#BlogTour: The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a remarkable book about the murky real world choices so many of us face. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Choices Are Rarely Clear Cut. Ellingsen does a remarkable job here of showing the tensions between competing choices so many of us face. Spouse vs genetic family. City vs rural. What I wanted to be vs what society made me into. Finding myself vs keeping what I have. And so many more. All within a solid tale ostensibly about a childless married woman trying to help save her family’s Dirty Dancing-style wilderness resort… and stumbling across a secret that could bring it all tumbling down. Excellent work layering so many issues into a readable and average ish length (circa 300 page) story. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, all of the publisher information, including a description of the book, contact links, and buy links.
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#BookReview: The Sound Between The Notes by Barbara Linn Probst

Solid Story, Could Have Used Better Structure. This was a solid story of a woman trying to find herself after putting her career on pause to raise her kid and give him a life she had never had. For me, though, the structure of the storytelling itself would have dramatically benefited from a slight variation of the technique here. Here, we get a mostly dual timeline story, a bit scattered at times (date stamps alone would have been useful in that regard, even if just “x years ago”) but workable. What *really* could have elevated this story though would have been to take a page from another tale of another professional struggling to find his way and looking back on his life – Billy Chapel in the *movie* version of For Love Of The Game. (We shall not speak of the book – one of very few cases where the movie is by far the superior story.) There, the story is told in the same dual timeline approach that we get here – but with *both* timelines happening before the seminal event (in that case, the last game Billy Chapel will ever pitch as a professional baseball player, in this case an important concert), then some follow-up after the event itself. Ultimately just a tweak, though a significant one, that would have made the story flow so much better for at least this reader. Still, truly a worthy read and very much recommended.

This review of The Sound Between The Notes by Barbara Linn Probst was originally written on February 25, 2021.

#BookReview: Heart Of The Violist by Maddie Evans

Excellent Start To New Series. With this book, Evans “officially” begins a new series that had a “soft opening” with the novella Faking The Harmony. Here, we really begin to see what makes the Castleton Family click… by having an interloper threaten to destroy all that they hold dear. Except this interloper… may just be exactly what he is claiming to be. Another excellent novelization of the very real-life issues faced with DNA testing, along with some solid discussion with real-world facts about the differences between the various DNA testing companies (all of whom are fictionalized in the text here) and how they operate. This is easily read as just a solid Hallmark-ish romance, the extra commentary just adds a bit of extra depth and real-world gravitas to the already solidly grounded tale. Excellent work, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the unresolved threads of the Castleton Family hash out. Very much recommended.

This review of Heart of the Violist by Maddie Evans was originally written on December 12, 2020.

#BookReview: My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Real World Meets Frequency Meets Bicentennial Man. Long ago, there was a situation I was very tangentially linked to (I was a classmate of the survivor) where a boy witnessed his brother be murdered in front of him via a shotgun blast meant for the boy. In the movie Frequency, my singular favorite scene is near the end when the dad in the 1960s uses his shotgun to blow off the hand of the bad guy and you see the hand wither to nothing in the present day timeline. And in Bicentennial Man, you follow Robert Williams’ robot character as he lives and loves over the course of two centuries. Literally this morning (as I write this), Catherine Ryan Hyde is using her telescope and camera setup to photograph the known universe, or at least the parts of it she can see from her own small slice of Earth.

This book wound up evoking the first three of these for me in that strange place that resides between my ears, and along the way we get a prototypical character-driven Catherine Ryan Hyde novel. It even included a scene that those that know Hyde even via her Facebook page could see playing out in her real life, making it all that much more “real”.

This isn’t an action filled book, it isn’t even really a mystery filled book. This is a solid character driven moving story about two people thrown together in very unlikely circumstances at a particular point in their lives, who turn out to be very rare types of people themselves. It is a powerful yet relatively sedate story very akin to Bicentennial Man itself.

And sometimes, those are exactly the stories we need to hear. Very much recommended.

This review of My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde was originally written on October 21, 2020.