Readers' Favorite

April 7, 2016

F is for Five Family Sagas To Read #AtoZChallenge

reviews by Susan Roberts

Every family has it - drama - and some of the very best stories and life lessons can be found in the midst of that drama. Whether it generations learning from one another, or a mother grieving, or any of the other trials life likes to throw at us, we embrace the characters and their struggles as if they are our own.

Check out these 5 stories of family that Susan recommends, including two that are coming out later this month.

Miller's Valley
Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

I have read all of Anna Quindlen's books and every time I read one, I say that its the best one yet. I think that this time....this book is the best one yet FOR SURE. From the first page, I was caught up in the coming of age story of Mimi. She lives on a farm in Miller's Valley with her two older brothers and parents. From the very first, we learn that the government plans to flood the valley for a recreation area and that plays a huge part in the story but the story is so much more than that. Its all about family dynamics - a brother in Vietnam, Mimi's first love, her plans for college, her friends and so much more. I loved the story but more than that I loved the main characters - they felt like people that I know in my day to day life - especially Mimi and her mother. During the book, I laughed with them and cried with them and now that the book is over, I miss them. This is a fantastic book - one that I won't soon forget. (I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review)

Buy Miller's Valley at Amazon

Dear Carolina
Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Dear Carolina is a love story of two mothers to their infant daughter. One mother is the biological mother, Jodi, who has made some bad decisions in her life and is poor in money but so rich in spirit and hope for the future. The other mother is the mother who adopts Carolina, Khaki. She is ambitious, nurturing, caring and loving. Both of the mothers love their daughter and Khaki realizes very early that 'you can never have too many people to love you'. I live in North Carolina and these characters are so well done that I feel like they are people that I know in my daily life. Jodi is a serious gardener and canner and Khaki is a designer who has great thoughts and a heart of gold. The characters proved that that families can be made by more than birth - they are formed by love and care and concern.  The book made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. These are characters and this is a book that I won't forget and I really look forward to Kristy Harvey's next book. I see great things ahead for her and for her readers.

Buy Dear Carolina at Amazon

Lies and Other Acts of Love
Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey

'The Lies that Matter Most are the Ones we Tell Ourselves'

Dear Carolina was one of my top 10 books of 2015 so I was very excited to get an arc of Kristy's Woodson Harvey's new book Lies and other Acts of Love. Even though it's very early in 2016, I already know that this book will be one of my top 10 books for 2016. It is a fantastic story full of wonderful Southern women. I live in North Carolina and I know these women - Kristy's characters are so real that they are just like the women that I interact with in my life.

Lies and Other Acts of Love is about family and love and the lies that we tell in our families - not big lies but the little white lies that hold our families together. The story is told by Lovey, the grandmother of the family who is dealing with the impaired health of her husband Dan and her grand-daughter Annabelle, who has just left her rich fiancĂ© to marry a musician she has only known for 3 days. Also part of the story are Lovey's five daughters but the story is told in alternating chapters by Lovey and Annabelle. As the story of Lovey's past and Annabelle's current life unfold, some family secrets are uncovered and Annabelle must decide how to deal with her newfound knowledge and how it will affect her family.

This is a novel full of wonderful characters, bits of wisdom from Lovey, laughs and a lot of tears. I have to admit that I cried several times during the book but at the end of the book, I was so happy that I got to know two wonderful characters who will stay in my mind long after the last page of the book. Thank you Kristy for creating such wonderful characters and a fantastic story. (The book was provided by the author for an unbiased review.)

Buy Lies and Other Acts of Love at Amazon

Scout's Honor
Scout's Honor by Dori Ann Dupré

Dori Ann Dupre has written a wonderful debut novel about a character named Scout - after the character in her mother's favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird. The book covers Scout's life with all of its joy and pain, mistakes and successes. She is a real multi-dimensional character and I found myself thinking about her even after the last page of the book was read. I didn't always agree with some of the decisions that she made in the novel but it all made sense within the context of the story, nothing was forced just to move the story along.

The novel begins when Scout is 14. She is a real tomboy, playing baseball with her best friend and looking forward to going back to camp where she can see the older camp counselor that she has had a crush on for years. She is a happy and carefree child. What happens at camp that summer, changes her and her outlook on life for years to come. This is the story of how one mistake can change our view of the world and most importantly  our attitude towards ourselves.   It's about the struggle to overcome that attitude of self-loathing and try to learn not only how to treat other people better but most importantly how to treat ourselves better.

I loved this novel and it was hard to believe that it was this author's first novel. I look forward to her next novels and predict some great books in the future from her. (I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.)

Buy Scout's Honor at Amazon

Center Ring
Center Ring by Nicole Waggoner

I have only one complaint about this book and its that I have to wait for book 2 and 3 in the trilogy! I got so involved in the lives of Norah, Ellie, Cami, Kate, and Leila while I read Center Ring that I want to spend more time with them NOW. But, I will try to be patient and give debut author Nicole Waggoner a little time (not too much though) to use her fantastic talent to continue their stories.

This is a novel about 5 women facing modern day problems. The chapters are told by alternating women but are woven together by their friendship. There was no confusion in keeping the women and their stories separate, their voices were so different and they were easily identified. They all faced problems that are being faced by young women today and they each have distinctive strengths and weaknesses but they are all bonded together by their friendship.

I can't wait for Book 2 to get back into their world! (I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

Buy Center Ring at Amazon

What are some your favorite family sagas?

Susan Roberts, Reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively and just returned from a month in Paris. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

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  1. Nice blog post. I love family sagas.

  2. More for my growing reading list!

  3. Great reviews! I'm signing onto Amazon now to buy these books. Looks like some great summer reading!

  4. I haven't heard of any of these. Looks like my TBR list just got longer.

  5. Thank you so, so much for the wonderful reviews of Lies and Other Acts of Love and Dear Carolina. It's so exciting to be a part of this wonderful list! xo Kristy

  6. I'm delighted I found your blog. I normally read thrillers and novels of suspense, but I also love to get deeply immersed in family drama. I suppose it's because I come from a large southern dysfunctional family and I can relate to the drama. My family is overly concerned with keeping up appearances and it's all about the image we portray so I am extremely drawn to Lies and Other Acts of Love. I also feel certain that I will love Center Ring even though I don't know much about it. I'm headed to Amazon to purchase at least those two, maybe more. Thank you for the reviews and for the introduction to authors I was not familiar with. It's nice connecting with you.

  7. I don't know any of these so I have some new titles to add to my wish list