I love, love, LOVE finding new authors to read. Equally, I love sharing about those books with other readers. The theme this time seems to be heroines who have to rise above some dismal and challenging circumstances or repair relationships gone awry. Here are three fantastic reads to check out:
1. Chasing Kate, by Kelly Byrne
"A woman, a girl, a Jeep. Add vodka, two measures of kidnapping, a splash of grand theft auto and a minor bit of arson. Shake silly. This is Kate’s life.
Kate Denai is alone and at yet another crossroads when she finds a tiny stowaway, five-year-old Sadie Beck, in the back of her Jeep on Halloween night.
After returning Sadie to an aggressively negligent stepfather, Kate skips town the next day because of an unfortunate revenge-gone-wrong incident involving the mistaken identity of a water jug, a spot of nudity and one hell of a blaze..."
It's a rare story that can make you laugh on one page and later bring you to tears, but this is it. Kate Denai has made a mess of her life. In the beginning of the story, I found myself laughing our loud at her wry observations. Kate is a smart aleck, but despite the predicaments she winds up in, you know that deep down she's a loving, strong individual. It takes a serendipitous little stowaway, Sadie Beck, to bring out that side of her. Bit by bit, Kate inspects her past and what has brought her to this point. As her options dwindle, she's forced to take an uncomfortably close look at old wounds. She doesn't want to go there, but events keep pushing her in that direction.
Kate's new little friend Sadie is an absolute darling! A huggable 'old soul' whose innocence and optimism are precisely what Kate needs. Sadie and Kate are some of the most memorable characters I've ever come across and Kelly Byrne's ability to bring us so close to them and her gift with words make this one of the best books I've picked up in years. Do not miss this one!
2. When Horses Had Wings, by Diana Estill
"Pregnant at 16, Renee Goodchild drops out of school and marries. Now she’s trapped in rural Texas with Kenny, her violent, garbage-collecting husband. A bleak future seems assured until she meets self-appointed relationship guru, Pearly.
“That’s why you don’t let ‘em rule the roost. ’Cause you can’t count on ‘em to be there the next mornin’ when it’s time to crow,” the worldly Pearly advises.
Renee narrates this tale of ruin and redemption where the damaged and downtrodden lead each other to unintended, sometimes heartbreaking, and often bittersweet outcomes. When Horses Had Wings examines the lives of broken people competing for the most basic needs: the primal urge for affection and the eternal search for acceptance."
What I most loved about this story was observing Renee's personal growth. There is a rare flow to events and emotions, which makes for a highly compelling read. The characters are very well drawn - from those you cheer and care for, to the ones you just want to pummel.
This is a story that many women, unfortunately, can relate to. It is about discovering inner strength for all the right reasons. Without a doubt, I'll be reading more by this author. Her narrative voice is distinctive and the story engaged this reader 100% from start to finish. Highly recommended!
3. Breaking Twig, by Deborah Epperson
"Set in rural Georgia in the 1960s, BREAKING TWIG is a coming-of-age novel about Becky (Twig) Cooper, a young woman trying to survive the physical and emotional abuse of her mother, Helen, a beautiful, calculating woman who can, with a mere look, send the meanest cur in Sugardale, Georgia running for its life.
Not even Twig's vivid imagination, keen wit, and dark sense of humor is enough to help her survive the escalating assaults of Helen and a new stepbrother, but help comes from an unexpected source--Frank, her stepfather. Sometimes, having one person who loves and believes in you is all a girl needs to keep hope alive."
Fantastic read! Breaking Twig definitely has its dark moments, but ultimately it's a story about love, forgiveness and the freedom that truth delivers. Twig's mother is an intriguing character that you'll love to hate and Frank is Twig's salvation and pillar. If you like a book where the characters are multi-dimensional and undergo not only the trials of life, but internal journeys of discovery and redemption, this is a must-read.