Monday, March 12, 2018

The Confusion of Languages

This is the story of a friendship gone awry, a culture clash, and the heartbreaking reality of unintended consequences. Cassandra and her husband Dan are living in Amman, Jordan, where he is a military officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy. They are childless but have been trying unsuccessfully for years to change that situation, and this has put a strain on their relationship and their interactions with others. Cassie feels unmoored and unloved and without friends. Into the lives of this couple in crisis appear Crick, Margaret, and their infant son Mather. Crick has been newly assigned to the Embassy, and Cassie and Dan are their welcome committee, tasked with helping them acclimate to life in Jordan. Cassie is a strict rule-follower, a no-nonsense person who strives to pass on her knowledge and fears to Margaret. And she is desperate for a friend, someone with whom she can share confidences. Margaret will have none of it. She likes Cassie but is a free spirit, and refuses to adhere to Cassie's (and the Embassy's) warnings about wearing moderate dress, going nowhere on your own, and refraining from talking to men other than her husband. While Dan and Crick are gone on assignment to Italy for several weeks, Margaret chafes at her "cage," and begins exploring Jordan and making Jordanian friends. Cassie's jealousy and her genuine fear for Margaret lead her to take action that ultimately backfires, bringing heartbreak and loss to all of them. Siobhan Fallon is a master at revealing the subtleties and frailties of human behavior. Highly recommended for readers interested in literary fiction, the Middle East, and life in the military.

Kelly Currie

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

    I have often wondered what it would be like to live an immortal life. After reading The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer and now Dara Horn's, Eternal Life, I am certainly glad that I do not. Throughout the book, Dana examines the very essence of life. Dana illustrates the extremes of parental love, and the downfalls of eternal life.

     Rachel Azaria cannot die. She made a vow to forgo physical death to save her son. Rachel will go through hundreds of marriages, and generations of children. She will see them live, and she will see them die. When people start getting suspicious, she throws herself into a fire only to find herself, eighteen years old, in an unknown place just to start all over again.  

     However, she is not alone in this eternal journey, the father of her first son, Elazar, took the same spiritual bargain. Although their relationship is not what I consider healthy, they do love each other profoundly.

As the years progress, so does science, and hiding is not so easy for Rachel and Elazar.  To make matters even more complicated, her granddaughter, Hannah, is a scientist who studies and manipulates DNA. She is on the verge of discovering how to slow down the aging process. Hannah notices that her grandmother is aging phenomenally well, and asks if she could have a sample of her blood. Rachel grows furious at the request, and turns down the offer.  Surreptitiously, Hannah took a strand of Rachel's hair and discovers that Rachel's DNA reveals her at the age of eighteen! Rachel has no choice but to tell Hannah the truth.

All I can say is, after 2,000 years of living, I sympathize with Rachel's desire to finally die. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. It is an exceptional read, and a real page-turner. It had me biting my nails in anticipation.

“the absolute loneliness, the bottomless homesick loneliness of years upon years of lies, the deep cold void of a loneliness no mortal can imagine.”
~Dana Horn, Eternal Life


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hidden Depths

Another very good Vera Stanhope British mystery by Ann Cleeves, this book kept me puzzled to the very end.

We have four male friends who would do "anything" for one another!   We have two very similar murders!  Vera finds herself a bit lost when faced with the two murders.  Both victims are strangled, then placed in water and covered with flowers.   Both victims are young and beautiful, one male/one female.

While investigating the murders, Vera's team discovers some startling secrets among the four close friends, revealing human weakness and compulsions that result in tragic consequences.  

Vera can solve any crime but this one kept her on an uneasy edge. 
Well developed plot.   I'm a big Vera fan!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

If youre a fan of horror, you cant afford to miss out on Paul Tremblays A Head Full of Ghosts. I have been reading horror novels for almost thirty years, and this title stands out as being one of the creepiest books I have ever read.  Using the voice of eight year-old Merry, the novel introduces us to the Barretts, a seemingly all-American family, stretched thin since John Barretts (father) lay-off nearly a year and a half before the events in the book take place. Barely subsisting on Sarah Barretts (mother) income as a bank teller, stress is high, but not unusually so, and the happiness of the family, while a bit frayed around the edges, is apparent. The familys well-being is put under even more strain when Merrys sister, fourteen year-old Marjorie, begins behaving oddly. Merry is the first to notice something isnt quite right with her sister, when the girls storytelling game takes a decidedly darker turn. As Marjories behavior becomes even more erratic and downright horrifying, the family is torn.  John Barrett seeks the help of a supportive priest, father Wanderly, while Sarah prefers to place her hopes for Marjories recovery in the hands of a psychiatrist.  After a terrifying incident, to which Merry is the sole witness, John ignores his wifes wishes and petitions the priest for an exorcism. Father Wanderly invites the attention of a television network, whose coffers finally fill the Barrett pantry for the first time in over a year, and a film crew is brought in to witness Marjories supposed possession and her inevitable, ratings-catching exorcism.  Family and film crew alike will get more than they bargain for by the end of the season.  All through the tale the reader questions whether Marjorie is indeed possessed, putting on a show, or simply suffering from a terrible mental illness.  At a slim 284 pages, with not a wasted word, A Head Full of Ghosts will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.

Jennifer Wilson

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

 It is December 1348, and Devon, England, has been over-run with the plague. Brothers William of Wray and John Beard were walking home to Moreton, trying to stay away from the pestilence by avoiding contact with anything that might carry the disease. Unfortunately, during their travels, William's act of compassion infects both himself and his brother. William insists that he needed to go to Scorhill because he heard a voice, just the day before, that told him in order to save his soul, he needed to go. His brother thought he went mad but knew he had no choice but to go. When the brothers stumbled into a stone circle they were given a choice; they could either go home and spend the last of their days with family, or become healed entirely and live their remaining days in the future. William knew that if he went home to his wife and children they too would get infected--if they hadn't already.  Both decide to take the journey into the future.

    There is a delicious twist to this tale. Each day takes them ninety-nine years into the future. These time-traveling brothers see the year 1447, 1546, 1645, 1744, and 1843. With each time lapse, they are losing traces of everything they once knew and dearly loved. The author, Ian Mortimer, has done a brilliant job depicting humanity at its worst and at its best. An exceptionally written book, I couldn't put it down and was very sad to say goodbye.

"My lady, I have lived many long years and I can tell you that fairness is to society as water is to a duck's back. Society does not change because of fairness: it changes because it sees an advantage."  ~William of Wray
~Dani Green