Travel: Ten days in Dublin


Welcome to Ireland!  Have I got a story for you.

I had the opportunity to spend ten days at The Shelbourne, located across the street from St Stephen's Green -  my husband was there on business and I explored just about every crevice of the neighborhood, napped, read books, walked about ten miles a day. 

I like to walk, sit in coffee shops, book stores, and linger on park benches to feel the city.  We had just been in the Rocky Mountains days before flying to Dublin.  It wasn't a planned trip.

In the evenings we ate dinner, listened to local performing in pubs, and on the streets.  We visited museums, rented a car to drive to Northern Ireland, Belfast and enjoyed a day at Ballgally.  A town we stumbled upon that holds a special place in my heart.

Review: The Virgin Cure

Why I picked it: I have been a fan of Ami McKay's since reading The Birth House, it's one of the books I recommend most, to friends and book clubs.

I have been waiting to read another novel from this author for years (The Virgin Cure is McKay's second novel).

Synopsis: The summer Moth turns twelve, her mother puts a halt to her explorations by selling her boots to a local vendor, convinced that Moth was planning to run away. Wanting to make the most of her every asset, she also sells Moth to a wealthy woman as a servant, with no intention of ever seeing her again.

In that world Moth meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as an "infant school." Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth. That's not the worst of the situation, though. In a time and place where mysterious illnesses ravage those who haven't been cautious, no matter their social station, diseased men yearn for a "virgin cure" - thinking that deflowering a "fresh maid" can heal the incurable and tainted.

Type: Historical Fiction

Quick Take: I read this book in one sitting, while flying from NYC to Boulder. When I do this I tend to have a different reading experience, a 'completeness' that I don't get often.

McKay's writing transports the reader, at least this is what happens for me.  I felt the room Moth and her mom lived in, felt the emotions on the page.  I was right there with Moth when she slept on the roof, took a bite of fruit deemed old, the day she met the mistress and realized what her mom did.

I don't want to give anything away but can I say that I loved the mistress' presence throughout the novel.

Historical brilliance with a gripping story!

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review Copy (TLC Book Tours)

Reviews in a flash!

The last few months have been crazy busy!  I realized I read a few books that I didn't review that I read in May/June. 
Gold: I really enjoyed this novel!  I'm not an 'elite' athlete but I train for events like elite's... taking training, nutrition, sleep, goals, etc into consideration.  I loved the cycling part and reading how training intrudes on life, or maybe it's better to say how life intrudes with an Olympian.

In the beginning I was concerned with the Star Wars references but they made sense after a while - a little girl's way to deal with her illness. 

The timing is perfect, with the Olympics less than a month away.  Cleave is a brilliant writer.  I wonder how long I have to wait for his next novel.

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Kate and Zoe met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling—a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.

The First Husband: I read this one in a day, while sitting on the deck enjoying a sunny day.  I'm a fan of Laura Dave so it's no surprise that I liked this book.  A fun summer selection. 

Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: Los Angeles–based travel writer Annie Adams thinks she has it all. Nick, her longtime film director boyfriend, has finally hit the big time, her column is syndicated, and they've got a great dog. Then Nick moves out. Three months later, Annie is married to Griffin, a down-to-earth chef with a restaurant in the Berkshires. When Nick asks for a second chance, Annie is torn between her husband and the man she might have been meant to marry.


The Cost of Hope: I'm a sucker for a memoir.  I enjoy reading other peoples stories, and I'm willing to 'just go with it'.  I know liberties are taken, and that it's one person's view of a situation/event. 

I didn't realize how hard it can be for some to get coverage while ill, or how the healthcare system really works.  This is Terence's story about his illness and the story of the healthcare system, from his wife's experience. It was really interesting.  With the author being an acclaimed reporter, the story may of lacked a bit of the emotional tug that I was looking for but overall I'm happy I read it.

Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: From Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett comes a moving, eye-opening, and beautifully written memoir - The Cost of Hope chronicles the extraordinary measures Amanda and Terence take to preserve not only Terence’s life but also the life of their family. After his death, Bennett uses her skills as a veteran investigative reporter to determine the cost of their mission of hope. What she discovers raises important questions many people face, and vital issues about the intricacies of America’s healthcare system.

Books I can't wait to read!

After a month of light/chicklit... I'm excited to have a stack of literary novels selected for July.  I'm hopeful a few will make my favorite reads list for the year. Fingers crossed! 

I plan to finish Gold today.  Have you read it?  It's filled with elite training and gets in the head of elite/intense athlete's.  This novel reads a lot like Double Fault (Lionel Shriver)... a novel some struggled with due to the amount to tennis lingo (I loved it).

Gold: Kate and Zoe met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling—a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.

I have a lot of travel coming up, do you have any recommendations for me?

Here are the books I have lined up to read in July:

The Virgin Cure: The summer Moth turns twelve, her mother puts a halt to her explorations by selling her boots to a local vendor, convinced that Moth was planning to run away. Wanting to make the most of her every asset, she also sells Moth to a wealthy woman as a servant, with no intention of ever seeing her again. In that world Moth meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as an "infant school." Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth. That's not the worst of the situation, though. In a time and place where mysterious illnesses ravage those who haven't been cautious, no matter their social station, diseased men yearn for a "virgin cure" - thinking that deflowering a "fresh maid" can heal the incurable and tainted.

Yes, Chef: It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.



The Bay of Foxes: In 1978, Dawit, a young, beautiful, and educated Ethiopian refugee, roams the streets of Paris. By chance, he spots the famous French author M., who at sixty is at the height of her fame. Seduced by Dawit's grace and his moving story, M. invites him to live with her. He makes himself indispensable, or so he thinks. When M. brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation—and perfects the art of deception

The Eyes of Lira Kazan: From Lagos to London, by way of the Faroe Islands and St. Petersburg, an investigation turns deadly. The head of the Nigerian fraud squad is evacuated from Lagos by secret service operatives. Meanwhile a junior prosecutor in Nice probes the mysterious death of the wife of a powerful banker and a crusading journalist in St. Petersburg pursues a corrupt oligarch and his criminal business empire.

The paths of all three cross in London, where they find themselves embroiled in violent events obviously linked to financial and political interests and hunted by the oligarch's men, the Western secret services, and goons sent by Nigerian oil magnates.

The Bellwether Revivals: A sophisticated debut novel about the hypnotic influence of love, the beguiling allure of money and the haunting power of music.

A charismatic but troubled musical prodigy, Eden convinces his sister and their close-knit circle of friends to participate in a series of disturbing experiments. Eden believe that music—with his expert genius to guide it—can cure people. As the line between genius and madness begins to blur, however, Oscar fears that it is danger and not healing that awaits them all—but it might be too late. . . .

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