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SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS: A Captivating Story about Sisters, Secrets, and Second Chances ~Susan Mallery

Monday, July 31st, 2017

SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS turned out to be one terrific read and I learned lots about how to grow tulips and had no idea it was so difficult and so important for Christmas time.  I just thought tulips were wonderfully beautiful field trip destination in the northern climes of my state.  The stunning beauty of the tulip fields was a delightful location for a story about secrets and romance.  Actually, it is three romances all wrapped up into one family and one good and interesting read.

About Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.

Critics, too, have heaped praise on “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!”

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month, January of 1992. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they’re an integral component to a happy life. (From TLC Website)

I believe that SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS might be based on a friend’s life story.  The mother in this story truly is just as awful and manipulative as my childhood friend’s mother although that woman kept her family on the move constantly. This mother left her family and stayed on the move herself.

Kelly has stayed at home working with her father on their tulip farm.  She works with fancy blooms and hybrids and she works long and hard.  Her love life is not very exciting and a small, rural town is not very good at supplying partners.  Her father kept the 15 and 12- year – old daughters after their mother left and Kelly just worked her best to keep everything on track.

Olivia went to boarding school and then on to college and followed an old high school boyfriend around for a while and then was invited to join her mother in her real estate business in Arizona.   That idea was not working out so well and Olivia felt a need to keep trying to find what she was good at and what she could do for a career.  She travels north to spend time with her father and sister.  This causes the sisters to rediscover each other and the secrets to fester.

The love of a couple of really good fellows allows the girls to face up to their situations and to free up the secrets; revealing good ol’ dad’s love interest and his desire to move forward with his life too.

My book groups do not read romance books, but I think each one of them would enjoy this story as they travel for the summer and as they relax on the beach.  I enjoyed this story at the ocean and that the story was interesting had substance and was not a huge bodice ripper with no real plot. One very well written sex scene was a good distraction.  A fun read for sure.  I would recommend THE SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS

Related:
Paris Time Capsule
Songs of Willow Frost
Lift and Separate

AMONG THE LESSER GODS: A Novel ~Margo Catts

Monday, June 19th, 2017

AMONG THE LESSER GODS was a story I enjoyed reading very much.  The writing was clear and the story straightforward as it explores the ‘blame game’ and how blame changes the lives of individuals and the surrounding characters and community.  We begin at the end of university in California for Elena Alvarez and a gap year arranged by her Grandmother in Colorado; space to figure out what comes next.

Elena has been living a very tense life with lots of adversity.  As a child, she accidentally set a deadly fire and this caused her family great disruption and a great deal of blame.  Her mother abandoned her and she has led a life of blaming herself and now finds herself pregnant and no plans for life ahead.  Her Grandmother has found her a volunteer job caring for two young children who have lost their mother to a car accident while the father figures out all the changes he will need to make and still accomplish a living wage; long haul trucking is no longer a working option.  Elena’s Grandmother has a permanent house in Leadville, but choses to live in the Ghost Town where she reared her children and lost one.  The family is full of mystery and unknown factors.

Elena who is mathematical and scientific is not sure about caring for children and yet her conversations with them are magical and revealing allowing the story to unfold in a gracious connection.  The community is a place with lots of adversity as the mining company is slowing down and evolving into new directions.  The characters unfold the realities behind the adversities and the strength of character and community bonding is a boon to self – discovery.  The mysteries are compassionately uncovered.  What a good story and first novel and yes I have to agree with other quotes – I want to read Catts’ next book for sure.  The power of listening – potent answers are uncovered.  AMOUNG THE LESSER GODS has the power of redemption.

“Margo Catts has a sharp eye for the intricacies of family, love, and tragedy. In luminous prose, she deftly explores the impact of the past upon our lives. This is a heartfelt book that will break your heart at times and at others fill you with joy.” — Daniel Robinson, author of After the Fire

TLC Book Tours review book

About the Author:

Margo Catts grew up in Los Angeles and has since lived in Utah, Indiana, and Colorado. After raising three children in the U.S., she and her husband moved to Saudi Arabia, where her Foreign Girl blog was well known in the expat community. Originally a freelance editor for textbooks and magazines, she has also done freelance writing for business, technical, and advertising clients, all the while working on her fiction. She is a contributing author to Once Upon an Expat. Among the Lesser Gods is her first novel. She now lives in Denver, Colorado. (TLC page)

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Related:
The Passage
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Unfinished Business

SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS: A novel ~Amy Impellizzeri

Monday, December 26th, 2016

I have to start with the author when I think about this story. “On November 12,2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed on my residential corner in Belle Harbor, New York. All of the passengers and crew and five of my neighbors on the ground died that morning. All reports of that day say there were no survivors.”

The author was home at the time and saw the plane crash into her neighborhood.

Belle Harbor had also lost 70 residents to the 9/11 attacks two months earlier and these two incidents are the beginning of the tale of SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS.

About Amy Impellizzeri:

“Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, founder of SHORTCUTS Magazine, and award-winning author. Her first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) , was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. A favorite with bloggers and book clubs, Lemongrass Hope was named the #1 reviewed book in 2014 by blogger, The Literary Connoisseur, and topped several bloggers’ “Best of” Lists in 2015. Amy’s second novel, Secrets of Worry Dolls is releasing December 1, 2016 by Wyatt-MacKenzie.

“Amy is also the author of the non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015). She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers and President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Amy currently lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and one energetic Weimaraner, where she keeps up on all of the latest research confirming that caffeine is, in fact, good for you.” (From TLC Book Tours)

Amy Impellizzeri Website 
Amy Impellizzeri Twitter

SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS begins with Lu unable to get on a plane to Guatemala to discover her Mother’s secrets – She is sitting in the bar unable to board the plane and contemplate leaving Rock Harbor and her Mother. She lost her twin sister and her fire fighter father both on 9/11 and she is unable to move on with her life even 10 years later. The plane she was supposed to board crashes right near the front door of her Mother’s house in Rock Harbor. Lu works her way home to discover her mother has been injured in the crash and is in a coma at the hospital. The first two parts of the story Lu is every other chapter as she begins the process of moving forward.

Mari, her mother is every other chapter as she tells you her story of growing up in Guatemala and receiving the Worry Dolls. Mari’s mother has been “disappeared” during the revolution and thus the sadness of her life begins. She works at holding her life together as she raises her twin daughters and garners some special friends along the way. She is hoping having Lu go to Guatemala will assist Lu in moving forward and having her own life and future. After 9/11 her life is a series of sleeping pills and often alcohol until the plane crash.

There is a great deal of tragedy and sorrow in this story. I found myself cheering Lu on to discover the right information to free her to move forward and find some happiness. I had a terrible time putting the book down after each reading session, because I just wanted the hope to emerge. I pushed myself to get to Part 3, and then there was progress as Lu was able to release herself from her indecision and begin to talk about what needed to happen next. The hope and the orchids emerged.

I did not try to resolve this story in my own mind, I just kept pushing forward to understand what the author was hoping to convey. I did not ask myself what I would do with so much tragedy in a lifetime and I found some reasonable answers. Knowing that the end of the Mayan Calendar was an important theme and that after that day we began a new calendar and moved on. It proved to be an indispensible tether to the story.

I am sure that I want to read the author’s award winning story LEMONGRASS HOPE and I can highly recommend SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS to my readers.

Related:
A Tale For The Time Being 
Fog Island Mountains
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

DIG TWO GRAVES: Suspenseful Mystery ~Kim Powers

Monday, December 7th, 2015

DIG TWO GRAVES came at me like a ton of bricks and I wasn’t ready.  I knew from the title that it was going to be about a murder but I did not figure out it was about lots of murders, a kidnapping or two, and a series of trials/tasks which needed to be completed to save a child’s life. The mystery begins right after the birthday party opening and father – daughter disagreement, we were dropped into the kidnapping scenario and the book was relentless with puzzles and actions, which needed to be solved and completed.

I had to put the book down several times as I could fall into the feeling the emotions of having a daughter kidnapped and of not being able to figure out the puzzle or meaning of the poem.  I was not familiar with the trials of Hercules although the main character was a teacher of ancient history and Greek Mythology at a college and that connection made it very interesting and piqued my curiosity a number of times.

Ethan Holt had done the Decathlon in the Olympics and won the gold.  He father had pushed and pushed him to compete and win.  After the win and being on the Wheaties Box, Ethan was allowed to disappear into his own life and he got his degrees in Ancient History and began teaching, he married and shared life with a child.  His life was full of loss as his parents died in a house fire and years later his wife was killed in a car accident, leaving Ethan to single parent his daughter “Skip”.

At thirteen, Skip was confident but going through a number of disagreements with her father that included her upset with a girl friend recently arrived in their lives.  Wendy is the new vet at the zoo.  Ethan and Skip go running early one morning to resolve a recent disagreement and when Ethan arrives home after work, he discovers that Skip has been kidnapped.  The kidnapper arranges a series of trials for Ethan to complete to keep his daughter from death and each involves more and more danger and brings into plain view another aspect of his life.

What is it that we learn from Ancient History and Mythology that teaches us in the present context of our life?   What has been abandoned or forgotten along the way and yet is relevant and important?  What is the truth of our past and how does it apply to our future?  Are we strong and will we survive?  Lots of questions posed within this story and the feelings are on high alert.   We all know someone who will find this read fascinating and the book hard to set aside.  The writing is steady and not complicated and it truly touched my emotions on several levels.  An intelligent read – interesting.

TLC Book Tours sent me the e-copy of this book for review and it was quite the read.

About the author: (From the cover)

“Kim Powers is the author of the novel Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story as well as the critically acclaimed memoir The History of Swimming, a Barnes and Noble ‘Discover’ Book and Lambda Literary Award finalist.  He is currently the senior writer for ABC’s 20/20, and has won an Emmy, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence ruing his time at ABC News and Good Morning America.  A native Texan, he received an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and also wrote the screenplay for the indie-favorite film Finding North.  He lives in New York City and Asbury Park, NJ, and may be reached at kimpowersbooks.com.”

Related:
The Shock Doctrine
Freedom
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A Dual Inheritance