Category: A Father’s Heart

+Blog Book Tour+ The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

Posted Tuesday, 2 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 4 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Published by: Harper Books (@harperbooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook, & Ebook

Official Author Websites: Site | Her Quirky Blog w/ Qs to her brother

Converse via: #TheStoryOfLandAndSea & #KatySimpsonSmith

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

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

+Blog Book Tour+ The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson SmithThe Story of Land and Sea
by Katy Simpson Smith
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, this incandescent debut novel follows three generations of family—fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave—characters who yearn for redemption amid a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love.

Drawn to the ocean, ten-year-old Tabitha wanders the marshes of her small coastal village and listens to her father’s stories about his pirate voyages and the mother she never knew. Since the loss of his wife, Helen, John has remained land-bound for their daughter, but when Tab contracts yellow fever, he turns to the sea once more. Desperate to save his daughter, he takes her aboard a sloop bound for Bermuda, hoping the salt air will heal her.

Years before, Helen herself was raised by a widowed father. Asa, the devout owner of a small plantation, gives his daughter a young slave named Moll for her tenth birthday. Left largely on their own, Helen and Moll develop a close but uneasy companionship. Helen gradually takes over the running of the plantation as the girls grow up, but when she meets John, the pirate turned Continental soldier, she flouts convention and her father’s wishes by falling in love. Moll, meanwhile, is forced into marriage with a stranger. Her only solace is her son, Davy, whom she will protect with a passion that defies the bounds of slavery.

In this elegant, evocative, and haunting debut, Katy Simpson Smith captures the singular love between parent and child, the devastation of love lost, and the desperate paths we travel in the name of renewal.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0062335944

Genres: Historical Fiction, Military Fiction, Revolutionary War Era


Published by Harper Books

on 26th August, 2014

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 256

Length: 7 hours and 28 minutes (unabridged)

Author Biography:Katy Simpson Smith 

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She attended Mount Holyoke College and received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She has been working as an adjunct professor at Tulane University and is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Editor’s Note inside the ARC:

I am always happily amazed when I find the letter from the Editor or Acquisitions person inside the publishing house who has elected to publish a novel. I get a bit giddy over these little notes which are inclusive to ARCs because from the outside world this little insight is out of sight from those of us who grew up reading finished copies of novels, and never knew what was held within the opening pages of an ARC. I, myself was only exposed to ARCs originally through my participation in the First Impressions programme at Book Browse. The first year I was a book blogger I received a few here or there, but it was in late Spring and into Mid-Summer I started to notice I was receiving more than the occasional few. I simply smiled, because for me, the happiness is in seeing how each publisher approaches the binding of an ARC and the disclosures they put on their back jackets as to how they are going to proceed with publicity and marketing. I like the little unknown details of the passageway a novel travels once it leaves the publisher; little clues I would only be able to fathom a guess untold previously.

Not every ARC has such a note, mind you, but the ones that do always strike me as needing to be included with the finished copy. It is such a curious bit of the novel’s life – this note the person who first came across the manuscript saw the life which is now breathed into the pages has set a note inside this advanced copy as to give the advanced reader the joy by which they had for themselves prior to the novel’s release. This hidden and treasured burst of joy of discovering a new novelist and the manner in which the pen inked out their written legacy. I cherish these notes and as I read this one from Mr. Jonathan Burnham (not an Editor per se, but the Senior Vice President) I felt an inertia of excitement. I saw in his short note of praise on behalf of The Story of Land and Sea, a reader who is lit afire by words and palettes of stories painted by ink. I knew then what I knew at the conclusion of the novel: I had stumbled across something quite remarkable.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Listen to a passage from the Novel:

The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

as narrated by Edoardo Ballerini via HarperAudio_US

Starting my second blog tour novel via TLC through an audiobook sample:

Originally, I had been most delighted to share my experience in finding that Yangsze Choo had narrated her novel The Ghost Bride, as I had listened to her read the opening chapter of her novel prior to soaking inside the pages myself with the book in my hands. Imagine my happier joy in finding that this particular book The Story of Land and Sea, is not only released in audiobook but it was available to ‘sample’ via SoundCloud! I have included the sample along with my review, as the most curious nature of ‘listening’ to a novel ahead of consumption for me is having the blessing of hearing certain words and phrases spoken aloud! As I had fully declared on my review for The Ghost Bride, being a dyslexic reader is quite the elliptical adventure! I do not oft know how certain words are intoned or meant to be said aloud, as I garnish my own endearing language as I turn through the pages of the stories I read. Invariably, by the time I have finally sorted out how a word or name is properly said I am not always keen to let go of my original renderings as they have become a ‘part of the story’ as felt and seen through my own eyes of how the tale is revealed.

However, the beauty of audiobook samples online is that I get to curb my dyslexic slips at the jump-start of reading a new novel, soaking in a bit of the author’s original intended voice for their words and alight rather soundly inside the story as it was always meant to be enjoyed. In this instance, the voice of the narrator had a rather profound effect on how I saw the father in the story carry himself through his carriage; he is a strong yet a bit shy of a fellow, confident but not quite fully aware of his strengths at the same time. The actor who portrayed him did a good job of presenting the furrowed thoughts any father would have on behalf of his young daughter growing up without the benefit of a mother; or rather even, as a reflective premonition of how his daughter could mature on the merits of whom her mother was as a younger woman. He is a bit anguished over the history of his wife and daughter, and I appreciated hearing this conviction of emotion thriving in the voice on the audiobook version. Likewise, he did quite a good job at showing the innocent nature of a child – not quite fully understanding her father’s emotional state, and yearning to simply be in his company.

I daresay, this is going to be placed on my audiobook wish list over on Riffle! To think actors are now lending their voices to breathing life into stories lit alive by voice and the mirth of telling a story through the spirit of vocal narration! I ought to have half a mind to recommend a few actors I follow on Twitter to see if they could start to audition as they have speaking voices that I never tire of listening too, and I’d be plumb surprised if they were not a natural fit to this type of story-telling!

Read More

Divider

Posted Tuesday, 2 September, 2014 by jorielov in 18th Century, A Father's Heart, Action & Adventure Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Films, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Editor's Note | Inside ARC, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Revolutionary War Era, Single Fathers, Soundcloud, TLC Book Tours, War Drama

+Blog Book Tour+ The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Posted Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 8 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
5 August, 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Official Author Websites: Site | @yangszechoo  | Facebook
Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback, Ebook Page Count: 384

Converse via: #TheGhostBride

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

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

The reason I wanted to be on the tour:

I am always amazed at the journey we take as readers towards reading a particular book or becoming entranced by the words an author leaves behind for us to find. We (here refers to the collectively diverse readership of the world) all strive towards reading books when that leap of ignited joy and mirth of the discovery catalysts inside our mind and jumps out through our excited speech whilst we’re sharing the bits and bobbles of what we’ve just been blessed to discover with another bookish soul. Those wickedly delightful moments where you stumble across quite an extraordinary story during a more than ordinary hour of your life, and within that moment, you’re on the precipice of taking a journey to a place quite different from where you live and occupy your own murmurings on life; a place that will feel as though it bewitched you as it spoke to you to be read, to be devoured, and consumed.

When I first started reading a heap of recollections and ruminations on behalf of The Ghost Bride during the Autumn on 2013, I was a very new book blogger growing my wings and entering into the book blogosphere myself. I was sorting things out as I went along, and getting my feet wet with blog tours, reviewing books in a style that felt right for me, and gaining a bit of ground within the network of book bloggers in general who are as diverse as the four winds. I appreciate the fact that each of us who blogs about our reading lives takes on a different angle of insight as we read and review the books we want to share with the dear hearts who find us. It was during this particular exploration I came across a review where the blogger had not found the story was able to resonate with her but she had hoped others who appreciated everything that she felt did not work for her might work for someone else instead. Coincidently, I attempted to re-find the book blogger and my own comments therein, but it is lost out in the blogosphere at this point in time. She encouraged me in a way that other reviewers and bloggers hadn’t at that time to seek out the novel. I knew after reading her thoughts I could soak into The Ghost Bride.

I had not thought much about this at the time, but over the course of months since I have found that to read a negative or neutral review is quite an extraordinary thing; especially if you were like me, and took out such a positive take-away! I mused about that for a moment, and thought, but isn’t that why we blog?! Isn’t that why we read book blogs? To garnish a wider net of opinion, commentary, and muse filled thoughts of the readers behind the blogs themselves? To help us better articulate an idea of which novel might whet our palette of interest and encourage our own spirit to read the works of an author we’ve not yet become acquainted with?

