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review 2017-10-18 17:54
Before We Were Yours
Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate

By: Lisa Wingate

ISBN: 9780425284681

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 6/6/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating:  5 Stars +++

 

Master storyteller, Lisa Wingate returns following her heartwarming Carolina Series The Sea Keeper's Daughters with her best yet, BEFORE WE WERE YOURS Top Books of 2017— A powerful story within a story inspired by one of American’s most horrific real-life adoption scandals. (stunning front cover)!

A haunting, beautifully written and emotional story of family, sisters, human connections and the strong bonds of love. From good versus evil, deeply-buried secrets, and injustice, to triumph in the face of adversity.

With two storylines, two families generations apart— the bridge between past and present. Before We Were Yoursalternates between the historical story of the Foss Children and the modern-day story of Avery Stafford.

Present day: We meet Avery Stafford. 30 years-old, graduated top of her class from Columbia Law and works for US attorney’s office. A successful career as a federal prosecutor, a fiance’ and an upcoming wedding. 

She returns home to South Carolina to help her father, a high-profile politician. He is up for re-election and has some health problems (cancer) and undergoing chemo. Of course, he wants Avery to step into his shoes with a political career.

Avery’s grandmother, Judy is a ghost of her former self. They are keeping it from the media due to the fact they have moved her to an upscale luxury facility. They are currently dealing with a scandal of wrongful death and abuse cases involving eldercare, so they do not want people pointing fingers. Of course, the decision to move to her this facility was not political—her doctor recommended. 

They are heartsick about her cruel descent into dementia. Before they moved her to the nursing home, she escaped her caretaker and staff and was found wandering at a business complex near a mall where she formerly shopped. Ironically, since she cannot even remember their names. 

While touring on the nursing homes (not as luxurious as Judy's), Avery encounters a woman. She calls Avery, Fern. The nurse called the woman, May Crandall. 

 




Through the mind and voice of May, she has triggers from the past. She thinks of Queenie her mother and Camellia. Thinking back to the Mississippi riverbank to Memphis. The night there was no returning. 

Past: Memphis 1939. A twelve-year-old girl Rill. She lives on a riverboat and helps take care of her four young siblings. Life is difficult. However, there are complications during the birth at the hospital and the children are snatched, while Rill was in charge. 

They are thrown into an orphanage. They are told they will be returned to their parents. Rill must keep her siblings together. However, they find evil and something more sinister than they could ever imagine. 

“I want a pain that has a beginning and an end, not one that goes on forever and cuts all the way to the bone.” 

From past to present, Avery is haunted by this woman in the nursing home. Is there a connection? She had on her grandmother’s bracelet. Her curiosity has been piqued by her sad story. Does this woman May, know her grandmother Judy? 

There is no way Avery can let this drop. Secrets from the past. She goes back to her grandmother’s letters and notes. 

Who is Trent Turner in Edisto? He does not seem helpful. What is he hiding? 

Amidst the suspense and intensity while Avery tries desperately to piece together the mystery of her family’s past, we hear the heartbreaking story of sisters and children taken against their will. Ripped from their biological parents. 

A true to life story of Georgia Tann, the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization which basically kidnapped and sold children to wealthy families for many years. Thousands of birth families would never know what became of their children.

“But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever-present as a pulse.” 

If you have read any of Lisa Wingate’s stories, you know she writes of family, love, and deep connections. A master storyteller, her books are thought-provoking, inspiring, emotional, and deeply moving. Her passion shines through as she shares her stories from the heart to her readers.

Normally when reading a dual time timeline story, I find the historical one the most intriguing. However, in this case, both stories are equally as compelling, since the present-day story still revolves around its own past family history. 

As in sex and child trafficking today, the abuse and devastation continue to destroy lives and futures of innocent children. The monsters target the poor, single mothers, or those on welfare. In this haunting yet true story of babies and children being kidnapped and abused, molested, and mistreated while waiting for the big payday. Some were stolen from birth and siblings and parent’s lives forever to be ripped apart. 

Well-researched, the author offers details as to the number of children who vanished under Georgia Tann’s management range as high as five hundred. Thousands more disappeared into adoptions for profit in which names, birth dates, and birth records were altered to prevent biological families from finding their children. This went on from the 1920s-1950s and was not fully brought to justice until 1996.

From the author: “If there is one overarching lesson to be learned from the Foss children and from the true-life story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, it is that babies and children, no matter what corner of the world they hail from, are not commodities, or objects, or blank slates, as Georgia Tann so often represented her wards; they are human beings with histories and needs, and hopes, and dreams of their own.”

Lisa Wingate is at the top of her game. Having read all 8 total works in the Carolina Heirlooms’ series, have been an avid fan of the author’s writing. 

However, BEFORE WE WERE YOURS, really showcases her strength to blend both historical with modern-day stories in a powerful way to capture the heart and most intimate feelings of her characters and the dual timelines. Resilience and the power of love. 

“The heart never forgets where we belong.”

I had the opportunity of reading this book well before its publication date in June; however, I was dealing with my dad’s illness in North Carolina, his death, funeral, and executor of his estate. Playing catch up with reviews/postings I missed this summer. A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.

I enjoyed this book so much, purchased the audiobook for my personal library and listened again this past week. Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber are ideal narrators and in sync with Lisa Wingate’s poignant story. 

“Do we carry the guilt from the sins of past generations? If so, can we bear the weight of that burden? Trent” ― Lisa Wingate, Before We Were Yours

Highly recommend! If you can only read one book this year, this would be the one. Wingate fully understands the power of story. If this does not win Historic Fiction of the Year, I will be shocked. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions. 

If you have not viewed the The Book Club Kit, by Random House— highly recommend, to enhance your reading experience. Well done!

For fans of Charles Martin, Susan Meissner, Kristin Hannah, Sally Hepworth, Nicholas Sparks and Diane Chamberlain. 

As the author mentions in an interview, “In the end, both the modern-day and historical characters in Before We Were Yours are willing to risk everything else for one all-important thing—a place to be authentic and people to be authentic with. That’s what I love most about the book.”

Your fans agree. Cannot wait to see what’s next from this talented author. No wonder it still ranks today as #7 Most Read book on Amazon. Totally captivating!

“No matter how much we may love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn’t suit the moment.” ― Lisa Wingate, Before We Were Yours

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/12/01/Before-We-Were-Yours
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review 2017-10-02 22:22
The Stolen Marriage
The Stolen Marriage - Diane Chamberlain

By: Diane Chamberlain 

ISBN: 9781250087270

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Publication Date: 10/3/2017 

Format:  Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

Top  Books of  2017 

International Bestselling author and one of my all-time favorites, master storyteller, Diane Chamberlain returns following Pretending to Dance, landing on my Top books of 2015 with her latest multi-layered compelling drama: THE STOLEN MARRIAGE — Profound and moving, a complex novel of deeply buried secrets. Well-researched, a perfect blending of fact and fiction. 

Rich in history, mystery, suspense, intrigue and the finest of southern fiction. Emotionally driven, infused with richly layered characters—with highly-charged and compelling “true to life topics” of the era. 

Movie-worthy: From racial tensions to the stresses and emotions of World War II — tragedy, loss, love, trust, betrayal, compassion, forgiveness, and the toll of secrets from a rural small Southern town. 

A poignant and engrossing tale. 

From dark secrets, infidelity, sex outside of marriage, same-sex, abortion, prejudice, interracial marriages and relations, war rationing, family obligations, gripping moral dilemmas, religion, polio epidemic, and a little magical sprinkle of the supernatural. 

Set in 1943, Theresa “Tess” DeMello, a 23-year-old nurse-in-training resides in Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland. A happy Italian Catholic family, they have lived next door to the Russos forever. They are celebrating her twenty-third birthday and the completion of Vincent’s hospital residency at John Hopkins.

She has been in love with Vincent Russo since she was a child. They have planned their lives and even their children. In a few months, Tess would be graduating from nursing school and taking her licensing exam and finally be able to call herself a registered nurse. A career she had longed for since she was ten years old. They even fantasized that someday Vincent would have his own pediatric practice and she would be his nurse.

The two families are planning their upcoming wedding. They had been dating for seven years. She is still a virgin and since Vincent had grown up expecting to be a priest, he had never pressured her. They would wait until their wedding night.

Her best friend Gina, on the other hand, was a different story. She did not think it was a sin, and really— she did not find too much of anything a sin.

Tess was worried that he would be called off to war but he did have a minor heart problem. However, she was not prepared for a change in their well-laid plans. Vincent was called to Chicago. There was an infantile paralysis epidemic there and they needed doctors to volunteer. A subject true to his heart due to members of his family with polio.

This is just one of the reasons Tess loved him so. He was devoted and selfless. He had hoped to be away for only a few weeks. However, the few weeks turned into longer. He was so busy, he seldom had time to write or phone in a shared boardinghouse with eight men. She worried he would fall in love with Chicago and forget about her —their plans and their life. She fears what is there is someone else? She is feeling insecure. Self-doubt sets in. 

As time moved on Vincent was still away and her friend Gina was feeling a little down since her man was away fighting for his country. Gina begs her to accompany her to Washington, DC. A weekend getaway. They deserved it. Only an hour train ride from Baltimore and they could stay at her aunt’s house near Capitol Hill. She runs a tourist home. Tess does not want to go, but Gina finally persuades her. 

However, when they arrive, their aunt had to leave unexpectedly and leaves them a note and key. There are also two businessmen who will be staying overnight in the house. They meet the men and they take them out for dinner and martinis. 

The two men seemed nice enough, Robert Talbot and Henry Kraft. Henry was from the South, and appeared to be well dressed, in his late twenties and rather quiet. Gina was flirting with Robert and left her to talk with Henry. 

Henry’s family owns a fine furniture factory (Kraft Furniture) in Hickory, NC and now they are producing material for the war effort. She did notice Henry had only seven fingers. Their maid Adora saved his life. He looked sad. 

Back at the house, with too much to drink, things get out of hand. Intoxicated. They had sex. Tess was horrified. How could she have done such a thing when she loves Vincent? She is determined never to see or speak to him again. Was it rape? One night changes the course of her life. 

Upon return, she is guilt-ridden and goes to the priest for confession. A mortal sin to have sexual relations outside of marriage and betraying her fiancé he says. She must tell Vincent. However, he needs to remain eight more weeks but assures he will be back months before the wedding.

Then her worst fears. She is pregnant. What was she going to do? A smart girl with a brilliant career and future will dishonor her entire family. Could she pass the baby off as Vincent’s? She could not marry him. She must leave. She cannot face him. She does not trust in their love. Gina says she must have an abortion. None of these options are looking good. Gina knows someone who will take care of it. 

Scared and alone, she arrives and cannot go through with it. She must move away. A place where she would not be the object of scorn or shame or worry about bumping into Vincent or his family. She decides she will travel to Hickory, NC and tell Henry. She would do whatever she could to protect her baby.

However, things go differently than she planned. She was not quite expecting Henry to propose. She did not love him or know anything about him nor his family. She was stunned. Could this be a sign from God? She decides to marry him. She has no clue what she is getting into. A loveless marriage with a stranger? This is not the life she planned. 

Henry was a take charge man with money, power, and prestige. Plus, a sophisticated family. She knew she was not part of his life. She could not forget her nursing and immediately wanted to look into the requirements for licensing in NC. He does not think she needs a career. 

 


He wants to build them a house; however, while the house is being built, they have to move in with his overbearing mother and sister Lucy. His sister was about the same age as Tess and she thought this could be her new best friend. Wrong, on all accounts.

Tess soon learns there is no lovemaking (which is a good thing), and Henry goes back to his busy life, leaving her stuck with mother and sister. Also, Violet Dare, Hank’s fiancée most of her life. Everyone knew they would marry. They came from the right families. No one can understand why he married this girl no one had met and from Baltimore. 

Something secretive is going on with Henry (Hank). Lucy tells Tess there are things she does not know about Henry. (it is definitely not what you expect). 

Now everyone blames her. Plus, her mom and others cannot comprehend why she would give up her life for some man in NC? Her mother and father (in heaven) will disown her. How could she do this to Mimi, Pop, and Vincent? A man who left to do volunteer work and she cheated on him.

She decides to write Vincent a letter. She cannot be honest and she cannot tell him about the baby or her marriage. She tells him not to find her and find someone worthy. A letter full of lies and omissions. Heartbroken, she is the talk of the town. Alienated from everyone. Then her mother passes away. She blames herself once again.

Violet is the district attorney’s daughter. She will not be Henry’s wife. Tess feels her only friend is the maid, Hattie. Bryon Dare (her dad) is prosecuting Henry’s friend Gaston. His friend who married a Loretta (black), and wants to return to NC to reside.

Tess knows she must take the RN exam and it would be held only a few hours away in Winston-Salem via train. She has to figure out a way to get there. Of course, the mother-in-law and Henry think all this is nonsense since she will be too busy with the women’s organizations, now that she is Henry’s wife. Of course, being in the South, this is Baptist Bible belt territory and she is Catholic.

What else would she have to give up? 

With heartfelt letters from Tess to Gina back home she talks about the town, her husband, a nanny, and child on the way. She knows she is fortunate to have his support but she misses her life and Vincent. So many things she wishes she could undo.

However, if you have read any of Diane Chamberlain’s books, you know there is a complex story coming. Paths will intersect, lives will be tested, love and hope will be restored. 

Fun part: Hattie tells her about Reverend Sam (love him). He talks to the spirits. She is sad and wants clarity. However, he lives in Ridgeview (colored town), and how will she get there? She needs to make peace with her mom, Maria. A book. She loves visiting him and feels freer. 

She soon suspects she is being followed. Henry does not come home sometimes. Zeke the colored janitor is always at the factory. A cop following her. What was she missing? A mystery. Then she stumbles upon an armoire filled two-thirds with bills. Banded and in stacks. More than two thousand dollars. 

Another tragedy. Another loss. She was trapped and miserable. How foolish she had been about Vincent going away for a few months to Chicago for work, and then allowing Gina to talk her into the stupid Washington trip and sleeping with Henry. Then the baby. She must find a way out of this trap.

Then polio strikes. Infantile paralysis. Ruth (Henry’s mom) says it only happens to poor people, which was not true since she points out FDR was not poor. Maybe she could help out since she is a nurse.

Enter more problems. Between Gina and Lucy, these two get Tess in all sorts of trouble. A car accident on the wrong side of town. Lucy is gone. Everyone blames her. She needs her mom and Lucy’s forgiveness. War and polio. People dying. She could not sit still. She could do some good. 

“We need to remember that polio knows no socioeconomic or racial lines. It affects all our community and it will take all of us to fight it.”

With the weight on her shoulders, Tess must dig her way out of the muck and get her life back. Disliked by a town, her own household, and her secretive money-hiding husband, and unable to do the work she loved, and still longed for a man she could not have. A husband and mother in law telling her what she could and couldn’t do. 

Is she being played for a fool? Will she find a way to get the power back?

She needs her spiritual guide named Walter. She must help at the polio hospital. She has to save herself and get her life back. In the process she may even save others, seeking redemption. Someone’s tragedy could be someone else’s salvation. 

What will happen when she meets face to face with Vincent? Has she lost her chance at real happiness?

Could tragedy bring out the best of people and possibly the judgemental friends may turn out to be more generous and compassionate than she thought possible? Could she win back her dignity with the town and those she loves? She arrived broken and hopefully. Will Tess possess the strength to help make it whole? 

The author grabs you from the intriguing and suspenseful prologue to the satisfying conclusion. Loved the Epilogue and the author’s notes about Hickory and the actual polio hospital which was staffed in fifty-four hours! 

A gripping, powerful and compelling page-turner! 

No one can tell a story like Diane Chamberlain. The author has never been afraid to tackle the hot highly-charged topics and a pro at family drama and riveting suspense. She is at the top of her game. Of course, everything she writes is solid gold (have read all her books and anxiously await the next).

Loved Tess’ character and her enduring power. What a journey; from self-doubt and fear — with one crisis after another, to a stronger woman through her adversity. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. Reading Guide 

Highly Recommend! THE STOLEN MARRIAGE is a Top Books for 2017 and read in one sitting. Suspenseful as well as informative, insightful and compelling. 

For fans of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, Karen White, Lisa Wingate, and Amy Hatvany, 

Once again, her meticulous researched topics and well-developed characters remind me strongly of one of my other favorites: Necessary Lies and the novella The First Lie. If you enjoyed THE STOLEN MARRIAGE, you will devour these two. PS Another oldie but goodie favorite: The Bay at Midnight. 

The Stolen Marriage and Necessary Lies are my top favorites out of all her books. Possibly being an NC native, I enjoy revising my roots and its rich Southern history. I always learn a new bit of history after reading one of her books. 

If you have not already, please visit Diane’s website and her blog. You will appreciate the story even more and further enhance your overall reading experience when you read her personal account. 

Thank you, for having the courage and determination to express. An inspiration to many. Rape, Race and Writing Historical Fiction 

She includes more extensive research on her website and books about polio in 1944 in this town. Another article. 

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy. Also pre-ordered the audiobook narrated by Susan Bennett. Look forward to listening. 

Adore both covers. The rain and the train (strong) since Tess was traveling on a train so many times. Each time required courage in order to attain her final goal. 

JDCMustReadBooks 

 

 



On a personal note: 
Was delighted to see the author chose the southern setting of Hickory, NC and could not wait to read. Exceeded all expectations.

 

A native of Statesville, only 20 minutes east of Hickory, spent a great deal of time there growing up. In addition, have the Lenior Rhyne College connection for many years, as well as was in the fine furniture interior design business in NC —spending a great deal of time at the Furniture Mart in Hickory as well as High Point. Also, always enjoy the Winston-Salem references where my sons now reside. 

The rich history of Hickory, NC has shaped it into the up and rising city that has earned it the title of an All-American city three times. . . As outlined in the book, "Historically, Hickory is most known for its huge polio epidemic, also known as the Miracle of Hickory. Following World War II, polio epidemics severely hit the US’ population. Hickory had the largest polio outbreak in all of NC. 

My mom’s twin died of polio in the mid-1930s and my best friend from school had polio. She was disfigured and was made fun of by many. 

I enjoy how the author takes multiple historic topics and weaves a compelling story which is both heartwarming and tragic. My mom was a huge Diane Chamberlain fan and she would have loved this story.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 25 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. 
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She's currently at work on her next novel.

Please visit Diane's website at www.dianechamberlain.com for more information on her newest novel, The Stolen Marriage, and a complete list of her books.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/03/03/The-Stolen-Marriage
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review 2017-08-22 20:30
The Other Girl
The Other Girl - Erica Spindler

By: Erica Spindler

ISBN: 9781250083654

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Publication Date: 8/22/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +

 
Loved! 5 Stars +. Set in a small southern Louisiana town of Harmony—Erica Spindler continues to raise the bar with her latest: THE OTHER GIRL, following (2015) The First Wife. 

A chilling and "unputdownable” taut crime suspense thriller (her best yet)! A clever blending of past and present with masterful twists. 

Officer Miranda Radar has had a difficult journey in life. In 2002, at fifteen years old, she was called, “Randi” (from the wrong side of the tracks). She was caught in a crime and no one believed her. After all, she had her own problems with her dysfunctional family: mom, brothers, dead beat dad, and the law. 

She no longer is this scared fifteen-year-old girl. The one caught with possession of pot, shoplifting, drinking, and truancy. However, can she run away from her past? Has it caught up with her or did she just move on? 

Who was her tormentor from that summer fourteen years ago? The beautiful monster in the Alabama ball cap. The guy who picked her up on the side of the road. Supposedly sent by her brother. She had escaped and left for help. She had to rescue "the other girl." 

What happened to the girl (Cathy) who was left behind after the rape and torture? The one she promised to save. She went for help and no one believed her? 

What if she had been a girl who did not lie. One who was cautious instead of reckless. The kind of person people believed. Back then no one would believe her. The girl could have been saved. 

Clint Wheeler the cop. His voice still haunts her. He thought she was a liar. 

Who was the monster who populated her nightmares? He was the reason she became a cop. They would have to believe her now. 

Presently, years later she and her partner, Jake (friend, partner, and possibly more) of two and half years are called to investigate a brutal crime. A college professor. A murder. A murder of hatred and rage?

Richard Stark. Handsome, single, charming, and smart. He was also writing a novel. A dominatrix and the lives of her clients. A sexual predator? Abuses women. He liked his women immobilized and unwilling.

President Ian Stark (father) is quite anxious to protect the school’s reputation. What is he hiding? A powerful and rich man. How many people does he control and have in his back pocket?

Miranda promised herself back then she would escape to California and never look back. Escape her family and every memory of the God-forsaken place. The girl who had done time. She had not belonged and not sure she still does. She had to let the past go. She was almost thirty years old. 

However, she may have to visit her painful past in order to find clues to save herself in the present. 

A clipping was found. About Miranda from that summer years ago was found the old. A coincidence? How could her fingerprints be found at the scene? Why would her past abductor keep this clipping, or was it planted? 

She did not know Stark and had never met him. Yet they had found her prints at the scene and the news clipping about her?

A sexual predator who had hurt an untold number of women and gotten away with his crimes for years . . . until now. 
 



Someone had to be setting her up. 

No one believed her back then. Will they believe her now? Her own mom never defended her, nor her brother. 

What happened to the Jane Doe years ago? The missing girl?

Miranda had to protect herself from whoever was setting her up. She was a good cop. Now a box. A key. 

However, who could she trust? 

Was the person who killed evil Richard, the who planted her fingerprints at the scene? 

Is someone out for revenge and is she the target? 

With pressure from her Chief — her job is to find the killer, not to vilify the victim. Is she in jeopardy of losing her badge? Everyone thinks she is losing it. She thinks Richard Stark is the perp, not the victim. 

Now Wheeler is found dead. Miranda (Randi) had spent six months in juvie because of this Officer, and now dead. Fingers are pointing at her. Does she have a score to settle, or is it someone trying to take her down? 

Will she have an ally or champion this time, or will it be just like fourteen years ago? 

Jam-packed full of dark secrets and a twisty story that never stops . . . and a sprinkle of romantic suspense. Hooked from the first page to the explosive conclusion – Spindler keeps readers glued to the pages, and a kick ass leading lady, Miranda. (hope we see more of her in the future). 

With clues from the past to present, a complex whodunit mystery thriller which will keep you guessing. 

Fans of Lisa Gardner, Sandra Brown, Chevy Stevens, and Karin Slaughter will devour fast-paced THE OTHER GIRL. 

In addition to the reading copy, also purchased the audiobook and wow, Tavia Gilbert delivers a perfect voice for Spindler’s characters in this small dark town of secrets and corruption. 

Move this one to the top of your list!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 
 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/04/13/The-Other-Girl
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review 2017-06-07 06:14
Secrets of Southern Girls
Secrets of Southern Girls: A Novel - Haley Harrigan

By: Haley Harringan 

ISBN: 9781492647553

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS Landmark

Publication Date:  6/6/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Tour Spotlight June 6-12 

 

Blog Tour Host & Book Giveaway Contest.

Haley Harrigan delivers a twisty mystery southern debut SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS – a grown woman and mother, with demons from her past which surface. . . part young adult, and coming-of-age; haunting secrets that shape lives.

Julie Portland has a secret. Years ago she escaped this small southern town; however, she has never forgotten the trauma. Now she is in New York, and the ghosts of the past stare her in the face.

Ten years earlier, Julie’s best friend Reba died after falling off a bridge in Lawrence Mill, Mississippi. Julie feels responsible. They had an argument. She killed her friend. She swore she would never return to this awful place.

Now, August Elliot shows up (Reba’s first love). A walking, talking, tangible reminder of the past.

August is African American and Reba’s dad would not have accepted a relationship. They began dating in secret.

In New York, her young daughter Beck wants to know, “who is Reba?"

Julie dreams of Reba. She has tortured herself. She knows she will have to forgive herself in order to move on with her future.

She now comes face to face with August (Reba’s love).

He wants her to return to Lawrence Mill with him. He wants the diary. She does not know about a diary. She thinks of how dangerous a journal of Reba’s could be in the wrong hands.

Who has the diary? Someone will learn the secrets of her shameful past.

Would her friend be so careless as to document the things that happened that year?

August thought Julie (Jules) had it. Now if she doesn’t, who does?

Julie finds Jules disguising.

Nell must have the diary. With Reba’s diary entries sprinkled throughout, the ghosts of the past are unraveled. What really happened?

Told from two time periods 1997/2008. Two best friends Julie had lost per parents in an accident and turned a little wild.
 
 
Secrets of Southern Girls

Reba works at Nell’s Flower Shop. Reba appears to have the perfect home life. However, her dad is a racist and Reba has her own secrets.

August never found closure after Reba died and he is convinced that someone has the old diary Reba once told him he should read.

Does anyone know the real Reba? What is the real truth behind August? Then and now?

Both Julie and August are shocked to learn the truth about Reba. Will they be able to come to terms with her death and the ghosts of the past? Things are not always as they appear.

A slow-burning suspense. I was not really connected to any of the characters and feel it would have flowed a bit easier if the chapters had been broken down the characters, for a little more organization.

However, for a debut the author clearly is a talented writer and for readers who enjoy young adult fiction, Southern Gothic, and coming-of-age mysteries.

A journey of healing and redemption. Looking forward to seeing what’s next for this newfound author.

A special thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for an early reading copy in exchange for an honest review. 
 
 
Advance Praise  

 

"Harrigan is a great prose stylist who knows how to sustain the tension and tone required of a Southern Gothic novel. Her writing is evocative and atmospheric, whether the action takes place under the bright lights of Manhattan or in Mississippi's weedy heat."— ForeWord

"Harrigan's novel, part mystery and part coming-of-age, explores the process of healing from tragedies and misunderstandings." — Publishers Weekly

 

"A twisting, sensuous novel about first love and innocence lost. As mesmerizing as the Mississippi heat, Haley Harrigan’s debut weaves two tales together in time as Julie Portland seeks the truth about her childhood friend’s mysterious death–a truth Julie has hidden even from herself. Harrigan delves into Greg Iles territory, navigating racial tensions and the secret (and not-so-secret) history of the deep south. In the end, like the “oil streak” river that flows through this story, Secrets of Southern Girls reveals a stain we all would be better off examining." — Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling author of Cover of Snow, Ruin Falls, and As Night Falls

 

“Heartachingly beautiful, SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS is a compelling tale about lost love and childhood regrets. This is masterfully written, shifting from past to present as the story unfolds to expose the haunting truth of one girl’s desire to be loved and the dangerous secret she possesses. Harrigan’s debut is a captivating read that won’t let you go until the very last page.”—Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

 

“Haley Harrigan takes us on a searing emotional journey to a tragic past in sensual and evocative prose. Holds you to the last word.” —Carol Goodman, author of The Widow's House

 

Haley Harrigan’s Secrets of Southern Girls is filled with evocative, poetic imagery, relatable characters, and ingenious plot twists that kept me turning pages long into the night! A beautiful, engaging debut by a delightful and talented new author. — Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow 

 

 

 

About the Author 

Haley Harrigan is a Women’s Fiction author represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

 

Haley lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and the second-most adorable Yorkshire Terrier there ever was. She graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Creative Writing and Public Relations, and loved Athens too much to go anywhere else.

 

A bookworm from early on, she started writing as a kid when her grandfather introduced her to his new typewriter. Her first stories were fanfiction pieces (though she didn’t call it that, then) inspired by The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. These days, she’s an avid and wildly eclectic reader, with tastes ranging from Margaret Atwood to William Faulkner to Gillian Flynn to Rainbow Rowell.

 

In addition to reading and writing, Haley enjoys hot tea, college football, margaritas and Mexican food, and a good Netflix binge. She is obsessed with all things Joss Whedon and believes that she learned everything she needs to know about life from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 

Her novel, SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS, is forthcoming from Sourcebooks in 2017. Read More 

 

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/11/Secrets-of-Southern-Girls
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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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