Tag Archives: Southern fiction

If You Liked Still Waters . . .

28 Sep

I love when my book club has a unanimous thumbs up on one of our selections. This month we read Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett, and we all loved it! (Read my review HERE.) Now what should we read next? I have a few suggestions.

Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth Jones

I’m coming home to prove something..to my city, my mother, and myself.

It is a place known to most as Savannah. It is a place known to me as home. I wish I could tell you it was my love for this city that precipitated my return. But I did not return out of a mere longing for home. I returned because I have something to prove to home. I am Savannah . . . from Savannah.

 

 

Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson

Jo Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her greataunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family house in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Seeing the project as the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her selfabsorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends, Jo Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. But things are not what they seem, both in the house and within the complex history of her family. Was her greatgrandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will Jo Lynn’s marriage survive the renovation? Jo Lynn isn’t sure she wants to know the truthbut sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.The past comes alive in this wellwritten and thoughtful novel full of secrets, drama, and family with a hint of Southern drawl.

The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart

Welcome to Jasper, South Carolina. A place where Southern hospitality thrives. Where social occasions are done right. And where, for generations, the four most upstanding ladies of this community ensure that the daughters of Jasper are married in the proper manner.

Friends from school days, “the gals” have long pooled their silver, china, and know-how to pull off beautiful events. They’re a force of nature, a well-oiled machine. But the wedding machine’s gears start to stick during the summer their own daughters line up to tie the knot. In the lowcountry heat and humidity, tempers flare, old secrets leak out . . . and both love and gardenias bloom in unlikely places.

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Book Review: Fit to Be Tied

10 Sep

The Bucklin family loves each other too much to stay away. . . but not enough to behave.

Being rich is fine, but when wealth comes from striking oil, it can make a slippery mess for a family who doesn’t know what to do with it. The Bucklin cousins are all together again, and this family reunion is shaping up to be another hot mess.

Coralee falls for the police officer who pulls her over. Sally has finally found a guy, but now she’s not sure a relationship is even worth the bother. No matter how hard Brett tries to avoid trouble, he somehow stumbles right back into the thick of it. And Marybeth and Bucky continue to fumble and bumble as they learn just how to handle being rich.

The Bucklin family is known for drama — and family drama knows no bounds.

 

Debby Mayne is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas that have received the “Top Pick” award from Romantic Times Magazine and been among the “Top 10 Favorites” in the Heartsong Presents book club. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women’s fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative writing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly About.com) companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms.

She and her husband currently live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area. To learn more about Debby:
Website – debbymayne.net
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/DebbyMayneAuthor
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/@debbymayne

 

My Impressions:

The first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series, High Cotton, introduced readers to the over-the-top family known for its family reunion antics. Now author Debby Mayne is back with book 2, Fit to Be Tied, a novel that continues the family saga while delivering laughs along with familiar situations that all families encounter, even those without seriously quirky family members (are there any families out there without that uncle or aunt? 😉 ). Filled with deep South references this one is a fun read.

Fit to Be Tied is told through the first person perspectives of 5 members of the Bucklin family. The multi-generational points of view provide glimpses into what makes this family tick. I liked how each revealed a different aspect of this rambling family. Perhaps my (and your) family isn’t is as outrageous or contentious as the Bucklins, but I bet there will be plenty of things that you can relate to — how family members bear with each other, protect each other, and ultimately love each other. If you read book one you will recognize many of the characters, but some new family members are introduced as well. But don’t think you will get overwhelmed by all the Bucklin kin that make an appearance. The format of short chapters keep the doings of the family manageable for the reader. The five characters that share their thoughts on life, love, and family are real and relatable, and reveal the struggles that all face. I especially loved Sally who figured prominently in book one as well. Fit to Be Tied is filled with southernisms and mouth-watering food references that add an authentic feel to the novel. As in the first book, the family reunion is the climax of the book, but Fit to Be Tied is certainly not the end of the story. Be prepared for more fun in the third book in the series, Out of Pocket, due out in Spring 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with the Bucklin clan. I recommend you start with book 1 to get the whole family experience. You might find yourself yearning for a family reunion of your own!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Gilead Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: As The Tide Comes In

30 Aug

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

 

 

Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

 

My Impressions:

Some reviews seem to write themselves — a quick summary of likes and dislikes, with a nod to setting and characters and faith elements. Others, not so much. This is one of those times when the words I pen just don’t seem to do the book justice. As The Tide Comes In is the second collaborative novel from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law, Erin Woodsmall. Cindy Woodsmall is known for her unique take on the Amish. She is a big favorite of my book club and the only author of Amish fiction we read as a group. But this novel is a big departure from her writing roots. I don’t know how the partnership between these two authors is set up since the writing is seamless, but it sure does work! This book is part Southern women’s lit, part romance, part mystery, but definitely wholly great! I highly recommend As The Tide Comes In.

