Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici

Also writes under Eugen O. Chirovici and Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici.
Eugen O. Chirovici had a career in mass-media, running a national daily newspaper and then a TV news channel. He has published over 1,000 articles in Romania and abroad. He currently holds three honorary doctorates (in Economics, Communication & History) and is a member of the Romanian Academy of Science. He is the recipient of several prizes for journalism. He lives in both the UK and New York City.
When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued.
The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder.
One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved.
Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime.
But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.
In his note, the author states “I’ve always thought that after three hundred pages readers should get something more than just finding out who killed Tom, Dick or Harry, no matter how sophisticated and surprising the twists might have been.”
Although the premise of the book – an unfinished manuscript containing an account of an unsolved murder – is intriguing, I’m afraid the book didn’t live up to initial expectations for me. The use of three different narrators and the way in which each witness’s account of the murder and the events leading up to it differed, either because of lapses of memory or deliberate deceit was interesting. It was an interesting attempt, though.
However, I felt that the narrators didn’t come across as sufficiently distinctive. My main reservation about the book, though, was the author’s tendency to include a lot of unnecessary information about minor characters. Did we really need to know about the person one of the narrators sat next to on a plane, the name of a waitress in a restaurant or the details of ex-wives, girlfriends, etc?  I agree that some people are way more observant than others, I for instance am, but when reading a novel that is complex enough this actually starts to annoy.
I wasn’t sure if the author was trying to flesh out the narrators’ back stories or just pad out the book. Although, I think the author was trying to communicate something sophisticated about the unreliability of memory, in the end, unfortunately, I don’t think the book did add up to much more than “who killed Tom, Dick or Harry” with the key piece of information that nailed the killer being a chance remark.  I did want to find out who the killer was and the motive so this kept me reading to the end.
Alas, I won't recommend it for reading to my friends. It is not a bad read, but it suggested so much more than it actually delivered. 2FOXGIVEN

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

She was born in the house where her parents still live in Bedford: her sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at her. As a child Hogan read everything she could lay her hands on: The Moomintrolls, A Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets and gravestones.  Hogan was mad about dogs and horses, but didn't like daddy-long-legs or sugar in her tea.
Ruth Hogan studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College which was brilliant, but then she came home and got a 'proper' job. She worked for ten years in a senior local government position (She was definitely a square peg in a round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage) before a car accident left her unable to work full-time and convinced her to start writing seriously. It was going well, but then in 2012 she got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept her up all night she passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper of Lost Things.
She lives in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner (who has very recently become my husband)  She is a magpie, always collecting treasures, and a huge John Betjeman fan. Her favourite word is 'antimacassar' and she still likes reading gravestones.
A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.
Bone china cup and saucer-Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.
Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancĂ©e, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.
Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.
Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.
As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?
Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.
Set in both London and Brighton this a very sweet read that I couldn't put down since I picked up. It took me a while to write the review, though, because I was constantly re-reading it and trying to sink in all the wisdom and charm it had. It is an intelligent novel, filled with magic and gentleness and speaks of times that are no longer. It was like a throwback of the times when people actually lived, read, loved, breathed at a slower pace. It was a magnificent comic read that I'm sure people will love to get their hands on.
I was especially impressed by the characters: not only were they very vivid and real to me as a reader, but they transported me to a life I would very much wish to be apart of, even the minor once were so full of life that I wished I could pop on the street and say hi!
Ruth Hogan is a true master of the pen, she writes so delicately, her words sweep you of your feet and make you smile with every collocation, with every gap. It was a whimsical experience to have. The Keeper of Lost Things is a very special debut. I often say that every now and again, a book comes along that can make the reader laugh out loud and then cry within just a couple of pages. Well, this novel is exactly that kind of read. I hope all of you who read my humble blog go ahead a read it! The experience is priceless.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam


Is a writer living in Melbourne. He was born and raised by lifelong New Yorkers in Manhattan.
He wrote his first story about a hamster whose family was starving. A lilac bush in bloom saved everyone.
Steven Amsterdam has edited travel guides, designed book jackets, is a psychiatric nurse. Is a palliative care nurse.
'The Easy Way Out is a poignant, sharply funny story that raises questions about life, death, and love, with plenty of heart and dark humour' Louise O'Neill

Evan's job is to help people die. 

Evan is a nurse - a suicide assistant. His job is legal - just. He's the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.
Evan's friends don't know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn't know what he's up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.
As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law - and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes.
From an award-winning author, The Easy Way Out is a brilliantly funny and exquisitely sad novel that gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions each of us may face: would you help someone die?
This was one of the easiest reviews to write for many reasons, but mainly because the novel impresses the reader with ease. From the very first sentence you are hooked and can't wait to get to the end to see how it evolved. Steven Amsterdam is not only a good writer, he’s a Melbourne palliative care nurse, which gives Evan’s voice an authenticity others might not manage. 
Hospital deathbed scenes are meticulously recorded, reports are written and reviewed, assistants are evaluated. The administrative nightmare is such that it would be a brave assistant indeed who tried to speed somebody through the process.
It is a remarkable read in which Amsterdam touches on legal and inheritance issues of the patients who want to opt out, but this really is about Evan and Vivian and how some people decide to stay or go.  A very sensitive topic today, and everyday for that matter. It is a story about the human choice and the freedom to have it... or not. I am not sure whether if any member of my family and friends wants to die I would necessarily be ok with it, but I know that as far as human rights are concerned we have to be allowed to choose whether to fight or not at our own terms.
This is a hard subject for anyone to discuss but must have been more difficult to write about. It is a heart-wrenching, touching,informative and sometimes funny roller coaster ride which is very well written.
he main characters are well-developed and interesting, contemporary themes are explored in-depth, many perspectives are shared; this book has a lot to offer.
Steven Amsterdam has managed to pen a story that is touching, funny, informative, raunchy (in one scene), heart-wrenching and definitely makes you question your own views around the subject. It is up to you to decide whether you can handle the subject yourself. It was a tough one for me. I cried a lot while reading, and my frustration was obvious even to the people observing my while I was reading, BUT  I definitely recommend it for reading. It is profound, genuine and most of all real and important read.