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Spring Has Sprung: A Great Time For Patio Reading

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By Gini Rainey

“Maude” By Donna Foley Mabry

Here’s another book that was hard for me to put down. Recommended to me by my cousin, “Maude” is a finely woven collection of the life stories told to Mabry by her grandmother. Beginning in 1906 and covering a time span of over 57 years, the book not only tells the story of Nola Maude Clayborn Connor Foley, but also that of a country that was changing and surviving industrialization, women’s rights, world wars, depressions, and Viet Nam.

“Maude” has been enjoying a healthy run on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Sellers list for over 16 weeks (at publication) and it’s no surprise why. This detailed account is about an incredibly resilient woman whose life was marred by one after another tragedy over her lifetime. Maude was an amazingly strong, selfless woman for whom happiness was a fleeting, rare part of her life.

Not filled with syrupy remembrances of her grandmother, Mabry shares the good, bad and the ugly of a life full of sacrifices, hardships and pain. From the death of her parents at the age of eleven to the birthing bed to the loss of all but one of her children, the pain that Maude experienced would have been more than enough to harden the hearts of most people, but she survived and rose to the top over and over again.

“Maude” was absolutely absorbing and is the powerful story of a strong woman’s life – of her joys and her great sorrows. The historical influences on her life story are hugely significant and help to create a virtual time line that gives the reader significant historical mile markers throughout the book for reference as to the time and place of each event in Maude’s life.

Although Mabry has a popular series of historical romances, I’m more than glad that she strayed from fiction to take the stories that her grandmother shared with her and gather them into a chronicle of a woman whose life was an endurance test of hardship after hardship, and yet still had a faith that carried her through each event. Because Mabry was a part of the story, she was able to personalize and retell it in a way that will allow the reader to experience her grandmother’s emotions in a very real way.

Bottom line – this is a beautifully written book about an extraordinary woman and how she conquered a life of hardship and adversity.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2014 – CreateSpace Independent Publishing

“The Instant When Everything’s Perfect” By Jessica Barksdale Inclan

Jessica Barksdale Inclan is the author of twelve traditionally published novels as well many short stories, poems, and ebooks, and with this book, she defies tradition by giving us a book that could easily fall into more than one genré.

What does one call a book like this? Is it a contemporary romance? It’s a story of love, to be sure, but doesn’t follow the rules of the romance genré. Is it women’s fiction? Perhaps, yet there’s plenty of meat here for men to enjoy as well, if they care to take a look at it. Is it literature? Probably not. The language isn’t quite rich enough, the themes are too transparent.

All I know is that it’s a pretty good book and in the end, isn’t that what really matters? With its deceptively simple story that keeps you thinking about it and its characters well after you’ve finished reading it, Inclan’s tale of a failing marriage, the tragedy of cancer, and a new love is one that’s been told before, but what makes this book so intriguing was Inclan’s ability to create full-bodied, flawed, vibrant, human characters that made this book worth reading, even though there were parts way too predictable or too easy.

If you’ve ever battled cancer, or been there for someone who has, you will find that the emotions Inclan’s characters display are spot on. The emotional roller coaster ride that they go through will make you feel you are right there with them, holding their hands through it all. If you’ve not had that experience, this book will help you to realize that no matter how perfect other people’s lives may look, you just never know what is happening behind the closed doors of their lives.

There are moments in life that seem flawless, and then there are those that, well, really aren’t. Taken for what they are or aren’t, with Inclan’s profound perspective of the reality of life, you will be able to see these moments through the eyes of her characters and realize that life is a gift to be cherished and honored.

Rating: 4 of 5

Copyright 2011 – Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

“Hidden – A CSI Reilly Steel Thriller” By Casey Hill

Please forgive me, but I have become hooked on this series of books! I figure, if I’m reading and reviewing three books a month for you, my dear readers, I should be able to read what intrigues me part of the time.

That being said, if you haven’t picked up one of the Reilly Steel books yet, might I suggest you do? Oh, and be sure to start with the first one. I was afraid that Casey Hill (which just happens to be the pseudonym of husband and wife writing team, Kevin and Melissa Hill, who live in Dublin, Ireland) might fall into the trap of writing books by a standard formula after having read the first two in their series. These centered on serial killers with penchants for glomming on to literary influences and committing their crimes in weird and bizarre ways that relate to the literature. I was pleasantly surprised that the third in the series broke away from that tendency.

Beginning with the death of a young girl on an isolated Irish country road that seems at first to be a simple hit and run, Reilly Steele’s amazing sixth sense tells her there is more to this incident than a straightforward murder. With her team of forensic experts gleaning evidence from the scene, and the mysterious angel wings tattoo on the girl’s back, the pieces should have begun to fall together. But, nothing is as simple as it appears when Team Hill begins to weave a tale of intrigue. With her forensic team and the two detectives from the first two books, Reilly begins to connect the dots between this accident and the cold cases of several missing children from the area.

Although this mystery doesn’t draw from the usual literary sources, it does explore the Irish myth of Tir na nÓg – a story of a sanctuary from the world, a place where music and beauty were celebrated and happiness last forever. The crimes of the villain in this book will leave you with a very unsettled feeling of whether he is guilty or not. The grayness of what he does could open up a whole new avenue of discussion on what acts of some perpetrators are truly worthy of prosecution.

There won’t be any spoilers in this review – so no spoiler alerts will be issued, because there are very few clues as to who the actual villain is – and why he does what he does.

In true Casey Hill fashion, this is a very engaging, page turning book that will have you guessing right up to the very end.

