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review 2019-11-27 17:13
A debut novel for readers that like to be challenged.

 

 

 

The Reluctant Healer

Andrew Himmel

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

 Release date: October 8, 2018

ISBN-10: 1626345309

ISBN-13: 978-1626345300

 

https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Healer-Andrew-D-Himmel/dp/1626345309

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

Andrew Himmel's original debut novel is told with a fresh writing style,  an eccentric approach to his subjects and characters,  and a dry, wry wit, especially in the descriptions and observations expressed in the viewpoint of the novel's main character, New York attorney Will Alexander.

 

The main theme of The Reluctant Healer is the collision of Alexander's legalist, rationalist world view which is challenged when he meets the sexy New Ager Erica Wells. When they meet, Erica reveals she's an energy healer who can perceive Alexander has extraordinary abilities as a natural healer. Alexander doesn't accept that judgement but finds himself drawn to the beautiful woman who is an intellectual match for him even if her metaphysical beliefs are the polar opposite of his own.

 

Very reluctantly,  Alexander finds himself being put in situations where his natural energies seem to, in fact, cure all manner of diseases and afflictions. For Erica, natural healers like Alexander are badly needed in a new era where viruses are becoming immune to antibiotics and it's natural energy, energies found in everything, that can be cures when the afflicted are merely in Alexander's presence.

 

Alexander's journey takes him into all manner of circumstances including long motorcycle rides, theft of an opponent's cell phone, and situations that ultimately place him in legal jeopardy. To say more would be to swerve into the world of spoilers.

 

Himmel's style and tone are extremely cerebral and the book is not light reading.  It's a book with serious intent. In supplementary material at the end of the book, Himmel reveals much of the book's content was inspired by his own journey, very much like Alexander's, as the author' wife Michelle became interested in energy healing and pulled him into her realm of Universal Energy healing. Jumping off from his real-life experiences, Himmel claims his novel was ignited when he mused, "What if the conventional individual, rigid in his beliefs, developed the capability of healing others, even as he distrusted much of the alternative world? His struggle would become poignant and pronounced, because he would be grappling not just with tension in his relationship but also with internal conflict with phenomena that challenged both his sense of self and his worldview."

 

In a quiz prepared for readers with an academic bent, Himmel says, "The author believes that The Reluctant Healer is a bigger story about how we as human beings get along with and coexist with people who are different from—and  sometimes the complete opposite of— us."

 

It seems to me larger themes also include a modern twist on the conflicts between the rational and the mystical. In other words, The Reluctant Healer is a brain tickler designed to stimulate thought an reflection in Himmel's readers. He offers no answers, no final conclusions, advocates no point-of-view, and leaves the story open for a sequel already in progress.

 

Not a book for all readers, but certainly one for readers who like to digest what they read and be challenged by above average language choices, imaginative imagery,  and be willing to absorb the story slowly. I had to read it in chunks, always eagerly returning quickly to continue the flow.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Nov. 27, 2019 at:

https://waa.ai/OQKw



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review 2019-09-15 21:21
The Woo-Woo: How I survived ice hockey, demons, drug raids, and my crazy Chinese family - Lindsay Wong
Woo-Woo, The - Lindsay Wong

First: not enough hockey. Or at least, hockey makes a brief and violent appearance (of course!) but then it disappears. I'd have liked to see it mentioned again, if only to update whether it had any appeal of any kind ever again.

 

Second: both weirder and not as weird as I anticipated. The demons turn out to be ghosts but not in the way I'm used to thinking of them. The drug raids are very strange, but serve well as humorous anecdotes: unexpected details really go against stereotypes. 

 

Third: see? my parenting isn't that bad. Actually, maybe it is that bad. Maybe there's a memoir coming about how weird it was to grow up with me.

 

Mostly I think my problem is I kind of expected it to be the stuff of sitcom, you know, zany. It's not zany. It's sad and distressing, which is really not how I had planned to focus my Halloween reading. Although to be fair, I suppose bad parenting really is horrific.   

 

I can't wait to see what the next book is about, though.              

 

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review 2019-07-13 15:47
Social Capital?
City Crime - new

“City Crime” is another debut novel and I bought a copy at a talk by the author, Ian Richardson, at our local library. The title might give the impression of misdeeds in the affluent financial sector, but while the action is perpetrated in the hallowed square mile, the real novelty factor is the involvement of detectives from the City of London police, which seems akin to the unusual challenge of policing Beverly Hills. Still, DCI Gould and newly promoted DS Phillipa Cotterell preside over an investigation that is more well-versed than its setting, driven by familiar human frailties of jealousy, greed and lust. Family in-fighting, organised criminals, drug-dealing, blackmail and tainted money, are deftly woven within a plot that belies the veneer of affluent success and culminates in brutal murders and the exposure of baser instincts.


