Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

  • Title:  Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  • Author:  Ruth Emmie Lang
  • Genre:  Fantasy; Magical Realism
  • Pages:  352
  • Publication date:  November 7, 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door. (publisher)

My take:  When I began reading Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut novel I felt a bit lost and unsure if I was the intended audience. But not one who gives up on a book easily, I kept reading. And I’m so happy I did. It’s about a boy who lived in a forest with wolves and his journey through life. It’s about the people (and the animals) he meets along the way. It’s about human nature, the ability to be kind, the willingness to be kind, and seeking and embracing the possibilities life has to offer. I know this is kind of scattered and brief but allow me to end by saying I finished reading the novel with that delicious feeling of wishing it could go on and on. I love when that happens. It’s on my 2017 Favorites List, for sure.


Advance Praise:

“Ruth Emmie Lang dazzles with her inventive and magical debut. Told with brains and heart, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance introduces a protagonist who is both mythical and relatable. Weylyn Grey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets, and he will on readers too.” —Michelle GableNew York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I’ll See You in Paris, and The Book of Summer

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a brilliant button on the coat of American magical realism. Think Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups who, like Weylyn Grey, have their own stories of being different, feared, brave, and loved.” —Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

“Ruth Emmie Lang’s prose has the earthy warmth of a campfire story, best enjoyed in the woods and under the stars. Her contemporary spin on the American folktale, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, bristles with charm and curiosity, and its oddball hero, Weylyn Grey, will make you want to follow him into the forest.” —Winston GroomNew York Times bestselling author of Forrest Gump

“A wholly original and superbly crafted work of art, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a masterpiece of the imagination. Intelligent, witty, and brave, Ruth Emmie Lang takes us on an uplifting and unforgettable adventure of love, magic, friendship and fate. An extraordinary work of fiction by a truly gifted author. ” —Lori Nelson SpielmanNew York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness 


 

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Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

  • Title:  Something Like Happy
  • Author:  Eva Woods
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House Books
  • Source:   Publisher; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she’d once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.  

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn’t want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…  

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there’s still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.  

With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment. (publisher)

My take:  Eva Woods’ novel about two people trying to live life to the fullest engaged me from the first page. Polly doesn’t have long to live and Annie’s life became very small a few years earlier. It’s a heartfelt and emotional story that I found difficult to put down. These two unlikely pals, who wouldn’t have met if life had been different, find a way to make peace with their lot in life by crossing items off their hundred days list. There were laugh-out-loud moments and times that had me reaching for a tissue.  Polly and Annie’s experiences reminded me to appreciate the little things as well as the huge events in life. I’m very glad I had the chance to read  Something Like Happy and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction. It’s going on my 2017 Favorites list.


About the author:

Eva Woods was inspired to write SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY after surviving her own brush with cancer and the breakdown of her marriage. Raised in a small village in Northern Ireland, Woods now lives in London, where she teaches creative writing and regularly contributes to Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire UK, xoJane, and other publications. She writes crime fiction as Claire McGowan.

Photo credit: Jamie Drew

 


Praise for Something Like Happy:

“A great option for fans of Graeme Simsion, Gabrielle Zevin and Marian Keyes.” — Library Journal on Something Like Happy

“Filled with beautiful life lessons of love, loss, friendship, and forgiveness, Something Like Happy is a perfect feel good read. A warm, funny, thoughtful novel, packed with heart and charged with emotion.” – Lori Nelson Spielman, #1 Bestselling author of The Life List

“A fresh new voice in romantic fiction.” – Marie Claire

“Page-turning.” – The Guardian

“A knockout new talent you should read immediately.” – Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Warm, witty and lots of fun—a fantastic new voice in women’s fiction.” – Melissa Hill, author of Something From Tiffany’s

“Frothy, smart, and unashamedly fun.” – Heat Magazine


 

SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY

On Sale: September 2017
$26.99 U.S. / $29.99 CAN. Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781525811357


 

Guest Post by Ethel Rohan – plus my review

Welcome to Ethel Rohan, author of THE WEIGHT OF HIM. I asked Ethel to tell us about the inspiration for her first novel. Thank you, Ethel, for sharing with us!

the-weight-of-him

I’ve always claimed my stories are inspired by character. First, the who of the story comes to me—a person, or sometimes even an animal or object. Then location, where the story takes place. Next, I set about filling in other essential details like what happens, and when, and how, and most importantly why. Recently, though, I’ve realized it’s more precise to say that my stories are sparked by startling moments.

Like the time a young man who had his leg amputated said the phantom pain made the limb “seem more there than it ever was.” From that seed, I went on to write the title story of my first book, Cut Through the Bone. Surgery that uncovered a dog’s hair deep inside the meat of my cousin’s ankle ignited another story, as did a neighbor’s vignette about how beekeeping brought him and his teenage son closer together.

ethel-rohan-author-photo_credit-to-justin-yeeFor my first novel, The Weight of Him, the startling moment was a snatch of conversation I overheard in a pub in Ireland—the grief might just kill her before the weight does. I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. What if, I wondered, grief or weight don’t kill this stranger, but instead drive her to do something remarkable. As with my other stories, once I fix on the startling spark the main character appears almost instantly. Immediately, I had a vivid picture in my mind of an anguished Irish man: Big Billy Brennan.

Why do certain moments startle me into storytelling, and countless others don’t? I suppose the moments that inspire me are those that most appeal to my imagination, my hopes and dreams, my fear and anger. I think that’s true of all artists: We create from that which pulls at us. The Weight of Him was very much inspired by, and centers on, the things that lift me and the things that drag me down.


About the author:

Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, GUERNICA Magazine, Tin House Online,The Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.


St. Martin’s Press 2/14/2017
Pre-Order Now at AmazonIndiebound & Barnes & NobleThank you!
Website: www.ethelrohan.com

Twitter: @ethelrohan


Praise for THE WEIGHT OF HIM:

“Rohan [is] one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is.” —John Banville, Man Booker prize-winning author of The Sea

“Poignant and inspiring…When you’re finished, you’ll want to go for a long, grateful walk.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful.” —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me


  • the-weight-of-himTitle:  The Weight of Him
  • Author:  Ethel Rohan
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he rescues from disposal at the local toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him, that he and others will be able to realize the full rescue and change they need.

Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, Ethel Rohan’s The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.  (publisher)

My take:  Billy Brennan is everyman. He may not feel that way though. For most of his life he’s hidden behind his weight hoping to avoid notice, to blend in. People just saw Big Billy – they didn’t look past his bulk. He grew up knowing he was a disappointment to the people who should have been most proud of him. He found acceptance and solace in food. Sure he found reasons to lose weight in the past but it always came back. After the suicide of his first-born son Billy needs to find a reason to go on. And he needs to find the reason his son took his own life.

I was impressed with how Ethel Rohan portrayed the grieving family. Each one moved through phases at their own pace and experienced guilt, blame, anger and utter sadness. Billy was easy to cheer on as his journey gathered steam. At the same time, his family’s reactions were completely understandable. They had no idea how Billy’s changes would impact their lives. I just wanted to hug them all and let them know things would eventually get better. The Weight of Him is a novel that ultimately left me feeling hopeful. It’s an emotional read and one I can recommend.