Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Folly woodwork

In the story of Folly Rae Newborn is a woodworker who creates amazing furniture and tables out of otherwise useless stumps of wood. While browsing through an outdoor art festival this past weekend, I came upon a couple of pieces that reminded me of this.

The top one is a coffee table made of glass put on a stump, and the second picture, is a decorative fountain/table, again, made of a stump and glass. I couldn't help but think of Rae when I saw these.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Folly by Laurie R. King

In reading Folly, I've had one prominent thought...that Laurie R. King is a master of what she does. She is definitely the cream of the crop.
Rae Newborn has a hard history full of mental illness, she sees people that aren't there...hears noises that aren't being made, and losing her much adored husband and young daughter in a tragic accident has done nothing but agitate her already fragile state of mind. To make things worse, she was physically attacked not long after the loss of her family, and the attackers are still out there. In an effort to regain control and sanity, Rae decides to move to an island and rebuild a house once owned and built by her great uncle. She hopes to use the solitude and silence to do what years of therapy and medication have not succeeded in doing. After her estranged daughter and granddaughter drop her off on her new residence, she contemplates the odd silence.
Silence was not an absence of noise, it was an actual thing, a creature with weight and bulk. The stillness felt her presence and gathered close against her, slowly at first but inexorably, until Rae found herself bracing her knees and swaying with the burden. It felt like a shroud, like the sodden sheets they used to bind around out-of-control mental patients. She stood alone on the shore, head bowed, as if the gray sky had opened to give forth a viscous and invisible stream of quiet. It poured across her scalp and down her skin, pooling around her feet, spreading across the rocks and the bleached driftwood, oozing its way into the salt-stunted weeds farther up the bank and the shrubs with their traces of spring green, then fingering the shaggy trunks of the fragrant cedars and bright madrones until it reached the derelict foundation on which fifty-two-year-old Rae Newborn would build her house, that brush-deep, moss-soft, foursquare, twin-towered stone skeleton that had held out against storm and fire and the thin ravages of time, waiting seventy years for this woman to raise its walls again.

With "the watchers" she feels making the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, Rae gets to work, always wondering "are they real?". Did she really hear a twig crack on the ground? She doesn't believe so, until she notices what might be a mysterious footprint where there should be nothing but water and sand. And, as the house builder continues in her work, other subtle inconsistencies begin appearing. Did she put her tools in the tool box in the wrong place? Has someone gone through the things in her tent? Rae isn't sure, but when the sheriff stops by to tell her her attackers were paid by someone unknown to make her think she was imagining things, and someone has been calling around the island looking for her, she starts to wonder if maybe the things she's imagined were real after all.

The prose reads as if another person is watching Rae and narrating what she is thinking and doing. The characters are human, with anger, regret, happiness and dreams. The pace is slow but never sluggish or dragging. It's a story to get engrossed in and one that makes you want to be a part of, if for nothing else, for the almost magical quality of the redemption it brings.


Friday, October 22, 2010

A good cause

I wanted to throw this on here for anyone that might be interested. Declan Burke will have a new book coming out soon, and the profits are to be donated to the children's wing of an hospital to help offset the government's lack of concern in helping the little people. If you have an interest in Irish fiction, or even if you don't, check it out. It promises to be a good read, and it's for a good cause.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Collusion by Stuart Neville

There are so many different places to start when writing a review of Stuart Neville's Collusion, that I'm really not sure where to begin. The story is intriguing and gripping, with several threads coming together from different directions, and, involving complex characters that were, in most cases agathokakological, (there's a word for you Seana). It was a novel very hard to put down and I hated to do so.

Detective Inspector Jack Lennon is a cop put on busy work duty for being a bit too scrupulous. When the men that he is watching get in a fight, and one stabs the other, Jack stumbles on a cover up that goes deep, and puts his ex-wife, Marie, and young daughter, Ellen, in danger.

Gerry Fagen is a madmen with a hard past full of ghosts, murder, and attempted redemption. He has moved to New York to try to restart his life in anonymity. That doesn't last long however, and soon, the powers that be are again trying to get Gerry to do their dirty work. However, the only dirty work Gerry plans to do is to protect Marie and Ellen at all cost if and when they call.

Marie and Ellen were once in the middle of a violent battle when they were used as bait by Bull O'Kane to trap Gerry. They have again found themselves in the same position as someone is trying to capture them to once again have a go at Gerry.

"The Traveler" is an obdurate man hired to permanently clean up a mess certain very powerful people don't want made public. He has no compunction with killing, and in fact is looking forward to the challenge he's hoping Fagen will bring him.

It's a tale of revenge, with collusion and betrayal at the heart of the story when all of these players come together in hopes of getting what they want, but the real question is, which ones will survive.

Collusion is the sequel to Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast, and I do recommend reading it first as it gives you a much better idea of the history and where the characters are coming from. It's been awhile since I read The Ghosts of Belfast and I admit to having a few problems. None the less, I enjoyed Collusion quite a bit and I hope to see more from Mr. Neville soon.

The Ghosts of Belfast


Currently reading, and enjoying, Folly by Laurie R. King.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lauren Willig's The History of the Pink Carnation

My thoughts on The History of the Pink Carnation are a bit desultory. I feel as though as soon as I form one opinion, another thought forms, possibly even a contradictory one. The main frustration that strikes me is that although I did enjoy the characters overall, they were a bit daft and I did find myself perplexed, at times, at their lack of figuring obvious things out. I also found some of her...descriptions were a bit overboard. Overall, however I did enjoy the story, and I do look forward to seeing where the author takes the characters in future novels.

The History of the Pink Carnation begins with Eloise Kelly - a young historian writing her dissertation - traveling through England on the tube to meet an ancestor of Lord Richard Selwick, otherwise known as the Purple Gentian and friend and one time sidekick to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Eloise is hoping Mrs. Selwick-alderly has some information that will uncover the true identity of the Pink Carnation, which has never been revealed. Gold is struck when the historian not only finds there is information, but a whole chest of diaries and manuscripts waiting to be read. With permission, Eloise immerses herself in the documents and gets lost in a story of love, dissembling, and espionage in the midst of handling life in the real world.

For those that enjoy the genre of historical romance, this is an agreeable story. Although, I did find it quite unbelievable, and the characters unrealistic, especially in a sense of propriety, I was also regaled by the amusive tone of the narration and the overall enjoyment of reading of that time period.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tishomingo blues by Elmore Leonard

In Tishomingo Blues, Elmore Leonard weaves a web of lies, deception and half truths unraveled in the midst of a war reenactment. Up until the plan plays out, you really aren't sure which strings the proverbial puppeteer is going to pull. This story definitely wasn't the typical procedural crime novel we hear so much about. There is no "who done it?" or figuring out how or why, it is simply what's truth and what isn't - untangling the web.

Dennis Lenahan is a professional high diver that stumbles into a tight predicament. One afternoon while he is preforming at a casino, he unwittingly witnesses a murder, and only manages to avoid his own murder with the help of a narcissistic mutual friend who assures the shooters of Dennis' silence. As Dennis is walking away from the scene, thinking no one knew he was there, he runs into Robert Taylor, another witness with a plan of his own. Robert tells Dennis he can help him stay alive, but soon Dennis will have to decide where his life is going. He is at a crossroads, and he can stay on the path he's on, or help Robert to get what he wants, and have everything he's ever wanted as a result. But, what does Robert want? That's something that Dennis can only hope to discover before it is too late.

The story is interesting and it moves well, and putting the tangled web of lies and deception in the middle of a war reenactment was an intriguing idea. I enjoyed the, to me anyway, original idea, and I hope to find more books by Mr. Leonard.

Tishomingo blues