Review: A Life of Death, by Weston Kincade

My Thoughts

Weston Kincade sent me this book directly, months ago, in multiple installments, which is how it was originally published. More recently, he asked people to re-post reviews for the current “complete” edition.

As my original review was lost in a database glitch, I sat down to re-read Kincaid’s work, in order to update my thoughts, and I’m not sorry.

On the surface, Kincaid’s story is a simple mystery, but once you look past the surface, you see a family drama, a battle between natural and supernatural, and a close look at what it means to be a victim, and to overcome victimhood.

Kincade’s characters are all fully realized, dimensional people, but what I really liked about them is that they’re not all “pretty” people. They are human, they get into fights, aren’t all rich and well-to-do, and sometimes, aren’t even all that likeable.

And yet, the story – Alex’s story, and that of his son – is compelling. You want to find out why Alex sees the visions he does, and you really care about his relationship with his son.

Marketed primarily to YA/NA audiences, A Life of Death has something for everyone, of every age, which is as it should be when it comes to good storytelling.

Goes well with Open face meatloaf sandwiches and RC cola.

Review: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty

About the book, The Bone Church The Bone Church

Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pier’s Court Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback

In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.

Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.

Buy, read, and discuss The Bone Church

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About the author, Victoria Dougherty Victoria Dougherty

Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere.

Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Connect with Victoria

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My Thoughts

I was expecting The Bone Church to be a bit dark, a bit gritty, and incredibly honest, and this novel was all of those things. What surprised me was that amidst all the grit and darkness, there were these great moments of lyrical beauty and haunting spirituality.

Some of these moments were small – a comparison to the scent of coffee and oranges, the description of the texture of one of the many, many “Infant of Prague” statuettes that glutted the market, but it’s in those small moments, in those details, that Victoria Dougherty’s work really shines.

The story itself is gripping. We are sympathetic to Magdalena’s plight from the beginning, watching as she loses her identity and later, her marriage. We root for Felix, even when his behavior becomes a bit questionable. All of the other characters, many of whom would be easily interchangeable “stock” cold war figures in another author’s hands, have their own complications, secrets, and truths as well.

Put together, the setting, the characters, the period, even the weather, give us a picture of a part of history we typically only see from the point of view of much greater powers, and also serve forth a meaty story, rich with depth and intrigue.

Read this if you want something that manages to combine the best of LeCarre with the best of Sue Monk Kidd – a weird blending, but that’s how it felt to me. Read this if you want to be both entertained and enlightened.
Read The Bone Church if you want a good story that will linger with you for days after you’ve read it.
But definitely, read it.

Goes well with Lapsang souchong tea and navel oranges.

Bone Church Blog Tour

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT), who graciously arranged for me to have a copy of the book. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click the banner above, or just click HERE.

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang

My Thoughts

I pre-ordered the digital edition of this book several months ago when it was first announced, so I knew it would be arriving on my Kindle around 2:00 this morning. I was pleasantly surprised when it actually showed up at midnight, because I’m very nocturnal. Translation: by the time I went to bed around 2 AM, I’d read 81% of this novel.

The Light Fantastic is the sequel to Lang’s own Immortal Coil, which, I confess, left me conflicted when I first read it. The adult part of me, the part that is an improviser and a writer, really liked it, though I felt that Data and Rhea’s relationship was both too fast, and not believable (this despite the fact that I liked Rhea as a character). The part of me that was 16 or 17 when TNG premiered on TV and crushed on Data had other issues, but adult-me was able to ignore them.

But then David Mack gave us is Cold Equations trilogy, and those expanded upon Data 2.0’s mindset and choices, and gave us better insight into the Fellowship of AI, and left a door open for more with this beloved character.

And now Lang has wrapped up a truly amazing arc. We get to find out how Data’s been spending the last two years of his life. We get a glimpse into his life with the newly restored Lal, his daughter, who is in the midst of the android equivalent of adolescence, and then she’s abducted – by Moriarty – yes, the hologram – and we’re thrown into a story that is both a mystery and a story about what it means to grow up, grow old, raise children, and explore one’s identity.

Data as a father is both hilarious and heartbreaking – especially as he’s still acclimating to his new body and his permanently engaged emotions.
Lal as a teenager is also hilarious, and frustrating, and it gave me new respect for the way my own mother must’ve felt when I was a teenager myself.

Geordi, of course, is along for the ride, because no Sherlock can be without his Watson, and along the way we are introduced to a few favorite characters from both TNG and TOS.

Overall, The Light Fantastic is a truly satisfying read, and if Data doesn’t sound exactly the way we’re accustomed to him sounding, well, he himself states in the novel that he isn’t entirely certain how much of him is HIM, and how much is leftover Noonian Soong.

The tag, of course, teases a new mystery, and I have no idea if that will pan out, or if the soft canon of the novels will eventually merge with the soft canon of the STO game and the Countdown to Trek 2009 (in which Data was Captain of the Enterprise), but if it doesn’t, I would totally buy a series of intergalactic mysteries featuring Data and LaForge.

Goes well with French-pressed coffee and a chocolate croissant.

Review: Murder by Misrule, by Anna Castle

About the book, Murder by Misrule Murder by Misrule

Publication Date: June 8, 2014
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
A Kirkus Indie Books of the Month Selection for July.

Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protege Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss and in danger until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.

About The Francis Bacon Mystery Series

This series of historical mysteries features the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon as a sleuth and spymaster. Since Francis prefers the comfort of his own chambers, like his spiritual descendent Nero Wolfe, he sends his pupil, the handsome young Thomas Clarady, out to gather information. Tom loves the work, not least because he meets so many interesting people, like Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe. Murder by Misrule is the first book in the series.

Buy, read, and discuss Murder by Misrule

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About the author, Anna Castle Anna Castle

Anna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

Connect with Anna

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My Thoughts

It would never have occurred to me to cast Francis Bacon as the lead in a mystery. I mean, I’m reasonably familiar with his place in history, and I spent more than one summer doing Shakespeare camp when I was in high school (yes, there IS such a thing), but still, it takes a very special author to come up with a premise like this one.

Anna Castle is clearly a very special author, because not only did she come up with the premise, she makes it work. No, not work, she makes it sing, dance, and speak in perfect Latin quips alternating with iambic pentameter. Her portrayal of Francis Bacon may not be identical to the way he’s presented in history classes, but that’s okay, because he’s totally believable as a rather delicate intellectual who relies on his minion (assistant) to do the heavy lifting – or fencing, as the case may be.

Written in contemporary language, Murder by Misrule is both a glimpse into the life of those who were part of the Inns at Court (more like dorms than our modern perception of an inn) and a rollicking adventure centering around a murder. There’s political intrigue, career advancement, and, of course, the season of Misrule to contend with.

Promotional materials compare Castle’s version of Francis Bacon to Nero Wolfe. As someone who cut her mystery-loving teeth on the latter, I have to say that while I see the resemblance, I think Bacon is a richer character, and the world he inhabits, and those he shares it with, all feel more real to me than Rex Stout’s version of New York ever did, and for me, his era was also an historical period.

If you want a great story, full of amazing characters, and good dose of history (with maybe a little bit of embellishment) you simply must read Murder by Misrule. You won’t be sorry.

Goes well with a rainy day, a hearty stew, brown bread, and a good stout.

Murder by Misrule

This review is part of a blog tour organized by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, who provided me with an ARC of the book so I could review it impartially. For more information, or the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Painting Juliana, by Martha Louise Hunter

About the book, Painting Juliana Painting Juliana

Hardcover: 362 pages
Publisher: Goldminds Publishing, LLC (May 20, 2014)

A young girl’s terrifying nightmare, five mysterious oil paintings and a red, flaming firebird all carry the same message:

Stand still, look up and let the funnel cloud suck you up inside.

It’s the last thing Juliana Birdsong wants to hear. Now a woman who’s losing everything, she’s still running from the dream, and it’s catching up fast. When her Alzheimer’s-stricken father’s canvases come to life exposing secrets, heartbreak and yearnings that mirror her own, Juliana discovers that some memories can be a blessing to forget.

Hit with devastating loss and betrayals, her old life stripped away, Juliana has no choice but to call on the person who’s never helped her before. Steering the chrome handlebars of a vintage motorcycle down a long, tapering highway, she must face her defining moment. It’s the only way she’ll gain the strength and courage to begin painting Juliana.

Buy, read, and discuss:

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About the author, Martha Louise Hunter Martha Louise Hunter

Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection,

With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.

Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.

Connect with Martha

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My Thoughts

As the daughter of a type-A, independent woman who is also a staunch feminist, and as someone who is all those things herself, it’s always a little bit difficult for me to empathize with the kind of women, who, like the Juliana we meet at the beginning of this novel, sublimate all their dreams and desires and let their husbands rule their lives.

For the first few chapters, then, I wanted to grab the lead character and shake some sense into her.

Then my mad “willful suspension of disbelief” skills took over, and I was able to simply experience her story, which is wonderfully told by author Martha Louise Hunter.

I particularly liked Juliana’s interactions with her Alzheimer’s-stricken father, and with her brother and his partner. Those two (three) relationships helped form the picture of how Juliana became the woman we first encounter, but also let us see that she really did have a core of steel, just just needed to use it.

Weaving through the novel was Juliana’s discovery of her father’s artwork, and her response to it, and her eventual assistance in giving him his art back, because while her father was painting pictures, it was very clear that Juliana was painting herself a whole new life.

Hunter’s characters and dialogue never felt flat or false, and even though I initially didn’t particularly like Juliana, I found myself rooting for her in the end, and even applauding her ballsy-est moves.

If you want a great summer read that has a bit more depth than the typical “beach novel,” but isn’t asking you to remember chunks of European history in order to follow the plot, and if you enjoy reading about adult women who reinvent themselves, this novel should appeal to you.

Goes well with anything Tex-Mex and a pitcher of margaritas.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours, who provided me with a copy of the book. For more information, and the list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Bee Summers, by Melanie Dugan

About the book, Bee Summers Bee Summers

The spring she is eleven years old, Melissa Singer’s mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer her father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

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About the author, Melanie Dugan Melanie Dugan

Melanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.

Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.

Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.

Connect with Melanie

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My Thoughts

First of all, it’s kind of weird reading a novel written in first person about a person who shares your first name. True, the Melissa in this novel is called “Lissy” by most people, but even so, I was always the slightly out of place, voracious reader, and as such I really identified with her, except that I never lost my mother – in any sense. That aside, I was instantly drawn into Lissy’s story. My own childhood involved moving (and changing schools) roughly every eighteen months, so her sense of displacement, especially the first summer she traveled with her father, was familiar to me, and helped draw me further in.

The story itself was compelling, both in seeing the way Lissy grew and changed – going from lost child, to accomplished adult – and also in the evolution of er relationships, not only with her father, but with the array of characters they encountered on their bee-related excursions, and the way those connections formed a whole picture, once you had enough distance to see it from the right perspective.

Bee Summers is a thoroughly engaging novel, that, while sad in places, is also incredibly satisfying and really real.

Goes well with peanut butter and banana sandwiches, drizzled with honey, and fresh, cold milk.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour organized by the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours, who also provided me with a copy of the book. For more information, or the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Chasing the Sun, by Natalia Sylvester

About the book, Chasing the Sun Chasing the Sun

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: New Harvest (June 3, 2014)

Partially inspired by her grandfather’s kidnapping in Peru, CHASING THE SUN: A Novel (Lake Union/New Harvest; on sale June 3, 2014) is Natalia Sylvester’s suspenseful debut about a man whose wife is kidnapped just as their marriage is falling apart.

After going out for an errand, Marabela Jimenez doesn’t return home and her husband suspects she has left him – again. Only, the next day a letter arrives in the mail that reads:

 Querido Andres,

I’m being held by three men who say they’ll keep me safe as long as you cooperate. They say that means no cops and no media. They say they’ll call when they’re ready to talk to you. Kiss our children for me and tell them not to worry. Keep me in your thoughts as I will be keeping you in mine.


Despite their crumbling relationship, Andres quickly realizes he must do whatever it takes to get Marabela home. He can’t possibly afford the ransom the kidnappers demand or handle this threat to his family alone so he hires a consultant to help negotiate with the terrorists. He also reaches out to his estranged mother, who has never cared for Marabela and even reconnects with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future. As each day passes without the return of his wife, Andres is forced to come to terms with whether or not what he and Marabela have left is worth saving and how far he’ll go to bring her home.

Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil and terrorist threats of 1992 Peru, CHASING THE SUN is a story of how trauma has a way of exposing our most difficult truths and healing past wounds and regrets.

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About the author, Natalia Sylvester Natalia-Sylvester_credit-Eric-Sylvester-286x300

Natalia Sylvester was born in Lima, Peru. She came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, Natalia now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.

Connect with Natalia

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My Thoughts

Despite the fact that this novel opens with a kidnapping, and is mainly focused on a marriage that is falling apart rather than one that is coming together, the author’s sense of place, her vivid descriptions, her three-dimensional characters, are all so compelling that I literally could not put it down, reading it straight through in a single evening.

And not even in the bath.

It’s heart-achingly honest, sad but with bright moments, and ultimately so completely truthful that I felt as though I knew these people. And maybe that’s why it works, because while the situation is anything but normal, the characters are as real, as substantial, as our own family members, friends, and neighbors.

I really like that, unlike any other novel dealing with the same subject, the focus would have been on the one who was kidnapped, the wife, Marabela. Instead, it’s very much Andres’s story, and in choosing to make him our POV character, in choosing to have him be sympathetic, author Sylvester forces us to look at our own culture, our own relationships, and see exactly how we cast our gender and familial roles.

Chasing the Sun is simply brilliant. Deep, satisfying, literary brilliance.

Goes well with arroz con mariscos (though I prefer mine without octopus) and a really good wine.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Cutting Teeth, by Julia Fierro

About the book, Cutting Teeth Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (May 13, 2014)

One of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.

Nicole, the hostess, struggles to keep her OCD behaviors unnoticed. Stay-at-home dad Rip grapples with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves. Allie, one half of a two-mom family, can’t stop imagining ditching her wife and kids in favor of her art. Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into, flirts dangerously, and spars with her best friend Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. Throughout the weekend, conflicts intensify and painful truths surface. Friendships and alliances crack, forcing the house party to confront a new order.

Cutting Teeth is about the complex dilemmas of early midlife—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It’s about class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life’s greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s warm and unpretentious debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and compromise that underpins that love.

Buy, read, discuss

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About the author, Julia Fierro Julia Fierro

Julia Fierro’s debut novel, Cutting Teeth, was listed as one of the “Most Anticipated Books of 2014” by HuffPost Books, The Millions, Flavorwire, Brooklyn Magazine, and Marie Claire. Her work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Guernica, Ploughshares, Poets & Writers, Glamour, and other publications, and she has been profiled in the L Magazine, The Observer, and The Economist.

Connect with Julia

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My Thoughts

Julia Fierro is an awesome writer.

I know that sounds really flippant, but seriously, she’s created this group of “mommies,” – a bunch of women, and one man – who are largely unlikeable, self-entitled, damaged people, and managed to make their lives and stories not only seem interesting, but in the process also made them into characters we can care about.

As a child-free woman in her early forties, I’m pretty certain Cutting Teeth was not written with me in mind, and, in truth, I found myself wanting to knock some sense into these people, make them wake up and realize that while their children really are not the little princes and princesses of the world, they are, in fact, actual (very small, unformed) people, and should be treated accordingly.

I also had to fight urges to crawl into the book and remind these women that it’s unhealthy (and kind of annoying) when women describe themselves as Moms or Mommies first, and only talk about their careers or the rest of their interests as things they squeeze in around the child. (This tendency annoys me in real life, as well.)

If these two statements make it seem like I didn’t “like” this book, you’re misreading. I did like it. I liked it well enough that even though I felt rather like a bug-eyed alien looking into a strange, new, world, I could accept these characters as people who could exist outside the scope of their pages.

And speaking of pages, Julia Fierro crafts an excellent story. The constant changing of POV means we get to see the way each character perceives herself, and the way each of them is perceived by the others. As well, while the women are incredibly three-dimensional, she did a good job of not making the men interchangeable hipsters or guys in pastel golf shirts and khakis (a peeve of mine that often comes up around this type of year.) Rip, the father in the group of “mommies,” Michael, and Josh are all just as dimensional as the women in their lives.

And yes, these people are largely unlikeable, so it’s pretty amazing that you end up feeling for them at the end. Cutting Teeth has struck the sweet spot of summer reading. Fast-paced enough to take to the beach, it’s also meaty enough to really sink your teeth into (no pun intended). Read it. You might find yourself shaking your fist at the characters, but you won’t be disappointed in the story.

Goes well with homemade lemonade and tuna-fish sandwiches. Followed by cocktails.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Midsummer, by Carole Giangrande

About the book, Midsummer Midsummer

• Paperback: 150 pages
• Publisher: Inanna Poetry and Fiction Series (April 2014)

All her life, Joy’s been haunted by a man she’s never met — her visionary grandfather, the artist Lorenzo. At work on digging a New York subway tunnel, his pickaxe struck the remains of an ancient Dutch trading ship — and a vision lit up the underground, convincing him that he was blessed. As it turned out, his children did well in life, and almost a century later, his granddaughter Joy, a gifted linguist, married the Canadian descendant of the lost ship’s captain.

Yet nonno’s story also led to the death of Joy’s cousin Leonora, her Aunt Elena’s only child. It was a tragedy that might have been prevented by Joy’s father Eddie, a man who’s been bruised by life and who seldom speaks to his sister. Yet in the year 2000, he has no choice. Wealthy Aunt Elena and Uncle Carlo are coming from Rome to New York City to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They’ve invited the family to dine at the sky-high restaurant in one of the Twin Towers — above the tunnel where nonno Lorenzo saw his vision long ago. On the first day of summer, Elena and Eddie will face each other at last.

Midsummer is a story of family ties and fortune, and of finding peace as life nears its close, high above the historic place where nonno’s story began.

Buy, read, and discuss Midsummer

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About the author, Carole Giangrande Carole Giangrande

Born and raised in the New York City area, Carole Giangrande now resides in Toronto, Canada.

Her novella, A Gardener On The Moon was co-winner of the 2010 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest, and is published by Quattro Books. She’s the author of two novels (An Ordinary Star and A Forest Burning), a short story collection (Missing Persons), all published by Cormorant, and two non-fiction books. Her new novella, Midsummer, will be published in April 2014 by Inanna.

She’s worked as a broadcast journalist for CBC Radio (Canada’s public broadcaster), and her fiction, articles and reviews have appeared in Canada’s major journals and newspapers. Her 50-part literary podcast Words to Go has been downloaded over 20,000 times in 30 countries. She comments as The Thoughtful Blogger, and she’s recently completed a novel. She’s a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.

Connect with Carole

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My Thoughts

You know how, when you have a large family gathering, one where the assembled family spans the generations, and everyone knows a different piece of family history, so you’re never entirely certain where things begin and end and what the real truth of any story might be? That’s the feeling I got from reading Carole Giangrande’s novella Midsummer, and in that sense, it was a lot like coming home, spending time around the seemingly-huge round dining table in my Italian grandmother’s house, hearing family stories.

But where my family is one ruled by drama and comedy, Giangrande’s story is a much calmer, more poetic look at family dynamics, and love and loss, and at the way history informs us.

Told mostly in the first person voice of Joy, granddaughter of Lorenzo, a manual laborer who finds the remains of a Dutch sailing ship in old (old) Manhattan, we are treated, not just to her life and perceptions, but also to those of her Aunt Elena, keeper of the family stories, her sheltered cousin Leonora, her father, and her own family, Dutch-born Adrian, and their two sons.

The language of the novella is absolutely luxurious, a blend of English and Italian that rolls of the tongue like honey wrapped around a Vivaldi symphony. More than once, I found myself reading passages out loud because I loved the language so much, to the amusement of my husband (and the confusion of my dogs). It’s also incredibly poignant as the action in the story takes place, not just in a world where the twin towers haven’t yet fallen, but in a world where they’re just being built. Passages like the one below, then, had a special resonance for this Jersey-girl-turned-Texan, who grew up in a Jersey shore community that was decimated by that disaster:

Because we were standing on an island, I imagined us gazing out over the sea, then turning to watch these two grey forms, their strange fragility of arches and latticework unmoored as they drifted upward, hovering over the city. Mesmerized, I began to wonder what was in the air down here, as all at once I stood inside the noon of midsummer, in an unknown June when the elegant towers would leave no shadow, would vanish into light.

Lyrical, languid, brilliant, Midsummer is a fast read for a slow and sultry afternoon. I highly recommend it.

Goes well with Caprese salad and iced tea.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.