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THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN: A Novel ~Sarah McCoy

Monday, May 11th, 2015

“Engaging and emotionally charged…Eden’s realization that ‘what fable and history could agree upon was that everyone was searching for their ever-after, what ever that may be’ neatly sums up the novel’s heart – it’s about the family and the life we create, not always the ones we imagine for ourselves.”  (Kirkus reviews)

THE MAPEMAKER’S CHILDREN is a wonderful, gentle read and I enjoyed it cover to cover.  I thought it very clever to use the life of an historic figure within her context, along side a contemporary character who has some of the same life questions to contend with and lives in the same locale as the historic focus.    Sarah Brown the daughter of abolitionist John Brown (Harper’s Ferry) is the historic character of the story.  She is tracked through the family history and a series of letters written to a prominent family, which sheltered the Brown’s during the trial and execution.  An eleven- year -old Sarah witnessed the death of nearly all of the males in her family during this time period and turned it into her strength and future.  With her ability to paint and draw she created Underground Rail Road maps on cloth and other media for those who could not read to be enabled in their journey northward and success – freedom.

Because of severe Dysentery as a child Sarah was not able to conceive a children and yet it is her children who are part of the title of the story.

Eden is our contemporary character and she and her husband have just moved into New Charleston, West Virginia into an historic home with an interesting doll’s head discovered in the root cellar of the old kitchen.  Eden is weaning off of fertility drugs and is in a hostile rather belligerent frame of mind.  She is the kind of uber selfish “ME” girl of the “me” generation and made me glad when her early chapters moved back to Sarah’s story which I found delightful and very interesting.    By the 4th chapter of Eden’s story, I skimmed until the thought crossed my mind that most of my readers would not be offended by her selfish banter and blaming rhetoric.   Maybe they would even think like my kiddo’s friends who were always telling each other  – “If you do that to me – I’m going to kill you”. People just say those things. I certainly find the blaming behavior everywhere.   I liked Eden at the end of the novel as she did learn some kindness once she started earning some money with her new work and her definition of family expanded.

I believe Sarah McCoy could win the most gracious, Southern Ladies Thank You Note Contest. The novel has that sweet sheen of honey drip known in the south as just good ol’ fashioned manners of speaking clearly and smoothing it all over.  It just felt perfect to curl up in the spring sunshine on my deck and explore this historic story.  I liked this gracious story and particularly learning more about Sarah Brown in our contemporary times of racial unrest.   I was happy the book contained several of her drawing and paintings and her own writing conveyed the story of the times personally.    What a lovely way to learn history and about one’s own values and views.
TLC Book Tours   sent me a hardcopy of this delightful book for review – The MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN.

“Rich, closely observed storytelling full of warmth and heart.”  Charles Frazier, National Book Award winning author of Cold Mountain.

About Sarah McCoy:

“SARAH McCOY is the  New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.” ( from TLC page)

Related:
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter 
Hannah Coulter
A Snug Life Somewhere
Songs of Willow Frost 

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire ~ Gabriel Constans

Monday, December 15th, 2014

How do you handle Satire?   This is a very tongue in cheek lesson reference the arrival of Buddhism to China and one needs a keen wit and a good twinkle in the eye for these lessons, koans, and questions!  What a Zen Master to discover!

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA is Amazon Editor’s pick for Book of the Month and if you like satire you will not be disappointed by making this choice.

What the editors said on Amazon’s site:

“This fictional short-story collection challenges perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food, Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

“Enlightenment or laughs? With Gabriel Constans’ book you don’t have to choose. Zen masters usually have a sense of humor, or need one. Gabriel’s got it, and he gives us a world of illusions to laugh about.” Bob Fenster, author of Duh: The Stupid History of the Human Race “

Truly I am having difficulty writing this review, because I start to say something and then dive back into a story and get lost in laughing or crying over a concept explanation or questionable answer.  My Kindle says the book is about 2 hours of reading, but I dare you to read it cover to cover.   Why I just had to deal with my health insurance company and ended the call by picking up this book and learning about Wandering and Meditation by relentless napping.  I just think you should get this book and then do not drink anything while reading the chapters randomly.

Gabriel Constans biography on Amazon:

“Gabriel’s latest works of fiction are THE LAST CONCEPTION and ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: THE ILLUSTRIOUS AND DELUSIONAL ABBESS OF SATIRE. Previous fiction includes BUDDHA’S WIFE, SAINT CATHERINE’S BABY, THE SKIN OF LIONS, and JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY.

He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and journals throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; has 13 books published in the U.S. and continues to discover great stories, provide editing and consultation services and write fiction and non-fiction. His latest work of non-fiction is DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING: GRIEF’S WAKE UP CALL.

Dr. Constans has worked as a trauma counselor in a variety of situations and environments, most notably with local and international non-profit organizations such as hospice, the coroner’s office, hospitals, state prisons, the ROP Center for Street Children and the Ihangane Project (both in Rwanda).

His classes and books on grief, loss, hope and transformation, can be found at The Figley Institute and Quantum Continuing Education Online.

Gabriel’s favorite writers include Deena Metzger, Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Dave Eggers, Ann Petry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingslover, Joan Tewkesbury and James Bladwin.

Oh yes!  Constans sent me a copy of his book for review – Lucky me!

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed this book, I will return to re-read this book often, I so enjoy this kind of humor and I know you know someone who needs a great laugh and twinkly insight.

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The Last Conception
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The Garden Plot
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