Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Title: Dollbaby Author: Laura Lane McNeal Publisher: Penguin, 2014 Pages: 338

From Amazon:
A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The HelpDollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

 (Warning: This does contain spoilers.) I loved this book! I was hooked from the beginning. I was drawn to Ibby, Fannie, Quennie, and Dollbaby. McNeal paints a nostaligic portrait of 1960's New Orleans from 1964-1972. There were a couple of characters whose actions I did not understand. I don't really understand why Graham was sent to boarding school.(I know the reason, but would Fannie and Norwood really do that?) I couldn't understand why Norwood would abandon Fannie after what happened with Muddy. (Not if he loved her the way he seemed to love her.) And I can't understand Fannie's actions in the end. Even though she did suffer from mental illness, I would think her life with Ibby would keep her from doing that. That being said, I did truly love this book and could not put it down. I look forward to MnNeal's next book. In response to those reviewers who felt it was too much like The Help, Secret Life of Bees, Etc., I disagree. Although they are all southern novels that deal with racial issues, Dollbaby stands on it's own. I highly recommend this book!

Read this book if:

*you love southern fiction

*you love coming of age novels

*you love stories that take place in New Orleans

*you love stories that take place in the 1960's

Monday, July 7, 2014

Deceived by: Randy Wayne White

Author: Randy Wayne White Author: Randy Wayne White Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013 pages: 338

This was my first Randy Wayne White novel. I'd been hearing about him for years. My family visits the Sanibel area on a regular basis, and Doc Ford's (his restaurant) is one of our absolute favorite places to eat. Just before our last trip to Sanibel, I was in the library looking for beach reads and decided to check out a Randy Wayne White mystery. What could be better than reading a book that takes place exactly where you are, right? Deceived caught my eye because of the female protagonist. Something about it appealed to me, so I took it home. I sure am glad I did! I couldn't put it down! I have to admit, Hannah Smith is not the cuddliest of characters. If I met her in person, I doubt we'd be friends. However, the storyline itself kept me flipping pages. Hannah's mother's best friend disappears suddenly. When Hannah stops by her house to check on her, she has a run in with an axe-wielding stranger. It only gets better from there. Throw in bogus charity schemes that prey on the elderly, destruction of state artifacts, a twenty- year- old unsolved murder from the early days of Florida's drug a love affair with Doc Ford, the hero of Whites other mystery series...and you have a book that is hard to put down. (My husband is reading it now.) I loved this book and can't wait for the next. I'll probably go back and read the first in the Hannah Smith series as well. This corner of Southwest Florida is stunning, and White's knowledge and love of the area are evident. I enjoyed reading my copy under an umbrella just down from Bowman's beach. Pick your favorite spot and try it out. :)

Read this book if...
*you love mysteries
*you love Southwest Florida
*you love stories that take place in tropical settings

Belle Cora by: Phillip Margullies

Title: Belle Cora Author: Phillip Marguilles Publisher: Doubleday, 2014 Pages: 594

The first time I began reading this book, it was a sample excerpt from Kindle which in no way did the book justice. It began in the first chapter. To really "get" this book, one must read the Foreward and Author's Introduction, which set the stage and give the background information necessary for understanding the story. I am so glad I picked up a print version and tried again. I truly loved this book. After surviving the San Francisco earthquake, a wealthy elderly woman reveals her life story as a former madam. The story begins with her childhood in New York City, where she was part of a large, well-to-do family. I won't provide spoilers, but the story follows her throughout her life and loves, triumphs and  tragedies until she decides to give up being a madam and assume a respectable identity where no one knows her past. As a lover of historical fiction, I found this book fascinating.

Read this book if...
*you enjoy historical fiction
*you enjoy sagas

Out of Peel Tree by: Laura Long

Title: Out of Peel Tree (Kindle Edition) Author: Laura Long Publisher: Vandalia Press, 2014 Pages: 162

Each chapter in this book is a short story in and of itself. Each of the characters in the book are relatives from West Virginia (for the most part) living elsewhere in the US. Other than a common ancestor, there is very little else they have in common. Once one gets past the fact that this isn't actually a story, but a collection of stories that loosely intertwine (if at all) ,it becomes an interesting character study. The book realistically portrays a poverty-stricken family from West Virginia trying to escape their hard lives for a better life ahead.