The Mourning Parade

By Dawn Reno Langley; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass

The Mourning Parade by Dawn Reno LangleyPerhaps I should begin with a disclaimer. Dawn Reno Langley is a friend of mine and we are critique partners for each other’s work. I read her latest novel, The Mourning Parade, long before anyone else, and in several forms—most recently the audiobook performed by Tavia Gilbert.

Dawn and I had been exchanging pages of our novels for some time when she took a vacation to Thailand and came back exploding with a new story. She set aside the novel she had been working on and plunged into a new book about a woman who retreats to Thailand to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary after losing her two sons in a school shooting.

Finding Jake

By Bryan Reardon; Reviewed By Linda Lindsey Davis
finding jakeIn Bryan Reardon’s Finding Jake, Simon and Rachel Connolly are like many other married couples: they have a house in the suburbs and two children. They differ from other couples in that they made the decision 18 years ago for Simon to shift his writing career to be the stay-at-home parent caring for their children, and Rachel, an attorney with a major law firm, would be the one who commuted to work in the city. Their story is told from Simon’s point of view, as he reflects on being a stay-at-home father.

Seventeen years ago, when Jake was born, and then three years later when his sister Lanney arrived, Simon learned to accept being the only father on the children’s playground…

Girl Sent Away

By Lynne Griffin; Reviewed by Karen Struble, Ph.D.

Girl Sent AwayLord Acton’s famous saying, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” rings deafeningly true in Lynne Griffin’s new novel, Girl Sent Away. For parents of rebellious adolescents, Griffin’s story is a Nightmare with a capital N.  Basing her work on actual reports from teenagers sent to remote wilderness therapy camps, the author spins a harrowing tale of mental health care gone awry.

The novel’s main character, Ava Sedgwick, is a sixteen-year-old Massachusetts girl haunted by the unresolved trauma of losing her mother and sister during the 2004 tsunami that wreaked havoc on Thailand’s …

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders

By Julianna Baggott; Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of WondersJulianna Baggott’s newest novel, Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders, is brilliant and beautiful, quirky and captivating, a multigenerational tale told from four unique points of view: Harriet Wolf’s, her daughter Eleanor’s, and those of her granddaughters, Ruth and Tilton.

Baggott uses the passage of time and very specific individual experiences in a family of women to reveal the ways in which mothers and daughters—and all of us—connect. She embroiders in rich detail…

Circling the Sun

By Paula McLain; Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Circling the SunThese are the openings to two of my favorite books in the world, so Paula McLain’s Circling The Sun was on my list to read the moment I learned it existed. I was not disappointed. McLain deftly captures the ambiance of colonial Kenya and meticulously crafts Beryl Markham’s own voice. I was immediately drawn into this familiar world, a landscape and a story that has been previously painted so perfectly by Isak Dinesen and by Beryl Markham herself….

The Mountain Story

The Mountain StoryLori Lansens is guest author in #LitChat on July 20, 2015. Follow #LitChat on Twitter or login directly to our dedicated channel at

By Lori Lansens; Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

On his eighteenth birthday, Wolf Truly boards the tram that takes tourists up the mountain overlooking Palm Springs. He loves the mountain…

Inside the O’Briens

By Lisa Genova; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass

Inside the O'BriensHuntington’s disease isn’t on the public radar like AIDS, cancer and heart disease. Aside from folk singer Woodie Guthrie, who died of the disease in 1967, Huntington’s has no celebrity tie-in, no sexy spokespersons, telethons or million dollar media campaigns to raise awareness and fund research. Until now. Inside the O’Briens, the new novel by Still Alice author Lisa Genova, promises to do for Huntington’s disease, what Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s. Huntington’s disease is a genetically transmitted, fatal neurodegenerative disease that strikes people in the prime…

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

By Keija Parssinen. Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

The Unraveling of Mercy LouisThe plot of Keija Parssinen’s debut novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, bears some striking resemblances to a release from last summer, The Fever by Megan Abbott. Both books are set in a smallish town and focus on a coterie of teenage girls afflicted, one by one, with a mysterious illness. In both towns, there is the question of an environmental pollutant and the intense reactions of the town’s inhabitants. Both novels attempt to submerge the reader into the stew of the anxiety… read more here…

Necessary Lies, By Diane Chamberlain

Reviewed by Linda Lindsey Davis

Ivy and Mary was here.

These five words are carved into the closet door of an old Raleigh North Carolina home. No one knows the origin of the words but each of the previous owners has been cautioned by their predecessor not to remove the words or cover them up.

Diane Chamberlain’s latest mystery is set in the South of the 1960s, when the social realities of … Read more here.

Book Review: The Transcriptionist, Amy Rowland

Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

The TranscriptionistAmy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist opens to a view of the Recording Room, within the offices of a fictional New York newspaper, the Record. It is a gray-colored, sparse room, long-forgotten by most employees and inhabited during work hours by Lena, the Record’s sole transcriptionist. She sits alone all day, headset attached, transcribing everything that’s been recorded for the paper. Like the room, most aren’t aware of her existence. Read more here.