REVIEW: THE GOOD SISTER, BY SALLY HEPWORTH


There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

 

The alternating narration of twins Rose and Fern hooked me from the very first page. It didn’t take long for me to love Fern and be suspicious of Rose. There was something so controlling and manipulative about Rose, and even though her diary entries seemed to point to a different kind of assessment of the two of them, I wasn’t buying it.

The Good Sister, in my opinion, was Fern all along.

As the story takes us through their daily lives, we are drawn in by how Rose manages to spin a tale that reels Fern in, allowing her to control what Fern does in her personal life, including her relationship with the interesting man Fern calls Wally.

Fern’s sensory issues, in which she misses social cues at times, makes her mistrust her own choices, especially when Rose is reinforcing this assessment all along.

By the end of the story, I was wanting to call out to Fern, telling her to only trust herself and Wally. A book that I could not put down, this story earned 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

***

REVIEW: THE SUMMER GIRLS, BY MARY ALICE MONROE

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With engaging prose that captured me from the opening lines, The Summer Girls (Lowcountry Summer Book 1) takes the reader on a voyage of discovery. A special wish and invitation from an aging grandmother brings three half-sisters to the lowcountry in South Carolina, and to a beach house that was a wonderful part of their childhoods.

Dora (Eudora), Carson, and Harper, all named after Southern authors by their wannabe-author-father, Parker, have been separated from one another by their life circumstances, and only brought together occasionally at Sea Breeze, their grandmother’s summer home.

Marietta Muir is an intriguing, eighty-year-old character who is used to getting what she wants. And what she especially wants is for her granddaughters, her only living heirs (her son died years before) to cement the bonds they once had together.

She lures them in with promises…and then divulges some secrets.

Carson’s life is in a shambles, her TV series canceled and her money gone. Dora’s husband Calhoun left her when he could no longer handle their autistic son. And Harper has been under her controlling mother’s thumb for too long.

Will the reunion summer on Sullivan’s Island be the answer for each of them? Will they find that special something that will turn their lives around? And how does the presence of a unique dolphin in the cove help Carson find the ability to connect?

A delightful beginning to a trilogy that I am looking forward to, this novel earned 5 stars.

REVIEW: THE NIGHTINGALE, BY KRISTIN HANNAH

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Our story begins in 1995, in Bend, Oregon, where an unnamed elderly woman is our first person narrator, describing moments from her past. Remembering the secrets she kept, some of them locked away in an old trunk. She is preparing to leave the house in which she has lived for many years, at her son’s urging. She is very ill and she is pondering whether or not she can share the truths of her life. One truth in the narrator’s voice: “In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

Seamlessly, the story sweeps between the past and the future, beginning in 1939, in France, with a war on the horizon, into moments in the mid-nineties, and finally, we realize just who that unnamed old lady is and what she has done to sacrifice for the cause. Halfway through the story, I thought I knew who the narrator was, so imagine my surprise at the end to discover I was wrong.

When Viann and her daughter Sophie are left behind after her husband Antoine goes off to war, and Isabelle leaves the village to return to Paris, wanting to do something to make a difference, none of them could even begin to imagine what lies ahead.

The Nightingale is the riveting story of the acts of courage that each of them will take and the unexpected events that will change them forever.

What does Isabelle do to make a difference? How will she move beyond the early activities as a courier for the Resistance to something so dramatic that nobody who knows her could imagine it? And in the face of the unspeakable acts she witnesses, what sacrifices will Viann make that she could not have imagined taking on?

Through the author’s talented prose, the reader is drawn into the emotional and physical lives of the characters, experiencing what they experience: feeling their pain, their loss, and their fear. The complexity of the sibling rivalries between the two sisters, whose mother had died early in their lives and whose father emotionally abandoned them, was vividly drawn. The feelings were evocative, leaving this reader fully engaged and eager to find out what would happen next. Definitely a five star read for me.

REVIEW: WHO ASKED YOU?, BY TERRY MCMILLAN

81yhWWgYv9L._SL1500_Three sisters with very different lives form the core of Who Asked You? Venetia, Arlene, and Betty Jean are each pursuing their own lives, but somehow manage to stay connected with one another. Until some issues divide them.

Narrated alternately between the sisters and a few other characters, we learn what it feels like to be struggling with racial issues, poverty, and the difficulties of raising children in LA in the Twenty-First Century.

Betty Jean has seen one child go to prison, another one lose herself to drugs, and another one who sets himself apart from the family, as if he is superior. When BJ ends up raising her two grandsons, her sisters and adult children have a thing or two to say about it.

Arlene has the most to say. Critical and judgmental, her behavior causes a rift between her and BJ. But her own son has some unexpected issues of his own.

Venetia is not as openly critical of BJ, but she still seems to feel superior. Until something happens in her own life to bring her down to earth.

These characters were so real and sometimes even funny. I enjoyed the dialogue and how the author painted a picture of their lives that I could relate to, even though my own life is different. It takes a unique talent to make the characters relatable to those who have not experienced the same things. A major theme was single mothers of all races and walks of life doing the best they can to achieve their dreams. And in the end, finding out how to fashion their own futures, even when most of their lives are behind them. Four stars.