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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

January 5, 2022

Don't Miss These Two Books

by Susan Roberts

There were so many great books published in 2021. So before we get very far into 2022, I wanted to share a couple of them that you might have missed.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller 

Unsettled Ground
May 2021; Tin House Books; 978-1951142483
audio, ebook, print (330 pages); family fiction

"One day you'll come in from the garden and I'll be gone." 

Jeanie and Julius are 51 years old and have always lived with their mother, Dot,  in poverty in a ramshackle cottage.  Julius works odd jobs to provide food for the family but Jeanie has spent her life at home.  At a young age, her mother told her that she had heart problems.  She frequently stayed home from school and never finished her education.  She spent her life in her garden and playing music with her family.  When Dot dies unexpectedly, Jeanie and Julius are not sure what to do next.  They know that they can't afford a funeral and after leaving the body in the parlor for several days, they decide to bury her in the yard.  Soon the owner of the cottage takes the cottage back and makes them move out.  Now they have to make some real decisions -- Julius wants to continue to be loyal to his sister but he is also yearning to be independent from his family  Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them to live in.  When they begin to find secrets that their mom kept from them - they begin to wonder who they are and if everything she told them was a lie.   Will they be able to recover and learn to live life without their mother?

This character-driven book moved rather slowly at times but it was well worth it to read and see how if Jeanie and Julius could become adults instead of the children that they've always been treated as, and find their places in the world.

Buy Unsettled Ground at Amazon

Just River by Sara B. Fraser

Just River
November 2021; Black Rose Writing; 978-1684338146
ebook, print (213 pages); women's fiction

SYNOPSIS:  The Otis, an inconsequential river—not the Hudson—flows through Wattsville, a small city a few hours north but a universe away from the real City, capital C. You might think the everyday people who live here, in this land of scarce opportunity, are also inconsequential. Until you meet them.

Sam, a cross-dresser with a voice like Tina Turner’s and his best friend Carol, a cashier who stress eats, prove their mettle when Carol’s daughter Garnet is imprisoned for defending herself against a violent boyfriend. Sam and Carol’s plots to save Garnet have consequences, however. An innocent boy is blamed for their actions and kidnapped, a dog gets poisoned, and Garnet’s life is imperiled as parole becomes a distant dream. In the end, it’s the river that offers up justice for these heroes-at-heart. But they will need to be able to swim.


Just River is a book about people who have lost hope in their small hopeless city in upstate New York.  It's 1990 and most industry has left the area and jobs are few and far between.  A small group of friends works together to help each other. Sam is a cross-dresser and Coral, his best friend, work together to help Garnet who is in jail because of domestic violence.  Despite their hard lives, their friendships are strong.  All of the characters are quirky but my favorite was Sam.  Sam is a stylish cross-dresser who loves to sing karaoke.

Being gay wasn't acceptable in a 1990's small town and he suffers many negative comments but remains happy with this life.  The novel isn't all depressing and gritty - there are some funny moments throughout that help balance out their lives.  Even though Sam dreams of moving to the big city, I have a feeling that he stayed in his small town to help take care of his friends.

Buy Just River at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. 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 Facebook.

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