General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My, oh my! How I love some Diane Chamberlain! She can seriously do no wrong!

The Last House on the Street was another shining example of Chamberlain’s writing talent. I was absolutely in love with the main character and her work during the Civil Rights Movement in 1965 despite being born and raised in the American South. Despite her family and friend’s disapproval, she carried on with her work to register black voters, and discovered things about herself in the process.

The timeline also shifts to 2010 where a woman has built a house on a piece of land at the end of a street. She continues to receive warnings and threats not to move into the house. But why?

I adored this book from start to finish and would highly recommend.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Diane Chamberlain, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.

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General Fiction (Adult), Southern Fiction

The Southern Side of Paradise (Peachtree Bluff #3) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Southern Side of ParadiseThe Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out May 7th!

I am crying happy and sad tears right now after finishing The Southern Side of Paradise! Happy tears because it was so fantastic and sad tears because the Peachtree Bluff series has come to a close. I have simply adored getting to know Ansley, Caroline, Sloane, and Emerson first through Slightly South of Simple, then through The Secret to Southern Charm, and finally with The Southern Side of Paradise. I can’t believe it is over!

Now let me just reiterate for those who haven’t read my other reviews for this series. Let’s talk about these covers! Gorgeous, right? If this isn’t the definition of a “beach read” then I don’t know what is! Even my husband thinks they’re beautiful… so there’s that…

Kristy Woodson Harvey takes us back to Peachtree Bluff in the telling of Emerson’s story. When Emerson, the Hollywood starlet, finds herself engaged to her high school sweetheart, a man set on remaining in Peachtree Bluff and keeping his wife there with him, she has quite the dilemma. Does she follow her dream of becoming an Oscar-winning actress or does she give it all up to stay in Peachtree Bluff with the man she loves?

The best thing about this series is that it is such a “feel good” presence. While the sisters fight at times like any good sisters do, in the end they always have each other’s backs. The love the sisters have for each other shines through and makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside. But don’t get it twisted! There is plenty of drama and enough challenging moments to go around (which keeps the book super interesting).

I devoured The Southern Side of Paradise while sitting poolside in Miami in a day. It was the perfect summer read to enjoy with a strawberry daquiri in my hand and the sun in my face. I cannot recommend this series enough!

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Romance, Southern Fiction

The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2)The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect summer read! But if you read it in the winter like I did, you will give yourself reprieve from the cold weather and envision yourself lying on a beach somewhere (which is fun too!).

When I read Slightly South of Simple (Peachtree Bluff #1), I actually didn’t know it was the first in a series of three. Kristy Woodson Harvey hadn’t published the subsequent two books yet and I thought it was a stand alone. I will admit that I typically don’t read series because by TBR list is so long that I generally can’t dedicate the time to multiple books in a series. However, I just happened to come into these series mid-publication so there was no pressure to read all three at one time. So, for me, they kind of felt like stand alones.

Anyway, The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2) was a flawless follow up for the Murphy family. A story centered around three sisters and their mother, the first book was told from the perspective of Caroline, the oldest. This book was told from the perspective of Sloane, the middle child. And the final installment, The Southern Side of Paradise, (expected in May 2019) will be told from the perspective of Emerson, the youngest. The only constant story is that of the girls’ mother, Ansley, who is featured across all three books.

Kristy Woodson Harvey has this way of creating such a real dialogue for extremely difficult and tragic content, while keeping the story light, airy, and hopeful. Much of the content could be depressing if left in the hands of another author, but Harvey creates an atmosphere of positivity, a story of triumph in the face of hardship. A story of the importance of family and sticking together through difficult times.

There is something so simple about these books yet so complicated. I just can’t get enough of the Murphy family and their relationships with each other. It’s almost like you want to be their friend. And the quaint little town of Peachtree Bluff is the perfect setting for a southern fiction with its small town shops, sandy beaches, and everybody-knows-their-neighbor feeling, it is like stepping into a Hallmark movie of happiness and sunshine.

And let’s talk about these covers! They are gorgeous and just make you want to read them.


Bravo to Kristy Woodson Harvey yet again. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Southern Side of Paradise to see what she comes up with next!

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General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Southern Fiction, Thriller

Paper Gods by Goldie Taylor

Paper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and PoliticsPaper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and Politics by Goldie Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me just start with a thank you to St. Martin’s Press for this surprise I found on my doorstep recently. After opening the package (book mail is the best!), I immediately added it to my stack.

The first thing that intrigued me about this book was the gorgeous cover. The Atlanta skyline at night is the perfect backdrop for this political thriller set in Atlanta. And this book is very “Atlanta.”  From the geographic descriptions to the narration to the discussions of race, I could feel the Atlanta vibe from start to finish.

The book begins with a bang when a prominent Georgia congressman is murdered. What follows is a twisted web of corruption sprinkled with money, power, and more murder as Victoria Dobbs, the mayor of Atlanta, announces her plan to run for the now-open seat.

I haven’t read an overtly political book in a long time and I really enjoyed it. Goldie Taylor really hit the nail on the head with her descriptions of the election process and the stress and pressure of the campaign. I really enjoyed the look into the corrupt world of politics and the attitude that some will do anything in their power to win.

Goldie Taylor’s writing was wonderful. She was extremely descriptive and thorough in her prose, and I enjoyed the character dialogue as well. It is definitely one of those books that requires all of your attention though so wasn’t necessarily a quick read for me. I needed some time to process the complicated relationships and events throughout to make sure I really understood what was going on. If you zone out for just a minute, you will be lost.

I did feel in the beginning that there were maybe a tad too many characters and was having a hard time keeping everybody straight, but by the end it cleared up. And while the book itself was a page turner for me, I found the ending to be a tad underwhelming and perhaps even a bit predictable. While there were a few twists along the way, I still found myself waiting for a big, surprising reveal, and it just didn’t happen. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. I still found it entertaining overall and would recommend to anybody who enjoys political thrillers or wants to read a book solidly rooted in Atlanta.

-I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Goldie Taylor and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Southern Fiction

Rush by Lisa Patton

RushRush by Lisa Patton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication August 21st!

Before I get into the full review, let me quickly describe rush in a few words: charming, lovely, and reminiscent.

Rush is a story told from multiple perspectives, but simply put, the novel revolves around the sorority rush (i.e. recruitment) process at Ole Miss. The perspectives showcased are those of the housekeeper at the Alpha Delta Beta house, the Alpha Delta Beta legacy and mother of a potential new member (i.e. rushee), and a college freshman entering the rush process.

The way Lisa Patton told this story was fantastic. Her ability to integrate big social topics into the story such as race, health benefits, the 1% v. the 99%, etc. while still keeping the story very light and fresh was incredible. It would be very easy for some of the heavier social issues to have taken the book in a dark direction, but her use of positivity and messages of hope kept it from being steered down the wrong path. I must admit that when I was in my sorority, I never took the time to consider the lives of the folks that helped our house run: our house mother, our cooks, our housekeeper, and so many others. This book really opened my eyes.

On a more personal note, when I read this book I felt like I was transported back to 2006 when I rushed my sorority. The descriptions of the rush process, the feeling of sisterhood, and the world Lisa Patton created within the house were spot-on. I’m confident that any other person reading this review who has been through the Panhellenic rush process would feel the same. I remember the fun times attending football games, Greek Week, parties, formals, sitting in the living room of our 100+ year-old house watching Grey’s Anatomy on the only TV that had cable, seeing boys slide out of gals’ rooms late at night trying not to get caught by our house mother, having the fraternity rushees run naked through our house when they lost a game of beer pong, chapter meetings, “family” dinners, and so many more amazing memories that made my time at Michigan special.

While I did see incredible similarities between this book and my own experience in Greek life, there were also many elements that made the book uniquely Southern. Taking place on the Ole Miss campus, Lisa Patton gave it a southern flare. The dialogue was done in a way that made the reader feel like they were talking to an African American woman from the deep south or an old time Southern belle. There were also southern touches such as girls getting dressed in their Sunday best for football games (up in the North we typically wore T-shifts or hoodies as opposed to dresses).

I loved the atmosphere that was created and the story was done well. I only gave it 4 stars because it didn’t “blow me away” but it was very good! I also think it’s very smart of Lisa Patton and St. Martin’s Press to release the book in August when the new batch of freshman girls and guys will be starting their journey into Greek life. This is the perfect book to curl up with in the late summer/early fall when college campuses all across the country are coming back to life.

-I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an advanced copy and thank you to Lisa Patton for her wholehearted interpretation of the Greek system.-

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