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Review of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

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About Hot Milk

Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis.

But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective–tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain–deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world.

My Thoughts

Well written. Explores mother daughter relationship, identity. Enjoyed Levy’s writing style but that was about it, just wasn’t up my alley.

Sophie was too opaque, aloof, can’t really figure her out. Highly intelligent, she is a detailed observer. I felt she uses her mother’s illness as an excuse, scapegoat of sorts as a way to skirt the actual reason(s) for her uncertainty in both private and professional aspirations. Could be wrong since she is so vague bordering on discombobulated. Both women come across as enablers, resentful of each other, a silent hostility lingering.

My interest strayed early on due to unlikable protagonists and a boring plot going nowhere. The pieces set before me failed to fall into place, I have no idea what was to be constructed with the nonsensical fragments given. Frustrating at best. I’m sure there is deep meaning woven within the narrative, however it was elusive to my grasp although Sophie and Rose are memorable, their fractured dynamic surprisingly forceful.

I’m sure my aversion will be the minority, no doubt most will sing praises. Well written yet it failed to convince me of more, I require more than outstanding writing.

About Deborah Levy147246

Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”, including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY: PLAYS 1 (Methuen)

Deborah wrote and published her first novel BEAUTIFUL MUTANTS (Vintage), when she was 27 years old. The experience of not having to give her words to a director, actors and designer to interpret, was so exhilarating, she wrote a few more. These include, SWALLOWING GEOGRAPHY, THE UNLOVED (Vintage) and BILLY and GIRL (Bloomsbury). She has always written across a number of art forms (see Bookworks and Collaborations with visual artists) and was Fellow in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1989-1991.

Expected publication: July 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA

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Review of It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort

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About It’s Okay to Laugh

Twenty-seven-year-old Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each other, and Beyoncé. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. The obituary they wrote during Aaron’s hospice care revealing his true identity as Spider-Man touched the nation. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

This book is for people who have been through some shit.

This is for people who aren’t sure if they’re saying or doing the right thing (you’re not, but nobody is). This is for people who had their life turned upside down and just learned to live that way. For people who have laughed at a funeral or cried in a grocery store. This is for everyone who wondered what exactly they’re supposed to be doing with their one wild and precious life. I don’t actually have the answer, but if you find out, will you text me?

My Review

One strong woman’s journey through loss and life. Purmort shares her life openly along with views, lessons, relationships, parenting, leaving you chuckling and teary eyed.

Purmort isn’t afraid to expose her vulnerability, she’s raw and brutally honest. I admire her candor and ability to express emotions with ease. Nothing was sugar coated, Purmort struggled and stumbled yet she found her way. Questioning her decisions and choices while trying her best, other times applauding her decisions. Life isn’t easy, no handbook given as Purmort emphasizes in her book, no doubt you will find yourself identifying with her many times throughout her story.

My only gripe, to many F-bombs and GD’s. So tired of constantly hearing and reading the imfamous four letter word, whip out a thersaurs people.

Inspiring story of life and survival when blindsided. Honest, funny, most of all shared from the heart.

About Nora McInerny PurmortNora-McInerny-Purmort-AP

Nora McInerny Purmort was voted Most Humorous by the Annunciation Catholic School Class of 1998. It was mostly downhill after that, but she did get to spend three glorious years married to Aaron Joseph Purmort (aka Spider-Man). Her work has appeared on Cosmopolitan.com, Elle.com, and the Huffington Post, and in the Star Tribune. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her son, Ralph. They really like it there.

Find out more about Nora at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Publisher: Dey Street Books (May 24, 2016)

Review of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

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About The Girl With All the Gifts

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My Review

No doubt Melanie is special, I discovered this as the story unraveled. This was an incredibly addicting read in so many ways. Melanie captures your heart, she is extremely well written. All the characters worm their way into your sphere leaving you in a state of limbo where you are backed into a corner to either protect or overrun them despite your attachment, no other plausible choice given.

Somewhat intricate plot exploring love, loss, identity, blended with fantasy, science fiction, yet it’s almost a sub-genre of its own, more than a few major notable moments I will never forget. Lots leaving you bristling, uncomfortable, maybe even a tad but traumatized.

