Author Archives: micahfolloway

Women and the Square Circle

Women’s wrestling appears to be garnering interest with the public again due, I surmise, in part to the rise in popularity of the Netflix show GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).  Stepping into the square this year are two books which throw a spot light on the world of women in the ring.

The first is Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy. It offers short biographies of several athletes from around the globe and their journey into the world of female wrestlers. Two of the women are from Kentucky whose paths led them from an attraction at a freak show in a circus to a tag team matched up again male wrestling tag teams.  While some will see wrestling as a charade, which by in large it is, the performers/wrestlers display athletic prowess and drive to do whatever it takes to get ahead even if it results in broken bones or missing teeth, as displayed in the book.

Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy present a good mix of information, past and present, up to the latter half of 2016, as well as images of each female wrestler. There is still enough mystery in the field of women’s wrestling to keep the reader wondering what the future may hold for this rough and tumble sport.  If shows like GLOW are of interest or if wrestling draws your attention check out this latest non-fiction title.

My other selection is entitled Crazy is my Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks

As in many autobiographies/memoirs, there is a mixture of good, bad and ugly. Brooks’ book is no different. Memories of her early years show the hardships – being bullied as a child and being raised by her older siblings – while her parents worked just to keep food on the table.  As a child, Brooks was drawn to the world of wrestling as she watched the excitement in the ring and the fancy ring attire.  She also struggled with anorexia and depression but she always knew she wanted to be in the ring, at the center of attention.  

At one point in the book she talks of traveling to a plethora of different venues around the States and Mexico.  Each chapter builds Brooks’ story and brings the reader along on her journey to the ring. There are lists at the end of the chapters in which Brooks’ rates her experiences.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

GodPretty in the Tobacco Fields

The loss of her parents was a tragedy for RubyLyn Bishop. Even worse in her mind, she was shuffled off to live with her Uncle Gunnar in the small rural town of Nameless, Kentucky. For RubyLyn life in Nameless brings changes and challenges from the people who watch and gossip about her.

She must work in the tobacco fields to help support the small farm on which she and her uncle live. Memories of the past and a small scrape of tobacco paper are all RubyLyn has left of happier times with her parents. When her spirits need a bit of a lift, she sometimes folds the scrap of paper into a fun way to tell her fortune, a practice that Uncle Gunnar doesn’t approve.

Surprisingly, RubyLyn finds growing tobacco is something that comes naturally to her. There’s a sense of peace, a solace in working the land and plants, especially when a close neighbor, Rainey Ford, takes an interest. He is easy to talk with and friendly. It isn’t long before she finds herself caring a good deal about him, but there is a problem, he is African-American and she is white. In the 1960’s South, close friendships like theirs were frowned upon and could cause serious problems for them.

Then there is Rose, an older woman and neighbor, who becomes someone that RubyLyn can depend on and talk with when she needs someone. Rose encourages RubyLyn to enter her tobacco plant in the State Fair competition. It may be just the push she needs to realize there is a larger world around her and that she can decide for herself where her future should lie.

Born and raised in central Kentucky, this book drew me in right away. In it, I found an opportunity to spend a short time in the Appalachian area. If you’ve ever wondered what small town life might be like, especially in our turbulent past, this is a book you should take time to sit with. In my opinion, Kim Michele Richardson takes the reader on a journey back in time, using her words to paint pictures of small town life with characters you will come to care about and for whom you can root. It is a realistic portrayal, where life doesn’t always end the way you want it to, where when one road ends another will begin.

Later this year, Ms. Richardson will release a new novel entitled The Sisters of Glass Ferry. For more information about this budding author check out her website.

 

 

Formats Available:  Regular Type, Book Kit

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

When you think of Southern Fiction what comes to your mind?  To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With The Wind, A Time to Kill, and All Over But the Shoutin’ are just a few of the titles, many of which were adapted for film.

Southern Literature as a genre has been with us for well over 175 years but in recent years we have seen several well written authors taking up their pens to depict a South plagued with problems.  These stories still draw many readers, even if only for the familiar surroundings.

Numerous websites such as BookRiot.com, have published reading lists for readers looking to read more of this fictional genre.  Below is a review of one such, the recent novel by Brian Panowich.  It won the 2016 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, presented by the International Thriller Writers organization.

bullmountain

Bull Mountain delves into the mysteries and life styles of a Southern town.  It is a place where characters abound and suspense creeps along the pages, ending in a way that may well surprise you.  In this gripping, hard edged tale of murder, abuse, drugs, and alcohol, you meet the Burroughs family, a clan that traffics in drug and moonshine.  While running the roads of Georgia, the Burroughs cross paths with the motorcycle gang known as the “Jacksonville Jackals.”

1950’s

The morning is cool in Bull Mountain, Georgia as three men, a young man, his father and his uncle, step into the woods hunting for deer.  It will be the young man’s first deer.  The father instructs his son to take a shot as the deer comes within sight.  A loud shot rings out.  The deer falls.  At that same instant, the young man/boy hears another shot next to him.  As he looks towards the other two, he sees his uncle unmoving, lying on the ground.  “Deddy” had taken deliberate aim at his brother for own form of justice/revenge.

Present Day

Even though his genealogy has past ties to trafficking crimes, Clayton is the one member of the Burroughs clan that has decided to sit on the right side of the law.  Wanting to curtail the illegal business of drug and alcohol trafficking in his home town, he becomes the town sheriff.  But trouble comes for Clayton and his family in the form of a revenuer, Special Agent Simon Holly from the A.T.F. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms).  Agent Holly wants to see Clayton in regards to his older brother who is running drugs all around the Bull Mountain community.  In order to protect his family Clayton will now have to stop looking the other way, putting an end to the trafficking trade in his both his town and Jacksonville.

There is a great deal going in this tale, digging into the choices people make out of loyalty and family ties.  The author shows the determination and grit of those behind the trafficking drugs and moonshine, and that of the gangs in competition.  Alternating chapters, between past and present, as well as shifting between Sherriff Clayton and Agent Holly as narrator, you are kept on the edge of your seat.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, e-Book, Large Type, Regular Type

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Towards the end of 2015, I discovered the various forms of reading challenges on the Internet from social media sites such as GoodReads to reader’s advisory websites such as NoveList and Book Riot.  For 2016, I along with other library colleagues decided to hold the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  The purpose of the reading challenge is simple, select a book based off one of the category selection and continue reading until all the categories are occupied by a book.

Fortunately, thanks to Book Riot, there is a clause at the bottom of the challenge saying if the reader finds a book that fits one or more categories listed, it can be counted, or simply you can double dip and sometimes even quadruple dip if you are fortunate enough to find the best selection.

ReadHarderChallenge2016_checklist-1

As I perused the list, the first category is Read a Horror Book.  Not having read much horror, I did not have a clue where to start looking but popular authors like the famous Stephen King and Shirley Jackson caught my attention.  However, I visited a site by a library worker (who goes by the nom de plume Calliope Woods) and determined to read their suggestive horror selection, A Headful of Ghosts.  Thus, I would like to feature Calliope Woods’s review on this selection.

If you are interested in reading this piece, you can follow this link to reserve it or visit the author’s website for more information.

Enjoy and Happy Reading!  — MicahShawnee Branch

A Head Full of Ghosts by Calliope Woods, post on 9/24/2015

Web address: http://www.calliopewoods.com/blog/a-head-full-of-ghosts

Everyone can agree that Merry’s sister Marjorie was very disturbed, but was she suffering from schizophrenia, possessed by demons, faking for the eventual attention that her family received, or some mixture of all three?

A Head Full of Ghosts is a story told fifteen years after the events occured, by the younger sister of the girl who was deemed possessed by a priest, the man who subsequently invited a film crew into their home and lives. ​

The distance from the action is exacerbated by Merry’s online blogger persona, analyzing the reality show that starred her family purely as a work of fiction.

It’s not surprising that this book is most commonly compared to House of Leaves, which uses a simlar technique of an academic analysis of a movie to reveal what most consider the main story of the convuluted book. While I do enjoy the mixed-media, twisty-turny approach of House of Leaves, there’s something to be said about the simplicity of Tremblay’s novel when you compare the two. ​Picture

Even though the novel is written through two frames, Merry telling her (sister’s) story to a bestselling novelist intending to write a book from Merry’s perspective, and the literary analysis of Merry’s hyperactive online alter-ego, we’re really only getting the one (admittedly dissociative) narration from Merry.

The framing of the story is what really attracted me to this book. Another book about the possession of a teenage girl by demons? Meh. A book about the writing of a book about the younger sister’s perspective on the reality show that covered her sister’s supposed possession? Sign me up.

This was a fast read; I finished it in a day, but it was an extremely satisfying page turner of a novel. I found it on a list of books that supposedly scared Stephen King, and though I can’t say this book really scared me, I’m not going to say I’m braver than the master of horror– I’m assuming he has an addiction to horror that leaves him as dead inside as I am and simply gave this list as books that gave him a good fix, which A Head Full of Ghosts certainly is.

Cool & Crisp Autumn Reads

#bloodmoon#TheRealPSL#fallseason are gentle reminders of September and October.

Check out these creepy crawly reads to fulfill your literary souls using Twitter hashtags.

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#DisappearanceTara#20yearslaterappearsbackhomer#Whathappened?#Staggedeventorkidnapped#Magical#Horror#Fansof#neilhimself#@erinmorgenstern

THE-CITY-Cover

#Musicallytalented#lifeofJonahKirk#Thrillridegrowingup#Singleparentfamily#FriendsPearl&Malcolm#MrYoshioka@deankoontz#adventurous

Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch

 

Every Day is a New Day

Have you at any time woke up in the morning or during the day wished you could start the day over again and not recall anything?  It may be due to something as simple as the water heater is broken, spilling coffee in your lap on the daily commute, or planning dinner.  What if it were truly possible we could wake up the next morning with our minds cleared of all previous events of the past  day, days, or even years?

This is the obstacle faced by Christine, the protagonist, in S.J. Watson‘s first novel Before I Go to Sleep.  The book opens with Christine waking up in a bedroom.  She is unable to recollect what has happened and unable to determine who is the person sleeping beside her.  Christine is told by the stranger, who turns out to be her husband Ben, that she has was in an accident  and suffers from amnesia.  Each day, she is left not knowing what occurred the previous day.

Afterwards, she sees a cell phone in her small bag and notices a Dr. Nash is calling her.  Christine begins to regain some of her composure through their conversation where it is suggested she keep a diary of what happens each day.  As a result, she will have an artifact to look back on past days in the hopes of recovering from her amnesia.  Christine hopes to figure out what triggers these episodes of not remembering. Essentially, will she be able to live her life with purpose or not?

This novel is the product of Watson’s participation in the first Writing a Novel course at Faber Academy.  It contains drama, action, suspense, and an emotional thrill ride that can be enjoyed by readers from varied backgrounds and interests in genres.  For those who might be interested, Watson’s second novel, Second Life, was recently release and is available at the library.

Formats Available:  Regular Print, Large Type, eBook, Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch