Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pre-Orders for The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both taking pre-orders for my next novel, The Boleyn Bride, which is about Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne and Mary, it's scheduled for release on February 25, 2014. I don't have any cover art or back cover copy to share yet, but here are the links to pre-order:

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boleyn-Bride-Brandy-Purdy/dp/0758273363 

From Barnes & Noble:

There has been a little confusion about this book and some people have assumed or asked me if it is another edition of The Boleyn Wife with a different title, it is not, this is a new book about Elizabeth Boleyn.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Devil’s Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories by John Harden

Originally published in 1949 as the spawn of a popular radio series the author hosted about mysteries of the Tar Heel State, this book includes a number of unsolved crimes, mysterious disappearances, ghost lore, and legends.

Highlights include the “Ghost Ship of the Diamond Shoals,” a 1921 case reminiscent of the Mary Celeste and her missing crew, when the Carroll A. Deering ran aground with not a soul on board except the ship’s cat. There is also the mysterious demise of the beautiful Nell Cropsey, who in 1901 stepped outside the family home to say goodnight to her sweetheart then vanished only to be found floating dead in the river some weeks later. That staple of unsolved mystery books, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, also makes an appearance, as do the Brown Mountain Lights, and Aaron Burr’s daughter, Theodosia, who vanished at sea, though the mysterious Nag’s Head Portrait that later surfaced may provide a clue to her fate, the murder of the racehorse Polly Williams, the pretty red mare was shot dead on the eve of a big race, the disappearance of the Wasp, a warship, in 1814, and, one of my favorite mysteries, Peter Stuart Ney, the schoolmaster of Rowan County who just may have been Napoleon’s “Bravest of the Brave” Marshal Ney. There are also some intriguing lesser known cases like Major Robert Clark who in 1944 left his car in Raleigh then vanished without a trace, and Reverend W. T. Hawkins an elderly minister who went out into the hills one day in search of the family cow was never seen again, and the Devil’s Tramping Ground, a barren patch of land forming a perfect circle in Chatham County where no vegetation, not even weeds, will grow, where, legend says, the Devil goes at night to do his pacing as he plots new mischief to inflict upon the world.

If you are fascinated by unsolved mysteries, like I am, then this is a worthwhile little book, but be forewarned, the stories take the tone of folktales, and some factual errors do creep in. Also, since it is a reprint of a book published in 1949, you may find yourself googling any of the mysteries that particularly intrigue you to see if any additional facts have come to light in the decades since its publication.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

When She Was Gone by Gwendolen Gross

Pretty seventeen year old Linsey Hart is bound for college at Cornell and a bright future when she vanishes early on summer morning from her home on Sycamore Street. Her disappearance opens a window into the private lives of her neighbors, outwardly normal people, but…everyone has secrets, things they don’t want the world to see.

We see Linsey’s social outcast mom searching door to door for her daughter; the boyfriend she insisted Linsey break up with because she thought the pressure of maintaining the relationship with the two of them away at separate colleges would be too much; Mr. Leonard, the elderly, dying, piano teacher, an insomnia, who saw Linsey leave; Reeva, the bored forty-something housewife hiding her affair with a young Starbucks barista young enough to be her son; and George, the eleven year old loner who is determined to find out what happened to Linsey.

This was an interesting novel that gives a good, fly on the wall perspective about the inner lives of the people who live next door who we ignore or think we know, but as far as stories about missing persons go it is ultimately lackluster. As a reader, in my opinion, it leaves you at a crossroads, as a person you want it to all turn out for the best, you don’t want something horrible to have happened to such a nice girl, you don’t want her to become an unsolved mystery, but as a reader you kind of also crave something more. So, to sum things up—great insight into the neighbors’ secret lives, but as a mystery nothing much, but still, in my opinion, well written and worth reading.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons

This is the story of two misfit cousins, Bethany and Reana Mae, who spend their summers together in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia with their extended family. These summers only serve to remind Bethany’s mother of the poverty and life of the coal miners and their families that she was lucky enough to escape.

Reana Mae is the only child of a hillbilly wild couple—the miniskirt and go-go boot wearing Jolene and motorcycle riding trucker Bobby Lee. After Jolene loses a baby and Bobby Lee, who is rarely come anyway, begins to stray, eleven-year-old Reana Mae succumbs to a crush on her handsome Uncle Caleb when he moves in with them. She’s growing up too quick, putting on makeup, and wearing her skirts much too short, playing house with Caleb, and skipping school, and Bethany is hurt, and concerned, by these changes and about just how little time her cousin now has for her. Then she and two other friends discover Reana Mae’s secret—they happen upon a mattress in the woods, a blanket, condom wrappers, and Reana Mae’s diary detailing her sex life with Caleb and their plans to marry when she turns thirteen.

When Jolene finds out, she beats her daughter badly and Reana Mae goes to live with Bethany and her family in Indiana where she sticks out like a hillbilly sore thumb. She persists in seeing nothing wrong with her relationship with Caleb, and dreaming of him as some kind of fairy tale prince who will swoop down and carry her away to a wonderful life when she turns thirteen. But the years pass, and Caleb never comes, and Bethany fears that Reana Mae is going to grow up to be just like Jolene, and a bitter feud between Reana Mae and Bethany’s mean-spirited and mentally volatile sister Tracy doesn’t help matters.

Though I admit I did not like this book quite as much as her second one, The Sometime Daughter, and found it a trifle slow at timesthis was an engrossing family drama from start to end and I look forward to reading more books by Sherri Wood Emmons.

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

Amaranth, a mother, frantic to flee a polygamous cult where she was one of fifty wives, drives wildly across the country. Her two daughters, Amity and Sorrow, sit in the backseat, bound together by their wrists as well as blood. After several exhausting days of driving, she crashes the car in a dusty Oklahoma road.

Bradley, a farmer, still mourning the wife who left him, and trying to be a substitute father to a young farmhand, comes to their rescue. Although he is initially distrustful and wary of the strange trio, with their long skirts, aprons, clogs, and covered hair, and their strange ritual of “spinning” (praying by twirling around in circles), he gradually, grudgingly finds himself drawn to Amaranth, while his elderly father befriends the illiterate Amity and introduces her to books via his old copy of The Grapes of Wrath.

Only Sorrow stands apart, angrily longing for her father, cult leader Zachariah, and scheming to get back to him, and her position beside him at the altar as the cult’s Oracle.

Although a casual reading of the dustjacket might suggest this could be a more heartwarming or uplifting book as Amaranth and Bradley fall in love, and Amity discovers books, tv, and junk food, be forewarned it is not. On the contrary, this is a very dark book. The details of life in the polygamist cult are disturbing, as is the abuse the deluded and brainwashed Amity endures and longs with all her heart to return to. Her attempts to return to the only life she has ever known are both sad and frightening and have consequences both for herself and everyone around her. The author does an excellent job of depicting the girls’ ignorance and Amity’s attempts to adjust to her new life and Amaranth’s determination to give her daughters and herself a fresh start and a better life.  But the slow-budding romance between Bradley and Amaranth barely deserves to be labeled a romance at all in my opinion, it’s more like a “since you’re here, we’re both single, let’s make the best of things,” type situation. By making these comments, I don’t mean to imply that I did not enjoy the book, on the contrary I did, I would have probably enjoyed it much less if it had been one of those uplifting Hallmark Channel style stories, but I was recently told by a lady in the checkout line at Barnes & Noble that her book club felt the dustjacket blurb was somewhat misleading, and I can see how they reached that conclusion, so I wanted to mention this.

If you’re looking for sweetness and light and inspiration this book probably is not a good choice for you, but if you want something gritty and real about women and children who endure and then escape a cult and their attempts to recover and forge a new life for themselves, this novel should definitely be at the top of your list. I thought the author did a marvelous job in getting into the heads of all her characters and depicting their desires and fears.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rin Tin Tin The Life And The Legend by Susan Orlean

The story began with a litter of German Shepherd puppies found in a bombed-out dog kennel on a battlefield in France in 1918. It was a miracle that they survived the carnage of World War I. Lee Duncan adopted two of the puppies, a boy and a girl, he named Nanette and RIn Tin Tin after the little yarn dolls soldiers carried at the time as good luck charms.

Nanette died young, but the male, Rin Tin Tin, thrived and would live to become a legend that would never die. He became a star, famous for his feats of daring and canine heroics, and even saved Warner Bros. studios from bankruptcy.

Determined that Rin Tin Tin would live forever, Lee Duncan bred and trained his descendants to carry on the name. From silent films to television, despite some ups and downs, and hard times, “Rinty” as he was affectionately called, remains the movies’ greatest and best loved canine star.

This book traces the story from 1918 to the present day and makes a great read for both movie history buffs and dog lovers.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Amazon Taking Pre-Orders on The Boleyn Bride A Novel of Elizabeth Boleyn by Brandy Purdy

I just found out Amazon is already taking pre-orders on my next novel, The Boleyn Bride, which is about Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne and Mary, it's scheduled for release on February 25, 2014. I don't have any cover art or back cover copy to share yet, but here's the link to pre-order: