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FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME: A Novel ~Corran Harrington

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

“Daniel Arroyo has suffered a lifetime of guilt over the sudden death of his infant sister, who died when he was eight years old.  He now lives his middle years between that guilt and worsening episodes of PTSD from a Vietnam he left thirty years ago.  When a violent encounter on a dusty highway forces Daniel to face what haunts him, he finds himself pulled back to the neighborhood of his youth. Where old houses hold tired secrets.  What really happened on that steamy August afternoon?  The answer comes spilling from the old neighborhood, and Daniel begins to find his way home.  Corran Harrington takes the reader along the Rio Grande, from its headwaters to the sea.” (Cover)

Each chapter of this book flowed a segment of Daniel’s life and each was a collection of tight, incredible, descriptive words, which just held the readers attention.  One knew the wild asparagus and the movement of water in the irrigation ditch.  This was the place where Daniel value programmed, of his best friend, of his siblings and parents.  There are roots here – deep roots.  Wild roses tapped the window and the basketball bounced on the court, it was supposed to be safe.  I think on purpose the next chapter did not flow from the last, rather it was a jump into another memory and experience and at first I found this disconcerting until I began to expect it.  I think this was to show the confusion in Daniel’s mind and it succeeded.  The psychological dimensions of the story were revealed and explained out of sequence and made the reader work a bit to integrate the life being told.

By coming back home, drawn in by the wonderful next-door neighbor, Daniel is able to find himself and his own truth and it will free his life and propel him forward.

FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME is quite the read and I think I will keep my advanced reading copy on my shelf for a future read.  At this time in my life the “death” theme was a bit tough to take and I felt sadness as I read – a loneliness that made finishing the story a release.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.  If you go to the link you can see all the other reader’s reviews of this book.

From the Cover:

“Corran Harrington is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Santa Fe Writing Project finalist, a Hidden River Arts Eludia Award finalist, a Bosque Fiction contest finalist, and a New Millennium Writings award semi-finalist who short fiction (written also as Connie Harrington) has appeared in number literary journals.  A former lawyer, Harrington also has a background in cultural and linguistic anthropology.  She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

NOTE: This review is several days late, I am so sorry I had a sudden illness and could not get to my computer to get the post into the schedule.  I hope this will prove to be a fine posting and not cause problems for TLC or the author.

Related:
Thirty Days With My Father
Once Upon A Lie
Water On the Moon

DIG TWO GRAVES: Suspenseful Mystery ~Kim Powers

Monday, December 7th, 2015

DIG TWO GRAVES came at me like a ton of bricks and I wasn’t ready.  I knew from the title that it was going to be about a murder but I did not figure out it was about lots of murders, a kidnapping or two, and a series of trials/tasks which needed to be completed to save a child’s life. The mystery begins right after the birthday party opening and father – daughter disagreement, we were dropped into the kidnapping scenario and the book was relentless with puzzles and actions, which needed to be solved and completed.

I had to put the book down several times as I could fall into the feeling the emotions of having a daughter kidnapped and of not being able to figure out the puzzle or meaning of the poem.  I was not familiar with the trials of Hercules although the main character was a teacher of ancient history and Greek Mythology at a college and that connection made it very interesting and piqued my curiosity a number of times.

Ethan Holt had done the Decathlon in the Olympics and won the gold.  He father had pushed and pushed him to compete and win.  After the win and being on the Wheaties Box, Ethan was allowed to disappear into his own life and he got his degrees in Ancient History and began teaching, he married and shared life with a child.  His life was full of loss as his parents died in a house fire and years later his wife was killed in a car accident, leaving Ethan to single parent his daughter “Skip”.

At thirteen, Skip was confident but going through a number of disagreements with her father that included her upset with a girl friend recently arrived in their lives.  Wendy is the new vet at the zoo.  Ethan and Skip go running early one morning to resolve a recent disagreement and when Ethan arrives home after work, he discovers that Skip has been kidnapped.  The kidnapper arranges a series of trials for Ethan to complete to keep his daughter from death and each involves more and more danger and brings into plain view another aspect of his life.

What is it that we learn from Ancient History and Mythology that teaches us in the present context of our life?   What has been abandoned or forgotten along the way and yet is relevant and important?  What is the truth of our past and how does it apply to our future?  Are we strong and will we survive?  Lots of questions posed within this story and the feelings are on high alert.   We all know someone who will find this read fascinating and the book hard to set aside.  The writing is steady and not complicated and it truly touched my emotions on several levels.  An intelligent read – interesting.

TLC Book Tours sent me the e-copy of this book for review and it was quite the read.

About the author: (From the cover)

“Kim Powers is the author of the novel Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story as well as the critically acclaimed memoir The History of Swimming, a Barnes and Noble ‘Discover’ Book and Lambda Literary Award finalist.  He is currently the senior writer for ABC’s 20/20, and has won an Emmy, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence ruing his time at ABC News and Good Morning America.  A native Texan, he received an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and also wrote the screenplay for the indie-favorite film Finding North.  He lives in New York City and Asbury Park, NJ, and may be reached at kimpowersbooks.com.”

Related:
The Shock Doctrine
Freedom
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A Dual Inheritance

LANGUAGE ARTS: A Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

Monday, October 12th, 2015

LANGUAGE ARTS was what English and Spelling and Writing was called when I was in elementary school.   It involved The Palmer Method of learning to write cursive and when I was in 4th grade I won a prize for my beautiful penmanship.  It was one of the only prizes I won during my school years, and I have always been proud of my lovely lettering ability until now when my hand shakes so dramatically and it is hard to hold a pen or pencil; typing is easier and dictating even better.   This is a story about the Palmer Method and a teacher who teaches LANGUAGE ARTS in Seattle, Washington.  The author captures a great deal of what it was like in my elementary school and how it has changed currently.

This is not Kallos’ latest book, but I have had it on my Kindle for a while, well, until my book group decided to read it this autumn and I delightedly opened it up.  This book touched me in so many ways, I am sure and certain that I will read it several more times and I am delighted to refer you to this read.

One of the members of my book group described the book at weird; maybe I would use that word also in the beginning of the read.  The writing just drew me in and the compelling nature of the story and the similarity to my own experience just wrapped the story into me and I was part of the tale and part of the life of Charles, the boy doing the Palmer Method and winning the prize and the man teaching students now and doing the best that he is able to do.  Did I tell you how much I appreciated the writing and the play full words and sentences in this story?

Yes, the story is a bit confusing but isn’t that how love is when it is real?  Are we not all searching for love, acceptance and appreciation?  How did you recognize love when it came your way?  Was it obvious and over the moon?  Did you need to contemplate and have a glass of wine?  Were you just born into the feeling?

This is the story of the disintegration of a family when they are caring for a special needs child.  I know the exhaustion in my very bones and the constant search for feelings of appreciation and affirmation.  I know how and why it destroys families and pits one against another.   I liked that the story was in Seattle, Washington and that the rain was real and the schools were like/are like that, and that family dynamics are what they are.  The disintegration process has a chaos stage that is well articulated in this finely written story.  LANGUAGE ARTS really is a love story.

And as the confusion flattens out into the linear events of the current ebb and flow of the present tense, I cried and was touched very deeply.  The story distilled into its own truth; the loneliness of my own story made loops around me and I wondered what I would do next as the words amazed me and filled me up.  I was content with my own story and my own love.

“Stephanie Kallos is the author of the national bestseller BROKEN FOR YOU, which was selected by Sue Monk Kidd for the TODAY book club, and SING THEM HOME one of Entertainment Weekly’s ten best novels of the year.  She lives in Seattle with her family.”  (from the book)

Related:
When Women Were Birds
The Signature of All Things
Animal Dreams

COME AWAY WITH ME: A Novel of Love and Loss ~Karma Brown

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Come Away With Me is definitely a love story and it is about change, loss, grieving, and recovery.  On the front cover, there are the words that remind one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s EAT, PRAY, LOVE and it did very much because it was about change and taking physical steps to find and process into recovery, possibility, and hope.  There was not as much astute analysis even though the main character did recover a sense of self after being so lost in love.

About Karma Brown

“Karma Brown is a National Magazine Award winning freelance writer and journalist, and a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives just outside Toronto with her family and writes powerfully emotional upmarket women’s fiction, in the vein of Me Before You. COME AWAY WITH ME is her first novel.” (From TLC Book Tours)”

This paperback comes with an interview with Karma Brown at the back of the book and a book group question section and I started there instead of the actual narrative of the story.  I learned that the book was written because of a surprise cancer diagnosis and the author wanted to write about the process and the recovery from such a hard experience.  I liked that the author emphasized possibility and future in her reply but I was fairly sure the book was going to be an emotional ride.

So Tegan is a very happily married kindergarten teacher in Chicago.   She is pregnant with their first child and she and Gabe are on their way to a Christmas Eve gathering at the in-laws house when they are in a terrible car accident which is life changing.  The baby has been killed and Tegan has had to have a hysterectomy to save her life and she will have many scars from her injuries.  After weeks in the hospital and then weeks in bed unable to cope or move forward, Tegan attempts suicide.  Her mother and her best friend are trying to get her to get up and get her moving forward but have been unsuccessful.  She ends up back in the hospital and the psychiatrist is able to get her onto some medication and talking.   There is a great deal of remembered experiences with her loving and funny husband Gabe around how they met and how they fell in love and celebrated life together.

The book is an emotional journey and does remind me of EAT, PRAY, LOVE very much, because Tegan needs to pack her backpack and pull 3 bucket list items out of their serendipity jar and go on the trips they had planned in order to find laughter and release from the intensity of the pain from the loss to move towards recovery and future.   There are several surprises in the story and I just know that several of the reviewers on the list will spoil them and that concerns me because it would have ruined the story for me.  I was emotionally connected all the way through and loved the journey to Thailand, Italy and Hawaii and the lessons that were learned along the way.  I loved the story of the feet being the wrong way in the temple and was right in the moment enjoying the noise and the experience of it all.   I was so happy the guesthouse owner was able to assist with the upset stomach after eating grasshopper and worm.

The writing was lovely and the descriptions of cold weather, feelings, climbing the stairs and the little quiet room were as lovely as the cooking classes and the new people met and who shared the experiences.  The story had a healing ending and I had a sigh of relief.
Everyone should be so in love and have such great and supportive families.  What a hard thing to live through and how lovely that there was healing and recovery.  COME WITH ME was a good read and I would recommend it to many and particularly to those with sudden change/ unexpected change.

Related:
Singing Beyond Sorrow