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OLIVAY: A Novel ~Deborah Reed

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

I was totally captured by OLIVAY.  I was driven to turn every page of OLIVAY.  It was very suspenseful and demanding the reader to find resolution and yet it was not a comfortable read at all.   I am so pleased that TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review; OLIVAY was a most interesting read.

Deborah Reed teaches writing in Los Angeles and Germany and is an extraordinary writer and storyteller.   I did not wish to miss a word or paragraph for fear of missing some phrase or line of description.   OLIVAY is the main character’s name and it is used often in the story and as she interacts with Henry sometimes you have to guess at who said that line or phrase because it is not crystal clear; either one is possible.

A year earlier OLIVAY’s husband has been killed in an accident while on his way to work.  The driver of the vehicle has not been found or arrested.  OLIVAY has been made a media star as the video of her caring for her dead husband has been circulated millions of times.  She is still hard pressed to leave her loft apartment for all the notoriety and she is a very private person.  She has quit her job as an architect and is now just venturing out to a local coffee shop to try and leave her home with out gaping attacks.

At the coffee shop, a handsome young man, Henry, approaches OLIVAY and their conversation lasts all afternoon. She invites him to her loft and he spends the night.   In the morning, there is a terrorist attack upon the neighborhood and the windows are blown out of the loft and OLIVAY has her knee severely injured.  People on the street are dying as the water main ruptures and the electricity shuts down.

Most of the story takes place in the loft as Henry cares for the injury and takes care of OLIVAY, who is trying to figure out the real Henry.   OLIVAY appears to be one of the meanest characters I have ever read, and yet as one reads on there is something very wise about her and her thoughts.  Who is Henry really?

The second section of the story included Henry’s story and more of his thinking in alternate chapters that goes by very quickly.  There is a tension in the telling of the story as revealing as it proves to be.

I do not think I would have picked this book for myself, and once again I thank TLC Book Tours  for sending this gem along and putting it on the schedule.  The writing is amazing and the premise interesting and yet it is something I would not like to experience myself – in any aspect.   I believe it is a book more folks need to read.  The writing is inspiring.

From the book cover:

“Deborah Reed’s novel, Things We Set on Fire, sold over one hundred thousand copies in the first six months, while Carry Yourself Back to Me was a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors Pick.  She wrote the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune, and its sequel, Fortunes Deadly Descent, under her pen name Audrey Braun.  She holds a master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing, and teaches at the UCLA Extension Writing Program.  She is also co-director of the Black Forest Writing Seminar at the University of Freiburg in Germany.  She resides in Los Angeles.”

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Monday, May 6th, 2013

I was hooked immediately on A DUAL INHERITANCE and I hated to put it down.  The two young men in the 1960s are people I know and I lived around and I went to school with them.  This was a work of fiction but it drew compelling characters into you and you wanted to know what happened and wow did it have a great ending; it kept driving forward. It just stayed as good a read on every page.   I did not want to skip a word.

It was very helpful to be reminded of this theory and term right at the beginning: “Dual Inheritance theory (DIT), also known as gene-culture coevolution, was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution.”

The characters remained wholeheartedly on target to demonstrate this theory and I found myself saying, “oh yeah!”  I could follow it closely and carefully and yet it allowed one to escape into the story completely.  Hershon is a good storyteller, and she does not assume we will just know the details; perfectly detailed right down to the mosquitos.

Ed and Hugh meet while students at Harvard.  Ed is a scholarship student, Summa Cum Laude graduate and a Jew.  Hugh is from a long family line of Harvard attendees and from a wealthy family.  They have each lost their mothers at an early age and their fathers seemed to be determined to find fault with everything they do in a nasty way.  Ed goes into finance and Hugh plans on being a photographer for documentaries, though ends up doing humanitarian work and developing free clinics in Africa and Haiti. Each man marries within the family expectation, and each man has a daughter.  After losing the connection of their friendship, amazingly their daughters attend the same school and bring them back together when they are Grandfathers.

I have seen this pattern play out a number of times in my lifetime and although this is a fictional story, A DUAL INHERITANCE dances well with the concept of the theory and the writing is just so worthwhile.  I was reminded of how much I enjoyed reading THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, which also traces two young men on an adventure into the American experience, whereas Ed and Hugh are born years later and are already cast into the American scene.  It was just this very East Coast traditionalism which made me so happy to return to the West Coast and a very Independent State.  I am not of the cowboy rancher dynasty experience, but more of the justice and community building – let’s celebrate everyone’s experience – cooperation.   Ed and Hugh missed out on the Viet Nam and Korea experiences because of money and health; whereas I was in the thick of it from pacifists, dodgers, religious exemptions, and soldiers training, wounded, and returning home. The story is still replete with the alcohol and drug addictions of the generation.

I think this is a grand story and one many can identify with and explore.  It is going to be difficult for anyone to put the book down; A DUAL INHERITANCE is a great reading experience.

tlc logo I received a proof copy of this book from TLC online book tours and Ballantine/ Random House Publishing Group. Thank you.   I am very, very happy they shared this book with me – because I really, really liked it and I think you will too.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcome.

Related Reading:  Look under the tab Recommended Reading there are lots and lots of book reviews there you might enjoy.
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Wanderers: Stories by Edward Belfar

Monday, January 7th, 2013

WANDERERS is a book of short stories that showcases a writer’s skill with words and the fine art of moving a story forward with little waste or compromise.  The words are clever and bright creating a clear image in the mind; I will always be able to conjure up the image of salt and pepper stubble and heads when I think of this particular read.   I also think this is a man’s book and full of manly stories because all of the male characters are caught in a quandary life changing moment or forced into some change to reckon with and there are few resolutions within each story.

The females in the stories were composite women or caricatures even when they were thought to be the main event.    This I found to be disconcerting until I figured out that they were just the boundaries to the theme and made it more cleverly and precisely defined.   It did not matter which continent the women were blamed for everything; stereotypically belittling and angry.  But then again, these were not stories about women, rather men in a transition stage.  It was almost a limbo stage because none of the characters with the exception of two were acting in a forward motion.   I have encountered women who were as mean spirited as some of these characters, and many more who just wander away in search of a different home.

I enjoyed Edward Belfar’s use of words; his good story telling.   I enjoyed that the stories took place in Africa, the USA, and Rome and found myself looking for how the folks were going to move through their environment.  The descriptions were marvelous even when they were about the tired and the old/neglected remnants.  The titles of the books the character’s published made me laugh out loud each and every time.  So many of the words spoke volumes and I enjoyed looking up a few along the way to explore their depth of meaning in that instance.

WANDERERS  took me by surprise as it was not what I was expecting.  It took me a few stories before I began to anticipate the abrupt curb jolt of the endings.   I was very glad when one story continued on later to bear witness to the fact that the fellow was in the same transition as in Rome and still unable to move, even when provided a loving child to guide the way.

My partner is in the middle of a big life change, and I could see how he was moving through this limbo stage, depressed stage, blame stage, and allowing his mind to wander  looking for acceptance of his reality and not finding any doors to open towards change.  I wanted to talk to my counselor friends about whether they had seen this kind of staging in other men in transition.  I found it comforting to understand Wanderers  as fifteen stories about a point of change . I did not find the hope that one moves through this and actually transitions. Stuck and avoidance are ideas that did come to mind.  I did not read this book before going to bed because I found they created a feeling of depression within me and I wanted time to work that energy off.



I would highly recommend the WANDERERS as a fine read.  I just put in a request for another of Edward Belfar’s books at the library because I found his skill in writing admirable, and discovered this to be his first book.


I received a PDF copy of this book from TLC Books  and Stephen F. Austin University Press and I thank them for the opportunity to read and review this book.   The author is offering up a copy to one of my commenters.  I look forward to what you have to say.

If one purchases anything from Amazon  or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.  Donations also welcome.

Would you like to share your thoughts about a book you’re reading or help a fellow wanderer through a transition please contact us at WiseEars.

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Dancing In The Shadows Of Love ~by Judy Croome

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I discovered Dancing in the Shadows of Love  on Hilary’s site Positive Letters and entered to win a copy of the book from the author.  My number came up and very quickly a copy of the book came to my mail box.   I had enjoyed Hilary’s post and the information sharing about Africa that accompanied the material about the book and author.    I was anticipating a very interesting read and I was not disappointed.

Croome’s book is about 3 fictional women who all come together in an old seaport city on the ocean in Africa.   The author grew up in Africa and lives there still, so I am sure that many of the concepts came from her life.   The women have very interesting backgrounds and their childhoods are explored and how they came together all searching for love and using various pathways to overcome their tribulations.   In the beginning of the story the women all felt tribal and of color as the story progressed I was not so certain of their ethnicity but the language and descriptions made them seem still tribal.

The described religion was extremely traditional and old and not very useful in assisting the women to think or make changes in their lives.  I thought they would need to reject it to find themselves and love who they were.   My friend asked if there were Angels in the story from my description and I would say I was not sure – maybe more a benevolent magician or two.

It took me three starts to find comfort in the word usage; to discover the flow of the conversations and the idea that was being explored.   I think most USA readers would find that the cultural context of being of a tribe would seem foreign for those of us reared in chronic individualism.  It was worth the effort.

Croome is a good story teller and I was so pleased to have had an opportunity to read her first book and explore some old ideas in a new cultural context.   I was reminded of the delight my 4th grader’s book group experienced when they read stories from other countries, and expanded their world view.  It made for a great discussion.

I belong to two book groups right now and I think one would enjoy the book and the other would not want to even read it.  It is not a fast paced book and there are many rather poetic passages of detail.

A good sit by the fire winter’s read and I think a good discussion starter.  I would have allowed my high school daughters to read this book with the promise of discussing some of the sexual issues which are part of the story.

I am enjoying following Judy Croome on Facebook and here are the ways to connect with her:
Blog:  www.judycroome.blogspot.com
Facebook:  Judy Croome
Twitter:  @judy_croome
Goodreads:  Judy Croome
Library Thing:  Judy Croome
LinkedIn:  Judy Croome

The book is available for cover, kindle, nook, MP3 from Amazon and Powell’s.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket!

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