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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

Related:
The Vineyard
US
Becalmed
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

DECEPTION ISLAND: A Romance Novel ~Brynn Kelly

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this novel for review.  It was an advance copy and there was no other promo information that accompanied the e-book, nor was there a cover.  As per my usual, I just dove in to see what this first novel was about.

There is some excitement to the story right away as there is a kidnapping of a politician’s daughter, who is sailing her boat around the world by herself, within the first few pages.  Sharks, three to one odds, kicks to the groin, fancy moves, and a talented heiress makes it to the attackers boat and then there is an attack of human kindness and the hope to save the kidnapper being attacked in the water.  First downfall and the heroine is overtaken and off to a hidden island and a honeymoon resort.

Holly, the heroine in this novel is very well written and even though size matters a great deal in this abduction, she has skill and huge survival instincts.  The reader has great hopes for her.  Her backstory is well written and very believable although her best actions are intimate manipulations and sex- throw in some kickboxing maneuvers and a pocketknife and she is ofttimes amazing.

Rafe, our hero, was kidnapped as a boy to become a child warrior and killer. He is trying to rehabilitate himself after his warrior group left him behind and Missionaries rescued him.  His son has been kidnapped and he must do this job of holding the heiress for ransom and in order to regain custody of his son.

Kelly’s story is located in a series of islands maybe near Malaysia – paradise. It exposes the American politician’s fake set up to get elected, sex trafficking and how it is concealed in Asian countries, and child warriors; what happens to them as they grow older.  The story is primarily a romance and I know there are hundreds of readers who will want to read this story and be involved in all the action and feelings shared.

I advise Romance readers to connect with the TLC link if they wish to know more about the story and how other readers enjoyed it.  This is not my favorite genre. I do not find these stories even entertaining. I did read the book from start to finish, and wish Ms. Kelly well on her writing career.

Brynn Kelly
“As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.”

Author’s website
Author’s Facebook
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Related:
Mireille
The Landgramm Affair
The Dirty Book Murder

THE VINEYARD: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“Dory was rich.  Stunningly rich. Although she thought of herself as someone just like everyone else, there was no one quite like Dory.  She lived her life as though everything were possible.” (Page 9)

“Michael Hurley holds a degree in English Education from the University of Maryland and a law degree from St. Louis University.  He is admitted to the bar in Texas and North Carolina.   His debut novel The Prodigal (2013) won the Chanticleer Grand Prize and was shortlisted for several other literary awards. After more than thirty years in trial practice, Michael retried in 2014 to write, sail, and pursue the secret of life fulltime.  He lives near Charleston, South Carolina, and keeps up with readers at www.mchurley.com “ (from the inside cover)

From the jacket:

“Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher, known only as ‘the fisherman,’ threatens to change everything they believe about their worlds – and each other.”
“…a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.”

I truly enjoy reading this romantic story / almost saga (can 3 months of summer be a saga?) and the problems the characters endure and muddle through.   This story was so well written it was just a get lost and enjoy the flow of the words on each page.  The premise was interesting too and I always love sailing stories, including water details, islands and the private culture developed by the isolation.  I had one day to read the 375 pages and then I was off to enjoy the beach myself.  The Biblical allegory was a bit blatant for my taste, but then I think many people do not know the stories these days so maybe that will not bother other readers.  I definitely felt I was relating to the Southern Christian experience and it made me laugh a couple of times in remembrance of my experience of these religious notions and how the people I encountered were not even aware that their deep down thinking was not very Global in its capacity – they often chock it up to superiority when it is a mask for fear.

The three women in the story were a hoot to read about until I watched what was going on in our country during this last election cycle.  The characters had a realness which was frightening and insulting and made me think about the 1% boys and girls who will be in control of the country – inherited wealth and no Global thinking.  Although Dory was caring and loving towards her friends, in personal crisis she was downright scary; this is a person in control and setting the standards?  In crisis she was an airhead and queen of the bling, who was very kind and generous to her friends.   Women as sexy manipulators – whew we are stuck in the religious mold again – let’s all go shopping;  I sent my pup jumping off my lap as I burst into a knee slapping happy dance!

