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Family

Tall Poppy Review: “A Distant Heart” Draws All To India

in Buzzworthy by

I love reading novels that sweep me away to faraway places; far from the mundanity of my daily routines, worries, and struggles. A Distant Heart (Kensington) by Sonali Dev does just that. From page one, suddenly I was in Mumbai, India with its gritty slums, beautiful mansions, rickshaw drivers, and okra curry. The author weaves in Marathi words as well, giving the story a backbone that makes its sensibility authentic and undeniable. Kimaya, a young woman with a heart transplant has lived behind glass in a mansion her whole life until now. She’s ready to experience the world, in all of its beauty and wonder. When she ventures out, she doesn’t expect the other side—the pain, the poverty, or the…

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Alan Brenham Plays With Our Minds in “Game Piece”

in Thrillers by

A killer is messing with Barry Marshall’s head — and with everything he holds dear. That sets the stage for Alan Brenham’s chilling, twisting, rocketing thriller, Game Piece (Black Opal Books), in which Marshall is the game piece that the killer is coldly, cruelly maneuvering. Want more BookTrib? Sign up NOW for news and giveaways A smart, tough, capable guy, Marshall is a detective on the Temple, Texas police force.  He’s married to Erin.  They have a five-year-old daughter, Cailey.  It’s a good marriage.  And it’s threatened…as is Marshall’s career, his reputation and his family.  What Marshall doesn’t know is that 12 years ago, the killer dated Erin and thinks Marshall stole her. The killer is enraged and the killer is smart. …

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Tall Poppy Review: The Tearjerker ‘You Were Always Mine’

in Fiction by

Equal parts tear-jerker and page-turner, Nicole Baart’s You Were Always Mine (Atria Books) entwines the heartbreak of a mother’s struggle with the urgency of a mystery that won’t let her (or you) go. At the start of You Were Always Mine, we meet mother and teacher Jessica Chamberlain on the brink of a nightmare—and a plunge into regret—when her estranged husband is found dead. Her older son, in a surly teenage phase, seems to blame her for not having tried harder to repair the marriage and thus the family, while her younger son’s developmental challenges immediately intensify in the wake of the tragedy. It would be a struggle for any mother to try to quietly deal with her own grief while pulling…

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“His Favorites” Exposes Guilt and Vulnerability

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With sparse, lyrical language, author of His Favorites (Scribner), Kate Walbert, shines a light on women’s rights as she tells us about Jo’s tragic and unsettling experiences.  After being in a deadly accident at 15 years old with her best friends, Jo, a wild and now emotionally broken high school student is sent off to boarding school. Her life at home crumbled and her friendships broken, the new beginning for her life away at school held the strong potential of not going in the right direction.  Memories and stories weave together our understanding of who Jo is…and how an irresponsible female teenager, faced with tragedy and then coerced by a sweet talking man, may not possess the support needed to fight back…

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Tall Poppy Review: Fragile Friendships in “The Glass Wives”

in Fiction by

In Amy Nathan’s The Glass Wives (Saint Martin’s Press), a devastating end becomes a beginning of sorts for Evie and Nicole Glass. When Richard Glass is killed in a tragic accident, Nicole is a sudden widow. But what does that make Evie, his ex-wife? Financial instability and an unknown future plague both women, and as they are thrust into the unknown they find themselves flailing. Hoping to find some security and longing for family in the midst of such loss, Nicole proposes that she and Luca, her toddler son, move in with Evie and her twins Sam and Sophie. Against her own better judgement, Evie agrees. As unexpected bonds form between the children, Evie and Nicole engage in a cautious…

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“The Lost Family” Covers Marriage and Love Post-WWII

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Jenna Blum, author of the bestseller Those Who Save Us, is back with another novel, one that is equally heartbreaking and haunting. Covering topics of grief and love, Blum artfully and skillfully reminds us that the past never seems to stay there, and that the repercussions can still be felt decades and generations later. The Lost Family begins in 1965 Manhattan. World War II may be over, but the memories are always present for Peter Rashkin, who survived Auschwitz, but lost his wife and daughters. Now, trying to make a new life for himself, he becomes the owner and head chef of a restaurant called Masha, a namesake to his lost wife. People from all over come to eat and savor the…

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Tall Poppies Review: Tina Ann Forkner Wakes Up Emotions

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My oh my but I have a thing for the Talleys. I must—I just finished reading Tina Ann Forkner’s Waking Up Joy  (Tule Publishing) for the second time. Joy Talley is the 40-something who has tasked herself with preserving her parents’ rural Oklahoma homestead as well as their large, rambunctious, and often complicated family. As one of five creative and opinionated siblings myself, I can relate to their brand of crazy. They may be bossy, hot-to-trot, or off their rockers, but the Talleys are fiercely loyal and never less than entertaining. As the book opens, Joy is in a bit of a spot. After falling from her roof while trying to pull an evil charm from the chimney, and then…

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The Elegance and Beauty of a Struggling Family

in Fiction by

In her heartfelt and elegantly written debut of a beautiful, struggling family, it’s clear that Fatima Farheen Mirza is a gifted writer. She is more than able to make you feel every character’s emotions, while offering compassion for different views, gradually revealing different aspects of each story to create a multilayered tapestry. A Place For Us begins at Hadia’s wedding in California, where the family gathers to celebrate a marriage based on love, rather than one that was arranged. Huda, the middle child, is determined to be like her sister more and more, headstrong and bold. Lastly, Amar, Hadia’s younger brother who ran away three years earlier, has returned for the celebration, taking his place as the brother of the bride.…

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Interview with Maxine Rosaler, Author of “Queen for a Day”

in Fiction by

It is bold work to invite us into the world of children who are eligible for special education—and their long suffering parents. Maxine Rosaler does this in her novel, Queen for a Day, through her main character, Mimi Slavitt and her young son, Danny. We, the audience, are alongside Mimi as she attempts to accept and comprehend her autistic son’s world. In the process, Mimi — and so we the readers — are introduced to the other mothers and their children, whom she encounters along the path, and the social system that provides aid. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015-2016, 6.7 million students between the ages of three and 21 received special education services. Among the…

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“That Kind of Mother” Takes on the Challenges of Race and Motherhood

in Fiction by

Rebecca Stone desperately needs help with her newborn and Priscilla, a La Leche nurse from the hospital comes to her rescue. Having experience being a mother herself when she was a single, teen mother many years ago, Priscilla leaves her job at the hospital to become the nanny for Rebecca’s baby. Rebecca feels extremely close to Priscilla, confiding her fears, the hopes and dreams she had for herself and has for her child. She looks at Priscilla as a source of stability in her life, all while learning how to care for a child, and just what it means to be a mother.  Priscilla ends up changing the way that Rebecca looks on not only motherhood, but also the world…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘Family Trees’ Captivates with Story of Love, Family and Heartbreak

in Fiction by

Family Trees by Kerstin March is a beautifully written story that captivates the reader with a cast of interesting characters and stunning landscape. The story unfolds against the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Superior with Shelby Meyers, a young local woman who lives and works with her grandparents at their family owned orchard in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I at once fell in love with not only Shelby’s intelligence and independence, but also her salt of the earth grandparents and her spunky best friend. The community of Bayfield and its residents come to life in a way that invites readers to feel like we are a part of it. One of the things I love most about this novel is how March brings Lake…

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The Secrets to a Stress-Free Holiday: 5 Tips for Survival from Author Madisyn Taylor

in Potpourri by

For most of us, when we think about the holiday season it evokes a feeling of excitement, anticipation, peacefulness, beauty and more. As the holidays get closer, we often begin to fall into our old patterns that have plagued us for our adult lives. The feelings of needing to buy gifts for everybody, having a ready supply of hostess gifts, dealing with family members, hosting the perfect party and the ever mounting list of expectations. When overwhelm sets in, it’s time to take a breath and find a remedy for these problems. In your own life, you can make a list of what stressors you are reacting to. On a piece of paper on the left hand side write down everything…

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The Freedom to Love is Paramount in Ariana Mansour’s ‘He Never Deserved Me’

in Nonfiction by

For most American women, we cannot conceive of marrying a man we don’t love, much less marrying a man our parents and community chooses for us. Not to say that this doesn’t happen in some regions and/or faiths, or that it wasn’t a more common phenomenon in another time and place, but since the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and the mainstreaming of modern feminism, American women have been fighting for respect; not just respect of our persons, but of our needs, desires, passions and our choices. We won’t always make the right choices as life is overwrought with bad mistakes that began with the purest of intentions. But, we should be allowed to make those mistakes in a…

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Chaos Hits Home for the Holidays in ‘The Boyfriend Swap’

in Romance by

If you are looking for an escape this holiday season, The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr is just what you need! We step in on an unforgettable character, Robyn, who is a teacher dating an actor. Her family would like for her to meet a guy with ambition and some success but they are always disappointed with the creative types she is drawn to. Sydney is a lawyer at her father’s law firm and she is dating a lawyer. Her father is obsessed with the law and tends to talk business incessantly; something she has no patience for. Ann Marie is Robyn’s roommate and she works for Sydney at the law firm.  The three girls were together at a wine party and…

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