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A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom: The Great Norwich Flood of 1963, a Survivors Story

'A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom: the Great Norwich Flood of 1963, a Survivors Story by [Moody Jr, Thomas R.]

March 1963 saw the devastation of the Great Norwich Flood and the aftermath that left one town struggling to pick up the pieces. One young boy and his family found themselves fighting for their lives when the dam wall burst and a watery hell was brought forth on their homes. As floodwaters moved from an odd trickle down the center of the street before them to a panicked roar, author Thomas Moody, his parents, and his siblings made a mad dash to escape their home and flee to higher ground. Neither the Moodys nor their neighbors could have predicted that a normal, peaceful night could have so quickly turned deadly for so many residents of their town.

A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom: The Great Norwich Flood of 1963, A Survivors Story, by Thomas Moody, is the account of the night that took his own mother’s life and changed the course of history for so many friends and neighbors in his hometown of Norwich, Connecticut. Moody, a young boy on that fateful night, relates the facts of the dam’s construction, its subsequent mismanagement, and the events leading up to that fateful rupture when the waters spilled into the streets, sweeping away automobiles, filling the local mill, and pulling citizens under its torrent.

Moody’s insight into the deadly night is invaluable to the reader. In addition to relating the events as they occurred and how they impacted families across the city, he includes his own thoughtful analysis as to what may have actually been the cause for his mother’s inability to maintain her grasp on her father’s hand in the final moments of her life. The heartbreaking moment his family loses their beloved wife and mother will forever be etched in the readers’ minds.

Moody gives readers stunning imagery over which to pore as he moves from one stage of devastation to the next. Accounts from other survivors serve to strengthen the impact of Moody’s writing and continually add layers of emotion to the tragic story. Moody includes the most amazing mental images of homes and businesses that miraculously escaped the floodwaters with minimal damage or no effects at all from the dam’s hellacious rage. Interspersed throughout Moody’s writing are stories of shining moments, making the overall tone of the account more bearable. The author manages to provide a wide array of views on that ominous night in March.

To find as an adult that the safety and security of the dam’s structure was so blatantly overlooked year after year and ultimately led to his mother’s death had to be unimaginably emotionally draining. I cannot imagine the strength and fortitude it must have taken to write the story of his own mother’s passing and relive the horrors of that night in print, but Thomas Moody has provided us all with a survivor’s account worth reading and taking to heart.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B079K2GQDY

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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

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The Three Lives of One

The Three Lives of One by [Mooney, Lesley]

A massive tsunami destroys the island home of a little girl. Left without a family, she is rescued by missionaries who name her ‘Patchula’ or ‘Patches’ and take her to Darwin, Australia. What follows is a story of misfortune and tragedy; adoption, death, abuse, forced prostitution, but also of hope as Patches finds joy and meaning, especially in her talent for photography and singing, in spite of the pain. Spanning Australia, America and Japan The Three Lives of One by Lesley J. Mooney is a sweeping tale which carries us across time and continents in search of love and fulfillment.

The book is written in beautiful yet un-flowery prose which is at times poetic. Mooney conjures up place incredibly well, and I found the movement between different continents particularly fascinating –the depiction of the sights, sounds and geography of these places gave me total wanderlust! The description of the tsunami and the wreckage and devastation that follows is extremely affecting and pulled me into the narrative immediately. Mooney is also skilled at portraying her time periods, which begin in the 1920s and move to the 1980s, and the changing biases and turbulent politics of the times.

There are many themes running through the narrative including womanhood, nature and environment, religion, the importance of family, and the value of keeping faith and resilience in times when despair seems never-ending. Although many terrible events occur in Patchula’s life, the book is ultimately about hope in the face of the unknown and what we can achieve if we have the strength to carry on.

Mooney has written a large and diverse cast of characters, and the world she has developed seems utterly real. Patches in particular leaps off the page as a fully-formed individual. Some of the mistreatment she endures is quite harrowing and difficult to read, but it feels very honest. Her hardships elicit great empathy in the reader; I was constantly rooting for her to overcome all of the tragedy in her life and felt completely invested in her development. The more peripheral characters are also well-drawn and prove to be quite emotive, some invoking feelings of intense anger!

One aspect of the book that bothered me slightly was the pacing. We are introduced to Patchula’s predicament, and the narrative subsequently moves very swiftly through the first part of her life and I would have liked this introduction to the story to be slightly more drawn out. Despite this, the rest of the book has a really good tempo, and because there are so many unexpected twists and turns I was always eager to find out what would happen next in Patches’ story.

This book moved me to tears, but it also gave me a great sense of hope. I finished it feeling as though I had been on a long journey–and an extremely rewarding one at that.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B074M3LW12

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A Pardon For Tommy

A Pardon For Tommy

Who would have thought that a story about a turkey would bring a reader to tears? Within the pages of A Pardon for Tommy by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi readers will find just that. Chelsea Malibu is the protagonist of our story. We begin with her waking from a nightmare in her college dormitory. Chelsea is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and still suffers from its aftermath. She is a young woman now, but she cannot let go of the horror she faced at the tender age of twelve. The story walks us through what Chelsea experienced during the hurricane, how it affected her and what happened to her family. Throughout her ordeal Chelsea had one pillar of support: the never questioning Tommy the turkey. Tommy was a prize her father had won and expected to eat on Thanksgiving with his family. However, life has a funny way of throwing you off track.

The pain that Chelsea experiences in this story is raw and real. Tommy isn’t just a pet turkey: he symbolizes her family. The family that was ripped apart by the hurricane during which her father went missing after trying to save her life. Chelsea is clearly traumatized by the events and the life she lives after relocating to live with her mother, brother and maternal grandmother isn’t as easy as it should have been. Aside from the emotional trauma, Chelsea is faced with discrimination and bullying. Her family is fractured, and no matter how much she prays it won’t become whole again.

While there are some mistakes in the grammar and the styling of the novel leaves a lot to be desired, the content of the tale more than makes up for it. Readers can feel the agony that Chelsea experiences in these pages. She is young and there is so much she doesn’t understand about what is happening to her. There are so many changes in short succession that it would make even an adult’s head spin. There is so much uncertainty in her life that it’s as if time stops for her. Because of this, Chelsea clings to Tommy, the turkey, for comfort. This turkey is the only thing that connects her to her missing father. The physical existence of the turkey allows her to have something she can touch to remember her father.

In the novel, it has been six years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Our protagonist has avoided returning to the city where her life was so gravely changed. With the impending death of her beloved turkey Chelsea boards a bus to return. It is here that we are privy to the events that took place in that city. A Pardon for Tommy by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi is a beautiful, sad, and harrowing tale of a survivors experience with one of the deadliest events in modern history. This is a perfect book for young adults or those who enjoy more realistic fiction tales. Will Chelsea’s family ever become whole again? Will she ever find out what happened to her father? And most importantly, will Chelsea’s nightmares ever disappear? Read for yourself to find out.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0725M51SV

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Relatively Unexplored

M.L. Sparrow Author Interview

M.L. Sparrow Author Interview

A Tangled Web is set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating tsunamis in Japan and follows three children as they navigate their new lives. Why was this an important story for you to write?

When I first heard about the tsunami in 2011, it was a huge thing and I remember being really intrigued by it, however, I was only a teenager and newspapers didn’t particularly interest me, though I loved reading. For some reason, what I head heard about the events stayed with me for years and when I traveled to Japan for the first time several years ago I started developing a story line – though I didn’t start writing it until my second visit at the beginning of 2016. It was important for me to write because, although there are many factual sources and several non-fiction books, in all my research I only found one fiction story about the Japan tsunami in 2011 which I think is a shame because I believe most people prefer fiction and can learn so much through it, yet it is a relatively unexplored subject. Therefore, my aim was to provide a book for YA which is both interesting and explores what happened in 2011 and afterwards, hopefully encouraging people to then go and do their own research.

The three children in this beautiful coming of age story have a lot of depth. What were some obstacles you felt were important to develop the characters?

I think it was important that at the beginning Taiyo was quite naive and selfish, a little unlikable if I’m being honest, but that gave her the opportunity to grow and develop as a character so that in the end she had the strength to deal with the catastrophe that happens. To me it was also important that Ryuu and Kairi be total opposites and yet both be likeable and relatable characters.

What were some themes you felt were important to highlight in this story?

I think friendship is a very important theme in this book; before Ryuu and Taiyo develop feelings for each other, they are first and foremost friends, as are she and Kairi. Another important theme is the value of telling the truth. Taiyo tells a lot of lies in this story and ends up so tangled in them that she can’t see a way out, hence the title. Though told for good reasons, those little lies mount up and ultimately lead to her and Ryuu being at the coast when the tsunami hits, while their friends and family are completely unaware of the peril they’re in.

What is the next story that you’re working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on another novella set in Japan, however, this one follows the Taiji dolphin hunt. Starting in 2009 when the documentary The Cove was released and ending in future 2018, Red Days follows and English reporter with Japanese roots who finds herself drawn to the cause and ends up fighting to save them.

Red Days is still a work in progress; I recently finished the first draft, however, it needs to undergo several rounds of editing before it will be ready for release, which will hopefully be around September this year.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

33280451“Japan, 2011

Taiyo is a normal high-school girl living with her Grandmother in Sendai. She goes to school, partakes in club activities and hangs out with her two best friends, twin brothers Ryuu and Kairi. However, her perfect world is shattered when she begins dating Kairi but quickly discovers she’s already in love with Ryuu.

A tangled web of lies surrounds the pair, but everything is suddenly knocked into perspective on March 11th when they are caught up in a natural disaster that devastates the country and robs thousands of their homes, their possessions and their lives…”

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A Tangled Web

A Tangled Web4 Stars

Set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, A Tangled Web by ML Sparrow tells a tale of teenage angst and romance. A girl abandoned by her parents and twin brothers wrapped up in their emotions weave this tale of romance, betrayal and heartache. Hayashi Taiyo has lived with her grandmother since the death of her mother. She has grown up with twins Kita Ryuu and Kairi in the quiet little town they live in. Things start off soft and slow as we learn about their everyday lives. As with most teenagers, growing emotions and endless confusion seek to disrupt the delicate balance between the three. Two brothers who are as opposite as fire and ice and the girl caught between them. However a tsunami is coming and it will upend their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.

This novella is just the right length. The relationships between the three who are caught up in the love triangle are delicately portrayed. There is just enough backstory to understand the past of the characters and their mindsets without feeling as though something is missing. The risk a lot of novella’s run is that there is not enough explanation. Sparrow crafts the tale in such a way that the small page count doesn’t detract from the story itself.

By using the romaji forms of several Japanese words in the story the reader can feel much more like they are experiencing every day life in Japan. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book but the sentences they are used in and the way Sparrow writes makes it easy to understand what the words are meant to mean. This saves the reader from having to flip to the end of the novella while reading.

The tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 was devastating. A force of nature that could not be stopped devoured lives and homes without regard. Sparrow indicates at the beginning of the novella which books they read to better understand what happened. By listing them out it allows the reader to continue investigating the event on their own time. This novella is a work of fiction and whether or not Taiyo and her twin friends Ryuu and Kairi actually exist is unknown. What is true is that there are people who lived through the tsunami just like our three protagonists did.

A Tangled Web because is a story about three young people who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a delicate journey and the severity of the tsunami serves to illuminate the fact that life will go on. The tsunami is like the tumultuous relationship between the three. It attempts to tear them apart, to drown them, and it will change them forever. It’s a lovely read for those who are interested in a coming of age story with a touch of reality.

Pages: 89 | ASIN: B01MRU67AN

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