Echoes of Family (by Barbara Claypole White) … the realities of mental illness and the lives that are affected

What an excellent look at the authenticity of mental illness and the effect it has on the lives of those who are related/connected to those diagnosed with the illness. This particular book dealt with Bipolar Disorder.

The author does a wonderful job of bringing you into the lives of Marianne, Gabriel, Darius, and Jade. You are pulled into the drama, trauma, mystery surrounding Marianne and Gabriel’s past (just exactly what isn’t being shared), and their relationship with each other and others in a small town in England. Lots of dynamics to their lives. And while some things are just the normal day-to-day part of living, eating breakfast, Gabriel going about his work as a vicar, participating in community events, there are so many other aspects to their lives. For there to be so many mundane activities, it amazing to see how quickly the facets of Bipolar Disorder can suddenly change things.

I am impressed with Barbara Claypole White’s ability to weave a story of such a difficult topic but manage to be nestled within a tale of people who could be your family member, a neighbor, a coworker…someone you could know and care about deeply.

With lots of secrets being kept, can they survive the unveiling? Or could one shared secret be the undoing of them all? This book is a witty, wry, heartwrenching, uplifting, anxious, tragic voice of the reality of Bipolar Disorder.

I would like to thank the author, Barbara Claypole White, for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am looking forward to reading more books by Ms. White! They are already purchased…just standing on my bookshelf (or on my kindle) waiting for me to delve deep into her amazing gift of word.


The Rumor (by Elin Hilderbrand) … a comedy of errors with lots of sex

This was just an okay book. I was a little put off by all of the sexual affairs…extramarital or not. The theme of rumors and gossips was understandable. And how some people thrive on being in the middle of the knowledge of something inappropriate going on in another person’s life was pretty much factual.

There were some interesting characters and lots of conflict. The dynamics of the various relationships was constantly churning up more angst. At times it felt that if you were watching a movie about the book, it would be a farce…where one character slips out a door just as one, who shouldn’t see the person who just left, would walk in the door. It was almost a comedy of errors.

The Memory Box (by Eva Lesko Natiello) … I wish I had no memory of trying to read this book

I just did not like this book. It had such promise, but I felt like I was suffering from a mental illness trying to make heads or tails out of the story. And, unfortunately, I read two books back-to-back about loss of memory. The first book held me on the edge of my seat, so that may have negatively impacted my opinion of The Memory Box.

I think the author has potential, but maybe with some guidance and a better editor, she can produce a book that will have the reader wanting to keep turning the page to get to the jaw dropping moment.

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in order for my honest review. I’m really sorry it is not more positive.

The Land of Mango Sunsets (by Dorothea Benton Frank) … our relationships and the need to change them

This was a quick “read”/listen book. I enjoy Dorothea Benton Frank books about Sullivan’s Island. This one didn’t keep my attention as much as some of her other books, but it was still good. The family relationship dynamics was interesting. And Miriam is a spunky gal and the gentleman, Kevin, who rents a room in her house from her, is truly a good friend.

I think this book does a great job of encouraging us to take a look at our relationships and evaluate how they can be improved. If you take nothing else away but this from the book, then I feel the author has accomplished something wonderful.

Will definitely continue reading more Dot Frank books in the days, weeks, months, years to come!

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard) … the story of the Kennedy’s accomplishments, indiscretions, and foibles

I enjoyed this second “killing” series book by Bill O’Reilly. And the fact that the author is the narrator, adds another level of enjoyment. His voice is a perfect addition to the contents of the book.

This is a wonderful review of the life of John F. Kennedy…all of his wonderful accomplishments, his indiscretions, and his foibles. While I was only three years old when JFK was murdered, I grew up hearing lots of stories about his presidency and the assassination. But this book brings to light some details in both the years before Kennedy becomes president and then after he wins the privilege of being the leader of the United States.

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard have written a wonderful story of the “end of Camelot.” I am looking forward to listening to another audio book in the “killing” series.

The Perfect Family (by Samantha King) … a psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat!

Wow! This was an edge-of-your-seat read. The reader is immediately drawn into the lives of Maddie and Dom Castle. Their whirlwind relationship takes off and you are prepared to read about a happy family with twins…a boy and a girl. But, things aren’t always as they seem.

Suddenly you’re discovering some difficulties in Maddie and Dom’s relationship. And Maddie has made a decision that completely changes everything in their lives. But this isn’t the end of the trauma! You continue to be sucked into the story of Maddie and her awakening to her horrible things have become.

And just when you think that things are looking up, you are once again such into the vortex that is Maddie’s reality.

This book is a wonderful psychological thriller. The author has done a wonderful job of investing the reader into the Maddie. You will waffle back and forth between being shocked at the words she actually said aloud…or she thinks she said aloud…and sympathy at all Maddie has and will endure.

I am looking forward to additional books by this author. She rocked it with her debut novel!

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Secrets over Sweet Tea (by Denise Hildreth Jones) … a story of redemption, love, betrayal, forgiveness, and God’s amazing grace

I LOVED this book! It was so good, that I bought every fiction book Denise Hildreth Jones has written.

The characters are a hoot! Scarlett Jo Newberry is such a delight! She is truly bigger than life. I want a Scarlett Jo in my life to love me, challenge me, care about me, and to call me out if I need to “check myself before I wreck myself.”

The dynamics of the characters keeps you wondering what will happen next. This is not a totally feel good book. There are lots of issues going on within the chapters, but the end result involves love and support from friends and neighbors and God’s amazing grace!

I can’t wait to bury myself in the next book by this amazing author! There were moments I was engaged in the story and then I would gasp out loud at what happens. She had me laughing and crying at the same time. I can’t recommend it enough if you are interested in Christian fiction and love dynamic characters that are imperfect but continue to take one step forward and willing to be all God wants them to become.