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SHADY CROSS: A thriller ~James Hankins

“A small-time crook is given one shot at redemption…but sometimes being the good guy calls for doing bad things.”

SHADY CROSS is a fictional city in Indiana, big enough to have a crossroads and two major crime families.  Stokes is a small time crook who discovers a major crime gig in progress and this is the story of his crime spree in order to accomplish the right outcome.

Stokes actually makes  matters worse.  He races away from the bar on his motorcycle and forces a car off the road and into a tree and the driver is killed.  Stokes finds the driver’s back -pack full of $350,000.00 and a cell phone.   The money was to ransom the driver’s six-year-old daughter.

The cellphone begins ringing every hour and a little voice asks if her Daddy is coming to get her and they can go home.   The process and the plot thickens and the story goes at a quickened pace; the reader needs to know what is going to happen before the start of the new day.

The writing moves into twist after twist as Stokes attempts to find a missing $102,000.00 dollars that he is short.   He has to keep finding new cars to get him around on his treasure hunt.  He attempts to steal or loan the money he needs from some amazing characters that are interesting and quirky.  There is the opportunity for Stokes to evaluate his life and figure out why he left his 2 year old daughter and her mother.  Who was he supposed to be and how could he have turned out and lived his life differently?  A form of redemption emerges.

I would recommend SHADY CROSS for thriller readers.  The writing style is a bit gangsta for my taste, and yet the story line is good and the redemption theme is strongly written and saves the story.  I personally had a hard time reading the story later in the day because I tried to save the little girl from her kidnappers all night long.  Child victims are not a good theme for me.   I was quite happy that TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced uncorrected proof to read and gave me more time with the book.

About the author from the TLC page:

Bestselling author James Hankins pursued writing at an early age. While attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he received the Chris Columbus Screenwriting Award. After career detours into screenwriting, health administration, and the law, Hankins recommitted himself to writing fiction. Since then, he has written three popular thrillers, each of which spent time in the Kindle Top 100. Additionally, Brothers and Bones received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was named to their list of Best Books of 2013, while both Jack of Spades and Drawnwere Amazon #1 bestsellers. He lives with his wife and twin sons just north of Boston

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THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN: A NOVEL ~Gerard Kelly

“They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.  They’re wrong.” (cover)

The Boy Who Loved Rain is a beautiful story about healing a child and the lengths a Mother will go to uncover the truth and free her teenage son from his distress and open the window to a better future for her child.

Fiona is going from crisis to crisis trying to help her son, Colum who as he turns 14 years is becoming anorexic and is loosing the ability to care.  He is attacking other children at school and has been suspended several times.  With the help of her childhood mentor, Miriam, Fiona gathers her son and they head to an isolated retreat on the Atlantic Ocean in France.  Fiona’s brother Mark, a journalist and artist, joins them and begins researching and revealing secrets.  Colum’s father is the charismatic leader of a church centered on a Theology of Positive Parenting in London.  He is no longer close to his son and lets Fiona figure out what to do.

The big discovery is that Colum has signed a letter of intent to commit suicide by the time he is 16 and this is being promoted by an internet site and his only friend succeeds in following through on the site’s recommendations.  The story is serious.

Each chapter begins with a fact or quote about the nature of RAIN. THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN  contains a tremendous amount of symbolism and a great deal of detail about the nature of the weather and the symbolism of waves and ocean currants.  The story has quite a religious nature and historic connection to Catholic theology and women’s participation in religion within family and community.

Kelly writes with elegance and a poetic grace in THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN.  I could certainly identify with the struggle of the boy and the stress of the family.  The beautiful writing softened the blow of the hard, hard moments and kept me reading every page.   It was not a fast read, it was a stay with it read; I would have lost so much if I had speed read this story.    Helping a child find the way and heal is always a powerful story; I liked that Colum’s story helped to heal another child also.

There was a great twist in the story, that made me laugh when I did not even anticipate its arrival.   There were descriptions of the wind and the cold, that were so vivid, I had to put on a sweater to continue.

Quite a read for those who like psychology, secrets and stories about healing.

Gerard Kelly’s bio on Amazon

“Gerard Kelly is a writer, speaker and poet and a co-founder, with his wife Chrissie, of The Bless Network. Bless works alongside churches in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Croatia and Spain, empowering young people ‘to encounter the God of mission and find their place in the mission of God’. A member of the ‘Theme Group’ of Spring Harvest, Europe’s largest Christian teaching event and formerly Pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam, Gerard currently lives in Normandy, France, where he and Chrissie are developing a centre for missional formation.”

