I was provided a complimentary copy of this soon-to-be published book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Awaken A New Myth: Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey Author: Karen La Puma To be published: Soul Source (10 Jan 2018) Format: Paperback Pages: 204 Genre: Non-Fiction – Spiritual
What’s it about?
“Awaken a New Myth” is the first of 10 spiritual books (A Toolkit of Awakening Series) Karen La Puma has written after nearly 3 decades as an astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master and spiritual counsellor.
Weaving the work of Carl Jung, particularly of the Collective Unconscious and archetypes, and Joseph Campbell, in his mythological exploration of the hero’s journey, Karen La Puma proposes a new way of being.
“Awaken a New Myth” entreats readers to discover our light, to have courage to take this journey of discovery. It is premised on our belonging together as a greater Whole. The book is divided into 4 parts (Overviewing the Journey, Answering the Call, Appreciating the Positive and Discovering Purposeful Living) which mirrors the 12 stages of Joseph Campbell’s mythic structure of the Hero’s journey, the journey though taken embodied as the Warrior Goddess.
The abstract language La Puma used can be inaccessible to readers new to the spiritual path, predominantly undefined terms except for the Glossary towards the end.
The use of italicized words and capitalized abstract nouns (eg. Archetypes, Source, Essence, True Nature, Love, Divine, Being) are distracting and confusing, as I attempted to fully grasp their meaning as La Puma intended them. Perhaps it is La Puma’s intention to leave her message abstract and open to her readers’ subjective interpretation?
Awaken a New Myth is a book of ideas, rather than a theoretical exposition. It is a book with heart, and to engage the mind, greater depth is required. Nevertheless, La Puma puts forth her model of the “Goddess Warrior Magnetically Creating the Hero’s Journey” as the “answer for these quickening times, because we now have the ability, the map, and the keys to awaken and co-create a better world”.
Despite the language perhaps more suited to those already on spiritual and mythical paths, the message is a call to live authentically with a willingness to step up to our best self.
As a self-help book, Awaken a New Myth poses many reflective questions to guide readers on the Warrior Goddess’ Hero Journey which readers dedicated to the practice will find insightful answers, and for whom this resonates, a new way of being.
The sub-title “A Brief History of Tomorrow” caught my attention, and as my daughter said, “of course! You are a nerd”. 🙂
Title: Homo Deus: Brief History of Tomorrow Author: Yuval Noah Harari Publishers: Vintage Arrow (3 April 2017) Format: Paperback Pages: 400 pages Genre: Non-Fiction – Literary
What’s it about?
What is the meaning of life?
What is the purpose of life?
What compels human evolution?
What motivates human society?
What is the future of humankind?
Yuval Noah Harari attempts to answer these questions and provides, as indicated in the sub-title, a possible future based on human history. It is a book about an apocalyptic future in which technology plays a major role.
Harari is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose widely-acclaimed 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” plotted the history of human activity. “Homo Deus” (literal translation to Latin, man-god) is thus a sequel, if you like, to “Sapiens” in charting what the future will hold.
Harari is quick to qualify his hypotheses, that should this book enlightens and thus changes the future away from the trajectory which he predicts then he has done his job. Ominous, doesn’t it?
It is Harari’s proposition that for this century, humans’ search for meaning will be directed at playing God – to create new life forms and as intelligent designers of our own Utopia – that is to achieve bliss, immortality and divinity. This is contrasted with historical human activity geared towards merely meeting our basic needs of overcoming sickness, hunger and war.
“The entire contract [between humans and modernity] can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.” And for this, there will be a price to pay.
Against the backdrop of rapid technological advancement, Harari suggests we will live in the age of data-ism, in which our faith in data and algorithms will be sacrosanct, as our faith in God was. And with the accelerating rise of technology and machines, long-term future is not imaginable nor predictable. Thus, his initial qualification.
The book does not envisage the end of humanity, rather humanity as we know it. It perhaps serves as a warning against mindless and unconscious reliance on technology and data, and it begs the question: which would you choose – consciousness or intelligence?
And let me end with this – quoting Harari:
The rise of AI and technology will certainly transform the world, but it does not mandate a single deterministic outcome. All the scenarios outlined in this book should be understood as possibilities rather than prophecies. If you don’t like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materialising.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, especially to readers interested in alternate or different perspectives, and willing to explore diverse conceptions of human civilisation.
I wasn’t sure what I would find – a good reason to read any book 🙂 . And then I cried. Not to worry, you may not as the propensity to break into tears is subjective.
Title: Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. Author: Brene Brown Publishers: Penguin Random House UK (Sept 12, 2017) Format: Paperback Pages: 194 Genre: Non-Fiction – Spiritual
What’s it about?
You would be certified as having lived under a rock if you have not heard the name “Brene Brown” – a research professor at the University of Houston, Texas and author of numerous bestselling books. Her TED talk “The power of vulnerability” is a must-watch.
