Hampton Roads Writers

Books written by friends of Hampton Roads Writers

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Likeness of Being

Nathan Richardson
ISBN: 0976584204, Paperback - from $6.95 BUY

In Likeness of Being: A Poetic Look at Friends and Strangers, poet Nathan M. Richardson offers readers an invitation to his soulful, Southern roots. Full of verbal word play and heavy signifyin’, Likeness of Being is not only imbued with several, contemplative poems that heighten the reader’s consciousness, but also skillfully laced with inspiring images from the poet’s past. Richardson reveres such things as the importance of family, tradition, and community, as well as the immaculate wonder of nature, spirituality, and God in his deft poetry. Even the sweet smell of magnolia trees are illuminated in Richardson’s ‘jazzy’ collection. One added feature to this inspiring collection is the compilation CD, featuring Richardson reading all of his poems. The CD is included at the end of his book. Likeness of Being is truly a wonderful collection.


Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher

Lenore Hart
ISBN: 0312373279, Hardcover - 16.47 BUY

Hart's latest imagines the fictional Becky Thatcher—best known as Tom Sawyer's crybaby girlfriend—as a strong heroine whose true story was held back by childhood friend Samuel Clemens, who chose to give the charismatic Tom Sawyer center stage in his writings. Hart's riveting and often moving take intersperses Becky's version of events in the Mark Twain novel with the events of Becky's life as the wife of Tom's cousin Sid during and after the Civil War.


Ordinary Springs

Lenore Hart
ISBN: 0425200051, paperback - 4.99 BUY

Dory Gamble's mother disappeared when Dory was just two, leaving Dory and her father in tiny Ordinary Springs, Fla., where lovelorn town ladies circled like buzzards, but the abandoned twosome counted only on each other. Hart (Waterwoman) spins a homespun tale in fine Southern soap opera tradition, as Dory grows up and goes a little wild in the 1950s. The trouble starts when sultry Myra Fitzgerald and her invalid war hero husband, Frank, move in next door. One night, as Myra and Dory's father explore their feelings for each other in the next room, Dory finds herself an accidental accomplice in Frank's suicide. Haunted by guilt and alienated from her father, Dory submits to the advances of a childhood friend the night she turns 16. Her plan is to skip town with money she stole from her dad's hardware store, but she winds up back at home, with the authorities fingering her for Frank's death. It's reform school time—until Dory escapes and winds up at a roadside diner and reptile farm where she works as a waitress, lives in a tepee and gives birth to a daughter. More surprises are still to come—including one about her mother. Gritty, fierce and a little over the top plotwise, Hart's novel is a fine vintage portrait of a tough girl whom life teaches to be tougher.


Water Woman

Lenore Hart
ISBN: 0425190072, paperback - 3.99 BUY

Alternately understated and melodramatic, Hart's debut reads like a Greek tragedy crossed with Peyton Place. For most of her 20 years, Annie Revels ("the sister who was never much to look at") has taken a back seat to her beautiful sister, Rebecca, four years her junior. They live with their gruff and leathery father, George, and their mentally fragile "Mam" on a small island off the Virginia coast in the early 1900s. They receive no formal education, so Rebecca spends her days lolling about as Mam's favorite daughter, while Annie prefers roughing it on the water with her fisherman father, trapping the crabs and oysters that humbly sustain the family. But George warns her that this can't be her future: "Women and water? That's black gum against thunder." Hart's grasp of the turn of the century regional vernacular lends an authentic tone to the narrative. Equally impressive is her research on the rules of the water and the lifestyle of watermen. After her father's death, Annie bucks society and becomes a waterwoman so she can care for her helpless invalid mother and sister, "oversized children I had suddenly birthed, innocent beyond reason and without a clue." She has resigned herself to supporting her family for the rest of her days when she's hit by a squall called Nathan Combs, a handsome tour boat captain who capsizes Annie's ideas about herself and her future. At this juncture, the novel becomes a gothic page-turner and a tear-jerking drama. Hart reaches surprising emotional depths with her exploration of sibling rivalry, familial commitment and social taboos.


The Threat

David Poyer
ISBN: 0312339615, Available new and used from 2.48 BUY

In Poyer's ninth Dan Lenson novel (after 2004's The Command), his navy hero joins the National Security Council staff at the White House, where the Congressional Medal of Honor winner runs into an unconvincing presidential assassination plot. Robert De Bari, a Clintonesque figure who's despised by the military for his failure to serve in Vietnam and is known for a roving eye, occupies the Oval Office after the first Gulf War. Lenson assumes a host of tasks, from antidrug duty for the NSC to being the president's military aide carrying the legendary briefcase with its nuclear launch codes. As astute as Lenson is, he proves to be naïve as forces that want De Bari replaced by the vice president manipulate him.


The Anvil of Our Souls: A Novel of the Monitor and the Merrimack

David Poyer
ISBN: 0684871351, Available new and used from .48 BUY

The veteran of 25 sea novels, Poyer (Fire on the Waters) extends his Civil War at Sea saga with this third installment, which begins with Catherine Claiborne burying her infant daughter, while learning that her husband, Kyd Claiborne, faces hanging as a pirate. Enter Union naval engineer Theodorus Hubbard to work on the Monitor and fire-eater Lomax Minter to search for spies working on the rival Merrimack, with the climactic March 1862 battle of the two ironclads (off Hampton Roads, Va.) looming. Poyer mixes fictional characters with the likes of Monitor builder John Ericson and Commodore Franklin Buchanan (whose wounding in the first day's battle is described in grisly detail) to nice effect. Escaped slave Calpurnius Hanks sticks to his guns, literally, in spite of a shorthanded U.S. Navy that can't shake off racism and his ship, the Cumberland, sinking under him. A larger cast than Poyer's naval Dan Lenson novels makes for occasional choppiness, but otherwise this book is every bit as good; Poyer makes readers see and feel the blockade and the men who tried to maintain it.


Korea Strait

David Poyer
ISBN: 0312360495, Hardback $16.47BUY

The taut 10th entry in Poyer's series featuring U.S. Navy commander Dan Lenson (following The Threat) is rich in the naval detail fans have come to expect. After refusing a request that he take a medical retirement (after his political hot-potato adventures saving the president from assassination), Dan is less than pleased when he's put on the shelf and ordered to oversee a small crew of U.S. civilians and retired military personnel who will participate in an international training exercise off the Korean peninsula. But even before he comes aboard the South Korean frigate on which he and his team will be stationed, the discovery of a disabled North Korean submarine off the coast—and the lethal response of the survivors, trapped within—is the first clue he has that North Korea may have decided to plunge the world into nuclear war. From there, Poyer provides readers with a satisfying, fast-paced narrative in which Dan must negotiate his past, his superiors and an unpredictable submerged enemy. Poyer's tech talk throughout is nicely turned, and Dan Lenson remains a winningly weary hero.


The Rapture of Canaan

Sheri Reynolds
ISBN: 0425162443, paperback - 11.90 BUY

Oprah Book Club® Selection, April 1997: Members of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind spend their days and nights serving the Lord and waiting for the Rapture--that moment just before the Second Coming of Christ when the saved will be lifted bodily to heaven and the damned will be left behind to face the thousand years of tribulation on earth. The tribulation, according to Grandpa Herman, founder of Fire and Brimstone, will be an ugly time: "He said that we'd run out of food. That big bugs would chase us around and sting us with their tails . . . He said we'd turn on the faucet in the bathroom and find only blood running out . . . He said evil multitudes would come unto us and cut off our limbs, and that we wouldn't die . . . And then he'd say, 'But you don't have to be left behind. You can go straight to Heaven with all of God's special children if you'll only open your hearts to Jesus . . .'"
Such talk of damnation weighs heavy on the mind of Ninah Huff, the 15-year-old narrator of Sheri Reynolds's second novel, The Rapture of Canaan. To distract her from sinful thoughts about her prayer partner James, Ninah puts pecan shells in her shoes and nettles in her bed. But concentrating on the Passion of Jesus cannot, in the end, deter Ninah and James from their passion for each other, and the consequences prove both tragic and transforming for the entire community.
The Rapture of Canaan is a book about miracles, and in writing it, Reynolds has performed something of a miracle herself. Although the church's beliefs and practices may seem extreme (sleeping in an open grave, mortifying the flesh with barbed wire), its members are complex and profoundly sympathetic as they wrestle with the contradictions of Fire and Brimstone's theology, the temptations of the outside world, and the frailties of the human heart.


Firefly Cloak

Sheri Reynolds
ISBN: 0307341836, paperback - 10.40 BUY

Reynolds's The Rapture of Cannan was a list-topping Oprah pick in 1996. Tenyears later, Reynolds's fourth novel gets going quickly by page five: alcoholic, drug-addicted single mom Sheila, taking up in Alabama with the latest in a string of ne'er-do-wells, deserts her two young children at a campground. Eight-year-old Tessa Lee awakes to find toddler Travis wandering around with a phone number magic-markered on his back and has only the shawl left by her mother, festooned with fireflies made of colorful thread, for comfort. Four pages and seven years later, Tessa Lee, who has been living with her grandparents, runs away to confront her mother, who has been sighted working as a mermaid at a Massachusetts boardwalk; she tells Sheila of Travis's death two years earlier and promptly loses her mother a second time. Ranging over the points of view of Tessa Lee, Sheila and distraught grandmother Lil, Reynolds flashes back periodically while the three try to eke out a present. Reynolds is frank in depicting Sheila's often reprehensible behavior and tender in portraying the warmth between Tessa Lee and Lil.


A Gracious Plenty

Sheri Reynolds
ISBN: 0609803875, paperback - 11.16 BUY

Spirits are as roundly characterized as the living in this fey, mesmerizing novel by Reynolds. …. Shunned for her disfiguring burn scars, narrator Finch Nobles tends her Southern small-town cemetery and literally hangs out with the dead--a sensual, kinetic bunch who spend their time affecting the weather and making peace with their pasts.


Bitterroot Landing

Sheri Reynolds
ISBN: 042516246X, paperback - 4.65 BUY

Reynold's first novel is an original, lyrically written tale about an incest survivor's recovery. By age 21, Jael has experienced the loss of her guardian, whom she accidentally killed 10 years earlier; sexual abuse by the man who subsequently adopted her; and abandonment by another in the swampy, Southern backwoods setting. Educated by her guardian and on her own, Jael is utterly unprepared for the wider world she finally enters. A social worker, a survivor's group and the inhabitants of a local church community ease her move into society and her gradual understanding of what has happened to her. Reynolds makes minimal use of the psychological jargon of victimization; Jael, quirky and dead sure of her instincts, is a beautifully realized character. The novel's suggestion of an almost mythic female spiritual power, and the abundance of religious imagery, including the presence in the village of the Madonna, is occasionally tiresome, and the male characters are not as fleshed-out as the female ones. Still, Reynolds aims high and just about hits the bull's-eye, displaying a self-assurance and a taste for moral and social issues that make her debut a most welcome one.


Wake

Lisa McMann
ISBN: 1416953574, Hardcover - 10.87 BUY

YOUR DREAMS ARE NOT YOUR OWN.For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime. She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control. Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....


God is Dead

Ron Currie
ISBN: 0670038679, Hardcover - 16.46 BUY

From a mind-blowing new talent, an audacious novel that imagines the world after God takes human form and dies When God descends to Earth as a Dinka woman from Sudan and subsequently dies in the Darfur desert, the result is a world both bizarrely new yet eerily familiar. In Ron Currie’s provocative, wise, and emotionally resonant novel we meet God himself; the Dinka woman whose mortality He must suffer when He inhabits her body; people all over the world coping with the devastating news of God’s demise; a group of young men who, fearing the end of the world, take fate into their own hands; mental patients who insist that a god still exists; armies taking up the eternal war between fate and free will; and parents who, in the absence of a deity and the “lack of anything to do on Sundays,” worship their children. On the surface, this is a world utterly transformed—yet certain things remain unchanged: protective parents clash with willful, idealistic teenagers; idols are exalted; small-town rumor mills run unabated; and children often don’t realize how to forgive their parents until it’s too late. In God Is Dead, Currie brings together a prescient satirical gift worthy of Jonathan Swift, the raw appeal of Chuck Palahniuk’s blackest comedy, and the thought-provoking ethical questions of Kurt Vonnegut, all with a light touch, empathy, and wisdom that make for an exhilarating reading experience. Offbeat yet accessible, God Is Dead is an exciting debut from a fresh new voice in contemporary fiction.


More Than Magick

Rick Taubold
ISBN: 0974363987, Paperback - 6.99 BUY

What if you were told you have a power you didnt know about? What if you were told that you have to use it to save the universe from a major baddie? What if no one will tell you how you are suppose to do this? Scott Madison is about to find out.


Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

Ellen Meister
ISBN: 0060824816, Paperback - $11.16 BUY

A host of suburban housewives inhabits this story of a school that is building a stadium with funds from a Hollywood movie company. Its latest movie stars George Clooney, and all the mothers in the PTA want to be involved. Enter Suzanne Podobinski, who wants the glory for herself but who finds herself pitted against ex-lawyer Maddie Schein, as well as love-starved Ruth Moss and quiet Lisa Slotnick, who actually brings Clooney to the school. Lisa Kudrow's narration is wonderful as she follows the interactions of the women, portraying their competitiveness and drive to succeed. A little sex, some affairs, and some scandals add spice to the infighting and bonding.


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