Category: Book Browse

#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. Laugheed

Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I am launching a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I am beginning this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I am celebrating K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: In [2013] I was still participating in the Early Reviewer programme via Book Browse wherein I received an ARC for “The Spirit Keeper” – a new Historical Fiction narrative which sought to break boundaries of its genre and which captured me heart and soul as I read it. It was an emotionally gutting read, a historical reckoning of a story and it left me ruminatively curious about what the ‘next’ chapter of this extraordinary character’s life would be in the sequel. 

I decided to write an expanded review on my blog for my own edification after having contributed my Early Reviewer review to Book Browse – it was one of the few times I was able to do this even though there are a few other ARCs I received from Book Browse I’d like to still blog about in the near future which fittingly have more to be said on their behalf from my readerly experience.

Likewise, I also reached out to the author directly shortly after I posted my review in September of 2013; remember dear hearts, I launched my blog live on the 6th of August, 2013 – so this expanded review became one of the first officially celebrated novels of Jorie Loves A Story in the beginning of finding my writerly voice and my bookish presence in the book blogosphere. It pre-dated hosting blog tours and working with publishers, publicists and authors directly.

Although I remained in contact with the author a bit over the years – simply checking the status on the sequel or offering encouraging thoughts on writing it – I don’t consider this a conflict of interest as to be honest, it was not constant contact and we weren’t in contact on a regular basis nor did we touch base each year since 2013.

When I received an email from Ms Laugheed this past December, 2018 – to say I was pleasantly gobsmacked to have heard from her after a long absence of communication is putting it mildly! I was overjoyed – more for her than for me – as she was announcing the sequel was being published! She decided at long last to go the Indie route towards  publication and I was full of joy and happiness for her as this was a very long and dedicated route back to publishing a sequel I believed in as a reader (and there are others like me out there) but of which I wasn’t sure if any of us would get a chance to embrace it in published form.

Thereby, I did not hesitate to respond to her request to accept this new novel for review consideration – the only thing which delayed my entrance into its chapters was my five week Winter virus (from before Christmas to the early weeks of January, 2019) and my three successive migraines (from mid-January to early February). I read this immediately after recovering from my third migraine and was thrilled I could finally attach my mind and heart round the continuing journey of Katie and Hector!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gift of the Seer” by the author K.B. Laugheed in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Re-visiting “The Spirit Keeper”

My original motivation to read the novel: I wanted to partake in her journey untoward becoming one man’s living vision of ‘a creature of fire and ice’ and to see if they could fulfill each other’s destinies therein. It is such a curious proposition, to be taken by force from one’s own family, and re-positioned into a life, by which, you’re in complete unfamiliar territory, amongst people who speak a different tongue than your own, and by your own wits, have to determine how to survive. I was curious by how she was going to effectively change her life and heart; and to what end she must do so! This felt to me like a piece of Magical Realism wrapped up inside a Historical Fiction, rooted into the conscience of the American Frontier! I was besotted with the plot, and needed to read it to ascertain what the story truly was about! The Spirit Keeper spoke to me, as a book I needed to read rather than merely a book I wanted to read! I listen to my intuition in other words!

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Ms Laugheed advised me to re-read “The Spirit Keeper” ahead of reading “The Gift of the Seer” – what I hadn’t the heart to tell her is my copy of the novel is packed as most of my personal library has been packed for the last four years. I couldn’t sort out which box it is held within if I had a compass as I literally have quite the expansive library being stored right now. This is one key reason why I can’t always re-read the novels I’m reviewing – as I only have a handful of books I’ve reviewed the past few years unpacked and shelved – most of which, are first or seconds in series, awaiting new releases to where I can turn back to and re-read a bit ahead of delving into the next installment. I did have The Spirit Keeper prominently shelved for quite a few years after it was released – it was only recently I had to make the hard choice to pack it away for safe keeping til I can restore my library back to rights.

Therefore, I did what any other book blogger would do in this situation – I borrowed a well-loved copy from my local library and as I re-entered the story, I was quite shocked by what I discovered! I hadn’t forgotten as much as I was expecting, too! I re-read the opening bridge of the novel – re-visiting how Katie was taken from her family, the traumatic transitioning into life with the Spirit Keeper and Hector as much as re-aligning in my mind the era this series is set and the mannerisms of how the story is told. As Ms Laugheed has a very distinctive style of historical story-telling; it is one reason I was hugged so dearly close into the story originally.

Secondly, as I noticed a lot of readerly flashbacks moving through my mind’s eye after that particular re-visitation – I immediately flipped to the last quarter of the novel, resumed as if I hadn’t been absent from this story for :six: long years and re-lived the concluding chapters, as fresh as dew on recently mowed grass. I seriously was re-captured by what was left behind for my eyes and heart to find – thereby, I knew with certainty I was prepared as I ever could be to re-enter Katie and Hector’s world.

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For those of you who might never have had the pleasure of joy reading this novel, let me select a few quotations from my original review – both from what I shared with Book Browse after first reading the ARC and what I expounded upon on Jorie Loves A Story thereafter.

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The inertia of reality that besots you as soon as you enter into the world of The Spirit Keeper, is quite a hard bullet to bite, because before you can wrap your eyes and heart around what your visually aware of, your niched into the story! I credit this to the author, as Laugheed endeavours you to jump straight out of your comfort zone, wholly free-falling into a brutal, raw, and untamed section of the American Frontier in the mid-1700s and take a quest towards unraveling the complexities of building a new life in a foreign land. The thematics that are entrenched in the story parlay an exposition on language, translation, and sense of being. She readily elevates our awareness that our words can draw an impact that is not always aware to us, but like the life paths we are walking, we are not always in charge of their meaning or purpose of use.

I will lament, that if you’re a reader who begs off for lighter faire, you might want to caution yourself, as within Chapter One, the author does not hold back on the grim realities of what it was like in the 1700s when an Indian War Party descended upon a settler’s family.

The beauty of the outside world envelopes you from the jump-start, as the open wilderness is the footing for setting this story outside the reach of our known world. Even for those of us who are akin to the natural environment and the inhabitants therein, there is still so much of that world that is readily just outside our scope, outside our understanding. The Native Americans who are on the forefront of the story, evoke a cultural education into accepting stark differences of living, as much as embracing traditions that hold merit  (such as the menstrual huts for women).

Flickerments of “Medicine Man” (the motion picture) streamed through my mind, as did “Dances with Wolves” (the motion picture), as in each story, those who only spoke English, learnt to adapt and to live amongst the natives by which they found themselves belonging too better than their own kind. I am drawn into stories that attach us to whole new cultures, traditions, religions, and walks of life. Stories that etch into our imaginations a wholly new world, where there are similarities, but otherwise, as we dip into their narratives, we find ourselves in a foreign land, attempting to understand what we cannot yet conceive possible.

An incredible journey of self-preservation, fortitude of spirit, and overwhelming grief: I was not quite prepared for the journey that Katie, Syawa, and Hector embark upon! It wasn’t so much the long distances that they must traverse through rough hewn terrain, but rather, they are each going through a personal, intimate, internal journey concurrent to their outward journey towards the men’s originating homeland! Each is carrying secrets of their own experiences, and in Katie’s instance, her life is muddled and blighted with far more devastation than anyone could ill-afford possible to a seventeen year old young lady!

