Category: A Father’s Heart

+Blog Book Tour+ The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz

Posted Sunday, 21 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)

Official Author Websites:  Site @NancyLorenzbks | Facebook

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #TheStrengthofBallerinas OR #NancyLorenz

On the footheels of the sequel: #StrengthOfBallerinas (to imply a series)

Acquired Book By: 

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “The Strength of Ballerinas” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

One area of motion pictures I have always been drawn into is the world of dance, as there is something quite magical about how emotion and fluidity of movement can merge into one. Creatively dance evokes such a strong passion of observation and a compelling experience for the audience who watch the dancers moving through their time on the floor. I appreciate nearly all of the different forms of dance, including urban dance crews such as the ones on ABDC (America’s Best Dance Crew) which had aired on MTV, and of which I no longer believe is hosted. The films which always spoke to me the most in different ways are the following: Dirty Dancing (with Jennifer Grey & Patrick Swayze), Save the Last Dance (with Julia Stiles), the Step Up franchise of films (each one unique in of itself), Footloose (original & remake), Flashdance, Singin’ in the Rain, every Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers film, most of the classic films of dance and/or musical variety (including works featuring: Danny Kay, Gene Kelly & others; The Ziegfeldd Follies), Chicago, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, Shall We Dance? (with Richard Gere), Greese, Burlesque (with Christina Aquilera), Honey (with Jessica Alba), Moulin Rouge, The Nanny Express (with Brennan Elliott) and of course I grew up on the tv series Fame. The films which speak directly to ballet and the world of those who dare to push the limits of their bodies are: Centerstage (my favourite favourite!), Ballet Shoes (with Emma Watson), and First Position (documentary). The ones I want to see are Billy Elliott, An American Girl: Isabelle Dances into the Spotlight, & Mao’s Last Dancer. I positively adored seeing a regional ensemble for The Nutcracker in Baltimore as well.

 First Position Official Trailer via First Position films

My own foray into the world of dance ended in my early childhood as I was very self-aware and knew which steps interested me in the room across from my own lessons. Unfortunately for me, they did not give freedom of choice to children under the age of 6. As an adult, I have wanted to re-take up the interest I have in dance and start to seek out lessons for ballroom dance as I love the agility and the grace of the sequences. I do not aim to compete, but rather to find a harmony of the steps whilst dancing against the music. I do have a sideline notion of taking up tap dancing, as I learnt for dyslexic learners tap can actually help us fuse the steps into our muscle memory. It also gives a better grounding for dance overall if you learn differently and of course, by wearing two different coloured shoes I’ll be able to ‘catch’ on a bit faster! I cannot wait to try!

I am simply drawn into stories of dance and the dancers who give us the light of their innermost joy. I was inspired to read this novel originally as it felt as though it would become a most beloved story of strength and the humbling grace of living on faith. I was only a bit worried about what the debilitating illness might be but thankfully my fears were put aside as I asked the tour director only one question: does the story involve cancer? And, the answer was no. I couldn’t wait to dive into this story as soon as I heard that and signed up for the tour! Trust me when I say that this is a story any sensitive heart can handle!

A note on the cover art design:

I was especially endeared to the choice of the cover art for this novel as it is a reflection of who Kendra is and the image of who Kendra has as a reflection of herself. There is a lot of metaphor in the novel, pointing to direct young adults and all readers who pick up the novel to reconsider how they view themselves as much as learning from Kendra’s lead. It is a clever book cover in what it is focusing on and how that focus translates into who Kendra is as a person.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy LorenzThe Strength of Ballerinas
by Nancy Lorenz
Source: Direct from Publisher

All Kendra has ever wanted to do is dance. But when her father's job takes their family from the city lights of Manhattan to quiet Napa Valley in California, Kendra's dreams are shattered.

Still determined to dance, she tries to adjust to her new life until a debilitating diagnosis threatens to change everything. Now Kendra must decide which dreams are really worth fighting for.

Step onto the dance floor and into Kendra's heart in this poignant and compelling story. Written by ballet lover Nancy Lorenz, this is a debut novel you won't want to put down.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Genres: Young Adult Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 9th of September, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 256

Author Biography: 

NancyLorenz

Nancy Lorenz currently teaches as an English adjunct at several colleges. She worked in publishing, public relations and in network television. She studied ballet in New York City at numerous studios, including open level classes at American Ballet Theater in the 1980’s, and continues to study ballet for the sheer love of it. She recommends that you love what you do, but also to branch out to the many subjects out there yet to discover. The more you learn, the more you can bring back into your art.

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A story about family & our desire to find our niche in the world:

I always appreciate fiction that drives into the heart of who we are as individuals and the discover of our own personal niche inside the world itself. The Strength of Ballerinas at it’s core is about a teenage ballerina in tutelage at the Manhattan Dance Company who unexpectedly is pulled from her rigorous training and transplanted into the vineyards of Napa Valley due to a job transfer of her father’s. All the whilst attempting to sort through regular teenage angst and anguish of understanding your person, your internal world of thought, body image & self worth issues, and the navigation of the world within the structure of school. School is always a rapid-fire crazy chaos of sorting out how to fit in or rather blend in without drawing attention to yourself if your own self-confidence is faltering due to an internal battle of frustration with your circumstances. In this light, Lorenz paints Kendra’s world brilliantly, as she shows how difficult the relocation was from the point-of-view of a ballerina in training and how life can throw a curve ball you’d rather have dodged completely!

I like the empathsis on Kendra’s family life, on how she lost her Mum at a young age, how her brother has autism, and how her father feels a bit lost in the shuffle of everything that keeps happening to his family. He’s written well on his own behalf, as parents are not always fleshed out in Children’s Literature (across the board from Juvenile, Middle Grade, or Young Adult fiction) nor do they come across as regular parents, but rather caricatures of who they should be. Lorenz takes the parents of the novel and gives them an honest portrayal of caring & nurturing presences inside the lives of the teens. I appreciated seeing Mr. Sutton (Kendra’s Dad) as much as I did Mrs. Cassidy (the widow mother of Becca & Troy), as it sparks a new vein of realism inside this genre of Young Adult.

My Review of The Strength of Ballerinas:

Kendra’s world crashes in the blink of an eye when on the larkspur joy of completing a milestone in her quest to become an apprentice ballerina (she achieved twenty fouettés), her father informs her they are going to embark on a cross-country job transfer. Her young life and world is surrounded by dance – to perfect the grace and the maturity needed to handle the arduous competitive state of ballet. She lives and breathes her art, denying herself any other joy outside of the practice and has no interest in food except enough to satisfy her father’s concern on behalf of her health. What compelled me about the start of The Strength of Ballerinas is how within the opening sequences of the story, Lorenz gives you a breath of a whisper to what is going to be alighting next in successive chapters. A mere hinting of a foreshadow, but enough to compel me forward into the heart of the novel.

Lorenz writes with a passion for the ballet and for an understanding of the internal world of a ballerina. She pulls you into that mindset and allows for the characters to be honest about their feelings and their thoughts as they arise naturally through dialogue. I always find this is especially important when writing stories for YA audiences, as it gives a firm and compelling addition to literature for younger audiences who are thirsty for realism and heart.

As Kendra progresses through the early stages of being the new student at the Napa Valley high school, we start to see her undergo a bit of a metamorphosis in how she views her position in her life. Prior to the relocation from New York City to California, she centered her life around ballet. She never even considered the role she had as a big sister to Petey her younger brother afflicted with autism, nor did she count the difficulties her widowed father might have as well. She was focused intently on her dream to be a prima ballerina but what she was missing was the grounding roots of a well-balanced and well-lived life. By exchanging one Coast for the other, we start to see her emerge out of her shell a bit, reconsidering a few things she had always ignored (especially the warning signs of her muscles), and even ventured to appreciate food for something more than sustenance. I appreciated this character growth occurring in the novel, as if there is a teen who is career driven themselves, they might start to see that you can have a rounded world full of experiences without limiting your scope to what you want to do professionally.

Seeing Kendra’s happiness at the pumpkin patch of the Cassidy’s was one of my favourite scenes, as she had pure joy inside her heart and she carried this into being a big sister to Petey of whom she tried to share the happiness with as well. I felt it was a turning point in her outlook and of her growth towards being a bit more than she was when she was in New York.

The interesting part of the novel is how Kendra believed as strongly in her brother’s abilities as their mother yet she would find that her father could only believe what he sees. Coincidently, he is also the father who disbelieves what he sees when his son starts to show signs he’s participating rather than not understanding anything at all. I think this was a good show of how hard it is for parents to trust in something that they do not fully understand but hope will have a positive outcome. I can imagine how frustrating it is for the parents of autistic children to find joy inside everyday hours, when attempting to simply make a small connection to a child who does not know how to communicate. I have often run across autistic children whilst I am out at malls or stores, and I always remember to have a bit more patience, as I never know if something I say or if I move too quickly will affect their child. This was especially the case when I was riding in an elevator with an autistic child at a department store. I thought closer about my words and my tone, and I didn’t make any sudden movements – not that I do normally, but I was mindful the child might misread anything outside their own family and environment. The mother thanked me and we talked a bit before she had to go on with her day. I smiled and said a prayer of gratitude for remembering what I had read and heard in documentaries. The memory triggered to mind as I read this story, however, as how one parent differs from another; and how all parents have their breaking moments of feeling exasperated. I can only hope if others were to come across a child whose responses clued them into the fact they had special needs, they’d take a few extra steps to make them feel comfortable as I had and give their Mum or Dad a breathing space. As I think that is what Kendra’s Dad needed — he needed breathing space.

I simply soaked straight into this novel and was absent from noticing the erasure of the hours off the clock! I simply found myself unable to put the book down, much less draw a pause to blog my thoughts about it! What was so very compelling about The Strength of Ballerinas is how universal the message is of the story: to not only believe in your own unique talent but to treasure the experiences and choices you have to create a future you were always meant to walk. It is powerful and empowering at the very same time – to live for a short spell inside Kendra’s shoes and watch as she grows inside this beautiful coming-of age story of strength, spiritual fortitude, and a conviction of personal will to overcome what comes along in our lives that scare us as much as they define our character.

Nancy Lorenz is a writer in YA I want to keep my eye on:

Lorenz has such a beautiful gift for writing compelling teenage drama and realistic life circumstances, that I know she is most definitely a writer in YA I want to keep my eye on! I cannot wait to see where she takes us next, and the fact she was so convicting in a novel of dance, I’d be keen to see more exploits of the creative arts; if not dance! She truly knows how to get into the heart of her characters and I appreciate this the most, as they are uniquely different and approachable. She keeps a clear eye on the economic front of America as well, and she ties-in realistic examples of modern American life as well. She’s not cliche and she honours the characters by giving them full flexibility and a rite of passage that befits who they are as well. I am most definitely going to be keeping my eyes on the look-out for her next releases through Sweetwater Books!

One of the most beautiful things is how she found a way to transition the terminology of the dance into a tangible visual representation of the ballet without having hiccups in the translation. I felt caught up in the delight of reading this novel, because the author’s vision for the storm guided my heart and my imagination towards her impression of where she wanted us to go as reader’s. It is a special gift to translate visually what you write through words, and her expressions and palette of choice in descriptions matched how I felt this story would be represented in life.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Strength of Ballerinas Book Trailer via The Strength of Ballerinas

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Virtual Road Map of “The Strength of Ballerinas” Blog Tour can be found here:

This is my second Young Adult book review outside of Speculative Fiction and the second for Equality in Literature. Wonder was the first one I blogged about where a brother is different from his sister and the story is rooted in family & coming-of age.

The Strength of Ballerinas Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Click-through to mark your calendars for:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in CanvaFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, and I have 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! 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! 

{SOURCES: Author photograph and the Book Cover of “The Strength of Ballerinas” were provided by the author Nancy Lorenz and used with permission. The Cedar Fort badge, the Book Synopsis, and the Author Biography were provided by Cedar Fort, Inc. and used by permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Book Trailer for The Strength of Ballerinas via the novel’s YouTube Channel & the trailer for First Position by First Position Films had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed these media portals to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Updates about this becoming a series:

*This last tweet was RT at least 5x!

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Posted Sunday, 21 September, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Autism, Ballet, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Brothers and Sisters, California, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Diet Weight & Body Image, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Documentary on Topic or Subject, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Geographically Specific, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Napa Valley, New York City, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Realistic Fiction, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Special Needs Children, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Urban Life, Vintages and Vineyards, Women's Health, Young Adult Fiction

+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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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