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Lying comes naturally to some

This is a review of Nora Roberts’ new book The Liar for Netgalley.

This novel is set near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It a resort town with “450 unique shops in downtown Gatlinburg and along the 8-mile Arts and Crafts Loop. You’ll see mountain handiwork at its best, created by skillful hands using simple tools. The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is recognized internationally as the largest group of independent artisans in North America. The community features artisans who whittle, carve, cast, sew, weave and transform raw elements into works of wonder, art and function.”

It was founded by Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, her children and several other family members who arrived in a remote locale of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee called White Oak Flats in 1807. Note, this could be an apocryphal story as the website for visitors hints at this.

I don’t know a lot about Tennessee apart from what I’ve gleaned from TV and comments such as:

“It’s Tennessee. Half the women in that bar are carrying” [guns!]

So they clearly believe fiercely in the second amendment. It a strong Republican voting area I still believe.

I also have heard about the poverty in the hill country especially and also the concept of early marriage – at one time, I believe the legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl.

Now this idea of early marriage was borne out by the characters in this story where the marrying ages of the women were: 15- 15 nearly 16 – 18. With similar for the 7 generations that they knew about.

They mention Great Great Granny whose 1st husband died when she was 18 by which time she had had 3 children and was carrying her 4th! She proceeded to have 2 more children with her 2nd husband and a 3rd husband at the age of 22 and a further 6 children.. she was very busy indeed and so were the feuds/wars that managed to kill her first 2 husbands.

There was some great language in this book such as the phrase  that “chafes my thighs” which immediately brings to mind a sensation for those of us not blessed with a gap between their thighs and hot sweaty summer days; and also some mention of some  interesting wild flowers.

These included:

Yellow trillium: typically flowers in April and May. Its twisted yellow petals distinguish it with a lemony fragrance. It can be found in deciduous forests, open woods, along rocky stream banks, and in rich mature forest on calcareous substrates. Yellow trillium was long considered a color morph of the more widely distributed Trillium cuneatum, but studies that are more recent have shown it to be a distinct species. Yellow trillium is found primarily in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky.

iris cristata tgb2 - Lying comes naturally to some kachna1 pink1 - Lying comes naturally to some kachnar white1 - Lying comes naturally to some kalmia mountain laurel relative - Lying comes naturally to some multiple columbines - Lying comes naturally to some trillium luteum mjp lg - Lying comes naturally to some yellow lily - Lying comes naturally to some

Crested iris: The crested iris occurs from the Ohio River valley into the central southeastern states with several disjunct populations in the central Mississippi river valley in west-central Illinois and eastern Iowa and a population in northeastern Ohio

Columbine aka Aquilegia: widely distributed in Eastern USA

Mountain laurel: one of 7-10 species native to North America. Actually related to heathers not laurels as a member of the Kalmia family. Poisonous to livestock and possibly humans.

Lady’s slippers: slipper orchids. found under trees, in small openings, grassy meadows or prairies. hardy terrestrial plants that can grow in cold climates and flower in early to mid-spring when there is plentiful moisture and cool temperatures

Wild rhododendrons or are they Azaleas? Rhododendron maximum — its common names include great rhododendron, great laurel, rosebay rhododendron, American rhododendron and big rhododendron — is a species of Rhododendron native to the Appalachians of eastern North America. It is an evergreen shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft), rarely 10 m (33 ft), tall. The flowers are 2.5–3 cm (1 in) diameter, white, pink or pale purple, often with small greenish-yellow spots.

Yellow blue-bead lily: (commonly Blue-bead lily or Clintonia, also Clinton’s Lily, Corn Lily, Cow Tongue, Yellow Bead- lily, Snakeberry, Dogberry, Straw Lily), is a perennial forest plant found in eastern North America.

[[Photos of these plants]

Also birds such as blue birds; red cardinals and juncos.

Found some[photos of these birds] too…

red cardinal - Lying comes naturally to some eastern blue bird - Lying comes naturally to some

The Liar in the book is the husband – or is he? And just how many lies ahs he told and to who? Each chapter finds a new lie out and I was never quite sure what the next one was going to be. I found this a great and compulsive read and loved it. 4.5 stars.


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Story Telling Time in Memphis

An ‘Interview’ with Gerald Duff

  “When I wrote my novel Memphis Ribs,  I did it for the same reason that all writers take up a task that lasts so long and uses up so much electricity. I was mesmerized by the topic, in this case my trying to understand the essence of the Bluff City where I had come to live for a spell. And it was a spell, because that’s what Memphis casts upon those who come to live with her.

Memphis is an embodiment of the central paradox of the South. It is both tight and loose, and so are Southerners. Memphis has more churches of every denomination, conducting more worship services, attended by more of the faithful, than any comparably sized city in the nation.

Memphis also has more low dives and honky tonks, more high and low bars, more prostitutes and drug houses, more robberies and gang shootings, more muggings and murders, just generally more of the fast life, than any other metropolitan area in the country. If Nashville, Tennessee’s richest city, is about the greed for money and the drive to make it, Memphis is about giving in, abandoning all hope, and having a good time.

Memphis has suffered from calamities over time, including a yellow fever contagion which decimated the city in the nineteenth century and the assassination of Dr.King in the twentieth century which dealt the finishing blow to Memphis’s status as a contender in the big world of growth and commerce. For the  commercial hopers and city planners, these disasters were apocalyptic, but for the writer they created a climate and culture conducive to dream, disillusionment, regret, and loss.

The advantages for a novelist are clear and compelling. All is vanity, endeavor is doomed, and success is fleeting, evanescent, and gone. That’s the country where a novelist feels most at home.

How all this influenced me as a chronicler of a fictional pair of police detectives – one black, one white – trying to solve some crimes in the Bluff City is clear enough.  Memphis and its contradictions and energies and despair and humor emboldened me to try to capture in fiction some of its toughness, violence, obsession with barbecue and beautiful women, its racism and restiveness, and its hard-edged hilarity. I tried to do so by casting as a Memphis homicide cop a man in North Mississippi I had come to know. He was an independent cotton farmer, a Vietnam veteran who wasn’t outwardly bothered by his year in that war as a combat infantryman, and a man completely at ease with himself. He drank copious amounts of bourbon without seeming to become drunk, he loved his wife, and he had many friends, black and white, who admired and gave him great room and latitude. His fictional partner in the novel knows him to the core.

All I’m trying to do in Memphis Ribs is to show how Danny M. would act if called upon to sort out some crimes in the Bluff City.  In my attempt, I hope I’ve captured some of the gut and soul of that city on the big river that flows through the heart of America.”

Some biographical information about Gerald Duff.

Winner of the Cohen award for fiction, the philosophical society of Texas literary award, and the silver medal for fiction from the independent publishers association.

Gerald Duff is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and has published 19 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry and non-fiction. Memphis Ribs is his unforgettable tale of deception, crime, and barbecue.  Duff grew up in two parts of Texas: the petro-chemical area of the Gulf Coast, and the pine barrens of Deep East Texas, which made for two-mindedness and a bifurcated view of the world, as he demonstrates in his fiction.

He has has worked as a hand in the oil fields and the cotton fields, as a janitor, a TV camera man, a professor of English, a college dean, and as a bit actor in television drama. He has made up stories all his life and written wherever he’s been. He’s still doing that.

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Flying high above the world

High Altitude by Carol Kelly. A netgalley review.

Another example of what to a UK citizen with the NHS of the horrific consequences of the US health system.

We have a friend with a house in Florida who last year, when on holiday there, caught his finger in his garage door up-and-over. He went to his local hospital but because he had broken the skin and was bleeding as well as having broken his finger, he was not able to be treated there. He was therefore transported for 4 hours across Florida by private ambulance to a hospital where he was anaesthetised and operated on – they felt they could not stitch up this (minor) laceration without putting him to sleep and using an operating theatre. In the UK they would have done all of this in the Accident and Emergency Dept – which can stitch under local anaesthetic! Anyway, this then resulted in our friend staying over-night. Given drugs and a bill of $40,000! Just for a broken and slightly lacerated finger… he is still quivering at the size of the bill.

So cancer treatments become horrendously expensive and members of the family resort to all sorts to pay the bills. Of course. Here it seems they resort to flying with very dodgy characters into very dodgy areas of the world to undertake very dodgy missions.

High Altitude refers to the height of planes – jets – as they fly over mountains of course, but also the risks that are taken when you don’t know quite what you have let yourself into.

Not being an expert on flying I relied on the author for accuracy here and as a  former stewardess or flight attendant I am happy to assume that she was correct.

salwar kameez1 - Flying high above the world

Now as for the style of dress worn, the Salwar Kameez is a traditional Indian outfit, which I love – and actually have a set of – bought in Bangladesh. But technically the Churidar Pyjamies are the leggings – or tight trousers that are worn under the dress part. The name Churidar comes from the fact that these leggings are long, tight and intended to fold into wrinkles at the ankle, thus looking like churis or bracelets – see photo. With a salwar, the leggings are looser at the ankle. In fact, on my first visit to India I wanted to get some white cotton trousers as I thought they would be very cool, and discovered to my surprise, and the amusement of the shop assistants, that white are only worn by men and yes, are called pyjamas or pyjamies. So now we know where our ‘English’ word comes from! And also, if you wanted to buy them off the peg, you couldn’t buy women’s clothing anyway, as in India they were all made to measure. So mens’ white cotton trousers with a string waist pull cord it was – and my own salwar kameez also has a pull cord on the leggings part.

I also agree with the statement about Islamic beliefs – they are not the problem, it is the men who use them for power and control who are – after all, it is the men who insist that women are covered up so that they – the men – are not tempted…!

The Pashtun warriors mentioned are often fairer of skin as they may be descended from Iranian tribes, or some would also argue, from the offspring of Alexander’s men who stayed in India rather travel all the way back to Greece! Some also argue that they originate from the 12th Tribe of Israel, that was one of lost Tribes. They are certainly Caucasian and more Mediterranean in skin colour and feature. The tribes of the Pashtuns or Pathans traditionally originate from the Pakistan/Afghanistan borders – the high mountains. They are well known for their fierce demeanour and warrior/fighting skills. As well as sporting. They are of course, traditionally Muslim in religion, of the Sunni variant being converted around the 8th century, although some also argue that they were always followers of Mohammed and are descended from his original disciples. They are identified through 4 tribal confederacies: Bettani – ‎Ghurghakhti – ‎Karlani – ‎Sarbani; and are largely communal in culture as so many nomadic cultures are. They attach great importance to an unwritten code, called Pashtunwalli. This code defines the way members should behave to keep the tribe together. Hospitality (milmastia) is important, as is the use of the tribal council (jirga) to resolve conflicts and make decisions. Other Pashtun virtues include courage (tureh); taking revenge (badal); and protecting one’s honor (ghayrat). Another part of the Pashtun code of conduct is nanawati, a way of resolving differences through the group’s elders. []. It also true that Pashtuns are an integral part of the Taliban fighting force.

The interesting story that the characters wove about assessing needs for a school being funded by a private US philanthropist, is clearly a reference back to Greg Mortenson and his mission to create schools in this border area [see his book Three Cups of Tea, reviewed on this blog on 9th July 2013].

As always I am interested to research any flowers or native trees mentioned, so  the Kachnar tree is really Phanera variegate and  is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, from southern China, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The common names include orchid tree, camel’s foot tree, kachnar and mountain-ebony. Whilst often having white flowers, it can also have variations of pink from light to dark flowers – as in the photos.

kachnar white - Flying high above the world kachna1 pink - Flying high above the world

So back to the overall story. Whilst rather fanciful, it does follow and does make sense logically and has some good suspense aspects. The romance is not played up too much but exists in the background.  Overall I would give it 3.75 stars.

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Baited? But not a fishing line….

Baited Banner Large - Baited? But not a fishing line....
BK 1 Baited E Book Cover 200x300 - Baited? But not a fishing line....Title: Baited (3 Part Serial)
Ali Parker
Publication Date:
April 12, 2015

Rebecca Martin has achieved most things one might hope to by thirty. She is a successful business owner, drives a nice car and is wrapping up the details on a custom built home on the lake. The only thing she is missing is someone to share her accomplishments with.

One man has never been far from her thoughts – Kade McMillian, but his return to town after far too many years of chasing his dreams couldn’t be more poorly timed.

With a younger man demanding Rebecca attention at the office, she has to decide between reconstructing a relationship from her past or diving in deep to something new and seemingly forbidden.


Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Scribd


The next installments in the series:

BK 2 Baited E Book Cover 200x300 - Baited? But not a fishing line.... BK 3 Baited E Book Cover 200x300 - Baited? But not a fishing line....


Box Series Available for only $2.99

baited series box set - Baited? But not a fishing line....


Paperback Book Coming Soon…

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Author Bio

Ali Parker is a contemporary romance writer who is looking to flood the market this year with lots of great, quick reads. For those of you who love a full-length novel, we’ll be boxing up the serial trilogies into a box set a week after the last release.

We’re looking forward to putting out both Baited, and Ali’s latest project, Jaded in the month of April.

Want to know when Ali releases something new? Join her mailing list!

Amazon || Twitter || Facebook || Mailing List


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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

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How much faith do you have in our legal systems?

Losing Faith

By Adam Mitzner

Not as one might expect from the title about religion but about a person – Faith.

A person who knew too much and who threatened a man’s reason for living – his business, which in this case was a law firm and a Judge and thus corruption probable or real in the determining of sentencing for a lawyer’s clients.

Here we also have the system of how judges are promoted from one level of the judiciary to the next- is it by political favour? Or by their behaviour towards criminals whilst in court? Or by their personal life?

There was a long running series on British TV called Judge John Steed who was rather a ‘naughty’ man – in that he seemed to be constantly having affairs. The question was when was this behaviour acceptable and when wasn’t it? The series revolves around a central plot whereby the politicians and civil servants don’t like him as he a: doesn’t come from the ‘correct’ background in that he was not Eton educated etc; and b: he was a liberal or left-wing judge it was felt by the small ‘c’ conservatives in power in the Civil Service.

So why was he promoted? Was it the influence of his wife’s father who was also a judge? Unlikely, in that Steed was divorced for continuous adultery and again was ‘not quite the right sort of person’. But rather through popular opinion from when he was a Barrister defending the rights of his clients.

john steed - How much faith do you have in our legal systems?

Now clearly the personal behaviour of a Judge is important – it must be seen not to influence judgements and also must not in fact do so. And when a lawyer is involved with a Judge then things become complicated.

I did enjoy this book, mainly because it rang true in its courtroom scenes and what happened within the law firm.  The legal aspects seemed correct as far as I can judge US law – not that I know that much about UK law either…

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes legal thrillers or courtroom dramas. 4 stars.

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