In September of 2013, I also had the joy of contacting the author whilst she was hosting a bookaway through Shelf Awareness; I did not win the book, as my reply was received after the book was given away, however, these were my original thoughts on why the book captivated me in such a keen way:

Whilst I was participating in a bookish community event [Bout of Books], I was led to a variety of lovely blogs, whereupon I stumbled across a review of this book! Ironically, the reader wasn’t as enlightened by it as I would be, as they were not a keen fan of literary fiction, but its that review that earmarked this book in my mind to read! :) Isn’t that interesting!? It simply proves that there are as many diverse readers as there are books!!

Ever since then, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to make sure to see if my local library is going to be getting a copy of this lovely book, as I am a proud supporter of libraries!! I do love to buy books as much as the next person, but only when budget affords! What I wanted to say about your lovely book, is how heart-wretching and heart-aching the story sounds from afar! Talk about a character who has to undertake a journey that is not quite easy to understand, much less explain! I have watched documentaries on tv that showcase different traditions, not only for marriage but for a person’s life, as one draws to mind where in one country they select young girls who have the essence of the reincarnated deity and that that girl must live in confinement without the ability to communicate or speak, until she’s around 16!! She ‘ages out’ of the life, and is allowed to resume living, only to find that the available men are afraid that if they are with her in life and marriage that she would be a curse not a blessing! I wish I could draw to mind the exact details of the country & of this ritual, you’ll have to forgive me on this short-coming! However, the reason I drew it to mind, is because your character Li Lan is being placed into a situation that she didn’t choose and yet its a situation which custom and tradition demands!

Ms. Choo kindly replied back to me, and helped me remember that the documentary I had watched was about the “living goddesses” of Nepal! I am not certain why I had not had the proper chance to borrow this book from my local library, but as I have oft mentioned before, there are moments where we are meant to read certain books, and perhaps the time in which I was meant to read The Ghost Bride simply had not yet arrived! I am always very mindful of how coincidental certain moments are in life have turnt out to be quite serendipitous instead. It all depends on your perception of how life unfolds along your path.

Today is my blog’s official 1st birthday and it is an honour that I am celebrating it with a novel that quite bewitched me whilst it originally toured the book blogosphere! Today let’s celebrate the diversity of readers and the joy of selecting books that challenge us and dare us to always be willing to step outside our comfort zones and engage inside a narrative that is wholly different from our own cultural background yet grounded in a connective thread we can all relate too.

*a blog birthday is the day in which a blog goes live to the public whereas a blogoversary is the celebration of the day you created your blog 

Note: The curious bit for me is that I travelled through the original blog book tour for “The Ghost Bride” last year (also hosted by TLC Book Tours), within the first months I was a book blogger with a newly launched blog! To look back on my reflections of wanting to read the novel whilst visiting other book bloggers who were reviewing it and now, a full year forward to where I have the opportunity to read the novel myself and post my own ruminations on my own book blog is quite wicked karma! I have felt as though I have travelled with the book before it reached my own heart and hands to read!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis:

Yangsze Choo

A wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists

Malaya, 1893 Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt Chinese family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives a proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, ghost marriages are often meant to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a comfortable home for the rest of her days, but at what cost?

As she reluctantly considers the offer, Li Lan is unwillingly drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities and vengeful spirits. There Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Author Biography:

Yangsze Choo is a fourth-generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. She lives in California with her husband and their two children, and loves to eat and read (often at the same time).

The author had the honour of being selected to read her novel aloud for the audiobook version of The Ghost Bride, and after listening to Chapter 1, I can see why they selected her as she has a captivating speaking voice which brings the words off the page to life in such a lovely manner! Click to read the full story on her blog!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Yangsze Choo’s Introduction to “The Ghost Bride” via Yangsze Choo

Inspired to Share: I am always fascinated by the back-story revelations of an author’s work, as to me, to hear about the process of their inspiration towards writing a novel quite literally heightens the joy for me as a reader. I realise there are other readers who would disagree with me on that score, but I have always found something quite remarkable in how stories are written and the methodology of each writer who chooses to pen a story to give back to the world in the form of a book. I was struck by the joy of how a bit of knowledge and research into one particular vein of thought led Ms. Choo to not only expand on a seedling of an idea but gave it such a measure of a breath to illuminate it fully by the scope she took the story!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Eastern Ghost Story and how it differs from the West:

The first main difference I found is an Eastern Ghost story is rooted within the relationship and interpersonal connection to the dead rather than focusing on the psychological thrill of having a ghost crossing into your lifepath. Western stories tend to focus on the shock and intensity of finding an ethereal presence in your life, an interruption of your hours, and a mindful sea of curious unknown questions and ramifications that are difficult to process and work through. There tends to be a lot of factors pulling the ties together for a Western ghost story, which parellel the leftover work of the deceased and a willingly earnest desire to see the work completed by a second or third party who was not particularly connected to the events or the deceased in life. From what I am gathering in The Ghost Bride the main concern is not unfinished business but rather a continuance of a life cut short of being lived. A way of progressing the life of the deceased to a fulfilling present; merely without their flesh and bone presence.

Elements of the story had me thinking back to my love of the South American and Latin American cultural celebration known as Day of the Dead in which family surround their loved ones’ graves and celebrate the life they lived whilst they were alive. It is a ritual influenced celebration and joyous one at that! Traditionally this has been a holiday centered around Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) and All Saint’s Day (All Soul’s Day) in Mexico, and there lies the connection for me, as I was able to explore my love of the cultural heritage of Mexico whilst I travelled there as a teen. My furlough was in Summer, not Autumn, which was the only disappointment in regards to not seeing the festivities live in person.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Ghost Bride: Western vs Chinese Ghost Stories via James Cham

To extend into this a bit more I felt it best to allow the author

to speak on behalf of her own body of work.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Read More

Divider

Posted Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, A Father's Heart, All Hallow's Eve, All Saint's Day, All Soul's Day, Astral Projection, Audiobook, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Bout of Books, Buddhism, Cemeteries & Graveyards, Chinese Literature, Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Clockmakers & Watchmakers, Clockwork & Mechanisations, Clogs & Gears, Confucianism, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Day of the Dead, Death & Burial Rites, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Earthen Magic, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Folklore and Mythology, Gaming, Ghost Marriage Ritual, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Gothic Literature, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Haunting & Ethereal, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Mahjong, Malacca, Malaya, Marriage Rituals, Parapsychological Suspense, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Qing Ming Festival, Reincarnation, Rituals for the Afterlife, Scribd, Soundcloud, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Taboo Relationships & Romance, TLC Book Tours, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

+Blog Book Tour+ Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline

Posted Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 7 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline

Sweet Water

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
7 July 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Official Author Websites: Site@bakerkline | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook Page Count: 320

Converse via: #ChristinaBakerKline

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

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

The reason I wanted to be on the tour:

There are moments in our lives where our paths cross with a novel that we have a near-sixth sense about how we will enjoy reading it. This is exactly what happened to me whilst I won a copy of Orphan Train from a contest from Shelf Awareness and received the novel from the author herself. The bits and pieces of my life from that moment in April 2013 to a full score year later were one of the most consuming experiences thus far along on my lifepath. I always had the intention of reading Orphan Train close to when I had received it. Yet. Life ebbed away and took my focus off the novel that I felt I was meant to read. It was one of those books I knew I would acquire even if I had not been able to receive one from the author. I never had the proper chance to follow-up with Ms. Kline; nor explain my absence but to attempt to explain why I had not yet read the story that captured my attention front line and center.

When I learnt of two novels by Kline going on tour with TLC, I knew I had found my way of redeeming myself and of a way back to Orphan Train! Part of the reason I had ended up holding off reading the novel is because I knew it was going to be an emotional read for me as I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum. The fate of orphans is very near and dear to my maternal heart, and the plight of those children who were sent out on orphan trains always tugs at the core of my soul.

I had felt a connection to not only the story within the sleeper bestseller but I had felt one with the writer who penned the story, which is why I had written her a heartfelt personal note at the time. This entire year I’ve been a book blogger I have learnt how to yield to stress and how to read stories which are emotionally gutting yet intellectually satisfying whilst going through incredible circumstances that otherwise might only lend themselves to beach reads and uplifting romances. I found that I have the ability to write with a clarity that I had not had in previous years whilst juggling through intense personal stress and I found that the best grace in the world as a writer and reader is the direct focus of stories and the writers who create them.

