Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter (by Lisa Patton) … Southern charm in a less than charming Vermont B&B

This was a good audio book. I loved the characters and how much you find out about each one of them. You have strong feelings about them…you love them or you despise them! The author does a great job of bringing into the Satterfield family and their new adventure to Vermont. I could appreciate Leelee’s less than enthusiastic response to her husband’s decision to purchase a B&B in Vermont. But, she is a southern lady and she was raised to support her husband. She adores Baker and against her best friends’ advice, she sells their home in Memphis, TN and loads up the family to begin this new adventure in their lives.

But you will soon realize that things are not quite as they were presented by the real estate agent. But Leelee is a delight and she manages to do her best to make the situation as wonderful as possible for her sweet daughters.

You will become invested in their lives and cheer Leelee on as she realizes she’s much stronger than she ever thought possible. When her Memphis BFFs show up, you will be laughing and appreciating their sassy behavior.

This was just a fun audio book and keeps you invested in the story. Definitely worth the time to discover Vermont…through the horrendous winters, mud season, and the gossipy neighbors.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer (by Susan Crandall) … coming of age and family secrets

This was a wonderful story of the coming of age, family secrets, trauma, relationships, racial prejudices, and corruption. While lots of heavy topics are covered, you are drawn into Tallulah James’s life. She is surrounded by a very dysfunctional family but between her brother, Griff, and her grandmother she finds the emotional support she needs. At least until these fall away. (But you have to read the book in order to learn how this happens!)

Set in a time of unrest…Vietnam War with its protest demonstrations and racial discrimination…life is unsettled. Then you realize how the bullying, ostracism, and child neglect affect Tallulah and her family. It is amazing how she has managed to become a functioning adult.

The author does a great job of going back and forth from Tallulah’s childhood and adulthood…especially since the book is written from her viewpoint. It is well written with the voice of Tallulah as a 10-year-old and that of her as a young adult. This young lady’s life will haunt you even after you’ve finished the last page of this amazing story.

I have read quite a few of Susan Crandall’s books in the past (you absolutely MUST read Whistling Past the Graveyard) and this one did not disappoint. I love her style of writing and how she makes the characters like real people who are actually living the story she is telling. You care about them and ache for the unfairness of how life has treated them.

I received a free copy of this book from Gallery Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This is definitely one for you put on your to-be-read list!

The Last Original Wife (by Dorothea Benton Frank) … Southern charm and strength is alive and well!

I was so proud of Les! Becoming aware of how much better she deserved, was enjoyable. And I really loved the southern charm of the Carolina Lowcountry.

The characters were delightful and I fell in love with Leslie and her brother, Harlan, and her old high school boyfriend. I enjoyed the setting, the strength in the characters, the interactions between them. And when you add in Jo, Harlan’s spoiled pooch, you are chuckling! Her behavior and her change of clothes are a hoot.

Because the book is told from the two perspectives, that of Les and her husband, Wesley, you don’t have to assume how Wesley feels. His opinions and self-absorbed observations were irritating. But his obliviousness at how his attitude is affecting his wife, explains why Leslie has had enough!

Once again, Frank has delivered a witty and down-to-earth tale. I’m looking forward to reading/listening to additional books by this author.

Water for Elephants (by Sara Gruen) … life is a circus…literally!

This was a good story. But it leaned toward being x-rated. That part disturbed me because I didn’t get that impression from reading the synopsis of the book.

However, the story was interesting and educating. After reading this book, I know I would never be tempted to run away to the circus! The life is very difficult and the level of workers was set up in a real hierarchy.

The characters were well developed and you found yourself being drawn into their lives. There were bullies and heroes, delightful animals, and a trip through history. I enjoyed the experience of going back and forth in time…it was easy enough to tell when you were in the present time by Jacob’s voice as an older man.

I am interested in reading additional books by Sara Gruen after experiencing the audio book version of Water for Elephants.

Now She’s Gone (by Alison James) … Detective Rachel Prince is back for another edge of your seat thriller

I really enjoyed this second book in the Detective Rachel Prince series. And this one was a nonstopping edge of your seat ride. There are lots of surprises in store for you once you open the book and get lost in the story of Prince and DS Brickall. They make a great team as they work to help bring closure for the father of a girl who died unexpectedly.

The characters are wonderful! You feel like you can hear them speaking as you read their dialogue. And I love some of the quirky sayings that are unfamiliar to an American. It made the book even more enjoyable to me.

The mystery surrounding the girl’s death is something that Detective Prince is determined to solve. When you factor her tenacity in with her skill as a detective, you are in for an amazing adventure. And the author keeps you invested by adding a few twists and turns, family dynamics, romantic interests, and a good old fashioned mystery. Detective Prince has a special talent for being able to put the pieces together until the puzzle is finally done.

I will definitely continue to read books by Alison James and specifically, the Rachel Prince series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookoutre Publishers for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Same Beach, Next Year (by Dorothea Benton Frank) … it’s heating up at the Isle of Palms

Dorothea Benton Frank does it again! What a roller coaster ride of emotions. This one has you falling into the lives of two families as they meet for the first time (or is it?!) at their condo in Isle of Palms. You will experience life with them as their children grow older, lives of their family members change, how their emotional connection is challenged.

The story is also one that will bring out definite opinions on the behavior of some of the characters. Do you understand what’s happening, what might have happened, would could have happened? One thing is for certain, you will be invested in their relationship and will truly have strong feelings about how they each respond to their partner’s behavior.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to another Lowcountry saga by Dorothea Benton Frank. I love her style of writing and how she draws you into the story she weaves together with her words.

Nell and Lady (by Ashley Farley) … an emotionally charged book about family secrets

Oh my! This one had so many issues that were addressed. This book made you stop and take a moment to think about how you respond to certain situations, about your prejudices, about your life and what you’ve made of yourself. Lots and lots of things to delve into and while the story is about Nell and Lady, it makes you take a good hard look at yourself.

This story is heart wrenching and heart warming. You will find pain and joy, anxiety and enjoyment, love and loss throughout the pages. You will definitely be taken on an emotional journey. While Southern charm is am amazing thing, it doesn’t always make people feel comfortable. And in the Bellemore grand home in Charleston, SC, you will experience Southern charm but with a little bit of bite to it.

You will also experience the precious gift of friendship … and yet how that friendship falls apart. But is it possible to recapture the bond that initially brought them so much joy?

What an emotional tale of family secrets and how those secrets can impact your life! Can a long lost friendship be rekindled? Wonderful book and I encourage you to take the time to get lost in the story of Nell and Lady.

Thank you to the author, Ashley Farley, for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Return to Tradd Street (by Karen White) … sparks are flying once again on Tradd Street!

I love the Tradd Street series. And this one has you hanging on to the end. The sparks between Melanie and Jack just keep blazing. The dynamics of the relationships between the characters has you grinning, sighing, gritting your teeth, and ready to slap somebody silly.

The author does a great job of keeping the intrigue going and making you really care about the outcome of the drama surrounding Melanie’s house…and her life! I love how the mysteries surrounding Melanie and the ghosts/spirits that plague her bring to light stories that are interesting. It’s not a story just for a story.

Nola is coming into her own and, as a typical teenager, is struggling with her dad. I really like her spunk and the relationship she has with Melanie. She’s a great addition to Melanie and Jack’s lives.

Can’t wait to read the next installment in this series!

The Lying Kind (by Alison James) … how far will a parent go?

Great mystery! This one had you waiting until the end to solve the puzzle. And what a wonderful puzzle it was…lots of pieces to fit together.

The characters were well developed and you felt that you got to know them and their quirks well. The dynamics of the relationships were interesting and had you cheering under your breath for some things to work out a certain way. There were definitely people you grew to despise as human beings!

This first book in the Detective Rachel Prince series got my attention and kept it. I couldn’t stop reading…even picking up my iPhone at stoplights. I needed to get to the end of that chapter. And then I couldn’t stop myself from starting the next chapter.

I am definitely hooked on this series and am looking forward to book two!

A Fragile Hope (by Cynthia Ruchti) … a story hope and grace ~ a must read

This was a wonderful book! I was sitting in a restaurant two different times eating dinner and reading the book with tears flowing down my face! Such a moving story and so many examples of grace demonstrated throughout.

The author has done a fabulous job of drawing you into the lives of the Chamberlains from the very first page. You are waiting anxiously to see how the story will unfold. You will experience how people handle issues in a different way…some with grace and some with exasperation and impatience. I really liked how the doctors and nurses could be so different in their approaches and how these differences affected the patient and the family members.

The sayings at the beginning of each chapter were so touching. I took pictures so I could remember them. One of my favorite examples was:

“No matter how high your problems mount, remember the One who scales mountains with the same elegance as when He walks on water.”

Absolutely beautiful! I felt a sense of love and caring surround me knowing the He is there through it all!

I cannot begin to describe how moving this story was and how it touched me to the depth of my soul. How do I show grace in my everyday life? Do I share just my “leftovers” with someone in need, or do I take the time to share an entire meal…plus dessert…with that person.

This is one to put on your TBR list. But don’t wait too long before you read it. It will move you to tears, it will make your heart ache, but it will leave you with a hope that, while sometimes fragile, will be lifted up and soar on wings.