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Book Review: The Rising Place – Emotionally Charged Debut Novel

The Rising Place

By David Armstrong

David, a young lawyer in Hamilton, Mississippi met Emily Hodge when she was 75. He did not know much about Miss Emily, but wondered why someone born and bred in Hamilton was not surrounded by family and friends from the long life she led when her days become numbered. She shared a picture of her late teenage years with David and he was startled to see she was beautiful and full of life.

After her funeral, he gathered up the picture and some letters he found in the drawer next to her bed. Therein lies the history and heartache of Miss Emily. Never married, she fell in love with a man that was one quarter African American. Harry is a pilot and took her flying in his plane. They were intimate just once, right before he left for the war. As fate would have it, she was pregnant. So began the ostracizing of Miss Emily. The 1940’s in Mississippi were intolerant of mixed marriages and no compassion was given to unwed mothers.

Heartbroken and lonely, she began writing Harry about her love for him, the progress of her pregnancy and the racial tensions in Hamilton. Headstrong and defiant, Miss Emily refused to stop seeing her best friend Wilma who is an African American. This is just not done in Mississippi in the 1940s.

The Rising Place is an interesting, emotionally charged glimpse at life in the 1940s south. While it is a work of fiction, there are many parallels to the events that actually occurred during that timeframe. The war, racial tension and the societal rules for women are clearly outlined, yet challenged by Miss Emily no matter the high cost of spending most of her adult life alone.

This fast and fascinating book is David Armstrong’s debut novel. Previously made into a film, The Rising Place is available on DVD. As always, I suggest reading the book first – it is always better, even if the film is fabulous. He has previously published collections of his short works and screenplays.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Between a Rock and a Deadly Place – Debut Cozy Series a Must Read

Between a Rock and a Deadly Place

Cedar Fish Campground Series: Book One

By Zoey Chase

Thea Pagoni’s decision to leave her law practice and take over her grandparent’s campground surprised the locals and maybe even Thea herself. She needs a change after the ugly divorce from her husband. So, after the death of her beloved grandmother, the fond memories of Cedar Fish Campground from her childhood brought her back for that fresh start. What she didn’t count on was the poor condition of the campground, the lack of competent help and the murder that happened within days of her arrival.

The police don’t seem to care about finding the murderer. The locals are full of gossip about the dead woman, which leads to bad publicity for Cedar Fish Campground. Thea and Hennie, who seems to be a fixture at the campground, decide to do a bit of investigating on their own. Lucky for them, Nolan Cade. the newly hired handyman/security guard is a former cop as well as former military. The fact that he is drop dead gorgeous was not missed by either of the women.

The plot thickens when Thea receives a threat to stop sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong. She is close to finding the murderer, and is determined to find him or her. She has to do this in order to carry on her family’s legacy, but will she live to bring the campground to its former glory?

Between a Rock and a Deadly Place is a fast-paced cozy mystery with a cast of interesting characters. There are secrets in Thea’s past that haunt her, but she is doing her best to work through them. Hennie is a hoot – she has many surprising characteristics that amused me as I got to know her. Nolan, like Thea, has a history he is trying to get past. Don’t overlook his brilliant mind because beneath the good looks is a smart, caring man.

There is humor laced throughout the book. Small towns are often known for their quirkiness and Outer Branson is no exception. Ricky, the baby racoon, is adorably naughty adding to the comedic side of the solid story.

his is Zoey Chase’s first book. I assumed she was a seasoned cozy author with dozens of books  penned because Between a Rock and a Deadly Place is the perfect mix of mystery, romance, quirky characters and an interesting setting. I can’t wait for the next book in her series as well as many more to follow.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery (https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/between-a-rock-and-a-deadly-place-zoey-chase) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Children’s Book Review: A Morning with Grandpa – Delightful Story with Beautiful Illustrations

A Morning with Grandpa

http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2016/5/2/advice-for-writers-taxidermied-piranhas-and-family-memoriest.html

Author: Sylvia Liu

Illustrator: Christina Forshay

Reading level: Pre-K – 2nd grade

(picture source: http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2016/5/2/advice-for-writers-taxidermied-piranhas-and-family-memoriest.html)

Mei Mei (little sister) and Gong Gong (Grandpa) spend the morning together in the garden, both of them learning new things. Gong Gong is practicing Tai chi. He slowly goes through the motions, just as this form of martial arts requires. Mei Mei tries to follow Gong Gong’s motions, but can’t help putting her own spin on his moves.

Then Mei Mei shows her grandpa the yoga poses she has learned in school. This are more difficult for Gong Gong as he isn’t as limber as his young granddaughter. But that is okay, he does his best.

This delightful tale of the love between generations and the value of the time they spend with each other. Neither requires perfection, and that is the treasure of sharing something you love with a person you love.

Sylvia Liu’s story brings us into the garden with Mei Mei and her Gong Gong. The beauty of the morning shines through her words as well as the love her characters have for each other. It is obvious Liu has put her heart and soul into A Morning with Grandpa, making it a story that your children will love to have you to read them over and over and you will enjoy it as much as they do.

Christina Forshay’s created exquisite works of art to accompany each page of A Morning with Grandpa.  Her colorful illustrations are mesh perfectly with Liu’s story, both children and adults will enjoy them.

Before the story begins, Liu gives the reader translations of words so everything is clear before you start to read. This picture book also has a section in the back with simple instructions for  yoga and  Tai chi moves as well as pictures of the poses.

Sylvia Liu’s award winning book (Lee & Low Books New Voices Award 2016) will become a well-loved book by preschoolers and early readers alike. It is the perfect book for teachers to read to their classes.

I was very excited to win a copy of A Morning with Grandpa from Kathy Temean’s blog “Writing and Illustrating”. You can check it out here:  https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/. On a personal note, my first grandchild is scheduled to arrive in October and A Morning with Grandpa is one of the first books for his or her library. All children should have a library of fabulous books and I don’t think it could be complete without this book.

 

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