This read pulls you in, definitely not in my normal reading spectrum. An out of the box reading experience leaving me enthralled, providing escapism to another world I never thought I would venture into, despite the insanity I enjoyed my time immensely.

An incredibly well crafted read, a sub-genre I am unfamiliar with but this tomb will never be forgotten, forever etched in my mind. Quite a reading experience.

About M.R. Carey7177350

Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

Also writes as Mike Carey

Published June 19th 2014 by Orbit (first published January 14th 2014)

Review of The Girls by Emma Cline

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About The Girls

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

My Review

Very well written and researched. We are granted psychological access to Evie as we understand her fascination towards the girls leaving you questioning why and how given her relative ‘normal’ upbringing. I was surprised her interest didn’t wane as her story unfolds, yet I’m not surprised she kept their company and deepened involvement. Cline’s attention geared around the girls as opposed to Russell was smart, great psychological angle, adding interest.

Wasn’t a fan of any of the characters by any means.

Cline left me uncomfortable and disturbed, certainly feeling immersed in the mind of teenage Evie, accompanying her as she mixes with the wrong crowd, making wrong decisions, choices, hallmark of a talented author. The big ‘what if’ question floats around in my mind weeks after finishing the book. Chilling.

About Emma Cline2926065

Emma Cline is from California. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review, and she was the winner of the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize.

Expected publication Random House (June 14, 2016)

Review & Giveaway: The Dismantling by Brian DeLeeuw

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•Print Length: 288 pages
•Publisher: Plume (April 28, 2015)

Embracing themes that are widespread in the media today, such as depression among ex-NFL players, black market organ transplants, adolescent trauma, and the terms of revenge and atonement, Brian DeLeeuw deftly treads the line between literary fiction and suspense with his propulsive storytelling.

A unique controversial tangled narrative full of suspense. The plot is plausible leaving you questioning ethics, the desperation of people, the abuse a body takes specifically of athletes. Engaging characters. A literary patchwork of genres – mystery, thriller. A story addressing guilt, revenge and redemption. Compelling, a ferocious page turner from beginning to end. For every action there is a reaction, if you’re partaking in questionable dealings beware of those involved and the fallout.

About Brian DeLeeuwbrian-abuot-178x300

Brian DeLeeuw is a novelist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. His first novel, In This Way I Was Saved, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009 and long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize, with editions published in the U.K., Germany, and France. “Some Kind of Hate,” an independent horror movie he co-wrote, is currently in post-production. He is a graduate of Princeton University and received his MFA in Fiction from The New School.

Visit Brian’s Website for more information about his work.

Giveaway

To enter to win a copy of The Dismantling please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US/CA residents only. Ends 6/6/15
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Thrilled to be included in the tour for Brian DeLeeuw’s The Dismantling. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Review & Giveaway: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

18490777When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

I was so excited to read this book, however I found myself let down. I know I am among the minority in my feelings.

As you know from my reviews I am worn out with the alternating narratives of past and present. Fully aware alternating narratives will not be disappearing anytime soon, however, when they work they are terrific, when they fail, they take down the entire story.

I liked Sarah, I liked her story. Sarah and her family – crusaders against slavery fight with all their might. Their strength, sacrifices along with determination create a fascinating read. In fact the whole entire book could have focused on Sarah and her family and it would have been perfect. Fabulous historical references hold the reader’s attention. By far the crux of the book was the Brown’s and their firm stance and ultimate goal.

Admittedly I wasn’t a fan of Eden. I understand her frustration with infertility but my gosh could she try to be a little kinder and a littler stronger. Right off the bat she is angry and defeated, not exactly gaining fans. Such a disparity between the two – Eden pales in comparison to the stellar Sarah. Precocious young Cleo teaches Eden a few lessons, thank goodness. Cleo steals the show to some degree along with Cricket the canine wingman.

Personally, if McCoy erased Eden taking another direction we would have a great book, as is it failed to stir me. Cleo and Cricket along with Sarah and her family kept me turning the pages hoping for so much more.

