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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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SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE: A Novel ~Nancy Star

Monday, January 9th, 2017

“An extraordinarily moving, beautifully written novel…I was riveted from the very first page.”  Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times best-selling author of ORPHAN TRAIN

SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a complex and funny read.  The characters in the Tangle Family just pull the reader right into the story and have a gripping hold as you laugh at their quirky thoughts and actions and as you are touched by their dysfunctions and fully actualized behaviors right to the sadness that they must not talk about or share.

The writing is extraordinary, the story line is perfectly linked and there are no dangling particles when you come to the last page.  I finished the last page and the acknowledgements, the interview with Star and went right back to the first page and read it again.  The story is wrapped around a song about a brother with SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE and the strangely dramatic mother who believes she is an actress. The second reading gave me a new opportunity to understand a narcissist’s ability to hold a family together, to love and be kind, while every third sentence is a lie or a fantasy.

Ginger is a worrier, a school nurse, a perfectionist, who teaches night school classes about Danger, and is the one in charge of protecting her siblings.   12-years-old

Mimi is the controller; quick and decisive.  Very high energy and gets the job done. 10–years-old

Charlie is the sports loving brother. 8-years-old

Callie is the innocent wanderer, who is gentle and loving; asking tough and strange questions of the people around her.  6-years-old

Sully, or Dad, is an entrepreneur for ‘seconds’ or damaged Toys.

Glory, mom, is a huge personality who really is unable to cook, and whose ideas and words permeate the household and the children’s lives.

You will not soon forget these children or these adults.

Julia, Ginger’s 17-year-old daughter, is thinking about leaving home, it is in the middle of teenage/mother stress that she learns that her mother does not know where her sister Callie is and that they have been estranged for a long period of time and that all three sisters had a brother, who died in an accident.  This discovery knocks the balancing act of silence right off its pedestal and the whole story begins to untangle.

TLC Book Tours sent me this amazing book for review.  SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a worthwhile read and some fine humor.

I invite you to read SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE – The Family Like No Other.

About the author:
Nancy Star Website
Nancy Star Facebook
Nancy Star Twitter

“Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.” (TLC)

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THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS: A Novel ~Maddie Dawson

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Sometimes life just leaves you all alone. Feels just awful but what is a gal to do? If you are Nina Popkin you just start searching out new goals and pick up your spirits and charge forward.  The reader is pulled into this story of rejection and the glorious optimism and worry of Nina until one is immersed in the possibility of a happy ending.

THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS is actually a story about 3 women and the choices they are making that will guide their future.  Nina’s plight is the grounding to the whole adventure, as in her 30s her mother dies of cancer, her 6 months marriage is now a divorce, and her best friend and boss is newly married and very happy.  Since Nina was adopted she begins her future by deciding to track down her birth mother, and help a recently divorced father of 2 teens find a condo and move out of the family home.  These two events bring out Nina’s sharp wit and also her sadness, which she is working through with a sense of maturity and “klutz”.

Soon in the process, Nina discovers she has a sister; arranges to meet her and she starts dating the fellow with the two teens.  New sister resists tracking down her birth mother or forming a relationship with Nina.  The two girls do look alike and Lindy has beautiful red hair and not the curly, frizzy hair that Nina supports; they discover they lived close to each other growing up and even attended the same schools.  This encounter stirs up feelings for Lindy and makes her responses to her mom tense and confusing.  Lindy is trying to live the “perfect” life, as has no room for these new feelings.

Indigo the teen daughter adds a new voice to the situation as she develops a “Must do” list of rather dangerous adventures and uses magic markers to color her hair.  Lots of hair referrals in this story!   And yet, her “gutsy” demanding demeanor gets the two sisters relating to each other and figuring out some solutions to who they are and what actions they need to accomplish to find resolution.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story telling and wandering within the feelings exposed.  I liked the outcome and results and how the girls handled themselves within their discoveries.  Everyone found a good solution and was left better off as the story unfolded.  THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS was a good read.  Thank you to TLC Book Tours  and Lake Union Press for sharing this book with me.

“Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day-care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.” (TLC Tours)

Maddie Dawson Website
Maddie Dawson Facebook
Maddie Dawson Twitter

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NIGHT RINGING: A Memoir in Poetry ~ Laura Foley

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

I like to start my day with a poem.  I have an email subscription to a ‘poem a day’ site, which reliably sends something delightful to my inbox and I am introduced to many new writer’s words.  I have no expertise with poetry and did not study it much in school as I fell in love with the longer forms of storytelling.  This book arrived from TLC Book Tours in time to give me a full month of reading and re-reading and full on pleasure in the words.

This is the second book by Laura Foley; JOY STREET was the first.   I can only tell you whether I liked it or not – I really liked this book from cover to cover.

The Fast Course of a Relationship

Only last week, I brought her
a white magnolia snapped
from my front yard,
smelling like honey.

A country guest,
she accepted the blossom
with a kiss.  I find it today,
without a trace of fragrance.

“Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of five collections. She won First Place in the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor, who read her poem on “A Prairie Home Companion”; and First Place in the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pulse Magazine, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.” (TLC )

There is an elegant simplicity to the words and phrases that centers the attention and sends a clear message.  The words get through and express what is needed and there are ups and downs with recovery and renewal.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and again and again.  I believe you will also.

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