Book Review: Again, Alabama

Again, AlabamaWhat a delightfully cozy feel-good story! Just finished Again, Alabama by Susan Sands last night and I loved it. The perfect book to curl up with under a warm blanket on a cold day with a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of pecan pie. Now doesn’t that sound wonderful?? You can find Again, Alabama on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

Cammie Laroux is on her way back home to Alabama to help her mom with the family business while she recovers from hip surgery. It’s pretty good timing, considering she’s out of a job after being blamed for setting her celebrity boss’s hair on fire while cooking flambé during their nationally televised cooking show. What she doesn’t expect to find back home is her ex-boyfriend Grey, now single and handsome as ever. It’s been 10 years but some wounds never seem to fully heal. Can Cammie forgive Grey and find the courage to take a chance with him, again?

Strengths

“If everything else fell to pieces, they had each other. After all these years, she was just now realizing the vital role of family in her life.” (Cammie, chapter 13.)

I loved this book! The writing is clear and descriptive, the characters are genuine and lovable, and the plot is continually progressing. I especially enjoyed experiencing Cammie’s journey. She starts the story as an emotionally battered and abused woman as a result from the cooking fiasco at her job. Travelling back to her hometown, which is full of painful memories, is hard for her. She temporarily takes over the family business, becomes a pillar of strength for her family, and starts to heal from the trials life has dealt her. Her relationship with Grey is highly satisfying–full of conflict and sizzling chemistry–they work very well together. And yet, even with all of the things Cammie had to deal with, I found her to be a very relatable character. Even though my personal life experiences aren’t in the same ballpark as hers, I was able to connect with and care about her, which is vital to a successful story. I liked Grey a lot too; I think he’s the real victim of this book. He makes one mistake and pays for it the rest of his life.

Another strength is the story line. Every time I thought I knew how the rest of the book was going to play out and wondered how on earth another x number of pages were going to be filled, another element of the story was added, creating depth to the characters and Cammie’s journey. This isn’t a fluff-filled love story, which is somewhat unusual in the genre of romance. Add to all this a touch of humor and you have one strong book.

Weaknesses

The only issue I had with Again, Alabama is Cammie’s fiancé Jason. She is engaged to a man she met while living and working in Virginia when she goes to Alabama to help her family. She remains engaged while she reconnects with Grey. This is problematic because I didn’t feel like I could fully root for Grey while Cammie was engaged. Then when she did break things off with Jason it seemed too convenient that he was no longer invested in their relationship, like she got off too easy. This made it so the story could be wrapped up all nice and neat, but I think there could have been a little more depth to their relationship and break up.

Conclusion

Overall, I very much loved this book. If you are looking for a feel-good love story, you will enjoy Again, Alabama. There is one sex scene, but it doesn’t get too explicit. I am cautious in reading romance stories because they tend to get very graphic. This one is probably a PG-13 rating in terms of sexual content and language. As the weather turns cooler, go find a warm blanket and your favorite comfort food and settle in for a good read!

5 stars

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Book review: The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

Gordonston LadiesI finished reading this gem over the weekend. What a great find! I found The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club here on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

A unique and comedic murder-mystery story by Duncan Whitehead, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club (GLDWC) features a wide variety of vibrant characters. In a quiet neighborhood deep in the old south in Savannah, three widowed southern belles enjoy their afternoons with a drink in the local park, letting their dogs get some exercise, and catching up on the most current local gossip. Mr Whitehead paints a detailed story of the residents of Gordonston, whose individual tales connect in unimaginable and delightfully entertaining ways. The first chapter introduces an assassin, lurking in the very park in which the old widows gossip, poised and ready to take out his next target. As we learn about the local inhabitants, their lies, hatred, and secrets, we are left to wonder who will be the target and who is responsible for murder.

Strengths

There are so many strengths to this book! It starts strong and is continually compelling straight through the end.

Good hook intro

As mentioned above, the first chapter pulls the reader in with a scene depicting an assassin getting ready to make his kill. I was immediately hooked and anxious to delve further into the story.

Strong, clear, and descriptive writing

The writing throughout GLDWC is rock-solid. The imagery is clear and concise, drawing the reader into the characters’ worlds. The following quote was one that I especially enjoyed:

“It was the kind of smile reserved for those who had seen all of life’s rich and diversified tapestries. It was the smile of knowledge, the smile of experience, the knowing smile that only the special among the aged can produce.” (page 41)

Well-developed characters

With such a large cast of characters, I’d imagine that it would be Gordonston Ladies 2difficult to persuade the reader to care and really get to know each one. In GLDWC, each character has a rich back-story, complete with families and relationships. My favorite character is Elliott. He has a fascinating history and seems to be a genuinely decent guy, but gets tangled up in some nasty drama with the neighbors. Before the present setting, he lived in Argentina just before getting married and met a very intriguing person. This mystery gentleman made an impressive impact on Elliott’s life. As a gift, he left Elliott an autographed book he said was his original work. It was entitled Mein Kampf. Wowza! Did Elliott actually meet Hitler??? Perhaps an alternate-reality version where he didn’t actually die at the end of World War 2 but escaped and somehow turned into a good person. He leaves Elliott his book with this quote:

“Do not judge me for what I was then, but for what I am now.” (page 50)

Cons

I feel like I have to really stretch to come up with any critical cons to this book. It truly was fantastic. The only negative I could maybe say is the pace felt a little slow in places. I was anxious for more clues to help me decide who was going to be murdered. However, I acknowledge that the developed stories are probably springboards for further plot in the following sequels. Getting to know the characters thoroughly required a little patience as a reader, but ultimately resulted in a strength for the book.

Conclusion

What a delightful read! I loved getting to know the characters and their drama. There is a clever humor throughout the story that I especially enjoyed. Overall, I am itching to get my hands on the next two parts of the trilogy! Go get your own copy here!! 5 out of 5 stars

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