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ECHOES OF FAMILY: A Novel ~Barbara Claypole White

September 26th, 2016

“A Brit living in North Carolina, Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness.  Her debut novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick.  Her third novel, THE PERFECT SON, was a semifinalist in the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction. (Cover)

Marianne is a mature woman who suffers with Bipolar Disorder and other mental health issues.  She also runs a successful recording studio with her husband Darius and her adoptive daughter Jade.  They all work and enjoy music together on Marianne’s property in North Carolina; there is a state of the art studio.  Marianne has not been suicidal for an extended period of time, but due to a recent car accident she is obsessing about another car accident in which her friend Simon died and she lost her pregnancy.  She believes Simon’s brother Gabriel is taking the blame and she wishes to remedy this problem – right now.

The vast majority of the story takes place in a small British town centered on the historic church where Gabriel is the rector.  Marianne stops taking her medications and sneaks out of her house and off to the UK to help Gabriel truly understand that the car accident was her fault and not his.  They were just 16 at the time.  Marianne also needs to understand why her birth mother rejected her and why her adoptive parents did not reject her.  They did move the family to the United States after the accident and after Marianne had a big “incident” in the community, as mental illness was becoming a new problem.

It does not take long for Jade and Darius to figure out where Marianne has gone and they too are soon part of Gabriel’s life as this family takes over his life, his house and all his time.  There are some wonderful, delightful British characters in the story and as Marianne ends up in a private mental hospital there are connections made, which have interesting consequences.

The story holds the reader’s attention with plenty of details and descriptions and one can certainly identify with the frustrations that mental illness brings to situations.  There are several happy endings and one difficult one to bring the story to a good conclusion.  I liked the included book group question section and there is a great interview with the author included.  A very good read and I am going to suggest it to my book group to add it to the list. A sensitive treatment of Bipolar Disorder and an engaging read.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an e-copy for reading and review.

There is a 100 e-copy giveaway on Goodreads for this book!

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Related:
A Piece of Sand, A Grain of Rice
The Isolation Door
Mind Without A Home


THE GOODBYE YEAR: A Novel ~Kaira Rouda

September 19th, 2016

Four families from a wealthy community in California are the focus of this story.  Each family has a senior in high school and they are starting that last year.  There are some funny scenes for sure in this book, but primarily it is about the frantic moments of thinking about the future and worrying about empty nest.

The voices are both from the children and the adults and some of the fears and concerns are just amazing to behold.  All of their lives are filled with extra meetings and college representatives and for some the cost of future training is so expensive – crisis.  One mother drives her son to be just like his older brother, as she worries about what she will do after her last child leaves home.  She begins drinking.  Dad becomes a voice of reason and opens the door for son number two to find his own passion.

The perfect mom realizes that she has made her daughter her best friend and made up for her husband’s huge travel schedule with this connection.  The daughter is feeling some pressure about being the “perfect” girl at school and working around her pre-acceptance to Harvard.   A strange boyfriend is part of the scene and of course Homecoming King to this Queen.

We have a family on a tight budget and they do not know how their child will afford college, and mom has the whole family on an incredibly rigid calendar schedule, which would knock anyone to the floor in protest and yet for half the book this family muddles forward.

The step mom well is just a selfish mess and yet daughter finds away to keep her caring for her father after she leaves for college!  Actually, all the support characters are fairly fun to read in this story and even the drug problems are an interesting encounter.

TLC Book Tours sent along this fun read and I enjoyed it very much.  THE GOODBYE YEAR has over 70 4-star reviews on Amazon.

“Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that sparkles with humor and heart including HERE, HOME, HOPE and IN THE MIRROR. Her latest novel, THE GOODBYE YEAR, will be released in May of 2016. Her modern romance novels are set on beaches, including the Laguna Beach series, the Indigo Island series and coming soon, the Malibu series.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. After living in Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, she now enjoys the beach whenever possible.” (TLC Book Tours)

Kaira Rouda Twitter
Kaira Rouda Facebook

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Sing Them Home
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THE BONE TREE: BOOK TWO OF THE NATCHEZ BURNING TRILOGY ~GREG ILES

September 12th, 2016

Southern Lawyer Penn Cage and his fiancée Caitlin Masters the newspaper publisher have just escaped being set on fire by a ruthless businessman Brody Royal and are still searching for Dr. Tom Cage, Penn’s father, who is being accused of killing a black nurse who worked for him as we finish the exciting book NATCHEZ BURNING, which is the first in the Trilogy by Greg Iles.

TLC Book Tours  sent me book two in plenty of time to keep right on reading this compelling saga about family, about the KKK, about racism, corruption, the brutal history and the on-going conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassinations and Martin Luther King-the South revealed.

The writing in this story is fabulous and amazingly spellbinding.  As Stephen King says, “ You just want more.

“Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.” (From TLC webpage)

GREG ILES Twitter
GREG ILES Facebook
Harper Collins Review

The incredible “hate” over family generations and how it manifests is fascinating to follow and just how does one help families that are so tainted by violence that they can be changed into decent, contemporary people for the future generations?  Will this kind of family system be destine to repeat itself – forever?  Do our social systems have any impact?

I have over the years often found book two of trilogies to be more of a fill in book adding more detail and transitioning to the big finish.  Yes, there is some transition material in this book and yet it is full of new components to the story and more contemporary problems that are proceeding because of the search being brought to the foreground.  It is riveting in it’s own right.  Another 800 pages of thrilling material and the death of new individuals is spelled out as the corruption and dastardly economic systems are spelled out and more and more African Americans lose their land and life in the re-building of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

I have personally shared 5 copies of NATCHEZ BURNING with friends and the word is – The writing is amazing and thrilling – The pace and details are extraordinary – It is quite the read and perfect timing.

All the things you thought were going on in the South – They are!   It is nearly impossible to put this book down.  THE BONE TREE will not disappoint.

My copy had a reader’s book group guide at the back of the book and plenty of reference and acknowledgement material proves to be extremely interesting.

Book Three will be available March 2017.

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Natchez Burning
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THE WHISKEY SEA: A Novel ~Ann Howard Creel

September 5th, 2016

A fictional story wrapped around a piece of American History taking us to the New Jersey Shore and a young woman’s life during Prohibition.  It is a story of tenacity and perseverance, which brings a future and hope to a newly established family.  I think Young adult readers and possibly some middle school readers will really enjoy this story.

Della Hope a single mother trying to make it by being a prostitute dies from an infection and leaves 2 young girls, Beatrice still a baby and Frieda who might be 4 or 5 years of age.  After the police remove the body of their mother the girls are left on the street and along comes a “clammer” named Silver.  He feeds the children and then when he sees no one else, he takes the children home.  Silver has never visited a prostitute or worked for illegal gain and he cherishes the children keeping them safe and allowing them to grow and thrive.  Frieda remains strongly protective and feels that she must provide for Bea’s future and eventually Silver’s care also.

Frieda has not done well in school and she feels the sharp criticism of her schoolmates.  After graduation, she sets her mind on being a clammer, except Silver sells his boat when he can no longer go to sea.  Frieda decides to learn how to fix the boat engines and her small town finds some acceptance of a woman with her special skills in repair.   It is very hard to earn enough money to pay for all the needs and Frieda wants to send Bea to College so she can become a teacher.   She is enticed to become a rum runner and tend to the boats that go out in the night to supply private clubs and taverns with liquor.  It is very dangerous and the boats are always working on being ahead of the coast guard and pirates.  The New Yorkers in their private clubs can see the rum runners and the ocean resting delivery ships.

Frieda succumbs to the call of the money and soon has enough to hire a caregiver for Silver and purchase a new roof, clothing and schooling for Bea.   Just one more run…

The story is a fast read and although it does not explain a great deal about the history of the law, it does talk a great deal about surviving in difficult circumstances and when all the ways are cut off as an avenue for escaping into a better future.  There is a lovely love story tucked into the plot and lots of questioning and soul searching.   It is a fine read.

TLC Book Tours sent this advance reading copy to me for review and my e-copy was a good weekend read.  Thank you

The Kindle copy of this book is free at Amazon as I am writing this review!

Ann Howard Creel was born in Austin, Texas, and worked as a registered nurse before becoming a full-time writer.  She is the author of numerous children’s and young adult books as well as fiction for adults.  Her children’s books have won several awards, and her novel THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS.  Creel currently lives and writes in Chicago.”

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Broken Ground
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My Mother’s Funeral