“Braving the Wilderness” is Brene Brown’s latest book investigating the landscape of connection and belonging in our human experience. To what or whom do we belong? What is true belonging? Why is connection necessary? The sub-title “The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone” gives away the premise of the book – that it is takes courage and we must stand alone to belong.
As with the saying, you cannot truly love others until you truly love yourself, the same applies to true belonging. Brene Brown calls this “belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone”, “a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching”. Supported by immense research data, anecdotal ad personal stories, “Braving the Wilderness” posits that until we brave this wilderness, we cannot arrive at true connection with and belonging to the world.
This is a deceptively simple book to read, using inclusive language that connects and in her own voice, Brene Brown provides a blueprint, practice she calls it, contained in the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G. to traverse this wilderness.
This book open doors to greater insights, and a lover of alternate perspectives in particular will love this book.
Speaking her truth and giving readers the space to find theirs, this book is not a self-help book. Rather it is a book encouraging us to think for ourselves, to be ourselves, to embrace the humanity within us, in these times of polarised opinions and dysfunctional connections. It urges its readers to find their own wilderness, though “the price may be high, the reward is great”.
Would I recommend it?
Though as I said you may not cry, this book is sure to spark a recognition within you, a truth which will cause you to explore the life you live. Approach with curiosity.
Wow! This was an amazing read. It’s hard to write up a brief summary of what this book is about because there was so much going on. It opens with bodies falling, bullets flying and it doesn’t stop there. I’ve read a lot of science fiction novels and I have to say this is one of my favorites. So much blood was shed during the course of this book as the world of Frihet rebelled against Earth. Earth’s only chance for victory is the alien ship Spearhead, run by Joniskyredread, a Sklalen, who we refer to simply as Jon, and his human friend, Bryant Johnson.
There are a lot of characters throughout this book and they all seem to pop out from the pages. There are obvious evil ones, good ones and the ones we don’t know whether or not we can trust. No matter which side they’re on, the characters are to be remembered. In reference to Jon, though, I sometimes had a hard time keeping in mind that he was an alien. We’re reminded of his gray skin now and again; however, being referred to as Jon throughout most of the book just made him seem human.
The writing was tight and well done. I almost heard the war going on within the safety of my own home. My biggest issue was the POV. I noticed it especially toward the ending that we’re in one character’s POV and suddenly we know what the other is thinking or feeling. I don’t think it happened too often earlier on but it’s possible I overlooked it because I was too engrossed in the tale. It’s also possible it was meant to be that way in order to help the speedy pace. Either way, I prefer to focus on one person’s mind. Additionally, what really gnawed at me were the use of characters’ thoughts. I like it when authors italicize the thinking so it’s kept separate from the narration. This author didn’t do that. There were a lot of times when it’s a lone sentence in a paragraph, making it first person. After that one sentence, the narration would continue a new paragraph in its usual third person, until a short paragraph later, it’s back with a lone sentence in the first. It just struck me as awkward. But still, I rate this book as amazing. I feel any science fiction fan or any war lovers would enjoy this book. It’s a thrill ride you need to buckle up for.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Born in 1959 and getting older by the hour, Neil Davies writes Horror and Science Fiction. When not writing books, he likes to write and record music with his son, as The 1850 Project, and paint. His favourite authors are, in no particular order, Richard Laymon, Steve Gerlach, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, H Rider Haggard, Guy N Smith, H G Wells, Bram Stoker, Dennis Wheatley, Connie Willis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Graham Masterton, Sax Rohmer… with more being added all the time. His favourite musicians include Nightwish, Nils Lofgren, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix, My Chemical Romance, King Crimson, Yes, Spock’s Beard, Gentle Giant and lots more. In art he admires the cover work of Chris Foss and Bruce Pennington, and maintains a healthy dislike of modern and abstract art. He’s still writing and refuses to stop however much people ask him to. Expect more published works soon.
“Sarabande” is a story of two people navigating through their lives, bound by their pasts which they must reconcile in order to have a chance at a future they want.
Colin Ashe is a man losing his identity. He suffers from epilepsy which is triggered by music. His anxiety surrounding the possibility of unexpected occurrences keeps him away from a job he loves, and costs him the respect of his wife and potentially the love of his son. Then Colin digs up a box buried in his backyard some twenty years ago by a then young girl.
Anna Brawne is now a renowned cellist, committed to music and Bach. She had buried the box with its secrets to maintain a connection to the one place she calls home.
This box forges a link between her and Colin, creating an intimacy which is the catalyst for the events to follow. With the death of her mother, Anna broke free from the bonds of expectation, only to encounter Colin’s desperate attempt to hold on to his.
Where does integrity lie, in the this age of online connection? Is emotional intimacy enough to sustain a life longing to be complete? Will love redefine the measures of a real life?
What fate awaits Colin and Anna?
Would I recommend it?
Yes, Sarabande is a beautiful love story of triumph and love. I could not put it down and I’d bet neither will you.
And I cannot resist – here is Yo-Yo Ma’s interpretation of JS Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 (Sarabande).
Although I’ve read novels based on aliens, and I wouldn’t turn down a chance to read books about aliens, it’s not technically my type of thing. I tend to be very picky with the alien genre. Spirit Raiders is about such: alien abductions, the threat to humanity, advanced technology, and first contact…pretty much everything a die-hard science fiction fan would enjoy.
The plot was complex, very slow moving, filled with a lot of technical things I had trouble grasping…mostly because I’m not very technical-inclined. While much of it was science fiction, the reality of some of the technological terms was very well-researched to make the fiction appear realistic. Sometimes, I had to re-read the information to grasp what it was saying…remember, I’m not much of a technical person, so at times, the information didn’t do enough explaining for me. Other times, however, I was overloaded with information and caught myself skimming a tad.
With a little bit more editing, the writing could have become tighter and stronger, earning a higher rating. I like to be shown what’s happening during the scenes, rather than being told. It helps me visualize better, even if I’m reading about things I just don’t understand.
If you’re one that loves aliens and you can understand a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, then I recommend you taking the time to read this book. Don’t be put off by the slow-moving parts. It took me a few chapters to really get into the story. Once I did and continued reading, I was pleased to find that it ended with a well-built, action-packed climax
Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India, who grew up on everything sci-fi. Science Fiction has its own charm of unravelling mysteries, boldly going where no man has gone before [yeah I know it is from Star-trek :)] and to seek and find explanations for the unexplained. This is more or less what excites a true sci-fi enthusiast.
Savio is one of the enthusiasts too and he is presenting his own version here. Mystery surrounds us in many ways and it is mammoth in proportion to what we know. No one knows what lies beneath the ocean; no one knows what lies beyond our solar system; no one knows how vast the universe is; no one knows if any other extra-terrestrial form exists, but still the pursuit of knowing the unknown will continue unabated and will continue to excite us. This excitement is what Savio attempts to bring out in his books.
Savio is blessed with a supportive family and has a day job in India. Writing is his passion and he also writes for many blogging sites. When not writing and not working, which, of course, happens a lot of time, Savio likes to while-away and watch sci-fi movies.
“The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose traces the soul of Arky Levin, a film composer. Arky is separated from his wife, Lydia. She has asked him to keep a promise. And he does. So why is he troubled? In his restlessness, he wanders into the MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist Is Present.
The novel spans the 75 days in which Marina performed between the months of March and May of 2010. It goes through the seven phases of a project, as identified by Marina, being:
So it is that the lives (as projects) which intersect Arky and Marina’s eventual encounter are changed.
This is a story of love, and how we perform love every day.
Love accounted for so many things. A series of biological and chemical interactions, A bout of responsibility. An invisible wave of orality that had been romanticised and eternalised. A form of required connection to ensure procreation. A strategic response to prevent loneliness and maintain social structures.
When Lydia said, “[g]o and write. Make wonderful music. Know that I love you. Have no regrets” then shouldn’t Arky do what she has prescribed?
That is what Arky believes, until he is compelled to discover love’s true gift. And this compulsion is through the art of Marina, whose performance in the MOMA demonstrated the power of connection and the magic of “being seen” by another, beyond the material visibility that is reflected through the context of this novel – the New York rich and celebrities who came to sit with Marina.
This is a story of courage, Arky’s and the participants in “The Artist Is Present” with Marina; people at the crossroads, like Jane, who observes the performance then leaves wondering,
Had it been enough to sit on the sidelines? Had she somehow missed an opportunity for something life-changing, some act of courage?
The courage to not succumb to the should and ought of this world, to face the uncertainty of beginnings.
This is a story of connection – to our past, to each other in the present, and to the future. That we hold the history of us and humanity within us. How we are shaped by the convergence of our past, present and future.
Now, day after day, he looked into the human face, painted with curiosity, and he saw the abyss of history within a human heart. Everyone was its own beaten, salvaged, polished, engraved, carved luminous form.
A connection to our raison d’être – of being open and available to that which calls to us, soul-deep, and honouring it.
All that they are is stored up loud and insistent inside them. But what does it take to be an artist? They have to listen. But do they listen? Most people are filled up with a lifetime of noise and distraction that’s hard to get past.
If Arky’s life is a project, what is the gift? His to receive or to give?
Would I recommend it?
“The Museum of Modern Love” won the 2017 Stella Prize. A thought-provoking and enjoyable book definitely worth checking out!
It’s very rare that I would be tempted to give any book more than a five-star rating. If I did do that, then Cory Barclay’s Devil in the Countryside would be one of the few. It’s 1588, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. It’s rumored to be the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg. Investigator Heinrich Franz is assigned to find the killer, seeking help wherever he can get it. A priest attempts to keep the peace amongst the townspeople, while he attempts to fight against the temptation of a young woman that could destroy his most basic beliefs. They find themselves wrapped in mysteries, steering through the political and religious landscape of the 16th century.
