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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton

THE HIDEAWAY by Lauren K Denton
Sara, a successful shop owner living in New Orleans and loving it, inherits a rundown Alabama Bed and Breakfast inhabited by a collection of odd seniors.  When her grandmother’s will requires that she live in the B and B while it is renovated, a number of problems crop up.  Will she find love or disappointment –again? Will the house be the beauty she envisions?  Will the unscrupulous developer derail her plans? What was her grandmother really like?
All these questions and more are answered in this charming novel filled with well-developed and quirky characters.  The plot meanders through several plots and subplots. While not a great novel, it is a satisfying read for a summer afternoon.  Sip some sweet tea and enjoy being warmed by this sweet story.  Surprisingly, although printed by a Christian publisher, God barely makes an appearance.

3 of 5 stars

LOVE LET GO by Laura S Truax and Amalya Campbell

LOVE LET GO by Laura S. Truax & Amalya Campbell

In September of 2014 four churches in Chicago received a windfall -- almost two million dollars each!  One of those churches was LaSalle Street Church. With just 350 members and a budget $50,000 in the red, this was a miracle. But what happened next was REALLY a miracle. Each member was given a check for $500 made out to them personally and told to “go do good”.  The $160,000 represented a “tithe” or ten percent of the 1.6 million the church received.  How the remainder was to be used was collectively decided in a year long process.
LOVE LET GO tells the result of that step in faith and how the church as a body, and each member individually, reacted to the windfall.  Told in clear prose the stories of what happened to the cash and what happened to the recipients of such generosity are startling in their counter intuitiveness.
Well written and touching without being maudlin, the book will affect you long after you finish reading. Some takeaways – the “poor” are as, or more, generous than their “wealthy” neighbors, generosity breeds more generosity, people are surprising, sudden “wealth” is disconcerting, abundance is in the eye of the beholder,…..

5 of 5 stars

Thursday, April 6, 2017

THE DRY by Jane Harper

THE DRY  by Jane Harper
A tightly woven mystery that jumps back and forth from the present to the past to solve a long ago drowning and now a family murdered.  Who lied and why? 
Agent Aaron Falk is one of those accused of lying – then and now? Did he? Why did he come back and why does he stay where he is clearly not wanted.
The time jumps are clear by the use of an italic font for the past.  The suspicions will keep you reading. Some of the characters are more fully developed than others. The plot is clear and the red herrings are plentiful. This is an enjoyable and clever book.

4 of 5 stars

THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE by Emma Donahue

THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE  by Emma Donahue
Two couples (one gay and one lesbian, but it is not important or dwelt upon) win the lottery – hence the name – and form a family filled with love,  diverse children and pets.  They use their money for good and live a “perfect” life until one of the parents’ parent needs a home. Grandpa just doesn’t fit – or does he?
Lots of life lessons engagingly presented in this charming tale of family in all its permutations.  Well written with real and delightful characters and situations, this “children’s book” is for adults as well. Donahue, best known for her searing tale ROOM, finds a very different voice in this book filled love, laughter and acceptance.
5 of 5 stars

THE WHISTLING SEASON by Ivan Doig

THE WHISTLING SEASON  by Ivan Doig
The picture of hardships on a “dry” farm in 1909 Montana is clearly shown in this delightful story of motherless family trying to survive and the brother/sister couple who answer their ad for a housekeeper.
Homesteading, social life, family life, shenanigans, love, one room schools and the teachers who make them,  and secrets, especially secrets,  combine to make this a delightful, well-written tale that encompasses humor, fear, sacrifice and boyhood.

5 of 5 stars

VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin

VICTORIA  by Daisy Goodwin
This book covers only Victoria’s early life and first few years of her long reign.  Goodwin is a writer of historical fiction that borders on “women’s fiction.” She has a tendency to emphasis the more salacious and gossip laden events in the life of the person written about.  That said the book is interesting and well researched.  The life of a young girl manipulated by those around her and surrounded by great wealth and all its accouterments is discussed in great detail. Victoria is saved by the one scrupulous man in her life: Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister.  Early Victorian English society, and the lives of the not-so-privileged, is covered well.   
(The book gives much more detail than the TV series and gives a more accurate portrayal of Victorian England. )

4 of 5 stars

THE MARK OF THE KING by Jocelyn Green

THE MARK OF THE KING  by Jocelyn Green
The premise could have been turned into a great story. This isn’t it.  The writing is pedestrian, the plot turns are spur of the moment and contrived, the “Christian” part seems added on to sell books to the publishers audience.  Skip this one.

1 of 5 stars

SAVE THE DATE by Mary Kay Andrews

SAVE THE DATE  by Mary Kay Andrews
One of the best writers in the “women’s romantic fiction” has written another winner. Floral designer Cara has a morning full of disasters including a supposed dognapping, and then discovers an archrival is opening a competing store in her small town.  Interesting characters, a quickly moving and believable plot keep the action rollicking on.  You will guess the ending long before you get there, but you will enjoy the book anyway.

4 of 5 stars

TRUELUCK SUMMER by Susan Gabriel

TRUELOCK SUMMER   by Susan Gabriel
A white girl, a black boy and a grandmother combine to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse in 1964.  Well described characters, a haunting sense of time and place, and a writer able to convey a sense of humor make this coming of age novel a joy to read for both adults and middle to upper graders. The nuances of a bi-racial friendship are fully described as are the overt and concealed racist actions of the Southern adults.  The statehouse escapade is told in rich and believable detail. 

4 of 5 stars