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ONCE UPON A LIE: A Novel ~Michael French

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“Michael French is the author of 25 books, which include adult fiction and young adult fiction, art criticism, biographies, adaptions, and gender studies.” (Cover)

There is tremendous skill in the writing of ONCE UPON A LIE and the hooks captivate the imagination within the first few pages.  The characters are extremely well developed and the reader is able to empathize quickly; they pull at a feeling level as well as moving the story forward. Word usage is intelligent. The suspense is just right and definitely not to thriller level, keeping the reader figuring out what is next.  I liked the mix of voices; first and third person perspectives were finely synced.

The reader is meshed into a huge family drama, well two families with lots of drama and some huge lies to contend with and that makes for a lifetime of attempting to find the truth and a whole realm of situations that do not create relief from the tensions of the stories.

“…the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again.  Justice, Alex learns, can be a betrayal.  Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful –but dangerous- rock on which to build a life of honor and courage.” (Cover)

Alexandra is the daughter of a Los Angeles lawyer and a socialite mother and Jaleel is the only child of a black couple living on the financial edge in Texas.  The police are prepping Jaleel, who is 12, to be the murderer of his father – he is on the run.  The two children meet over a cup of lemonade and the author builds a good coming of age story around these two individuals and their survival.  The secondary characters are strong and agile in assisting the unraveling of the lies.

“Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and of Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism.  A native of Los Angeles, he also is a successful businessman, activist, and, with his wife, Patricia, a philanthropist raising money for programs aiding teachers in Santa Fe, N.M., public schools which are some of the most challenged in the country. They divide their time between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara, CA.”

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me an advanced copy for review.

Connect with characters on Online:
Alex
Jaleel
Author

Related Reading:
Whistling Women
The Moon Sisters
Water On the Moon

A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA: A Novel ~Anthony Marra

Monday, May 20th, 2013


When I first began reading A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA I thought I would describe it as stream of consciousness style writing or a vintage Russian Novelist’s style, and then when I would talk about the book, folks would say “I don’t want to read something like that!”  How could I share that I was fascinated by the story and was diving into the words head first only to be tossed over heels by the emotional depth and drive of the story line.  I did have to wrap myself up in a blanket as I was cold as winter in several sections of this amazing read.

CONSTELLATION is Anthony Marra’s first novel, but he has garnered prizes galore for his writing.  He is under 30 and has already completed undergraduate work; the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and won numerous awards; he works at Stanford University.   He has done a great deal of travel and study to write this story and produce this novel about 2 back to back wars in Chechnya which is quite a read.

The story takes place over 5 days in December 2004 most action centers around Hospital #6 and the last remaining doctor practicing and becoming an amazing surgeon.  Sonja, the London trained Russian physician, is the only doctor left in the hospital which used to have 500 doctors on staff.  She and a 79 year old nurse amputate, sew up, heal, and deliver babies in this building.  They have both lost a sister and are grieving, mourning, and healing. Sonja is saving lives.

The book is about war, death, disappearances, cold, hunger, fear, refugees, prostitution, slavery, illness, realities, torture and an eight year old girl.

The book is a mined field and you must learn the route and warning signs.  There are so many metaphors and symbols and truths all rolled around fantastical adjectives and swear words to satisfy any reader that the existence of the many is always, always in turmoil.  The problem-solvers and the creative are the most fluent of the survivors.

The book is a love story.

An arborist, a historian, a failed doctor all love this child and do everything within their power to save this child’s life.   “She is safe.”   She is hope.  She is future.

Reconstruction is fully on the shoulders of the survivors who were not discovered as they risked.  The world hardly knows that they are a part of this planet; until their distress is played out in Boston.

How can we as people keep continuing to make war?  How can we as human beings continue to allow torture; especially that for which we turn a blind eye? This book will leave you breathless and asking questions; ignite your circuits.

This book is about the ugliness of war and the tremendous loss when humanity is forfeited and the goal is to enjoy the pain and suffering of a defeated country with no one coming to its aid.  This is a story about the ordinary people in a small village surviving, healing, and overcoming the atrocities of WAR which are so plainly revealed to the reader and how love is the vital phenomena of living. How love overcomes our worst trials and fears.   We all need to read A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA.

Related Reading:
A Dual Inheritance
The Myths of Happiness 
When Women Were Birds 
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

tlclogo I received a Kindle proof copy of A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA from TLC books and Hogarth Publishing.

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 welcomed.

Powell’s also has signed copies of this novel available and is the STAFF PICK of the MONTH.