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If you pay attention to all the ‘Beach Reads’ articles, they recommend that this summer I should be reading light, refreshing and smiley books. But, I’ll be honest. In my limited time to read (when my three kids are on summer vacation) I want something real, meaty and thought-provoking.

Family dynamics is always a topic that provides ample doses of both tension and hope.

In my own extended family there is plenty going on. Between chemo treatments, remote assisted living arrangements, sibling disputes, estranged relatives that show up for random lunches and broken water pipes, there is always drama potential. Family life is real, and sometimes reading about another’s family gives me hope for ours (maybe we’re not so bad after all) and sometimes it gives me ideas for resolutions.

When I asked author Margaret Lukas about the discussion of family dynamics in her book, she responded,

When I started writing Farthest House, I wanted to explore the issue of family secrets and how they effect generation after generation. Families are the most important aspect of our lives (even when we deny them), and I find novels that delve into the dynamics both interesting and vital. Through understanding how others live, I understand how I live. Plus, family sagas are dang juicy. That too, was a goal when writing Farthest House; making it a page turner.

Intriguing, right! I definitely have Lukas’ book and these other ‘Summer Reads with Substance’ novels at the top of my summer list.

farthest houseFarthest House by Margaret Lukas – When Willow is born and her mother dies moments later, only the narrator of this spellbinding debut novel knows the death isn’t from complications of childbirth. Amelie-Anais, buried on the Nebraska hilltop where the family home resides, tells the story of deceit, survival, and love from beyond the grave. Following Willow’s life and Willow’s incredible passion to paint despite loneliness, a physical handicap, and being raised by a father plagued with secrets, Amelie-Anais weaves together the lives of four enigmatic generations.

“Not since The Lovely Bones have we experienced such a moving tale of love, suspense, and family secrets narrated by a ghost. Lukas creates a complex, moving story with brilliant lyricism and hard-won realism. She is a rare writer who makes you devour her words. Readers of Alice Hoffman and Anita Shreve will love this novel…and stay up all night to finish it!”Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife, The Weight of Dreams, and South of Resurrection


Destination-D-Front-Cover-399x600Destination D by Lori Beard-Daily – A broken promise from their school days at Spelman College takes three successful friends in Atlanta to an unexpected destination of discord, duplicity, and denial. Their personal demons drastically alter their friendship and their life’s destiny.

The first friend leads a secret life of multiple personas that allows her to escape her own reality and ease into a life of deception long before her true identity is discovered.

At the pinnacle of her career, the second friend is self‐driven, sexually suppressed, and highly explosive . . . blowing up at anyone who crosses her path. Her domineering ambition drives her into a collision course with herself and steers her in an unexpected direction that becomes life‐altering.

The third friend is a single mother seeking refuge from a regretful past that has finally caught up with her present. Just when she thinks her future is solid, it begins to crumble as her fate is altered by a past romance that resurfaces . . . resulting in an unexpected resolution.


Family-Inheritance-Cover-405x600Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich – Called to the bedside of their dying mother, three sisters reluctantly return to their childhood home in northern Minnesota. What should be a reunion of love and warmth is tainted by the ghosts of their childhood; their parents’ farm is a place of painful memories. With their mother slipping into a coma, Helene leaves behind a shell of a marriage in Atlanta—her country club lifestyle not at all what it seems. Alice has finally fled an abusive husband but is afraid her failing courage will put her children in danger. Waking up beside yet another stranger, Suzanne can no longer deny how an alcohol addiction may destroy everything she’s worked for—an addiction that barely masks the terrible wounds on her soul.

They may have escaped the farm, but Helene, Alice, and Suzanne find they are still perpetuating a cycle of pain, abuse, alcoholism, anger, fear, and bitterness. Seeing themselves through each other’s eyes, the sisters are forced to confront their demons as their mother lies dying. Will they be able to tread through the wreckage of the past to create lives filled with hope, love, and triumph?


Cast Net Cover v.4Catherine’s Cross by Millie West – When Jenks Ellington experiences a sudden, alarming sense of panic about her identical twin sister Gigi, she has to wait until nearly midnight before learning the reason for her unease: Gigi has drowned while diving for artifacts in a Low Country river near Beaufort, South Carolina. Although Beaufort County detective Seth Mason is suspicious of Gigi’s diving partner, there is no evidence of foul play. But, when Gigi’s Port Royal home is broken into and ransacked, Jenks discovers two clues—one of which leads her to the home of a local Gullah medium.

In a painstaking search for answers, Jenks delves more deeply into her twin’s life. Along the way, her bond with Detective Mason reaches unexpected depths. And what secrets could medium Meta Jane be holding? Was Gigi’s death really an accident?

Happy Reading!

– All BQB and WriteLife Books can be purchased on Amazon.com or ordered through your favorite local bookstore. –