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LITTLE BROKEN THINGS: A Novel ~Nicole Baart

Monday, December 18th, 2017

LITTLE BROKEN THINGS is a very good read and although about family dysfunction it is a story that could be true for many individuals and is very believable and interesting.  I enjoyed reading every page and did not hurry through to the finish even though I was not sure I had figured out the truth early on in the read.

The Sanford family lives in a small town and the father figure had sold real estate and was quite successful.  He got along famously with his son Jack but was rather tough on his daughters Nora and Quinn.  Liz the mom was a stay at home provider and found herself distant from her grown children.  The family was dealing with the loss of their father, Liz was trying to figure out what came next in her life and Jack’s wife was expecting the first grand child.   Quinn and her artist husband had just returned home and were living in a family rental unit and Nora had all but disappeared from their lives.  There were secrets that made a difference!

Nora surprises Quinn by suddenly, with no explanation and vowed secrecy, drops off a child for her to keep hidden and safe.  Little Lucy is quiet and sullen and has an interesting connection to the Sanford family.  The mystery needs to be solved.

There is a good deal about sexual predators and drug usage in the story and definitely Nora is on the run a great deal of the time.  The story includes interesting ideas about what is a loving relationship and how to be on one’s own, what should be done next to live life?  Lots of questioning until there is resolution for the child and path finding for the members of the family; it is very nice storytelling.

The family was well respected in the community and daughters were expected to go to college and come home to marry their sweetheart producing the next generation of the community.  The secrets would change the pattern over and over.  What the community did not know about this family kept them pillars and leaders.

I liked the book very much because of the character names also, as one of the characters has one of my daughter’s names and that of course made the story fun.  And the characteristics described for the name were very much in keeping with my child’s characteristics.

I definitely would recommend this story and I thought it was timely about drugs and sexual predation, which is big time in the news at this time and an important subject to bring to the light.

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, The Beautiful Daughters. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.

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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

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THE ROANOKE GIRLS: A Novel ~Amy Engle

Monday, March 27th, 2017

THE ROANOKE GIRLS is a story about all the girls born and raised at the Roanoke Farm. Yates Roanoke loved his life and his farm in a sleepy, hot part of Kansas. He loved his oil wealth and his wife and her crazy designed house.  Yates loved his two sisters and his three daughters and his two granddaughters.  He made them all feel special and well loved and made nearly every wish come true for them.  Most of the Roanoke Girls do not want to stay at the Farm – some runaway, several die and the story begins with a suicide.

Lane and her mother have been living in New York City.  Mom is one of the runaways from the farm and she has been struggling to have enough funds to support them but chronic depression has overcome her and now Lane at fifteen has been left on her own after the suicide.   The social worker finds that her Kansas Grandparents are delighted to have her come home and have already sent a bus ticket.

Allegra, who was born at Roanoke Farm and has resided there all her life is excited to meet Lane and welcomes having someone her age.  The girls explore small town life and the high school year as they discover the family tree and the reality of being a Roanoke Girl.  There are boyfriends and a swimming hole and some odd characters in the story. The girls are treated to pets, and horses and clothing, along with cars as they learn to drive.  The partial year that Lane stays at the farm is still mysterious and interesting and the weather is hot.

The story shifts to 11 years later and Grandfather is calling Lane because Allegra has gone missing.  Lane ran away without finishing high school and after making a dark discovery.  She has had a rough time finding work but has been able to get a GED and for a very short time was married to an older man, an arrangement that did not work out.  She is struggling and her Grandparents need her home to assist them in locating Allegra.  She leaves LA and heads to Roanoke and Kansas to help find her cousin.  The mystery begins to unravel and with a great deal of effort Lane does find Allegra and solves the final needed clues to freeing her towards living her own life and making her own way into the world.

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of THE ROANOKE GIRLS for review and it is a well-written story with a difficult premise.   There is an element of coming of age, but more about family secrets that maybe well hidden in isolation –remoteness.  I could truly understand this story-taking place in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, or Oklahoma – many times over. I do believe one must leave Kansas to understand the greater world and that small thinking is inbred and tenacious.  Physical abuse is easy to understand and the toughness of character.  THE ROANOKE GIRLS stays with the reader.

“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.” – L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra

“AMY ENGEL is the author of the YA novels The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy.  She lives in Missouri with her family.  This is her first novel for adults. “ (Book Cover)

Amy Engle Website
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Amy Engle Twitter

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SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE: A Novel ~Nancy Star

Monday, January 9th, 2017

“An extraordinarily moving, beautifully written novel…I was riveted from the very first page.”  Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times best-selling author of ORPHAN TRAIN

SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a complex and funny read.  The characters in the Tangle Family just pull the reader right into the story and have a gripping hold as you laugh at their quirky thoughts and actions and as you are touched by their dysfunctions and fully actualized behaviors right to the sadness that they must not talk about or share.

The writing is extraordinary, the story line is perfectly linked and there are no dangling particles when you come to the last page.  I finished the last page and the acknowledgements, the interview with Star and went right back to the first page and read it again.  The story is wrapped around a song about a brother with SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE and the strangely dramatic mother who believes she is an actress. The second reading gave me a new opportunity to understand a narcissist’s ability to hold a family together, to love and be kind, while every third sentence is a lie or a fantasy.

Ginger is a worrier, a school nurse, a perfectionist, who teaches night school classes about Danger, and is the one in charge of protecting her siblings.   12-years-old

Mimi is the controller; quick and decisive.  Very high energy and gets the job done. 10–years-old

Charlie is the sports loving brother. 8-years-old

Callie is the innocent wanderer, who is gentle and loving; asking tough and strange questions of the people around her.  6-years-old

Sully, or Dad, is an entrepreneur for ‘seconds’ or damaged Toys.

Glory, mom, is a huge personality who really is unable to cook, and whose ideas and words permeate the household and the children’s lives.

You will not soon forget these children or these adults.

Julia, Ginger’s 17-year-old daughter, is thinking about leaving home, it is in the middle of teenage/mother stress that she learns that her mother does not know where her sister Callie is and that they have been estranged for a long period of time and that all three sisters had a brother, who died in an accident.  This discovery knocks the balancing act of silence right off its pedestal and the whole story begins to untangle.

TLC Book Tours sent me this amazing book for review.  SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a worthwhile read and some fine humor.

I invite you to read SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE – The Family Like No Other.

About the author:
Nancy Star Website
Nancy Star Facebook
Nancy Star Twitter

“Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.” (TLC)

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