Books

Fender (Book Blog Tour)

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My first instinct, and I told Shanannigans of Reads & Reels as much, was “no thanks. This book isn’t for me”. Why? Well, based on the blurb (see further down), my initial judge-a-book-by-its-coverblurb was that I wasn’t reading about the loss of a child (or spouse). Ever since I have a child of my own I avoid this topics as I find it soooo heartbreaking and would hate for anything to happen to any child. Yet, for some reason, Fender kept nagging and nagging at me until I popped Shanannigans a mail again…yes, asking if it was too late to join after all. Next thing I knew, Fender by Brent Jones was in my mailbox. And you know what? I really enjoyed it.

RR Book Tours Button (2)Wasn’t at all what I had expected. Here’s what the blurb says:

Blurb

How far must we travel to find our way home?

Nothing could have prepared Brennan Glover for the car crash that claimed the lives of his wife and six-year-old daughter. Stricken with grief, the only things that get him through each day are breaking his sobriety and clinging to Fender—the family dog and the sole survivor of the crash.

Desperate to distance Brennan from tragedy, his two closest friends take him on the cross-country road trip they had always talked about. But what begins as an effort to mend his broken heart ends up unraveling a secret that changes everything he thought he knew about his family. Can a journey of six thousand miles lead Brennan to acceptance and new beginnings?

From finding the good in an often cruel world to learning to say goodbye to those we love most, this sophomore release from author Brent Jones is sure to leave readers longing for home, wherever that may be.

Fender Cover

What I got was:

A book that most definitely didn’t pull me down in terms of the loss of family. Yes, it was tragic (and definitely not a pleasant thing) but the approach was more about finding one’s feet and the will to move on. That life happens for a reason and that there are certain things that are out of our control (be it the good or the bad). And, that people and animals cross our paths when they are meant to. That friends, human and animal, are so important.

I’ve had a bit of a reading drought recently (just because I’ve had lots on my mind) but for the first time in ages I managed to get through a book without forcing myself to read it. Fender was that book. Granted, a few places I did get a bit of a repetitive feel, but that’s not something that overshadows the story. The author kept me on my toes in that I had no idea as to how this one would end. Spoiler alert: I was expecting the main character to meet someone new…but if that would have happened, it just wouldn’t have worked. Would have been wrong.author pic

So, a really enjoyable book that wasn’t heavy yet didn’t undermine the theme at hand. Thanks Reads & Reels for sending this one my way. After my initial “no thanks” I’m glad I read it.

Here’s an excerpt for you:

Brennan sat on the living room floor staring at his polished shoes, his back pressed against the leather sofa, a bottle of Jim Beam in his left hand, a lit cigarette in his right. Traces of afternoon sun peeked through lush drapes, adding a hint of color to an otherwise dark and empty room. He tilted the bottle back and flicked ash in an empty drinking glass between his legs, trickles of silver smoke rising up past his face. He was too stricken with grief to hear the front door open.

“You here, Bee?” Rocco entered with Franky in tow. He lowered his head, taking in the scene before him. “We’re so sorry.” He offered Brennan a sympathetic frown, his forehead wrinkled with worry. “How’re you holding up?”

Brennan flicked more ash in the drinking glass without responding.

Rocco let out a deep breath, added, “It was a beautiful service.”

Brennan kept his head down, making no effort to suggest he had heard Rocco.

“Should we come back later?”

“It’s all right if you wanna be alone,” said Franky.

Brennan raised his eyes with pronounced difficulty. He was immediately turned off by their concern, which looked a lot to him like judgment and shame. Rocco, evidently concerned about his drinking, and Franky, concerned because Rocco was concerned. “Go ahead,” said Brennan. “Say it.”

“Say what?” asked Rocco, exchanging a glance with Franky.

Brennan dropped his cigarette in the glass, raised the Jim Beam to his lips. “Say I shouldn’t be drinking again.”

“What you’re going through right now, Bee, I understand—”

“Oh, you always understand, Rocco. Don’t you? Not thisss one, though. You fucking can’t. You didn’t loosh yer family.” Brennan could hear himself slurring.

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“He’s saying he’d be fucked up, too,” Franky chimed in. “That’s all.”

