Tag Archives: Small Town Fiction

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay


Daughters and mothers. . .enemies, or allies? Of course, it depends on the people, and Katherine Reay has touched the very heart of the acerbic relationship between a mother and daughter with her characterization exemplified by the connections between Janet and her daughter, Alyssa, and Janet and her mother.

Alyssa Harrison never wanted to return to Winsome, Illinois. However, circumstances and life conspired heavily against her. Now, she not only feels like a loser but must face her mother, too.

Reay pulls you into the story of a prodigal daughter, her parents and the community of Winsome from page one and never lets you go.

Of Literature and Lattes is written from multiple points of view. I enjoy this, on one hand, because you get to know the people and their thoughts better. However, on the other hand, it can sometimes be confusing. I think more so because, even though Of Literature and Lattes works as a standalone, it is a sequel, and I may have understood the people better had I read the first book, too.

Lest you think the book is only about parental relationships, it is not. It is about relationships of all kinds; the good and the not so good.

The novel is serious, thoughtful and at times bleak and desolate. The Biblical themes, though minimal, are weighty and on point. Through it all runs a thread of optimism and the promise of hope.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

# Of Literature and Lattes #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

Return to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome, where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup and move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

What a beguiling and captivating novel, Stories That Bind Us is! Susie Finkbeiner captures the era of the ’60s in vivid, powerful and striking detail.

Betty Sweet and her sister, Clara, grew up in tough circumstances. Betty was able to overcome most of her younger life with the help of her husband, Norman, and her penchant for inventing stories.  Her faith in God lifted her above the adversity in her life. Sadly, Clara was not so lucky.

Stories That Bind Us takes us through tumultuous times for our country and for Betty and Clara. Even though there seems to be a lot of turbulence and upheaval in their lives, Betty is able to ground herself and Clara’s son, Hugo, with her stories. Betty’s tales are relevant to the situations she and Hugo often encounter.

Reading the novel instilled a positive, encouraging and heartening feeling about life. Despite depressing and heartbreaking times, both in their lives and in the United States, Finkbeiner shines the light on the good and wonderful aspects of life, family and love.

I enjoyed the flashbacks to the “oldies” music of the ’60s, which reminded me of my childhood. Accounts of historical events also teased my mind, as I vaguely remembered news stories and happenings in areas I lived in or near, which resonate with current events now.

A novel that will stay with you for a long time after reading it, Stories That Bind Us, is a must-read for anyone interested in faith-inspired historical fiction.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

#StoriesThatBindUs #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.