Book Spotlight | “Between Sisters” by Cathy Kelly Jorie starts a convo about how reading certain stories can be affected by certain (emotional) triggers.

Posted Thursday, 22 September, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, I started by reviewing releases by FaithWords (the novels of Stephanie Grace Whitson), their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been blessed to start reviewing for them.

I received a complimentary copy of “Between Sisters” direct from the publisher Grand Central Publishing (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in consideration for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On selecting “Between Sisters”:

After I reviewed “Two Across”, I was given a few choices of upcoming releases from which to select which books I might be interested in reading. This particular title stood out to me on several fronts – as I truly love reading Women’s Fiction which seeks to have a strong dramatic core of heart as much as I love reading stories set outside my country. I do not oft get the chance to pick up an Irish novel and as the country is part of my ancestral past, it is one that holds my literary curiosity!

This is my first reading of Irish novelist Cathy Kelly, as I was quite excited about reading my first story by Ms Kelly as I was hoping it would lead to more readings of her novels. What I had foreseen going into the novel was a story that was fused by sisterhood friendships, shared memories and the highs/lows of how life can be both wicked exhilarating or move us through a series of life lessons where our personal growth is both tested and renewed. However, I was not quite prepared for how the novel opened, which is why instead of reviewing this novel, I wanted to open my post to a discussion about how sometimes the stories we seek out to read are sometimes the ones we have an inability to connect too.

I am thankful to the publicist at Grand Central who understood where I was coming from in regards to not being able to read this novel, but also, that I wanted to spotlight the novel to my readers whilst giving the explanation about what caused me to step out of the story.

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Book Spotlight | “Between Sisters” by Cathy Kelly Jorie starts a convo about how reading certain stories can be affected by certain (emotional) triggers.Between Sisters

Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There's Cassie, who's spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that "wine o'clock" comes a littler earlier each afternoon.

There's her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment. Watching over them is their grandmother Pearl, who, despite caring deeply for her family, is contending with a long-buried secret. And then there's Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who's triumphed over demons before, but is now facing her toughest battle yet. At every crossroad these women face, readers are taken deeper into the heart of what it means to be a family.

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781455540853

on 9th August, 2016

Length: 870

Pages: 464

Published by: Grand Central Publishing (@GrandCentralPub)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #IrishFiction & #WomensFiction

+ use these two in combo: #Contemporary #Romance

Read an inspiring article on Cathy Kelly from Irish Central (about Between Sisters)

About Cathy Kelly

Cathy Kelly Photo Credit: Barry McCall

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A #1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, she is one of Ireland's best-loved storytellers. Kelly lives with her husband, their young twin sons, and three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Photo Credit: Barry McCall

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on how some stories prove to be too much for us to handle:

I’ve been considering what has taken me outside of Between Sisters for awhile, as I’ve tried to read this novel several times since it first arrived by Post. Originally, I was overjoyed to read a Women’s Fiction novel by an Irish author I have not yet had the joy of reading – as Women’s Fiction is one branch of Contemporary Literature I personally do enjoy reading – as it is that beautiful branch of fiction that has the undercurrent of everyday life from every lifestyle and background of women – where a women’s emotional and psychological wellness is tied into the story-line or back-story, as it truly is a living fictional account of everyday women who have a story that is both dynamic and readily realistic for today’s world to read.

I have found Women’s Fiction to be separate from relationship-based Romances as the key focus is not the romance nor the relationship per se but rather something else that is affecting the women’s life at the point in which we enter her story. This is why I have enjoyed reading stories under this arm of narrative, and why I was keen on reading this one, as well. However, straight after beginning my readings, I started to notice myself tuck out of the novel – it was a quiet retreat, one that I knew might tip towards a personal issue I was having getting into Between Sisters and/or it was one of those moments where I was finding the story was simply not working for me as a reader. Even now, as I type this, I am split between the two avenues that could be what caused me to retreat.

You see, I’ve always been sensitive to stories involving terminal medical conditions and although, I have only managed to read a short few chapters in the opening of the novel – there is an undercurrent of medical suspense – regarding what the character ‘thinks she has’ and what could soon be affecting her life – I felt between what was being said it was Cancer. Here’s the difficulty for me – I’ve always been sensitive to stories involving Cancer, but since I lost my cat earlier this year to the disease out of the blue, I’ve faltered a bit in being able to read stories involving any condition similar or the same. It’s a mental block I’m sure – a way to curb my emotions, but right now, I find reading this not to be enjoyable.

On the other hand, part of what I struggled with was the pacing of the beginning of the novel, as some of the first chapters felt a bit blurry to me – almost as if time was moving too quickly or the narrative was jarring me into it’s orbit without giving me a chance to right myself inside that character’s world. On the level of terminal illnesses and medical fiction, although I did nod about this on my Review Policy, I’m going to be extending it today to mention that I simply do not have the heart to go through the long process of a terminal diagnosis and recovery; I am finding I can resume a thread of story after a person has passed on due to a terminal condition or someone has lost a loved one due to Cancer, but that is not visible in the story as it’s ‘off-camera’ so to speak or happened prior to our entrance into the story itself.

I was curious if there are emotional triggers that you as a reader find that you have a pull-back mechanism happening when your reading a story? Sometimes your blindsided – as for me, when I read about what Between Sisters was going to be about I never once gathered a notice that there was going to be a medical condition or crisis happening to one of the women in the story. Sometimes it’s not an omission either – sometimes that part of the story isn’t as important or tied to the general arc of a character’s journey (or perhaps it is but it’s overshadowed by other events or characters) – so it’s not so easy to say you can side-step this from happening in the future, even if you’re like me, and take a critical eye towards rooting out what a story will involve.

A bit of a back-story on me – I grew up watching medical dramas and series, until I remember very distinctively two of the series I loved most ER and Strong Medicine, took a bit of a nose dive in regards to plot directions, character developments and series focus. It’s not important which episodes tipped me out of my comfort zones but the fact that I noticed in those instances, my love of medical dramas were waning until there was a day where I said, “no more”. Honestly I can only handle light medical dramas (such as old episodes of Emergency!) or light mentions of medical issues in the stories I am reading nowadays. For those full-on medical disclosures and the nitty gritty bits of the medical world? Somehow I’ve transitioned away from them – of course, if you factor in your own living experiences, there are some key differences between the girl I was then and the woman I am now. I’ve loved and lost more family members and I’ve lost close personal family friends as well – all of whom had traumatic ends to their lives. Some were even unresolved as they simply dropped dead out of the blue and left a missing presence in our lives. I think that can play a part in what we can become emotionally invested in as well when we seek out fictional stories.

Sometimes you have to consider your own heart and mind – what can you personally handle and can become a bit too much to engage with whilst your reading. I might never fully understand why I have this pull-back instinct now, but it is something that I have to be honest about having as I find myself disinterested in knowing more if the emotional difficulty of facing what is happening to the character is putting me past my boundary line of what I can handle, then that story for whichever reason isn’t meant for me to read. Reading should always first and foremost be something we turn too for enjoyment and for the joy of uncovering a life that we can attach inside. Characters are as real to our real-life composite lives as they can be as they are etched out of living memories and the heart of the writer who penned them. If we cannot draw ourselves into their shoes and live for a spell inside their lives, then we’re at a disservice to ourselves as readers.

I think it’s much better to be openly honest with ourselves about what we’re putting into our minds and hearts – for some that might be overtly violent thrillers (technically I don’t like these either) or for others that might be sexual innuendo for Romances. For me, it’s terminal medical conditions or the suspected diagnosis as foreshadowed in a story like Between Sisters due to how the opening chapters were worded and were being directed to be understood from a readerly point-of-view.

Even though I was thoroughly overjoyed by the release of Between Sisters, I had to be honest with myself and recognise this is one of those times where I cannot reconcile reading the story. We each have our own limits and being mindful of what triggers us to have a negative reaction can make us better readers. For instance, I already stopped requesting a high volume of war dramas because I recognised over a year ago, they were putting me in a bad place mentally because I was getting more real-life accounts of war than the lighter dramas that I previously enjoyed. To be honest, it was the Kate Mosse novel that put me over the edge for certain war dramas that truly are a credit to those who served but can push a gentle heart too far out of where she can return.

Each of us have to make the choices that are best for our own readerly health and I am not sure if it’s openly discussed but it should be. We shouldn’t feel guilty for finding a story that personally affects us for one reason or another, but to own that reaction. Perhaps someone else has a different trigger and they’d love to read the book we had to put down. It’s a circle of choices and stories – each of us as readers (especially those of us who blog or vlog or chat IRL) who seek to share our readerly lives can effectively continue to help each other find the stories we want to become invested in as for each story we don’t read, we could help someone else find their ‘next read’.

In the comment threads below, share your thoughts – has this happened to you? And, what do you find are your own personal emotional blocks when it comes to reading certain stories? Also, if your a reader of Cathy Kelly’s novels – which of hers do you think I’d enjoy to start reading that doesn’t touch on a medical condition or crisis?

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This book Spotlight is courtesy of:

Between Sisters promo banner provided by Grand Central Publishing and used with permission.

Grand Central Publishing

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Between Sisters”, book synopsis, author photograph, author biography and the “Between Sisters” promotional banner were all provided by the publisher Hachette Book Group Inc. (book covers via their Bloggers Portal) and used with permission. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Ruminations & Impressions Banner and Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 22 September, 2016 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Grand Central Publishing, Realistic Fiction

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2 responses to “Book Spotlight | “Between Sisters” by Cathy Kelly Jorie starts a convo about how reading certain stories can be affected by certain (emotional) triggers.

  1. Savanah | Off-Color Literature

    How unfortunate! I definitely understand. I read a book recently from a man’s perspective and literally halfway through, his girlfriend told him she’d been sexually assaulted. She gave a fairly graphic re-telling of the events, and it remained a major plot point for the rest of the novel (which I finished, because I was halfway through). Had I known going in that assault would have been such a large aspect, I would definitely have steered clear of it. Even in the reviews I read, no one who loved or hated the book mentioned it! Insane. So, yes. I definitely understand how you can stumble upon something while reading that, for you, is an emotional trigger. Sometimes there’s no way out of how you feel about it, and it’s fine that you acknowledge and know what you can and can’t handle.

    • Hallo, Hallo Savanah,

      You truly were the first to validate me on this issue – about the stories we desire to read and the stories we know are somtimes the stories we need to avoid reading. For whichever reason applies to us personally. I was so dearly grateful to you, for your open honesty and for relating to what I was sharing on this post. I admit, at the time I felt like I was going out on a limb because I hadn’t had this kind of reaction before – especially after receiving a book to review from a publisher and I was thankful this post not just connected with you as a fellow reader with a similar experience but the fact the publisher respected my views and thoughts. It meant the world to me – and I wanted to thank you at long last for leaving this note and for giving me a boost of grace on a post I found very difficult to write.

      I hope over the years you were still able to find stories you could connect with – you had such a wonderful spirit of writing notes on my blog, I regret I couldn’t maintain the courtesy and continue to visit with you.

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