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THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN: A Novel ~Ellen Herrick

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Ellen Herrick, the author of THE SPARROW SISTERS has written another delightful tale, which is as lovely a read as a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.  THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN is filled with beautiful descriptions that include character’s thoughts as well as the magnificence of flowers, insects, birds and trees.   The English word expressions brought me right to home and I could relate to the things my Mother and Grandmother used to say. A cozy read.

Sorrel Sparrow, the garden whisperer, has been invited to England to restore a walled Shakespearean Garden that the estate owners believe to have been cursed by the darkness of a 16th Century ancestor.  As the young woman feels the hurt and toxic vibrations of the garden she presses the family to look further and reveal the tapestries, which spell out the dark enchantments and free the current family to find a new future and release the old expectations.

THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN does bloom again and love grows.

How are we each held captive by family expectations and ancient history?  How is history freed and the door opened to new options?  What change is rendered when family secrets are exposed to sunlight and new life takes root?

Reminds me of Brunonia Barry’s THE FIFTH PETAL.  A very good read – THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN

“Ellen Herrick was a publishing professional in New York City.  After nearly 20 years in London, Ellen now divides her time between her gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a small Cape Cod town.” (Book cover)

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Related:
The Fifth Petal
Sisters One Two Three
Whistling Women

THE HIDEAWAY: A First Novel ~Lauren K. Denton

Monday, April 17th, 2017

THE HIDEAWAY turned out to be a hard story for me to review.  I need to start with my disclaimer:  I worked in Alabama for a short period of time.  I was never in my life treated as rudely by the people of Alabama in my entire life.  I met several amazing women and lawyers while I was there, and I left with lasting memories of heat, sweat and unhappy human beings – I will never forget and this story was about some of those kinds of people.

We have a sweet Southern story about a lovely retreat location called Sweet Bay.  THE HIDEAWAY is two love stories, one from long ago; you know, the 1960s and one more contemporary.  It is the perfect beach read and the author loves reading at the beach.  She knows her locations.  The read is slow, interesting and well paced for a leisurely afternoon.  The early characters are charming and a bit rebellious; they are developed throughout the whole read as the stories go from Grandmother to Granddaughter chapter to chapter.

“When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.”

Maggie was a good Southern white girl and she married for money and then found out that her charming spouse was sleeping around.  After three years of this kind of abuse she packs her car and leaves for somewhere else and discovers THE HIDEAWAY.  There she discovers her work in caring for the house and the B & B tenants, who are primarily artists.  The house is losing money for the owner who leaves it to Maggie in a whirlwind departure.  Maggie falls in love with a woodworker who builds furniture.  She is loyal to the end of her life to her love and THE HIDEAWAY.

Sara lives with her Grandmother Maggie but does not appreciate her differences and her unique rebellious nature.  She discovers her Grandmother’s truth as she spruces up THE HIDEAWAY leaving her home decorating business to a friend’s care in New Orleans.  She falls in love with a carpenter.  Lots of wood and tree descriptions fill the story and the reader wonders casually about the synchronicity or the symbolism wrapped up in the “beauty” of it all.

TLC Book Tours  sent an advanced copy of THE HIDEAWAY for review.  It was an early PDF copy and it needed more editing.  My favorite blooper in the copy I received – made me laugh out loud!

“Mitch sat in the chair next to me, emptied when the previous occupant excused himself to go to the ladies’ room.”

I did not care for the main contemporary character – Sara.  She did not have the spunk or charisma of her Grandmother and she was just so sweet she nearly dripped with her charm.  She could not really connect with her Grandmother and did not try – though she appeared to like her and phoned her to check in sometimes – she feels entitled.  Sara is totally dependent on the males in her life to make decisions except about furniture and remodeling.  She has no depth perception – not a clue.  Everyone needed to help her right to the end.  I am sure she voted against women on her ballot; Sara needed men.  I know several folks who will like this book very much, I on the other hand was happy to come to the last page of THE HIDEAWAY

Lauren K. Denton:

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.

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Related:
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DUPLICITY: A Novel of Suspense, A Julia Gooden Mystery ~Jane Haseldine

Monday, April 10th, 2017

DUPLICITY is a suspenseful tale about a journalist who writes about crime in Detroit.  Julia has to balance many parts of her life and has not totally come to terms with her 9-year-old brother’s disappearance years ago.  Her attorney husband is just starting to come home after straying to another’s bed and her young sons are anxious for a full reconciliation.  Husband is starting a trial against the biggest crime boss in the area and is trying to balance all the pieces to get a conviction.  Julia is covering the story and yet has to avoid talking about anything with her husband.  Her surprise witness story is scooped from her byline and this is adding stress.

We are part of the unfolding of a complicated truth that will make a profound difference to everyone’s future.  The tensions run high as Julia pieces together the various aspects of the story step by step and with the assistance of several police officers.   Her 2 sons end up in harms way and thus Julia must find safety for them in the process.  Thank goodness for her feisty nanny.

Other than a bombing blast for tension rather the story builds and builds with Julia’s discoveries and with her risking herself into the fray.  I believe Haseldine’s experiences as a crime reporter adds to the authenticity of the story and the details of the investigation.

Lots of readers will like this book.  DUPLICITY also has some strong relationship connections to interpret and those influence the outcomes.  Those who want big action will find it here at a steady pace.   Those who want to read about corruption and drug related crimes would be well satisfied.  It is a good second novel.  The book has merit and was a good read.  I enjoyed that is was not so gory as several books have been lately and it did not overwhelm my thinking or cause sleep deprivation.  I was worried about how Julia put her children so secondary on the list particularly with her past problems of abduction in her family.

A TLC Book Tours book

Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor.  Jane graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in journalism. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons, but previously lived in Boston, San Francisco, New York, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. You can find her at janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

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MISSISSIPPI BLOOD: A Novel – #3 of the NATCHEZ BURNING Trilogy ~Greg Iles

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“Adrenaline-fueled excitement…A very American epic.”  (Washington Post)

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family and the enemies working to destroy them in this exhilarating final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy set in modern Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’s bold and ambitious story of blood and honor, violence and revenge that explores how profoundly the sins of the past haunt the present.” (Book cover)

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD is another book I could not put down.  I read it cover to cover in two sittings during a rainy, windy weekend and then took a deep breath.  The writing is intense and does not let up right to the very last couple of pages – there is no relief in the speed in this whole series. One is compelled to find out who killed Viola Turner, the young black nurse who was raped twice by a gang of KKK men and her brother was skinned alive.  Turner has come home to die but someone has sent her off before she could tell her tale and Dr. Cage is being blamed.  Penn Cage, the mayor, is trying to save his father and find the truth as he loses more of the people he loves.

After I reviewed NATCHEZ BURNING, I persuaded 10 friends to read the book.  After I reviewed #2, THE BONE TREE, I persuaded another 10 friends to read book one and then two and wait with me for book #3. There is so much in these stories that I found to be true in my younger years living in the South.  I found that there was an ingrained mythology about events and history that I had no evidence for or could I achieve some foothold in making change.  Such as so many Southern folks did not believe that the Civil War was about Slavery – nope it was about State’s Rights!!!  I found myself teaching a psychology seminar to most of my peers because the psychology that the Professor was expounding was not true or reasonable. This trilogy was about what I believed was going on and actually happening.

It is truly difficult to believe that these things happened when wrapped up in a contemporary suspense story.  It is hard to image that a writer from Natchez, Mississippi could have figured things out and been open to exposing such ideas.  Then again maybe it is the local boy who can render change in his neighborhood with stories better than outsiders.  Just maybe we need him to restructure thoughts about government in general and our last election.  Iles is a master storyteller.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced copy of MISSISSIPPI BLOOD for review – It is definitely 5 Stars.

“Greg Iles spend his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of fifteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, including THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL, which hit number one, NATCHEZ BURNING, and THE BONE TREE.  Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries.  He is a member of the lit-rock group the ROCK BOTTOM Remainders, lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife, and has two children.” (Cover)

Greg Iles Website
Greg Iles Facebook
Greg Iles Twitter

Related:
Natchez Burning
The Bone Tree