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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Little Tea by Claire Fullerton (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Little Tea by Claire Fullerton! 

Book Review

Little Tea by Claire Fullerton
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction
Publication Date: PB - April 28, 2020 / eBook - May 1, 2020
Format: Paperback - 252 pages
               Kindle - 5271 KB / 254 pages
ISBN: 978-1645262596
ASIN: B0817J667Y
BNID: 978-1645262596
Genre: Southern Fiction

Buy The Book: 
Amazon  (Free On Kindle Unlimited Program)
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if her friendship with Little Tea can triumph over history.

Book Excerpt:

“Hey, Little Tea,” Hayward called as she and I sat crossed legged on the north side of the verandah. “I bet I can beat you to the mailbox and back.” It was a Saturday afternoon in early June, and we’d spread the church section of the Como Panolian beneath us and positioned ourselves beneath one of the pair of box windows gracing either side of the front door. The front door was fully open, but its screen was latched to keep the bugs from funneling into the entrance hall. They’d be borne from the current of the verandah ceiling fans that stirred a humidity so pervasive and wilting, there was no escaping until the weather cooled in early November. The glass pitcher of sweet tea Elvita gave us sat opaque and sweating, reducing crescents of ice to weak bobbing smiles around a flaccid slice of lemon.
Little Tea stood to her full height at Hayward’s challenge, her hand on her hip, her oval eyes narrowed. “Go on with yourself,” she said to Hayward, which was Little Tea’s standard way of dismissal.
“I bet I can,” Hayward pressed, standing alongside Rufus, his two-year-old Redbone coonhound who shadowed him everywhere.
Little Tea took a mighty step forward. “And you best get that dog outta here ’fore he upends this here paint. Miss Shirley gone be pitching a fit you get paint on her verandah.”
“Then come race me,” Hayward persisted. “Rufus will follow me down the driveway. You just don’t want to race because I beat you the last time.”
“You beat me because you a cheat,” Little Tea snapped.
 “She’s right, Hayward,” I said. “You took off first, I saw you.”
“It’s not my fault she’s slow on the trigger,” Hayward responded. “Little Tea hesitated; I just took the advantage.”
 “I’ll be taking advantage now,” she stated, walking down the four brick steps to where Hayward and Rufus stood.
 At ten years old, Little Tea was taller than me and almost as tall as Hayward. She had long, wire-thin limbs whose elegance belied their dependable strength, and a way of walking from an exaggerated lift of her knees that never disturbed her steady carriage. She was regal at every well-defined angle, with shoulders spanning twice the width of her tapered waist and a swan neck that pronounced her determined jaw.
Smiling, Hayward bounced on the balls of his feet, every inch of his lithe body coiled and ready to spring. There was no refusing Hayward’s smile, and he knew it. It was a thousand-watt pirate smile whose influence could create a domino effect through a crowd. I’d seen Hayward’s smile buckle the most resistant of moods; there was no turning away from its white-toothed, winsome source. When my brother smiled, he issued an invitation to the world to get the joke.
Typically, the whole world would.
“Celia, run fetch us a stick,” Little Tea directed, her feet scratching on the gravel driveway as she marched to the dusty quarter-mile stretch from our house to the mailbox on Old Panola road. I sprang from the verandah to the grass on the other side of the driveway and broke a long, sturdy twig from an oak branch. “Set it right here,” Little Tea pointed, and I placed it horizontally before her. But Rufus rushed upon the stick and brought it straight to Hayward, who rubbed his russet head and praised, “Good boy.”
“Even that dog of yours a cheat,” Little Tea said, but she, too, rubbed his head then replaced the stick on the ground. “Now come stand behind here. Celia’s going to give us a fair shake. We’ll run when she says run.” Her hands went to her hips. “Now what you gonna give me when I win?”
“The reward of pride and satisfaction,” Hayward said, and just then the screen door on the verandah flew wide and my brother John came sauntering out.
“On go,” I called from my position on the side of the driveway, where I hawkishly monitored the stick to catch a foot creeping forward. Looking from Hayward to Little Tea to make sure I had their attention, I used a steady cadence announcing, “Ready … set … go.”
Off the pair flew, dust scattering, arms flailing; off in airborne flight, side by side, until Little Tea broke loose and left Hayward paces behind. I could see their progression until the bend in the driveway obstructed my vision but had little doubt about what was happening. Little Tea was an anomaly in Como, Mississippi. She was the undisputed champion in our age group of the region’s track and field competition and was considered by everyone an athlete to watch, which is why Hayward continuously challenged her to practice. Presently, I saw the two walking toward me. Hayward had his arm around Little Tea’s shoulder, and I could see her head poised, listening as he chattered with vivid animation.
“You should have seen it,” Hayward breathlessly said when they reached me. “She beat me easily by three seconds—I looked at my watch.”
“Three seconds? That doesn’t seem like much,” I said.
“Listen Celia, a second is as good as a mile when you’re talking time. I’m two years older and a boy, so believe me, Little Tea’s already got the makings of a star athlete.” He grinned. “But we already knew this.”

Book Teaser:

Book Trailer:

My Book Review:

In Little Tea, author Claire Fullerton weaves a beautifully written Southern Fiction tale about the bonds of friendship, family drama, choices, heartbreak, love and loss, and racial relations.

After ten years apart, lifelong friends Celia, Renny and Ava reconnect for a three-day-weekend at Renny's lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas. The passage of years and long distance locations haven't altered their strong bond of friendship. As the three friends reminisce about their teen years, life choices, decisions, and current relationship issues, Celia finds herself drawn back down memory lane to her teenage years as she seeks closure to a tumultous time growing up in the Deep South.

Little Tea is a compelling story about friendship, family dynamics, Southern traditions and way of life, choice, decisions, love and loss, racial relations, and the balance of life. Told in alternating timelines between the present at Renny's lake house, and their teen years in the 1980s, Celia takes the reader on a journey back to her teen years at her family's plantation/farm in Como, Mississsippi and city home in Memphis, Tennessee. The alternating storylines intertwine in a compelling way inwhich it unfolds a story that mixes a strong bond of friendship with the Southern tendency to keep everything light and pleasant no matter what, which hides the reality of the division of racial relations that were very much a part of the Southern tradition and landscape.

The author weaves a thoughtful tale that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride where they will experience the full gamut of emotions. The story has a wonderful mixture of heartbreak and hope, and its realistic message that life can change in a blink of an eye, but can also balance the scale with joy, happiness, and second chances, and the topic of racial relations will provide the reader with much food for thought. While I thoroughly enjoyed the friends weekend get-together, I found myself completely engrossed in Celia's flashback to her past, especially her friendship with Little Tea, and their families' intertwined relationship which left me feeling the full gamut of emotions. The surprise ending beautifully brings the story full-circle, and will certainly leave a smile on your face.

Little Tea is a lovely story that will resonate with the reader for quite some time. It is an amazing story of love, loss, family, friendship, and second chances that will simply stir your soul!


About The Author

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970's Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers' Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire's first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire's 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the short list of the Chanticleer Review's Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary.

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

August 3 – Literary Gold – GUEST POST
August 4 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – Carla Loves To Read - REVIEW
August 5 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 5 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 5 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 
August 6 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTEVIEW
August 7 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW
August 7 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
August 8 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 8 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 8 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – GUEST POST
August 8 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 9 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
August 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews- REVIEW, GUEST POST
August 10 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

1 comment:

  1. i've seen this one around. nice cover and trailer to go with your great review

    sherry @ fundinmental