Lagniappe Literature

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The Depot by Carmen DeSousa

The Depot: When Life and Death Cross Tracks - Carmen DeSousa

Loosely based on a reallife haunting, The Depot is a quick read but delivers chills. While the plot isn't all that original, this paranormal-murder-mystery is quite entertaining. I read it at night while sitting on my patio. Spooky enough to send me indoors after a couple of chapters. Liked it well enough to follow Detective Mark Waters into THE LIBRARY, where the story picks up six months later. DeSousa introduces Detective Waters in another book entitled THE PIT STOP. I've downloaded both and I actually got one for free. I'm not sure if the ebooks are still free but worth a check.

 

For more info, check out DeSousa's website. www.carmendesousa.com
She has many stories to choose from including paranormal and romantic suspense.

NÁÁPIIKOAN WINTER by Alethea Williams

Naapiikoan Winter - Alethea Williams

At the turn of a new century, changes unimagined are about to unfold.


I stumbled across Alethea Williams as I browsed a few blogs I follow. Each blog was highlighting several interesting books. NÁÁPIIKOAN WINTER happened to stand out. The blurb sounded fascinating, and so I did a Google search of Williams and ended up adding her three books to my TBR shelves. Coincidentally, after following Williams on her social sites, she contacted me on Twitter and offered to send me copies of each of her published books. I'm always so appreciative of those authors that reach out to me to share their stories. To be honest, I'd never heard of Williams or her books but the historical aspects completely captivated me. One of my favorite books of all time is Love is a Wild Assault, the extraordinary story of legendary Texan, Harriet Potter, written beautifully by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland. I loved the primitive Western-wildness of Potter's story. The synopsis of Alethea's stories reminded me of that favored book and with little hesitation, welcomed Williams offer. Yes! Please send them! And so she did. I began with her latest, this one, and I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed in the least. What I don't understand is WHY haven't more people read this book? I see I'm the first person on Goodreads to review NÁÁPIIKOAN WINTER and I hope I do it the justice it deserves. Divided into four parts, it's outstanding and offers an intriguing look into the past, when Western America and the Northern Plains were just beginning to be explored by the English and the fur traders that followed.

 

Part One begins in Nuevo Mexico at the hacienda of Don Emilio Ramirez y Santiago, grandfather to eight-year old Isobel Ochoa y Ramirez. Isobel is wisked away in the middle of the night by her father, who plans to start a new life for himself and his only child. He hopes to give Isobel the life she craves and he promises Isobel that they're running away to better lives, the finest education for Isobel and riches from his newly acquired silver mine. Her father, Don Armando Ochoa, had not expected his daughter to be so difficult during their escape and the aventura is almost over before it begins when one of her grandfather's Indian workers, San Juan, appears before father and daughter as they are saddling the horses for departure. San Juan insists they remain at the hacienda but Don Armando will not be stopped. He and Isobel begin the long ride under the turquoise sky of Nuevo Mexico, en route to the silver mines and Pueblo mission, Gran Quivira. It will be an ill-fated decision. The valleys and deserts of the Rio Grande during this time were largely inhabited by fierce Indian tribes, among them the Apache, who did not hesitate to scalp, torture, or enslave their captives.

 

Part Two introduces the reader to Donal Thomas, a young Englishman who winters with the Piikáni (Blackfoot) hoping to learn their language and open trade with the local tribes. Saahkómaapi, Beaver Bundle Man ( a seer or Dreamer) to the Inuk'sik band of the Piikáni, is immediately suspicious of the Englishman and predicts great change will come with this white man's visit. Thomas and Saahkómaapi try desperately to understand one another but their differences are immense. Donal Thomas is completely foreign to the Piikáni customs and a misunderstanding will lead to punishing accusations with severe consequences for Thomas, a beautiful Piikáni princess named Sweetgrass Woman, and the Piikáni medicine woman, Buffalo Stone Woman.

