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review 2018-06-05 22:33
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog
Lakota Woman - Richard Erdoes,Mary Crow Dog

This is a raw and eye-opening book, though it’s as much manifesto as it is memoir; it’s partly about the author’s life, with a focus on various injustices she’s experienced or witnessed, and partly about the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s. The author grew up poor on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, was forced to attend one of those boarding schools meant to eradicate Native American culture, and wound up joining AIM as a teenager and having a baby during the siege at Wounded Knee.

I don’t necessarily know a lot about the author after reading this book, though that doesn’t seem to be her goal. Instead I know a lot about various people getting beaten up, imprisoned or killed and about political protests and religious ceremonies she participated in. The book was worthwhile to me not so much on literary grounds but because it’s a topic I know little about; I grew up in a part of the U.S. without a prominent Native American community and realized through this book that being native in the Dakotas in the 1960s and 70s was a lot like being black in South at the same time. But most Americans know at least a little about the Civil Rights Movement, while I knew nothing about AIM at all.

Overall, interesting book, the writing is fine and accessible (I might have expected more flourishes from a ghostwriter but perhaps he was just being careful to keep it in her voice), and it’s a hard-hitting introduction for those who don’t know much about this slice of history.

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review 2018-05-03 18:45
WALK THE SKY by Robert Swartwood & David B. Silva, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Walk the Sky - Robert Swartwood,David B. Silva,Matt Godfrey

 

WALK THE SKY is a nice little weird western tale that put me in mind of the work of Joe Lansdale. Which is another way of saying this story is a lot of fun!

 

We start off with George and Clay traveling by horseback and coming across a young boy who is on the verge of death. As events unfold, the reader learns the boy has narrowly escaped something in a nearby town, (DED!), a town in which George and Clay must stop for supplies. Soon after their arrival, all three end up in jail and are introduced to the mad reverend and his posse. Will they get out of jail? What does the crazy reverend want from them? Will anyone survive? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I loved the western aspects of this story as well as the bits of native American folklore which were woven in. It was nice to read something different than the same old, same old. Even though some popular western tropes can be found here, the authors seamlessly pulled them together with some unique and original storytelling, much as Joe Lansdale does in his westerns. The only thing missing was that oddball humor of Lansdale's, but this wasn't meant to be a funny tale.

 

I listened to this on audio and as always, Matt Godfrey brings it home with a compelling style that only brings honor to the writing.

 

WALK THE SKY is one of those rare pieces of work that successfully straddles genres and brings to the reader a fine sense of satisfaction at the conclusion. Recommended to any fans of westerns, weird westerns, and to horror fans alike!

 

*I received the audio of this book free of charge from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-03-13 11:30
A delightful read, full of great characters, inspiring, and heart-warming. Also recommended to dog lovers!
When the Stars Sang - Caren J. Werlinger

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

I occasionally read romance novels although I am not their number one fan, but there was something about this book that called my attention from the very beginning. I am always attracted towards stories that are set in special locations (real or imagined) and the description of the island definitely fitted the bill for me. And, in this case, first impressions were right.  I loved the story and the place, and I wish it existed and I could be a part of the community in Little Sister.

The story is narrated in the third person from the point of view of two female characters, Kathleen, who returns to Little Island as an adult (after a traumatic breakup with her on-and-off girlfriend of 14 years), and goes to live to the house of her recently deceased grandmother (although she had not been back there since she was a child due to a very traumatic event), and Molly, the island’s sheriff, and also a handywoman, who loves restoring and repairing boats, but can set her hand at anything that needs repairing (even a broken heart). Although they are suspicious of each other at first, it is clear that they are meant for each other, but, as we all know, the path of true love never does run smooth, and there are a number of obstacles on their way, some of their own making, but others to do with childhood trauma, dysfunctional family relationships, and a past that refuses to be buried. If you are a big fan of romances, LGBT or otherwise, you do not need to worry. Although I won’t discuss the ending to avoid spoilers; I think you’ll be happy with it.

The author creates realistic characters we care for, and not only the protagonists. While Kathleen and Molly can be stubborn and blind at times (and even annoying, but ultimately likeable), there is a full catalogue of fabulous secondary characters, including Molly’s family (her wonderful parents, and her brothers, including Aidan, who is an integral part of the incident that made everything change for Kathleen), sisters Olivia and Louisa (who always carry the ashes of their father with them), Rebecca, the librarian and depository of the island’s traditions, and many more. Oh, and let’s not forget Blossom, a stray dog adopted by Kathleen (well, the adoption is mutual), that is both a totally realistic dog and a fantastic and heart-warming character.

There is lovely food, a variety of ceremonies and traditions, a strong sense of community [including matrilineal heritage that reminded me of the book The Kingdom of Women by Choo Wai Hong (you can read my review here)], secrets, deception, ecology and renewable energy, and plenty of love, not only between the two women, but between all the members of the community. The sense of belonging and the healing and growth of the characters is intrinsically linked to the way of life in this island that mixes Irish folklore and beliefs with Native-American (First Ones) ones. Werlinger creates a beautiful setting, both in its landscape and spirituality. Readers feel a part of this wonderful community, and I, for one, was sorry to come to the end of the book and would love to live in such a place.

The writing ebbs and flows, allowing readers to enjoy the descriptions of the island, its inhabitants, their actions and also their mental processes, although I did not find it slow and I was hooked to the story and the feeling of becoming one with the inhabitants of the place. As a writer, I easily empathised with Kathleen, who is an editor and also creates book covers, and I enjoyed the fact that female and male characters are diverse, are not restricted to standard gender roles, and the attitude of the islanders towards same-sex love is open and unquestioning. There are certain necessary characteristics that make a relationship truly compatible, but gender is not one of them.

As readers, we share the thoughts and experiences of the main characters although the third person narration also gives us enough distance to be able to make our own minds up. There are some surprises, some quasi-magical elements, some light and fun moments, but there are also nasty characters (although these are always outsiders), and intuition and family connections are very important. As for the love story, there are some sexual elements, but not a full-blown graphic description of events, and I found it rather delicate and in good taste (and I am not a fan of erotica).

I wanted to share a few things I highlighted:

Normally, those messages would have torn at Kathleen’s heart. But she wasn’t sure she had a hart any longer. She tapped her chest, half expecting it to sound hollow, like the Tin Man.

“It should be a mix. None of us is just one thing, complete in and of ourselves. We are the island, and the island is us.”

“That is not how it works. Love that has to be deserved or earned was never love to begin with.”

A joyful read, which I recommend to readers who enjoy books set in special locations, who appreciate a strong sense of community and belonging, and love solid characters. There are ups and downs, happy and sad events, although it is not a book for lovers of adventures and frantically paced novels. This is a contemplative and inspiring book, heart-warming and positive. If you need a pick-me-up, this is your book.

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review 2018-03-02 22:07
Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Club by Christopher Teuton
Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars Club: Dakasi Elohi Anigagoga Junilawisdii (Turtle, Earth, the Liars, Meeting Place) - Christopher B Teuton,America Meredith

It’s hard for me to rate a book of folklore. Its primary purpose is to preserve stories and information about a culture, rather than to entertain, and perhaps the most important target audience here is people of Cherokee heritage who may not have much connection to traditional culture. Not being one of those people, I can’t claim that my review will reflect others’ experiences with the book.

The author, Christopher Teuton, is a professor of Cherokee descent who spends time on tribal lands in Oklahoma with four older men who jokingly call themselves the “Turtle Island Liars’ Club.” The four are involved in various ways in the preservation of traditional culture, and are all storytellers. The book is built of many short sections, interspersing stories which range from less than a page to a few pages in length with sections in which the group hangs out and discusses various aspects of Cherokee culture. The stories range from legends to accounts from the lives of the storytellers and their families, and while some read like traditional tales, others clearly have had modern updating: animals encounter steel traps or become roadkill, for instance. But there’s no pretense at telling an authoritative version of any of the tales; in discussing their art, the storytellers make clear that the stories are alive and changing, that different people tell different versions and they even tell different versions themselves to different audiences. And in fact I have encountered different versions of a couple of these stories elsewhere.

I found the stories to be interesting and enjoyable, but Teuton made an excellent decision in choosing to include more than that; the short topical sections in between provide grounding and context, and I generally found the factual information interesting. Most books of folklore seem to be compilations of stories without telling readers anything about the storytellers, their lives, or their wider culture, beyond what one might glean from the tales they tell. This one provides a much fuller picture of Cherokee life, at least as seen through the eyes of these four men.

The fact that a fairly small number of voices – of men from roughly the same generation with similar life experiences – make up the book is a drawback. Another, at least in my eyes, is the way the author renders speech: at times it is almost like reading a transcript, with the “ums,” the people interjecting with “yeah” or “mmhm,” the sentences that trail off without communicating anything. Journalists clean up speech to make it more concise and avoid making their subjects look dumb, and Teuton doesn’t explain why he chose not to, though he does discuss other decisions about how to shape the book. Fortunately though, he’s talking to people who are used to public speaking, and the storytellers’ voices along with the brevity of the sections mitigate the dryness of the author’s writing, which is quite evident in his introduction.

Overall, I found this book engaging, and readers with a particular interest in Cherokee culture or folklore will likely enjoy it. A general audience may become more impatient, though there is certainly wisdom about life in the book that applies regardless of culture. Also, four of the stories are transcribed in both Cherokee and English, which is fun.

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text 2018-01-22 15:48
My Newest Book Is On Sale
IN THE WOODS: Murder In The North East Kingdom - Elisabeth Zguta

Hello Friends,

I wanted you to know that my newest book

 

 

IN THE WOODS Murder In The North East Kingdom

 

It's now available in paperback!

 

Better News - the eBook is still on sale this week for only .99

So grab a copy now before it goes back to 3.99

 

 

 

Reviewer's comments:

 

"It is easy to feel drawn to each character in the book and you begin to want to follow along with Sam and her self discovery. . . "

 

"This was a fun and suspenseful read! Being familiar with the northeast, I found the descriptions of the woodlands and environment spot on, in fact, it made me want to go for a hike in mid read; too bad it was -10 degrees. This is the 3rd book from this skilled writer that I have read, I definitely recommend it, be prepared to hear the calling loons. Looking forward to Elisabeth Zguta's next book!"

 

I hope you take advantage of the lower price and enjoy reading the story.

 

Book description:

A role-playing game staged in the remote woods of the North East Kingdom, turns into a deadly pastime when a killer uses the game as a means to seize his victims.

 

A dead body is discovered in the woods by Samantha Tremblay, a Forest Ranger who works at Maidstone Lake. The locals call her Sam. She swears to bring the killer to justice for the victim but soon finds herself in over her head, as she works alongside New Hampshire Trooper Zachary Gerard assigned to the case. More bodies turn up and motivation to solve the crimes mount.

 

Old secrets get in Sam’s way, and she isolates herself from others. Haunted by unanswered questions about the past, she lives with cracked relationships—between herself and her father—her friends. Mourning her mother, Samantha feels a pull toward her heritage, the Abenaki tribe, but is afraid to open that doorway. Could the tribe help discover the answers to her quest for the truth?

 

Pulled emotionally from all directions, Samantha Tremblay searches for answers to find a killer, and to discover herself.

 

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/WOODS-Murder-North-East-Kingdom-ebook/dp/B076Z2QZ8X/

 

 

 

Source: www.amazon.com/WOODS-Murder-North-East-Kingdom-ebook/dp/B076Z2QZ8X
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