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ALL THE NEWS I NEED: a novel ~Joan Frank

Monday, March 20th, 2017

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is full of wonderful words placed with delicate care and mixed with adjectives, which are perfection.  Frank’s has created a word salad that is filled with glorious descriptions of feelings and attitudes and fears and delights that just move the reader along the page onto the next and each new expression.  It was a heady trip into two lives contemplating being old and the losses of their lives.

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is the winner of the Juniper Prize for fiction.

The story moves at just the perfect pace to draw the reader into the lives of two well-described characters, who lead us to our own feelings about aging and the use of our time.  Do we walk and walk or read and read remembering to water the plants and do our shopping?  What are our habits and routines that keep us moving forward?

Fran and Ollie’s ‘rules for aging’ section makes this book well worth the price – actually the whole story makes the book a keeper.  I have bookmarked the rules and read them at least a dozen times.  They make me smile

From the cover:

All THE NEWS I NEED probes the modern American response to inevitable, ancient riddles – of love and sex and mortality.  Frances Ferguson is a lonely sharp-tongued widow who lives in the wine country.  Oliver Gaffney is a painfully shy gay man who guards a secret and lives out equally lonely days in San Francisco.  Friends by default; Fran and Ollie nurse the deep anomie of loss and the creeping, animal betrayal of aging.  Each loves routine but is anxious that life might be passing by.  To crack open this stalemate, Fran insists the two travel together to Paris.  The aftermath of their fun, bittersweet journey suggest those small changes, within our reach, that may help us save ourselves – somewhere toward the end.

I am sorry the publisher sent me this book so close to the review date as I would have loved to read it twice before writing the review, as it turned out I only had 3 days, so I will read it again and again at another time.  It is on the schedule for both of my book groups.

TLC Book Tours sent the book to me and Trish really insisted that I read this book, as she wanted to know my thoughts.  So here they are and I LOVED this book and now want to read some more of Frank’s words in the future.  Thank you so much.  ALL THE NEWS I NEED is definitely on the top of my list of great reads.

This book is perfect for those who have retired or suffered a loss and are curious about the next parts of life to launch for themselves.  It is really just a magnificent read for everyone.  Oh how important are those small changes that define and bring meaning.

“Joan Frank is a writer of sublime power who reveals the lives of her characters with such care, insight, and elegance, that deeply buried feelings of victory and loss become inextricably bound up with our own.” (Simon Van Booy, author of FATHER”S DAY)

JOAN FRANK is the author of five books of fiction and a collection of essays on the writing life.  She lives in Northern California with her husband, playwright Bob Duxbury.

www.joanfrank.org

“Joan Frank is a human insight machine.” —Carolyn Cooke

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LOVE LITERARY STYLE: A ROM-COM NOVEL ~Karin Gillespie

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Gotta! love whimsy when it is well-played and just delights at every page turn. LOVE LITERARY STYLE is a romantic – comedy with some excellent tongue and cheek for the world of publishing and hope for the Great American Novel.

Aaron Mite is the serious author in the story-very serious.  He only writes literary novels and only wants to be publishing at one publishing house.  His father is a professor emeritus at a university and also a literary critic, and has been so negative about Aaron’s writing that Aaron discarded his first novel all together.  Although they live in the same town, father and son rarely connect and when then do it is a sullen, dark experience.  “Get your Ph.D. son and teach.”

Aaron takes his desire to write and heads to a Writing Colony in Georgia for a retreat and hopefully for success with novel number two.

Laurie Lee is a recent widow from a very small town in Georgia and is working as a librarian assistant near Atlanta.  She loves romantic – comedy or Rom-Com as she calls it and studies all the ways that books are published and how to make it big time.  She has a web page and self publishes all her stories there and offers words of wisdom hoping someone will write on her blog or read her books.  She enters contests and figures out ideas that might just go far, except her writing style is weak and she does not have the depth of knowledge or literature to build her ideas upon.  She has some wonderful ideas, and the stories have twists and turns, but the writing is lacking and weak.

One of those contests Laurie Lee wins and she goes tuition free to a Writing Colony in Georgia to write her great novel.  Her best friend thinks her writing would be better if she was actually involved in a romantic fling.

The writing colony thinks the scholarship has gone to a top of the line writer because of a typo in their application process.

Aaron Mite and Laurie Lee’s cabins are right next to each other at the retreat center. Here is where the story comes alive with lots and lots of possibilities.  We also have the deceased husband and the grumpy, sullen former girl friend to apply to the story line.

