Sunday Book Review: Amazon Wisdom Keeper by Lorraine Y. Van Tuyl

 

Author: Lorraine Y Van Tuyl

Publisher: She Writes Press

Release Date:  October 24, 2017

Genre: Memoir, Psychology, Spirituality

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but I’m glad I took the chance to read and review it.  The spiritual memoir isn’t my usual fare, at least not recently. I read many spiritual awakening memoirs in the 90s, so at least I had those to compare. 

I enjoyed very much reading about the author’s childhood on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, in Suriname.  The family had to move, and once she was separated from her beloved home, it feels as if she was always trying to get back to what she had lost.

I don’t truly feel the author had anything new to say, though her experience is unique and a compelling story. I loved the part of her trying to develop a multicultural dynamic to aid her thoroughly western education in psychology and psychotherapy; her dedication, despite a growing sense of isolation, is impressive. 

I think the big lesson for me was a reminder, as a creative person, of the need to not only trust intuition and deeper feelings, but to continue to develop them until we can rely on them, until they’re second nature, to trust that the intuitions and dreams aren’t just a symptom or sign of a delusional psychosis.  As a psychologist, though, the author had to struggle with the fear of hurting someone inadvertently, as illustrated by her interactions with Paloma.

There are gems of insight in the author’s prose, though I don’t think she meant this memoir as a “teaching” guide or system of belief, as she studied many of them in her quest to integrate native wisdom with psychology.  I highly recommend this if you like spiritual memoirs.

 

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Hot Topic: Got Manuscript? Pitch Wars is Nigh!

Update:  The new website for Pitch Wars is pitchwars.org but they seem to be having a little trouble with the new site. Check out #pitchwars for more info 😀

I’m not ready for this year’s Pitch War, but it’s given me a goal for next year…I went to Brenda Drake’s site with the intention of cutting and pasting the info here for you all, but the site is undergoing a bit of maintenance at the moment.  Here’s a link to a Writer’s Digest post about why you should find out more if you are looking for an agent/editorial feedback on your finished manuscript, query letters and synopses…I’ll check back later and update the post…

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/6-reasons-why-every-writer-should-enter-pitch-wars-next-year

WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink #6

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I got this one from Net Galley and holy smokes, it’s so good! I can’t wait to find out what she does with the story, and the prose rocks.

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I’m still working on this–there’s a lot of information about the connections to the murder victim, and I feel hampered by the page size of my Kindle. Is that weird? I think I’ll find a paperback copy and keep reading that one.  So it won’t show up here again until I actually finish it.

I’m still working on this one, too:

From Net Galley, a nonfiction book about the Amazon.  I read a bunch of books related to some research for a novel about the history of South America and the Amazon–gruesome and gorgeous reading, so when I saw this, I picked it up to continue my queries, as the novel hit a snag and sits in a drawer at this moment. My research made me curious for more.

What did you recently finish reading?

The only book I’ve finished is A Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton, and the review is here: https://coffeeandink.blog/2017/07/23/sunday-book-review-a-sea-of-straw-by-julia-sutton/

What do you think you’ll read next?

So many started and yet to finish.  The trouble with summer is that work in the garden must be done, the job is always busiest in the summer, and we came under malware attack a few weeks ago, which put us behind even further, so much of my extra time is spent there.  Not to mention the time I need to write slipping further and further away (Saturday afternoon on the porch with a beer and letting the words flow–glorious!).  So I’m going to make a pledge to finish what I started and add more reviews to this blog next week. I’m waiting for edits on a novel and that’s going to keep me out of the loop until those get done.

Maybe making yet another list will keep me focused 😉

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review: A Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Title:  Sea of Straw

Author: Julia Sutton

Publisher: Cheyne Walk

Release Date:  2016

Genre: Literary, Historical, Romance

Setting: Portugal, UK

 Julia Sutton’s debut novel is a gem. The author, also an artist, paints a word portrait with gorgeous yet earthy language, evoking a time and place long past, but still within reach.

 While on holiday in Portugal, a chance encounter with a stranger leads the unhappily married Jody into an affair with the enigmatic painter Ze.  The first half of the novel is Jody’s point of view.  The lovers are recently parted as the story opens, yet Jody had hoped for one last glimpse of Ze before she leaves. She knows he’s afraid, but she’s not sure what of except in the shadow of the civil war with Spain, the secret police are watching everyone.

She returns home to a life that is too tight, too constricted to contain her now.  Her unpleasant husband and their families and friends are watching her carefully, too, a smaller reflection of Ze’s life. She struggles to re-acclimate herself to dark, cold Lancashire after long sun-drenched days with Ze.

Jody’s narrative moves forward in time from the start, broken up by her memories of Ze, his friends and family, and his love of culture and of her.  The stifling morality of the time, before women’s lib got to Lancashire, reveals itself in the behavior of her family ands some of her friends. Jody re-examines her life and what the future will be like if she doesn’t get back to her real life with Ze.

The second half of the novel is Ze’s narrative.  Both lovers conspire to return to the other on the opposite side of the Atlantic, a nearly impossible feat. While Jody is trapped by society’s idea of whom she should be, Ze begins the harrowing and dangerous process of freeing himself to be with her.

 A Sea of Straw is a literary love story filled with adventure in the shadow of fascist Europe.  Unexpected twists and turns keep me turning the pages, as did the author’s portraits of Portugal and Lisbon. I highly recommend this novel.

On a personal note, I love Lisbon and have ambled about the Alfama and wandered through the castle on the hill while a musician played John Dowland on his lute.

 

WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink #5

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

From Net Galley, a nonfiction book about the Amazon.  I read a bunch of books related to some research for a novel about the history of South America and the Amazon–gruesome and gorgeous reading, so when I saw this, I picked it up to continue my queries, as the novel hit a snag and sits in a drawer at this moment. My research made me curious for more.

I’m really hoping it’s more like Wade Davis and less like Lynn V. Andrews…update:  Nothing at all like Lynn V Andrews (Medicine Woman, et al), thank goodness, and a fascinating memoir so far…not like Wade Davis, either, though I love Wade Davis’s work.

 

The next in the Regency Mystery series by Tracy Grant…update: just got back to this…

What did you recently finish reading?

From the UK publisher Cheyne Walk, which published “The Way Back to Florence.” Review to come on this. I loved this book!

From Amazon: Set in the 1960s, the story of Jody, her little daughter Anna, and Zé, veers between an unhappy marriage in the North of England and a journey to find love amid the vivid landscapes of Portugal, while exposing the darkest shadows of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw is a haunting debut that will linger in the memory.

From Net Galley, and it’s release isn’t until October 3, so watch this space for a release day review.  I love KJ Charles’ gay historical romances–she is the queen of the genre, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve read every story she’s written (Except for Last Stop Tokyo, which I really must get to!) This series, Sins of the City, revolves around an inheritance, secret births, and more than one murder.  The first novel is An Unseen Attraction and the second An Unnatural Vice.

What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’ve got to finish the Tracy Grant in order to move on in the series.  I’ve got a list longer than I-don’t-know-what to check out.  From Net Galley, I’ve got this to look forward to:

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Sunday Book Review–or not….

How can I not have finished a single book this week? I’m halfway through…everything. Maybe I’m overtired and a little overwrought about work issues and my brain just won’t settle. I’m enjoying everything, especially Julia Sutton’s Sea of Straw. I think I’ll finish that one first, anyway, so look for the review next Sunday 😀

 

 

Book Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

Title:  The Address

Author: Fiona Davis

Publisher: Dutton

Release Date: 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: The Dakota, NYC, 1880s and 1980s 

Her debut novel is The Dollhouse.

 The concept of this novel is fantastic. The famous NYC Dakota luxury apartment building in two different eras—1880s and 1980s.  The story revolves around a mystery woman, Sara, who in the past had worked her way up to head housekeeper at an upscale London Hotel. When the opportunity to emigrate to America emerges, she takes it though not without some trepidation.  

In the present, Bailey has just got out of rehab and is also looking for a second chance.  She’s renovating an apartment in the Dakota for an extravagant cousin with bad taste, and thus she’s able to investigate some old trunks left in the basement. In these, she meets a woman from the previous century who was imprisoned in the madhouse for the murder of her lover.

What I liked about the story is the similarities and contrasts between these two women as the narrative plays out.  Bailey meets Sara between the pages and in pictures from the trunk and all these things not only make her curious, but affect her own future at the Dakota. The alternating histories work really well here, as both women dig deeper to the truth about themselves.