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LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER: A Coming of Age Story ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Catherine Ryan Hyde is an award winning, New York Times best selling author. She is probably best know for her novel PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a movie.  I am always pleased to read her books, which might be categorized as young adult and yet very satisfying read for a wide age range.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advanced copy for review.  It is a very good book.  You can find what others thought by connecting to the TLC link.

Ethan Underwood is a 5 foot 2 inch seventeen year old who lives in NYC.  The story opens with Ethan having just been mugged and is at the police station.  He was born to very competitive parents, his mother is short and his father is tall and an extreme athlete.  Ethan got the short part and none of the athletic/competitive part and he is just wondering who he is and what he will become.  His father’s relentless teasing is no help.  There is a love/hate relationship growing by leaps and bounds.

A convergence of problems descends on Ethan and especially his Mother.  Dad handles it by leaving NYC and heading to a cabin in Blythe River. Ethan’s anxiety blossoms into a major problem and there is just too much on his Mother’s list and so she ships Ethan and his dog Rufus to finish the school year in Blythe River and be safe with his Father.  The father-son relationship festers and grows and Ethan is getting extremely worried about bears in the area.

The writing is vivid and the characters are well detailed and believable.  The inter-generational interaction is once again highlighted and creates a successful team approach to the terrain and the growth of the human spirit.  The dimensions of emotions are well explored and the dialogue is very realistic.  I could identify with the sore muscles of being in the saddle all day.

I have read 2 of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books PAY IT FORWARD and THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS and I enjoy following her on Facebook.  I would highly recommend this book to a wide range of ages and think you, the reader, will find it a hearty well-done story.

About Catherine Ryan Hyde (From TLC Book Tours site)

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Ryan Hyde is also founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Related:
The Language of Hoofbeats
Outside In
The Moon Sisters
Dog Crazy

NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW: A Memoir ~Maggie Kneip

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

“The Perfect Husband, His Shattering Secret; My Rediscovered Life”

McKinney PR, LLC (Larissa Ackerman | Claire McKinney PR, 41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930) sent me a copy of this book for review and it is quite the read about holding on to a secret for 20 years, denying a segment of a life and keeping a mythology alive.

“This is a book I just inhaled, I could not put it down… It will resonate with every woman who has something to hide – and that is most of us, myself included.” (Magee Hickey, News Reporter, WPIX-TV New York, cover)

Maggie Kneip was married to her dream husband and was the mother of 2 very young children when her husband collapsed and spent several years getting every cold that came along; having just one medical problem after the other. They finally got a diagnosis – AIDS.  When Kneip’s partner, before he was her partner, he had worked in Los Angeles and had explored the Gay lifestyle.  Now he was an editor at the Wall Street Journal and very highly respected and funny; giftedly bright.  He had tumors in his brain and an AIDS dementia, swollen legs, and a list of other problems.  Their son was less than a year old, and their 3-year-old daughter just could not understand.  He was dying and Maggie had to find a job and support her two children.

AIDS was a fairly unknown disease and the general population was very frightened, Maggie and the children were not carriers and did not have the disease, but they were discriminated against just the same because of the fear and the stigma.  The daughter shared about her Father at school and the other parents banded together to get her removed.  A conspiracy of silence began to keep the children safe from these attacks.  This silence left a big hole in the family until the family began sharing their story and Kneip began participating in creating awareness and support for other women on the AIDS journey. 20 years of silence.

It is a commanding read and quite an educational tool for informing and lessening the fear factor for others.

“Maggie Kneip was one of this country’s hidden women…who kept her husband’s deadly secret for more than two decades…Now she opens up for the first time in this stunning, beautifully written, and important book.”  (Joanne Lipman, journalist, editor, and co-author of Strings Attached – cover)

About the Author:

“Maggie Kneip is a veteran of the publishing industry, with more than two decades in publicity and marketing at Bertelsmann, Scholastic Inc., and Abrams Books.  She has performed as a singer at such Manhattan clubs as the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room.  Learn more about her at www.maggiekneip.com

Related:
Hidden Inheritance
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TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS: A Novel ~Sejal Badani

Monday, May 4th, 2015

“Never depend on another person for your happiness.  If someone had the authority to give, then he or she had the authority to take away.” (location 142)

I did not know what to expect from the book TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS.    I knew it was an immigration story and a debut novel but did not know much more.  I am often tempted to read the book descriptions sent by the publishers for advanced reading copies of books; I resisted and just dove into reading the story.  TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review.

Three sister’s elegantly tell their stories of their lives in the USA after their family moves from India as an opportunity for daughters to achieve success and excel for the family when there are no sons.  Their father was successful and kind in India but he who was an engineer in his home country now can only get work in a tire store and experiences great racism and difficult circumstances.  He is driven to control his daughters and wife to the point of verbal and physical abuse.  He is in a coma and the family is forced to look at their lives and the shame they feel; the sad and unhappy outcomes of their lives.   A family story emerges as the family secrets are confronted by the violence exposed and events manifesting in their contemporary lives.

What blooms in the family tree as the family progresses and what changes in the patterns, so that history may not repeat itself? Can destructive behavior ever manifest real or solid success and provide growth and change for communication and allow love to emerge?

The telling of Sonja, Trisha, and Marin’s stories opens up the reader to explore what was expected of them from their own families and fathers.  How does original enculturation interfere or enhance a huge change in structures and systems and how does it breakdown the basic traits and expectations?  What are the freedoms that are attached to this change and could it be thought of as a good concept.  TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS will challenge one’s thinking and expectations.

I highly recommend TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS for those who like family dynamics, secrets revealed and want a story to end with hope for the future.

I was interested to see that Amazon already had 547  4+ reviews for this debut novel.

Sejal Badani is a former attorney.  She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their 2 dogs.

Sejal Badani Facebook 

Related:
Playing St. Barbara 
The Clover House 
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FOG ISLAND MOUNTAINS: a Novel ~Michelle Bailat-Jones

Friday, December 5th, 2014

“…and it is amazing how easily, how quickly really, a person can be turned inside –out and rewritten completely.” (Page 59)

In my life a daughter, wife, mother, social worker, friend died today after a prolonged battle with breast cancer. I am sharing this story about death with her family after the service; it is a profoundly, deeply touching love story integrated with a Japanese folktale – I cried and found release.

From the Advanced Uncorrected Proof copy cover:

“What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone’s greatest mistake?

A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese KITSUNE folk tale tradition, FOG ISLAND MOUNTAIN is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi’s oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own.

Inhabitants of a small town, Komachi, are waiting for the biggest of the summer’s typhoons, when the cancer diagnosis is received.  South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years, he considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements.  His wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm afraid to hear the diagnosis and avoids the truth.”

FOG ISLAND MOUNTAIN is the winner of the Christopher Doheny Award, which recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness (either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend).  The judges for the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award included acclaimed writers Dani Shapiro, Meghan O’Rourke, and Ann Hood.

Michelle-Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator.  Her novel FOG ISLAND MOUNTAINS won the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction in New York City.  She translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s 1927 Swiss classic BEAUTY ON EARTH (2013). She is the reviews editor at the webjournal/Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including the Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, and The Atticus Review.  Michelle lives in Switzerland.

Michelle Bailat-Jones Twitter

Thank you Lisa at TLC Book Tours – I needed this one; perfect timing. Stunning writing.  Very Highly Recommend

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The Long Goodbye
All Gone
So Far Away
WILD