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After committing an unspeakable crime one rainy night, Allison is sent to prison. Her sister Brynn is left to deal with their parents, their high school friends, and her guilt at being the only one who knows what really happened that evening. I’d categorize Gudenkauf’s books as “chick lit suspense.” Fans of Jodi Piccoult and Kristin Hannah will appreciate it. I also very much enjoyed her first novel, The Weight of Silence.

I am so delighted to have discovered Sandra Dallas.  Her books are just fantastic.  The Persian Pickle Club is a group of quilters who have been meeting for years to quilt, gossip and support each other through thick and thin.  Queenie Bean loves the Pickles, but when Rita moves to town, Queenie is thrilled at the prospect of having a younger Pickle join their the club.  But Rita isn’t as interested in quilting as she is in solving a murder mystery that the rest of the club would just as soon see go unsolved.

New Mercies by Sandra Dallas

17th August 2009

Dallas veers from her typical story setting (Midwest plains) and sets this book in Mississippi.  Nora travels from Colorado to Mississippi to claim an inheritance from an aunt she never knew.  As she settles her aunt’s estate, Nora uncovers some secrets in her family tree, and finds peace in her own life as well.

If I didn’t know how outstanding Dallas’ books could be, I would’ve said this one was pretty good.  But I know her books can be so much better.  The two things I enjoy the most about Dallas’ books are the strong friendships that her female characters develop, and the unique and powerful conversations they enjoy together.  New Mercies didn’t have those strong friendships, and the character development felt kind of flat.  I had to struggle to finish this one.

Sandra Dallas is my new favorite author.  I have loved every book of hers that I’ve read (3 to be exact).  She combines so much of what I love in a book to create the perfect novel: historical, romantic, slightly suspenseful, a bit of action, and lots of drama.  Once I start reading one of Dallas’ books, I just can’t put it down.

The Diary of Mattie Spenser tells the story of Mattie and her husband Luke as they travel from Iowa to build a home on the Colorado plains.  Although the physical hardships are difficult, Mattie struggles more to come to grips with the many tragedies she encounters on the frontier, and with her growing suspicions that her husband doesn’t love her.  Watching Mattie grow from a proper, timid young girl to a strong, capable woman was an absolute pleasure, and I loved the way Dallas chose to end Mattie’s story.

Addie Ann must solve the mystery of who ruined their community garden, or her Uncle Bump will go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.  A good book that went a little long in some parts for me.  Overall, an excellent coming of age story, and an inspiring example of what one girl can accomplish when she dares to tell the truth and stand up for justice.

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