Tara Abbott has faced a lot of struggles in her life. From abandonment as a very young child, to a life spent in the foster care system, to being the sole caretaker of younger half-brothers, Tara has had to dig deep within herself to carry on. In the blink of an eye everything changes, and Tara is left lost and confused and far away from all she knows about herself and God. I am amazed at how well the authors portrayed Tara’s character. They got everything right. Emotional, spiritual, and physical responses are masterfully depicted. Other characters could have become stereotypes, but were also well-drawn and given a convincing complexity. The setting of the novel is St. Simon’s Island, a place I have visited a few times. As The Tide Comes In brought back vivid memories of this wonderful place in the Golden Isles. There are a lot of hard things in this book. So hard, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get through it. But even in the blackest of events the authors shared glimmers of hope and joy. There are also a lot of things to talk about, but perhaps the thing that touched me the most was the idea of living a life as a vessel of love. What a wonderful way to describe the relationship between God and His people and our joint roles in reaching a hurting world.

Should you read As The Time Comes In? Oh YES!! I also think you should read it with a friend or group of friends. Trust me. You are going to want to discuss this book.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: High Cotton

5 Apr

Some families are filled with so much love they can’t help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama’s family–folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunions . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.

Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

Debby Mayne is the author of more than 40 novels and novellas that have received the “Top Pick” award from Romantic Times Magazine and been among the “Top 10 Favorites” in the Heartsong Presents book club. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women’s fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative writing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly About.com) companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms.

She and her husband currently live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area.

To learn more about Debby:
Website – debbymayne.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/DebbyMayneAuthor
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/@debbymayne

My Impressions:

Get ready for some southern sass in Debby Mayne’s novel, High Cotton, the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion Series. Four women of various ages and life experiences tell their stories and reveal that life in small town Pinewood, Mississippi isn’t that much different than your town or mine. Sure, there may be a different twang in their voice, but women are women all over. If you like women’s fiction with wit and wisdom, then this novel is for you.

High Cotton is told in the first person voice of four Bucklin women — Shay, Puddin’, Missy, and Sally. Alternating chapters follow the days leading up to yet another family reunion. The women have little in common except their family connections. Shay is a successful and single career woman, Puddin’ is a stay at home mom with an oops baby still in the nest, Missy is a discontented housewife, and Sally is a twenty-something with a thriving Etsy business. The women struggle with a variety of issues, but rely on each other and their family for support.

There really is something for everyone in High Cotton, and I wager that you’ll see yourself somewhere in the pages. These women are part sweet, part sassy, and pure Southern in their views. But . . . as they look for independence, love, fulfillment, and connection, they will resonate with those who have never set foot across the Mason-Dixon line. They are also part of a huge and quirky family, a family of definite opinions. I bet you have run across those characters too! 😉 Faith is a big part of the women’s lives and is woven naturally throughout the story.

You’ll laugh (sometimes out loud) at the antics of the Bucklin family as you journey with Shay, Puddin’, Missy, and Sally. And you’ll enjoy every minute!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Gilead Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Mini-Review: The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

1 Mar

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family —  even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a writer from Central Louisiana. Her first novel, Save Us a Seat, released September, 2013. It as since been re-released as The Secret to Hummingbird Cake. Fletcher earned a history degree and currently lives on her century-old family farm in central Louisiana. She enjoys family, writing, football, baseball, and raising a variety of animals.

My Impressions: 

I had wanted to read The Secret to Hummingbird Cake since I saw its yummy cover and read its intriguing blurb. Oh yeah, this was a book I knew I would love. And I really did. I laughed out loud and ugly cried, sometimes within the span of just minutes. This small-town novel is filled with wonderfully drawn characters that are as close as family and just as exasperating! The book’s charm lies in the small town of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana and the three women who have been close since childhood. Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine have always stood by each other through indiscretions, melees, and life in general. But their friendship and faith are sorely tested as they all have to face life with their big girl pants on. If you are a fan of Southern fiction, women’s fiction, or both, then this book is for you. I have just one caveat though. Although this book is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian imprint of Harper Collins, there are some things that readers of Christian fiction may not want to read — alcohol, some mild language, and sex outside of marriage viewed as okay under the right circumstances. (This book would have earned 5-stars if not for the above-mentioned.) But if you can overlook those shortcomings, then I think you will really enjoy The Secret to Hummingbird Cake.

Recommended (with some reservations, see review).

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)