Monday, November 25, 2013

Harcourt's Mountain By Elaine Dodge

Elaine Dodge combines the elements of strong character development, authentic dialog, an optimistic message, and a plot which includes gripping suspense in her novel, Harcourt’s Mountain. Set on the western frontier of British Columbia in spring of 1867, Elaine Dodge weaves a pleasurable and tender tale that will engage the reader. 

Elaine Dodge was inspired by books such as Jane Eyre 

Young, innocent, and inexperienced Hope Booker has been attacked and given to a ‘bride’ ship as compensation for a debt.  As Hope arrives in Silver Birch Landing, where nights are described as “rowdy, loud, and liquored up. Many a man who came into town rich after back breaking months on the gold claims woke the next day broke, with no memory of losing their fortunes to men who’d had the sense, or the cunning, to remain sober. Either that or the whores had stolen it.” Hope’s fate is questioned as the life of a new bride or slavery enforced labor in a brothel.  The tension of Hope’s future will be further exposed through a cast of well-developed characters, dynamic interpersonal conflict, and anticipation of the novel resolution. 

I encourage the reader to visit the author’s website

The author’s use of language is not stilted but very well researched for the time frame of the novel. Word choice such as “abattoir” and “hoyden” are historically accurate and add much zest to the text. Furthermore the author provides the reader with beautiful imagery for example, “The moon was a sliver of silver hanging like an upturned bowl out of which the stars had spilled, thick across the dark indigo sky.” 

Click here to listen to the interview and the reading of chapter one!

Elaine Dodge’s plot is driven by her characters. She is skilled at bringing them to life on the page as they grow in character throughout the novel. However, some of the characters have a mystery surround their past for instance a mysterious death of a spouse when one of the protagonist stated that they killed them and why family relationships have been filled with displeasure leaves the reader with a gap that can be further explored in a possible sequel. 

"Eventually she remembered what her grandmother had once said: Live the faith not the fear. God will make a way, she’d said. Believe that, live it out." Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge

The relationship between Hope and her cruel mother do offer elements of conflict and the reader is able to have sympathy and relate to Hope. Luke Harcourt is portrayed as the perfect gentleman but I like how the author incorporates his temper and moderate drinking to establish a plausibility to the story.

The Author's Facebook Page
"Elaine was born in Zambia, grew up in Zimbabwe and currently lives in South Africa. Books have filled her life from the very beginning. She trained as a designer, worked in that industry for years, even running her own company for a while. A long stint in advertising followed. In the last few years, she's been toiling away in the TV industry, winning an odd international award. But that wasn’t enough. She wanted to “tell stories”. She is passionate about it. She feels most alive when she's writing, and delights in letting her imagination run riot. In November 2011, she finally took the plunge and decided to “wrestle the Rottweiler” and started putting all those stories on paper." Tirgearr Publishing

"Inside the confines of the covered wagon slept the two intertwined lovers whose lives and hearts had each found a new strength, a healing, a place of safety, and a home." Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge

Harcourt’s Mountain is a story of redemption and second chances in the midst of the old Wild West, of a forgotten past, and uncertain future. This book is a quick read and should provide satisfying inspiration to those who are looking for a romantic historical novel. I highly recommend this Four Star Novel!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

LeLand Dirks and The Amazing Angelo!

One often hears the term of a beloved dog not only as a family member but "Man's Best Friend." More than loveable companions, dogs have become our coworkers, comforters, and sometimes protectors.   Let me introduce you to Angelo, not your usual Border Collie, from Colorado's San Luis Valley. After being kidnapped, Angelo not only begins his journey home but along the way he changes and touches the lives of those he encounters. Leland Dirks writes with an emotional wisdom that captivates the reader with pure honesty of heart. Furthermore, the author uses a solid structure with compounding disasters within the dilemma of each character define plausible characters coupled with vivid imagery. is a huge fan of Angelo!

First, I must also give credit to author “Angelo.” This is his story and words. Yet, it is also the story of meeting a truck driver, a long-abused wife, a Marine, a cowboy, and two grandmothers. Each with an intrinsic raw beauty that has the reader examining their own motives and behaviors.

 The author uses the theme of hope, growth, and healing as a path for not only Angelo’s journey but for each of our interpersonal relationships that we establish. From the grief of death to the anger that a boy has toward his father, the author expresses with grace how one can change any undesirable situation. My favorite quote from Angelo's Journey: A Border Collie's Quest for Home is, You showed me something last night, boy. You showed me that I don’t have to put up with that kinda behavior. Whatever courage I got left might be withered like an old prune, but if I exercise it, maybe it’ll grow.” This further epitomizes the well-established theme of growth, hope, and healing are available for all who choose it. 

Beloved Angelo, author of Seven Dogs in Heaven... 

Passionate readers, I warn you to gather a tissue box or two. This book will stimulate a tear or two, encourage a laugh, and inspire a warmth of the heart. The pace of the book is particularly satisfying. Moreover, I even found myself hugging the neighbor’s dogs “Tessa” and “Chubs” which made my cats rather jealous. I highly recommend Angelo's Journey: A Border Collie's Quest for Home, an extremely enjoyable read that I could not put down. I look forward to reading more books by Leland Dirks. And now a second review on  ...

 Yes There is more!

When imagination changes from hoping to knowing, it makes things real.” Angelo Dirks. Once again the wisdom and joviality of Angelo in addition to Leland Dirks delights, emotionally bonds, and rivals the work of James HerriotSeven Dogs in Heaven is not a book about grief or redemption but the core foundations of our existence that include love, loyalty, duty, and friendship. Leland Dirk’s use of literary creative knowledge surpasses the scope of the average author. The novel was engrossing and entirely had my attention.  Moreover, the reading pace was consistent and I did not slog through any portion of the story.

Click Here to listen to my Interview with Leland
Personification is used throughout the book. The mastery of the author makes this extremely plausible for the reader as if several of the canines are not only believable but contain much of the wisdom. For example, during the plot conflict of a crime committed Hayes states, This is about your life: how you lived it, what you did with it, who you shared it with. Furthermore, foreshadowing gives the reader the same effect when Trixie states, “You humans always try to make things too simple, except when you’re trying to make things too complicated. You can never just be with what is.” The imagery with the use of metaphors brings the text to life and emotional connects to the reader. The author compares laughter as a voice change of wind chimes to the jingling of sleigh bells. Figurative language and the sensory images uncover new and intriguing qualities of each human and animal in story.

This is TC.. I am obligated to post a picture of him for Leland's sake..

The thought provoking tone and style of the narrative are Omniscient. Several references are made to God, Chuan-Tzu, and Buddha as he sat under the banyan tree. The postulation of this belief is emphasized as the author learns, “There is no boundary between heaven and earth unless we believe in one.” big love, hero love, and friendship love are explained to the reader among many other pearls of wisdom are throughout the novel. Yet my personal favorite was, “Because we need each other. We complete each other. Duty works both ways. Love needs a beloved. Loyalty needs two to be loyalty. Fidelity is nothing without someone to be faithful to. Every dog needs a human, and every human needs a dog.” We need more authors like Angelo and Leland Dirks. The intense mindful and kind spirits that transform words to the bountiful treasure chest of the reader’s world. I highly recommend Seven Dogs in Heaven 


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