No doubt the audience disagrees with me and found much more throughout the narrative and characters than I did.

Giveaway

To enter to win a hardcover copy of The Mapmaker’s Children please complete the giveaway form below. US residents only. Ends 6/3/15
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•Hardcover, 320 pages
•Published May 5th 2015 by Crown
•ISBN13: 9780385348904

Review: The Artisan’s Star by Gabriella Contestabile w/ Giveaway

The Artisan's Star

Florence is a favorite destination of mine. Needless to say being transported to this vibrant energetic artesian city was delightful. The lush descriptions added to an armchair travel experience regardless if you are revisiting or hoping to inhale Florence at some point in time, you’ll find yourself enjoying every ingredient the author provides of this magnificent city.

I adored reading of the intricacies in creating a perfume along with the business in general. Perfume is alluring and intriguing, I appreciate a narrative delving into the fragrance industry.

Travelogue more than story, which was fine with this reader. The author also did more ‘showing’ than ‘telling’ which led to an abundance of descriptions bordering on tedious. Make no mistake the details were appreciated but after a while becoming somewhat overwhelming.

Character development was lacking. I prefer to bond experiencing a true connection with characters, I was disappointed I felt nothing for these characters. If Contestabile fleshed out the players more perhaps I would have felt a warmth, as is I felt nothing, vapid. Also the numerous characters were a distraction along with digression in subject matters and conversations – a bit chaotic. On more than one occasion the narrative veers off track leaving the peruser stranded.

Italophiles, an interest in the origins of perfume, undoubetly will find this book entertaining. Despite my misgivings I completely enjoyed my time immersed in rustic Florence.

About the book:

Elio Barati’s perfumery shop in Florence marks its entrance with a mosaic star. This shop immerses Elio in the artisanal world he loves, but he harbors a regret. As a young man he created a full-fledged perfume of jasmine, iris, and cypress at the renowned Ecole des Parfumeurs in Grasse—a fragrance his idealism and stubbornness boxed away before ever bringing it to light.

A second star now brightens Elio’s life, his daughter Romina, an artist. She has her father’s unrealized talent, a precise and intuitive sense of smell. She’s also inherited more challenging traits of Elio’s: unbridled ambition and an insatiable wonder for the world.

But changes ripple through modern-day Florence. Artisan traditions wane; and when Romina tells her father she has no intention of running the family business Elio fights to hold on to the Florence he cherishes. Confronting the lost opportunities of his youth, Elio is thrust into this journey by five spirited women: his Greek mother, Elena; his mentor Palma; his soul mate, Marina; his astronomer wife, Sofia; and finally his beautiful artist daughter, who like the city of her birth, shows him how tradition and modernity can and must co-exist.

Now he must alter his own path by harnessing the transformative powers of the fine and artisanal arts.

Buy the Book:

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Meet the Author:Gabriella Contestabile 2

Gabriella Contestabile is an author, educator, and owner of SU MISURA JOURNEYS, a boutique travel company connecting people to the artisans of Florence. She emigrated, with her parents, from Italy to New York City in 1959. In her pre-writer life, she worked as a foreign language teacher, management development specialist, and fragrance/cosmetics executive. Gabriella is a strong advocate of the arts, of multiculturalism, and of social justice—a passion inspired by reading Dickens and Dante at a very young age. She has been an active volunteer with Dress for Success for over eight years and is a member of the Slow Food NYC Food and Farm Policy Task Force. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, her daughter, her mom, and a furry Shih–Tzu named Oreo. ‘ The Artisan’s Star’ is her first novel. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, also set in Italy, and a screenplay.

Connect with Gabriella: Website ~ Twitter ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Su Misura ~ Facebook

Giveaway:​

5 winners will each receive one print or ebook copy of The Artisan’s Star, a $10 Amazon gift card and a perfume sample. (Open to USA & Canada) Ends May 16
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Excited to be included in the tour for Gabriella Contestabile’s The Artisan’s Star. Be sure to click on the Italy Book Tours banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you Italy Book Tours!

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