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The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 368 pgs.
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The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is a stunning mystery that unravels piece by piece, and readers will first meet Mary Browning, an elderly woman in a writer’s group.  She believes she sees an apparition of her sister, Sarah, as a young lady walks into their public writing group.  This vision prompts her memories to resurface, and with the help of this young transcriptionist, she begins again on her memoir.  Leffler deftly weaves between the past and present, creating a multi-layered story that will capture not only the nostalgia of a former airplane pilot during WWII but also the immediacy of a young woman’s search for herself among the detritus of family drama.  Her characters resonate off of one another, like echoes of the past pushing forward the lives of the present into the future.  This ripple effect builds throughout the novel, until the final mystery is revealed.

“But my greatest fear of all was not having a voice of my own.” (pg. 5 ARC)

We all fear losing ourselves and not having a voice.  We are individuals in search of ourselves, but we also are sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends, among other roles that we play.  These connections can help us breathe life into our passions and desires, or they can stifle them.  The trick is to balance the needs and expectations of others with our own without hurting ourselves or those we care most about.

“… I learned how to squeeze my face closed and let myself soundlessly shudder, imagining my tears deep inside, dripping off my organs.” (pg. 31 ARC)

Mary has lived her life, much of it on her own terms, and while she has had a hard time compromising, she was able to do it for love, even to her own detriment.  When WWII was in full swing, she left home to do what she loved even as many told her she shouldn’t, and when she fell in love, she made a sacrifice that many would now see as unnecessary without having lived with the fear of persecution.

Very rarely is there a book that can equally make emotions soar and crash, taking readers on a complete journey wrought with obstacles and choices that you can only imagine facing.  For Mary Browning to have survived them and to have created a satisfying, but not ideal life, is nothing short of miraculous — much like when a heavy metal plane takes to the air with the birds and clouds.  The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is equal parts coming of age story, WWII historical romance, and mystery, and it is so well balanced and amazing, readers will be left spent at the end of the runway.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.

Find out more about Maggie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard

Source: NetGalley
ebook, 288 pgs.
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Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard, which will be published in September 2016, is stunning. Wolfe is a clear talent at capturing nature, tribes, and animals and his composition is unique and lively. It’s clear that the equipment he uses and his forethought about the scene enable him to capture even unexpected beauty. Rather than work as a career photojournalist, he has taken a harder, more independent path. While this has left him to be creative and take on projects that others might not, it also has some consequences, such as not being in his home more than he is on the road. However, it is a choice he never regrets, and readers will see why when they view the phenomenal images in this book.

His love of photography is infused in every picture he takes, and it is these pictures that enable us to put ourselves in different locations and view them as they are, without industry and interference from the modern world.  Even photos at a distance are created with composition, lighting, and subject in mind.  It is clear that he loves what he does, and he equally loves the subjects, shining a new light on even the ones most photographed, like penguins.  Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard is a book that everyone will want to have in hardcover to cherish Wolfe’s art — to hold it, to view it up close, and to reach inside and experience the world through his eyes.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Photographer:

The son of commercial artists, Art Wolfe was born in 1951 in Seattle, Washington, and still calls the city home. He graduated from the University of Washington with Bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education in 1975. His photography career has spanned five decades, a remarkable testament to the durability and demand for his images, his expertise, and his passionate advocacy for the environment and indigenous culture. During that time he has worked on every continent, in hundreds of locations, and on a dazzling array of projects. You can view his stunning photographs online and buy.

Straight James/Gay James by James Franco

Source: NetGalley
Paperback, 60 pgs.
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Straight James/Gay James by James Franco is a chapbook of poems, though many of these read like notes left on napkins and goofy missives that would be in a diary, never to see the light of day.  Initially, the collection seems to start off with an examination of isolation and being different in poems like “Dumbo” and “Mask,” exploring the struggle to fit into the boxes we see around us.

Dumbo

Dumb is me,
As a young elephant I was shy,
From too much attention,
So, speak I didn’t.

A young animal:
At age thirteen, life plunked
Me down in junior high,
Like Dumbo in the circus.

As I grew,
Isolation followed me
And the only recourse
Was to drink hard with the clowns.

Pink elephants
Paraded and sloshed
Through my youth
Until I became a sinister clown,

With a smile painted
So thick
I looked mad-happy, always.
And I never flew, 

I never flew.

Evoking a pop culture icon from childhood — Dumbo from Disney — readers will be drawn into the comparison, showing a poetic sophistication and a knowledge of how poetic devices can be used. As an actor and a director, the choice is not unexpected. In “Mask,” he dons a persona, one that earns him money, and it is this persona that he has a love-dislike relationship with. It is not that he dislikes the persona, but the fact that it is so loved by the media and even fans — those who pay him, providing him with the money he uses to make art. It is this art that he pushes through the envelop of preconceptions and those categories that he sought to fit into in the first poem of the collection.

I want to stop here for a moment. Anna pointed me to this article in The Washington Post, which asks if it is “possible to be fair if we simply, irrationally just don’t like” a certain actor? In my case, this is James Franco. I don’t dislike him per se, but I don’t really like him either. Perhaps I don’t understand his art or his humor, but for a poetry reviewer, it’s hard to set that aside when his poetry is another form of art.

With that being said, a lot of this collection is inconsistent, reads like nearly stream-of-consciousness scribbling, and in some cases, it is the ravings of a drugged out person (or so it seems). He’s trying to be avant-garde, at least that’s what it seems like. Some of this is even merely backstage commentary.

The title poem, “Straight James/Gay James,” is an exercise in the ridiculous, in which his sexuality is not really explored, but skirted, and his main focus seems to be how much he loves himself. Straight James/Gay James by James Franco is an oddity that might have needed more editing and/or focus.

RATING: Epitaph

About the Author:

James Franco is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, and painter. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films. In 2001 he played the title role in Mark Rydell’s television biographical film James Dean, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love & Giveaway

tlc tour hostSource: LibraryThing Early Reviews and TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 336 pgs.
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The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love begins before the British become embroiled in war again, at a time when a dancing, music, and art are in full swing.  Hitler is making his moves, and as many foreigners have moved to Britain, they fear becoming targets because of the Fascist’s moves.  In particular, an Italian community, which applauds Mussolini’s focus on making the fatherland great again, has growing concerns that they too will be swept up in the persecutions/internments of foreigners.

“Antonio stood at the bedroom window.  The June morning was mild, almost milky.  It seemed to him that if he stayed perfectly silent, perfectly still, they would pass the house and leave him be.  And yet he knew that they would not.  At any moment — they would knock on the door.  The knock would be loud and hollow: a drumbeat, a summons.  There would be no anger in it, no private hatred.  The men were just doing their job, that’s all.” (pg. 3 ARC)

Antonio and Olivia meet under less-than-ideal circumstances at the Paradise Ballroom, and despite the instant disgust, something simmers beneath he surface for both of them.  In chapters that alternate between their stories from 1937 to 1947, Love weaves a tale of forbidden love, clashing cultures, and the pressures of war.  Antonio is pressured by his brother, Valentino, to join the Fascists, but he does not believe in their cause, and even though he has an arranged marriage, he wants to provide for his wife on his own through his talents.  Olivia is making her way in the world with the talents she has, dancing the tango, but even as she makes some ill-advised choices, she continues onward through the loneliness and pain.

When war is clearly coming, Olivia marries a bohemian Englishman, Bernard, who soon becomes Antonio’s patron, helping him find a musical tutor and gigs in London.  Bernard continues to be consumed with his work with refugees from the countries conquered by Hitler, and his wife is left to fend for herself much of the time.  Her passionate nature cannot be denied for long, and the outbreak of war is the only thing that can suppress it.  Love has created two characters driven by their passion for artistry, but each is confined by different circumstances — a strict moral culture and a fear of loss.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love is more than a love story between two or even four characters, it is a look at how fear can cause even the most rational of us to employ terrible tactics to make ourselves feel safe.  Despite a slow build, Love has created a memorable family in the Trombettas, and their struggles become emotional for the reader. 

