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review 2017-01-31 20:31
Time Is A River by Mary Alice Monroe
Time Is a River - Mary Alice Monroe

Recovering from breast cancer and reeling from her husband's infidelity, Mia Landan flees her Charleston home to heal in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. She seeks refuge in a neglected fishing cabin belonging to her fly-fishing instructor, Belle Carson. Belle recently inherited the cabin, which once belonged to a grandmother she never knew -- the legendary fly fisher and journalist of the 1920s, Kate Watkins, whose life fell into ruins after she was accused of murdering her lover. Her fortune lost in the stock market crash and her reputation destroyed, Kate slipped into seclusion in the remote cabin. After her death the fishing cabin remained locked and abandoned for decades. Little does Belle know that by opening the cabin doors to Mia for a summer's sanctuary, she will open again the scandal that plagued Belle's family for generations. From her first step inside the dusty cabin, Mia is fascinated by the traces of Kate's mysterious story left behind in the eccentric furnishings of the cabin. And though Belle, ashamed of the tabloid scandal that tortured her mother, warns Mia not to stir the mud, Mia is compelled to find out more about Kate...especially when she discovers Kate's journal. The inspiring words of the remarkable woman echo across the years. Mia has been learning to fly-fish, and Kate's wise words comparing life to a river resonate deeply. She begins a quest to uncover the truth behind the lies. As she searches newspaper archives and listens to the colorful memories of the local small-town residents, the story of a proud, fiercely independent woman emerges. Mia feels a strange kinship with the woman who, like her, suffered fears, betrayal, the death of loved ones, and a fall from grace -- yet found strength, compassion and, ultimately, forgiveness in her isolation. A story timeless in its appeal emerges, with a power that reopens old wounds, but also brings a transforming healing for Mia, for Kate's descendants, and for all those in Mia's new community.

Amazon.com

 

 

Mia Landan, recovering from breast cancer treatments and an unfaithful husband, decides to retreat to the mountains of WNC, specifically Asheville area. There she takes up residence in a cabin owned by her fly-fishing instructor and friend, Belle. Belle lets her live there rent free for the summer under the one condition that she doesn't go digging into the family story behind the cabin (a scandal involving Belle's grandmother). But we need a novel length story here so of course Belle goes digging. She uncovers the tale of Belle's grandmother, Kate Watkins, a 1920s journalist and fly-fishing enthusiast herself who got involved with a married man and was then implicated in his mysterious disappearance.

 

I've lived in & around the Asheville area since 2002 and actually found a copy of this book in a local thrift shop. Always curious of books that involve my city, I immediately took this one home, figuring that the historical fiction element would also greatly appeal to me. Unfortunately this one didn't quite gel with me as I'd hoped.

 

As far as the environment itself, I thoroughly enjoyed that bit. Monroe definitely does justice to the area, offering rich descriptions of the nature around here... though at times I think she painted it a little more rustic than it actually is these days. Some passages had it sounding like Belle was leaving Mia in the wilds of Alaska or something when much of Asheville now is hardly THAT remote lol. I did like Mia in the early parts of the book but some of her decisions later on in the story chipped away at that, so by the end I was just left more with "She's alright, I guess..."

 

What really fell short was the plot. I was hoping for a truly immersive mystery around the story of Kate Watkins, especially for the time period she was living in.... who doesn't want to imagine their town back in the Roarin' Twenties?! But there wasn't too much in the way of that. The "mystery" was pretty straight forward and, to me, unfolded at a slow, bland pace.

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review 2016-11-28 00:00
A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer)
A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer) - Mary Alice Monroe Please note that I gave this book 3.5 stars, but rounded it to 4 stars on Goodreads.

I read this for the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season.

Please do not read unless you have read all of the books in the series.

I have been reading the Lowcountry Summer books for years. There were some ups and downs. Ultimately I thought the stories involving the Muir family were good. This newest book focuses on Taylor McClellan, Harper's husband. I think the idea behind the book was good (takes a very good look at PTSD and service dogs) but the tension in the book was not really present because we already know that Taylor is alive and well with Harper, and we know that his family is okay too since they were mentioned in previous books. I did like how Monroe tied this story into "A Christmas Carol" though and I really got a kick out of that.

So I was never really interested in Taylor while reading the series. If anything, I wish this book could have followed up with the newest Muir Atticus. That would have been a nice swan song to the family. Instead this book has Taylor being happy in his life with his new wife and daughter. The book then flashes back five years to when Taylor arrived back home suffering from PTSD. The story switches between Taylor, his younger brother Miller, and then their mother Jenny.

The beginning of the book told from Taylor's POV really did not fit the book version of Taylor I had in my head up to that moment. He was way more eloquent then I thought Taylor had ever shown. The flashbacks to when Taylor goes home, interacts with his family, etc. read more like the Taylor that Harper had met and married.

The character of Miller felt off throughout the entire book. He is 10 at the beginning of this story and he does not have a "voice" like any 10 year old I have met. At certain times he sounded babyish and at other way too adult for the age he was supposed to be. He was either clueless about his family's finances or he was not clueless. But having him reacting badly to not getting a dog was not exactly making me want to get up and cheer this character. He does end up becoming more improved as the book went on, but I think that was because one Monroe has him interacting with his mother and brother more and more he felt more realistic to me.

The character of Jenny was actually written very well. Frankly I liked her POV's more than anyone else's. Maybe it would have been smart to just have Jenny's POV. I did not always get her (her having to constantly deal with her husband acting like an ass is a recurring theme) but you know she loves hers sons.

I really wish if Monroe was going to do this, she had included Taylor's father's POV as well. It seemed odd we didn't get his POV and I think if you are going to go all in about the McClellan's it would have worked much better if he got added in. The guy read like a jerk throughout the whole book until the end. I really wanted to be able to get a sense of his feelings and how he was dealing with losing his way of life, not being able to provide for his family like he wanted to, and having to acknowledge that there was something wrong with his oldest son.

The writing was fine in this book. Just a bit flowerly here and there for 10 year old Miller and older version Taylor. Also it was just weird to me the book starts off with Taylor remembering 5 years ago and the book just breaks it up to show Miller and Jenny's POV's as well as his. The book does set up the different POV's so even while reading you know who is "speaking" before each chapter.

The flow was slow to start off with. Things really don't start clicking more until Taylor gets home and his family starts to realize that something is wrong with him. I thought the whole "incident" put into the story was a bit much though. It read way too Hallmark for me and I was surprised Monroe included it. It didn't really fit the larger story she was telling.

The setting of the lowcountry is a familiar one and I do enjoy it. But this one besides location did not have the same set-up (obviously) or feel of the previous books.

The ending was okay but way too much information was spewed in the last 5 pages that left me with more questions than answers. Also I am wondering why the family scene was missing some people we know are important to Harper (her grandmother on her mother's side). Dora's son who we know is autistic also did not read as he usually does in these books. And I hated the big reveal about one of the sister's just kind of thrown out there.
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review 2016-10-11 19:10
A LowCountry Christmas
A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer) - Mary Alice Monroe

By: Mary Alice Monroe 

A Lowcountry Novel #5

ISBN:1501125532

Publisher:  Gallery

Publication Date: 10/25/2016

Format: Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars

A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.A poignant continuation of the Lowcountry Summer series.

 

A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Southern master storyteller Mary Alice Monroe returns following A LowCountry Wedding with A LOWCOUNTRY CHRISTMAS featuring Taylor McClellan, a character from previous books. A wounded warrior revisits the past, a broken man, and his journey to the present and future.

A heartwarming holiday tale of family and the true meaning of Christmas-scattered with some humor and quotes from Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. Past, Present, Future.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"-Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

A life-changing story of love and hope featuring a beloved family from the LowCountry. Memories from the past. Overcoming obstacles to look deeper than the glitter of the season to discover the true meaning of Christmas. A time for families together to share stories, gifts, laughter, and love.

Whether you’re meeting the Muir family for the first time, or finding them all over again. A LowCountry Christmas will stay in your heart throughout the holiday season- bringing together a family in the aftermath of a loss, and in the midst of an unfolding story of hope, with the help of one very special dog.

If you have read Mary Alice Monroe, you are aware, even though her Coastal South Carolina stories may be fiction; their impact is real. She writes richly textured books and stories that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. Her life-changing work and environmental fiction are an inspiration to readers, worldwide.

