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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog CENOTAPH by Rich Marcello (@marcellor) Recommended to those looking for beauty, depth, and meaning #RBRT

Hi all:

I am pleased to bring you the new book by an author I discovered thanks to Rosie’s team, and one that always manages to make me pause and think.

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello 

AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.
When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

Praise for Cenotaphs
“Cenotaphs is a beautiful, timely, powerful novel. I read it slowly, savoring each scene. Its elegance, intelligence, poignancy, and humanity remind me of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.”—Mark Spencer, author of An Untimely Frost
“Cenotaphs
 is a masterful, moving meditation on loss and moving forward, and on the possibility of transcendence. But it’s the characters and their voices that will keep haunting me, so much so that I know readers will return to them time and again, as if they’re long lost members of a family.”––Rebecca Givens Rolland, author of On the Refusal to Speak
“Cenotaphs
 is an achingly poignant tale of love and loss, and for its protagonist Ben, how the two are intimately intertwined. In the course of this short novel, classic betrayal and unfathomable loss birth the most unexpected platonic love, and in doing so, show us the power of forgiveness. Marcello’s writing is elegant and lyrical and through a complex web of extremes, Cenotaphs cleverly reminds us that nothing is meant to last forever.”––Mark E Sorenson, author of A Restaurant in Jaffa
Previous Works
“. . .The Latecomers blends humor, suspense, and poetic prose while tackling big issues like graceful aging, chosen families, corporate ethics, personal fulfillment, and the unending quest for self-discovery, and brims with philosophical depth about the world and life’s possibilities.“—Indie Reader Approved––IndieReader
“Every once in a while, we get to read books that change how we see life. Rich Marcello brought such change in his literary novel, The Beauty of the Fall. This is for readers who love an intellectual read with profound life lessons and a host of inspiring characters.”––The Online Book Club

“While The Big Wide Calm can rightly be called a coming-of-age story, it is also very much a tale of a young woman who discovers how to truly love. . .Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all the basic requirements for best-of-show in the literary fiction category.”––The US Review of Books

“The Long Body that Connects Us All is a powerful collection of poetry. If you want to think and feel about your life and future, read this book alongside a box of tissues. In sharing his poetry, which reads like a memoir, Marcello has really written on elements of the human condition that do connect us all. Rating: 5 out of 5 ––The Book Review Directory 

https://www.amazon.com/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

https://www.amazon.es/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

Author Rich Marcello
Author Rich Marcello

About the author:

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Marcello/e/B00G97QU16/

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author, whom I met thanks to the team, for this opportunity and for the ARC copy of the book.

I have read two of Marcello’s novels, The Beauty of the Fall and the Latecomers, and I have quickly become an admirer of his books, as he combines a lyrical and poetic style of writing with a choice of subjects that transcend the usual genre novel and look deep into the souls and minds of his characters.

This novel is not heavy on plot or action (some things happen, of course, and there are references to pretty major events that took place before, although I won’t spoil the novel for future readers). It is primarily about relationships between all kinds of people. The primary relationship we learn about is the one between Ben, a retired man who leads a pretty quiet life in a cabin in Vermont and spends his time sharing his advice and wisdom with others, and Sam, a thirty-something hedge fund manager who spends most of her time travelling and conversing with strangers. They meet by chance and quickly realise that there is a connection between them. Although in appearance they are as different as could be, they come to realise that they share some experiences and feelings. They both feel guilty of something that happened to their families (they were both brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, although neither of them are followers of any official religion now), and they find companionship and comfort in each other. Their relationship confounds many, but although Platonic, they know they have found something special in each other and treasure it.

This book reminded me of some of my favourite French movies, especially Eric Rohmer’s, that made you feel as if you were a privileged witness to the conversations between two characters (or a few characters), as they slowly got to know each other and to discover that they were meant to be with each other (or sometimes, to be apart but to gain some important insight from their time together). This is a book of communing with nature, with your dog, of going fishing, of building a cenotaph, of stripping your life of unnecessary things and acknowledging what is truly important, and of understanding that you cannot heal from your emotional wounds by hiding your true self and pretending to be somebody else. People can help you along the way, but you have to come to accept your pain, your loss, your responsibility and, perhaps, if you’re lucky, meet somebody else and make amends.

It is difficult to talk about the genre of this book, because other than literary fiction, it doesn’t fit in nicely under any other category. There is romance, but not in the standard sense. It is not strictly a self-help book, because it is a fictional story, but I am sure it will inspire many readers. It deals in loss, grief, guilt, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and other self-destructive behaviours, but also in music, nature, friendship, family relationships, spirituality, religion, love, and the meaning of life. It even touches upon the paranormal and metaphysics, so anybody who likes to reflect, analyse, and dig into the depths of what makes us human could potentially be a good match for this book.

I wouldn’t say I quickly warmed to the two main characters. I was intrigued and puzzled by them, as it was clear that there were many secret motivations behind their behaviours and their actions, but slowly, as I learned about them, I came to understand them a bit better and to accept them as human beings (with all their faults and their gifts). Although we don’t learn that much about the rest of the characters, I quite liked Scott (terrible mistake and all) and would have liked to learn more about Marianne, one of Ben’s friends but not around when we meet him. Zeke, the dog, was quite a character, and I enjoyed the conversations between Ben, Sam, and all of Ben’s friends, so different but so happy to share and engage in serious debate.

I also loved the lyrical quality of the language and the many thoughts and phrases that made me stop and think. As usual, I’d advise people thinking about reading it to check a sample of the novel to see how they feel, but I’ll also share a few quotations I highlighted. Please, remember that I am reviewing an early copy, and there might have been changes in the final version.

An aspiration for old age: When the weight lifts, float up over all the love harmed, and marvel that something as healing as forgiveness exists at all.

Sometimes an undercurrent joins two people right from the start.

My greatest learning is this —love people exactly where they are, flaws and all, for as long as they grace your life. We don’t get do-overs, do we?

We never really fully understand another human being, do we, only the ways they touch us.

The story is narrated in the first person by both main characters, and if I had to highlight one of the things that got me a bit confused, it was the way the book was divided up. Who was narrating each part was clearly indicated, but there were several parts I and parts II throughout the book, and some ‘chapters’ with their own separate titles. I think part of the issue might be due to reading an ARC e-book copy and not having a clear idea of its structure, but later on, there is a development in the novel itself that helps to give this issue a totally different perspective. So, although the novel is written in the first person, and I know there are readers who don’t appreciate that, there is a good reason for the choice, and the quality of the writing is such that it should dispel any concerns. (The author sent me an up-to-date version of the e-book, and I can confirm that the issue I had with the format and the titles of the chapters seems to have been a problem with the early copy, so no need to worry). 

I recommend this book to people who enjoy beautiful writing, who are looking for a different kind of story, one that makes you think, reflect and ponder, rather than turn the pages quickly to know what will happen next. To those who love to explore the reasons behind people’s behaviours, to look closely at their relationships, and to wonder about the meaning of life. And if you’ve never read any of the author’s books, you’re in for a treat and a delightful surprise. Don’t delay.

Thanks to the author and to Rosie and her team, thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling and safe. Big hugs!

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview ALL I EVER WANTED by Lucy Dillon (@lucy_dillon) A feel-good story with its heart in the right place.

Hi all:

As promised, I’m going down my list of reviews. As it’s in alphabetic order, it’s luck of the draw what comes up, genre-wise, but you won’t have to wait long for the next one.

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon I recommend it to anybody who loves a gentle story about families, with no scandals, major shocks, histrionics or extremes

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME AND ONE SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS COMES A HEARTWARMING, BITTERSWEET AND UPLIFTING STORY OF MISSED CHANCES AND UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITIES.

‘Lucy Dillon’s books make the world a better place’ Heat

‘Bittersweet, lovely and ultimately redemptive; the kind of book that makes you want to live your own life better’ Jojo Moyes

‘So satisfying and clever and deeply moving’ Sophie Kinsella

Caitlin’s life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.

Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.

Nancy’s Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.

But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages – and about what they both really want . . .

Links:

 

 

About the author: 

Author Lucy Dillon
Author Lucy Dillon

Lucy Dillon grew up in Cumbria and read English at Cambridge, then read a lot of magazines as a press assistant in London, then read other people’s manuscripts as a junior fiction editor. She now lives in a village outside Hereford with two basset hounds, an old red Range Rover, and too many books.

ONE SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS is Lucy’s sixth novel. The people are made up, but the basset hound, unfortunately, isn’t.

Lucy won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Contemporary Romantic Novel prize in 2015 for A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME, and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for LOST DOGS AND LONELY HEARTS.

You can follow her on Twitter @lucy_dillon or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/LucyDillonBooks.

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

This novel tells the story of a family, as unique as all families, and it starts seemingly at a point of crisis. What is supposed to be a fun trip to London for the kids, just ahead of Christmas, somehow marks the beginning of the end for of Caitlin and Patrick’s marriage. In the aftermath of the separation between them, Patrick’s sister, Eva, who was widowed a couple of years ago, ends up becoming roped into the situation and making interesting discoveries about herself.

The story is told in the third person, mostly from the alternating points of view of Caitlin and Eva, although there are a couple of fragments from the point of view of little Nancy. This is a book dominated by the female perspective, although it is not chick-lit. Each character is very distinctive and the reader gets to share in their point of view, although the alternating voices help to give more perspective to the story and to create a fuller understanding and a richer picture. Whilst at times we might identify completely with the characters and share their thoughts and feelings, they are not presented as perfect or always right. In fact, it is easy to feel annoyed and frustrated at times with some of the decisions they take, and we start questioning our alliances. But, as is the case with real human beings, nobody is perfect, and in this case, the story helps us understand their circumstances, why they behave as they do. By the end, we conclude that they all love each other, sometimes even if they are not aware of it, but they needed to work through their difficulties communicating and to get rid of the secrets they kept from each other.

The novel offers us two very different female protagonists, Caitlin, reckless, impulsive, disorganised, with a big heart, a fierce mother who’d do anything to protect her cubs, but less than perfect, and aware of her weak points, and Eva, a far more rational, business-like and determined woman. Both of them thought they’d found the perfect husband but they discover things aren’t quite as they think. As mentioned, we might feel closer to one or the other, but they both come through the pages as real people. We share their fears, hopes, puzzlement, even if at times we might not agree with what they do. The two children, Joel and Nancy are beautifully depicted, with their very different temperaments, and they also function well as stand-ins for children in similar situations, trying their hardest to cope and make sense of what’s going on around them. In a way, Nancy and her predicament, when she stops talking, is an embodiment of the difficulties between the adults, who are also keeping secrets and are unable to communicate effectively their feelings, even if they are still talking. The men in the story, although only seen through the perspective of the women, are neither knights in shining armour (no matter how hard they try), nor villains, but good people trying their best to be worthy of their partners and their families. And if you love pets, the two pugs, Bumble and Bee will melt your hearts, with their individual personalities, their ways of communicating and providing a safe haven to humans, and their winning ways.

This is a touching novel that makes us think about families (standard and alternative), about the impact of expectations and childhood experiences on our adult behaviour, and about the risks of trying to impose impossible standards on others. We need to remain true to ourselves to be the best for our families. The author invites us to become members of this extended family and we feel a bit orphaned at the end. I recommend it to anybody who loves a gentle story about families, with no scandals, major shocks, histrionics or extremes. A feel-good story with its heart in the right place.

Thanks to NetGalley, to the publishers and to the author for this wonderful novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember, like, share, comment and CLICK! More tomorrow!

 

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Book reviews

#Bookreview HERE I AM by Jonathan Safran Foer. Family, nation, religion, identity and writing with an inimitable style. And authors answer the question, What does your writing look like?

Today I bring you both a new book and a review. I’d been curious about this writer for a while and this is one of the few reviews where I’ve got feedback on the review itself in Amazon (at first somebody complaining about a spoiler, although it is not that kind of novel, and later recommendations and good words).

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Literary FictionGeneral Fiction (Adult)

Description

A monumental new novel about modern family lives from the bestselling author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Abraham replied obediently, ‘Here I am’.

This is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. Over the course of three weeks in present-day Washington DC, three sons watch their parents’ marriage falter and their family home fall apart. Meanwhile, a larger catastrophe is engulfing another part of the world: a massive earthquake devastates the Middle East, sparking a pan-Arab invasion of Israel. With global upheaval in the background and domestic collapse in the foreground, Jonathan Safran Foer asks us – what is the true meaning of home? Can one man ever reconcile the conflicting duties of his many roles – husband, father, son? And how much of life can a person bear?

Links:

Hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Am-Jonathan-Safran-Foer/dp/0374280029/

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Am-Jonathan-Safran-Foer/dp/1250135753/

Audible: https://www.amazon.com/Here-I-Am/dp/B01K7S49BK/

(I haven’t found an e-book version available yet).

Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin Books UK Hamish Hamilton for offering me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had not read any of Jonathan Safran Foer before, so I can’t really compare it to his previous work. I’ve checked comments about the novel, as I felt quite overwhelmed when I finished its reading and I wanted to check if I was the only one. The opinions by people who’d read his previous novels varied widely, although ‘ambitious’ is one of the words most often used in all the comment, positive and otherwise. Yes, the novel is ambitious. The story is about the disintegration of an upper-middle-class Jewish-American marriage. Jacob, the main character, writes a TV comedy, is married, with three children, a dog, and relatives both in the United States and in Israel. The story is told mostly from his point of view, although there are fragments also told from other characters’ viewpoint, like his grandfather, his wife, his oldest son… Later in the novel there are also inserts that purport to be news articles or news reports about an earthquake that affects most of the Middle-East and has terrible consequences for the region, resulting in what is referred to in the book as ‘the destruction of Israel’. The attempts at equating the family’s fortunes to that of Israel itself are clear when reading the book, although how successful they are it’s open to the individual reader (for me, the situation provides a good way to test the main character’s beliefs and is a good way of offering the reader a better understanding of him, but how literally we’re supposed to take it is a different matter).

This is not an easy book to read, for a variety of reasons. The quality of the writing is excellent, although I found it difficult sometimes not to get lost as to who is talking in very long dialogues with few tags (but I am aware that different readers feel differently about this). Although there is action in the novel, most of the time this is observed and described through the subjectivity of different characters, making it appear slower than in most books. All the characters are highly intellectual and articulate, even Sam, Jacob’s teenage son who does not want to have a Bar Mitzvah. Often, we see the same events from different points of view in different chapters and the actual time frame of the story might become confused. Towards the end of the novel we discover that the famous TV programme Jacob has been privately working on is, in reality, a retelling of his family’s story, so I wondered if this was a book, within a book… There are also many Yiddish terms used that although have been incorporated into English in the US might not be so familiar to readers in other places (although they might be known from TV, and if reading the electronic version there’s always the dictionary at hand).

The characters are easily identifiable but not necessarily that easy to empathise with and might not have much in common with a large part of the readership. They all try their best, but fail often, find excuses for themselves, give up, and are less than heroic. They also lie and feel sorry for themselves, but at times are truly amazing and insightful. Overall. in the book there are funny and witty moments, there are sad moments, and there are moments that made me think. There are images and vignettes I don’t think I’ll ever forget, and reflections I’ll keep thinking about.

There are moments when reading this book that I was gripped by the power of the writing (and yes, at times it reminded me of other writers, like Philip Roth, but perhaps an older version of some of Roth’s earlier novels), and others when I wondered exactly where we were going, but I didn’t mind to be taken along for the ride.

This is not a novel for those who like functional writing that gets out of the way of the story and moves along at a good pace, rather than contemplating itself. But if you enjoy deeply subjective and introspective writing, and in-depth explorations of identity, relationship and what makes us human, I’d recommend it to you.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book, thanks to all of you for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Oh, and the wonderful Marie Lavender has organised another of her multiauthor events, this time asking a number of writers: What does your writing look like? She’s been kind enough to ask me to take part. Here is the link to her post. I’m aware it will go live on the 11th of November afternoon (Eastern US coast time), so depending on when you’re reading this you might not be able to read it yet, but visit it later if you can, as I’m sure both readers and writers will find it interesting. Thanks!

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Guest author post

#NewBook P.S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye (@pokercubster) Memoirs can teach us so much!

Hi all:

Yes, I know I said I would be sharing old posts because I’m trying to carve some time for the things I should be doing… (the other things I should be doing) but I’ve wanted to share D. G. Kaye‘s new book for a while and kept thinking that perhaps I’d do it when I read and reviewed one of her books. Realistically I know it will take me some time to get there (my reading list has become all jumbled up, so anything might happen), and I don’t want to deprive  the readers who follow my blog from getting started  and exploring her books (even if it takes me, personally, a while to get there). D. G. (Debby for her friends and followers) writes non-fiction, some about her travels, menopause, but some that are even more personal, about her relationship with her mother, and this one is very personal indeed.

So here it is.

P. S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye
P. S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye

 

P.S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye

“I hurt for her. She wasn’t much of a mother, but she was still my mother.”

Confronted with resurfacing feelings of guilt, D.G. Kaye is tormented by her decision to remain estranged from her dying emotionally abusive mother after resolving to banish her years ago, an event she has shared in her book Conflicted Hearts. In P.S. I Forgive You, Kaye takes us on a compelling heartfelt journey as she seeks to understand the roots of her mother’s narcissism, let go of past hurts, and find forgiveness for both her mother and herself.

After struggling for decades to break free, Kaye has severed the unhealthy ties that bound her to her dominating mother—but now Kaye battles new confliction, as the guilt she harbors over her decision only increases as the end of her mother’s life draws near. Kaye once again struggles with her conscience and her feelings of being obligated to return to a painful past she thought she left behind.

blog-new-book-ps-print-cover

Excerpt

The End Is Near

My mother had been dying for years, and through those years she refused to surrender her bitterness and remained in denial of her flaws. The many times I heard she was dying reminded me of the boy who cried wolf. I almost believed she was invincible, and even though I never wanted her to suffer, she did.

I thought it was just a horrible and sad way to die—holding hatred for those she had chased out of her life, living in bitter seclusion, knowing her days were numbered. Her once vibrant life had diminished into a mere existence of watching TV and complaining. She’d also given all her caregivers a difficult time, bitching at them all and letting them know how useless they were to her because of what her life had become. Nobody was exempt.

I asked my brother Robby why God didn’t just take her out of her misery and pain during one of the many times she was on the brink of death. Why would he not spare her from suffering? He replied, “God has his own plans.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he was letting her suffer because she had hurt so many people in her lifetime, but in my next thought I couldn’t believe God would play those cruel games, tit for tat.

I wondered what thoughts had to have been going through my mother’s head. How awful it must have been to know her time left on earth was limited. I thought about how frightened she must have felt in her lonely world, although she’d never admit it. I was sad for her, knowing that the anger and bitterness she displayed was a front for the depressed state of her pathetic life. I couldn’t fathom why she remained so obstinate in her resolve to spend what little time she had left wallowing in misery instead of embracing the end and making amends with her children. I wanted to fix her, but I didn’t know how.

Get Your Copy Here!  Available on Amazon!

On the occasion of her new book, D. G. Kaye has given a number of interviews that I thought you’d enjoy too. Here I leave you links to them and that way you can go and explore her blog too.

Author D.G. Kaye
Author D.G. Kaye

Interviews:

http://dgkayewriter.com/mind-pen-spirit-interview-d-g-kaye/

http://dgkayewriter.com/write-memoir-savvy-book-writers/

Thanks to Debby for her books, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it, you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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Reviews

Two Reviews. Kirstin Pulioff's 'The Ivory Tower' and P.J. LaRue 'After "I Do!" A Marriage Map'

Hi all:

As you know, apart from a writer, I’m also a reader and when I have time, I read. I’ve been reading many indie books of recent and being a writer I know how important it is for writers to get reviews for their books. I also try and share them here and see if people who might have missed them find the books interesting.

Today I bring you two short and very different reads. One is a distopian YA novella and the other one a non-fiction book about relationships.

The Ivory Tower
The Ivory Tower

Review of Kirstin Pulioff’s ‘The Ivory Tower’

A sharp, shiny and precise jewel of a dystopian novella.

I read The Ivory Tower very quickly some time ago and have finally managed to catch up with a review. This dystopian story is brief but hides a good punch. I’m always in two minds with regards to shorter stories. On the one hand I want to know more, but on the other hand, the best of them are like perfect jewels, nicely shaped, shiny and precise. Sharp with no rounded edges. I suspect some of that precision and the effect might be lost if they were longer.

The Ivory Tower is one of those stories. The reader is given some details but not the full story behind the situation or the reasons why the characters live as they do. And that makes you think and imagine. It also works because when the main character finds herself in a situation that she cannot quite understand, you are in her shoes and as astounded as her by what happens. The sense of menace and threat increases as one reads and the writing helps create an atmospheric and intriguing tale. Although there are no unduly lengthy descriptions, the reader knows where s/he is. And the ending…

If you only have a little time and want a good story (not a feel good story, though) go and grab The Ivory Tower, quick!

http://www.amazon.com/Ivory-Tower-Kirstin-Pulioff-ebook/dp/B00FJ3A58A/

After "I Do!" A Marriage Map
After “I Do!” A Marriage Map

After “I Do!” A Marriage Map by P.J. LaRue Common sense advice about relationships, from the heart.

Before I write the review I must confess something. I’m not married and I’m not in a relationship at the moment. I’m not sure if that qualifies me more or disqualifies me completely from writing this review, but I’ve already warned you. If you want to read on, it’s up to you.

Having said all that, I have to confess I loved the book. Like all advice, one can take it or leave it. And Oscar Wilde already told us that the thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. That one should never use it oneself. I don’t agree although understand the sentiment.

P.J. LaRue explains her reasons for writing the book. She is aware of the statistics on the survival of relationships and observes that although her marriage seemed to have many numbers for not working, it has (so far for over thirty years). As people kept asking her and her husband for the recipe, that got her thinking, and as she is a writer, she thought she’d write a book about it.

The author’s advice is common sense, but not for that less valuable. She reflects on what she calls ‘Starter Marriages’ and observes that if there is no true commitment to a relationship from the beginning you might as well not even bother. If you’re going to give up at the first hurdle, don’t get in the race. She also emphasises the importance of communication, true communication, and she highlights the elements she thinks are necessary for such communication to exist: honesty, be open, listen, never trash talk, don’t play games, whisper sweet nothings, choose your words carefully, change requires self-awareness, change takes effort, compromise, tone, body language, golden rule and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Other than ‘whisper sweet nothings’ I’d say they are very good principles to follow in any communication, but even more important when the communication is with your loved one.

If the advice is sound, as I say, what I found more touching (and it is a touching book) was how the author uses her own relationship as a yardstick and example of both the things to do and the possible pitfalls, the type of problems that relationships experience. She is candid and honest when talking about her personal difficulties and the trials that they have had to go through (and they’re still coming to terms with).

It might be that some of the ideas exposed in the book (yes, I’m talking about her stance on sex in relationships) might sound old-fashioned, and she herself acknowledges that, but just because something is old or has been said before it doesn’t mean it is wrong. You can always decide what parts of the advice you think should apply to you, but if you can be as selfless and insightful as the author is after you read it, I guarantee you will have a much better chance at making your relationship work.

http://www.amazon.com/After-Do-Marriage-Map-LaRue-ebook/dp/B00LIGL9FK/

By the way, very recently I’ve joined the BTS-e Magazine team of reviewers (I’ll let you know when my reviews come up and give you a link to the magazine), so I leave you links to it for you to check and explore.

Thanks so much for reading, and you know, if  you’ve found it interesting, like, share, comment and of course CLICK! Ah, and if read any books and enjoy them, remember to review and recommend them to your friends!

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