Friday, May 31, 2013

Wrapping up Murder and Mayhem May - Blood of the Prodigal

May was a wonderful reading month.  As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I've been reading mysteries all month.  I finished 14 books, and 11 of them were mysteries.  The last two I finished this past week: Blood of the Prodigal by P. L. Gaus and Copper River by William Kent Krueger. They each deserve their own review, so I'll post Copper River later next week.

The Gaus book is the first of the Ohio Amish Country mysteries.  I read one of the later ones in the series first (The Names of our Tears) and I didn't feel I needed back-fill. However, this one, Blood of the Prodigal gives an excellent explanation of the Amish philosophy, religion and way of life, and serves as a great introduction to the series. I can't say I agree with everything that was done in the name of religion, but the story, of a young man shunned, a younger boy kidnapped, and a dead body (was it a murder?) to be investigated by "English" vice Amish certainly made for a page turning read. I'd definitely recommend the series to anyone who likes a good mystery with well-developed characters, a sense of place, and a knotty mystery. I honestly didn't know the outcome until about 5 paragraphs from the end!

Title: Blood of the Prodigal
Author: P.L. Gaus
Publisher: Plume (2010)
Genre: Mystery
Subject: Amish way of life, secrecy, murder, kidnapping
Setting: Ohio
Series: Amish Country Mystery
Source: Public library
Why did I read this book now? I wanted to read the 1st in this series.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Benediction by Kent Haruf

A very special book. Kent Haruf has written several elegant stories set in the Midwest. (Plainsong and Eventide) to name two) .This is set in a small town Holt, Colorado, where everyone knows everyone. There are actually three stories in this book: The story of Dad Lewis as he struggles with terminal cancer. He and his wife want nothing more than to allow him to die in dignity at home. It's the story of Alice, the young girl who has just moved next door to live with her grandmother after her mother died from cancer. And it's the story of a new pastor and his struggles with his own family relationships and his ministering to the town. There are other characters, each depicted perfectly in simple prose with little psychological analysis who contribute to the quality of life of the town and especially of the Lewis family. Ultimately though, it's the story of life and death, living and dying, and of Dad Lewis, his wife, and his children.

Lorraine, his daughter, comes home from Denver almost as soon as she learns about her father's fate. Her willingness to help both her father and her mother is a beautiful tribute to how her parents raised her. Frank, the son, has disappeared and hasn't been heard from in years. He and his parents were unable to come to grips with his "different" sexuality, and his absence is as big a character as he would have been had he been present throughout Dad's last months.

As each townsperson appears, we learn more about Dad and Mary, we see them raising children, founding a business and building a life together. We watch as Mary quietly accepts the inevitable and goes about making Dad's last days as comfortable as possible.

This should have been a tear-jerker, but instead it's a beautiful story of how far we've come in our understanding of death, how helpful the hospice movement is, and how important the sense of family and friendship is in living a full life and dying a dignified death.

It's a book I'm definitely nominating as one of the best of 2013. Readable, touching, and memorable.

Title: Benediction
Author: Kent Haruf
Publisher:Knopf (2013), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 272 pages
Genre: literary fiction
Subject: death, dying, small town life
Setting: Holt Colorado
Source: public library
Why did I read this book now? I liked other books by the author.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More May Murder and Mayhem: Kissed a Sad Goodbye by Deborah Crombie

This is a series I've been reading over the past several years. I especially enjoy them in audio, and even bought this one for my personal collection. Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James are a team, both officially and in their private lives. He's widowed, she's unattached, both have children from the previous relationships. The difficulties of single parenthood, an emerging romance, blending families, and demanding careers provide an underlying story that carries the reader along with the primary plot - solving a murder.

In this story, a young woman is found murdered, there are suspects and opportunities galore. Motivations abound, but so do alibis. Woven into the present day investigation is a back story about children who were evacuated from London during World War II to a large country house in Surrey. The backstory gradually paints the characters of two of the main characters, whose families are each involved with the murdered woman. Only after they delve into the past can Duncan and Gemma finally uncover the motivation for the current crime and thus solve the puzzle of who actually committed the murder.

In addition to the mystery, I especially liked learning about the Isle of Dogs, a dock area of London during the war that has undergone a renovation over the years.

These are enjoyable reads, either in print or audio. Jenny Sterlin does an admirable job of sorting voices and accents to bring this one to the audio audience.

Title: Kissed a Sad Goodbye
Author: Deborah Crombie
Publisher: Recorded Books (1999) 14 hrs, 25 min
Narrator Jenny Sterlin
Genre: Mystery- police procedural
Subject: Murder, London children evacuated during WWII
Setting: London present day
Series: Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James
Source: Audible, Inc. My collection.
Why did I read this book now? Next one up in a series I like.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Giveaway and Author Interview: Beth Hoffman

Last week I got a review copy of LOOKING FOR ME, the newest offering from Beth Hoffman.  I absolutely loved her first novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and am really looking forward to reading this one in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, Catherine at the Penguin Group, has made a giveaway copy available to one of Tutu's lucky followers. Rules are posted below.  In the meantime, here are some more thoughts from the author to help our enjoyment of this new one.


1.) After the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, how did you come up with the idea for LOOKING FOR ME?

When I finished touring with CeeCee, I had no idea what I would write. The characters had become so real to me that I felt guilty abandoning them to craft a different story. I especially had a hard time not continuing on with Oletta. For several months I shut down all thoughts about writing.

One day I sat at my desk and began going through stacks of old photographs. The more I sorted, the more I thought about my family and my childhood on the farm—how simple and uncomplicated life was, how much I missed the big old barn and the woodlands that backed up to the fields. I stared out the window and spent a good deal of time reliving those days, and while I was caught up in the nostalgia, something flashed in my periphery. I turned to see a red-tailed hawk land on a tree branch. I watched the morning light glaze across his pale chest, and how, just before he settled, he spread his rusty-red tail feathers to reveal the full spectrum of his regalia. I got a bit teary at the beauty of him, and then …WHAM! I had the beginning of my story.

2.) You always write so beautifully about your novels’ settings, making the reader feel like they’re being transported to another place. With LOOKING FOR ME, did you decide on the location of the novel—Charleston—first, or did that come later? Did you spend a lot of time there?

I write about places I love, places to which I feel a deep connection. I wanted would write about a farm family, and when the character of Teddi took form and she fell in love with the process of antique restoration, I knew Charleston was where she would ultimately end up. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Charleston and feel incredibly comfortable there. In many ways it’s like a second home to me. Plus, with Charleston’s history of antiques shops and gorgeous architecture, it was the ideal juxtaposition to Teddi’s life on the farm.

3.) You write very personally about the novel’s other main setting, the Overman farm in Kentucky. Being a Kentuckian yourself, do you have a strong connection to Red River Gorge?

The Overman farm comes from my roots and my heart. Nothing makes me happier or causes a flood of memories like setting my feet on farmland. I chose the location of Red River Gorge as the backdrop to the farm for many reasons—its mystery and power are palpable, and it’s so stunning that no matter how many times I’m there, I’m always awestruck. Known for its incredible rock formations, dense forests, waterfalls and wildlife, Red River Gorge was the perfect place for the character of Josh to be swept into the romance of the wild. Paleo-Indians thrived there, and it holds a treasure trove of petroglyphs. Every time I ride the gondola up to Natural Bridge and stand on that massive, nine hundred ton sandstone bridge, I feel connected to something far beyond my comprehension. Over 70 million years of changing weather has sculpted Red River Gorge into a place as magical as it is eerie.

4.) LOOKING FOR ME touches on the power of objects—through them we remember our past and face our future—what are some objects that have held meaning for you in your own life? Do you think it’s important to hold onto the things of our past?

By nature I’m a neat-nut and about as opposite to a hoarder as anyone could be, so I’m not inclined to keep things unless they truly have strong meaning to me. I do think it’s wise to keep things that hold memories like family heirlooms, books, photographs and letters, but there’s a fine line between keeping what is precious or sentimental, and overloading my basement and attic with stuff.

5.) The characters in LOOKING FOR ME seem as real as neighbors that live next door—what do you draw on when writing characters? How much do you borrow from real life? Do you model your characters on people you know?

The characters in my novels arrive in my imagination fully realized. Not only do I see them and hear them, but I also get a strong sense of their spirit. While a few characters might have small similarities to people I’ve known, the majority of them have come to me as the story unfolds. More often than not, I meet them just as my readers meet them. It’s a fascinating process.

6.) Birds and feathers play an important role in this story—where did your interest in birds come from, and what do they symbolize in your work?

Nature, animals and birds have enthralled me for all my life. My parents and grandparents had a deep respect for nature and all her creatures, and from a very early age I was taught to be gentle and kind. One of my first memories is of standing in the vegetable garden with my grandma and having her show me how to gently lift a toad and move him out of the way of the strawberry wagon. By the time I was five, I could name nearly every bird that visited our farm, not only by sight, but also by their songs. I viewed birds as beautiful messengers, and as a teen, I loved reading Native American folklore, which is rich with stories about birds and their spirits.

7.) This is your second novel—what advice do you have for writers and novelists just starting out? How did you find your own voice as a novelist?

Captivating storytelling is a gift—good writing is an art. By understanding how to combine those elements, a writer can save themselves from a whole lot of headaches. There are many books that can help a writer hone their talent, but voice comes from a deep place and cannot be discovered without having an inner ear. I say inner ear because writers must hear their voice come alive and rise from the page, and it must always ring true. Being a good listener helps a writer find his/her voice. By tuning our inner ear to catch voice inflections, mood, and the many subtleties of dialect, our own writing voice is strengthened. I believe the best way for a writer to know if they’ve found their unique voice is for them read aloud something they’ve written. Voice is a complex thing to achieve, but once a writer hears it, they’ll know that they’ve just captured the most illusive butterfly of all.

Now don't you just really want to jump right into this?  It's on sale May 28th, but in the meantime, you can enter to win a copy.  Here's how:

1. Leave a comment below with your email address and saying why you want to win.

You can get extra entries:

2. Leave a comment saying how you follow Tutu (one comment per method).
3. Blog or tweet about the giveaway and leave me a link (no link, no entry).

DEADLINE IS 6:00PM EDT, Monday June 3rd.

Good luck.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: The Names of Our Tears by P.L. Gaus

 Title: The Names of our Tears
Author: P.L. Gaus
Publisher: Plume (2013)
Genre: Mystery- police procedural
Subject: Drug running
Setting: Amish village in Ohio
Series: Ohio Amish Mysteries
Source: egalley from publisher via Net Galley

I got an early e-galley of this by mistake (wrong file downloaded from Net Galley).  I was unfamiliar with this series, and had I believed the gooshey blurbs, would probably not have picked this up.  I usually avoid anything labeled Christian lit, not because I'm anti-Christian (quite the contrary) but because the genre tends to be too gooey sweet for me.

However, curiosity got the cat, and I dove in. This is a first rate murder mystery, evidently part of a series.  The religious connection comes from its setting and its characters.  The victim is a young Amish girl who appears to have become somehow involved in drug-running between Florida and Ohio.  How the local sheriff goes about solving the who and why makes for a riveting story.  Gaus holds the reader's interest, adds plots twists and new elements, all the while weaving in a respectful description of Amish mores and precepts.

