Tag Archives: Contemporarry Fiction

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Sarabande’ by Sarah Hina

This book is captivating!

Title:          Sarabande
Author:        Sarah Hina
Publishers:     CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 10, 2017)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             372
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Romance

 

What’s it about?

“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).

My rating:                  4.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 1.55
  Paperback USD 13.95
 Bookdepository  Paperback  GBP 15.62

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Museum of Modern Love’ by Heather Rose

These words – “A novel inspired by Marina Abramovic” – on the cover of “The Museum of Modern Love” were all the reasons I needed to read this book.

 

Publishers:     Allen & Unwin  (2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:        www.heatherrose.com.au
Pages:             284
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

What’s it about?

“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:

  1. Awareness
  2. Resistance
  3. Submission
  4. Work
  5. Reflection
  6. Courage
  7. The Gift

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!

My rating:  5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 13.29
Bookdepository Paperback GBP 13.49
Booktopia Paperback AUD 20.95

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Scent of You’ by Maggie Alderson

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

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 11.18
 
 Booktopia  Ebook  AUD 14.99
 Paperback  AUD 25.50

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘From a Paris Balcony’ by Ella Carey

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

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 4.99
  Paperback USD 6.32

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch

Interesting premise, as I read the ‘blurb’ on the back cover. So here goes.

the-dinnerTitle:          The Dinner
Author:        Herman Koch
Translator:    Sam Garrett
Publishers:     Atlantic Books, UK (August 2012)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             320
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

‘The Dinner’ is Dutch author, Herman Koch’s 2nd book published in 2009 and translated to English in 2012. It has been adapted for film (US), to be released in 2017 starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. I for one will be watching it. Why? Because the book is intriguing, and I do want to see if it has been translated well to screen and how the characters are portrayed in the film.

The plot appears simple. Two couples – brothers and their wives – meet at an upmarket restaurant for dinner. There is an issue about their children that must be discussed, but obviously such a difficult topic to speak of that they miserably avoided it through 2 courses and various interruptions.

So what is this “important matter” that must be discussed and resolved?

Internal monologue of Paul Lohman, the protagonist, offers readers insight into the psychological state of a younger sibling, never quite living up to a successful older brother, with a chip on his shoulder and repressed anger.  And through his lens, there is the arrogant older brother, Serge, the defiant yet helpless sister-in-law, Babette; and his loving and supportive wife, Claire who is most importantly his ally as against the other couple.

This story ultimately is about what people, and parents, will believe to protect their own psyche and as a defence to love. It provides a slice of the human condition – how we lie to ourselves and what we do when our very existence, as we know it, is threatened.

The story is told in a pace causing annoyance was necessary; the discomfort and unpleasantness evoked in me is testament of how well-written this book is, and portending the reluctance of the characters to name and acknowledge the “important matter” – the almost calm and matter-of-fact manner which belies the undercurrents of tension, fear and malice.

What are their motivations? Or their responsibilities?

Does it matter if the desired outcome is achieved?

How will it end for everyone concerned?

Would I recommend it?

An intriguing book definitely worth spending time on.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 8.47
  Paperback USD 8.92
 Bookdepository  Paperback  A$11.10

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Grind’ by Edward Vukovic

When approached by Vukovic for an honest review, I could not refuse as I am an avid coffee drinker. The book cover is enticing, and in itself, pip my curiosity. Coffee grind reading…?

grind-coverTitle:          Grind
Author:        Edward Vukovic
Publishers:     CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 2, 2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:         www.edwardvukovic.com
Pages:             398
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

What’s it about?

The story is a microcosm of the world at large, bound by the aromatic substance, coffee.  This is an entirely enjoyable and intelligent book, weaving multi-faceted characters through each other’s lives culminating in a powerful resolution.

We have Ziva, a young migrant woman, intelligent and trapped in a world of poverty. Infused with a talent for coffee-grind reading, she lives by her heightened ‘instinctive’ sense.

There is Simon, an angry direction-less man feeling victimised by life and its injustices; the only valuable thing in his life that which he thought could not be taken from him – his special coffee.

And Isaac, pub owner and a man atoning for his sins as he only knows how – the daily overcoming of the temptation of a former vice.

What of Michel, a homeless man by choice, oddly noble man avoiding his past and seeking in his own way to make amends.

Danielle, the young girl with a mentally ill father, bound by circumstances yet still hopeful for a better world.

Masterfully crafted by Vukovic, their lives intersect and will be forever changed, each character finding redemption.

I cannot help but associate the title ‘Grind’ with a different meaning, the grind that is life for the characters, each with a burden to bear. Will it lighten, I wonder…?

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely. ‘Grind’ draws the reader into the lives of its characters, reminding us that we all have our privates selves, that it is a priilege to be let into that private world.  We are the same – doing the best we can in our world – no matter the texture of our story; and interconnected – our actions have impact on others .

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3.5/5
Overall enjoyment:               4.5/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     4/5
Overall Rating:                  4/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 2.95
  Hardback USD 18.95

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

An @COLLEENCHESEBRO BOOK REVIEW OF “Trails in the Sand,” by @PC ZICK

Trails in the Sand

Title: Trails in the Sand

Author: P. C. Zick

ISBN: 1481255797 (ISBN13: 9781481255790)

ASIN:  B00ANVD6DE

Published:  January 10th 2013 by Createspace

Pages: 410

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Family Drama

Author Website: pczick.com

Do you like to travel? Then jump aboard, because “Trails in the Sand,” immediately propelled me into the Deep South to the state of Florida where mangrove swamps and the Gulf of Mexico beckoned and lured me into their mystique. Grab a fan, it might get hot!

The story begins with a mysterious death in 1956. It is that one single event which brings to the forefront long buried family secrets with roots deep in the sands of time, and laid to rest in the true southern tradition. These secrets reveal a pivotal connection to past and future events.

Caroline is the protagonist, an environmental journalist who left home as a young woman to pursue her dream of writing. Caroline’s sister focuses on betrayal with the love of Caroline’s life, Simon. The sister manages to marry Simon, instead of Caroline, who vows to never return because of her broken heart.

Years later after Caroline’s sister dies, Caroline and Simon are reunited in their friendship and love for each other. They marry, and revel in their new found happiness. Their lives are finally complete.

To complicate matters, Simon’s adopted daughter is resentful of her Aunt Caroline marrying her father. This leads to family strife and disagreements. However, nothing is as it seems in this tale of family intrigue. Those family secrets haunt the family and eventually lead them on a journey to discover the truth and to find acceptance from the past.

Throughout the family struggles that ensue, Caroline the journalist, is embroiled in the reporting of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Her skill in writing about environmental disasters shows firsthand the death and destruction that was forced upon the wildlife in the Gulf area. At immediate risk are the endangered sea turtles whose existence is paramount to the survival of the species.


Author: P. C. Zick

I absolutely enjoyed how the author was able to weave current events into the story. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and the events surrounding the Massey Mine accident were integral parts to the telling of this story.

The survival of the sea turtles is a vital issue where I live in Pensacola, Florida. The rich descriptions and explanations of their plight renewed my interest in environment concerns along the Gulf Coast. Our own Gulf Islands National Seashore offer volunteer opportunities that I now wish to explore since my awareness of the issues that affect native wildlife.

The family struggle that was at the central heart of the book endeared me to the characters. I was able to identify with the crippling family treachery and how it almost destroyed them all. Beyond that, I found that I wanted these characters to succeed and heal from the toll the deception had on all of them.

I found that I could not put this book down. I wanted to keep reading until I reached the last page. I was woven into a web of deceit and scheming from the portrayal of the characters. I found it hard to pull away, I was so drawn in. It seemed as if the characters haunted me from afar. I literally read this book in about three nights.

“Trails in the Sand,” is part of P. C. Zick’s “Florida Series,” which includes the following books: “Tortoise Stew,” and “Native Lands.” I read all three books at the same time, and this was my absolute favorite.

RATINGS
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

Format & Pricing

Buy it at: Amazon
Paperback: $11.22 US
Kindle: $.99 US

Goodreads

 


 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com