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WILD HORSE SPRINGS: A Novel with Romance and Cowboys ~Jodi Thomas

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

“New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas is a fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. She is a certified marriage and family counselor, a Texas Tech graduate and writer-in-residence at West Texas A&M University. She lives with her husband in Amarillo, Texas.” (TLC website)

WILD HORSE SPRINGS is full of the love of Texas and begins with the beginnings of romance between two couples and the sorting out of a love triangle.  If you like romance this is a good book for you, and I know a number of folks who will truly enjoy this book and the vivid descriptions of Texas wrapped up with the author’s love of the beauty of the countryside.

I received an advance reader’s e-copy of the book and it was missing a cover, table of contents, author’s notes and any acknowledgements.  I can tell that the book was well written and the sentence structure was well constructed.  The dialogues made my mind just hear the drawl and the flavor of the country folks.  My copy also needed a good edit as the typos and misspellings were distracting at times.

I like a good romance and a good horse story (horses were not the main focus) and I thought the story of how a community supported their own and solved a dangerous problem caused by foreigners (not true Texans) and outsiders.  The support was fabulous and went the extra mile when a young boy needs assistance everyone rallies as best as they know how.  When a child is a victim everyone is concerned and does the right thing.

What I found disturbing is that this book promotes small thinking and encourages the reader to remain in small thinking.  There were only 2 characters that could really think and explore outside the 10 year old value-programed capacity.  The Park Ranger was a “follow the rules” person and yet was able to go beyond childhood thinking and explore other possibilities from her vast experiences of her childhood and her parental values.  She was a great character and I felt relief in each of her sections even while she was being “tamed” by a Texas Ranger.  She had depth and capacity not just redundancy and a tired old worldview.

I am not sure I want to promote this book, although a good story and I know my romance readers would truly enjoy it, I feel I need to point out that I do not want to share old, small ideas in this current era.  The book has an underlining current about prejudice and hate that many people will not even note or is so pervasive it will not even bubble into the conscious mind.   The bad, cruel people are totally outsiders and need to be removed from the community before they kill everyone. The Sheriff’s daughter has writer’s block until she comes home to find release in safety, and then there is no indication that her thinking got larger and more diverse; only clarified her relationship feelings – I figured she was going nowhere and I did not find hope in her character only sadness.  Dan and Brandi represented security and safety to so many and I am happy they found love – neither indicated intricate thinking skills but then their love was the central point of the story. I would suggest that WILD HORSE SPRINGS is a cautionary tale.

What we do not acknowledge and recognize is very frightening these days.

A TLC Book Tours Book You will find other reviews of this book at the TLC Link and I am sure most will be very favorable.

Jodi Thomas Website
Jodi Thomas Twitter
Jodi Thomas Facebook

Related:
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Natchez Burning

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW: Another Wonderful Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master storyteller- SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is proof that her stories get better and better, all 30 of them.  She has over 50 short stories in major publications and awards upon awards for her artful writing.    I have had the good fortune of reading and reviewing three of her most recent novels within the past year.   Most people would recognize Catherine Ryan Hyde by her magnificently successful story PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a very successful movie staring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey.  Her writing is often cast as Young Adult, but I cannot think of a single adult I know who would not enjoy these coming of age stories and the look at adults though youthful experience and questions.

Most of Hyde’s stories seem to include horses, dogs and adventures that problem-solve and add meaning.  The adults in her stories make a number of discoveries that are life changing for them also.  The main characters often have high levels of responsibility and are cast in a lonely position, which clarifies their situation and allows the characters to get what they need to recover or grow.

Pete does not know that his father is psychologically and physically abusive because it seems to him that all the fathers that are in his community are so inclined.  His father is just going way beyond in his abuse and making Pete’s life impossible for success or sitting down after the whippings.   Pete is trying so hard to do the right thing and find favor and love from his only remaining parent.  He feels responsible for helping a dog that has been hit by a car which costs him a friend and delivers him a new friend and several adults that he can trust.

The story begins in 1959 when Pete is 12-years-old and beginning summer vacation from school.  His father has been injured on the job and is home on Workman’s Compensation and maybe abusing the pain medications and certainly alcohol.

Dr. Lucy is a physician who lost her son to pneumonia during a painful divorce. Dr. Lucy now rescues racehorses, which are not fast enough and dogs that no one wants any more.  She lives alone in the countryside in a house given to her by her father.  She has closed herself off from the community as this Texas community has made being a practicing female doctor an impossibility in 1959.  The community is extremely closed minded.   Here is where the story adds being against “Negros” and the hostile environment that is created.  The Doctor and Justin, Pete’s new friend, have very different value programing than what Pete has experienced in his life, and yet there is an attraction and the resonation of the new values within Pete.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW has many levels of discovery and very well written dialogue. The adults must explain many things from the meaning of words to telling the truth in a protective manner.

I would read this book again.  It made me think about current hatred and racism being expressed in our culture at this time.  I made me think about how one brings about new thinking and acceptance of others; it maybe only through one person at a time.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is an excellent read, and I have purchased a copy for the son of my new neighbor.

A TLC Book Tours review book.

Related:
Leaving Blythe River
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THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE: a Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

“’And in landscape gardening,’ Repton wrote, ‘everything may be called a deception by which we endeavor to conceal the agency of art and make our works appear the sole product of nature.’”

