BETTY by Tiffany McDaniel

A lyrical novel about a young girl uncovering horrific truths about her own family in the rolling hills of the Appalachians.

BETTY is a novel that carries an emotional impact, telling the story of Betty’s upbringing in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Born to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight children growing up in a world of poverty and violence, both outside and, tragically, inside the home. In the midst of hardship emerges a resilient character who finds solace and an outlet in writing, recounting the horrors of her family’s past and present.

Inspired by the story of Tiffany McDaniel’s mother, BETTY is a personal and meaningful undertaking. It is a story of racism, abuse, poverty and amongst it all one of love and connection. This is not an easy read. It is devastating and absolutely heartbreaking. The beauty of the author’s writing is certainly there, for anyone who read The Summer that Melted Everything and fell in love with the writing style. But it is a much heavier read.

“I remember the fierce love and devotion as much as I remember the violence.” “our family tree grew with rotten, broken branches and fungus on the leaves.”

There are many wonderful aspects of this novel: the magic of storytelling, the fierce protagonist, and the folklore to list a few. The fact that it is filled with so much violence and trauma made it a difficult book to get through and one I was not eager to pick up. As a reader who does not at all gravitate towards heavy reads, it was especially challenging. I truly appreciate this novel and the very personal journey of writing a story based on family history.

*This novel was provided by the author via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

“The rage is growing inside me, overtaking the shock and grief. I can feel it blossoming up behind my ribs. It’s almost a relief, how it obliterates every other feeling in its path.” 

An exclusive event. An isolated location. A creepy, foreboding atmosphere.

An island off the coast of Ireland is the perfect location for the wedding of a charismatic television celebrity and an ambitious magazine publisher. The guests consist of new acquaintances and old friends. As the wedding party assembles it becomes all too clear that there are layers to every relationship and a history of deep-seated resentment. The circumstances of the unsettling events of the wedding day are gradually revealed through flashbacks to past interactions, bringing to light past secrets.

If there is one genre in which I will pick up a much-hyped book every time, it is absolutely the mystery/thriller. In recent months, The Guest List has been that book that was a must-read in new releases, and needless to say I had to give it a read. As is the case with a lot of hyped books, for me, this one fell below expectations. Having read the author’s previous mystery novel, The Hunting Party, in anticipation of the new release, I feel that the format and characters just simply doesn’t click with me. While I have absolutely no issue with unlikeable characters in stories, many characters presented here are next level unlikeable and wholly unsympathetic. This is to the point that I was less intrigued by the story unfolding and more annoyed. The use of different perspectives does work well and I had no problem keeping track of characters. However, because I found many of the characters quite awful, I did not want to spend a lot of time on their perspective. The story does really take off around 250 pages in and becomes a true page-turner. I found myself completely immersed and eager to see how everything would unfold and wrap-up. The way the twists are revealed is especially well done, and although I did see one of them coming it still had an impact. And when it is all said and done, the ending was quite satisfying. I only wish it was as exciting getting there.

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset“Call it what it is: monster racing.
Forget that, and you die.”

In Becar, who you are in this life determines your fate in the next. The purest souls, known as the augurs, can read auras and see your path; who you are and who you will become. For the darkest of souls there is only one outcome: to be reborn as a kehok, a monster, and that is all you will ever be, with no hope of redemption. The only way to ever be reborn as anything other than a kehok is to win the Races. Tamra was a top rider before being sidelined by an injury and becoming a professional trainer. After a miscalculation led to tragedy on the track and damaged her reputation, she is in desperate need of funds to prevent her daughter from being taken away. In a search for a new kehok and rider, she comes across Raia, who is running away from domineering parents and a cruel fiancé. The prize money from winning the Races would mean freedom for Raia and a secure future for Tamra and her daughter. With plenty of obstacles in their path, they embark on achieving the impossible and changing their future, with a new kehok that can lead them to victory. Continue reading “Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst”