Life Only Different

Fiction - Literary
420 Pages
Reviewed on 12/15/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jim D Buchanan served in the US Navy where he was awarded over 25 commendations including the Navy Achievement Medal. While at Motorola he authored the Upside-Down Pyramid model of corporate structure. He was a founding team member of the Weiner in-vivo nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy medical research laboratory in San Francisco, pioneering over 3,000 diagnostic blood tests now routinely used worldwide. As a field engineer, he has worked on computed tomography scanners, magnetic resonance imagers, and advanced molecular imaging cameras worldwide. Mr. Buchanan has traveled in and out of 36 states and 20 European and Asian countries, living in Washington State, California, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Hawaii, Alaska, Iceland, Sicily, The Netherlands, Malaysia, South Korea, and The Philippines. A photographer and artist Jim Buchanan has 400 works listed in his cove at He has written three unique and thought-provoking books, all on Amazon. The Announcement, centered on a climate disaster and modeled after The Decameron; Life Only Different, an epic journey spanning forty years of a couple who rejected the standard routine and set out to make a difference in the world; and Backstop - Shorts, 17 short stories of varied and thought-provoking subjects, 10 unique to Backstop, 6 of which are also included in The Announcement.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Life Only Different: A Novel by Jim D Buchanan is an interesting romance with an intriguing setting, a plot that takes readers to exotic places and introduces them to feisty and vibrant characters. From the very start of the narrative, the reader encounters one of the key characters in the story, Grant Mitchell, ordered to “spend two years of days, and nights too, masquerading as an emissary of American goodwill, on the island of Sicily.” He never suspected that “those circumstances would present Mount Etna and a Greek Goddess, with a challenge.” From this moment on, the reader is pulled into an adventure of love and human connections and, very interestingly, the connections the characters eventually develop with the setting.

The voice didn’t grab me right off the bat, but as the narrative evolved, it became clearer and more confident and came across powerfully through the vivid descriptions of the scenes as well as the setting. The writing is focused and the points of view brilliantly expressed, thanks to the skilled and deft handling of dialogues. Jim D Buchanan’s sense of setting is exemplified in this novel and I enjoyed the imagery of the road as a symbol of the journey the characters make from themselves to the heart of each other. Hints of Greek mythology also enrich the narrative and infuse it with a singular magic. Life Only Different: A Novel is an inspiring love story with powerful underpinnings of adventure and environmental themes, a tale with a unique plot structure and compelling characters.

K.C. Finn

Life Only Different is a philosophically minded work of literary fiction penned by author Jim D Buchanan. Written as an alternative exploration of the romance novel, this well considered piece engages readers directly with the sensation, sensuality and significance of the beautiful world around them whilst also telling the standard tale of the human experience. As the players of the book take their places to tell their story, they become only one component of the overall experience, as the author allows the sensory qualities of their world to come to the fore for readers to experience and immerse themselves in totally.

Plot-driven readers might miss the significance of this novel, as it often diverts from the main tale to notice small details which one might think are insignificant at the time, but later come back to contribute to the overall tale. Author Jim D Buchanan is one you can trust, and by sticking with the journey the real plot line of experience and enlightenment comes shining through the novel by its well-formed conclusions. Multiple voices are at play and the author commands and organizes them all very well, sending messages about the value of life and human experience as well as the values that we ought to place upon the planet that we call home. Overall, Life Only Different will not suit all readers, but those who are philosophically minded and wish for a visceral, powerful reading experience about sensations in life will not be disappointed by it. This is a really excellent book.

Ruffina Oserio

Life Only Different by Jim D Buchanan is an interesting romance with powerful hints of Greek mythology and a fascinating setting. It begins with a line that is both humorous and intriguing: “It was never clear if she slipped it into her volcanic dust or into the oranges. Consider it a certainty that once Aphrodite awakened from her slumber within that volcano both my life and the girl's were going to change.” Grant Mitchell arrives on the island of Sicily as an emissary of American goodwill and soon finds himself in circumstances he never bargained for; an unusual romance against the backdrop of Mount Etna erupting.

The narrative is filled with humor, and from the very beginning, the reader gets a clear idea that they are about to undertake a rollicking adventure into an exciting world. The author offers vivid images for the reader, and it is interesting to notice the anthropomorphism, the personification that portrays his fondness for Mount Etna: “She was one large snow cone dropped on the ground, smoking from her pointed top. This mountain was the model of every volcano ever created for a science fair. She erupted as often.” And while the eruption and the wonderful views of Etna are fascinating, it is the effect it has on the inhabitants that enrich the plot of this story.

Character development seems to be well handled, the plot ingeniously developed, but what caught my attention is the author’s unique narrative voice, the humor which comes out in the dialogues and the descriptions. Life Only Different is a unique novel with a romance that develops slowly, woven through with suspense and featuring well-developed characters, including a beautiful and fiery mountain.

Divine Zape

Life Only Different by Jim D Buchanan mixes adventure and romance against the backdrop of a fascinating world in May of 1987 and on Sicilian soil. The story develops against the setting of Mount Etna erupting. An emissary of American goodwill on the island of Sicily, Grant Mitchell, a man untested by challenges in life, is pulled into an adventure unlike anything he’d ever imagined. In Italy, he meets Alexis Shahan, a woman who immediately grips his heart. Thus begins a tale of love and adventure that explores the beauty of Italy, the wines and the Italian coffee, a world with a powerful evocation of the gods.

Jim D Buchanan has this gift of making places come alive. You get the smells of Italy, an immersion into the culture, and follow exciting plot threads. Images that define the setting abound in the writing: “With flat land where the base stood, Sicily introduced herself as a landscape of olive trees and plane trees, the latter being entirely new to me.” The descriptions are terrific and they are used in the writing to make it both atmospheric and filled with visuals.

The personification of Mount Etna and references to Greek gods like Dionysus add a certain beauty and elegance to the writing. The description of Alexis makes the reader feel as though they are seeing a goddess: she is slim, with a venerable mane of thick, shoulder-length, strawberry blond hair, and freckles sprinkled on smooth, cream-colored skin. The dialogues are dynamic and engaging and the author uses them to develop character and plot. Life Only Different is a rollicking adventure filled with humor, the tale of a man who falls in love with a place and a woman.