“Megan’s Way” ~ A Novel of Eternal Love, Friendship, Death & Dying by Melissa Foster

Book Notes

“Megan’s Way is a fine and fascinating read that many will find hope in.” Midwest Book Review


The Megan’s Way film will be entered in the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, South By Southwest Festival (SXSW In Austin Texas), Amsterdam Film Festival, as well as New York, LA , and Miami (just to name a few). This is a “Fest-Best” type of film and expected to make a major impact on festivals world wide.

My Review:

I first want to share with my readers the personal perspective I bring to this review of “Megan’s Way.” Some 29 years ago I was widowed as a young woman with three children under the ages of 9. My precious young husband died of melanoma that had metastasized to major organs: we had several months to prepare for his death. This came after the original cancer of 11 years in the first year of our marriage. So, I’m someone well acquainted with cancer’s toll on a person and those who love them. I read this book with that intimate awareness.

Melissa Foster has given us a true-to-life rendering of the process of dying. From the earliest stages of the person’s acknowledgement of impending death, to their release of loved ones, their body and spirit; to the angst and responses of those who live with and love them, Ms Foster paints a portrait of the struggles and survivals. She understands the pain of those left behind and the awareness of those who have to do the leaving.

 Through her very beautiful and tender portrayals, we come to know Megan and her intimate friends as if they were family. We get a clear and close up understanding of Megan’s loving and tumultuous relationship with her teen aged daughter, Olivia. And, we are given unique insights into Megan’s personality, thoughts, fears and death and dying processes from her own perspective, as well as from the perspectives of her friends and daughter. Ms Foster is spot on in her every detail of this experience with death, in my experience. 

I found Melissa’s writing, however, to be somewhat stilted in her efforts to get across all the points of the process, and then the major theme of the choices we have about our own death and dying. There is something lost in the flow of a story as the book progresses when it starts to be overtaken by a series of details on these numerous processes and points of dying, rather than having it more balanced within a storyline. This, however, does not take very much from the book or enjoyment of it in total, since I think it’s worthy on many other levels.

While Megan considers her options of ceasing any other chemo or “prolonging” measures, and as she also contemplates the virtues of taking into her own hands the method and timing of her death, we are allowed to witness her conflicts. This option to choose is one that many come face-to-face with. Ms Foster gives us a balanced and open view of a woman who looks boldly into the face of death, weighs her options and takes into loving consideration the daughter she will leave behind.

The complexity of “Megan’s Way” made this novel one that I loved reading. Certainly, it rang true to me in so many ways. It also touched my heart with its attempts to bring readers into a center of meaning and choices that will be an evitability in most of our lives.

The intertwined tale of friends and surrogate family lends itself to be a realistic possibility in light of the “secrets” that people tend to hold close in relationships. While one is living, the secret is easily kept and the “family” can pretend to overlook and rationalize…but once a foundational/pivotal person is going to be removed–the structure that holds it all together is jeopardized and must be delicately “readjusted.” This is an element I’m also familiar with, personally, and one I thought Ms Foster handled elegantly.

I recommend your choosing to read “Megan’s Way” before it’s made into the movie for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s going to have a great impact! And, it’s a very enjoyable read on the order of a Jodi Picoult novel.

Strongly urge you to read more about Melissa Foster and her outreach programs, her book “Chasing Amanda,” her soon to be released book, and her social community for women called “The Women’s Nest.”

http://www.melissafoster.com/


4.5 stars from TheBookishDame

“Swallow” A Novel by Tanya Plank

Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She’s the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, “now what do I do to one-up everyone” generation. She “gets it” and she’s telling!! LOL

I thought her author’s voice–her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one…or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations.

Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie’s fiance’s Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie’s own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as “when you’re young,” as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all–and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses….which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it’s caused Sophie to choke, hasn’t it?

It’s caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction…a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender’s Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel.

Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie’s secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify…and the fiance’ who can’t believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!…all make for a fun ride!!

I loved Tanya Plank’s book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons)

This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vs the “real” people. It’s a look into the workings of the public defender’s life and the big city lawyer’s mindset. It’s a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young “brave ones” who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren’t in their favor.
This is a book that’s easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That’s how good Tanya Plank is at writing!

You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again, and you’re going to be listening and loving her!! Just like I do.

“Dragon House” A Healing Love Story in Viet Nam

“Dragon House,” is a novel of exceptional beauty, a love story of multi-dimension, and a healing experience for all who know the Viet Nam War.

John Shors has become one of my favorite authors of the 21st century.  I believe he is the voice of our recent past, and a voice of the humanity in all of us as we struggle to keep what is good and moral against a tide of selfishness and instability in our world.

Mr. Shors is an author of exceptional capabilities with characterization conveying feelings and angst that will so touch your heart that you feel actually set within the place and time with his characters.

Having lived through the Viet Nam War as a child of the ’60′s, I found this book especially interesting.  I have not been able to read about the War, per se.  It was a time of loss and anger and confusion for me.  A time I just haven’t cared to scrutinize.  But, this book gave me a way of “looking” that was thoughtful, caring and healing.

Through the eyes of Iris, the daughter of a Viet Nam veteran left with post traumatic stress syndrome and memories he could only heal by going back to create a home for street children;  we see, hear, smell and feel the thriving, messy, whirling, beautiful, dangerous and noisy place called Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Siagon.   I found many of the things surprisingly familiar to me…through pictures that were flashed daily on the t.v. when our boys were over there, I suppose.  I could see through Shors writings the brightness of colors, smell the food, hear the horn blasts, and shiver at the sufferings.   John Shors didn’t miss a beat. 

Iris goes to Viet Nam to continue her father’s dream and to help the street children, bringing with her a life-long friend…a now wounded, permanently handicapped vet. of the Iraqi War, who is suffering and suicidal.  This character boldly gives the reader insight into all veterans returning with injuries of body, mind and spirit from the horrors of war.   Along with an eternally hopeful Vietnamese woman, they work to complete the Center for Street Children that will become the catalyst for their own salvations.

Through their work,  inspiration, and close companionships with a little group of starving, abused and critically ill children, Iris and Noah find a new place of rest for all.  And, that included me.

I highly recommend this book for all and everyone.  John Shors is an author who needs to be read because he will be one to make a mark in these coming years.  He’s an American writer of note and value.

I also recommend this book because it’s good for those of us who have come through the Viet Nam War (a war not successful and not popular with the American people) and are going through the Iraqi/Afghani War…another one which may have a similar outcome.  We might find some solace in the fact that we will survive.   Timely and healing….  please read this book for many reasons.

Your Bookish Dame

Still Missing

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7159515-still-missing” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Still Missing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1260468195m/7159515.jpg” /></a><a href=”Still” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7159515-still-missing”>Still”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7159515-still-missing”>Still Missing</a> by <a href=”Chevy” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3163298.Chevy_Stevens”>Chevy”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3163298.Chevy_Stevens”>Chevy Stevens</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122545769″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122545769″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I’m just sick that I inadvertently erased my new review!!!  Anyway, having finished this book about a young woman who was abducted and held hostage for more than a year by a psychopath, I have to tell all!
<br/>What an impact this writer has, and will have, should she choose (and I hope she does) to write more. She’s an amazing writer with lots to say and a very unique way of saying it. I was just blown away by several things in this work.
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<br/>First: The storyline is a fairly familiar one, but Ms. Stevens handles it in an absorbing fashion. We are so intricately taken into the mind of the psychopath and are made detectives and discoverers along with her protagonist.  I was able to completely envision the sterile environment she was held in, and the horrific things that were done to her.  Shivering!!!
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<br/>Secondly:  Ms. Stevens does something that I don’t remember ever having experienced in quite such a manner before.  She has the young woman tell her story completely from the perspective of relating it to her psychiatrist. We don’t know who the doctor is, we have no idea what the office really is like, we don’t have a sense of time or place about her getting to this psychiatrist.  She works the story and the resolution out through this doctor, and through police detectives.
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<br/>Third:  Strong and “tell it like it is” monologuing. Strong characters.  Lots of wisdom and angst.  Understanding about what really matters and what love truly is.  A sense of what we might be capable of that we think we could never do.
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<br/>This is a really great novel. One of the few I’ve read that conveys the psychology and feelings of the main character so thoroughly.  I loved it.
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<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View all my reviews</a>

Good Read: The Second Virgin Birth

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Second Virgin Birth” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51twYDfrn7L._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”The” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth”>The”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth”>The Second Virgin Birth</a> by <a href=”Tommy” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1255912.Tommy_Taylor”>Tommy”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1255912.Tommy_Taylor”>Tommy Taylor</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”4″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122776274″>4″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122776274″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />

This book tells a fantastic, very fast-paced story of the what-ifs of the cloning of Jesus Christ.  I’ll say this: I simply could not put it down for the few minutes it would have taken me to go get a cup of coffee at 5AM, after having stayed up all night reading it!!

