THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by Claire Cameron – The best prehistoric fiction book since “Clan of the Cave Bear”

Title: THE LAST NEANDERTHAL

Author: CLAIRE CAMERON    

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES     

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 

Type of Book: AUTOGRAPHED HARDCOVER

Book Jacket Designer: GREGG KULICK

Purchased From: BOOK LORE – An Independent Book Store located in Orangeville, Ontario
Release Date: APRIL 2017   

ISBN: 978-0-385-68678-5    

Price: $29.95 CDN (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

MY REVIEW:

When was the last time you pondered the similarities between Neanderthals and modern man? If you’re scratching your head because you can’t remember, you are not alone. Before reading THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by CLAIRE CAMERON, I hadn’t thought about Neanderthals since reading CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel many, many years ago.

In this book, Archaeologist Rosamund (Rosa) Gale makes an astounding discovery that just might change everything we thought we knew about Neanderthals.

The book flips back and forth between Rosa’s story and that of a Neanderthal simply called, “Girl.”

Most people view Neanderthals as little more than savage beasts who just happen to look like us. However, if that were true, why do so many people contain traces of Neanderthal DNA.

I enjoyed reading Girl’s story and there are many parallels between her story and that of Rosa Gale.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ I believe this book will get people talking and that is always a good thing.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Their lives together had slipped away as the ice breaks from the river in the Spring. It does not melt off in a slow thaw. Instead, a series of deep cracks destabilizes the structure. When it goes, large chunks get pulled away all at once. And in the span of a day, before disbelieving eyes, the ice is gone. But underneath the river is the same…”

ABOUT THE BOOK JACKET DESIGNER:

GREGG KULICK is a graphic designer and art director at HarperCollins in New York City. He lives in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.  

To see more book covers designed by him visit his official website HERE.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by David Kerr

(COPIED FROM THE AUTHOR’S WEBSITE)

When I was young I read The Clan of the Cave Bear and watched โ€œQuest for Fire,โ€ but Neanderthals felt as distant as dinosaurs. In school I was taught Neanderthals were an evolutionary step between the apes and usโ€”hairy, primitive knuckle-draggers.

In 2010, a team sequenced a first draft of the Neanderthal genome and made an extraordinary discovery. Modern humans of European and Asian descent have inherited between 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals. Most scientists agree this is evidence of interbreeding between the two groups. Rather than a more evolved version of Neanderthals, we are close cousins.

But we think of ourselves as the ones who drove the Neanderthals to extinction, rather than having sex with them. So how did modern humans and Neanderthals make contact? We canโ€™t know the answer, but a novelist should take on the risk involved in imagining one.

I worked with experts and used the new science of Neanderthals like a set of rules, or creative constraints, to build the story. My experience living and working in the outdoors gave me some insight into how surviving in the wild might have felt more than 40,000 years ago.

My novel is about Neanderthals, but itโ€™s also a story that questions what it means to be human.

To learn more about this talented Canadian author who currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

GOODREADS     

TWITTER     

FACEBOOK     

INSTAGRAM        

AMAZON       

CHAPTERS     

Read The New York Times Book Review HERE.

HASHTAGS:

@penguinrandom @PenguinBooks @PenguinCanada @randomhouse @RandomHouseCA โ €
@doubledaybooks @littlebrown

 #clairecameron #bookface #instabook #bookstagram #indiebookstore #readlocal #toronto #torontoauthors #canlit #thelastneanderthal #canadianauthor #readandreview #newbook #newrelease #mustread #book #bookblogger #tbr #tbrlist #bookstagrammer #fiction #bookreview #bookreviewer #booklorebookstore #CanadianPride #Canadian #instagramhub #instalike #thefinchbook #neanderthal #historicalfiction #Amiesbookreviews #Amiesbookreview #history
#archaeology #canadianauthors #randomhouse #readandreview #newbook #newrelease #mustread #bookblogger #bookreviewer #bookblog 

UPCOMING EVENT – On Saturday, May 28th attend the Elora Writerโ€™s Festival

Photo by Peter Veraldi

Elora Writerโ€™s Festival (since 1994)

2017 Line-up: 

The Elora Writerโ€™s Festival has already found five great authors – and all of them jumped at the chance to join the annual celebration of great Canadian writing on Sunday, May 28 at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives. 

