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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)

Amy Engle Website
Amy Engle Facebook
Amy Engle Twitter

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LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER: A Coming of Age Story ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Catherine Ryan Hyde is an award winning, New York Times best selling author. She is probably best know for her novel PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a movie.  I am always pleased to read her books, which might be categorized as young adult and yet very satisfying read for a wide age range.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advanced copy for review.  It is a very good book.  You can find what others thought by connecting to the TLC link.

Ethan Underwood is a 5 foot 2 inch seventeen year old who lives in NYC.  The story opens with Ethan having just been mugged and is at the police station.  He was born to very competitive parents, his mother is short and his father is tall and an extreme athlete.  Ethan got the short part and none of the athletic/competitive part and he is just wondering who he is and what he will become.  His father’s relentless teasing is no help.  There is a love/hate relationship growing by leaps and bounds.

A convergence of problems descends on Ethan and especially his Mother.  Dad handles it by leaving NYC and heading to a cabin in Blythe River. Ethan’s anxiety blossoms into a major problem and there is just too much on his Mother’s list and so she ships Ethan and his dog Rufus to finish the school year in Blythe River and be safe with his Father.  The father-son relationship festers and grows and Ethan is getting extremely worried about bears in the area.

The writing is vivid and the characters are well detailed and believable.  The inter-generational interaction is once again highlighted and creates a successful team approach to the terrain and the growth of the human spirit.  The dimensions of emotions are well explored and the dialogue is very realistic.  I could identify with the sore muscles of being in the saddle all day.

I have read 2 of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books PAY IT FORWARD and THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS and I enjoy following her on Facebook.  I would highly recommend this book to a wide range of ages and think you, the reader, will find it a hearty well-done story.

About Catherine Ryan Hyde (From TLC Book Tours site)

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Ryan Hyde is also founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

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WE’RE ALL DAMAGED: A Novel ~Matthew Norman

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have you ever hoped that someone who hurt you would find a bit of punishment? Maybe not really full on retribution or revenge, but a bit of pain or struggle – just enough?  WE’RE ALL DAMAGED is about recovery from a big hurt except the struggle keeps arriving at the door step of the victim and in quite funny ways.

Andy has escaped from his hurt self /life in Omaha, Nebraska to land in NYC and become a bartender.  Karen, his now ex-wife just announced at Applebee’s one night that she was done with the marriage and Andy.  Our hero is very sensitive and is left in pain, needs release from his job and to find new turf in hopes of recovery.  A year into his new surroundings he is still obsessed by his ex when he gets the call that his Grandfather is dying in Omaha and he needs to come “home.”  On the way to his apartment, Andy is hit by a bicyclist and suffers a bruised face and black eye; he will decide to head to Omaha anyway since his mother has purchased a ticket.

WE’RE All DAMAGED continues with proving this title to be true as Andy reconnects with his family, his former in-laws and is able visit his Grandfather in hospice.  Mom is a conservative radio talk show host who is opposed to Marriage Equality.  Dad is a retired accountant; brother Jim is a workaholic with two young children. The parents have moved to a new mansion of a house where Dad tries to shoot the squirrels in his bird feeders with a paint ball gun and Mom is working to get a contract with Fox News.  An interesting young woman and a senior in a blue bathrobe with matching slippers enhance the story and give it some bazaar twists and turns.

I had several laugh out loud moments reading this story and was so happy TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/02/matthew-norman-author-of-were-all-damaged-on-tour-june-2016/ sent me a copy for review.  It was satisfying, humorous, and very entertaining.

From the Cover:

“Matthew Norman lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.  His writing has appeared on SALON, the GOOD MEN PROJECT, and the WEEKLINGS.  His first novel, DOMESTIC VIOLETS, was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in Best Humor.”

Matthew Norman BLOG
Matthew Norman TWITTER: @TheNormanNation

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THE ORGAN TAKERS: A Novel of Surgical Suspense ~Richard Van Anderson

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

“”Richard Van Anderson’s experience as a surgeon at the UW Medical Center gives him the ability to write a convincing debut thriller. The Organ Takers focuses on the moral failings and sociopathic behavior of corrupted medical practitioners. The verdict: Read if you like surgery and a standard thriller, but do not expect to trust your doctor after reading this.” –The Daily at the University of Washington”

THE ORGAN TAKERS was a very interesting read and I could not put the PDF/ Kindle book down.  I read the book in the hospital while undergoing a series of tests. I was glad my copy was in my Kindle (as the cover and the title might have worried the others in the waiting area) and I would not recommend one read this thriller in the hospital – the surgery details were very intense and I was worried about what my medical team was not telling me.  I think it raised my blood pressure a point or two.

There is a very exciting part to the story in that several surgeons have figured out how to grow cloned organs for transplant patients.  Now that was exciting to think about, how they were going about the research was terrible and their lab’s fundraising techniques were horrendous.  So many lost everything, and others were driven to the limit of their capacity.  The greed factor certainly destroyed the happy factors of life.    It was a fast read, and I learned a number of things I did not know or understand before.  Although I would not have picked this book, I was very pleased to be asked to review this book and I contemplated the ethical implications  and what corrupts some folks and not others. Fascinating.

Larissa Ackerman | Claire McKinneyPR, LLC
larissa@clairemckinneypr.com
41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930

Larissa sent me a PDF copy of this book which I translated to my KINDLE FIRE and I was able to read the book early.  This was a bonus to have my copy ahead of the schedule so that I could squeeze it into the schedule when I had more time to read. Writing is intelligent and the author’s surgical skill plays out well in his story telling.  My only problem was I could not underline or book mark pages on the translation and I have become a bit lazy in my note taking – get out those 3×5 cards !

I highly recommend this suspenseful book to those who love medical reads and good writing.  If you have a queasy stomach about surgeries and medical ethics, I would probably not put it on the list.  The writing is very top notch and will not leave scar tissue and side effects for years to come.

About Richard Van Anderson from the book cover:

“Richard Van Anderson is a former heart surgeon turned fiction writer.  His surgery training took him from the ‘knife and gun club’ of LSU Medical center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to the famed Bellevue Hospital in Midtown Manhattan.  His education as a writer includes an MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College in Boston, Massachusetts.  He currently lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two sons.

Website: www.rvananderson.com

“And finally, the best way for a book to find its audience has always been, and still is, word of mouth recommendations.  So, if you liked the story, please consider telling others about it, either person to person, using social media, or (and this is the most effective way) posting online reviews at your favorite review site.  Thank you.”

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