Saturday 22 June 2013
I’m not a professional book reviewer or critic as you all know, so I was honestly shocked when presented with the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of Mariam Kobras’ Song of the Storm. The best I can say with regards to book reviewing is that I know what I like and what I don’t like and that’s about as technical as I can get, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to pass up the chance to get my hands on a copy of a novel, pre-release, so here were are.
Prior to beginning the review of Song of the Storm, I must state in the interests of transparency, objectivity and honesty that I know the author via Social Media platforms. Mariam and I have been Twitter, Facebook and G+ friends for a while. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, Mariam and I were online pals before she signed with her publishing house, Buddhapuss Ink. So, I knew her before she was famous. It’s not often one gets to state that sort of thing, so let me have my moment, please. 😉 And for those who might be wondering, I’m not receiving any kick backs for writing this review. Nor would I a) want or b) ask for any.
Next, I’ll address the topic of genre. For those of you who have read my blog, you’ll know the sort of novel I like to read: in short, it’s crime fiction. Kobras’ novel is most definitely not a crime novel. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to say that Song of the Storm is a typical romance novel because, well, I’ve never read one. However, I have to say that the final book in the Stone trilogy comes across to me as something more than ‘just a romance’. There’s a logical plot, a storyline and characters that go beyond what I’d expect to find in a romance novel. There’s substance to the plot and the characters. To me, Song of the Storm presents the reader with a slice of life. We’re watching the everyday, albeit, far from normal lives of Naomi and Jon Stone unfold before us. We bear witness to their interactions with friends and family, we’re right there during the good and bad times. Quite frankly, for someone who enjoys a bit of armchair psychology, I find these lives fascinating, and by the end of the novel, I had invested in the lives of Jon and Naomi and their family, friends and entourage.
As previously mentioned, Song of the Storm is the final novel in the Stone trilogy, following The Distant Shore and Under the Same Sun. In writing this review, I am looking at Song of the Storm as an individual novel because I’m currently in the process of reading the first two. Yes, I’ve read the last book first. Importantly here, the fact that I haven’t read the first two novels has in no way detracted from my enjoyment or understanding of the third. Indeed, there’s clearly a back-story to Naomi and Jon Stone that I’m not entirely privy to yet, but Kobras has provided enough information for any gaps in my understanding of the characters’ back-stories to be of negligible size and impact. I am, however, left with the desire to read the first two novels as quickly as possible in order to further acquaint myself with all of the characters that I’ve been introduced to in Song of the Storm.
Jon Stone is the sort of guy other men want to be and women want to be with, and by all accounts, he’s had plenty of women, none of whom have ever really lived up to his one and only love, Naomi. Stone is an aging rock star who has never lost his charm where fans are concerned, and who attributes a lot of his song writing success to his muse, lyricist and wife, Naomi. He is the quintessential rock star: talented, handsome, a god in the eyes of his fans, often demanding and egocentric. Married to the woman of his dreams, Jon worships the ground upon which his wife walks but appears, at times, to struggle with balancing the ordinary life that Naomi wants and his desire to continue living the rock star life of fame, fortune and fans.
Naomi, currently pursuing a new career of her own, that of novelist, is a woman who has her own sizable bank account but also comes from a wealthy hotelier family, and has never truly felt comfortable in the harsh gaze of Jon’s adoring fans. Despite lacking most of the diva attributes one would expect a woman in her shoes to display, Naomi’s obvious vices are designer label clothing and expensive jewellery, all of which she prefers to purchase under her own steam rather than having her husband shower her with gifts. A twist in Naomi’s medical situation leads she and Jon to revisit past wounds in an attempt to reconcile their impending lifestyle change.
Through a series of rather unfortunate events which have all been detailed in the previous two novels, The Distant Shore and Under the Same Sun, and include a long separation during which Naomi was the single parent to Joshua, her son with Jon, an Oscar night tragedy, and an abduction attempt by a stalker, the protagonists, Jon and Naomi, have finally found peace in New York in 2001. Along for the ride are Jon’s former band mates, his manager Sal, Naomi’s parents and a few members of the Italian side of her family, and young Stone fan, Maya, whose introduction into the world of Jon and Naomi Stone comes, initially, at a physical price when she is almost run down by Stone’s car.
Sal, unable to have the woman he really desires, takes Maya under his wing in an attempt to ensure that she doesn’t have plans to sue Stone for the accident. One thing leads to another and Sal and Maya have both a taste of a new life together, and are left wanting by their relationship: their courtship reflecting a warped version of Sal’s unrequited love for another woman that emotionally and mentally hits Maya.
Of course, it’s impossible not to mention that the year 2001 left an indelible mark on humanity, and the Stones, their entourage and families don’t escape the heightened emotions and tragedy of that year. I’m not going to give away much more than this in terms of characters. You’ll simply have to buy Song of the Storm to find out what happens with these people.
Kobras’ writing is fluid and descriptive, it’s easily digestible without being asinine or saccharine, and I found myself devouring this novel as fast as I possibly could. Honestly, had it not been for the fact that the night was slipping away from me and I hadn’t yet slept, Song of the Storm would have been commenced and concluded in one sitting: the day that I received my copy. Instead, I read half of the novel the day it arrived and the remainder the next day. It’s that sort of book . . . one that you just have to get through.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, and even if you haven’t yet read the first two in the Stone trilogy, The Distant Shore and Under the Same Sun, buy a copy of Song of the Storm and get reading. It’s a beautifully written novel, and it’s completely understandable why Mariam Kobras received a bronze IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) in 2012 for The Distant Shore and a silver IPPY this year, for Under the Same Sun in the Romance category, and I certainly won’t be surprised to learn that Kobras takes out the gold IPPY in 2014.
As someone who doesn’t read romance novels, I certainly feel confident in recommending Song of the Storm to other non-romance readers. I think you’ll all enjoy reading the final book in the Stone trilogy. Did I mention that I really enjoyed reading Song of the Storm? So, get yourselves a copy, make a cup of your favourite hot beverage, put up the ‘do not disturb’ sign and start reading. Seriously, what are you waiting for?
And if you’d like to connect with Mariam, her publisher or get your hot lil hands on a copy of Song of the Storm, click the links below and you’ll get exactly where you need to be.
The next stop on Mariam’s blog hop for Song of the Storm can be found by clicking the link below, and I recommend that you do . . . even if you only check out the other reviews to prove to yourself that I’m not exaggerating the fabulousness (yes, it’s a word) of this novel.