Archive for the ‘Kentucky’ Category

LetMeDieInHisFootstepsI recently read the excellent book Burial Rites BuriaRitesby Hannah Kent, inspired by the last public execution that took place in Iceland in 1830, so it is fitting that I move forward to Let Me Die in His Footsteps which is inspired by the last lawful public hanging in the United States, held in Owensboro, KY, in 1936. Lori Roy, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First BentRoadNovel for Bent Road,  expanded this into “…an atmospheric suspense novel which opens with Annie Holleran sneaking away to her neighbor, the Baines’ well in the dead of night. Local folklore holds that if you look into a well at midnight, you will see the reflection of your future husband. But for Annie, the events of that evening have far-reaching consequences. There’s a rift between Annie’s family and the Baines—a gulf that dates back to when Annie’s Aunt Juna, a dark-eyed beauty, cast a spell over the Baines boys. Roy’s tale moves back and forth in time between Annie’s experiences in 1952 (told in third person), and those of her mother, Sarah (told in first person) and her sister Juna, in 1936 when one of the Baines sons was accused of a terrible crime.” (Source: Library Journal)

Let Me Die in His Footsteps is steeped in atmosphere. Roy describes life on the Holloran lavender farm in rural Kentucky in vivid detail, and the mystery of what happened years ago kept me reading into the night. It’s interesting that the folklore of the early 1900s stayed in force through mid-century and Annie, with the know-how or ability to sense events before they occur, was as feared as her Aunt Juna, almost twenty years earlier. Readers will picture the broken down shack that Sarah lived in, full of shadows and cold because it was built where the sun rarely shines. The rock wall fences separating the farms is straight out of 18th century pictures.

While the story of the public hanging is a small component of the story, the mob mentality surrounding the hanging is captured expertly.

Roy’s engaging story of young love, Southern folklore, family feuds, family skeletons and crimes of passion is bound to satisfy readers who enjoy a good, well told story. And don’t forget the surprise ending, which went nicely with the story. If you’re looking for a good beach/vacation read, this is perfect.

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BreakfastServedAnytimeAs I was reading Breakfast Served Anytime, Sarah Combs’ debut novel, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. I liked the beginning, got a little bogged down in the middle and then had the epiphany at the end. The book is going to mean different things to different people.

Kentucky born and raised, Gloria Bishop got accepted to Geek Camp, sponsored by the University of Kentucky for four weeks after her junior year. Her course: Secrets of the Written Word. Trying to attract and retain in Kentucky its best students, those accepted get a full four year scholarship upon graduating high school. Gloria’s best friend, Caroline, is off to New York for ballet during the summer, the plan being that they both hit the Big City for college.

Gloria is, however, a shy girl and finds anticipation of exciting and extraordinary events sometimes more exciting than the events themselves. Upon checking into her dorm, she immediately forms judgments on her roommate, Jessica, (rich, confident, huggy and not Gloria’s type) and the first guy she sees from her dorm window, nicknamed the Mad Hatter, for obvious reasons (obnoxious, self-absorbed). It turns at that the Mad Hatter is one of four people in Secrets of the Written Word. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

However, in one respect I will give a spoiler. Although this takes place in high school, it reminded me of middle school and Merle J (I wonder where she is now). Somehow, we decided that Merle was my ‘best enemy’.  We used to taunt and torment each other constantly throughout middle school…yet always with an underlying smile. I wonder what that really meant. So Merle, if you’re reading…. (I’ll let you guess who I’m referring to in the book.)

I can’t remember if I’ve ever read a book taking place in Kentucky. So, while writing a book about camaraderie and friendship, Combs also manages to throw in the issue of coal mining vs. the environment in a manner many of us don’t typically think about.

I’m not going to comment on the Breakfast Served Anytime part of the book. You can find out for yourselves its significance. Neither will I comment on the blue butterflies on the cover, other than to say that, according to the book, they have a life span of 115 days.

So, my final thoughts on Breakfast Served Anytime? I liked it, primarily because it brought back memories that I hadn’t thought about in decades…and pleasant memories at that. For you ‘mature’ YA lit readers, I’d love to know what memories the book might have rekindled. And, for you YA YA lit readers (if I have any following this blog), I’d like to know the same thing. Lastly, what can be bad about a place serving breakfast any time?

Having said that, I’m off to bake Snikerdoodles. A place serving dessert any time can’t be bad either, huh?

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