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January 24, 2021

3 Books From 2020 That You Might Have Missed

by Susan Roberts

I always enjoy women's fiction and here are reviews of three books that I read in 2020.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Snow in Summer by Laura Kemp

Snow in Summer
Nov 2020; Pandamoon Publishing; 78-1950627349
ebook, print (262 pages); urban fantasy
Snow in Summer
 is book two in the Yellow Wood series and Laura Kemp has given her readers another exciting look at the characters from Book 1 as they fight against the evil that they thought had been destroyed a year earlier.  It's a real page turner and a moody story set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which has an atmosphere of its own.  

Justine thought that she had defeated her family's mortal enemy the year before.  She wants to have a quiet life in the woods with her boyfriend and live happily ever after.  However, things begin to happen that point to another round of problems.  Her non-verbal brother starts mentally communicating with her and she begins to have visions similar to what happened to her earlier.  Her boyfriend tries to keep her safe but she knows that she has to face her enemy to protect her family no matter how dangerous it is for her.

I usually don't read paranormal fiction but Laura Kemp has changed my mind - this is an exciting page-turning book that will keep your heart pounding until the end!

Buy Snow in Summer at Amazon

Note:  This is book two in the Yellow Wood Series.  My review of book one Evening in the Yellow Wood is here. The ebook is free to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Hinterland by L.M. Brown

October 2020; Fomite; 978-1947917583
ebook, print (338 pages); literary fiction
"Apart from funerals, Nicholas hadn't been inside a church in years, yet he made the sign of the cross whenever he passed St. Joseph's, and thought of his daughter.  He'd never considered the world such a scary place until Kate was born.  It was shocking how much a person could worry.  To leave her every night to drive a taxi was terrible."
(p 1)

Hinterland is a beautifully well-written story about a family torn apart by mental illness.  The novel covers ten years in the life of the family that changes drastically over time.

Nicholas lives in the house he grew up in located in Boston.  He lives with his partner Kathleen and their 5-year-old daughter Kate.  He worries incessantly about his daughter when he leaves every evening to drive a taxi.  Kathleen has had several hospitalizations due to issues with her schizophrenia.  Kate has learned to take care of herself and not cause any problems around her mother.  Two life-altering changes occur about the same time - Kathleen quits taking her meds and a catastrophe happens that affects their daughter.  Plus Nicholas's former girl friend moves back in next door.  These two occurrences change the path that Nicholas and Kate are on.  Nicholas doesn't want to tell Kate that her mother is in a mental hospital and the secret continues to drive them apart as she becomes a teenager and makes some bad decisions that cause her to run away.  Nicholas finally realizes that he has to share the truth of what happened with his daughter as well as face his own truths about himself.

The main characters, Nicholas, Kate, and Ina are all very complex and are all sad over events in their lives.  I found the sadness overwhelming at times and longed for the three of them to find some happiness in their lives and each other.   Overall, this novel is a look at life with someone with mental illness and how it affects everyone around them.

Buy Hinterland at Amazon 

Waltz in Swing Time by Jill Caugherty

Waltz in Swing Time
April 2020; Black Rose Writing; 978-1684334780
ebook, print (299 pages); women's fiction
"At the Manor we're tucked out of the way, so our kin can persuade themselves we're living our last years in an adult amusement park with nourishing meals, daily entertainment and nurses who might otherwise be mistaken for well-heeled wait staff. A parody of a fairytale in which no one acknowledges the dragon at the end.
"  (p 2)

I fell in love with the main character of this novel on page 1.  She reminded me a bit of my mom and a bit of the older women that I know in my life.  Her story is beautifully told based on the current time when she is 90 years old,  in  failing health and living in assisted living along with flashbacks that take place when she was growing up during the Depression.  

Waltz in Swing Time begins in 2006 close to Irene's 90th birthday.  She lives in assisted living, is having health problems but enjoys her life and her friends at the Manor.  Well, she doesn't totally enjoy the manor but sees it as a place to live out her final days and make her children feel like they have done the right thing.  She has started making tapes of her life so that her children know her whole story.  Her memories take her back to Utah and the family farm in the 30s.  Her family were strict Mormons and believed in hard work by all members of the family but Irene wanted more in her future than life on a farm.  Her sister supported her dreams but her parents - especially her mother - wanted her to settle for farm life.  Irene wanted to sing and dance and let her love of music and entertainment guide her life.  She knows what she wants out of life and knows that to achieve it, she'll need a total separation from her family.  When the opportunity comes to leave her old life, will she be brave enough to follow her dreams?

The story alternates between Irene's life in the 30s and her current life in assisted living.  It's a story of mother-daughter relationships - both between Irene and her mother and her current relationship with her daughter.  It's the story of a strong resilient woman who was determined to following her dreams.

This is a wonderful story that will make you smile and make you cry.  Irene is a character who we can all connect with and she is a character who will not soon be forgotten.  I loved, loved, love this novel!

Buy Waltz in Swing Time at Amazon

Note: The ebook is free to read for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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