It's not the first in the series, but can easily stand alone. It's due for publication May 28th.  In the meantime,   I'm already looking for others in the series.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Merry Month of May- a Melange of Murder and Mayhem

 "Yep, it's that time already folks. Grab your smokes, gat and fedora and let's take a journey into the shadows. The squeamish and sensitive can hang behind, if they would like. Things can get dark, tangled and dangerous." 75 in 2013 challenge group

It's Murder and Mayhem May again. Our reading group on often designates a month for everyone to dive into one of our favorites genres - the murder mystery. This year, May has been declared the month of Murder and Mayhem. I'd wanted to find a gory gruesome graphic to lead off, but figured the book covers spoke for themselves.

Many of us chose to use the month to catch up on favorite series, including cozies, detectives, and every form along the spectrum.

Personally, I'm catching up on Kate Wilhelm's wonderful Barbara Holloway series, getting acquainted with DCI Alan Banks, in Peter Robinson's series of the same name, trying out two new series: The Amish Country Murders (see my review of the newest one here on Thursday ) and Jane Tesh's Madeline Maclin detective series. My reading has taken me from Venice to England, to Ohio, to Oregon, North Carolina and Maine. I also got caught up on Elly Griffith (A Room Full of Bones) so I can be ready for her new one coming out.

Last night, I couldn't resist temptation and used one of my Audible credits to download the audio of Kissed a Sad Goodbye, the next up in my series read of Duncan Kinkaid and Jemma James duo by Deborah Crombie. I'd almost (but not quite forgotten how good these are.) I also got to read the newest Darcy Scott, and Donna Leon -- a newer series and an old favorite.

In the upcoming read pile is the Maggie Hope book (His Majesty's Defense), another Cork O'Connor book by William Kent Krueger, and a Juli Hyzy cozy Fonduing Fathers.

As for reviews, I'll be posting (or already have posted) individual reviews if they're a new series for me, a new series for the author, the book was sent for review, I haven't read the series in a long time, or the moon turns purple.....whatever.  For the others, I'm going to spend my time reading, and give you a series post whenever I get three in a series done.

If this is your genre, it's not too late to dive in....mysteries are a year round read for many of us.  If these are not your cuppa, perhaps some day you'll dip your toe in the water and join those of us who gladly list mysteries as our favorite type of reading. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mailbox Monday - 20 May

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started years ago by Marcia (she of many blogs) who is no longer actively participating but who manages the string of wonderful Hosts for the weekly bloggers who do participate.  This month's hosting duties belong to Abi of 4 the Love of Books.  Thanks Abi for keeping this going so we can all see what's been landing in our mailboxes.  As you can see, Tutu still goes to the Post office, where I wait to see if there's a little yellow slip in my box telling me to go to the window to pick up my newest tome to add to my every growing pile of goodies to be read.

This week, courtesy of the publisher, I got an E galley  of Joshilynn Jackson's newest one: Someone Else's Love Story
  I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.

It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us jut as dead as a really nice gun could.

I though then I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story.

But there we were, William gone still as a pond rock, me holding a green glass bottle of Coca-Cola and shaking so hard it was like a seizure. Both of us were caught under the black eye of that pistol. And yet, seventeen seconds later, before I so much as knew his name, I'd fallen dizzy-down in love with him.
At twenty-one Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Christian mother and Jewish father. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.

Shandi doesn't know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It's been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn't define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.

Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

Someone Else's Love Story is Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem-or what we hope they will be. It's a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.

It's not due out until November, so look for a review sometime after Labor Day, but you can bet your bippy, I'm not going to wait that long to read this one!  I love Joshilyn Jackson, and I'm ready to dive right in!

Then in my real mailbox I received a hardback copy of Paulo Coelho's latest.  My husband and I are both big fans of Coelho's take on life, so this one is on the "whoever grabs it first" pile on the coffee table.  The period of history is one that fascinates both of us, so I'm sure we'll be having some good conversations about this one.  Many thanks to Karen at Bookin' with Bingo for the contest and to Knopf the publisher for providing the copy.

The blurb tells us
..there is nothing wrong with anxiety.
Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible.
Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear. . . .
Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.
July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth... 

Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Quiet Sunday "None Shout"

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that is so profound in every aspect, that shouting about it seems obscene. Such a tome is THE SOUND of a WILD SNAIL EATING.  It has been sitting on my NOOK for almost a year, and when a friend wrote glowingly about it last week, I went to take another look.

I figured I'd read a few pages to see if it was worth moving it up in the TBR queue.  I started reading it in bed the other night (I hardly ever read in bed), and turned out the light 2 hours later, having finished one of the most beautiful stories I'd read in a long time.

The story is not complicated, but since it deals with life and all it's ups and downs, the simplicity of the story is deceiving.  The author, a vibrant outdoorsy young woman is stricken with a disastrous microbacterial disease while visiting Europe.  She manages to return home just before becoming almost completely parazlyzed, and spends the next several years in varying degrees of immobilized existence.  She can't stand for longer than a few seconds, she has periods where she can't move a muscle, not because she's in pain, but because her neurological system is totally out of whack.  She is completely dependent on others for her daily needs.

While she is housebound in a very sterile white room, where she cannot even see out a window, a friend brings her a potted wood violet, dug from her own yard, and with it, a common land snail to live in this tiny ecosystem on the table near her bed.

