Throwback Thursday: The Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan

ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago. If you decide to take part, please link back to It’s Book Talk.

Today I’m reviewing another book that has been in my TBR pile for way too long – The Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan. I want to thank Jeannie for her patience in waiting so long for my review.


TheExistenceofPityAbout the Book

Growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. She soon begins to hide things from her parents, like her new boyfriend, her trips into the city, and her explorations into different religions. Josie eventually discovers her parents’ secrets are far more insidious. When she attempts to unravel the web of lies surrounding her family, each thread stretches to its breaking point. Josie tries to save her family, but what happens if they don’t want to be saved?

Click here to view a selection of photographs Jeannie has taken of places that feature in the book alongside some short excerpts from The Existence of Pity.

To view the book trailer, click here

Format: eBook (240 pp.)                 Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Published: 14th November 2016   Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Existence of Pity on Goodreads


My Review

The Existence of Pity is a really interesting coming-of-age story set in the fascinating location of Cali, a city in Colombia.   I loved the insight the novel gives into the culture and landscape of Colombia – in fact, there could have been more of that for me. The picture of the missionary community, largely cut off from the indigenous population, with few contacts with the local people aside from those working as their maids, I found somewhat depressing.  However, I can appreciate that Colombia can be a dangerous place and that there was an element of personal safety considerations in that arrangement. Josie, the central character, is the one member of her family who seems to make an effort to connect with and absorb the atmosphere of the country and its people.

‘Cali was full of smells, each connected to a memory. Some, like the burning of sugar cane, reminded me of good-byes. The smell of the city – with its diesel fuel, cigarettes, and occasional aromas of cologne and bursts of air conditioning – was the smell of excitement and possibilities. The mountains’ mix of cool fresh air, rain, and coffee was sheer beauty. But the best smell, the one I knew even with my eyes closed, was our street. The smoky smell of the corner restaurant lingered among the fragrance of fruit trees, flowers and mown grass.’

Josie’s parents are Baptist missionaries and I did struggle with their certainty that their beliefs are ‘right’ and the people of Colombia need to be persuaded to jettison their own religious beliefs, to ‘see the light’ as it were. So I could really understand and appreciate Josie’s desire to explore other beliefs. I found her parents’ intolerance of her spiritual exploration and their unwillingness to believe her side of events that take place later in the novel quite at odds with their professed Christian spirit. Their hypocrisy, given what we learn as the novel progresses, is quite breathtaking too. And I really hated their treatment of their Colombian maid, Blanca.  I think you can tell from this that the author definitely succeeded in engaging me in the story!

I feel The Existence of Pity would make a perfect YA book as I think readers younger than myself might be able to identify better with Josie’s (to me, superficial) pre-occupations with which boys to date: ‘Tom was a good guy, and I really liked him, but did I like him enough to overlook things like his stupid hat.’ However, I really liked that Josie found a few people, include some Colombians, who were able to support her in a way her parents seemed unable to do.

The description of the book in the blurb – ‘a story of flawed characters told with heart and depth against the beautiful backdrop of Colombia’ – perfectly sums up this engaging, interesting novel.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author and publishers, Red Adept Publishing, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Emotional, coming-of-age, thoughtful

Try something similar…A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls (click here to read my review)


JeannieZokanAbout the Author

Jeannie Zokan grew up in Colombia, South America, where she read almost every book in the American school she attended. Her love of books led her to study Library Science at Baylor University then to attend The George Washington University in DC. When the chance came to head south, she took her motorcycle to Florida’s Gulf Coast to write stories for the local newspaper. She now lives ten minutes from the beach with her husband, two teenage daughters, and three pets, all of whom keep her inspired and just a little frantic. She enjoys aerial yoga, tennis, and holding NICU babies as a volunteer. But there’s always writing. Writing to relive, writing to understand, writing to remember, writing to renew.

Connect with Jeannie

Website ǀ Blog ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads

 

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WWW Wednesdays – 29th November ’17

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too? Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

FortunesWheelFortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes (paperback, giveaway prize)

June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter, Agnes, mysteriously disappeared, and it prevented the search for her. Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, and have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for. Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. When one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord’s son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

DeathAtGlacierLakeDeath at Glacier Lake by Pam Stucky (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

For two decades, the lush, isolated forests of the North Cascades have hidden a secret. Now, twenty years later, a mysterious contest has brought Mindy Harris back to the area she thought she’d left behind forever. A seemingly innocent creative design firm shows up for a company retreat, but all goes awry when one of their own turns up dead. Was it an accident? Murder? And how does the unsolved mystery from twenty years ago play into it all?

Keep Me SafeKeep Me Safe (Seal Island #1) by Daniela Sacerdoti (ebook, NetGalley)

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need? 


Recently finished (click on title for review)

TheSummerofImpossibleThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman (hardcover, giveaway prize)

If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death. Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.  At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

TheIceThe Ice by Laline Paull (ebook, NetGalley)

It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.

It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive. Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals. But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table.

Just how deep do the lies go?

TheExistenceofPityThe Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. She soon begins to hide things from her parents, like her new boyfriend, her trips into the city, and her explorations into different religions. Josie eventually discovers her parents’ secrets are far more insidious. When she attempts to unravel the web of lies surrounding her family, each thread stretches to its breaking point. Josie tries to save her family, but what happens if they don’t want to be saved? (Review to follow 30th November)

TheSixthManThe Sixth Man by Rupert Colley (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Sometimes we all make the wrong choice.

1943 Nazi-occupied France. Six Frenchmen are in a Nazi prison: a doctor, a postman, a policeman, a soldier, a teacher and a priest. After six months of prison, they are a desperate looking set of men. But, despite their circumstances, they are happy – for tonight is their last night of incarceration. Tomorrow, they will be free men. But then – there’s a change of plan. The French resistance have blown up a German train. Five German soldiers lie dead. Tomorrow, five of the six prisoners will be executed in reprisal. They have until dawn to decide which one of them should be allowed to live. Six happy men are now six desperate frightened souls, victims of the Nazi’s arbitrary justice. The doctor, the postman, the policeman, the soldier, the teacher and the priest. Only one of them will live to see another day. Who will be The Sixth Man?


What Cathy (will) Read Next

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen (Hardcover)

This is not a great love story. This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

The Good EarthThe Good Earth (House of Earth #1) by Pearl S. Buck (Hardcover)

This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall. Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists and love to share lists with other bookish folk.

The rules are simple:

  1. Each week they post a new Top Ten list topic.
  2. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  3. Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  4. Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List – a great excuse to look forward to all the bookish treats in store in the next few months.


Here’s my list – click on the title to read the Goodreads blurb.

Corpus_SignedCorpus (Tom Wilde #1) by Rory Clements – I can’t believe I’ve not read this yet as I loved Rory Clements’ John Shakespeare series and he was kind enough to sign my copy of Corpus when I heard him speak at Henley Literary Festival (click here to read my review of the event). Also, see below….

Nucleus BookpostNucleus (Tom Wilde #2) by Rory Clements – I have a lovely ARC of the next in the series, which is published in January so I need to catch up!

The Twelve-Mile StraightThe Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson – Another fantastic looking ARC from NetGalley and I was clicking on request as soon as it mentioned ‘for lovers of To Kill A Mockingbird’. Sold – to the lady whose TBR pile is huge already.

Oliver LovingOliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block – Yet another NetGalley ARC that I couldn’t resist requesting. Described as “A dazzling novel about love, loss, and the mysteries of the mind”, it’s published in January.

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – This is my book for the December theme of the BookBum Book Club, run by the lovely Zuky on Goodreads. The theme is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. It’s set in Alaska, so brrr…

The Good EarthThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – This was the book from my Classics Club list I got in the latest spin. I need to read it by the end of December.  Lots of other book bloggers have given favourable comments about it so I’m looking forward to crossing at least one book off my Classics Club list in the next few months.

The Marriage of Miss Jane AustenThe Marriage of Miss Jane Austen by Collins Hemingway – I’m on the blog tour for this book in January. It imagines that Jane Austen entered into a secret marriage – sounds really intriguing.

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen – Another book that I have a lovely copy of signed by the author. I’ve heard such great things about this from other book bloggers.  I also adore the gorgeous cover.

Beautiful StarBeautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston – Gosh, another January blog tour!  I am going to be busy! I love my historical fiction and I’ve recently rediscovered an appreciation for short stories, so I couldn’t resist this one.  Another great cover, as well.

Sweet Hollow WomenSweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord – Set in Louisiana – tick. Following the lives of four generations of women – tick.  I also think the cover looks really enticing.

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to reading this Winter?

Book Review: The Sixth Man by Rupert Colley

TheSixthManAbout the Book

Sometimes we all make the wrong choice.