Devil in the Countryside was an extremely tightly written novel, keeping me on my toes the entire time I was reading. I did not want to put it down. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic…very memorable. In my minds-eye, the book played like a movie. I felt as though I was watching the scenes unfold so much, that at times, I had to remind myself that I was in the 21st century. I felt it was that good.
You’ll not only want to find out who—or what—is piling corpse after corpse, you’ll want to find out what secret these characters are withholding from everyone else. You’ll want to find out if they can force temptation out of their minds. You’ll want to find out everything you can about this book.
The story is action-packed from the second it begins until the ending, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. There were times when the dialogue didn’t seem up to par with the time; however, that didn’t even matter. The scenes were painted beautifully. For readers that enjoy historical fiction, werewolf hunts, and murder, I recommend giving Devil in the Countryside a try. It’s a must-read!
As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?
And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.
So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.
Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.
Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.
For me who’s struggling to see how five months of 2017 is nearly over, I took a mental break and reached for “The Scent of You”.
Title: The Scent of You Author: Maggie Alderson Publishers: Harper Collins Publication date: 1 April 2017 Format: Kindle, Paperback Website: maggiealderson.com Pages: 512 Genre: Fiction – Contemporary; ChickLit
What’s it about?
“The Scent of You” is Australian author Maggie Alderson’s 10th novel. It is a story of loyalty and of letting go, of following your heart or your head, and the conflicts within.
Hippolyta Masterton-Mackay, Polly to her friends, is a mother to Lucas and Clemmie, both of whom are away at university. She is also a successful blogger, an initial hobby which is now work, and a yoga teacher.
Polly is daughter to Daphne, a glamorous model at 85 years of age and living in a posh retirement home. Though she was quite emotionally absent from Polly in her younger days, Daphne now seems to have great insights into the dilemma her daughter is facing. The dilemma – Polly’s husband has vanished after declaring his need for space. What is Polly to do?
It is through her perfume blog in which she wrote of how scents evoked memories, and vice versa, which causes her to chance upon Guy, a gifted perfumer making a break in the world of scents. Guy quickly became one of her inner circle, but could there be more?
Around the same time, Polly reconnects with an old school friend, Edward, with whom she had shared an innocent kiss on the beach. Chum, a nickname for Edward, visits his stepfather at the same retirement home in which Daphne resides. And before long, Polly and Chum are taking long walks in the country, familiar and comfortable with each other’s company. Is familiarity a better choice than the excitement of Guy?
As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation of lost husband and emerging relationship, she is supported by her yoga students, Shirlee in particular.
What will Polly do? Will Polly take this opportunity to realise who she wants to be?
Would I recommend it?
“The Scent of You” is light and entertaining, a worthy beach holiday read. Or read anywhere really.
This book is filled with warm characters, lovable and flawed. Pick it up and enjoy!
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 2/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating:3/5
A story with its beginnings pulled from the headlines of today and realistic events that could happen, The Red Line gives a scary look at a what if of the near future.
First of all, I liked the book overall. The pacing was good, and everything was well developed. However, for my own personal taste there was almost too much detail. I know the author intends to give a comprehensive covering of all the aspects of the what if scenario but I personally didn’t need to know the shot by shot coverage.
That being said, it was done well and you could feel the tension in each scene. There is definite realism in the story. I like that we don’t get all sunshine and roses throughout the book. We do get realities of war even when it hurts, and that hurt is to the plus of the author’s talent. You feel the losses that take place. I would recommend this book to anyone that really gets into war stories and likes to feel the action.
I recommend this book to anyone who really gets into a good war story with real events occurring.
Love, happiness, sadness, and more fill Don’t Worry, Life Is Easy. This book is a sequel and at first you get the impression you might needed to have read the first book to understand some of the relationships but you really don’t. You quickly figure things out.
Diane, the widow who lost both her husband and child, has returned to Paris and has bought her literary café, Happy People Read And Drink Coffee, from her parents. Her energetic and comic relief friend and employee Felix is still present and bolsters up Diane during her moments of sadness and despondency.
Diane doesn’t really know what to do with her emotional life. She thinks the bookstore is enough for her but something is missing. A new relationship presents itself while old friends resurface in her life to face unsettled questions.
The characters are well developed and not one dimensional at all. The relationships are well done, make sense, and honestly are done so well you might cry by the end of the book. (I admit to nothing.) If you’ve ever faced a loss in your life and then been given the chance to fill that gap with something new, you will get this book. It’s a fairly good paced book and you could read it in a day if you dedicated yourself to it, or in two very easily. I like the fact that situations aren’t overdone or go on too long and are not repetitive. Some books replay the same scenes over and over but this one gives you something different throughout the book. The only repetitive thing in the book is some of the characters going outside to smoke a cigarette and even then something happens.
