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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Power of Song by Anngela Schroeder

A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder envisions an Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy on parallel courses to marry out of duty and for money. Readers will wonder how these characters could ever come together for their happily ever after as Jane Austen prepared for them. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I wanted to share with you a little about the book and a guest post from Anngela Schroeder. And, there’s a giveaway!

Book Synopsis:

Fitzwilliam Darcy was raised to never stray from the path set before him: ensure the continued prosperity of his estate, Pemberley, protect and educate his sister to become an accomplished woman, and marry the woman his mother chose for him—his cousin Anne de Bourgh. With a letter bearing his late mother’s signature, Darcy presumes his fate is sealed and prepares to wed one he does not love. However, his destiny begins to unravel when he glimpses a pair of fine eyes on a quiet, country road.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter of a respectable though insignificant gentleman. She is flattered to have captured the attention of a local squire, a childhood friend, and everyone believes her path is secure—until a handsome, rich gentleman arrives at a neighboring estate. Happenstance begets the unlikely pair together, bridging a forbidden love long past a mere friendship.

In A Lie Universally Hidden, two of literature’s most beloved romance characters are destined to marry for fortune and obligation rather than love. How will Darcy and Elizabeth fulfill their true destiny under such circumstances? Shall honor, decorum, prudence—nay, a signed letter from the grave—forbid it?

Please welcome Anngela Schroeder — who was recently interviewed on Good Day Sacramento — as she talks about the power of song in her new novel, A Lie Universally Hidden.

Serena, I’m so excited to join you and your readers today at Savvy Verse & Wit. My little book has been on a whirlwind journey these last two weeks, and I am grateful for such a hospitable stop to be its last.

I thought long and hard about what to pen for today, and decided I was going to focus on one aspect of my story which to some may be insignificant, yet it is actually a thread tying two characters together. These characters will never meet, but the song, “The Rose of Tralee,” sung by their lips, has a similar effect on Darcy.

We first hear the song in Chapter 1, when Lady Anne Darcy, on her deathbed, is singing it to her beloved son, Fitzwilliam. The words seem innocuous enough when we hear the lyrics from the first verse: “The pale moon was rising above the green mountain, the sun was declining beneath the blue sea, when I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain, that stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee…” The song continues on about two young lovers who are destined to be apart and how the young man longs for Mary, his Rose of Tralee.

I took liberties by using this song in the novel, the main one that it was not written until roughly 1843, thirty years after my story takes place. However, once you hear the history of the piece, you’ll understand my need to incorporate it in my book.

Written by Irishman William Mulchinock, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ is an elegy of the life he briefly had, but then it was snatched away from him. Having been born into wealth, he was visiting his family’s estate, when he went up to the nursery to see his nieces, and he met the new nursemaid, Mary O’Keefe. He fell in love immediately with her. Unfortunately, his family objected to his feelings, and things became even more complicated when circumstances came about in his life and he was accused of murder. (I really couldn’t make this story up!) He was sent to India to avoid prosecution, and stayed there for six years. Upon his return to Ireland, he discovered that his love had died only days before his return. He then married and moved to America, before abandoning his wife and two children to return to his homeland and die alone.

In my novel, Lady Anne sung it as an old Irish folk melody, and that is how William had always recognized it. But, when he heard Elizabeth sing it in the emptiness of Ashby Park, the meaning became clear to him. It was not longer the sweet ballad of his youth. It now had even more significant meaning to him. Here she was before him; his own Rose of Tralee, Elizabeth Bennet: she who he loved, but could never have. They were destined to be apart because of their own social standings, as well as preexisting circumstances beyond, what they believed to be, their control.

The song itself also speaks of the depths of Darcy’s love: that it was not a superficial kind of feeling. “Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me; oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning, that made me love Mary the Rose of Tralee.” A pair of fine eyes, perhaps? Darcy’s love also was not based solely on Elizabeth’s physical appearance. We know that she had more accomplishments to recommend herself, yet painting tables and netting purses were things that were of little consequence to him. Darcy wanted a woman of substance, and that is what he found in Elizabeth Bennet, the one woman who he felt spoke to him like no one else, save his mother, the first love of all little boys.

