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THE AUSTEN ESCAPE: A Novel Novel ~Katherine Reay

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Falling into their past will change their futures forever

Do you love reading Jane Austen?   Then I cannot encourage you enough to read THE AUSTEN ESCAPE.  A wonderful book and a most enjoyable read.   I have now read it 2 times and I am taking it on a small vacation with me.   Reay has captured Austen’s conversation style and the format of the book deals with conventions, economics, and circumstance that are abundant in our current times. The story builds and flows as though Austen is writing it herself.  Wonderful read.

About the author:
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com.

Mary Davis is a design engineer working at her “perfect” job although she has a new supervisor who is critical and negative about her work.  She likes control and her set patterns in life while doing everything herself.  It is proving hard to go into work and her love interest is a consultant who is moving onward and does not seem to know that she is interested.

Isobel, Mary’s best friend since second grade, is working on her Doctorate on Jane Austen and her books.  Isobel’s mother left when she was young and her father never had time for her so Isobel adopted Mary’s family as her own.  Isobel is going to a two week retreat to Bath, England to live out a complete experience of being in Austen’s time period and she is insisting that Mary take some time off from her work frustrations and come to the retreat with her.  The trip is all paid for and Mary’s father insists that it is a good idea; she has not taken a break since her mother’s death.  Mary decides to attend and starts re-reading the Austen books.

The English Manor House where the retreat is held is stunning and the other guests on the retreat very interesting indeed.  The reproduced clothing is elegant and refined and they all pick an Austen character to enact for their stay.  Isobel’s father chooses this moment to overwhelm her with awful news and causes Isobel a small mental breakdown and truly believes she is in Bath and that she has become Emma.  Mary is left to guide her back to herself and in the process makes some terrible discoveries about their relationship, which entails some major working through – including working out her “perfect” job problems and making changes.

The book is most interesting and carries through the story line well and with great Austen-like aplomb.  I am sure my daughters would enjoy this book to the max.   I can highly recommend it and I am so happy that THE AUSTEN EXPERIENCE was sent to me for review.

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Related:
The Forbidden Garden
The Fifth Petal

THE PSYCHOBIOTIC REVOLUTION: Mood, Food and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection ~Scott C. Anderson with John F. Cryan, PH.D & Ted Dinan, M.D. PH.D

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

I found THE PSYCHOBIOTIC REVOLUTION to be compelling reading.  The authors have combined all the most significant information and then gleaned out the important issues that the reader needs to know in an extremely easy to read book, which becomes a real page-turner.  This short book certainly relates to “You are what you Eat!”

Not much of this material was new to me, as I have spent 40 years cooking and caring for Celiac Disease and Severe Allergies.  I already know leaky gut, and digestion issues well.  I was pleased to discover all the important information and integration of knowledge about gut microbes and how these facts can assist in anxiety and depression relief.  Add into the mix oxygen from exercise and most of us do not need Prozac or Opioids in our lives – just good healthy, organic foods.  Sugar was confirmed as feeding many of the problem organisms in our gut and our life.

“Offering microbial-based solutions for the most pressing mental and physical issues, this book is a must-read.  Brilliant, insightful, and highly readable.” (Rodney Dietert, Cornell University, author of THE HUMAN SUPERORGANISM.)

Probiotics are not all the same, and it is important to take some form everyday.  If you ever experienced C-Diff after being hospitalized, had surgery, or taken antibiotics, one soon discovers how important those good microbes are within our digestive system.

The book takes us though the gut and the journey of our food from mouth to – Oh you know where it is headed!   Then the mental health issues are discussed including the daily psychology/ microbes we need to know to feel a sense of well-being and to maintain our physical health.  Anxiety and Depression are major health problems in our busy and chaotic world.  Nearly every student I know understands the importance of microbes, smart nutrition, and gut health after periods of stress such as midterm exam week and playing in a competitive sporting event.  There are lots and lots of commercials on TV touting products to relieve gut symptoms.  This book has better descriptors, more science and more proof of how important our “gut brain” is to our health.   The book is extremely readable and of course, informative.

“Lactobacteria can act like an opioid and cannabinoid receptors of the brain-like a shot of morphine.” (p56)

This book made me consider the question: Is the American Diet truly keeping us dull, dumb, anxious, diseased, and depressed as a form of control?

Rob Knight author of FOLLOW YOUR GUT says, “Up-to-the-minute research and practical advice on the gut-brain axis – perhaps the most exciting area of science today”

About the authors
Scott C Anderson is a veteran science journalist with a specialization in medical topic and computer programming.

John F. Cryan, a neuroscientist, and Ted Dinan a psychiatrist, are professors at University College Cork, Ireland, and principal investigators with the APC Microbiome Institute, world renowned for research on the micro-biome in health and disease.

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Related:
Sugar Crush
The Mind Gut Connection
Healing and Prevention Through Nutrition

THE SILENT FOUNTAIN: A Mystery Novel ~Victoria Fox

Monday, November 6th, 2017

THE SILENT FOUNTAIN tells its tale during two time periods and surrounding one main character through the unraveling of secrets to come to the final resolution of all the mysteries.   There is a darkness to the story.

Hollywood, 1978
Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…

Tuscany, Present day
Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.

The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry. Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Each of the two women’s stories begins with confusion about what is happening in their lives and how this problem came into being.   The reader then needs to read the interspersed backstories to finally figure out how the tragedies of their lives were played out into the contemporary situation.  They each had tough lives and hard luck experiences to get them to their current contact with each other.  The reader learns a lot about love, abuse and death to work up to the ending release and the complete overview of the story and the resolutions.

Most of my book group loves this kind of wound up formal mystery, but we have 2 members who will not read them after the first 25 pages if the confusion remains.  So this book will not be for everyone.   I had much of the story figured out and found reading the Hollywood sections of the story as though it was a segment on The Carol Burnett Show gave me more interest in the read.   There is a lot of darkness in the story and mental illness is exposed and exploited in the plot.

The story is almost more a puzzle to be pieced together and explored as to which piece fits where to bring together the whole.  There is not a great deal of great Italian Cooking in the novel either nor is the countryside expounded upon.  There is intensity.

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Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America. She divides her time between Bristol and London.

Related:
Two From Isaac’s House
The Light Between Oceans
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND: A Women’s Novel ~Marin Thomas

Monday, October 30th, 2017

THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND was sent to me by Penguin Random House, publicist Roxanne Jones, for review.  The program sheet began with this paragraph:

If life as you knew it fell to pieces, and you had the chance to start again fresh, what would you do?  And would you bring your grumpy mother-in-law along for the ride?  Katelyn Pratt, a forty-year-old, newly divorced mother of two, grapples with such questions in Marin Thomas’s humorous and heartwarming tale of self-discovery.”

This sounded like a good read and I was interested.

It was a delightful story and well worthy of a good read and time spent turning the pages.  I personally did not find it humorous – heartwarming yes and it built a complacency in myself and also brought of the idea of why was I not more accepting of this is just how life is and isn’t Katelyn handling it so well.  Her goal was stepping up in life and not having to worry about money and with all the changes she was still in that position in her life.  She had the luxury of finding herself and discovering her own future.  There is sadness in the story and the working through of the next steps and there is some challenge in finding satisfaction where one is planted.  Ultimately, there is a savvy hair stylist who is up to date on her abilities and not stuck in the past – helping folks to move on and forward.

I think there are a great many more women who are facing divorce who do not have the financial freedom that Katelyn has achieved.  Who even though they had spent 19 years in a comfortable marriage they were now in a tooth and nail battle to retain some of those finances and to forge a future and survival for themselves and their children.  Most women would have to struggle and would be hard pressed to have relationships to fall back onto at the point of crisis.  Both women in the story were compelled to find the importance of relationship to assist their forward movement.

From St. Louis to small town Texas was not a huge leap as neither women even for their lifestyles and education had learned to fully problem-solve or had a larger worldview.  Neither one of the women was a “global” thinker and their contemplations centered around just what they all ready knew and their creativity seemed to be closed off and not explored.  Can a woman come home again?  I think the answer is yes, particularly if she has just changed location and never truly left home. The characters seem incomplete.  I found the sub-characters infinitely more interesting and much less boring.

Marin Thomas is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five novels, including the Cash Brothers series and THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS.

“Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley and western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, released March 2016 and her second novel, The Future She Left Behind releases September 2017. Marin is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers

Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Arizona where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marin and her husband currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching her next ghost tour.”  (Amazon page)

A good end of the summer read when one wants to recall the days at the fair and the beach and yet be ready for autumn with new pencils and notebook in hand-possibly a new hairdo.  Certainly in the Romance category with the sense of escape tucked right between the cover.

Related:
The Sweet Life
The Innkeepers Sister
Everything We Keep