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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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THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of the Time Undone ~D.A. Hickman

Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Despite a crushing loss…here we have a warmth of spirit, understanding and compassion in a distancing world.”  (Madeline Sharples – from cover)

I believe that there is a need within each of us to read this book.  Yes, it is a well written memoir with lovely poetic sentences and descriptions, it is a poignant telling of a son’s life, it is a sociologic study of our society and culture, and most of all it is an amazing tribute to  a mother’s grief and the deepening of a spiritual journey into an awakening.  THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a book we need.

Suicide is a difficult end to a life and even with a note; there is rarely a possibility of verifiable understanding.   What was the truth of this life or this moment, which made the decision possible?   What enabled suicide’s success?  How will a Mother/ Parents and family create the mythology to answer all the questions or create the story that will bring release to the grief and sorrow?  Dare I intimate that there might be a letting go of the life and only memory left?

We are also drawn into a study with all the pomp and considerations of a master research paper.  We are invited to take a look at schools now and then.  We can observe the role of teachers and philosophy of schools and how the child will react or would have been received differently now.  Hickman catches the restlessness of a generation and the incredible work an educational system must engage in to meet the needs of children and get the “job done” for a future of usefulness and output with reward.   The study looks at the War on Drugs and how the need for entertainment grows and grows along with the lure of the “high” and the demands of addiction.  How does a society remedy this dis-ease and free the individual caught within its seductive nets?  Have we learned and do we know how to stop the progression?  Are we as a people all addicted to something?

There are nearly perfect descriptions in this telling of landscape and interactions and just beautiful memories of family – breathtaking.  There is a poetry of words and pivotal theological quotes and explanations.  Reading can free tears.

This is memoir which asks the tough questions, puts words to grief and opens the heart to an exploration of the depth and width of personal growth and spiritual path-finding and it is “Holy and beautiful and heartbreaking.” (Cover quote)

In the author’s own words:  “How do we better understand the human condition, the quest for inner peace?  How do we tap into the deeper mysteries, embracing challenge and loss as we go? How do we distance ourselves from a malcontent culture focused on excitement, escape, and excess?  And despite it all, how do we deepen our perspective…commit to sustained personal growth?”

“I will always be a dedicated student of society looking for the essential story, the universal message: a path with less suffering, deeper awareness.  Everything we experience is a reflection of the human struggle to somehow right itself against the rocky waves of time.  So on and on we walk…always into a deeper version of ourselves.”

Hickman’s Blog:  SunnyRoomStudio.com
Hickman’s Facebook

THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a part of my personal library and I am delighted to be sharing it with you.  I think we all need to read this memoir.

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THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN: A NOVEL ~Gerard Kelly

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

“They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.  They’re wrong.” (cover)

The Boy Who Loved Rain is a beautiful story about healing a child and the lengths a Mother will go to uncover the truth and free her teenage son from his distress and open the window to a better future for her child.

Fiona is going from crisis to crisis trying to help her son, Colum who as he turns 14 years is becoming anorexic and is loosing the ability to care.  He is attacking other children at school and has been suspended several times.  With the help of her childhood mentor, Miriam, Fiona gathers her son and they head to an isolated retreat on the Atlantic Ocean in France.  Fiona’s brother Mark, a journalist and artist, joins them and begins researching and revealing secrets.  Colum’s father is the charismatic leader of a church centered on a Theology of Positive Parenting in London.  He is no longer close to his son and lets Fiona figure out what to do.

The big discovery is that Colum has signed a letter of intent to commit suicide by the time he is 16 and this is being promoted by an internet site and his only friend succeeds in following through on the site’s recommendations.  The story is serious.

Each chapter begins with a fact or quote about the nature of RAIN. THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN  contains a tremendous amount of symbolism and a great deal of detail about the nature of the weather and the symbolism of waves and ocean currants.  The story has quite a religious nature and historic connection to Catholic theology and women’s participation in religion within family and community.

Kelly writes with elegance and a poetic grace in THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN.  I could certainly identify with the struggle of the boy and the stress of the family.  The beautiful writing softened the blow of the hard, hard moments and kept me reading every page.   It was not a fast read, it was a stay with it read; I would have lost so much if I had speed read this story.    Helping a child find the way and heal is always a powerful story; I liked that Colum’s story helped to heal another child also.

There was a great twist in the story, that made me laugh when I did not even anticipate its arrival.   There were descriptions of the wind and the cold, that were so vivid, I had to put on a sweater to continue.

Quite a read for those who like psychology, secrets and stories about healing.

Gerard Kelly’s bio on Amazon

“Gerard Kelly is a writer, speaker and poet and a co-founder, with his wife Chrissie, of The Bless Network. Bless works alongside churches in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Croatia and Spain, empowering young people ‘to encounter the God of mission and find their place in the mission of God’. A member of the ‘Theme Group’ of Spring Harvest, Europe’s largest Christian teaching event and formerly Pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam, Gerard currently lives in Normandy, France, where he and Chrissie are developing a centre for missional formation.”

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CUCKOO’S CALLING: A Cormoran Strike Mystery (book I) ~Robert Galbraith

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

“It’s a psychological term.  The Johari window.  It’s all to do with how well we know ourselves, and how well other people know us.”  (Kindle page 360 of 550)

CUCKOO’S CALLING is a book group book that is from my personal library and it was just great fun to read.  A second Cormoran Strike Mystery will be released in June of this year and I think I will put it on my list, just because the writing is so good and this book was full of intelligent words and ideas and it did not feel like a 50-minute television drama at race speed.

Cormoran Strike is a great character who has been released from the military after losing his one leg in the war in Afghanistan.  He is working his own Private Investigation firm but is down to one client and struggling to procure clients.  He is overwhelmed and in walks a new temporary office manager, Robin, who proves her worth within the first hour persuading a new client to use the service.  Robin snags this new client who can pre-pay for his assignment and Strike is off and figuring out if a fashion model committed suicide or was pushed off the balcony of her apartment.  The reader is right in the middle of fashion shoots, the contemporary music scene, temperamental movie directors, and the very distinctive world of the wealthy in London.

Can one succeed as a PI taking the public transportation system and working day by day on a limited budget?   Robin is smart and thoughtful and job hunting for a permanent position, will he be able to keep her on or have to let her go?  Strike’s fiancé makes matters worse by kicking him out of the apartment they share and breaking up.  Can a PI live on containers of Pot Noodles, sleep on a camp cot, and spend his nights in the office undetected?  Can he get the answers he needs from the world of high fashion design and the drug and alcohol imbibing young people who work in this area?

I would recommend this book to all who enjoy good writing, intelligent writing, or people who enjoy a story that is not a formula story.  I would highly recommend this book to those who love mystery, suspense reading.   Although, I figured out the answer to the main question of the story very early on, the other sub-themes were very interesting to explore and probe and just as it was getting very interesting the twists were fabulous and diverting and I doubted my conclusion.  CUCKOO’S CALLING is a very good read, top – notch story telling and inspired me to think about reading the new book out in June.

Thank you LIZ for picking this read for our group to share and enjoy.  Good winter escape read and very entertaining.

About the Author:

“Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry potter series and THE CASUAL VACANCY.” (from the Kindle cover)

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