Category: Vintages and Vineyards

+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.

Genres: Young Adult Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Published by Sweetwater Books

on 9th of September, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 256

Author Biography: 


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.

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The Strength of Ballerinas Book Trailer via The Strength of Ballerinas

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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:

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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!


Posted Sunday, 21 September, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Autism, Ballet, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, 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 Wharf of Chartrons by Jean-Paul Malaval

Posted Wednesday, 13 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , 1 Comment

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The Wharf of Chartrons by Jean-Paul Malaval

The Wharf of Chartrons Blog Tour via France Book Tours

Published By: Publishers Square , 12 August, 2014

a publishing partner of Open Road Integrated Media, Inc 

Twitter: (@OpenRoadMedia)| Facebook

Originally Published as: Quai des Chartrons by Presses de la Cite
(of Place des Editeurs)
, 2002

Available Formats:  Paperback, Ebook Page Count: 330

Translated by: Le French Book

Converse on Twitter: #TheWharfOfChartrons & #FranceBT

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comAcquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Wharf of Chartrons” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Open Road Media, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

A note on the publisher(s) & my inspiration to read the novel:

This is my first tour hosting a Publishers Square title in conjunction with Open Road Integrated Media, Inc as a direct translation text from the original French! What is more interesting than even relaying this news, is that Open Road is known for publishing e-books and generating interest on French Literature and French authors through their social media presence & active publicity through the e-book market. Ironically or not, they have found a ‘new’ reader in myself who has a preference for ‘print books’ over ‘e-books’ who happens to be an Anglophile who holds a strong foothold now as a Francophile as I’ve spent nearly a year reading French Literature through hosting tours for France Book Tours!

I am always curious about what will be included with an ARC, and this one did not disappoint me as there was a blurb in the Appendixes section about the connection between the companies as much as a nice paragraph about how Publishers Square is attempting to make a break-through to American readers who are striving (like I am) to read more French novels and literary fiction. As I may have spoken about previously, my attachment to France is strongly influenced by my ancestral roots therein. Each story that illuminates another portion of French history, I feel a bit closer to my ancestors and those who came before me along genealogical lines of connection.

Whilst reading the synopsis for The Wharf of Chartrons, the main thread of curiosity was needled into view due to the focus on vineyards and wine; as I have always had a keen eye on wine. My favourites of course are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, of whose bouquet lends itself to a silky smooth taste and reverie. I prefer Red over White, but moreso, I prefer a wine which has been cured into its own unique essence, not too strong, tart, or sweet but a lasting impression on the one who consumes its eloquence. The history of wine from France has always intrigued me, and therefore, as a reader of World War dramas I could not pass up the chance to learn more about the region of Bordeaux!

As an aside: Each time I feel the name “Bordeaux” slip from my lips, it is flavoured a bit by a strong French sounding inflection! This coming from the girl whose French would cringe most ears! Perhaps in smaller doses, my dyslexia will not affect the sounds? I have always been able to express myself in French very “un peu!” I celebrate each new word!

The next tour I am slated to host for this unique partnership in publishing will be: I Looked for the One My Heart Loves by Dominique Marney which a dear friend and guest contributor of my blog (as time allows) will be reading for the same tour as I am! Christine recently became a tour hostess with France Book Tours, and I am thrilled to peaches we get to share in the joy of reading a translated work from a French author together! What a blessing to be able to compare notes and impressions after we’ve read the same novel! Reading is twicefold blessed when shared with a friend! In the past, I have been fortunate to share my reflections with another dear friend Lianne, who is a regular tour hostess as well. A close circle of two Americans and a Canadian sharing a passion for French Literature! La Joie!

Oy vie! Now I understand why I am being asked if my ‘name’ means “Joy!” I accidentally discovered the reason myself a moment ago whilst looking up translations for French words which would express the joy of having two friends as co-hosts on France Book Tours! There is only one letter variant between “Joy” in French and “Jorie”! Oy, oy! ‘le sigh’ Although, it is a bit of an apt choice: I am always mirthfully full of joy!
I have been enjoying using the enclosed flat card stationery sheet as a bookmark, as someone had hand-written a short note and enclosed it with the ARC. It served a ready purpose and I was in gratitude to have a memento of the publisher!

The Wharf of Chartrons by Jean-Paul Malaval

A family linked by wine and old rivalries sets out for new territory, during the turmoil of World War I.

David and Gaspard are cousins, bonded by family and their allegiance to their winemaking heritage. Parting with tradition and moving their vineyards near Bordeaux threatens to upset the family peace, but that’s only the beginning of their trouble. Short on funds, they are forced to team with a wealthy but morally corrupt engineer—though perhaps at a cost too high for the cousins…

Despite the odds, David and Gaspard succeed in making a successful wine, Clos-Marzacq. Along the way, they each fall in love, though not always in the best of circumstances. And now, to cement their successes, the cousins need to secure a stronghold on the Wharf of Chartrons, seen as the gateway to selling into England and America.

The Wharf of Chartrons exalts the passion of men who have a love of their land, and who are concerned about drawing the very best wine from it.


Jean-Paul Malaval

{: Author Biography :}

Jean-Paul Malaval was a journalist before turning to a career as a writer of local photography books and later fiction. In 1982, he began what would become a long-term relationship with the publishing house Éditions Milan, in Toulouse. To date, Jean-Paul Malaval has written ten works of historical fiction, mainly based in the region where he grew up, the Corrèze, which is near the Dordogne. Five of his ten novels have been published by Presses de la Cité. He is loyal to his home region and has been mayor of the town of Vars-sur-Roseix in Corrèze since 1995.

Visit the wikipedia page on him [in French].

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Wednesday, 13 August, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, 20th Century, Adulterous Affair, ARC | Galley Copy, Author Interview, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Films, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Documentary on Topic or Subject, During WWI, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, French Novel Translated into English, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Passionate Researcher, Prior to WWI, Sociological Behavior, The World Wars, Vintners & Winemakers, Vulgarity in Literature, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

*Blog Book Tour*: Gracianna by Trini Amador!

Posted Wednesday, 13 November, 2013 by jorielov , , 5 Comments

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Gracianna by Trini Amador - HFVBTGracianna by Trini Amador
Published By: Green Leaf Book Group, 23 July, 2013
Official Author Websites: Amador on Facebook; Amador on Twitter; Gracianna Winery
Available Formats: Hardcover and E-Book
Page Count: 296

Original HFVBT Tour: 15 July – 9 August 2013

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the second blog book tour for “Gracianna” hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Gracianna” in exchange for an honest review by the author Trini Amador. I was thankful to be placed on the tour as I was able to not only able to read the book but interview the author! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Author Biography:

Trini Amador AuthorTrini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It’s a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.

Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing “insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..

Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at:, like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @GraciannaWinery.

Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.

Synopsis of Gracianna:

Gracianna by Trini AmadorThe gripping story of Gracianna–a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador’s great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna’s past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother’s story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s–on her way to America, she hopes–but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it–even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won’t soon forget.

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As the Story Opens:

Amador reflects on his childhood discovery which launched him on a lifelong journey towards unraveling the truth behind his great-grandmother Gracianna. This innocent look into a young boy’ s childhood find of a German gun gives a pointed insight into Gracianna herself who even in this memory had a formidable presence. Upon recollecting her early years, he made a choice to focus not only on her hard work ethic but to give a light on her ability to realise how important knowledge and learning is to a person’s life; through her passion for reading. She was proud of her language (the Basque) due to its uniqueness as compared to the surrounding languages of the Spanish, French, and Portuguese. I noted this as a nodding towards her self-reflection of her self-identity and how interesting it is that she wanted to hold onto a language that might have been passed over for a more commonly spoken one by another.

The pacing of Amador’s narrative reads and asserts itself as a biographical fiction piece which is an ingenious way of writing a non-fiction story (i.e. biography or memoir) with the inclusions of painting in the in-between moments of a person’s lived life with a familiar resonance to where a reader can walk alongside rather than trudge through a straight-up recollection of dates. He walks between his own tellings of her life and borrowing from metaphoric and mythological stories of ancient truths. He chooses to paint his great-grandmother’s life in point-of-face and point-of-fact accuracy of bone-chilling realism that is at times gutting and emotionally convicting. The imagery is not always easy to drink in but neither is the life she lived an easy path to endure.

Her formidable training taking her from girlhood to womanhood (after her mother’s death) was due to the stability and presence of the imposing Anastasia. One begs to wonder if through this relationship, Gracianna formulated her own persona and identity as a reflection of Anastasia. Anastasia was Ann’s mother, making her Gracianna’s maternal grandmother. Proving that she comes from a lineage of strong women who endure as a living testament and legacy to those of whom they lose in death.

My Review of Gracianna:

The story of Gracianna’s life is pivoted against a brief re-telling of her ancestral roots and beginnings of her enriched life as a descendant of the Basque from the Pyrenees. (on the border of France and Spain) As Amador disclosed his great-grandmother’s ability to walk and read in harmony, I was drawn to think back on my own life where I would do the same during my school years as my head was always cast inside of a book whilst walking to and from class. She shifted from childhood into adulthood during harrowing personal tragedies which became an epoch of trauma and loss for her family. At the moment she lost her mother, she had to be reminded about who she was and how strong she was as despite her fortitude she lost her footing at the death of her mother. A fracture of her spirit was repaired by the family members who stood beside her and reminded her of who she was and of where she came. This rooted her ability to carry-on and proceed forward at a time when she didn’t feel motivated to do so.

My mind had trouble staying in tow with the story of Gracianna due to the overwhelming disconnects that ensue as you watch her life unfold. One moment she’s endearing to the point of humbling a graceful measure of humanity in every action she takes and on the next page, it’s as though this Gracianna your heart is rooting for is replaced by a stranger you have not yet met. I reflected that this could be due to the author’s stop-and-go writing process as he wrote Gracianna’s story whilst traveling for his work’s intense schedule. It’s almost as though he resumed the story without realising he had started a piece of it in a different vein of thought. I can sympathise with his situation but as a reader, it’s a bit difficult to work through as your second-guessing who Gracianna really is. His thoughts were being pulled in too many different directions for the story to fuse together properly. As the story proceeds, I began to wonder if Gracianna’s greater legacy would have been better off told through a collection of antidotes and short missives of life lessons rather than through a novel where her essence becomes entangled and muddled.

On wine and story-telling:

Originally I had wanted to select a hearty choice of red wine as my preferences are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, however I surprised myself by settling on Sangria! Sweet. Robust. Flowery. My choice of wine I felt would match well with a story of Gracianna as she originally came from a region of where there was a fusion of wine, story-telling, and living life with passion infused into everyday living. I occasionally admit that rather than pairing a book with a cuppa tea or a steamingly smooth coffee latte, I opt instead for a smooth glass of wine! Whether the atmospheric murmurings of the story about to be read is the inspiration or the pure indulgence of being an adult who can relax into a story with a subtle nod to the novel at large, makes reading a blissful adventure for me! Being that the author owns a vineyard it only felt fitting that I make a selection to pour a bit of decadence into a rose-hued glass goblet and have it accompany me on my journey into his début!

Fly in the Ointment:

Despite the flawless words of the author in recounting Gracianna’s young life, he failed to include the formidable years between eight and seventeen. It’s a shame we were not privy to more details of her young life. This exclusion jutted me out of the context of the story momentarily as it felt as though the story shifted forward without a proper segue to account for the loss of years. Perhaps this was due to a lack of information of the years in question, in which I can fully accept and understand. However, there wasn’t a footnote to guide the reader. There is a passage on page 12 which takes a detour from the Gracianna who is first introduced to us in the opening pages (as much as being included in his interview), where she is now painted as a humbled, caring, and empathic woman. I found this a bit out of step with her character as she was previously introduced as a hardened, slightly embittered, over-bearing grandmother. The juxtaposition feels a bit unrealistic to me either due to two reflections of the same woman or of a grandson unsure of which personality his grandmother was the truer one of the two. The disconnect truly stems from his interview answer in which he describes her as quick-tempered, stubborn, and controlling. If this was a woman whose personality shifted due to her life experiences I would have preferred this to be explained in the text as her life is described for the reader to drink in and accept.

My honest feeling in this last regard is that the story was rushed to print too quickly and needed a bit more time to become polished and absorbed into being. Amador has brilliant moments of flucidity in which he writes with heart and soul. Unfortunately, his pen undermined his passion to bring her story forward in the light I believe he was attempting to place her.

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Inspired to Share: I truly had expected this story to wrap around my heart and not let me go. As you watch this book trailer, the story in the heart of the premise unfolds before you as Amador narrates his grandmother’s story. However, I was unfortunately unable to fully conceive his vision of the story as I couldn’t connect with the context as it was presented in Gracianna.

“Gracianna” by Trini Amador Official Book Trailer

by Greenleaf Book Group on Gracianna Winery Channel

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The “Gracianna” Virtual Book Tour Road Map:

Gracianna by Trini Amador - HFVBTBe sure to catch the first half of this showcase on JLAS:
Jorie interviews Trini Amador!

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Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTon my Bookish Events Featured on JLAS!

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Gracianna” as well as Trini Amador’s photograph and biography, the blog tour badge, and the logo banner for HFVBT were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. The book trailer by Greenleaf Book Group had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. 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.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

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Posted Wednesday, 13 November, 2013 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, California, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, France, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Multi-Generational Saga, Sonoma County, The World Wars, Vintages and Vineyards