Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Not Her Daughter - Review



Idgie Says:
This is a gripping novel involving an abusive mother who dislikes her child versus a lonely woman with unending love to share with a child.  It's less than realistic on several levels, mainly in the ease and comfort Sarah and Emma go on the run, hiding from Emma's parents and the police, but if you can forget reality, it does keep you invested in the story the whole way through.  

Both of the woman are living loosely in reality, but while Sarah is likable, Amy remains disgusting and loathsome the entire book with not one shred of redeeming quality.

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Follow this link for an online Q & A with the author.


St. Martin's Griffin (August 21, 2018)


Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rea Frey is an award-winning author of four nonfiction books. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel. Read more at reafrey.com.


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reafrey/

Rush - Spotlight, Excerpt and Note from Author

Idgie Says:
Described to me as a cross between a Mary Kay Andrews novel and The Help.  That's fairly apt.  Many overly entitled characters that you cannot help but dislike, with an underdog character you root for, along with loving "House Mom".   Good escapist read for the end of Summer.

Rush
Lisa Patton
St. Martin's Press
August 21, 2018

Click HERE to read an excerpt

Set in modern day Oxford, Mississippi, on the Ole Miss campus, bestselling author Lisa Patton’s RUSH is a story about women―from both ends of the social ladder―discovering their voices and their empowerment.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali's chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she's hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it's all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid―no matter what.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl―as her “babies” like to call her―has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta―and maybe the entire Greek system―forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

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A Note from the Author…           
Some of the best days of my life were spent at my sorority house at the University of Alabama. I formed sincere friendships that will last for the rest of my life. Although I don’t see my sorority sisters as often as I wish, when I do spend time with them it seems only weeks have passed. Not decades. We pick right up where we left off. Well, maybe not with our famed college antics, but certainly with love and camaraderie. Our bonds are special and I treasure our time together.
               When I attended college back in the late 70s, my sorority sisters and I dearly loved the ladies on our House staff. I well remember mornings before class, poking my head in the kitchen, and reeling off a special order to one of the cooks. My requests were always met with a: “Coming right up, baby. How you doing this morning?” A weeknight or a Sunday lunch didn’t go by without all 150 of us sitting down together—in our Sunday best, mind you—to enjoy a home cooked meal made and served by the ladies in our kitchen. Our favorite dinner was fried chicken (the best you’ve ever tasted) with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. Zebra pudding was our favorite dessert: thin chocolate wafers stuffed with real, hand whipped, sweet cream. Our rooms and bathrooms were cleaned for us daily. I remember feeling jealous of my friends in another sorority who had a housekeeper they all considered a second mother who gave sage advice about whatever trouble they had gotten themselves into or any issues they were facing.
               As a college student it never once crossed my mind, and I’m betting it never crossed the minds of other sorority girls, to ask if these women had healthcare or retirement benefits. After all, House business was none of ours. We were students. It was only thirty-five years later, while attending the dedication of our brand new sorority house that the thought actually occurred to me. (Rush is a phenomenon in the South and pledge classes have grown exponentially. All the old Alabama sorority houses have been torn down and 40,000 square foot, multi-million dollar mansions have taken their places. In 2016 each of the eighteen Alabama sororities extended bids to approximately 155 girls.)
               The ribbon cutting was held during the Alabama UT football game weekend and I had met my college roommate in Tuscaloosa. When we walked inside the House our jaws dropped—the marbled entryway, the grand staircase, the exquisite d├ęcor—it was extraordinary.
               Later in the day, a housekeeper pushing her dust mop down the long hallway lined with composites caught my eye, and the longer I watched her I noticed several actives and alums stopping to give her hugs. When I overheard girls telling her they loved her I became intrigued so I moseyed over and introduced myself. We spent a great deal of time talking about how much she loved working at the sorority house. One conversation dissolved into another and when she took me by the hand, leading me to the past year’s composite with tears rolling down her face, naturally I became concerned. Her beloved friend, the head cook, had recently passed away from cancer, and the active members had included her picture on the composite to honor her memory and her 27-year-legacy. Wiping the tears away with the back of her hand, the housekeeper explained the cook had not had proper healthcare. When I pushed her for more details she reluctantly admitted the cook had no health insurance. None of them did.
               Once I got home I kept thinking about her story. It grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. After a few phone calls, and quite a bit of research, I learned this was not only true at my sorority house, but the majority of sorority and fraternity houses on campus. And not just at Alabama, but all over the South and possibly the country. A very few houses in the SEC, I learned, do provide health insurance, but, like many jobs, the staff is required to pay a percentage of the premium, which often precludes them from participating. (In some cases the house directors are provided health and dental insurance by the sororities or fraternities. The University of Alabama, in particular, has begun hiring house directors as state employees to extend health and dental insurance benefits.)
               Many of these men and women have worked in these opulent environments for decades for minimal compensation and have to work two jobs to make a living wage. I researched how much it would cost to provide not just health insurance for everyone on the staff, but a full gamut of benefits and was surprised to learn how little it would take. Most SEC sororities have active memberships ranging between 250 and 550 girls, with fees as high as $7600 per semester for girls living in and eating their meals at the House. If each active member paid an additional small amount, in many cases as low as fifteen dollars per month, depending on the number of active members and staff members, the house staff could be given a full benefits package. It is my earnest belief that the reason this isn’t done today is due to an oversight and it is not intentional. Often times things continue simply because of the way they have always been done in the past. Perhaps this practice will have changed by the release of this book.
               As a lifelong southerner and a child of the sixties and seventies in Memphis, Tennessee, I grew up in a prejudiced environment. As shameful as it is for me to admit, I spent time in my younger years with the notion that I was somehow better because of my skin color, my religion and my socioeconomic status. When I look back on my thoughtlessness now, I am filled with sorrow and deep regret. Another hard thing to concede is that my father was a blatant racist. Ironically, like most affluent families in the South, he employed African American women to care for his children and my sisters and I fell in love with these ladies like they were our second mothers. We loved them through life and grieved deeply when they passed away as they had left indelible imprints on our hearts. They taught us life skills and life lessons and most admirably: we never once heard them complain about their situations.
               Has an African American lady ever been housemother of a white sorority house? I was in the bathtub one morning—my favorite place to ponder—when that thought crossed my mind. I had heard of rare occasions when black housekeepers filled in for vacationing white house directors but had no idea if a black lady had ever been given the fulltime job. To satisfy my curiosity a friend introduced me to a former beloved housekeeper at an SEC sorority house who had substituted for her boss on several occasions. This lady gave me countless hours of her time to answer my question and many others. Although she was working on her Bachelor’s degree at the time, she never considered applying for a fulltime house director position at any sorority house on campus. On the days she filled in, rumblings from parents let her know she’d never get the job. To my knowledge, there are no African American house directors of National Panhellenic Sororities anywhere in the SEC. Perhaps this, too, will change in the near future.
               Like most good southern stories I needed a devil, in this case a she-devil, so I created Lilith. She is not based on anyone I know. She is simply a figment of my imagination. Yet, sadly, I’ve met people just like her. My intention was definitely not to single out House Corporation Board Presidents who give graciously of their time and money to their home sororities, but someone had to be the story villain. I took liberty when describing Lilith’s duties as Board President. It is not one alum, but an entire board making all manners of House decisions.
               Why Ole Miss? Why not set my book at Alabama? The simple answer is that everyone loves Ole Miss and Oxford, Mississippi provided a more charming and colorful backdrop for the story. But, no matter the location, it is the same story most everywhere. I spoke with housemothers at several SEC sororities and fraternities, alumnae board members, fraternity members, active sorority sisters and alumnae sorority sisters. I interviewed both past and present staff members. Some people I interviewed asked to remain anonymous. Many were eager for change. I interviewed Charlotte Sands-Malus of Greek House Resource, an esteemed organization that matches house directors with sorority houses all over the country. She remembers only placing two African American House Directors in her nineteen year career.
               This book took me much longer than my others. Resistance threw every fiery dart in his arsenal my way, trying his best to thwart my progress. I got sick. I couldn’t sleep. There were family issues and significant, yet positive, changes to my author team. My computer died, twice. I dropped my phone in the toilet—thrice. I even quit several times, threatening to buy back my contract and hang up my career as an author. But all the while I felt God tugging at my heartstrings, pushing me toward the finish line.
               Like all novelists, I asked myself the ever-important question: what if? What if the staff’s story had a different ending? What if things really could change? What if a black lady became the house director of a white sorority house? (The Nashville Junior League just elected its first black president.) What if every sorority girl or fraternity guy pitched in a little more per month so health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance and retirement benefits could be available for each staff member? Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do? Wouldn’t all of their lives be changed forever? It seemed not only possible, but entirely doable. There is an old saying: “The shortest distance between the human heart and truth is a story,” so I closed my eyes and imagined one where racial equality is the norm, not the exception. I dreamed of a story where the men and women who work for sorority and fraternity houses had a better ending. After my eyes were opened I knew I had no other choice.
           





 



Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Liar's Room - Review

This book will be published in the UK only  August 2nd, 2018 by Viking UK.. BUT... you can order yourself a copy via BookDepository.com, which ships UK books to the US for FREE.  Unfortunately, will have to buy a physical copy instead of an eBook (if that's your preferred reading method) but it will be worth it!

If you belong to NetGalley, you can read an excerpt HERE.

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Idgie Says: 
This book grips from Page 1.  Susanna has a big secret.  She's in hiding.  Something happened regarding her son.  A boy shows up as a new patient.  She feels she knows him from somewhere.  Where do all these statements lead to?

But the story does not stand up and wave in your face.  The facts slowly come to light, chapter after chapter.  Little secrets let out here and there as the pages unfold.  Then you get to the grit of the story and BAM!  

Susanna and Adam both hold dark secrets that draw them into a very tense "relationship".   What happens when those secrets see the light of day? The question is who will come out unscathed.... or will anyone make it at all?

A great read that keeps you tearing through the pages to get to the next secret. 

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THE NEXT SPINE-TINGLING THRILLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE HOUSE

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She's never met this young man before - so why does she feel like she knows him?

Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt. And that's when Susanna realises she was wrong.

She doesn't know him.

He knows her.

And the girl he plans to hurt is her daughter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Our House - Review

A novel filled with suspense and secrets. Fi and Bram split up after numerous affairs, but keep the house so that the children always have a home. They decide to split homesharing. But Fi shows up one day only to find all of her furniture gone and a new couple moving in, claiming they bought the house. This starts a suspenseful ride of "who/what/why". Has Bram run away? Did he kill himself? How did he manage to sell the house without Fi knowing about it? Does Fi have a few secrets Bram didn't know?

The story goes back and forth between Bram's letters, Fi's on air telling of what happened and real time events. A nice mystery to keep you tearing through the pages until you find out what happened and who is at fault.


Our House
Pub Date

Description