Christina Baker Kline is one writer who crossed my path at a time I could not devout my heart to read her stories, nor approach them with a mindfulness they deserved. It is only one full year later, but this is my way of not only thanking her for the work she has put forward and into the hands of all of us, but a small gesture of acknowledgement from a reader who was captivated by her sincerity, creativity, and immersive research she conducts to breathe life into her characters and stories. I am the blessed one this year, as this is my second chance at discovering what is inside Kline’s body of work.

Note: There are a total of four novels by Christina Baker Kline on tour with TLC Book Tours, however, Orphan Train is not amongst them. I am going to read Orphan Train in September for my own edification and pleasure. I want to take my time to absorb into it and soak through the emotions I know I shall greet when I open the pages of a story I have not stopped thinking about since it arrived.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis:

Christina Baker KlineFrom the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about buried secrets and the redemptive power of forgiveness

Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it’s time for a change. She moves to the small Southern town where her mother, Ellen, grew up—and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.

From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother’s memory left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother’s death, Cassie begins to discover the desperate measures of which the human heart is capable.

Author Biography:

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A novel which shifts both forward & backward through time:

Quite cleverly ahead of each new chapter featuring Cassie’s current life and affairs, there is a flashback sequence to a darker moment in the past; of a time where a woman lived inside of a marriage that was not quite as loving and centered in joy as Cassie’s own life was lived. A woman whose voice is not entirely quiet nor passive, but illuminating a darker truth about herself, her situation, and where her path led her. Her life spills out in small passages of emotional angst and an intuitive glimmer of introspection. This ‘other woman’ who is living a radically different existence to Cassie is connected to Cassie’s world and time-line, even if we are not entirely certain how this could be, as we first begin to delve between the chapters and the context.

Further in, we realise that we are reading a sequence of memories being shared with us by Cassie’s grandmother, Constance (later known as Clyde) who raised her mother Ellen. Ellen was one of three children Constance had with her husband Amory, and it is within their story that part of Cassie’s past I felt would intervene on her future; as families tend to have threads of time stretching between generations, as much as they have secrets that have a tendency of bubbling back to the surface. Constance has her own way of speaking and expressing her grief whilst dealing with her in-affectionate husband and the oddities of having to deal with life when you felt you were living within a love centered romance.

Read More

Divider

Posted Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 by jorielov in A Father's Heart, Adoption, Adulterous Affair, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Brothers and Sisters, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Domestic Violence, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, New York City, Pottery, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Sculpture, Single Fathers, Small Towne USA, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Throwing Pots, TLC Book Tours, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Widows & Widowers, Working with Clay

+Book Review+ Debut novelist Brenda S. Anderson gives readers a heartfelt story of redemption in “Chain of Mercy” (Book One: Coming Home Series)

Posted Sunday, 18 May, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee Designs

Chain of Mercy by Brenda S. Anderson

Chain of Mercy by Brenda Anderson

Published By: Winslet Press () 7 April, 2014
Official Author WebsitesSite | Twitter | Facebook | Pin(terest) Boards
Active in Book Blogosphere: Personal Blog
+ Guest Blogger @ Inkspirational Messages

Available Formats: Softcover
Page Count: 360

Converse on Twitter: #ChainOfMercy & #ComingHomeSeries

#ChristianFiction, #InspirationalFiction#ChrisFic, #ChristIndie & #cleanromance

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I answered a call to become a member of Ms. Anderson’s Author Street Team which was posted on her blog in March 2014. She accepted me as part of her Street Team, whereby I am one of her early readers who has the opportunity to read her novels a bit ahead of their published release or just after their release date. I received a complimentary copy of “Chain of Mercy” direct from the author herself, Brenda S. Anderson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comOn how I know Brenda S. Anderson: Before I was a book blogger, I was a happy-go-lucky blog commenter who loved to visit bookish blogs around the book blogosphere, sharing the joy of reading and blissfully spending time soaking up the booklove the bloggers would knit into their blogs! Through my wanderings in late 2012 and into the early bits of 2013, I stumbled across quite a few author-driven book blogs in both the mainstream and inspirational fiction markets. One author I was pleasantly thrilled to bits to discover was a writer in pursuit of a publishing contract for her novels: Ms. Brenda S. Anderson hailing from Minnesota and of whom has the sweetest personality you’ve ever been graced to find in the blogosphere! Her encouragement on behalf of fellow writers always warmed my heart, as she gets as giddy as I do about upcoming book releases and truly celebrates each milestone another author is experiencing! I felt as though I had found a kindred soul in that regard, as we were both #bookcheerleader(s) before I ever thought to create the tag!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her through her blog as much as I am a member of her Author Street Team. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

