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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