About the book (from here: 26 November 2008. The world watches in horror as Mumbai is ripped apart by coordinated terrorist attacks. Among the locations targeted is the century-old iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Colaba. By the time the siege ends, the hotel has suffered severe damage—and dozens have lost their lives. In 14 Hours, we encounter for the first time a full, eyewitness account of the shocking tragedy—from Ankur Chawla, an operations management trainee with the hotel in 2008.

My thoughts: Let me just say it, I did not like this book at all. I was very keen on reading it and I was very disappointed. I probably wouldn't have finished it if I didn't have to write a review. The writing was terribly clumsy and the structure of the book was too haphazard for my taste. I realize how the author's experiences during the 26/11 attacks deserved to be captured in the pages of a book, but I just think he should have hired someone to do it for him.

I expected a book about a terrorist attack to be hair-raising but the emotions in this book are stunted. At times it felt like I was reading a child's account of the attack. With lines like "Those who a few hours ago had been relishing exquisite and expensive malts and cuisines were praying now to return home safely. The fear and insecurity in the eyes of the bigshots of Mumbai was a rare and shocking sight." (page 20) and the mention of taking pictures of some burnt bodies of the terrorists just seemed too immature. I didn't like this book for the very same reason that I didn't like reading Anne Frank's diary: while the events mentioned were truly harrowing, the person narrating them was just too childish. I didn't like the tone of the book either. It was too simple, often repetitive, too straight-forward and just very casual.

Don't even get me started on the language. I was tempted to keep a red ball pen in hand to correct the mistakes that the book was infested with. The sentence construction was awkward and there were grammatical errors on literally every other page. At times, it was almost on the verge of being funny: take, for instance, this sentence: "You can't understand my pain, unless you are the father of a daughter." (page 56) I do know what he meant to say, but couldn't it have been expressed better? Not to mention, words like "quagmire" seemed to be thrown in for an artsy effect, apparently. I always wonder where people find such words. It would have helped if the author had paid more attention to all the prepositions rather than wasting time coming up with fancy words.

The editing wasn't good either. Some words were skipped entirely from the sentences, turning a chilling experience into an odd one: (paraphrased) The broken glass fell above my. Don't people get their books edited before getting them published? If I ever publish a book with so many errors, I wouldn't be able to live with myself.

That being said, what the author had to go through, the events shown in the book were without any doubt, terrifying. The author has made it a point to mention every single detail he remembers, which I do appreciate. The book is an in-depth itinerary of his 14 hour experience being stuck in the hotel. I only wish someone else writes a book about the Taj attack, that better conveys the emotional experience.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program and BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss


Having heard a lot about this book, I was looking forward to a good afternoon read. What I got instead was a 200-page rant by an author, who seemed to be in an exceptionally bitchy mood. I owe the popularity of the book to the fact that the author chose to write for the whole mass of self-proclaimed Grammar nerds out there who wouldn't want to miss the chance to re-proclaim just how Grammar-nerdy they are, and would hence, buy her book. (Wait. Don't they call themselves "Grammar Nazis" these days?)
The book is pointless.

From all the rave reviews I had read about this book, I expected it to be insightful in either of two ways:
1) It showed the importance of punctuation.
2) It taught punctuation.
However, the book was nothing but a weird mixture of the two. On the one hand, the author made it very clear that she considers punctuation endlessly important, but never mentioned just why it was important in more than two parroted (from other books, writers, grammarians) sentences. On the other hand, the book never fully taught the rules of punctuation, either. It only gave examples of ridiculously funny signs and boards, with all the wrong punctuation marks in all the wrong places; and the author went on to poke fun at the people who might have written them! Her condescending tone and her misplaced self-importance irritated me immensely. You can't blame those who don't know the correct use of punctuation for never having learnt it. You can say that you think they are wrong in assuming that it is unimportant, tell them why you think that, and correct them.

Right from categorizing herself as a case of exceptional genius and stating "While other girls were out shopping and making out, I bought books on grammar." to the constant jabs at grocers and teachers, there were far too many stereotypes for my taste. The author also often mentioned her distaste for people who go out of their way to endorse bad grammar and spelling on the Internet and in text messages, but isn't the lack of good language in the virtual world "old news", so to speak?

Not to mention, in almost each of these so-called jokes, the author ended up throwing in a short explanation, which any true grammar lover would not have needed and which any person who had not understood the joke in the first place would have found too short. It seemed like she was thinking: I should probably explain the joke, just in case some self-proclaimed stickler doesn't understand it, and feeling put down, stops reading my book. That is another reason why I didn't like this book: it's the least honest book I have read in a while.

