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HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY: A Novel with Magic ~Christopher Meades

Monday, October 16th, 2017

HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY is a folk tale about a cultish community with a daughter who is different from all the others.  The community is polygamist centered on a very conservative “Creator” figure.  It is also a community that practices violence against females and denies the female members access to the “other” world.  Hanna is turning 18 and will become the fifth wife of a wealthy older man and she is given no freedom of choice and is bound to the leader’s decisions.

Hanna has always had a mind of her own, but does not wish to make trouble so she complies with the rules up to a point.  Recently she has met a young man who has been a stranger to her, and has now come forth to challenge her thinking and captured her heart.  Her mother shares with Hanna the story of her arrival in the community and there is a realization of some magic, which allows Hanna a new freedom and new choices.

“Beautiful and delicate…a powerful meditation on the gift and cruelty of faith, and the redemptive act of storytelling.  A gorgeous blend of dreamy folklore and gritty reality.”  -Erika Swyler, bestselling author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION.

The cult and its strange rules and truths made me rather ill at ease to read about their function and actions.   I thought the group unusually cruel to women and girls and the story made me think about the ‘pure race’ cults of Germany and now the white supremacist of our own current events.  There was reference to Mormon culture, which is much more open but based on the hatred of women in the deep down books and heaven forbid if you are a lesbian today or even divorced and the Mormon the reaction is swift and often devastating.  For the Amish the teens are given a choice over their futures that are not the case found in this story.

The name-calling, meanness and the threat of rape was deeply embedded in this tale.  Not a lot of joy or dancing found here.  Violence looms and roams the woods.

I do recommend this book and I think high school students might find it a great read and good storytelling.   The heroine is very smart and figures out what needs to be done.  Not all young women have Hanna’s magic, but almost all have some kind of magic for survival.  Writing good.

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About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Related:
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THE DOLL FUNERAL: A Novel ~Kate Hamer

Monday, August 21st, 2017

After reviewing THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, I was a bit hesitant about this book.  I was so in empathy with the young mother who’s daughter had been adducted and I had to keep turning the pages to find the outcome and release.  THE DOLL FUNERAL is also a well-written book and very captivating, but certainly not of the intensity of the first book I read.  It was actually a relief that it was more of a fantasy story- the imagination providing survival.

A couple that has lost their own baby has adopted Ruby.  The new mother is not a strong person and the new father is very abusive to Ruby.  As this child becomes a teenager she is searching for answers about her birth family, which, she believes will find her or come to her if she just believes this to be true.  Ruby is acting out and often using fire to make her point perfectly clear.  With grandmother’s death she does not feel that she has a comrade or any answers, but she continues to recite ideas that this kind person shared from her cottage deep in the forest.  We are treated to little tidbits of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

“[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian

There is quite a substantial amount of presence by a shadow figure, which it is a long way into the read before one realizes, like Ruby, that she is able to see the dead.  In essence her mother does come to her in a vision of a car hitting a tree and a woman in a yellow dress.  When Ruby has been badly beaten by her father and put on a train to an aunt’s house, she finds a way to run away and it is in the forest that she encounters a huge old house and children who have been abandoned by their parents on an old commune.  Tom and Elizabeth are doing the best that they are able and they invite Ruby to stay with them in their huge house.  This arrangement works okay until the wandering parents stop sending funds and a fox kills all the chickens in their coop – the cold winter is upon the reader and the story.

We are treated to Ruby’s parent’s story as part of the backstory and we learn about her beginnings as Ruby does and this makes for quite unique story telling.  The love of the forest is quite a dominant theme and all the changes the locals have to make as mining ends and there is no work in the woods.

A very unique coming of age story with lots of little confusing moments that make the reader work a bit to figure them out and guess what will happen next, while still developing an intensity in the story.  I think Hamer is  quite the writer and I am very happy that her work is making it’s way onto our local scene.   Another 5 star read for sure – I can highly recommend THE DOLL FUNERAL.

The title did not excite me and I thought it was a weak part of the story line and not as well prepared, or as subtly worked into the story, or well resolved in the conclusion.

About the Author:

KATE HAMER is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, an Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband and two children. TLC Book Tours Book

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THE ROANOKE GIRLS: A Novel ~Amy Engle

Monday, March 27th, 2017

THE ROANOKE GIRLS is a story about all the girls born and raised at the Roanoke Farm. Yates Roanoke loved his life and his farm in a sleepy, hot part of Kansas. He loved his oil wealth and his wife and her crazy designed house.  Yates loved his two sisters and his three daughters and his two granddaughters.  He made them all feel special and well loved and made nearly every wish come true for them.  Most of the Roanoke Girls do not want to stay at the Farm – some runaway, several die and the story begins with a suicide.

Lane and her mother have been living in New York City.  Mom is one of the runaways from the farm and she has been struggling to have enough funds to support them but chronic depression has overcome her and now Lane at fifteen has been left on her own after the suicide.   The social worker finds that her Kansas Grandparents are delighted to have her come home and have already sent a bus ticket.

Allegra, who was born at Roanoke Farm and has resided there all her life is excited to meet Lane and welcomes having someone her age.  The girls explore small town life and the high school year as they discover the family tree and the reality of being a Roanoke Girl.  There are boyfriends and a swimming hole and some odd characters in the story. The girls are treated to pets, and horses and clothing, along with cars as they learn to drive.  The partial year that Lane stays at the farm is still mysterious and interesting and the weather is hot.

The story shifts to 11 years later and Grandfather is calling Lane because Allegra has gone missing.  Lane ran away without finishing high school and after making a dark discovery.  She has had a rough time finding work but has been able to get a GED and for a very short time was married to an older man, an arrangement that did not work out.  She is struggling and her Grandparents need her home to assist them in locating Allegra.  She leaves LA and heads to Roanoke and Kansas to help find her cousin.  The mystery begins to unravel and with a great deal of effort Lane does find Allegra and solves the final needed clues to freeing her towards living her own life and making her own way into the world.

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of THE ROANOKE GIRLS for review and it is a well-written story with a difficult premise.   There is an element of coming of age, but more about family secrets that maybe well hidden in isolation –remoteness.  I could truly understand this story-taking place in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, or Oklahoma – many times over. I do believe one must leave Kansas to understand the greater world and that small thinking is inbred and tenacious.  Physical abuse is easy to understand and the toughness of character.  THE ROANOKE GIRLS stays with the reader.

“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.” – L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra

“AMY ENGEL is the author of the YA novels The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy.  She lives in Missouri with her family.  This is her first novel for adults. “ (Book Cover)

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MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN: A Novel ~Suzanne Kamata

Monday, March 20th, 2017

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is one of the most beautiful coming of age stories I have ever read.  Perfect for young adult readers and people who have lived a full life.  The writing is like a lovely tea party and the characters are so full and well imaged.  The problems were real and inviting even though there was sadness, which rested in the heart.

Who are you like in your family tree?  Will you manifest a life like that or will you be the mystery person on the tree; always doing your very own “thing”?  Or do you have no family and must truly make your way in many situations and are you invested or maybe indifferent?  What does you lifeline say?

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is about a family who is with the Coast Guard attached to the Lake.   Mom was the Coast Guard Princess of the parade and now has two daughters, one traditional and one wondering about what will come next.  Elise is fascinated by the water, her town and reading all she can.  She is not a social butterfly but does find a friend in the young woman who comes to live with Grandmother a few doors down.   They have adventures and fall into love and ride the merry-go-round at the Carnival.   Music draws them together.

Elise has a Great Grandmother too who seems to be apart of her that wants to share in her adventures.   Great Grandmother was a wreck diver on Lake Michigan, she saw a mermaid, and truly her own spirit.

The story unwraps the mysteries of growing in a smooth language that draws one into the situation until you can feel as embarrassed as Elise or as concerned.  The characters questioning brings us right to the “Aha” moment and then lets us in without saying a word.  There is hope for the joy, which might just come with the realization. Secrets are exposed, are intimated, and revealed without saying a word.

There is definitely magic.

There is the tension found in the teenage life and tension of road trips that might now answer the questions.  There is love, lots of love and not true abandonment.

This story is a lovely capsule of life and living and tells a story that might just lead you there-you know to see a mermaid!    I just enjoyed every page.

TLC Book Tours sent me MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN for review.

A CHARMINGLY BEAUTIFUL STORY

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Suzanne Kamata Website
Suzanne Kamata Twitter

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