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THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Jason Mott

The story begins at an air show in a small rural town in North Carolina.  Ava, who is thirteen, and her friend Wash have climbed an old silo to watch the stunts and this is the exact spot where the airplane crashes.  Now that would make for an interesting beginning to any story but the author adds a twist which is recorded on cell phone video and goes viral.  Life makes a change, a huge change and the reader is right there, part of the experience, all the way.

Ava has pulled a steel rod out of Wash’s side, placed her hands on the wound and the flow of blood has stopped and the wound has healed.   The Sheriff, Ava’s father, rescues the children from the fallen building and the video goes viral on the Internet.  Ava is in a coma after the healing, Wash is studied and released from the hospital and thousands upon thousands of people wanting to see Ava descend on the small community.

Ava is tested and retested by doctors and others. Faith healers are wanting a piece of the action also.   Ava just wants to go home and be in her mountain refuge away from all the people.  Everyone wants something from her; something healed or cured.  Ava wonders if she could have saved her mother from dying with her gifts of healing.

The ‘invasion of the town chapters’ of this story are surrounded by lovely “interlude” chapters with the back-story and adventures and events shared by Ava and her mother.  This is definitely a story about being poor in the south – sacrifice and love.  Wash’s early years are shared also as his father re-appears after disappearing when they were all in a car accident, that killed his mother.  Wash has been living with his grandmother.  Both teens have lost their mothers and yet have relationships with their fathers, which are strained because of the viral healing video.

The treatment of the doctors/experts and the religious folks is quite interesting in this story.  The author plays with the reader’s expectations and the Southern experience.   The manipulations and explanations are very similar but one comes in a lab coat and the other in a fine suit of cloth.   Each experience of healing nearly kills Ava.  She is quite powerful and understands that her “gift” also is killing her.
Ava knows what she must do and the story holds right to the dramatic ending and the reader can sigh a relief.

TLC Booktours  sent me a Kindle copy of this story for review.  I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it as a good read.  I would not have picked this book out for myself from the store shelf and I am happy that the tour sent THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS onto my reading list.

About Jason Mott

“JASON MOTT holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. In addition to the rare achievement of receiving starred reviews from all four of the top publishing industry magazines—Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews—The Returned was named a “People Pick” by People magazine, and was featured in Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, among others.  Mott also appeared on numerous broadcast programs including NPR’s All Things Considered and Tell Me More, The Travis Smiley Show, the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Radio Show and many local television shows across the U.S. Mott lives in North Carolina. (from the TLC info page)”

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THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH: A Novel Story about retirement ~Jean Davies Okimoto

I can hardly wait to tell you about this delightful story, the third in Okimoto’s trilogy about Vashon Island and its special landmarks and the culture of living on an island close to a huge and popular city.   The book came into my computer as a digital file and I needed to make a list of 10 things I was going to accomplish before I read the first page because I knew I would just be hooked right away and unable to do anything else.   The author is a great story telling wizard with just the most remarkable humor, she must have a twinkle in her eye at all times.  She certainly has caught island life and the foibles and emotions of the folks who inhabit and live within it’s confines.

TLC Book Tours has now sent me each of the books Okimoto has written for review.  I am just so lucky.  THE LOVE CEILING   was the start and then we moved onto WALTER’S MUSE.    The wise philosopher has turned 90 and is included into this new story, along with Maggie and Walter and Howie and Mark but the cast has expanded to include more of the folks who are a part of Albert Paugh’s life and veterinary practice.

The characters are so believable and may just remind you of someone you know and enjoy.  I felt a need to call one of my neighbors and also to entice my husband into reading this story as he is looking forward to retirement with no major plans except to paint and walk our dog.  He may just find himself confused also.

Dr. Paugh has had a heart attack and his wife persuaded him to sell his practice and retire.  It was just in time, as she needed help to heal from a lung cancer, which changed her life and what she wanted for her future.  Albert was not included in that future and after 24 years he is about to become divorced.  His wife never did like Bert, his chocolate lab, and now the two must find a new place to live and what to do with their time.

The single women, of a certain age and dog owners are quite interested in Dr. Paugh’s new status and this is becoming a problem that sends Al and Bert to the beach for long walks.

I was able to persuade my large book group to read WALTER’s MUSE  and I think I will have luck again with THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH.  What will we all do at retirement? And how will we feel useful and of service to others and what will capture our energies in a good way and in a concerning way?
It was delightful to see how Dr. Paugh and the folks on Vashon Island were taking hold and making a difference to so many.

From the Book:

“Jean Davis Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Chinese, German, Korean, Danish and Hebrew.  She is the recipient of numerous awards including Smithsonian Notable Book, The American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award, the Green Earth Book Award, and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award.  Her picture book, Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat was adapted by Shelly Duvall for the HBO and Showtime television series BEDTIME STORIES.  Jeanie, who is also a retired psychotherapist, began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they (and their dogs Bert and Willie) are visited by deer families and their six grandchildren.”

This book is for anyone who likes a good story, has retired, is failing retirement, and enjoys a fun read.  One does not need to read all three stories but they are so fun, Why not? THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH

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A REMARKABLE KINDNESS: A Story About Friendship ~Diana Bletter

TLC Book Tours  asked me to read and review this book and after reading the promotion material I was looking forward to this very good book about women and friendship.  The book arrived by UPS with a squeak and a promise before the scheduled review.  I set everything aside and read the book cover to cover in one day, with as much speed as I could muster.  I think it would have been a much better read at a slower pace, but I enjoyed the book even with the great push.

About A Remarkable Kindness
• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Through a largely hidden ceremony . . . four friends discover the true meaning of life.
It’s 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land thousands of miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after a divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams.

The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience.

Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.” (From the TLC website)

What I enjoyed when reading this story was the constant loss and the women’s reaction to each loss.  Loss of a favorite city and an expectation, loss of a partner, loss because of war, loss because of change or choices, and loss because of old age and life’s patterns.  I enjoyed reading about loss because we ignore it in our culture and it is a big part of living, that often defines our lives – first we acquire and then we let go.  The four women friends were connected because they all moved from the USA to Israel and they were all active in their Jewish Faith, although that was verbally downplayed in the story, they were all programed to rely on their faith and the rules of their lives and living.  The story very much paralleled the author’s own life and story.

The descriptions of another country and the Jewish traditions were very nice and opened my perspective on the friendship shared by these women and their families.  It was not just foxhole faith, but rather served them well as they interacted and took care of their children, husbands, and homes.

The writing was often simplistic and although the author was writing about what she knew from her own story, it left me wanting for some more meaning and character interpretations of the war and the politics; not just a study of loss.   I think 4 American women would have had a lot more to say about the politics on the ground and not been so dependent on husbands and fathers in their new country.  There was not a lot of depth to the characters and just one perspective.  Lots of sobbing and crying and very little wisdom or deeper thinking was involved.   I read the book in very short order, and I do not think I am inclined to re-read it; I very often want to read more about women’s friendships but once was enough for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS.

About Diana Bletter  (From TLC website)

“Diana Bletter is a writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, with photographs by Lori Grinker, was shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. In 1991, she moved from New York to a seaside village in northern Israel where she lives with her husband and children, and volunteers in a burial circle.”

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KILLING SECRETS: A Nan Vining Mystery ~Dianne Emley

A “Who Dun It?” murder mystery, which is well written and has an interesting female detective to follow around and figure out the perpetrator of the crime.  This is the 3rd book in a series about this detective and the background from the previous stories is quite good so the book can stand alone.

KILLING SECRETS has a sharp edge to the writing and although there is plenty of description, there is a precision to the writing that moves the story along and gets the reader hooked early.   Also Detective Nan Vining’s sixteen-year-old daughter Emily is very significant, as she discovers the body of her teacher and another student from her school in the story and that keeps the parental interests quite tuned in.

I chose to read KILLING SECRETS on a brutally hot day and it was a good escape from the heat.  Not the least bit flowery and fluffy, the book held my attention and kept me relating to the problems.   It held a nice twist in the plot, which brought resolution and some good chase moments and pursuit tension.   I felt like I had had an afternoon off from the heat and the pressures of the day.

I am certain a number of my readers will enjoy this book, but I do not have a great deal to say about it as it was a good read and with it’s concise writing any more reveal here could totally mess with the reader’s enjoyment of the story and I just so dislike reviews which ruin the story and plot.   Detective Nan gets the crime solved, her daughter is safe and the tough guys are arrested and put away.

The author lives in Central California and has written a great many stories and been published in many places and countries.  She has a husband, and editor, publisher, writing group, and has received lots of great support and critical acclaim for her words.  She is “ a pretty good cook and a terrible golfer.”

TLC Book Tours sent me a advanced copy for review and wow it was a fun read and Thank you for KILLING SECRETS.

www.DianneEmley.com

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