TLC Book Tour: The Vineyard

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

Fiction
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 25, 2014 by Ragbagger Press
$16.95 (CAD)
 
Note: As a tour host selected by TLC virtual book tours, I received a complimentary copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
The Vineyard is the story of three college friends coming together for the summer ten years after graduation. The lives of Dory, Charlotte, and Turner have not turned out the way that they’ve hoped. Dory Delano comes from old money and has a beautiful estate on Martha’s Vineyard. She invites her friends to summer with her—she thinks that’s just the cure that’s in order.  

When they arrive, they come in contact with a mysterious fisherman. Some even think he might  be dangerous. Whoever he is, his presence on the island sparks and fuels a myth. And changes the lives of these three women forever. 
 
It only took a few pages to draw me in. I was immediately empathetic to the plight of Charlotte. Her pain and depression over her daughter’s fate is very compelling. This trend continues with Dory and Turner, the other protagonists, as they are individually introduced. 
 
The writing in this novel is very good and the characters are very well drawn. Each of these three women is quite different. They have each grown in different ways and are reconnecting after ten years. This summer on the Vineyard means something different to each of them. They all bring their own baggage, both literal and metaphorical, and seek to unpack it with their friends. 
 
Charlotte is a grieving mother who lost her young daughter to cancer two years before. She wants nothing more than to be able to bury her unbaptized child on consecrated ground. Turner is an insecure blogger who thrives on salacious attention from men. Dory is a wealthy socialite who doesn’t know how to be anything else. 

On the night that Charlotte arrives, she plans to commit suicide so that she might join her daughter. When she gets to the summer house, she finds a shopping list from Dory, with instructions to seek out a mysterious fishermen who somehow manages to catch loads of delicious jumbo shrimp when the rest of the fishermen have been coming up empty handed all season. Charlotte does as instructed. Her strange encounter with this man unknowingly alters the course of these three women’s lives forever.
 
I love a good story about the power of female friendship. While this was a major theme, it wasn’t the sole direction of the novel. The storyline of the fisherman played a large role, and it wasn’t in a way that I expected. Generally I love a good surprise and plot twist. However, this surprise was more of genre. I thought I was getting into a contemporary fiction about friendship—it was, however, also a religious/philosophical/supernatural book embodied by the prophetic fisherman Enoch. This was certainly an interesting story, but not something I would have sought out had I known what I was getting myself into. That being said, I really enjoyed the writing and the characters, as well as the different intersecting stories of Charlotte, Turner, and Dory. 
Here’s the book trailer: 


About Michael Hurley

Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.
The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press in December 2014.
Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.
When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.
Find out more about Michael at his website and connect with him on Facebook.
 
 
Michael’s Tour Stops
Monday, November 3rd: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, November 4th: missris
Wednesday, November 5th: The Book Wheel
Thursday, November 6th: The many thoughts of a reader
Friday, November 7th: Book Journey
Monday, November 10th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, November 12th: Book Loving Hippo
Wednesday, November 12th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, November 13th: Lisa’s Yarns
Friday, November 14th: Open Book Society
Tuesday, November 18th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 19th: Read a Latte
Friday, November 21st: Read-Love-Blog
Monday, November 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, November 24th: Book, Books Everywhere!
Tuesday, November 25th: Priscilla and Her Books
Wednesday, November 26th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, November 28th: Fuelled by Fiction

TBD: Another Clean Slate

Happy Reading!

Top Ten Tuesday #4

Top 10 Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR (to-be-read), in no particular order:


Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
I’ve purchase this one and can’t wait until I get the chance to sink my teeth into it! (figuratively speaking) 

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter
I have this book as well and can’t wait to read it. The cover is so pretty and the blurb is super intriguing. 

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
This books sounds really good! I’ve got a complimentary copy because I will be a part of the tour in January! I’m really excited! 

Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin 
I’m part of the tour for this one in about three weeks and I’m really excited for it! I haven’t started reading it yet but it sounds really good!

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
this YA title has been on my TBR since it was released in September. I have a copy but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I hope I do this Christmas! 

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
This series has been on my radar all year. I’ve got it on hold at the library!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I could use a good laugh to distract me from the depressing and barren time that is winter. 

All The Light I Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Oddly enough, I’ve had a copy of this one on my shelf since it was released but have yet to crack it open. It’s been voted as one of the best books of 2014 so hopefully I’ll read it before the years out!

Tell by Frances Itani
This book was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and sounds really fabulous. I picked up a copy a few days ago and can’t wait to read it. 

Us by David Nicholls
I must admit I haven’t read his previous best seller One Day, but Us sounds too good to pass up. I’ve got it on hold at the library!


Ghost Horse Discussion

A month ago Fuelled by Fiction was a stop on the book tour for Ghost Horse by Thomas McNeely. Have you had a chance to read it yet? If not, you should definitely add it to your TBR! If you are part of a book club, this novel would make for some great discussion. You can read my review here, visit the author’s website here, and view Ghost Horse on Goodreads here.


Here are some great conversation topics from Thomas: 


Ghost Horse concerns a family in the 1970’s which is breaking up in a divorce.  How do you think divorce affects children in families?  How do you think attitudes toward divorce have changed since the seventies?  Do you think it is easier or harder for children of divorce now?

In Ghost Horse, three boys vie with each other to control a home-made movie that takes many shapes.  How do you see children today using media to connect, and sometimes to harm each other, as in various cyber-bullying cases?  Do you think children see themselves and their relationships differently because of their exposure to media today?

Ghost Horse explores the effects of class and racial tension in Houston, Texas, in the 1970’s.  How do you think attitudes toward race and class have changed in America since that time?  Do you see a greater or lesser distance between races and classes now or then?


If you’ve read Ghost Horse, let me know what you think!
If you’d like to read it, you can buy it now from Book Depository or Amazon.
If you read and it and discuss it with a book club, let me know how it goes!

Literary Lifestyle: Gift Ideas for the Bookworm In Your Life


No matter the occasion, when it comes time to get our loved ones a gift, we want to show them that we care and that we can be thoughtful about it! If you’ve got a bookworm in your life, here are some ideas that might tickle their bookish fancy! Or if you are a bookworm yourself, here are some things you might want to add to your own wishlist! 😉

The first and perhaps most obvious thing to consider buying your bookworm is a book. If your loved one is a hard-core reader, this might not be as easy as it sounds. How do you decide what book to get them? What do they not already have? What have they not already read? What would they like to read that they won’t have have bought for themselves before you give it to them? How you go about this depends on what kind of gift giver you are. Do you prefer to surprise your loved ones? Or be more straightforward to ensure they get what they want? If you are the latter, then you’ll probably just ask them! If you’re the former, here is a quick sleuthing tip. Try to make a tentative decision based on there Goodreads “To Read” page! Most bookworms will be frequent flyers on this bookish social media site. If you can, take a quick gander at their bookshelves to see if they already have a copy. If you’re not feeling the effort, or if they are just impossible to buy for, consider a gift card/certificate to their favourite bookstore (online or off).

If you are feeling more adventurous, here are some ideas:
(The pictures are links)

Litographs is a US company that makes shirts, totes, and posters out of book art! This art is especially neat because it is entirely composed of words. And not just any words–the words of the book it’s about. For example, the poster here is Wuthering Heights. It’s not just a picture of Wuthering Heights, the picture is made up of novel itself. And it’s readable! (The tote here is Tess of the D’Urbervilles and the t-shirt here is Oliver Twist).

Out of Print Clothing also has a lot of really cool stuff! They have T-shirts, totes, phone cases, jewelry, and other neat accessories printed with classic book cover designs!

Bookish Jewelry
This beautiful sterling silver pendant is from the New York Library and is engraved with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”







This pendant is a quote from Jane Eyre and would make a great gift to a wife or bride! You can find it on Etsy! 










Know a Salinger fan? This necklace from Out of Print Clothing is Holden’s hunting cap from Catcher in the Rye!  










Take a trip down the rabbit tale with this Alice in Wonderland necklace from Out of Print Clothing!

















Any girl with a book in her purse could use a few dangling from her ears! Charm your lady book worm with these Stack of Books earrings form the Literary Gift Company. 












This is another excellent Etsy find! 









Bookish Apparel
This top is totally me. Anyone else? 😉 It would make a great PJ or lounge top!









This beaut is from Fellow Threads and is part of a collection of Harry Potter themed tops! This one is my fav! 











These gems are Etsy silk-screen creations. I love the old timey ampersand print! They would make an excellent addition to the closet of your well dressed, font-loving man!











This top is Harry Potter meets Doctor Who and would be a great gift for your chic geek! 😉 

This is a leather hand crafted bag that is modelled after the door at Bag End from Lord of the Rings! Although it could be unisex, it would probably make a better gift for the lady LOTR fan in your life!  (cough ME cough cough)

These cozy onesies would make a great gift for any Harry Potter fan! What house would the sorting hat put them in?

I feel like this all the time.  Your bookworm who likes graphic tees would go for this one!

This cozy hoody printed with this classic Vonnegut quote  would warm both body and spirit on a cool wintery day 🙂

Bookish Mugs
When the weather outside is frightful, a hot beverage is certainly delightful! Especially when you’re drinking it from a neat mug while curled up with a good book!

This great mug from Modcloth would be great for either the bookish dude or the bookish lady! Let them know that they are Just your Type!












Gotta love this “Lost in the Stacks” mug from Strand books!


“Bookish …And Proud of it” I certainly am. Know anyone else who is? 🙂









Misc. Bookish Items

 These pillows would make a great addition to the home of any book lover. They are so cool!

Paddywax has an entire “Library” collection of candles whose scents are inspired by famous authors. Want your room to smell like Jane Austen? Get one of these!

Gotta buy a gift for a serious bibliophile? Consider one of these personalized embossing stamps! It’s much classier than simply writing your name in the book and takes less time.

These adorable book ends would look great keeping that certain someones books neat and organized!

Got a classic lit lover? These BBC collections would be a great edition to their library! (I love the BBC’s Jane Eyre!!!)

Bookish Totes
Every book lover needs a good tote. How else are they going to carry around their books? They are especially useful when book shopping. And they are environmentally friendly!


This one is so neat!

 Share the love!

 Books and cats. Am I right?

I have this one and love it!

 Love the design on this one. Simple but cool!

Library Card!

Hope this has helped inspire you! (Either with your own Christmas list or picking out things to buy for your loved ones).

As always, let me know what you think!

PS. I want all of these!


New & Noteworthy

New&Noteworthy is a feature that details recent releases I’m most excited about! These are first release books! For new editions of previously published books (ex. Paperbacks) I have another feature! So, without further ado, here are the books I’m most excited for! 

The Wild Truth: The Untold Story of Sibling Survival by Carine McCandless
Non Fiction, Memoir
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 31st, 2014 by HarperCollins
List Price: $34.99 (CAD)

To be honest, I haven’t read Into the Wild, or watched the movie. However, with new theories about McCandless’ death surfacing, I have become interested in his story. This book sounds particularly good—it’s his sister’s side of the story, filling in the personal gaps we have never been able to see. 

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (#3) by Michelle Hodkin
YA Fiction, Fantasy
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published November 4th, 2014 by Simon & Schuster 
List Price: $22.99 (CAD)

I’ve read the first in this series and really enjoyed it. I have been holding off reading the second one until this one came out! That way if it’s a cliff hanger I don’t have to wait for the other one. 

Revival by Stephen King
Horror, Thriller
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by Scribner
List Price: $36.00 (CAD)

I’m obviously excited for this one. Stephen King is an auto-read for me. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, I’m going to read it!  

Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 by Alice Munro 
Short Story Collection
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by McClelland & Stewart
List Price: $32.99 (CAD)

From the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2013, comes a collection of stories that have been published previously. It’s a kind of “greatest hits” collection. 
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu
Science Fiction, Chinese Science Fiction
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by Tor Books
List Price: $29.99 (CAD)

This book is a first—it’s the first work of Chinese Science Fiction to be translated into English. It sounds really good—both the plot and the infusion of a different culture!

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Science Fiction, Fantasy
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published November 18th, 2014 by FSG Originals 
List Price: $39.94 (CAD)

This series has received some pretty good buzz! A dystopian trilogy with all three parts released in one year! I am looking forward to the release of a hardcover edition, especially since it contains all three novels!

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber 
Science Fiction
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published November 18th, 2014 by HarperCollins
List Price: $34.99

This one sound particularly interesting—it’s about a minister who becomes a missionary to aliens on another planet. He must leave his wife at home to do this, and while he is away, things go awry on earth where his wife is. I WANT TO READ THIS SO BAD. 


What new releases are you most excited about?


Non-Fiction November: Review of “Not that Kind of Girl”

Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham
Genre: Memoir, Humour
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Random House
$32.00 (CAD)

I had not planned on reading this book. However, at the bookstore, I was inexplicably drawn to it and its simple cover. I had, of course, heard of the book, due to the loads of media attention— but I was rather indifferent to it. 

Having read about the book, I knew that many people felt that you either love her or hate her, but everyone has an opinion on Lena Dunham. I personally found this to be incorrect. I knew very little about Dunham or her show (other than its graphic nature), and never felt the need to think about her at all, really, let alone have an opinion on her. 


It seemed pretty apparent, even given the little I knew, that she and I have quite different world views. I think that this is what drew me to her book—at least in part. That, and its well written introduction. 

In Not that Kind of Girl, Dunham tells her story. Many, at first, might be scratching their heads thinking, What on earth could a twenty-something girl possibly have to say that warrants a memoir? Dunham notes the grandeur of this undertaking in her introduction, but continues anyway: 
“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told.” 

Not that Kind of Girl doesn’t tell about a long life filled with momentous events. It’s just life—life in the small things, and sometimes big things, that make us who we are. Dunham’s a millennial talking about her experience, and I bet many people will read it and feel less alone. They will have Aha! moments when Dunham describes something that they can relate to (I know I did, even if it was a rare occurrence). As people love to quote, Hannah (Dunham’s character on Girls) once said (while on drugs, it should be noted), “I think that I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation”—and that’s kind of what Dunham is here.  

Dunham regales us with awkward and funny anecdotes about her family, her childhood, her university experience, her love life. She is unflinchingly honest, often uncomfortably so. But Dunham isn’t apologetic. She is who she is, and that’s that. She’ll talk about vaginas as much as she wants to (and it’s a lot). While that’s not really my kind of entertainment, she is rarely gratuitous or crass. She’s just simply herself, laid bare on the page. I didn’t always agree with or relate to her stories, but I revelled in getting an insiders perspective on the life of someone with vastly different experiences than my own. 

I’ve read that many fans of Girls didn’t find anything new in Dunham’s book; it felt like a retelling of different episodes of the show. I, however, had never seen the show. To me, this book was refreshing, funny, honest, and wise. It turned me from indifferent to a fan. I’m probably never going to get into Girls, but as a person, I find Lena Dunham admirable. She is certainly controversial, and I don’t often agree with her, but she’s a strong, independent, creative leader of a woman, and that’s what I want to be. She may struggle and search, but at the core, she knows who she is and what she believes. 
Before I picked up this book, I hardly knew anything about Lena Dunham. Through her essays and stories about life, I feel like I’ve gotten to know her, like I’ve made a friend over a cup of coffee. she has conveyed her thoughts and experiences with humour and insight, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

I must also note that I loved the simple cover design, the layout of the book, and the little doodles everywhere!

I highly recommend this book—But only to people who have read the synopsis and know what they are getting themselves in to. It’s not for everyone and at times must be taken with a grain of salt and read with an open mind. 




Top Ten Tuesday #3


Top Ten Characters You Wish Told the Story from 
Their Point of View (in no particular order):

1. Rosie From the Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison. 
I don’t know about you, but as a middle grader/teen I was obsessed with these books. They are hilarious! Rosie was always one of my favourite characters. She’s totally nuts and has a Scandinavian boyfriend named Sven who’s country of origin is a mystery even to her (Sven doesn’t speak English, really). Rosie is always doing weird stuff like making up Viking dances for her Viking wedding to Sven (who has no idea what is happening). 

2. Tommy from Never Let Me Go
Tommy is an outcast, a loner. He was always the butt of the joke, and threw some serious tantrums. As he got older he made more friends, but even his girlfriend Ruth often felt the need to put him in his place. Only Kathy every really saw him.

3. Rochester’s crazy wife in the attic, Bertha Mason, from Jane Eyre
For some reason, Rochester thought it was totally fine to secretly lock up his mentally ill wife in his attic and pretend she didn’t exist. Jane thought the place was haunted from all the crazy sounds! I guess at the time mental hospitals were essentially prisons who basically tortured their patients so I suppose I can forgive Rochester a bit. But hearing Bertha’s point of view would be super interesting!

4. Hermione from Harry Potter
This one seems pretty obvious. Hermione can be so snarky and self-righteous sometimes. It would be amazing and hilarious to get the story from her point of view! Love her!

5. Horry from This is Where I Leave You
He is such a poignant character. His side of things would be a really interesting focus.

6. Dally from The Outsiders
Dally is the resident badass. He is such a great character with many layers. I would love to know what he’s thinking.

7. Luigi Vampa from The Count of Monte Cristo
Luigi Vampa is this Roman bandit. He is like the king of the bandits. His relationship with the count is mysterious and interesting. I would love to know more about Vampa and his escapades, as well as his take on the count.

8. Humphrey from The Rise & Fall of Great Powers
Humphrey is such a complex and eccentric character. You only figure out the extent of this complexity at the end of the story. He was my favourite character in this book and I would love to hear things from his side.

9. Tommy Ross from Carrie
He is such an innocent bystander. He was the only one that was ever nice to Carrie. 

10. Mary from Pride & Prejudice 
I love Mary. She is hilarious. She is always overlooked and trying to be really deep. It would be so funny to see things from her side. She would be so negative and depressing about things!


What would your top ten be?


New & Noteworthy Paperbacks!

Sometimes, it’s hard to justify parting with the thirty-some-odd dollars to purchase hardcover editions of books you want to read. Sometimes, it’s best to wait until they come out in paperback  so they don’t break the bank (or your arms, since hardcovers can be heavy if the book is lengthy)! There are some perks to patience. 

Here are some books that I’m looking forward to picking up in paperback (or the cleared out hardcover!)

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
Genre: Fiction, Philosophical, Spiritual 
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
21 October (first published November 2013) by HarperCollins
$19.99 (CAD)

I’ve only read a couple of Mitch Albom’s books, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read! He may not be one of my personal top favourites, but I’ always more likely to pick up a book when it comes out in paperback!

The Martian by Andy Weir 
Genre: Sci-Fi
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
28 October 2014 (first published September 2012) by Broadway Books
$18.00 (CAD)

This book sounds super interesting. My boyfriend is reading it and really enjoying it! I’m going to have to give this one a try!

How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman 
Genre: Fiction, Psychological 
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
4 November (first published October 2013) by Picador
$17.50 (CAD)

This one I’ve already picked up! However, I got it in hardcover! But, because it was coming out in paperback so soon, they were clearing out the hardcovers and I got it for six bucks! Can’t beat that! That’s one of the perks of waiting; a lot of the time when a books coming out in paperback, book sellers or publishers will give the hardcovers clearance pricing. You can find these clearance sales in stores or online (ex. Book Outlet!). 

Tempting Fate by Jane Green 
Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Lit
Trade Paperback, 384 pages
4 November 2014 (first published March 2014) by St. Martin’s Press
$18.50 (CAD)

I love Jane Green novels! She is one of my favourite chick lit/women’s lit authors. However, she’s not generally one that I will dish out the big bucks for the hardcover. So, yay for paperback releases! 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
Genre: Fiction, Literary, Historical
Trade Paperback, 530 pages 
4 November 2014 (first published May 2014) by Scribner
$19.99 (CAD)

This one surprised me! Usually popular books take over a year to come out in paperback, and this one was only first released in May! I already have the hardcover, but I’m sure the paperback will be flying off the shelves, considering its been deemed one of the best books of 2014!

TLC Book Tour & Giveaway[closed]: Proof of Angels

Proof of Angels: A Novel by Mary Curran Hackett 
Fiction
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 4, 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
$18.50 (CAD)
Buy Now: IndigoIndieboundAmazon

Note: As a tour host selected by TLC virtual book tours, I received a complimentary copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own. Please also note that any quotations used here are from an advanced, uncorrected review copy.


Proof of Angels is the story of a firefighter named Sean Magee. He grew up in New York city, but moved to Los Angeles to get away from the pain of his past. While fighting a fire, something happens, and Sean makes a promise to God. After the fire, Sean’s life changes. Again. Now he has to keep his promise. He has to be a better man. Now he must come to terms with his past—all the things he has run away from. And it’s not going to be easy. But he has been given a second chance, and he’s not going to mess it up. 

 

Sean’s family life has not been easy. He lost both his parents too young, and then his nephew, who was like a son to him. In the past he’d turned to alcohol to make the pain go away. Now that he’d given up that vice, he threw himself into his work:

“For as long as Sean could remember, his life had been bookended by these two desires: fire and God. The former he believed he’d inherited from his father, a firefighter like him, and the latter from his mother, a devout Irish Catholic. … He thought, however irrationally, that being close to fire, close to a higher power, that he would somehow find his way to them both again.” 

 

While fighting a fire, Sean gets trapped and badly burned. Through what he believes to be the guidance of an angel, he finds his way out. He, however, must jump from a three storey window to be free of the flames. It’s through the help of his friends that he begins the road to recovery. It’s a reciprocal arrangement: They help him, and he, in turn—with his newly positive outlook—helps them too. 

 

In the first half of the book, Sean’s thoughts and conversations are uplifting—as I think they are meant to be. However, as the story goes on, the conversations and relationships seem to remain on that same level. Instead of using those key relationships to show us how Sean’s experience has changed his life, the author continually tells us, and that soon becomes tiresome. Even halfway through the book I didn’t feel like I knew the characters. I felt like I knew about them from being told about them, but I never felt like I got to experience anything with them. My knowledge of them felt superficial at best, making it difficult to connect with them and feel invested in their stories. 

 

The main theme of the story is second chances. This is immediately apparent when Sean survives the fire. Instead of continuing in this somewhat subtle vein, the author repeatedly reinforces this theme in almost every conversation. The characters are always explaining themselves and it gets tiring. There is nothing wrong with the intention, but the execution could have used some subtlety. Sean is always doling out his advice and what he thinks to be the meaning of life. There is nothing wrong with this at its core, and there is nothing wrong with any of the things he says. However, it would be one thing if these were just the occasional nuggets of wisdom. But because they happen so often, they lose any power.

“Because, Tom, I care about you. You’re my friend, like it or not, and I care. I need you to see what I see. I need you to see that promises matter, people matter, second chances matter. I need you to see your patients for more than their broken bones and atrophied muscles and the work they need to do to prove themselves to you. I need you to see them as possibilities. As hope. As light. I need you to see that you survived for a reason, too. It wasn’t just to work. It was to be a husband to your wife; a father to your girls; a friend to me, James, and Libby; a saviour to many people who struggle everyday to get up and keep walking. I need you to see that you matter Tom. You do, too.” 

 

There is nothing inherently wrong with this speech. However, this book is peppered with ones just like it. Not every conversation has to involve a life changing revelation. And that is what this book doesn’t seem to understand. The characters and the plot themselves aren’t bad—but they become overshadowed by this need to explain everything, leaving little room for them to grow in any meaningful way. If you whittled away some of the dialogue and let the characters show themselves, this could be a good book. However, as it is, for me it unfortunately missed the mark.

About The Author
Mary Curran Hackett is the mother of two children and is married to Greg Hackett. She received an MA in English Literature from the University of Nebraska and a BA from the University Honors Program at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Danbury, CT, she has traveled extensively and lived in various places throughout the U.S., but her favorite place in the world is home with her kids, husband, and her stacks of books.
Find out more about Mary on her website, like her on Facebook, and connect with her on Twitter.

 

Mary’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, November 4th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, November 5th: Fuelled by Fiction
Thursday, November 6th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, November 10th: Chronicles of a Country Girl
Tuesday, November 11th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Wednesday, November 12th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, November 13th: Book by Book
Monday, November 17th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Tuesday, November 18th: A Night’s Dream of Books
Wednesday, November 19th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 20th: Walking With Nora
Thursday, November 20th: Cruising Susan Reviews
Friday, November 21st: Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, November 24th: Why Girls Are Weird
Tuesday, November 25th: A Dream Within a Dream