Review & Giveaway: Integrity by Anna Borgeryd, Cynthia Kite (Translator)

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About Integrity

Vera is a nurse from Sweden who, while delivering a dangerous birth in the Colombian jungle, makes contact with indigenous people who give her a wholly different outlook on life. A traumatic experience takes her home, her life in pieces just like the world as she now sees it. Her quest to put her life back together becomes tied up with her vision of a more sustainable world.

She meets the corporate heir to a company specializing in luxury travel who has a predatory attitude to women. Could such opposites really attract? And, if they came together, could they actually do something to halt the global march to self-destruction? An exploration of the inter-connectedness of human life, an unexpected love story, Integrity delves deep into the choices and emotions of a woman trying to change the world, and a man trying to change with her.

My Review

Borgeryd initially captured my attention a quarter of the way through the story, Vera’s story of narrowly escaping with her life while volunteering in Columbia was the incipient hook causing my antennae to quiver, however, it was short lived.

No complaints with the writing and translation, both very well done, the issue is with the characters and narrative. My attention was pulled and pushed equally. The narrative was monotonous as well as redundant. Vera, Peter along with the supporting cast were unappealing. They came across has mere figures on paper no dimensionality whatsoever. Numerous starts and stalls where Borgeryd reined in my focus until the pedestrian narrative pushed my focus far far away, repeating this vicious cycle until the very end. I’m confident if the length was pared down by 200-250 pages or so my attention could have been held to a higher level. Vera and Peter are lifeless and annoying, a clear case of much too much telling and definitely not nearly enough showing, benign characterization didn’t help fuel the fire.

If Borgeryd controlled the disarray and stayed on path, not to mention breathed life into her characters I would have been more receptive, than again this might be best enjoyed in its native language or perhaps it all boils down to a matter of taste. An awful lot to inhale until you reach the end leaving this reader exhausted and frustrated.

A detailed mature part coming of age story, part opposites attract romantically with a few very interesting subplots and points tossed in, you’ll enjoy Borgeryd’s effort, writing and translation softens the labor.

About Anna Borgerydimages

Anna Borgeryd has a PhD in conflict management and is chair of the family business Polarbröd. She is a musician and film-maker and this, her first novel, started life as a screenplay which won several awards in Sweden. She has been an adviser to the Swedish government’s Future Commission. She has given a TEDx lecture on The Dawn of a New Economy and in 2014 she was named among the fifteen most influential environmentalists in Sweden. She blogs at Wood and Blue.

Giveaway

Enter to win my ARC copy of Integrity by Anna Borgeryd, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/24/15
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Review: The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel, Alison Anderson (Translation)

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The dual narrative provides a psychological and emotional glimpse into old wounds of two former lovers as their paths accidentally cross after many years. An emotional and affecting train ride. Tension builds as each party reveals their recollection along with feelings of hurtful event.

Characters revisit choices made in youth, regrets, hurt, anger all untangled as the story of the former lovers is exposed. An inadvertent meeting sparks a journey of healing when all is said and done. A raw old wound cleverly and openly exposed with the remorse, and anguish blistering to this day, a fateful meeting providing closure after much time has passed. Reflection of past and present and what could or could not have been.

Anyone enduring hurt of any kind without closure will relate to this story. I personally found my own experience parallel to the two characters. Luckily my offender tracked me down after 20+ years to apologize and seek forgiveness – accepted and granted. His olive branch offering provided much and was an unexpected surprise, needless to say it made a huge impact in my life. Youth is ignorance but cruelty is never acceptable.

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Paperback, 170 pages
Expected publication: November 10th 2015 by New Vessel Press
ISBN13: 9781939931269

The Painter by Luccini Shurod

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An intimate story that bears a reflection of Luccini Shurod’s life and the beloved experience of falling in love for the very first time.

“Now drawing four fingers up the sides of her stomach, my hands create a kind of invisible wave that sounds beneath her skin. Molding her torso every which way as if it were clay for me to experiment, I study the lines of her iridescent form flowing in a rhythmic beauty that fascinates me into this fixation. My finger circles around the rim of her belly button as if to enjoy the sounds that might come from a crystal glass. Her every touch absorbs my ability to discern thought as I become rested in this feeling of absolute ecstasy. Life without her I know would indefinitely destroy me, having already solemnly delivered my spirit to this angel that comes down to be with me.”

Recognized as a child prodigy Shurod’s ability to draw and paint garnered much attention and recognition. His childhood somewhat unconventional yet he was immersed in love and possessed the ability to love fiercely.

As he enters adulthood he encounters love with Nadia. Destined for turbulent times, this forbidden love failed to prevent Shurod from shying away. Shurod dives in and casts hesitation, cultural differences and vulnerability to the wind and gives his mind, heart, body and soul to Nadia.

Shurod’s prose is lyrical and affecting. His love, passion and deepest feelings seep from the pages. His emotions bared as he reveals his nakedness, his heart hemorrhages intensity, elation and the depths of despair.

Shurod in true artist form begins his story with blank pages, draws the outline and magnificently adds colors to create a masterpiece with love as his paintbrush.

Elegantly written as a sensitive and capable man tells the story of his first love as he enters the beautiful and brutal labyrinth of love. A man allowing his emotions to be unleashed as he candidly shares his intimate story with unbridled fervor.

As a reader there is nothing more affecting than hearing a man share his love story through his voice without fear, his heart open, this is exactly what Shurod crafts in The Painter. With an artist guiding the writing implement you know you are in for quite a story, blatant as the story unravels with the turn of every page. A love story indeed, Shurod’s artist soul is apparent as you read his passionate story.


Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 18th 2014 by Luccini Shurod
ISBN13: 9780692298084

Review: Schooling by Heather McGowan

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Schooling
Heather McGowan
June 19th 2001 by Doubleday
Pages 320
ISBN13: 9780385501385

Recommendation: 3/5

 

From Goodreads:
Schooling is a portrait of an adolescent girl, thirteen-year-old Catrine Evans, who following her mother’s death is uprooted from her home in America to an English boarding school. There she encounters classmates who sniff glue and engage in arson and instructors who make merciless fun of her accent. She also finds the sympathetic chemistry teacher Mr. Gilbert, who offers Catrine the friendship she so desperately wants–a friendship that gradually takes on sinister and obsessive overtones.

My Thoughts
I applaud Heather McGowan’s debut effort Schooling. Most impressed with McGowan’s use of stream of consciousness style which adds texture and depth to both narrative and characters.

Schooling is a sophisticated and involved coming of age story of 14 year old Catrine. Catrine is a young girl facing many issues at once. Banished to boarding school, ignored by her father. Young Catrine craves love and attention and gains the attention of her chemistry teacher Mr Gilbert. What begins as an innocent relationship soon turns in to much more with a somewhat shocking ending.

Catrine did not appeal to me at all in the beginning. However, I found myself lost in her thoughts, thanks to McGowan’s style. I began to understand her and she subsequently grew on me. Initially she comes across as opportunistic almost calculating, sneaky but really she’s a tortured soul, suffering from so much upheaval in her life and most of all a ‘secret’ gnawing away at her. She’s complex but what 14 year old isn’t. Her issues add to the storyline and her cat-and-mouse attraction to Mr Gilbert makes for interesting sexual tension. Catrine and Mr Gilbert have a very interesting dynamic which leaves the reader guessing at what will transpire next.

McGowan’s style might not appeal to all but it really does add to this narrative. Looking forward to reading more from this bold and innovative author. Surprising this was her first novel, very seasoned writing for a green author.

Review: Agostino by Alberto Moravia

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Agostino
Alberto Moravia
NYRB Classics July 8, 2014
Pages 128
ISBN13: 9781590177235
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads  •  Amazon  •  Indiebound  •  Powell’s Books

Recommendation: 3/5

From NYRB
Thirteen-year-old Agostino is spending the summer at a Tuscan seaside resort with his beautiful widowed mother who takes up with a new companion. Agostino, feeling ignored and unloved, begins hanging around with a group of local young toughs, unable to make sense of his troubled feelings.

My Thoughts
Moravia addresses sexuality through the eyes of a thirteen year old young man burgeoning adolescence facing a summer of angst and turmoil. Realizing his mother is also a woman in every sense of the word and meaning, he finds his sexual attraction to her torturous and somewhat confusing. Innocent, uninformed this youth crosses paths with a group of street urchins and learns a worldly, unsavory side of life along with behavior he never knew existed.

Agostino wrestles with the changes and thoughts he is feeling, the sensual stirrings and jealousy towards his mother and her young beau. Desperately trying to squash his overbearing desire for his mother, we ride the wave of emotions puberty’s ugly head arouses along with its awkwardness.

Agostino’s mother’s self-absorption along with her amorous young suitor causes her to ignore the fact her boy is on the precipice of manhood. You have a clear sense she is unware of her son’s recent blatant behavior changes and attitude towards her bur rather she’s in tune with her own sexuality inducing blindness to her sons blossoming curiosity. A frustrating, bold and provocative read, very interesting perspective of sexuality through the eyes of a thirteen year old male.

Moravia brilliantly explores the relationship between a single woman and her teenage son as he embarks on his journey into manhood with little knowledge and even less guidance. Insightful piece of literature as well as heavy subject matter introduced.

“But the intensity of his filial vanity and the turmoil of his infatuation would linger with him for many years to come.”