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ECHOES OF FAMILY: A Novel ~Barbara Claypole White

Monday, 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!

Barbara Claypole White On Facebook
Barbara Claypole White Twitter

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

AUTUMN IN OXFORD: A Novel ~Alex Rosenberg

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Lake Union Publishing is certainly sharing some mighty fine reads with me this year.  AUTUMN IN OXFORD is a finely crafted murder, espionage, love story which is about reading every word and storing the details so you will be able to fit the twists and changes into perspective and solve the “who done it” part.  Even though the murder takes place in the first few chapters of the story in 1959, the why and who take pages of history and connection to piece it all together; lots of McCarthyism to uncover.

TLC Book Tours shared a winner with this read.  The writing is top notch and has the wonderful British pacing of the well-ordered sleuth with the push of the American prejudice exposed and revealed – made plain and arrogant.

Tom is a Finish boy who was reared in New York by his dedicated parents, he has married well a wealthy socialite and his writing has won him a Pulitzer Prize.  In his youth, he briefly joined the Communist Party and met the Rosenberg’s and other big names in college.  He left the Party and studied History and is now doing a teaching Fellowship at Oxford.   He meets his neighbor Liz, and realizes he has met the love of his life.  Liz is from Toronto, has 2 children and an unemployed husband who avoided the war by moving to Canada and lives life for appearances.

Tom’s wife insists that he return to New York with her, but Tom does not want to go because of his affair with Liz, also because he is having serious trouble with his passport – some department of government is pestering and threatening his because of his past connections – blacklisting.  Liz’s husband is murdered and now Tom has been arrested and a clever lawyer is now tracking the case and Tom’s backstory is outlined in detail.  One needs to read with care to find all the pieces that will fit together and complete the story’s truth.  I found it very difficult to put the story down, even with the deliberate pacing.

Alex Rosenberg is the author of the novel THE GIRL FROM KRAKOW.  He has lived in Britain and has taught at Oxford, where he made the acquaintance of some of the historical figures that play roles in AUTUMN IN OXFORD.  Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina.

Alex Rosenberg Wikipedia

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WHERE WE FALL: A Novel ~Rochelle B. Weinstein

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of WHERE WE FALL for review and I enjoyed reading this book.  Very nice Southern Romance with a good premise.  I lived for several years in North Carolina and YES, the countryside is amazingly beautiful and written about with style in this story.

The story line is good and interesting and the descriptions just right to encourage a visit to the beauty of North Carolina.  It is a Southern Romance within the tradition of Southern Romance and providing   a creative story concept making it quite interesting.  We have 2 women friends who are looking to be connected to a man who is the perfect Southern Gentleman.  We all want to be loved and to love.   We have the perfect gentleman character, who is a prize catch and also a high school football coach.

Abby and Lauren are college roommates and best friends.  Ryan falls in love with Lauren and the three become great friends.  Lauren and Ryan share that kind of perfect love and are probably “soul mates”  – a nice touch.  Abby has problems with social anxiety and enjoys being the “fifth wheel” in their amazing friendship.

Lauren shows some spunk and determination to photograph and see some amazing waterfalls.  She takes a graduate program and then takes off to photograph the world’s waterfalls.  Ryan is being patient with her travels and endeavors until his Father dies and he is devastated.  No one can get a hold of Lauren, in time.

Abby takes over the role of caregiver and Ryan and she marry and have a daughter.

The novel is full of missed communications and omitted discussions.  Friends do not share with each other, mother and daughter do not have real conversations and Abby’s anxiety begins to control her life and she ends up with a full deep mental illness.  It takes all of Abby’s ability and control to enter a mental health facility and within six weeks the lives are changed and a loving resolution is possible.

As I was introducing myself at a new class, we all shared our favorite reads, I noticed that 6 women stated that this was their favorite kind of read and how they liked the escape.  This book should find some good readers.

I found the writing elementary in style and found several sentences that just seemed random within their paragraphs.  I did receive an uncorrected e- copy, but these slips just stopped the flow.  Dialogue was quite good and moved the story well.  I felt sad that the daughter was repeating the “perfect man” scenario of her parents even though she was so young.    Lauren and Abby both seemed rather boring and Ryan was just too perfect and responsible.  The characters could not change; they were just stuck in the behaviors they had chosen – locked in.  It took pills and a therapist to get them to resolution and to move into their best interest.

“Rochelle B. Weinstein is the author of THE MOURNING AFTER and WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND.  A former entertainment industry executive, she lives in south Florida with her husband, twin boys and two dogs.“

www.rochelleweinstein.com

As I write this review the Kindle edition of WHERE WE FALL is free on Amazon.

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TWO FROM ISAAC’S HOUSE: An Isaac’s House Novel; A Story of Promises ~Normandie Fischer

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Ms. Fischer is quite a storyteller and TWO FROM ISAAC’S HOUSE is right up there on the list for good reading.

When TLC Book Tours   included TWO FROM ISAAC’S HOUSE on the review list, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review another of Normandie Fisher’s books.  I wanted to know if BECALMED was an isolated great read or if this good storyteller had another tale, which provided entertainment and great words.  I was not disappointed in the least and I still wish to read more of her stories in the future.

Yes, This book is a Romance and also an interesting story.  Fischer’s books are not dumbed down and certainly not “bodice rippers”.  The book is full of good descriptions and finely tuned dialogue.  There is a great deal of truth about what the characters are thinking and how they handle each situation.  We are treated to some politics and unrest in the Middle East and even a murder that creates a mystery.

Rina Lynne is a young lady of the South and has lived in Morehead City, North Carolina all of her life.  Her mother died young and her father is over-protective and very strict.  When she finishes school and her father dies, she decides to put her fiancé and her wedding on hold and take on a bit of adventure.  Her first stop is Italy for a language class and maybe a cooking class.  She purchases an unwieldy suitcase that makes her beginning travels interesting.

Tony, an Arab American, assists Rina with her suitcase and becomes a part of the story as he is also taking the same language class as Rina.  He is using his vacation time from his Engineering firm to be a sort-of spy for his Israeli cousins.  On the train, there is a murder and the intrigue and mystery begins.

“…global, sophisticated, and intriguing with an exotic setting.  A girl seeking one last trek before she marries.  A guy conned into espionage by family.  They enter each other’s worlds and life becomes colorful, fascinating, and oh so dangerous.  Beautifully written, adventurous, and smart.”  -C. Hope Clark, award-winning author, The Edisto Island Mysteries and Carolina Slade Mysteries.

An Excellent Read.

Normandie Fischer:
In this romp through Italy and the Middle East, Normandie Fischer combines her love of all things Italian and her fascination with the cultures and cuisines of the Middle East, an interest fostered when she studied sculpture in Perugia and lived among Arab students.  She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico on board their ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother, who now sails with them whenever the opportunity arises. (Cover)

Normandie Fischer Website
Normandie Fischer Facebook

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