Readers met Taylor in the LowCountry Trilogy, a wounded warrior, suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). With a little help from his service dog, providing support and increased means of coping with such symptoms as hypervigilance, fear, nightmares, flight-or-fight response, and impaired memory.

Set in 2015, it is Christmas Eve, Taylor is returning home to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. As a Marine, he has seen his share of battles. He recalls his previous feelings at the approaching Christmas holidays. In the first five years since he had returned from Afghanistan, he barely acknowledged the holidays. There are two reasons presently,for joy in his heart – his wife and daughter. Harper and Marietta. Only three months old.

“The treasured memories captured moments from times long gone—envelope us in that matchless spirit of Christmas one season after the other, year after year, until we ourselves fade and become part of the memories.”

Thor is Taylor’s service dog, attuned to his every mood. Even when he is resting, he is monitoring his breathing and his body language. He senses his anxiety, the PTSD, and knows all the danger signals and how to deflect before his slips into the abyss. Thor is not a dog to be ignored. Part-great Dane and part-Labrador, he’s a whopping 120 pounds of devotion.

As always, Mary Alice Monroe links a connection with animals, as in all her books, with extraordinary powers. An inspiration for the book, a bond, a story of one serviceman’s return from war with PTSD, and his inspiring journey back to his home and himself through the help of his steadfast service dog.

Looking back, it was a Christmas tree that changed everything.One pivotal Christmas five years earlier. One pivotal Christmas five years earlier.

Washington, DC 2010. Taylor was going home for Christmas, the son of a shrimper. A graduate of Citadel in Charleston, the first man to graduate from college in his family. The bombs had shattered his bones and burned his body and soul. He brain was not right. The scars in his mind were the wounds that cut the deepest. He did not want to leave the hospital. It is where he felt safe. Surrounded by other servicemen.

Where do you go but home when there is no place else to go? He felt as if he were heading for a fall. Home for Christmas.

In the small fishing town of McClellanville, outside of Charleston—2010. Ten-year-old Miller McDaniel McClellan is not excited about Christmas. His dad is captain of a shrimp boat and times are tough.

The son of a long line of fisherman. His dad is a hard worker, smart and good with his hands. His mom cleans houses. They have little money. He only wants a dog – one particular puppy. Is there hope? He had singled out a golden puppy. His name was Sandy Claws. He likes to dig. They cost $300 each. He only has seventy-five dollars saved. He loves this puppy. Since his dad put the boat to dock, money was tight. Of course, his dad thinks a dog cost too much to upkeep. No dog for Christmas.

Instead, his mom is excited about his older brother coming home for Christmas. This was his Christmas present? No Xbox, no Playstation, and worst of all, no Sandy. Bah, humbug!

We hear from Jenny, Taylor, and Miller. Jenny, the mom who wants to create a home, rich with traditions, values, and morals that would instill confidence in her children. A happy time meant for laughter, sentimental gifts, and love. After all, Taylor was coming home. They had so much to be thankful for. She wanted to make both her son's dreams come true. Miller’s heart was broken.

Her older son was home safe in her arms. God had answered prayers. But something was different about him. Withdrawal. He had not really completely come home.

Taylor knew he was not the same man. He had a hard time touching people, hugging – damaged goods. He had to find the strength and courage to find his way back through the black mist. Thor gave him hope.

Miller is upset his brother has a dog (service dog), and he doesn’t. Taylor is the big war hero.

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed. “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company and do it with a thankful heart.” --Scrooge, A Christmas Carol.

With some special Christmas quotes from Charles Dickens, we visit the past, present, and future—to keep Christmas alive in our hearts all year long.

Jenny was in the middle. All she wanted was a normal happy home, not Team Scrooge. Christmas was only a week away. Miller disappears with his brother’s service dog, Thor. Everyone is worried. It is Christmas Eve and he has taken his dad’s ax and the wagon. He sets out to get a Christmas tree, since they cannot afford to buy one, and gets lost in the forest.

They are frantic, and it is getting cold. They are receiving snow, the first time since 1989, after Hurricane Hugo. A heartfelt reunion.

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!”—Scrooge, A Christmas Carol.

Flash forward, to the Epilogue, Christmas 2015, Sea Breeze, Sullivan’s Island, SC, where memories come together. We catch up with the historic Harper house, where they married and had their first child. Miller now fifteen, where the family gathers around the tree, the unspoken symbol of that important Christmas when they had dug deep and fought for one another—for their survival.

For their family, their happiness, while discovering the true meaning of Christmas. They each had the chance to redeem themselves, no matter how much of a Scrooge they may have been- they are not alone.

Fans will love catching up with Mamaw, Girard, and the rest of the Muir family—Blake and Carson, Dora and Devlin, Nate, Atticus and Vivian and some special holiday recipes from the queen of Southern cooking, Nathalie Dupree, bestselling author with more than three hundred TV appearances for the Food Network, PBS, and the Learning Channel. Also included in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.

If you are looking for a special Christmas story to warm your heart and soul, surrounding by the beauty of the LowCountry; Mary Alice Monroe, with her own signature style, delivers a Hallmark Christmas filled with humor, joy, and love, rediscovering the true bonds of family and the special meaning of Christmas.

Especially, during this time with the aftermath and destruction of the most recent Hurricane Matthew, and the shrimpers in the area.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

2016 Top 10 Holiday Books to Read

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/05/05/A-LowCountry-Christmas
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text 2016-09-21 23:19
2016 Books to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer) - Mary Alice Monroe
Christmas Angels: A Novella - Viola Shipman
Wishing on Snowflakes - Joanne DeMaio
Christmas in Paris: A Novel - Anita M. Hughes
Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel - Debbie Macomber
Winter Storms (Winter Street) - Elin Hilderbrand
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (An Andy Carpenter Novel) - David Rosenfelt
A Shoe Addict's Christmas - Beth Harbison
A Baxter Family Christmas - Karen Kingsbury
Hot Flash Holidays: A Novel - Nancy Thayer

Upcoming early HOLIDAY BOOKS

to get you in the spirit!  

Coming 2016 

 

 

A LOW COUNTRY CHRISTMAS 

Mary Alice Monroe 

LowCountry #5

Gallery Books 

October 25  

CHRISTMAS ANGELS

Viola Shipman

St. Martin's Press 

October 25 

WISHING ON SNOWFLAKES

Two Wintry Novels 

Joanne Demaio

October 4 

CHRISTMAS IN PARIS

Anita Hughes

St Martin's Press 

October 4  

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 

Debbie Macomber

Random House

October 4  

WINTER STORMS

Winter Street Trilogy #3

Elin Hilderbrand

October 4 

Little Brown & Co.   

THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS

Andy Carpenter Series
David Rosenfelt

St Martin's Press 

October 18   

A SHOE ADDICT'S CHRISTMAS 

Beth Harbison

St. Martin's Press

October 18  

HOT FLASH HOLIDAYS 

Nancy Thayer

Random House

Oct 18 

 A BAXTER FAMILY CHRISTMAS 

Karen Kingsbury 

Howard Books

October 25  

Christmas Comes Early

When You Pre-Order Your Favorite Book!

 

 

Visit My Blog at JDCMustReadBooks

For More October Favorite Picks

@JudithDCollins #JDCMustReadBooks   

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/book-blog/tag/oct-2016
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review 2016-09-08 04:15
A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe
A Lowcountry Wedding (Lowcountry Summer) - Mary Alice Monroe

 

The fourth and final (?) book in the Lowcountry Summer Series has lots of heart but there's a lot going on here and circumstances were a bit much for me to believe. While I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and the amazing setting, one of my favorite places in the world, this last offering left me rolling my eyes one too many times. However, the characters are lovely and there's a surprise addition to the Muir family that I never saw coming. I'll miss the girls, Mamaw, and, mostly, the sweet dolphin, Delphine.

 

The Lowcountry Summer series consists of four books. The other books in the series are:

#1 - THE SUMMER GIRLS ( my personal favorite.)

#2 - THE SUMMER WINDS

#3 - THE SUMMER'S END


FYI: As always, Monroe includes delicious southern recipes that were enjoyed at Sea Breeze. Enjoy the gumbo. =)

 

For more Mary Alice Monroe reading enjoyment, visit her website @
http://MaryAliceMonroe.com
Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe

 

 

 

*Many thanks to my local library, Breaux Bridge Public Library/St. Martin Parish Libraries, for adding this book after my many suggestions.

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