Brennan hadn’t taken a drink since the day his daughter was born—hadn’t smoked a cigarette since that day, either—and he knew drinking himself senseless was no way to honor her memory. Just this one time, he had told himself. I need this today. But so far, it had brought him no peace. It only heightened his sense of hopelessness.

A faint jingle echoed down the hallway, getting closer, a senior beagle with a limp and fresh stitches emerging at last. Franky knelt down, extended his hands. “Fender,” he said in a singsong voice, scratching behind the dog’s ears. “Who’s a good boy, Fender? Who’s a good boy?”

Fender parked himself at Franky’s feet—not out of obedience or affection, but sheer exhaustion. He was normally playful and energetic—even at twelve years old—and never allowed anyone to enter the house without barking to alert his humans. But at that moment he whimpered, sullen and subdued, rubbing his snout against Franky’s leg.

“When’s the last time he ate?” Rocco asked.

Brennan shook his head.

Rocco motioned to Franky. “Why don’t you take Fender out for a bathroom break? Maybe fill up his food and water bowls, too.”

Franky nodded and Fender followed him out of the room.

Rocco sat on the floor next to Brennan. “Listen, Bee, I get that this is tough.”

Brennan rubbed his temples and said nothing. He was a sensitive man, emotional, fragile at times, and now near speechless. He could almost feel himself shutting down, giving in to the pain, letting go of the world. It felt like he was drowning in a sea of sorrow, violent waves of grief washing over him, and he was losing the will to keep his head above water.

Rocco touched Brennan’s shoulder. “Me and Franky want to take you away for a little bit. It’d do you good.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.” Rocco motioned to the Jim Beam. “I think now’s good. You’ve been outta work for a couple months. I’ve got vacation time saved up at the office, and Franky can walk away from roofing anytime. We were thinking of taking that trip to California we’d always talked about.”

“We talked ’bout ’at shit when wurrr kidsss.”

“Yeah, I get that, but we could still do it. We’d make a road trip out of it, just like you, me, Franky, and Colin—” Rocco winced, having unintentionally drudged up the past.

“My family was just kilt in a car crasssh,” said Brennan. “And you think the best place furr me ish out on the open road?”

Rocco nodded. “I do, Bee. You need to get away and clear your head.”

Brennan listened without speaking, his line of sight again lowered toward his shoes. Tears spilled down his cheeks.

“You can’t stay here by yourself. It’s—it’s too much. It’s too much for anyone to have to handle.” Rocco glanced at Brennan through narrowed and swollen eyes. “Our hearts are heavy, too, and we all need to grieve. But nothing good can come of you sitting here alone and drinking. You need something to take your mind off it.”

Franky returned a minute later. Fender hobbled behind him, his movements labored and graceless, his eyes wet and dark. He positioned himself near Brennan in slow motion. Fender was the last member of the Glover household to see Rosie and Abby alive, and the only survivor of the crash that killed them both.

“Did he eat?” asked Rocco, gesturing toward Fender.

“Not much.” Franky changed gears without blinking. “What’d he say?” He asked the question as if he and Rocco were alone in the room.

“Bee says he’s gonna think on it,” Rocco said, standing. He looked down at Brennan before walking out. “You will give it some thought, right? That’s all I’m asking.”

The house was quiet again, but Brennan was certain nothing could silence the storm in his heart. He ran his finger over the tattoo on his left shoulder through his shirt, as he often did during difficult times. He knew its intricacies by heart—the anniversary of Colin’s death inked in a simple script. He once thought losing his best friend had prepared him for anything life might throw his way, but now he knew better.

 

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Book Tour: The Last Dragon Rider

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I’m venturing into the unknown in more than one aspect. Firstly, I’ve never taken part in a Blog Tour before. And secondly, this type of book (genre-wise, or rather sub-genre-wise) is totally new to me.

ButtonHosted by Shanannigans of Reads & Reels under her R&R Book Tours, I thought I’d sign up for something a little different. So, here goes…

My two cents’ worth: As I said, I’ve never read a book where the characters are elves and dragon riders. In fact, other than The Hobbit, I’ve never read a dragon book before. So, to be very honest, I needed to “get into” this new world that has been crafted. Had to really focus on the descriptions in order to visualize the characters. But, I enjoyed that. Something new. Once I’d managed to sort out who was who and form the elven world in my mind, I quite enjoyed this novella. A quick read perfect for me with limited time on my hands at the moment.