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THE GODFORSAKEN DAUGHTER: A Northern Ireland Story ~Christina McKenna

“You will never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” Rose says… (Loc 92% in an unproofed, uncorrected e-copy.)

THE GODFORSAKEN DAUGHTER whisks the reader away to Northern Ireland during all the IRA troubles in 1980’s.  We touch base with the most wonderful characters the author can devise for us to enjoy in rural Ireland and we take a small journey with a few through their “de-press-shuns” as trouble merges with the light of day and some amazing resolutions.  We are also treated to a good love story and the pressures created by the small town gossip and the marginalized.  Although not so much in Tailorstown, the activities of the IRA are part of the troubles in Belfast and not so far away.

Ruby our lead is stuck in a toxic relationship with a controlling mother.  Her supportive, protective father has recently passed away and Ruby is trying to find her place in the family.  The twins who work in Belfast are fairly abusive also and fortunately are only home on weekends.  Ruby is a farmer at heart, but now must move into the house at age 33 and do women’s work.   Her sadness leads her to open her Grandmother Edna’s forbidden case in the attic and hope with the right words begins to manifest.

Dr. Henry Shevlin comes to work in the Mental Health Clinic as a psychiatrist.  He too has an ordeal to come to terms with and yet helps some of the members of his new community cope with their lives and never need to go to St. Ita’s the mental hospital.  He is a lovely listener and his patients very must appreciate his skill.  We are treated to a John Lennon want to be – Good advice and wisdom provide some amazing healing.

Rose and Paddy drive us to many of the locations in the story and provide the support systems to get several locals to their appointments and unravel confusions while working on match making for their favorite couple.

The characters are quite well developed and yet the story has so much more to offer.  How do we treat others and how does that play out within a community and how does it affect the individual?  How does the child, which is treated poorly or in a toxic relationship with a parent, find reprieve and understanding from her community and the freedom to find understanding into relief?  How do politics change us and play out within lives, even when it seems distant?

I received this uncorrected, unproofed e-copy from TLC BOOK Tours for review and enjoyed this read very much.  I recommend this story  “tae yous”.

About the Author:

“Christina McKenna grew up on a farm near the village of Draperstown in Northern Ireland.  She attended the Belfast College of Art where she obtained an honors degree in Fine Art and studied postgraduate English at the University of Ulster.  In 1986 she left Northern Ireland to teach abroad.  She has lived, worked, and painted pictures in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Ecuador, and Mexico.  THE GODFORSAKEN DAUGHTER is the third novel in the Tailorstown Series.”  -From the book.

Christina McKenna Wikipedia 

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THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE: A Novel ~Tania James

It’s a Friday and I am in India at a Game Preserve Veterinary Clinic and the scene is dusty and hot, I am privy to the film crews adventure into film-making; far away from the rain, wind, sunshine spring weather dashing the tulips to the ground.  I could not put this story down and was hooked into every moment.  I just want to tell you about this book right now.

THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE is beautifully voiced into a dynamic, suspenseful story that unfolds the reality of three characters, the poacher, a filmmaker, and an elephant known as the Gravedigger.  The confusions are absolutely necessary to challenge your thinking into a complete picture of the truth of what we know and what we want to believe.  Our documentary illusions are shoved into the real of one communities experience and interpretations; our perceptions are expanded and modified.  We are touched.

TLC Book Tours sent me an uncorrected advanced copy for review and I am grateful for the opportunity.  Several members of my book group believe that elephant books are the next big wave in fiction; if that is true this on is on the top of the list.

I thought this quote from the cover expressed this book so well:

“THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE is spectacular, a pin-wheeling, multi-perspective novel with a cast that includes my favorite character of recent memory, The Gravedigger, an orphaned homicidal elephant.  Tania James is one of our best writers, and, here she is at the height of her powers: brilliant, hilarious, capable of the most astonishing cross-cultural interspecies ventriloquies and acrobatic leaps of empathy.  You will read this ravishing novel in an afternoon and immediately want to press it on your favorite people.”  – Karen Russell

Tania James Online

A Note about the author from the book:

“Tania James is the author of the novel ATLAS OF UNKNOWNS and the short-story collection AEROGRAMMES.  Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public space, and the Kenyan Review.  She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.”

Amazing story telling and I highly recommend this story to everyone.

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