Tag Archives: Womens Fiction

Review: Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman

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About Fading Starlight

A Tale of Unexpected Friendship and Old Hollywood Glamour

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging–a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingEnue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

My Review

I really liked Lauren, her personality, integrity, grace, most of all her unwavering faith. A darn good person wronged but carried on and made her dream come true, her faith playing a major role. When Lauren could have slipped she delved into her faith even more and strived to be better. Great messages throughout the narrative paired with fabulous Biblical references. Lauren led Charlotte to a path of trust, her walls eventually crumbling through a series of tests, each entering each other’s life for a reason. Hearing Charlotte’s story provided a deeper understanding of what made this woman tick. Lauren was a wonderful compliment to Charlotte showing her kindness without strings exists in this harsh, selfish world. Wonderful secondary characters, uplifting story in general as well as one woman leading a Christian life, embracing and sharing her gift from God.

About Kathryn Cushman647654

Author Kathryn “Katie” Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy.

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women’s Fiction.

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh.

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

Published May 3rd 2016 by Bethany House Publishers (first published May 2016)

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Review: Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Anne Tyler

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About Vinegar Girl

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?

My Review

Such an amusing loose retelling of Shakespeare. I enjoyed Kate along with Dr Battista with their quirkiness, social awkwardness and tactlessness completely entertaining.

Kate and Pyodr battle culture skirmishes. The language barrier alone will leave you laughing out loud several times. Once betrothed Kate’s status takes a turn professionally, her colleagues view her as an adult – blossoms from insignificant to significant, not the former immature silly girl lacking a verbal filter.

The entire eccentric cast creates quite an enjoyable retelling with more than your fill of clever humor. Tyler’s writing always appreciated and gratifying.

About Anne Tyler457

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner’s Goodbye is Anne Tyler’s nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Expected publication: June 21st 2016 by Hogarth (first published June 2nd 2016)

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Review: Connected Underneath by Linda Legters

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About Connected Underneath

Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else’s business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn’t love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn’t have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son. Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of disaster.

Connected Underneath is a lyrical, scalpel-keen dissection of the ties that bind and of those that dissolve.

My Review

An emotional read exploring the dangers of harboring secrets, adoption and single parenting of a teen, relationships.

Theo and Seph are on the verge of a major collision. Theo desperate to mend rents in the relationship with his daughter as he achingly tries to figure out how along with what’s eating her alive, clawing at maintaining the thin tether of connection. Parents will be able to relate to Theo’s dilemma and conundrum. His pain, confusion and love for Seph is evident, I thoroughly empathized with his struggle. Natalie and Celeste frustrated me to no end, selfish troublemakers period. I felt for Seph, confused, wounded, lost. Interesting perspectives from protagonists, truly reveling their inner thoughts and feelings, no doubt all the characters are seriously flawed with yearnings for more as they flounder.

A glimpse into small town life full of suspense, moments of tenderness, leaving the reader with lots to contemplate, plenty avenues open for deep discussion. Understatedly moving story.

About Linda LegtersLinda-Legters-AP

Linda Legters was born in the far western reaches of New York State. She earned her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and her MFA from Vermont College. She lived in Boston and New York before settling in Connecticut to raise her three sons. She currently teaches at Norwalk Community College and at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.

Her short stories are about people from across the social spectrum and have appeared in literary journals such as Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review. She is passionate about art and music in addition to literature, and is at work on her second novel.

Find out more about Linda at her website.

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Publisher: Lethe Press (April 4, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, May, Review

Review: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice (The Austen Project #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld

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About Eligible

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

My Review

Sittenfeld delivers an incredibly edgy modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Borrowing certain aspects from the original, we are quickly ushered into current times. A few similarities blended with new twists and thoughts deliver an unforgettable plot along with characters.

Chip and Darcy both add a new flavor and perspective in this contemporary interpretation. I found Mr Bennett absolutely hilarious with his hysterical one liners leaving me impressed with the many writing facets of Sittenfeld proving she is a well-rounded writer with a knack for smart witt. The Bennett sisters were a motley crew, with the exception of Jane and Liz I didn’t care for the others brash and hardness, totally unpolished and coarse.

As much as I enjoyed this clever retelling I found it almost too modern for my taste preferring more of a middle of the road sample relying on a preferred mix leaning towards a hefty chunk of old vs. contemporary without going over the top. I do hold Sittenfeld’s vision in high regard, the plot and characters are somewhat intricate.

No doubt most will find this an entertaining read mostly due to the author and her depth of creativity.

About Curtis Sittenfeld6429

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels Sisterland, American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair,Time, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

Published April 19th 2016 by Random House

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Review: The Summer of Me by Angela Benson

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About The Summer of Me

The national bestselling author of Delilah’s Daughters and The Amen Sisters returns with a moving story about a single mother who, in one unforgettable summer, discovers the woman she can become.

As a single mother, Destiny makes sacrifices for her children—including saying good-bye for the summer so they can spend time with their father and stepmother. Though she’ll miss them with all her heart, the time alone gives her an opportunity to address her own needs, like finishing her college degree. But Destiny’s friends think her summer should include some romance.

Destiny doesn’t want to be set up . . . until she meets Daniel. The handsome, warm, and charming pastor soon sweeps her off her feet. But is romance what she really wants? Or needs?

As the days pass, Destiny will make new discoveries—about herself, the man she’s fallen for, and the people around her. And she’ll face challenging choices too. But most of all, she’ll grow in ways she never imagined, learning unexpected lessons about trust, forgiveness, and the price of motherhood . . . and becoming the woman she truly wants to be.

My Review

I struggled with the main protagonist Destiny. I never warmed up to her although her growth as the story progresses was appealing. Loads of wonderful messages scattered throughout the plot. I enjoyed the religious and inspirational tone.

Despite the numerous uplifting messages, characters, plot and dialogue are emotionlessness, contrived, clumsy. The particular issue of money was repeated excessively to the point of annoyance, it dominated the plot causing suffocation. The narrative contained too many issues to contend with emitting an over dramatized feel, implausible, very predictable.

Great casual read when you’re seeking a saccharine escape.

Angela Benson APAbout Angela Benson

Angela Benson is a graduate of Spelman College and the author of fourteen novels, including the Christy Award–nominated Awakening Mercy, the Essence bestsellerThe Amen Sisters, Up Pops the Devil, and Sins of the Father. She is an associate professor at the University of Alabama and lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Find out more about Angela at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

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Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 19, 2016)

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Review: Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo by Boris Fishman

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About Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo

The author of the critically admired, award-winning A Replacement Life turns to a different kind of story—an evocative, nuanced portrait of marriage and family, a woman reckoning with what she’s given up to make both work, and the universal question of how we reconcile who we are and whom the world wants us to be.

Maya Shulman and Alex Rubin met in 1992, when she was a Ukrainian exchange student with “a devil in [her] head” about becoming a chef instead of a medical worker, and he the coddled son of Russian immigrants wanting to toe the water of a less predictable life.

Twenty years later, Maya Rubin is a medical worker in suburban New Jersey, and Alex his father’s second in the family business. The great dislocation of their lives is their eight-year-old son Max—adopted from two teenagers in Montana despite Alex’s view that “adopted children are second-class.”

At once a salvation and a mystery to his parents—with whom Max’s biological mother left the child with the cryptic exhortation “don’t let my baby do rodeo”—Max suddenly turns feral, consorting with wild animals, eating grass, and running away to sit face down in a river.

Searching for answers, Maya convinces Alex to embark on a cross-country trip to Montana to track down Max’s birth parents—the first drive west of New Jersey of their American lives. But it’s Maya who’s illuminated by the journey, her own erstwhile wildness summoned for a reckoning by the unsparing landscape, with seismic consequences for herself and her family.

Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo is a novel about the mystery of inheritance and what exactly it means to belong.

My Review

Fishman returns with his outstanding writing, gift of satire and meaningful narrative with a fairly intricate and complex main protagonist. A story cleverly addressing identity, happiness, loneliness, love and more.

Despite the heavy satire the reader will ferret among the comedic veil to discover a staid plot which cannot go unnoticed. Fishman artfully blends his sold writing with satire deftly. Frustrating at times but rewarding in the end, evocative.

Maya is a strong character. She’s dealing with her identity. Her plans, dreams derailed and now she’s questioning her life and how she ended up in her current state. She doesn’t exude warmth and I certainly didn’t agree with her methods of discovery but I understood her predicament and Maya ultimately made her choices and actions for herself. Her road to discovery is risky, impulsive and rewarding. Journeying with her to the end was a mystery and a subtle emotional thrill ride.

I’m not a fan of satire, however, I appreciate Fishman’s skilled writing and intelligent narrative. An elevated plot softened with plenty of smart lampoon smatterings derailing what would be a head on collision to an impactful fender bender, bruised but not broken. Fishman possesses a gift no doubt envied by many.

About Boris FishmanBoris-Fishman-photo-credit-Stephanie-Kaltsas

Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at the age of nine. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. His first novel, A Replacement Life won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, was one of The New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books, and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. He lives in New York.

Find out more about Boris at his website, and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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Publisher: Harper (March 1, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, March, Review

Review: The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

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About The Ramblers

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

My Review

A few standouts I want to acknowledge during my reading journey, the fantastic writing, solid framework of narrative, gently detailed characterization, ornithology elements, Rowley deserves a nod for her arduous effort.

Clio’s story was compelling, a lot was explored but I felt more could have been expanded upon. Her struggles felt real, her anguish heartbreaking. Peeling her numerous layers away was well done, tossing gamophibia in the mix was brilliant. When all was said and done I felt Clio was rushed along, sure she was on the road to healing but it sure felt like a well paved road to a tidy miraculous recovery in a small span of time. Smith and Tate felt weak, vapid, privileged, so opposite Clio. The protagonists felt immature and entitled, I shudder to think of when life really delivers uppercuts how will Smith and Tate react or cope.

Enmeshing Smith and Tate into the plot plunged it south rapidly, never quite regaining control. Their two storylines detracted from the depth of Clio’s tale. Rowley should have focused on Clio with Smith and Tate’s challenges as very distant threads IF included at all. For me the plot was unbalanced given the seriousness of Clio’s issues and family ordeal while sharing the narrative with Smith and Tate.

The messages of loyalty, friendship, support, love, hope and healing all very lovely, clearly present despite the messiness of the triple storylines.

I understand what Rowley was ultimately conveying, for me it was too foggy and misplaced with the end result jagged. I will read more from this talented authoress, her writing is too well-formed to deny further probing. Rowley possesses a slice of originality, very invigorating.

About Aidan Donnelley RowleyAidanDonnelleyRowley_AuthorPhoto2_creditElenaSeibert

Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University.  She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hour Literary Salon.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.

Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by William Morrow

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Review: Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

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About Girl Through Glass

An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parents’ divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.

Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.

In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.

Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.

My Review

A disturbing story yet it feels completely realistic. We are fully aware the ballet world is demanding and functions by its own rules and decorum which makes the narrative even more eerie.

I couldn’t stand any of the characters and I feel guilty for saying I didn’t even care for Mira/Kate. A major factor for my dislike of Mira/Kate – not enough character development. I know a series of poor decisions were made on Mira/Kate’s part, her parents lack of parenting a contributing factor plus the ballet world was somewhat responsible as well. Mira was a young girl looking for love, attention and validation her parents failed to provide, so Mira’s ‘secret’ was painful and she gained all my empathy and sympathy. As for the parents, I was disgusted and frustrated with them from beginning to end, self-absorbed to the point of blindness, pathetic would be generous. The pedophile made my stomach turn – pure predator no matter the disguise worn. I’m sure he was one of many circulating the halls of ballet company’s under false pretense if not known for their true patronage.

