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January 5, 2017

4 Books about Family

by Susan Roberts

Families come in all sizes and shapes, some are traditional families and others are single parent families.  Some families work well together and some are so dysfunctional that it's amazing that they stay together.  Whatever type of family an author writes about, it is held together by love and respect for each other or broken apart by the lack of these traits.  Today, I have reviews of 4 different types of families - all very different from each other.  What do you think makes up a good family??

cover This was Not the Plan
October 2016; Touchstone; 978-1501103766;
ebook & print (368 pages); humor;
a free book was provided for this review
This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger

Charlie's life isn't going as he'd planned -and he was a planner and a person who expected himself to excel at everything. At the beginning of the novel, Charlie's life is in crisis - his sister who had taken care of his 5-year-old son for the two years after his wife died in a plane accident, needs some vacation. Charlie has barely had time to spend with his son because he works 70+ hours a week at his law firm. After being fired from his job when he made some remarks in front of partners of the firm, Charlie doesn't know how to live his life. He misses his wife and doesn't know how to live without the stress of his job and definitely doesn't know how to be a father to Caleb. The novel is about how Charlie - with lots of mistakes along the way - learns how to become a better father and how to relax and enjoy life.

I really enjoyed this book - it was a fun, light read. My favorite character was Caleb. At five years old, he has lost his mom and is obsessed with natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes) and is just a quirky young kid. His style of dress makes his dad nervous because Caleb loves to wear tiaras, tutus, and bright colored clothes. The other main characters - Charlie and Zadie,   were great but Caleb was the star of the book.

I plan to order Cristina's first book- The Darlings - because I enjoyed this one so much.

cover The Education of Dixie Dupree
October 2016; Kensington; 978-1496705518;
ebook & print (352 pages); thriller
a free book was provided for this review
The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart

(This book was provided by Edelweiss)
In Donna Everhart's debut novel, we meet 11-year-old Dixie Dupree in 1969. Dixie lives in Alabama with her parents and her older brother. Her home life is very unstable - her dad drinks too much and her mom is very unhappy in Alabama and longs to return to her home in New Hampshire. In order to try to make sense of her life, Dixie keeps a diary and it becomes the only place that she can share her deepest thoughts and questions about her life and her family without worrying about her mother's anger and punishment. She also copes with her life by telling lies and her family has learned not to believe much that she tells them. So when a situation occurs that really needs to be shared with her mother, she keeps it to herself because she knows that no one will believe her.

This novel covers several very difficult subjects to read about but they are subjects that need to be addressed and discussed.

This in a remarkable book told by an 11-year-old girl who is trying to figure out her family and her life. Dixie is a character that I won't forget.

cover Her name is Rose
July 2016; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250092311;
ebook & print (304 pages); women's fiction
Her Name Is Rose by Christine Breen

This is a debut novel for Christine Breen and based on the novel, I predict more great books from her in the future. She's not Maeve Binchy yet (as advertised) but has the potential to get to that level.

Iris is a gardener and blogger in Ireland and has been a widow since her husband Luke died several years earlier from cancer. Their adopted daughter Rose is 29 and studying at a prestigious music institute in London. As the novel begins, Iris receives a bad report on a mammogram and because she is worried about a possible cancer diagnosis, she decides to try to find Rose's birth mother as Luke had requested on his deathbed. Her search takes her to Boston where she meets several interesting people. Rose, in London, is faced with many problems and decides to go home, unaware of her mother's search for her birth mother.

This is a novel about family and motherhood and adoption. Iris really sums up her feelings about her life "Rose is my life work. I can't leave unfinished." It's also about starting to live again after a spouse dies. I thought that the author handled these issues very well and I definitely enjoyed this book and the main characters. I would love to read a sequel to this story.

cover Boots and Bedlam
October 2016; Leisure Time Books; 978-0986167287;
ebook & print (166 pages); women's fiction
a free book was provided for this review
Boots and Bedlam (Sweeney Sisters #3) by Ashley Farley

This is book 3 of the Sweeney sisters series but can be read as a stand alone without confusion. If you haven't read the first two books, you will want yo read them soon to learn more about this delightful family.

Samantha (Sam) and Eli want a Christmas Eve wedding but can they arrange it in only 4 weeks? To say that they have obstacles to their wedding is putting it mildly. Finding a church, a pastor and a place for the reception are difficult enough but they are also buying a new house and need to move by year end. Add to that a very unexpected and difficult house guest, the Christmas rush at Sam's job and issues with her son and the wedding begins to look like it isn't going to happen.

I loved the Sweeney sisters and I loved reading Sam's story. The good news is that the next book in the series will be published in January so readers don't have to wait too long to read more about the Sweeny family.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  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. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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