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Spare Change (Wyattsville #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,205 Ratings  ·  500 Reviews
A GRITTY FAMILY SAGA REVIEWERS' COMPARE TO GRISHAM'S The Client... Eleven year-old Ethan Allen witnessed a brutal murder. Now he's running for his life.
In the time-tested tradition of Southern Fiction, Crosby unveils the darkest side of human nature then rewards her readers with a beautiful tale of love, loss and unexpected gifts.
Olivia Westerly is a widow. She's got no
Kindle Edition, 281 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Bent Pine Publishing (first published September 1st 2011)
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Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review
Honestly, I had a hard time finishing this and am struggling to write this as I was dulled by it. It was a predictable and ‘nice’ story - about an 11-year old who witnesses the murder of his parents and is seeking safety.
It lacked some muscle -a good storyline but I think it could have gone deeper without all the pov's. Simplistic characters, simplistic prose.
Top it off there were numerous editing errors that contri
Suzanne Leopold
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Olivia Westerly was not like most twenty-five year old women living in the 1920’s. Instead of getting married and having children, she lives by herself and has a career. Olivia hated the idea of marriage and motherhood until she met Charlie Doyle at 58 years old. Deeply in love, they quickly wed and she left her job to live with him in Wyattsville.

Ethan Allen Doyle is 11 years old and lives with his parents, Benjamin and Susanna. Benjamin is Charlie Doyle’s only child but they haven't spoken in
Bette Lee Crosby
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Spare Change has now become an Amazon #1 Bestseller in the category of Historical Mystery.
* In person book club read #3 *

There's something so unique about this author's writing style, I can't quite put my finger on it. But I can try.

It's simple without being simplistic.

Sweet but with a few f-bombs and other assorted cuss words thrown in. Oh, and a murder or two, or three -- grizzly ones no less.

A Southern feel, yet a universal message. Not as gritty as Southern can get though.

Smart characters who do foolish things.

Unique. Truly she owns her style. I liked this one just a tad less tha
Naomi Blackburn
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not giving this book 5 stars for the longevity of the book or its' ability to become a classic, but for the author's ability to write characters who will absolutely melt your heart and elicit sympathy from the reader. I find that to be a rare ability in the majority of the books I read and this author truly does have that capability. I absolutely fell in love with the little boy in this book, Ethan Allen, and, as a mother, wanted to wrap my arms around him. As I sat down to read this, I fou ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
Free on Amazon today 10-13-16....worth a read for free.

I didn't judge this book by the cover, which I loved, but I did judge this book by the author. I read the back of the book for the plot and saw this sweet author and her dog. I thought there is no way this sweet lady is going to write a gritty, southern novel that will hold my attention. Bette Lee Crosby proved me wrong. I adored this book from beginning to end. So it wasn't gritty southern writing like Cormac McCarthy, William Gay or Daniel
Elle Thornton
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to let go of stories I love, and that’s been true for me of Bette Lee Crosby’s work. Her book Spare Change is wise in the ways of life’s ironies, its sorrows and evil, and the goodness that human beings offer one another. In Spare Change her engaging lead characters find themselves in desperate situations that seemingly have no solution: for eleven-year-old Ethan Allen, it’s hard to imagine darker things than what he goes through early on in this book. This is an author who knows how t ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was contacted by the author and agreed to read “Spare Change” and provide an honest review.

In this case, that’s not difficult. “Spare Change” is a truly beautiful book. It’s a book to savor and think about. When I began to read it, I was immediately caught up on the story line. I wanted to pull Ethan Allen out of his circumstances and bring him home to mother (not at all like me). After meeting Olivia, I wanted to invite her over for coffee and a visit.

I normally don’t get very involved with
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because my wife loves her books and I almost feel I have read them all but with bits missing [if you don't know yet, my wife is sue1958 on here, sue ward.

She has been encouraging me to review books, so all her nagging has now paid off except, I dictate and she types because I'm hopeless at that.