The plot was predictable, no surprises whatsoever. As previously stated, as brutal as the narrative was it has an aura of plausibility.

A harsh glimpse into the world of ballet through the eyes and experiences of a young girl coming of age. A world only those directly involved seem to comprehend as laypeople are aghast at the intricate questionable machinations of such a powerful foreign world.

Sari Wilson AP Photo credit Elena Seibert

Photo credit Elena Seibert

About Sari Wilson

Sari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York and was on scholarship at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

Find out more about Sari at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

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Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)

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Review & Guest Post: In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson

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About In Another Life

It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.

Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.

Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.

In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia’s modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.

AMAZON |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Thank you Julie Christine Johnson for taking me on such an amazing reading journey. Exploring the Languedoc region of France and Catharism penned by your exquisite writing as you deftly threaded Science Fiction, Fantasy with love, religious persecution, loss, redemption.

Alternating between past and present with gripping characters searching for answers made for an enthralling read. The languid pace intensifies with the turn of every page as the story unrolls, I caught myself holding my breath as the adventure and excitement continues.

I felt such empathy for Lia. Lia is a woman stricken with sorrow and grief finding herself caught between the past and the present, sucked into the past through another’s life and thrust into the present with an answer to a question lingering in history. Incredibly three-dimensional you sense Lia’s turmoil and calm as she pieces everything together.

Memorable story leaving you lost in thought for quite a while. Impressive ambitious debut from a very talented authoress. Anxiously awaiting Johnson’s next undertaking. You’ll be left breathless and measured simultaneously, enigmatic.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Julie Christine Johnson. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Julie 

Guest Post

The Soundtrack of a Novel: In Another Life

by Julie Christine Johnson

I write to music. A low murmur in my headphones to cancel out the chatter around me if I’m in a public place, or a soft swirl of sound at home to break the silence. Typically I write to mellow, dreamy tunes without words or too much of a beat: chillwave, ambient, the gentler side of classical—Albinoni, Chopin, Debussy.

That’s what I write to.

But each of my novels has a soundtrack, music that puts me inside the characters’ souls so that I feel their longing, confusion, joy, anger, passion, wonder. Certain songs wrap tendrils of emotion around my heart and squeeze, until I gasp a story onto the page, releasing the pressure of characters struggling to be heard.

Are you familiar with the Welsh word hiraeth? How about the Portuguese saudade? German’s Sehnsucht? Words that have no direct translation in English, but each expresses an essential longing of the soul, homesickness for a place never visited, a melancholy that sinks so deep, you gasp in pain while your mouth waters in pleasure; an unrequited longing for the ghost of a dream, castles built in clouds.

It is this sense of longing that I most wanted to convey through In Another Life, where a woman loses her beloved husband and wanders lost, without love or a sense of self. The sirens of hiraeth call her back to her spiritual home, the southern French region of Languedoc, but melancholy follows in her wake.

For In Another Life, the song that most evokes the novel’s emotional core, the song I think of as Lia’s song, came years before the novel. I heard it years before I would dare call myself a writer. But this song became the genesis of a character, a woman aching with longing that she can barely allow herself to express: Tori Amos’ “Sleeps with Butterflies”, from her 2005 album The Beekeeper.

I’m not like the girls that you’ve known
But I believe I’m worth coming home to

They are the words a woman offers tentatively to a new love, wondering, ‘Is it me you want?’

Are you having regrets about last night?

It is a subtle dance between confidence about who she is, what she wants, but uncertainty—in these early days of new and delicate love—if her lover reciprocates the same intensity of feeling.

If you don’t know the song, bring it up on iTunes or Spotify. Imagine this is Lia singing, the morning after her walk with Raoul in the frozen wonderland of vineyards buried under snow, remembering their first kiss, their shared longing and hesitation. Imagine this writer waiting for just the right story to bring that woman, in all her longing and hesitation, to life.

Other artists that form In Another Life’s soundtrack: French folksinger Francis Cabrel, who sings in both Spanish and French; Damien Rice, Sarah McLachlan, David Gray, M83, The Swell Season.

What about you—writers and readers—what are the songs that make your skin tingle with emotion, your solar plexus reverberate with feeling, fill you with inexplicable longing?

About Julie Christine Johnsonimage004

Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.

Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women’s fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.

A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.

Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, February, Fiction, Guest Post, Review

Review & Interview: No Ordinary Life By Suzanne Redfearn

About No Ordinary Life

A story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Redfearn did a marvelous job exploring every scenario Faye faced with her daughter’s catapult in to stardom. Every trial faced seemed plausible and added multilayers to the narrative.

Characterization ruled this story. Faye, Molly, Chris along with the entire ensemble drove the narrative. A motley of personalities, motives, positions created an array of entertainment supporting the subject matter.

I was conflicted over Faye. I felt for her situation but her passiveness, stubbornness, helplessness and weakness was very unappealing. I understand why Redfearn took this direction with Faye, nevertheless I wasn’t a full on fan. Her choices left me shaking my head on more than once occasion, her stupidity floored me, needless to say Faye left me exasperated and frustrated. I prefer my female protagonists possessing strength, smarts and independence, none demonstrated by Faye.

I was very uncomfortable with Redfearn’s handling of Emily’s traumatic event. For something as supercharged as that incident it should have been addressed and resolved, as is it serves as a terrible message. A pet peeve of mine is introducing a heavy and fragile incident and leaving it messy and glossed over, wrong in so many ways.

Great glimpse into life of a child star and the machinations of Hollywood et al along with its impact on family, siblings and life in general. I enjoyed the book but the incident and improper handling of Emily’s tragic event marred my reading enjoyment.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Suzanne Redfearn. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Suzanne

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always starting, sitting in the chair and putting words on the page when I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I knew I wanted to write about a child star and the fascinating world of Hollywood, but I didn’t want to tell a train wreck story like the ones written about constantly in the tabloids, and I didn’t want to write a mommy dearest story. Faye introduced herself to me first, then I discovered Molly, and through them, I figured out I wanted to tell a story about a family, not an individual, to focus on what celebrity does – not just to the person who is famous but also to those around them.

How do you want readers to view Faye?

I hope they like her and sympathize with her. She is a young single mom doing the best she can and who finds herself in a dizzying world that would be difficult for anyone to navigate. She is presented with impossible choices, having to decide what is best for the family as a whole as well as weighing the welfare of each of her children against each other. She is also forced to choose between her compassion for others as opposed to her need to buffer her children from the insanity of the world in which they have found themselves. She evolves throughout the story, is forced to become stronger and more resilient. Hopefully the readers understand her transformation and identify with her journey.

Emily’s traumatic event, why did you handle it the way you did considering its seriousness?

It was important to drive the point home of how dangerous the world of celebrity can be. Access to excess doesn’t come without its hazards. Emily’s trauma is not made up. Unfortunately, many young stars and those around them suffer at the hands of their handlers, their fans, or as a result of not having anyone looking out for them and protecting them. One of the most disturbing parts of my research was discovering how many former child stars were sexually abused as kids.

What secret talent do you have?

It’s not much, but I can sing all the words to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Are We There Yet?

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a story about two moms on the run together from the police and their husbands. It’s a road trip story, which I have always wanted to write, and so far I am having a lot of fun with it.

Thank you, Raven Haired Girl, for the great questions!

About Suzanne RedfearnSuzanne Redfearn Headshot

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

 

Connect with Suzanne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review