Master Gardener Marty Wingate adds another mystery in the garden for Texas born Pru Parke to dig into and find the root of the problem.  I so enjoyed the first book in the series, THE GARDEN PLOT ,  I was delighted to be sent THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE by TLC Book Tours   for review.   I received an uncorrected, unproofed e- copy so that I could share my excitement during the holiday season with you.

Pru Parke has returned to England to find a master gardener position and restore an historic garden back to its intended splendor.  As luck would have it, Pru and a Police Detective discover a romantic connection and that makes her restoration job at Primrose House even more delightful an opportunity.  The house has already been restored as Hugh and Davina have purchased Primrose House from the Earl of Hamilton.  They are so happy to hire Pru to muster the gardens and are able to give her the hundreds of years old master plans (1806) from the original designer – Humphrey Repton.  His plans are in what is called The Red Book and they contain beautiful descriptions and watercolors of his original concepts and ideas.  Pru hides the valuable book in her cottage on the grounds.   Right away little, strange events begin to happen.

The descriptions of the gardens and the work of digging holes, finding hundreds of roses, repairing masonry walls, dozens of heritage apple trees and terracing the hillside draw an incredible image to the mind’s eye and one can nearly smell the earthy ground work and the greenhouse heaters.

Scary moments begin to happen as are an integral part of any mystery.  There are lights at night and strange noises and then the shed catches fire.  The local newspaper starts a blog about the garden restoration and repeatedly mentions in the post are being singled out for disruption.  The project is damaged and stopped several times and with a deadline fast approaching the pressure is on to discover the culprit.

There is a secondary mystery in THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE as Pru searches to discover if she has any relatives living in England after the death of her British born mum.

The eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex fascinated the gardener from Texas who is being severely tested along with her well – meaning  crew – Ned, Liam and Fergal Duffy, Ivy and Robbie and then all the police.  There are some good pub scenes and the secondary characters add some serious problems and that good British humor and whimsy. The language was fun and kept the pace of the story progressing, developing and moving the reader from cup of tea to cup of tea.

The book was incredibly entertaining and a fun read.  I enjoyed THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE from cover to cover.

From the book jacket:

“Marty Wingate writes about gardens and travel, and she has now combined those two loves with her passion of mysteries.  Mary’s how-to-garden information is available in books, online, and on the radio.  She lives in Seattle with her husband, who shares her love of travel and is always ready for on-the-ground research into pubs and English beer.  Learn more about her at marytwingate.com

Marty Wingate Facebook

Related:
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GHOST HORSE: a Novel ~Thomas H. McNeely

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

“’Divorce,’ she said, “is a disease caused by the lies of feminism and secular humanism.’” (Catholic school teacher’s words to middle school boys; early pages of uncorrected, advanced copy)

GHOST HORSE is a book I found hard to read and yet very worthwhile.  It came in the loveliest package, with a folder full of publicity material and extra resources.  The font was precise and extremely small on my review advanced copy and there were no page numbers.  I thought it was a young adult book, now I know this book needs discussion because there is a surface story and then the recording of societal change which is impacting our current lives with tremendous relevance.

Buddy is a 12 year old boy who is being torn apart with the normal feelings of the changes in a boy’s life, by his Catholic education, by his physician father’s return after 12 years of being away, by his sparing, controlling grandmothers, and by the transitions the USA was making in the turbulent 1970s.  He can see how hard his mother is working and how smart she is and well trained as she runs a pathology lab and teaches.  Margot supports her own mother and is buying a house for her.  There is not adequate childcare or transportation for her son and she must work extremely long hours because her pay is not equal to men’s income.  Dad wants a divorce and custody of Buddy, Jimmy is a physician wanting a huge, fancy house and he runs his own cancer/pathology lab.

GHOST HORSE is about a time when the folks in Houston, Texas were just exploring big changes in expectations and culture and yet it is a place where one could delineate the classes and futures clearly.  The Mexicans lived in one area, the whites another, the wealthy even another location and the Negroes had their own place on this earth.   There were even more categories such as conservative Christians and trailer trash; people spoke one way at home and the well-educated spoke another way in public.  The Priests and teachers were eager to spread the message of anti- change, violence and hate.   How is a boy to find himself and figure out who he is and what his true relationships are; Buddy becomes extremely confused trying to make sense of who he is and what he needs to do?

Thomas H. McNeely is a writer and a professor and he grew up in Houston during this time of turmoil.  It took him 14 years to write GHOST HORSE.   The boy’s confusion comes right off the page and into the mind with the concise puncture of incredible words and feelings exquisitely placed on the page.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, fundamentalism, bigotry, economic inequality, hatred and violence coming at Buddy at every moment of this boy’s day haunting him like the GHOST HORSE – where is the escape?  Would it be in making a movie about the GHOST HORSE with your Mexican friend?

TLC Book Tours and Gival Press  sent me an advanced copy to review of GHOST HORSE.   The story pushed a great many personal feelings to the surface for me.  I was back working at as an Adult Educator in the South and thinking about all the threats I received and how angry people were and how many refused to even acknowledge the problems – how quick to blame and hold on to their perceived values.  Paula Dean, the southern chef, reminded me last year when she said, “we used the ‘N’ word at home all the time”;  she was ostracized.  Our feelings are just masked now and we can see the backlash to change with the election of President Obama.   Baby!  We have not come a long way.  We need these reveals and yet we cower like a 12 year old boy and keep it to ourselves until we find a point of outrage and release.

Thomas H. McNeely is a very interesting person and the winner of numerous awards.   GHOST HORSE has been nominated for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and has won the Editor’s Choice award at Amazon.

Related:
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