I sprinkled this song throughout the story, always trying to connect Elizabeth and Darcy with Lady Anne, in an attempt to wreak havoc on Darcy’s understanding of himself and his mother. Whenever he thought things were under control, ­ BAM! There was the song, throwing off his equilibrium.

I do hope you have enjoyed this look into this meaningful aspect of my story, and I hope it helps you understand Darcy’s struggles a wee bit more.

About the Author:

She has a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. She lives in California where Anngela dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Giveaway:

Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (US mailing addresses only), 2 kindle versions (Open to international winners), an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (US mailing address only) and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

Welcome to our tour stop for The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

We want to welcome you to a cut scene from the novel in which Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Wickham are in coversation, but first check out the book’s blurb below:

Book Blurb:

Avoiding the truth does not change the truth

When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.

When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.

In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him.  Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything.  Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?

And now for the conversation:

……………………

For those of you who have a copy of the book already, this interview might have come somewhere in the middle of chapter 20.

……………………

By silent agreement, it was Colonel Fitzwilliam who conducted the interview. Darcy knew that his anger, a deep anger fed by his growing fears, prohibited him from being a disinterested inquisitor and as such, he ceded the office to his cousin.

Wickham had acted stupidly brave for a time, but when at last it appeared the other two men would leave him to his fate, he relented. At length, he realised candour was in his best interests, as well as Darcy’s, and he promised to tell them the truth as he best remembered it.

“Very well,” said Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Perhaps it might do to begin with how came your involvement in this dreadful business.”

Wickham sighed heavily. “Does that honestly matter?”

“Oblige me.”

After a moment’s pause, Wickham spat out, “I was cheated but then again, when is it that life does not present to me its very hindquarters? All is well and good for those of you who sit, high and mighty, who know not the deprivations of—”

Darcy waved his hand tiredly. “Yes, yes, we know your song, you have sung it many times over to any who will hear you. Do go on with something we do not know.”

“It was a design from the beginning, to see me a part of it. I hardly remember the night, ’twas such a bosky sort of evening but the long and short of it was that I ended with empty pockets and then some.”

Fitzwilliam snorted. “This is hardly anything we did not know or at least might have imagined. Who did you owe?”

“I knew them not but could easily discern they were high, very high. They were not the sorts to be easily put off. They wanted their due, immediately.” Wickham swallowed hard.

“But you did not have it.”

Wickham shook his head. “It was an amount not easily laid by for such a man as myself. Ah but if only I could have had the living your father promised, Darcy. Then I think I should have been—” Darcy stopped him with a glare and a word. “Enough.”

“I was given a day to come up with it.”

“Knowing you as I do, I would suppose you used that reprieve to try to escape,” said Darcy.

“I did,” Wickham admitted. “But they anticipated me. I was moments away from boarding a coach when one of the men appeared, and looking none too pleased to see me. A veritable brute he was, and quite undignified in the manner that he took me to see his friend.”

“His friend?”

Wickham nodded. “A friend called only Smith. He sat with another man in a brothel where we met several times. He was there with another man. He did not speak — Smith spoke for him but I had no doubt it was he who called the tune.”

“And what did Smith talk to you about?” Fitzwilliam asked.

“He spoke to me about helping them out a bit. Said my expenses — including my debt from the table — would be taken care of and I would receive payment besides.”

“Naturally the money spoke to you, and never mind what you had to do to earn it.” Darcy shook his head.

“Your father was a good man, I cannot bear to think of his feelings if he knew what you were.”

“I had no choice,” Wickham replied defensively. “Make no mistake of it, the payment was for my silence. If I had refused my task, I should not have left the room under my own power — of this I can assure you.”

“So you took the money, that much we know.” Fitzwilliam leant forward, fixing Wickham in a steely blue gaze. “But my question is: did you do what they asked?”

Author Bio:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pa.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.  Join her on GoodReads, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Guest Review: Black Hills by Dan Simmons

The week takes us to South Dakota with Black Hills by Dan Simmons (audio book narrated by Erik Davies and Michael McConnohie)

Entertainment Weekly says – “Black Hills breathes life into the tale of a Sioux warrior believed General Custer’s ghost entered him at Little Big Horn.”

Review by Laura of 125Pages

three-half-stars  3.5 Stars

Black Hills was a very interesting listen. It follows Paha Sapa a 10 year-old Sioux boy as he rides through the aftermath of the battle of Little Big Horn, to his time working on the construction of Mt. Rushmore, to his last days. Now interesting doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad, it was different. The first thing to note is the time line of the story. It begins when he is 10 then the next chapter he is in his late 60’s, then he is a man in his 20’s. It took a few chapters to figure out the time line and honestly it would have made an easier time of it if the tale had not jumped back and forth as it did. The second thing to note is that Paha Sapa believes that the ghost of General Custer enters him at the battle and he spends his life listening to the voice in his head. Okay…. that happened. It actually detracted from the main story and the letters from Custer to his wife were pretty graphic and not in a good way. I’m not sure if they were included to add some spice to the tale, but I don’t need to hear about Custer’s sex life and manhood *shudder*. Item three, was the immense length. The audio book was well over 20 hours and at times I grew frustrated with the needless antidotes and facts ( the Chicago’s World Fair had lots of stuff and you will hear about it all). Now on to the good things, the world building was superb and the images the story created were vivid. Paha Sapa is a character that felt deeply and I loved the emotion in him.

Black Hills is a book to read if you have a lot of time and are okay with being bogged down by details. The lush scenery it evoked was superb and I truly felt a part of Paha Sapa’s life. At the end I really did enjoy it, but a good 1/3 of the book was unnecessary to get the heart of the story across.

Favorite lines – Then the young men, streaming blood on their painted chests and backs, would stand and begin their dancing and chanting, leaning back from or toward the sacred tree so that their bodies were often suspended totally by the rawhide and horn under their muscles. And always they stared at the sun as they danced and chanted.

Guest Review: Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

This week takes us to North Carolina. Entertainment Weekly says – “A boy named Jim come of age during the depression in a secluded North Carolina hamlet where the state’s history looms large and maps of the Confederacy still hang in his classroom.”

Review by Laura of 125Pages

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley is a sweet tale of a young man that begins on his 10th birthday and ends on his 11th. Jim Glass has a mother and three uncles that raise him in tiny Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim is an ordinary boy, obsessed with baseball, fascinated with the train that comes through the town, and palling around with his friend Penn. His father died just before he was born and he relies on his uncles for his manly needs and his mother for love and comfort.

It was very interesting to me how the location played almost a separate character. Earley ensured that the landscape was detailed and well described.

The closer they drew to the mountain, the more uneven the land became. White outcroppings of quartz began to spill from the red banks along the side of the road. The road pitched up and down over short, steep hills, on the sides of which clung upland farms. Corn and sweet potatoes and small, cash patches of tobacco and cotton grew in terraced fields that carefully followed the contours of the hills.

Jim is a character that is simple and sweet. He feels deeply and is not afraid to show his emotions. I particularly enjoyed the internal dialogue he had while trying to figure out what to say to a boy stricken with polio. The vivid descriptions and picture of a small, mostly idyllic, town made me enjoy the book more than I thought I would. This was a quick read and while I enjoyed it, I will not read the second in the series as it did not suck me in enough.

Favorite lines – Once Amos died, Jim’s father would become as ancient and faceless as a man in the Bible, a man walking away until he is finally impossible to see. Once Amos was gone, Jim would be alone in the world in a way he had never been alone before.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn’s poetry has been reviewed on the blog before, and I’m happy to welcome him (whom I interviewed for 32 Poems) today as he discusses how he became a writer.

His latest collection, Dear Almost, recently toured with Poetic Book Tours this fall.  This collection is an emotional poem that reflects on miscarriage and its impact on those left behind and the small person who never fully developed to experience all that life has to offer.

About the book:

Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, the poet traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima.

As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse, Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Please give Matthew Thorburn a warm welcome:

Thanks so much for inviting me to share a guest post for Dear Almost, my new book of poetry. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my reading/writing life and what led me to become a writer.

It’s hard to remember a defining moment—as if I have just always wanted to be a writer, which seems pretty much true. Books have been important to me for as long as I can remember. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve them: listening to my dad and mom read stories to me, listening to stories on records and cassettes (remember those?), working my way through The Wind in the Willows and The Mouse and the Motorcycle and, eventually, just about all of the Hardy Boys books as a school kid. (What a thrilling discovery it was to read my first Hardy Boys mystery, love it, and then see there were thirty more on the classroom bookshelf.)

I sometimes think growing up as an only child made me more likely to enjoy the worlds of imagination that books offer—and more likely to want to create my own as a writer—though of course plenty of wonderful writers have siblings. However, I can pinpoint two experiences that got me started on the path to writing poems.

First, I fell in love as a reader. I remember one day in eleventh grade literature class we were reading Antigone aloud. Since I hadn’t been assigned a part, and didn’t really like the play (Sorry, Ms. Sullivan!), I was flipping through our textbook when I happened upon Allen Ginsberg’s poem “First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels” and, on the next page, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Fortune has its cookies to give out.” I had enjoyed reading Frost, Dickinson, W.C. Williams, and other poets in American Lit class the year before, but these poems were something different.

I was blown away by the sense of immediacy and the impressionistic details in Ginsberg’s poem, the way he telegraphs the scene to us in images—and I loved Ferlinghetti’s sense of nostalgia and romance, and the quiet, tender humor in his poem. Both poets made a place and time I’d never experienced feel familiar and immediate. It wasn’t long before I got my mom to drive me to Jocundry’s Books, out by the Michigan State University campus, where I picked up the pocket-size City Lights editions of Ginsberg’s Howl and Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of the Gone World. These books still mean a great deal to me as a writer.

Second, I found a supportive, encouraging community in which to write. In my senior year, our AP English class took part in the International Poetry Guild (IPG), an initiative run by the Interactive Communications & Simulations (ICS) group at the University of Michigan’s School of Education.

IPG brings together students at schools in the United States and around the world to write poems, share and discuss their work online, and give each other constructive feedback and encouragement. Students at the university also serve as mentors, critiquing the poets’ work and fostering an ongoing discussion of the creative process. Each school also edits, designs, and publishes a journal of student poems at the end of the year.

Keep in mind, though, that I went to high school in the late 1980s/early 1990s. IPG truly was an innovative idea in those days of dial-up modems and bulletin board systems. Today, IPG operates via the web. But amazing as it seems now, back then I’d never seen a website or sent an email. The whole enterprise had an air of mysteriousness and wonder. My friend Laura, our communications editor, would download and print out a new batch of poems and responses for us each day, then upload our latest poems so the other schools could read them.

Participating in IPG gave me my first real sense that there were others like me, at my school and around the world, who liked to write poems and were interested in reading each other’s work. It was also my first taste of how technology can bring writers and readers together—through a blog like this one, for instance. IPG provided an irresistible mix of opportunity and encouragement, a place and time dedicated to poetry.

I wrote so many poems that year. They were the poems of a seventeen-year- old, and I probably wouldn’t want to re-read them now (or have you read them). But IPG marked the beginning of my poetic apprenticeship, laying the groundwork for the nearly 25 years of poem-writing that have followed (and the many more years of writing I hope are still to come). I’ll always be grateful to my AP English teacher Jan Kesel, who got our school involved in IPG and encouraged us to make the most of it, and Jeff Stanzler, who directs ICS and was the guiding spirit behind IPG. They are two of the shining stars in my sky.

About the Poet:

Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poetry, including the book-length poem Dear Almost (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House Press, 2015), winner of the Coal Hill Review chapbook competition. His previous collections include This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser Press, 2013), Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012), Subject to Change, and an earlier chapbook, the long poem Disappears in the Rain (Parlor City Press, 2009). His work has been recognized with a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His interviews with writers appear on the Ploughshares blog as a monthly feature. He lives in New York City, where he works in corporate communications.

GIVEAWAY: U.S./Canada residents only. Deadline Dec. 7, 2016

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Guest Review: A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

State of Wisconsin: A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
— Review by Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

amapofworldSynopsis:

One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family’s shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma is prone to inexplicable fits of rage, her husband Howard distrusts her maternal competence, and Prairie Center’s tight-knit suburban community shows no signs of warming to “those hippies who think they can run a farm.”

A loner by nature, Alice is torn between a yearning for solitude coupled with a deep need to be at the center of a perfect family. On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice’s turn to watch her neighbor’s two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor’s daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm’s pond, and Alice – whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance – becomes the perfect scapegoat. At the same time, a seemingly trivial incident from Alice’s past resurfaces and takes on gigantic proportions, leading the Goodwins far from Lizzy’s death into a maze of guilt and doubt culminating in a harrowing court trial and the family’s shattering downfall.

Review:

An outstanding depiction of dairy farm life in Wisconsin. I am from the state of Wisconsin and was curious of how this book could represent our fine dairy state. I can say that the descriptions and the feel of Howard’s daily farm life run true for dairy farmers. I was raised on a dairy farm and slipped back into my childhood where I milked cows by hand. I could smell the farm smells she was describing and I felt nostalgic for a time in the past that many people will never know or understand. To this day I have friends who are farmers who feel like Howard. Who yearn to smell the dirt, till the soil and have mannerisms much like him.

In my experience there is also a small mindedness in small towns as well and this story shows how this can effect and destroy families. During the course of this book the story brought up old feelings from the past and it was a hard read for me. I will say that it is well written and speaks truth of subjects most don’t talk about. It shows how some people who have been wronged have a huge capacity of forgiveness and that some can’t or never will forgive themselves or others.

This book is about being afraid to say the truth or not wanting to hear the truth. Even more it’s about standing behind someone even if you don’t know the truth. It shows that love can be taken for granted, felt but never shared and it can be renewed over time through the fires of life. That sometimes the people you fear the most are the ones with the saddest story.

Though there were times I felt it got a tad slow the overall book is very emotional and in the end I was still wondering “is this considered a happy ending” because all I could do was cry for Howard, Alice and Theresa.

I give this 4 STARS and recommend it for all readers of fiction.

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Guest Review: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

West Virginia:  Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A brilliant novel that captures the dusty, dark, and beautiful world of small-time horse racing, where trainers, jockeys, grooms and grifters vie for what little luck is offered at a run-down West Virginia track.

lordmisruleReviewed by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This won the National Book Award. How fun is that? I was looking forward to reading this because not only did it win that award, but it is about horse-riding. My dad and his siblings grew up with animals. My dad’s dad grew up on a farm. My daughter loves horses and has rode a horse a few times. I grew up with horses at my church. So, I was especially excited to read a novel about horses.

However, it was not quite what I expected. Although I am not sure what I expected. Black beauty perhaps? Black beauty this was not. This was gritty and dirty (pun not intended). There was drug use (both illegal and legal) that surprised me. There was also gambling (although there was a track, so I can’t be surprised there), and characters that you typically would not want as your neighbors, but may not know; if they were. Although the story was intense and new to me, I am not sure I care for this type of story. I may not have been the right reader for this book, but I am glad I read it and gave it a shot.

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Guest Review: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

North Dakota: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

— Reviewed by Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

Synopsis:

The first of Louise Erdrich’s polysymphonic novels set in North Dakota — a fictional landscape that, in Erdrich’s hands, has become iconic — Love Medicine is the story of three generations of Ojibwe families. Set against the tumultuous politics of the reservation, the lives of the Kashpaws and the Lamartines are a testament to the endurance of a people and the sorrows of history.

love-medicine4 Star Review:

Wow is all I can say because I was not expecting this to be such a good read. Having chosen to read this because I am part Cherokee and into anything that is about Native Americans, I found it filled with tradition and expansive descriptions.

In the beginning there was a point where I got confused with all the people in this book. Thankfully the author did a supreme job of keeping the reader clear in each storyline as the book wove through generations of these families lives with a family tree included in the book.

As in all families there are twists and turns to the stories and the crossing of family lines creating great drama in each short story. What is obvious to this reader is the great care the writer takes in explaining with compassion and non-judgement the cause and effects of each characters actions through three generations. I never felt like judging their lives or criticizing their life decisions.

Reading this was powerful and filled me with many emotions and at the end of the book I can’t explain why but I want to cry and as I prepare this review I still feel like crying.

I give it 4 STARS and recommend you give it a read.

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Guest Review: A Death in the Family by James Agee

Tennessee — A Death in the Family by James Agee

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Published in 1957, two years after its author’s death at the age of forty-five, A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident– a tragedy that destroys not only a life but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion, A Death in the Family is a masterpiece of American literature.

deathfamilyReview by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This autobiography was hard to put down. It was well-written, gripping, and so sad. Even though this was a tragic story, it was so compelling, loving, and very relatable to others. However, because this is a very sad and depressing book, it is important (I think) to take breaks and read this at a pace because this book is very emotional and full of anguish, it is easy to internalize the words inwards. The writing was sovereign and somber.

Yes, this is a good read, however, it is a depressing read.

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Guest Review: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

New Mexico: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a proud stranger in his native land.

He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.

house-dawnReview by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This was a new kind of read for me. It was different. I’m still sort of reeling from the book. This book felt very political for me. Which I wasn’t expecting with in turn left a bitter taste in my mouth because then it felt that the author had an agenda that he wasn’t willing to divulge to his readers. I wanted to enjoy the book, but it seemed mundane and wordy to me. I hope to read this again soon, and hopefully get a better feel, a deeper sense of what the author was trying to convey. I did find it well written (minus the wordy-ness) and poetic, and even though this can be read in one sitting, I would recommend reading this more than once to better understand the contents, the quotes, the characters, and their relationships.

I do recommend this book.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

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Guest Review: Spartina by John Casey

This week takes us to Rhode Island with Spartina by John Casey.

— review by 125Pages

Entertainment Weekly says, “Dick Pierce works in Narragansett Bay, but his true passion is is the unfinished boat in his backyard. The tale may be standard, but Casey’s lyrical descriptions of the Rhode Island sea are anything but.”

“If Rhode Island were a country, it would be part of the Third World. The largest employer is the military. Tourism is the major moneymaker, although most Rhode Islanders benefit from it only in service positions. The bulk of choice real estate is in the form of second homes or resorts run by absentee corporations. “There is a seafaring tradition, and there is—still—a fishing fleet. By comparison to the high-tech factory ships of Russia, East or West Germany, Japan, or the tuna clippers of our own West Coast, the boats and methods are quaint. But it is still possible—barely possible—to wrest a living from the sea.”

spartinaSpartina is one of those books that should be a total winner. Poetic writing, vivid descriptions, a real world to sink into.

A blue heron wading in the marsh on her stilts, apparently out for a stroll—suddenly freezing. An imperceptible tilt of her head—her long neck cocking without moving. No, nothing this time. Wade, pose. Abruptly, a new picture—a fish bisected by her bisected beak. Widening ripples, but the heron, the pool, the marsh, the sky serene. The clouds slid across the light, the fish into the dark.

Unfortunately, the main character Dick Pierce was just an ass. He was at first a crusty older man and I was fine with that. He had very much of a him versus the world attitude and believed that anyone from money was to be looked down at. He ran some cons and did a few shady deals, but he did it to support his wife and children. Nothing wrong with that, he was doing his best to survive. Then the story took an turn and I lost all respect for good ol’ Dick. He began to match his name and started a torrid affair with a woman in the neighborhood. First, I hate when adultery is used as a plot point. I have no patience with it and hate reading about it. Second, he had absolutely no remorse about his actions. He did not care if he was going to hurt the woman he promised to cherish or his children. Other stuff happened that was interesting, but I could not move past my hatred of Dick to enjoy the story. In the end he sadly did not get the comeuppance he should have and Dick continued to be just that as he sailed off into the sunset.

three-stars

rhodeisland

Guest Review: Rabbit, Run by John Updike

rabbitrunRabbit, Run by John Updike
Reviewer ~ Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

-Synopsis-

Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard- heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

-REVIEW-

Throughout the book I kept hoping that Rabbit would find himself and become a man, husband, and father but he just kept getting more confused. It was apparent that this man couldn’t make up his mind about anything and that he would drift forever lost. Also what was abundantly clear was that he had no conscience. He just couldn’t figure out what was right and what was wrong nor would he take responsibly for his part in any of the events that lead to his babies death, his wives destructive life, his son’s feeling of loss or his mistresses pregnancy.

Reverend Eccles was the one of two redeeming characters in this book. He tried really hard to help Rabbit but in reality Rabbit starts to lead him astray no matter how hard he continually tries to help. Ruth, his mistress, well she was someone to be admired. She understood who Rabbit was, stood firm and strong about them ending their relationship with her taking care of the baby they would still have.

The book ended just as I thought. Rabbit is so confused. STILL! Bye bye.

I give this 1 star. I just disliked the main character, Rabbit, too much to find any value in this book.

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