Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Birds of Paradise by Kathy Handley

*Congrats to ChocoLibrarian for winning this giveaway. Thanks everyone*

Turns out my last giveaway wasn't the last one of the year because luckily I got the opportunity to read the recently published book Birds of Paradise by Kathy Handley and I am also giving away a copy of it to one very lucky reader (see giveaway details at the end of this blog post to enter).  Also, see the entire Blog Tour schedule on the Women on Writing website: Kathy Handley, author of Birds of Paradise, launches her blog tour.
Photo from
In Birds of Paradise, the story centers around the family of Joe-Mack, his wife Gloria and their two daughters Jen and Amy, and then it radiates out from there after Joe-Mack discovers that his wife is being unfaithful to him.  Joe-Mack then decides to leave with no real plan in sight.  Before he knows it eleven years have passed and he is now a truck driver making trips all over the west coast.  On one of those trips he picks up a hitchhiker named Freddie who is on his way to Hollywood from Vegas.  Joe-Mack takes a liking to him because he is reminded of his two daughters since Freddie is about their age.  Before they part ways, Joe-Mack gives Freddie his cell phone number, in case he ever needs it.  Cut to Starlet, a newly arrived runaway that dreams of making it big in Hollywood.  Starlet soon meets a plethora of characters, including another runaway, a hooker, and Freddie.  By now Freddie is going by the name Vegas and the two fall in love.  The twist is that Starlet is actually Joe-Mack's eldest daughter Jen and she has left her mother Gloria and her new sleazy boyfriend Ralph back home worried to death (well, Ralph isn't worried, just probably sorry he didn't get the chance to make a move on Jen).  This cast of runaways, homeless youths, and streetwalkers is definitely not a good mix to ensure a pleasant plot line, and before you know it there are pimps involved and a shooting.  I believe this part of the story is drawn from the author's family and her own experiences working with young kids in L.A. (see author's note in the back for more information as well as the blog post on the Women on Writing website).

Overall I liked the book but I felt that some things were unnecessary.  The amount of runaways could have been reduced to tighten up the plot and explore more of their characters.  Also, the names were a bit on the cheesy side (Joe-Mack = mack trucks, Starlet = Hollywood starlet, Vegas = just sounds like that Vic Vegas guy from the Food Network, and Frenchy = well, that one is just unnecessary period).  The language between the characters was not always natural sounding too.  I did enjoy the imagery the author used to describe scenes and locations though, which gave the story some lushness and appeal.  I could really see her skills in poetry enlightened in these parts of the story.  Birds of Paradise I think achieves the goal of giving new perspective to runaways and those that have been displaced by life's circumstances and for that I commend the author.

Now for the giveaway!  
To enter, please leave a comment on this blog post with your e-mail address and your answer to this question: Besides the home you live in, where else do you feel "at home"?  
For an extra entry tweet about this book using the hashtag #BirdsParadise and leave the link here as well.  The last day to enter is October 23rd, 2011 and the winner will be announced right here on this post on Thursday, October 27th, 2011.  Good luck!!

*Note: If you purchase this book, the proceeds will go to organizations that sponsor activities for children with cerebral palsy.  Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for hosting this blog tour and giveaway.


  1. I have worked in a library for the past four years and before that, I was at the library constantly. Weirdly, I feel "at home" within the library, any library. I am a voracious reader and wherever there are lots of books - there I am!

  2. I feel at home when I'm near trees and mountains. Though I was raised in a fairly flat region, I visited mountainous areas regularly while growing up. I feel safe with them around, and they also give me a lot of pleasure, with the trees giving flowers, fruits and changing colors with the seasons, and the mountains providing a beautiful landscape whatever the weather and the sunlight/moonlight are :)

    A more conventional answer, but still true, is that I am at home whenever I'm with Andy, my husband. <3!/ChocoLibrarian/status/124641008574136320

  3. Hello,before I answer I wanna ask if the giveaway is international?
    If it is here's my answer:
    The only other place I feel at home is the sea. I was nonstop on the beach with my parents when I was younger and I love being in the water so that's my second home!

    Great giveaway!

  4. Thanks for all the entries so far! As far as I know, this contest does apply to international entries, so you are good! :)