Monday, October 9, 2017

The Crows of Beara

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I'm so thankful that Hurricane Nate wasn't so great.  We did receive some strong wind and heavy downpours here on the mountain, but no damage and no loss of power.

Recently I read The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson.  The book was published by Ashland Creek Press, an "independent publisher of eco fiction, which included books in all genres about animals, the environment, and the planet we call home."  If you are interested in books about nature and the animal kingdom, here is a LINK to their website.



This book focuses on the Red-billed Chough and its environment on the western coast of Ireland.


About The Crows of Beara

• Paperback: 300 pages 

• Publisher: Ashland Creek Press (September 1, 2017)

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.



Praise 

 "A captivating tale of our yearning to belong and the importance of following this ancient call." 
—Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling

"Julie Christine Johnson swept me away from the first page...She is a lush writer who does not turn away from the heart." —Julie Maloney, poet, author, director of Women Reading Aloud



 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble



About Julie Christine Johnson

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. Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.





My Review:

I enjoyed this book quite a bit because there's so much thought-provoking conflict: Man v. Nature, in the dilemma of copper mining and community jobs versus the destruction of a specific habitat of an endangered bird;  Man v. Man (several examples of this one) mostly in the guise of business men Annie had already slept with during her binge drinking days; and finally Man v. Himself as Annie has so many demons and fights her alcoholism every waking moment.  I do love Annie's name (Crowe) because the little chough (pronounced "chuff") is a type of crow.  Because of this coincidence I assumed when I started the book that she'd be on the side of the chough.

I also adored the setting: This book has quite the sense of place.  Julie Christine Johnson's lyrical portrayal of Ireland makes me want to pack my bags and go!  She does a remarkable job in her descriptions of the breath-taking scenery, and she also adds Irish lore to the narrative as Daniel and Annie hear lines from an Irish poem throughout the story spoken by a sad woman.  Annie doesn't understand the words because they're spoken in Irish Gaelic, but she has the phrases translated.  She eventually relates the poem to the legend of the Chailleach Bhéarra (the old woman), a stone that was once a lady.  She represents all seven phases of a women's life, and Annie encounters all seven while in Ireland.  I like how Annie gets these connections and becomes interested in the creative process again.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is spoken by Daniel, who ironically is an artist who uses copper as his medium.  It appeals to the artist in me:

"But in my own way, maybe I can show that the earth's resources aren't ours for the taking wherever, whenever we want.  Art is a way to connect people with their environment without polarizing, without politicizing.  It can be used to that purpose, but it belongs to everyone.  I want my art to show nature as a cultural artifact.  I made a very deliberate decision to use what's already been taken from the earth -- what has been stripped from Beara's earth more than a century ago."
The Crows of Beara, pp. 155 - 56




If you enjoy environmental literature, stories with an Irish setting, magical realism, and a little romance, you will enjoy The Crows of Beara.  





This is the Cailleach Bheara, or Beara Hag, looking out to sea.  If you look on the right you can see her profile with her long hair flowing behind her.  Annie hikes to this site towards the end of the book.







This is a creepy little short about the Cailleach Bhearra.  The film laments that she's no longer relevant in modern Irish life due to Christianity.  She's also sad about the environment, and she doesn't make it to her "bath" so she turns to stone.  Again, it's a creepy film, and I think the Cailleach Bhearra looks scary, so I'm Team Priest for sure!
Film by the Irish Film Board

It's only about eight minutes long, but I think you'll enjoy it. 




I decided to feature the book and the Red-billed Chough in my art journal.



Disclosure:  I received a copy of The Crows of Beara from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.




Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



10 comments:

  1. Wedge - Kije typu iron służące do krótkiej gry.

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  2. Oh I think I would like this book too Ricki! My husband and I would like to travel to Ireland in the near future. Happy Monday!

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  3. I enjoyed reading your review RJ. Placed in Ireland, lore and poetry and having been there i think I would enjoy this read. I could see the profile and long hair blowing behind. Interesting book and lovely journal page. Glad there wasn't much to Nate!

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  4. great post!
    The book sounds good. I like your review on this.
    The film is so interesting. she is creepy looking. I think from now on when my age is asked I will say, "count the bones in my attic" lol
    It was sad but inspiring..renewal and rebirth, she's like a plant or flower, that comes back after a season.
    your art journal page is awesome.
    thanks for this!

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  5. This sounds like a book I would enjoy -- what's not to love about Ireland's storied history, ancient and contemporary. I really love your painting/sketch in your art journal. Birds are hard! (For me, at least!)

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  6. What a gorgeous rendition of the chough, Ricki! Thank you- I'm delighted and honored to be featurred on your beautiful blog! Warmest, Julie

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  7. Ireland is such a magical looking place, it always makes me feel like there are a lot of secrets hiding there in the rough terrain...Your crow sketch is fabulous!
    Jenna

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  8. This book is SO my kind of thing! I really enjoy stories with these types of conflicts, and the Irish setting makes it that much more appealing.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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  9. I've always wanted to go to Ireland; I think this book would push me over the edge!

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