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The Passage: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Give a middle aged American Irishman a bar fight, put him on his sailboat headed to Ireland to find the true taste of Guinness and an amazing story emerges from Hurley’s imagination.   I could not put this book down, I was possessed by the story and the frame and range of the surface right to the depth the heart can reach.

I am so very happy Mr. Hurley asked me if I wanted to read it and that he sent me a PDF copy.  WOW.  Lucky ME!

I even read THE PASSAGE on two 4-hour car rides.  I could totally identify with the main character’s life – “Fitz” was just right and complete and steadfast and I just wanted to know how he was fairing on his path to salvation, redemption and his progress to shore up his self-worth.  The tragedies and mistakes were sublime and the droplets of humor and descriptions just tickled and delighted my imagination – holding my attention steadfastly.

Several years ago I reviewed another of Hurley’s books – THE VINEYARD.  The story was interesting and well written, but I could not identify with any of the 3 women characters.  None of them became real.  The book went on to win awards and I just thought “Oh well, we all have different tastes in reading.”

The twists and turns in the writing of this novel, were remarkably paced and just slid into this readers psyche with sometimes a sigh, a laugh or a didn’t see that coming.  It is so like life – no matter the taste of Guinness – no matter where.

“Do you believe in everlasting Love?”

My favorite quote came at PDF page 146: “Genre fiction uses plot to tell you a story about someone else’s life.  Classic fiction uses characterizations to tell you a story about yourself.”

What is holding onto you?  What is making you define yourself incorrectly?  How do you care and like yourself?  What pieces/peaces are you missing in your own journey?  What are the meanings you hold dear? And are those things, which you value – programed at age 10 true or false?

Life is definitely a journey and a process and so many of us have a middle-aged change of heart and endeavor.  It would be hard not to relate to this character and his story.  Irish magic just short of leprechauns and fairies adds just the right leverage to this tale.  I am passing this on to several friends for sure.

A remarkable read and I would give it a “10” and hope that it might reach the award phase and become a best seller.

About the Author (from book cover)

“Michael Hurley is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.  His debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, won the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for Book of the Year in 2013.  This second novel, THE VINEYARD, won the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.  A memoir, ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOM, was published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.  His essay collection, LETTERS FROM THE WOODS, was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2005 by ForeWard Reviews.  Between 1995 and 2003, he published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing, now collected in single hardcover volume entitled HURLEY’S JOURNAL.  He wrote THE PASSAGE while living in England and Wales.  He keeps a journal and stays in touch with readers on his website, www.mchurley.com

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DERANGED: 3 Stories ~Nora L. Jamieson

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The reader is privileged to enter the thinking world of 3 women all of the same location but in different stages of their lives.  The stories are separate and yet inter lap, as stories are want to do.  Each woman is of a different age and journey point but there is a common theme and they dovetail into the body message of DERANGED of how to be a woman and how to survive acknowledging the route and the ancestors.

Editorial Reviews From the Back Cover:

“In this terrible, gleaming, penetrating work, we learn what it is to be animal again, and so to be fully human. Nora Jamieson’s true and remarkable voice is so old and so aligned with the old, old ways, it is startlingly new. This is a Literature of Restoration. This is the way of sacred language. This is prayer manifesting in blood, bone, terror, and beauty. This is the language of Creation. These words recreate the holy world and offer it from a fierce heart. Who would have dared to imagine that The Cailleach might be among us again” Deena Metzger, author, Ruin and Beauty and La Negra y Blanca: Fugue and Commentary

“Like myths, Nora Jamieson’s wild, beautiful, and holy stories resonate with truths from a time when nature and all living things were inseparable. Feeling ‘deranged’ in the modern world, her characters struggle against the forces that separate humans from each other, from the other animals, from the natural world, from the sacred. While the narrative voices bristle with unflinching honesty, they offer solace with the possibility of redemption.”  Anne Batterson, author, The Black Swan “
“The Inuit say that every story has a yua, a spirit, its person.  Through the stories of Anna, Sophie and Louise, Deranged honors the Spirit of grief, redemption, restoration, and the invisible realm”    (all from Amazon’s page)

The writing of these stories is poetic and lush, drawing the reader into the presence of the story and the thoughts and ideas expressed by each mind provoked by their circumstance.  We follow coyote, woods, rivers and footfalls of those who walk the earth seeing and hearing.  There is a silence in the women’s lives and we are privy to their interpretations of all that is part of their world.  We stand on the rock and catch fish; we leave the body when the pain is too great.

Anna’s story is called: Reckoning
Sophie’s story is called: The Looking Back Woman of Scantic Gap
Louise’s story is called: The Taxidermists’ Daughter

Fathers are extremely important within these three stories and they shape and change the women until the child stands on its own; guided but not controlled and they each see clearly the man.

I started reading these stories at my usual pace, thinking I could do one a day and write this review.  They were each about 50 pages long and yet I found myself right away longing to read them again and again – so I did.   I read each story 3 times before I moved to the next.  The stories were calming and I got cold when it snowed, which very much surprised me.  I loved the words and the flow of the writing and enjoyed reading all the acknowledgements from the author at the end of the read.  I sighed and let go with each turn of the page and I am going to purchase a number of copies of this book to say thank you to the wonderful women who have cared for me post surgery and into recovery.  It is the best “thing” I can imagine to share.

Mr. Gabriel Constans of Constans & Blumeneau sent me a PDF copy for review and I am so happy that he did.  He has sent along several other books for me to review, all with special voices.   It is a 5 star + Dr. Constans   Thank you for thinking of me.

About the Author:

“Nora L. Jamieson lives in northwestern Connecticut where she writes, counsels women, and unsuccessfully tracks coyote. She lives with her spouse, Allan G. Johnson, their soulful dog, Roxie, and the sorrowful and joyful memory of four beloved goats and three dogs.”Visit her website at www.norajamieson.com.” (from the book cover)

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A MATTER OF MERCY: a NOVEL ~Lynne Hugo

Monday, September 8th, 2014

“A moon tide rising was the worst time for bad weather, but moon tides are the best for working because the stronger gravitational pull makes the water recede farther.  Yet even a storm that clouts during the front of the moon tide can be capricious enough to leave one grant almost untouched while those adjacent might be fouled or wiped out.” (page 15 of uncorrected copy)

Forgiveness is a difficult story to write and to write it well, and yet Lynne Hugo does just that in A MATTER OF MERCY.  The author applies a mature voice to the process of redemption as she wraps an interesting fictional tale around an actual lawsuit.  The story gives us lots of details about the oyster farming business in Cape Cod Bay, lots of environmental information, great moments of confused decision making when one has not forgiven themselves, and what can happen when vacationing millionaires believe they own someone else’s land – life.

Laurie Buchanan on FB reminded me of this Brene’ Brown wisdom while I was reading this book and it helped me understand the point:

“You either walk inside your story and own it or You stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

Caroline has reluctantly come home to Massachusetts from Chicago, where she has been hiding since she was in prison for a DUI resulting in a death, lost her teaching certificate, and her husband.  Her mother, a potter, is dying of Ovarian Cancer and with the help of Hospice and Caroline she can be in her last days close to her view of the bay and the oyster grants.  Her daughter is afraid to be in town because it is the scene of the crime and she believes everyone judges her still.   She is in the place where making decisions is very hard a kind of limbo and she loves the days her mother can talk with her.

Ridley Neal is a young man who also spent time in prison because of youthful drug issues.   He is the owner of one of the oyster grants in the bay; left to him by his father.  He has discovered he likes the hard work and that being an aquaculturist is in his blood and definitely part of his future.  Oyster farming involves driving trucks onto the beach at low tide and moving the vehicle as the tide moves back into the shore; the workers use lights for harvesting and maintenance work when the tides are low at night.  The wealthy folks in the vacation homes on the bluff have concluded that the trucks, oysters, workers and lights ruin their view and interfere with their rights.  They may just win because being an oysterman does not produce enough funds for expensive lawsuits.   The lawsuit is a good study for any coastal village or community to be aware of in this day and age.  I could relate.

Lynne Hugo did a great deal of research on the tasks of the oyster farmer and she gives a good credit to the aquaculturist community for providing her with needed information and resources on her quest for this novel.  Ms. Hugo sent me a gracious thank you note, bookmarks and postcards for agreeing to review her book here.

Lynne Hugo Online

There are quite a few pictures of the area of the oyster farmers on Cape Cod on the blog and more information sharing.

“Lynne Hugo is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.  She has published five previous novels, one of which became a Lifetime Original Movie of the Month, two books of poetry, and a children’s book.  Her memoir, WHERE THE TRAIL GOES FAINT, won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize.  Born and educated in New England, she and her husband currently live in Ohio with a yellow Lab feared by squirrels in a three state area. “(from book cover)

tlc logo TLC online book tours  and the author sent me an uncorrected copy  of  A MATTER OF MERCY and I can highly recommend  A MATTER OF MERCY to my readers ,  a great gift read,  get it  on your list.

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