Every Wild Heart: A Novel
Every Wild Heart is the story of a woman, Gail, and her daughter, Nic. Gail Gideon is a radio personality who gives no-nonsense advice about love to her listeners. She’s built a sort of empire around her brand, including writing a book. Her minor fame often brings major issues, like rabid fans and stalkers from whom she must protect her privacy.
Nic is a painfully shy girl with a stutter. She lives for the days when she can leave school and ride her horse, Tru. One day, she takes Tru on a trail ride. She tries to jump over a fallen tree, but she falls off the horse and slips into a coma. When she awakens, her stutter is gone and she has a new sense of adventure. After her inhibitions fall away, Nic decides to train an abused horse, Peach, in secret.
This book is about the tug-of-war relationships mothers have with their teenage daughters, the efforts mothers make to protect their daughters, and the lengths to which their daughters will go to subvert them. With Nic’s newfound confidence, Gail feels the need to rein her in. But Gail ultimately realizes that she was the same way when she was fourteen years old. Every Wild Heart is a wonderful story to read for Mother’s Day.
William Morrow Paperbacks
Hauling Through by Peter Bridgford is an exciting novel with a lot of adventure, suspense, and intrigue. Readers will be lured deeply into this brilliantly well-written piece. Peter Bridgford’s talent shines through on every page. Hauling Through offers readers a mixture of what the life of fishermen in Maine is like and how the small-town life can be difficult. Living in my own small town, where people either make it or break it the acceptance levels is not easy at all. The variety of characters inside this quirky read will keep readers turning the pages. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Peter Bridgford has captured the reality of life into his amazing world of fiction. Once readers get past the introductions and know what’s going on, the plot speeds up from there. Inside Hauling Through by Peter Bridgford, readers are introduced to the small-town way of life. If readers knew what lobster work was like for those living in Maine within this novel, readers would appreciate their lobsters a bit more. Life, of lobster catching and crazy town folk is everything you would expect in Kestrel Cove. It is here that we meet the main character, Jamie Kurtz. He isn’t an insider of this community until close to the ending. His journey of the ups and downs that he has experienced in this fictional town is a lot for one man, a man who felt closer to a town than his own family. But what really will entice readers is the offer that Jamie receives and what happens from there. Spies, romance, and trouble lurk ahead waiting at every readers’ fingertips. I enjoyed reading this tale and following Jamie as his journey builds up and comes to a close. Peter Bridgford’s novel has what every reader wants in a novel, with realistic characters that readers won’t forget. Overall, I highly recommend this title to readers everywhere.
The Sword of Telemon
Eiland’s Sword of Telemon is the first in the four-book Orfeo Saga. The story opens with Orfeo struggling to fit in upon returning to his family/tribe after having spent several years as a hostage in the city of Pylos. Shortly after the story opens, Orfeo’s brother Herron is taken as a slave by raiders.
Kiros, father of Orfeo and Herron, and King of the Achians (Achaeans), gathers the tribe at Delphi so that a plan of rescue may be formulated. In the end, Orfeo, the Wanderer known as Zurga, the hero Telemon (Telamon), and Telemon’s second, Orton, are dispatched on a diplomatic mission to ransom Herron or buy him from the slavers. Along the way to Pylos, Orfeo begins lessons in swordplay with Telemon. Zurga, whose role as a Wanderer puts me in mind of the Druids, teaches Orfeo the wisdom of the Wanderers. Together, Zurga and Telemon polish Orfeo as a craftsman polishes and shapes a raw gem to reveal the brilliance hidden within.
Things don’t go as planned with the retrieval, of course, and the group ends up tangling with a conquering people known as the Therans. Orfeo, accompanied by a young woman named Clarice, leaves the group to continue the search for the missing heir. Zurga, Telemon, Orton, and Nadahr, another Wanderer, recognize the danger the Therans pose, and remain behind to gather the various tribes together and begin arranging a defense against Theran incursion.
Orfeo and Clarice, traveling as entertainers, end up being invited to Thera by a man called Draik. Since they now believe Herron has been taken to Thera, they jump on the invitation and become contracted performers for Draik. For a while they are lulled into being at ease among the Therans, but that lasts only until things begin going south for the Therans in their war efforts. They seek scapegoats and turn on Draik, seeing his contributions to said war efforts as causing the failures. He is taken for treason, and the entertainer contracts he held are divvied up among the royals.
Orfeo and Clarice are nearly ready to abandon their search and flee Thera, when Clarice stumbles upon Herron. Mission complete, they flee Thera just in time, as the volcanic island decides to blow a gasket. Even so, the ship they are fleeing on is destroyed in the ensuing tsunami. The story goes on to tell the fates of the major players, some rather surprising.
Fun stuff: I really enjoy historical novels that look at the events that may be the seeds to myth and legend, in this case, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The supernatural elements are weeded out, leaving behind a story more realistically plausible. This story also provided a unique and different take on Thera, known today as Santorini — one place believed to have been fabled Atlantis. Orfeo and Clarice weather the fury of one of the most deadly volcano eruptions of the time, one that fair wiped out a civilization.
Not so fun stuff: The story started a bit too slow for me. The prose can be flowy. I do feel that there is much that could be condensed or chopped entirely. The story needs another good proofing. There were a scattering of grammar and spelling errors, along with some inconsistencies. Two that really stick out in my mind are a description of Orfeo waking with his left hand clasping his left arm, and referencing both Zeus and Mars in regards to the same character. If they are Greeks, it would Ares instead of Mars. I have the same qualm about the use of Vulcan instead of Hephaestus. I also had a disagreement with some of the variant spellings (Achian/Achaean, Telemon/Telamon, Orfeo/Orpheus).
However, all that being said, Eiland’s Sword of Telemon, is a delightful sojourn to an ancient time. I loved it so much that I just bought the complete four-book set. If you enjoy historical fiction, or Greek history and mythology, this book is sure to please. Come, walk with Orfeo as he finds himself and comes into his own, as a warrior, as a scholar, as a man of the Achaeans and a man apart from the Achaeans. This is a brilliant rendering of a classic myth, and a coming of age story easy to relate to, especially if you’re a little on the eccentric side, like me! Orfeo must learn where he truly fits in given the vastly different experiences he’s had and doesn’t always find it an easy thing to do.
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Here we have Pride and Prejudice for a modern, sexually liberated crowd. The Bennet sisters are still facing financial trouble, this time a little more immediate, since Mr. Bennet’s seemingly never ending supply of money proved insufficient to support both his wife’s shopping addiction and bypass surgery without health insurance. Liz and Jane, the only two sisters to strike out on their own, return to Cincinnati to help care for their father during his recovery and help save the family from financial ruin. And if they can find love along the way, even better. Enter Chip Bingley, ER doctor and reality TV star, and his best friend, the arrogant neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The story and characters remain astonishingly true to Austen’s original, despite the many updates, modifications, and additions. They are all a bit older than their Regency counterparts—Jane has been aged to nearly forty to make a convincing modern “spinster.” Even the style is remarkably similar to Austen’s—short chapters with minimal description and packed with witty dialogue. Although I miss the sweetness of Austen’s morality (where characters do not jump directly into bed with each other), I would still recommend this to adult Austen fans looking for a fresh new version.
The Singer and His Songs
In The Singer and His Songs, the reader is taken through the short course of Chris Smith’s life. Chris starts off disadvantaged, the son of poor World War II refugees from Estonia who wind up in Australia. Chris lives through his teen years there, and experiences the infancy of rock-and-roll. Reserved and haunted by a sense of not belonging, Chris nevertheless reaches the height of fame through his abilities in guitar/vocal composition and performance. He is a “natural” talent without formal training. Chris also meets his true love—twice—women with whom he forms lasting attachments. April, his first girlfriend, is his soulmate. Their meeting is “Romeo and Juliet-esque” in that they are drawn together after catching sight of each other at a dance. Much of Chris’s life seems fated. After giving him music and April, Fate snatches both away when his family leaves Australia. Chris finds both again, however, before the tragic end of his life that leaves an enduring legacy.
This is a compelling story, its strength in its plotline that keeps the reader riveted. The writing style itself is strong—clean and direct. Where the story could be strengthened is in focus and depth. The plot is so broad, moving from the years after WWII and his parents’ immigration, through Chris’s childhood years, adulthood, and the end of his life, so depth is sacrificed. For example, the reader is told, repeatedly, what a wonderful performer Chris is. However, there are few details on what he looks like, feels like, or sounds like on stage. There is a similar concern with the relationship with April. The reader is told about their great love, but there is no real love scene showing them talking to, touching, or kissing each other for an extended period. The story might be improved by shortening or cutting the backstory of how Chris’s family immigrated, and starting with Chris picking up a guitar for the first time, the real story beginning. Then details, especially sensory ones, can be added to show Chris’s relationship to music and April, thus pulling the reader more into the story.
Amelia (Mel) Harper is plagued with dreams, ever since the loss of her parents in a car accident. Longing for interpretations to the vivid images that make her toss and turn at night, she finds solace in confiding her nightmares to a mysterious older gentleman named Harry, who only communicates to her through written messages. Although he offers good counsel, Mel’s problems are suddenly compounded by other perplexing situations, especially a call from a travel agency seeking confirmation to travel plans for two that she neither booked, nor paid for. When she decides to ask her best friend, Kevin, if he’d go with her and he accepts the invitation, Kevin is unaware of the background to this trip, as well as Mel’s hidden agenda – her sense that she is suppose to be there for something much more than a nice vacation. True to her instincts, what unfolds is a situation that is not only totally unexpected, but also metaphysically mind boggling.
In her debut novel, Kirk has produced a tale replete with unique characters that embody sturdy personality traits, in particular Mel — the lead protagonist. Written in first-person narrative, Mel recounts what takes place after her parents’ demise. Her life is pretty much centered on her work and her familial, platonic, and mysterious relationships that she has with her grandpa, Kevin, and Harry, respectively. Kirk keeps the plot crisp and flowing by slowly building suspense through Mel’s evolving dreams and the cryptic signs she discovers along the way, which are juxtaposed by her tight-knit relationships and by incorporating dangling closures to chapters that don’t immediately resolve in subsequent chapters.
Constant Pull may be earmarked as contemporary fiction; however, it leans more toward a thriller. Kirk has shrewdly integrated non stereotypical anticipation with the possibility of impending romance. Book one, which concludes with a riveting cliffhanger, will definitely leave readers yearning for the next in a brilliantly prospective series.