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tall poppies

Celebrating Lovely Imperfections in “Branching Out”

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Emotional and satisfying, Kerstin March’s novel Branching Out is a skillfully written love story that will truly touch the heart of readers. This isn’t a story about a perfect marriage, and that’s what makes it so very lovely in its deeply moving journey of love between two people. This is a story about loss, love, and forgiveness that readers will not want to put down until the very end. Written as a sequel to March’s novel Family Trees, we join Shelby Meyers and Ryan Chambers at their wedding, which is right where readers want them to be, but this stage of their journey may not be the happily-ever-after they have been dreaming about. Shelby and Ryan couldn’t come from more…

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Tall Poppies Review: Perfectly Timed, Socially Relevant, “What Happened That Night” Is a Must-Read

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Perfectly-timed and socially-relevant, What Happened That Night by Sandra Block is a page-turning thriller that will satisfy readers of Lisa Scottaline and Jessica Knoll. This story is an emotional and twisting ride that follows Dahlia and her new friend James on a journey of payback and justice for an unquestionably terrible act of violence. Dahlia is a student at Harvard when she is drugged and brutally raped by a string of attackers during a night out partying with her best friend. Five years later in what seems like a surprising twist of circumstances, someone leaks the video of the assault on-line, and Dahlia discovers what really happened on that awful night, getting a shocking look at her attackers and what they did…

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Tall Poppies Review: Sonja Yoerg’s “House Broken” Tackles Tough Issues With Wit and Layers

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Veterinarian Geneva Novak relates better to animals than humans. Maybe not that surprising once we meet her dysfunctional family. When her mother is injured in an alcohol-fueled accident, Geneva’s husband convinces her that taking mom in, is the opportunity to repair their relationship. Toss in two teenagers with their own set of issues, a slew of family secrets and complicated sibling relationships and you have the ingredients for a perfect familial explosion. Sonja Yoerg tackles tough issues in this book with an unsentimental and unapologetic honesty. Her wicked wit and effortless writing lift this fractured family from the pages and into your heart. Told from the point-of-view of three characters and three generations, we’re drawn into the complexities of families…

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Orly Konig Deftly Balances the Ebb and Flow of Grief

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People talk a lot about the different stages of grief and how you have to go through one after another until you finally come out on the other side of it, ready to face the world again. But what happens when life stalls at one of those stages? Carousel Beach (Forge Books) by Orly Konig takes readers deep beneath the surface of that question, navigating through the murky layers of fear and guilt and, ultimately, to the hope that lies at the heart of this touching novel. The story centers on Maya Brice, a restoration artist, and the beloved carousel she is painstakingly bringing back to life one animal at a time. A year after losing her grandmother and her unborn child,…

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Tall Poppies Review: In Praise of Difficult Women

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I’ve long been a fan of Karen Karbo, the award-winning author of the Kick-Ass Women series and more. This past fall, I holed up with Karen and about 20 other writer friends at a weekend long conference of our fellow Tall Poppy Writers at an Airbnb in Chicago. We shared a bathroom and brainstormed about the writing biz and our respective places in it. If you’d asked me then, I would have told you Karen Karbo isn’t the least bit “difficult.” But now I’ve read her latest book, In Praise of Difficult Women, (Foreword by the fabulous Cheryl Strayed) and I’ve changed my mind. Karbo has written a collection of essays about what it is to be a “difficult” woman…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘The Moon in the Palace’ is Full of Forbidden Love, Intrigue, and Clever Women

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Palace intrigue, forbidden love, and clever women. Weina Dai Randel’s beautifully written, RITA-award winning The Moon in the Palace is full of all three and more. Set in China during the Tang Dynasty (seventh century), the novel follows the life of Mei, the future Empress Wu. From an early age, Mei is marked as a chosen one: “She would eclipse the light of the sun and shine brighter than the moon. She would reign over the kingdom that governs many men. She would mother the emperors of the land but also be emperor in her own name. She would dismantle the house of lies but build the temple of the divine. She would dissolve the kingdom of ghosts but found a…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties’ is an Empowering Story of Womanhood and Identity After 20

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When do we start to lose our identity? This is the question that permeates Camille Pagan’s heartwarming, humorous, and thoughtful book, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties. Maggie Halfmoon has never questioned her identity. She stopped being a social worker years ago after a physical threat on the job. But her husband Adam was more than happy to take over as the breadwinner while she “leaned out” and took care of the kids. By all accounts, she has been happy. She has been a good wife, a good mom, a good daughter, and even a good daughter-in-law. Everything has been “good.” But one day her husband announces that he has fallen out of love and is leaving. Suddenly, Maggie is left…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘The Phantom’s Apprentice’ Sees an Unforgettable Retelling of a Classic

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Retellings can be challenging. For those who are avid fans, it can be a stretch to see beloved characters from a different perspective. Heather Webb, however, has created a retelling with a life of its own, making direct comparisons all but impossible. I jumped head first into this book and never once found the niggling of what I “know” of the story tugging at my subconscious. In The Phantom’s Apprentice, we experience the much loved story from the point of view of Christine Daaé. Though she’s still the naïve, somewhat gullible character at the beginning, Webb has done a masterful job at building Christine into, dare I say it, a more modern, self-aware and assured young woman. I loved that…

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Tall Poppies: Forkner’s ‘The Real Thing’ Teaches Profound Truths

