Daily Archives: December 21, 2013



Where the heck did 2013 go? Here we are on the cusp of 2014…another new year. And with a new year, comes a time for reflection.

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately. It has grown stale for me. I lack the energy for it I once had. Recently I made the decision to close down The Orange Prize Project and The Notable Books blog. I am also stepping away from the Chunkster Challenge (although the challenge will continue under the leadership of Vasilly). My reading fell drastically in 2013. There was a time that I was reading over 100 books a year. But that has not happened now for two years.

This blog has been a book review blog since 2007. That is a long time to be focused on one area. I don’t intend to stop reviewing books or talking about everything literary. But I will be expanding my scope in 2014 and there will be some big changes in how I do business here.

Perhaps the biggest change is that I will no longer be accepting books for review from publishers, publicists and authors with VERY RARE EXCEPTIONS. I may do a book tour and giveaway from time to time, but I will not be tracking review books every month and scheduling my reads for the most part. I have probably close to 500 to 700 physical books. Maybe more. I haven’t counted them. But what I know is that if books stopped arriving at my house this moment, I would have enough reading material to last a long time.

And all those books? Well, at one time I was excited about each and every one of them. I was dying to read them. But they’ve been gathering dust and cluttering up my space for years…and it is time I started reading them. So my focus will not be on the newest books, but on the books that I already own. Books that arrive unsolicited may be gifted to others, donated to my local library or join my stacks…but I won’t be logging them in my files and scheduling them to read.

I will be keeping my book journals page – I love the literary prizes and will continue to track those and read from those lists as I want. I also enjoy keeping a book journal each year and want to continue to log links to my reviews.

I’m have also deleted my reading challenges page because I am not planning to join challenges. My personal challenge to read books from around the world has been moved to my Projects Page.

Those of you who have stuck with my blog over the last two years have probably noticed I am rather addicted to sewing and quilting. And those posts of my projects will continue. I am planning to update my creative ventures page soon as a way of journaling my creative work.

I also will be posting about a variety of other subjects as inspiration dictates: travel, animals, photography, food, movies, music, etc… All those things that I enjoy as part of my larger life. Because, I am not all about books. I have a lot of interests and I’ll be sharing those as I wish. I won’t promise weekly posts or set memes. Things are going to get looser here. Less stressful. More fun.

I hope you’ll stick with me through this transition. I hope that moving my focus a bit away from books will not disappoint you. But in the long run, this blog began as a personal blog, one where I was free to express myself without rules and schedules. And I think it is time to get back to that…at least for now.


Holy Orders – Book Review

holyordersPerhaps he did not want to be happy. He had little talent for it, that was certain. Besides, happiness was another of those words, like love, the meaning of which he could never quite grasp. He wanted to tell her about his vision of the canal bank in the dark, how all evening since she had arrived he had kept seeing it, and how it filled him with mysterious longing. He wanted to make her understand, too, what a danger he was, what a menace, to those who came near him, who tried to come near him. But then surely she knew that.  -from Holy Orders –

The sixth book in the Quirke series by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) opens with a body floating in a canal in Dublin – what first appears to be a child, but is later identified as someone Quirke knows – a friend of his daughter, Pheobe. The death is ruled a homicide, the victim bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. What begins with a murder investigation, devolves into uncovering corruption in the Catholic Church and forces Quirke to deal with his dark demons from childhood.

Holy Orders is perhaps Black’s most darkly psychological novel to date in this acclaimed series. Finally, readers begin to understand the factors which have made Quirke such a cold, distant and troubled character. Even Pheobe, his damaged daughter, has secrets of her own which surface in this novel about sexual identity, facing one’s mortality, and the power of the Church in 1950’s Dublin.

Quirke is vulnerable in this book – he begin experiencing hallucinations and questions not only his physical health, but his emotional well-being too. But just as the reader begins to hope for resolution, a twist in the story (right at the end) catapults the reader into uncertainty.

This is perhaps my favorite book in the Quirke series to date. Black/Banfield is at his literary best with deeply introspective prose and spot on character development. Holy Orders is haunting and resonates with a sense of doom and catastrophe. Quirke, who has always been the stalwart protagonist, reveals a more vulnerable side to his personality and his very survival feels threatened.

“I might be going away myself,” Quirke said, glancing at the sky.

“Away? Where to?”

He smiled. “Like you, I’m not sure.” -from Holy Orders-

Readers who like their stories tied up with a neat bow at the end, might find themselves a little frustrated with how Black/Banfield wraps this one up. On the other hand, those who love a great series will find themselves anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Highly recommended.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through the Library Thing Early Review Program.