Review: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Margot Cary had been curious about her biological dad for a long time, but nothing ever tempted her enough to leave big city life for a pack of estranged relatives and their rural southern lake life. Until a giant embarrassment at work got her fired – and blackballed from the industry. When a McCready relative offered her a job, she reluctantly went for it.

I loved that Margot took her job seriously at the Funeral Home/Bait Shop. I mean, this girl gave 100% every day. She even showed up in heels. I think Harper did a fantastic job with the cousin relationships, making them believable and three-dimensional without casting a shadow over the main events. And the main events? Meeting her dad of course, and … drum roll … a little sweet southern romance. Except the guy is pretty much just as southern as she is. I appreciated that Harper had Margot stay true to her non-southern-belle self!

This book had a little bit of humor (perfect milieu in the funeral home), and a lot of spunk. One liners abounded as Margot tried to take over running a town event. I think I also read a few Bless Your Hearts, and Harper provided some physical humor as well. All that fun was a good respite from the ever serious issue of Margot wanting to repair the relationship with her dad. Margot even used humor herself when uncertain about her romantic situation.

All in all, I loved this slice of southern life, with fresh characters I believed in, a big and loving family to find comfort in, and a couple of city folk who were making lake life their own.

-calliope

Buy SWEET TEA AND SYMPATHY

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Review: Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Oh the drama! Quinn and Nora are distant sisters who would still do anything for each other. Tiffany is Nora’s bff… and a messed up drug addict with an illegitimate daughter. When Nora texts Quinn that she and Tiffany need her help, Quinn steps up. But it’s hard to know how to do the right thing when Nora won’t give her any details, and Tiffany is nowhere to be found.

I was psyched reading the first half of this book – there are good guys and bad guys, weak women and strong women, loving yet dysfunctional mothers, and a criminal so disgusting he turned my stomach. Baart weaves them all together in a dramatic and suspenseful plot, a story you don’t want to stop reading because you can’t believe what’s happening next.

And then — I’m not sure if it was my particular frame of mind, or if I’ve just read way too many books — I by mistake figured out the one big unknown. The mystery. The root of the drama. The guy who caused the secrets to grow bigger and bigger. And I hate that I figured it out, because it ruined the rest of the story for me. I skimmed the last half of the book, just in case there were some worthy plot points (and there were).

Baart is a master at expressing the love and confusion and envy and all the emotions in a sisterly relationship. What I appreciated most is that Baart lets her female characters be unapologetically themselves. There are no victims here, except maybe a little girl. The grown women own their choices, support each other, and make their own new beginnings.

-calliope

Buy LITTLE BROKEN THINGS (publishes on Nov.21, 2017)

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Solid, cute, cozy mystery with a dead guy, an amateur sleuth, an ex-fiancé, an ex-boyfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a couple of cops. Oh – and a coffee shop! I’m going to admit, I often choose books based on their covers, and I chose this one for the coffee. #yesidid

The protagonist Juliet is likable and genuine. I liked that I could envision her expressions and feel her exasperation. The police officers and a few other secondary characters were a little bit one dimensional to me, but I didn’t mind, as I was busy trying to solve the mystery before they did. I liked Juliet’s best friend Pete, also. He’s a sturdy, reliable dude – and every cozy mystery needs a Pete.

Fardig did a nice job weaving a creative, fresh mystery with just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I was onto the perp before Juliet was, but it still took me a good while to do it, and I had fun from beginning to end.

-calliope

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Review: The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson

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There are certain things I look for in a gripping psychological thriller.  Great characters, engaging storyline, plausibility, a nice little twist or two…if these things are present then I’m likely to enjoy and recommend it to others.  This newest release from Kerry Wilkinson fits the bill.

Olivia is the girl who disappeared 13 years ago, and now she’s back.  Her mom and dad couldn’t be happier, although there are other people in their small village who have their doubts.  Where has she been all this time?  What exactly happened that day she disappeared from their backyard?  And why has she suddenly reappeared?  Questions abound as the mystery deepens.  If she’s an imposter, what does she want?

This was a great little story, full of suspense.  It kept me guessing until almost the very end which is no small feat.  Grab it and settle in for an enjoyable ride!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Girl Who Came Back

Review: Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Another Proper Romance book that had my heart all fluttery.

I’ll admit that I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. I’ve seen the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice though, so I’m hoping that gives me a half point at least. But I still like the idea of Mr. Darcy and of finding your true love.

When I first picked up Lies Jane Austen Told Me, I was rather curious. Was this going to be a retelling of sorts? How will this happen in modern day time? That’s not exactly what happened, and I’m quite happy about that.

Emma wants to be loved, plain and simple. She’s has a bit of baggage she carries around with her, though she doesn’t realize it. She believes Jane Austen is right in all things love related. But when things fall apart she thinks Jane Austen lied and almost gives up. That is until she gets to know Lucas.

Besides the way Emma meets him, which was the most embarrassing moment in her life, I loved these two together. I liked the fact that these two weren’t insta-lovers. It was a slow burn. What started out as friends/co-workers, turned out to be much more. Now it wasn’t easy, nor was is always fun, but it was so worth it in the end. Lucas was quite the guy. He knew the right things to say and when to say them, when it came to Emma. He has his own baggage, you could say. So he isn’t exactly looking for love when he stumbles upon Emma.

Since this a Proper Romance, it’s definitely a clean romance. Super sweet and super swoony and with a bit of angst thrown in. I like Julie’s writing style and look forward to adding more of her titles to my TBR.

~Melpomene

Buy Lies Jane Austen Told Me http://amzn.to/2zpEKNB

Review: Mr. 60% by Clete Barrett Smith

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I love young adult books, especially ones that highlight the very real problems that teenagers face.  I’m not talking about a bad haircut or not getting a date to the prom.  Sure, these are tragic events to most teens.  But for many young people, the hardships they face are much more serious.

Matt has had a hard life, and it’s becoming more difficult each day.  His much loved Uncle Jack, the only stable force in his life, is in the last stages of cancer.  Matt carries the load for his small family of two.  In his case, that means dealing drugs at school to make ends meet.  It’s easy to judge him for this until you realize he does it to take care of his dying uncle.

Then he meets Amanda.  She’s his complete opposite, bubbly and cheerful and eternally optimistic. When he’s unwillingly partnered with her for a class project, he almost can’t handle it.  Amanda, however, sees something in Matt that most other people don’t at first glance.  And when she finds out the secret she’s keeping, she helps him out more than he could ever expect.

This isn’t a traditional feel good story where everything ends nicely at the end.  It’s a good story, though, safe for teens while at the same time showing another perspective of real life.  My only complaint is that I was left with more questions than I’d like at the end.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Mr. 60%

 

Review: Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick 

Some people might rate this book 4 or 5 stars for the authentic southern characters that Kilpatrick introduces with such aplomb you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Some readers might fall in love with “fun Posey” who uses the 7 deadly sins as a guide to make up for 10 sucky years married to a controlling, manipulative jerkhead.  And some readers might call this book a winner for its excellent writing – and easy dialogue among a hippie mom, sisters named after natural elements, and a best friend who literally saves more than one day. 

I’m giving Bless Her Heart a bunch of fat stars because it made me so sufficiently mad at Chad Love, so ticked off that he thought it was okay to treat any human being the way that he treated his wife, and so angered with a patriarchy that thinks “Wives, submit to your husbands” isn’t part of a speech that says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … Love your wives like your own bodies,” that now I am taking steps to help some people who are in situations like Posey’s. Sally Kilpatrick, any gratitude that comes my way from women who are tired of being controlled and interrogated and mentally beaten down – that gratitude is due to you. 

-calliope

Buy BLESS HER HEART