1943 Nazi-occupied France. Six Frenchmen are in a Nazi prison: a doctor, a postman, a policeman, a soldier, a teacher and a priest. After six months of prison, they are a desperate looking set of men. But, despite their circumstances, they are happy – for tonight is their last night of incarceration. Tomorrow, they will be free men. But then – there’s a change of plan. The French resistance have blown up a German train. Five German soldiers lie dead. Tomorrow, five of the six prisoners will be executed in reprisal. They have until dawn to decide which one of them should be allowed to live.

Six happy men are now six desperate frightened souls, victims of the Nazi’s arbitrary justice. The doctor, the postman, the policeman, the soldier, the teacher and the priest. Only one of them will live to see another day. Who will be The Sixth Man?

Format: eBook (pp.)            Publisher:
Published: 8th April 2017   Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Find The Sixth Man on Goodreads


My Review

In The Sixth Man, the author brings us six cautionary tales told by men who believe they are spending their last night on earth and have a last chance to confess to their worst sins before they meet their Maker.   In a sort of chilling balloon debate, they agree that once all have told their stories, the group will vote on which man deserves to escape death.

The stories they tell involve cowardice, greed, dishonour, collusion, jealousy and ambition.   However, although they have all made mistakes in their lives, often with terrible consequences for themselves and others, these are also men who in other respects have displayed dedication, public service, diligence, compassion and professional skill. After all, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…”

In the spirit of the author’s request at the end of the book, I’m not going to say any more about what happens. If you absolutely don’t want any clue before you read the book for yourself, then don’t look at my “Try something similar” recommendation further down this post either!

It was the historical setting of the book that first drew me to The Sixth Man and the individual stories, the overall theme and the surprising ending didn’t disappoint.  I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Chilling, mystery, thought-provoking

Try something similar…An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley


SAMSUNG DIGITAL MOVIEAbout the Author

Rupert Colley is founder, writer and Series Editor of History In An Hour , owned by HarperCollins UK, and now author of three novels. The first, My Brother the Enemy, a novella, is set during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The second, This Time Tomorrow, set during and following World War One, is a compelling story of war, brotherly love, passion and betrayal. His third novel, The Black Maria, is set in Moscow in 1935, the height of Stalin’s reign, about love crushed by the machine.

Connect with Rupert

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10 Things I Loved About…The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

TheSummerofImpossibleThings

  1. How we see the power and immutability of love played out before our eyes – romantic love, maternal love, love of friends and community: “Love outlasts even death. It’s present in every moment, even those filled with darkness; it’s never exhausted, it never gives up or wavers. It’s the one force of the universe that will never be captured by an equation or […] science.”
  2. The picture of sisterhood we get in the relationship between Luna and Pia – borrowing each other’s possessions, doing each other’s make-up, irritating each other (sometimes), supporting each other (always)
  3. How it cleverly explores the way that actions have consequences, like ripples in a pond
  4. The belief in the power of stories – to unite us, to transform: ‘Stories are the only thing that can ever really change the world. The stories that people believe in are the only ones that matter.  Those are the stories that have the power to change everything we think we understand.’
  5. That authors are even able to come up with ideas like this!
  6. How it conjures up the atmosphere of New York – the music, the clothes, the food and drink – so you feel you’re walking the streets with Luna and Pia, inhaling the smell of bagels, hearing the roar of the traffic
  7. It’s about grabbing the moment and following your dream: “What I’m trying to say is, you might as well try as hard as you can to follow your dreams, otherwise what are they for, except to remind you of everything you didn’t do.”
  8. That ending…you made me cry, Rowan Coleman!
  9. That I won this as a prize from a giveaway organised by the lovely Kelly at Love Books Group
  10. The gorgeous cover – so beautiful. Make sure you check out the front and back of the cover or you’ll miss a clever detail from the book in the design!

About the Book

If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.  Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.  At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

Format: Hardcover (432 pp.)     Publisher: Ebury Press
Published: 4th May 2017             Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Book Depository
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Summer of Impossible Things on Goodreads

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In three words: Emotional, magical, romantic

Try something similar…Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


Rowan ColemanAbout the Author

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.

Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing in public. Despite being dyslexic, Rowan loves writing, and The Memory Book is her eleventh novel. Others include The Accidental Mother, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud and the award-winning Dearest Rose, a novel which lead Rowan to become an active supporter of domestic abuse charity Refuge, donating 100% of royalties from the ebook publication of her novella, Woman Walks Into a Bar, to the charity. Rowan does not have time for ironing.

Connect with Rowan

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TheSummerofImpossibleThings