RATING: Quatrain

GIVEAWAY: To Enter leave a comment with email address about why you want to read this book.  Open to U.S./Canada readers ages 18+

Deadline is May 11, 2016.

About the Author:

Alison Love is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Mallingford, published in the UK and Germany, was described in The Times as ‘the kind of book that reminds one why people still like reading novels’, while her second, Serafina, is set amidst the political intrigues of 13th century Amalfi. Her latest novel, The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom, has been published in the UK, the USA and Germany (as Das Lied, das uns trägt). Alison’s short stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, and her story Sophie stops the clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2013.

 

 

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean

Source: Akashic Books, Peekash Press
Paperback, 208 pgs.
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Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean, with a preface from Kwame Dawes, features poems from Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Danielle Jennings, Ruel Johnson, Monica Minott, Debra Providence, Shivanee Ramlochan, Colin Robinson, and Sassy Ross.  There is a variety of poems in this collection that speak to the culture of the Caribbean, but also to the loss of culture among those who move away to the United States or other locations.  Some poems beautifully capture the dialect of the language and the beat of the culture without detracting from the readers’ enjoyment, but there are a few poems that can be difficult to understand and will require additional attention if readers are unfamiliar with the Caribbean dialects used.

Kwame Dawes says in the preface, “It is important and admirable that this gathering of poets allows us to explore the meaning of these ides of home.”  This is an apt description of this collection because in it are poems that range from finding a place in a college classroom, even among those with a similar culture, to a mother explaining to her child that she is not a home or a mother, though her “womb” knows her.  These narrators are looking for that feeling of belonging, being able to settle down and be content.  Their lives are in flux, and some are embroiled in violence or destructive behavior, but all of these voices are strong and determined.  They rely on their heritage from the cultural nuances they were taught by family to the ones they have learned on their own.

In “The Haunting of His Name” by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s narrator talks about how the love of a man can be haunting even if that man is abusive or not good to you.  There’s prescription here for how to get over him: “You must not love him,/so you bind yourself/with hunger and smoke,/sing hard against/your body’s silence.”  This is a man who will not leave you, so you must  wash “him from the temple of your heart.”  In her poem, “Learning to Breathe in Luminous Water,” the narrator explains that you only need to teach yourself to breathe underwater, learn to deal with the hardships and transform or overcome the obstacles ahead.  Almost by a matter of sheer will, the woman can find a way through.

Like Monica Minott’s “Penelope to Calypso,” women must learn to accept what has happened or how the world has come to pass, but they have the power to move forward or accept a new path that they carve on their own.  Penelope says to Calypso, “Odysseus is like driftwood;/long before he met you and me/he belonged to the sea./When driftwood wash up,/they make interesting furnishings/and conversation piece/”  It is clear that these women are strong enough to stand on their own.  On the other side of the coin, when the connections are right, women should know how that feels, even if it is a little like the snapper trapped by the “Fisherman’s Net.”

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean is a collection of empowerment for women and men alike, for the immigrants searching for new opportunities.  Like all opportunities, there are challenges that must be met and overcome, but seeking strength from the outside is not always the best solution.  Inner strength can ensure the path is endurable and that opportunities are not lost.

Rating: Quatrain

The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace

Source: Maria Grace
Paperback, 384 pgs.
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The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace (Book 2 in The Queen of Rosings Park series) and Lizzy and Darcy are not the stars of this one.  Lydia is always portrayed as the youngest, silliest sister who gets herself into the worst trouble, forcing Darcy to rescue her and pay Wickham to take her.  What if there were an alternative?  What if she was caught soon enough and could be sent to what is essentially reform school?

Lydia is ungrateful, as she pines for Wickham at Mrs. Drummond’s school, but she soon learns that there is little sympathy among the other students.  She misses Wickham, hates Darcy and Lizzy and her father, and has little love for Mrs. Drummond or Miss Fitzgilbert.  Despite her reluctance to do the chores set before her and the charitable visits to the alms houses and other places in Summerseat, she finds herself growing closer to Miss Fitzgilbert and Juliana, who is even more of a fallen woman than she is.  The lessons on numbers do not stick with her, but her lessons in drawing and painting and music are her saving grace.  Her pencil flits across the page and she creates realistic pictures of her friends and various situations. 

Her new friends are a balm to her loneliness, and she soon finds her place at the school, even though there are a few students who try to make her stay uncomfortable.  As Lydia uncovers her creative side, she begins to see her other friends at the school as less than pleasant, especially when they blame her for things that she did not do.   The Trouble to Check Her by Maria Grace (Book 2 in The Queen of Rosings Park series) is refreshing and enjoyable, and Lydia grows and evolves in the most wonderful ways, while maintaining her sense of humor and ability to enjoy sisterly interaction.

Rating: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, sewn six Regency era costumes, written seven Regency-era fiction projects, and designed eight websites. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich

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Hardcover, 256 pgs.
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Tyson Palmer is The Total Package; he’s football’s biggest star quarterback with a pile of money, a hot bod, and a trail of broken hearts, including his own. His career as a star football player, with help from his father and those around him, is nearly over.  But a chance meeting at his college’s Homecoming with Ella Bella, a former tutor, has ramifications that he is blissfully unaware of thanks to his drinking and Percocet.  When he’s kidnapped and forced into rehab, Palmer comes to realize that forgiveness has to first start with yourself.  Signing with the Austin Mavericks, he has an opportunity to relive the golden days as a star quarterback, but he plans to do it differently.

He still has his critics, and one of them is Dani Carr, a sports commentator, who calls Palmer out for his egotism and his failure to win a Super Bowl.  There’s a deeper cause for her anger, one that will take Palmer a while to uncover.  Even as they argue back and forth, the foreplay is something they cannot ignore.  Stephanie Evanovich creates characters that are not only flawed, but forgivable.  Carr’s work with Marcus, who is the receiver the Mavericks have pinned their hopes on, brings her closer to Palmer.  Carr has focused on her anger for so long, it is hard for her to let go even when she feels pulled in by Palmer’s charm.

Palmer is a man who wants forgiveness, but he also wants to build the life he once dreamed about as a kid.  The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich is a story about redemption and forgiveness.  It’s another great read from this author and would be perfect to pop in the beach bag or even to spend the afternoon with in the spring sun.

RATING: QUATRAIN

About the Author:

Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl who attended New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, performed with several improvisational troupes, and acted in a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had: raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.  Find out more about Stephanie at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Cecil’s Pride: The True Story of a Lion King by Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, photographs by Brent Stapelkamp

Source: Diary of an Eccentric
Hardcover, 40 pgs.
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Cecil’s Pride: The True Story of a Lion King by Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and photographs by Brent Stapelkamp, due to be published in April, is not about the great lion’s death but about his life as a pride leader and as an unconventional one at that.  The photographs in this book are stunning, and as a reader, a hardcover edition of this one would be worth buying for the photographs alone.

The death of Cecil renewed calls for conservation and the protection of endangered species, and this book seeks to keep that momentum going, as Cecil left behind cubs and a pride that had no leader.  In the lion world, when cubs are left behind after the death of the leader, they are usually killed off by the incoming leader.  Luckily Cecil’s cubs did not meet this fate, but it will surprise readers to learn how that happened.

Brent Stapelkamp had been studying Cecil and his family since 2008, and what he learned was extraordinary.  Rather than just learning how far these animals roam in search of food and in terms of territory, he learned other things about their behavior that are astonishing.  These kinds of research projects can help us learn more about the interconnected world we live and see that animals have more than base instincts.

Cecil’s Pride: The True Story of a Lion King by Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and photographs by Brent Stapelkamp may have pictures not suitable for really young audiences, but my young reader and I watch nature shows so she knows that some animals are predators and eat other animals.  The pictures of the lions eating an elephant are definitely tamer than they could be, though, which was appreciated.

RATING: Quatrain

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

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Paperback, 368 pgs.
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Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig is a collection of short stories set during World War I, the Great War. Love is at the crux of each story, whether its a lost love or the love of a child lost to war, and these men and women are tested by the ravages of combat.  These writers have a firm grasp of the subject and readers will never question their knowledge of WWI or the human condition.  From a childless widow of German heritage living in France in “Hour of the Bells” by Heather Webb to a young wife left in Paris alone and estranged from her husband’s family in “After You’ve Gone” by Evangeline Holland, people are torn apart by war in many ways and those who are left behind to pick up the pieces are weary and forlorn.  They must pick up their skirts or what remains of their lives and move on, despite the pull of the past, the future that will never be, or the emptiness of their homes.

“But the trick was not to care too much.  To care just enough.” (from “An American Airman in Paris” by Beatriz Williams, pg. 244 ARC)

“Sixty years gone like a song, like a record on a gramophone, with the needle left to bump against the edge, around and around, the music gone.” (from “The Record Set Straight” by Lauren Willig, pg. 44 ARC)

These characters care, they care a lot, and even after the war is long over, the past still haunts them, at least until they are able to make amends or at least set the record straight.  How do you get past the loss of loved ones, do you wallow? do you seek revenge? how do you hold on to hope? Sometimes the war doesn’t leave a physical reminder, but a mental and emotional one — scars that are harder to trace and heal.  These stories are packed full of emotion and characters who will leave readers weeping and praising the hope they find.

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig takes readers on a journey through and over the trenches and to the many sides in a war — crossing both national and familial borders.

Rating: Cinquain

Connect with the Authors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m counting this as my Fiction Book Set During WWI.

 

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

Source: Author Kristina McMorris
Paperback, 340 pgs.
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The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris explores what it means to be lost in the rough waters, like those surrounding Alcatraz in 1937, and deciding to take a leap of faith and plunge into the fog.  Shanley Keagan, like Tommy Capello, is caged, and they both dream of freedom and a life lived on their own terms.  Like many dreamers standing on the precipice of change, fear and anxiety cause them to freeze, becoming inert.  It is not until they take a leap of faith that they can realize their dreams.  Shanley, under the thumb of his alcoholic uncle, dreams of a vaudevillian life in America, and by chance is given an opportunity to chase his dream.  When tragedy strikes aboard the vessel, Shan is forced to do the unthinkable to grab his dream.

“No man wants a daily reminder of the hardships that in a blink could be his own, nor to carry the shame of being unable, or unwilling, to help those in need.  Such burdens were easier to discard when not planted outside your window.” (pg. 12 ARC)

Tommy Capello, on the other hand, seems to have it all — a family who loves him, a roof over his head, and talent for any number of vocations.  Telling jokes on stage comes naturally, but the club owner is into some prohibited business, forcing Capello to make a choice.  Unfortunately, his brother makes a different choice and gets in deeper, but when Capello crosses the line with his brother Nick’s love, all that he has is lost, forcing him to leave and forget his family.  Only upon his return does Tommy believe he can right the wrong and save his brother from certain jail time or death, but disaster strikes and he loses even more.

“It’s fascinating, really, when you think about it.  How a person can slip into a new life as one would a new pair of shoes.  At first there’s a keen awareness of the fit: a stiffness at the heel, the binding of the width, the curve pressed into the arch.  But with time and enough steps, the feel becomes so natural you almost forget you’re wearing them at all.” (pg. 115 ARC)

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris is mesmerizing, and Shan and Tommy’s stories are intertwined in the most beautiful way to tell a story of family devotion and redemption.  Shan embarks on a journey to another continent, while Tommy emerges from the ashes to take on a new life.  These young men are dreamers, but they also realize that to achieve their dreams takes hard work and appreciation for those who help them along the way.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Kristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep. Additionally, her novellas are featured in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m counting this as my Fiction Book Set in the 1930s.

The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 336 pgs.
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The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb will immerse readers in the religious fervor of Judaism, which is both beautiful in its confinement and infuriating in its inability to be more flexible. Opening with Maya Kerem reminiscing about her parents, the novel seems as though it’s going to be a love story about her parents, but then, readers are introduced to German Jew Walter Westhaus, whose life is shattered one night by the Nazis in 1938.  The tragedy he experiences in his apartment pushes him into blind action, leaving his homeland to board a boat and travel not to Palestine as he and his fiance dreamed but to Bombay, as he follows a man with a brown felt hat.

“They are alone for four days and their recognizable lives become obliterated, irrelevant.  For both of them, this time is not joyful, but necessary.” (pg. 199 ARC)

Despite the complications and the religious context, the story of Walter is one that is familiar, a man who becomes lost in the face of trauma and who wanders to find meaning in what’s left of his life.  The man with the brown felt hat befriends him among the spices and dreams of a different life for Walter.  He begs Walter to come to America and become a scholar of religion and faith.  This is a friendship held at a distance, a connection that allows Walter to meet Sol Kerem and Rosalie Wachs, with whom he will be connected in the most beautiful and impossible ways — creating a deep love and braided life that is beneath the surface of all that they are.

The poetry of the Torah and the other texts examined in Rabbinical school by Walter and Sol mimic the beautiful relationship between Sol, Rosalie, and Walter, an impossible braid that cannot be broken because if it were, all strength would be lost.  While Gottlieb’s characters are each lost in their own way, when they come together, they find the strength and faith they need to keep going, even when they are miles and countries apart.  Like the intertwined relationships of the novel, Gottlieb weaves in religious texts and rituals in a way that is seamless and artistic, making beautiful the impossible.

“…the secret of these weeks will resound in my bones as private music that only I will be able to hear.” (g. 70 ARC)

The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb is a rapture where decisions are not analyzed but made, and where love is the driving force of faith.  Even in death, a story can live on, unraveling its intricate and closely held secrets for all to behold.  It’s a mystical take on the average lives we lead and how they compare to the dreams of something more that we harbor in locked places.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Amy Gottlieb’s fiction and poetry have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She lives in New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m calling this my A Fiction Book set during WWII.

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe

Source: Author Jane Odiwe
ebook, 275 pgs.
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Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe requires readers to suspend disbelief, and those fans of Jane Austen who wish she had written more than her 6 novels will surely have no problem doing that.  Her death is averted by her physician, who has discovered the secret to immortal life with the help of the Turritopsis dohrnii in 1817.  When Austen awakens she is in 1925, just after The Great War.  Many families, including rich families, have fallen on hard times and experienced great loss as many lost sons, brothers, and husbands in the war.  Times have changed for women, and Austen is able to get work outside the home to support herself, and although her family has passed on and she’s effectively alone in the world, she pulls up her hem and gets to work as a governess to five girls at Manberley Castle near the sea in Stoke Pomeroy.

“Having lived cautiously, and under strict rules and regulations for so long, Miss Austen felt the winds of change blowing across the Devon landscape.”

Cora, Emily, Alice, Mae, and Beth are a bit more to handle than Austen expects, especially as she is a little younger than she had been before the procedure.  Upon her arrival, Austen is faced with staff who are eager to gossip, which rubs her the wrong way because she prefers to make up her own mind about people.  The heir to the castle, William Milton, is one person who keeps her on her toes, and as Austen gets caught up in the drama of others, she begins to realize that her life would be empty without the Miltons in it.

Odiwe is one of the best writers of Jane Austen-related fiction, and it shows as she weaves in Austen’s own novels into her own novel.  Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and more are illustrated in a variety of situations here, and Austen is at the center of them all.  However, readers should be warned that Odiwe is not rehashing these plots point for point.  Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe is her best novel yet, and if there were something to complain about, it would be that it could have been longer.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.  Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

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