Review: Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (Peachtree Bluff #1) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Peachtree’s motto is “A place to call home” and oh what a home it is! There is something about Southern literature that is so homey and comforting. I loved Kristy Woodson Harvey’s book, Lies and Other Acts of Love…..her books kind of have that sweet tea and a soft summer breeze feel to them. I can almost smell the magnolias from here!

In her latest book, we return to the South, this time to the town of Peachtree Bluff where, as I said it’s a ‘place to call home’ and that’s where we find Caroline Murphy.

Caroline swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers.

But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms.

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Review: All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

I’ve come to hold Sonja Yoerg novels in very high esteem. They are usually very thought provoking, well written, and real. So naturally when this book came across my desk for review, I was thrilled. Though the description sounded slightly different than something I would expect from Yoerg’s novels…..this one had a magic element which surprised me.

While this was unexpected, I love books with magical realism and magic themes so I was even more excited to read this one than I was her other novels.

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange.

So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

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Review: Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

When I read mysteries, I typically read historical mysteries but from time to time, a modern psychological thriller captures my eye and I pick it up but I kind of have to be in the mood.

Well the mood struck me when Gone Without A Trace came up for review. So what caught my eye about this one? Well I liked the tag line ‘no one disappears completely’. One of my favorite shows on ID TV is Disappeared, so books that deal with disappearances intrigue me because that tag line is so true and the not knowing drives the interest for me.

Gone Without a Trace is a compulsive thriller about a woman who returns from work to find her boyfriend has vanished.

No one ever disappears completely…
You leave for work one morning. Another day in your normal life. Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.

His belongings have disappeared. He hasn’t been at work for weeks. It’s as if he never existed. But that’s not possible, is it? And there is worse still to come. Because just as you are searching for him, someone is also watching you (summary from Goodreads).

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Special Feature: THE BOOK OF POLLY by Kathy Hepinstall

I have a soft spot for local writers and when I saw that this author lives in Portland, OR I had to at least do a special feature on her novel!

This is an unforgettable story about the grip of love in a truly quirky family, told with a particular blend of sass and warmth. Polly is one of those can’t-forget-her female characters with whom readers are destined to fall in love, and her daughter Willow’s coming of age story is one to which both mothers and their daughters will relate.

Publishers Weekly says, “Polly is a hybrid of Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies and Shirley MacLaine’s Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias… [THE BOOK OF POLLY] is full of laughter and warmth” and Kirkus Reviews said, “classic elements of Southern comedy—evil twins, people dropping dead, a faith healer, a river-rafting trip—surround a lovable pair of central characters.”

The character Polly is based, in part, on Kathy Hepinstall’s own wicked-tounged mother and Hepinstall has incorporated her mother’s sayings, and some family anecdotes in coloring the narrative of THE BOOK OF POLLY. Although the story itself is fictional, Polly’s stories and persona are on every page.

Willow Havens is ten years old and obsessed with the fear that her mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to shoot varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors and she sticks out like a sore thumb among the young modern mothers of their small conventional Texas town. She was in her late fifties when Willow was born, so Willow knows she’s here by accident, a late-life afterthought. Willow’s father died before she was born, her much older brother and sister are long grown and gone and failing elsewhere. It’s just her and bigger-than-life Polly.

Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly’s life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

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Special Feature: SHADOW OF WHIMSY: A CAPE COD LOVER STORY by Ann Hymes

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Shadow of Whimsy: A Cape Cod Love Story by Ann Hymes

Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Secant Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Genre: Contemporary/Women’s Fiction/Literary
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Several generations of one family have lived, loved, and lied at Whimsy Towers, a unique oceanfront house in Chatham, Massachusetts. Strong women who refuse to be suffocated by marriage have found excitement and refuge in this house filled with artists and parties. Love surfaces in unexpected ways.
The newest owner, Theresa Alston Crandall, has just inherited the property and leaves her too-predictable husband in Virginia to spend time on the Cape and unravel family secrets and history. She swims, reflects, explores, and watches dramatic cloud formations float high over the ocean as she sorts through the choices in her path forward.
Romance arrives in the form of a young widower and landscape gardener with an awesome pickup truck, who likes Theresa’s dog and provides temptation to stay at Whimsy Towers. Tips of tree branches dance with the weight of birds that seem to scream warnings of danger, and the churning ocean disrupts family continuity.
Theresa learns how her Southern grandmother came to buy a storm-weathered New England house and how loveless marriage is not a mandatory life style. The final decision feels just right.
“In her debut novel, Hymes presents a conflicted young woman who is beginning to question her humdrum existence. From grief and loss to forgiveness and redemption, Hymes does not hold back. The author steers clear of predictable outcomes in this unexpected story, providing ample romantic suspense and witty prose to keep the reader turning pages. Chock-full of rich descriptions of the New England coast, as well as surprising scandals and an adorable dog named Gypsy, the book should satisfy even seasoned beach readers. A captivating and uplifting tale best suited for fans of meaningful beach-town romances.” -Kirkus Reviews

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