Oh, and Hill gives a bit of a teaser as to the rekindling of the romantic interest between Reilly and investigator Chris Delaney – which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Just so you know, until I catch up to where they are, I’m going to keep reading their books.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2013 – Simon & Schuster


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Books

Spend the Summer Reading

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“Bring Me Back”
by B. A. Paris
Just when you think an author can’t out do their last book, they jump right out there and do it!  Filled with even more deception and intrigue than her first two books, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, Paris’ latest book will keep you spell bound until you turn the last page.  Telling the story about the mysterious disappearance of Layla from the perspectives of Finn, his girlfriend, and his fiancé while moving between the past and the present, it’s no wonder that Paris has carved out her niche in the psychological thriller genre.

As Finn digs deeper to determine who might be behind the disappearance and strange emails, his list of suspects grows to encompass even his closest friends.  Because Ms. Paris is a master at building believable characters, the reader finds himself drawn into the intrigue and feeling a certain empathy for everyone involved.

In Bring Me Back, Paris explores how traumatic events can impact, not only the individuals immediately involved, but also everyone they come in contact with.  Not afraid to explore new avenues of intrigue and mystery, she has created yet another spell-binding page turner that will keep you guess till the very last page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – St. Martins Press

“The Sisters”
by Janet Kay
If you’re looking for a book to read this summer that is filled with history, ghosts, romance, and family discord, this is the one for you.  Set in current day Galveston, this story tells the story of Veronica and Isabella, two sisters who had once be in love with the same man.

Weaving a spell around not only present-day Galveston, Kay’s story helps to explain the reason so many of the historical sites in this Island community are haunted.  From the pirate Jean Lafitte to the estimated six to twelve thousand people who lost there lives during the hurricane of 1900. Described as the deadliest natural ever in the United States, this storm took the life the of sisters’ grandmother, who continues in her afterlife as Isabella’s spirit guide.

If you are familiar with Galveston, and even if not, this book is an intriguing read that pulls you into its web of family deceit and mystery as the sisters strive to learn where they have come from and reconnect on a congenial level of understanding and acceptance.  It will definitely keep you turning the pages to find out where it all ends.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – World Castle Publishing

“Neema’s Reason to Smile”
By Patricia Newman
This delightful book, colorfully illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, tells the story of Neema and her mother who share big dreams for their life in Kenya.  Neema wants to go to school, while her Mama, who sews clothes by hand, dreams of a sewing machine and perhaps her own business. By not only entertaining, but also educating, Newman’s story sends the message to all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Motivated by actual students at the Jambo Jipya School in the town of Mtwapa, Kenya, where many kids are unable to go to school, Ms. Newman’s story provides inspiration to children of any age to never give up hope for a better life through education.

A lovely feature of this book are the glossary, discussion questions, and activities at the end of the book.  Although geared for younger children, the message won’t be lost on older readers.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – Lightswitch Learning

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Books

Book Worm Central: July Events & Book Signings

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July 31st (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Beach Music” by David Graham. The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Club Reads’ events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to tylerlibrary.com.

August 4th (3-7pm) – Book Bash will be held at Harvey Hall Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. They are doubling the authors for 2018’s Book Bash – 80 authors are attending! There will be a free children’s reading at 12:30-2:30pm prior to the book signings beginning at 3pm. There will be multiple children’s authors present to read their stories and there may even be characters present to interact with the kids. Tickets will be on sale until the day of the event. Come on out and find a new favorite author as well as meet the authors behind the stories. For more info go to facebook.com/events/1715126465459268. Tickets are $12-$17. If you have a child 13 and under, they will be able to get in for $5 the day of the event. VIP tickets will get you in 30 minutes earlier and a tote bag full of goodies. The children’s reading is free to attend.

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Books

Chill Out With A Cool Book

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By Gini Rainey

Send Down the Rain – By Charles Martin 

In his thirteenth novel, this New York Times Award-winning author successfully weaves the lives of several different people into a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice that will leave you thinking.  Taking Joseph, a Viet Nam veteran with many scars to heal and Allie, who has recently lost her families business in Florida, Martin created a novel that is full of lots of raw emotion that will keep you turning pages until you come to the surprising conclusion. 

Joseph, a victim of PTSD, has chosen to live in his cabin in the Carolina mountains with his dog, Roscoe.  That is, until Catalina and her two children stumble into his life.  Making sure to get them away from her abusive, drug running captor, he loaded them up and drove them to Florida to meet up with her brother and close to where he and his brother had lived before they grew up and grew apart. 

Charles Martin has skillfully created such believable characters that you will find yourself totally immersed in the plot and all that takes place.  Without leaving your chair you will find yourself involved in the panic of flight, the angst of unrequited love, the unselfish sacrifice of a brother and the joy of rediscovering a lost love. 

This is a definite “must-read” for this summer and is guaranteed to keep you wondering until you turn 

Five of Five – Copyright 2018 – Thomas Nelson 

 

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forest of the Fae Book Three – By K. Kibbee 

This book came to me as an advanced reading copy from the publisher and because I love to read, I was excited when it arrived in the mail.  Then I realized it was “one of those books.”  You know, the kind I would never pick up on my own – one about goth, faeries, fantasy, changelings, etc.  I was also concerned that, because it was the third book in a series, I might not have a clue about what was going on. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Yes, this is a book about all of the above, however, it is also, on a much deeper level, about trying to figure out a mystery that was based on a secret code.  The main character, Anne along with her best friend Grace, who has been changed into a raven, is on a quest to solve the code so she can change Grace back to human form and rid the forest of all the faeries.  Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, and believe it or not, I found myself trying my best to solve the code too.   

I won’t even begin to let on how this book turns out for that would ruin all of the mystery and intrigue that Kibbee has created, but let me say it will take you on quite the adventure and make your summer reading most enjoyable.  Remember this too, don’t be afraid to try something new – you might discover you really like it – I know I did. 

Five of Five – Copyright 2017 – Incorgnito 

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