Day after day, as she watches the snail slowly make its way through life, at about the same pace she seems to be living, she becomes fascinated with everything about the snail.  She sends for books about snails and immerses herself in how it moves, how it eats, when it sleeps, how it procreates (snails are hermaphrodites).  There's a lot of science packed into the 125 pages, but she manages to present it in a layman's prose that makes it not only understandable, but elegant.  In addition, Bailey starts each short chapter with a quote about time and/or snails. For example, "The velocity of the ill however, is like that of the snail."....Emily Dickson. After all, watching and listening to snails is an exercise of time.  Bailey says....
Then absorbed in snail watching, I'd find that time had flown by unnoticed....The mountain of things I felt I needed to do reached the moon, yet there was little I could do about anything, and time continued to drag me along its path.  We are all hostages of time.  We each have the same number of minutes and hours to live within a day, yet to me it didn't feel equally doled out.  My illness brought me such an abundance of time, that time was nearly all I was perplexing how in losing health I had gained something so coveted but to so little purpose. p. 31.
Watching the snail gives her courage.  Learning about the snail's biology gives her insight into her own humanity.  The story gives us all a chance to step back, and like the snail, smell the world around us, take things one small slimey step at a time, and offer thanks for the wonders of what we are given.

A solid sweet beautiful book.  It will be one to return to periodically, a lovely gift for a shut in (perhaps with a snail garden attached!) or an able bodied person who would relish an excuse to stop the world for just a short time.  I'm so glad I received that nudge to go dig it from the Nook shelves.  It certainly makes me wonder what other gems are buried in those piles, both physical and electronic.

Title: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Author: Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Publisher: Algonquin Books (2010), electronic edition 125 pages
Genre: memoir
Subject: snails and illness
Source: my own shelves
Why did I read this book now? I read a review which prompted me to pull my copy off the shelf.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Reese's Leap by Darcy Scott

Gil Hodges is not my idea of someone I'd like walking in the door being introduced by my daughter. But as the hard drinking, raunchy-mouthed, over-sexed, college professor/botanist who finds himself marooned on a desolate primitive Maine coastal island with five VERY type A women, his character works well in Darcy Scott's twisted, chilling plot. I don't particularly care for stories that presume five very strong women cannot fend off one very evil predator who's hiding out on the island without the aid of A MAN!!! But, if I suspend my personal dislike of the whole Gil Hodges character and that "poor females needing a man to solve their problems" premise, I have to admit this is a rip snorting, well-written, page-turning adventure story with enough mystery built in to make it an attractive 2nd volume in the "Island Mystery" series.

The story is not complicated: five women have come to Mistake Island for their annual week long girls' men or children allowed. There's also no electricity, no indoor plumbing (water is hand pumped from a well), and they've taken a pledge to turn off the cell phones. It's supposed to be a relaxing, wine sharing, sleeping, swimming, reading, resting week. Except that someone forgot to tell David Duggan, partner of one of the women, who decides to drag his buddy Gil out to "visit" for an afternoon just before a typical Maine coastal fog bank rolls in to strand both gents at least overnight.

At that point, all kinds of nasty events begin to happen. A mysterious, dirty, swarmy vagrant turn up, (apparently known by the woman who owns the island), essential items (like the spark plugs in the boat's engine, and emergency cell-phones) start disappearing,  and it becomes apparent that this gentleman is up to no good. I can't say much more without giving away the story.  It's quickly apparent that the bad guy is not going to allow anyone to leave the island alive, unless...... and Scott sprinkles just enough clues at a steady pace to keep the reader focused on the what, who and why.

Scott writes well, keeping the pace moving right along. I only wish I had been able to sort out the five women and their personalities a bit earlier in the story...I found them confusing until about half-way through the book. It's a story with a spectacularly surprising ending, and like the ending in Matinicus (the first book in the series), I'm not sure I'm comfortable with how it resolves. I also think it could have used just a bit more backfill for readers who have not read the first book.  It's been almost a year since I read the first one, and I had a hard time remembering some of the characters referred to.

It will be interesting to see if Hodges' experiences on Mistake Island will temper his lifestyle in the next installment of the series. Either way, I've no doubt that Scott will produce another read that is every bit as enjoyable as this one.

Many thanks to Maine Authors Publishing who sent a copy with the expectation of an unbiased review.

Title: Reese's Leap
Author: Darcy Scott
Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing (2013), Perfect Paperback, 216 pages
Genre: mystery, amateur sleuth
Subject: island life, secrets, Maine lore
Setting: Mistake Island off coast of Maine
Series: Island Mysteries
Source: review copy from the publisher

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mailbox Monday - another upcoming giveaway!

This week a review copy of another wonderful work of Southern fiction arrived in my box and I'm thrilled to get this one.  Look for an author interview sometime this month. It hits the shelves on May 28th
A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of the beloved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel, Looking for Me.
Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.
Looking for Me brilliantly melds together themes of family.

I can't wait to start reading this's at the top of Mt. Toobie.

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started years ago by Marcia (she of many blogs) who is no longer actively participating but who manages the string of wonderful Hosts for the weekly bloggers who do participate.  This month's hosting duties belong to Abi of 4 the Love of Books.  Thanks Abi for keeping this going so we can all see what's been landing in our mailboxes.  As you can see, Tutu still goes to the Post office, where I wait to see if there's a little yellow slip in my box telling me to go to the window to pick up my newest tome to add to my every growing pile of goodies to be read.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Miss Julia's winner

Miss Julia is going to a new home.  "Petite" has won the drawing for the giveaway and I have notified her by email.  If I don't get a response by Thursday evening, I'll have to pick another winner.

In the meantime, stay tuned, because Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt) has a new one out this month (Looking for Me - see tomorrow's mailbox) and there's going to be a giveaway and author interview.

Thanks for stopping by, and keep those comments rolling in.  I love to hear from you.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day!!!!

This lovely picture of my 88 year old Mom was taken last year by my niece, photographer Gabrielle Chapin Cowsert of G. Chapin Studios in New Orleans.  Mom was visiting rose gardens in Oregon with her two granddaughters-- it was also a trip to check off the last of all the 50 states on Mom's "to be visited" list.  She's done them all, and instilled in us not just a love of roses (she has over 50 varieties in her own garden) but a love of travel and new adventures.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, to all moms, grand-moms, aunties, godmothers and women friends who nurture us with friendship, love and encouragement as we make our way through life.

May we all continue to stop and smell the roses every day of our lives.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

An astonishing work and one that will definitely become one of the "classic" novels written about the current Middle East conflict.  Kevin Powers' prose is lean, sparse, and raw, to the point of being almost poetic. A veteran of the war himself,  He has captured in this small volume the emotions of two young soldiers trying to stay alive while serving in Iraq.   The opening lines "The war tried to kill us in the spring." set the tone.

Twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy met in boot camp.  As they graduated, Bartle promised Murphy's mother that he would take care of his friend- a promise that haunts his every moment and movement as together they struggle to make sense of the carnage around them when they are dropped into Iraq.  The scenes are bloody, graphic, and often upsetting, portraying the reality of modern warfare.

They keep count of the casualties, convinced that if they can get past the number 1000 and still be alive, then they will survive; but as the days pass, and the number climbs higher, Murphy becomes increasingly morose and out of touch with reality.  He seems to have an insight that he will not return home alive. The ensuing mental devastation Bartle endures when Murphy is killed follows him home, where life does not get better and  we see the terrible phsychological and mental toll this war is taking -- and will continue to take -- on the young men and women serving in today's armed forces and on the families who wait at home.  Only someone who has served there could ever have given us such a deep and haunting picture of this horror in such a beautifully written story.

From the publisher: Kevin Powers joined the army at the age of 17, later serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq in 2004 and 2005. After his honorable discharge, he muddled through a series of jobs, but eventually quit the last of them and enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University, where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in English. He is currently a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will receive his M.F.A. in 2012.

Yellow Birds is a finalist in the 2013 Maine Readers' Choice Award (for books published in 2012).  The winner will be announced in October.

My thanks to Little Brown and Company for making a copy available to me as a member of the judging panel.

Title: The Yellow Birds
Author: Kevin Powers
Publisher: Little Brown and Company (2012), First Edition
Genre: fiction
Subject: psychological impact of war
Setting: Iraq
Source: publisher
Why did I read this book now? It is a finalist for the Maine Readers' Choice Award

Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Paris - A Love Story

Kati Marton is well known to many of us from her work as a TV news correspondent.  In this brutally honest memoir we meet a woman who professes a love affair with a city.  It is in Paris that she feels most at home.  It is in Paris that she finds her most exciting memories.  So it is to Paris that the story continually returns.  That said, the story still did nothing to inspire any awe of the city in me.  She speaks well of restaurants, apartments, all the glitterati she and her two husbands met with, but gave me nothing I could relate to or wish to journey to see.

As the daughter of Hungarian journalists, who were imprisoned by the Soviets during the Hungarian revolution in the 1950's and later escaped,  her roots are essentially European.  Her language skills are excellent.  She tells the story of her early womanhood from the perspective of her student days, then early career days careening around Paris.
There's barely a mention of her first young, ill-advised and quickly ended marriage.

When she goes to work for ABC, she finds herself enjoying assignments around the world, meeting famous and important people.  Her relationship to Peter Jennings, (ABC's European bureau chief and technically her boss) blossoms in spite of the fact that he was still married.  But she speaks of their 14 years of marriage, their children, their divorce, and his subsequent death from lung cancer almost dispassionately.

There is somewhat more passion and emotion on display when she writes of her second marriage to career diplomat Richard Holbrooke.  Together they live a fairy tale, always returning to Paris whenever they had the chance.  His unexpected death from an aortic dissection in 2010 left her bereft.  She sold her apartment in New York, and returned to Paris.

The entire story however, including her confession to infidelity during her marriage, is written with a news reporter's detachment.  I couldn't help but wonder if this was written to justify her actions to herself, to work through some grief she couldn't internalize (or externalize?) or if it was just another reporting exercise--perhaps that's the only writing style she's capable of.  She certainly shared life with two of the most able, glamorous, intelligent, and competent men of her generation.  It's a shame we couldn't have seen more passion in her description of them. It's an okay book, one that is full of information, but to me at least, lacking in the emotion that one would expect from a woman in these circumstances.

A memorable quote : (when she wrote of her mourning after Holbrooke's death)
“For months letters arrive each day.” But Marton noticed a handwritten note, “addressed to Mrs. Richard C. Holbrooke in the tiniest handwriting I have ever seen.” It said: “I woke up this morning and thought of you, and of all the mornings you will wake up without Richard. Signed, Joan Didion.”

Title: Paris: A Love Story
Author: Kati Marton
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, paperback 224 pages
Genre: memoir
Subject: life and marriages of Kati Marton
Setting: world-wide
Source: Public libraries
Why did I read this book now? I enjoy memoirs, and was a fan of both her husbands.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series just keeps getting better. This is #22, and the quality is every bit as good as earlier volumes.  Set in glorious Venice, these stories have it all: beautiful scenery, a sense of the culture and daily lives of the inhabitants, well-developed and credible characters, amusing dialogue, philosophical introspection,varied plots, government corruption, and scrumptious food scenes.