Lots more details to come, but hereโ€™s a quick look at the Festival 2017 line-up:

Adrienne Kress has a slew of juvenile and YA Fantasy/Steampunk titles out there and, to top it off, sheโ€™s an actress too. Her Steampunk adventure The Friday Society, was released to a starred review from Quill and Quire and optioned for film. Read more about Adrienne here:

http://www.adriennekress.com/author/


Rio Youers is back โ€“ yes! That Rio! A writer right in our neighbourhood, whose new book, The Forgotten Girl, will appear shortly after our festival. Expect a preview! And if you want to see more of Rioโ€™s impressive list of publications, check out his website, here:

http://rioyouers.com/


Poetry makes a return to our line-up, with Windsorโ€™s Mary Ann Mulhern. Her first collection, The Red Dress, was inspired by her life in the convent, and now, no longer a nun, she tackles some of lifeโ€™s difficult questions in her writing. Hereโ€™s a short video that offers insight into Mary Ann and her poetry:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lduBVQHsCAk&feature=youtu.be


Brad Smith returns to Elora with more of his country-noir good-guys-vs-bad-guys thrillers. The first in the Carl Burns series, Rough Justice, hit the stands last February, and the next installment will arrive in February 2017, just in time for us to get reading and ready for his second appearance at our Festival. (And some of you may remember him from our first Books & Beer too, photo above, with Q&A guru, Dave Beynonโ€ฆ )  Read about Bradโ€™s background here: 

http://www.bradsmithbooks.com/biography.php


And to complete the list, Andrew Westoll โ€“ another returnee, because he wowed us in 2013 (see photo, above. That’s Andrew, far left) โ€“ brings his first novel to share. Remember Andrew? Heโ€™s the author of the award-winningThe Riverbones, as well as the memoir The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Now heโ€™s turned to fiction with The Jungle South of the Mountain. Yes, there will be primates. Canโ€™t wait!

Read more about Andrew, here:

http://andrewwestoll.com/bio/

There you have it โ€“ the line-up of authors for the Elora Writer’s Festival 2017. Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 28th. 


Photo by Peter Veraldi


Everything you need to know about tickets to Festival 2017   

The 2017 Elora Writers’ Festival is just around the corner and tickets ($25) are now available. Here’s everything you need to know to be part of the action on Sunday, May 28, 1-4 p.m:

Pay a visit to Roxanne – or give her a call:

Visit Roxanne’s Reflections Book & Card Shop, 152 St. Andrew St. West in Fergus to purchase your tickets. Or call Roxanne at 519-843-4391 to reserve your tickets, which can be picked up at the store or will be waiting for you at the front door of Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives on the day of the festival, whatever works for you.

Order Online from our partners at The Fergus Grand Theatre:

Easy, easy, easy. Follow this link to the ticket-ordering page:

Fergus Grand Theatre – 2017 Elora Writers’ Festival

Show up at the door of Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives on Sunday, May 28 at about 12:45 p.m.:

Walk up to our ticket table, pull out $25, take your ticket and walk right in!

Your ticket entitles you to an afternoon of readings and a crowd-pleasing Q&A with this year’s authors, Rio Youers, Andrew Westoll, Adrienne Kress, Brad Smith and Mary Ann Mulhern.

Oh yes, and there’s one beer (thanks to our sponsors, Wellington Brewery) and nibbles (supplied by local Fergus eatery, The Fountainhead), and books to buy at our mini-bookstore, authors to chat with and a room full of like-minded book-lovers to meet.

All you need is a ticket, it’s that’s easy!

I will definitely be attending. I hope that if any of you reading this are planning to go to the Festival, we can introduce ourselves to each other.

Hope to see you there!!! 

Photo by Peter Veraldi

Photo by David Wilcox

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS FESTIVAL CLICK HERE


IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE by Leah Weiss is a beautifully written novel set in the Appalachian Mountains – A MUST READ – PRE-ORDER NOW!!!


Title: IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE
Author: LEAH WEISS

Genre: FICTION

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS LANDMARK

Release Date: AUGUST 8, 2017

ISBN: 9781492647454

Price: $15.99 USD

Type of Book: ARC from Netgalley 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

This is the debut novel written by LEAH WEISS.

Set in the 1970s high in the Appalachian Mountain range sits a small, secluded community struggling to survive and to live their lives as they see fit.

The inhabitant’s lives are not very different from the lives of their ancestors. Down the mountain, people are embracing new technologies and just about everyone has a car, indoor plumbing and telephones are installed in every home. Not so on the mountain. Outhouses are still in use and the mountain folk have no desire for the intrusion that improvements might bring.

In fact, outsiders are treated with scorn and suspicion. Children are taught in a one-room schoolhouse that in theory sounds quaint and idyllic, but in reality is anything but.

