Book Reviews · Fiction · HistoricalFiction · WomensFiction

Book review: ‘Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters’ by Emily Carpenter (pub 10/20)

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Thank you @amazonpublishing #lakeunionpublishing for my gift copy of ‘Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters‘ by Emily Carpenter! (pub 10/20)

The bestselling author of ‘Burying the Honeysuckle Girls‘, ‘Every Single Secret‘, ‘The Weight of Lies‘ & ‘Until the Day I Die‘ returns to uncover a faith healer’s elusive & haunted past.

‘There are things known & unknown, & in between are the doors.“- Althea Cheramie, friend of Dove.

Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist & faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the 8 yrs since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation—& her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder.

Tuscaloosa, 1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And w/ an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made. 

Now: to protect her family, Eve will join forces w/ the investigative filmmaker & one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free or set her world on fire?

This book continues the story line from Carpenter’s debut novel, ‘Burying the Honeysuckle Girls‘, but it’s not really a sequel. I have not read that 2016 debut, but I really want to now. I never really felt lost while reading ‘Reviving…’ & it can definitely be read as a stand alone novel. The story draws you in from the very first pages & holds your attention w/ Carpenter’s masterful writing, taunt plotting, & compelling characters.

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters‘ is a beautiful blend of southern gothic, historical fiction, suspense/mystery & some magical realism. Told as Dove’s story from the past & Eve’s present day, this atmospheric, slow-burning mystery would make a fantastic addition to any readers fall tbr stack. I’m certainly going to read more of Emily’s other novels.

Click HERE to view more about this book.

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Click HERE to add ‘Reviving the Honeysuckle Girls’ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to visit Emily Carpenter’s website.

Emily Carpenter is the bestselling author of four thrillers: Until the Day I Die, Every Single SecretThe Weight of Lies, and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls. A graduate of Auburn University, Emily has worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for CBS television. Raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she moved to New York City before returning to the South, where she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her family. Visit Emily at http://www.emilycarpenterauthor.com.

Book Reviews · Fiction · Giveaway · HistoricalFiction

Giveaway Time! (2) AMAZING books by Tiffany McDaniel!

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Giveaway Time!! Thank you @aaknopf for my gifted copy of ‘Betty‘ by the talented Tiffany McDaniel! And Thank you to Tiffany for the paperback copy (not shown) for the giveaway! (pub 8/18)

“A girl comes of age against the knife.”

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father & white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty & violence–both from outside the family, & also, devastatingly, from within. The lush landscape, rich w/ birdsong, wild fruit, & blazing stars, becomes a kind of refuge for Betty, but when her family’s darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties & incredible characters she encounters in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.

But despite the hardship she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters, & her father’s brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, & in the face of all she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. She recounts the horrors of her family’s past & present w/ pen & paper & buries them deep in the dirt–moments that had stung her so deeply, she could not tell them, until now.

Inspired by the life of her own mother, Tiffany McDaniel sets out to free the past by telling this heartbreaking yet magical story–a remarkable novel that establishes her as one of the freshest & most important voices in American fiction.

I have only just begun reading ‘Betty‘ & it is what I expected it to be after having read Tiffany’s previous novel of literary fiction, ‘The Summer That Melted Everything‘. It’s absolutely stunning, profoundly moving, heart-wrenchingly raw, & w/ hauntingly poetic prose that builds an entirely authentic world w/in its pages that will utterly consume you.

I will post more about her previous novel soon, but in the meantime, who wants to win a copy of BOTH books? (**Please note: the following information is for FYI only. All entries must be made on Instagram on the giveaway post. Click HERE to go to @mom_loves_reading now)

To enter: (US only)

*Like this post (& maybe some other posts, too while you’re here)
*Must be following @mom_loves_reading & @aaknopf
*Tag a couple friends (Unlimited entries, up to 5 tags per comment)

Bonus entries (5 ea):
*Share post in your feed or stories & tag me. (can be done daily)
*Follow me & share on FB (Mom_Loves_Reading)
*Follow me & retweet on Twitter (momlovesreading)
*Follow my blog (link in bio) & comment on the giveaway post.

US residents only. Giveaway begins 8/21 & ends 8/25 at 11:59pm EST. One winner will get a paperback copy of The Summer That Melted Everything from me (courtesy of Ms McDaniels) & a hardback copy of Betty from Knopf. Giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram. Following then UNfollowing MomLovesReading will get you banned from all future MLR giveaways, & there are a LOT! Giveaway entries on Instagram post only.

The Summer That Melted Everything: (2016, St Martins Press)

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984:
the year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio.
The year he became friends with the devil.

When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expected that he would turn up. They especially didn’t expect him to turn up a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy.

Fielding, the son of Autopsy, finds the boy outside the courthouse and brings him home, and he is welcomed into the Bliss family. The Blisses believe the boy, who calls himself Sal, is a runaway from a nearby farm town. Then, as a series of strange incidents implicate Sal — and riled by the feverish heatwave baking the town from the inside out — there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to be.

But whether he’s a traumatised child or the devil incarnate, Sal is certainly one strange fruit: he talks in riddles, his uncanny knowledge and understanding reaches far outside the realm of a normal child — and ultimately his eerily affecting stories of Heaven, Hell, and earth will mesmerise and enflame the entire town.

Devastatingly beautiful, The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating story about community, redemption, and the dark places where evil really lies.

Click HERE to add ‘Betty’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to add “The Summer that Melted Everything’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to visit Tiffany McDaniel’s website.
Click HERE to go to the book giveaway on Instagram.

Tiffany McDaniel is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything and BETTY.
http://www.tiffanymcdaniel.com

Book Reviews · Fiction · HistoricalFiction

Book Review: ‘Etiquette for Runaways’ by Liza Nash Taylor

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Thank you @blackstonepublishing for my gifted copy of ‘Etiquette for Runaways‘ by debut novelist, Liza Nash Taylor! (pub date 8/18)

A sweeping Jazz Age tale of regret, ambition, & redemption inspired by true events, including the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935 & Josephine Baker’s 1925 Paris debut in Le Revue Nègre.

1924. May Marshall is determined to spend the dog days of summer in self-imposed exile at her father’s farm in Keswick, Virginia. Following a naive dalliance that led to heartbreak & her expulsion from Mary Baldwin College, May returns home with a shameful secret only to find her father’s orchard is now the site of a lucrative moonshining enterprise. Despite warnings from the one man she trusts — her childhood friend Byrd — she joins her father’s illegal business. When authorities close in & her father, Henry, is arrested, May goes on the run.

May arrives in New York City, determined to reinvent herself as May Valentine and succeed on her own terms, following in her mother’s footsteps as a costume designer. The Jazz Age city glitters with both opportunity and the darker temptations of cocaine and nightlife. From a start mending sheets at the famed Biltmore Hotel, May falls into a position designing costumes for a newly formed troupe of African American entertainers bound for Paris. Reveling in her good fortune, May will do anything for the chance to go abroad, and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. When Byrd shows up in New York, intent upon taking May back home, she pushes him, and her past, away.

In Paris, May’s run of luck comes to a screeching halt, spiraling her into darkness as she unravels a painful secret about her past. May must make a choice: surrender to failure and addiction, or face the truth and make amends to those she has wronged. But first, she must find self-forgiveness before she can try to reclaim what her heart craves most.

Etiquette for Runaways‘ is a coming of age story written through evocatively beautiful prose. With atmospherically vivid details, you will feel transported back to the dazzling, glamorously gilded Jazz age as you follow along w/ the complex & ambitious, May Marshall. May’s trials & tribulations are often intimately heartbreaking as she struggles w/ her tormenting past, secrets, temptation, addiction, & confronting her demons while pursuing her dreams & blooming into the heroine she knows herself to be.
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I felt a female ‘Great Gatsby’ vibe while reading this magnificent, well-researched, & captivating story that is pure gold for readers of literary art & lovers of historical fiction. A magnificent debut novel!

Click HERE to add ‘Etiquette for Runaways’ to your Goodreads TBR.
Click HERE to visit Liz Nash Taylor’s website.
Click HERE to pre-order your copy on Amazon.
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The farmhouse where Liza Nash Taylor lives in Keswick, Virginia, with her family & dogs was built in 1825, and it is the opening setting of Etiquette for Runaways. She writes in the old bunkhouse, with the occasional black snake & a view of the Southwest Mountains. In 2018, Liza completed the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Art & was named a Hawthornden International Fellow.
She was the 2016 winner of the San Miguel Writer’s Conference Fiction Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Microchondria II, (an anthology by the Harvard Bookstore), Gargoyle Magazine, & others.
‘Etiquette for Runaways’ is her first novel. Look for her second, a stand-alone sequel, in 2021, also from Blackstone Publishing.

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “Pale” by Edward A Farmer (pub 5/19)

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Thank you @blackstonepublishing (partner) for my gifted copy of “Pale“, the impressive debut novel by Edward A Farmer! (pub date 5/19).

Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”

The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family & she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.

The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest & the appearance of Jesse & Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed & destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.

Bernice walks the fine line between emissary & accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, & no one will come out unscathed.

With a dazzling voice & rich emotional tension, “Pale” explores the ties that bind & how quickly humanity can fade & return us to primal ways.

Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. “Pale” slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way.

Pale” is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut! “Pale” is available now, so add it to your TBR list & get it from your local indie bookseller today! Use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local or online independent bookstore. Click HERE to get started. You can also click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list.

What others are saying about “Pale“:

”More than once I had to remind myself to take a deep breathe while reading Pale. It’s a slow walk through a poetic dream, or rather an inescapable nightmare. Edward Farmer deftly portrays characters that are trapped by choices other people made long ago. A beautiful exploration of the tension between choices and circumstances. The evil of intergenerational racism is revealed by the preference to live in a quicksand of hatred, to choose slow vengeance over breaking free.” —Laila Ibrahim, bestselling author of Yellow Crocus

”Edward A. Farmer’s novel, Pale, takes readers on a twisting, turning journey of unexpected passions, forbidden love, and practiced cruelty. His sumptuous prose creates an operatic vision of life on a cotton plantation in 1960s Mississippi, a world on the cusp of great change that many of its characters resist with all their power. Farmer’s debut marks the emergence of an exciting new voice in American fiction.” —May-lee Chai, author of Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories and Dragon Chica

”Edward Farmer’s powerful debut, Pale, lures you in with its atmospheric prose, grabbing hold gently and then slowly tightening its emotional grip with each page. His main character, Bernice, must navigate Mississippi plantation life circa 1966 with its deeply embedded racism and well-established patriarchy, as well as the complex tensions between both Mr. and Mrs. Kerns and their servants. It’s a beautifully wrought novel, with each character sensitively drawn, exposing the lasting effects of trauma. Farmer is a writer to watch!” —John Copenhaver, author of the Macavity Award-winning Dodging and Burning

”Edward A. Farmer’s Pale is a novel that surges full force into the power of language. The music of the words builds and builds, rendering tension as thick as the humid Mississippi air. The characters overflow with this music, driven by intense passions, often to the point of madness. They try to make melody of circumstance and loss, but instead find only dissonance. Farmer orchestrates this story with the genius of a maestro, only releasing the reader through a deft and lovely resolution in the novel’s final pages. A striking debut by an author to watch.” —Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity and Gravity Changes

”Farmer’s debut captures the delicate and dangerous lose-lose reality of a person in Bernice’s position … Farmer opens with cotton imagery and returns to it throughout, disallowing any visions of beautiful, puffy whiteness … The story’s rewards and Bernice’s experience are important.” —Booklist

Edward A. Farmer is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, where he journaled and cultivated stories his entire childhood. He is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in English and psychology, and recipient of the MacArthur-Leithauser Travel Award for creative writing. He currently lives and writes in Pasadena, California. Pale is his first novel.

Book Reviews · LibroFm

Book Review: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

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Thank you @stmartinspress @librofm & @macmillan.audio for my gifted physical & audio copies of “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner! (pub date 5/26)

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable..One hundred & fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives & their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home & her legacy.

These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, & a movie star, among others—could not be more different & yet they are united in their love for the works & words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss & trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful & moving novel that explores the tragedies & triumphs of life, both large & small, & the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s “The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

Initially I started reading the physical copy of this book, & although it is well-written & quite interesting, historical fiction isn’t quite in my wheelhouse. But I am trying to branch out. (Baby steps!) Plus, I am super busy and on the go, so I need a book that can be on the go with me. Thankfully I am a fan of audiobooks, & I found that I was more able to connect with the characters & the storyline by listening to it. The narrator did a fantastic job of bringing all of the very charming characters to life. It did take me a a bit to keep track of everyone, but once I got hold of who was who, the story really took off for me.

The Jane Austen Society” is a tip of the literary hat to Miss Austen & her iconic novels & Jenner has sprinkled quotes from those novels throughout this book. This book got me wanting to re-read some of Austen’s novels I read way back when. This was such a lovely, heartfelt, nuanced, uplifting story that many people have said gives them “Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” vibes. This story touches on family, love, loss, second chances, friendship, the importance of literature & so much more. A very impressive debut novel! Highly recommend!

To buy it on audiobook, I encourage you to use Libro.fm. They support independent bookstores with their audiobook sales, unlike other audiobook apps. Independent bookstores need our sales now more than ever, whether it be with physical books or audiobook sales. Click HERE or use use my referral code MOMLOVESREADING to get a 3-for-1 audiobook deal when you start a Libro.fm account & subscription. You can cancel anytime, so there is no long term commitment.

Those of you that entered my big thriller giveaway on Instagram (the post is HERE), stay tuned for the winner announcement in the next 24 hrs or so. I have to go through all the entries still & everyone’s bonus entries & of course make sure all the entry criteria was met. Another giveaway will be coming soon! Hope everyone has had a wonderful week so far! They seem to be going by so quickly for me these days…