In essence the reader can find little sympathy for any of the cast of victims or the numerous suspects, nor for that matter the police officers. Notwithstanding the rather naïve ideals of Ms Cotterell, one gets the feeling the more tempered cynicism of her superior also has its place, when unpicking layers of deceit. In what seems destined to be a short-lived partnership, the clandestine coupling of the police officers outside of the investigation also appeared likely to heap pressure on their relationship, rather than support it, but in or out of work, their collaboration seems to have a limited shelf life. This may be disappointing if the reader is looking for the next ‘crime-fighting duo’, but the chemistry, á la Morse and Lewis; Poirot and Hastings; Holmes and Watson, has to be right in order to evolve, though such novels also need to be able to stand alone and this it does.


In truth, I found the plot more convincing and developed than the characters, but the twists and turns of the story were absorbing and as the introduction of a new voice in criminal fiction, this book was an enjoyable and promising light read. I hope the author continues to write into a well-earned retirement.

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review 2019-02-22 08:20
A decade after a friend’s suicide, memories and the past are dissected to get to the truth behind ‘The Lost Night’
The Lost Night - Andrea Bartz

When Lindsay lost her best friend Edie to suicide in 2009, she was amidst a haze of partying, hanging out in a hipster community in Brooklyn, living it up with drugs, alcohol, and forgotten nights. A decade later brings a reunion with an old friend from that whiskey-and-Molly-soaked era, Sarah, and memories and questions about their friend’s death surface.

Lindsay begins a fully-fledged investigation into her own past as well as of many friends who shared those wild days and wilder nights. Delving into the past by muddling through barriers to obsolete technology, getting access to police case files, and often awkwardly questioning people she’d soon forget, Lindsay becomes completely obsessed with Edie’s death and the night she can’t remember. Her memories play tricks on her and some have vanished; a testament to how many years were wasted in what seemed like the ‘best of times’ when they were happening. Her research become all-absorbing, intense and obsessive.

 

This novel explores more than just a death that left countless questions behind and friends and family grieving. It explores the complexities of memory, the psyche, the fragile frivolous relationships that are borne out of a life fueled by chemicals. The excellent writing by Andrea Bartz pulls you along Lindsay’s painful trail through the past, unraveling a mystery that proves to be as compulsive and gripping as it is disturbing and twisted. Bartz writes every word with absolute intent, creating a different atmosphere and tonality with each situation that arises and with other key players’ perspectives.

 

It even brought up emotions in me that were often difficult to juggle while reading, as I recalled questions I still have surrounding a sudden death of someone close to me, as well as the discomfort of my own fair share of stupid drunken nights in my twenties.

It highlights the recklessness and stupidity of the kinds of choices made when you’re young and you feel like you have the whole world at your feet. And this blast from the past, the window into New York at that time, even though it’s just a microcosm, comes across as both vivid and surreal at the same time.

 

This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a good psychological thriller or mystery that pokes around in the recesses of the mind, while questioning the past. The past behaviors and self-absorbed nature of the characters may be jarring to some people, but I found it to be eye-opening and thus made for riveting reading. Getting to the truth and having Lindsay get some closure to her friend’s death had me hooked entirely.

One of my fastest reads in weeks, this was an all-absorbing and exciting read; thank you to Crown Publishing for sending me this advance reader’s copy.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/35955191-the-lost-night
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review 2018-11-21 21:58
A Sweet and Sassy Country Music Story that's sure to please...
You'd Be Mine: A Novel - Erin Hahn

๏ ๏ ๏  Book Blurb ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

 

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.


Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

 

 

 

 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Review ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

I really thought this was going to come off as overly heavy with the Young of Young Adult, but it surprised me, it deals with some heavy issues and does it surprisingly well.  With a feel that reminds me of Open Road Summer, this story did not disappoint and I think I liked this even more than that book.  The romance has all the feels, even for YA...and I loved every one of the characters so much.  I was also blown away by the songwriting, especially "you'd be mine" and how it embodies the whole story. I would love to hear it put to music.  Since I'm from Michigan, I loved that Annie and even the Author is too.  There was even a shout-out to Grand Rapids, which I live only a little north of.


๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

4.8STARS - GRADE=A

 

 

 

 

 Breakdown of Ratings  

 

Plot⇝ 4.5/5

Main Characters⇝ 5/5

Secondary Characters⇝ 5/5

The Feels⇝ 5/5

Pacing⇝ 4.5/5

Addictiveness⇝ 4.5/5

Theme or Tone⇝ 5/5

Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 5/5

Originality⇝ 5/5

Ending⇝ 5/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nope.

๏ ๏ ๏

Book Cover⇝ It's okay...

Setting⇝ Michigan/Indiana and all over the United States

Source⇝ I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

๏ ๏ ๏

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