I really got into this book from the first pages. I found this authors way of writing easy going and easy to understand. I am the sort that forgets things but the book was enough to make
Elaine Walsh
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf
Turn off your cell phone and butter up some popcorn when you read Spare Change because you’re reading a book you’ll swear some studio has already bought the rights to turn into a movie. I admit, I’m drawn to southern characters and southern tales and Ms. Crosby has cooked up a good one in Spare Change. The characters are fully developed and layered with endearing traits, annoying habits and the right amount of quirkiness. They were so real, I wanted to sit in a booth next to them just to eavesdr ...more
The Haunted Reading Room Lifetime Lovecraft
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women's Fiction, Southern Lit, Historical Fiction (20th century)
Recommended to The Haunted Reading Room by: Bette Crosby
Oh, I loved this novel! The author’s attention to historical and geographical detail is perfection; the characters are simply delightful-and throughout the novel there remains a tugging at the reader’s heartstrings, accompanied by a feeling of contentedness and joy. Yes, reading this story is like coming home again, or perhaps, coming home to a home one has never had but wished for. It matters not what is your preferred genre-get out and read this book!

Olivia Ann Westerly is the kind of woman wh
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, digital-read
I fell in love with all of the characters in this book especially the people who lived in the apartment building. But no one captured my heart like Ethan Allen. What that poor boy had to go through was heartbreaking! But in the end it was all perfect and I was smiling the whole time reading the last few pages. This is my first read by Bette and I. Look forward to reading more! Well done Bette!
"Making people think they can't scrape up enough to buy a dime's worth of happiness is the Devil's doing. It's his way of handing out heartaches."

Heartaches are plentiful, in this bittersweet novel of quirky characters and southern-fried charm.

"Lord knows, I've done my share of grieving and crying. But no matter how you love somebody, there comes a time when you got to let them go."

Whether young or old, each person has their own burdens to bear. Some burdens are heavier than others. Some hearta
Patrice Hoffman
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-invite
I really enjoyed this heartwarming novel by Bette Lee Crosby. It's the story of a woman named Olivia Westerly who's put off marrying most of her life because she's afraid of it meaning the end of her dreams and aspirations. Unable to shake the image of her friends who have kids in tow she reluctantly marries late in life to a man named Charlie who dies during their honeymoon. Olivia and her superstitious nature blame it on the opal he's given her as a gift. Ethan Allen is the tough talking, inte ...more
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*

It’s not every book that I read that can make me feel so passionately about the characters. Spare Change, however brought so many feelings and emotions out of me. I disliked Scooter with a passion and wanted to slap him more than a few times! My heart went out to Ethan so many times throughout the book. I just wanted to hug him. When Olivia goes through so much pain after shortly being married it made me really analyze this part of life. I never really thought about ho
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: free copy from the author.

This is absolutely, categorically not the kind of book I usually read, and I completely enjoyed it. It tells the story of the journeys of two people, middle-aged Olivia and 11-year-old Ethan Allen (yep, named after the furniture store), toward each other through loss and tragedy. Both Olivia and Ethan share an almost desperate self-reliance that hides a deep need for other people, and their adjustment to each other is aided by the goodness and kind
☕ Kimberly
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while you read a book with characters that touch you. It’s the kind of book you want to share with others. Spare Change is that type of book. It’s the story of a woman who fears marriage and children at a time when all women long to walk down the aisle. It is a beautiful, heartwarming tale about love, loss and unexpected gifts. It deals with a violent murder, a witness and those who wish to keep it a secret. Above all, this novel offers characters you won't soon forget.

Told from
Jillian Dodd
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I just finished this book last night and immediately called my mom and said, "You have to read this." You know some of the stupid books they forced you to read in school? To me, this is the kind of book that they should have let us read. It's a complete classic, but is interesting, heart warming, and amazing. It's the kind of book that reminds you why you read. Because you want to fall in love with characters. Characters who think they are one way, but through a series of events learn that ...more
Christine Nolfi
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for a story about the best in human nature, Spare Change won’t disappoint. Crosby provides a masterful characterization of Olivia Westerly’s journey to motherhood long past an age when most woman would consider taking in a child, and the depiction of eleven-year-old Ethan Allen is sure to steal the reader’s heart. These are characters you won’t soon forget. Highly recommended for readers of contemporary fiction.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very sweet, nostalgic tale with some mostly lovable characters. It seemed almost like an episode of The Waltons, if the Waltons engaged in adultery and murder.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars: A book about loss and love.

Olivia is content with her life. She decided at a young age to never marry after she saw her friend tethered down with a pack of kids and no freedom. She opted for a career and avoided marriage, that is until the day Charlie Doyle entered her world and swept her away. Now at fifty eight, she is ready to marry and enjoy her golden years. Her dreams are shattered when an unlucky gift of an opal necklace precedes a dinner that ends in tragedy. Olivia is a wido
Laura Thomas
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the early 1920′s Olivia Ann Westerly rebels against her father and moves out on her own, despite his threats to disown her. She never looks back. Working at the telephone company for many years, she sees her friends get married, and become mothers shortly after. When she questions them about it, they say, sure, that’s what’s expected:

1) Get married

2) Get pregnant

3) Have a baby

4) Have more babies…

The thought terrifies her.

But she does fall for Herbert and excepts his proposal. But then she get
Michele at A Belle's Tales
Full review originally posted at A Belle's Tales.

What a heartwarming story! As a reader who reads mostly YA and NA genres, this story was a wonderful departure from my usual fare. I buddy-read this book with my mother over our Christmas holiday, and we both adored it! Regardless of your reading preferences, I believe this is a book that could be rated E for everyone! Ms. Crosby takes us on a journey that begins with our introduction to Olivia Westerly, an independent woman who is extremely super
Some stories burrow into your heart, Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby hit mine like a jack hammer, digging deeper and deeper until there was no way, I was putting this down until THE. VERY. LAST. WORD. Words like powerful, deep, intense, gut-wrenching, heart-warming are not enough to describe the experience I had living in the world Ms. Crosby has created.

Two people, complete strangers, are brought together just when they both needed someone to save them from the worlds they had known.

Olivia wa
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to see life from all sides.
Recommended to Lyn (Readinghearts) by: Sisterhood of the Traveling Book
Spare Change is the first book I have read by Bette Lee Crosby, but I can definitely say it won't be the last. Her book is filled with wonderful characters from the main characters of Olivia Westerly-Doyle and Ethan Allen Doyle, all the way down to the seemingly most insignificant ones. As I journyed along the stories of Olivia and Ethan Allen, I realized that none of the characters in the book are insignificant. Everyone has a role to play in the story, just as everyone has a role to play in li ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
When Olivia was young she decided she didn’t want to be married, and definitely no children…she didn’t want to be tied down like some of her friends were. So she became an independent young woman, with a job she thoroughly enjoyed, and advanced in through the years. As she worked the night shift, she was aware of dangers, but her father told her early on that if she left home to pursue that madness, she was on her own!

Travelling through life, she finally met Charlie Doyle when she was in her mid
This is a story that comes full circle. Told from the perspective and in the nuances of language of the main characters. Some crude, some refined, conversation remains true to its speaker.

An accidental death and a murder leave as witness, a young boy now homeless and traumatized. The murder is not the mystery. The mystery has more to do with the actions and reactions of the characters. The characterizations remain true throughout the book with the exception being the growth and change in two str
Georgiann Hennelly
Spare Change is a truly fantastic read. Bette draws you into the story from the very beginning. You have Olivia a very superstitious women who waits till late in life to marry for the first time , She marries Charles Allen Doyle who dies on there honeymoon. Ethan Allen Doyle who witnessed his parents deaths, and a murderer who wants him silenced at all costs. Spare change is a mix of southern flair and some serious thoughts about whats important in life. Ethan Allen has some madcap adventures an ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a wonderful treasure and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

The story of a young boy who witnessed the death of his parents was tragic, yet heartwarming. I was sad when I finished this book, not because of the ending but because I wanted to continue on. Bette Lee had a way of describing all of the characters in this book so well. I felt I knew them. I wanted to wrap my arms around this young boy who found himself so alone and frightened. I admired Olivia's strength, dete
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book with very strong characters. I enjoyed how she went back and forth between characters throughout the book so you really got into their characters. Being introduced to each character at the beginning of the book, it was fantastic how they all ended up tied together. The characters were very strong and very believable. A story of starting over, forgiving and letting go of hard fast ideas. A heartwarming book about lives that come together.
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USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby's books are "Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances." - Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby's writing is, "A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures."

Samantha from Reader's Favorite
More about Bette Lee Crosby...

Other Books in the Series

Wyattsville (5 books)
  • Jubilee's Journey (Wyattsville, #2)
  • Passing through Perfect (Wyattsville, #3)
  • The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (Wyattsville, #4)
  • Beyond the Carousel (Wyattsville, #5)

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“She'd bottled herself up like a person already cremated.” 9 likes
“The Lord listens in all those places. They're just different slices of the same pie.” 2 likes
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