In The Golden Egg, Guido Brunetti's wife Paola comes to him with a request that he look into the death of a deaf-mute young man who worked at her dry cleaners.  No one seems to know anything about him. After asking preliminary questions, both Guido and Paola sense that something isn't right. There seems to be no legal record of this man's existence, and unless he can be proved to have existed, the body can't be buried.

This is a very subtle mystery.  Leon intertwines intrigue with compassion, despair with anger, investigative skills with family connections, religion with politics, hatred with ignorance.  It's not a fast paced police procedural.  Rather it's a measured, steady unearthing of facts, motivations, and secrets.  And always it's the mind and philosophy of Guido and Paola (a university professor) that flavors the stew.  I thought I had it figured out about half-way through the book, only to find at the end that I was off base a bit.

If you haven't read any of these, this one is easy to start with.  Each can stand alone, although they are especially enjoyable reading over the years to see how the characters and their relationships develop.

Many thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press for an advance review copy through NetGalley.

Title: The Golden Egg
Author: Donna Leon
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, egalley, 256 pages
Genre: mystery- police procedural, detective
Subject: hidden family secrets, murder
Setting: Venice
Series: Commissario Brunetti
Source: ARC ebook from publisher via Net Galley

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  This is #4 in the Ruth Galloway series, and #5 has just come out, so I'm trying to keep up.

In this adventure, Ruth, a forensic archaeologist, is asked to assist with identification and verification of the remains in a coffin that is being moved to a museum.  When the museum director turns up dead (murdered?) an hour before the ceremony is to take place, the plot obviously becomes more involved.

These are great forensic mysteries.  There is a stunning sense of place - the eastern shire of Norfolk England on the North Sea, and Ruth's little house on the salt marshes.  The reader can smell the sea air, and hear the tide, the winds, and the birds whenever Ruth returns home.  There is the ongoing story of Ruth, her daughter Kate (now a year old), and Kate's father, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson (married to Michele), Kate's godfather and Ruth's friend Cathbad who channels Celtic Druids.

New characters abound here also, particularly family members of the museum director and owner Lord Danforth Smith.  There is a huge country estate, and race horses to add to the puzzle.  The identification of the remains (or is it an ancient mis-identification?) also lends to the mystery. Central to the story is a room at the museum full of bones that Lord Smith's grandfather brought back (stole??) from excavating in Aboriginal Australia. The natives want the bones repatriated so they can live with the ancestors.

The plot has several twists and surprises, making it difficult to explain in a review without spoiling your fun.  These are easy reads, but not simplistic.  I learn something new about archaeology every time I read one. She certainly has done her research and presents a clear picture of the issues surrounding skeletal remains being removed to museums. I also love the emotional tension Griffiths is developing between Harry and Ruth as the series progresses.  These are both healthy, normal, moral people trying to navigate their feelings, trying to raise their daughter, and get on with their respective lives.  Each book in the series advances these stories and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

Title: A Room Full of Bones
Author:Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 352 pages, ebook format
Genre: Mystery, forensic detective
Subject: Forensic archaeology
Setting: Norfolk England
Series: Ruth Galloway
Source: library download
Why did I read this book now? I love the series and wanted to stay caught up.

Review Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The cover photo led me to believe this was going to be another summer romance set on the beautiful coast of Italy.  Instead, Jess Walter gives us two very complex interwoven stories: one set in 1962, at the time the movie Cleopatra was being filmed in Rome, and the other 50 years later. 

It begins
"The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier."

The central character, Pasquale Tursi is the owner of the Hotel Adequate View in Porto Vergogna Italy.  One day, as he is trying to build a tennis court on the cliffs of his small town, he sees a glamorous woman alighting from a small boat and making her way to his villa. 

Fifty years later, on the other side of the world in Hollywood, Claire Silver, executive assistant to big time, has-been, botox-bloated producer Michael Deane, is considering whether she will ever fulfill her own dream of being a producer when an aging Italian gentleman arrives in her office looking for a long lost movie star.

The story moves back and forth between the time periods, and is told from several points of view. There are almost too many characters to track in this broad and sweeping overview of the Cinque Terre region of Italy's Liguorian coast and of Hollywood's impact on each one's life.

Each member of this cast of flawed characters is a Beautiful Ruin: from real-life Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (the fictitious adventures here are eminently believable), to Shane Wheeler, a screen-writer wannabe whose rudimentary knowledge of Italian lands him an unexpected role in the adventures.  There is a shell-shocked veteran of WW II, Alvis Bender, who wants the simple life- to write a book and spend every summer as the only regular customer of Hotel Adequate View, befriending Pasquale and his lady friend along the way; there are delightful Italian villagers and fisherman; there's an Italian mother and maiden Italian aunt, all living with Pasquo and helping? impeding? his feelings for the beautiful lady.

There's Dee Moray, the dying actress herself and her ongoing story of a personality where naivete and spunk combine.  There's her son Pat Bender (is Alvis the father?) whose failing musical/poet career gives us a glimpse of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it's boozy, drug filled underground.

The book cover proclaims this as a roller coaster of a novel, and that is exactly the term I would use.  Each chapter, going back and forth around the globe and through the years, yields a surprise, adds a layer of complexity (and often another character).  It is a book that constantly surprises, delights, dismays, and in the end leaves the rider (reader?) as breathless as one just stepping off a long and dizzying roller coaster ride.

It's as spectacular as the scenery that is so well portrayed.  The characters are as tragically lush as the scenery is beautiful.  The story is complex, well-developed, and written to keep the pages turning.  It's much more than a beach read, and one of 2012's best books.  If you missed it last year, as I did, be sure to put it in your vacation pile for this year. If you're an audio fan, this is well done by Edoardo Ballerini for Harper Audio.  You can close your eyes and imagine yourself on the Riviera.