 

Williams weaves a wonderful tale of adventure, giving an absorbing account of life within the Piikáni. I admit to knowing very little about Indian customs, relations, hierarchy, and the many bands of Indians. All so very fascinating and Alethea Williams must have extensive knowledge about a time in American history when the West was wild and the Indians were keepers of the lands. Brilliant.

 


Alethea Williams is the author of Willow Vale, the story of a Tyrolean immigrant's journey to America after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. Her second novel, Walls for the Wind, about a group of orphaned immigrants arriving in Hell on Wheels, Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rogers Medallion winner, and placed first in the Laramie Awards Prairie Fiction category.

 


Thank you for sharing your stories with me, Alethea. I deeply appreciate it.


Nitsiniiyi'taki. (I thank you.)

 

 

 

 

 

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman

Im a big fan of birds. I just love my tiny feathered friends! I also love watching birds. I keep a bird journal of unusual sightings in our yard. Our yard is a bird oasis and we provide seed, houses, and bird baths in hopes to attract migrating wonders. My favorites are owls, hummingbirds and painted buntings. Indigo buntings are beautiful, too. I've also owned a couple of exotic birds from a Macaw with an attitude to my sweet Lemmi, a Ringneck parrot. I've never thought of birds as unintelligent. I've always thought there were some birds wiser than others but, no! I would never refer to a bird as "bird-brained". Jennifer Ackerman's bird travels and research, which she translated into a brilliant book, proves what I've suspected all along. Birds are quite clever little creatures. I have trouble remembering where I placed my sunglasses but the Clark's nutcracker can bury a large cache of seeds and berries, (up to 30,000 nuts or seeds!!) in a large area over several months and remembers where every single cache is. Astonishing, isn't it? Birds survival skills are phenomenal as well. We need a GPS app to get from town to town. Birds? Masters of travel. How do they know this stuff? Again, Ackerman sheds light on the many wonders of birds. And there are many! Ackerman provides examples of some of the most intelligent birds in the world. My favorite is always Alex the African grey parrot, who was the subject of a 30-year experiment. Alex was a bird wonder. Alex proved that birds were capable of reason and using words creatively. He could count. He distinguished colors. Alex proved that birds could do more than mimic sounds in repetition. Alex was clever and Oh! So sweet! Jennifer Ackerman's book has opened my eyes to the world of birds. Now, as I enjoy watching the birds in my yard, I won't be able to help wondering what's going on in their brilliant minds. And, if someone should call me a birdbrain in the future, well, I might just consider it a compliment.

 

 

 

**Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a DRC for review.

 

 

 

 A

 

Alex the African grey parrot

 

 

 

 

My grandson, Levi, with new baby sister & my first granddaughter, Aubrie. XoXo

Happy July 4th!!

OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee

Outrun the Moon - Stacey Lee

A fabulous read that is centered around fifteen year old Mercy Wong, as she begins to live portions of her dream life, the life she has been hoping and praying for. Unfortunately, while fulfilling her dreams of an education at St. Clare's School for Girls, Mercy will also face a world of nightmares. A story that is both hopeless and hopeful all at once, Outrun the Moon is a phenomenal tale of what one strong young woman is willing to endure and sacrifice for the sake of a family she loves. Mercy may be very different from the other girls at St. Clare's but she has guts and a kind soul and is willing to accept the differences of others. When a deadly, devastating earthquake rocks San Francisco in 1906, Mercy takes the lead and sets an amazing example for the rest of the school girls of St. Clare's. Mercy is a fierce and independent protagonist and a wonderful YA role model. I would love to read further adventures of this plucky, courageous heroine. Outrun the Moon was extremely well written and edited. Stacey Lee's storytelling ability is top notch. 

 

 

**I won an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway and I sincerely thank Penguin for another great book. 

 

 

 

 

 

MISS JANE by Brad Watson

Miss Jane - Brad Watson

Where to begin with my feelings about this book? Let's start with the obvious; the cover is fabulously beautiful and what initially attracted me. However, once my attention was captured, the blurb sealed the deal. Lastly, I most joyously won a copy through a Goodreads giveaway and now I'm a major fan of brilliant author, Brad Watson.

Using his great-aunt as inspiration, Watson begins the story in rural Mississippi, setting the stage perfectly for the entrance of Miss Jane Chisolm, a baby girl born with genital birth defects in the early twentieth-century. The confused parents believe that the circumstances of Jane's conception, conceived late in life and during a drink and laudanum fueled night, is punishment from God. Both husband and wife believe their sins are visited upon Jane. Thankfully, the doctor that delivers Miss Jane is kind, caring, and completely interested in his tiny, new patient. Dr. Ed Thompson develops a bond with Jane that is so endearing, will last a lifetime, and is probably the one person that allows Jane to be her true self.

 

Miss Jane was born in 1915 and there was no possibility of surgical treatment, nor was there hope for any in the future. I don't have to remind one about a woman's role back in the early days. Women were wives and mothers. Jane would likely never be either; her purpose unclear. Jane is clearly stronger than she appears. She is full of life, questions, wonder. She learns to live with her disabilities with graceful acceptance but yearns to be loved like anyone else. Jane is a curious girl and I completely fell in love with her positive outlook on life.

 

I knew very little about the defects that afflicted Jane and I can only imagine the lonely, desolate feelings of those that suffer this anomaly. Watson has created a beautiful character in Jane and it was such a touching story. I loved the rural setting, the relationship between patient and Doctor. Watson has a magical way with words. When describing scenes, Watson's colorful imagination brought the story to life for me. This is a tough topic and quite heartbreaking. Watson spins it well and in a way that just feels right. Loved it!

 

 

 

*I won a copy of Miss Jane through a Goodreads giveaway and I sincerely thank Brad Watson and W. W. Norton & Company for a wonderful book that tells an original story. Thank you!

#PrayforOrlando

 

Vanity Fair Icons Marilyn Monroe - Special Collector's Edition

Vanity Fair Icons: Marilyn Monroe - Conde Nast

If I've never mentioned my fascination with MM, well, I'm telling ya now. Ran across this copy at the bookstore and I couldn't resist plopping down $15.00 for the magazine. I tried to pass it up but...I sort of figured that there was little more for me to learn about this mesmerizing icon. I mean, I've read and own so many MM books and bios that it's just impossible to tell me anything new. Alas, NEW STUFF! Pics I've never seen (or forgot I've seen. Maybe.) Different sections offer different stories. For example, on page 32, there's an article entitled A SPLASH OF MARILYN that was originally published in June 2012 and adapted from Marilyn & Me (Doubleday). Stunning photographs by Lawrence Schiller. Fascinating behind the scenes look from Larry's point of view. Don't know Schiller? I can assure you. You've seen his work. Schiller famously shot the pool scenes of a naked Marilyn on set of Billy Wilder's Something's Gotta Give. Larry also shot candid photos on set of Let's Make Love and Some Like It Hot. I think this was one of my favorite parts of the magazine. While I knew Larry enjoyed a certain comraderie with Marilyn, and I knew a bit about the infamous shoot, I'd never read Schiller's actual words. He gives an insightful look at the business side of MM. Monroe had final approval over all photos and publicity stills, which was almost unheard of back then. According to Schiller, 

 

"When it came to looking at photographs of herself, Marilyn was all business. I gave her the small contact sheets and a magnifying glass. 

Marilyn didn't have a preconceived idea of how she wanted to be seen by the public. All she wanted was to make sure that her face or body didn't appear blemished in some way: a line here or a wrinkle there. She was interested in the total image; if the whole picture worked, Marilyn was happy." 

 

There are also documents, poems, and journal entries excerpted from Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn used writing as a means of expressing herself. Some of her poems take a dark turn but they're actually quite good. Contrary to the image Marilyn portrayed onscreen, she was hardly a dumb blonde. She loved intellectuals and reading was something she enjoyed. Like most book lovers, reading was an escape for her and it was helpful during her bouts with chronic insomnia. I can relate to that, too. Marilyn had an extensive book collection consisting of over four hundred books. 430 to be exact. Most of her collection was auctioned off at Christie's in October of 1999. How awesome would it have been to own those books once owned by MM?! From authors like James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, poet Heinrich Heine, and Walt Whitman. Lots of great books in her personal collection. 

 

I love Marilyn and I'm happy to include her as a fellow book lover. I may not own any books from her personal stack but I'm utterly happy to include this edition of Vanity Fair Icons to my ever-growing book collection. 

 

 

 

 

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Source: http://www.scribendi.com/advice/compelling_first_lines_of_famous_books.en.html

Happiness is...

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls - Clara Emily Carpenter

A heartbreaking, chilling tale that is completely dysfunctional but so deliciously evil and haunting. Stayed up late to get to the end of this dark mystery about family secrets and corruption that spans decades. Had me biting my nails. I never knew who to trust. Very well written and thought out plot. It really was. I enjoyed the first half immensely, loved it even, but the last quarter dragged. That's not to say I didn't like the book. Only, some scenes were repetitious and I thought I would go as crazy as the protagonist, Althea Bell, if I didn't finally get the whole convoluted story. Made me impatient...and not in the "oh-my-gosh-can't-wait-to-find-out-what-happened" way. That said, still entertaining read with lots of twisted turns and I would recommend this book to friends without hesitation. Look forward to future reads from Emily Carpenter.

 

 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a DRC for review.

Alaina Claiborne by MK McClintock

Alaina Claiborne - M.K. McClintock

After being offered an opportunity to listen to Alaina Claiborne on Audible, I jumped at the chance. MK McClintock has been on my radar ever since discovering her British Agent series on Goodreads. I recently won a copy of another McClintock title, CLAYTON'S HONOR, but have not read it yet. I was happy to start here. The synopsis to all of her books sound so appealing and my love for historical fiction drew me in. So now that I've finished my listen, what did I think? Wow! The beginning is immediately powerful and starts with a bang. Alaina is a young girl enjoying her youth, beloved by her wonderful parents and all is well with the world. In an instant, that secure world will vanish right before the young girl's horrified eyes. I was a rapt listener, my attention completely focused. Nicky Baker has a beautiful voice and does a fine narrative. Each character that she portrayed was easily distinguished. Lovely narration. Alaina's story is a blend of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. While a bit predictable, it's a pleasant listen. I would've liked a bit more depth to the mystery and it often times felt rather rushed. I was a tiny bit irritated that Alaina was kidnapped one too many times, right under the nose of those protecting her, and McClintock never chose to explain certain how's and why's. I would've liked to know more about some of the characters. For instance, the beginning introduces the reader to a big meanie villain. He's downright detestable and then, afterwards, he makes a few appearances and very little is mentioned of him again. Perhaps McClintock plans to restore this baddie in future books. Whatever. He's a great villain and someone I'll love to hate. Every story needs one, right? Overall, a decent listen with likeable characters.

 

 

 

MK McClintock is the award-winning author of several books and short stories, including the popular "Montana Gallagher" series and highly-acclaimed "British Agent" novels. She spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in the 1800s. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives a quiet life in the Rocky Mountains.

Learn more about MK by visiting her website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com.

 

**I was provided an Audible copy by the author. Many thanks. 

 __________________________________

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson

The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel - James Anderson

"The place was a kind of odd shrine. Over the years the diner had become a regular rest stop for me as well as a source of fascination and idle speculation. It was always my first stop, even when I had nothing to deliver to Walt. Sometimes it was my last stop, too."

 

 Anderson's debut novel is written with a dry sense of humor. I definitely consider the plot original and the characters between the pages are as colorful as the Utah sunset. I struggled with a rating. I started with four stars but then pulled back to three. However, I want desperately to rate this correctly. Did it entertain me? Yes! Did the protagonist move me? He did. Thank you, Ben Jones! The supporting cast was an original blend of mismatched, misplaced wanderers, all looking to escape a past that is unlikely to catch up to them on lonely Route 117. With the exception of the Lacey brothers, and because of Walt Butterfield, I thought each eccentric character an asset to this mystery. For those reasons, I returned to four stars. So, why did I flip-flop between ratings? Well, here's why this desert mystery left me feeling a bit parched; some portions weren't explained to me. At one pivotal turning point in the storyline, I had to go back a couple of pages to see if I missed something. I do appreciate Anderson's trust in me as a savvy reader to figure out things for myself, and let the story lead me without having to explain every tiny detail like some authors feel it necessary to do. That being said, this story and noir mystery had the potential to blow me away. While I totally get the plot, I only wish Anderson would've taken a bit more time to iron out a few of those mysterious details. However, he did get me in the end. I did gasp in disbelief and I was pretty satisfied with the ending. I'd be willing to travel Route 117 again with James Anderson, only next time, I want to be wowed. Anderson is an excellent storyteller and I know he can knock it out the park...or perhaps, the Utah desert. 

  

 

James Anderson's short fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines and he previously served as publisher and editor in chief of Breitenbush Books.  For more book info visit James @ jamesandersonauthor.com. 

 

Book link:

 

https://www.facebook.com/The-Never-Open-Desert-Diner-1525655667653876/?fref=ts

 

 

 

**I received an ARC from Blogging for Books in exchange for review. Many thanks! 

 

~ Eighth book completed in May Clean Sweep ARC Challenge. ~

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Black Rabbit Hall - Eve Chase

Eve Chase's debut is a bundle of mixed emotions that make for an outstanding read. The serene much-loved and lived in estate on the shores of Cornwall lends itself brilliantly to the story, giving the reader a feeling of tranquility and a foreboding feel all at once. The happy family tucked amongst the property's beautiful grounds has no way of knowing that their lives will forever change, rain and winds bringing more than dark, gloomy skies. The story has a gothic echo of Rebecca du Maurier, whom I just love. I think Chase does a fabulous job of surprising the reader, making one feel safe and happy and then quietly wrenching the feet out from under you with another heartbreaking twist to the story. One cannot help but fall in love with the Alton children and share in their grief as they experience change during once-loved holidays at Black Rabbit Hall. Eve Chase is an excellent story teller and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I was filled with anticipation as I read, a creepy unsettling feel from beginning to end. Intriguing. I'm going to keep my eye out for more of Eve Chase fiction.

 

 

 

**I happily won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I wish to thank Putnam Books for this glorious read.

 

Eve Chase is an exciting new voice in fiction and has worked as an editor and feature writer for various magazines in the UK. She lives in Oxford, England. Black Rabbit Hall is her debut novel. For more info, visit Chase on Twitter @evepchase, Facebook at eve.chase.author or her website at www.evechase.com

 

~ Seventh book completed in #CleanSweepARC Challenge. ~

Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon

Trouble in Mudbug  - Jana Deleon

A fun listen involving murder, mystery, and lots of humor. I always enjoy DeLeon's stories. The characters, although from a small town, are always interesting. Helena Henry, a busy body ghost that shows up to her own funeral, was probably my favorite character. She gave me several laugh out loud moments. When Helena discovers that her daughter in law, Maryse, the book's protag, can see and hear her, the fun really begins. Helena ensists that she was murdered and Maryse has no choice but help, especially when Maryse discovers that she's the killer's next target. This is my second book by DeLeon and I don't usually do book series but I think I'll continue getting to know the residents of Mudbug. Johanna Parker is a wonderful narrator and never makes me feel like I'm listening to someone reading. Parker just sounds like a great storyteller, Helena Henry being the highlight. Looking forward to the second book in the Ghost-in-Law series, Mischief in Mudbug. There is a free preview at the end of this audiobook and after listening, I think I'll stick to the audio version. I did buy the boxed set, which includes Book One-Three. Maybe I'll do a bit of both.