Book Review: Emerald Isle

emerald

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to a fellow author and friend of mine, Andrew Budek-Schmeisser. Andrew and I first connected on the Books and Such Literary Agency blog. His insightful, intelligent, and often witty comments have taught me a lot about writing and life. He also regularly comments on this blog, for which I’m so grateful.  

I recently had the great pleasure of reading Andrew’s new release Emerald Isle. Many good books have a story behind them. Forgive the play on words, but it’s true that the creation of a book, getting it from the typed page of a word processor into the hands of readers, is just as interesting as the book itself. The story behind Emerald Isle must be at least briefly told before I move on the reviewing the book itself.

Andrew is living with a very aggressive, painful, very likely life-ending cancer. The emphasis on living in very much intentional. I’ve never encountered another person with the resilience and refusal to feel sorry for oneself in the midst of such tragic circumstances. I am really moved by the dedication in the book: “This book is dedicated to my wife, Barbara, and to my two service dogs, Ladron and Sylvia, whose skill at the canine version of CPR have literally ensured that I am alive to write these words.

Moving on… Another author with whom Andrew has become friends, Carol Ashby, reached out to and offered to help him get Emerald Isle ready for e-book publication. When Andrew’s physical strength wasn’t enough, a friend stepped forward and made this a reality for him. What selflessness. What friendship. What love.

About Emerald Isle

EmeraldIsle(from Amazon) Mike Trainor’s life is mere existence since a terrorist bomb killed his beloved Mary the week before their wedding. Then an overbooked airplane forces him to sit by a beautiful young Irishwoman who is the spitting image of his dead fiancé. Annie is on her way to Austin to be married, and 1700 miles is long enough for her to draw out the story of his undying fidelity to his dead love.

When Annie arrives at the airport only to discover her fiancé was a con artist who stole all they were to share, Mike kindly offers her a place to stay until she can get enough money to return home to Ireland. But that plan is changed when Annie is diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, and Mike’s selfless desire to help her leads to a marriage of convenience so she can get treatment.

Convenience can grow into love, and when their honeymoon leads to pregnancy, Annie and Mike are faced with a choice: kill their unborn child and save Annie’s life or delay starting treatment for the long-shot birth of their baby.

But life’s challenges sometimes come in pairs. There’s more to Mary’s death than Mike ever knew, and trying to make old wrongs right embroils Mike and Annie in a dangerous adventure they never wanted, leading to an ending they never expected.

My Thoughts…

What struck me almost instantly on the first pages of Emerald Isle is the dialogue. I don’t think I’ve read another book that so masterfully commanded dialogue the way Andrew does in this novel. From the beginning, and throughout the whole novel, dialogue is short and sweet, but chock full of emotion and palpable reality. Annie is pithy and raw with emotion, pulling Mike almost instantly out of a suffocating and lingering grief. I can’t tell you how in touch with the emotions of these characters I felt.

The novel dances with a staccato rhythm, fox-trotting quickly through scenes that kept me wildly engaged and wanting more. The short chapters invite you to read “just one more” — which admittedly often left me up really late into the night, unable to put it down.

Forgive the use of an overused metaphor, but Andrew peels away layers of the characters like sweet onions in a way that let me feel like I was getting to know each naturally and genuinely. Much like Andrew himself, I became almost instantly invested in their goals and wishes, rooting for them from early on.

There’s more to this quick read than meets the eye, though. Before you know it, you’re in deep with these main characters. You can’t believe the hand they’ve been dealt, and surprises lurk around every new chapter heading. I found myself intrigued, surprised, and anxious. With an ending to beat all, I was left more than satisfied. I was left with the impression of Emerald Isle on my heart. It will be one of those books I recall for years, decades maybe, recommend to friends and family, and reread when the time is right.

There are a few typographical mistakes that remain on the independently published pages. But I prefer them, really. I’m glad they are there. They reminded me throughout the book of Andrew’s personal circumstances and how blessed I am to read this story and then tell Andrew how much I love it while we still share space on this earth. Wonderful job, good and faithful servant.

About Andrew…

902040_599908556688769_714635525_oAndrew Budek-Schmeisser has worked as an engineering professor, welder, and security contractor, among other things. He lives on a mesa in New Mexico with his wife and a number of rescued dogs. You can visit him at…
• His blog Blessed Are The Pure of Heart
• Facebook at Andrew Budek
• Twitter @BudekSchmeisser

Emerald Isle is available for purchase on Amazon.


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