Sunday, August 11, 2013


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Most people think the reason Dee Millings married the best looking man in the Carolinas who turned out to be a complete psycho and near-murderer is because she was raised all wrong.
Dee, a 38-year-old heroine to root for, sets out on a path winding with loveable kooks, wanting to prove there is a great life on the other side of tragedy and a crazed ex behind bars who continues to mail threatening letters from prison. Her new adventure begins two years after the crime spree that nearly stopped her heart and left her flat-lining. She packs up her two young kids and settles in her parents' South Carolina hometown where she deals with a delightful, but over-the-top mama who pretends her grown daughters are virgins.
Dee finds new purpose for herself and her children, discovering joy in places she never expected it: in a nursing home where she tends to the likes of 104-year-old Annie Sue who still drives and has a hankering for cold draft beer. Offering heaps of comic relief, Dee's Aunt Weepie lives to crash funerals just to get the covered-dish meals after the gravesides, no matter she has no idea who's in the coffins. Her antics lead her to making a daring decision that could change Dee's life forever. As Dee begins a journey toward recovery and becoming a registered nurse, a dark secret resurfaces, one that if handled right, could be her ticket to allowing herself to love again.

Title: Chimes of a Cracked Southern Belle
Author:  Susan Reinhardt
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Humor
Publication Date:  June 23, 2013
Event organized by: Literati Author Services
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Where to Purchase:

Amazon | Graceful Steps Foundation | Malaprops


Poor Dee. When we first meet her she's living in a haze of her mom's daily proverb and morality check, the aftermath of her ex-husband's homicidal rage, grappling with her children's attempts at coping with this aftermath, and being less than a paycheck away from being destitute. One of these would be enough to sink me...all of these would send me to a mental institution. Dee, though, puts one foot in front of another and makes a plan to try to make it out of her current state. 

Dee (aka Prudence/Prudy) in the beginning of this story seemed very insecure and unsure of herself and where she wanted to go next. She thinks of herself as an overweight, uneducated 38 year old mother of two that has been scarred in so many ways by her ex-husband. I felt bad for her through the first parts of the book too, but mostly because of her mother. While she was brutally honest, and in some cases that can be a good thing, but in this case I just did not like her. She was funny, don't get me wrong, but did she take the cake on being one gigantic hypocrite! As things go along I liked her better but it took me quite a while to get there! 

With her Aunt Weepie, Annie Sue, and her mom providing comical one liners and incidents, Dee not only manages to enact her plan, she succeeds...with a little backsliding here and there (I mean would be abnormal if she didn't lose it every once in a while, right?). She manages to acquire not 1 but 2 jobs, a career plan, and some new friends....and a tentative step out in to the dating world. When the story of her life with Bryce, her evil ex, comes out, it's a wonder that she's as put together as she is. What a horrible, horrible man and marriage. Dee's mom, ever vigilant in trying to marry her off, tries to erase the horror of Bryce by encouraging, wheedling, demanding, and setting her up with someone worthy of her daughter and her grandchildren. You can imagine her chagrin when Dee selects someone from her past that was banned from the household way back in high school. 

Aunt Weepie is the seriously fantastic comedic part of this book! I loved her. While she unconventionally goes to funeral and pretends to know the dead to go to their family meal after, she had a good heart and always had Dee's back. The journey to Dee getting her groove back was definitely paved with ups, downs, and good intentions but as is always with my favorite trope ever I greatly enjoyed the last half when she starts figuring things out. 

I couldn't help feeling a strong melancholy undertone throughout this novel. While there were definitely laughable moments and a crazy southern  momma in full effect, I felt so badly for Dee. I kept putting myself in her shoes, feeling completely overwhelmed by all of the events that she'd lived through. I was happy to see the ending leave us with hope, happiness, and a sense of peace.

I can't imagine any of the things she went through either, and without all of the extra stuff that she had to go through I was amazed at how awesome of a mom that she is. That showed through all of the melancholy and awfulness that had been thrown at her, and that was awesome too. 

Shelley: 3 Stars
Courtney: 3 Stars

About the Author:

Susan Reinhardt, a well-known, award-winning columnist is author of six books along with many anthologies.

Her bestselling book of humor, “Not Tonight Honey, Wait ‘Til I’m a Size 6,” is now in its 7th printing. This was followed by "Don't Sleep with a Bubba," A Book of the Year winner, and "Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin," a best-selling collection of hilarious culinary disasters with a dash of PG-13 humor and a smidgeon of sex. All were published by Kensington in New York City.

Her recent books include participating in the Malaprop's Book Store bestseller, "Naked Came the Leaf Peeper," in which a dozen of Western North Carolina's most well-known authors went wild with a serial novel, each taking a turn with his or her own chapter. The book was highly praised by Charles Frazier, author of "Cold Mountain," along with "Eat Pray Love's" Elizabeth Gilbert.

In November, 2012, she and co-author and editor DC Stanfa released "Fifty Shades of Funny: Hook-ups, Break-ups, and Crack-ups," featuring some of the most famous authors and bloggers around, including their own tales of romantic misadventure and blunders.
Soon, she will release her biggest project to date: Her first novel, 10 years in the making titled, "Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle."

In addition to writing, she's a stand-up comedian, public speaker, public servant, taxi driver to her teen daughter, debit card to her 20-year-old son, and a borderline candidate to appear on "The Hoarders" Buried Alive!" if you saw her bedroom/office and the amount of books and stacked papers.

She is mother of two: daughter Lindsey, 14, and son Niles, 20. They are her true loves and the very reason she BEGS her husband (second hubby) for Botox at least once a year.
Reinhardt is involved in many charities, including child and animal welfare groups and is a community volunteer.

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