The Chessmen by Peter May

The Chessmen
by
Peter May

Rating:
and 1/2

Rising Celtic rock star Roddy Mackenzie disappeared in the skies more than seventeen years ago. He was never found and presumed dead. The island is therefore stunned when Fin Macleod and Whistler Macaskill discover Roddy’s small aircraft on Lewis Island, submerged for years but laid bare after a wild storm and a fluke bog burst. Roddy’s ID is still in his pocket, but the pilot’s remains are a mere skeleton, revealing little, except for one shocking clue that points to murder. Fin and Whistler stare in disbelief at their close friend’s plane and wonder how Roddy, on the verge of international fame and the leader of their band, wound up at the bottom of a bog.

The Chessmen is the third and final book of Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy, which features ex-Detective Inspector Fin Macleod and is set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. In this book, Fin is living with his schoolyard sweetheart, Marsaili, following the revelation that Fin is the father of her teenage son. But it’s not all good. Fin has tried his best to put a failed marriage and the unsolved hit-and-run death of his young son behind him. But like the ever-changing landscape of the island, Fin’s future will never be certain.

Fin has a new job. He’s been hired to track down salmon poachers at the Red River Estate. Big Kenny Maclean is his boss and he has major beef with Whistler, a notorious poacher. Whistler is also a long-term tenant at Red River, but has never paid rent. What’s worse, Whistler’s wife left him years ago for Kenny, taking their baby girl with her, now part of a custody battle. The complex dynamics between these three men and the history of the ties their ancestors shared provide the backdrop for a story with many crossed alliances.

The title refers to a famous set of chess pieces, originally from Lewis, but on display off-island, as well as a specially commissioned set of three-foot pieces, hand-carved by Whistler, directly related to the problem of Whistler’s unpaid rent.

A sub-plot revolves around the Reverend Donald Murray and events from the second book in which Donald killed a man. He’s been legally cleared, but the church has him on trial for breaking the 6th Commandment.

May switches from present to past and fills in the history of Fin’s days at university. This period explains the relationship between Fin, who hauls equipment for the band, Whistler, Roddy and the other band members, including the beautiful Mairead. Friendship, family, faith and loyalty are prominent themes as clues to Roddy’s murder focus on complicated relationships and romantic rivalries.

I enjoyed reading The Chessmen because of May’s talent for joining plot and landscape in his stories. While the story is very readable, it is not as strong as The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man. Once the murder investigation is underway, the poaching story line disappears. And although the reader learns about the importance of the chess pieces, I thought they would have a more important symbolic role. In addition, after reading two books in the series, I felt betrayed to learn of important new characters from Fin’s childhood that were not introduced until book three.

The book finishes quickly with a wild chase and rushed tie-togethers and although I was glad for some of the endings, I wondered what happened to other unfinished story lines.

All in all, however, The Chessmen is a must-read for those who have read the first two books and I will look for more Peter May books to add to my shelf.


Start from the beginning of The Lewis Trilogy!

Book 1: The Blackhouse


Book 2:  The Lewis Man


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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

The Silent Sister
by
Diane Chamberlain

Rating:

When buried family secrets surface, one thing is certain: once revealed, nothing will be the same. Twenty-five-year-old Riley McPherson has grown up believing her older sister Lisa, a talented violinist, committed suicide when Riley was two and her sister was seventeen. She’d always believed Lisa was depressed and that the pressures of her musical training and performing were what caused her to take her life. But that may not be what happened.

When Riley’s father dies, she returns to New Bern, North Carolina to clear out and sell her childhood home. Her mother died years earlier and now the responsibility is Riley’s. And now the truth lays hidden in her mother and father’s things. Was Riley’s childhood based on a lie? Is Lisa still alive? Riley wants to find out.

Her brother Danny doesn’t care and he won’t help. He’s bitter enough about being brought up in a family that tried to erase their memories of what happened. Without Danny, she feels completely alone and overwhelmed by the task. And she feels both hopeful and betrayed to think Lisa may be alive but left them all to start a new life. How she longs for someone to call family!

Diane Chamberlain has written an interesting story that is part mystery and part psychological study about the rippling effects of family members’ decisions to do what seems best at the time. Told partly from Riley’s point of view and later alternating with Lisa’s story, it’s a clever way to show the two women’s thoughts as they face different challenges. As Riley finds answers and new secrets, she must ask herself how far she should go to learn the truth.

