Monday, March 31, 2014

The Ballad of Tome Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb

The song made famous by the Kingston Trio actually has a bit of fact to back it up.  Of course it is not all true starting with it was Tom Dula and not a straight out murder that he hung his head and cried for.

Post  Civil War times are hard and none of life is easy.  Some people seem to just make life more difficult though.  Tom Dula loves Ann Melton, how happens to be married.  He will also sleep with two of her cousins who also sleep with other men.  It seems there are lots and lots of lose morals about.  Eventually there is a killing and Tom Dula goes to trial.

Zebulon Vance is the lawyer and he is always appealing, even when he knows he is not the best person for the job.

The rest of the characters are hard to like and at times I had to stop reading, sometimes for weeks, because they ticked me off so much.

The novel is well written, researched, and has a lot of flavor, I just spent the time disliking the characters so much I wanted to reach in the book and give them a good slap upside the head.  It can be said the characters evoke strong emotion.

Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb

Sometimes the layers of time are not so far apart and an innocent event can lead to the stirring of old events. 

Following several characters in two different times the book is a well paced page turner that leaves the reader wanting to know more about the North Carolina mountains, Zebulon Vance, and Malinda Blalock.

Reading Ghost Riders after reading The Ballad of Tom Dooley and The Ballad of Frankie Silver makes those two novels even better.

Take some time to visit another time.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Being the new kid is always tough. Being the new kid that is being hit on by the school bully is worse.  Roy just wants to get along and be left alone and then one day he notices the running boy.

Following the boy becomes his focus which leads him to a new friend, trouble, and an environmental issue.

A fun read about burrowing owls in Florida which is presented with the usual Hiaasen wit and humor.  If I taught an environmental science class this would be on my required reading list.

I read this when I bought it in 2004 and still enjoyed it again, always the sign of good writing.