The Ivy League produces three more who are really cupcakes to tradition and unable to see the big picture and in reality just want the same old same old of the wealthy cults.  A few clever moments thrown in to balance the boat and keep the keel balanced.  I just relaxed and let go of my cares.

Fabulous escape reading and I am sure the ‘30 some things’ of the world will make this a best seller.  That has left a rather bitter aftertaste in my sphere; we don’t know what we don’t know!

TLC Book Tours  – I enjoyed this read I think I would have liked the family saga about the timber industry in the Northwest a bit better – location, location, location.  Oh how the young are blinded by money and create a strange reality.

Related:
A Breast Cancer Alphabet 
Becalmed
The Hourglass
Accidents of Marriage

BECALMED: Romance Fiction ~Normandie Fischer

Monday, February 17th, 2014

“When a Southern woman with a broken heart finds herself falling for a widower with a broken boat, it’s anything but smooth sailing.”

BECALMED was the book I choose to read on our recent snowy weekend.  It was a great book to just curl up in my chair by the fireplace and hunker on down to North Carolina in August.  There I was in the harbor of my lovely little beach spot after just coming off the water in my sailboat; windblown, warm, cozy and off onto a good mini-vacation.  This book and the lovely writing truly transported me into the world of Southern charm and a young woman’s thoughts about being a spinster at age 35.

Sara Longworth has spent the first five years of her thirties taking care of her family and their home in Beaufort, North Carolina.   Her frail mother has passed on first, then her brother in Afghanistan, and so she cares for her aging father and the family home until he dies.  She has opened a shop with her lifelong best friend Hannah who is a potter, to share her lovely jewelry which she designs.  The shop shares work of many of the artists in the area and the tourist visitors are quite taken with their lovely art. Sara, also known as Tadie, has a lifelong love of sailing, her own boat and she is very independent and thoughtful.  Only now, she is returning to the world after so much loss in such a short period of time and wishing she had a partner, maybe a child, and growing a bigger extended family.  She is confident and likes herself, and she is doing a lot of evaluating how her life turned out and why she is not feeling so attractive.

Will and his seven year old daughter Jilly are living on their sailboat and traveling the oceans after the death of their wife and mother, who was killed by a drunk driver.  Now the engine has been malfunctioning, they must change plans, and find a port in which they can get repairs made.  Will is doing work for an Engineering firm in Atlanta and Beaufort, North Carolina is as far as the cruiser will take them without a good fix.

The story has all the great problems to solve and twists which make for a new experience.  BECALMED is written by someone who knows sailing, boats, tourists and Southern traditions.  The writing is almost elegantly sporting and her antagonistic character is certainly right on the mark of so many possessive southern men as the ones I encountered during my 3 years venture to that stunningly beautiful state.  As I said earlier in this review, I was transported and was away from the snowy cold.  I have certainly met a number of thirty five year old women who are hearing their biological clocks after their efforts on wonderful careers that filled their desires to be in the world.   I think many are very happy with their choices and the things that they have accomplished; how wonderful to have a best friend and a developed extended family.  For some women, the urges for a special someone are stronger; maybe just the parenting urges.  The story has a realism which has been wrapped in the flowing of the Southern culture, and yet includes the contemporary dilemmas of a modern young woman.  BECALMED is just a lovely read.

Normandie Fisher has at least 8 writing awards listed on the cover of the book, and the book is well-written.

Normandie Fisher on Facebook
Normandie Fisher’s Amazon page  (only 99 cents for Valentine’s Day – free if you have Prime and a Kindle)

tlc logoThis lovely read was sent to me for review by TCL Online Book Tours, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and it is signed by the author.  It was a good read for the beach or a snowy day – BECALMED

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.

Recommended Reading:  (lots more good reads under the RR tab)
The Hourglass
The Best of Daughters 
The Light Between Oceans 
Our Love Could Light The World