Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Alert: Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant by J. T. Gillett

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant explores the quirky side of historical fiction. The novel takes you on wild ride through the early 13th century with a female alchemist, orphan teenager and a 600-year-old, shrunken eggplant that can speak to whomever wears it. In search of the fabled Lost Stone of Eden, they cross Europe and the Mediterranean with the Children’s Crusade, hijack a caravan in the Sahara desert, live with hashish-fueled Assassins in the mountains of Persia and rediscover paradise on the island of Bahrain.

Publication Date: February 19, 2015
Publisher: Homunculus Press
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0692391662
Pages: 279
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Excerpt

Aaron and the girls slept for a few hours during the hottest part of the day, then rode through the evening and the entire night, taking only a few breaks to rest the camels. They didn’t catch up to any slow-moving caravans, come upon an oasis or see fires in the night. Everything around them seemed the same, day after day. Same mirrored sky. Same scorching sun. Same sound of camel farting and plodding. Same sad, ivory scent of emptiness.
“Are we dead?” asked Donatelle as they shared the last of the water. They were sitting atop a tall dune and could see nothing but more dunes in every direction.
“Do you feel dead?” Aaron had to ask, knowing that in the middle of this terminal landscape, it was a good question.
“I can’t tell because I don’t know what it’s like to be dead, but it might be like this. Just nothing,” Donatelle shrugged.
“Death is much different—and much luckier,” guessed the eggplant.
Aaron hoped the eggplant was right, but he chose a different answer for Donatelle. “Whenever I’m not sure, I listen for my heartbeat. The pounding inside me says I’m alive in this world and even though we’re in a dead place, we’ll survive. We’ll find something soon, or something will find us.”
Something took the form of a humming dark cloud on the horizon. They watched as it grew darker, stretched across the dunes and started to roar like steady, rolling thunder.

 

Praise for Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant

“Good stories rise and fall like empires in the endless pursuit of happiness, like armies of lovers marching to paradise – good stories change the world.” So begins Part One of Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant. This book is such a good read. I read it on the plane to Hawaii, and it soared with me through the sky. My wife kept asking what was so funny as I giggled and laughed in my seat. This story changed me, in that flying is such a drag these days, and this book kept coming up with surprises, weaving together stories of gods, goddesses, orphans and assassins, the pursuit of the unattainable, and existential conundrums.

I have had the opportunity to read some of Mr Gillett’s poetry (especially “This is My Last Poem” – I hope this is not his last novel), and in this novel, he brings his poetic ability to sublimely transport the reader to new views of the mundane, new opportunities for transformation, and new ways of understanding my own self. What more could I ask for in a book.

Steal this book if you need to, but get it and read it with joy.” – Paul Rerucha, Amazon Reviewer

“I don’t read a ton of books for pleasure but I did read this one on the recommendation of a friend. It kept me captivated and I ended up finishing it in 2.5 days. This is the kind of book that makes me want to read more often.” – B. H., Amazon Reviewer

 

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Available at Amazon

Kindle eBook
Paperback

About the Author

J.T Gillett holds degrees in philosophy and journalism from the University of Oregon and studied at Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of Literary Journals, including City Lights Journal, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
For more information please visit the Orphans and Assassins website and blog.


Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 22
Passages to the Past
Thursday, June 25
Boom Baby Reviews
Saturday, June 28
Diana’s Book Reviews
Sunday, June 29
The Never-Ending Book
Wednesday, July 1
Room With Books
Thursday, July 2
Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill  at  Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.   


 This week I am waiting for:

  
I haven't even read the blurb on this one, it's already been pre ordered and I can't wait.
Hardcover, 512 pages

Expected publication: October 13th 2015 by Atria Books

 
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel full of suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s gorgeous lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, clever, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented fourteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest son, Theo, has completely disappeared. Vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined, leaving their estate as empty as their sunken hearts.

Nearly sixty years later, having enjoyed a long, successful career as an author, Alice is now eighty years old and living in London. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked and sets off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller story is a spellbinding and satisfying read.
 

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why We Write - 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do by Meredith Maran

Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing life.

Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love most—and least—about their vocation.

Contributing authors include:
Isabel Allende
David Baldacci
Jennifer Egan
James Frey
Sue Grafton
Sara Gruen
Kathryn Harrison
Gish Jen
Sebastian Junger
Mary Karr
Michael Lewis
Armistead Maupin
Terry McMillan
Rick Moody
Walter Mosley
Susan Orlean
Ann Patchett
Jodi Picoult
Jane Smiley
Meg Wolitzer


Paperback, 272 pages

Published January 29th 2013 by Plume 
arc - netgalley
****

I really enjoyed this book, 20 authors from various genres talk about their lives are writers.  They talk about rituals, superstitions, struggles and how they got started in writing.  They talk about why they write and give advice on getting started and so much more. This isn't a book just for writers, I think it would appeal to anyone with a genuine interest in biographies, that's what this book is, snippets into the lives of these 20 authors.

Misery by Stephen King

Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her - with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That's when the car accident happens, and he wakes up in pain in a strange bed. But it isn't hospital. Annie Wilkes has pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news is that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news is that she has long been Paul's Number One Fan. And when she finds out what Paul has done to Misery, she doesn't like it. She doesn't like it at all.

And now he has to bring Misery back to life. Or else...


Paperback, 369 pages

  (first published 1987) 
audio via overdrive (library)
12 hrs and 11 mins
*****
  
Tina over at Book Chatter has designated June 'Misery Read Along Month'.  I haven't read Stephen King in ages, and thought to give it a whirl.  The audio version was available from the library which I took as a sign and went for it.  My husband thought I was nuts, more so when I invited him to watch the movie with me.

Stephen King is a talented author, however I could count on one hand the number of his books that I have read.  My son is reading and collecting his books which got me inspired to give him another try.  HF is my usually genre, but sometimes you need a break from that, history doesn't always have that  'happy ever after' type of endings.  But then again does Stephen King? Face is his books are rather creepy, sinister and downright scary (to be blunt).

Someone asked me how the audio version was.  Well it was almost like watching a bad accident in progress, you know what's going to happen and ya can't look away.  That's exactly what Misery was like, I couldn't stop listening, I had to find out how this was going to end..  I listened to clues and hints as to what made Anne tick, what made her sweet one minute and deranged the next.  Hearing Paul's voice added the emotion and suspense that makes Stephen King's books what they are - hard-to-put down, creatively-unique and scary-beyond-reason, lol.



The Lover's Path by Kris Waldherr (Blog Tour)

“To truly love another, you must follow the lover’s path wherever it may take you . . .”

Filamena Ziani is the much younger sister of the most famous courtesan in sixteenth-century Venice, Tullia Ziani. Orphaned as an infant, Filamena has come of age bent like a branch to her sister’s will, sheltered and lonely in the elegant but stifling confines of their palazzo by the sea. Then a dark-haired stranger offers a gift that will change the course of her life forever: a single ripe plum, and an invitation to walk along the lover’s path, wherever it may lead.

THE LOVER’S PATH, a moving tale of forbidden love, is a romantic epic told in multiple layers. Through a novel combination of Filamena’s narrative, famous love stories from history and mythology, and sumptuously ornate illustrations, Filomena’s path is beautifully described and, finally, stunningly revealed.

Praised by The New York Times Book Review for her “quality of myth and magic,” Kris Waldherr brings to life a remarkable period in Venetian history using art and words. Her glorious celebration of romance, the feminine spirit, and the power of love to transform will inspire and move readers everywhere.

Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Art and Words Editions
eBook; 114p
Genre: Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
New expanded and revised anniversary edition. Finally available for iPad and Kindle.
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 ****
I am so glad that I choose to read The Lover's Path on my iPad, taking full advantage of the color illustrations throughout this little gem of a story.  It isn't a long book, more like a novella but that doesn't take away from the story at all.

You can read the synopsis above to get an idea of what takes place here.  Each new chapter begins with snippets from the tales of Tristan and Isolde, Osiris and Isis and other famous couples (both real and mythological), this set the tone for The Lover's Path, made it magical and gave it that mystical feel.  This is a story of forbidden love, an emotional story that had me totally immersed in 16th century Venice.  I am not familiar with the famous courtesan Tullia Ziani's story, nor her younger sister Filamena which made reading this all the more intriguing.  

I can definitely see myself rereading this one, studying the art work and purchasing a print copy.  Thanks so much to HFVBT for asking me to be part of this tour, I might have missed this little gem otherwise. 
 

 Praise for The Lover’s Path

“THE LOVER’S PATH is beautiful in every way; not only is the story of the girl’s secret and ultimately dangerous love wonderfully told, but the exquisite illustrations and layout make you feel that you have truly fallen into old Venice with its longing and eroticism. Prepare to be lifted into another time and place and discover secrets long guarded. That one extraordinarily talented writer/artist/designer could have created this whole world is almost not to be believed but it is so. You must own this lovely, lovely book! —Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille and Marrying Mozart

“The Lover’s Path is a visual and literary feast…. The star-crossed lovers are a celebrated courtesan’s virginal and over-protected young sister and a cardinal’s illegitimate son. The lovers in the book are linked mythically and thematically to the archetypal lovers on the Lover’s Path: Dante and Beatrice, Isis and Osiris, Tristan and Isolde, Orpheus and Eurydice, and ultimately Eros and Psyche…. Haunting.”—Mary Sharratt, author of Daughters of the Witching Hill

“Prepare to be transported to 16th century Venice from the first page. This novel is a feast—a full-color picture book for adults that tells a wrenching story of eternal love…. This beautiful fable reminded me of Erica Jong’s Serenissima.”—NPR Books

“With this illustrated novel, Waldherr has spun a wondrous story spilling over with mythological figures, with tarot cards and personal letters. You’re pulled into a vortex of a 16th century romance centered on Filamena Ziani, the younger sister of a famous courtesan in Venice…. Waldherr, who based her novel on a real-life courtesan, also created the illustrations for her book.”—The Albuquerque Journal

“Voluptuous illustration and enthralling narrative … in this extraordinary testament to the strength of the feminine spirit.”—WNBC/B(u)y the Book

“Kris Waldherr’s The Lover’s Path plunges readers into the mysterious and exhilarating world of sixteenth-century Venice…. A visual adventure.”—Women in the Arts, the Magazine of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

 

The Lover’s Path Available At

Kindle Fire format (Deluxe edition with full color graphics)
Kindle format (Optimized for b/w and smaller screen size)
iPad format (Deluxe edition with interactive full color graphics):
iPhone format (Optimized for small screen size):

Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author, illustrator, and designer whose many books include Doomed Queens and The Book of Goddesses. She is also the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has nearly a quarter of a million copies in print. Waldherr’s illustrations have been exhibited in many galleries and museums, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Mazza Museum, and the Ruskin Library. She lives and works in Brooklyn with her husband and their young daughter.

Visit her online at KrisWaldherr.com.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


The Lover’s Path Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 16
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review & Guest Post at Unshelfish
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, June 17
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, June 18
Review & Excerpt at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, June 19
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Spotlight & Excerpt at Raven Haired Girl
Monday, June 22
Review at A Book Drunkard
Tuesday, June 23
Review & Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, June 24
Review & Guest Post at The Emerald City Book Review
Thursday, June 25
Review at Broken Teepee
Friday, June 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 29
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, June 30
Review at Just One More Chapter

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Great Pyramid of Cydonia (Aoleon The Martian Girl #5) by Brent LeVasseur

Aoléon, Gilbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot make it to their final destination - Cydonia where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive. They infiltrate a secret underground base and are confronted by a small army of sentrybots.


Bizwat lends Aoléon and Gilbert some of his advanced combat skills via a psionic brain dump. However, this may not be enough to save them from overwhelming hostile forces that will do anything to stop them.

They finally meet Pax - the Martian who originally set them out on the mission to discover the truth about the Luminon and his plans to invade Earth. However Pax is not who he seems to be, and through a turn of events, they uncover the true power behind all that has been happening on Mars.

Will they be able to rescue Aoléon’s parents and save Earth from invasion?

Join Aoleon and Gilbert in the conclusion to this exciting middle-grade science fiction and fantasy adventure!
 
Kindle Edition
Published February 1st 2015 by Aoléon Press
ebook provided as part of tour 
 
This past month I have been reviewing all 5 parts to this little gem of a series, today's post will be the final one.  As I write this review I must say that it was the illustrations that really brought this story to life.  It is one thing to read the words and draw a picture in your mind but it's another to see them.  The author himself did the graphics and they are stellar.

The Great Pyramid of Cydonia finishes this series off nicely.  Though I am not usually a science fiction fan I am a fan of MG and YA fiction, which this series fit perfectly.  The author not just opened the imagination of the reader, but managed to create a bond with Aoleon and Gilbert (aw well as Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot)  The plot was executed with the right amount of humor and lots of adventure.  This final book was not drawn out, there were the twists and turns that always adds suspense and lots of page turning.
 
I highly recommend this series to not just MG age but all ages.  Thank you to IRead Book Tours for asking me to be part of this tour.
 
 

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cover Reveal for The Oracle by D J. Niko

In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world.
When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world.
Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire.
But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?


Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Medallion Press
Paperback; 456p
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273
Series: The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three
Genre: Historical/Archeological Adventure

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Pre-Order The Oracle at

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
IndieBound


Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.

Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE.

In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at djnikobooks.com and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

Giveaway

To enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of The Oracle by D.J. Niko please complete the giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs!
⇒ Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, and Canada.
⇒Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 26th.
⇒You must be 18 or older to enter.
⇒Only one entry per household.
⇒All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
⇒Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
⇒Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.



The Oracle Cover Reveal + Giveaway

The Oracle Cover Reveal Schedule

Tuesday, June 16
Genre Queen
The Reading Queen
Wednesday, June 17
Book Nerd
Diana’s Book Reviews
Friday, June 19
A Book Geek
Sunday, June 21
The True Book Addict
Wednesday, June 24
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephanie Thornton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill  at  Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.   


 This week I am waiting for:

 one of my very favorite authors
Paperback, 496 pages

Expected publication: December 1st 2015 by NAL

We are the women who loved Alexander the Great. We were lovers and murderers, innocents and soldiers.
And without us, Alexander would have been only a man.
Instead he was a god.

330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny.

His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander's boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia's throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side.

Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…

What are you waiting for?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Aoleon The Martian Girl Part 4 by Brent LeVasseur

Science Fiction Series Aoleon The Martian Girl Part 4 Illegal Aliens (Part 4 of 5)

Aoléon and Gilbert have become the Luminon’s top priority in stopping the Martian resistance movement, and after being chased by the Royal Paladin Guard, they are forced to flee the Martian Megalopolis. Aoléon, Gilbert and Zoot escape with the help of Bizwat and his newly found friend, Helios, a first generation soldierbot.

After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive.

After battling the forces of nature, starvation, a Klyklon dust storm, (and not to mention a giant slor that almost swallows them alive), they finally make it to their destination. However, after Kyrios gives Gilbert some basic training to develop his budding psionic power, they learn that their journey is far from over.

Will Aoléon, Glbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot be able to rescue Aoléon’s parents and stop the Martian invasion of Earth in time?

Read part 4 to find out!

Join Aoleon and Gilbert in this exciting middle school sci-fi adventure!

 
Kindle Edition
Published February 1st 2015 by Aoléon Press 
***1/2

This the 4th book in series had a different feel to it then the previous third.  Maybe not as witty or colorful, but it was still a good read.  It is like the author is setting up for the final battle to come in the concluding chapters.  Not just focusing on Aoleon and Gilbert's plight, we get a glimpse of what is happening not just on earth but at different locations in Mars.  I finished this book anxious to find out what is going to happen here, especially with Gilbert.  Does he stay, does he go back home?  It was nice to finally see him thinking about his family and wondering about what is going on in their minds right now.


This book is still illustrated with bright and interesting pictures that enhanced Illegal Aliens, but they weren't as large and plentiful this time around.  Not that I am complaining or saying that in a negative way, this did not impede the story at all or take away from my enjoyment. I still recommend an iPad or color ereader to take advantage of the full affect.

Please note that this is not a standalone books, you really need to start at the beginning.

http://www.justonemorechapter.com/2015/06/aoleon-martian-girl-part-1-by-brent.htmlhttp://www.justonemorechapter.com/2015/06/aoleon-martian-girl-part-3-hollow-moon.htmlhttp://www.justonemorechapter.com/2015/06/aoleon-martian-girl-luminess-of-mars-by.html
 

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 



Friday, June 19, 2015

Guest Post: Mary F. Burns (author of Isaac & Ishmael)



Please join Mary F. Burns as she tours the blogospere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Isaac and Ishmael: A Novel of Genesis from June 8-26.

Isaac and Ishmael attempts to bring to human scale the legends and mythic dimensions of Abraham and Sarah, their sons Isaac and Ishmael, and Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons Esau and Jacob. Readers will experience the struggles, competition, betrayals and loves of these brothers, fathers and sons caught up in the overarching tension between time and eternity, a place where a new God is coming into being—Yahweh, the uncanny, irascible, mischievous, bargaining God who participated in the life of a new people and compelled them to a new way of being human.

The stormy relationship of Isaac and Ishmael has long passed into a tradition which looks to Isaac as the father of the Jewish people, and Ishmael as the father of the Arab people, particularly in Egypt. Similarly, while Jacob carries on his father’s heritage, becoming the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, his twin brother Esau, the red-haired archer who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup, is traditionally said to have departed for the North, and populated what would later become Rome. Isaac and Ishmael explores the thorny, complex yet delicate relations between these brothers and fathers, providing a more human understanding of the differences that arise between individuals and peoples, even now as the ancient tensions in the Middle East continue to flare up in modern confrontations and war. Ever present in the story are the strong, subtle and often ambitious women of Biblical legend: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.


Publication Date: November 15, 2014
Sand Hill Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biblical



 Found in Translation: Writing Biblical Fiction, or it’s all Greek—or Hebrew—to Me

Writing biblical fiction poses an enormous initial challenge: what translation do you use as a basis for the story you will write? Not knowing Hebrew (ancient or otherwise) and having only the most basic elements of Greek (enough to look something up in a Greek-English lexicon), I found myself with a stack of bibles and a multitude of styles, approaches, agendas and theological/political preferences to choose from.

Often the actual ‘facts’ of the story lines are the same, but the choice of words—the diction—that different translators use can provide a continuum of descriptors of the characters themselves. In a novel, which is a fictionalized account of the timeless, ancient stories and human truths that we find in religious texts, who the “characters” are will be revealed by not only their actions but the words they use—words the writer has to choose to make those characters come to life.

And that’s another challenge of writing biblical fiction—most of us find those stories all too familiar, not only from our own reading or church or synagogue attendance, but also from movies and history books, too—so how we writers bring those almost-stereotyped people to true life is a daunting and yet, interesting task.

Here are a couple of sentences from a variety of translations, old and new, as an example of what I’m talking about. I chose this “scene” as the opening for my book, Isaac and Ishmael—it’s the part when the three visitors from God visit Abraham and tell him he and Sarah will have a son. (Genesis 18:11-12)

King James Bible:  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

The Jerusalem Bible:  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah had ceased to have her monthly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “now that I am past the age of child-bearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again?”

The Five Books of Moses (trans. Everett Fox):  And Avraham and Sara were old, advanced in days, the way of women had ceased for Sara. Sara laughed within herself, saying: After I have become worn, is there to be pleasure for me? And my lord is old!

The ArtScroll Tanach Series (w/rabbinical commentary): Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years; the manner of women had ceased to be with Sarah – And Sarah laughed at herself, saying, ‘After I have withered shall I again have delicate skin? And my husband is old!’

The Book of J (Harold Bloom & David Rosenberg, trans.):  But Sarai and Abram were old, many days were behind them; for Sarai the periods of women ceased to exist. So within her Sarai’s sides split: “Now that I’m used to groaning, I’m to groan with pleasure? My lord is also shriveled.”

All of those versions pretty much tell the same story, right? But there are subtle differences, from the demure “after the manner of women” to the wry joking with the word “groan”. Sarah laughs “to” and “within” and also “at” herself—which, if you think about those choices, can reveal interesting psychological states. The presence of laughter is very significant, as we find out later when they name their son “Isaac” which means, “He laughs” – because he comes out of the womb laughing! This was a very special element of Isaac’s character which I was able to draw upon throughout the novel in many interesting ways.

For this novel, as well as a previous novel (J—The Woman Who Wrote the Bible), I am happy to admit that I was very influenced by the translation in The Book of J, as well as very enlightened by the irascible, contradictory and often amusing rabbinical commentary contained in the ArtScroll Tanach Book of Genesis. David Rosenberg (for The Book of J) is a poet who knows Hebrew, and his earthy, concrete, stripped-down rendition of those oh-so-familiar passages were a delight and a revelation to read and ponder.

That said, here is how that initial scene opens my story of Isaac and Ishmael:

Sarai, laughing, has hurt Yahweh’s feelings.
What? I who groan in age am now to groan in pleasure, and bear a son? Who’s kidding whom?
Who is that laughing? says Yahweh. Who thinks I cannot do this thing?
Not I. Her eyes on the ground. Then sideways she sees her husband whose eyes are fixed on the boldest stranger, who sits eating veal and drinking milk under their olive trees. Abram holds his breath. The stranger has just said to him, Count the stars. Can you? Your descendants shall be more. The two men with him are silent, their eyes glitter, their arms like wings tucked at their sides even as they eat.
I’ll be back in nine months, says the stranger, to see your son.

Watch: they wrestle in the tent on the warm skins of calves. Under woven cloth, worn hands caress dry flesh, thin lips press to cheeks once smooth, once firm, still loved.
A deep well of laughter shakes her, a joy not to be named. Her foolish husband thinks this is how it must be done. She felt the dart of light hit her womb when the stranger spoke.

FOR READERS:

How important to you are the words that an author uses?  Is it merely the story that holds your interest? Are you captivated by a turn of phrase? Are you put off by “fifty-cent” words that seem like the author just clicked on the Thesaurus link to find a substitute for something more common?  I’d love to hear what readers think about words!

Mary F. Burns is the author of ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, published by Sand Hill Review Press in November 2014. Other historical fiction includes THE SPOILS OF AVALON and PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2014, 2013), both books featuring the celebrated portrait painter, John Singer Sargent and his best friend, writer Violet Paget (aka Vernon Lee). Mary is a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a former member of the HNS Conference board of directors. Her debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010 by O-Books (John Hunt Publishers, UK). She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders). She will be part of two panels at the upcoming North American Historical Novel Society Conference in June in Denver, one on The Historical Mystery and the other on Art and Artists in Historical Fiction.

Ms. Burns was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where she earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, along with a high school teaching certificate. She relocated to San Francisco in 1976 where she now lives with her husband Stuart in the West Portal neighborhood.

Ms. Burns may be contacted by email at maryfburns@att.net. For more information please visit Mary Burns’s website at www.maryfburns.com. You can also connect with Mary on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, or read her blog posts at:

www.jthewomanwhowrotethebible.com
www.literarygracenotes.blogspot.com
www.portraitsofanartist.blogspot.com
www.sargent-pagetmysteries.blogspot.com
www.genesisnovel.blogspot.com


Isaac and Ishmael Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 8
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, June 9
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 10
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, June 11
Review at A Book Drunkard
Friday, June 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Monday, June 15
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, June 16
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, June 17
Review & Excerpt at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, June 18
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, June 19
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Sunday, June 21
Review & Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, June 22
Excerpt at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, June 23
Spotlight at Broken Teepee
Thursday, June 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, June 26
Review & Giveaway at Genre Queen