Previously I was able to describe exactly why I am drawn into stories knitted together with powerful honesty and an exercise in a faith-based lifepath. Let me copy the paragraph which also applies to why I appreciate Ms. Anderson’s style of writing as she is now firmly in my heart alongside Ms. Lisa Wingate for whom this paragraph was originally on her behalf:

I applaud strong characters who embark on a journey, whether internal, spiritual, or in life. Pieces of the premise reminded me a bit of a Hallmark Christmas film I tend to see during the holidays, starring Richard Thomas, “The Christmas Box”. I love when characters are set up to be in a place they are not intending to stay for a long period of time, yet the place they find themselves is the very place a transformation can occur. That is always powerful to read or watch, because there is such a hearty breath of living truth to the stories! Each of us are walking through life as best we can, growing and learning as we move forward, and never quite knowing when God has an alternative course in mind to restore something to us that has become lost or hidden from view. quoted from my disclosure of connection to Lisa Wingate on my “The Prayer Box” book review

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis:

They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself. Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with success, wealth, and women. Until one disastrous evening, when his world came crashing down. Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves. But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she’s after, but she soon discovers that he’s hiding more than the designer suits in his closet.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Brenda S. Anderson
Author Photo Credit: Portraits from the Heart

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty, life-affirming fiction that offers hope and reminds the reader they’re not alone. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 26 years, their three children, and one sassy cat. Her début novel, Chain of Mercy, Book #1 in the Coming Home series, comes out on April 22, 2014, and Pieces of Granite, the prequel to Chain of Mercy, is scheduled to release on September 16, 2014!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comRealistic Fiction by honest portrayal of turmoil:

What I appreciated from the moment I started reading Chain of Mercy, is that I knew that I was going to go through a story where the lead characters would not only have to handle life-altering choices in regards to parenthood but they would have to dig deeper to re-set the internal balance of their soul’s spirit. A person can walk a thin line towards redemption and forgiveness, but surely the worst battle to win is not even the act of accepting grace, but the choice in letting go of what cannot be changed, resolved, or fixed. There are parts of everyone’s past where we might want to go back and opt to do something differently, but the one part about the past is simply that: it is past and done.

Humans have the hardest difficulty to understand that full acceptance of where you are on your lifepath is that you have to acknowledge the threads of your own tapestry. You have to accept each stumbling block, each diversion of your plans, and each wrong choice you made whilst you were doing the best you could at the time in which you erred. No one is perfect on Earth, but the hardest part for any of us is recognising our fragility and our humanity. Being human is the greatest gift we are given, but with it comes a swath of emotions which are not easy to reconcile nor overcome. I would suspect that the circumstances where we might have played a minor role in the outcome to the level that the full outcome was left for someone else to decide is even the worst of all because inside that hour of despair there is not a single thing anyone can do to sway the other opinion towards a different outcome.

Tackling real-life choices such as determining what to do when you arrive at an unexpected pregnancy and a conception of a child out-of-wedlock is a bold choice for any author, but especially I think in Inspirational Fiction as I still stand by what I said in the supplemental Author Interview to this book review. There is another element of real-life conflict that I am not going to disclose as it will reveal too much of the character (Richard Brooks) story arc, and yet, this other element is just as strong of a topic of interest to the former! Not every author would have taken on either of the subject matters, but I always feel not every author would have been the right choice to tell the story. Anderson has a gift for rooting out the heart of what is wrong inside each of her character’s lives, but it is her deft hand to guide the reader and the character through their journey that I celebrated the most within the context of Chain of Mercy!

My Review of Chain of Mercy:

Richard Brooks is a man whose downtrodden soul does not believe he’s warranted mercy to enter his life anymore than happiness. His mind and spirit is bogged down in the remembrance of his mistakes and how those mistakes placed him in circumstances that would allow society to judge him by actions rather than the changes he made in the present. A man with a mind for business gave himself the displeasure of choosing the wrong relationship which cast his attention off his duties as a power player in a firm long enough to be unabashedly dismissed.

In this single act of a life shift moment, he not only weighs the absence of redemption of his past indiscretions but the measure of how far he must go to overcome the guilt he carries in his soul. A man’s emotional baggage and guilt infested conscience can cause far more harm in the long-term than most are willing to admit. His path spilt in half – where two guttingly difficult incidents erupted into his everyday hours causing him the most pain of his soul. The story is half hinged to his present life where he is attempting to rise like a Phoenix whilst part of him is unable to shift out of the past completely living his life through a mess of ashes. The juxtaposition is strongly supported by how the narrative shifts back and forth in the threadings of where Richard is in the present and of whom he was in the past. Including the shifting perspectives of his previous girlfriend with that of his current.

Choices which can alter the course of an individual’s life is one aspect of humanistic turmoil but a choice in which affects three lives at once, where one individual makes the decision without the consult of a second is by far the hardest to reconcile. Especially if the third life is a child not yet bourne, and the second is a father who was never fully given the chance to fill his role in the child’s life nor the mother’s whose only motivation is to abort a life not planned. I cannot even imagine what Richard Brooks went through realising that it wasn’t a violent act of crime which would end the life of his child nor would it be an act of domestic violence which brought a child into his life. No, it would be the choice of whether or not to accept an unexpected blessing at a time in life when other plans had already come into action. Watching Brooks’ anguish over the choice made by his girlfriend which did not match his own heart’s will is the centerpiece of the story. Understanding his perspective of how an act of lust can lead to an act of love (through conception) and then pulled out from under him by a woman whose scorn was lit aflame by selfish preservation is a gutting punch to the conscience.

What is appreciated in the path Anderson took to tell the story is that both sides of the argument on Women’s Rights and the Women’s Right to Choose are explained, identified and explored through different points of view of equal merit. She doesn’t allow you to take sides initially because she wants to be honest in the representation of what real counterpart people of her characters are facing during the same moments where their lives intersect the characters. She even takes a different approach on the topic depending on which character is in the driver seat of the conversation. For this, I applaud her ability to remain neutral as a narrator as oft-times a writer’s own voice can narrate where the direction of the story will head next.

Yet his revelation of his girlfriend’s choice is the tipping stone of what would happen next, as it was a catalyst of where he would take his own actions and what would become of a night lived in shadows. Guilt takes all forms and snakes into our conscienceness if we allow it to overtake our sanity. Richard Brooks found a way to chain irrevocable absolution to his past and thus allowing him the sanction of a living purgatory bent on anguished nightmares of what he could not accept as his own living truth.

The story isn’t a work of judgement but rather an exploration of a living truth: come what may in our lives we are still able to be forgiven even if for choices that we feel are the ultimate sacrifice of receiving forgiveness. No one has the right to judge anyone else, not on the level of where they stand on this topic of political and sociological charging narrative but what can be spoken about is how we choose to handle what life presents us. We can choose our attitudes on how we survive what happens to us in life and we can choose how we will walk forward even when we no longer feel we have the ability to walk at all. That is the strength of the story in Chain of Mercy, in seeing how the fragments can be put back together and how nothing is ever truly lost if we are willing to remain humble.

The hidden beauty of the life affirming message knitted into Chain of Mercy is that all three principal characters (Richard Brooks, Sheila Peterson, and Meghan Keene) are each walking their own path towards self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and ache for a redemptive measure of mercy and grace none of them believe they deserve. It is how they are all threaded together and how their individual lives are interwoven into the plot that left me wanting to turn each new page to see what was coming along next! Brooks own walk of faith can easily be translucently applied to the other two as each of these three characters reached cross-roads whilst their own lives intersected with each other.

 

A notation on Anderson’s writing style:

What endeared me to the story is Anderson’s compelling way of knitting a realistic story-line set in the modern era and yet denote a hint of a layering of complexity which speaks directly to the human condition to persecute rather than accept self-forgiveness. In the opening chapters, I knew knowingly Richard Brooks was about to embark on one incredible character journey towards self-acceptance and spiritual renewal.

I loved reading the natural world symbolism stitched into the secondary main character Sheila Peterson as it was not only reflective of her unique personality, but a harkening to how we all need to remember to slow down and appreciate what is around us. What I had not realised in those early chapters is that the symbolism of nature and of slowing down was a bit of a foreshadowing of coming events and tides. In regards to Brooks, our past is never an edification of our future nor can our past ever truly shackle us inside its steadfast hold — unless we allow the darkness of bad choices convince us that we are not redeemable from the errors in judgement which besotted our minds with nauseous unease.

I even enjoyed how the flashbacks to the past were represented by text in italics which creatively fit into the regular pace of the story. Sometimes I find flashbacks and/or time slips do not always correlate to the dialogue or the narrative as they can come across as being a jolt out of step. Anderson fuses the flashbacks to the moment in the story which would give the reader the most advantage at connecting with Richard Brooks and the anguish of why he believes he has to live without mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

The reason why I enjoy reading books by Dee Henderson, Julie Lessman, Deeanne Gist, Lisa Wingate, Susan Meissner, and now Brenda S. Anderson is due to the new approach in Inspirational Fiction being rooted in open honesty of real-life circumstances yet grounded in faith, hope, and charity of spirit. These are the authors and women I applaud and seek out as they are the women I could read their back-list and new releases completely enraptured by their stories. They each have their own individualistic style, voice, and choice of time and setting, yet within their stories I breathe in an inspiring breath of calm. The first two authors I mentioned were the foundation of why I wanted to undergo my 70 Authors Challenge, in which I am challenging myself to read 1-5 books by the Inspirational Authors you will find in my sidebar under the challenge countdown badge. I have been slightly delayed in getting my challenge off the ground, but this novel combined with “The Prayer Box” and “A Fall of Marigolds” has inspired me to pick up where I’ve left off! Further details shall follow soon. Stories like these which seek to invigorate and inspire the spirit and heart are always ones that I will fully support.

When Ms. Anderson says she writes ‘gritty fiction’ she is referring to the fact she likes to dig deeper than the superficial layering of telling a story. She likes to go directly into a character’s soul and walk of faith, rooting out their emotional and psychological stability or instability if the case might be, in order to best show the growth and spiritual awakening they need to embark towards. For some it is a spiritual renewal and for others, it’s an awakening because they never gave themselves the proper credit towards understanding God in the first place. She breathes honesty and raw emotions into the context of her stories, and her vision for her characters is realistic humility in recognition of everyman’s faults, fragilities, and sensitivities. She organically digs deeper to tell a more compelling and openly captivating story which pulls you in from page one and does not leave your heart even after the last page is turnt; the story fully absorbed and known. She is most definitely an emerging voice in Inspirational Fiction to keep an eye out for new releases and a finger-tap on interlocking book series!

She maintains the spirituality of Christianity in a gentle way of allowing you to oversee the character going through the motions of returning to a God-centered life which is cross-referenced by light commentary of scriptures and affirmations of God’s grace. It is through the lessons of her character’s actions that the greatest arc of spirituality is found.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com This author’s Interview is courtesy of the Author’s Street Team:

Brenda S. Anderson
Author Photo Credit: Portraits from the Heart

For which I am blessed and thankful to be a part of!

Previously I interviewed Ms. Anderson on behalf of her début as an author!

Please visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

{SOURCES: Book cover for “Chain of Mercy”, Author photograph of Brenda S. Anderson, and Book Synopsis were provided by the author Brenda S. Anderson and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers & My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

What I’ve shared on Twitter about ‘Chain of Mercy’ or Brenda S. Anderson:

The following is a sampling of the tweeting I’ve done.

Read a convo on Twitter where I recommended “Chain of Mercy” to the author who wrote the incredibly layered “Lemongrass Hope”. (my review of ‘Lemongrass Hope’) | Twitter convo

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
Divider

Posted Sunday, 18 May, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Abortion, Agnostic (Questioning & Searching or Unsure), Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blogs I Regularly Read, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Brenda S. Anderson's Blog, Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Geographically Specific, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Lessons from Scripture, Life Shift, Mental Illness, Minnesota, Modern Day, New York City, RALs | Thons via Blogs, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Special Needs Children, Women's Right to Choose (Health Care Rights), Women's Rights