Teachers arrive with the best of intentions, but soon run away with their tails tucked between their legs  when they discover the harsh reality of mountain life. Their leaving could also have something to do with the fact that the last teacher’s home mysteriously caught fire in the middle of the night and burned to the ground.

With character names such as Marris, Gladys, Sadie and Otis Blue, the author creates a sense of living in the past. There are too many characters and too many intertwined storylines to mention them here, but Leah Weiss has crafted a complex but believable and haunting tale that will tug at your heartstrings and make you shake your head in both exasperation and disbelief.

IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is as harsh and unapologetic as the immovable mountains. Leah Weiss has a gift for character building and the people who live on the mountain come alive on every page. Even the way the characters talk comes through as raw and authentic. For example, Sadie’s grandmother Gladys says, “From the start there’s been a film of dingy on my days. I’ve always done woman’s work; man’s work, too. Woke up with work to do, went to bed before it got done … I been chained to an iron life.”

My favourite line in the book was when Gladys says that her friend is as annoying and clingy as chickenshit on shoes.

I rate IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE as 5 out of 5 stars and predict that we will see this book at the top of the Bestseller lists as soon as it is released.  ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ


Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.


MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:


“Only got the clothes on her back and a backbone that won’t bend.”


“Ugly talk follows Roy like fleas on a mangy dog. He’s a spiteful, small-minded man who drinks hard and plays for keeps.”   


“Truth always hurts and it’s extra hard to look at late in life.”


“She’s got lessons to learn, and life’s one bugger of a teacher.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
(In her own words – copied from her website)

Leah Weiss’s roots are deep, simple and southern. 

They started where my mama Lucy was born on a tobacco farm in the flatlands of eastern North Carolina. She was one of fifteen siblings raised without electricity or indoor plumbing. My daddy, a Marine from Cherry Point, saw my mama a handful of times. Then he married her on her eighteenth birthday in 1944. They settled near her family where my sister and I were born in a farming town, where neighborhoods were divided by train tracks and held together by church and traditions.Just about everybody we knew was kin.

When I was ten, we left Carolina and moved to Virginia when my grandpop died. We moved in with Nana, and on the empty lot next door my parents built us a four-room home, sawing, hammering and painting. They were self-sufficient and hardworking people with humble dreams.

In my childhood days, I fell in love with Nancy Drew mystery books. Every spare moment was spent between the covers of those blue books solving crimes and thinking that could be me. If my name was Nancy. If I had a roadster. If I was five years older. I have nineteen of those early Nancy Drew books on my bookshelf. They hooked me on the pull of imagination.

But my world wasnโ€™t Nancy Drewโ€™s world. I took piano lessons that led to a scholarship that took me to Dunbarton College in Washington DC in the second half of the turbulent sixties. Our Nationโ€™s Capital was in chaos over Vietnam, racial strife and womenโ€™s equality. Marches and sit-ins were the norm in that time of unrest. A year after college, I married, had a son, taught music, and wrote articles for a magazine. Two decades later, I divorced then took the job of executive assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School that lasted my next twenty-four years.

In those years, I wrote memoirs and fiction whose rules werenโ€™t always clear. I attended writing conferences and workshops, haunted bookstores and studied my favorite authors. I cut my writing teeth on a novel that didnโ€™t sell and a string of short stories that did. Eventually, I found.my writing voice. No surprise, itโ€™s southern and musical and best when read aloud. It is always about people who are self-sufficient and hard working with humble dreams.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS    

FACEBOOK   

INSTAGRAM        

AMAZON     

CHAPTERS       

WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO by David Joy – A masterful tale of living in the backwoods and the chance of escape 5 Stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย 

Title: WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO

Author: DAVID JOY    
Genre: FICTION  

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: PUTNAM – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE   

Release Date: 2015 

ISBN: 978-0-425-27979-3  

Price:  $16.00 USD / $21.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

This story is set in the beautiful, and wild Cashiers Mountains in a remote corner of North Carolina.

Jacob McNeely is the son of the meth kingpin of the area. He is not like his father, but because his lastname is McNeely, most of the people in the area have him pegged as a no-good criminal.

All kinds of people inhabit the mountains and many of them can be considered ornery, but Jacob’s father is more than just ornery, he is downright mean. To add to his charm, he is violent, demeaning to women and completely terrifying when someone crosses him.

Jacob describes the area in which he lives by noting; “The Creek was a beautiful place, but it was lawless and always had been. The land was of little use for farming, so the folks who settled way back when were mostly drunkards and thieves. I was generations away from those earliest outlaws, but things like that have a way of staying in the blood.”

