Tag Archives: Jean Ryan

Review: Strange Company

Strange Company

Strange Company
By Jean Ryan
MadeMark Publishing (March 12, 2017), 118pp.

The Short of It:

A collection of super short essays that promise to awaken your need for nature and its beauty.

The Rest of It:

Regular readers of this blog know how packed my schedule is. It’s not often that I have time to step out into nature and just observe the beauty around me but oh, how I crave it.  Strange Company allowed me to do that if only for a short while.

Strange Company is a collection of nature essays about all sorts of things. Do animals feel compassion? Do they think as humans do? If the act of bleeding out a rare Horseshoe crab for the sake of science isn’t damaging to the creature itself, does it make it right to keep doing it? What about pesticides? Do you ever think about the impact that they might have on say… a bird’s food supply?

On a personal note, I absolutely believe that animals feel compassion. Every pet I’ve ever had has connected with me in some way. After the death of my mother, my dog would not leave my side.  Years ago when I was diagnosed with Lupus and seriously questioned if I could survive it, my cat was right there, as I spent days in bed trying to work up enough energy just to go to work. So it’s no surprise to me that domesticated animals or even those in the wild can feel compassion. Just look into their eyes!

What I loved about this collection is that although each essay is short, often only a few pages long, they gave me a lot to think about. There’s a little bit of science for those who like facts, but there’s also a lot of heart. Ryan is a nature lover and it shows in her writing. I’ve read and enjoyed her work before and I am happy to say I enjoyed this collection as well.

Source: Review copy provided by the author. Thank you!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon links.

Review: Survival Skills (Stories)

Survival Skills

Survival Skills (Stories)
By Jean Ryan
(Ashland Creek Press, Paperback, 9781618220219, April 1, 2013, 212pp)

The Short of It:

This collection touches on the insecurities that exist within all of us and manages to capture the moment when happiness intersects with longing. Ryan handles both with dignity and grace.

The Rest of It:

I’ve been incredibly lucky lately when it comes to the books that end up in my hands and this collection is no exception.

First, I’ll tell you a little about the collection itself. These stories center around love and loss but particularly the moment when a person first realizes that love is waning. That moment where you know it’s over, yet you’re not willing to admit it.

What makes this collection unique, is that nearly all of this loss is the result of an accident or nature intervening in some way.

In Looks for Life, a young woman is given a new face after a car accident and the new face is so different from the one she had, that she becomes a different person.

In the Double Take, a young woman becomes infatuated with a child who resembles her own sister.

In Waiting for Annie, a woman waits for her lover to come out of a coma and while waiting, worries about how it will affect their relationship once she does.

My favorite story is Paradise, which happens to be the last story in the book. In Paradise, the relationship of two women is challenged by a parrot! One of them ends up in Palm Springs and that is probably why I loved it so much. With two sets of in-laws that own property in Palm Desert, I’ve spent many weeks observing the people in town and Ryan captured the desert lifestyle so perfectly. In fact, I am going there this week so I found it incredibly amusing to read this story right before my trip.

Years ago, I read short stories for two reasons:

  1. I was strapped for time.
  2. My attention span was all over the place.

I have changed over the years. I’ve come to appreciate the short story form and it’s because of wonderful writers like Jean Ryan. Writers that can capture a moment in time so vividly that it pains me when the story comes to an end.

This collection surprised me in a lot of ways. For one, I coud not tell right away if a story’s narrator was male or female. There are same-sex relationships in the book and so often I was surprised to find myself thinking that the story was told by a man, when in fact it’s told by a woman. The collection kept me guessing and I welcomed it.

I also appreciated the unique nature of the stories themselves. Fresh, likable characters yet ones that you could easily relate to. All of them in unique situations, questioning their place.

This collection is a treat for anyone who reads but if you’ve been in a reading rut and need a book to shake things up a little, this collection is what the doctor ordered. It will wake you up and get you thinking again. I find that I need that every once in a while.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post may contain Indiebound affiliate links.