What Amy Greene and The Avett Brothers have in common…..

by Edie Wadsworth on November 18, 2010

books

If I were stranded alone on a deserted island and could only take the bare necessities with me, I’d take my espresso maker and my books.

I know what you’re thinking.

I’m gonna wish I had my toothbrush and my laptop. Okay, I’ll take those too.

If there’s one thing that I don’t like about hotel rooms or traveling in general, it’s that I don’t have all my books with me.

Maybe I’m inordinately attached to books.

But they’re so a part of who I am that I want them near.

I re-read parts of my favorite books all the time. Some of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes play like a melody in my head at the most serendipitous times.

If there’s anything that I hope to leave as a legacy to my children, it would be a love for reading good books.

It was recently pointed out to me by a facebook friend that I seem to only read male writers.      So, I promptly surveyed my nightstand and various bookshelves and it’s true. I seem to be quite partial to the boys.   But in my defense, I like theology and classics and historical fiction, a large percentage of which are written by men.     I do have a few favorite female authors that I truly respect, like Geraldine Brooks, Louisa May Alcott and JK Rowling. As a matter of fact, J.K. Rowling may be singlehandedly responsible for giving me back my childhood by teaching me to love fantasy.
(side note: we are huge Harry Potter fans and are going to see The Deathly Hallows tomorrow, on opening day at 12:30. And before you send me hate mail, please read this post and listen to these podcasts—very eye opening about the disservice done to Rowling by the christian community)

Enter Amy Greene.

Amy is the author of this year’s new bestseller Bloodroot. She was also recently awarded Tennessee’s Writer of the Year award AND named as one of Amazon’s debut fiction writers this year. I was fortunate enough to meet Amy a few weeks ago at our local fall festival at a book signing. Several of my friends had told me that I HAD to read her book, that I’d love it—but when I met Amy, I had yet to read it so I bought a signed book and read it within a few days. For a little backstory, it’s a book about growing up in Appalachia, with plenty of ‘dark and twisty’ truth thrown in. There’s so much I wanna say about the book but I’ll do it by way of an email I sent Amy, who has since graciously agreed to come to my bookclub in January!!! (she lives ten minutes from me, btw)

I’ve been devouring your book just as fast as my little ones will let me steal away. I woke up at 4a this morning and couldn’t wait to get back to the story.
It happens to me every now and then with a book or some music—–that soul-stirring that makes you squirm a little and lays bear your own vulnerabilities in a way that can’t be conjured up…….Your writing has had a similar effect on me as when I first listened to the Avett Brothers’ music. It has forever changed me and how I see the world. It validates my years of pain. It speaks healing and acceptance to the darkness that lingers near. I won’t be the same.
So thank you for truth, which leads us all closer to home.
Your newest adoring fan,
Edie

At bookclub tomorrow, I get to tell my friends that Amy Greene, in the flesh, is coming to my house for book discussion.  How cool is that?  Maybe we’ll even skype some of you in to join us too.

You should definitely read the book and  bear in mind that for many folks, life has had it’s share of the  dark and twisty.

And that brings me to my final point.   At  bookclub tomorrow, during this, our poetry semester, we’re bringing lyrics to two of our favorite songs for discussion.  I am a fiend for song lyrics.     I knew right away that for one of my songs, I’d bring ‘Head Full of Doubt-Road Full of Promise’ by the Avett Brothers.   I’ll even take the liberty to say, since it’s only my opinion anyways, that this song is a lyrical interpretation of Bloodroot.  And perhaps in some ways,  my own little life for that matter.

So, I’d be EVER so interested to know some of your thoughts on this song, its’ lyrics, its’ meaning.

Or else tell me your favorite song (lyrics) and why.   Just so ya know, if you pick Justin Bieber or Lil’ Wayne, and you’re not under 15, we may have to renegotiate the rules of our friendship.  Amen.

It would probably be fair to say that many of the artists’ I have mentioned have been criticized for the ‘darkness’ they portray.  But those of us who’ve wrestled with real darkness in our hearts and in our past, can say with all boldness that the darkness cannot be faced unless it is acknowledged and brought to light.   I’m proud of those who have helped us to ‘see it’.

What do Amy Greene and The Avett Brothers and JK Rowling, for that matter, have in common?  They are gifted artists who speak truth in powerful ways.

And truth leads us all closer to home.


There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
And in the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

P.S.  I’m in the process of setting up an affiliates program with Amazon of things I like.  I’ve added Bloodroot so far. If you click to buy the book here, Amazon will send me 3 cents. Or so.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy Avery November 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Beautiful commentary! I too have a love of CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, JK Rowling . . . I will throw in Jane Austen also. I am intrigued by your description of Amy Greene’s book and will put it on my list of new reads.As a Tennessean and resident of the Appalachian area, I think it sounds very interesting. Thank you also for your positive plug for Harry Potter. JK Rowling is “brilliant” to coin the British phrase! Enjoy the movie tonight!

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2 Pbhoney1 November 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

o.k. Edie, you asked, here goes…..my new favorite song (new as in heard it for the first time about 13 years ago, but definitely not a new song)
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell HIm all about our troubles
HE will hear our faintest cry
And HE will answer by and by
And when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
You will know a little fire is burning
Just a little talk with JESUS makes it right! Happy Thnaksgiving….

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3 Lindsey @ PiecefullyHome November 18, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I’ve been intrigued by this song of the Avett Brothers for awhile and have wondered what it meant. I believe their dad was a preacher so I can’t help but interpret some religious themes into this. Sometimes I think they are saying they are breaking free from their faith altogether which is sad, but then again maybe it’s about finding faith, too. And then again maybe it has nothing to do with religion at all! :)

I focus on the lines

And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

It’s beautifully written. My favorite line in a song just happens to be from them, too. I love “Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name…”

Not necessarily deep, but I love it just the same. T

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4 Maureen November 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm

New to your blog and loving it. That you are are an Avett Bros. and Harry Potter fan just put you at the top of the list my friend. Our 16 year old daughter went to some lame concert this summer and called us all excited because the Avett Brothers were the opening act. Her friends were amazed that she knew every song and the rest of us are still jealous that she saw them live. I think their song, “Ballad of Love and Hate” is probably one of the most beautiful and clever songs I’ve heard.

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5 Elizabeth Highsmith November 18, 2010 at 2:05 pm

i have a blog post sittin over in blogger on “the solid rock” i’ll take most holy for $400, Alex. a favorite conversation between bathroom stalls at an old church i went to went something like, “what are you reading’ ‘harry potter, you’re not one of those people who think i’m going to hell for reading it are you?’ no, sweetie, no i’m not.”

let’s cut a deal: if you use your charms and get the avett brothers to music club you best call me, i’ll be in tennessee in a red hot minute, think they’re single……oh how i love the deep lyrical melodies…..blame it on my dark side

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6 Crystal November 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I’ll have to take a peek at Bloodroot, although, I tend not to have nearly as much time to read as I would like right now. All that darn sleep, and life seem to get in the way. And I am glad to hear that we won’t be the only ones taking our kiddos to see Harry Potter in the wee hours tomorrow. Tonight, I get to be the cool mom:)

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7 kathy November 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Just want to thank you for introducing me to The Avett Brothers. Where have I been all of these years not to have known of their music?! They are amazing, poetic, so talented. I went on trip to visit friends in Georgia a couple of weeks ago- by myself- no kids, no husband (this pretty much never happens). The Avett Brothers was my soundtrack for the trip. As their music was a perfect backdrop to Bloodroot for you, their music was a perfect backdrop to my time in the GA mountains. This is music you want to share with everyone- it speaks to the heart and the soul. Thank you for sharing!

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8 Sarah November 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Edie, I don’t think it is strange that there is a predominance of male authors on your shelves. There is a predominance of male authors on my shelves, too! It is comforting to “meet” another woman with similar tastes. Have you read “Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl” by N.D. Wilson? It’s a good ‘ern!
Since I am an old hymn junkie, I have to say my fave song lyrics (for this exact instant only, because in a moment a different hymn will pop into my head and my fave will change…my one ADHD trait!) are these:

From ev’ry stormy wind that blows,
From ev’ry swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat,
‘Tis found beneath the mercy-seat.

There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads,
A place than all besides more sweet;
It is the blood-stained mercy-seat.

There is a spot where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend,
Tho’ sundered far; by faith they meet
Around the common mercy-seat.

Ah, whither could we flee for aid,
When tempted, desolate, dismayed,
Or how the hosts of hell defeat,
Had suff’ring saints no mercy-seat?

There, there on eagle wings we soar,
And time and sense seem all no more,
And heav’n comes down our souls to greet,
And glory crowns the mercy-seat….

O may my hand forget her skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy-seat.

- Hugh Stowell, From Ev’ry Stormy Wind That Blows

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9 Beth November 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

LOVED Bloodroot. I heard an interview with Amy Greene on NPR and immediately requested the book from the library. It is dark, it is twisted, but our lives are, too. Just like you said. How wonderful to get to meet her and have her share in your book club!

blessings, Beth

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10 Molly Pearce November 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I love this Edie! Love the song too! I am going to have to get that book now!! For the past year the Lord has put it on my heart to tell everyone about Him! At first I thought what?! Me?! I was scared but when I felt the urge to tell I just did. He has also placed it on my heart to do something with the homeless, and again I asked what?! me?! I am not trying to boast about this just telling you what God has placed on my heart because I get all the time that I am trying to be a goodie goodie or I am bboasting and it is so not that. Anyways to get to the point because you asked what is one of our fave songs, well mine would have to be Mercy by Casting Crowns and Blessed Redeemer by Casting Crowns. These two songs really speak to my heart and want me to be a better servant for Him and spread His message. I find myself now crying through service when before I was always waiting till 12 to go get something to eat, I cry when I see someone in need and always feel this urge to just go and help them. At first I didn’t know what came over me but when I looked deep enough and started reading the Word more I realized it was my sweet BFF Jesus! Ok enough rambling :) Really the whole CD is great by Casting Crowns titled Until the Whole Hears, me and my hubby listen to it in the evenings together and I think it really brings us closer to Him and to each other. Hope you have a fabulous my friend!! Oh and P.S My brother rededicated his life to Christ Saturday night and my baby sister got saved. I balled the whole night I was so happy! We went to see Clayton King speak and 25 others got saved too! I was an emotional wreck :)

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11 Flower Patch Farmgirl November 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I am unfamiliar (mostly) with The Avett Brothers. Scandalous, I know. But this song is lovely.

I need to get my mitts on Bloodroot. I already know I would love it. I have a particular fondness for dark-ish literature.

And even though you didn’t really ask, I will still share with you that I personally believe, and will so forever, that Tim McGraw’s “Angry All the Time” is the lyrical interpretation of “We Were The Mulvaneys”, by Joyce Carol Oates. The book haunted me for ages after I read it and one day the song came on the radio, probably a year or more later, and it made So. Much. Sense. Who knew that Timmy was such a fan of fine literature? ;)

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12 CarrieBeth Sherwood November 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

ok wow. i just discovered your blog a little over a week ago via the “whatever” blog. i’ve been perusing your blog and i’m in love with it. then you went and wrote this post…about books….and lyrics….and music…and your blog is now a FAVORITE of mine. how have i not heard of the avett brothers? and that song? straight truth.
thank you for writing.

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13 Laurel November 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

What a reccommendations – I cannot wait to read that book!

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14 Jessicapwashburn November 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Love that song. Funny, once again we are like sisters or something…I was asked for a church thing what I’d want my legacy to be for my kids and I said the exact same thing. On a Harry Potter note…I still haven’t read any (maybe half of one aloud years ago), but tonight Kimball’s taking the boys to the pre screening. My friend is doing a fund raiser trying to get her autistic son a much needed service dog. You make me want to read the entire series in one sitting. I was also thinking of what I’d take on a deserted island a few days ago, here’s what I came up with: laptop (because many books are online), toothbrush, razor, mascara and lip gloss. As for lyrics/songs I am mad about music, so that will take me a while. Lastly, I’m completely bummed that I can’t join your fabulous book club.

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15 Kendal November 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

What a great post! I will put Bloodroot on my Christmas lsit, for sure.

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16 Amber November 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

If you have not yet, please please please go see The Avett Brothers in concert! I’ve been an avid fan of this band for years, and even though I think their music is fabulous it’s even better live. My favorite song of theirs is “November Blue.” :)

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17 Trudy November 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm

That first verse is shattering. I had rumblings in my soul when I woke up today and immediately began to pray for release, relief; I was feeling kind of desperate because it is old stuff that I think is gone or over then it rears it’s ugly head and I cower in fear. Now here you are simply sharing your truth and I have a name for it, dark and twisty, that helps me feel empowered and a friend that is alive, vibrant, loving, giving, a wife, a mother, someone who has been there and back again, again …many, many thanks Edie.

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18 Hopeful November 18, 2010 at 5:46 pm

You are such a gift.

Lyrics are heard so differently based on what you are going through – don’t you think? I am LISTENING to songs I have heard for years…yet finally HEARING them.
My favorite album right now is Jon Foreman – Winter. A song called “Learning How to Die”

“And I said, “Please, don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing
goes away..
all along – thought I was learning how to take
how to bend not how to break
how to live not how to cry
but really,
I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”
Cool side note- Jon Foreman posted his hand written lyrics to his songs on his web site. I print them and poke them to my wall. ‘Cause lyrics are great, and in the handwriting of the artist…sweetness.

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19 Anneworthington November 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm

You make me want to read (and that’s something I have definitely neglected in my “adult” life)! And I love that song!

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20 Melissa Stover November 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

ok i’ll read it. you talked me into it.

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21 ellen November 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

lovely song. edie, i’d like to write about a whole host of other things but my mind keeps coming back to langston hughes. it seems that these lyrics pose an opposite but close question: “what happens to a dream that isn’t deferred?” actually, it would be very interesting to look at this song in the context of freedom songs. i know dear old langston is possible over used and trite feeling (although i don’t think he’s trite at all!) but i feel the same kind of deferred hope in what i would call the “before” portion of these lyrics.

i’m on a patty griffin kick right now. “rowing song” and “when it don’t come easy,” to be specific.

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22 Andrea Kiser Martin November 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

ok, edie. I just had to buy this song and I (listen to Pandora and never buy music b/c my hubs is a musician and buys enough for both of us…and our children) was touched by this song as it speaks to some tough life things we’re going through right now. Thank you for introducing me to the Avett Bros….! and new craft projects, recipes,…and I could go on :) Thank you!

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23 Sharyates November 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

This is a great song. I thought about all of the whiners who say they can’t do this or they can’t do that. I just say “do it”, follow your dream and it is never too late. I really like the lyrics in most of Alison Krauss’ songs. One of your commentors got it right when she said something about the lyrics meaning different things depending on what one might be going through at the time. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on all of this stuff. Will put the book on my list for sure.

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24 Kristen November 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I have to say that I have pile of books all over my house. I love decorating in books! Even with all the books I own, I’m a regular at the library as I continually look for new books that encourage / inspire / amuse / challenge me. Side note, isn’t the new Lutheran Study Bible a great resource?

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25 edie wadsworth November 19, 2010 at 11:54 am

it’s amazing kristen. i left mine at church last week and felt lost
all week. i had to use my husband’s confirmation bible. not nearly
as good.
thanks for reading.
:)
edie

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26 Celesta November 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hey Edie:

Good read! I’ve had the Avetts on constant rotation since last spring. I think the haunting beauty of Headful is its adaptive and timeless nature – it can mean different things at all stages of life/experience. I heard Scott and Seth say in an interview that the song almost missed making the album. It was a last minute add on. Lucky for us it found its way to the album. Another song with that adaptive quality that is AWESOME is U2′s Moment of Surrender. Oh, my. It’s like a Psalm.

I’m a book lover, too. I’ve got one going in every room in the house. I’m currently hooked on Frederick Buechner.

Thanks for your great blog.

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27 ulli November 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Hi Edie,
Thanks for introducing me to Bloodroot. Don’t fall off your chair, avid reader that you are, but I’m not an avid reader. When I was growing up we were taught to ‘do something constructive’, meaning something we can show for our time. Thus I’m an avid handcrafter, stitcher, sewer, etc. I can still hear my mom saying ‘put that book down and do something constructive’. In her later years Mom became an avid reader and said she thinks she was making up for lost time. Bloodroot sounds like my kind of reading–reaching my soul and stirring it. I love Appalachia and her people–in many ways my heart has always been there. I’ve put this book on my Christmas wish list!
The Avett Brothers are another gem I learned about from you. Again–soul stirring music, lyrics, voices. The lyrics to Head Full of Doubt… are just that. Their meaning is something I’ll muddle over as I listen again and again.
As for my favorite song… well there are too many. I’d say these 3 are in my top 5. The Road to Zion by Petra because it’s so true. Period. Another would be Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone), and also from Chris Tomlin, How Great is our God.
Thanks for continuing to inspire.
Blessings…

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28 Sue November 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Both of my boys read because I started reading to them when they were babies. In fact while they were nursing I would read the bible to them so they have been exposed to books since they were born. It is a great thing to encourage and if your child can’t read they really won’t do well in any subject because you have to read to know how to do what ever it is you are trying to do, be a math problem or the rules of tennis, football, or hockey. Everything we do starts with reading something to get it done.

Ummm, I am saying this with a big grin on my face and fun in my heart, but Honey if you take your Espresso Maker or your Lap Top to the island neither are going to work unless you bring a ton of batteries. I have always thought that the one thing I love to have with me on an island is a book about survival. I know you can watch birds and other animals eat leaves and berries to know if you can eat them too, and I might be able to start a fire after many days of trial and error but I have no clue how to make a shelter or a fishing pole or well, so many things I have no clue how to do. It would be fun to learn.

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29 Trudy November 20, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Woa ho, I read Year of Wonders last year I believe, I must have gotten it off one of your reading lists. I could not put it down! So that is Geraldine Brookes, well I shall have to read some more of her works. ( I don’t always remember authors, but tell me a story and I carry it with me.)
I would like to recommend yet another male author, Khaled Hosseini. He wrote A Thousand Splended Suns, and although he is well known for The Kite Runner, this work is about two women from different generations in Kabuhl. I have felt compelled to read about Afganistan because we are (sadly and although we don’t speak of it much) a country at war. We send our soldiers (God Bless Them) over there …where is there? Who are they over there? I like historical fiction because it fills in some of the gaps…like what were the women and children and old people doing while all this chaos was happening.
Believe it or not I was relaxing with a cuppa watching Miss Marple (sigh) when this came to me. God gave us humans amazing minds!

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30 sandy toe November 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

With your love of reading…you need a “Kindle” :)

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31 Kathleen Langridge November 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm

So crucial to bring the darkness into the light. I was among those who doubted J K Rowling but as I read them and watched the films the truth is so clear and the darkness and light are so distinguishable, unlike much modern writing. We are often confronted by fear driven people including people of faith who do not recognize their own fear but seem compelled to ‘encourage’ others to fear along side of them. May the grace givers and people of compassion and mercy increase in number and voice. Thank you for your courage to share.

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32 Jennifer@ Wheretheheartis November 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Edie,
You and I actually share a lot of musical interests as I have a deep love fro Brandi Carlisle and the Avett Brothers also. I think this song by them is amazing but I have recently also been introduced to Mumford and Sons. The words to “The Cave” are really speaking to me lately but I think it has a lot to do with what is going on in your life at the moment. An all time favorite of mine is Brandis “the story” and also “turpentine”.

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33 Renee November 23, 2010 at 5:20 am

Just added Bloodroot to my list of books on reserve at the library. Looking forward to reading by the fireplace this winter!! Oh, and in front of the Christmas tree lights. So dreamy.

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34 Bellkyra December 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

After reading your post, I checked my local library for a copy of Bloodroot. I was in luck! I devoured the book in 3 days and cried some tears as I journeyed with the characters Amy Greene had created. Can I say that I have known real life people that resemble Amy Greene’s characters? My mother grew up in a rural area out West and some of the stories she shared with us about her extended family would definately make a great novel. The hardship of poverty and geographic isolation can keep fueling a cycle of tragedy. I recommend this book along with a box of tissue neary by as you read.

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35 Amy {afthfuljrney} August 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Hi! I just came across your blog and absolutely love it! I am also a huge lover of CS Lewis and reading quality literature.

I, however, have never read any of the Harry Potter books. I guess you could say I was one of the ones persuaded by the negativity it got from the Christian community. I was curious to read what your post contained, but the link has been deleted. If you could just share your insight and input with me, I would be so grateful. I have a 6 year old who I homeschool, as well as a 4 and 1 year old, and I know HP will be something that may come up as a reading choice in the years to come. I still after, what, 15 years of their original release, hear so much about them that it still leaves me curious and wanting to read them.

Thanks in advance for your time!!

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