Meet two dogs, one parrot, a rare bird, and a vendor of apricots, plus many assorted writers in this batch of book reviews. I apologize to the authors for being so late posting several of these. My best excuse is I've been writing. But the animal hero of my novels is neither dog nor bird, but rather a very white, sometimes mythical cat with a red stone in its collar and just a hint of wings. Meet it in Divide by Zero, and soon in Infinite Sum as well, coming soon from Indigo Sea Press.
The dogs and parrot belong in a book of essays, Two Dogs and a Parrot by Joan Chittister, where the authors tells what she's learned, and we can learn, from animals. There's a Judeo-Christian dichotomy, she points out, with two creation stories where one gives mankind dominion, but the other invites us to name. Naming meas relationship, and relationship with animals has helped many a person cope with distress. Of course, the animals too have much to cope with, and their coping mechanisms have much to teach. The book is a fascinating blend of learned, personal, and theological. Enjoy with some rich elegant complex four-star coffee.
A bird of a very different nature flies in Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson, a memoir of loss and love. Real life, real death, dreams, visions and those gentle hints that help and guide but seem so meaningless at the time... all play their part as the author details the loss of her oldest child when his life had so far yet to go. It's beautifully written, painful and honest. It questions whether we can shout at God and says yes. And it touches very gently on that veil between here and there. A great book for those who have lost, or who know those who have lost sometime. This is one to enjoy with plenty of tissues in the box and a well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.
The dog is a side-character in Paulette Mahurin's His Name was Ben. This story tells of love and loss as well, with protagonists both seeking a cure for cancer, and love struggling to break through the wounds of the past. Spirituality, humanity, sexuality and loss combine in an unflinching roller-coaster ride. And the result is haunting, uplifting, and wonderful. Enjoy with a bold, dark, intense five-star cup of coffee.
Valerie’s Vow by Ashley M. Carmichael, continues that theme of loss and hope. Valerie's close to giving up on God after the loss of her friend. She's still teaching, and teaching Sunday school, but attending church feels like a lie, and she's promised her friend she'll try new things, so now... she's riding the back of a motorbike, going to bars, skipping church, and... still living her life for everyone else. Valerie's Vow is a wonderfully low-key story of a woman keeping a promise and finding a gift. Enjoy with some well-balance, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.
Love and loss are just two of the themes intertwined in Carrie Jane Knowles' short story collection, Apricots in a Turkish Garden. The stories are beautifully woven, haunting, and evocative. The artistry is as natural as the freshly opened apricots of the final tale. And it's a collection to savor, with apricots I suppose, and a cup of elegant, complex four-star coffee.
Finally, returning to that theme of faith that has slipped in and out of this collection, The Genesis Journey by Sandra Lund is a wonderfully poetic devotional, taking readers through Genesis, drawing inspiration from the Biblical text, and offering inspiring poems and thoughts, without ever overpowering the text. I shall certainly plan to post a review when it's released, and I'll read with well-balanced, smooth-flavored three-star coffee.