ALL THE BEST PEOPLE by Sonja Yoerg


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


An intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken…

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.


ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is a family drama spanning three generations, from the 1920s to the 1970s. Does mental illness run in the family? When Carole starts hearing voices, she fears that she will meet the same fate as her mother, Solange: being locked away for decades in a mental institution. Carole shrinks from her family at the time when her daughter Alison needs her most: adolescence.

Overall, I thought this book was beautifully written, and the author handles the subject of mental illness realistically and with compassion. I was really drawn in by Part One of the story, focusing on Carole and Alison in 1972. With Carole’s point of view, the reader gets a strong sense of her fear and confusion as the disease takes hold of her mind.

I wasn’t as engaged in Part Two, which was Solange’s story of her marriage to Carole’s father. It’s a story of class, rich versus poor, and social injustice. The pacing was slower, and to me it felt a bit disjointed from the other part. Another POV came from Janine, Carole’s younger sister, who was an awful, unlikable character, and honestly her part didn’t do much to advance the story.

I wish there had been more magic or magical realism that the blurb alluded to, so the book was a bit different than what I was expecting. Still, it was a touching and heartbreaking story about how one family faced its history of mental illness.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS by Gayle Leeson


Series: A Down South Café Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect…

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.


One thing about reading this book: it had my stomach growling from cover to cover. All of the Southern comfort food Amy Flowers was cooking up made me so hungry.

Winter Garden, Virginia, is a charming small town, and Amy owns the popular Down South Café there. Once again, Amy is thrown into a murder mystery when another suspicious death occurs in the restaurant, and this time the victim is her adversary George Lincoln, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

This delightful cozy is part mystery, part family drama, and even a little romance, though luckily the investigation never gets lost in the drama — instead, they compliment each other. The mystery was well plotted and introduced several possible anti-George suspects.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS is a fun summer-themed cozy mystery full of yummy food and great characters. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE GOOD AT HEART by Ursula Werner (Audiobook)


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel takes place over three days when World War II comes to the doorstep of an ordinary German family living in an idyllic rural village near the Swiss border.

When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family – their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and granddaughters – out of Berlin and into a small house in the quiet town of Blumental, near Switzerland. A member of Hitler’s cabinet, Oskar is gone most of the time, and Franz begins fighting in the war, so the women of the house are left to their quiet lives in the picturesque village.

But life in Blumental isn’t as idyllic as it appears. An egotistical Nazi captain terrorizes the citizens he’s assigned to protect. Neighbors spy on each other. Some mysteriously disappear. Marina has a lover who also has close ties to her family and the government. Thinking none of them share her hatred of the Reich, she joins a Protestant priest smuggling Jewish refugees over the nearby Swiss border. The latest “package” is two Polish girls who’ve lost the rest of their family, and against her better judgment, Marina finds she must hide them in the Eberhardts’ cellar. Everything is set to go smoothly until Oskar comes home with the news that the Führer will be visiting the area for a concert, and he will be making a house call on the Eberhardts.

Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this extraordinary debut, full of love, tragedy, and suspense, is a sensitive portrait of a family torn between doing their duty for their country and doing what’s right for their country, and especially for those they love.


I love historical fiction set during World War II, and this one was a bit different since it focused on a German family whose patriarch is a member of Hitler’s cabinet. Oskar Eberhardt has moved his family – wife, daughter, and granddaughters – to a small village close to the Swiss border called Blumental. Here they’ll be protected from most of the horrors of the war, or so it seems. Within the town, there are people who support the Führer or seem apathetic, and those who oppose the Nazis and will fight back however they’re able, which of course puts their lives in danger. Oskar’s daughter Marina is part of the secret resistance.

While I liked the story involving the rescue of two Jewish girls, overall I just wasn’t riveted. The plot moved along slowly, and I was expecting more suspense or drama considering the subject matter. I was pleased and surprised at the bittersweet ending though. “Good at Heart” was a fitting title, taken from an entry in Anne Frank’s diary.


Audiobook • 9 hrs, 44 mins • Gibson Frazier, Narrator

I like Gibson Frazier’s voice. He performed the narration for GOOD AT HEART in a straightforward way without a lot of emotion, which I suppose fit with the book. A little more inflection might have made the story more exciting.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.