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The Audacity Of Sara Grayson
by Joani Elliott
Review

THE AUDACITY OF SARA GRAYSON

cover image of the book 'The Audacity Of Sara Grayson' by author Joani ElliottWhat happens when your mother’s dying wish becomes your worst nightmare?

What happens when the world’s greatest literary icon dies before she finishes the final book in her best-selling series?
 
And what happens when she leaves that book in the hands of her unstable, neurotic daughter, who swears she’s not a real writer?

Sara Grayson is a thirty-two-year-old greeting card writer about to land the toughest assignment of her life. Three weeks after the death of her mother—a world-famous suspense novelist—Sara learns that her mother’s dying wish is for her to write the final book in her bestselling series.

Sara has lived alone with her dog, Gatsby, ever since her husband walked out with their Pro Double Waffle Maker and her last shred of confidence. She can’t fathom writing a book for thirty million fans—not when last week’s big win was resetting the microwave clock.
 
But in a bold move that surprises even herself, Sara takes it on. Against an impossible deadline and a publisher intent on sabotaging her every move, Sara discovers that stepping into her mother’s shoes means stumbling on family secrets she was never meant to find—secrets that threaten her mother’s legacy and the very book she’s trying to create.

cover image of the book 'The Audacity Of Sara Grayson' by author Joani Elliott

JOANI ELLIOTT

Image of author Joani ElliottJoani has taught middle school English (a little like playing Wac-a-Mole) and writing at Brigham Young University and the University of Maryland.

She grew up with six sisters and two brothers so she can easily apply her make-up using the toaster as a mirror.

Joani and her husband are the parents of two amazing daughters.

They live in Utah by the mountains, next to a lake and a river.

Joani is very good at cartwheels, imitating Disney Princesses, and making soup. She loves smelling new books before reading them, biking walking and running outdoors, and travelling to beautiful places of quiet reflection especially those with water views.

Visit Joani at her website

Follow Joani on Twitter

Connect with Joani on Facebook

“I love studying the craft of writing, and I’m fascinated by the processes different writers use to produce writing that inspires me”

cover image of the book 'The Audacity Of Sara Grayson' by author Joani Elliott

FIRST LINES

PART ONECHAPTER ONE

“She refused to be triggered by breakfast food, so she went straight for the waffles. Real Belgian ones made of yeast dough – not batter. She’d eaten two of them already. Hot, bronzed waffles with Nutella and strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream. There were times to avoid your triggers and times to chew them up slowly and deliberately. Plus, eating was preferable to small talk, not that anyone would want to talk to her. They were here for Ellery, and Ellery was everywhere

cover image of the book 'The Audacity Of Sara Grayson' by author Joani Elliott

MEMORABLE LINES

“She used her milk of magnesia voice. It was smooth and instantly comforting – if you could stand the taste”

.

He looked back at Sara, his head tilted slightly. ‘Don’t underestimate the power of your roots.’ She sighed. ‘Even when it hurts?’ He met her gaze. ‘Especially when it hurts.’

.

“Writing is an incredibly vulnerable act”

.

“I think I have an appointment to go open a vein tonight and bleed all over my manuscript”

cover image of the book 'The Audacity Of Sara Grayson' by author Joani Elliott

REVIEW

“What happens when your mother’s dying wish becomes your worst nightmare”

I would never have thought it possible that I would be awarding a book from the genre of Contemporary Women’s Fiction 5 out of 5 stars, let alone adding it to my Goodreads ‘Favourites’ list! But how could I not, when I became so invested in both the storyline and characters, that I simply didn’t want for it to be over, so that I would have to stop reading!

As a debut book by a new author, Joani Elliott writes with complete confidence, consummate ease and total authority, as I was led by the hand in exactly the direction she needed me to travel, whilst she  stimulated all the myriad of emotions she wanted me to feel along the way.

There were so many more great snippets and words I wanted to share from the story, however some of them might have given away too many hints of ‘spoilers’, and to be honest, I was too busy reading, that I simply forgot to pause and take stock. Besides which, the writing was just so good, that I wouldn’t have known where to stop with the featured lines!

Those opening lines and quirky cover art, lured me into a book, equally strong in both storyline and characterisations, which hit the ground running, and then never let up on the pace until that last word of the final page really did mean it was all over and I could breathe again. The well signposted chapters were short and punchy, which was a real antidote to counteract some of the very muddled and confused thinking of our troubled lead protagonist, Sara Grayson, and kept everything moving along fluidly and seamlessly. The chapters also each began with a quote from many different well-known authors, carefully chosen to invoke a real feeling of time and place, thus setting the scene for what was to follow and all adding to the richness of the assured, observational and descriptive narrative, together with some excellent conversational dialogue.

A well structured, multi-genre, multi-layered story, beautifully textured, written with desperate intensity, yet with genuine heart and balanced with some real moments of laugh-out-loud humour. I followed Sara as she strived to unravel and make sense of, the complicated life her family had led, unbeknownst to her, and the blind and binding faith placed firmly and squarely on her shoulders by her deceased mother, to complete the final book of her unfinished series, with the instruction to be audacious!

Part love story, part mystery, part self-actualization, this is a story to indulge in and escape into, although I was never totally at ease, as I really felt for Sara throughout her challenging and often agonising journey of self-doubt and low esteem, knowing from personal experience, exactly how she was feeling. The realization that much of what she had assumed about her family history hadn’t quite been as black and white as she had thought, opened the floodgates of emotion, as lies followed half-truths; fiercely guarded secrets led to self-doubt and jealous accusations; complex family dynamics caused uncontrollable angst and trauma. Ultimately however, these experiences, shared with people she both loved and respected, opened heart and mind, thankfully resulting in Sara becoming the self-assured person and intuitive writer her mother had always known was buried deep within her.

An authentic cast of wonderfully defined and drawn characters, joined Sara on her journey of self-discovery and filled the pages with some larger than life actions, amusing anecdotes and complex dynamics. I found myself relating to each and every one of them, despite, or maybe because of, their many raw and passionate vulnerabilities, which only added to their genuine and believable interactions.

If you enjoy books about books, bookish people, authors, the writing process, and the publishing world, then you are sure to enjoy this one as much as I did. It almost made me feel that I wanted and more importantly, was skilled enough, to write a book of my own – Okay, only for a few moments, but that’s alright by me 🙂

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”

Image of author Joani Elliott

A complimentary kindle download of this book, for review purposes, was made available by the publicist Meryl Moss Media Group, publisher Post Hill Press, and supplied by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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14 comments
  • Joani has a sense of humour 🙂 I just had to laugh when I was reading that she could apply her make-up using the toaster as a mirror. I used to use a knife to do that :-))
    Lots of food involve in the book too…and what’s the difference between a regular waffle maker and a Pro Double one? LOL…I used to have a waffle maker and I used it once in every 3 years…so one day I decided that I didn’t need it and gave it away to save me some space in a very crowded kitchen cabinet.

    • Hi Angie,

      We also, used to have a waffle maker, which was bought for us as a gift. I don’t think it ever made it out of the box before it got donated to a charity shop! I checked out what they call a ‘Pro Double’ machine and they look very elaborate – and very big!

      Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love waffles, but they’re the kind of think I usually opt for if we go out for ‘brunch’

      I am certain there is a little of Joani’s sense of fun, adventure and survival of the fittest determination, in the character of Sara Grayson. A complex and often sad storyline, but definitely tinged with some real humour and raw human emotions.

      Not necessarily your genre of reading I know, but thanks for taking the time to stop by nonetheless, I really appreciate your support 🙂

    • This really was a fantastic debut for author Joani Elliott.

      A great storyline with real depth and intrigue and some fantastic characters who were well developed and interesting!

      Well worth 5 stars 🙂

  • Having just read a book from this genre for book club, I’m not really in the market for another right now (small doses), but your fun review does make me want to put it on the wish list for future reference!

    • Hi Kelly,

      I’m a bit like you, I like to shake up my genres on a regular basis, but luckily I have quite a varied selection in my review schedule right now.

      It isn’t very often that I award 5 stars to a contemporary fiction novel, but I found it really hard to believe that this was a debut novel, as the storyline was so complex and nuanced and the writing was first class.

      If you have a ‘wish list’ I would really recommend this one as a worthy addition.

      From your list, I am adding ‘The Sweet Taste Of Muscadines’ to my own ‘wish list’, as that one sounds really good – how would you rate it? 🙂

      • I had to get about 50 pages into it to decided whether I liked it or not. The author was so negative about the South at the beginning, all I could think was “she’s not writing about the South I know and love”. And given the author is a Southerner, it seemed all the more odd. However, things picked up and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Perhaps 4/5? (or maybe 3.5/5) It was worth my while.

  • Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when a book surprises you like this and you find yourself enjoying it in a way you never thought you would.
    Given that this has so many of the things I look for in a read I’m away to add it to my Wish List.

    • Hi Felicity,

      Yes! I don’t tend to read too much in the way of contemporary or women’s fiction – or at least I didn’t! Just recently I have taken on quite a few Blog Tour Reviews from books in the genre and I have to admit that I have enjoyed them all, so I can see me adding them to my ‘wish list’ more often in the future.

      I am not usually prone to recommending books, however this story has a little bit of everything in it and I really think you might enjoy the read!

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend 🙂

  • The greeting card writer, I remember reading about the book on your blog. It does sound very interesting. I like books and writing, so it might be just the book I should check to see if it’s available at my library. 🙂 I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed it.
    Have a wonderful weekend. xx

    • Hi Anca,

      Not a story to be taken too seriously, although there are plenty of little sub-plots going on along the way. Sara certainly discovers that writing a full length novel is much more challenging than putting together a short verse for a greetings card, that’s for sure!

      However, her late mother knew her daughter much better than everyone thought and was certain that if Sara found the correct formula, then the finished book would be something special!

      Definitely well worth checking out, I think you might enjoy it.

      Have a great holiday weekend 🙂

  • Hi there Yvonne! I love everything about this – the title, the cover, the synopsis, the snippet and your review! I am definitely adding this one to my TBR.

    We miss you at Wondrous Words Wednesday!

    Lots of Love,

    Elza Reads

    • Hi Mareli,

      I think you would really enjoy this one too.

      Sara is a great character, although she lacks confidence in herself. However her deceased mother obviously saw something in her which she doesn’t recognise in herself, and has left Sara with the responsibility of completing the final book in the series she was writing. There is some great dialogue, some quite anxty moments and a few real laugh-out-loud episodes.

      I shall be keen to see what you think of it 🙂

      I am in the midst of making some decisions about any potential future for Fiction Books Blog, which is why I have been AWOL for the past few days. I have tried to go through this thought process before, but have always got bogged down by scheduled posts and memes. In order to focus and concentrate on what I need to do, I have decided to empty my dashboard of everything except pre-scheduled Blog Tours, so between now and September you probably won’t see many posts get published apart from those reviews!

      I’ll keep you updated, but I still always value your visits and support, so please keep stopping by

Written by Yvonne

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