September 1, 2017
The book is well-written and well-edited, and the characters are well-drawn. The humans in the book are at varying stages in their lives, and each is facing a conflict or personal struggle of some kind. The role that dogs play in their lives is different for each, but the dogs often take on the position of empathetic but removed observer, asking spiritual questions and pontificating on the motivations and fears of their “masters”. I put ‘masters’ in quotation marks because, as mentioned before, this is a book that will make you ask who the truly evolved life form is. The setting compliments the chaotic nature of the humans’ world, and Archer paints a New York City that is bustling and unforgiving. The stories move along at a quick pace and it was easy to get through several vignettes in a sitting. While the subject matter is tough, the book itself is very digestible. This is a book that will grab your attention, but refuses to hold your hand. While each characters’ story arc ends in a satisfying conclusion, the reader will find that many of the queries the book raises will have to be answered by the readers themselves. While this book will appeal most to animal-lovers, there is something in here for everyone, and A Dog’s View of Love, Life and Death is easily a 5-star read.
Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili has been awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature! Check out our first assessment of this riveting work below!
In a little Tanzanian village a child is born, but her parents’ joy quickly turns to horror when they see that she’s different in a way that brings bad luck to the entire village, for she’s an albino. In many African cultures, albinos are objects of scorn and hatred, neither human nor animal. The father rejects her, refusing even to give her a name, and the villagers want her taken to the forest and left to die. But, her grandmother, remembering her own terrible experience when she gave birth to an albino child that was left to die, begs to be allowed to take the child and raise it.
Through a rare stroke of luck, the grandmother, Nkamba, convinces the village chief and the shaman and is allowed to take the child, which she names Adimu. Adimu grows up suffering the scorn of the village until she meets Charles and Sarah Fielding, a wealthy white couple who own a mine near the village. A bond develops between them, but Charles, a man consumed by the desire for wealth, suffers financial loss and falls sway to the village shaman, who covets power, leading him to make a decision that imperils Adimu’s life, his relationship with his wife, and his sanity.
Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili is a profound, thought-provoking novel that highlights the plight of albinos in Africa through the life of one such individual. The characters are brought to life on the pages, as is the physical and cultural environment and its impact on the people inhabiting it. The author could have preached about the terrible treatment inflicted upon albinos, but instead does a masterful job of ‘showing’ the reader through Adimu’s encounters with other villagers, with the gangs who hunt albinos for their supposed magical powers, and the relationships between black and white Africans, people who are united by a common culture while at the same time divided by race and class. Character motivations are also shown by their reactions to events; for instance, the shaman’s obsession with power as he puts his traditional beliefs up against the lure of Christianity, brought to Africa by the white missionaries, but carried on by local converts. At the same time, the way locals carry two belief systems and reconcile them in their daily lives, and the conflicts this causes, is highlighted. Throughout the book, the strength of the human spirit, and its ability to redeem is abundantly apparent.
The cover, a simple graphic showing hands of different colors clasped, highlights both the conflict and cooperation that exists in the story.
Without preaching, the author highlights the plight of Africa’s albinos more effectively than all the UN pamphlets or political speeches.
Another great strength of this book is that, though it was written originally in Italian, the English translation is so smooth, it’s not at all apparent that this is a translation.
Most westerners are unaware of the problems faced by albinos in traditional African societies, but after reading this book, can not only become aware, but might just be called to action to help do something about it.
I give this book five stars for theme and execution. A compelling read.
February 27, 2017
The Flower Seller tells the story of Jessie Martin, an at-times bland and by-the-book solicitor (someone who handles the buying and selling of land properties) with the firm of Smith Mathers in the fictional Essex market town of Abbeyleigh. When we meet Jessie, she is just coming out of a 21-year marriage in which she sacrificed her career for her family and now has little to show for it. Amid a contentious divorce with her ex, William, Jessie reluctantly tries to find love again at the suggestion of her daughter, Hannah, and her adventurous friend Anne. When a blind date at a hamburger restaurant that doesn’t seem to go well turns out to be a message from the universe in disguise, Jessie is set on a journey that will test her character, patience and her capacity to forgive.The book itself is well written and well edited (UK Style) and structured appropriately for the story. There is little to complain about technically, but it should be noted that this is a book that can drag in some places. The author seems to make a joke about this in the beginning when Jessie tries desperately to prove that people in her line of work do have senses of humor, but the author is also not joking. Many of the scenes involving the firm and Jessie’s attempt to further her role there, the litigation segments and some of the dialogues between Jessie & William and Jessie & Owen can move at a slow pace. I know there are readers out there who will want to know all of the information presented, so for some it might not even be an issue, but I could see how others might be pressed to rush through those parts to get to more of the exciting aspects of the book.
February 24, 2017
If you’re a fan of serial vampire fiction and are looking for a fresh voice that not only captures, but also amplifies the allure and mystique of the classics of the genre – look no further than the Sinistra Dei series by Kathryn M. Hearst!
The second novel in the series, Feast of Mercy continues the story of Gia and her would-be suitors on their holy quest, and delivers the same level of charismatic dialogue and meticulously detailed world-building as the first entry, Feast of The Epiphany. For fans of the first novel, you will find yourself again wracked with both empathy and schadenfreude as our characters fall into and out of love with each other during their adventure. While unfamiliar readers will likely want to start with the first book in the series, this entry has more than enough action, romance and witty dialogue to engage newcomers.
If Feast of The Epiphany was the introduction to this world, Feast of Mercy establishes in detail the hierarcy of power within that world. While this is primarily the story of Gia and her beaus, the Christian metaphysical aspects of the story are paid close attention to. This is a story of trust and betrayal and sacrifice and redemption. It is a tale that draws you in and makes you choose. It is the journey from first chance to final judgment.
The author takes great care when blending several genres into something that is current, sexy, smart and spiritual. I give this book 5 stars and recommend it highly to fans of vampire fiction.