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THE WHISKEY SEA: A Novel ~Ann Howard Creel

Monday, September 5th, 2016

A fictional story wrapped around a piece of American History taking us to the New Jersey Shore and a young woman’s life during Prohibition.  It is a story of tenacity and perseverance, which brings a future and hope to a newly established family.  I think Young adult readers and possibly some middle school readers will really enjoy this story.

Della Hope a single mother trying to make it by being a prostitute dies from an infection and leaves 2 young girls, Beatrice still a baby and Frieda who might be 4 or 5 years of age.  After the police remove the body of their mother the girls are left on the street and along comes a “clammer” named Silver.  He feeds the children and then when he sees no one else, he takes the children home.  Silver has never visited a prostitute or worked for illegal gain and he cherishes the children keeping them safe and allowing them to grow and thrive.  Frieda remains strongly protective and feels that she must provide for Bea’s future and eventually Silver’s care also.

Frieda has not done well in school and she feels the sharp criticism of her schoolmates.  After graduation, she sets her mind on being a clammer, except Silver sells his boat when he can no longer go to sea.  Frieda decides to learn how to fix the boat engines and her small town finds some acceptance of a woman with her special skills in repair.   It is very hard to earn enough money to pay for all the needs and Frieda wants to send Bea to College so she can become a teacher.   She is enticed to become a rum runner and tend to the boats that go out in the night to supply private clubs and taverns with liquor.  It is very dangerous and the boats are always working on being ahead of the coast guard and pirates.  The New Yorkers in their private clubs can see the rum runners and the ocean resting delivery ships.

Frieda succumbs to the call of the money and soon has enough to hire a caregiver for Silver and purchase a new roof, clothing and schooling for Bea.   Just one more run…

The story is a fast read and although it does not explain a great deal about the history of the law, it does talk a great deal about surviving in difficult circumstances and when all the ways are cut off as an avenue for escaping into a better future.  There is a lovely love story tucked into the plot and lots of questioning and soul searching.   It is a fine read.

TLC Book Tours sent this advance reading copy to me for review and my e-copy was a good weekend read.  Thank you

The Kindle copy of this book is free at Amazon as I am writing this review!

Ann Howard Creel was born in Austin, Texas, and worked as a registered nurse before becoming a full-time writer.  She is the author of numerous children’s and young adult books as well as fiction for adults.  Her children’s books have won several awards, and her novel THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS.  Creel currently lives and writes in Chicago.”

Related:
Broken Ground
Another Brooklyn
My Mother’s Funeral

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