The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America by Elizabeth Letts

www.goodreads.com/review/show/3991730671

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The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publisher: Waterbrook

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Waterbrook

Genre: Christian Fiction, Southern Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

“Life is rarely predictable if we’re doing it right.”

-Maeve

When a grieving widow meets a wonderfully, eccentric older woman wandering the beach near her home, the two become fast friends. Moving to Whelk’s Island, North Carolina with her two young children provides Amanda with an opportunity to get her life together and move on past the overwhelming grief she suffers since the loss of her husband two years previously. For Maeve, who is eighty-one and appears extremely agile, roaming the beach and collecting shells is a big part of her life. Meeting Amanda and the children fills a void in her soul unlike anything has in years.

The women have much to teach each other over the course of their summer together. Bonding and sharing their friendship, losses, grief, and healing works magic in their lives. Amanda and the children run into an old and dear friend from the past which helps heal a particularly empty part of Amanda’s heart. As summer gives way to fall, Maeve’s health issues come to light.

These two women come together to realize how precious their friendship is in so many special ways. As they each do for the other, they must learn to utilize the lessons they taught each other over the summer. A beautiful story filled with loss, grief, the healing powers of friendship, and second chances! Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the sea shells that pop up in the story filled with special messages for the finder. A perfect beach read for the summer!

This copy was received from Waterbrook and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#TheShellCollector#NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Clean, Contemporary

Under the Magnolias by T.I. Lowe

Publication Date: 4 May 2021

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Tyndale

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian

Rating: 5 out of 5

“There are seasons in a life that one may choose to remember best. A time where the good outweighs the bad enough that the bad is pushed into the foggy crevices of the mind, while the good is crystal clear. ”

Vivid characters, tumultuous family problems, and a rough around the edges South Carolina tobacco farm named Nolia Farms form the heart of this emotional, insightful story woven by T. I. Lowe. The Foster family is held together by the oldest of the siblings, fourteen year old Austin, who inherits this task when her mother dies leaving behind a set of newborn twins to go with the other five children. A daunting task for an adult, nevertheless, Austin makes it her mission in life to hold the family together by raising the children, working  on the farm, keeping her dad’s darkest secret, and attending school in between the chaos.

Through the years Austin manages with the help of their friends Foxy and Jinx, who live on the farm and work, and members of the community who attend their small church. She even figures out a way to have a relationship with Vance Cumberland, the mayor’s son. Through thick and thin, Vance keeps showing up on her doorstep. Join this brave, independent young woman as she raises her siblings, takes care of her father, and tries to figure out life on her terms.

A beautiful story filled with sadness, heartache, family, faith, love, forgiveness, and healing! This is truly one of the best books I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it. From start to finish, you will be captivated by Austin’s story.

This copy was received from Tyndale and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#UnderTheMagnolias #NetGalley

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The Girls in the Stilt House by Kim Michele Richardson

Publication Date: 06 April 2021

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

ARC from Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley

Rating: 4 out of 5

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sixteen year old Ada Morgan returns home pregnant to a backwoods swamp located along the trace in Mississippi and finds out just how desperate her life has become. Having run off the previous year, the girl returns to her abusive, belligerent father, Virgil, who is mixed up with bootlegging and running moonshine for the wealthier land owner in the area. Ada meets Matilda, a young black girl, when Matilda saves her life.

The haunted tone of the novel along with a twisted story of murder, arson, and bootlegging had this reader turning the pages to find out how these two young girls survive the harsh events that will give you nightmares. As sad as the story, the book is well worth the read. An unwanted pregnancy, racial intolerance, and abuse are overcome by these young women in a satisfying end to this unique story. Readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek will enjoy this book.

This ARC copy was received from Sourcebooks Landmark. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#TheGirlsInTheStiltHouse #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Another suspenseful, twisty psychological thriller from author D.J. Palmer! Once again Palmer takes on a mother and daughter relationship with all its complexities. Grace Francone is a busy mom who runs a restaurant and is raising her three children on her own. Grace’s youngest child, her daughter Penny, has had her share of issues since becoming a teen and being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health issue dealing with multiple personalities.  At sixteen Penny is pushing her independence and not all of her choices are good ones. Grace gets a dreaded visit from the police. Penny has been arrested for murder.   

The tale quickly becomes complex and intriguing as Penny begins working with Dr. Mitch McHugh, a psychologist at Edgewater, a healthcare facility that houses people within the judicial system with mental illness. Grace, never giving up on her daughter, hires a local well-established attorney, Greg Navarro, whom she had met in recent months. As the team works to uncover what exactly happened the night of the murder, the story becomes even more layered as Penny’s alternate personalities come to light and her background is revealed. Someone in the fusion of personalities knows what happened.

Read this riveting, dark thriller that delves deeply in to the world of dissociative identity disorders and their complexity. Where did that ending come from???  Very good mystery and suspense! I totally enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it.

This ARC copy was received from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#ThePerfectDaughter #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery/Suspense

Dance With Death by Will Thomas

Series:  A Barker & Llewelyn Novel, 12

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Meet Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, private enquiry agents residing in London where the novel begins in the year 1893. Follow these two interesting characters around London as they attempt to keep the high strung Tsarevich Nicholas safe as he attends a royal wedding.  Please do not refer to them as detectives; remember they are private enquiry agents!

The investigation into the mysterious La Sylphide, the mysterious person shadowing the Nicholas, takes the pair through all walks of Victorian life. Walk in the Palace Gardens, ride in Hyde Park, attend a masquerade ball and step into the seamy side of night life as the men investigate the identity of the mysterious La Sylphide and what harm might befall the Tsarevich.

A blend of mystery and intrigue as Barker and Llewelyn work to solve the mystery of La Sylphide.  All is not what it seems when the men finally solve the mysterious person behind La Sylphide. The resolution of the mystery brings major turmoil to the life of one of the men. Read this intriguing nineteenth century historical mystery to find out who La Sylphide is and what exactly this person is after.

This ARC copy was received from Minotaur Books and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#DanceWithDeath  #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense

Strongheart: The Lost Journals of May Dodd and Molly McGill by Jim Fergus

Series: One Thousand White Women

Publication Date: 06 April 2021

St. Martin’s Griffin

ARC copy from St. Martin’s and NetGalley

Rating:  3 out of 5

Strongheart concludes the One thousand White Women series. This third and final novel continues the story of some of the white women sent west to be brides of Native Americans. The year is 1875; the year of the Battle of Little Big Horn. The tale revolves primarily around a recounting of journal entries from these women detailing their life two years after they were brought west.

By the year 1875 the women had undergone a transformational experience and blended into the tribe and the Native American way of life to the extent that they were willing to fight against the United States soldiers in order to preserve their families and way of life. Detailing the beginning of the Strongheart women’s warrior society, the story moves back and forth through different time periods in the life of the women and their ancestors.

I had to suspend my rational mind in places in order to believe some of the events related in the novel.  The multiple narrators made the story a bit choppy in places as well. An interesting fictional story that one must remember is just that, a fictional story!

This ARC copy was received from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#Strongheart #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, western

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

Series: Lilac Girls, Book 3

Publication Date:  30 March 2021

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

ARC Copy from Ballantine Books and NetGalley

Rating:  4 out of 5

An interesting, detailed story of the Woolsey family of young strong-minded, women with abolitionist hearts raised by their dedicated, hardworking mother! This story predominantly focuses on Georgeanna “Georgy”, a hard working dedicated young woman of 28 who sets her heart on becoming a nurse during the early years of the Civil War. Georgy, her sisters, and their mother are a force to be reckoned with during this difficult time of war.

Adding to the complexity of the story is the underlying tale of Anne-May Wilson Watson of Peeler Plantation and one of her slaves, Jemma. Anne-May is the epitome of a cruel slave owner who takes advantage of her status and slaves in the worst ways imaginable. Jemma, a bright, determined young girl, is determined to save herself and her family. Her life becomes intricately woven in with the Woolsey family as their paths cross in an unlikely place.

The book is based on the real life Woolsey family with characters, events, and places taken from the Woolsey family letters. Woven with threads of historical fact, the story deals with all the deeply emotional aspects of the Civil War and slavery. Mingled amidst the serious backdrop of the war, family drama and a bit of romance shows up.

I enjoyed the story told from varying points of view which added to the depth and detail of the story. Solid read for people who enjoy detailed historical fiction! Don’t miss reading the author’s notes in the back of the book. They are well worth it.

This ARC copy was received from Ballantine Books and NetGalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

Publication Date: April 2021

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House

ARC copy from Netgalley and G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Rating: 4 out of 5

Meet Elisabetta D’Orfeo, an outspoken young Italian girl who dreams of being a writer someday; her friend Sandro Simone, a young Jewish teen who is brilliant in mathematics and devoted to his family who have lived in Rome for many generations; and the third friend that completes their circle of friendship,  Marco Terrizzi, a young Italian teen who gets drawn into working for the Fascist party before he ever leaves school. The story set in Italy encompasses the years of WWII and the regime of Mussolini and the aftermath of the war for these young people.

Life altering events during the war will forever change the lives of these three young people who have grown up intertwined until they are forced to grow up and accept the changes that war and young adulthood will bring to them. The reality of one of them being Jewish, one working for the Fascist government, and one struggling to support her drunken father puts them on unique paths.

The historical detail in this novel is excellent. I had no comprehensive knowledge of the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood in Rome so the level of detail was enlightening. The author’s notes at the end add depth to the overall story. The characters are vivid and alive with their Italian heritage and the dynamics of their struggle to survive the war. This book is an outstanding first effort into the field of historical fiction for well-established author, Lisa Scottoline.

This ARC copy was received from G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#Eternal #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Are We There Yet by Kathleen West

Publication Date:  March 16, 2021

Publisher: Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Berkley

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Kathleen West takes on today’s parents and their teens as they come of age in a world fraught with online temptations and dangers. Alice, Nadia, and Meredith have been friends since their children were in grade school and continue their friendship as the kids advance to their pre-high school years.

The young teens: Teddy, Alice’s son, reveals some behavioral issues when he takes matters too far in his feud with another teen; Sadie, Meredith’s daughter is a bright, exceptional young girl caught up in getting straight A’s and keeping up with a synchronized skating team; and Tane Lagerhead, a quiet young man who is less than popular with his peers, find themselves enmeshed in a drama that quickly gets out of their control when poor decisions lead to a harsh lesson for all of them.

This story highlights the dangers of social media and maturity, as well as issues with parents who are less than savvy with today’s social media and their children’s lives. The story also highlights parents that are less than engaged with their teens and parents that are overly engrossed in their teen’s lives. Parents and teens will find their lives changed as a result of the impact their decisions make on everyone around them. Solid story for public awareness of a current problem that exists with social media and today’s young people!  

This ARC copy was received from Berkley and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#AreWeThereYet #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary