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THE GOODBYE YEAR: A Novel ~Kaira Rouda

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Four families from a wealthy community in California are the focus of this story.  Each family has a senior in high school and they are starting that last year.  There are some funny scenes for sure in this book, but primarily it is about the frantic moments of thinking about the future and worrying about empty nest.

The voices are both from the children and the adults and some of the fears and concerns are just amazing to behold.  All of their lives are filled with extra meetings and college representatives and for some the cost of future training is so expensive – crisis.  One mother drives her son to be just like his older brother, as she worries about what she will do after her last child leaves home.  She begins drinking.  Dad becomes a voice of reason and opens the door for son number two to find his own passion.

The perfect mom realizes that she has made her daughter her best friend and made up for her husband’s huge travel schedule with this connection.  The daughter is feeling some pressure about being the “perfect” girl at school and working around her pre-acceptance to Harvard.   A strange boyfriend is part of the scene and of course Homecoming King to this Queen.

We have a family on a tight budget and they do not know how their child will afford college, and mom has the whole family on an incredibly rigid calendar schedule, which would knock anyone to the floor in protest and yet for half the book this family muddles forward.

The step mom well is just a selfish mess and yet daughter finds away to keep her caring for her father after she leaves for college!  Actually, all the support characters are fairly fun to read in this story and even the drug problems are an interesting encounter.

TLC Book Tours sent along this fun read and I enjoyed it very much.  THE GOODBYE YEAR has over 70 4-star reviews on Amazon.

“Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that sparkles with humor and heart including HERE, HOME, HOPE and IN THE MIRROR. Her latest novel, THE GOODBYE YEAR, will be released in May of 2016. Her modern romance novels are set on beaches, including the Laguna Beach series, the Indigo Island series and coming soon, the Malibu series.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. After living in Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, she now enjoys the beach whenever possible.” (TLC Book Tours)

Kaira Rouda Twitter
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THE BONE TREE: BOOK TWO OF THE NATCHEZ BURNING TRILOGY ~GREG ILES

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Southern Lawyer Penn Cage and his fiancée Caitlin Masters the newspaper publisher have just escaped being set on fire by a ruthless businessman Brody Royal and are still searching for Dr. Tom Cage, Penn’s father, who is being accused of killing a black nurse who worked for him as we finish the exciting book NATCHEZ BURNING, which is the first in the Trilogy by Greg Iles.

TLC Book Tours  sent me book two in plenty of time to keep right on reading this compelling saga about family, about the KKK, about racism, corruption, the brutal history and the on-going conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassinations and Martin Luther King-the South revealed.

The writing in this story is fabulous and amazingly spellbinding.  As Stephen King says, “ You just want more.

“Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.” (From TLC webpage)

GREG ILES Twitter
GREG ILES Facebook
Harper Collins Review

The incredible “hate” over family generations and how it manifests is fascinating to follow and just how does one help families that are so tainted by violence that they can be changed into decent, contemporary people for the future generations?  Will this kind of family system be destine to repeat itself – forever?  Do our social systems have any impact?

I have over the years often found book two of trilogies to be more of a fill in book adding more detail and transitioning to the big finish.  Yes, there is some transition material in this book and yet it is full of new components to the story and more contemporary problems that are proceeding because of the search being brought to the foreground.  It is riveting in it’s own right.  Another 800 pages of thrilling material and the death of new individuals is spelled out as the corruption and dastardly economic systems are spelled out and more and more African Americans lose their land and life in the re-building of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

I have personally shared 5 copies of NATCHEZ BURNING with friends and the word is – The writing is amazing and thrilling – The pace and details are extraordinary – It is quite the read and perfect timing.

All the things you thought were going on in the South – They are!   It is nearly impossible to put this book down.  THE BONE TREE will not disappoint.

My copy had a reader’s book group guide at the back of the book and plenty of reference and acknowledgement material proves to be extremely interesting.

Book Three will be available March 2017.

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THE BURIED BOOK: A Novel ~D.M. Pulley

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

D.M. Pulley wrote THE DEAD KEY that I reviewed several years ago.  It was a fascinating study of corruption that was part of an old bank scheduled to be demolished.  It was difficult to get into and yet there I was hooked into reading every page and the story was excellent.

“The author is a professional engineer from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who specializes in rehabbing historic structures as well as conducting forensic investigations of building failures.  Pulley’s structural survey of an abandoned building in Cleveland formed the basis for her debut novel.” (Cover)

THE BURIED BOOK starts off a huge leap as nervous Althea Leary drops her son, Jasper, off at her brother’s farm about 60 miles from Detroit.  He is left with a suitcase holding a change of clothes and a children’s Bible.  It is August of 1952 and Althea is in a huge hurry to escape something.   Everyone is confused but falls into place with the farm routines and helping Jasper fit into the schedule.  The cabin is small with almost no privacy.

Jasper is finding the farm chores rigorous and yet he is enjoying the work and the learning.  He is very confused by his Mother’s departure and when she does not return and her car is found abandoned or hidden the stress pushes him into hunting for her.  At a burned down farmhouse, he finds a journal written by Althea when she was a young girl.  The journal details how she was blackmailed into doing the bidding of bootlegger/wealthy farmer and this awfulness continued throughout her life.

The book is quite the page-turner, as I was kept invested in the story and what would happen to Jasper and his family.  We are also learning about what was happening to the Native American’s who were on a reservation in the area of the farm.  The prejudices and the fear of the people in the area are very much exploited by the drug runners and mafia people dealing with prohibition.  Poverty is a theme that underlies the entire story.

Pulley writes like an engineer; precise, mathematical, descriptive and dense.  The story moves forward until the riddle is solved and we find Jasper’s Mother and bring her home.

Fire was an important component of the story and I am still sorting out its meaning and reference.  It was a potent threat.

This good read was sent to my Kindle by TLC Book Tours for review.

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REMEMBER MY BEAUTIES: A Novel ~Lynne Hugo

Monday, July 25th, 2016

TLC Book Tours   sent me this e book for review. It was an advanced readers copy and as I have read another of Lynne Hugo’s books and I know they were well edited, I believe this copy needs some more editing; not the usual for this author who truly does her research and homework.  The story is good and interesting and the two awkward jumps in the story were disconcerting.

So many stories of drug and alcohol problems are centered on the middle class and educated families.  This story was center on a southern rural family on the lower edge of the middle class and rough around the edges. Their language skills were so poor they could not articulate or move their problems forward and they became stuck in a cycle of blame and negativity – a rather vicious barrier.  The middle child Jewel is their only asset and she is working herself to the bone trying to keep her house, get her child off drugs and into the future, keep her blind father and ill mother clean and cared for and work her own job.   Jewel is verbally abused by her family and is exhausted and not appreciated by her husband or his teenage children. Life is too much.  Her older alcoholic, druggie brother drifts home and Jewel goes on strike.

What keeps Jewel functioning and holding on is her horse and her father’s three horses.  She sneaks onto the property to care for her Beauties and exercise them. The several sections of the story that are the horses’ thoughts are quite wonderful. The horses are the key to reconciliation and to the family’s future.  There is hope and there is a possibility to teach new tricks and ideas, when Jewel takes her firm stand.

People don’t know what they don’t know.  They did not understand other options and truly needed the wisdom of teachers and counselors with a bigger worldview and an ability to problem-solve.  There appears to be many, many people like this in the southern regions of the USA, but also in the rural regions of many states.  If it were not for the horses and their love the cycle would not have been broken.  It was not a very wide rift, the family would need more tears in the fabric of their lives in order to fully communicate and see the need for more language skills to create a more solid future.  This story emphasizes the ways people are isolated, separated and forgotten in our society.  An interesting read overall and needs a good discussion to go with it.

About the author:

“Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever” (TLC page)

Lynne Hugo Website
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Lynne Hugo Twitter

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