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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.

Related:
The Dead Key
In Doubt
Shady Cross

SING THEM HOME: A Wonderful and Restorative Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

I have just finished reading LANGUAGE ARTS by Stephanie Kallos and just wanted more of her writing to explore, so I treated myself to an e-copy of her novel SING THEM HOME.   I was not disappointed.  The read was delicious and it is going to challenge me to share just 500 words about it.  I am definitely going to read this book again.

I could approach this book by saying the Jones Family was the main characters of the story and I would be right.  Each member was well described and had enough story to make you feel as though you knew them well.  Dad was defined by the other members of the family and did not have long chapters of his life on his own merit but rather how he related to his family and community.

I could say that the community of Emelyn Springs, Nebraska was the main character of this story.  What is life in a small village, which is suffering from a demise of business supposed to do to prop themselves up and keep going?   It is a community with strong roots and traditions – it is Welsh, and the men all enjoy singing.  The folks spend a week singing the dead “home” and truly celebrate a life.  Music is vital to these people and they start singing as to give voice to problem solving and to call all to come together.

Actually, I think the weather in this part of Nebraska is the primary villain in the story.  Too hot and then again right in a Tornado Alley.  What they must contend with and the ways they must be safe are a tremendous part of the towns experience and it’s crucial to the Jones family and the lives that are shared.  Bonnie and her mother, Hope, are carried away by the storm and this changes the family forever.  The town finds Bonnie is a fallen tree and sings to her until a fire truck can arrive from a neighboring city to rescue her.  They keep her alive and now years later she is obsessed with picking up interesting finds and discoveries, riding her bike everywhere and talking to the dead.  Hope, who has MS completely disappears and is presumed dead.  The house is gone.

“When grounded, the dead mothers feel every footstep of every human being all over the world.”  (page 16)

Dad is the local doctor for the community, Larken is the oldest daughter and teaches Art History at the University, and Gaelan, the son, is now the weatherman at the big city TV station.  What happens to a family when their mother is ill and then gone? How are they changed?  How do they love again and what brings them home?

I could not put the book down, I was so transported into the story and the lives of each character.  I did not want to live in their town or even go for a visit, but I so enjoyed the way they used traditions and song to keep in touch and to sing each person “home”.  There was so much meaning and connection.

The writing weaves the story home and the weird keeps a twinkle in the reader’s eye all the way through until the plot straightens out and one finds restoration of the narrative to complete the picture.  It was just a perfect length and had a great ending and I was able to say; “Now the story is complete.”   It was just right.

Stephanie Kallos lives in Seattle, Washington with her big family and works at her art of storytelling.  BROKEN FOR YOU was her first novel and that was quite the wonderful read also.

Related
Language Arts
Broken For You
Animal Dreams

THE GODFORSAKEN DAUGHTER: A Northern Ireland Story ~Christina McKenna

Monday, April 13th, 2015

“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 

Related:
Coincidence
Letters From Skye
The Scent of Butterflies
US

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

Monday, April 6th, 2015

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.

Related
Flight Behavior
The Condor Song
When Women Were Birds
Freedom