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MISSISSIPPI BLOOD: A Novel – #3 of the NATCHEZ BURNING Trilogy ~Greg Iles

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“Adrenaline-fueled excitement…A very American epic.”  (Washington Post)

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family and the enemies working to destroy them in this exhilarating final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy set in modern Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’s bold and ambitious story of blood and honor, violence and revenge that explores how profoundly the sins of the past haunt the present.” (Book cover)

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD is another book I could not put down.  I read it cover to cover in two sittings during a rainy, windy weekend and then took a deep breath.  The writing is intense and does not let up right to the very last couple of pages – there is no relief in the speed in this whole series. One is compelled to find out who killed Viola Turner, the young black nurse who was raped twice by a gang of KKK men and her brother was skinned alive.  Turner has come home to die but someone has sent her off before she could tell her tale and Dr. Cage is being blamed.  Penn Cage, the mayor, is trying to save his father and find the truth as he loses more of the people he loves.

After I reviewed NATCHEZ BURNING, I persuaded 10 friends to read the book.  After I reviewed #2, THE BONE TREE, I persuaded another 10 friends to read book one and then two and wait with me for book #3. There is so much in these stories that I found to be true in my younger years living in the South.  I found that there was an ingrained mythology about events and history that I had no evidence for or could I achieve some foothold in making change.  Such as so many Southern folks did not believe that the Civil War was about Slavery – nope it was about State’s Rights!!!  I found myself teaching a psychology seminar to most of my peers because the psychology that the Professor was expounding was not true or reasonable. This trilogy was about what I believed was going on and actually happening.

It is truly difficult to believe that these things happened when wrapped up in a contemporary suspense story.  It is hard to image that a writer from Natchez, Mississippi could have figured things out and been open to exposing such ideas.  Then again maybe it is the local boy who can render change in his neighborhood with stories better than outsiders.  Just maybe we need him to restructure thoughts about government in general and our last election.  Iles is a master storyteller.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced copy of MISSISSIPPI BLOOD for review – It is definitely 5 Stars.

“Greg Iles spend his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of fifteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, including THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL, which hit number one, NATCHEZ BURNING, and THE BONE TREE.  Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries.  He is a member of the lit-rock group the ROCK BOTTOM Remainders, lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife, and has two children.” (Cover)

Greg Iles Website
Greg Iles Facebook
Greg Iles Twitter

Natchez Burning
The Bone Tree

THE VINEYARD: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“Dory was rich.  Stunningly rich. Although she thought of herself as someone just like everyone else, there was no one quite like Dory.  She lived her life as though everything were possible.” (Page 9)

“Michael Hurley holds a degree in English Education from the University of Maryland and a law degree from St. Louis University.  He is admitted to the bar in Texas and North Carolina.   His debut novel The Prodigal (2013) won the Chanticleer Grand Prize and was shortlisted for several other literary awards. After more than thirty years in trial practice, Michael retried in 2014 to write, sail, and pursue the secret of life fulltime.  He lives near Charleston, South Carolina, and keeps up with readers at www.mchurley.com “ (from the inside cover)

From the jacket:

“Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher, known only as ‘the fisherman,’ threatens to change everything they believe about their worlds – and each other.”
“…a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.”

I truly enjoy reading this romantic story / almost saga (can 3 months of summer be a saga?) and the problems the characters endure and muddle through.   This story was so well written it was just a get lost and enjoy the flow of the words on each page.  The premise was interesting too and I always love sailing stories, including water details, islands and the private culture developed by the isolation.  I had one day to read the 375 pages and then I was off to enjoy the beach myself.  The Biblical allegory was a bit blatant for my taste, but then I think many people do not know the stories these days so maybe that will not bother other readers.  I definitely felt I was relating to the Southern Christian experience and it made me laugh a couple of times in remembrance of my experience of these religious notions and how the people I encountered were not even aware that their deep down thinking was not very Global in its capacity – they often chock it up to superiority when it is a mask for fear.

The three women in the story were a hoot to read about until I watched what was going on in our country during this last election cycle.  The characters had a realness which was frightening and insulting and made me think about the 1% boys and girls who will be in control of the country – inherited wealth and no Global thinking.  Although Dory was caring and loving towards her friends, in personal crisis she was downright scary; this is a person in control and setting the standards?  In crisis she was an airhead and queen of the bling, who was very kind and generous to her friends.   Women as sexy manipulators – whew we are stuck in the religious mold again – let’s all go shopping;  I sent my pup jumping off my lap as I burst into a knee slapping happy dance!

