Category: Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events

#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. Burger

Posted Friday, 28 April, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Complexity” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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musings about the introduction:

Right out of the gate, Burger warmed me to his compassionate view of life when he cross-compared the natural biodiversity of our world with the multicultural diversity of our biped humanity. If you lament about the world at large long enough, there is an incredible girth of biological ancestry percolating all round us. It is not just our footprints and our legacies which are resplendently observational in this world, but there is a depth of evolutionary evidence of how the natural world has progressed forward through millennia and augmented itself to become adaptive and changeable per each environ and region on Earth.

I must admit, part of the reason why I had my eye keenly attached to Paleontology was to understand the back-history of the natural world. When I uncovered AstroBotany a few years ago, it took studying the subject from a completely new point of view and by such, granting a new angle of approach. I think this is why I was originally considering studying Archaeology rather than Anthropology; as although I am dearly interested in culture and traditional heritages of different ethnic backgrounds; one thing has kept constant about my scientific interests: I like to dig into the past and seek out the mannerisms of the how species and humanity lived through the different ages. Inasmuch as I appreciate uncovering the socio-psychological make-up of our own actions, there is a measure of joy in back-tracking through how the natural world has evolved forward through their own timeline.

He breaks down the terms: Biodiversity vs. Complexity as both directly relate to how our understanding of the natural order and presence of everything (human vs natural world) correlate, inter-relate and are individually unique from one another too. Systematically there are intersections of everything and everyone on Earth (as one would naturally observe) but when he mentioned the tundra and the the rain forest, I just smirked! Those were the two biodiverse regions which perked my interest early-on as a child. I loved how uniquely different those regions were and how incredible it was to peer into the wildlife and the natural organisations which called each space their home. The habitats were awe-inspiring for a girl growing into an appreciation for conservation and preservation of natural environs. I was a budding environmentalist before I ever understood the full spectrum of Earth’s fragile balance between ecological preservations and the impact of our human actions. By the age of ten, when I first saw Medicine Man in the theater, you could say it all came full circle and since then, I have been passionately curious about the steps we can take to reduce our industrialism and live more authentically towards a greener tomorrow using upcycling, recycling and natural innovative science to improve our way of life.

Understanding SPECIES:

Growing up in Science class, one of my favourite bits to graduating into seventh grade was starting to get a more scientific foundation on the order of species. My seventh grade teacher had a living biosphere of his own – we had an outside zoo attached to our classroom where farm animals resided in a lovingly cared for pen and where inside, we had aquariums and cages full of small animals which added to the joy of researching natural habitats. It is also where I fell in love with the class hamster but never thought I’d be blessed to take him home. He lived four years, nearly five (impressive for a little guy) and he still has a fond place in my heart. Aside from meeting my first ham-ham of joy, I was eagerly itching to better understand how everything in the natural world was organised and classified. Mind you, for a girl in a classroom full of peers who’d much rather be outside in the sunshine, I was an oddity. I loved being holed up inside my textbook and musing about how everything in nature had it’s own blueprint to identify itself. There was a specific tool set in nature to give you clues and hints towards how everything belongs by genus, species and family. Of course it’s more complex than this, as you can read about in this article but I was simply mentioning I was wicked fascinated by the conception of everything having a particular place in which to belong.

I used to read hierarchical charts like Amateur Ancestry Sleuths read genealogical graphs and family trees! There is a lot of data about how the natural world is understood and broken down into Plants and Animals. The hierarchy is the code which helps you understand the connections and the diverse components of what makes each individual organisation uniquely themselves whilst having a comparatively similar component of another species, too. There are cross-similarities as much as there are inherent differences and I have always wanted to have a better foundation of understanding of how all of this co-relates and diverts into sub-categories of order. To put it a different way, understanding the natural world is similar to having a blueprint of the break-down of genre in Literature. You have sub-genres and sub-categories of interest broken into thematic inclusions and styles of crafting stories together through either Fiction or Non-Fiction. You can spend a lifetime seeking stories moving through genres and generations of writers whose influences continue to shape the literary world. So, too, is the same for understanding the biosphere. You first have to understand how to approach the topic and then, you get to have fun exploring everything that makes Earth bio-diverse as it is right now.

I was quite charmed Burger chose to avoid discussing Insects – as personally, they never interested me in the least! I have a love/hate relationship with Insects overall. Yes, I recognise they have a place in this world but on a truly personal level of honest reflection? I could literally bypass their presence in my life. There are few exceptions to this rule: butterflies, dragonflies and a few others to make my soul smile but in general, the world of insects and I are not on speaking terms.

Plant Diversity | Essential to Biodiversity:

I oft wondered why my peers gave little credit or credence to plant and trees. After all, it wasn’t hard to understand how we are able to breathe (ie. trees are our source of oxygen) but so, too it wasn’t hard to fathom how the flora and fauna in a natural habitat was key to a sustainable habitat for all the lovely creatures who called that local environ their home. I used to be keenly invested in tracing photosynthesis on both land and sea. When it comes to the ocean, the most unique discovery was how life is still adaptively responsive beyond the layer of sunlight penetration where the world is completely dark and absent from the effects of photosynthetic processes. Mind you, those creatures in the deepest layers of the ocean freak me out of my skull! They are straight out of a story of Horror but on the flip side of that coin, it’s not their fault they are structurally horrific to look at as to them, we’re the odd ones who scare them!

Cosmic Complexities:

Since I was a Young Astronaut, I have been especially curious about the Cosmic diversity and complexities of life in the vacuum of space. Partially why I loved spending so much time at my local Science Center was for the joy of uncovering more about life in the universe from our humble observational knowledge back here on Earth. It is also why I have a penchant for reading and writing Hard Science Fiction stories. There is a lot more understanding on the diverse aspects of what makes the environments on the planets so eloquently complex nowadays than even when I was growing up as much more is known. I oft found it curious how at one point in time, Science Fiction was a bit limited in speculating a living environment for planets; as basic science for those locations was still anyone’s educated guess. To find out which of the planets are sustainable for life and which ones are a boiling stew of environmental causticity is quite humourous now.

The irony I felt was that if our Earth is diversely complex and structured, why would we think the Cosmic structure of those planets would be less than our own? Wouldn’t it be a better working theory to acknowledge the planets in our solar system were equally complex to understand if Earth is still being processed, categorised and understood on a fundamental level?

I also liked getting a small grasp of how the other planets keep our planet healthy – I knew there was more to the ‘order’ and ‘distance’ of the planets than what was being shared during my school years. For starters, nothing is coincidental – not in life and not in nature. There are reasons for everything even if we are not entirely clued into those reasons until a day of new understanding alights on our path, which doesn’t discredit there is a purpose for why things simply ‘are’. It was quite curious how the placement of the planets not only effect our planet’s health but they also, effectively alter how each of the planets can thrive in their own unique environments, too. Again, there is more to the world and the universe than what is generally understood. For starters, by what is being explained the very positioning of the other planets create a ‘fail-safe’ for Earth; an invisible protective shield for drawing objects away from us inasmuch as consistently influencing our weather and the cycle of living habitats.

Why Earth is a blessed place to call ‘home’:

Aside from contemplating the spherical dimension of the sky and the curvature of the Earth, I oft contemplated gravity and our inability to realise how gravity itself places such an important role in our lives. The absence of our daily visual observation of how we can walk, stand and run on solid ground is a credit to the hidden metrics of how gravity influences our way of life. However, there are other hidden factors which are indicators of how life on Earth is sustained and able to be generationally increased. Everything from our tilt to our cyclic seasons to how our girth and size allows us to be spread between different climatic zones.

Laughs. When Burger started to talk about ‘plate tectonics’, it reminded me about how my classmates nearly groaned about how I wanted to spend an incessant amount of time discussing the subject! Mostly the science behind this Earthbound marvel is why we study Volcanology and have a ready appreciation for earthquake science which is still in the rudimentary stages of being understood. Interesting new point of insight: plate tectonics re-release carbon dioxide! Now, why did my science teachers leave out that bit of fodder from our chats? It’s a system of purging a surplus of toxic gas if it were to be allowed to continue to collect in places where it’s unhealthy levels would start to interfere with the natural order of our world. Now that’s a new layer of insight past what influences volcanoes and earthquakes and the dynamic shift in topographical elevations!

