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review 2017-12-27 21:31
Here We Lie
Here We Lie - Paula Treick DeBoard

By:  Paula Treick DeBoard

ISBN: 0778330265

Publisher: Park Row Books 

Publication Date:  1/30/2018 

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars 


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From the critically acclaimed author, of The Drowning GirlsThe Fragile World, and The Mourning Hours (all five glowing stars-review links below), Paula Treick DeBoard follows with her latest riveting suspense, coming Jan 2018— HERE WE LIE. 

Rich in character, a look inside the secret lives of two different unlikely friends from two different social classes. A world of privilege and secrets. The lies and secrets they tell themselves, and to one another —with devastating consequences. 

Ripped from today’s headlines: Scandal, power, cover-ups, and deadly secrets. Messy, complicated and imperfect lives. 

Told in alternating first-person perspectives, moving between past and present. Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey. Each views the world differently— from diverse backgrounds.

As the book opens it is 2016. A press conference. Someone is about to spill a lie. Age thirty-five. Female. A lie kept silent for fourteen years is about to be exposed to the world. 

“Fourteen years was a long time. It was long enough to forget, forgive, move on.” A long time to keep a secret. 

Megan is from Kansas. She lived for years watching her dad die each day slowly from asbestos fibers (a poor man’s cancer) from the mesothelioma with his job. She holds a secret. Her father’s dying wish.

“Something had to die so something else could live.”

With the life insurance money, Megan can attend a college of choice in combination with a scholarship and her good grades. She wants nothing more than to escape this town and her past. Her mom has moved on to Gerry, her boss at the accounting firm. 

She decides on Keale College in Scofield, Connecticut— a unscale private girls-only school. She realizes that wealth lives here and people of privilege. People different than herself.

She meets a regular local boy named Joe on her first day. Soon after that, her roommates commits suicide, assigning her another roommate.

Lauren Mabrey is the wild child with continued reckless behavior from a wealthy family. From the elite, boarding schools, and old money pedigree. The cars, wealth, homes, status, power, and the best education. She is the daughter of a U.S. senator from Connecticut. Lauren has a poor GPA; however, with her parent’s money, she can pretty much do as she pleases. 

She also feels like an outsider in her only family and goes against the traditional values, causing disarray in her family. Often she wanted to be regular so as not to have to live up to the expectations. 

A bit rebellious, she encounters some problems with drugs before she goes off to college, which lands the guy in jail, and ultimately ended up dead in a prison yard. This event haunts her. However, her parents manage to keep this out of the news. Her mom warns her they cannot continue to bail her out. 

Lauren loves photography and takes her talent a little too far. Her family dismisses it. After an encounter with her current roommate, Erin she is assigned a new one.

Lauren and Megan become best friends in their freshman year 1999-2000. Lauren is everything Megan is not. Lauren sees Megan as normal. Due to her family environment, she finds herself attracted to Megan, Joe, Marcus, and others she meets, unlike her status.

However, Megan distorts her life offering shocking lies about her family. She exaggerated about how poor her family was and how many boyfriends she had. She wants to be someone else, someone different from the dull girl she is. To feel better about herself. Both girls are insecure in their ways. 

Lauren loves Megan’s wit, and the two develop a friendship based on lies. Telling each other their best and worst truths and lies. As time moves on, they also become jealous and angry with one another. 

Megan meets Lauren’s family and becomes exposed to a different way of life. Their home, a job, and a private summer island off the coast of Maine. This trip was to be their last vacation before senior year. 

However, one night something happens which changes the course of their lives. A house of money. To cover up the dirty deeds of its family members. 

Dreams of Harvard are no longer in view. Shattered by one night. Worse than her father dying. A choice to make. A decision. Who would believe her—a girl from nowhere? The Mabrey's had the kind of power that could buy justice—that could shape truth. 

The lies she had told. She could not put herself through it. She would remain silent. One girl all alone. Dreams shattered. Another one left clueless about the events unfolding around her. Where was the trust in one another?

Many years later when the girls have their separate lives and families of their own, someone comes forward with rape and sexual assault. A political scandal. If someone had come forward earlier, could it have saved others down the road? 

The silence broken, shattering lives and the ugly truth revealed. Allegations, investigation, and a trial. The what ifs.

What a fabulous story— highly relatable to the events which surround us today. Even though fictional, unfortunately, it is all too real for many women who experience sexual assault at the hands of famous figures such as politicians and celebrities. The victims often are viewed in a negative light; therefore they remain silent. 

An avid fan of the author, for years—her books continually land on my top books of the year. Unique and compelling, her stories possess a common thread. Thought-provoking, she writes of powerful bonds of friendships, family, and betrayal. 

Paula’s writing is superb! The dual timelines and alternating perspectives keep the reader engrossed in the lives of the two young women at different ages. From college years to the present, the author gives a glimpse of the gap and how words and actions have consequences resulting in hurt and resentment. A convincing look at lies and how they come back to haunt (no matter the age). 

From teenagers to young women with families of their own to their true selves. In addition to the topic of friendship, a strong focus on daughter/father and daughter/mother relationships. 

Highly charged topics: enjoyed how she tied female friendship, sexual assault, political scandal and moral complexities together in one dynamic story. HERE WE LIE is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions (Reader’s Guide Included).

An added bonus—a insightful Q&A with the author! Highly recommend. A "read-in-one-sitting" kind of book. 


A special thank you to the author for the lovely print copy and Park Row and NetGalley for the digital advanced reading copy. 

The Drowning Girls 
Top Books of 2016 

The Fragile World 
Top Books of 2014 

The Mourning Hours





A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 11, 2018 at 1:35am PST






"With this story of two very different young women, DeBoard portrays the lies that people tell to find acceptance and the terrible acts that powerful people casually commit... While the rape looms in the future as a foregone conclusion, DeBoard only slowly reveals the details, so the final revelations are all the more powerful." –Publishers Weekly


"With each chapter shifting perspective between Lauren and Megan, DeBoard lets each woman's story reflect and distort the other's, deftly angling the mirror of truth... A wrenching tale of broken friendship and shattered dreams." –Kirkus Reviews


"A nuanced and complex look at the long-standing consequences of privilege and toxic masculinity. At its heart, Here We Lie examines the seemingly unbreakable bonds of both friendship and family, and the lengths one will go to take care of their own. Compulsively readable!"-Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year


"With Here We Lie, Paula Treick de Board spins a mesmerizing tale of two former best friends and one shocking secret. Suspenseful and evocative, with pitch-perfect prose and pacing, Here We Lie is a story that resonates long after the last word. An engrossing read." -Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of The Marriage Lie


From her riveting first chapter, DeBoard casts a line back in time and reels an unlikely college friendship ever closer to the novel's inevitable conclusion. An absorbing exploration of how we attain personal power and the consequences of wielding it." -Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling


"Set against a backdrop of college life, politics, and sexual assault, Paul Treick DeBoard explores the exquisite joy of discovering the perfect friendship--then the acute pain of disentangling when that friendship sours. Here We Lie takes you a remarkable journey of two girls who learn, together and alone, to decide who they will ultimately be-it is at once observant, devastating, and thoroughly satisfying."-Emily Carpenter, author of The Weight of Lies and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls





About the Author 



Paula is a reader, writer, drinker of strong coffee and an all-around slave to public education. She wrote her first novel when she was nine years old, in the back seat of an orange 1977 Chevy Caprice station wagon with wood paneling. It was exactly as good as you might expect a novel written by a nine-year-old to be.
In the intervening years, Paula majored in English, taught junior high and high school English and earned an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Southern Maine.
These days, she splits her time between teaching (at the University of California, Merced), chatting about writing whenever she has a chance, and staring at a laptop screen for uninterrupted hours. Her novels include The Drowning Girls, The Fragile World and The Mourning Hours. 
Her heart—and her remaining spare time—belongs to Will and their four-legged brood. Read More  

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/06/01/Here-We-Lie
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review 2016-11-20 22:53
All the Breaking Waves
All the Breaking Waves: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 12/6/2016 
Format: Other
My Rating: 4 Stars


Kerry Lonsdale continues with another heartfelt tale, following her debut, Everything We Keep, with her latest upcoming, ALL THE BREAKING WAVES —an emotional family domestic suspense saga of dark secrets, mystery, and magical realism.

Lonsdale paints a vivid portrait of a contemporary family filled with secrets, strife and ultimately—love.

ALL THE BREAKING WAVES is a mystery suspense with strong twists of romantic, historical, and paranormal elements. A talented sea glass artist, Molly Brennan whose daughter, gifted with visions, predicts Molly’s death. Molly has five days to outwit fate or make the ultimate sacrifice any parent can make. The daughter’s premonitions come with dangerous side-effects.

Molly Brennan grew up in the Pacific Grove, a coastal town on the Monterey Peninsula in California. She loved the ocean and combing for treasures. She had once believed the surf-tumbled glass had come from mermaids.

When the mythical creatures wept for sailors lost at sea, their tears hardened and washed ashore by the latest storm front. Mermaid tears were treasures, meant to be guarded close to one’s heart. They brought wishes of true love and kept you safe from those who meant harm.

However, time had taught her two valuable lessons: Fairy tales and fables paled in comparison with real nightmares, and psychic abilities were a power, the human body should not possess.

Years ago, Molly had left her home following a tragic accident. In the process, she also left the man she loved, Owen. Telling him she did not love him, but she did and always will. She was only trying to protect others around her. Her mom was murdered, and her dad died in a fatal car accident. She had no one left but her Nana, and she was getting old. And her daughter, she has to protect.

Four generations of women with "the gift." A gift which could be a torture and misunderstood by many. Ordinary to extraordinary.

Since this time, twelve years later Molly has made a home for herself and her eight-year-old daughter Cassie. Molly teaches art history at a local community college and makes jewelry from the glass she collects with a side business, selling to boutiques. They live a quiet life in San Luis Obispo in a small bungalow.

However, now her worst nightmare is facing her head on.

Cassie is experiencing horrific visions and debilitating nightmares. She is making predictions at school to keep her friends out of harm’s way. She is being bullied and frightening the parents, students, teachers, and her friends. Everyone thinks she is a freak.

Mollie’s daughter Cassie has dreams, with premonitions. They were getting worse and more gruesome. The accidents she foresaw were followed by nightmares that recurred until the premonition came to pass.

Her latest, she told her friend Grace she would be hit by a car on her bike, so she keeps telling her to be safe and wear a helmet. Maybe she could keep her from dying. To keep her from having brain damage. Both mother and daughter are desperate to have the visions go away.

They were vicious little monsters. They only echoed Molly’s own grammar school experiences. The taunting and jeers, the cautious glances. It was easier to play the role of the social outcast than to explain the odd things she saw or seemed to make other people do.

Cassie’s abilities had only recently manifested and Molly was worried she was already a social outcast. If only she could learn not to talk about them at school.

After all, Molly knew how bad her father hated her abilities, so it was hard to force her daughter to keep quiet when those close to her were in danger. Things get out of control at school. Molly is called in by the principal and teachers. Instead of seeing a child psychologist, Molly knows there is only one person who could possibly help Cassie. Her grandmother, Nana Mary. In hopes of understanding and harnessing her gifts.

She had to do something to help her daughter. The psychological damage, the nightmares, and the lack of sleep. The visions had become horrific. Tormenting. Now that Grace’s accident had come true, she was having the worst visions yet. Cassie sees her mother drowning. She couldn’t breathe and sees her dying.

Molly is frantic and decides they need to pack up for a short visit with Nana Mary. She will be able to help control Cassie’s visions. However, how was she going to avoid the water when her Nana’s house was so close to the ocean?

From guilt and regret, the unexpected. Her Nana is in poor health, and Owen has purchased the family home next door to her Nana. The one place she swore she would never come back to. The haunting memories. Returning to Pacific Grove always roused Molly’s own fears and doubts about her own abilities.

From the past to present the author takes us back to four generations of women. All with psychic gifts. However, somewhere along the way, they were handled differently. From loss, love, and tragedy and second chances, Lonsdale takes delivers a compelling story of the strong bonds of family, and fears which haunt and destroy.

Molly is forced into the unraveling of the events of the past: Her shame, her internal journey; guilt, her mother Shelia, domestic violence, her controlling father, her Nana, and her love for Owen and her daughter Cassie. As she faces her own fears she finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Pacific. Discovering unexpected treasures.

Combined with suspense, mystery, romance, and magical realism the multi-generational saga has many parallels from the sea glass as trash turned into treasures similar to the lives of the characters. Their psychic gifts, on one hand, are viewed as evil, versus helpful or extraordinary. The twists and comparisons with Owen’s guilt, and Mollys.

At the heart of the novel: Molly represents every parent faced with difficult, and sometimes life-threatening choices about a child’s well-being. Sacrifices for our children. An ongoing theme of facing decisions to either embrace or dismiss life choices. From acceptance, death, forgiveness, family, love, motherhood and sacrifice.

For fans of Jayne Ann Krentz, Christina Dodd, Karen Robards, and Lisa Unger (romance, suspense, mystery, psychic, paranormal); Karen White, Sarah Addison Allen, Lisa Van Allen and Alice Hoffman (historical, magical realism).

A multilayered mystery where interlinked stories, and generations, as well as unearthed secrets of a damaged family lead to courage and healing.

Look forward to the sequel to Everything We Left Behind, Coming July 1, 2017.

A special thank you to the author, Lake Union, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.




Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/04/All-the-Breaking-Waves
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review 2016-11-18 05:00
Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Huge Russia
The Spectacular World of Waldorf: Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Huge Russia - Beth Ann Stifflemire,Barbara Terry
The Spectacular World of Waldorf #4
ISBN: 978-1943274420
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 3
Publisher: Waldorf 
Publication Date: 12/1/2016 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 5 Stars 


A comical Labrador is the latest hit in the new children's book travel series, THE SPECTACULAR WORLD OF WALDORF- Mr. Waldorf Travels to Russia, featured in the fourth installment by Beth Ann Stifflemire and Barbara Terry.

Mr. Waldorf is a lovable and adventurous canine on a voyage to see the United States and the world!

His first stop on his journey: Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Great State of Texas, the second Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Wild State of Alaska, then Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Mysterious China and now Waldorf is making his journey to Russia, the largest country in the world! Join him as he discovers this new adventure.


Waldorf begins his adventure with art and culture, exploring the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg, Russia where he sees the world famous ballet. He enjoys dancing with his new friends. Next, he attends the Opera, as the singer tells an amazing story in a song.

Next, he visits the Saint Petersburg Zoo, the oldest zoo in Russia, where he visits with new friends and Polar Bears. After the zoo, he journeys through the Ural Mountains in Western Russia. He discovers jewels, mountains, and heads for the oldest, deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal.

Next, he ventures off to the Eastern Forests of Russia and enjoys the beautiful tall trees and visit more animals and a Siberian Tiger. Next, he decides to complete his trip in the capital of Russia, called Moscow.

He loves the old colorful and beautiful buildings. He also is excited to visit the Russian State Library, where he finds plenty of books.

With bold colorful illustrations, ideal for kids ages seven-nine. From second-third grade reading level. In addition, younger children will enjoy the images while parents or older siblings read to them.

My granddaughter, Avery is in AIG classes (3rd grade) and she gives the series her “thumbs up, a seal of approval!” My grandson, Brady, (1st grade) loved the adventure with lots of fun along the way.

Educational, informative, adventurous, and entertaining!

Well-crafted, a great way to help children learn about different cultures, diversity, languages, geographical areas while assisting them with reading, and social studies, as well as introducing them to new things.

A clever fun way to help kids explore other parts of the country in the privacy of their own home or school. Parents, grandparents, educators, teachers and kids will love Mr. Waldorf and will want to follow him to the many cities, and parts of the country where he explores. A fun learning experience!

Mr. Waldorf loves to read and needs his specs. He tends to lose them along the way. Readers will need to help him find them. This comical Labrador draws children into his whimsical adventures in search of his lost reading spectacles for a little mystery.

The strong visual narrative makes this an appealing choice for a wide range of ages. By the turn of the last page, children will immediately begin imagining the next adventure. (Hi-res glossy images pop with color)!

Get on board, and join Waldorf, as he travels to his next stop. Join him as he discovers interesting and fun places. Collect them all- Idea for gift giving and the upcoming holiday season!

A special thank you to Waldorf Publishing and the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/07/The-Spectacular-World-of-Waldorf-Mr-Waldorf-Travels-to-the-Huge-Russia
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review 2016-04-03 23:18
Don't Say A Word
Don't Say a Word (Strangers Series) - Jennifer Minar-Jaynes

By: Jennifer Jaynes


Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 5/3/2016

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars 


Talented crime writer, Jennifer Jaynes returns following Never Smile at Strangers, and Ugly Young Thing with her “best yet”- DON’T SAY A WORD, an enthralling psychological crime mystery suspense thriller, guaranteed to keep you glued to the pages from the first page, to the explosive ending- leaving you breathless!

