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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+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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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