Recommended Reads: The Spinning Heart

I don’t typically read literary fiction unless a class requires it. The stakes never seem high enough, the characters don’t interest me, and I get to the end of each page wondering why I should go on to the next.

You’d think I’d be just as unfazed by The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan–I don’t know anything about contemporary Ireland, or the financial collapse of the country. I’m also not familiar with Irish vernacular. How could I possibly read this book?

Each chapter puts us into the mind of a different character, slowly widening our view of how each person contributed to each other’s misery. A mother loves one child more than the other; that child grows into the most detestable boss; that boss hires the man everyone wishes they were; it never ends. And that’s what sets it apart from others in the genre. It reads more like a thriller.

Plenty of characters think about killing those who have sleighted them, and their violent daydreams are chilling. One moment Trevor talks about painting a woman’s window sills, the next he’s envisioning plunging his screwdriver into her eye. And then he wants the public to believe his mother is a witch so they won’t arrest him for murdering her.

Each chapter is full of wonderful things like that–things you might consider too exciting to exist in literary fiction. Maybe this book is too exciting for the genre. Or maybe I just haven’t read much literary fiction that I’ve enjoyed. Whatever the case may be, this book is well worth the read. It’s also the first book to bear my official stamp of approval!

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Recommended Reads: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

Here is a book I happened upon, read a few pages, then bought and thoroughly enjoyed. This is the first steampunk novel I’ve ever read, so I’m not sure how it compares in its field, but it has been nominated for Steamcon’s 2011 Airship Awards, according to the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences webpage.

This has easily become one of my favorite books, and as soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to start all over again.

Agent Eliza D. Braun is lovely, witty, and prefers dynamite to reinforcements as she works as a field agent for Her Majesty’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Once being assigned to assist Archivist Agent Wellington Thornhill Books in the Ministry’s vast archives, she finds herself itching to return to the field.

Wellington, on the other hand, is a reserved gentleman who previously organized all the cold case files in the archives single handedly. When Eliza’s curiosity and restlessness prompts her to investigate an unresolved case that belonged to her former partner, Wellington finds himself joining her dangerous investigation–without the rest of the Ministry knowing.

I fell in love with each of the characters, and I can’t wait for the next book and the next mystery. The story pulled me along and I could not stop turning the pages. (I even brought it to work with me to read on break.) Aside from telling a spectacular story, this book made me think of some areas of my own writing that could use some refining.

I would definitly say go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a copy. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think!