Wild Nights

Fiction - General
360 Pages
Reviewed on 06/23/2013
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

Author Biography

Mary Ellen Courtney grew up in Southern California. She now lives on a small island with a large dog, a canary, a husband with one name, and a pilot's license. Handy. She loved going to school, well, at least after she got high school out of the way. And has had more jobs than she cares to discuss. Prior to writing full-time, she worked in design and in the film business.
She may be reached via:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

When we first meet Hannah, she is fighting traffic on her way to her grandmother's funeral. She is bringing her grandmother's embalmed canary, which, according to family legend, alerted her grandfather to toxic fumes in the coal mine her grandmother owned. Hannah is dreading the family gathering and thinks her mother sees the funeral as a kind of bonding experience. Hannah adored her funny, adventurous father and used to fly with him in the family plane. She was crushed when he died in a plane accident, leaving her, her brother and sister in the care of their alcoholic mother. Now that they are all grown, visits with the family tend to turn into dramas leading to subsequent texts, phone calls and emails, but Hannah hasn't figured out how to distance herself from it all. Her love life is also not terribly exciting. After a disastrous marriage, she is now in a rather dull and predictable relationship with a man who doesn't have what it takes to make her pulses sing. When Hannah's car breaks down on the way to the funeral, everything gets turned upside down, but in what could be the best possible way.

I was probably about 20 or 30 pages into "Wild Nights" when I realized that this could turn out to be a really outstanding book - and it just got better from there. Hannah is brash, funny and wise all at once, and her relationships with her friends are a hoot. The family scenes also play true to life, both the tragic and the comic, which are not always kept separate. While the timeline of "Wild Nights' is about a year, Hannah's life is eventful, and the reader is brought along when she travels to Hawaii on Christmas vacation and then to India where she works with her mentor and friend, Margaret. The descriptions of both places will have any reader lazily drifting on warm, Hawaiian waves, and walking the crowded, dusty streets of India. I spent all day yesterday wrapped up in "Wild Nights" and reluctantly finished the last page late last night, Hannah and Jon and the rest of the characters peopling this work still alive and fresh in my mind. This is an extraordinary work.

Jackie O'Neal

I enjoyed the highly entertaining "Wild Nights" by Mary Ellen Courtney as it delves into personal relationships in an engaging way. Courtney's writing is infused with humor. The dramatization of the scenes enhances the story with good pacing allowing the reader to stay immersed in the narrative. It is evident Courtney demonstrates an excellent ear for dialogue. Courtney's narrator Hannah seems to be quite knowledgeable about life and expresses herself in an ironic way. The first person narration works well and Courtney shows considerable skill in developing sensory language to describe the setting and characters so that the reader will experience ease in visualizing the scenes. Courtney's writing style includes delivering an economy of words, but it is effective in moving the events of the story along. The fact that much of the action is set against the backdrop of California appealed to me most personally. I live in California and appreciate the accuracy with which Courtney portrays the landscapes.

When the story opens, Hannah must travel to San Diego to attend her grandmother's funeral. Courtney weaves in the background of the grandmother's idiosyncrasies and her literary taste - an admiration for Emily Dickinson's poetry, particularly a poem called 'Wild Nights' for the way it relates to passion in life, an arena Hannah appears to be hungry for based on many of her actions. In terms of creating what appears to be a strong character-driven story with fast-paced dramatization, visual and sensory language, humor, and colorful characters, Courtney definitely satisfies the reader.

Lit Amri

In "Wild Nights", Hannah Spring is a production designer in Los Angeles, surrounded by her colorful family and all types of men who often fall head over heels with her more than she likes. Her life’s journey is inspiring and educational enough for women to abide by the saying “live life to the fullest”. Not to mention her late grandmother who posthumously strives to teach her important life lessons that she’ll never quite understand, armed with Emily Dickinson poetry.

A charming story with poignant and sad elements blended with humorous situations. I don’t often find a real page-turner but this book is one. Reading the book was an absolute joy. Everything that makes us human is condensed in this amazingly crafted story. There is something peculiar about the writing style of the author. Its tone is quite distinctive and exceptionally well-flowing. Mary Ellen Courtney definitely has her own style and she is a new talent to be reckoned with in the writing industry. Her characters have depth and they are real. People like them easily exist in reality. The protagonist Hannah is funny, wise and downright witty. On the other hand, I find her provocative nature too much sometimes and I am a bit confused why quite a number of men find her attractive. All things considered, "Wild Nights" is a well-done book and I have no doubt that readers, regardless of their preferences in genre, will get a good reading experience from it.