Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Source: Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Darcy tamped down a memory of a recent ball and the lady whose laugh and spirit haunted him at the most unexpected times. “I do not wish to be hunted, yet…” he continued, his voice low, “I believe I would like to be found.”

(from Mendacity & Mourning)

J.L. Ashton knocked it out of the park with her second variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her latest novel, Mendacity & Mourning, was so very different from other variations I’ve read. From the mysterious death of Anne de Bourgh that has Mr. Darcy known around Meryton as the “Grieving Groom,” to the odious (and odorous) Mr. Collins as a gossipmonger who causes all sorts of trouble for the Darcys, Fitzwilliams, and Bennets, to the bawdy humor of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and even a menagerie, I devoured this book every chance I could get.

In the midst of Darcy’s guilt and grief over his cousin, he plans to find himself a wife. He visits Netherfield for a bit of downtime, and there he meets the family of his friend Bingley’s beloved Jane. Darcy is instantly captivated by Elizabeth Bennet but believes her promised to another. Elizabeth is confused by Darcy’s attentions toward her, believing him to be mourning the cousin who was supposed to be his wife. This is just the beginning of a whirlwind of gossip, scandals, and misunderstandings that conspire to keep them apart.

Ashton really shakes things up with her portrayal of the de Bourghs and Mr. Collins, and I enjoyed watching it all unfold. Although a simple heart-to-heart conversation between our dear couple could have sped things up a bit, I was too busy laughing at everything else going on to care. The book blurb describes Mendacity & Mourning as a “slightly unhinged romantic comedy,” and it certainly is that and more! I don’t want to say too much because you really just need to read it and go with the flow, and half the fun is having no idea where the story will take you next. I can’t wait to read more from Ashton in the future.

****

About Mendacity & Mourning

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.

Check out Mendacity & Mourning on Goodreads | Amazon

****

About the Author

J.L. Ashton

Jan Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.

Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves around the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took a history degree and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and another decade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to start writing them. Today, in between writing Austen variations, Jan lives in the Chicago area, eats out far too often with her own Mr. Darcy, and enjoys membership in the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Mendacity & Mourning is her second book with Meryton Press. She published A Searing Acquaintance in 2016.

Connect with Jan via Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Blog.

****

To follow the tour, click the banner below

Disclosure: I received Mendacity & Mourning from Meryton Press for review.

Read Full Post »

I’m delighted to welcome Jane Odiwe to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Searching for Mr. Tilney.

Please give her a warm welcome:

Thank you so much, Anna for inviting me to your blog to talk about my new book Searching for Mr Tilney. It’s a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and tells the story of a young art student who is invited to Bath by neighbours to help recover from illness. While there, staying in a house on Great Pulteney Street, she finds an old journal that she is sure must have been written by her favourite author Jane Austen. And when she starts experiencing bizarre dreams with strange, yet increasingly realistic images, she’s gradually pulled into another world, becoming Jane’s sister Cassandra, living her life with all her thoughts and hopes. Here’s a little excerpt where we see life witnessed through Cassy’s eyes.

An excerpt from Searching for Mr. Tilney, courtesy of Jane Odiwe:

Cassandra Austen, Bath, Somerset, July 1789

The Assembly Rooms are lit up with torches glowing in the fading light. There is so much to see and take in, and I try to commit it all to memory because I know, however late it shall be, my sister will still be up when I get home and will want to know every last detail. The women look like unearthly creatures, exotic in their coloured silks and satins, with towering hair and feathers so tall I feel under-dressed and somewhat like a country rustic, which I suppose is exactly what I am. And even if I could, I’m not certain I should wish to be quite so fancily or saucily attired. They have the appearance of expensive dolls, the kind that mantua-makers show in their shop windows, with their false hair and rouged countenances.

A blur of people walk past me, and I’m smiling and curtseying everywhere I go. All of our relations are in attendance, the Motley-Austens with their son Lucius who grins and stares at me until I do not know where to look, cousins Jane and Edward Cooper with their father, Uncle and Aunt Leigh-Perrot, all smiling and making small talk, though, as Jane would say, eager to have one another over the moment they are out of earshot.

