“The Winner’s Circle”

“The Winners Circle” by PJ Colander is book three in the “Faith, Family, Frenzy” series. Fran, Bonnie, and Jackie, familiar characters from the first two books, are still laughing it up on each page, and new readers will laugh right along with them. Any needed background information is incorporated in the natural narrative of this book. Readers new and old alike shake their heads and ask themselves “Why are some people devoted to chaos and determined to live in turmoil?” Regular readers will also be glad to know that scones reside in the freezer right next to that secret stash of marijuana-laced treats.

It all begins with a late night phone call. Of course, even answering phone calls for these friends is an entertaining task. The ringtone blares “Amazing Grace,” and the only appropriate answer is, of course, “How sweet the sound.” This time Bonnie replies that the next sound will be “cha-ching” because she has just bought a lottery ticket. Bonnie has the winning numbers, and all that money might change everything. Actually, things remain the same, just the geography changes. They still worry about their family and friends, and readers will laugh as they try to keep the money secret (like that will happen) and keep everyone out of trouble. Through it all, they are friends helping friends.

Colander paints a vivid picture of life in the Midwest. The dialogue brings the characters to life, and readers get to know people through the “down-home” descriptions. They are our parents, our grandparents, our children; we are these people.

“Bonnie flicked her hair like a pony who’d won a blue ribbon at the rodeo.”

“Jackie guessed if you were born and raised in Michigan like her and Steve, you basically breathed your own breath nine months a year, mouth wrapped in a scarf during cold weather outdoors”

“Carl had wedged himself into everyone’s hearts with the force of the freight trains that hurried Midwestern grains to food preparation plants.”

“Shut the front door! Is he all right? Let me talk to him.”

The action unfolds as the two couples replace their farm routines with Australian adventures paid for by lotto winnings. They meet some odd and unusual characters along the way.

“The man lizard-eyed the ladies. His sliver of red licorice mustache didn’t move, though his orangutan red hair was fully askew. An odd juxtaposition, as if he was half-liberal, half-conservative, half-unhinged, with the other half enslaved by the law.”

In alternating in chapters, readers also look in on those at home. Social media reports the actions of the adventurers, and back-home friends see things they wish they could un-see.”

“The Winners Circle” is about tight-knit group of friends who survive life’s uplifts, down drafts, and everything in between. To them, faith, family, and friends matter the most; all they need is hope and each other. I received a review copy of “The Winner’s Circle” from PJ Colander, Acorn Publishing, and NetGalley. It is filled with escapades and adventure but mostly with laughs and fun.

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