The numbers: I’d give this a rating of 3 out of 5 points (or 6 out of 10 😉 ) but that’s probably purely because this world that has been created is totally new to me.

The Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure/ Romance

Novella Release Date: August 9, 2017

TheLastDragonRider CoverThe bit on the back of the book: Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35090656-the-last-dragon-rider?ac=1&from_search=true

Author PicThe lady behind it: Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

St. Patrick’s Day Book Tag

I happened to come across this from Reads & Reels who’s tagged anyone who feels like doing it. I’m likewise not tagging anyone – so, feel free to tag yourselves 🙂 I hope they’re not meant to be Irish authors or books. Oh well…here goes.

St. Patrick’s Day- Your Favourite Green Book

The only green book I have is The Lord of the Rings. Not my favourite book (sorry…no offense) but it will have to do. I’m not saying I didn’t like it though. I was doing lots of travelling at the time so never got around to fully appreciate this book as it pretty much became an airport and airplane book  – doesn’t work for me.

Corned Beef & Cabbage- A Book That Made You Hungry

So…hope it classifies as a book but Asterix in Switzerland really made me crave a Cheese Fondue. In fact, right now, that sounds pretty good too. Hmmmmm…..

Four Leaf Clover- A Book or Item that was a Rare, Good Luck Find

Jasmine Nights by S.P. Somtow. I came across this book while in Thailand and didn’t think to buy it there. Back home, I looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Until, I happened to walk into a random second-hand bookshop and there it was…calling me. Never seen another copy but I have mine. Wonderful, unique story.

Irish Whiskey- A Book So Bad, You Need a Drink to Get Over It

Only one drink???  A Girl Walks into a Bar by Helena S. Paige. Well….I shouldn’t even admit to reading this one. I think the reason I bought it was because it was meant to be an “adults” version of those books we had as kids where you made a decision at the end of a chapter and based on that decision, went to one of two other chapters creating your own chain of events. So please, pretty please, don’t judge me for my awful book selection here.

Irish Dancing- A book So Good, it Made You Want to Dance in Excitement

Oooh, easy peasy. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. The readers out there with whom I’ve exchanged book comments probably would have expected this one. It is absolutely amazing and wonderful and superb and lovely and fantastic….oooh, did I say amazing? Need I go on? Oh, I could dance 😉

Ireland- A Book that Made You Want to Travel to Another Country

Namma: A Tibetan Love Story by Kate Karko. Beautiful and interesting story of Kate, an English woman who met Tibetan Tsedup. It is an interesting account of her life as his wife, living in Tibet with his family. Having read this book, I was amazed by the way of life and culture of these nomadic people. Would love to see their world.

The Pub- A Meeting Place in a Book You Would Love to Go to

This is difficult. Hmmmm…does the dragon ship of Jarl Sigurd and his band of  Norsemen count? It seems the ship is where all the camaraderie happens, problems are discussed and adventures started. This from the Raven series by Giles Kristian.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

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Der Tastenficker…what a great read

Before we go on: Don’t be put off by the title…

I don’t normally care for books by or about celebrities but Der Tastenficker* is an exception. Probably because it doesn’t feel like an “autobiography” as such. It is quite refreshing hearing about life and experiences in the former DDR yet not going on and on about the negatives and politics. And for a change, not about a terrible childhood and how hard and depressing life was – that’s what most biographies and autobiographies seem to be about. I enjoyed that fact that minimal names were mentioned and that it wasn’t about the famous band he is in. In fact, I never felt like I was reading about Flake of Rammstein but about Flake (real name Christian Lorenz), a normal everyday person and his experiences. Overall, interesting and light to read. And lots of fun (pianos aren’t practical to take to and from rehearsal and camping trips can become quite a challenge). The “random” photos add something different. I devoured this book in a matter of days. And felt so positive when I’d finished. (I also had a totally different view of this man who always comes across as the underdog when on stage)

*I’d only noticed after I’d received this book that it is actually a numbered, autographed first edition. Not that it is important but, I guess subconsciously, it added a little special touch.