Next we are swept into a movie deal and a publisher picking up the novel and getting them to press.  For Aaron the door opening is demanding too much of what he does not want to be doing – he wants to write his next novel not sell and promote book number 2 – that is his agents job.  Laurie Lee does not want a ghostwriter to correct her writing because then the book will not be hers and the movie business is tedious and not fun.  The story at this point just kept me chuckling for the rest of the way through with the clever little ins and outs of the way life often goes and how the formulas for writing rom-com are played out.

This was a TLC Book Tour read and it was just delightful and very entertaining and worthy of good words in the review.  Thank you TLC for sending this along to me.

Yes, I do think that folks now days not only need to write the book, but they also have to market and sell it with style and panache.

About Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie is the author of the national bestselling Bottom Dollar Girls series, 2016 Georgia Author of the Year, Co-author for Jill Connor Browne’s novel Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big Ass Novel. Her latest novel Love Literary Style was inspired by a New York Times article called “Masters in Chick Lit” that went viral and was shared by literary luminaries like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Rice. She’s written for the Washington Post and Writer Magazine and is book columnist and humor columnist for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine respectively. She received a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2016.

Karin Gillespie Facebook
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Karin Gillespie Website

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WRONG HIGHWAY: A Novel ~by Wendy Gordon

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Wrong Highway finds the reader at West Meadow, Long Island in New York about 1986 and we are thrust into a tale about two sisters; one a high energy mother of four who is very free spirited and the older sister a perfectionist mother of one who does everything just as responsibly as she is able.  We begin at the New York World’s Fair years before when Debbie is watching Erica enjoy the fair and dancing in a fountain scooping up coins.

Erica is not working outside her home, as her boys are 9 years, 5-year-old twins, and a new baby girl.  Her financial analyst husband is traveling all the time for his company and making a huge salary.  The family wants for nothing.  Erica is curious and busy driving the kids in Vance Volvo to their huge list of activities.  She plays with her children and enjoys them so very much.  She has a great deal of time on her own and fills it with exercise classes and beautiful clothes.

Debbie, a hairdresser, is worried about her son Jared, who is becoming a hyperactive and interestingly negative teen, who is experimenting with drugs.  Jared’s activities are counseling sessions, and doctor’s appointments and listening to music.  He wanders and cuts school a great deal and has stopped participating in sports.

Erica calls upon Debbie to rescue her when she has car trouble or needs emergency childcare.  Debbie calls upon Erica to befriend her son and help him through these troubled years.  Erica and Jared explore the friendship idea through smoking weed and heavy metal music.   Jared begins to open up about his strict parents and reveals a family secret, which Erica has been guessing about for years.  We travel through a world of Bah Mitzvahs and Sabbath dinners at their parents home.   It is quite a year; hold onto your hat and turn up the volume on the 80s hits you so enjoyed.

The author has found a new home for herself in Portland, Oregon as I think growing up on the East Coast was not her comfort zone.  She has captured the society and culture very well of the Eastern seaboard and all the programs and routines being practiced during this time period.  I think the story would be very different and yet similar if we were looking at the West Coast or the Midwest or South.  I think “weed” was being practiced in all those areas and fitness and teens were acting out after Vietnam too, but not so much “meanness” in the West.  We can witness the breakdown between the “haves” and the “have nots” beginning as it is captured in this small family paradigm.

I was in the early parenting stages during this time and the parents around me were beginning to struggle and making schools perfect for their child was just as important as having a garden and growing organic veggies.  Our kids were not being shipped off to so many activities, childcare, and camps but rather the parents were going to camps with their children and they wanted fun things to do that the parents enjoyed participating in as much as the children.  Family secrets were highly privatized to shield imperfections and the downward mobility financially.

Wendy Gordon has truly shared an interesting time period with quite a fascinating fictional story, which allows a look back and makes one want to turn up the volume and explore your old record collection.  What were we doing?  What were our secrets?  A very revealing read about family secrets and the effects of war on a society.

TLC Book Tours sent this book to Patricia’s Wisdom requesting a review.

From the Cover:
Wendy Gordon grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and lived in Boston, Chicago, and New York before finding her true home on the West Coast.  She received a B.S. in Nutrition from Simmons College and an M.S. in clinical Nutrition from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  She has been a journalist for over twenty-five years, publishing in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet.  She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.  This is her first book.

Wendy Gordon Blog
Wendy Gordon Facebook

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THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Jason Mott

Monday, August 24th, 2015

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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