Tag Archives: Southern fiction

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.)

 

Book Review: Magnolia Storms

18 Jun

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except . . . she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

 

My Impressions:

I am excited to introduce my book club to Janet Ferguson. I have read a couple of her books, and knew that Magnolia Storms, the first book in her Coastal Hearts series would be perfect for our summer reading. Okay, the book is not set during the summer, but it is set in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and has numerous references to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi coast. Hurricanes and beach communities say beach read to me, just sayin’ 😉 . Main character Magnolia Maggie Marovich’s life was impacted by Katrina leading to her choices of career (meteorologist), residence (safely inland), and even her preferred vacation location (the mountains). She avoids the coast at all costs, except when her family needs her. She tucks her emergency pack in the trunk of her car and her fears in her back pocket, and heads down to her hometown to rescue her sister, niece, and aunt. What Maggie does not know, is that she needs rescuing most of all.

I loved the interactions, and let’s face it, the great chemistry between Maggie and her childhood sweetheart Josh. Magnolia Storms is after all a romance. But really it is so much more as Maggie not only faces her extreme anxiety but tries to overcome it. I have friends in Ocean Springs, and have visited from time to time. Ferguson’s descriptions brought back memories of a quaint coastal town. She captured the essence of the place and people well. The overarching theme of trying to control the uncontrollable was developed in ways that I could relate to. God is always in control, even when we won’t acknowledge that or feel we know better than Him. Maggie learned a lot, and I anticipate some great discussion from my book club on the subject.

Part romance, part women’s fiction, and all Southern, Magnolia Storms is a winner! It is book one in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. I have already read books 3 and 4 — now I need to go back and finish up with book 2!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased a copy of Magnolia Storms. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Cover Love

2 Jun

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is summer vibes. I don’t know about where you live, but here in the Sunny South, summer has arrived — temps in the 90s and lots of sun. I decided to head to my shelves to find book covers that just say summer to me — June weddings, lush vegetable gardens, special visitors to the bird feeder, 4th of July celebrations, and travel to new places, or just the title. As I looked at the covers of these books — some I have read and others I have not — I thought ahh, that’s summer.

Do you have a summery read awaiting you?

 

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

 

Top 10 Summer Vibe Covers

 

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice — one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.
 
Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.
 
Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?
 
As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead.

Hope Springs by Lynne Hinton

Pull up a chair and discover the strength and sustenance of friendship with Jessie, Margaret, Louise, Beatrice, and Charlotte, as the unique bond forged between these five remarkable women is put to the test when one of their own is stricken with a deadly illness. Filled with the mystery and wonder that make life worthwhile, Hope Springs will lift your spirits and warm your heart.

 

 

Lemon Jelly Cake by Madeline Smith

A surefire cure for the headaches and stomach upsets of the twenty-first century, The Lemon Jelly Cake carries readers back to kinder, gentler times in a small town at the turn of the last century. Evoking a forgotten America of lush lawns, bountiful summer picnics, and shady front porches, the tale is set when the day’s toughest decision might have been what to serve for dinner or which suit or dress to wear.

 

‘Mater Biscuit by Julie Cannon

It is summer in Euharlee, Georgia, and Imogene Lavender’s garden is bursting with snap beans, okra, and tomatoes. The household — made up of Imo; her daughter Jeanette and her new baby; and Lou, Imo’s niece — is about to grow as well. Imo’s estranged mother, Mama Jewell, has begun to show signs of senility, and Imo has decided that it is her duty to take her mother in. Mama Jewell brings with her some secrets from the past, including the story of Lou’s mother, a revelation that sends Lou in search of her ne’er-do-well father. For Imo, who is feeling the squeeze of being in the middle of the generations, Mama Jewell’s temperamental nature stirs up long-buried memories of a difficult childhood. And much to everyone’s surprise, wild Jeanette is so determined to find a husband that she joins the church choir to be closer to the handsome and enigmatic young reverend.

‘Mater Biscuit is a wonderful evocation of small-town life in the South, a world where hard work and prayers unite the community. Life isn’t always easy for Imo and her girls, but they have only to look as far as Imo’s beloved garden to be reminded that all things change with the seasons.

Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

On Hummingbird Wings by Lauraine Snelling

“But Mother is always dying,” is Gillian Ormsby’s sarcastic response when her younger, favored sister tells her that she has to go take care of their hypochondriac mother. Much against her will, since she and her mother never have gotten along, Gillian arrives in California to find the garden and yard dead, the blinds all drawn, and her mother indeed in bed–waiting to die. But when Gillian talks with the doctor, he assures her there’s no medical reason behind her mother’s state.

Now on a mission to restore her mother to health, Gillian insists Mother get out of bed, eat, exercise and hopefully, choose to live. She also sets about reviving the garden to its former glory, enlisting the help of Adam, a handsome man who owns a family gardening business with his father. Gillian is delighted when a pair of hummingbirds appear, and her friendship with Adam grows.

Soon, Mother’s health improves, and one day she announces she and her friend Enzio are going on a cruise. Before Gillian has time to turn around, her mother is gone and she is left high and dry again, and wondering, what is she going to do with the rest of her own life?

Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy to discover the life you were meant to live.

Heather Curridge is coming unhinged. And people are starting to notice. What’s wrong with a woman who has everything — a mansion on a lake, a loving son, a heart-surgeon husband — yet still feels miserable inside?

When Heather spends the summer with two ancient Quaker sisters and a crusty nun running a downtown homeless shelter, she finds herself at a crossroads.

Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa Del Fabbro

When journalist Monica Brunetti enters the town of Lady Helen, she is awed by its beauty. A tiny jewel on the west coast of South Africa, its bright tin roofs and swaying palms seem made for picture postcards, not the real-world problems that have led her there. But the village takes hold of her heart, especially the beleaguered residents of Sandpiper Drift, who are threatened with eviction from their tranquil neighborhood beside the lagoon. And so Monica packs up her laptop, her adopted sons and housekeeper Francina, who’s wrestling with a major decision of her own, for the journey of a lifetime.

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests — and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness—especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her and — Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Parties

5 May

Parties of more than 10 people won’t be happening for many of us in the near future. It is sad that the things that bring us together — celebrations large and small, somber or silly — are prohibited during these days of social distancing. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about bookish parties. I have gone in a different direction this week than was probably intended in order to bring you books that feature gatherings that violate safer options. It doesn’t hurt that several of these books are also set at Christmas — the ultimate gathering time. I am hopeful that soon we will all be able to crowd together to laugh, cry, dance, sing, and just party!

For more bookish party fun, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Parties Found in Books

 

Balls

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah Ladd

 

Family Gatherings

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

 

Festivals

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

 

Parades

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith

 

Weddings

Glory Road by Lauren Denton

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck