Friday, May 31, 2013

The Sassy Belles-Beth Albright

The Sassy Belles

Beth Albright

Mira, May 28 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315285

In Tuscaloosa, near hysterical Vivi Ann McFadden calls her BFF attorney, Blake O’Hara Heart as she desperately needs to speak with her. Instead she gets Blake’s husband and partner Harry who waits for his wife to join him at the Tutwiler to celebrate their tenth anniversary. She tells him she thinks she silenced the voice of Crimson Tide football, Harry’s younger brother Lewis Heart, who she insists lies dead in a room at the Fountain Mist. The police go to room 106 but there is no body only “Deputy Dick”.

As the married lawyers help Vivi, Blake feels her relationship with Harry is in trouble since he became distant while fostering his plans for a Senate run. When Blake’s high school boyfriend Sonny Bartholomew works the investigation, she finds herself dreaming of what if.

The Sassy Belles is an enjoyable Alabama tale starring Steel Magnolias and the men who appreciate their strengths and ignore their weaknesses if they want to remain with them. Although the behavior of the two attorneys after learning that Vivi failed to call the cops or 911 seems over the top of Bear Bryant Stadium, readers (except Auburn fans) will enjoy this fast-paced amusing Crimson Tide tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'll Be Seeing You-Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

I'll Be Seeing You

Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

Mira, May 28 2013, $14.94

ISBN: 9780778314950

In 1943 fortyish Iowa City, Iowa mom Marguerite “Rita” Vincenzo and Rockport, Massachusetts mom Gloria Whitehall have nothing in common except a fear for their beloved husbands (and Rita’s teen son soon to deploy) fighting overseas. They begin a pen pal correspondence though Glory is a youthful free spirit and Rita is a professor's gardening witch wife. Each finds some solace in the letters as they face issues at the home front and fears their spouse will not come home alive.

Using letters as a means to look deeply at the effect of their loved ones in harm’s way on two diverse females from two different regions of the country, readers obtain a powerful tale of life at home during a war. With two powerful protagonists anchoring the WWII impact on them, their families and communities, this timely tale reminds readers that someone must pay the piper in blood and money in any war; whether it is on a credit card or not.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Questions of Travel-Michelle de Kretser

Questions of Travel

Michelle de Kretser

Little, Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780316219228

In 1966 in Sydney, Australia, her older twin brothers tried to kill two year old Laura Fraser after her mom died as they blamed this female “alien” for her death. In the 1980s her brother Cameron dies, but she has no grief as he clearly hated her. When the only person who cares about her Aunt Hester died, Laura inherits a lot of money. She begins a travel odyssey around the world seeking someone who would love her.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ravi Mendis dreamed of seeing the world though he has no hope to escape his Sri Lankan village except perhaps to live in nearby Colombo. He marries and has a daughter, but the brutal civil war forces Ravi to flee his homeland. In 2000s he and Laura meet in Australia.

Questions of Travel is a fascinating look into journeys (of the mind as much as the body). The underlying premise is that the treasure is not always at the end of the rainbow; instead you may trek from and to sh*t. Character driven by the fully-developed lead pair within rotating subplots, readers who appreciate something different will enjoy this tale of leaving home.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Step of Faith-Richard Paul Evans

A Step of Faith

Richard Paul Evans

Simon & Schuster, May 7 2013, $19.99

ISBN: 9781451628296

Advertising executive Alan Christoffersen left Seattle when his beloved wife died and his partner Kyle Craig destroyed their business leaving the grieving widower with nothing but a need to get as far away as he can from the Pacific Northwest. His goal was to walk to Key West.

Alan awakens in a St, Louis hospital after falling unconscious on a roadside. He finds out that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor; so heads to Los Angeles for treatment. There his father, his loyal former employee Falene, and Nicole who nursed him after a mugging in Spokane are there for him, but he drives them away as Alan reflects on his life while pondering whether he should give up as he feels like a failed Job or continue his trek until he realizes what he lost.

The fourth Walk saga (see The Walk, Miles to Go and The Road to Grace) is an entertaining entry as Alan realizes what he wrought with his caustic behavior towards those who love him. Except for a visit to a cult that slows down the pacing, for the most part this is a strong character driven tale; as each step on the journey requires faith if the protagonist is to refill his spiritual void.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Windy City Neighbors Grounded-Neta Jackson and Dave Jackson

Windy City Neighbors Grounded

Neta Jackson and Dave Jackson

Worthy, May 7 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781617950001

Grace Meredith enjoys singing contemporary Christian music. Currently the successful singer travels the country encouraging the young to wait until marriage in her New Year, New You tour. However, as she makes her plea, she suffers from a sore throat and a broken heart. Lozenges and tea help the throat a little, but her fiancé Roger, tired of her stay a pure virgin message, ended their engagement.

Grace stops at her home in Chicago only to be grounded by a blizzard. As she thinks about her youthful indiscretions, Grace feels like a con artist peddling her wait theme as she muses over do as I say not as I did. However, as the neighbors she ignored for years like the Bentleys welcome her as a friend not a celebrity and encourage her to live up to her name with the Lord’s help, Grace begins to heal.

The first Windy City Neighbors inspirational is an entertaining tale of God giving believers a second chance to do the right thing. Ironically while the opening on tour scenes are slow; once the protagonist becomes Grounded and truly meets her neighbors, the pace accelerates into a warm second chance at a pure life drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Spear of Summer Grass-Deanna Raybourn

A Spear of Summer Grass

Deanna Raybourn

Mira, Apr 30 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778314394

In 1923 Paris, affluent American Delilah Drummond sends divorce papers to her third husband. Upon receiving them he kills himself. The reaction from the Parisian upper crust makes Delilah a pariah. Her advisors demand she leave France until some other scandal replaces hers. Thus, accompanied by her cousin Dora, a chagrined Delilah reluctantly travels to her stepfather’s Fairlight Plantation in Kenya.

She finds a hedonistic expatriate population in which orgies set to jazz is the only matter. The only exception is Ryder White who takes her on an exhilarating tour of Africa beyond the European-American drunks. Delilah also finds a purpose as she provides nursing skills to the Kikuyu. However, when blood flows, Delilah must choose whose side she is on.

With a nod to Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa though without spanning the decades between the world wars, A Spear of Summer Grass is an enjoyable historical that brings to life the 1920s mostly in Africa. Though the romance feels like a forced requirement, the African adventures are superb as the audience obtain a taste of the White Man’s Burden from the licentious perspective of the Génération au Feu.

Harriet Klausner

The Apple Orchard-Susan Wiggs

The Apple Orchard

Susan Wiggs

Mira, Apr 30 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778314936

Hard working Sheffield Auction House provenance specialist Tess Delaney uses her job as an escape from her lonely life. She has no idea who her dad is and rarely sees her wanderlust mother; so she precariously lives through her clients like Annelise Winther who she gave back a WWII precious item or the Krakow Museum in Poland whom she returned Nazi stolen art.

The latter brought her fifteen minutes of fame and a comatose apple orchard owning grandfather Magnus Johansen in Sonoma she never knew existed. Even more shocking to a stunned Tess is when the messenger banker-vintner Dominic Rossi tells her she has been added to Magnus’ will to inherit half his Bella Vista orchard along with s with someone else she never heard of, her half-sister Isabel Johansen. Tess and Isabel investigate what happened to the family going back to their grandfather’s childhood in Denmark during WWII; while the newcomer and Dominic begin to fall in love though his family stands in their way.

The Apple Orchard is an insightful family drama with a powerful undying moral message of the value of family and memories should supersede material items. Tess now knows to seek true loved ones and make new memories with them. Readers will appreciate learning alongside Tess her ancestry.

Harriet Klausner