Religion and Science:

As I have blogged about in the past, my pursuit of Science is from a girl who walks in faith. I am not the first nor the last person who has found common ground in pursuing Science without forsaking her faith. To me, to understand how the universe and Earth are in sync with each other is another extension of understanding the universal truths of where we live. It isn’t to takeaway from religion nor to fully embrace Science without faith; we each walk our own path and make our minds on how best to approach the larger questions which will always be present in our world. (see also Review) Burger adds his two cents on the subject and in effect, leaves the reader to decide where they stand which is the only way to leave it, truly.

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One interesting point in this section of his Introduction is when he stipulated this:

But science is different; it is nothing more than a pragmatic way of trying to understand the world through carefully controlled experiments, the origin and elaboration of biodiversity are historical questions. In these instances we formulate historical scenarios and then seek evidence from nature to support or reject a given scenario. It’s very much like detectives trying to solve a crime.

-quoted from Complexity by William C. Burger with permission of the publisher

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On this vein of thought, the study of Biodiversity is a funneling of retracing the history of the natural world in pursuit to understand where we are today. It is another way of knowing why our natural environment is changing and re-defining itself once more through geological evolution. It’s a mark of historical reference to better understand what happened in the past in order to continue to strive towards a better future.

Land and Sea Variants of Biological Life:

As Burger has concentrated his research and observations to terrestrial entities rather than oceanographic species, he does give a brief interlude about how the ocean is enriched by biodiversity if only as a footnote on the subject. The oceans account for 90% of the living sphere but they contain a radically reduce amount of living organisms when cross-compared to those living on land (ourselves included!). I have known about this for quite a long while – as I spent a bit of time during seventh grade in a different school than the one I hinted about earlier (where I adopted my first hamster). In the former school, where I had spent sixth grade as well; I had a wicked lovely science teacher who taught through experiments and encouraged us to have an independent mind. My second science teacher that year attempted this but fell short a bit due to angst stemming out of devastating budget cuts (ie. he lost all funding to keep his animals). In the first school, my teacher introduced a broad appreciation for the oceans, the currents and the cycle of how the oceans are controlled by the moon and tides. It was a wicked introduction but also, affirming by scale and design: this is when I realised how large 90% of anything truly is in proportion to geologic size. I was developing a healthy interest in oceanography, thermodynamics, geophysics, marine biology and paleooceanology with a small interest in climatology which would increase lateron.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. BurgerComplexity
Subtitle: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity
by William C. Burger
Source: Direct from Publisher

This very readable overview of natural history explores the dynamics that have made our planet so rich in biodiversity over time and supported the rise and dominance of our own species.

Tracing the arc of evolutionary history, biologist William C. Burger shows that cooperation and symbiosis have played a critical role in the ever increasing complexity of life on earth. Life may have started from the evolution of cooperating organic molecules, which outpaced their noncooperating neighbors. A prime example of symbiosis was the early incorporation of mitochondria into the eukaryotic cell (through a process called “endosymbiosis”). This event gave these cells a powerful new source of energy. Later, cooperation was again key when millions to trillions of individual eukaryotic cells eventually came together to build the unitary structures of large plants and animals. And cooperation between individuals of the same species resulted in complex animal societies, such as ant colonies and bee hives.

Turning to our own species, the author argues that our ability to cooperate, along with incessant inter-group conflict, has driven the advancement of cultures, the elaboration of our technologies, and made us the most “invasive” species on the planet. But our very success has now become a huge problem, as our world dominion threatens the future of the biosphere and confronts us with a very uncertain future.

Thought-provoking and full of fascinating detail, this eloquently told story of life on earth and our place within it presents a grand perspective and raises many important questions.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781633881938

Genres: Biological Diversity, Botany, Evolution, Life Science, Non-Fiction, Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 14th June, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 380

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #Nature, #Conservation, #Biodiversity + #ScienceBooks

About William C. Burger

William C. Burger

William C. Burger is Curator Emeritus of the Department of Botany at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of the highly acclaimed Flowers: How They Changed the World and Perfect Planet, Clever Species.

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Posted Friday, 28 April, 2017 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Asteroid Science, AstroBotany, Biblical History, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Botany, Climate Change, Conservation, Ecology, Education & Learning, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, GeoPhysical History, History, Horticulture, Indie Author, Industrial Revolution, Jorie the Writer, Marine Biology, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Nature & Wildlife, Non-Fiction, Oceanography, Paleontology, Preservation, Prometheus Books, Science, Space Science, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World, Upcycle & Recycle Practices

Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and storms

Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Category 5 by Paul Mark Tag

{ Book 1 of the Science Thrillers Trilogy }

{ Book 2 : Prophecy }

{ Book 3 : White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy }

Published By: iUniverse (@iUniverse)

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Genre(s): Fiction | Science Technothriller | Espionage & Intrigue | Science Fact

Converse via: #ScienceThrillersTrilogy, #technothriller#PaulMarkTag

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Acquired Book By: Whilst my path crossed originally with Mr. Tag through my participation of his blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media (on behalf of “How Much Do You Love Me?”), we have continued to stay in touch since the tour ended. What I found most fascinating about his historical fiction debut is how soul stirring the narrative was depicted against the backdrop of war and the timelessness of his approach to etch a story out of our collective emotional hearts. I was very moved by his multi-cultural characters and of a story taken straight out of history and World War II. Thus, when I was approached to receive his Science Thrillers Trilogy in exchange for review, I was most delighted indeed! To be honoured with the chance to read his science fiction based on science fact thrillers would enable me to see a new dimension of his writing style and voice!

I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Paul Mark Tag, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and stormsCategory 5
by Paul Mark Tag
Source: Direct from Author

Dr. Victor Mark Silverstein is a Jewish African-American whose background is as unusual as his personality. He lives a privileged life as the Naval Research Laboratory's preeminent meteorologist and scientist. But beneath the facade of a self-centered, arrogant personality lies a seething, vulnerable man whose secrets have plagued his sleep since 1982. That's when he discovered the truth about what happened to his girlfriend, Sylvia.

In the year 2007, his nightmares become a reality when weather satellites detect an environmental aberration. Memories from college at Penn State -- and their accompanying heartbreak -- push their way back into Silverstein's life. Only he knows the root cause of the phenomenon and its scientific basis -- and the mastermind behind it all.

This fast-paced thriller spans the globe: from the Suez Canal and Christmas Island to Istanbul, Turkey; to Monterey, California and Washington, DC; and finally to Bermuda. Silverstein and his feisty female assistant, Dr. Linda Kipling, begin a desparate and harrowing pursuit for the truth and for those responsible. With time running out and the environmental catastrophe unfolding, they must survive a terrifying ride through the eyewall of a hurricane. The final showdown pits good against evil and intellect against loyalty. Along the way, Silverstein finds peace and becomes reacquainted with a faith he abandoned long ago.

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: How Much Do You Love Me?,

Series: Science Thrillers Trilogy,


Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller


Published by iUniverse

on 31st April, 2005

Format: Paperback

Pages: 324

About Paul Mark Tag

How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

Paul Mark Tag graduated with degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and worked for the Naval Research Laboratory as a research scientist for over thirty years before retiring to write fiction. For years prior to retirement, and the following year exclusively, he honed his skills writing short stories. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Green’s Magazine, and The Storyteller, as well as The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy.

In 2005, Tag published his first thriller, Category 5, which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification. Prophecy and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy followed Category 5, with White Thaw tackling global climate change, a topical subject these days. With his historical novel How Much Do You Love Me? Tag has switched genres. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.

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The science within Category 5:

I have oft wondered why there isn’t more talk about modifications and protocols to augment the severity of natural disasters as we have seen played in science fiction modules. Weather modification has been a hearty subject for a long time, but I was always drawn to the natural disaster films which attempted to either clarify the issue in layman’s terms or give a plausible example of what could happen if we start to monk about with natural systems we have no business altering by artificial means. The theory within the novel Category 5 is hugged close to my own thoughts and musings on the topic at large; if you could find a way to interject a change of severity and course of a storm whilst it is already in-progress and growing in strength. It is plausible because anyone who has stood outside during a severe weather occurrence starts to denote a few things in the atmosphere; the least of which is the changing colours of the sky itself, but moreso, the change of ambiance of the time of the occurrence itself.

I have observed there is a stillness when your outside observing weather as it occurs; hurricanes by far have the worst calm within the eye whereas the calm center of a tornado is daunting on a different level completely. Both the eye and the center of both storms do have one particular thing in common: they are fair warning of what is coming next. If we start to use science to control what is naturally occurring and thereby has it’s own cycle of influence on the natural world, are we then able to justify the results if the outcome is less than equal to the projected end results? Sometimes what you beg trouble for is far worse than living through what has already arrived.

Part of me is curious of what is not understood and cannot be explained; climate and meteorology have always held strong influences on me (where I live notwithstanding) and a part of this might stem from my great-grandfather whose fascination with electricity was directly linked to his curiosity about lightning. If only I could travel back in time to speak to him about his own observations and what he gleamed by staring down the bolts of pure electricity as they lit up the evening skies and gave a shuddering start to the extreme weather of his era.

When they started to talk about ocean temperatures I nearly chuckled to myself — I still remember flying over the Gulf for the first time and noticing the differences in both density and colourations of the ocean’s surface. Part of me mused if the variations had anything to do with temperatures as much as the depth of the particular portions I was flying over; as that is one observation you cannot gleam standing on the ground. Flying reveals a lot about our world as the juxtaposition increases the mind to accept the larger view more to scale than when we are looking down rather than sideways or up. The ocean sciences (from oceanography to geophysics to geothermal plate tectonics) were a keen interest of mine whilst growing up. Naturally I would evolve into appreciating every sub-field inter-related to Environmental Science, Climatology, Meteorology and Natural Weather or Disasters such as Snow Science, Vulcanology, and Glaciology. Tag has written a novel a science geek like me is overjoyed to have found existing in science fiction! It is a thread of theory combined with real-life plausible scenarios which have the most direct impact on mass causality and aftermath; a warning of a tale about the temptations of where science can lead man to technology that can offset the balance of order and chaos.

There is a point in the story where Silverstein is mentioned as studying forensic meteorologist – giving me a bit of pause as I was most intrigued at that designation. (the forensic sciences are another thread of interest of mine) I was curious if this is what Paleoclimatology was originally called or if the forensic side of meteorology is a sub-field exploring a completely different branch of data. Considering climate and weather are generally studied separately, I found it quite fascinating to see this inside the novel. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov in #IndieWriterMonth, #SciFiReadathon, 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, African-American Literature, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Debut Author, Debut Novel, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Espionage, Go Indie, Hard Science Fiction, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Meteorology, Methodology of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, Military Fiction, Modern Day, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), RALs | Thons via Blogs, Reading Challenges, Sci-Fi November, Science, Science Fiction, SFN Bingo, Sociological Behavior, Space Science, The Sci-Fi Experience, Uncategorized, Vulgarity in Literature

+Blog Book Tour+ The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly #histfic

Posted Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 4 Comments

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The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

Published By:William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
10 June 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers ()
Author PagesTom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly @ Mississippi Writers & Musicians
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback & Ebook
Page Count: 336

Converse on Twitter via: #TheTiltedWorld, #TomFranklin, & #BethAnnFennelly

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Tilted World” 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.

Inspired to Read:

The premise of the story itself appealed to me, but truly what captured my heart and attention about this particular story was the book review posted by Max Winter on Los Angeles Review of Books. Talk about centering one’s attention around a story and the characters within the story in such a way as to illuminate The Tilted World in a tangible and cohesive way to warrant you to itch to read its chapters for yourself! I could not wait to sign up for the blog tour after reading this particular review, because I felt inspired by the words in which Winter imparted on the novel’s behalf as much as the attention he gave to the writers who penned the tale itself. It truly is a review that captures the joy of reading and the blessings of finding stories which capture our attention. The kind of review I always hope I am able to write myself, and thereby, inspire others to read the stories which instill a fond memory inside my heart for having found them.

I had found this title through my local library prior to being selected for the tour, however, I never did have the properly chance to check the book out! I simply like giving a nod to my library for being a constant source of inspiration of where I find new authors and new stories to read!

Book Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who’d been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.

Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she’s the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents’ disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.

When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it—in each other.

Author Biographies:Tom Franklin

Tom Franklin is the award-winning and New York Timesbestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was nominated for nine awards and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. His previous works include Poachers, whose title story won the Edgar Award, as well as Hell at the Breech and Smonk. The winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and United States Artists, as well as a Fulbright grant to travel to Brazil. Her honors include the Kenyon Review Prize and three inclusions in The Best American Poetry. She has published three volumes of poetry as well as a work of nonfiction, Great with Child. She directs the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, where she was named the 2011 Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

Beth Ann and Tom live in Oxford, Mississippi, with their three children.

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Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

The Tilted World: A Novel by HarperCollins

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The Southern States and Mid-West during the 1920s:

Etched into the background of the novel, is the discourse and disillusionment of the 1920s era of socioeconomic differences between the classes. From seeing points of view of the federal agents operating under Hoover’s arm of command (prior to his Presidency, I had not realised he was what I would consider one of the first officials to take charge in a manner that is representative of what we now call FEMA) to the sweeping arc of seeing the everyday world of farmers, bootleggers, and every person in-between caught between the Mississippi and higher ground. The prejudicial views between cultural backgrounds are also fully present, as they would be as the Civil Rights era was still a ways off into the future. It was a time of distrust and a discrepancy of honour, as there are murmurings of agents on the take and of back-end deals that would disrupt the integrity of law and order.

What I appreciated the most is the manner in which everything is depicted and given a true voice to the era in which the story is set. The authors found a way to relay the fullness of the time without making you feel the heavy weight of the research. The bits they worked into the background aide the reader’s impression of the time and help paint the picture for those of us without relatives who either survived the flood or remembered its aftermath.

My review of The Tilted World:

The opening of the story is hitch-tailed to an all-out flash and dash shoot-out between two of the main lead characters: Jesse and Dixie Clay Holliver (a whipper snapper of woman if I ever laid eyes on in a novel) and two federal agents! She has the rapid fire intensity of a Southerner mixed in with a taste of moxie only a moonshining bootlegger of a woman would dare attribute to her list of qualities! She keeps calm under intense pressure of stress fused to a situation that does not bend nor yield to a positive outcome. Her husband Jesse, on the other hand, is a stick of dynamite that has less sense inside his head than a hound dog! He simply acts on impulse, lacks remorse and has no empathy for another life if given the chance to save his own skin. The two are a motley mix to be perfectly straight and frank, but fit within the manner in which the story is told through the writer’s vision that draws you into a story as complex and layered as this one is moulded!

I have always had a keen eye on Southern Literature (i.e. either literary exploits like this one OR Southern Gothic in nature), and this one by far captures the full essence of why I appreciate the category within its realm. On the one hand you have people living as best they can on the outskirts of the law, and on the opposite side you have the law itself, in the form of federal agents attempting to keep order whilst dealing with the lawbreakers who for all their quirks and sins, have captured your attention to hear their story straight til the concluding chapters! There is always going to be heavy drama against the backdrop of displacement and angst associated with natural disasters, but what I always worried about myself was the level of violence, looting, and absence of propriety during the time when it would be wiser to draw closer together as neighbours and aide each other through the worst bits still yet to come. To come together as a community rather than stand divided against each other on political or social grounds that in the end won’t add up to much if the loss of land and life outweighs the injustice of division.

I will admit, I had never heard of the Mississippi Flood of 1927 prior to my reading of The Tilted World, which struck me as a bit odd as I have always been rather keen on researching natural disasters and understanding climate change and the environmental impacts on a shifting global climate on a larger scale. Of course, truth be known until I saw back-to-back tornado documentaries on The Weather Channel this Spring, I had missed a few key storm systems, including the footage from the 1920s and 1930s which destroyed parts of the Northeast & New England states. I find that when it comes to climate and weather patterns, none of us truly know the full wrath of nature until the storm is upon us and the waters start to recede.

The murder and violence which erupts out of desperation runs counter-current to the drama unfolding for Dixie Clay (as she is commonly referred), who is running head-on into a situation quite beyond her control. The foreboding presence of the  natural world is a key element and nearly a narrator to the story. I appreciate the rooted presence of the beguiling skies and the approaching Mississippi; it gives way to understanding how fragile and how insufficient we are when it comes to the natural world and the cycles of its rhythms. There is a complete surprise sequence in the middle of the mayhem that truly warmed my heart, as is typically the plot twist I’d suspect to find inside a Romance novel (i.e. by ChocLitUK or Heartsong Presents): a brute and strong man finds his heart melts as soon as he meets a wee babe without a house, a home, or a family! I loved the sequences in which separated the federal agents: Ted Ingersoll and Ham Johnson – where one went to secure the flood zone from a supposed murderer on the lamb, the other went to sort out the affairs of the baby they found in the middle of the crime scene! That action by Ingersoll took him on a haphazard journey towards realising that he could no more leave the babe he nicknamed ‘Junior’ (after finding out his gender by way of changing his nappy!) at an orphanage than he could leave his roan in the mud!

Quite a classic scene in the early bits of the novel is when Ingersoll saunders rain-soaked down to his shins, covered in mud and muck, with an infant at his chest into what we would refer to as a General Mercantile with an attached Soda Fountain café with a bewildered expression that begged for help to secure his needs. He plucked out a bit of the money Hoover had given him to take the journey towards Hobnob and spent it on securing a better future for Junior. My own mind flitted back towards Dixie Clay and how she was suffering from postpartum depression from the loss of her own babe Jacob. Call me crazy, or maybe I’ve read a few too many romances in my time, but I thought to myself as the scene was setting up for Ingersoll and Junior, wouldn’t that make a mighty fine resolution to Dixie Clay’s situation? She’s a Mum-to-Be who lost her wee child too fast and too tragically. A woman in her early twenties without much of a prospect of a life outside of hard work and depressing living conditions with a husband who chases skirts and forgets he’s even married. Perhaps not the most ideal match, I grant you, but I had a hankering of a feeling the writers might spin this tale into a bit of a redemptive arc and give Dixie Clay a second chance at life, motherhood, and love.

I positively adore finding stories where men who otherwise are engaged into their careers would not even consider they were ready to become parents suddenly find themselves in the custody and care of a child! The way in which they approach the situation and how they handle the onslaught of emotions and conflicting beliefs of whether or not they feel befit to raise a child never loses its hold on my heart. I love seeing how unexpected circumstances give a ‘second view of life’ to someone who never thought they would have any life outside their respective job of choice. To see how their life would be different as a father, especially is a joy for a reader who loves how these kind of stories knit together. In this way, I was overjoyed with the passages Franklin & Fennelly stitched into “The Tilted World” on behalf of Ingersoll and Junior.

By the time I reached Chapter 14 & Chapter 15, my feelings of the novel started to shift and turn against the story as I was thinking of the tale heading in one direction only to arrive in one I was hoping against. The earlier chapters where Dixie Clay was describing her life and starting to piece together a life for her and Willy (Junior’s adopted name), I felt were the strongest parts knitting the story together and bringing forward a chance for Ingersoll and Dixie to come together. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that Jesse was a character who was as evil as the pitch of night, and that he might not be the type to simply let her walk out of his life, much less leave with her life in tact.

Dixie Clay’s life was not the kind of life most fathers would have wanted for their daughters, but her story reminded me of the women who find themselves trapped inside of a life they did not realise they had married into either. She was smarter than she felt, but she did not always make the right choices at the right moments to escape the heartache and the violence her husband would cast upon her without mercy. The rest of the story ebbed away from me, as I simply felt a bit disconnected from the remaining chapters of the story. For me, the better part of the story involved the second chance Dixie Clay and Ted Ingersoll had at having a life which involved love and the care of a child they both have fallen in love with the first moment they met him. The bits I struggled with were the menacing factors attributed to Jesse and his ill-plans for the towne he was attempting to destroy whilst erasing every inch of his life with Dixie Clay. The Mississippi true to its natural strength plays a strong role in how everything ties together and how wicked events can turn when acted upon out of hate and spite.

On the dual writing styles of a husband & wife team:

Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly co-write The Tilted World in such a way as to allow the reader to jettison into the Deep South, the Mississippi Delta region, and portions of the Mid-West as though we were alighting our shoes and feet during those epic days and nights awaiting for the floodwaters to crest and overtake our very own lands in 1927! The way in which they indued the setting and the swirling nightmaric event yet to come is a credit to their understanding of Southern Literature and the elements in which drift us back through time itself. They very much understand the subtlety of prose interwoven with narrative, and their ability to shine a light on a catastrophic event with the keen insight of the counter-culture affecting the tides of the people whose lives hang in the balance is rather brilliant!

The entire time I was reading The Tilted World, all I could think about was Clarkesville, Missouri a towne that was told there wasn’t enough resources (i.e. money) to battle the approaching flood-waters. They were very much on their own. A towne whose Mayor full of grief knew what that declaration would mean to her towne and to the people who lived there. We are still living through soul-wrecking natural disasters which are going to test not only our resolve but our strength as a nation. To not only survive, but to find ways to help each other without leaving anyone behind or without the resources for aide. I also recollected the efforts Fargoians gave to help stop the Red River from overtaking both Fargo (North Dakota) and Moorhead (Minnesota) not so long ago from today. We have a surge of bravery inside us, but nature is going to continue to test our will and our fortitude. We need to find ways to better prepare ourselves for what is going to become imminently devastating and minimalise the aftereffects.

 A small notation about vulgarity and the stronger language used proportionally throughout the text: as I consider this particular title to be held within the arena of literary fiction, there is a small measure of grace given for the inclusion of strong language, esp considering the time frame in which the story is set, the degree of the extreme events depicted, and the mindset of the characters who are reflecting their true natures within the context of the story’s arc. None of the blights of language used within the text affected me, because at the rare moments a word was said or used, it fit the subjective nature of the sentence or paragraph, did not alter or takeaway the narrative voice, and was realistically representative of the story. My only grave concerns on this particular topic of vulgarity is when it is used to shock or to jolt a reader out of the context of a story, or used surreptitiously without foundation. In this case, the writers owned the essence of their setting, the manner in which their style eludes to the greater horror of the historic flood, and conveyed their characters with honour. 

I also purposely did not mention the hurricane which destroyed the Gulf States in 2005. I believed it was quite apparent how this epic flood in 1927 was a precursor to Katrina and that mentioning it was not necessary. Afterall, none of us who live in this region will ever forget the storm, whether we were directly or indirectly impacted by its wrath. I personally still remember being on the road and interacting with survivors as much as the men and women who came into the region to provide aide, resources, and a sense of normalcy when the world was once again upturnt. What did surprise me is that this particular flood was not mentioned in any of the stories I listened too during Katrina, nor was it referenced after 2005. I am quite gobsmacked how this part of history seems to have disappeared from view and mind, like the writers hint at inside their Author’s Note.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

The Tilted World
by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by William Morrow

on 10th of June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map of “The Tilted World” Blog Tour:

Thursday, June 12th: Cruising Susan Reviews

Thursday, June 19th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Friday, June 27th: The Relentless Reader

Monday, June 30th: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, July 2nd: Books on the Table

Thursday, July 3rd: Anita Loves Books

Monday, July 7th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, July 8th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, July 9th: A Bookworm’s World

TBD: Unabridged Chick

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

{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Tilted World”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, and Book Synopsis  were provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by Scribd.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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After the Deluge – (smithsonianmag.com)

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Posted Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Adoption, African-American History, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Bootleggers & Smugglers, Crime Fiction, Domestic Violence, Family Life, Historical Fiction, Historical Perspectives, History, Library Find, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Mississippi River, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Orphans & Guardians, Prohibition, Scribd, Small Towne Fiction, The Deep South, the Mississippi Flood of 1927, The Natural World, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Writing Style & Voice