The book was very disconnected and I had the impression that the author was herself not quite sure what she wanted to say: the parts about the art of punctuation and her general dislike of emoticons seemed abrupt, out of place and frankly, quite unnecessary. The book was, like I said before, a whole big pointless mildly funny rant. Sigh. Those were four hours of my life I'll never get back. If you like grammar or humour of any sort, do yourself a favour and stay as far away from this book as you can.

This might seem like another rant too, which it sort of is. But it's just a bad review on my blog, not a book that claims to be a lot more. If I were to write a book, it would be nothing like this. No. I would never write a book about mistakes, I'd rather be a teacher.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guest Post: Paulette Mahurin (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)

I have had a chance to interact with some really great people in the blogging world and author Paulette Mahurin is one of those.

Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in women's health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs, including UCLA, where she had a Master's Degree in Nursing from their nurse practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is set in a small Nevada town which has just received the news of Oscar Wilde's imprisonment. It is the story of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

All profits go Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a life.

Paulette has agreed to feature here her wonderful article on tolerance.
Go ahead and read it!
_______________________________________________________________

First let me give a big heartfelt thank you to Priya, for asking me back to your great blog site. I’m thrilled to be here with you, my friend, thousands of miles away in geography but close at heart. When I mention this heart connection I think of all the distance that exists between neighbors living next door to each other, or perhaps even in the same home, when they don’t possess this openness of spirit. So Priya, I dedicate this to you, in India, and all our good friends who might stop by to comment, or share, in the name of tolerance, in the name of our hearts opening, that we may know a more harmony in this world.

I write so much about tolerance, the theme of my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, but when I look at it, I don’t even know that I fully understand what it is. Do I really understand the mechanism of bullying another, putting another down because of their nature, the color of their skin, their sexual preference, their religious beliefs, how they dress, you name it, so many possibilities, so many differences that one could pick apart in the other? Am I above all of it because I can talk about tolerance, write about it, or am I just like Jose, the evil antagonist in my story, who finds fault with everything Mildred Dunlap does? I think there’s a little, maybe even a lot, of Josie in all of us. Reminds me of a quote from Jesus, he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone… (John 8:7, New American Standard Bible).

Carl Jung wrote about our dark side, he called it our shadow. Rumi, the poet, wrote that when the totality that I am and my humanness meld, and then I am whole. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj wrote in his epic spiritual prose on non-dualistic existence I Am That, and I paraphrase, “I am the space in which my mind and body live.” Then there’s Krishnamurti who wrote, the thought is not the thing, which is reminiscent of Descartes, I think therefore I am. One of the most fundamental spiritual questions, when in a deep introspective meditation is, who am I?  Masters through the ages have pondered these questions. Joseph Campbell in his famous talks on religion with Bill Moyer, brings up a fundamental fact that what all religions have in common is their mysticism, what Einstein called that point when reality becomes philosophy, the point where nothing can be known.

From the perspective of these brilliant thinkers, past leaders of all religious faiths, people of Letters, of education, and the common man or woman who ponders life and the mysteries that abound; when I look at anything from this perspective I can say for sure that the only truth I can claim for certain is change, that nothing else seems certain but change. What does all this have to do with hatred, intolerance?
If the greatest thinkers, who ever lived, are still alive, and who have yet to be born, can’t answer any of these questions, then how the hell can say we understand a thing about our very nature? If everything is a mystery, from the mystery of the source that creates it all, than how can one thing be bad and another good? How can something different be anything other than simply different? Why is the fact that Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian a bad thing, in the eyes of a homophobic? How come she isn’t just someone different than the person judging? When do we stop seeing differences and see judgments? And, why do we human beings robotically buy into what our parents said, what their parents said, and not learn to use our minds to think things through, instead of our minds dictating irrationality, based on belief, programmed learning, conditioning?

I’m not knocking conditioning; it’s another human facet, trait, but then why can’t I just see it for what it is? Underneath all my thoughts, my thinking, my monkey crazy  mind that goes on automatic habitual thinking, my belief systems, under all this, in that quiet God space where life finds harmony, what is? There’s that quiet ,and yet all the other. Both existing together, both interweaving, erupting, without provocation or cause, just doing its thing.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m human. We all are and we all do this. We judge yet come out with ridiculous statements like, I don’t judge, I’m not judgmental, then we spew out, okay I spew out, things that are so judgmental and when I’m called on it, I defend why I’m not doing it. In writing this book, I saw a lot of this in myself, especially while writing about Josie, the hate filled rumor mongering bitch, who can’t keep her mouth shut, and what comes out of it is ignorant babble. I also see myself in Gus, the voice of tolerance and wisdom, I see how I want to open more, be more accepting, love more, and I also see how that is selfish because in opening I feel better, more alive.

