Book Review: Tangle of Strings by Ashley Farley

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Title: Tangle of Strings
Series: Sweeney Sisters #4
Author: Ashley Farley
Publication Date: December 2016/January 2017
Genres: Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction

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Other books in the series:

her-sisters-shoes-2     lowcountry-stranger-2     boots-and-bedlam

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tangle-of-stringsTangle of Strings
Sweeney Sisters #4
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books
Print December 2016, Ebook January 2017
ISBN 978-0998274119
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A nearly tragic accident leads to a discovery that rocks the Sweeney family’s world.

Some families never resolve conflicts. Not so with the Sweeneys. Their sense of family, their love for one another, and their willingness to forgive have always triumphed and brought them back together. Until now. The latest crisis threatens to tear the family apart and crumble the foundation that has always proved itself rock solid.

At the heart of the matter are sixteen-year-old Annie Bethune and her boyfriend, Cooper. At stake are their dreams for the future. As to these dreams, no one in the family holds back when asserting an opinion.

Annie soon begins to feel like a puppet on strings with all those she loves telling her what to do. When those strings become tangled and a family feud develops, Annie, unable to bear the pressure, runs away. Straight into the arms of danger.

That’s an interesting title, isn’t it? I can see two ways of interpreting it—the tangle of strings represents the tangled web resulting from lies and poor choices or perhaps it’s an allusion to the various threads of life, both everyday and unusual, that so often create chaos at some level. I’ll leave it to you to decide once you’ve had a chance to read Tangle of Strings.

Ms. Farley continues the story of Annie who came to be a part of the extended Sweeney family with all her emotional baggage but who found a haven with this loving group of people. At the center of this family are three sisters—Jackie, Faith and Sam—who are typical siblings with their squabbles, their worries and, ultimately, their love for each other and everyone else in their circle. Annie could not have found a safer or more welcoming home.

Escaping her past is not so easy, especially when her mother, Heidi, comes to town. Heidi, who abandoned Annie as a child to pursue her dream of stardom, is one of those narcissists who see nothing beyond their own perspective. She has no understanding of how badly she hurt her daughter and behaves as though Annie should welcome her back with open arms, something this teen is not willing to do, and fleeing from her mother leads to a very bad car crash.

Emotions run high as one issue mingles with more, leading to what can be considered a real crisis. A troubled young romance, Annie’s accident and resulting injuries, Heidi’s unwanted intrusion into Annie’s life, a pair of criminals and, above all, Annie’s and Cooper’s unplanned pregnancy put so much pressure on this young girl and her surrogate family that it’s almost certain relationships and feelings will change. As in so many family situations, everyone has his or her own opinion about what needs to be done and too many forget that pushing their own agendas doesn’t really help. In fact, they come close to being that stereotypical family that can be really overbearing while the intentions are well-meaning. When all is said and done, though, the story boils down to an exploration of the relationships between parents and their children, biological or not, and the importance of truly listening to one another.

Tangle of Strings is another fine episode in Ms. Farley’s engaging series but I do suggest the series be read in order because each book builds on the one before and it’s the best way to fully understand the Sweeneys and other people in their lives. I’m sorry to say this appears to be the end of the Sweeney family saga but Ms. Farley has at least left us with the possibility of future installments and I’ll be very happy if that happens.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

About the Author

Ashley Farley 2Ashley Farley is the author of the bestselling series, the Sweeney Sisters Series. Ashley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshiped, the man she could not save.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

Ashley loves to hear from her readers. Feel free to visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ashleywfarley or twitter.com/ashleywfarley.

Catch up with Ashley

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

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Follow the tour:

January 21st: Launch

January 22: Reading Is My SuperPower & Katie’s Clean Book Collection

January 23: Christy’s Cozy CornersMel’s Shelves, & Zerina Blossom’s Books

January 24: Mythical Books & Falling Leaves

January 25: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium & Nicole’s Book Musings

January 26: Buried Under Books

January 27: Grand Finale

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Book Review: Lowcountry Stranger by Ashley Farley

Lowcountry StrangerLowcountry Stranger
Sweeney Sisters #2
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books
ISBN 9780986167270
Ebook, July 2016
ISBN 9780986167263
Trade Paperback, May 2016

From the author—

There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.

The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity.

Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

In August of 2015, I read Her Sister’s Shoes and made the acquaintance of three sisters—Faith, Sam and Jackie—and found them to be appealingly normal with their individual stories adding up overall to a strong tale of what family can and should be. At the time, I hoped to see more of these ladies and others in their wider circle and, lo and behold, here they are again.

The lush lowcountry marshland of South Carolina is the setting for the wedding of Faith and Mike, much anticipated by all including Faith’s little girl, Bitsy. Bitsy is still suffering some trauma from her father’s deadly attacks nearly a year earlier and Sam is happy to watch Faith and Bitsy find a safe haven in Mike even as she resists making the same kind of commitment with Eli. Meanwhile, oldest sister Jackie is caught up in her own concerns, as usual, and mother Lovie’s recent peculiar behavior has all her daughters worried and thankful that Captain Mack Bowman is in her life.

When a young woman shows up at the wedding, she’s a stranger yet oddly familiar and her physical appearance is completely inappropriate in both clothing and hygiene. None of the family recognize her or know why she’s at the wedding but they’re astounded at an exchange they see between this teen and Bitsy. Thus begins a story full of drama and twists and turns that will send this extended family’s lives upside down and sideways, always leavened by love and loyalty. Annie Dawn will be the catalyst for change in the family dynamics.

Lowcountry Stranger is essentially Southern fiction or comfort fiction, if you will, but there’s also enough suspense here to appeal to many mystery readers. Over the course of several books, not all involving the Sweeney sisters, I’ve become very comfortable with Ms. Farley‘s work. I always enjoy her storylines and, in particular, I’m drawn to her characters and the ways they interact with each other and cope with day-to-day life as well as various crises. In fact, they’re people I could see myself having as friends and the Sweeneys fall right into that. I really do hope we’ll see much more of this family in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2016.

Book Review: Her Sister’s Shoes by Ashley Farley—and a Giveaway!

Her Sister's ShoesHer Sister’s Shoes
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books, June 2015
ISBN 978-0-9861672-1-8
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and packed with Southern charm and memorable characters, Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.

Samantha Sweeney has always been the glue that holds her family together, their go-to girl for love and support. When an ATV accident leaves her teenage son in a wheelchair, she loses her carefully constructed self-control.

In the after-gloom of her dreaded fiftieth birthday and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Jackie realizes she must reconnect with her former self to find the happiness she needs to move forward.

Faith lacks the courage to stand up to her abusive husband. She turns to her sisters for help, placing all their lives at risk.

In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior normal for a woman her age? No one, including Lovie, understands her obsession with a rusty key she wears around her neck.

Southern fiction is one of my very favorite genres and I was delighted to have the opportunity to read and review Her Sister’s Shoes which can also be considered women’s fiction although I really dislike that term. What could be called “men’s fiction” is more likely to be known as action-adventure or the like. Back in 2012, David Granger, the editor of Esquire described men’s fiction as:

“…plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another…and also at the same time, dealing with passages in a man’s life that seem common.”

To which author Jami Attenberg replied:

“It’s a good thing we lady writers are busy writing books that are boring, and where nothing happens. We wouldn’t want too much excitement. We might faint dramatically. We might have to take to our beds for weeks on end. We are delicate things, we lady writers.

Did you hear me? I said we might fucking faint.”

There are, of course, men also writing so-called women’s fiction but it frequently gets labeled as general fiction. So, I choose to refer to Her Sister’s Shoes as Southern fiction and just stay away from that whole squabble 😉

Chief among the many good things I found in this book are strong characterizations of the three sisters but also of the secondary players. This was not a surprise to me as I had already recognized Ms. Farley’s ability to create well-drawn characters in her first book, Saving Ben. Each sister has her own set of crosses to bear and her own personality—Sam feels the need to be everybody’s rock, Jackie has an inferiority complex that she tries to hide behind money and image and Faith is timid and exploited and feeling trapped.

How these women deal with their issues individually but also as family is what lies at the core of the story and is a nice example of the strengths that one can derive from family, whether it be by blood or a different kind of family. By telling the tale through each sister’s point of view, I felt close to each and gained a real understanding of what these women were all about and how their environs helped to shape them as they grew into adulthood. Much the same can be said for the older and younger generations and I would love to return to the small Lowcountry town of Prospect to see what happens with these very appealing people.

 

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.

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About the Author

Ashley Farley 2Ashley Farley is a book blogger at Chronicles and author of Saving Ben and Her Sister‘s Shoes. She is a community volunteer in Richmond, Virginia, where she lives with her husband and two college-aged children.

Visit her website at www.ashleyfarley.net, connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, and friend her on Goodreads.

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Leave a comment below to enter
the drawing
for a print copy of

  Her Sister’s Shoes by Ashley Farley.
The winning name will be
drawn
on Sunday evening, August 23rd.

Open to residents of the US.

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