Allie Callahan has not had an easy life. An orphan, with a horrific past and childhood—her mom and brother suffered from mental illness. In her younger years, she even attempted to end her own life, when left all alone to face the brutal world. She still has scars and fears.

At sixteen, she was given the opportunity to have a real life. A real family. A new start. She was adopted by her kind older foster mom, Bitty Callahan. She loves and respects her. A home she has always dreamed of.

Now twenty-two, Allie and her young son, Sammy and dog Piglet--- reside with Bitty, in their comfortable home in Texas. She is putting her demons behind her. However, she has to continue to put the old unhealthy voices from her biological mother aside. Bitty always taught her, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

Allie always feared losing her mental health and become incapable of being the type of mother her four- year- old son, Sammy deserved. Sammy was her reason for living. For everything. Allie was excited about the new chapter in her life, in terms of her career, she was following in Bitty’s footsteps as a wellness practitioner. She was drawn to the work for many reasons, but mainly because it was rewarding and flexible.

As the book opens there is a brutal murder. Two twelve-year-old twin girls (Zoe and Carrie), are left in their home alone for days with their murdered parents. They are traumatized. When the authorities arrive, the girls are sent by child protective service to reside in foster care with Bitty.

Allie was a little nervous, when foster children came to stay. She always felt uneasy each time a new kid arrived; however, she could not tell Bitty. Allie admired the fact Bitty fostered kids. Bitty had given her a second chance at happiness—a chance most kids with past like hers never got. So she would help any way she could. She owed it to Bitty.

The twins are NOT ordinary. They were coming from the rich Sherman Landing area nearby. Even though the girls had lived in a poor white trash trailer park, their deceased dad had recently won $1.2 million dollars. From drugs and abuse from mom, and truck driver dad, on the road the majority of the time.

When the caseworker brought the girls to stay with the Callahan's, they soon learned the girls are very disturbed. Carrie would not speak and very withdrawn. Zoe tended to be more outspoken, and even manipulative, at times. Could she trust them around her son? Zoe-dissociative amnesia. Carrie selective mutism.

Due to their trauma, the caseworker mentioned in addition to their parent’s murder, the younger brother was hit by a truck and killed three years earlier and the girls witnessed the tragic event. The grandmother wants nothing to do with them. Total dysfunction.

From detectives, forensic therapist, Child Advocacy, and caseworkers-- everyone was involved in the case. Allie knew all too well, people never healed from the horror of murder. Not completely. Allie always helped Bitty with the foster children—she was never emotionally invested. This time she becomes involved.

As the investigation continues, Gary, the mom’s boyfriend shows up, putting them all in danger. Allie’s former boyfriend, Johnny (Sammy’s dad) shows up without any notice, and she is ready to put him out of her life. Their personal lives and home become insanity. A check written for seven hundred thousand the day before the murders?

Prone to depression and anxiety attacks, Allie had learned to control her thoughts before they spiraled out of control. However, since the twins came to live with them, nothing is normal. Strange phone calls, cars, hang ups, and weird behavior with both girls. Another murder. Since she laid eyes on these girls, the whole safe world that had taken her years to build felt as flimsy as a house of cards.

There is tension between the twins, and something is not right. Carrie was more self-conscious (Allie can relate to her, if she will let her in). Carrie has been cutting herself and is slowly slipping away. Zoe tends to want to bond with Allie; more confident--her personality goes from good to bad.

Allie wants to trust the girls around her son Sammy, however, she is overprotective. Is she putting him in danger around the girls? From blood-curdling shrieks, screams--the girls needed her help—she could not deny them; she can sympathize—she has been there; however, is she putting her life and her son’s in harm’s way?

Who really murdered the twin's parents?

Wow, this is one intense saga---secrets and lies. Flashing back and forth we hear from the time prior to the murders. Slowly the author cleverly peels back the layers of the events leading up to the murders. Nothing is as it appears.

Chilling, dark, gripping, shocking, and un-put-downable!When I looked up from the book for the first time 50% through the book. From 50%-75%, the intensity is mind-blowing. From 75% to the ending, fast-paced action--twists and turns you do not see coming! You are totally invested in the characters—Damaged with a Capital “D”. Forget about sleeping.

With Allie’s delicate complex and tortured past, co-mingled with the twins domestic current and past mental situation, strongly emphasizing the psychology of its characters and their unstable emotional states. Obsessive, pathological, moral conflicts, fear and anxiety are strong drivers. No one can write EVIL better than Jennifer.

I enjoyed hearing from Sammy's perspective; a four-year-old’s view (priceless), as well as Zoe, Carrie, and Allie. (Since the author is a mother of younger twins, she shines here). Sammy is full of wonder and curiosity- very observant. You will love him and want to give him a big hug. He likes to spy on others. He is innocent and he thinks it is fun. A cautionary tale for mothers--you never know what secrets your child may be keeping. A strong mother’s love. Sammy is her priority.

You will love Bitty, and readers root for Allie, to the end--and sympathize with her situation. Hoping Allie will find some happiness in the next book with a possible new budding romance with the sexy Detective. (Knowing Jaynes, it will not be a smooth road). Can't wait.


If you are looking for a scary crime thriller that send chills down your spine, leaving you on the edge of your seat until the very end---this one is for you.

A mix of Gothic, domestic, crime, psychological, detective, action, drama, horror, suspense, mystery, and thriller. The author rocks! Integrating personal character elements into mystery and suspense, toeing the line between a dramatic character study and a plot structure you'd expect from a strong psycho-crime horror thriller movie. (would make for a great Prime series).

For fans of Mark Edwards, Kathryn Croft, Lisa Unger, and Jennifer Hillier.

Recommend reading Jennifer’s first two books above, while awaiting the release date of her third installment. Even though Don’t Say A Word, may be read as a standalone -the author does an outstanding job of getting you up to speed; however, in order to really get a good grasp of the main protagonist, you will want to read the previous books----All three are top quality!

The author just keeps getting better (if this is possible). Thanks Jennifer, all your efforts have not gone unnoticed. A winner! 5 Stars +

A special thank you to the author and publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Dont-Say-a-Word/cmoa/569e47de0cf20b5fa8ea9832
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review 2015-02-04 03:36
Million Dollar Road
Million Dollar Road - Amy Connor

By: Amy Conner
ISBN: 0758295146
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: 5/26/2015
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 Stars


A special thank you to the author for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Amy Conner returns with MILLION DOLLAR ROAD,another riveting, and passionate "southern charmer" must read; full of suspense, wit, humor, and some important (hard) life lessons!

Set in Covington, Louisiana, Conner gives distinctive voice to three engaging women--different ages and walks of life with a complicated man who loves them all.

Bringing heartfelt emotion, compassion, and humor to each of them, as she deftly unravels their complex life journey of broken dreams, heartache, poverty, and loss; to one of abundance, hope, courage, and love.

Lireinne, is a simple girl, age eighteen, and abandoned by her mother years ago. She lives with her stepfather, Bud and half-brother, Wolf, age fifteen in a doublewide trailer in the rural Louisiana. She was previously fat in school; however, with all the exercise walking to work, she has lost thirty pounds and is quite beautiful. Her stepfather is good to her; however, he works hard, with two jobs to provide for his children, so not a lot of time left for his family.

She gave up on high school, a drop out, as she was tired of the bullying and the kids making fun of their poor life. Lireinne currently works as a hoser for the world’s largest alligator farm at the BFG barn, called Sauvage Global Enterprises. She is responsible and takes care of the animals, cleaning, does her household chores, taking care of her horse, dad and brother. She is not interested in guys; however, they are always trying to hit on her due to her beauty, and no one respects her. She walks to work each day in the heat along the long Million Dollar Road, as she has no car. (so-called because back during the Depression the WPA spent a million bucks to get it drained, laid and paved).

She has one of the lowest jobs, making less than minimum wage; having to walk to the Dollar General or catch a ride to Walmart for clothes and supplies. She does not know what it is like to shop in a mall, or have nice things she sees in magazines. She is poor, hungry, and dreams of a life in Paris; however, she is realistic enough to know she will never leave this dead end job or town.

