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review 2017-04-19 03:53
Slightly South of Simple
Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (The Peachtree Bluff Series) - Kristy Woodson Harvey

By: Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Peachtree Bluff Series #1

ISBN:1501158058
Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: 4/25/2017 

Format: Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Top Books of 2017 

 

Talented Southern storyteller, Kristy Woodson Harvey returns following her debut Dear Carolina and her strong follow-up, Lies and Other Acts of Love landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with the first of a new series, Peachtree Bluff: (Top Books of 2017) SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE — a mother and her three grown daughters are all at a crossroad in their lives, and each has choices to make.

Compelling, emotional, full of humor, infused with love, life, tears, and joy with a little romance sprinkled in and some scandalous family secrets! A poignant and heartwarming story of three daughters and their mother determined to help them rediscover their southern roots and family bonds.

Matriarch (mother), Ansley Murphy has made a simple life for herself in the small harbor town of Peachtree Bluff, GA. Her grandmother left her the beautiful and spacious coastal large clapboard home with a guesthouse.

Her husband Carter was killed seventeen years earlier in the 9/11 tragedy, and she has carved out a nice life for herself with a successful waterfront design business. Her own mother lives in Florida. She also has an annoying neighbor next door, Mr. Solomon, with some great local friends and clients.

Ansley has some secrets about her husband. Others about herself. Things the girls do not know. She has put her family first all these years. Will her time finally arrive at long last?

An attractive woman, age fifty-eight, she works out and stays in shape. She does not date and pretty much has thrown herself into her business, her grown daughters (when they allow) and grandchildren. It was difficult being a mother of grown children. They are strong willed and have a mind of their own.

However, living alone with her normal routine will soon change. She may get more than she bargained for. Three grown daughters return to move in with her and soon to be four grandchildren. Man, do they have different personalities!

Caroline was her least favorite daughter, even though she loves her, she could be difficult at times. She even named her interior design shop: Sloane Emerson (after her two younger daughters), since Caroline wanted no part of it, referring to it even today as a camper-trailer design business. She had said if she named the store after her she would die. No one lives up to Caroline’s standards.

Eldest: Caroline, a New Yorker thinks of this small Southern town as hick-hellhole. However, now she may have no choice but to return to the place she tried hard to escape. When she married James (14yrs), she thought they had in all, until she was six months pregnant with her second child and he informs her he is in love with his twenty-one-year-old supermodel, Edie Fitzgerald.

So she decides to take a short sabbatical with her eleven-year-old daughter Vivi and head to Peachtree. Maybe she can take over the guesthouse. She is very picky, high maintenance, and does not like germs. She worries about what others think and say. Only the best of fashion and ultimate fitness will do.

Sloane, the middle child was the selfless one. Of course, she was laid back and could care less about germs or any of the things which mattered to Caroline. She is the timid one, married a local boy had her family and remained in the area. Her military husband is overseas so she decides to crash at the house as well to spend time with her sisters.

Emerson is a successful film star. She is thin, eats healthy and stars in a movie shooting in the Georgia town, so decides to stay at the house to spend time with her sisters and mom.

 



With all the emotions running high of three different personalities of grown daughters, sisters bickering, grandchildren and an old boyfriend back in town, Ansley has her hands full. In the midst of it all, Ansley fears the secret (s) will come out. Those she has harbored for years to protect everyone.

After Ansley’s pain from losing Carter, and sometimes her daughters hating her (like most girls), hiding Carter’s secrets, and hiding her own. She just could never imagine starting over with anyone new. No one else could possibly understand her life.

Jack was Ansley’s first love. However, back then they decided to go their separate ways because he did not care about having a family. This was important to Ansley. Now, Ansley is shocked to learn Jack is here in Peachtree Bluff and wants her to redo the design for his boat. He has made his money and can travel.

Everyone knows she is the best yacht designer this side of the Mason-Dixon. She cannot let this happen, especially now since her girls were coming home. Is he a threat to her safe family world? Why?

However, as the complexities of these sisters get tense, the family come together, the girls find they want their mom to be happy, and at the same time, they all may just learn something from one another. They may figure it out together. Peachtree Bluff is a town of hidden truths and stolen moments and a family who loves one another. A time of discovery for all of the women.

Crossing generations, Harvey always brings out some dark family secrets which have been securely buried. A poignant journey of healing, bonding, forgiveness, and redemption. Things, people, and places which shape our lives.

Kristy once again delivers a charming Southern story of family, sisters, relationships, motherhood and reinvention. As you are reading you will relate to certain characters. My favorite was Ansley. Such a strong woman and continued to root for her. Hoping she would find some happiness.

She is protecting herself from something she didn’t need to be protected from. She was protecting her daughters from a threat that wasn’t really a threat at all. But she is opening her heart. One that had been closed for so long.

Character-driven, the author has made her way quickly to the top of my favorite author list and one of the best Southern contemporary storytellers of today. (Highly recommend all three books).

As a native NC /GA gal myself, so refreshing to discover an author who breathes life into each of her characters, while transporting you to the beautiful coastal areas of the Southeast we love. She writes about strong women and the challenges of life, both personally and professionally.

From her first debut, I fell in love with the author's richly textured, authentic heartwarming style. You can come to expect strong family bonds, romance, secrets, plus someone will be a little wiser after the journey. If you have not read this author, get busy. SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE should be at the top of your beach bag! Summer doesn't begin without a Kristy book.

Yay! I hear from an online interview we can expect more from these characters with #2 Peachtree Bluff THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM, featuring the middle sister, Sloane and of course more from Ansley and Grammy.

I will be anxiously awaiting. Cannot wait to see what is in store next for the Murphy women! More Ansley/Jack, please!

A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/04/Slightly-South-of-Simple
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review 2017-04-09 17:00
Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors - B. A. Paris,Georgia Maguire

 

 

The title, blurb, and first chapter of this book plainly lay out the situation its protagonist, Grace Angel, is in.  As far as the guests of Jack and Grace Angel's dinner party can tell, they are witnessing the perfect couple entertaining in the perfect house, serving perfect food and sharing stories about their perfect relationship.  Jack, an attorney with movie-star good looks, specializes in representing women suffering from domestic abuse.  He even shares he is eager for the day Millie, Grace's younger sister who has Down Syndrome*, turns 18, leaves her school, and moves into the house with Jack and Grace.  Grace seems dedicated to being the ultimate housewife and hostess, cooking flawless gourmet meals, painting, and gardening.  But from Grace's narration, it is clear that the perfection is a facade and that something else is going on below the surface.

 

The first-person narrative alternates between "Present" and "Past" chapters.  The "Past" installments reach back 18 months to when Grace first met Jack, while the "Present" ones carry forward from the night of the dinner party.  It becomes clear that the perfect house is a gilded cage.  Grace, upon accepting Jack's marriage proposal 18 months before, agreed to leave her job as a buyer for Harrod's, and "now" she is either in the house or, if she is out and about, she is constantly accompanied by her ever-attentive husband.  She doesn't have a cell phone or her own email account, and anyone calling for her on the house phone is usually told that she is unavailable.  Invitations for lunches either end up with sudden excuses not to show ("migraine") or Jack crashes the lunch.

 

My feelings about this book were all over the place; at times I felt I would give it a very low rating, while at others my opinion swung the other way.  The narrative propelled me forward so I "needed" to see how things unfolded.  Certain elements of characterization strained credulity for me (i.e. cardboard character-type character).  There were moments where I cringed at some over-explaining ("'I'm sorry,' I apologized.").  If this were a movie, it would be an old-school "woman in jeopardy" Lifetime movie (and I see that others have drawn that comparison in reviews).  Or if it were made into a feature film in the 1990s, Julia Roberts would have played Grace.

 

One of the things I found interesting was that there were elements in the opening chapter that did not make full sense until later in the narrative, so I found myself going back and rereading the opening after I was done.  I also read the closing chapter twice.  The fact that I wanted to do that increased my estimation of the novel somewhat.

 

As others have pointed out, this book is not another Gone Girl or Girl on the Train.  It is much too cards-on-the table for that type of comparison.  It is compulsively readable/listenable. (Although I primarily listened to the audiobook, I also checked out the print book to review parts I'd listened to, and I ended up reading the last 10% or so in print.)

 

*The book keeps referring to this as "Down's Syndrome."

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text 2017-04-07 02:58
Added this book... As [nearly] always
Behind Closed Doors - B. A. Paris,Georgia Maguire

::grumble::

 

I'm about to sound peevish.  I am listening to this audiobook.  I downloaded it from my library's electronic collection, as an mp3 audiobook.  When I entered the ISBN number into Booklikes, the edition didn't exist here yet.  So I added the edition.  I like to shelf the actual edition that I am listening to or reading.  I access this particular format very often.  And it seems as though at least 95% of the time, this means I need to add the edition myself.  I am just a bit weary of it.  It would be so nice if I could just enter the ISBN, and it would be the other way around--and needing to add the edition myself would be the small exception.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-25 05:03
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit - Jaye Robin Brown

Word of Caution: If you hate the Big Misunderstanding trope, then avoid this book, because the entire thing hinges on it. Not only is it a "big misunderstanding" but it's perpetuated by one character consistently lying to everyone, and not even for a very good reason. Well, she thinks it's a good reason. Me? Not so much.

 

This is the second F/F book in a row with a punk lesbian. I guess this is a common enough thing to already be a recognizable trope? Aren't there country-loving lesbians? Or jazz-loving lesbians? Or hip-hop loving lesbians? WHERE ARE MY HIP-HOP LESBIANS?

 

But seriously, this book is both complicated and simple. It's told in a simple, rather straightforward way that rarely delves into the depths that this book could easy delve into given the subject matter, mainly how do LGBTQ+ individuals who need faith in their lives deal with the hurtful messages that too many churches STILL put out there because they're stuck in medieval times. I was looking forward to that aspect of it, because too often the one sole religious person in M/M books often acts like he or she could be an offshoot of the Westboro Church family tree. I know many people of faith, some who are close-minded in that way, but others who really embrace Jesus's teachings about acceptance and loving each other without judgment. So let's look at both sides of the spectrum and everything else in between here, right?! Except it never really happens. *sigh*

 

Jo's dad, who runs his own evangelical radio show, accepted his daughter without hesitation when she came out to him. And now that he's remarried and his new MIL has a stick up her butt about EVERYTHING, and because they've moved to a more conservative, smaller town, he asks Jo to lay low. That is, go back in the closet. And she agrees. So she can get her own radio show that she unironically calls "Keep It Real." I say unironically because she's completely unaware of the irony of the title while she's lying about herself to everyone around her. 

 

Except one boy she meets and befriends. She tells him immediately. Which pretty much pulls the rug out from under her every other time she tries to explain to herself why she can't tell the truth to her girlfriend she's so super in love with. Oh, no! Can't do that! And it leads to one ridiculous, cliched "twist" after another until I just wanted to smack her Cher-style.

 

 

Oh, Cher. Where are you when we need you most?

 

I do like the various different characters. There's a weird subplot with Dana. It was nice to see how Joanna and Elizabeth eventually work out their issues. When Joanna does finally stand up for herself, that's pretty great too but comes a bit too late in the story, so that everything after that is rushed. Joanna overall is a passive character and except for that one moment of backbone, she never really stops being passive. Barnum was great, as were George and Gemma. The pastor of the other church, the not-friendly-to-gays one, has this weird quasi-transformation, maybe? It doesn't really go anywhere. 

 

So I guess there's a hopeful message in here. And I guess this is eventually about being true to yourself, even when that self isn't who you originally thought it was. But for each thing I found to like, there was another thing that annoyed me in equal measure.

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review 2017-03-12 10:19
Trelloran Seduction (The Making of a Goddess #1) by Georgia Carter Mathers
Trelloran Seduction - Clare C. Marshall,Georgia Carter Mathers,Nada Backovic,Helena Newton
Trelloran Seduction is the first book in The Making of a Goddess series. It deals with a harsh environment that not all readers will enjoy. Not only are vampires involved, but women are 'sacrificed' on their 30th birthday, and their brain fluid taken from their bodies. Not only that, but a rape culture by Church is in full swing, only they call it 'Cleansing'. Add into the mix a nymph who can shapechange at will, who has been held captive for hundreds of years, and brainwashed into doing her duty to the priests who rape her, impregnate her, and then, once she gives birth, her babies are given to the vampires as food. Like I say, this is NOT suited to all readers! 
 
However, the very things that make this book quite a dark one to read, also offer the hope of light. Two characters come together, both hurt and traumatised by their pasts. You see them slowly start to trust each other, to understand each other. Now, of course, it's not all love and light. This is a dark book, after all, and betrayal comes when you least expect it and from a direction that although known, you think is a red herring. It's not, and it hurts all the more because of that!
 
This is very well written, with no editing or grammatical errors to disrupt the reading flow. This part of the story is nicely concluded, whilst leaving you with an opening to the next book. With plenty of action and suspense, this is a brilliant book that certainly kept my attention throughout. Definitely recommended by me.
 
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/trelloranseductionthemakingofagoddess1bygeorgiacartermathers
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