Welcome to my library! We are all readers looking for the next fabulous book. In my search I have found many books that will just knock your socks off. Books that I have to share. So come on in and look around. Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable; gently flip open the pages, the magic is about to begin.

My intentions for this blog are:

1) To have monthly author spotlights in which I will write about the authors themselves and give several reviews of their different books.

2) Biweekly book reviews. I will review one book but also discuss similar books of the same topic. Because one book is never enough.

3) Newbie writer alert will review books of new unheard writers whose work deserves to be heard.

4) I will endeavor to talk about Canadian writers and titles.

Book Hunt section where people can ask about books they would like to read and get suggestions. If you have read a great book that you want to share with someone else, please feel free to leave your comments.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

All About Sisters, Book Review The Last Will of Moira Leahy


Quote of the Week

“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?”
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

Sisters most of us have some.  Love them, hate them; they are the ones that stand by you when the chips are down.  I have been blessed with two sisters.  Younger sisters who stole my clothes, hogged the phone and fought with me tooth and nail through my childhood. I would not change them for the world...well maybe just a little!

For my sisters, Darlene and Jeneffer.

The Review of The Last Will of Moira Leahy 
Therese Walsh

Genre: Suspense, woman’s fiction, mysticism, travel and paranormal elements
Depth: Serious, dealing with grief, learning to remember, forgive and let go  
Topic: The surviving twin’s grief at the loss of her sister, regaining herself
Book complexity: Dual storylines, Dual timelines, several characters
Writing: Fluid, excellent
      Rating: 5 stars. Exceptional book
      Received from: The good old public library

The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a captivating, haunting debut novel by Therese Walsh.  This is a heart wrenching, soul searching story of grief and loss, as the surviving sister, Maeve, tries to reconcile herself to a life without her identical twin, Moira.  Normally at this point I would say what genre this novel would fit into, however; The Last Will of Moira Leahy does not fit into any one specific category.  Walsh wrote this novel much like knitting a multi-coloured sweater.  It is not blue nor red nor purple but a pleasing blend of suspense, woman’s fiction, mysticism, coming-of-age story, romance, a journey and a sprinkling of the paranormal, while exploring the family dynamics of grief, as well as, the actions and reactions of those left behind.  Beautifully written, The Last Will of Moira Leahy will reach in and squeeze your heart.

What makes a novel exceptional is not necessarily the story itself, but the manner and method used to construct the story.  The Last Will of Moira Leahy is written in alternating first person current time and third person back story from 1995 to 2000; two separate story lines that build on each other in momentum and suspense. The pace of the story adds greatly to the suspense as all the right notes are pitch perfect.  Walsh manages with both her lovely writing style and the manner in which she has constructed her novel, to demonstrate how family dynamics both pulls and pushes its members closer and further apart much like magnets as they can simultaneously attract and repulse. 

Maeve’s story is from the first person view point in current time and is gripping in its description of isolation and loneliness, emphasising oneness and being alone.  The reader is confronted with a pervading sadness as we meet this character who is not only separated her friends and family, but, from her true self as well. The Maeve we meet in the beginning of the novel does not stray from routine and has virtually erased herself to the point that she has bleached her once dramatic red hair.  Once a musical protégée, Maeve has suppressed this talent and has been living an isolated life in academia as a professor of languages.  She is haunted by sounds of piano music and dreams of little girls with red hair; Maeve fears for her own sanity.  She quietly keeps these fears to herself.  Maeve attends an auction to distract herself from her tragic memories of November and becomes obsessed with purchasing a Javanese dagger, keris. The keris is very similar to a knife that belonged to her grandfather lost years ago by herself and Moira playing pirate out in the bay in Castine, Maine. Reminded of happier times with Moira, Maeve forcefully bids and successfully purchases the keris.  A note from the previous owner is later found with an invitation to Rome with the incentive to find out more about the meaning behind this specially carved blade.  Completely out of character, Maeve embarks on a on a journey to Rome in search of the origins of the keris, only to be led on a journey of self discovery and healing. 

