Monday, June 9, 2014

Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter (4.5 stars)

About Painting Juliana

Hardcover: 362 pages
Publisher: Goldminds Publishing, LLC (May 20, 2014)


A young girl’s terrifying nightmare, five mysterious oil paintings and a red, flaming firebird all carry the same message:

Stand still, look up and let the funnel cloud suck you up inside.

It’s the last thing Juliana Birdsong wants to hear.  Now a woman who’s losing everything, she’s still running from the dream, and it’s catching up fast. When her Alzheimer’s-stricken father’s canvases come to life exposing secrets, heartbreak and yearnings that mirror her own, Juliana discovers that some memories can be a blessing to forget.

Hit with devastating loss and betrayals, her old life stripped away, Juliana has no choice but to call on the person who’s never helped her before. Steering the chrome handlebars of a vintage motorcycle down a long, tapering highway, she must face her defining moment.  It’s the only way she’ll gain the strength and courage to begin painting Juliana.

"Engaging and funny, heart-rending and profound. Painting Juliana is superb." -Joe Holley, Columnist, Houston Chronicle

"Hunter is a first-rate writer with a lot to say in a voice that is new, vivid and exceptional." -Cindy Bonner – Author of Lily and Right from Wrong

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Review

Juliana's life is unraveling. At first, she's so blindsided by the succession of events she can't function, much less fight. Her husband tosses her out and plans to take everything from her, including her children, and her father is on a fast decline thanks to Alzheimer's. 

Broken and struggling, she moves into her father's old house and begins a journey of self-discovery. Through her father's paintings, she discovers her mother and father's relationship was not what she assumed. As she grows stronger, she'll have decisions to make; her figurative canvas needs finishing.

Juliana quickly made her way into my heart. There were times I wanted to strangle her for not fighting harder, but she had to find her strength in her own time to sustain it. Her journey to that power was amazing, especially as she grew in her relationship with her ailing father and even her brother. Events unravel in an intricate pattern, all leading to necessary insight for the character. Without it, she would have folded right back into her old life--whether it was good for her or not.

I don't often quote from the book for my reviews, but the following was so amazing I couldn't resist: "Spouses become so much a part of you, they're like a tattoo," she says. "The good news is although it's costly, time intensive and the pain is excruciating, you can get rid of them."*

So much of the story is emotionally engaging: the father's spiral into himself, the husband's cruel machinations, the kids' responses to what's happening, and friends who aren't friends. I felt everything from sadness to frustration to fear to anger. 

For readers who enjoy a gripping, dynamic, and engaging story, Painting Juliana is a real work of art.

Rating:  4.5 stars

* I read an ARC, so my apologies if this quote was altered before publication.

About the Author

Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection, www.marthasjewelrycase.com. With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.

Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.

For more information, please visit: www.marthalouisehunter.com.

You can also keep up with her at her blog, www.beingmarthalouisehunter.com.


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the Painting Juliana blog tour page.

5 comments:

heathertlc said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for having me on the tour. I really enjoyed the book.

Tia Bach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
martha louise hunter said...

And, I am enjoying your REVIEW!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, TIA!

I'm grateful!

:) Martha Louise Hunter

Tia Bach said...

I really enjoyed it, Martha!