Monday, January 8, 2018

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson


Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.

Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.

Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

Published September 1st 2017 by Ashland Creek Press
ISBN 1618220470 (ISBN13: 9781618220479)

About the Author
Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in journals including Emerge Literary Journal; Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt; and River Poets Journal. Her work has also appeared in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and psychology and a master’s in international affairs. Julie leads writing workshops and seminars and offers story/developmental editing and writer coaching services. 

Named a “standout debut” by Library Journal, “very highly recommended” by Historical Novels Review, and “delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical” by bestselling author Greer Macallister, Julie’s debut novel In Another Life (Sourcebooks) went into a second printing three days after its February 2016 release. A hiker, yogi, and swimmer, Julie makes her home in northwest Washington state. 

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My Thoughts
Annie turned off the engine and rested her forehead on the steering wheel, gathering strength.
Annie's gone through a bad stretch. After the loss of her younger brother, she drowned herself in drink, and now finds herself attempting to get her life back on track, but finds that her marriage has been completely derailed and irreparable. She is sent to Ireland for work, and while there she finds her life shifting tracks and a new love taking root when she meets local artist Daniel Savage.

This book presented itself to me at an opportune time. I was uncertain whether I should accept it for review, as romance is not generally my thing and historical fiction is hit and miss, but it just so happens that it came around just as I was immersed in an Ireland lovefest, and in particular a West Cork lovefest of Bantry and the surrounding area. Add to that the fact that the novel begins in Seattle and the author lives near the Kitsap Peninsula (the area where I used to live and now consider my second home), and it seemed almost fortuitous that this book came into my life.

The characters and storyline are both well developed, and the fictional town of Ballycarog and surrounding areas thoroughly drawn. You can almost smell the salt air and feel the damp chilled breeze and hear the cries of the Red-Billed Choughs. The story is narrated alternately by Annie and Daniel, and these dual narrators are both sympathetic and reliable characters, and their transitions are handled masterfully by the author.

This story is at its heart a romance, but there is a fantastical almost mystical bent that crosses into mythology. I found myself having the movie The Lake House continually popping into my mind. That was the feel of this book. A love story that surmounts all boundaries and restrictions; a love that is destined to be.

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Monday, October 2nd: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, October 3rd: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 4th: Sapphire Ng
Thursday, October 5th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, October 9th: The Sketchy Reader
Wednesday, October 11th: The Desert Bibliophile
Tuesday, October 17th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, October 18th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, October 20th: Literary Quicksand
Monday, October 23rd: Girl Who Reads
Tuesday, October 24th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, October 25th: Based on a True Story
Thursday, October 26th: StephTheBookworm
Friday, October 27th: Broken Teepee
Monday, January 8th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, January 10th: Read. Write. Repeat.
TBD: Beth Fish Reads
TBD: Unabridged Chick

My final word: I was pleased to find that I really liked this story! The author is a gifted writer able to draw you into the story and allows you to lose yourself in it. Annie is a strong woman who can "fake it til she makes it" when she needs to. Daniel is the tortured artist, immersed in self-condemnation for past sins until Annie reaches a part he'd buried long ago. The Irish people of West Cork will charm you and win you over. The author took what could have been just another fluff romance story and gave it form with solid characters and a topical theme. If you enjoy a story like The Lake House, a love story with an almost magical bent, then pick up this book. You won't be sorry!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

Cover: C+
Writing Style: A-
Characters: A-
Storyline/Plot: B+
Interest/Uniqueness: A-

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a near-fifty blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!