The back story of Maeve and Moira’s childhood is told from Moira’s point of view, third person set at a distance, emphasising the distance in time and place.  As children Maeve and Moira are extremely close to the point that they feel each others emotions and pains, and even have their own language.  Their mother wants the girls to have separate identities and emphasises the difference between the girls.  Adding stress to family life, the girl’s mother takes on the care of their grandfather after he suffers a stroke.  Maeve becomes the talented fun loving twin and Moira the dependable home body, her mother’s good girl. As the girls enter adolescence, Moira, living in her sister’s shadow, begins to pull away from Maeve in a desperate search for a separate identity and self worth.  Moira’s need to define herself and exert her own will in opposition to the expectations of both her mother and sister comes to a head when both girls become attracted to the same boy.  Moira craves adventure, and, wilfully, embarks on a secret romance.  In doing so she must sever her most intimate relationship with her sister, Maeve.

The threads of the story weave together as Maeve, now in Rome, learns of the magical properties of the keris that mysteriously links to the past she has tried to forget.  Notes are nailed to Maeve’s door with only the Javanese word eling, meaning remember.  Maeve is joined by Noel, a long time friend and not quite yet a boyfriend.  Afraid of becoming too close again to another, Maeve must confront her fears of intimacy as Maeve and Noel together search Rome for the previous, and now, elusive owner of the keris.   More mysterious notes direct Maeve to different locations within the city where she finds painful memories of her tragic past along with the beautiful sites of Rome.  The keris exerting its own will, leads Maeve back to remember and confront her past. Only in her memories of her sister, Moira, can Maeve find the forgiveness she needs to allow herself to let go of this past, and, the will to really live her life.

Even though the reader is well aware that Maeve lost her twin tragically at 16 from the very first page of the story, this is a novel of exquisite suspense as Walsh delivers a well paced story leading the reader irresistibly to the surprising conclusion.  The book was impossible to put down.  Walsh has written a wonderful story of grief and forgiveness, remembering and letting go. We would all be so lucky to have a magic knife or keris fly into our lives to cut through the illusions and delusions in which we surround ourselves, and help us clearly see our selves and those people who are most important to us, and; in doing so, help us find our own truth.  Therese Walsh you are very talented and must write more books.

Highly Recommend.
Sisters and Secrets

Have you noticed that most books that are about sisters are also about secrets.  Sisters keeping secrets from or for each other.  There was  4600 books at my public library on the subject of sisters and at Amazon over 27,000 titles just with sister in the name, never mind the books about sisters that did not get tagged as sisters related.  Why do scary sisters always come in threes?

Books you also may like:

Kate Morton:  House at Riverton- A suspenseful story of sisters of an aristocratic family and secrets concerning the mysterious death during a party in 1924.  The story is told from the point of view of a servant, Grace, working at Riverton House, a large English estate, whose own life is entwined with the family.  Excellent.  

The Distant Hours: Kate Morton third novel is set in an old crumbling country estate, Milderhurst, in which three old sisters have lived their entire lives, full of secrets mysterious deaths.  The beginning of this novel is slow, but builds in momentum and plot.  Excellent

Rachel Hore: A Place of Secrets- Not yet released in Canada or the US, but already a best seller in Britain. I will be doing a complete review soon.  In a nut shell, while performing her job as a auction house appraiser examining the books of an eighteenth century astronomer in northern Norfolk, Jude uncovers the secret writings of a mysterious young girl, and her own family secrets as well.  Very Good

Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry-  Looking for a creepy twin ghost story, look no further, this is the one for you.  Excellent writing and full of twists and turns and of course the setting of the historic Highgate cemetery only adds to the atmospheric setting.

Kimberla Lawson Roby: Secret Obsession- This is sibling rivalry to the ultimate max.  A light quick read about sisters, family dynamics, mental illness and ultimately forgiveness. OK 

Jodi Picoult: My Sisters Keeper-  I only saw the movie but the book is suppose to be even better.  Parents with a daughter suffering from leukaemia genetically engineer a second daughter in order to save the first.  Medical ethics aside, a very dramatic story.  Need Kleenex with this one.

Frances Greenslade:  Shelter- This I had hoped to win in a different book giveaways but now on awaiting list at the library.  Parental abandonment and sisterly responsibilities.  Sounds great. 

Susanna Kearsley: The Rose Garden- Katrina's sister dies and she is given the task of finding the perfect place to scatter her ashes, returning her to where she belongs.  Katrina returns to Cornwall where they spent happy childhood summers and in doing so, confronts ghosts from her own past.  Time travel in this story as well.  Very Good.

The comment box, my personal bane of existence, apparently could only take messages from me alone.  I have now, I hope configured the comment box to take comments from anyone.  These will be screened prior to being posted in the blog.  So, if you want to let me know about a book you have been reading, have a comment about the blog, want a suggest for your next book, or just have the need to write something, feel free.

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