The Ivy League produces three more who are really cupcakes to tradition and unable to see the big picture and in reality just want the same old same old of the wealthy cults.  A few clever moments thrown in to balance the boat and keep the keel balanced.  I just relaxed and let go of my cares.

Fabulous escape reading and I am sure the ‘30 some things’ of the world will make this a best seller.  That has left a rather bitter aftertaste in my sphere; we don’t know what we don’t know!

TLC Book Tours  – I enjoyed this read I think I would have liked the family saga about the timber industry in the Northwest a bit better – location, location, location.  Oh how the young are blinded by money and create a strange reality.

A Breast Cancer Alphabet 
The Hourglass
Accidents of Marriage

You Are Not So Smart ~David McRaney

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The author of this book, David McRaney, is a rather smart guy who has taken every psychological study he can find and written about it on his blog.  Along came a publishing house representative and discovered the blog You Are Not So Smart and persuaded the blogger to turn it into a book.

I think this book could be a valuable tool for psychology students and graduate students for easy reference and discussion of all the trials and studies that have been administered to college students and sold to corporations, advertisers and politicians.  Some of the findings are very old, and some are of the current trials and hoops that are being used by the spin doctors to manipulate and persuade people to buy, buy, buy and vote, vote, vote.

I liked the format of the book.  It presented a Misconception: You choose to accept or refuse an offer based on logic.  Then stated the Truth:  When it comes to making a deal, you base your decision on your status. Following up with 4 to 5 pages of the testing done to complete the discussion and demonstrate the truth in action.  I liked being reminded of these studies and learning about new studies being done and it made me think.

About half way through the book, I got angry.  The author did not give us any hope of “fixing” these responses and I did not like the feeling of being duped by so many forces using these results to make money and manipulate people – en masse.   McRaney was so smart about reporting and interpreting these studies because a psychology teacher in college had taught him how to think.  The non-thinkers were fated to live out their lives by being classically responsive to various stimuli created by the folks who instigated the tests.  I felt that the writer was cynical in his approach and I wanted him to be pro-active in helping us discover how to teach others how to think and overcome.

I have 8 pages of notes of statements that will help me market my blog Wise Ears my professional listening services  –  I found value in the book.

I began to understand how some individuals in my own life have such driving “control” needs and why I worked so hard to free myself and not become their victim.   I comprehend that we clearly need to identify people with such high “control” needs earlier in the cycle in order to change abuse and bullying.  I could integrate enough of the studies and information to see that what we presently do is hindering and encouraging the bully/the abuser and how our society rewards these individuals often with great amounts of money.  (Think of large banks and oil companies as Abusers.)

I would not advise anyone who feels helpless or depressed to dive into this book.

I would recommend that everyone attempt to turn off the television and news shows for at least a month and test if this would make a difference.    I have found the books which offer suggestions of how to change a habit or a process along with the studies more helpful.   I would feel encouraged if I thought more people were training themselves to think and question.

It is a very interesting book and it has value and merit.

My favorite quote turned out to be on the jacket:

“In an idiocracy dominated by cable television bobbleheads, government propagandists, and corporate spinmeisters, many of us know that mass ignorance is a huge problem.  Now, thanks to David McRaney’s mindblowing book, we can finally see the scientific roots of the problem.  Anybody still self-aware enough to wonder why society now worships willful stupidity should read this book.”  ~David Sirota, author of Back to Our Future.


I am not going to read this book a second time, but I am going to keep the copy I received from TLC Book Tours and Gotham Book Publishers as a reference.
If you purchase anything from Amazon from my site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Do you ever feel as though you are being manipulated and controlled?  I wish I had some quick response or funny quip to roll off my tongue, but have often found the only strategy that works for me is getting away from “ them”.  I do not have a TV for this reason and I do not randomly or recreationally shop because I can be a producer’s dream!  How do you ignite the circuits of your thinker?

Related Reading:
Eat to Live
The Procrastination Equation
The Social Animal
You Are Not Your Brain