The story is compelling and so well-conveyed that it’s nearly believeable. Descriptions of forensic DNA testing, cloning and the fortress-like business establishment of one of the primary characters show close research.

At this point, I cannot give it a 5 star rating only because there are so many editorial glitches. But, this, I believe is the result of it being a first time novel, and will be missing in its sequel which is due out next year.

I’m only halfway through this book…I love the characters…and I want to know what happens to them. 

Get this book.  You will not be sorry you did.  It will rank along with the best of Dan Brown’s works.  I highly recommend it!!

<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View all my reviews</a>

Update:   October 18, 2010        I’m still giving this very inventive, imaginative book a 4 star rating.   While the premise and much of the storyline was compelling, I found the grammar and misspellings distracting.  However, I have to quantify that comment by saying that I have a double major in Fine Arts and English Lit., so it may just be me!!!  Certainly, it’s a story and a book that moves along so fast that these minor things do not take much away from it.  :]    

I wasn’t happy with the Kindle version.  Sometimes Kindle just doesn’t get its timing right in the separation of chapters and that’s annoying to me.  I would purchase it as a paperback from one of the discount houses that Amazon lists if I had it to do over again.

All in all, I continue to recommend this book to my friends and followers with slight reservations as mentioned above.   It’s a story that Tommy will be continuing in sequel, and which I know will have the improvements that were lacking in this first effort!    I’m looking forward to hearing more from him!!

Your Bookish Dame

New Deanna Raybourn Book!

Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn

Posted: 02 Oct 2010 10:00 AM PDT

http://luxuryreading.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/dark-road-to-darjeeling.jpgReviewed by Jenna A.

Deanna Raybourn submerses us in a world of ball gowns, Rajahs, mystery and death in the 1889 setting of Dark Road to Darjeeling. Set in India, the story begins with a series of small introductions to the Marchs, a predominant family stretched across continents and time. At a time when gowns were seen commonplace, private investigators flourished and mystery in the world still abounded, the story finds us at the honeymoon of our most notorious and elusive characters, Brisbane and Lady Julia.

On their world travels, the newly married Brisbane and Lady Julia are suprised to find in their dining parlor Plum and Portia, Lady Julia’s siblings, beckoning them to India.

Upon arrival, Portia tells a story about her once lover, Jane, who had ran away to India to marry Portia’s distant cousin; the cousin died shortly after under mysterious circumstances. Begging Brisbane and Julia to accompany her to India, they embark unknowingly on a trip of disaster, and deeply hidden secrets. Slowly and reluctantly, Portia reveals to her sister that she indeed fears the worst: that Mr. Cavendish, Jane’s husband, was murdered and Jane may be next. Quietly and without arousing suspicions, Lady Julia must find the truth in a family tree where secrets rule lives.

Thoughtful and whimsical, Dark Road to Darjeeling has the air of a classic 19th century exotic mystery. With an airy yet solid plot and strong subtext, the story allows the readers to think outside the box, and explore their thoughts, feelings, and suspicions in the fantastical world of The Marchs and Cavendishs.

The story was entertaining, however, what it gained and achieved in plot and flow, it lacked slightly in climactic tones and suspense, leaving readers in a monotone pattern of satisfaction. Written with a feminine undertone, Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia is definitely appealing to the more romance taken, unfortunately leaving the book less as a craving for the male and dark mystery infatuated readers.

Raybourn has created another successful addition for fans of the series who were left wanting more after Lady Julia and Brisbane’s last appearance. I would not recommend this novel to those who find interest in darker or more thriller-type mysteries; however, I would highly recommend this story to those female readers who crave just a little bit more romance and intrigue in their everyday lives.

Please visit Deanna Raybourn’s website to learn more about her books.

Jenna lives in a small town in Ohio with her fiance and cat Osiris. Along with her passion for reading and the literary world, she is also a painter, poet, fiction writer, and amateur photographer.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Mira Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.