The Wager is written as a cross between a romance novel and a play. We meet two very distinct characters and we quickly fall in love with them. Sarah Dumont is a famous actress, rich, grew up in a prominent family as the oldest child. Because of her status, she is driven, focused, and pretty much snotty. Matt Shepard is not rich, who was the youngest child growing up on a farm. Matt is working hard at putting pieces of his life back together, friendly and sly.
The two meet based on a wager: Sarah is challenged that she wouldn’t be able to earn Matt’s attention. Sarah’s first intention was to have him make furniture for her in LA. Then when the wager is made, I felt like something was missing within the story line. Sarah wants furniture, then the woman tells her Matt wouldn’t meet with her no matter. From there, it seems Sarah’s immediately offended being told she wouldn’t be able to get Matt out on a date. I felt I needed something more to explain.
When they finally do meet, from there on, the two personalities clash and are full of hilarious banter. You can’t help but love them. I also love the use of Doodle, Matt’s dog, in the story. It only made me love Matt all the more. I found him to be very charismatic and charming.
The writing style flowed nicely. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was that the narrative repeated pieces of the dialogue and vice versa. Having to read too much repetition made me skim more than I’d like. However, it was easy to get the feel of the southern accent. Whether you’re Midwestern, southern, northern or from Mars, readers will find themselves slipping into a southern accent.
Sometimes it was difficult for me to gather the feelings of the characters but I think it’s really up to the reader. After reading parts of the scene, I would go back and reread in order for me to get the sense of how they felt during the incident. I feel this is primarily due to the fact that it’s more of a play (or movie/TV script).
Regardless of the few “negatives,” I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It had humor, it had tears, it had love, and of course, a hidden moral to the story.
Mike Brister was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1952. His father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and in 1955 was transferred to New Orleans, Louisiana. This began a lifelong relationship with one of the most unique cities in the world. Eventually, the family would return to Jackson.
Mike received degrees in mathematics and spent his working career as a consulting actuary. Now retired, he has written his first novel. He has made numerous trips to Haiti and plans more. The hope is that the novel is a fun read and allows for the purchase of goats for families in Haiti.
Events: Prime Ministers During the Alien Era is a mock history text during the period of Roswell crash landing until the “current” space war. The text focuses on politics and personality conflicts, both fiction and non-fiction.
First, let me start off by saying, with the exception of Star Trek, I’m not big on anything alien—that’s not to say I never read or watch alien-type things because after all, I have written reviews on such topics. That said, I found this mock history text quite amusing. It held a slow but steady pace as a real textbook would go. It’s not long at all (just over a hundred pages), so I finished in less than two hours.
The prose held my interest, however, it read more as a cross between a long narrative and a student history paper. As a textbook would have, it held footnotes, which made me want to go back and read what it referred to in the prose.
At the end of the book, Murphy explains which parts of his prose were fiction and which were nonfiction. This was a good way for us to know how he weaved the truths and fiction into an intriguing read.
There were misspells (not a lot, so I’m not dwelling on the issue. Even the greatest of authors have misprints). The quotation marks weren’t very consistent. Sometimes it had a single quotation mark (which would make sense seeing as it is a British text) and others were doubled.
If you’re wanting to read a fast-paced story about aliens, then this won’t be for you. However, if you like aliens, science fiction, and historical texts, then I recommend this. It’s a fun, light read as to what might happen should we ever have to deal with aliens!
Since Amazon and Goodreads only offer whole stars, I’m bumping this story to 4 stars, though my actual rating is 3.5.
My birthday isn’t here yet, but I have just finished “From a Paris Balcony”, a gift from a dear friend. Here’s what I think of it.
Title: From a Paris Balcony Author: Ella Carey Publishers: Lake Union Publishing (October 11, 2016) Format: Kindle, Paperback Website: www.ellacarey.com Pages: 290 Genre: Fiction – Contemporary
What’s it about?
“From a Paris Balcony” tells the stories of two women from two different centuries, both lost. Louisa Duval (nee West) longed for freedom and independence in conservative 19th century Europe, while Sarah West longed for the husband and family she would now not have.
They are bound by a devastating death, Louisa’s through suicide. To escape the pain in her life, she fled to Paris on a personal mission to discover the story of Louisa, her great great-aunt’s death after discovering a letter written to Louisa’s husband, Henry from one of Belle Epoque Paris’ notorious courtesan, Marthe de Florian. Guided by her instinct, Sarah searched for answers as her path crosses that of Laurent Chartier, an acclaimed artist who seems to be on his own private journey.
Will Sarah find the answers she is searching for? Did Louisa?
The women’s lives ran parallel in their attachment to their ideals and the future they wanted. Will they dare to embrace the lives they have, instead of the lives they wish?
Other than the romance, “From a Paris Balcony” highlights the conflict and hypocrisy of morality, class and norms in late 19th century Europe, particularly Paris and London. It also brings the issue of gender inequality to the fore.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, and enjoy it. There are whimsical and reflective elements to this book, and few could escape the romanticism of the City of Light.
Now I wish I was back there 😉 !
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 3/5 Recommended: 3.5/5 Overall Rating: 3/5
I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. Hannah’s Moon is the fifth book of John Heldt’s American Journey series. I’ve read two other books in the series (Indiana Belle and Class of ’69) and thoroughly enjoyed each. However, if I were to give the prize ribbon to a story-line, Hannah’s Moon would win by a mile.
It tells the story of a young couple in 2017 who wants nothing more than to have a baby. They’ve spent years trying and failing and finally began considering adoption. They soon learn of a way where they can legally adopt a healthy child in a shorter amount of time, but the catch is they have to do it in 1945. After meeting the child of their dreams, their bliss is deferred when they must overcome life-changing obstacles.
I caught a few typos along the way and also found myself overanalyzing the plot (though I did love the idea of it) by wondering about adopting a child born more than seventy years ago and the consequences of such an action. But I found myself drawn into the story within a few pages, having to force myself to set it down and get some sleep.
This has everything: love, friendship, pain, happiness…toward the ending, several moments pulled at my heartstrings and tears began to form from the corners of my eyes. After wanting to hurry and find out what happens next, I finished Hannah’s Moon and was sad to see that I had no more left to read.
I could tell Mr. Heldt did his research. I felt as though I was a fly on the characters’ walls, watching as they fought to come out on top.
If you’re in the mood for light romance and/or time travel where anything can happen–or you’re simply after a good book, then I highly recommend Hannah’s Moon.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.
Sorry I haven’t been around much recently, but today I bring you a review and the author, Tony Rauch, has also agreed to answer a few questions, so we have a double feature, a review and a mini-interview.
Title: what if I got down on my knees Author: Tony Rauch ISBN: 098293355X
what if i got down on my knees? presents romantic misadventures and entanglements of absurd, whimsical, existential longing, featuring discovery, secrets, identity, escape, strange happenings, endurance, regret, and hope. The stories are little postcards from the lonely regions of the human heart.
These tales of wonder are about people trying to find meaning and a place in an indifferent world, and their discoveries, revelations, secrets, failures, struggles, connections, and odd encounters along the way—
—two unemployed men steal dogs and run them through buildings around town.
—a man goes on what turns into the worst date in recorded history.
—you are asked to baby-sit for a neighbor, only to find a giant baby waiting for you.
—a man comes home to find his entire yard and home paved over by a long lost rival.
—a clerk at a used record store finds a man has passed away on one of the couches.
—some young adults go into the basement to get sad, in order to impress girls.
—a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.
With themes of longing, fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, regret, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, discovery, ennui, loneliness, irresponsible behavior, confusion, change, identity, and absurd situations, Tony Rauch is a worthy successor to the artistry and absurdism of Donald Barthelme and Steve Martin.
Body of review:
I received a copy of this novel from the author and I voluntarily review it for Lit World Interviews.
Short stories are an acquired taste. We might think a short read is perfect because we are always rushing and don’t have a lot of time, but sometimes we might feel disappointed when the story ends and we’ve invested time and, in the best of cases, emotions only to have to get to know some new characters after a few pages. Of course, not all short stories are born equal. And this collection of short stories by Tony Rauch proves the point.
Some of the short stories in this collection are whimsical (surreal) and might leave you scratching your head (or looking up to the sky searching for… No spoilers) , some are vignettes illustrating the lives of people who might appear content with their lives at a superficial level, but whose thoughts and worries run deeper than it seems, many are about lonely people wondering about others and trying to connect (in some occasions with hilarious consequences), some are about pretending to be something or somebody else, about growing up, about growing old, about moving on or remembering the past…
The quality of the writing is superb, and the first person narratives cleverly capture the speech and rhythms of the characters, who sometimes are talking to others, sometimes conducting an internal monologue with themselves, or even writing a story. From young kids trying to impress their friends to old men dying, from people contemplating a new relationship to others letting go, these few pages run the whole gamut of experiences and emotions.
To give you some examples:
His skin appeared two sizes too tight for his body, stiff and washed out, like he’d gotten it secondhand, or found it in an alley late at night.
His suit is mythical—straight, lean, long, pure, giving, musical, thoughtful, caring, dynamic, cosmopolitan, unselfish, strong, industrious, and nostalgic for his mother, her peanut butter cookies, and snowy Christmas mornings.
“And what would someone do with a dream of mine? Where would you keep it?”
“I’d stretch it out to create a sail, and then use it to float off to who knows where,” I advise.
Some of the stories are nostalgic and melancholy, but there are great comedic moments, ranging from slapstick to joyful turns of phrase (and oh, a so very satisfying revenge story). Another example I highlighted:
Eventually, he turned up in over 3000 cans of a popular brand of tuna. A horrible fate to be sure, and amplified by the fact that the guy was notoriously reputed to detest tuna.
I won’t tell you which stories I liked the most as I’d find it difficult. I checked the reviews, and on reading the comments when the reviewers mentioned a story or another I’d agree with them. So… Just go and read them and enjoy their variety.
What the book is about: Many things: growing up, life, dreams, realities, loneliness, relationships, friendship, revenge, writing…
Book Highlights: The quality of the writing and the very distinct characters and voices. The whimsical sense of humour.
Challenges of the book: Sometimes with the electronic version I wasn’t clear when I had moved from one story to another. The titles of the individual stories and the different parts weren’t always easy to tell apart.
Although the book is not long, I think it is best taken slowly and savouring the quality of the writing, rather than rushing to get to the end of the story. It is not a book to be read in a hurry.
What do you get from it: Beautiful writing, stories that make you think and a few laughs.
What I would have changed if anything: As I mentioned perhaps change the size of the titles or the formatting (in the digital version) to make the divisions clearer.
Who Would I recommend this book to?: To readers who enjoy language and a mood more than heavily plotted stories (although there are some great ones too). And to writers who are considering writing short stories, or just keen on exploring the many ways characterization works.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
People have less and less time these days and short forms of writing are becoming more and more popular. From flash-fiction to microfiction and even stories told in Tweets, it’s all about brevity. Of course, the short story has a long tradition, but what is for you a short story? And what makes it (so far) your preferred choice when writing? –
For me a short story is anything that conveys a feeling, or an event, or that sets up an event that may then spring forward. It does not have to have a beginning or an ending. I like story starters, that is a written piece that poses a situation or premise, and then you have to imagine various outcomes. But the premise is so interesting it creates that zing in your brain and gets you thinking. That to me is a good story: anything that kick-starts that zing in your imagination and gets you thinking on a different track or about various possibilities.
I prefer the short form because I don’t need a lot of useless background info that longer work sometimes gets bogged down in. I don’t have a lot of free time, so the short form is good for getting ideas down. I have a lot of different ideas, so the short form works well in sorting them into more organized paradigms.
Who are your favourite writers, in general, and writers of short stories (if they aren’t the same ones)? Why? What have you learned from them? –
Favorite authors, influences:Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.
Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly. The books that really inspired me are mostly imaginative story collections because they were exciting and new and you never knew what was going to happen next in them. Also, they were brief, which made them memorable and easily digestible.
I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas. Reading these types of writers is like taking mini adventures that I could not experience otherwise in the limitations of my actual life –
Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Mark Twain, James Thurber, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.
Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo, D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty.
Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:
Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams (an 80’s writer), etc.
Many writers read this blog. I subscribe to the advice that one should read in order to improve one’s writing. I know it will be a difficult choice, but any stories in particular that have had an impact on you or have increased your understanding of the form?
Yes, many – see the list of authors above. One thing I look for is that buzz or zing when they convey a feeling or present something I hadn’t ever seen before. For example, I like that F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Winter dreams” because in it the character changes, or his feelings for someone changes. I like that arc, that sense of change the character goes through in a story. That story presents a loss, and the character’s feelings about that change and loss.
You can find book information and story samples on that bad boy of rock and roll.
If you know of any good publishers looking for arty story collections, please let them know about me. I’m always looking for good publishers. A lot of places don’t publish single author story collections.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks very much to Tony Rauch for his book and for answering my questions, thanks to you for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!
Captain Sharif’s police compound has been breached. Fifteen Americans murdered. CIA agent Frank Hutchinson has proof the cop is lying and has him in his crosshairs, eager to exact revenge. Captain Sharif must please his corrupt superiors; and yet see justice served, and abide by the Koran. He’s in hell, with no way to escape – either be buried alive or suffer Allah’s wrath. In the balance hangs the life of Eliza MacKay, witness to the massacre. He’s drawn to her courage and discovers her ‘take no shit’ personality warrants respect. Even so, her struggle with PTSD may get both of them killed. Desperate, Sharif initiates an act more forbidden and fatal.
One thing about Forbidden by F. Stone you need to know is that it’s set in the year 2047 and the Muslim countries in the Middle East with a few exceptions have formed into one large nation. I think of it like the old Soviet Union. Iraq is the center of power and that’s where this story takes place.
You quickly forget about the future setting because everything in the story is still very much present day except for the political setting, which doesn’t play a huge part in the story.
I really liked the book. There were definite elements that needed to be handled well, especially with CAPTAIN SHARIF’S faith. The author has obviously done her homework and that shows up primarily around how Sharif handles his interactions with ELIZA MACKAY.
But enough about that. This book is action from the beginning to end. A great who is doing what to whom. I’m pretty good at figuring things out but was surprised in the end about who was not involved in the murdering of the 15 Americans.
The writing is fast paced and I read it in a day because of not wanting to put it down. Throw in the romance elements and you have a well balanced story that gives you a chance to breathe between the action moments. The romance part isn’t overplayed and doesn’t detract from the story at all.
MacKay’s traumatic history and PTSD are used to great effect in the relationship between her and Sharif. Some of it is a little unexpected but overall I think it was exactly the way it should have been.
I recommend the book for thrill seekers and action junkies.
Genres: Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
I was surprised to find that I loved everything about this book–from the cover to the prose. The storyline was engrossing, the characters extremely well-developed, the dialogue superb…well, Poet of the Wrong Generation is a book you have to read when you have no pressing matters to attend to because it’s that hard to put down.
We open with a prologue to the present. Johnny Elias is staring into a photograph taking himself back into a time when life was good and carefree. He was in love, had friends, he had happiness. And now, because of the things happened since then, he’s feeling regret. Don’t we all when we start feeling that nostalgia?
After we’re through we the prologue, the next time we see Johnny is back in time in 1991. He joins Megan Price, the girl he loves, and their friends at a concert in Central Park. However, soon after, everything changes. Feeling heartbroken and betrayed, he begins doing what a lot of real people do in these kinds of situations: a writes down his feelings. But these aren’t just words. They’re magical poetry from the heart. Johnny ends up turning his writing to music and falls into success and fame.
This was a truly amazing novel. I can see it becoming a summer series or even a mini-series on the Hallmark channel. But at the same time, perhaps they better not touch this story. After all, bringing stories to live, especially on network television, it just may ruin this beautiful creation of Lonnie Ostrow’s.
If you want a book complete with twists and turns, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book with star-crossed lovers, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book that tugs at your heartstrings in every way, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. It’s well worth the time it takes to read. I highly recommend this pleasure of a book.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Lonnie Ostrow has been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With Poet Of The Wrong Generation, he combines all his unique experiences to bring you a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption — a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock & roll love story.” Since 2001, Mr. Ostrow has been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. He also serves as an editorial and marketing consultant for a collection of first-time authors through The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. Previously he served as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors including Ray Manzarek of The Doors.
From 1995 – 2001, Mr. Ostrow was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, he worked with more than 40 legendary personalities from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan, Sylvester Stallone to Jackie Chan, creating media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.
Ostrow’s first publication, Titanic, A Postal Collection, was published in 1998.
A book which I earmarked to read for some time. Finally, I did.
Title: Burial Rites Author: Hannah Kent Publishers: Back Bay Books, April 2014 Format: Kindle, Paperback Pages: 311 Genre: Fiction – Historical, Literary Fiction
What’s it about?
This heartbreaking story of a woman’s life journey in early 19th century Iceland gripped me from page one.
Burial Rites is a fictionalised story of a true event – In 1828, an Icelandic servant named Agnes Magnúsdóttir was convicted of killing her employer and another man, then burning their bodies. Hannah Kent’s take, as she explained, was “to supply a more ambiguous portrayal” of a woman who has been seen as a “witch, stirring up murder”.
There is no happy ending, and it is no surprise. But this book is not about finding out what happens at the end, but a study of Anna Magnúsdóttir’s life leading to her execution.
The Icelandic setting of unrelenting cold and unforgiving rocky terrain, is perfect backdrop to this story of poverty and a woman’s place within it. A young girl growing up without love and care, spurned and betrayed by those she depended on, Anna’s shame is writ large in her name, and by all that followed her survival.
There was no prison in Iceland then. So when Anna was convicted of murder, she is sent to live with District Officer Jon Jonsson; his ailing wife, Margret; and their two daughters to await her execution. A young clergy, Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson (‘Toti’) is sent to Anna as a spiritual guide to prepare her for the fateful day.
Reverend Toti initially did not understand the story Anna told, listening through his naïve and blinkered view of the world. But he finally did. And as Anna’s story unfolds, I the reader am confronted by questions.
What makes a person culpable for her actions?
What does it mean to undertake voluntary act? Who is responsible?
How much of our stories are constructed by what was told about us?
How much of us is truly seen and understood?
Would I recommend it?
A solid account. An engaging story. Highly recommended.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 3.5/5 Overall Rating: 3.5/5
And you thought your mother was nuts. From hilarious drama to childhood trauma, ‘The Daily Janet’ chronicles author and comedienne Leanna Conley’s journey of being raised by a 1960s fashionista before the Devil had even heard of Prada. Janet is a chain-smoking martini enthusiast who swears like a sailor but dresses like Audrey Hepburn, and her erratic behavior has made for a sometimes stormy, but always loving, mother/daughter dynamic. Be prepared to laugh out loud at Janet’s antics and pearls of wisdom as Leanna hops on the tumultuous ride to adulthood. . .in one of Janet’s Cadillacs, of course.
From the moment I started this biography, I became completely engrossed, I forgot to go to sleep early as I originally planned. Leanna Conley is a natural born storyteller with a flair for the comedic, which I imagined she inherited from her mother, Janet.
Since I’m not one to read a lot of biographies, I had agreed to read this one expecting it to be just another biography with comedy here and there. I didn’t prepare myself for what lay in store. Janet is truly a wild, wise woman that you just can’t get enough of, no matter how you try.
The Daily Janet offers everything a good story requires: pain, drama, comedy and love. She’s a class act with a wild side. I highly recommend this extremely pleasurable read. You won’t be disappointed.