It’s while we are standing in the Octagon room waiting for things to happen that I become aware of him. Despite the furious paced chattering, and the high-pitched laughing, the great guffaws and the mounting excitement, I am suddenly aware, by some kind of sixth sense, that I am being scrutinised from a distance. When I look across the room to the party of people standing by one of the great mantelpieces his eyes connect with mine, and I feel the familiar pull, the fluttering deep inside me along with the wild beating of my heart. He’s here. Mr Fowle is here in the same room, and I dare not look at him any longer than it takes to acknowledge him with a smile. But in those seconds I’ve noted how much he’s changed since I last saw him. He’s taller, broader, and his hair, which a few years ago was wildly curly and tawny brown, has been slightly tamed, darkened to a charcoal shade that matches his eyes and the dark brows that give him a brooding look sometimes. I dare not look again, but I still feel his eyes watching me and cannot help but hope that he likes what he sees. Or is he wondering whatever became of Cassy Austen who once promised to be a beauty, but is hardly more than a country wench with little style and fashion.

My mother is securing a first dance with Lucius. He has improved since last summer when we saw him in Kent, he’s taller and more filled out, but there is still something wanting in his behaviour. Jane says she thinks he is quite mad, and I must admit there is something about him that unnerves me. I do not like to judge, but his previous conduct gave us reason on several occasions to be on our guard. He is quite a handsome young man now, but he possesses the arrogance of a youth who thinks his attentions to young women must be wanted. He preens, and stares, not only at me, I notice, but also at any young woman who takes his fancy. He makes remarks about them to his father, seeming not to care whether he’s heard or not, though his mother’s hand on his arm indicates that she, at least, disapproves. I care not for his regard, and while it pleases me to know our cousins, I feel Mama is still hoping for something more between us. Not that she would force me to anything I do not wish, but I know her hopes for me and what I feel is my duty to my family are inextricably linked. My parents require me to make a good marriage, one which will help the family prosper, and what could be more easily accomplished, than by marrying a wealthy cousin? We are too young to marry, though I feel the wheels are being set in motion to that end. I would be foolish to discount it entirely. And yet … I know my heart, and it does not yield easily where it has no desire. In fact, I know it will not give way at all.

I cannot remember the first time I realised I was falling in love with Tom Fowle. I think I’ve always loved him in one way or another, though he behaved only ever as a brother to his sister when I was very young. I felt something change between us when he visited us in Steventon last spring, though I hardly dared hope that what I felt for him was reciprocated. But, his manners were different during those few days he stayed with us, and he treated me like an equal for the first time. Sitting in the garden with Jemmy on a sunny day, he poured my tea, and fussed over me with shawls and blankets at the slightest breeze. He made me a daisy chain and crowned me “Queen of Steventon”. Placing the ring of small white flowers in my hair so gently, the touch of his fingers on my curls stayed with me throughout that golden afternoon.

‘Cassandra will be very pleased to start the ball with you, Lucius,’ I hear my mother say, and I’m brought out of my reverie as if doused in cold water. I try and smile, and do what is expected, though it is exceedingly hard. I glance over at Mr Fowle, and I see him regarding us, looking from Lucius to me, and back again. How I want to run over to the other side of the ballroom and tell him that nothing is as it appears, but instead I smile wanly, which probably does nothing to assure him either. All I can hope is that our mother will see our Kintbury friends and wish to greet them.

Then, just as I’m about to give up all hope, my mother takes charge and we cross the room to meet them, my heart in my mouth. Mr Fowle and I are standing opposite one another, and I hardly hear what my mother is saying to the Reverend and Mrs Fowle, though I hear her offer some words of congratulation on her son’s new curacy. When the adults carry on chatting, Mr Fowle does not say much at first. But, he’s smiling, his eyes crinkling into laughter lines, as he holds my gaze.

‘My goodness, Miss Cassandra, I hardly recognised you.’

‘Have I changed so much since last April?’ I ask, praying that he likes what he sees.

‘Forgive me, I do not wish to appear ungallant, but you look so different this evening. I still have a memory of the little girl who sat next to me in school lessons with short, unruly curls, and a most serious expression. I find the child I once knew has completely disappeared.’

‘I sincerely hope you’ll find I have changed for the better, Mr Fowle. I recognised you immediately, and though the passing years have altered you in some respects, in others, you remain much the same. Being so much older than myself, and no doubt, a good deal wiser, I recall you were always fond of giving me your thoughts and forthright opinions.’

I catch my tongue. Goodness, what am I saying? I sound as flirtatious as my wicked cousin Eliza who does not care whom she pursues or what she says to them.

Mr Fowle can hardly suppress his laughter. ‘And you think I’m still as outspoken as ever, and clearly advancing into my dotage. I suppose my four and twenty years must seem a vast difference to your tender age, though I assure you, I am not a very old man. I’ve not yet taken to wearing flannel vests.’

I feel my cheeks burning, and note Mr Fowle’s bemused expression.

‘I am not yet too old for dancing either, Miss Cassandra, though I daresay your card will be filled up by the young beaux of Bath to allow such attentions from an ancient clergyman from Kintbury.’

‘I … that is, my card is by no means full, Mr Fowle.’

‘Then I hope you will permit me to ask you to dance.’

‘Thank you, I would like that,’ I answer, and find I can no longer look at him. ‘The first two are taken …’

‘By the young man standing with your party,’ says Mr Fowle, and he stares at Lucius, a grave shadow passing over his handsome countenance. ‘Who is he? He has a look of the Austens … a distant cousin, perhaps?’

‘Yes, he’s Great-Uncle Francis’s grandson.’

Mr Fowle’s face clouds for a moment, and his brows draw together over the dark eyes that search Lucius out across the room. ‘A young puppy, but a wealthy one … and handsome too … he’d be a good match for you.’

I cannot speak. I don’t know how to answer him; everything that comes to mind seems completely the wrong thing to say. Thankfully, he requests the two dances after Lucius, and I struggle with my composure. I am so happy I could burst.

Yet, my euphoria does not last long. The musicians are tuning up, and my mother is hurrying me away, pulling me through the crush of people to the ballroom. It’s impossible to see for the tiers of benches and the large crowds who are surging onto the floor.

‘Oh, goodness me, they’re about to start and where is your partner? Can you see him, Cassandra?’

I’ve seen him, but there’s a small part of me that’s wants to pretend I haven’t. And then it’s too late to run away or back out, and Lucius is standing opposite me in the set and the music starts.

Thanks so much, Jane, for being a guest here today. I am very much looking forward to reading the book!

****

About Searching for Mr. Tilney

What secrets lie at the heart of Jane Austen’s teenage journal?

When Caroline Heath is taken to Bath in 1975, she little expects to find the gothic adventure she craves, let alone discover Jane Austen’s secret teenage journal, or how it’s possible to live in someone else’s body. Yet, she’s soon caught up in a whirlwind of fantastic events – travels through time, a love story or three, and even the odd sinister murder – or so she thinks.

As the past and present entwine, Jane’s journal reveals a coming of age tale, set against the scandalous backdrop of Knole Park in Kent, and the story behind an enigmatic portrait. In Bath, a Georgian townhouse acts as a portal in time, and Caroline finds herself becoming Cassandra Austen, a young woman making her debut in society, torn between family duty and the love of her life. As the riddles unfold, and the lines blur between illusion and reality, will Caroline find the happiness she seeks or will she indulge her wild imagination, threatening her future and a fairytale ending?

Check out Searching for Mr. Tilney on Goodreads | Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

**The ebooks are currently on sale for $1.24 in the U.S. and 99p in the U.K.**

****

About the Author

Jane Odiwe

Jane Odiwe lives in North London with her husband, children and two cats, but escapes to “Fairyland”, Bath, whenever she can. When she’s not writing she enjoys painting, reading, and music, and loves spending time with her family.

Connect with Jane on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website

****

Giveaway

Jane is generously offering a paperback copy of Searching for Mr. Tilney to one lucky reader, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

alieuniversallyhiddenebook-cover

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

He yearned for her but she could never be his. She was promised to another, as was he. … And yet, there he stood, transfixed in a doorway, with the rain beating down on the panes, dreaming of a world with this woman, hoping he would not be discovered as she gazed into the night.

(from A Lie Universally Hidden)

A Lie Universally Hidden is a beautifully written variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that forces Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles tied to their strong sense of duty to their families. Anngela Schroeder imagines a world where Mr. Darcy is committed to honoring his dead mother’s wishes, with plans to marry his cousin, Anne de Bourgh, in a few months’ time despite the fact that he loves another. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is expected to marry her childhood friend, James Hamilton, who has inherited his aunt’s estate, but she is captivated by Darcy and his love and devotion to his younger sister.

There is no insult at the Meryton Assembly in Schroeder’s variation, and it is easy for Darcy to overlook Elizabeth’s lack of connections because he is already betrothed to another. But Schroeder does a fantastic job altering the situations of the original novel, still finding ways for them to misunderstand one another, still making it uncertain how a happily ever after can be achieved, and developing their regard for one another in a believable way. There are so many tender scenes in this novel, so many beautiful passages as Schroeder lets readers into Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s minds as they try to come to terms with their feelings for one another, the expectations placed upon them, and their desire to live for themselves.

I enjoyed how Schroeder brought to the forefront many of the secondary characters, especially Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Anne de Bourgh. Her versions of Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Caroline Bingley were delightfully horrid as well. Mrs. Smith, Lady Anne Darcy’s maid, was a wonderful addition, and Schroeder did a great job portraying her illness and her connection to the secret at the core of the novel. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how it would all play out, and I was not disappointed.

A Lie Universally Hidden is a fantastic retelling of Pride and Prejudice that grabbed me from the very first page. I absolutely loved Schroeder’s portrayal of Darcy and Elizabeth. I know I’ve read dozens of Pride and Prejudice variations over the years and it’s hard to choose a favorite, but A Lie Universally Hidden would definitely be a contender if I were to compose a list. I can’t wait to read more of Schroeder’s work in the future.

****

About A Lie Universally Hidden

Fitzwilliam Darcy has always lived a life of duty and honor; his engagement to his cousin Anne de Bourgh fulfills the final wish of his deceased mother. His life is neatly in order to pursue these intentions when he meets Elizabeth Bennet; the one woman who turns his world upside down.

Elizabeth is not indifferent to him, but her life is also on a divergent course. As she prepares to accept a betrothal from a suitor she esteems, she finds herself experiencing unexpected feelings. Yet knowing that Darcy and Anne are united by their love for one another, she attempts to put Darcy behind her. But why does she suspect that Darcy may have similar feelings for her, and if he does, can they really change the course of their future paths?

Check out A Lie Universally Hidden on GoodreadsAmazon

****

About the Author

Anngela Schroeder

Anngela Schroeder

I have a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. I love to travel, bake, and watch college football with my husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. My goal in life is to make not only my children, but also my students feel that they are loved, and to bring magic into everyone’s world. My weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, French bread with real butter, and my father’s Arabic food, namely grape leaves, and falafel. I live in California where I dream of Disney adventures and trips across the pond.

Connect with Anngela Schroeder on FacebookTwitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Watch Anngela’s interview on Good Day Sacramento here.

****

Giveaway

Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (U.S. mailing addresses only), two Kindle versions (open to international winners), an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (U.S. mailing address only), and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover. To enter, please click here.

****

Follow the Blog Tour

aluh-hor-bt-banner_edited-2

January 16/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway

January 17/ From Pemberley to Milton/ Book Review & Giveaway

January 18/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/Guest Post

January 19/ So Little Time…/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway

January 20/ My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

January 21/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review

January 22/ Just Jane 1813/ Excerpt Post

January 23/Austenesque Reviews/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway

January 24/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway

January 25/ Every Savage Can Dance/Book Review & Giveaway

January 26 / Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway

January 27 / Austenesque Reviews/ Book Review & Giveaway

January 28/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Excerpt & Giveaway

January 29/ Savvy Verse & Wit/ Guest Post & Giveaway

****

Disclosure: I received A Lie Universally Hidden from the author for review.

Read Full Post »

trick-or-sweet

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jane laughed, “I know exactly what you mean! That’s the beauty of novels, isn’t it? How well fiction can illustrate and even reflect everyday life. I never open a novel without reading about someone I know — and often meet people I’m already familiar with from the pages of a book.”

(from “Once Upon a Story” in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet)

Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is a collection of six Halloween-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“Must Be Magic” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Persuasion)

Anne Elliot is still learning how to control her powers — the powers that cost her the love of Fareed Walia eight years ago when she turned down an offer from him in order to find herself — when her family is forced to sell Kellynch House. Fareed comes back into her life at the same time as a dark figure from Anne’s past seeking a powerful talisman and revenge.

“Once Upon a Story” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Northanger Abbey)

College student Catie meets a pair of curious sisters at a coffee house as she attempts to piece together what went wrong at the annual Fall-o-Ween festival. Her research about the Battlefield Legend may have cost her the friendship of the Tilney family and the man she loves.

“Insensible” by Cecilia Gray (based on Sense and Sensibility)

Betrayed by her parents, Miriam Dashwood’s life and the family’s business, Dashing Events, are in shambles. She scrambles to pull off the ultimate Halloween party for Brandon Firestone’s law firm as she navigates her confusing feelings for him and the excitement of a motorcycle ride with the bad boy rocker from the band Willow Bee.

“Emma Ever After” by Melissa Buell (based on Emma)

Emma Woodhouse is planning the annual Fall Ball to benefit the charity in her late mother’s name and decides it would be a great idea to auction off local eligible bachelors. Her friend Grant Knightley is skeptical of the plan, her matchmaking abilities, and TV show host Frank Hill, who may or may not have his sights set on Emma.

“Mansfield Unmasked” by Jennifer Becton (based on Mansfield Park)

In a mash-up of Mansfield Park and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pug — Lady Bertram’s furry friend at the Mansfield Park Boarding House — wants to use his cupid magic to help his friend, Pryce, but things get all mixed up at an outrageous, last-minute Halloween party.

“Beyond Midnight” by Jessica Grey (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Will Harper loses a bet to his sister and must attend the high school’s Trick or Sweet dance dressed in the costume of her choice: Mr. Darcy. Things get very uncomfortable for Will when he insults Elena Marquez, who is unlike any girl he’s ever liked before, and he worries the magic between them will be lost when the dance is over and he takes off the Darcy costume.

All of the stories in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet are fun, humorous, and romantic, not to mention quick and satisfying. The stories are connected in small ways, namely the Mansfield Perk coffee house, which I really wish existed! I enjoyed all of the stories, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be probably be “Insensible,” as I really found myself drawn to Miriam and Brandon’s sweet relationship and how they both changed over the course of the story. All of these authors did an admirable job setting the autumn/Halloween scene and retelling important aspects of Austen’s novels in just a handful of pages, making them modern and very different (in a good way) at the same time. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Holidays with Jane collections!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

This or That Book Tag

Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit has tagged me for the This Or That Book Tag created by Ayunda @ Tea & Paperbacks!

Here are the Rules:

*Mention the creator of the tag
*Thank the person who tagged you (THANKS, SERENA!)
*Tag other people & spread the love

Reading on the couch or reading in bed?

I do most of my reading in bed, and my family knows that when I say I’m going to bed that it really means I’m going to read until I fall asleep. I prefer to read on the couch after work before my husband and daughter get home, but once they get home, it’s too loud for me to read in the living room. One day I hope to have a big enough home that I’ll have spaces where I can read or write that aren’t my bedroom.

Main character: Male or Female?

As long as the story is intriguing, it doesn’t matter to me at all.

Sweet or salty snacks while reading?

I don’t actually snack too much while reading, but when I do, I like snacks that are both sweet and salty. I’m actually more of a tea or coffee drinker while I read.

Trilogies or quartets?

I usually prefer standalone stories, but if I get sucked into a series, I often don’t want it to end.

First Person or Third person POV?

I don’t mind either of them. It just depends on the book, whether a certain POV works or not.

Night or morning reader?

Well, since I start work on the weekdays at 5:30 a.m., I’m more of an afternoon/evening reader. But on my days off and on the weekend, I’d read all day and night if given the chance.

Libraries or bookstores?

Either! I love browsing the shelves at both, and if I read a book from the library and love it, I’ll buy it. These days I must admit I do most of my reading on my Kindle, and I enjoy it more than I ever thought I would.

Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?

I’d rather laugh than cry, but I’ll take a book good enough to trigger any strong emotional reaction.

Black or white book covers?

Colorful covers? Jill Mansell’s covers are my favorites, so whimsical and bring a smile to my face.

Character driven or plot driven stories?

I tend to enjoy character-driven stories more, but plot-driven stories can be enjoyable as well. It really just depends.

The PEOPLE I tag are:

I’m not going to tag anyone in particular, but I’d love it if anyone who wanted to play did so! Please feel free to leave your answers in the comments, or if you post on your blog, leave the link so I can check it out!

Have fun!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

My guest today is Hassan El-Tayyab, author of Composing Temple Sunrise: Overcoming Writer’s Block at Burning Man. I know nothing about Burning Man, so I’ve asked him to explain what it is. Before I turn the blog over to Hassan, here’s a bit about the book:

ComposingComposing Temple Sunrise is a coming-of-age memoir about a 26-year-old songwriter’s journey across America to find his lost muse.

Triggered by the Great Recession of 2008, Hassan El-Tayyab loses his special education teaching job in Boston and sets out on a cross-country adventure with a woman named Hope Rideout, determined to find his lost muse. His journey brings him to Berkeley, CA, where he befriends a female metal art collective constructing a 37-foot Burning Man art sculpture named “Fishbug.” What follows is a life-changing odyssey through Burning Man that helps Hassan harness his creative spirit, overcome his self-critic, confront his childhood trauma, and realize the healing power of musical expression.

In this candid, inspiring memoir, singer-songwriter Hassan El-Tayyab of the Bay Area’s American Nomad takes us deep into the heart of what it means to chase a creative dream.

After experiencing multiple losses (family, home, love, job, self-confidence) , El-Tayyab sets out on a transcontinental quest that eventually lands him in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. His vivid descriptions capture both the vast, surreal landscapes of the Burning Man festival and the hard practice of making art.

***

Please give a warm welcome to Hassan El-Tayyab:

Burning Man is a difficult thing to describe, as it is so many things to so many different people. People who have never been all seem to have an opinion as well. I’d start off by saying, you can’t really know what this event is about until you go. I encourage everyone to do their own cost-benefit analysis after they experience it first-hand. With that preamble, I’ll begin to explain what I think it is.

Burning Man is one of the world’s biggest annual do-it-yourself events taking place in the Black Rock desert of Nevada at the end of August each year. Many have called it a cultural phenomenon. It started with only a few hundred people in the early 90s, but has grown to hold about 70,000 people each year. People of all ages come from all over the planet to construct a temporary city from the ground up, filled with art cars, behemoth fire art installations, interactive exhibits, sound camps, costumes, and live performances of all genres, skill levels, and styles. Many of these communities that occupy the event spend much of the year preparing for this. What’s created is one of the most unique human/nature made experiences I’ve ever been to. In essence, Burning Man is a giant canvass for experimenting with human potential.

This special event is guided by 10 principles that set the tone for the overall vibe and experience on the ground. They include radical inclusion, gifting, de-commodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. It might help a first timer to examine these points closely.

Burning Man is a completely cashless society. Being in an environment where you can’t buy things after spending all your life inside a capitalist society is a refreshing thing for any world view and potentially life changing. There is also much excess on the Playa too that can feel uncomfortable for many. Some of what has evolved seems very similar to the default world as folks jockey for position and status with material possessions they have brought to the desert with them. You have a choice to let this bother you or not. When I’m there, I focus on my personal experience and my good friends. I always seem to have a great time! Like anywhere, the more you give, the more you get. I find that when I’m actively contributing and don’t play the role of spectator, I have the most worthwhile experiences.

Radical Self Expression and Radical Inclusion are two other hallmarks of Burning Man. Be prepared for an anything goes environment. Burners accept people of all faiths, race, and backgrounds as the status quo. This is definitely the sentiment you feel out there. You feel loved by strangers as if they were your close friends in a very touching way. You could wear a tutu on a unicycle and no one would give you a second look. You can walk down the road completely naked and, chances are, you’ll see 10 others doing the same thing giving you a thumbs up. That said, I find the principle of radical inclusion held with a bit of tension as well. The event is still quite cost prohibitive and the vast majority of the community is white.

The “Burning Man” references the giant wooden effigy that is burned on the Saturday before the end of the event. People gather around and watch a 60+ foot sculpture burn to the ground. What ensues is probably the largest and wildest LED lit party I’ve ever been to. On Sunday night, the Temple burn happens. This is a more somber affair. The Temple is another large wooden building that spends the entire week getting filled with writings, shrines, memories, pain, suffering, and tears. I see this as the spiritual epicenter of the playa during the week event. It’s a place you can go to be quiet and reflect on life and loss.

On Sunday evening, the building along with the tens of thousands of notes, shrines, and memories are burned to the ground as people look on in silence. It’s hard not to see tears streaming down cheeks all around you as this occurs. I find this to be the most profound moment at Burning Man as you get to share a truly spiritual and transcendent moment with thousands of other people that’s not wrapped in dogma. It’s just about healing. Never in my life have I witnessed something like this on such a big scale.

I’ll leave you with this. My life long burner friend told me my first year when I asked him about Burning Man. He said, “Burn your expectations and things can be wondrous.”

***

About the author

ElTayyabHassan El-Tayyab is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, teacher, and cultural activist currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. His critically acclaimed Americana act American Nomad performs regularly at festivals and venues up and down the West Coast and beyond and he teaches music in the Bay Area.

Check out Composing Temple Sunrise on Amazon and Goodreads

Click the button below to follow the Composing Temple Sunrise tour on Poetic Book Tours

PoeticButton

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

I’m Still Here!

IMG_0937I hope you all had a wonderful summer!  I’m enjoying the cooler, breezier weather, but I must admit that I am sad to see the summer end because I spent most of it working.  We did get to the beach once in July for The Girl’s 15th birthday, but aside from that, I spent much of June through early September working on freelance projects on top of the day job, The Girl’s summer rugby (her team won the championship!), and all the back-to-school chaos.

Needless to say, I’ve missed blogging and reading blogs, and while I was glad to emerge from a month-long blog hiatus last week, I likely will be a bit of a sporadic blogger going forward.  (I hope to prove myself wrong, though!)  I have been reading, though more slowly than I would like, and I hope to catch up with you all on your blogs soon, in between freelance projects.

In addition to the books pictured, my review backlog consists of some Jane Austen-inspired short-story freebies, and I hope to write up my thoughts on all of them soon.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll tell me about an awesome book you read over the summer, a post that I missed that you think I’d enjoy, your favorite thing about fall, etc.

Also, back in June, Diary of an Eccentric quietly turned 8!!  So I just want to thank my readers for all the years of bookish fun and friendships!!

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »