Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Penniless Hearts: It's Not The Destination, It's The Journey

“Well, it’s a long story, but generally if you listen to the National Geological surveyors, we are safe over here in Kauai. However, if you listen to Hawaiian folklore and the legends involving meles and chants recited by the islanders, you will learn that this area is the home of the restless goddess Pele. When her toes start tapping, I guess everyone has to watch out.” He smiled when he said the last part, almost as if he thought it seemed funny that modern day Hawaiians still believed such fantastical tales. ~ from Penniless Hearts

Penny Himmell, a graphic artist with a newspaper, is a restless young woman, looking for some excitement in her life when the reader first meets her. She's given to dreams and fantasies to escape from her sometimes drab life. She works under pressure from a rather overbearing and unappreciative boss Tina, while her father Carl seems content to overlook her. Her relationship with the man in her life, John, has lost much appeal; he seems entirely set in his ways, not particularly romantic, perfectly fine with things as they are. Penny finds herself at a crossroads, wanting something more. Be careful what you wish for; sometimes you get it.

On an impulse, Penny joins a flirtatious pilot on a trip to Hawaii for a few days, casting aside her expectations for a healthy dose of fun. Events go awry, however, as she quickly discovers what kind of man he is, and Penny finds herself drawn into misadventure and a journey of sorts with Hawaii as a backdrop, meeting new people, both good and not so good, along the way. Tina, meanwhile, ropes Carl and John into setting out to going after Penny, and their own stories, along with those of other characters, plays out as the stories converge. Carl and John have to come to terms with understanding what Penny means to them both, while Penny herself has to figure out what she really wants out of life.

Eve Gaal writes this book with strong characterization as a foundation. The characters each have distinct personalities, and once shaken out of the status quo that they're so used to come to life. Their personalities feel fleshed out, and most importantly, each of them have distinct voices. Penny as the core of the book is on a journey of discovery, a fanciful woman whose impulsive trip is completely understandable, and who she is by the end of the tale is someone who has changed. John and Carl, who start out generally taking this woman in their lives for granted, show surprising character growth. The character who sticks out as most surprising though is Tina. Overbearing and not terribly sympathetic at the outset, she changes over the course of the story, becoming steadily more likeable and more human.

The location itself takes on a life of its own as a character. Hawaii has a certain ethereal quality as a place, with its own pace of life, very different from the way things are on the mainland, and Penny finds herself immersed deep into it. From the culture to the scenery, the islands underlie everything, and the essence of this paradise soaks itself into the writing. The end result is that the reader finds themselves wanting to spend a few weeks- or months- soaking up the sun on a beach in Hawaii, or check out a lava field. Even if that means the locals will still see you as a tourist.

Penniless Hearts is a character driven romantic misadventure of sorts, a tale of growing and changing as people. It has a dreamlike quality to the writing, particularly Penny's inner voice. The plotlines tie together at their own pace, and the characters have a genuine sensibility to them, even the unpleasant ones. They feel real to the reader. The pacing of the novel works well, giving us a sense of fun, all while staying true to the journey.

Eve Gaal can be found at her blog, The Desert Rocks. Penniless Hearts can be found here at Amazon as an ebook. Eve herself lives in the Southwest with her husband Steve and a precocious dog named Fiona.


  1. Great review, William. Eve, this sounds wonderful. Best of luck on sales!

  2. Wonderful review. That should liven the sales. Good luck.

  3. I can only agree with others, love this review. Congratulations to Eve and best of luck! (As someone from Hawaii, I love the idea of setting it there:)

  4. Oh William thanks so much for the wonderful review. I am very lucky to know you can't wait for your novel Heaven and Hell.
    Krisztina-Thanks sales would be great!
    Mari-I think it will all work out and I agree this is a wonderful review!
    LondonLulu-I hope if you ever read this you'll forgive anything that doesn't sound quite right. I've only been to Hawaii two times. :)

  5. I've got the book and can't wait to read it.

    Great review, Sir Wills.

    Tweeted and shared.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. And I was so sure I'd have mine posted first. I even have a really cool title for it.


    But he's right. It is a good book!

  7. Of course, I already wanted to spend months soaking up the sun in Hawaii!

  8. @Krisztina and Mari: Thank you.

    @Lulu: it felt very true to the way of life in the state.

    @Eve: you're most welcome!

    @Shelly: you'll enjoy it!

    @Norma: I look forward to your review!

    @Mark: if one must soak up the sun, it's a good spot to do so!

  9. Just bought my copy for my long weekend at Jacksonville Beach, FL on March 9th-11th. :D That "buy now with one-click" button is just too convenient for someone with OCD. lol

    Ahhh, the sun, the relaxation, the smell of the salty sea, and now a nice romantic adventure book. I couldn't ask for more!


  10. Super review. I can't wait to read it!

  11. I'll be passing this book along to someone I know who loves stories like this. Congrats to Eve!

  12. Sounds like an excellent read William. The fokelore in Hawaii is a little like the Aboriginal 'dreamtime' here in Australia..very real to them, and strange things can happen!

  13. You're great at writing reviews and I can't wait to read this book. I enjoy reading Eve's blog.

  14. I always enjoy reading your reviews and they usually make me want to put the books on my shelf at the front of my TBR pile. Well done! (Not to mention that I would like to head to Hawaii right now, too. LOL)

  15. @Diane: you're welcome!

    @Lynn: thank you!

    @Kelly: thanks!

    @Grace: I wouldn't have thought of that!

    @Deb: thanks for stopping in!

    @CurlingUp: thanks!


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