Jacob feels like he has no choices in the way his life will turn out. But, as sure as he is that he is stuck in The Creek forever, he is equally sure that his girlfriend is destined for bigger and better things.

You will have to read this novel to discover if one of them escapes or if they both do, or if, in the end, neither of them are destined to leave the clutches of their pasts.

The language that author David Joy uses in this book is beautifully written prose that somehow continuously has the ability to strike a chord with his readers.

It doesn’t matter what it is that author David Joy describes, he does it with such vividness that the reader is instantly able to form a picture in his or her mind. For example, when writing about the paint in the jail, he describes it as follows:

“The concrete was painted a warm kind of gray, something not so depressing as snow clouds but more of a gray like an old woman’s perm.”

If David Joy can make the description of the crappy, gray paint in a jail cell into something I actually quote in my review, than as far as I am concerned, he has some serious writing chops.

The characters come alive through David Joy’s skillful writing and even though the vast majority of those who read this book will have nothing in common with them, readers will find themselves hoping for a happy ending for the two lovers.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ and recommend it to those readers who enjoyed “Hillbilly Elegy” or who are fans of character driven fiction that seems so real that even after the final page, a small part of you will wonder if these are actually true events rather than fiction.

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut,Where All Light Tends To Go, was hailed as โ€œa savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literatureโ€ (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina for his second novel, a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

The Weight Of This World is set for release on March 7, 2017 from Putnam Books and I am very much looking forward to reading it.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novelsThe Weight Of This World(Putnam, 2017) and The Line That Held Us(Putnam, TBD). He is also the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award.
His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, with film rights by Dana Spector at Paradigm.

Joy is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, and has been nominated for awards such as the Pushcart Prize. His latest short stories and essays have appeared in The Good Men Project, Still: The Journal, and The Pisgah Review.

Joy lives in Webster, North Carolina. For a full curriculum vitae click here

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS    

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK    

INSTAGRAM    

AMAZON    

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE   
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An Amazing Book Coming Soon – THE LAURAS by Sara Taylor 5 out of 5 Stars just is not enough – LOVED THIS BOOKย 

Title:  THE LAURAS   

Author: SARA TAYLOR

Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ

Publisher: CROWN PUBLISHING, HOGARTH  

Release Date:  AUGUST 1, 2017  

EDITION: HARDCOVER

ISBN: 9780451496850

Price: $26.00 (USD)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ    

Wow! I have just finished reading the final page of THE LAURAS and I can already tell you that this book is going to be on my list of the BEST BOOKS OF 2017.

Although this book will not be officially released until August, I urge everyone that reads this review to put the date on your calendar and not to miss out.

This is one of those extremely rare books that is worth standing in line for  – at midnight, on the eve of its release. Yes, IT IS THAT GOOD.

THE LAURAS is a tale that will take readers on a journey of dual-discovery. It is a tale of a mother and child who set out on a cross country trip during which the mother makes multiple interesting side-trips.

These trips could last a day, a month, or even several months. They could be boring (in Alex’s opinion), they could be strange, and sometimes they were even downright terrifying.

Alex is a child (less due to her age, and more due to her limited life experience) when this story begins, but as the cross-country Odyssey continues Alex grows into a young adult. Thanks to the fact that Alex is the narrator, readers are brought along on Alex’s unique journey into the perils and delights of becoming the person who was always meant to be. And, trust me – this is a coming of age story unlike any other.

I wish there was a way to give more than 5 out of 5 stars, because this book is a masterpiece of fiction and I have no doubt that it will win many awards and will end up on Bestseller Lists everywhere. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ 

THE CHARACTERS:

How do I describe Alex’s mother? It’s a dilemma, but perhaps I will let Alex  describe her since that expanation will be so much better than mine.

“Ma’s mood had perked up; I could see the happy on her face and the weight was rolling off her shoulders like stones … and it looked like she might start singing at any moment. If she’d been the kind of person that sang. Really, she’d be more likely to start spontaneously handing around shots of tequila as an expression of happiness, but singing sounds better.”

Some people might think that having a Mom like that would be fun – and maybe it would be; for a little while, anyway. But, a parent is meant to take care of their child, not act like a child herself.

Alex is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. When the reader learns more and more about Alex’s life and personality, it is impossible not to root for this interesting and inscrutable character. Readers will find themselves second guessing what they think they know about Alex and this mystery remains until the very end of the book.

MORE

This would be a terrific book to feature in a Book Club setting since there is just so much in it that readers will want to talk about.

I also think that this book just might have some people questioning their own stances on many issues. I would love to say more here, but I refuse to ruin this story for anyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE:
“But I didn’t have the child’s blind trust in the omnipotence of parents anymore: I had eaten the apple, knew that Ma was no different from me, that she probably didn’t know what to do right now anymore than I would, that her only advantage was a rapidly narrowing gulf of experience.”

IN CONCLUSION:

ADD THIS BOOK TO YOUR TBR (TO BE READ) LIST AND MARK AUGUST 1st, 2017 ON YOUR CALENDAR. You will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

SARA TAYLOR is a product of Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains as a PhD candidate at the UEA where she researches censorship, writes fiction, and is occasionally entrusted with the teaching of undergraduates.

 She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husbandโ€™s house in Reading, and tends to get lost, rained on, and chased by cows with unsettling frequency.

Her short fiction has been published electronically and in print in The Fiddlehead, The Fog Horn, and Granta, among other places. Her novels are published by William Heinemann in the UK, Hogarth in the US, and Bond Street Books in Canada.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

BLOG 

GOODREADS     

CHAPTERS / INDIGO BOOKS    

AMAZON   


Read an interview with Sara Taylor HERE.


  

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a collection of eight novellas that focus on the darkness within us all & the ability for redemption.

Title: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD: Eight Novellas


Translated from the French by: ALISON ANDERSON   

Author: ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER  

Genre: NOVELLAS, SHORT STORIES

Length: 181 PAGES   

Publisher: EUROPA EDITIONS   

Release Date: 2009

ISBN: 978-1-9933372-74-7 

Price: $15.00 USD / $18.00 CAN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ


MY REVIEW:


STORY # 1 – WINNIPEG WANDA

“Wanda had already figured out that she would make it on her own … Wanda concluded that it was through men that she would make her way in life.”

Seemingly cold and calculated, Wanda Winnipeg is a thrice-divorced multimillionaire. She both demands and commands attention and respect wherever she goes. Disdain is her go-to emotion.


STORY # 2 – FINE RAINY DAY

“Hฤ—lรจne could not remember having ever experienced a perfect moment.”

No one and nothing was ever good enough for her. That is, until she met Antoine, whose love for her  changes everything. Or does it?


STORY 3 – THE INTRUDER  

Odile Versini is sure that she has just seen a woman in her apartment and not only that, but that the intruder stared right at her. Odile calls the police and stays on the phone until they arrive. However, by the time they get there the woman has somehow slipped out of the apartment.

This happens several times and Odile cannot fathom what this woman wants, why she keeps returning and exactly how she is able to get away each time. But she is determined to put a stop to it once and for all.

 STORY #4 – THE FORGERY

This story, although it might not seem so at first, is all about perceptions.

 

STORY # 5 – EVERY REASON TO BE HAPPY


Just because all your friends and acquaintances say that you every reason to be happy, does not guarantee that you are.


STORY # 6 – THE BAREFOOT PRINCESS

Appearances can be deceiving.


STORY # 7 – ODETTE TOULEMOND

Perhaps happiness and fulfillment can come from unexpected places.


STORY # 8 – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD

This story is the best one out of the eight and is set in a Russian gulag housing female political dissidents in the 1950s.


OVERALL

This collection of novellas is full of stories that prove that author Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a supremely talented writer who is able to connect with readers all over the world. He has his finger firmly placed on the pulse of the human condition which enables his stories to mean different things to different people.

I have read many short story anthologies but this one is the most unique. I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

The novellas were originally written in French and have been translated into English by the gifted translator Alison Anderson. She has used her impressive talents to allow the reader to still experience the richness of a foreign culture while being able to stay true to the author’s vision.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book. In fact, it would make a unique Christmas gift for the book lover in your life. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT –  playwright, novelist, and author of short stories, was awarded the French Academyโ€™s Grand Prix du Thรฉรขtre in 2001.

He is one of Europeโ€™s most popular authors. His many novels and story collections include The Most Beautiful Book in the World (Europa Editions 2009) and The Woman with the Bouquet (Europa Editions 2010). 


Visit the author’s official web site

    


ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:

ALISON ANDERSON  is the author of the forthcoming novel The Summer Guest.

She spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator.

Her translations include The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clรฉzio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship.

She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Visit her official website HERE.  

THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers is one of the best historical fiction books that I have ever read. Coming in January – MARK YOUR CALENDARS or PPRE-ORDER NOW.

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Title: THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY    

Author: SUSAN RIVERS  

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: ALGONQUIN BOOKS  

Release Date: JANUARY 10, 2017

ISBN: 9781616205812

Price: $25.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ   

I love that this book is unique in that the story is told entirely through letters, diary entries and court documents. It lends an intimacy and  believability to the story that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.

This is an actual photo of a civil war letter.

The story is set in South Carolina during and after the American Civil War.

Photo obtained from http://www.civilwar.org

Through letters we learn of how unique a period of history those years were. Marriages were made within days of meeting and men went off to war leaving their young, inexperienced brides at home to tend to properties and farms of which they knew next to nothing as was the case of Major Hockaday and his young bride; Placidia. 

But, those trials were nothing when compared to something that the men who went off to war had barely considered; the vulnerability their wives and children to theives, army deserters and rogues of all kinds.

The choice of crafting an entire novel mostly through letters lends itself to revealing the authentic voices of the charcters in the book. In fact, I found myself so immersed in the story that I felt I had been transported back in time to this dark period in America’s history.

This compelling narrative details a time when slavery was slowly (ever so slowly) disappearing as it became apparent that the South were destined to lose the war and to a time when men felt that it was their patriotic duty to fight for their beliefs. It also follows the gradual change in the belief system of the main character – Placidia and how, over time through the  education of life unsheltered by her father’s influence and money, her beliefs begin to change.

The story also does a credible job of describing the lives of slaves during that time. Readers cannot help but be drawn in to their plight even while understanding the need of their white owners to have them available as labourers in order for their farms to survive.

Photo obtained from Pinterest “Lest We Forget Slavery Museum”


THE SECOND MRS HOCKADAY
is at heart the story of a couple and their desire to create a life together despite the multitude of hardships they each endure. It is a story of resilience and hope despite the fact that their futures often seemed to be in doubt. In fact, I found the book haunting in it’s intensity and I was literally unable to put it down.

This book is exceptionally well researched and was inspired by a true story. Author Susan Rivers deserves every literary accolade that is sure to be coming her way.

I feel both humbled and blessed that the publisher (Algonquin Books) through Netgalley chose me to be an advance reader of this story and I will not be surprised when this book hits the Bestseller lists upon it’s official release. I also believe that this book will receive an abundance of literary awards upon publication.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who loves not only terrific historical fiction, but a truly great read. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Photo by Tasha Thomas

SUSAN RIVERS says “Language is my life.”

Susan began as a playwright, receiving the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the New York Drama League Award, working as an NEA Writer-in-Residence in San Francisco, and being named as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award for British and American Women Playwrights. She is a veteran of the Playwrights Festival at Sundance Institute for the Arts and the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and has crossed the country working on productions and workshops of her plays.

Fiction became Susan’s focus after starting her family and moving to the Carolinas in 1995.  She holds an MFA in Fiction-writing from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina and was awarded a Regional Artist Grant from the Arts and Sciences Council there.  Since 2009, she and her husband have made their home in a small town in South Carolina, where stray animals and stories are thick on the ground.  (None are turned away.)  

Susan teaches English at a university in the upstate region of South Carolina and values her daily interactions with bright young men and women.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

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Jeffrey Archer – SINS OF THE FATHER – Review of Book Two of the Bestselling Series THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES – A 5 Star Read ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย 

Title: THE SINS OF THE FATHER



Series: BOOK TWO OF THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES

Author: JEFFREY ARCHER       

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 339 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN – A division of MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS LTD

Release Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-03903-3

Price: $16.99 USD / $19.50 CAN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ  

First off I have to admit that I have not read book one in the Clifton Chronicles series. I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. Fortunately for me, it was not necessary to have read the first book to understand and to enjoy THE SINS OF THE FATHER. 

Historical fiction is exceptionally difficult to write, especially if it includes specific years when significant events have taken place as is the case with this book. However, Jeffrey Archer is a professional and he is able to convincingly write about the time period in question.

This series has been referred to as: “Archerโ€™s most ambitious work in four decades as an international bestselling author.” And it is easy to understand why.

The book begins in 1939 on the docks of New York City. Harry Clifton has decided to take on a new identity in order to cut all ties to his past. He chooses to call himself Tom Bradshaw (the name of a fellow shipmate who died at sea) but little did he know that he chose the wrong person to impersonate.

Upon arrival on the docks, he is immediately arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

 When Sefton Jelks, a famous (and usually expensive) lawyer, offers his services for free, Harry has little choice but to accept his advice since he has no money. After Harry is tried, found guilty and sentenced, Jelks disappears, and the only way for Harry to prove his innocence would be to reveal his true identity which  he has sworn not to do. He knows that in order to set free the woman he loves, he must let everyone back in England believe that he died at sea. 

Harry begins serving out his prison sentence unaware that Emma (the woman he loves more than anything else) has given birth to a son – his son.

Emma refuses to believe that Harry is dead and travels to New York to try to prove her theory.

This novel revolves around secrets – both personal and familial and gives reader a glimpse into the lives of those on both sides of the ocean both before and during World War II.

“The Sins of the Father bears all the characteristic twists of a classic Archer novel, and leaves readers wanting more.”

The author does an amazing job of explaining the backstory so that it did not matter that I had not read the first book. Jeffrey Archer has a gift for drawing readers into the story and making them care about what happens to them. This is especially true of the character Emma Barrington. It is impossible not to admire her dedication and fortitude during a time in history when women were often not taken seriously.

Because of the astonishing amount of detail and the obvious amount of research that must have gone into writing this book and the amazing character development, I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars.๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Watch a video in which Author Jeffrey Archer talks about THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES:

  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Y7nK1_6Tp00   


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

It has often been said that Jeffrey Archerโ€™s own story would make an international bestseller. He was born in London, brought up in Somerset, the son of a printer, and educated at Wellington School, and Brasenose College, Oxford.

After leaving Oxford he was elected to the Greater London Council, and three years later at the age of 29, he became Member of Parliament for Louth. After five years in the Commons and a promising political career ahead of him, he invested heavily in a Canadian company called Aquablast, on the advice of the Bank of Boston. The company went into liquidation, and three directors were later sent to jail for fraud. Left on the brink of bankruptcy, he resigned from the House of Commons.

Aged 34, determined to repay his creditors in full, he sat down to write his first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. Written at the home of his former Oxford Principal, it was taken up by the Literary Agent, Debbie Owen, and sold to 17 countries within a year. It was also made into a successful serial for BBC Radio 4, and was later televised in 1990 by the BBC.

Since then, Jeffrey Archer has produced over 25 published titles and sold over 270 million copies around the world, in 97 countries and more than 37 languages. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (eighteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

Jeffreyโ€™s latest project is a seven-book saga called the Clifton Chronicles. Book One, Only Time Will Tell, published in 2011, topped the charts around the world, spending 12 weeks at No.1 in India. Books two, The Sins of the Father published in March 2012, and three, Best Kept Secret published in March 2013, also went straight to No.1 in the UK, India, Australia and South Africa. The fourth book in the series, Be Careful What You Wish For, came out in hardback in March 2014, and spent twelve weeks in the top 10โ€”four of them at #1โ€”on the Sunday Times Best Seller list, and also went to #1 in Australia, India, and South Africa.

Jeffrey Archer was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from September 1985 until November 1986. In 1991, he was co-ordinator for the Campaign for Kurdish Relief, and he is also an amateur charity auctioneer. Jeffrey Archer was made a Life Peer in the Queenโ€™s Birthday Honours List of 1992.

Jeffrey has been married for 48 years to Dame Mary Archer DBE, who is Chairman of the Science Museum. They have two sons, William and James, and two grandsons, and divide their time between homes in London, Cambridge and Mallorca.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 


OFFICIAL US WEBSITE  

MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS AUTHOR PAGE         

TWITTER     

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FACEBOOK 

YOUTUBE 

LEAVING LUCY PEAR by Anna Solomon – UPCOMING NEW RELEASE Historical Fiction earns 5 Stars

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Title: LEAVING LUCY PEAR

Author: ANNA SOLOMON

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction

Length: 315 PAGES

Publisher: VIKING

ISBN: 978-1-594-63265-5

Price: $26.00 ($35.00 CAN)

Release Date: JULY 26, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ

* I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

NEW RELEASE

It’s 1917 and a young and unmarried Beatrice Haven has snuck out of the house with a bundle in her arms.

Within that bundle lies her squirming infant daughter. The daughter she was supposed to give up on the very day of her birth. The secretly beloved daughter that she cannot allow to be raised by the awful woman who runs the Jewish orphanage.

Instead, Beatrice has a plan.ย  It is risky and bold, but Beatrice (whom everyone calls ‘Bea’) wants her child to have a chance at happiness. So, she lays her baby girl under a pear tree and waits.

Her plan works. The baby is claimed by another woman and Bea is free to continue on her life’s path without the stigma and encumbrance of a child born out of wedlock.ย 

Ten years later a series of coincidences end with Bea reuniting with Emma Murphy, the Irish Catholic woman who took in her abandoned daughter all those years ago.

The characters in LEAVING LUCY PEAR are so vividly described that the reader could easily believe that she was watching a movie rather than reading a book.

Bea’s daughter’s name is Lucy. Lucy is quite the character. She’s headstrong, she contains a vast intellect that is well above that if her peers. And Lucy has plans of her own.

Taking place in the town of Cape Ann, Massachusetts in the early 1920s, readers are in for a treat. Author Anna Solomon has obviously vigorously researched the time period as well as the location’s geography. I am not a historian by any means, but the story and its setting seemed authentic and entirely plausible to me.

Readers are in for a fictional historic tale that will make them laugh, make them cry and in fact, at times, will have readers experiencing every emotion in between. LEAVING LUCY PEAR will stay with readers long after the book has been shelved. I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ

ย 

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“He had told her she could leave, her last night, to make it easier for her. He had never regretted that. Yet he missed her. He doubted he would live long enough to stop missing her.”

“…even after all these years, he cannot tell if she is actually unstable, or just very sad.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Photo: ยฉ Beowulf Sheehan

ANNA SOLOMON is the author of “The Little Bride” and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in many publications including “The New York Times Magazine,” “One Story,” “Ploughs hares,” “Slate,” and MORE.

She previously worked as a journalist for National Public Radio. She was born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.

A Fictional Tale of A Korean Immigrant to Canada

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Title: KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY

Author: Ann Y.K. Choi

Type of Book: Ebook

Genre: Fiction, Canadian Fiction

Length: 288 pages

Publisher: Touchstone by Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781476748054

Price: Canadian Hardcover $29.99

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Upon reflection, after reading this book I realized that one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much was due to the author’s talent for reaching inside her readers hearts and minds and being able to relate to them.

I also loved that this story was set in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I truly enjoy reading books that contain “real” settings, especially settings that I can easily visualize in my head. Being born and raised in a small town north of Toronto, I have often visited many of the locations mentioned in the book.

I will never again be able to visit a Variety Store without thinking about this book and wondering about the lives of the people working behind the counter.

Visiting Korea for the first time since emigrating to Canada as a small child, Mary was shocked at what she saw. “[She] looked out at the endless rows of high-rise apartment buildings set against a dreary November sky. It made [her] claustrophobic. Were there any houses left in Seoul? This was not the Korea [she] remembered.” Reading this brought to mind the changes I have seen in my own hometown. Author Ann Choi uses very few words and yet is still able to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the reader for their own childhoods. That nostalgia is universal. It crosses gender and even racial lines. No matter who you are or where you grew up, your childhood home will always have a special (and usually rose-coloured) place in your memory.

What struck me the most about Mary’s visit “home” to Korea was that it was no longer her home. She felt like an outsider and was more comfortable in her adopted homeland of Canada. I loved that fact. It proves that immigrants who move to Canada become full-fledged Canadians and not just long-term visitors.

What people who discriminate against immigrants seem to forget is that we are all the products of immigrationย  (except members of the Aboriginal groups). It may have been a few generations since our ancestors moved to Canada, but they all came to Canada with the same goal as modern-day immigrants – the goal of a better life.

I have often heard that writers are told to “Write about what you know.” It is evident to me that Ann Y.K. Choi has followed this advice. Although I am unable to prove it, I believe that she has taken settings and scenes from her own life and fictionalized them to fit within her story. If this is not the case, then I am even more impressed since reading the story truly made me feel as if these characters were actual people and not just two dimensional fictional characters.

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Collage by Michael Lyons

I enjoyed the story very much and I believe this book should be required reading for all adults. It is especially important reading material for anyone who seeks to understand the life of Canadian Korean immigrants.

The writing is fantastic. The characters are believable and realistic and the story is both interesting as well as absorbing. I rate KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY as 5 out of 5 stars. ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ

The Publisher has included a Reading Guide on their website which is a terrific companion guide to the book which can and will be perfect for those reading KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY as part of a Book Club.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada from Korea in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann has also graduated from the Humber School for Writers, the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Torontoโ€™s School of Continuing Studies, and is completing her MFA in Creative Writing from the National University in San Diego, California. In 2012, she received the Marina Nemat Award.

To learn more about Ann Y.K Choi visit her online.

Author Website

Publisher Website

Twitter

Goodreads

* Author Photo by John Burridge