This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Description

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

“If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love This Tender Land…This story is as big-hearted as they come.” —Parade

A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

I absolutely loved this tale of Odie and his friends as they tried to make a new life away from the orphanage that had mistreated them. It reminded me so much of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn! However, there is a lot of mistreatment in this story, and part of Odie’s journey is coming to terms with the cruelty and unfairness that they have been dealt in life. The ending came with a sense of redemption, and I once again was enthralled with William Kent Krueger’s beautiful writing. Highly recommended!

I would also recommend this novel for high school English classes – so much to talk about and think about in it!

Thank you for my ARC via Net Galley!

Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis

A few months ago, I received a copy of Lords of St. Thomas from the author, Jackson Ellis. This novel is the story of a family who is one of the remaining inhabitants of St. Thomas, Nevada, a town that is set to be demolished and go “underwater” with the expansion of Lake Mead. Henry, the main character, is a young boy, and we see his family and his daily life through a child’s eyes, whether he is playing under the house in his secret spot, going to school, or just riding the ups and downs of life.

Here’s the overview:

Winner of the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher First Novel PrizeShortlisted for the 2016 Plaza Literary Prize
In the Mojave Desert, at the southern end of the isolated Moapa Valley, sat the town of St. Thomas, Nevada. A small community that thrived despite scorching temperatures and scarce water, St. Thomas was home to hardy railroad workers, farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and a lone auto mechanic named Henry Lord.

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, “Little” Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more.

In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out the residents of St. Thomas, yet the hardheaded Henry Lord, believing the water would never reach his home, refused to sell. It was a mistake that would cost him―and his family―dearly.

Lords of St. Thomas details the tragedies and conflicts endured by a family fighting an unwinnable battle, and their hectic and terrifying escape from the flood waters that finally surge across the threshold of their front door. Surprisingly, it also shows that, sometimes, you can go home again, as Little Henry returns to St. Thomas 60 years later, after Lake Mead recedes, to retrieve a treasure he left behind―and to fulfill a promise he made as a child.

I will admit that I have a strange fascination for stories about towns underwater. I grew up near one and there’s one not far from where I live now. The whole idea of a town lying beneath the stillness of a lake is both terrifying and oddly compelling. So my odd predilection for books about flooded towns drew me to this novel, but the strong writing and storyline kept me reading. I really enjoyed it and still think about little Henry. I would recommend it highly.

Thank you for my review copy!

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

 

cover132721-medium.png

Description

A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more…

Philadelphia, 1931. A young, ambitious reporter named Ellis Reed photographs a pair of young siblings on the front porch of a farmhouse next to a sign: “2 children for sale.”

With the help of newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis writes an article to accompany the photo. Capturing the hardships of American families during the Great Depression, the feature story generates national attention and Ellis’s career skyrockets.

But the photograph also leads to consequences more devastating than ever imagined—and it will take jeopardizing everything Ellis and Lily value to unravel the mystery and set things right.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers throughout the country, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of ambition, redemption, love, and family.

 

I love Kristina McMorris’ writing, and was thrilled to receive this galley through Net Galley. I actually thought of the picture that this novel is based on as I’ve seen it, too, so I had the picture perfect (no pun intended) image in mind while reading. This is such a sad but moving story, reminding us that sometimes desperate people do desperate things. The main characters, Ellis and Lily, want to right the wrong that was done and put themselves on the line to do it.

I love a book that has self-forgiveness and redemption as a theme, and that ran throughout, culminating in a satisfying ending.

I follow Ms. McMorris on Facebook and she seems like a lovely and positive person. This is the second novel of hers that I’ve read – and it won’t be the last! Thank you for my e-copy!

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

cover135868-medium.png

If you read me, you know I adore the Royal Spyness books, with clumsy yet likable Georgie (34th in line to the throne) and her solving of mysteries that seem to find her wherever she goes. There’s a likable cast of characters throughout, including her stage actress and completely self-absorbed mother, her East London rough grandfather, her dashing beau Darcy (Irish and Catholic!), and her always bumbling maid, Queenie.

We’ve been waiting for books and books for Georgie and Darcy to get together and to marry. Will it finally finally happen??

Publishing today, this novel is a great addition to an already favorite series. You can read it alone or mix them up, but I like reading them as soon as they are published!

Thanks for my e-copy to review via Net Galley.

THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE by Melanie Benjamin

cover115885-medium.png

I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing, so I was excited to find this book on Net Galley. If you know me, you know I LOVE reading about the heyday of Hollywood. This novel is a fictionalized account based on the true story of the relationship between Frances Marion and Mary Pickford.  I didn’t know any of this and found it both interesting, and a bit sad. If you like reading about old Hollywood, you’ll enjoy this one!

Here’s the description:

Description

For My Ears: BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate – Read by Emily Rankin

51qUEEH95YL._AA300_

Wow! This story was recommended online in the blogisphere, and I thought I might enjoy it, but I was blown away by this story of a family torn apart and the young girl who tries to keep her siblings together against all odds.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

***************************************************

While these children weren’t real, this is based on true events, and you will be forever haunted at the shocking and terrible things that happened to poor families in the Depression and post-Depression era South. Normally I don’t like disturbing books centered on children, but this story was so compelling, and I loved the character of Rill so much, along with the fact that the present day protagonist was unraveling the mystery of the family tree, I just could not stop listening!

Beautifully narrated, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

I used my audible credit for this one.

Rhys Bowen’s On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

 

cover107461-medium.png

If you read me, you know I love ALL Rhys Bowen’s novels, but I particularly enjoy the Royal Spyness Mysteries with Lady Georgiana and her adventures that are both exciting and funny. I never find this series boring as each installment is unique and engaging.

Here’s what is happening this time:

Description (via Net Galley)

*************************************************
Poor Georgie! Will she ever be able to marry Darcy?? Will good friend Belinda ever think of anyone except herself and her enjoyment? Will Georgie’s mother act like a mother for once?
You’ll have to read it to find out!
I hope Ms. Bowen continues writing these novels for quite some time. She’s a bit of an Agatha Christie — you just never get tired of her!
Thank you for my review e-copy!