Weekly quote

You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:27-29

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NaNoWriMo

It is already the middle of October, we’re creeping slowly toward Halloween and where has the time gone? Not too long ago I was enjoying the sunshine on Lanzarote and now we are getting ready for winter. My exams are getting closer too, so I have been spending more and more time studying, evidence of which can be seen  by the sparsity of posts on my blog. My apologies for that.

It being the middle of October also means that we are getting closer to November, and to National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. Now I know that a number of my readers and quite a few of the bloggers I follow will be participating in NaNo this year. Also my Twitter account is buzzing with exciting news from the NaNoWriMo organisers as well as the local NaNoWriMo groups I participated in last year. Everyone is plotting or at least thinking of an idea they can develop while writing for those who don’t like to plot.

And me? I am forced to let this year pass by. Three of my sisters who I tried to hard to get to do NaNoWriMo with me last year (one of them did) are doing it this year and I have to stand at the sidelines looking on. I don’t have any ideas, no plots, nothing. Well…maybe a few ideas, but none that are developed at all. Because this year I am forced to concentrate on my studying and my coming exams in May. It seems so far away, but November is going to be busy anyhow. I have a few courses, work will be busy and I have to start studying for the May exam as far in advance as possible as it’s going to be a difficult one.

So I try to shut away my creative spirit for another year. I am not going to torment myself by going to the NaNoWriMo website, or read the forums or anything else. However, I will support and encourage my sisters and follow their progress. I am sure they will do just fine!

Book review – Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn_Colm_ToibinEilis Lacey is living in a small town in Ireland in the 1950s. She lives with her mother and her sister Rose, who basically keeps the family going on her income. Eilis is unable to find work even though she has been studying bookkeeping. When a priest from America visits the town, Rose arranges it so that the priest offers her a job in Brooklyn. Father Flood arranges all the paperwork and a place for Eilis to stay, so she sets off for a new life in America. Initially she is quite homesick, but Father Flood signs her up for some bookkeeping courses and she immerses herself in her job and her work. Soon Eilis has made a happy life for herself, which becomes even happier when she meets, and falls in love with, Tony.

But then disaster strikes back home and Eilis has to travel back to Ireland to be with her family. It is easy for her to fall into the same rhythm of life as before she left and soon her life in America seems like a dream to her. She knows she has to make a choice: her duty to her family in Ireland or her own life and happiness in America.

I had read a lot of really good reviews of this book, so I had high expectations. That is never a good thing for when you are reading a book, but there it was. I did really enjoy reading this book. It was actually quite innocent and sweet and it was a nice look at Ireland in 1950. I liked the character of Eilis and she grew and developed quite nicely. I found the secondary characters a bit flat; no matter how much “screen time” they got, they still felt a little one-dimensional to me.

The end definitely surprised me, so that is a point in the book’s favour. It was the end I had hoped and rooted for, but I did not expect it to happen. It seemed like Colm Toibin was steering into a different direction, so it was nice to be surprised like that. There were some decisions that Eilis made that I thought were a bit hare-brained, but then on further reflection, I guess it was “in character” for her to react the way she did to certain circumstances.

I guess there is not much negative that I can say about the book, because I quite liked it. I can’t say I was ravingly enthusiastic about it either – I guess you can tell. But if you want a light, nice, non-taxing read, then I can definitely recommend this.

Book review – The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

ThePilotsWifeKathryn Lyons is woken up in the middle of one fateful night with the devastating news that her pilot husband Jack has crashed off the coast of Ireland. As she and her daughter Mattie try to cope with their grief, she tries to unravel what really happened on her husband’s last flight. Her quest for answers leads her all the way across the ocean to London where she discovers the shocking truth about her husband’s life and death.

I thought this book was very well written. The shock and grief that Kathryn experiences are expressed so well, the reader experiences it with Kathryn. I felt an enormous sadness when I read especially the first part of the book. It almost felt as if I had lost a loved one. The way Anita Shreve describes her protagonist’s feelings leads me to believe that either she has lost someone close to her herself or she has done tremendous research. Kathryn’s struggle to be an anchor for her daughter while being so adrift herself is very moving and heart breaking.

Fortunately we do not spend the whole book drowned in Kathryn’s grief and misery, that would be exhausting. Anita Shreve takes us back through flashbacks to the time when Jack was still alive, first to the time when Jack and Kathryn meet, and ending not long before Jack’s death. The flashbacks are short and to the point and in no way detract from the story line.

The second half of the book is where Kathryn actively goes in search of answers about her husband’s actions and his life. What she discovers is shocking, but does put a lot of things in perspective for her. I thought that the unravelling of the story was at first surprising, but it felt like a plot line that was a little overdone. It nevertheless is a good way of explaining a number of things, and Anita Shreve does not shirk from making things tough on her characters.

The book ends on a relatively positive note. It is by no means a cookie-cutter happy ending, which I am happy about as that would have ruined the book for me. It was a good read, one that I can recommend if you don’t mind being very sad while you read the first part of the book.