Beautiful Ruins was one of 10 books on the Short List for the Maine Readers Choice Awards for 2012 books.  I loved it and thank Harper for making it available for those of us on the judging panel. It's definitely one for me to read again.

Title: Beautiful Ruins
Author: Jess Walter
Publisher: Harper (2012), First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages;
Audio:  Harper Audio, 13 hrs
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Genre: Fiction, romance
Subject: Aging and memories
Setting: Hollywood, Amalfi Coast of Italy
Source: Hardcover from publisher for review, audio from library download
Why did I read this book now? Maine Readers Choice Awards Short List

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mailbox Monday May 6th

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started years ago by Marcia (she of many blogs) who is no longer actively participating but who manages the string of wonderful Hosts for the weekly bloggers who do participate.  This month's hosting duties belong to Abi of 4 the Love of Books.  Thanks Abi for keeping this going so we can all see what's been landing in our mailboxes.  As you can see, Tutu still goes to the Post office, where I wait to see if there's a little yellow slip in my box telling me to go to the window to pick up my newest tome to add to my every growing pile of goodies to be read.

This week's treasures started off with a book I got through's Early Reviewer program: His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal.  It's number 3 in the Maggie Hope series and I was thrilled to be chosen to get it.  I've read the first two and loved them both.  Due out next week, here's what Bantam publishers has to say:

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.
World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past.

If you only get one book in a week, this is surely a good one to get!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If I hadn't had to read this for the Maine Reader's Choice Award panel, I'd never even have picked it up.  The premise didn't appeal to me, I'd heard too many less than positive reactions from my patrons at the library and my fellow readers on, and I just had too many other really good books screaming "pick me, pick me".

I'll be honest-- of the ten books on the short list, I ranked this one #9.  It's not a bad book at all.  It's actually very well written, and tells us the story of a toxic relationship between two of the most screwed up, egotistical, damaged, and obnoxious people I've read about in a long time.

The genre is difficult to assign. It's not exactly a mystery, it's a suspense story in which the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions of love and hate for the two main characters.  Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne are married to each other.  When they marry, they are living the high life in New York, depending on Amy's job and her trust fund from the proceeds of a series of children's books her parents wrote featuring "The Amazing Amy" when she was a child.  Unfortunately, Amy bought the package, and while she resents her parents and their continued presence in her life, she is unable to shed the persona they developed for her.  Nick on the other hand, is Midwest small town Missouri Huck Finn, basking in the light of the Amazing Amy.

When on the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary Amy disappears, Nick, the police and readers of the story are baffled.  The question that fuels the rest of the book is "Where is Amy?"  Is she dead?  Was she abducted?  Did she run away?  Is she hiding?  In matter.....she's GONE.

The story is then told first by Nick as he narrates each day of Amy's absence, interspersed with Amy's side of the story based on her diary which is found by the police.  The story becomes stranger and stranger, and the reader, however reluctantly, is sucked into the vortex of this toxic piece of drivel.  In spite of my hatred of both of the main characters, (and a distinct lack of respect for most of the peripheral actors) I couldn't put it down.  There were too many possible answers to the questions, too many potential villains (did Nick do away with his wife?) and too many possible resolutions to the mystery to walk away without finishing  it.

Be's great has well defined characters, a gripping plot, and a pretty good sense of place.  It's also got more gratuitous sex and raunchy language than I prefer and it's just such a dark and depressing read, totally lacking in redeeming social value, that I'd only recommend it if you really have 8 hours in which you have nothing else more productive to do with your time.

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown Publishers, Random House (2012) 419 pages
Genre: suspense, psychological thriller
Subject: toxic relationships
Setting:New York and Missouri
Source: Review copy from publisher
Why did I read this book now? Short-listed for Maine Readers' Choice Award

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: Canada by Richard Ford

First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.

So starts one of my most baffling reads of the year.  The story of 15 year old twins Dell and Berner Parsons is told by Dell in a reflective voice from many years in the future.  It is a slow read:  the prose, while laconic and sparse, is powerfully descriptive and evokes a mood that puts the reader right inside the head of the narrator. The pace is anything but thrilling.  However, the story is riveting  because there is enough revealed in the beginning to compel the reader to continue even when the going gets tough.

The characters are not the most attractive people ever portrayed.  In fact, some of them are downright bizarre.  The motivations of the parents are very well explained, even if they aren't very laudatory. The father's previous peripatetic military career has made it difficult for the children to develop normal childhood friendships, or participate in school activities and left them feeling detached from any sense of a permanent home.  The twins themselves are as different as chocolate and vanilla.  Dell is timid, completely lacking in self-confidence, and incredibly unmotivated to do anything on his own. He just wants to enroll and stay in one school and join the chess club. His sister, on the other hand, is spunky, fed-up with the status quo, and in no way willing to continue wasting her time and talents on the current model of family life. 

The book is divided into three parts: Part I takes place mostly in Great Falls, Montana and centers around the life of this nuclear but dysfunctional family headed by a failed salesman father who has delusions of grandeur, and his wife who doesn't have a clue about how to encourage him toward some other lifestyle. In this part, the parents commit their crimes almost as a lark, and their already fractured life really begins to unravel.

