Blog Archives

The Emotional Devastation

Richard Carroll Author Interview

Richard Carroll Author Interview

Burned in Stone continues the story of three archaeologists as they now set out to find the Ark of the Covenant. Where did you want to take this book that was different from The Lost Photographs and what were some things you felt had to stay the same.

The original characters remained the same, and Stephanie was added. I worried about having my story enter the realm of science fiction in the sign from God, but I have learned that many of my readers believe we would have a much better world to live in if it really happened.

I chose Ann Tyler to be the one who died instead of my new character, Stephanie. That was a shock and very sad. I was hoping it would be a story my readers would not quickly forget. I am still not sure I made the best choice. Matt found how deeply he loved her. That may be too much for Stephanie to overcome.

Stephanie’s tragic childhood and her unfortunate upbringing make for fascinating reading. What traits were important for you to develop and explore in her character?

I wanted to bring out the vulnerability of a child and the emotional devastation caused by abuse and lack of love as depicted by Stephanie’s childhood and early years. However, she “pulled herself up by the boot straps” and discovers love is not selfish but is caring about others. She develops a successful career and does not use her childhood trials as a crutch to flounder in pity.

I enjoy how you explore ancient artifacts and ruins to bring new life to old stories. Did you always have an interest in archaeology or is this an idea developed just for your novels?

From an early age, I have been fascinated by bible stories and archaeological finds. After retirement I was able to travel extensively visiting many countries and ruins–Africa, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Thailand, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, many countries of the Far East to name a few. I try to incorporate the sights, sounds, and smells of those many places into my stories to enhance the importance of exploring the past and its influence on the future.

Do you plan to continue Matt, Ann, and Jim characters in other novels, possibly a series? If so, what will the next book be about?

I plan to continue with most of the same characters. Unfortunately, one of my favorite characters, Ann Tyler, was brutally murdered in Burned in Stone, but Matt, Jim, and Stephanie still need to pursue at least one more biblical artifact.

My wife and I love to travel to places we have not yet seen in the world. I believe we will take a few trips and as we travel I will be putting my pen back to the paper.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Amazon

Burned in Stone by [Carroll, Richard Ira]BURNED IN STONE A Novel by Richard Ira Carroll You won’t be able to put down “Burned in Stone”, a page-turning adventure with twists and turns that keeps you guessing at what happens next. You’ll have to stay up an extra hour. You’ll want to see how they get out of this one. Steam was shooting out everywhere from the ancient ore-hauling steam engine. If I give it full throttle now, would it go around the curve too fast and tip over? I had no choice. It was now or never! “Burned in Stone” is a novel of epic proportions, a story the reader will not easily forget. A thoroughly researched and well-written prologue sets the stage for this slam-bang novel. Dr. Mathew Lane, Ann Tyler, and Jim Morgan, the three archaeologists who discovered Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, are on another dangerous undertaking as they search for the crown jewel of biblical artifacts, the real Ark of the Covenant! Love, jealousy and heart-wrenching tragedy enter the story when Stephanie, a stunning beauty who possesses an ancient parchment map, agrees to join them in the search. Every area our adventurers search reveals another clue leading to another place or another country. This fast-paced journey takes them from Thailand, to the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, to Jerusalem and finally to Mount Sinai in Egypt. Here they discover something so totally unbelievable. . . something so phenomenal. . . it will have a profound effect on every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth! “Burned in Stone” is the sequel to an equally exciting novel, “The Lost Photographs”, also available at your favorite book store.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

I Believe It To Be True

Richard Carroll Author Interview

Richard Carroll Author Interview

The Lost Photographs is an exciting adventure story that follows three adventurers as they set out to uncover the truth of Noah’s Ark. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this riveting novel?

I have always been intrigued by the story of Noah’s Ark. Fuel was fed to that fire in the 1980’s when I watched a TV special about a team of Russian soldiers finding and photographing Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in 1916. I have thoroughly researched that story, and I believe it to be true.

I think you did a a wonderful job of building interest with the backstory of the lost photographs of the ark. What kind of research did you undertake to get things right in this novel?

1. The above mentioned story.
2. 1916 Russia, present day Russia, and the present day attitude of the Turkish
government regarding Mount Ararat.
3. Mount Ararat and the Ahora Gorge.
4. Russian aircraft 1916
5. Prefab portable buildings, diesel generators, ice melting machines, and heavy lift
helicopters to build a large complex over the site on a glacier above the Ahora Gorge.

