Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lies a River Deep by Vera Jane Cook

General Fiction / Women's Fiction
Date Published: March 1, 2012 

Click here for RC Bean's Book Review

In the summer of 1962, at a high school graduation party, Bessie Day Hardy is victim to a brutal crime. Fifty years later, the consequences of that horrific night will transition into unforeseen events that will shatter her serene and uncomplicated life.


Vera Jane Cook

Pharaoh's Star is Vera Jane Cook's most recent release. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater was Vera Jane’s second southern fiction novel and was a finalist in the ForeWord book of the Year Awards for 2012 and received a five star ForeWord Clarion review, as well as an Eric Hoffer honorable mention award for ebook fiction in 2013. Dancing Backward in Paradise also received a 5 Star Clarion ForeWord review and an Eric Hoffer notable new fiction award in 2006, as well as the Indie Excellence Award in 2006. Also by Vera Jane Cook: Lies a River Deep, Where the Wildflowers Grow, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem. Her next novel, Pleasant Day will be published in 2015 by Moonshine Cove Press.





Book Review -- Lies a River Deep by Vera Jane Cook

Lies a River DeepLies a River Deep by Vera Jane Cook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A digital copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

This book deals with emotional trauma from a "bracing up to revisit the past" angle. Bessie, a victim of a brutal rape deals with her demons from the past, when she was a beautiful teenager, the envy of many. Being raped left her shattered. Now, 60 years old, she encounters people from her past again. The river here plays an important role - an abstract form of deep, deadly and buried secrets. The support characters, including Bessie's mom, Grey, the dunce of the town and Maggie, his wife, and Lily, Bessie's friend from high school. Bessie also had two ardent suitors - brothers Bart and Roland. One of these suite of people seems to be holding a secret - did one of them know about Bessie's rape, and if they did, why did they keep silent about it, is what the book helps us know, as Bessie unravels the happenings of her past.

The book has a promising premise and plot - but the narrative is at times caught between developing the plot and delving into the characters, that it ends losing momentum. Had the pace been a tad more brisk, the book would have been a much better read. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the author's command of the language and enjoyed reading the book.

I recommend it to lovers of thriller - drama hybrids.

My rating for this book: 3 stars

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The Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon

Click here for RC Bean's Book Review

EVERY WRITER KNOWS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN. But that’s just what is required of West Texas expatriate Dee Bennett-Kaufmann when her mother is badly injured in a mysterious car accident.

Single-again “Dr. Dee” has never been on the “A-team” in her trendy East Coast MFA program. When a prestigious summer fellowship gives her the chance to finally finish her book, salvage her career, and spend some quality time with her college-age daughter — Dee’s certain her luck is about to change. Returning to care for her irascible, widowed mother threatens all of that.
With so much at stake, Dee engineers a series of unorthodox strategies and creative tradeoffs to keep her options in play—and despite herself finds friendship, love, and the power of words in the unlikeliest of places.
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 About the Authors

Meet Barbara Brannon

Barbara Brannon studied poetry with James Dickey at the University of South Carolina, where she earned the M.A. and Ph.D. Her poems have appeared in the Asheville Poetry Review, Cenacle, the South Carolina Review, and Yemassee, among other journals and magazines. She is a frequent contributor of travel and feature articles and author of The Ferries of North Carolina: Traveling the State’s Nautical Highways. Now heading up a nonprofit in Texas, she formerly served as managing editor of the University of South Carolina Press and director of the Publishing Laboratory in the Creative Writing Department of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her current projects include a history of the Hampshire Bookshop of Northampton, Massachusetts, a mainstay of American bookselling from 1916 to 1971. She is coauthor, with Kay Ellington, of the novel The Paragraph Ranch.

Meet Kay Ellington
Cotton fields, pumpjacks, and Friday Night Lights defined the world KAY ELLINGTON grew up in West Texas. A gypsy of newspapering, her career took her from New York to California to the Carolinas–and finally, back again to Texas.

You can find Kay and Barbara on Facebook at, and on their website at

Book Review -- The Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington

The Paragraph RanchThe Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A digital copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

The tale revolves round Dee, who is a victim of the classic instance of Murphy's law. On the verge of taking up a fellowship which could give her all that she had been missing in life, she is forced to toss her research aside and head home, when her mom is seriously ill. Not looking forward to going back to her place for various reasons, she is least prepared for what she encounters there.

This drama - romance hybrid is set in Texas. I was apprehensive about the narrative and characters - I presumed I would find myself thrown into a stereotyped Texan world, which I have found more and more rampant these days. I have felt that the stereotyped approach had ruined many nice plots. Thankfully, The Paragraph Ranch is a brilliant take on life in the region - and a very enjoyable one at that. The plot flows ever so naturally and the interaction between the characters brings a smile to the face - Dee's character specifically is endearing. Her bewilderment, perplexity and the subsequent emotional upheaval, at facing warmth and kindness in the place she least expected it, has been brought out very well. I am also thoroughly impressed that this has been authored by two people - the narrative. is so seamless and flows effortlessly. Easily one of the best dual or multi author books I've read. The only point that I wish the authors had focused on was rounding up the sharp edges of the other characters equally well. Especially since Dee's character is so well formed, it highlights the shallowness in the portrayal of the others even more.

I definitely recommend this to lovers of drama and romance.

My rating for this book: 4 stars

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