Tag Archives: Fiction

The Day The Angels Fell – My Review

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THE DAY THE
ANGELS FELL
by
SHAWN SMUCKER
  Genre: Psychological Fiction / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
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Shawn Smucker will capture readers’ imaginations with this masterfully written debut novel that combines elements of mystery and magical realism.

It was the summer of storms, strays, and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident.

Twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life—the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend, Abra, in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?

Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful novel, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.

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Praise for The Day the Angels Fell:
“Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L’Engle. I read it in two days!”
—Anne Bogel, Modern Mrs. Darcy

“Shawn Smucker enchants with a deftly woven tale of mystery and magic that will leave you not only spellbound but wanting more.”
Billy Coffey, author of There Will Be Stars
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Review

The Day The Angels Fell – My Review

“We always think we have one more day. We always think tomorrow can do nothing but come around. It’s one of the great illusions we live with, that time will go on and on, and that our lives will never end.”

The Day The Angels Fell is the loveliest and most rememberable book I’ve read so far in 2017. The story takes a young 12-year-old Sam and his friend, Abra on an unbelievable journey after the death of Sam’s mother.
It’s a legendary story surrounding The Tree of Life, along with two angels that drive these young kids to discover the truth about it, seeing it for real, and knowing its true power. At the beginning of the story you wonder where author, Shawn Smucker is leading you as a reader. At the end of the story you want to continue reading it and not stop.
The story did not take me where I thought would. Yes – there was one part dealing with the lamb that I knew was coming in some form, but the story itself kept me wondering what was next page after page. It’s a story that downright enveloped me.
Death is always emotional no matter how it comes. The writing is highly poignant around the whole death concept, especially for a young boy. The passages dealing with loss are – no pun intended – dead on. Smucker writes the way most of us often feel about death. You wish you could bring back someone because you miss him or her so much. Yet, in your heart you know they are in a better place. It’s just hard for your heart to realize it in that moment in time. That’s the driving force of the main story – what Sam struggles with as a young boy wanting to see his mom again, to hug her and see her smile.
The legend part of the story brings to real life the two angels – one who is a protector and one not so much – who guide Sam to discover and grow The Tree of Life. A sword that can kill bad supernatural beings and change size is a big part of the story.
Also some of the most notable of Smucker’s writing in The Day the Angels Fell makes you feel the coming of a storm because it’s so well written. It’s as if you are right there with Sam experiencing the thunder, the winds, and the lightening with the author’s visually well-crafted words.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book and where it leads with Abra and her journey with the sword. And finding out why the sword chose her. And quite possibly what happened to that darn cat Sam saved.
Simply this is a fantastic story that will leave you wanting more…


Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel. 
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September 17-26, 2017
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Lost Path to Solitude – Review

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LOST PATH TO SOLITUDE

(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels) 

by  

Maria Elena Sandovici

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Date of Publication: February 12, 2016

# of pages: 315

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Cover image

Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?

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Review

Initially, skimming through this book I thought it was going to be a disappointment in reading because it appeared as an unpleasant mishmash of various writing being pulled together. I also had my reservations because I had not read the previous book.

After I started reading “Lost Path to Solitude” these preliminary impressions were laid to rest. The author weaves this follow-up journey of 10 years later to “Dogs with Bagels” exceptionally well and you really don’t need to read the first novel to get enveloped in this story. The complex characters each have their own paths to follow in life, and Sandovici skillfully tells their stories. The story switches often between characters and places, but the writing is done so well that you don’t lose track of the story being told.

What struck me about this novel is that we all have self-doubt of various degrees in our lives. Dealing with that doubt makes who we become. The main characters journeys of the mother and daughter are told in such a way I related to in a personal sense. It’s a story of the journey of finding yourself whether it’s in New York, a small Texas town, or a foreign country. While most of us can never imagine living or dying in one place, most of us has a drive to want to change the world for the better for others and ourselves.

The Galveston Island descriptions are perfectly told as if I was revisiting the island myself again (which I’ve not done in years) – from the ferry ride to staying at the Tremont House Hotel. That indicates to me that the other place descriptions on Romania and New York are accurate. The book spoke personally to me because of my own wanderlust and need for something more in my life, because there is life outside of small town Texas where people actually know what kale is. Discovering that linden tea and rose water ice cream really exist is exciting for me to eventually try.

As the book continues its story to its last words, you as a reader know as these characters discover that you cannot ever go back in time to a former life, memories can be overpowering, and to live in this life you have to move on.

AboutTheAuthor

Sandovici Author Pic

Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps.

Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude.

In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment.

To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog.

Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston.

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