Blog Book Tour | “The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall” by Shannon Kirk

Posted Monday, 6 February, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall hosted by iRead Book Tours. Per my last #StoriesOfJorie update, I talked about how my life has changed over the past few month since my father’s stroke and how the loss of my connectivity to the internet in the latter weeks of January, pushed some of my reviews into February. I had hoped to keep this blog tour on schedule with the tour itself, until of course, my connectivity issues combined my role as my Dad’s caregiver did not give me enough hours to  post in time to officially participate. However, I did remain in contact with iRead whilst posting this as close to the end of the tour as I can to hopefully catch readers who are still following to see our opinions. I also tried to tweet a few reactions out ahead of my review going live as I was completely absorbed into the heart of this narrative and the scope of where the author hoped readers would take their readerly hearts.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall” direct from the author Shannon Kirk in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I  am drawn to stories such as this one:

The introspective and existential journey of the soul is a unique perspective to have available in literature, as it deals with the quest of not only a person’s humanistic approach to their living reality but to the deeper layers of their soul’s journey. I personally love introspective  narratives – which is one reason I was delighted to be a beta reader for Mr Barton’ s  Peach,even if during my readings of his novel I recognised a humbling truth of my own: I can handle near-death and coma experiences but when the background of a story is attached directly to terminal illness (ie. Cancer) I find myself unwinding from the context of the story; almost unmoored if you will to carry forward with the journey on the pages. Blessedly through my work with Mr Barton, I was able to complete my work with his manuscript whilst working around this newfound literary block of mine. I spoke more about this particular subject on this post about how sometimes our emotions and our hearts cannot take us everywhere we’d like to go within a novel.

Peach taps into  a particular awareness of living and of life; of  stepping outside oneself and of seeking to understand the authenticity of one’s living truth whilst mindfully aware of how actions and their effects on others can influence how our lives can play out. It’s one man’s journey towards understanding who he is whilst re-appreciating his role in his life and how he is particularly important to those around him.  On a similar vein of interest, I found Antiphony to be written in a similar tone of  narrative thought –  suspended of course from the traditional story-telling arc and cast into that particular heady sea of introspective fiction. Both of these prior reads allowed me to go to a different place in literature where writers are seeking to find a way to communicate a layer of story-telling which is not oft-times revealled nor are the layers of our soul explored to reveal a more humbling view of our own humanity.

I am unsure why stories involving near-death and coma story-lines are easier for me to process than terminal illness, but it has been true for quite a long time even before this past year where I pulled my thoughts together. I still remember how intrigued I was by a French author’s story within If Only It Were True by Marc Levy. I also saw the adaptation Just Like Heaven and hope to one day see the Bollywood version I See You. I was caught up in the narrative of how Levy wrote the story even though there were a few wrinkles in my brow in how the story evolved and how it was disclosed to the reader. There was enough inside it to inspire me to conclude it and by the time I saw the film, I was moved past the emotional plane of where the author meant us to go. It was heart-stirring and it was inspiring on an interpersonal level.

There is something quite vividly alive about seeking out the stories which take us outside the ‘everyday’ and re-align us back into the periscope of understanding the wider importance of why we live. As an aside, I know the author crossed my path on Twitter at some point in the journey of this novel – it might have even been whilst it was moving titles (originally known as ‘Heavens’) but whenever it was our paths first crossed, the joy was mine to finally dig into her story-line and see how she breathed to life Vivienne’s discovery.  On another level of cross-reference, portions of Vivienne’s journey hugged me back to the poetically insightful prose found within Lemongrass Hope! (see also review)  These are the stories I ache to find and to feel fully consumed after having read. They give you something back which sometimes can become lost in the chaos of life; a well of renewal and a sharpened awareness of our human condition.                                                                                                     Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

Blog Book Tour | “The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall” by Shannon KirkThe Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall

What if you could choose your heaven now? Go on a celestial shopping trip of sorts? Thirty-five-year-old Vivienne does just that, as she lies dying in the ICU; a fatal walk into the path of a truck. In her final week of life, Vivienne treks through the Heavens of a priest, a best friend, a homeless child, and a lover who never was. Vivienne’s guardian angel, Noah, who may just be her soul mate, escorts her through selections of Heavens and through the confusion Vivienne experiences as she flounders between a doubt of life and the certainty of death. Although her visits to varied afterlives provide peace and beauty, choosing proves not so easy: Vivienne’s love for her young son and her earthly father pull her from her colorful journey—and from her divine love of Noah.

The nature of love, the variety and magic of life, unending hope, and the importance of saying goodbye are central to this uplifting tale.

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ISBN: 9781944387082

on 12th August, 2016

Pages: 310

 Published By: Reputation Books

 Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk is the awarding-winning author of the international bestselling Method 15/33 (psychological thriller--bestseller in Colombia and Spain, will be lead title in Italy, 2017) and Heavens (Literary Fiction). Method 15/33 has received multiple accolades: 2015 Foreword Review Book of the Year (Suspense); Winner of 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, Best Suspense; 2015 USA Best Book Finalist; School Library Journal's Best Adult Books for Teens (2015); and Finalist in 2013 William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (when a Novella). Method 15/33 is optioned for a major motion film and has sold to nineteen foreign rights.

When not writing, she is a practicing lawyer, residing on Massachusett's Cape Ann with her husband and son and two cat writing accomplices, Marvin Marquez (in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Stewie Poe (Edgar Allen Poe).

Shannon enjoys writing in several genres: literary fiction, psychological thriller, young adult, and poetry. She has been honored three times by the William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. ​

my review of the extraordinary journey of vivienne marshall:

The opening of this novel is quite in-tune with today’s technologic addictive world – what is the true cost of using technology as an appendage to our lives? How do we get to the point where  being ‘plugged’ in takes cadence over living in the world and experiencing the world directly through our living  sphere of understanding? Marshall holds no bar on introducing her character Vivienne as she steps in the path of a moving truth about humankind’s addictive tendencies of distraction leading to harrowingly visual consequences.  Vivienne might not have thought she would walk into the path of a truck and physically find herself in a position of pain and loss seconds after reading her social feeds; but this is exactly how we meet her, as a woman whose hectic lifestyle includes power walking through city streets, head down into her phone and her attention elsewhere than where it ought to have been.

The transition of being cognisant and aware of the differences between being ‘here’ and being ‘there’ is introduced well – as you can feel the pull of how Vivienne wants to return ‘back there’ rather than being returned to where she was before. There is a soul ache in feeling how connected we are to the Light of Heaven and how disappointed we could become on our return to Earth if we were already about to make the choice between life and death; to resume where we left off the moment we ‘died’ or were put into a coma (as sometimes is the case) can become a delicate war within ourselves to understand where we are on our journey and how our choices will affect everything else.

I love how Kirk pulls you into the heart of Vivienne when she expresses her soul craves ordinary kind mercies and the stories which keep us all alive with the heartblood of our humanity. She starts to thread the needle towards what Vivienne understands both in the present and in the ‘other sphere’ of her existence; she’s tethered to both in this moment of recognising how she’s about to separate from one chapter and enter into a new one wholly new and dimensionally incredible in its own right.

Vivienne is being guided by her first true love, Noah, of whom met her when she first found herself in-between; where she has options (something similar was explored through the film Christmas Magic starring Lindy Booth) to chart her course; in this vein of interest, she can choose how she spends her eternity; by hand-selecting ‘Heavens’ to try out by people who were meant to be her guides and guardians in life; in effect, the people of whom crossed your path for even more reasons than what you might have originally felt possible at the time you met them. (here: I remembered my viewing of The Five People You Meet in Heaven) As you start to enter into the memories of Vivienne’s selected personal guides, you start to see how poetically attune Kirk is at delivering a story-line full of metaphoric and ambient depth; you get caught inside how she chooses to grant you entrance into a private woman’s world; whose lived so daringly close to tomorrow, she’s never quite given her the luxury to reconsider the past or shift her perspective of the present. In having to focus on her guides, she’s withdrawing inward – digging through the records of her memories, sensing where she needs to go and fusing memory with insight in ways she never attempt before her accident.

As she recounts her time spent with Lachlan, the author etches out how intuitive children can be and how some children are insightful to a layer of  cognitive awareness far ahead of their lived years. This young boy knew quite instinctively how the over stimulation of city life was not allowing Vivienne to connect to the natural world or even the gentler rhythm of her own heart and spirit. All the congestive noise and bustlements were clogging her spiritual plane with stimuli but never giving her a chance to unwind or recharge. You cannot fully function if you’ve never had the chance to breathe in the stillness of a moment which isn’t directly tied to a purposeful action or deadline. You need to allow yourself the ordinary joy of simply being ‘still’ and ‘aware’ – hence why going to a natural setting such as a botanical garden was such a life lesson for Vivienne.

Interspersed through Vivienne’s journey are an inlaid array of photographs meant to  help tip your hat towards seeing what Vivienne is experiencing as she journeys between Heaven and Earth. It’s not a place which can be fully conceptionalised by the conscience of a living soul, as the heart and mind in our humanistic awareness of proportional dynamics of science and reality will not necessarily endeavour to suspend reason and perceptive analysis to simply ‘accept’ what is and what isn’t; therefore, Kirk found ways to guide the reader in accepting the dimensional shifts of Vivienne’s own journey by prompting the reader to take the leap with Vivienne in a soulful approach of journalling narrative, photograph inspiration and a poetically eloquent style of story-telling.

Kirk found a way to ignite a fire of curiosity within Vivienne, wherein she could start to think for herself the larger meanings behind ordinary memories – inclusive of course to her time in Lachlan’s Heaven was a way of re-discovering how the objects which can be found around us hold within their innate bodies tentacles of thought, whispers of remembrance and stories of the humans attached to them. This hones in on why I personally adore antique emporiums and the artifacts of yesterday; the stories are bubbling around the surface of the lost objects and items which were once a very treasured part of someone’s life. Within those stories, we see a measure of our shared joy and the pursuit of finding happiness and love throughout a lifetime of living.

The thing about memories though is how sometimes they are anchoured to more than a superficial layer of understanding; if you take someone elses memory out of context and then, appreciate it for what it yields to you in the moment of it’s telling, that’s one layer of understanding. Yet to take the same memory and re-examine it through the eyes of it’s narrator and to clue yourself closer to the soul living the life in which the memory resides; you might surprise yourself and finding hidden roots of connective threads uniting your life with theirs, or vice versa. Such is true also for Vivienne who hasn’t yet sorted out how the fissures of memory, the walks within her ‘Heavens’ on loan and the life she’s led can transcend themselves into a wholly new perception of what is inherently important about being mindfully observant and intuitive about how we approach how we live.

Sometimes when life affords an adverse situation the first instinct is to retreat inward and to find those within your sphere you can trust to carry you through. Whilst side-stepping over one crucial part of Vivienne’s memory with her friend Armadillo (see Fly in the Ointment) I found the catalyst of a friendship which withstood time. Vivienne had found her huckleberry friend in Armadillo; a girl who was a natural bourne artist with a caring soul and a preference for understanding the art of healing. She tapped into her natural gift early-on and thereby, her Heaven reflected how art can be transformatively peaceful whilst enchantingly inspiring at the same time.

Kirk has written a Contemporary story-line full of recognisable time references to place you in the setting of her timeline whilst never taking her mind away from Vivienne’s retrospective journey and introspective immersion of awakening her soul. There is a duality of her style – at first I thought she might remain in the arc of where Vivienne is now rather than to double-back in an retrospective vein of acknowledging what came ‘before’ where we enter Vivienne’s life. In some ways, I think it would have worked either way – as sometimes you can get muddled in the back-stories.

One of my favourite hidden memories Vivienne examines is the role her father’s mother had in inspiring her son to be an entrepreneur. There is something altogether charming about how a shoebox of shoelaces and the earnest dreams of a young boy can give you such an uplift about what is possible and how even when faced with the impossibilities in life, there is hope alighting through unknown channels of turning tides. This was such a tender inclusion and one which was so very pivotal to include.

The continued presence of Ivan, Vivienne’s son helps to anchour the narrative in the moving timeline of Vivienne’s journey and the currents of life moving forward even whilst the past is not fully resolved or hasn’t yet let go of the present. Time is temporal and ever changing but so too, are the patterns of where we walked and of the breaths we caught whilst we were alive. When you look at Vivienne’s journey it made plausible sense her son Ivan would move forward whilst in a way, she moved backwards to understand the greater impact of her life and the lives of those of whom influenced or guided her during her own timeline. Everything is connected and in many ways Kirk takes full advantage of fusing together how Vivienne’s tapestry of hours would reflect the essence of who she was and of the discoveries she made whilst she was caught ‘in-between’.

Fly in the Ointment:

There is one chapter where I found myself less inclined to appreciate the direction of where Kirk was leading us – it was about a girl name Armadillo and for whichever reason, the tone of this chapter felt indifferent and out of step with the former chapters entwined. Even the language started to grow a bit rougher but it was the undertone of it I felt was a bit darker than the arc Kirk had already established. Of course, on a personal note, I could have done without the animal abuse angle – as there was highlight of the ill-treatment of a dog included in this chapter, where two girls wish to right a wrong but evenso, it was just a bit too brutal and visual for me. Quite odd and as said ‘out of step’ with the chapters leading into this one – even though, there was a small segue to focus on Noah and Vivienne – who they were in childhood and adolescence, somehow I felt the story lost it’s orbit in this chapter. I purposefully skipped ahead and resumed reading when the height of Vivienne’s mother’s medical crisis emerges into view.

NOTE: I enjoyed listening to Slacker Radio’s Chill New Age station full of ambient electronica soundscapes via headphones whilst reading this novel. There is something quite ethereal and magical about listening to these kinds of soundscapes whilst your reading. I originally discovered the beautiful interplay between novels & ambient soundscapes whilst I was listening to Hearts of Space – once on regular radio airwaves and now housed on In lieu of re-subscripting right now to their streaming service, I have moved over to Slacker Radio which blessedly is streamed for free. Combine this music with the texture of this novel and in effect, you have a special narrative experience waiting for you as I found I had for myself.

on the depth of centreing vivienne’s journey by shannon kirk:

Ms Kirk has found a way to enter the details of what is happening to Vivienne Marshall in such a way to effectively ground us on her path – anyone who has spent time in hospitals or emergency wards will recognise the soothing tone of the nurse trying to quell the pain Vivienne is sure to feel if the IV doesn’t kick-in; you can even imagine her horror, of waking up in that particular moment in a place she felt she had already left by the way in which Kirk alights your footsteps into that scene. She has a way of telling a lot without overly stating the situation. Her style of story-telling is intuitive and it’s reflective of a soul trying to understand it’s own humanity whilst re-attempting to align with it’s spiritual energy.

What is so keenly interesting about how Kirk writes her definitive style of introspective fiction is how she parlays her own opinions on the internal subjects Vivienne is contemplating into the scope of the story itself. Anyone who has taken up the journey to seek out stories of this nature or even more directly of Magical Realism will see the undertones of cross-referencing a nod or a wink about how the author feels about the direction of the story but also the inclusive familiarity these stories bridge together for readers who are seeking to find them.

Kirk writes a musefully poetic prose with finite sharp insight into how to directly evoke out a throughtful approach to understanding the breadth of how life, the hours in-between and death are knitted into a beautiful circle of our soulful experience of understanding the  dimensionality of our spiritual life. If you look at the juxtaposition of the journey we take whilst in our human experience whilst cross-relating it to our spiritual path where our soul intersects with the Earthly plane: you enter into a hidden layer of intriguing thought, mindfulness of awareness for truths not readily known to us in our awakened states and an emergence of newfound spirituality; to fully embrace the whole of what our experiences yield to  the history of our souls. Kirk dips into this heady atmosphere of soul-led enquiries where  conscience thought, soulful instinct and purposeful exploration of possibilities illuminate a journey of discovery through her critically receptive character Vivienne Marshall.

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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 Monday, 6 February, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Angels, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Boston, Childhood Friendship, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Medical Fiction, Modern Day, Near-Death Experience, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Realistic Fiction, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Women's Health

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