Emma, is fragile, mild mannered, timid, and the owner of an organic farm. Emma is suffering from anxiety and never leaves her house except to go to the farmer’s market. She was a wife who had it all married to Con, the CEO of SGE (Alligator Farm) who cheated on her for years, and they are now divorced. He is now married to Lizzie, the "other woman"; leaving her devastated and unsure how to move on except to hide away on her farm. She has always wanted a child and a family; however, after a miscarriage eighteen years ago, was unable to have any more children. She lives on pills for her panic attacks, and has no friends except for Sarah, the funny eighty year old sassy neighbor, (loved her), who continually tells her she needs to get out more.

Emma and Con were poor when they met back in school and both worked their way through school and built a nice secure life with good jobs and a home; however, Con could not and will not stay faithful. Now in her early forties, Emma has a panic attack just thinking of Million Dollar Road, her ex-husband, and the alligator farm.

Lizzie is hot tempered and wants her way. She grew up poor and she is determined to make it in the world with everything she desires. She was a successful attorney and began sleeping with Con (married at the time) at the law firm. Since, Con gave up practicing law and joined the SGE as CEO. They are now married and he wants her to stay home so they can entertain. She feels neglected and all she thinks about is shopping, money, and getting a maid. She wants to go out, dress up, and have Con at her beckoning call. Con does not like the control. Having a maid means success in her eyes. She does not want to clean or cook. She has won the man; however, now she suspects Con is cheating on her. Not a happy camper.

Con is a charming and good-looking man (a snake), and so full of himself. He is hungry with desire and selfish. Since he grew up poor, he wants and desires all he can take within his reach and beyond. As the CEO of his company he wants abundance - money, cars, sex, travel, women, luxury, and the finer things of life. He soon realizes his first wife was not so bad, as she was a great cook, except she was not fun. Lizzie was fun, for a while, but now she is bitchy and demanding. So one day she sees this stunning girl walking down the road, and sets his sights on his new hoser; now promoted to his personal assistant-Lireinne. He is obsessed with her, even though she is young enough to be his daughter.

However, he may have met his match, as Lireinne may be the smartest of them all, as she has no interest in her boss, sleeping with him or any romantic notions. She wants to make her own money, her own future, and have other people respect her. She wants to help her brother stay in school and go to college, help her dad with the bills, and dreams of one day going to Paris. Will she get pulled in by money, power, and Con, or will she make her own way and be independent?

When Emma, Lireinne, and Bud's path connect it is heartwarming and humorous! Emma has an opportunity to have a new life back in the real world. Lireinne could be the daughter figure Emma has always wanted, and Emma may be the mother figure for Lireinne to reach out to. Lireinne has a chance to re-invent herself, and may have an opportunity to get to Paris for work, but she has to ditch Con. Is the Eiffell Tower, Prada, and Jimmy Choos within her reach? Lizzie is faced with a challenge and a life changing decision. What about the growing relationship between the unlikely couple, Emma and Bud?

However, Con is in the middle and what happens next is witty and suspenseful, with Snowball the alligator who gets loose(she even has her own narrative), Lima Bean Lizzy’s dog gets loose, and Con tries to rescue and gets caught in the crossfire, which leaves him not so cocky. My favorite characters were Lireinne, Emma and Bud, and would love to hear more from these, in a series, and possibly her brother Wolf.

An ideal book for book clubs and discussions as many personalities and points of view, with a man and three different women figures. An ongoing theme throughout the novel; Worrying or obsessing about power, appetite, hunger, money, poverty, desire, and losing something, whether it be money, position, status, or love. Each character has choices to make. From animals to humans they all seek and want.

If you have not read Amy's debut, THE RIGHT THING , would highly recommend, as it was on my Top 30 Books of 2014.

These are two books, you do not want to miss. (Front covers are exceptional, equally matched, by the author's masterful talent for storytelling).

Fans of Charles Martin, Fannie Flagg, Susan Rebecca White, Mary Kay Andrews, Joshilyn Jackson, Claire Cook, Linda Francis Lee, Erika Marks, Shelly Noble, and Wendy Wax will appreciate Conner’s southern humor, human dynamics, and her heartwarming stories from rags to riches.

Loved the tie in with the author's personal background, as semi-retired horse trainer and former co-owner and manager of the world's largest alligator farming concern, while working with the high-end designers in Europe where she fell in love with Paris and the French. Her passion shines through in MILLION DOLLAR ROAD, and have to bet, the book was so much fun to write and it was to read!










Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1179489038
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