Her lot in life has been tempered by abuse and misguided notions of love, unto where she has encouraged a naïve sense of the living world, and has grown an ignorance of how right a life can be lived! I grieved for her and bleed emotions with her recollections of past memories,.. memories that were nearly too hard to bare and to ruminatively lay pause upon. It is through Syawa’s gentleness and effective way of easing her out of her shell, that she truly started to see who she was and who she could be. I only wish I could pronounce Syawa’s name, as I feel as guilty she does in her own story, about the misunderstandings that evolve out of not understanding language and meaning of words, phrases, or names outside our own native tongues!

Language & Translation: the Invisible Barriers we never foresee: Laugheed paints a clear window towards our greatest struggle in accepting and understanding each other, as we present ourselves to each other in our conversations! Each inflection of tone, voice, and the words we use to explain ourselves, can lead us down a path of misunderstanding and of misalignment in what we are attempting to represent as our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and passions. Throughout the story, we are seeing the story as a first-hand account of a diary the protagonist is writing to assert her own history back in her life, as she’s amongst those who do not understand the necessity of having a living history or a story to be told of one’s heritage. She values her experiences, her struggles of faith, and the lessons she is ought being taught as she walks forward into her future. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, but she isn’t going to allow herself to wallow in the situations she could never effectively change, but rather, pull out a strength deep from within her, to carry her through the tribulations that she was certain were still to come.

Whilst she’s (Katie O’ Toole) recounting her days in her diary, I mused about how this differed from the diary of Robinson Crusoe as it contained more of her essence, her internal quagmire of thoughts, and the irrevocable distraught by which she plagued herself with for most of her arduous journey towards Syawa and Hector’s homeland. From the moment I read the opening page, by which the author departed a precognitive knowledge of how the story might transform as you read the words, I was left with a museful pre-occupation of how that would transpire, and further still, of one particular scene that I had presumed was forgotten within the re-writes and draughts, leading up to publication! However, this falls perfectly into this category of observation about ‘language and translation’, about how what we first perceive to be just and truth, can altogether change and alter, either by the different perception we’ve learnt through experience OR through reading a book that is quite unlike another! This book truly lives up to the proportions of what Laugheed mentions at the start gate: the words transcend their own meaning as you etch closer to the ending, the whole of the story is much larger than the sum of the parts as they are revealed!

In this way,  she is giving each of us to turn on our heels, the gross misconception of how we drink in words, knowledge, and observational data. The reader is very much at the heart of this story, and I think, is as central as Katie’s voice in re-telling her own history. What is humbling too, is how as our knowledge expands, the words that were once lost on us, as being completely irreverent suddenly take on new meanings, as they now evoke an ’emotion’, a ‘resolution’, or a ‘truth’ we did not understand previously. An Irish girl cast out into the wilderness of the wild frontier, with two Indian’s as her sole guides and protectors, makes for a curious precept initially, but it’s how they interact with each other, during the everyday hours, that Laugheed excels in not disappointing her reader! She never makes their interactions dull or predictable, because she has woven their personalities into the core of how they interact with each other! You pick up little character traits that come to play a larger part of the story as it threads through its climax, but inside these key portals of frontier life in campsites and canoes, you start to see how its possible to thread a new life together out of the ashes of the old! In this way, I was quietly savouring each exchange between the threesome, curious how they would come to depend on each other, and how they would draw strength by each others’ presence.

The art of story-telling plays a center part of The Spirit Keeper’s heart, but it’s the transformative power of understanding the words that are imparted throughout the story, that turn everything into a new light once the conclusion arrives. What the reader first mistook as a course of events, was truly a resounding precognitive journey that guided two characters forward into a future they would not have been strong enough to embrace otherwise. It’s the redemptive nature of grasping a hold of the essence of those who pass forward and away from our living world that is truly the most remarkable arc of the story! For we all have the ability to be a keeper of a spirit whose touched us deeply and left us remorseful for their presence! We only need the strength to transcend our perception and view our experiences from a different angle to see how the threads stitch together the pattern of our living tapestry!

An environmental conscience: Is cleverly hidden within the context of the story, but is one of the inclusions that I found to be the most illuminating to see!! I oft have found myself the most happiest amongst the trees, rivers, lakes, streams, and out-of-door hideaways that only a person can walk to find! Nature’s door is ever beckoning us to re-enter that sacred space between the natural world and the world by which we live as men. We are drawn towards nature as keenly as we are attached to water as a source of lifeblood, but it isn’t always an easy attachment to maintain, when the hectic nature of our lifestyles can circumvent our efforts to keep our hearts and souls aligned with the seasons and timescape of the natural world just past our windows! Laugheed draws a breath of vitality into the forest, where you can nearly hear the echoings of the trees, the rushing power of the rivers, and the harmonious tickings of the inhabitants therein. I appreciated that the animals that were killed in the book were used for what they could give back to the ones who fell them. I always respected this aspect of Native American beliefs, as they take what they need and only what they can use, at the time they go hunting. It’s a beautiful circle of life, as nothing is wasted and everything is respected. She wants you to see the beauty past what you expect to find whilst out in the deep woods, as the forest plays a fourth character or rather, that of a narrator that has not yet found its voice.

-quoted from my review of The Spirit Keeper

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#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. LaugheedThe Gift of the Seer
by K.B. Laugheed
Source: Direct from Author

Katie O' Toole's epic adventure began in "The Spirit Keeper" (Plume 2013) when she was rescued from a 1747 frontier massacre only to find herself chosen as the "Spirit Keeper" of a dying Indian seer. She hesitated to accept this mysterious obligation until she fell in love with the Seer's bodyguard, an Indian man she called Hector.

Much has happened since my last writing,..

In The Gift of the Seer, Katie and Hector continue their journey across the continent, but the more Katie learns about the peculiar ways of her husband's people, the more she dreads arriving at their destination. Will anyone believe she is the Spirit Keeper she pretends to be? Equally troubling, Katie knows the Seer expected her to prove his Vision - a Vision which foretold of infinite Invaders coming to his world - but to prove this prophecy, she must give his people the great Gift he also predicted. The only problem is that Katie has no gift to give.

Years pass as she desperately searches for a way to fulfill her promise to the dead Seer, but when his former rival threatens to expose her as a fraud, Katie finally understands that her life and the life of all the people in her new world hang in the balance. That's when she knows she must give a Gift - she must - before it is too late.

Did you honestly think you could get so much and give nothing in return?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Native American Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Women's Studies


Published by Self Published Author

on 7th January, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 372

the spirit keeper duology:

The Spirit keeper & the gift of the seer

This is a Self-Published novel

Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter: #GiftOfTheSeer, #TheSpiritKeeper Sequel + #KBLaugheed
as well as #HistNov + #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic

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About K.B. Laugheed

The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed

K.B. Laugheed is an organic gardener and master naturalist who wrote her first published novel, The Spirit Keeper, as part penance for the sins of her family’s pioneer past, part tribute to all our ancestors, and part grandiose delusion as she hopes to remind modern Americans of the grim price we paid for the glorious life we take for granted today.

But The Spirit Keeper is not a story about guilt. It’s about gratitude.

The Gift of the Seer is officially available worldwide as it was published on the 7th of January, 2019.

To support the author directly, kindly consider purchasing her novels through her online store.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Browse, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Colonial America, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Cultural Heritage, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Diary Accountment of Life, Domestic Violence, Early Colonial America, Environmental Conscience, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, First Impressions, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Folklore, Genre-bender, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, History, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Loss of an unbourne child, Magical Realism, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Midwives & Childbirth, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Native American Fiction, Native American Spirituality, Old World Arts & Crafts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Social Change, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Story in Diary-Style Format, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, The American Frontier, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Unexpected Pregnancy, Vulgarity in Literature, Wilderness Adventures, Women's Health

#BlogBirthday Book Review | “The Gravity of Birds” by Tracy Guzeman A very special reading as it’s representative of a debut author launching her story to the world on the same day a reader became a book blogger!

Posted Sunday, 6 August, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been attending the #HistoricalFix chats since they originated as the #IShall chat celebrating the release of Erin Lindsay McCabe’s “I Shall Be Near to You”. Throughout the past two years since the quarterly chats began, I have found a tribe of like-minded bookish souls who celebrate the devourment of compelling historical fiction in all it’s variant creations (from traditional to romance to suspense to biographical #HistFic & everything in-between!). During the chats, there are a flood of questions and happy chatter surrounding the ‘honoured guests’ of the hour wherein you have the opportunity to win a novel by one of the authors. I happily won “The Gravity of Birds” during the March 2015 #HistoricalFix chat on Twitter.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gravity of Birds” UK edition direct from the author Tracy Guzeman without obligation to post a review. I had the option to receive the UK edition of the novel, which I happily received. My edition comes with a lovely author Q&A after the story which I look forward to reading in full! I wanted to post my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and to share my impressions with the readers of  my blog. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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How a book’s birthday healed my heart about the day
I launched #JLASblog!

Quite curiously, despite the fact I *launched!* Jorie Loves A Story on the 6th of August, 2013 after exhausting myself the previous month of July to make sure it was ‘audience ready’ – I had a bit of grievance with myself over the selection of the ‘date’. Silly, I realise it might sound aloud to reveall that tidbit, but there it is! I was caught up in the numerical identity of my blog’s history as even though it was missing a few digits, I have oft felt a “7” is stronger than a “6”. It’s a matter of faith & a personal quirk of mine, apparently! I still compose interview questions in increments of 5 or 7 rather than 6; even though recovering a better perspective on my blog’s birthday has been a lift of joy.

It wasn’t until I attended the #HistoricalFix chat in March of 2015 where I crossed paths with Ms Guzeman where I realised something quite extraordinary! I had only been looking at this from a linear prospective of where my perception of the 6th of August was a bit slated against my own misgivings rather than seeking to find *something!* which anchoured the day to a happier memory than whether or not I should have waited 24 hours to launch the site live! OY vie. The things we humans subject ourselves too!

In case your wondering – I created Jorie Loves A Story on the 31st of March, 2013 (my blogoversary) whilst I consider the day it launched live to the world on the 6th of August, 2013 to be my blog’s birthday – two special days per annum where I remember & celebrate the origins of my blog whilst embracing the memories of the stories, writers, conversations & adventures of being the bookish soul behind the bookish blog. Mind you, I need to remember my Twitterversary is on the 13th of November, 2013! These days are as special to me as my own birthday!

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Here are my responses to her question pertaining to the thematic of her story:

Art,  Song & Dance evoke such a harmonic cognition inside me,

it’s felt by heart, mind & soul; beauty (lies) in art (see tweet)

Love fantasy art such as SteelGoddess (etsy)

who bridge the natural world w/ the fantastic; joy (resides) in nature (see tweet)

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I fell in love with the artistry of SteelGoddess whilst finding her shoppe on Etsy for artistic stationery which I knew would give me such a lot of inspiration whilst composing thoughts to articulate to my friends through postal correspondence!

I haven’t been on Etsy in quite a few years, as I’ve been focusing on building my reading audience on jorielovesastory.com whilst defining my blogosphere presence as a whole. I’ve also been taking the past four years to address how I want to re-define and develop this space of mine into more than just a repository of book showcases & guest author features, as I’m a writer whose in the transitional period of re-focusing on her own stories.

Whilst at the same time, I want to share other interests of mine (i.e. knitting) which are creatively enriching to me as they divert my attention a bit from the bookish world & help me re-balance myself in other pursuits! Therefore, I had *no idea!* the happy news, of the SteelGoddess’s shoppe going through a re-genesis of it’s own: check out the newly launched Cheryl Baker Art!

As a good primer to understand what draws me to her artwork & stationery goods, kindly take a look-see at this beautiful new stationery set of papers! Her main website is one of enchantment & inspiring joy, as well! Honestly, I think I’ll order directly from her website in the future & help celebrate the natural world she brings to the world of art!

As you well see, the artist I found on Etsy had a profound affect on me – as I felt as soon as I saw her woodland creatures, I had encapsulated a piece of my walks in nature in such an expression of enchanted art as to fuse my experience through her artistic imagery. This is why I knew the answer to Ms Guzeman’s question was partially inspired by my own adventures and the ones I feel I’ve lived through Ms Baker’s artwork!

Did it really!? I never knew the ‘day’ Gravity of Birds published, but if it were the 6th, it feels kismet! I had no idea my blog’s birthday (as I separate the two days: blogoversary for the day I created it; birthday for the day it went live; a bit like a book birthday = publication day?) had such a special ‘attachment’ to an author! I love finding this out because there are always interesting stories behind things in life; and clearly I was meant to read this novel! :)

-my initial reaction to the publication date of The Gravity of Birds

and I had this to say in relation to when Ms Guzeman picked up on the fact I write in my own personally stylised AmeriBritish vernacular:

You’re quite apt at seeing the differences in how I spelt my words, but actually, it’s a choice I made to limit my dyslexic slips whilst writing and communicating by written dialogue! I expound a bit on this under “My Bookish Life” where I talk a bit openly about my path as a writer and as a book blogger, but suffice to say, my UK heritage allowed me a grace in understanding how words appear in context to what I want to articulate as previously I stumbled in how to formulate the expressions.

Moreso as an adult rather than as a child, I have found my dyslexia to become a bit of an issue nowadays vs when I was in school. Coincidentally, through a bit of online research, I uncovered a quirky revelation: I was led to believe I had mild dyslexia as a child but according to my research I am severely dyslexic! 

I had a bit of a bubble of a laugh at first because I’ve grown so accustomed to compensating for my learning difficulties, it did not feel revolutionary to me. It did help me understand a few things which make me a bit unique or how I perceive things might be considered unique, but in the end, I am who I am, someone I was always proud of being. I found dyslexia a gift but understanding my limitations as a writer and compensating by exchanging my American English for my Ancestral British turnt out to be the biggest blessing I could receive!
 
I’m named after my maternal grandmother who was of British and Irish descent. I’m British doubly over as my father’s side of the family has UK roots as well, spilt between England & Scotland. I have a heap ‘more’ in me as well, but these are quite dominant.

The language of the Brits feels right to me, and each new word or phrase I have learnt, becomes fuell to my own imagination as far as where I can take my own writings in the future.

As you can imagine – winning a copy of “The Gravity of Birds” took on a whole new level of joy & creative curiosity! I am naturally drawn to reading stories from the UK – not only because I am wickedly addicted to reading authors who reside in the UK, but because, I personally *love!* the tangible fluid nature of how British English evolves through the descriptive narrative! I watch a high volume of British (& Canadian) television serials & films as well, which parlays concurrently with my literary wanderings!

When Ms Guzeman offered me the chance to read the UK edition of this novel, my heart swooned in joy! I did not even think this was a possibility but a welcomed unexpected bookish slice of happiness! One day I’m looking forward to when there is an online bookshoppe in the UK who will ship UK editions to American readers who crave their fix of UK authors! (technically, I know of one in the stages of doing this!)

Til then, I am blessed to have a copy of The Gravity of Birds and be a reviewer for UK-based publishers! Conversely, even if a novel is written by an American author such as this one, my first preference is to seek out the UK edition as it’s one of the editions outside of it’s original printing I am most desiring to read! Even if the language isn’t full-on Brit, it’s having an edition published outside my own country which makes it a special treat – as book covers are unique to their country of origin..

Through this experience, I realised the date I selected to launch my blog was ‘meant to be’ – not only because it shares a very special book birthday with an author I would one day cross paths with to discover, but because sometimes the ‘timing’ which is best in our lives to experience something is not of our choosing.

Life has a way of blissfully keeping us in suspended joy arriving in unexpected moments which provide us an incredible level of happiness. Here’s to remaining open to where our hours lead us to traverse & keeping the door open to the unexpected!

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The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman. Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com.

The Gravity of Birds
by Tracy Guzeman
Source: Won a Bookaway

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780007488391

Genres: Art & Art History, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Literary Fiction, Suspense, Time Slip and/or Time Shift


Published by Harper Books, HarperCollins UK

on 6th August, 2013 (USA) | 15th August, 2016 (UK)

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 382

Published By: Harper (@harperbooks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers UK (@HarperCollinsUK)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

The UK edition released 9 days after the 6th of August, 2013!

The American debut was published by Simon & Schuster!

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Author Links: Site | Twitter | GoodReads | wicked good Interview!

more insight behind ‘the book’ | Book Discussion on Book Browse w/ Author Q&A

Converse via: #GravityOfBirds + #TimeShift

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Posted Sunday, 6 August, 2017 by jorielov in #HistoricalFix, 20th Century, Art, Art History, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Birthdays & Blogoversaries, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Browse, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Films, Coming-Of Age, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, Good vs. Evil, Inspiring Video Related to Content, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Suspense, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, The Seventies, The Sixties, Time Shift, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature, Wildlife Artwork, Women's Health

+Blog Book Tour+ The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

Posted Wednesday, 24 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

Published By: Ecco (@eccobooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Official Author Websites: Site@sbfeldman  | Facebook
Available FormatsHardcover, Ebook

Converse via: #TheAngelOfLosses

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Angel of Losses” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Ecco, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I am always seeking stories which will challenge my mind and take me somewhere completely outside of where I have travelled before in literature. I had a sense that this was a story that I would devour — a story which would alight inside the vast plane of my imagination and give me something hearty to chew on afterwards. It was a premonition of a reaction long before the ARC ever arrived by Post. Do you ever find yourself stumbling across an author or a novel that you simply ‘know’ will leave an etched impression on your mind?! This is what I felt when I read the premise of Feldman’s novel and as I read the final words cast on the final page of the last chapter, I knew my premonition was true.

A notation on the cover art design:

The cover art for The Angel of Losses is a mosaic of the visual representations and clues of where the story leads you to follow it’s epic conclusion and of whom you need to pay particular attention to as the story evolves. Pictorial stimulating clues that you will only recognise as you alight on the pages in which give you the insight to understand the circle of their presence. The story is nearly a riddle when all is said and told – a riddle of a theory and a puzzle of an ancient truth aligning forward out of history.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Angel of Losses by Stephanie FeldmanThe Angel of Losses
by Stephanie Feldman
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

The Tiger’s Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters.

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli’s notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather—and her family—comes undone. To find the truth about Eli’s origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York Stephanie FeldmanCity and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli’s past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can—and cannot—escape.

Author Biography: Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and her daughter.

Places to find the book:

Genres: Magical Realism


Published by Ecco

on 29th July, 2014

Pages: 288

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Elements of Folklore, Mythology, & the Craft of Stories within a Story:

One of the most beautiful additions to a story I am reading is the otherworld presence of either folklore, mythology, or the craft of how stories are told as they are passed down from one generation to another; oft-times referred to by myself as ‘living  histories’ as they truly are ‘the living history’ of a particular family. Inside Feldman’s novel, you gather a proper sense of time, place, and the stability of connection between the sisters and their grandfather was unified through the genesis of his art for story-telling. Their connective bond was untethered as they grew apart as they aged, but what I loved is seeing how the grandfather’s stories took such a central focus and method of shifting the story forward as I read deeper into the novel itself. To the level that his handwritten stories and prose scribbled into his notebooks were shared with the reader from one chapter into another. It felt very natural to go from an ordinary day out of Marjorie’s life, straight into a piece of this story she only had a peripheral knowledge of before finding one of her beloved grandfather’s notebooks.

My Review of The Angel of Losses:

Such a haunting and riveting opening of a Prologue for The Angel of Losses as we are caught inside of a memory of two sisters who are transfixed and spellbound by their grandfather’s tale of a land far away where a magician knows part of the truth of a missing son of a King. What implored me forward from there is this sense of foreboding, where did the tale leave off from the lore of the bedtime story and where did reality step forward out of the tale? I love feeling an undercurrent of suspense when I read a novel, and as this is my second Magical Realism with an under thread connection to Judaism (as the first was The Golem and the Jinni) I was mesmerized! Entering the story out of the Prologue, time has shifted forward for both sisters, as Holly (the one who was horridly afraid of her Grandfather’s story) switched religions and lived an orthodox life whereas her sister had grown into a bittersweet version of her younger self soured on how the loss of her sister has affected her heart. Her sister is still living, mind you, but the version of Holly as an adult is a far cry from the sister Marjorie knew as a child. The two are living worlds apart rather than mere blocks or cities separated by streets and the swirl of modern life between them.

I loved seeing the larger sense of their familial bond being tested by how one half of their connection is being shattered by the inability to have compassion outside of religious grounds. In this instance, I am referring to Holly’s husband is not accustomed to a non-Jewish family nor does he condone non-religious texts inside his home. A home that was inherited to Marjorie but on loan to Holly; the mere fact that Marjorie has to refer to Holly as Chava is another wrinkling thread of Marjorie’s disfavour of Holly’s choice in husband. You gather the sense at this point in the story where Marjorie is attempting to lock a hold of her past into her present, that the sister’s disconnection was already occurring long before Holly made her choice in marriage. There is an absence of words and an absence of sisterly compassion between both of them, and it points to a larger issue at hand that is slowly unfolding in the narrative itself. I like being caught up inside of a family drama, watching everything unravell as the story unfolds on its own timeclock.

Feldman has a gift for narrative voice stemming out of a wordsmith’s spirited soul for visceral imagery – she innately has gifted us with a special treat of a story, giving us a full-on adventure as we hug to the coattails of Marjorie as she pieces together the legacy and the history of a fabled Magician and the true meaning behind where the lore was always meant to take a believer; the latter of which she never felt she could ascertain on her own behalf. It is a true quandary of a problem – how to root out the history of a theory she has nibbling inside her own mind which other scholars were equally mystified about themselves? Her journey towards understanding edges her further into the mythes and pathos of ancient ruminations.

There are moments whilst I am reading I have gathered a proper sense on how each novel I consume is a building block for another yet to be known novel I will pick up in the future. As if I were stitching a tapestry woven exclusively with the threads and stitches of knowledge itself and of wisdom flowing out of the stories by which have enchanted my mind and enraptured my heart. Each story which slips into my mind’s eye has allowed me to grow, to transcend where I was before I read the story and to appreciate a bit more than I had already before the characters had lived their lives as a shadowy presence inside my own spirit. As I went deeper inside this story, I noticed little nuances of memory flittering through my internal memory files; automatically opening, closing, and filtering as I read Feldman’s prose. I had not realised I had amassed enough knowledge of the religious past to propel myself forward through this story at such an alarming clip of a pace! I cannot wait to re-read this novel when time is not extinguishing off the clock whilst a deadline was passed and overdue.

The researcher in me was happily appreciating the sections devouted to Marjorie’s attempt to research her thesis as much as research further into the legacy of her grandfather’s story. As she was always on the brink of realising that the story itself was much more than it first appeared to be. Being hunkered inside a library, piles of books atop of a table, and pages littered with bookmarks, post-it notes, and notebooks clotted full of scribbled ‘spur of the moment’ notes is what makes my own writerly heart go aflutter! Research is in part how I fell in love with writing, and it is research of another writer I treasure whilst I am reading their own stories cast out into the world for us to find. There is an electricity of excitement reading The Angel of Losses,…

At some point I started to read on autopilot, willing myself past sleep and choking myself a bit on exhaustion, but I simply needed to know how this story, this novel was going to end. I was a bit worried it might end on a cliffhanger, as I never take too kindly to ambiguous endings of stories; especially without the foreknowledge of a pending sequel. Two hours blinked off the clock and I’m at a loss for words — I’m so absorbed into this story, I feel as though I am the one pursuing the research to understand what is just outside of my own memory. This story is not like any other I’ve read and I will never quite forget it either. It is meant to be absorbed and illuminated inside the reader’s mind without revealing everything to the next reader who comes across it. For each of us has to read it ourselves and satisfy our own curiosity,… especially if we’re a seeker of stories and understand the greater meaning of what stories can give us all.

Stephanie Feldman gives her readers a window into a portal of time:

We are stepping through a veil slit into a portal of time made available through an opened window which is the novel inside your hands as your reading The Angel of Losses. Two stories came to mind as I started to read this fantastical journey: The Golem and the Jinni (novel) and The Neverending Story (film) as they are akin to how it feels to step through this world Feldman has provided us to discover. She gave us the same vehicle Bastian had in The Neverending Story, to become one within the story as it unfolded and to live as one with the character as she found where she was going herself. I loved this aspect of the novel because all of reality around me dissolved as I was wholly consumed by the voice of the evoking narrator and the clarity of Feldman’s vision for this unique novel which bent genre and illuminated the world half out of mystic history and half out of the truism of where faith can take anyone if only they were to believe in what is not yet seen.

On the footheels of consuming The Ghost BrideI felt honoured to have had the chance to read Feldman’s tome of esoteric concentration of mystic Judaism cross-sected with religious ancient truths. The suspension of reality and the generous backstories of where the mytho origins of the story can be traced was a treasurement to fall in front of my eyes. I devourted this novel as readily as if I were astride a thunderbolt – even knowing I was outside my intended deadline (as the moon had long since waned and the midnight hours had tilted into a crescendo) I could not yield to sleep. I had to consume the text as quickly as I could process the words on the pages themselves, as my mind was lit aflame by the creativity and the ingenuity of how the historical arc was interlaced into the present of the character’s lives.

Fly in the Ointment:

I counted the words this time and there were less than a dozen splintered out across the whole of the novel. I wasn’t happy to find them; this is an intellectually stimulating piece of literary fiction and they felt misplaced amongst the rhetoric. I am not even sure why they were included in such a brilliant spec of literary voice. They degraded the quality in my eyes, as not only could this stomach their expulsion it was necessary to keep in tact the gift Feldman had writ.

A small explanation on my tardiness:
I had lost hours whilst being needed at the hospital in visitation of my neighbour (as previously disclosed here & here) as much as I was out of the house on another appointment that could not be detained. I attempted to revive the lost hours and run into my deadline without passing through it — but alas, I am quite human and not as immortal as the character inside this novel. Time can be bent but time cannot be recaptured once lost. I apologise for the delayed response, but my tweeting at least was a small clue at my enjoyment whilst I read. I am attempting to make the rest of my scheduled book reviews & tour stops to be alight earlier in the day / evenings from here on out; barring any further unexpected life emergencies, crises, or unplanned events such as lightning storms. 

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

click-through to follow the blogosphere tour.

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See what I am hosting next:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

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I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, and although I had happily made sure that I could reacquire the WP Comments where you can leave me a comment by using: WP (WordPress), Twitter, Facebook, Google+, & Email a java glitch disrupted my plans to have these activated! Therefore, I had to re-instate CommentLuv, which only requires Email to leave a note for me!

Kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 

Reader Interactive Question:

Have you ever alighted inside of a novel that you unexpectedly were swallowed up inside? Taken root inside the shoes of the character, where their life was full of emotional upheaval and partially an exploration of how to create a life shift that will alleviate their disillusion with where their life was heading; to find a different way of living and carve out their own little peace of happiness? Did you ever read a novel that surprised you?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Angel of Losses”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “The Angel of Losses”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

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Posted Wednesday, 24 September, 2014 by jorielov in Agnostic (Questioning & Searching or Unsure), Angels, Biblical Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Browse, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Genre-bender, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Good vs. Evil, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Haunting & Ethereal, Historical Mystery, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired By Author OR Book, Judaism in Fiction, Judiasm, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Literary Fiction, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Magical Realism, Modern Day, New York City, Psychological Suspense, Reincarnation, Religious History, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, TLC Book Tours, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, World Religions

_+ #atozchallenge _+ 26 Days | 26 Essays [epic journey] Today is Letter “B”. Hint: Living Histories

Posted Wednesday, 2 April, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Day 1: Letter B of the A to Z ChallengeYesterday was the beginning of my EPIC JOURNEY towards revealing why I am a book blogger & what motivates me as a reader! I am involved in a world-wide globally connected blogosphere challenge where each blogger who signs into the participant linky is quite literally confirming their express desire to blog straight [except on Sundays!] for *26 Days!* whilst writing *26!* most intriguing & thought-producing alphabet essays! Or, to be comically inspiring, randomly cheeky, and otherwise delightfully entertaining! The bloggers who have signed into the challenge are from all walks of blogosphere life: book bloggers united alongside lifestyle gurus; writers of all literary styles nudged up against travelogues; the gambit runs the full course of each and every theme, topic, subject, and genre you could possibly light your heart with joy to broach in a blog! And, the curious bit to the journey is where your posts lead you as much as where other blogger’s posts inspire you! It’s this fantastic community to celebrate the spirit within the blogosphere as much as the spirit of connection amongst the bloggers who might not have crossed paths with each other otherwise. After all, the road map for blogs is as wide and large as the actual world outside the nethersphere of websites, pixels, and memes! Walk with us whilst we discover a bit about ourselves, our blog, & each other!

I am blogger #552 out of 2279!

{Notice the slight increase!?}


Few may realise it could be possible, but it was only a handful of years since I pulled myself  out of this EPIC READERS RUT to where I could lay heart and mind back into the depths of the books I always loved to consume! I was even without a proper library branch to call ‘home’, when in late Spring 2009 a new branch opened in a tucked away hamlet! A hamlet by all definitions of being wholly true to itself after the years had raged away its essence and left behind an artistically creative vibe bent on preservation of historic homes, community united festivals and fairs, as well as one of the best self-guided walking tours I have ever come across as you get to amble through time itself, whilst hinged to the present. It was during those hours of having the ability to resume where I had left off a decade before in my reading adventures, I started to gather books which perked an interest inside me that might not even have been there previously! Imagine only being able to collect books by authors you were nearly certain you’d love and appreciate for most of those years, but for whichever reason you could not soak into the narratives because your mind wasn’t willing to go into the heart of what was held within the text!? Imagine if you will, a floodgate of epic proportions allows you the ability to search, pick up, and gather as many books as you could physically carry out of the library whilst re-discovering where your literary heart wanted to wander!

I was bursting at the seams wanting to share my newly discovered reading life which is why the original ‘Jorie Loves A Story’ was a private journal shared amongst her close friends as a way to encourage bookish discussions and reflections based on the books she was reading OR even books that she felt she would enjoy only to discover had not quite floated her boat in the end! She wrote lists of books newly published whilst she had discovered them at local bookstores (big box as at that point in time the local Indies were washed away) and mused about how many ILLs (inter-library loans) and holds (regular in-library materials) one girl could possibly handle within thirty days!? It was this blissful joy of knowing I was going to walk back into my imagination, all the while uncertain about what I might discover about myself and about the characters I was going to meet. In those early dawning months, I was curiously attracted to titles such as “Girl in a Blue Dress” by Gaynor Arnold. I remember going on hold for this lovely book a few times before I could settle the hours to sit for a spell and actually read it! This is the very novel which introduced the idea of B I O G R A P H I C A L F I C T I O N into my heart! I say this because truly, when you sit down to read a fictional accountment of a living person who actually walked the earth, you are properly engaged heart, mind, and soul with their affairs! Their ability to walk outside the pages and land within your living reality as though they were simply popping out for a bit of takeaway nourishment is what makes this particular branch of literature as riveting as it is!

B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N
is a nexus of immersion into the inner heart of a living person’s life.
– Jorie, of Jorie Loves A Story


Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

When I first decided to undertake being a Hostess for blog tours, I wanted to use the opportunities I was being granted to flex my wings and undertake reading books with topics & subjects I may not have had the honour of reading previously. One new fascination of mine is of Revolutionary France, of which I delved into whilst reading “The Golden Hour” by Maiya Williams. A Young Adult book I discovered in the catalogue for my local library, which quite literally changed my perception of the genre! There is a lot of dark undertones happening right now in Young Adult literature and although, they have merit to those who appreciate them, I seek out a different kind of ‘YA’ to read. I entered back into the realms of Children’s Literature with the intent of picking up where I had left off in my own childhood, as I am an Auntie to nieces & nephews as much as I am a Mum-In-Waiting. (see blog lower sidebar: look for Brave Love badge) Uniquely enough, I discovered another quirky French YA book entitled “The Sixty-Eight Rooms” by Marianne Malone! From there my intrepid curious heart watched a classic motion picture on Turner Classic Movies (TCM is quite literally one of two favourite channels of mine! My Twitter feeds elude to the second!) which haunted me a bit as it was approaching Marie Antoinette’s life just prior and just leading after her family lost their lives at the guillotine. I knew there was a good chance hosting for France Book Tours & Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours I might start to intersect books which dealt with the French Revolution! And, happily they started to alight into view when Becoming Josephine entered my life!

I had this to share ahead of sharing my reading impressions of the author & story:

I simply adore historical fiction, including historical biographical fiction, which I think this falls under, as it’s about Bonaparte and his wife! I like the backdrop of the story, and how strong Rose had to become in order to overtake her plight! You see, I have a bit of a long-standing admiration for the French Revolution, even though by many estimates I have only just begun my sojourn into this fascinating section of literature! My attention is thus esteemed to continue to seek out stories set before, during, and after the French Revolution! What can I say? Once you become attached to the living characters of whom most of the books are based upon, in as much as the characters created to walk amongst their living counterparts, you find that one book or five is not quite enough to fully encompass the history of what is left behind to be known!

Stemming from this short history of mine with French Literature, there was a cursory exploration of Bonaparte whilst I was eighteen! Having ducked out of a heavy rainstorm and into the warmth glow of a bookshoppe I had accidentally discovered along a main street – I took the balm of books against nature’s thunderstorm! As I wandered around, I remember finding a rather curious little book, tattered yet readable, (as the bookshoppe sold new and used copies!) about the life of Napoléon Bonaparte! Intrigued I purchased the book and stored it inside a rain-proof bookslip! Ever since that aplomb discovery I have whet my appetite for more! I would be curious to learn how you alighted to read about the French?

– quoted from my review of “Becoming Josephine” by Heather Webb

B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N for me allows for a more inter-personal connection to the person stepping forward out of history’s door. I have attempted to read full-on biographies, but more than naught, I fail in making an emotional connection much less an interested one as some of them can languish rather than enliven. When I turn to B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N I feel as though the writer has planted me directly into the living person’s shoes and innermost thoughts. I get to breathe in their essence and live a bit in the world in which they knew whilst they were alive. Each of us arrives at a connecting point inside books at different junctions and fixtures, this perhaps is mine. The most alarming part of reading about Josephine as she grew to become Bonaparte’s wife is this reflection on behalf of France:

The backdrop of Becoming Josephine is quintessentially Revolutionary France, where the French hinged between the start of the revolt and the ensuing Reign of Terror. A shuddering of emotions always rings through me whilst thinking on the harder hitting realities of the age which the French had to endure. Webb has a way of acknowledging the back-story of history behind the coattails of the character’s lives in such a way, as to gently guide the reader forward and through, rather than shocking us to our core. The revolution ekes out in small fashion, where rumours of revolt start to erupt in the salons of the day, and where the commoners start to realise they need to launch into a retreat from Royal rule. Part of me understands this and part of me grieves for the loss of the Royal family, due to how brutal the Revolution turns and ends.

And, yet at the heart of the center core of the Revolution you have Josephine and Napoleon, two people I never thought I’d see come together, now that I know the origins of Josephine’s past. The tapestry of fashion is lit and gilded behind the tumult which has been brewing to explode. Interspersed with the flamboyance of cloth and jewels, you gather the sense of urgency in the fever of desperation.

– quoted from my review of “Becoming Josephine” by Heather Webb

Illuminations by Mary SharrattIlluminations: a novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt was a novel I came to acquaint myself with through Shelf Awareness for Readers (bi-weekly Literary newsletter). As I researched more about the author, I realised I was stumbling across an intuitive writer who dared to shed a light on unknown fixtures of historical merit. As much as I knew she was a writer who broke the barriers and wrote the stories which evoked a passion within her to tell. I am naturally drawn to writers who forge their own literary paths unto where their stories need to find a reader who appreciates the alternative nature of their writing voice. I like seeing writers taking risks for their stories as much as listening to the characters who step forward in their mind’s eye. At times, those characters are ethereal apparitions of a living soul whose own history would be better served in a living narrative than a testament of facts and notations of life milestones.

To illumine the mind and strengthen the spirit,…

I have always known of the interconnectedness of humanity, the natural world, and the realm behind the veil of this world which is the gateway to spirit world. Each of us is connected to each other and to what is not yet understood though believed to be in existence on faith alone. What I appreciated about reading Hilegard’s story is that she is touching on the elemental truths that each spiritual person comes to realise and accept: the circle of life and of time, the abundance of the interlocking connections, and how we are only in the infancy of our understandings of the greater whole that we strive to obtain whilst we walk Earth.

By examining her life through this biographic exposition, we are striving to become closer to understanding what she came to understand herself. Each of us are given gifts in life to share and pass down, small legacies of goodwill, hope, peace, love, charity, and grace. We tap into where our lifepath is leading us whilst we are openly receptive to where we are being guided to go next. Hilegard was unique in this, as she viewed herself as a flawed human who made more mistakes than deemed repentable, and yet, she could not help acknowledge that she had become a vessel of truth, as chosen as her destiny to give others’ insight that they were not privy too. She reminds me of women I have heard about prior to her, who never felt they were good enough to be placed in a position of importance. How humbling it is then, to realise that these are the women and spiritual beings who are called upon to do the most good during their lifetime!? To ingenuate a plausibility of which most of us might forego or bypass whilst caught up in the clatterment of living our lives!?

– quoted from my review of Illuminations: a novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt

To extend out of our known reality and intersect on the path of another who lived more than a handful of centuries ago, is the fruitious blessing of reading. We get to pull ourselves in and out of our comfort zones. We get to take a risk ourselves, with our heart and with our mind’s ability to process the imagery and historical truism that we find knitted into B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N. We honour the past and the lives in which were lived each time we juxtaposition ourselves into the fractured space where the temporal gravity of time yields a veil in which we can step backwards and forwards; endeavouring greater empathy and giving us a humbling account of humanity.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull ChatlienThere are moments where I truly feel we are given select books to read at a certain fixed point in which we are meant to read them. For instance, if I hadn’t previously read Becoming Josephine I would not have realised the greater scope of circumstances which befell Betsy Patterson inside The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien! The full realisation of the breadth of how their lives were cross-sected hit me will full force whilst I was in the early chapters of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte. The fabric of space we set out to explore in literature become little beckoning notes to the universe. Notes in which flutter into the cosmos and are answered in the curious ability of having books placed into our hands which carry-on the research and conversation which was already broached.

I could only imagine what was rollicking through Betsy’s mind and heart whilst she was being tested against will to re-acquire her beloved’s presence. I am thankful to have this particular biographical fiction cross my path, because it has inspired me to seek out more historical novels set around the Bonaparte’s. For every imagined truth we all perceive about those who lived in the historical past, there is oft-times a hidden story surrounding the very people who might have repelled our interest. I oft wondered about the lives interconnected to Napoleon, the unsung voices of his reign, and through Becoming Josephine and The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte I am embarking towards that end; of unveiling the incredible women who not only backed their men but forged through all the doubts of their eras to secure their futures. And, for this I thank the authors who are giving their readers quite a heap to ruminate on!

– quoted from my review of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

Nor did I ever find myself inquisitively compassionate on behalf of the Bonaparte’s. Napoleon Bonaparte is simultaneous with nearly ever other dictatorial ruler who attempted to sequester and compress his rule over others who had natural bourne freedoms and rights. There are members of his family who were outside the depth of knowledge of what his true convictions and actions were to be undertook, and in their histories we find compassion. The mere fact that even his family was left privy to being pawned in and out of his schemes is a grief they never could shake free. There are other aspects of the French Revolution which goes against most of what is widely known about the era and in some ways, not all of it is rosy from the perspectives of the commoners either. And, this is were being a book blogger is a true gift. I am able to journall out my thoughts and ruminations as I read. Sharing them with an audience I hope is willing to take the journey with me and perhaps even start a conversation based upon what I have expressed. Rooting in on the underlining issues and coming to a connection stitched solely through what was read, internalised, and processed. Conversations are a unique benefit because they help pool our ponderments and gives us the will to examine differentiating revelations. It is my hope to garnish these kinds of conversations on each post where a reader drops by and adds his/her thoughts into the comment threads.

Sebastian's Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

There are moments too, which arise for a book blogger where one falters the confidence to believe she’s picked a book that might be a bit past her ability to handle. Although I instantly requested Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger my ruminative thoughts after my review state my full emotional state prior to picking up the book:

I dare thought it might not be plausible to settle into a thick slice of historical suspense such as a story of Charlemagne, until I was given the chance to read Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder! A book which lives up to the virtues of historical fiction by etching into our mind’s eye the very inclinations and notions of the age in which Steger’s central figure lived and breathed. It was an age of boldness and an age of religious upheaval. The battle to control the power of the land and the power of the people was not forged through mediation. It was a time which bespoke more of war wounds and proven allegiances based on leadership in the field. To approach the narrative with a slight hesitation of what the context would reveal to me, gave me a bit of an edge once I was ensconced! My nerves melted with each word and paragraph I hungrily drank in to see where the author was taking me next. His ability to light the story from within the heart of the narrative itself is a gift.

– quoted from my review of Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

Charlemagne is a near-ghost entity whose entered the nethersphere of my literary walk for as many years as I first drew an inclinating nod towards being a history buff! The corridors of history are as closely-knit together as the world of art, in which, you don’t have traverse very far before hearing echoes of Charlemagne! Yet. The curious bit to those echoes is that oft-times they are not completely dimensional of who the man behind the ‘infamous name’ was or what he represented of himself in life. If I hadn’t clued into an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” I might still be a bit in the dark about the fullness of his transformative soul and his heart for leading his mind towards redemptive restitution. Steger pulls you into the folds of where the myth of Charlemagne leads into the man Charlemagne became.

Citadel by Kate MosseA reader’s heart bleeds as readily as the character’s whose life is afflicted and fraught with conflictual adversity. Mosse is an author I first learnt of through my Mum’s suggestion to read Labyrinth. As this book came up for review, I instantly tipped my hat to read Citadel as it felt as my moment to read Kate Mosse had arrived. My goal was simple enough: read the first two books in the series before proceeding into Citadel; except time and life had other plans! As a book blogger you have to adapt and stay flexible to everything that can arrive out of the clear blue, whilst still being able to bring the stories your reviewing into the limelight of your reading hours.

History has a unique way of imparting important acknowledgements out of the past, by finding the ways in which the words can travel through vessels of time. Words handed and passed down through generations, from family to stranger seeking a confidence of protection is one of the most reliable methods of keeping knowledge secret from eyes who would take the same words and twist them into harmful deeds. It’s how we as a society react and root out resilience in the face of our foremost dire fears and shake away the rootings of evil. Resistance from oppression and the strife of a regime bent against the welfare of the people is true courage lit aflame.

Sandrine is an intuitive woman who was set apart from others; she could see past the veils of our reality and into the next life just beyond our focus. She was tuned into mystical truths which gave her a bolster of strength in the nanoseconds where her own inner resolve faltered. Her life was writ to be in service of others, and in of giving all of her mind, body, and soul to fighting for the sanctity of life, liberty, and freedom. Citadel is epic in scale, emotionally convicting, and powerfully written to leave you quite still at its conclusion retrospectively museful, and enlightened. Your heart shatters and aches in an indescribable way when you read the four sentences on page 673. With eyes too blurry and a heart too gutted to carry-on into the Epilogue.

– quoted from my review of Citadel by Kate Mosse

To Live Forever by Andra Wakins

The best surprise I have had in a long time as a book blogger is having a blog tour alight in my Inbox which stirred my avidly curious imagination into drinking the proportional elements of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Wakins! The very first time I saw the book cover art and hungrily read the book synopsis, I knew I had found lightning in the bottle, because the manner in which the story was presenting itself, it was a one-off chance to get to know an emerging new writer on the peripatetic jolt beginning of her literary career! A long-term appreciator of Western fiction and the expeditions of early American frontier settlers, Lewis & Clark are a fixture of my memories of frontier living. To take a formidable presence such as Meriwether Lewis and re-invent the way in which we soak into B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N as his story is only half of the scope of the story is literary brilliance!

The story is interwoven as a refractive mirror of the Natchez Trace itself. The harder you believe any blight of adversity is in your life to conquer and overcome, the more your spirit will start to believe your too fragile to try anything. The Trace is a test of wills as much as it’s a test of inner fortitude to re-strengthen our shield against unwanted storms and periods of stress which arise out of nowhere. Life can ebb and flow, bobbing us along until we’re ready to see what our eyes blinded us towards revealing. All of our passageways lead us further towards where our feet are meant to land, but what if we hold ourselves back from the greatest revelations of all? Simply because we’re not willing to alight where we’re lead to go? The Trace is unique in that it withholds its past like a tightly woven tapestry. Each piece of its innate soul is stitched inside the weathered path where feet and souls mingled into the mist. There lessons linger and their spirits shudder to grieve.

There is an ever-knowing pool of truth and hope awaiting us around each bend and turn. The people we feel we are ‘randomly’ encountering are the kind of teachers and advisers we might never expect would be important to our growth. Listen with compassion. Be kind to strangers who might one day become a cherished friend. Grow through friendship and rise each day realising the beauty of the hour. Our lives are leading us through the light and back inside it.

– quoted from my review of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Wakins

The Tenor by Peter Danish

On the foot-heels of Meriwether Lewis, I am embarking on an intimate portrait of a previously unknown opera singer Maria Callas, as I entered into the fictional account of how a soldier she knew in real life became the living angel who saved her. I was curious about this book due to my appreciation of opera (classical opera, rock opera, & modern opera band) and for finding a hidden story out of a portion of World War II I was not expecting to unearth! These are the stories I like to discovery the most: fixtures within history who had the most to lose and the most to gain, whose lives were lived nearly unknown to each generation who came after they had lived. Men and women whose spirits are rejoicing a bit each time a writer clues in on their legacy and gives a light upon their days with a new mirth of compassion and understanding. The past deserves compassion due to how difficult most of the harder chapters were to survive as they were lived through.

As a precursor to my review which goes live on Friday, 4th of April, I want to share with you a piece of Mr. Danish’s interview:

What touched you most about the story whilst giving you the breadth of creating “The Tenor”?

Danish responds: I originally learned the story of the soldier from Arianna Stassinopoulos (now more famously known as Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post fame) and her biography of Maria Callas. But when I read a half-dozen other accounts of her life, none of them mentioned him! So I sought out an old family friend who was a personal friend of Callas (actually a friend of my ex-in-laws – yes, I cared enough to reach out to my ex-in-laws!) He informed me that the story was indeed true, and not only had the soldier existed, but Maria had a school-girl crush on him! And that the two of them often sang together! The fact that they sang together struck me deeply. I just knew he had to be a fellow opera singer, because only another opera singer would have recognized the subtleties, the nuances that separate the good from the great and the great from the once-in-a-lifetime voices.

– quoted from my Interview with Peter Danish, author of “The Tenor”

The one B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N novel which slipped through my fingers this year is Nancy Horan’s “Under a Wide & Starry Sky” of which I requested twiceover and was unfortunately one of too many who had itched to read the story! I even had the book arrive on hold at my local library only to boomrang back as its timing in my life was quite ill-conceived! I am hopeful that before Summer starts her wrath of a reign, I can dig into the biographical sketch of Robert Louis Stevenson and get to know one writer out of history I was never quite keen on reading, but felt there was more to him than perhaps I could have foreseen!

However, there is another B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N account of a life I have not fully explored on my blog but of which captured my heart full the first six months of 2013! Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler had the ability to beseech Zelda’s voice out of the grave, presenting herself as strong as she were in life. Fowler’s writer’s road towards publication of Z is quite the testament of how one writer is destined to pen the life of a living person, giving themselves a history of an attachment with them, and enabling the readers who find their stories an ability to understand them. I read Fowler’s novel through Book Browse and participated in an exchange of forum based conversations, whereupon I felt most of the other readers entered into the book and the discussions bias against Zelda Fitzgerald. I went in with an open eye for giving Zelda the freedom to be herself and to explain herself for her actions and lifestyle if she felt it necessary. What is rather evident as you read Z is that Zelda was living under thumb of a controlling and manipulative husband who self-less desire for fame, fortune, and immortal legacy in print overrode her most basic needs. The most gutting part of the book for me is the ending chapters, where we start to see Zelda brave the will to remove herself from the toxic environment and start to stake her own claim on her life. I realise I tweeted I would re-read this volume of her life this year, in 2014, but I still feel as though I need a bit of distance before I re-open her story. Sometimes, the books we read are not meant to be examined in length but absorbed privately and cherished forevermore. Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald might be one of mine. The capstone of spending time with her was seeing the modern remake of “The Great Gatsby” in which the Fitzgeralds were illuminated on camera and the life in which they lived were on full display. It was so clearly evident of a fictional account of how dangerous they lived and how daring they believed they were invisible that I was emotional off-kilter for my birthday! As it was the film I elected to celebrate seeing!

And, there lies the beauty of uncovering B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N as it forces us to emphatically connected the threads in which all of us are bonded.


A bit of an extra surprise for those A to Z Challengers

who patiently awaited my “Letter B”:

The Tenor by Peter Danish Book Trailer by Peter Danish


Thank you for joining me on DAY 2 | A to Z Challenge!

I am a girl named Jorie who loves a story!
I am a bookish library girl on a quest for literary enlightenment!
I am predominately self-taught and library educated!
I am Mademoiselle Jorie!
Thank you for joining me on this journey!

This marks my second post for the:

A to Z Challenge

And, might I add as an observation on Day 2? 

Why do you think we illicit such a curious attachment to understanding a person through biographical fiction OR within the tomes of biographies & autobiographies!? Where does your personal preference lie when wanting to drink in the history of a person who lived!?

{SOURCES: A to Z Challenge Participant & Letter B Badge provided by the A to Z Challenge site for bloggers to use on their individual posts & blogs to help promote the challenge to others. Book covers provided by France Book Tours & Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for promotion and review on Jorie Loves A Story; used with permission. The book trailer by Peter Danish had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. }

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Wednesday, 2 April, 2014 by jorielov in A to Z Challenge, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Browse, Bookish Discussions, Charlemagne, Debut Novel, Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte, France Book Tours, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Josephine Bonaparte, Maria Callas, Meriwether Lewis