Tag Archives: Southern fiction

Mini-Review — The Bookshop at Water’s End

19 Jun

My book club chose The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry as a recovery read following our discussion of a particularly difficult and emotional novel. It looked like a fun summer-y read featuring our favorite — a bookstore. It is summer-y, since its setting is a vacation home — the River House as it is known to those who spent summers there. This Southern women’s fiction explores mother-daughter relationships, dreams both fulfilled and unfulfilled, and romantic relationships within and outside marriage. The opinions on this book were mixed — some loved it, others said it was okay, while I am in the really didn’t enjoy it camp. For those who have read Surviving Savannah or Becoming Mrs. Lewis, this book is a departure from faith-based themes. Henry’s writing style is easy and her descriptions of emotions are beautiful. I just didn’t care very much for any of the characters. Was it my mood? I don’t really know. I just found them tiring. 😉 I also didn’t care for the adult language and situations used and described. It has an overwhelming favorable rating on Amazon, so you need to judge it for yourself.

(I purchased the Kindle version of this novel from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

The women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it…
 
Bonny Blankenship’s most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey’s mother disappeared.

Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times, Globe and Mail, and USA Today bestselling author of seventeen novels, including her newest, The Secret Book of Flora Lea. She’s also a podcast host of original content for her novels, Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

​She is the recipient of The Christy Award “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for Becoming Mrs. Lewis. She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. Patti also was a contributor to the monthly life lesson essay column for Parade Magazine. She’s published in numerous anthologies, articles, and short story collections, including an Audible Original about Florence Nightingale, titled Wild Swan narrated by the Tony Award winner, Cynthia Erivo. 

​A full-time author, mother of three, and grandmother of two, she lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband, Pat Henry.

Top 10 Tuesday — Birds!

11 Apr

Happy Tuesday! As I was researching this week’s TTT topic — animals in a title or on a cover — I was surprised to find so many books with a bird in the title. So I decided to go with it! Seven of the books even have a bird image on the covers! There are lots of different genres represented in my list, so you’re sure to find a book to love.

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books With A Bird In The Title

Belinda Blake And The Birds of A Feather by Heather Day Gilbert

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Murder at The Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

Pelican Point by Irene Hannon

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Wings Like A Dove by Camille Eide

Top 10 Tuesday — Top Reading From The Last 10 Julys

26 Jul

This week’s TTT is too much of a reminder of my past failures. 😉 Bloggers were tasked to list past summer TBR picks that they DID NOT read. I chose to tweak or, really, avoid the topic altogether and went with the books my book club did read over the past 10 Julys — a good mix of genres. Have you read any of these? My book club would recommend them!

For more summer reminiscences, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Novels My Book Club Read In The Past 10 Julys

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers (2014)

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright (2019)

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate (2013)

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton (2018)

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley (2017)

Living Lies by Natalie Walters (2020)

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (2016)

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks (2021)

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter (2012)

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer (2015)

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankful for Family

23 Nov

Last Thanksgiving I had the pleasure and blessing of having all of my immediate family together. This year, due to law school exams, conferences, and other family obligations we will not be all together on the same day. But . . . we have already had one small gathering and will be headed to another on Turkey Day. And FaceTime is a winner! I’ll be able to see my granddaughter though we are separated by a lot of miles. These thoughts led me to a Thankful for Family TTT post. No, it’s not the theme for today, but I wanted to do it anyway. LOL! So today my list is all about families. Whatever your favorite genre, I have a book(s) for you!

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Series Featuring Families

Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey — Romantic Suspense

Bucklin Family Reunion series by Debby Mayne — Southern/Chick Lit

Chicory Inn series by Deborah Raney — Family Drama

Cousins of The Dove series by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould — Time Split

Bradford Sisters Romance series by Becky Wade — Romance

Book Review: Under The Bayou Moon

9 Sep

Valerie Fraser Luesse has done it again! Each successive book by her has been my new favorite. I have another one in Under The Bayou Moon, a post-WWII historical novel that fully captured a wonderful place in America. All the details on the book and my thoughts are below.

Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She’s soon teaching just about everyone–and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the author of four novels set in the South: Christy Award winner Missing Isaac (2018), Almost Home(2019), The Key to Everything (2020), and the upcoming Under the Bayou Moon (August 2021), all published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. An award-winning magazine writer, Luesse is perhaps best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she wrote major pieces on the Mississippi Delta, Acadian Louisiana, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on the recovering Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, photographed by Mark Sandlin, won the 2009 Travel Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Auburn University and Baylor University, respectively. She is a native of Harpersville, Alabama, and lives in Birmingham, where she is the senior travel editor for Southern Living. Find her online at valeriefraserluesse.comfacebook.com/valeriefraserluessebooksbakerpublishinggroup.combookbub.com/authors/valerie-fraser-luesse; and goodreads.com

My Impressions:

Valerie Fraser Luesse is a masterful writer of Southern historical fiction. Focusing on the middle years of the 20th century, her books bring to life the paradoxes of the South. The power of community is a strong theme in her books, but she does not shy away from the prejudices and injustices that plagued the part of America that claims my heart. In her newest novel, Under the Bayou Moon, Luesse travels back to post-WWII Cajun country. I am a big fan of Louisiana — it is one of my favorite places to visit, and I felt like I was set right down in the midst of small town Bernadette with its loving, fiercely independent, and thorougly cajun/creole residents. Bernadette is in Bayou country — houses are on stilts on the edge of the swampy inlets, adults and children get to town, work, and school via fishing boats and pirogues. I can’t say it enough. Luesse brought the place and time to life for this reader. The story of Ellie and Raphe, an Alabama schoolteacher and a cajun fisherman, is charming. The two are characters I came to love and will never forget. There’s romance, suspense, danger, and a bit of magic involved in their story. If you ever visit the bayou, I promise you will be on the lookout for a white alligator! 😉 Luesse does not sugarcoat the history of the region, however. The plan to rid Louisiana from the cajun culture was real. I’m just glad that as in the book, the politicians did not succeed!

Filled with all the flavor of a very special region, Under The Bayou Moon is a must-read. I loved it all — the beautifully detailed setting, the endearing characters, and the uncovering of an important history. This book is very highly recommended!

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Blog Tour +Giveaway — Fresh Scars

23 Jun

Fresh Scars JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Fresh Scars by Donna Mumma, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fresh Scars

Title: Fresh Scars
Author: Donna Mumma
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction (Iron Stream Media)
Release Date: June 15, 2021
Genre: Southern Fiction

Time heals all wounds . . . or does it?

Asia Butler and her sister, Ivy Butler Morelli, have not spoken in fifteen years. As children, they endured brutal emotional abuse from their mother, Veronica, and want only to forget the past . . . and each other.

But the past comes calling when they each receive a letter from Veronica s attorney promising much-needed cash if they will fulfill her dying wish and consent to cleaning out their childhood home. Asia and Ivy reluctantly return to their hometown of Emerson, Florida, only to discover the house is a hoarder’s nightmare filled with strange mementos and clues hinting that they were not the only victims of Veronica’s sadistic nature.

Can this new pain be the path to their healing? Will they be able to choose forgiveness over resentment?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub

EXCERPT

Oven-like heat baked her cheeks as Ivy plopped into her car. If she were a cursing person, she could let loose a stream of words hot enough to peel the paint from the hood. But then she’d be breaking another home rule for controlling tempers. And if her boys found out, she’d never live that one down, either.  No, Mom was going to keep her cool. 

She pulled down the visor and checked her reflection in the mirror. She’d been here one day, and already the humidity had melted her hair. “I hate this place.” 

Was she actually going back? She’d sworn fifteen years ago she’d never set foot in Florida again. But now, here she sat, back in Sumter County headed for Veronica’s house. 

Her hand quivered as she slipped the key in the ignition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Mumma

Donna Mumma perfected storytelling in her first grade classroom, spinning tales exciting enough to settle a roomful of antsy six-year-olds. She is an award winning author, and loves to write about flawed people who find a way to overcome and thrive. A Florida native, she loves spending time with her husband, adult children, and their energetic collie, Duke

CONNECT WITH DONNA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a signed copy of Fresh Scars plus a $10 Amazon gift card!

Fresh Scars JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight June 21, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on June 28, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

February Book Club Selection — The Cedar Key

1 Feb

February, the month of love! What better way to celebrate than to read a romance novel with my book club? This month we are reading The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee. This contemporary romance is set in a small and quirky Mississippi town — can’t wait to read it! Below are all the details.

 

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome — and often frustrating — new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

 

 

Best-selling author of Christian novels, Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she’s not twirling around in hoop skirts, reading, or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a homeschool mom of two boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Visit her at http://www.StepheniaMcGee.com for books and updates.

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Women of A Certain Age

28 Jul

I had a tough time coming up with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday Freebie topic. There were so many things to choose from — exotic locales, TBR pile, fun titles, etc. Truly unlimited list options. So, I began thinking about the main characters of the books I have recently read, and discovered that almost all were in their 20s or 30s. It has been a while since I saw those numbers, having entered my golden years. Ouch! Where are the characters that are closer to my age that aren’t the cookie-baking, supportive, and supporting grandma characters? If you are like me and need a few more relatable mature characters, my list includes books that feature one main character that is a woman of a certain age. Hope you find one to love!

 

For more great bookish lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Women of A Certain Age

 

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet by Charlene Baumbich

On the outskirts of the pastoral Illinois town of Partonville, Illinois, eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Wetstra lives on her farm, venturing out to drive around in her 1976 Lincoln Continental — affectionately dubbed “The Tank”—play bunco with her pals, or grab a stool at Harry’s counter, where she can stay on top of the town’s latest shenanigans (most of which she is responsible for).
 
But when a visitor comes to town with a proposition, Dorothy finds herself faced with a decision that could change her beloved town, and her life. Before long, her gift for shaking things up may come in handy . . .

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle ― and her heart ― are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture ― God has a different plan.

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband Grant are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast, just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

Invisible by Lorena McCourtney

She’s not your average crime fighter! Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it’s only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation. Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can’t resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities’ attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor’s match-making schemes can’t slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?

Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids and grandkids. It’s looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can’t bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her children always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they’d made each year when they were kids. Stan had nicknamed them the “ugly ornaments” but Judith adored them. Now she can barely look at them. Can this box of ugly ornaments be the key to saving their family Christmas this year?

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia, a recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow and unceremoniously announces that the child is the bastard son of Miss Julia’s late husband. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small Southern community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal — and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence turns her life upside down.

With razor-sharp wit and perfect “Steel Magnolia” poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed — about a robbery, a kidnapping, and the other disgraceful events precipitated by her husband’s death. Fast-paced and charming, with a sure sense of comic drama, a cast of crazy characters, and a strong Southern cadence, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind will delight readers from first page to last.

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

Birdie Wainwright, 72, isn’t concerned about seeing things that others can’t. For a woman who still climbs mountains with her dog (Miss Bee Haven) and likes to tango, the impractical visions brought on by macular degeneration are just another gift from God, adding more adventure to life. But when a tumble down the stairs breaks her ankle and leads back to her son’s home in Denver where she must convalesce, Birdie’s imagination really takes flight. Following a conversation with her grandson about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, she begins to see and speak with the unkempt literary character himself on a regular basis. As the line between reality and whimsy turns brittle, faith is tested among friends and loved ones, and hope is reborn.

Seeing Things is a story about family, reconciliation, and hearing from God in unexpected ways.

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Charlie and Lucy Tuttle are committed to each other for life, but that life isn’t turning out quite like they expected. Charlie retired early, but Lucy planned to continue in her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school indefinitely. And then the day came when she was forced to retire. Lucy was devoted to the program her father started years ago and now she can only watch as it disintegrates before her eyes. The longer she is separated from the passion of her heart, the more the music fades from her life and she wonders if her faith’s song is fading too. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees — and hears — everything.

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago — just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins — a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over — and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far.

Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney

Downsized from her job.
Dumped by her boyfriend.
Depressed about that upcoming 6-0 birthday.
Not a good week for Andi McConnell.

But now there’s good news: She’s just inherited a limousine, a long, sleek, black limousine, from an eccentric uncle.

There’s also bad news: The dead body that soon turns up in the trunk. And Andi is the top suspect in the murder.

Enter Keegan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, former TV detective, very interested in the case — and in Andi. As they work together to solve the crime, a big question looms: when the bullets start flying, are the windows in Andi’s limo really bullet proof?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Titles That Make Me Smile, Chuckle, Snicker . . .

14 Jul

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is Books That Make Me Smile. I am going with book titles that caused me to smile, a smirk, or LOL! Cute titles always catch my eye and make me want to know more. My list seems to be heavy on mysteries, southern, and women’s fiction, so if you like those genres you are all set! 😉

What about a book makes you smile?

 

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Titles That Made Me Smile, Smirk, Snicker . . .

 

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Charlotte Figg Takes over Paradise by Joyce Magnin

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

For Whom The Wedding Bell Tolls by Nancy Mehl

Murder, Mayhem, And A Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney

Pretty Is As Pretty Does by Debby Mayne

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Truelove And Homegrown Tomatoes by Julie Cannon

Book Review: The Key to Everything

2 Jul

Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents’ devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams, Lisa Wallace.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle all the way to Key West, Florida. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined — namely, the key to his unknowable father, a reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

Through poignant prose and characters so real you’ll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won’t soon forget.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

My Impressions:

The first two books by Valerie Fraser Luesse were all I could hope for in novels that tell wonderful stories filled with engaging characters and a great sense of place and time. I chose The Key to Everything without even reading the blurb, that was how assured I was of liking it. And I did! In fact I loved it. I may even have a little book hangover — I just can’t let this book go. It gets my highly recommended rating.

The Key to Everything is a coming-of-age story set in 1947. This was a time of great hopes, but with the lingering aftereffects of war. I especially liked that Luesse set the novel as a journey in old Florida. While I grew up many years after this story is set, I did experience Florida before the advent of Disney. It was a time of small coastal towns, kitschy motels, and sometimes crusty fish camps. The book brought back those memories and more, with many things I didn’t know before. Peyton’s journey on the saddle of a bike allows the reader to experience the small things that made the Florida of that time special. The characters are wonderfully drawn — I came to love Peyton and all those he met along the way. Peyton is a remarkable character, fearless in his desire to find his own way. I loved how he learned about his father’s dreams and aspirations, along with his disappointments and compromises. This knowledge helped to determine Peyton’s own path. The Key to Everything is a quiet book, yet it has some very big moments that are not shouted, but seep into the reader’s heart. This beautifully told story will stay with me a very long time.  I also think that the novel would make a great choice for book clubs. I know I really want to talk about it!

I wish I could do more justice to this book. Just let me leave you with one more thought — read this book! You will be so glad you did.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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