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BENEATH STILL WATERS: A Novel ~Cynthia A. Graham

Monday, March 7th, 2016

About the Author:

“As a child, Cynthia A. Graham spent every weekend and vacation in the cotton belt of Missouri where she grew to love the mystery and beauty of the stark, delta plane.  Today, Cynthia lives in St. Louis where she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with a B.A. in English.  She has won several awards for her short stories and has been published in both university and national literary publication.  She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild. ~BENEATH STILL WATERS is her first novel.” (Cover)

Hick Blackburn has returned from World War II and has been elected Sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas.  He is having a difficult time returning to his hometown and letting go of the war.  At 22 he is doing his very best, although he is missing his father very much.  His father the Principal of the local school was someone who Hick admired and learned from; his father died while he was off fighting.

In this small town there are lots of stories and as we mature we have to learn to let go of what we learned as a child and see the moments of reality.  This is quite a study of the good and evil within people and how they use their lives to make decisions.

Two young boys fishing at the slough find a headless baby, Sheriff Blackburn has to put all his skills into play to solve this mystery. He does not have computers or databases or even DNA testing.  Who is this child and what is the story behind her death?  This event raises the spectrum of atrocities, which he witnessed during the war and causes grief and nightmares.

There is not much work in this town and the secondary characters are not as detailed as Blackburn.  Their stories begin to fall into place during the twists as the end of the story unfolds.  The author has certainly caught the small town, southern mentality and the mythology, which can often hold a place together.  The ignorance of the community and the smallness of thinking is well exerted in the story and I found it hardly different years and years later when I was living in the area.  Beautiful part of the country and the author shares the story well

A good read and a good escape into another time period and human interaction.  Although a mystery is solved, the book is a bigger look at human behavior and the trauma of war.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review and I enjoyed the read very much.

Cynthia A. Graham Webpage

Related:
My Sweet Vidalia
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Supreme Justice

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
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STRINGS AND BONES: a Novel ~Kim Talon

Friday, October 31st, 2014

“You’re getting visits from…people, for lack of a better word, who left this earth.  Spiritually, at least.  I’m assuming bodies were buried or burned or whatever.  So where are they exactly?  And who’s in charge of this other place? And how can they just…you know…talk to you like that?” (Location 2351)


Please tweet and share this review. Thank you

STRINGS AND BONES is just the best Halloween read I could imagine sharing with you.  Kizzie is a 37 year old designer living in Toronto, Canada.  Her father was killed by a drunk driver just a few weeks before she was born into a small rural community not far from her current apartment in the big city.   When as a teenager, several “spirits” awakened her during the night to get messages to people who need to be reassured or make some changes in their lives because of the death of that spirit. These awakenings are very frightening; Kizzie is afraid to pass the messages to the recipients.  The voices quiet and now 17 years later they have begun again.  Kizzie is becoming anxious and suffering from insomnia.

Aggie, an art agent and Kizzie’s best friend since early childhood, begins to question the exhaustion and worry and listens to the situation that is producing these problems.   Aggie persuades Kizzie to deliver the messages and supports her through some angry reactions.  The young women also talk about their “love” lives or lack of and Aggie introduces a successful artist, Marshall, to her friend and life makes a big change.  The “professor” spirit shares some meaningful messages about life which are worthy messages for the living.

I have followed Talon on her blog for a long time and we have written letters and notes to each other in email and snail mail.  Her short stories are compact and amazing reads and her photography is on the cover of the Harvest Potluck free e-cookbook on this blog.  Kim’s recipe for apple crisp is in the cookbook and also mentioned in STRINGS and BONES.

Lovely read, I can highly recommend to my readers.  Some good scary moments and ideas shared, lots of meaningful conversations over a glass of wine; a group of well-developed characters which feel like friends – lots to enjoy in STRINGS AND BONES.

“Kim Talon is a writer, poet, professional photographer, and long-time blogger, residing in Ontario, Canada.  When not at the computer creating, she is found roaming the countryside, camera in hand, with her trusty Labradoodle, Charlie, at her side.”  (cover)

Kim Talon Blog

Kim Talon Twitter  @This_is_Talon
Pleased to announce in her own words 
Please tweet and share this review.  Thank you

I was so excited about STRINGS and BONES that I bought the book myself as an ebook read.   Lovely storytelling and beautiful words.

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The Forever Man 
The Sowing
Imaginary Life
Becalmed