The book title led me to believe it was going to be about Canada, or at least would have that country as a setting, but it was not until Part II, page 207 of 432, that Dell begins his journey to Canada.  Once he gets there, we encounter one of the most bizarre collections of characters ever presented.  I found this part of the story especially hard to come to grips with because all of the people who make up the adult world of Dell Parsons are just not the kind of people I'm used to dealing with.  The entire section is one long day after day parade of really unbelievable situations, of ignorance and disregard of the boy, of scenes bringing to mind indentured servitude, or total parental indifference, or incredible lack of any official oversight of either child.  I really couldn't say whether it gives an accurate portrayal of Canada, but it does paint stunning word pictures of the geography and scenery of Saskatchewan.

It is not until the rather short Part III that we get the grown up Dell's reflections on his life and how the events shaped in Montana and then Canada resolved to allow him to become the adult he is as he tells the story. In the end, we finally come to terms with all those unconventional situations and find a character reconciling his past with the present and future.

The whole time I was reading this book, my reactions ranged wildly from really liking it (particularly Ford's way with words), to wanting to throw it across the room at exasperating situations and characters.  The pace was so slow that at times I felt I was wasting my time, that nothing was ever going to happen, but then I'd realize that is often how teen-agers feel about life and I was then able to climb into Dell's skin to see things from his perspective.  When I finished the book, I remember feeling that this was really an exceptional achievement.  It is definitely a great book, and deserves the accolades it has received. I've seen many reviewers who claim it will be a classic (whatever the current definition of that is).  Richard Ford is the only writer ever to win both the Pulitzer Prize and Pen/Faulkner Award for a single novel (Independence Day) and he has given us a reading experience that will definitely remain in the memory of all who immerse themselves in his eloquent, lean and poetic words.

Title: Canada
Author: Richard Ford
Publisher: ECCO (2012) 432 pages,
Genre: literary fiction, mystery
Subject:  murder, parenting, coming of age
Setting: Idaho, Montana, Saskatchewan
Source:  Copy from the publisher for review
Why did I read this book now? It was on the shortlist for the Maine Reader's Choice Award.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash has produced a stunning debut novel set in rural Appalachia in the mid 1980's. Telling the story from three different points of view (9 year old Jess Hall, 60 year old  Sheriff Clem Barefield, and 81 year old Adelaide Lyle, midwife and Sunday School teacher) Cash skillfully presents a picture of the power of evil disguised as religion, and the harm caused by alcoholism, secret-keeping, and lack of understanding at all levels of the town.

Each narrator tells different aspects and events of the lives inhabitants of the town, and each brings us closer to the chilling ending, while at the same time giving us back-fill about themselves and the community.  Jess tells us about his older brother Christopher (called "Stump") who is autistic.  Stump's never spoken a word, but he and Jess are able to communicate without difficulty.  In the course of normal boyhood games, they spy on the happenings inside the community's fundamentalist Pentecostal church, led by Pastor Carson Chambliss (the villain every reader will love to hate). Unable to process what they have witnessed or ask adults for an explanation for fear of being punished for snooping, they stumble along toward the inevitable.

Preacher Chambliss believes in a form of religion based on an interpretation of scripture that posits a God who will protect believers from evil--in this case evil in the form of bags of rattlesnakes--and that those who expose themselves to such evil, e.g., plunge their arms into sacks full of snakes, can be cured of the maladies caused by their sins by trusting in God.

Adelaide Lyle, increasingly convinced that the preacher is up to no good, removes her Sunday school students from the church services rather than have these children she has delivered brought into contact with these bizarre rituals.

The boys' mother has bought into the preacher's promises of God's restorative powers and wants to have Pastor Chambliss "cure" Christopher of his speechlessness.  Her motherly love and her misguided sense of faith engenders a huge rift between the boys' parents, destroying her marriage, and driving her more and more to the solace offered by the preacher, thereby adding more tension to the story.

From the beginning, I had a sense of doom, despair, and utter devastation waiting at the end, but could not put the book down.  I even got the audio version--admirably read by Mark Bramhall, Lorna Raver and Nick Sullivan-- so I could continue with the story even when I couldn't sit with a book.

I sometimes needed to remind myself that 9 year old Jess was the younger brother, although never did Cash drop out of character and make him seem older than he was.  It was simply the fact that without the ability to process what Stump was experiencing and thinking, and the fact that Jess had been assigned the duty of watching after his brother, that he came to be seen as the more mature.  Either way, these two boys were surrounded by adults who were not helping these young boys make sense of their world and were therefore unable to protect them.

The Sheriff, one of the sharper knives in the drawer, at least pays attention to his sense of unease and begins to investigate the Pastor, but is not able to put the brakes on the happenings before it's too late.  The same holds true for Adelaide:  while she can see what may be coming, she simply cannot overcome years of fear and ignorance to break down the prejudices and false ideas of the community.  She feels a responsibility for the children, she tries as best as she knows how to shield them, but in this case the power of evil, the overwhelming reliance on a religious fanatic (and quack) is too much for her.

Wiley Cash grew up in the South.  Those roots shine through in his gorgeous portrayal of the customs, the people, and the geography.   His sense of place is one of the best I've seen in years.  His ability to write in three distinct voices and give each of them a unique perspective is uncanny, and one of the strengths of this work.  I don't want to say more about the plot to avoid spoilers.  This is a book that will stay with me for a long time, and one which I will read again.  It will be an outstanding book for a reading discussion group.

Many thanks to William Morrow for making it available to me as a member of the panel for the Maine Readers Choice Award.

Title: A Land More Kind than Home
Author: Wiley Cash
Publisher: William Morrow (2012), 330 pages
Genre: Southern fiction
Subject : Religious fanaticism, sibling relations, secret keeping
Setting: Appalachian North Carolina
Source: Copy received from the publisher for participation Maine Reader Choice Award Panel
Why did I read this book now? It was on the shortlist for the program.