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Something different: The Whip

The Whip by Karen Kondazian has patiently been waiting its turn on my bookshelf for ages now (yes, a paper book…I’m old-fashioned that way).

It tells the story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (b. 1812, d. 1879) who grew up in an orphanage where circumstances gave her the opportunity to learn about horses until she was old enough to leave. Falling in love with a former slave and having a baby together, she vows revenge when they are brutally taken from her. However, she realises that only as a man will she have the means and freedom to accomplish this. So she becomes Charley and ultimately one of the best Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers (whip).

While it is classified as fiction, there really was a Charley/Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst aka One Eyed Charley (towards the end of her life). Only on her death was it discovered that “he” was really a woman. It was thought that she may have been the first woman to vote in the United States, although, as a man (there are some arguments against this as I believe some States allowed women the vote already).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and polished it off in a matter of days. It has been criticised as being poorly written but I found myself so caught up in the story that I didn’t really notice. Yes, it may be very easy to read and have short chapters (between about 2 to 6 pages max) but that worked for me. I’ve had a lot on the go lately so was actually grateful for a book like this. One where I didn’t have to concentrate too hard yet still holding my attention.

An easy but interesting read that had me cringing while she was in the orphanage, almost in tears when her family was murdered and plain fascinated by her life.

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Schwingfest – Verliebt in einen Bauern

 “Schweizer Bestseller” (Swiss Bestseller) is stuck on ever cover of Schwingfest and gazed lovingly at me from every book shop! I just couldn’t get away from it. So, with my belief that a book finds me (and not the other way round), I decided to give it a go. I needed a holiday read after all. Besides, I just couldn’t resist that cute cover.

The story is about Bea, a freelance journalist and freelance-whatever-comes-her-way, who meets Sämi, a farmer, while writing an article to accompany his photo in a calendar. They have totally different lifestyles…naturally, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. Attracted to Sämi, Bea takes an interest in Schwingen and farming and thus it all unfolds. Some developments I didn’t see coming which is what made me enjoy this book. Initially I thought it would be just another routine light romance.

I must admit, that I get very nervous of the newer German and Swiss books. I find they bring in too much English and tend to use expressions in the wrong context. Anyway, that’s the way languages evolve I guess. This one wasn’t too bad, although kept going on about “that’s what friends are for” and such. It didn’t really fit in.

That aside, once I’d gotten used to the “clipped” writing style and come to terms with the fact that this was a very, veeery, light read, I quite enjoyed it. Reading so many books, many with similar settings, it was really refreshing to be transported to the Central Swiss region with which I’m familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) as a central theme. It made for something a bit different.

At the end of it all, it is still a girl-meets-boy story but very sweet and a fun quick read. Perfect for the holidays and as a bridging book between ‘heavier’ books.

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My two whispers’ worth…

The Horse Whisperer. A book that wasn’t on my “Want to Read” list. And, for those books on my list I generally start reading them in my own time…that being, when the book calls to me, appeals to me, tells me it is the right time. Little children who give their mothers books for Christmas don’t really understand this so I was asked and asked and asked when will I start “Horse Whisperers”. I managed to explain that I needed to finish the book I was busy with first but I just couldn’t (and didn’t want to) explain about having to be “in the mood” for a book so The Horse Whisperer it was next.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but as it is with this thing of expectations, I wasn’t expecting what the book actually was. Something very beautiful. Something heartfelt.

Being a parent, the tragic opening was hard and emotional to read. And it was the first indication that I had totally misjudged the book. Not sure if the beginning was actually slow, or, if it was the lack of time on my behalf, but it took me a while to get through those first few chapters. Then, all of a sudden, I was hooked. Despite a fast-paced reading, reading, reading to see what was going to happen, I savoured every single page. Apologies if I’m cliché here but it is such a beautiful story of family, friendship and forgiveness…oh, and love. Love in all its different forms. Love with all its workings from platonic to mother-daughter to new-found lovers. I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle nuances as friendships developed and characters were healed. Nicholas Evans evokes such vivid images of the landscape, the ranch and the story in general. What a beautiful read that I will definitely revisit, probably slower this time (knowing the end), taking it all in without the self-imposed pressure of needing to know what happens.