Sunday 24 May 2020

The secret Sisters Club Review

Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, want to be sisters. Ginnie's widowed dad plus Tillie's divorced mom could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. 

Ginnie and Tillie come up with the perfect scheme to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ (aka OSS). After all, if they can’t get Dad to move on, Tillie can’t move in.

Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and her dad doesn’t talk about—if Dad doesn’t take them away.

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Did you Know that today, 23 May is Ginnie West's 12th Birthday? What a great way to celebrate her birthday by sharing this book with your friends!

When Monique isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events.

Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children and 3 in-law kids, eleven granddarlings, 5 cats, and many real and imaginary friends.

She is the author of five published books (and several unpublished ones) and is in two anthologies. You can find more about Monique and her works at: 

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4 of 5 Stars

When I got this book I was originally going to allow my 12 year old daughter to review it. However when I noticed that it does touch upon abuse I decided to read it first myself to know exactly what I was giving to her. Abuse isn't a subject to take lightly, nor should it be so traumatic that my 12 year old would struggle reading it. However I am pleased to say right off, the Author does a wonderful job with this subject. She is able to include the confusion, hurt and anger but in a way that a 12 year old can understand. Also it is done in such a way that it has less chance of being a trigger for those who have been abused. It is something that has happened and is never discussed in detail. But the emotions that are left behind are discussed. I was actually impressed at how well this was done.

The characters were believable and well written. The emotions the 12 year old girls feel are very relatable for anyone who has been that age. Although I must admit some parts of the story made me extremely grateful for my own daughters steady personality. I think if she acted the way Ginnie does at times it would have done my head in.

The narrator has a nice calm voice and does well with the Characters. I was worried about how she would do two 12 year old girls without their voices getting muddled, but she did brilliantly and I never had to guess which girl was speaking.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Mid-grade drama. As it does discuss abuse I recommend caution about what your own child can handle. I however feel perfectly comfortable to allow my daughters to read this book.

Top Ten List
Ten fun facts about the book
1) Secret Sisters Club was written AFTER Trouble Blows West
2) Heart of the Wests (Ginnie's home)  is a real place in Ohio.
3) The blonde girl on the cover (Gracie--who is modeling for Ginnie) lives in the real West Farmhouse.
4) The brunette girl on the cover (Jessie--who is modeling for Tillie)--is Gracie's cousin in real life.
5) There are real goats, chickens, cattle, dogs, cats, turkeys, ducks on the real West farm--but NO horses.
6) Queenie West's (Ginnie's mom) personality is based on Gracie and Jessie's grandmother. Gracie looks very much like her--just as Ginnie looks like her mom.
7) I spent a lot of time at the "real Wests" farm--as a teenager--babysitting the kids that lived there--especially Gracie and Jessie's dads--and their aunt. 
8) Gracie and Jessie's cousins grew up on a different farm I mention in the books: Chandler's Crossing--Toran and Ginnie's friend, Austin's home. :) 
9) Gracie and Jessie's grandpa and grandma were my 4H leaders as well as my friends.
10) I raised a lamb named Appomattox (because I was fascinated with the Civil War)  on the real West farm and showed it at fair as a teen.

Character Casting
1) Ginnie--if I could cast a girl as Ginnie in a movie today--it would be Gracie on the cover. Gracie has a fun personality and an impish grin.
2) Tillie--if I could cast a girl as Tillie--it would be Jessie on the cover. The 2 of them just did a beautiful picture shoot that embraced the essence of Ginnie and Tillie.
3) Uncle Ben--i always picture Bruce Boxleitner I enjoyed him a s a kid on a show called "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and "Babylon 5"--recenty he has been featured on Supergirl and he was the actor who played the main character on the original movie, Tron.
4) I would love to see Bruce's ex-wife, Melissa Gilbert as Aunt Sadie --I loved her as a kid as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie
5) Ginnie's dad Todd--my first inspiration for Todd was John Schneider--Bo Duke from Dukes of Hazzard. John would be too old to play Ginnie's dad if it was filmed today--but he was the original dad image, when I dreamed Ginnie up years ago. 
6) Uncle Jake--I could see Michael Weatherly (Tony DiNozzo) from NCIS playing a contemporary Uncle Jake--minus the 3 piece suits.
7) Miss Amanda-- I could see her portrayed by Emma Watson (real life Belle and Little Women)

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  1. Thank you for hosting the Secret Sisters Club on your blog today. I'm glad you gave the book a listen--even with your misgivings.

    I was a foster mom to over 100 kids over a 12 year period. One of the reason's I write this series is to empower kids who have been abused--or know someone who has been abused. When I was 12--two of my friends were being abused--I knew--but didn't know how to help.

    So I grew up to be a foster mom--and now I write books that I hope empower kids.

    Recently an 18 year old girl came to me (after reading all 4 books). She said she felt for Pierce--the bully in Book 2 who is being abused--and who the West family befriends and helps. She herself suffered at the hands of her birth father. She said the books helped her find peace and healing in her 'real' life.

    Her admission confirms to me that this message is powerful. People need to know that that they are not alone in their journey through life--that bad things happen--and more importantly--that bad experiences can be overcome.

    Tillie always starts out more timid at the beginning of a book, but finds courage and confidence throughout the story so that she realizes that she does have power and a voice that will be listened too.

    Ginnie can be a little tenacious--but it's a fault that also gives her courage to do hard things. She doesn't give up easily--especially if she is on a mission to help someone she cares about. If you choose to read book two--I think you will find her determination can be a help. ;)

    Thanks agian for hosting the Secret Sisters Club and giving the Wests a chance.

    Laugh lots, love much, write on. ;)

  2. Thank you for your comment and explanation. I did enjoy the book and am impressed that you were able to take your wherewithal to create a safe place to discuss a terrifying subject. Well done!

    As for Ginnie, I think her personality is probably a fantastic asset to many people! I am just incredibly reserved (Even clapping outside for the NHS and carers on Thursday evening is terribly embarrassing for me) so the idea of making a fuss just isn't in my nature :)

  3. Thank you. :) I hope you will continue to read the series. In Book 3, Simply West of Heaven--I reveal my three best twists of the series--as well as you will find out why Dad took the journals.

    Again--many thanks for hosting Secret Sisters Club and sharing your thoughts. ;)