The Silent Sister is an easy and entertaining read and, although the topic is serious, the story is light and somewhat unrealistic, yet predictable in its telling. Chamberlain’s characters are simple and stereotyped, but I enjoyed reading about them and felt happy for Riley as she adjusted to her newly-defined family.

I recommend The Silent Sister to readers who like family stories and are looking for a light and entertaining reading escape.

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Books, Books, Books: What Have You Read, What Have You Written?

So thrilled to see A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn included in Carrie’s reading list!

Carrie Rubin

There are so many books out there.

So.

Many.

Books.

I barely graze the traditionally published books I’d like to read let alone the indie/small press ones.

But I do my best, because there are a lot of gems out there, including in genres I never thought I’d be reading.

For example, my latest (in no particular order):

Indie/Small Press

📚A haunting dystopian thriller about a feline “Kat” colony: Paw: Book 1: The Bastis Archives by L.E. Henderson

📚A psychological thriller in which a son holds his mother at gunpoint: What Remains Unsaid by Audrey Kalman

📚A memoir by a 91-year-old man: A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn

📚A historical, supernatural western: Panama by C.S. Boyack

📚A military thriller: Twenty-Four Days by J. Murray

📚A poetry/flash prose collection that tells the stories of ancestors: Kin Types by Luanne Castle

📚A swashbuckling, adventure fantasy: Gift of Chance (The Nagaro Chronicle…

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The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant
by
Chris Bohjalian

Rating:

What’s the best thing to do when you wake up after a night of heavy drinking and discover you are in bed with a man who has been brutally murdered? Flight attendant Cassie Bowden doesn’t remember much about her night in the lavish Royal Phoenician hotel in Dubai, but even in a blackout, she can’t believe she could have slashed Alexander Sokolov’s throat. Head pounding, she has no time to think. In a moment of self-preservation, she follows her instinct to get out fast. Can she get back to New York before the maid service discovers Sokolov’s body? Will the authorities trace his death to Cassie?

In or out of the country, Cassie has big problems, ranging from years of drinking to the present problem of running from a murder scene in a foreign country. She may have believed Sokolov was just another friendly hookup, but there is much beneath the surface. Spies, international intrigue and a mysterious woman named Miranda enrich an already exciting plot. As the authorities zero in on her, Cassie’s reckless and drunken behavior only dig her deeper into trouble. Old friends, coworkers, family and new one-nighters keep the reader guessing who’s really on Cassie’s side and, as the bad characters emerge, one thing becomes clear:  her life is in danger.

I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting and modern story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and in which bad judgment gets mixed up with dangerous characters. In addition, readers will appreciate the way Bohjalian adds many references to literature, rounding out his characters and enhancing the story’s themes. Relationships gone bad is one of his primary themes, as Cassie tries to reconcile her father’s alcoholism and the mysterious Miranda struggles to understand her own father.

Careful reading at certain points is required for some of the more complicated plot developments, but the reader is always rewarded with helpful summaries.

The story drives through a nail-biting confrontation between its players and concludes with a satisfying wrap-up. I recommend The Flight Attendant to readers who enjoy suspense and studies of human relationships.

I received an ARC of The Flight Attendant from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Brigid P. Gallagher

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Brigid P. Gallagher

Genre:  Memoir

Book:  Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow

Bio:  Brigid was a natural medicines therapist and teacher for 20 years. She facilitated classes for community projects, prisons, and women’s groups in Scotland and Ireland, including self-healing classes for Stirling University Open Studies and Summer Schools from 1993 to 1999. In 1999, she relocated to Donegal, Ireland the home of her ancestors. Brigid succumbed to a mystery illness in 2003 that was eventually diagnosed as fibromyalgia. She retrained in organic horticulture and taught this subject in schools until recently.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I write about the topics I love, and hope to inspire others on their self-healing journey.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Marketing and book promotion.

Favorite bookThe Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Contact Informationwatchingthedaisies.com

Awards/special recognition:  Blog shortlisted in 2016 Ireland Blog Awards


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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The Age of Innocence – the 1993 film

I can’t resist comparing a movie to the original book, can you? And this week I watched the 1993 adaptation of The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book, which was first published in 1920.

The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Ellen Olenska and Wynona Ryder as May Welland.  Like the book, the movie portrays a period of time on the verge of change and in which the New York upper class clings to appearances, convention and the subtle, but highly important details that define them.

The story revolves around Newland Archer, his wife May Welland and May’s cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has just returned from Europe after a disastrous marriage. 1870s sparks fly between Newland and Ellen and the families use their powerful influence to avoid scandal, thwart the romance and save May’s marriage. This is a world in which the power of wealth depends on appearances and good manners.

I enjoyed watching this movie, which has beautiful costumes. It’s no surprise that the film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Equally impressive is the great attention to detail inside these upper class New York homes:  the paintings, décor and dainty food served on beautiful china, depicted in almost every scene.

While the movie is very true to the book and gives a great visual of the characters and elite society, I thought that the rest of the film was, uh, a bit slow. Muted and subtle dialogue may be out of style for modern movie goers, where instant gratification, special effects and constant excitement make up the formula for today’s films. That makes this movie a little dated.

On the up side, Wynona Ryder’s excellent portrayal of May Welland earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. It was well-deserved:  I could see a knowing calculation in Ryder’s face in one of the most important scenes of the story, in which she reveals her pregnancy to Newland.

I recommend the film to fans of romantic period pieces, a nice movie for a rainy Sunday.

I read The Age of Innocence as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book that was made into a movie.

What are your favorite book-to-movie combos?

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Five books to keep me busy

Did you know that today is National Read a Book Day? Well that’s good news because my reading binge is about to begin! I have three NetGalley books to read and two book club titles on the list. No need to procrastinate because they all look good to me!

Here’s what’s in line:


Bunny Mellon – The Life of an American Style Legend by Meryl Gordon –

NetGalley Description

“A new biography of Bunny Mellon, the style icon and American aristocrat who designed the White House Rose Garden for her friend JFK and served as a living witness to 20th Century American history, operating in the high-level arenas of politics, diplomacy, art and fashion.

Bunny Mellon, who died in 2014 at age 103, was press-shy during her lifetime. With the co-operation of Bunny Mellon’s family, author Meryl Gordon received access to thousands of pages of her letters, diaries and appointment calendars and has interviewed more than 175 people to capture the spirit of this talented American original.”


The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Excerpts from NetGalley Description

“From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, a powerful story about the ways an entire life can change in one night: A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened.

Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.”


The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

Excerpts from NetGalley Description

“Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…”


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

September choice by my book club friend for this month’s literary gab fest!

Excerpt from Amazon description:

“Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. It was a belief that helped shape her own childhood and that of her brother. It shaped her view of her family and their dynamics. It influenced her entire life. Now, more than twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina, cleaning out his house when she finds evidence that what she has always believed is not the truth. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity…”


The Chessmen by Peter May

Book 3 of The Lewis Trilogy and September choice for my library mystery book club. Books 1 and 2 were great so I’m looking forward to this one!

Excerpt from Amazon description:

“Living again of the Isle of Lewis, ex-Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is working as a security officer for a local landowner. While investigating illegal activity on the estate Fin encounters the elusive poacher and former childhood friend, and bandmate, Whistler Macaskill.

When Fin catches up with Whistler among the windswept hills of the estate, the two witness a freak natural phenomenon–a bog burst–which drains a loch of all its water in a flash, revealing a mud-encased light aircraft with a sickeningly familiar moniker on its side…”


Will you be reading a book tonight? What’s on your September reading list?

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NetGalley – so many more books to read and review!

I’m excited to be a new member of NetGalley and I’m looking forward to reading something so brand new it’s not even on the shelves. I already feel like an insider!

I will learn over time what works best for me, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear tips and comments from other NetGalley members.

  • How often do you read titles from NetGalley?
  • What devices do you read your NetGalley books on?
  • Do you still read books that have already been published?
  • Do you interact on NetGalley with other reviewers?
  • Has a NetGalley membership broadened your blogging community?

Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

Who’s That Indie Author? Robert L. Ruisi

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Robert L. Ruisi

Genre:  nonfiction, fiction, children’s and adult

BooksTurning Point – A Pathway out of the Fog of Alzheimer’s, The Hitchhiker, The Unknown Stories, The Green Book

             

Bio: I did not start writing stories until I became ill with Alzheimer’s disease. I am not sure what it was, a need to write my memoirs or just the way the disease struck me, but I was on fire writing stories and ended up writing about 70 short stories. The stories were mostly about childhood and then, as things changed, I was writing more adult until I wrote Turning Point – A Pathway out of the Fog of Alzheimer’s, my next to last book. I am grateful and feel blessed. I have had one doctor hold up my book stating that it is a “must read,” and another doctor verified I’ve beaten the disease!

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I have expressed myself in many ways music, art, designing of costume jewelry and clothing and now writing. I fully enjoy the freedom of expression that writing offers.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  As an indie author trying to get the word out about your newest book can be a daunting task. Marketing is the make or break it for any indie author.

Favorite booksThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Contact Information:
Facebook:  @hope4AlzheimersDisease
Facebook:  Robert L Ruisi
I am available for speaking engagements:  (732) 343-4571


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – how many have you read?

Someday I’d like to say I have read all the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. I took a look at the all-time list, and discovered I have a long way to go!

2017:  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

2016:  The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

2015:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (read and reviewed)

2014:  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2013:  The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

2012:  No award

2011:  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

2010:  Tinkers by Paul Harding

2009:  Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (read and reviewed)

2008:  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2007:  The Road by Cormac McCarthy (read and reviewed)

2006:  March by Geraldine Brooks

2005:  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

2004:  The Known World by Edward P. Jones

2003:  Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (read but not reviewed)

2002:  Empire Falls by Richard Russo (read and reviewed)

2001:  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

2000:  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

1999:  The Hours by Michael Cunningham (read but not reviewed)

1998:  American Pastoral by Philip Roth

1997:  Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

1996:  Independence Day by Richard Ford

1995:  The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1994:  The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (read but not reviewed)

1993:  A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

1992:  A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

1991:  Rabbit At Rest by John Updike

1990:  The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

1989:  Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

1988:  Beloved by Toni Morrison (read but not reviewed)

1987:  A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

1986:  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

1985:  Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

1984:  Ironweed by William Kennedy

1983:  The Color Purple by Alice Walker (read but not reviewed)

1982:  Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

1981:  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

1980:  The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

1979:  The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

1978:  Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson

1977:  No award

1976:  Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

1975:  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

1974:  No award

1973:  The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty (read but not reviewed) 

1972:  Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

1971:  No award

1970:  Collected Stories by Jean Stafford

1969:  House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

1968:  The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

1967:  The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

1966:  Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter

1965:  The Keepers Of The House by Shirley Ann Grau

1964:  No award

1963:  The Reivers by William Faulkner

1962:  The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor

1961:  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read and reviewed)

1960:  Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

1959:  The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor

1958:  A Death In The Family by James Agee

1957:  No award

1956:  Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor

1955:  A Fable by William Faulkner

1954:  No award

1953:  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (read and reviewed)

1952:  The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

1951:  The Town by Conrad Richter

1950:  The Way West by A. B. Guthrie

1949:  Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens

1948:  Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener


Note – prior to 1948, the awards were split between Novel and Drama. The following winners are from the Novel category


1947:  All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

1946:  No award

1945:  A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

1944:  Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin

1943:  Dragon’s Teeth by Upton Sinclair

1942:  In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow

1941:  No award

1940:  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (read and reviewed)

1939:  The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (read but not reviewed)

1938:  The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand

1937:  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (read and reviewed)

1936:  Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis

1935:  Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson

1934:  Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

1933:  The Store by T. S. Stribling

1932:  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (read but not reviewed)

1931:  Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes

1930:  Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge

1929:  Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin

1928:  The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

1927:  Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield

1926:  Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

1925:  So Big by Edna Ferber

1924:  The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson

1923:  One of Ours by Willa Cather

1922:  Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

1921:  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (read and reviewed)

1920:  No award

1919:  The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

1918:  His Family by Ernest Poole


To reward you for making it to the bottom of this list, here are a few facts about the Pulitzer Prizes!

  • The Pulitzer prizes were established in 1917 to recognize outstanding journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music and drama.
  • There are twenty-one award categories. Only United States citizens are eligible to apply for the prize in Letters, Drama and Music, except for the History category of Letters, in which the book must be about the United States, but the author may be of any nationality.
  • John F. Kennedy has been the only President to receive the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the prize in 1957 for his biography, Profiles in Courage.
  • And for all those self-published and indie authors: Self-published books are eligible for the prize, but they must be available in print!
Image: Wikipedia

Click here to visit an earlier post with interesting facts about the man behind it all, famous newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.

Visit pulitzer.org to learn more about the Pulitzer Prizes.

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