When I started researching my book, the inspiration for the driving force of the story line, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, was always near at heart. He was my reminder, my metaphor, of the injustice of intolerance, all housed in beliefs, in laws, in narrow mindedness, all with roots of hatred for what is, another’s nature, that can no more change than a dog can not wag its tail. If we are to believe that God created all under the heavens and sun, then how could it be that there are creations that just aren’t right, not okay, less than human? Seems to me, this has to stem from some culturally based false belief, that gets passed down lifetimes after lifetimes, so by the time I’m into that belief, it feels real to me. Reality is created by thoughts, beliefs, and world viewpoints. If I think that guy likes me and fantasize over how I know he wants me, a reality is created inside of me. The brain doesn’t really know the difference between a thought and what’s actually happening, it secretes its chemicals, creating emotions, and man that is real. I believe I’m being rejected and it feels bad. That’s real and I’m feeling it.

If I believed Oscar Wilde was evil, or wrong, or acting illegally because he was a Gay man, then my mind is going to work it out to make it seems so. But what about what is accurate? Who among us would want to be prevented from loving? From intimacy, from the one we love? No one. It’s one of the most basic human needs from time and memorial, right along with our need to eat, drink, breathe, and if we had a switch or choice why would we chose devastation, humiliation, labeling that puts us in jail and kills? This has been the debate over sexual preference for decades, is it nature or nurture? The abundant view is nature. And, with this I agree. I agree and feel that Oscar Wilde did what came naturally, and in doing so, acting through what he could no more prevent than can a leaf from taking in carbon dioxide to survive, an ice cube melting in the sun, a fire’s warmth, all things of nature, and so what’s left is my fundamental question, can I tolerate it? Can I accept what is, see my insides resisting and wanting to change it, and breathe in a new possibility, that it is different, and I’m okay with different, because different is not bad, it’s just different. After all, aren’t we all different? 

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ramblings in Ireland by Kerry Dwyer

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

I checked my e-mails this morning as soon as I woke up and found Kerry Dwyer's Ramblings in Ireland in my inbox. I started reading it and just forgot to go to work. So, here I am, writing the review that I promised (this very morning) to post within the next two weeks.


About the book: This is not a book about rambling in Ireland.

It tells the tale of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings it inspired.

Exploring the West of Ireland is a time for meditation, spiritual reflection and strengthening the bonds of life. More practically the ability to read a map might have proved helpful. The tourist office in Ireland has all their paths clearly marked. You can’t go wrong if you follow that little yellow man. Or can you?

As British ex-patriate Kerry Dwyer leads Bertrand, her trusting French husband, astray once more, they reminisce and reflect upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive. Bertrand doesn’t mind getting lost – he loves Kerry all the more for going off the beaten track.

This is a book about ramblings in Ireland. Walk with Kerry and Bertrand and follow where your thoughts lead you.


My thoughts:  I love the way the book is written. The author recreates the atmosphere, talks about the language, the people, the sounds and even the smell of Ireland. The detailed imagery brings the scenes to life! Having been on the road a lot lately, I have come to realize that travelling, for me, is more than just checking ten places off the "To-Visit List". Every place makes me think of different things, every new experience conjures up older memories I didn't even know were there and it is the most exciting feeling! The author has captured this perfectly and I was glad the book was not just about rambling in Ireland; they surely have travel guides for that! Instead of just dumping loads of information about the country on us, the author manages to make the most ordinary things seem fascinating and can weave stories out of thin air! The actual facts about Ireland and the descriptions of the countryside are interspersed with snippets of old conversations, funny anecdotes and obscure memories. I particularly enjoyed reading about the author's experiences teaching English as a foreign language, about her childhood difficulties with accents, about French, English and Irish food and the running gag about her navigational expertise.

I found the book thoroughly engaging, right from from the very first page, when the writer tells us what to expect from the book. The narration has an ease or a flow to it. The book is very interesting, touching and fairly amusing all at once, and I was chuckling to myself throughout. It seems from the style of writing and the pure randomness of the anecdotes that the author wrote the book entirely for herself and that makes the book very genuine. And, being the kind of person who finds it very hard to write without going off on tangents myself, it was easy to relate to her! 

I loved the book. I haven't written "what I didn't like", the way I usually do, because there was nothing I didn't like! I would recommend this book to everyone. In fact, please, go buy your copy right now right here!