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At the beginning of The Real Thing, our plucky heroine Manda is stuck at a wedding—her own—to her rodeo star fiancé. Sure, she’s counting her lucky stars that she’s fallen in love with such a handsome devil, and he with her. But she can’t seem to make it down the aisle. After some shenanigans, and an argument with her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Peyton, the wedding bells finally ring. But don’t wedding bells ring at the end of a book, not the beginning? Doesn’t the “I do” come during the happily ever after? Manda already landed the dashing guy. Isn’t the story over? Not even close. It’s the exploration of the happily ever after that makes The Real Thing so darn real,…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘Daughters of the Night Sky’ Pays Homage to WWII Female Pilots

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When I sat down with this book, I knew nothing about the Night Bomber Regiment in the Red Army—a group of all-female Russian pilots that bombed Germany during WWII. I quickly found myself captivated by this band of determined women, who not only wanted to save their country from invasion and protect their sweethearts at the front, but longed to shatter the age-old expectations surrounding their sex. Katya Ivanova is a sympathetic protagonist with a fiery spirit to match her fiery hair. Her young girl’s dream of escaping the poverty shaping her existence takes root in the airplanes that she sees flying over her mountain home. In school—and later during her intensive military training—she quickly rises in the ranks, becoming…

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Tall Poppies Review: Sometimes ‘Little Broken Things’ Have a Big Impact…

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  Tender descriptions of Minnesota lake picnics, boathouse romances and childhood memories cloak simmering shame and mysterious motives in this slow unraveling of community secrets, Little Broken Things, from author Nicole Baart. When Quinn’s sister Nora brings a troubled child to the door of her small cottage, telling her not to tell anyone — even their mother and brother who live nearby–the questions burn and linger, and the answers don’t come easily. Whose child is she? Who are they protecting her from? Which male figures can be trusted and which cannot? With Nora skittish about unknown forces, and Quinn forced to hold down the fort with a child who is a virtual stranger, the sisters have to rely more on…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘Perennials’ Unfolds Beautifully

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Julie Cantrell has long been one of my favorite authors, a writer whose pages I know I can turn to for stunning language, heartfelt stories and flawless character development. Her latest, Perennials, is no exception, and I found myself completely invested from the very first page. Lovey Sutherland’s Arizona life, complete with her successful career as an advertising executive, her centering yoga routine and her supportive, loving friends, is, on the surface, what she has always wanted. Free from the past she left behind in her hometown of Oxford, Mississippi—and the blame she faced when a fire in her childhood, perceived to be her fault, changed everything—in many ways Lovey has created the future she has always imagined. Even still,…

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Tall Poppies Review: Brandi Megan Granett’s ‘Triple Love Score’

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Life is really a bunch of scrambled words—love, loss, joy, zest, quest (note to self: I possess the high-scoring j, z, and q tiles) and figuring out how they fit into our journey. In her page-turning love story Triple Love Score, Brandi Megan Granett introduces us to the smart and sexy Miranda, a complicated protagonist who is equally Old School and modern woman. In her late 20s, she teaches poetry by day, and by night she is secretly the social media sensation known as the “Blocked Poet”—whose visual poems about life, love, and special occasions are comprised of Scrabble tiles. And yes, Hallmark is jealous. In her heart, Miranda holds a burning candle for Scott, ‘The Boy Next Door,’ her…

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Tall Poppies Review: ‘Entanglement’: A Story of Friendship, Loyalty, and Struggles

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Entanglement by Katie Rose Guest Pryal is an evocative story of enduring friendship and the ties that bind. Charismatic Daphne, and her more reserved best friend Greta, both have troubled pasts so they are anxious to start an exciting new chapter in Los Angeles near the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. No matter what happens, they know they have each other. The girls quickly find work and a cute, quirky apartment. When they can’t immediately afford furniture they make the best of things and sleep on the floor where they muse together about their ambitions and dreams. With care and tenderness, Daphne guides Greta through the painstaking death of her mother, who had been suffering with a terminal illness. Steadfast…

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Tall Poppies Review: Laura Drake Takes Sibling Devotion to a New Level in ‘Days Made of Glass’

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“Shared blood defines a family, but spilled blood can too…” ~ Days Made of Glass Buckle up readers, because your emotions are in for a roller coaster ride in Laura Drake’s Days Made of Glass – A gripping story of sibling devotion, mental illness and having to face hard truths about oneself. The symbolism in this story hits from every angle. Shattered glass is the splintering of the illusion of reality. In Drake’s novel the smashed mirrors are a sign of both enlightenment and madness. Shards of glass are everywhere, representing broken dreams, broken promises, broken relationships and broken people. Two sisters—tough-as-nails Harlie (the protector) and her younger sister Angel (the lost soul), have had a rough life. So far Harlie…

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Tall Poppies Review: Past and Present Become Chaos in Amy Impellizzeri’s ‘The Truth About Thea’

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At BookTrib, we are constantly searching for the best ways to connect readers with writers, opening their eyes and worlds to fresh ideas! This is how we came across a wonderful group known as the Tall Poppies, who are not only avid readers, but extremely talented writers as well! This week we gain some insight on Amy Impellizzeri’s novel The Truth About Thea.  The Truth About Thea by Amy Impellizzeri is a page-turner that’s innovative, current, and thoughtfully rendered. When entrepreneur Thea is diagnosed with a pathological addiction to creating fake social media identities for her clients, she begins a court-mandated program of treatment with therapist Will Cann. Ordinarily, this is when things would begin to get better. But there…

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