Tour Review/Giveaway: Bluff by Lenore Skomal

Today’s tour stop is Bluff, which is my first literary fiction review on Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.  I’m not accustomed to the slow pace of the genre, which frustrated me for the first quarter of the book.  After that, I was sold.  Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more reviews, excerpts, guest posts, and interviews by clicking HERE!

Bluff by Lenore Skomal

Genre: Dark, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Self published

Bluff released October 1st, 2012.  You can purchase Bluff as an ebook or paperback on Amazon.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Book Description:

“To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”

Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone’s deceptions, even her own. Bluff offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.

“From the first few pages of Bluff, we were hooked. Lenore Skomal keeps you guessing and wanting more. The characters have stayed with us and we can’t wait for a sequel!” — Blue Stockings Literary Society

“Bluff raises vital questions about the nature of our human spirit. This compelling story is a must read. You won’t be able to put this book down. It will change you.” — Sylvia Browne, bestselling author and spiritual teacher

“Lenore Skomal is a powerful writer and a big talent. Her words will stir your heart.” — Al Zuckerman, founder, Writer’s House Literary Agency, NYC

“Lenore Skomal is a highly acclaimed columnist and author, whose attention to detail, whose wit and pathos, have charmed readers for years. This, her first novel, is a breathtaking story of a life re-examined from the precipice of abyss. Heartbreaking and insightful.” — Carlo DeVito, Ten Things My Dog Taught Me

Giveaway:

The author is giving away one paperback copy of Bluff.  Click HERE to enter the giveaway.

Review:

Overview:  I’m not used to reading literary fiction and the slow pace and way the story is told frustrated me at first.  The book doesn’t tell the story of Jude, but rather the story of every single person in Jude’s life.  Some point of views I enjoyed more than others, but at least it wasn’t difficult to tell who was narrating.  The only first person POV is Jude and the rest are in third person.    I could tell that the author did research in the medical field and the scenes inside the hospital felt authentic and so did the dialogue from the medical personnel.  Although I did feel frustrated at times, not once did I ever want to give up on this book.  I needed to know what happened to Jude.  I’m so happy that I did, because when the last piece fits into place, I can’t help but marvel both at the complexity and disturbing nature of Bluff.

Characters:  I didn’t like Jude very much (she’s depressed and an ass to everyone), but I did feel bad for her by the end.  As someone who has dealt with pregnancy, I couldn’t imagine not being able to control my own body during the last four months of pregnancy.  The characters in this book felt real.  I like it when characters make dumb decisions and each one in this story had fatal flaws you couldn’t help but relate to.  There’s a lot of negative behaviors exhibited from the characters, but it never seemed overdone or out of place.  I did enjoy the minor characters and was really rooting for Frances over April in the custody battle.  Each character had their own set of problems and most of them resolved by the end, although not at all in the way I expected.

Plot:  Jude is in a coma (or something like it).  No one is sure how she ended up at the bottom of the bluff.  Did she fall?  Was she pushed?  Did she attempt suicide?  Well, that’s isn’t the most pressing mystery in this story.  Apparently, Jude is also pregnant and never revealed who the father is.

Ending:  I definitely enjoyed the mystery part of the plot and no, I wasn’t able to guess the right answer.  Nor was I able to predict the ending.  And though this book is called Bluff, there is no cliffhanger at the end.  I was questioning why this book was labeled dark fiction until the last 10% of the novel.  The first half of the book is depressing but it isn’t “dark” and incredibly “disturbing” until the last couple chapters.  Although there are hints throughout the novel that lead to this crazy ending, I wasn’t prepared.  If you like HEA endings, stop at 90%…and make up your own.  If you like to witness the darker side of human nature, savor the last 10%.

Grade:  C+

I received a copy from the FMB tours in exchange for my honest review.  I also purchased a personal copy from Amazon, so I checked the official copy of the book before posting my review.

Excerpt:

It was as if something died in Jude in order to make room for the new life to live. Like she was punishing herself, imprisoning herself in her own personal purgatory and keeping Frances out. Instead of the new life infusing her with a reason for living, it seemed to have become a death sentence. Jude rarely spoke of the pregnancy, took no joy in reporting the results of the doctor’s visits when she actually went to them, and rebuffed Frances’ attempt to create any happiness around the impending birth. It was as if it were happening to someone else, not Jude.

About the Author:

Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. She wants you to chew them in your teeth, savor them on your tongue, breathe them in, and feel her words in your skin. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She finds ecstasy in constructing a perfect sentence and responds willingly to the nagging ache in her heart to create an authentic experience for the reader. Lenore is an award-winning author with the single goal of being heard.

Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, Lenore Skomal’s catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, over 17 books published and a daily blog, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. Skomal has won several Society of Professional Journalist Awards, Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer’s Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens 2003, and the Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor.

From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, Skomal’s writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message. As a member of the world community, Skomal is excited by the opportunities presented in today’s publishing climate. Now, not only can she spend her time traveling internationally and experiencing cultural events like a Lakota Sweat Lodge, she shares these experiences directly with her readers in hopes of resonating with them and underscoring that no one is alone. In addition to writing, Lenore is an engaging public speaker with over 1000 public engagements, book tours and writing seminars. She has taught college journalism, has one son, and when not off gallivanting from Egypt to Mongolia she resides with her husband in Erie, Pa.

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