Your characters were exceptionally developed which made them endearing and fascinating. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your characters?

First, I wanted to draw my readers quickly into the story when I wrote about Yuri and Jelena. Young love and tragedy set the stage for the rest of the novel. When Jelena peeks through the window and sees Yuri the fourteen year old boy she loves laying dead right before her eyes, it is heart breaking. I tied that story back a hundred years later when Matt, Ann, and Jim are in a Russian cemetery late in the night hoping they will not be caught digging up the dead. They shine their flashlight beams down into the coffin onto the face of Yuri. They then lay the five photos of Noah’s Ark on Yuri’s body as they turn each one over and gasp at the discovery. Those two scenes are essential.

I wanted all of my present day characters to be totally dedicated to finding Noah’s Ark. That is their passion. I also wanted them to have fun. I created Jim’s character to be Matt’s best friend. I wanted them to be able to laugh and be able to tease each other and also to protect each other when needed as best friends do.
The theme of the beautiful, talented, and dedicated Ann Tyler needs no explanation.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My second novel, Burned in Stone, is a sequel to The Lost Photographs and is already published. Both novels have been awarded 4 stars by Literary Titan. I am extremely honored to have received those awards as a first time author.

Author Links: Website | FacebookAmazon

the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS by [Carroll, Richard Ira]This is it! This is how all three of us will die because there’s no way I’ll ever cut the rope to save myself and send Jim and Ann to sure death. Terrified, he felt his fingers begin to slip down the ax handle.

Dr. Matthew Lane has been in a lot of scrapes with his fellow archaeologist Jim Morgan. But neither is prepared for the trouble that lies in store as they search for what could be the biggest discovery in centuries. Matt is convinced that the testimony from the Russian soldiers who swore they photographed Noah’s ark protruding from the glacier in the summer of 1916 is true. They claimed all the documentation, measurements, description of the interior cages and photographs were turned over to the czar just before the revolution.

A Russian immigrant, Ann Tyler, has carried her grandmother’s secret with her for more than a decade. She knows the hiding place of The Lost Photographs that could prove the existence of Noah’s ark. Has she finally found a trustworthy confidant?

When Ann joins Matt and Jim to search for The Lost Photographs, they begin a journey none could have predicted. Richard Carroll deftly weaves together this fast-paced adventure based on the old stories of Russian soldiers discovering the ark on Mount Ararat. Uncover the enduring enigma of the ancient ark and the crusade to conceal the truth. This novel is based on a well-documented story that many people believe to be true.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Arlington Heights Book Trailer

Arlington Heights follows the course of a gifted and beautiful black woman who overcomes the stigmata of a youth of mistakes to become one of the more powerful forces in New York’s fashion and business scene. Arlington Cavanaugh has past her prime as a model and has committed her life to the building of the highly regarded fashion magazine, HEIGHTS. Through the novel she takes a journey that speaks not only to the incredible climb up the ladder of success, but also details all of the consequences of decisions made along the way by a woman so focused on escape from her past that she nearly loses her soul.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Burned in Stone

Burned in Stone by [Carroll, Richard Ira]

Dr. Matthew Lane, world-renowned archaeologist and the man credited with finally discovering the resting place of Noah’s Ark, is on the hunt again. This time, Matt, his girlfriend Ann Tyler, and his best friend and fellow archaeologist, Jim Morgan, have reunited to find the Ark of the Covenant and bring the world to a state of peace with proof of the existence of the Ten Commandments. Their adventure introduces them to Stephanie, a young woman with information that leads them to an ancient treasure and whose family ties brings them nothing but pain and sorrow at every turn.

Burned in Stone, the sequel to The Lost Photographs, by Richard Carroll begins much like The Lost Photographs–with nonstop action and the characters moving rapidly through one precarious situation to another. In this installment, readers see much more of Ann at the outset and her willingness to stay by Matt’s side no matter the level of danger. From jumping tandem from a plane to exploring ancient ruins, Ann sees little reason to doubt Matt until he comes out with the most unbelievable statement of all. As a reader, I was glad to see the author choose to have Ann display a certain amount of doubt in Matt’s incredible comments.

The introduction of an additional love interest adds a new layer to Carroll’s cast of characters. I am not sure exactly why, but Stephanie disturbed me. In addition, Matt’s inability to make a definitive statement about his love for Ann and make a clean break from Stephanie bothered me throughout the book. I am much more a fan of Ann than Stephanie even though Stephanie’s backstory is tragic and intriguing.

Carroll is a master with the backstory element. He expertly incorporates a detailed backstory into each of his books and builds a wonderful base on which to construct each plot. Stephanie’s tragic childhood and her unfortunate upbringing with her uncle and cousin make for fascinating reading and help to create a rich subplot surrounding Stephanie as well as her cousin Jack, the ultimate villain.

I must say that, as with the The Lost Photographs, I felt myself much more involved in the latter chapters than in the action-packed scenes in the beginning and middle of the book. The sign Matt is told to expect on the first day of spring is a phenomenal sight to behold. Carroll masterfully describes a scene unlike anything readers could ever imagine. From the moment Matt is told to expect a sign, I found myself trying to visualize what form it may take. The author crafts a breathtaking spectacle indeed.

Burned in Stone is much more about the search for the Ten Commandments than the commandments themselves. Carroll’s writing is seamless and devoid of vulgarity and cursing which makes it appropriate for a wide range of readers. Readers who are more inclined to enjoy adventure stories with just a touch of romance will find themselves completely wrapped up within the pages of Burned in Stone and the harrowing lives of Matt, Ann, and Jim.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B079GGS89Q

Buy Now From Amazon.com

the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS

the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS by [Carroll, Richard Ira]

Matt and Jim are living out their lifelong dream to uncover and provide undeniable truth that Noah’s Ark did indeed come to rest atop Mt. Ararat. With the help of Ann and a tragic story of her grandmother’s first love, Matt and Jim begin their journey with stunning photographs of the ark itself which have been hidden from the world in the most ingenious way possible. Luck is not on the side of the three adventurers, however. One dangerous situation after another impedes their progress on the path to the top of Mt. Ararat.

Richard Carroll has captured within the pages of The Lost Photographs a mere snapshot of the enormity of the task undertaken to uncover Noah’s Ark atop a frozen Mt. Ararat. His depiction of the dedicated team who undertakes this task despite all obstacles, both natural and incited by man, is riveting and tense. No one else has wanted anything more than Matt and Jim want to prove the existence of the ark, and absolutely nothing will prevent them from accomplishing what they have set out to do.

I have always found the search for proof of the ark’s existence to be fascinating. The Lost Photographs does not focus quite as heavily on the actual ark as I would like to have seen. Though it does center around the hidden photographs and delves into the excavation of the site itself, the book also has a parallel story line that sometimes takes the reader on a path away from the ark story line. I felt there was, perhaps, too much of an emphasis placed on the budding romance between the characters and the inner turmoil Matt experiences.

Carroll does a wonderful job of building interest with the backstory of the lost photographs of the ark. By tying the story of Ann’s grandmother, Jelena, and her friend, Yuri, with the teamwork of Matt and Jim, the author has created a seamless story that spans generations and is a wonderful testament to the timelessness of the ark’s story. I will say I was not expecting the tragedy that occurs centering around Yuri and his family. Carroll presents a moving depiction of Jelena’s love for Yuri and the mystery of his family’s fate.

Readers who require action in their historical fiction will appreciate the many close calls and precarious positions in which Matt, Jim, and Ann find themselves. The desire to keep the ark’s existence hidden leads to an all-out battle when one of the terrorists’ operatives infiltrates the ark team. In addition, the entire expedition faces the utter devastation of an earthquake in the middle of their work.

Though I loved the premise of the book, references to historical events, and biblical truths, I would have preferred more of a focus on the discovery of the ark itself and less of a concentration on the romance between characters. The hints at the book’s conclusion to the unearthing of the Ten Commandments leaves the reader in the perfect frame of mind to want more from Matt, Jim, and Ann.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B079GJN12N

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Laugh, Cry, Get Angry and Love Them All

Lea Ann Vandygriff Author Interview

Lea Ann Vandygriff Author Interview

Seasons takes place in a small town that’s struck by a tornado, which sets of a series of terrible events. What was your inspiration for this novel?

I grew up in a small town much like Rhinehart. Many people think small town life is ordinary and simple. Not always the case. Although the book is fiction, some events were actual in nature. Rhinehart is a community riddled with secrets, devastation, gossip, deception and violence. On the other hand, the community is filled with compassion, kindness, joy and forgiveness. The book is designed with colorful and unique characters and events for a reason. My hope is that everyone who reads the book would identify, connect and be inspired by the community of Rhinehart.

You use faith as a guide to help your characters overcome obstacles. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?

One theme that transpires over and over is forgiveness. There is an instance in the book where a victim’s forgiveness is upsetting to the reader. While it is not the most popular outcome, it does cause you to think about how your decisions affect others.

Another theme would be to do what is right and love your neighbor even when they don’t deserve it. The community comes forward to help a family that has caused nothing but trouble and aggravation to the town. This is a theme I would hope the readers would practice among their own neighbors. There is a feeling of incredible accomplishment when you can set aside your differences and do what is right.

There are so many interesting and intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I had so much fun creating them all. I would say the most fun to write is the interaction between Aunt Ida, the sassy grocery store owner and Sheriff Richards, the pot belly law man. The two are always matching their wit and the Sheriff usually loses. Daniel’s brothers are wild and unpredictable, they keep the community on their toes. Aubree the young teen is the glue that connects the characters. She has a heart of gold and sees the good in everyone.

The characters are all special and the variety of personalities will cause you to laugh, cry, get angry and love them all at the same time.

I felt like this book ended perfectly for a sequel. Are you planning to write a follow up book?

Yes! The second book Seasons Justice is Not for The Weak is a little over half written.

The second book takes you into the High School years for Aubree and her friends. Daniel and his brothers return to Rhinehart and begin their rampage once again. Aunt Ida and Uncle Leo go missing and a search begins. Derek and Dillion take advantage of the fact the Sheriff is busy, to go on a crime spree. Phil their father trying to stop them finds himself on the run for their crimes and a man hunt is underway. The brothers as always go home to roust at their grandmothers. Daniel protecting the Sheriff does the unthinkable. Unable to live with what he has done runs away. Aubree is kidnaped by a local man who is mixed up and has a history of being violent. The community must come together to find her. In the mist of all the tragedy one of wild brothers finds himself for the first time on the right side of the law and helps apprehend a criminal. He turns to Jesus for help in putting his family back together and sets out to look for his father and Daniel to bring them back home.

The rest of the story is in process, even I can’t wait to see how it’s going to end. Lol.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteBlog

Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence by [Vandygriff, Lea Ann]In Seasons, we explore the loss of innocence when adversities hit a little southern town. We often ask, where is God in all this? What happens when you have difficult choices to makechoices that will affect everyone around you? How do you find answers to why God allows terrible things to happen to good people? How do you feel about God when his answer to your question is no?

The world around us is harsh, and we long to feel safe and special. Perhaps in Seasons you will be able to find that, by one young girls journey through innocence lost, you can learn to accept, forgive, and find comfort in the strength God has given her in some of the darkest days and endless joy that surrounded her life.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time by Sarah K-N is a Christian fantasy novel. Sarah spins a riveting, well written story of two brothers caught in an ancient battle of light and darkness. There is magic and ancient curses, angels, demons and other popular staples of Christian faith sharing a page with intriguing secret societies. Expectations uses the Christian faith to give us a story that is fun to read while not being preachy.

The novel opens up with an ancient tale of jealousy, locusts, an ancient pact and it just gets better after that. Ace Cadman, the main protagonist of the story, must battle the occult secret society and somehow stay alive in a world where angels and demons pop up on almost every page. But the main attraction of this book is the style that Sarah K-N carries to the very last page. Characters have motives that make sense and do not contradict the actions that took place just half a page ago. Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time masterfully handles exposition, dialogue is lively, and Sarah K-N describes the world in just enough detail before having her characters take over the story.

Especially interesting is the way Sarah handles the divine characters – these beings feel older than time even though she spent only several sentences on their description. Their archaicness is an asset, not a flaw, in telling the story. For example, an angel with a flaming sword is a character that is very much out of place in the modern world but Expectations uses this to its advantage. Simply put, angles are supposed to be out of place in our world and when they do show up, just like their malevolent demonic cousins, they add weight to the situation that other characters find themselves in.

Perhaps the hardest thing that Sarah K-N had to do to make the story work is to bring the spirit of the Old Testament on to her pages. And she did it masterfully. This is not the world where angels and demons walk the Earth fulfilling some shallow, New Age tripe task. These angels and demons are forces beyond our comprehension, spirits of old, just like they were thousands of years ago to our ancestors. Angels are fulfilling the commands of their Lord and demons will shower mortals with impossible gifts and power but will snatch your soul the first chance they get.

The conflict between good and evil is masterfully done. You start to understand, even from the first pages, why someone would give their soul to evil. Their decisions, doomed as they are, make sense in the given moment and you will find yourself asking if you would make the same choice if put through the same tests.

This page turner is one of the most riveting reads you will ever find, no matter if you are a person of faith or not. The story, a classic tale of good vs evil, will keep you going for hours and will not disappoint.

Pages: 424 | ASIN: B0794LRWPN

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Upon Broken Wings

Upon Broken Wings by [Reedy, E.L., Wade, A.M.]

Upon Broken Wings by E.L. Reedy and A. M. Wade is not a light read, but it is a read worth your time. This dark, cathartic story is a unique meld of many genres; coming of age, gay positivity, and family all interwoven with religious flavor, life after death, angels and demons. Reedy takes us on a journey through a small, overly conservative community all the way to Purgatory in a way that makes sense. If the story has any weak points it can all be forgiven by the enthralling premise of the novel.

The story follows several boys at the verge of of adulthood; Andrew, who suffers from Aspergers, and Keenan, a brave gay boy who is coming to terms with his identity. A series of unfortunate events will lead to a gruesome assault that will require all the strength of their family and friends, dead or alive, to help them resolve.

Upon Broken Wings avoids obvious descriptions of the worst that the characters have to go through but the indication is enough to leave me seething and demanding justice. Add to it is the slow burn of sadness, loneliness and isolation that the characters feel, all the misfortune and all the lost chances add up to a dark and emotionally heavy reading experience. Reedy takes us through mud so we could feel all the anguish that made his characters behave the way they do. So when he finally, mercifully, starts to get us into a somewhat better place we feel like we earned it.

His characters are the best part of the story. They feel like real people and their motivations seem genuine, even when they are no longer among the living. And that’s a tall order with all the elements or death, gay identity and angels in it.

I felt that the dialogue was disjointed and the characters, especially young Casey, sometimes feel like intentional Mary Sues. Casey, Keenan’s brother, is a boy wise beyond his years and can also see angels. We are never given a reason for this ability. It serves the story and paints an emotional picture but I felt that it lacks depth. Similarly, Andrew’s Asperger is important for the story but we never see how it affects him in his day to day life. We are told but we are not really shown the consequences of living on a spectrum. I think this would have helped flesh out the characters.

The angels give a distinct New Age vibe. Their shallow philosophy of forgiveness and understanding along with healing crystals and other cliches works well because angels should behave like that, which gives this coming-of-age and coming-out story interesting and unexpected religious undertones. Upon Broken Wings is not a perfect story. But it is an interesting and original endeavor in this day and age that is. A rare novel, certainly worth your time.

Pages: 199 | ASIN: B07BZXWNBJ

Buy Now From Amazon.com

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by [Plant, Emma]

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant provides a glimpse of what havoc the Devil and his disciples wreak when they come to earth for the End of Days and in search of Emma Plant. Emma, a young Office Manager, notices that things aren’t quite normal in the valley where she lives. Accidents and fatalities are on the rise, and Emma herself is even visited by strange people and creatures that seek to do her harm. She is visited one night by two gnomes who explain the devastation that is taking place and seek to whisk Emma away into the mountains that overlook the valley. Their goal is to hide and protect Emma from the Devil while he wages war against civilization. It is in the mountains that Emma is introduced to more fantastical creatures, such as witches and fairies, and it is also where she begins to make a new life for herself – a life that is a far cry from the one she once knew.

Author Emma Plant adds interesting fantasy elements to her novel by the inclusion of a variety of mythical creatures, such as gnomes, fairies, witches, demons, and other creatures. The novel is entertaining in that each type of fantasy creature has its own magical powers that are displayed throughout the novel. For example, Ben and Ella, the gnomes that help protect Emma have the ability to shrink larger items in order to be able to carry them easily. Another interesting element of the novel is that, apart from the demons, these characters work harmoniously together. Abela, the witch, provides guidance and protection to Emma, the fairies provide powers and protection to the gnomes, and so on and so forth. These magical characters add a creative depth to the novel.

However, I felt that there was a lack of detail and explanation in the novel. I did not understand why demons are inhabiting earth and wreaking havoc. More importantly, I did not understand what the Devil wanted with Emma. What exactly makes her the center of his attention? I think that there wasn’t enough explanation given to fully develop the events. I felt like there was an overabundance of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. So, I felt I was reading long sections of text rather than an organic delivery of information while the story is unfolding. But with this story being part of a trilogy, I feel much more comfortable knowing that there is two more books on the horizon that will dig deeper into this world and it’s characters.

I felt like the climax was not as climactic as it could have been. Emma spends nearly two years hiding in the mountains. During that time, she reunites with a former flame and they have a family together. Much has happened to her as a person, but it’s a small detail in what, I felt, was the overall point of the novel. Towards the end of the story, Emma is hiding out in Abela’s house when the Devil decides to unleash his wrath on the valley that was her previous home. I expected that the Devil would eventually make his way up to Abela’s home and try to take Emma away. But I expected a battle between the Devil, Emma, and her protectors up in the mountains; however, the devastation doesn’t make its way to the mountains and stays contained within the valley. I felt that there was no real climax or resolution that is reached by the end of the novel. Ultimately, I felt like this novel lacked character development that makes me invest in the characters. For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant is a fascinating fantasy story with many opportunities for a surreal story that plays off of biblical legend.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B01L0FLHY6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence

Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence by [Vandygriff, Lea Ann]

The first chapter of Lea Ann Vandygriff’s book, Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence, is entitled “A Quiet Little Town.” That’s exactly what Rhinehart is. Rhinehart is a southern ranching town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone else’s business. It is Mayberry-like and seems picture-perfect until things go a little off the rails. A tornado and a few menacing characters sweep through town wreaking havoc on the townspeople and shaking both their homes and their faith. Especially shaken are the town’s younger citizens who can’t reconcile one question in their young minds. “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

Vandygriff takes us through a season of disaster, desperation, hope, and forgiveness within this close-knit community. It seems like every time one thing comes together, something else falls apart. We are introduced to a cast of characters that range from sweet, Godly, and endearing to violent, neglectful, and unstable. Fortunately, there are more former than latter. Most of the book seems to center around 8th grader, Aubree, her brother Randy, and their parents, Clyde and Dolores. A large focus is also placed on a trio of brothers who have been dropped into the lap of their elderly grandmother.

Many parts of the book made me long for a time when neighbors were more than the people we wound up living beside. They were family. They were there at a minute’s notice to help with whatever was needed. Whether it was cleaning up after a tornado, helping an old lady with her groceries, or befriending the new kid with a bad reputation at school, the people of Rhinehart stuck together through it all. Being raised in a small, southern town myself, I found myself identifying with the town and the people. I saw myself and my family in the characters.

Vandygriff weaves a lot of scripture into her writing. Those who have suffered tragedies in the book are directed to the Bible for answers. Every meal in Aubree’s house is blessed. Prayer is always the answer. Church is a big part of the community. Aubree and her middle school friends find it so hard to comprehend why God lets bad things happen. They are always directed to the Bible and particular verses for answers, and reminded that forgiveness is a huge part of being a Christian.

One particular scenario did bother me in the book. Without going into too much detail, a man abused a young girl. There were no consequences for him. He was forgiven with hardly a blink. There was no accountabilty and no amends made, yet he was still allowed to be around the girl and her family as usual. I wouldn’t have been as forgiving. It was explained as the Christian thing to do, but I don’t know if readers will be able to reconcile themselves with this part. I couldn’t.

That being said, there are plenty of breaks thrown in to lessen the weighty themes the book contains. Plenty of comedy is exchanged through family dynamics and middle school friendships and drama. Often, situations in the book start out as tense and serious, but end with characters laughing. This eases the calamities and stress that the characters find themselves in.

There are some parts that are left intentionally unresolved. Some problems reintroduce themselves on the last page of the book. It is left open-ended. It definitely begs for a sequel.

I will say that there were several spelling errors that I think could have been caught with another once-over by an editor. I also had trouble, at times, pinpointing the era it is set in. Party line telephone circuits are mentioned, but other things seem much more modern in the story. Otherwise, the story seemed to flow well. The characters and the messes they find themselves in are interesting. I’d love to see what happens to the townspeople of Rhinehart next!

Pages: 274 | ASIN: B079647HZH

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: