Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MINE IS THE NIGHT, by Liz Curtis Higgs

As promised last week, here's my review of the conclusion of Liz Curtis Higgs' beautiful retelling of the Biblical story of Naomi and Ruth.
Mine is the Night continues the story of Margery and Elizabeth Kerr as they leave Edinburgh and travel to an uncertain future in Margery's hometown of Selkirk.
Faced with near poverty, and branded as traitors for their support of the Jacobite cause, they find lodging and eke out the barest of livings in a poor section of town. When retired Lord Admiral Jack Buchanan purchases an estate near Selkirk, Elizabeth is hired as a seamstress to sew gowns for the many servants in the Admiral's employ. However fine her skills, her employment depends on the Admiral's ignorance of her Jacobite sympathies.
The story follows her difficulties, as well as the lives of the men and women she comes to care for in Selkirk. As with Here Burns My Candle, Mine is the Night is filled with fascinating details about eighteenth century Scotland. And also as with Here Burns My Candle, I couldn't put this book down. Higgs is a skillful storyteller who keeps the reader engrossed until the last page.
I give this series an enthusiastic five stars.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

HERE BURNS MY CANDLE, by Liz Curtis Higgs

 From the beginning of Here Burns My Candle, right on through to the end of its sequel, Mine is the Night, Liz Curtis Higgs leads the reader through an inspired retelling of the story of Naomi and Ruth in the Old Testament.
 I'll be reviewing Mine is the Night next week. In my opinion, the two books should be read in sequence. After finishing Here Burns My Candle, I couldn’t wait to pick up Mine is the Night to see how the story turned out.
 Higgs sets the tales in Scotland in the eighteenth century. Her devotion to detail, both with settings and dialect, is impeccable. Here Burns my Candle opens with Lady Marjory Kerr living in comfort in Edinburgh society. Her two sons, Donald and Andrew, with their wives, share the family apartment.
 Lady Elizabeth Kerr, Donald’s wife, is the main focus of the story. A Highlander by birth, she doesn’t fit Lady Marjory's idea of a proper wife for her beloved elder son.
 When bonny Prince Charlie's supporters mount an uprising against King George, Lady Elizabeth's loyalties come into question. The choices made by each member of the family propel the Kerrs into ever deeper political waters. The story reads like dominoes falling--each incident leads inevitably to the next shattering event.
 Here Burns My Candle is a dramatic story, well worth the hours I stole from other activities to read this excellent novel.
 Check back here next week for my review of Mine is the Night. And if you've read Here Burns My Candle, I'd love to hear your opinion of the story.

Monday, November 21, 2011

THE HEIRESS, by Susan May Warren

            The Heiress provides a fascinating glimpse into what has been called the Gilded Age in America. Warren has created two sisters, Esme and Jinx Price, and used them to illustrate the opulent lifestyle of the era's most privileged citizens.

            Esme, the older sister, is forced by her family into an engagement to a man she does not love--or even like. Her sister, Jinx, is consumed with an envy that ultimately drives her into a life of deception.

            The Heiress is a well-researched novel that captures readers and transports them back to the early 1900’s. Filled with secrets and intrigue, as well as romance, The Heiress is the compelling first novel in the epic Daughters of Fortune series.

            Warren used the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau as her inspiration for this story. She’s done a superb job. The Heiress is a book to be read and savored.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The teaser on the back cover of The Fence My Father Built reads, "This is the story of finding your way home--even when home is a trailer in the middle of nowhere."
And what a story this is. Muri Pond's parents divorced when she was a small child, and she has spent her life dreaming about reuniting with her father. When she decides to take the journey to eastern Oregon to find him, she takes her less-than-eager children with her. Her fifteen-year-old daughter would be a handful for two parents, but Muri is newly single and barely able to cope with the girl's rebellion.
When they reach her father's property, her aunt and uncle welcome her with open arms--to a rattle-trap single wide trailer set in the middle of the arid eastern Oregon landscape. Muri quickly learns that a wealthy neighbor will do almost anything to buy Muri's father's land. The question is, why would he want it?
Solving this mystery, learning about the father she barely remembers, and coping with her children is made somewhat bearable for Muri when she meets the veterinarian who lives nearby. But he, too, is being pressured by the same wealthy man who is making the Pond family's life difficult.
In The Fence My Father Built, Clare has crafted a story that moves along without a hitch. If you enjoy family drama sparked with suspense, you’ll love this book.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As the still-beautiful former Miss Alabama, Maggie Fortenberry has come to a decision point in her life. Everything that she loved about her hometown of Birmingham is gradually being replaced by strip malls, big box retailers, and cookie-cutter mini-mansions. I Still Dream About You is a life-affirming story about growing older and maturing--not always the same thing. There's also a mystery involved, which resolves in a way that surprised me.
Peopled with characters you'll wish lived in your hometown (well, except for one of them), I Still Dream About You is a delightful story written with Flagg's trademark humor and insight. For example, here's a terrific quote from page 97: "They say envy is a coal that comes hot and hissing straight from hell." What a great word picture.
I Still Dream About You was recommended to me by a friend, and in turn I recommend it to you. Maggie is a heroine who is easy to relate to and love. I hated to see the story end. It's definitely a book I’ll read again just to savor the details.

Monday, October 17, 2011

THE AMISH MIDWIFE, by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger has always known she was adopted, but her world rocks when on his deathbed her father gives her a carved box containing fragments of her history before her adoption.
With both of her adoptive parents dead, Lexie is spurred to seek her birth family. She leaves her Oregon home to travel to Amish country in Pennsylvania. What follows in The Amish Midwife is a gripping drama about intertwined secrets between generations. Lexie's stubborn quest for the truth puts her at odds with the very people who hold the keys to her past.
The Amish Midwife is a compelling read, written with authenticity by the collaboration of Clark and Gould. I appreciated the geographical details each author contributed to the story.
I couldn't put this book down until I'd read every page. I know you'll feel the same way.

Monday, October 3, 2011


In Wonders Never Cease, nurse (and egotist) Kemp McAvoy believes he's found a perfect way to make a million dollars without having to work for the money. When a famous, if over-the-hill, movie star is injured in an automobile accident, Kemp is assigned to her care in ICU.
His money-making scheme involves the movie star's agent and the publisher of a runaway bestseller called Lattes with God. His idea seems foolproof, but then surprises arise. Wonders Never Cease is written with Downs' trademark humor, and at the same time it touches on some serious issues concerning our modern tendency to lean toward feel-good spirituality.
Wonders Never Cease is a quick read, and an enjoyable one. It's a perfect choice for a relaxing weekend in the easy chair.

Monday, September 19, 2011

THE COLONEL'S LADY, by Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz has done it again. The Colonel’s Lady is a wonderful novel that sweeps the reader back in time to 1779 on the Kentucky frontier.
When Roxanna Rowan arrives at Fort Endeavor in the Kentucke (as it used to be spelled) wilderness, she expects to reunite with her father. Once there, she learns her father has been killed. Penniless, she has no choice but to stay in the crowded fort until she can find a way to travel back to her former home in Virginia. The fort’s commander, Colonel Cassius McLinn, is a fiery-tempered Irishman with a past shrouded in mystery.
Against the backdrop of Redcoat and Indian danger, Roxanna and Colonel McLinn are also in danger of losing their hearts to one another. With skillful storytelling, Frantz keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome until the last pages.
The Colonel’s Lady is a novel for both history and romance lovers to savor. I give it two thumbs up!

Monday, September 12, 2011


         In Remembering Christmas, Dan Walsh has written a story that’s sure to be a holiday classic. The story opens when Rick Denton, a successful (and self-centered) individual, receives a phone call from his mother asking for his help in the bookstore she and her husband own. Rick’s stepfather, Art, has suffered a brain aneurysm and is hovering between life and death.
            Grudgingly , Rick travels to the small town of Sea Breeze, Florida, grumbling all the while about giving up his ski vacation. He avoids the quirky customers in the store as much as possible, preferring to let the intriguing young woman assistant deal with their questions.
            But there must be something in the air at the Book Nook. Rick finds himself questioning his past memories as well as his present attitudes. As the story moved from one surprise to another, I found myself stealing free moments to read when I should have been doing other things.
            Although Remembering Christmas would make an ideal gift, don’t wait for Christmas to read the book. This wonderful story will resonate with you no matter what the season.

My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The Forgotten Garden is a combination of many things: part fairy tale, part family saga, and part mystery, stirred together with a dash of Dickens and a sprinkling of Frances Hodgson Burnett. The finished product is a thoroughly absorbing novel.
The story begins in 1913, with a four-year-old girl who is hidden aboard a ship sailing from London to Australia. She's told to wait in her hiding place until the woman who put her there comes back. The woman never returns.
When the child is discovered at the end of the voyage, the dock master and his wife take her in and raise her as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, "Nell" learns the circumstances of her life in Australia and sets out to discover who she really is. The Forgotten Garden moves between Australia, London, and the Cornish coast, but not until Nell dies and her granddaughter continues the search are all the pieces of Nell's life assembled.
Australian author Morton does an impeccable job of holding the reader in thrall. The Forgotten Garden is one of the best novels I've read in a long time. This book will go on my 'keeper' shelf.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

WINGS OF PROMISE, by Bonnie Leon

Kate Evans is a pilot, and not just any pilot--she's a bush pilot in Alaska in the 1930's. The pages of Wings of Promise are filled with the challenges she faces. The elements threaten, as do some of the male pilots who work for the same flying service that employs Kate.
On the emotional front, Kate's heart is also in danger. Dr. Paul Anderson agrees to be a bush doctor, and he and Kate spend time together both in the air and on the ground. But who is Paul Anderson, really? If a man refuses to discuss his background, is he hiding something sinister? This dilemma chews at Kate as she fights her attraction to the handsome physician.
Fortunately Kate has Mike Conlin in her life, a fellow pilot who understands her love of flying. As their friendship deepens, Kate feels she's found the perfect mate--until the unexpected happens.
Leon brings Alaska and its dangers to vibrant life in Wings of Promise. This story kept me awake turning pages late at night. I guarantee it will have the same effect on you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I received Major Pettigrew's Last Stand as a gift, and I loved it! Major Ernest Pettigrew (Retired) is the quintessential English gentleman. A widower, he lives in the quiet country village of Edgecombe St. Mary, puttering with his roses, playing golf, and pretty much living life as he's always lived it.
One day, a Pakistani shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, calls on him to collect for the ailing paperboy, and finds the major in shock over the news of his brother's sudden death.
Thus begins an unlikely friendship, and a heartwarming tale. As his acquaintance with Mrs. Ali progresses, the major has to deal with village opinion, a pompous son, and his own prejudices.
The fun in reading this gentle book is watching the sixty-something major emerge from his cocoon of British reserve to embrace life.
If I were to rate this book as a movie, it would be PG13. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is general market fiction, and as such has a few situations that might not be suitable for younger readers.
That said, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was a joyous book to read. I thoroughly recommend this gem of a tale, and hope Simonson soon graces us with another story of village life in England.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak (the Bugman) is called on to investigate a murder on an organic tomato farm. Once he arrives, he finds that the murder victim's wife is a woman he once had feelings for.
When suspicions arise that the murder may have been drug-related, he asks Alena Savard (the "witch" from Downs' previous novel, Less Than Dead) to bring her super-talented dogs to aid the investigation. Alena jumps at the chance to renew her friendship with Nick, but is not thrilled when she finds she has a rival for his affections.
To further complicate the plot of The Ends of the Earth, a strange variety of tomato pest is discovered on the organic tomato plants, suggesting genetic manipulation. How Nick winds his way through the minefield of his heart and unravels the mystery will keep readers flipping pages.
Less Than Dead was the first Tim Downs novel I read and reviewed, but he's written several others. I’m a fan of Downs' stories. The Ends of the Earth is another humor-filled mystery--this one with a romantic subplot that adds to the intrigue.
The ending was a bit unusual, to say the least. If you’ve read The Ends of the Earth, I’d love to hear your opinion of the way Downs wrapped up the story.
I recommend The Ends of the Earth. If you’re new to Tim Downs, however, I’d suggest you start with Less Than Dead or one of his earlier books (Shoofly Pie or Chop Shop) to get the full effect of this novel.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Kathleen Y'Barbo has written a delightful novel about an incorrigible heroine, Charlotte Beck. The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck is set in the late 1800's, and features a young woman who has no interest in following the social mores of her times. Charlotte wants to attend college, and more than that, she wants her father to take her seriously as an adult.
Unfortunately, her madcap actions are at odds with her goals, and she bounces from one scrape after another. For business reasons, her father, Daniel Beck, arranges a bargain with her. If she will agree to marry the annoying Viscount Alex Hambly, Daniel will allow her to attend college.
How Charlotte and Alex manage to sidestep the bargain forms the latter portion of The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck. Without giving anything away, I must say this story kept me turning the pages to see what the couple would come up with next.
Y'Barbo's novel is a perfect summer read. Tuck this one into your tote bag and enjoy! Just be sure to wear sunscreen in case you get so absorbed that you stay out in the sun too long.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Mariah Aubrey is The Girl in the Gatehouse in Klassen's newest novel.
Mariah has been sent from her home in disgrace. An aunt offers lodging in an abandoned gatehouse on her English country estate. Forced to support herself, Mariah finds she can earn a small living by writing novels--as long as she conceals her identity as the author.
When her aunt dies, the estate is leased to a ship's captain who has his own secrets and ambitions. In addition to the captain, The Girl in the Gatehouse is filled with memorable characters, all of whom add richness and color to Mariah's life.
I'm a Julie Klassen fan. The Girl in the Gatehouse is her most Austen-like novel to date. Abounding with romance, secrets, and misunderstandings, it is a delicious read.
Be sure you have some time set aside when you sit down with The Girl in the Gatehouse. You won't want to stop reading until you've turned the last page.

Monday, June 13, 2011

THE DAUGHTER'S WALK, by Jane Kirkpatrick

As soon as I knew Jane Kirkpatrick had written The Daughter’s Walk, I put it on my to-read list. When I read Linda Lawrence Hunt's nonfiction history of this amazing journey, titled Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America, I felt the story cried out to be fictionalized. Kirkpatrick was just the author to accomplish the task.
In 1896, Helga Estby accepted a wager from a group of people connected with the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City within seven months. Helga wanted the money offered in order to save her family's farm from foreclosure.
She took her eighteen-year-old daughter, Clara, with her. The sponsors of the walk were promoting a new style of garment, called a reform dress. The women were to wear this shorter, uncorseted dress, with leggings, for the duration of their walk in order to generate publicity for the radical fashion.
But what of the daughter? This journey was not Clara Estby's idea, nor was she an entirely willing participant. Kirkpatrick spins The Daughter’s Walk from Clara's point of view, and in so doing gives the reader a full description of everything the women encountered along their sometimes treacherous journey.
Set in a time when women were just beginning to stir from the constraints of Victorian mores, The Daughter’s Walk also provides a look at a period that's thankfully in the past. Fans of historical fiction with a strong basis in fact will thoroughly enjoy The Daughter’s Walk.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


In Lily Haswell, Klassen has created a fascinating heroine and placed her in a setting that intrigued me. Lily is The Apothecary's Daughter. She helps her father in his shop, although at the time the story is set, women are not allowed to be apothecaries. Lily is blessed with a memory that forgets nothing, so the blending of herbs is a task she performs with skill.

However, when an offer comes to leave her small village and live in London with a wealthy relative, she is introduced to a life quite different from anything she's ever known. Although Lily has any number of men interested in her, her background in the apothecary shop is considered shameful and something to be hidden.

Klassen tells the story in the style of Jane Austen, with the manners and mores of the Regency period. Each chapter is headed with an authentic quote about herbs or their uses,which serves as an introduction for the events to come.

How all the twists and turns in this plot resolve themselves makes this book a treat to read. In addition to The Apothecary's Daughter, I've read Klassen's other books, The Silent Governess, The Lady of Milkweed Manor, and The Girl in the Gatehouse, and thoroughly recommend them as well. I’ll be posting a review of The Girl in the Gatehouse in a future blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken is sub-titled "A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption." It is all of that and more. When I finished Hillenbrand's remarkable recounting of Louis Zamperini's saga, I missed Louie. The author so involves the reader in Zamperini's life that I felt intimately connected with him.
As a boy, Zamperini had been a wild delinquent, but when he hit his teens his older brother guided him to channel his energy into running. Zamperini's talent carried him to the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Then when war came, he enlisted as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.
Two years later, his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean, and as far as the world knew, Louis Zamperini was dead. For the reader of Unbroken, the story is just beginning. Along with two other surviving crewmen, Zamperini struggled to a tiny life raft and began his extraordinary odyssey.
If Unbroken were told in pedestrian prose, it would still be a captivating story. However, Hillenbrand's gifted writing raises this book to the highest level. As an example of her literary skills, here are a couple of sentences from the book:
"Gathered in drifts against the buildings were some two hundred whisper-thin captive Allied servicemen. . . . They were as silent as snow."
I highly recommend Unbroken, both as a history and as a celebration of the human spirit. The book does contain graphic and heart-wrenching scenes depicting Zamperini's ordeal, so I don't recommend this story for younger readers.
Once you’ve read Unbroken, I'd love to hear your opinion. You can contact me through Facebook or through the contact page here on my website.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Revell's blog tour for THE DAWN OF A DREAM--A few more reviews

I'm so grateful to Revell for sponsoring this blog tour. It's been fun visiting these and other blogs. Be sure you follow the links. You could find a new blogger you'll enjoy following.

From Lulu at Knitsandreads:

Loved this book . . .a new story line instead of just husband leaves, wife is sad and finds new man! This book had some depth and adventure. Luellen is one woman who simply is NOT going to give up her dreams and fights for herself even when the odds are against her. Luellen is definitely not a weak character but one who has gumption and I think you will like her, as well as the other characters, although she does have a rather silly sister, but then again if everyone in the book had the same personality it would make for a pretty boring book! This book does have a few different stories going on at once but they are all intermixed and make for a very good read. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it ended!


From Pam at Daysong Reflections:


Although I had read the first two books in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, I found that The Dawn of a Dream quite easily stands alone. Returning characters are only incidental to the story and it is not necessary to know their history to understand and enjoy this book.

This tale begins with a bang and continues with one surprise after another. This is definitely not your typical historical romance novel. In fact, romance almost takes the background against the trials encountered by Luellen's determination to earn her teaching degree no matter what. Throughout most of the book, her brother's friend Ward is a constant and sympathetic support to Luellen as she struggles to hold her head up in society after her disgrace. It is only later that she realizes how important he really is to her but sees no way to overcome the obstacles between them. Although Luellen is the primary focus of this story, a secondary romance is sure to delight the reader.

The historical setting and details of The Dawn of a Dream added a rich backdrop to an already intriguing storyline. Characters were well thought out and dialogue was natural. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend any and all of Ann Shorey’s novels to historical fiction fans.


From Jennifer:

If you want a really good book that will keep you so intrigued until the very end, get this book! Lullen is a woman after my own heart. She goes through so much to achieve her dream–regardless of all the opposition she must face from every angle. People tell her she can’t because she is a woman, but she shows them that she can because of her determination and her desire to rise above what others think.

You cannot help but fall in love with a true gentleman, and that is what you get when you meet Ward. I immediately fell in love with his sweet and charming gestures, especially after he finds out what all Lullen has been through. Most men during this time would have turned their noses up at a woman like her, but not Ward. If you read this, you will see what I mean!

This is definitely a book you will not want to miss!


From Brenda:

While this is the third book in the Beldon Grove series it can easily be read as a stand alone work, I hadn't read the first two books in the series but had no problems jumping right into this story. Luellen was a character that was very easy to relate to, she seemed very realistic, she even wore eyeglasses When Brendan so easily tells her of his betrayal my heart broke for her. Deciding to divorce and get on with her life by going on to school, showed just how strong she really was. I enjoyed learning about college during that time period.
I love reading historical fiction and this one certainly didn't disappoint, with a few interesting topics that we don't normally see during this time period. There are a few plot twists that kept me interested. There is an inspirational message woven into the story, but the story doesn't come off as preachy, instead I felt like it was inspiring. Because I enjoyed this story so well, I intend to go back and read the first two books in the series.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Revell's blog tour for THE DAWN OF A DREAM

Right now Revell is sponsoring a blog tour for The Dawn of a Dream.
Here are a couple of the early reviews:

From Michelle Vasquez's blog--Life in Review

The Dawn of a Dream by Ann Shorey is book 3 in her series called At Home in Beldon Grove. It's a beautiful historical novel set in the mid 1850's that’s full of hope and inspiration.
If you have read the other books in this series, then I know you're going to want to read this one, but if you haven't read the series, don’t worry, it can definitely be read as a stand alone as well. I have really enjoyed this series and I do think this one is my favorite, although I have thought that each time, with each new book in the series. Book one is The Edge of Light and it's a free ebook download right now (I don’t know how long it will last, so check it out quickly)! Book two is The Promise of Morning.
Luellen is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. She's independent and determined,but she’s not fearless. For me that's what made her such a realistic character and easy to relate to. She has hopes and dreams and aspirations, and she is bound and determined,but she's still scared, and for a long time she let that fear allow her to keep putting off her goals. Now that it seems her life has hit rock-bottom, she realizes it's time that she finally go after her dreams like she has always talked about. It won't be easy, though. This is during 1857 when things are still very difficult for a woman to do anything on her own.
I VERY highly recommend this book! It is beautifully written and I was hooked from the very start and could not put it down! This series has made me a big Ann Shorey fan! Her books are rich with historical detail, the characters are so life-like and very much like real people that you would know and would want to know. The characters face real-life situations that we can relate to here and now, even though the stories take place in another time and place. The messages are uplifting and leave you full of hope. This book, as well as the others in the series, is a great total package, that's very entertaining as well as inspirational. I hate to see the series end and I look forward to seeing what’s next from Ann Shorey.

From Rel Mollet in Relz Reviewz

My take:~

The third book in Ann Shorey's At Home in Beldon Grove series, The Dawn of a Dream, is my favourite of the trilogy. I enjoyed Luellen's tenacity in her efforts to become a teacher at a time when it was difficult to say the least, even without the additional pressures she faces following her husband's desertion. She is far from perfect and her decision making isn't always well considered. Such a character stands out in an historical novel, a genre where angelic, passive women are over represented! Luellen's brother Franklin and his friend, Ward Calder, both Army men, provide interesting insight in to the life of soldier during the time period and offer a contrast to the community of Beldon Grove and Luellen's student lifestyle. The Dawn of a Dream has all the elements historical romance readers enjoy with a uniqueness of character I thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

TOMORROW'S GARDEN, by Amanda Cabot

In Tomorrow's Garden, Harriet Kirk is the new schoolteacher in Ladreville, Texas. She takes the job as a means to escape past secrets, but doesn’t realize that Ladreville possesses a few secrets of its own.

As she struggles for acceptance in the community, she also has the daunting task of mothering her younger siblings, some of whom resent the move to a new community. When did teenagers ever feel happy about being uprooted? In her efforts to parent her siblings, and gain respect among the children in her classroom, Harriet comes across as strict and unbending.

Ladreville’s mayor/sheriff is former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood, who was a minor character in the previous novel in this series, Scattered Petals. He’s made it clear to the community that his tenure there is only to last six months. His early encounters with Harriet leave him thinking that six months is too long.

Tomorrow's Garden is a heartwarming story of a woman who needs to learn to love. Although this is the last book in the series, it isn’t necessary to have read the first two in order to enjoy every moment of this powerful novel. Amanda Cabot has skillfully woven in bits of backstory without stopping the forward motion of Tomorrow’s Garden. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read the first two books! I recommend the entire series.

My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy. My opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FINALLY A BRIDE, by Vickie McDonough

Finally a Bride is a story brimming with romance. Jacqueline "Jack" Davis harbors ambitions to leave tiny Lookout, Texas, for a career as a reporter in Dallas. When a new pastor arrives in town, she believes if she can get the scoop on his past, the resulting story will propel her straight to the big city. What she hadn't counted on was her growing attraction to the handsome preacher.
Finally a Bride is the third book in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, but McDonough gives readers enough background information to keep them from getting lost.
This story is filled with Texas charm and enough original similes to keep readers smiling. Finally a Bride is a fun read. I recommend it for everyone who enjoys romance, Texas-style.
Thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing my review copy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


When John and Laura Foster decided on an ocean voyage for their honeymoon, they had no idea of the tragedy that awaited them. A hurricane strikes and their ship goes down. Laura is rescued, along with the other women, but all the men on board are gone into The Deepest Waters.
Walsh based his novel on an actual event from 1857, and spins the tale with emotional honesty. On board the rescue ship, Laura befriends a slave named Micah, whose kindness carries her through the numb days following her loss. Without John, Laura is sailing toward New York --a place she's never lived and where she knows no one. It's difficult to review this book without revealing plot twists! There are several surprises awaiting the reader.
The tale is told with stirring authenticity. I could visualize the women's trials on board the small ship, and the elegant New York City setting during the pre-Civil War period. The Deepest Waters is a delightful story that the whole family will enjoy. I thoroughly recommend it.
My thanks to Revell for providing me with a review copy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

BATHSHEBA, by Jill Eileen Smith

Take a lonely woman and a wealthy man with too much time on his hands and you have the makings of one of today's television dramas. When the woman's name is Bathsheba, today's story goes back a couple of thousand years.
Smith has written an engrossing tale of King David and his most famous--or infamous--wife, Bathsheba. To students of the Bible, the tale is a familiar one--at least on the surface. But Smith brings the characters to life in such a way that you can relate to their humanity rather than dismissing the book as another Bible story that happened a long time ago.
I especially enjoyed how the author showed David as a man with griefs and longings that made him all too human. Now when I read the Psalms, I can picture the man who wrote them, and understand much better what prompted him to pour out his soul to God.
One would not have to know anything about the Bible at all to enjoy reading Bathsheba. The story grips the reader from the beginning and kept me turning the pages to see how the events would resolve themselves. This book is an outstanding example of well-written Biblical fiction, and a worthy addition to anyone's library.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

LEFT NEGLECTED, by Lisa Genova

Sarah Nickerson is an over-achieving career woman with a husband and children. Told in first person, Left Neglected begins with Sarah juggling her myriad responsibilities in a way that will make many women nod ruefully and think, "Yes, this is what my life is like." I chuckled in self-recognition as Sarah flies through her over-scheduled days.

Then one morning while driving to work and multi-tasking by talking on her cell phone, Sarah's attention is diverted from traffic for one second too long. The resulting accident leaves her with traumatic brain injury.

Left Neglected follows Sarah through the months that follow, as she comes to realize that her old life may never return. This sounds like a depressing book, but it definitely isn't. Genova does a perfect job of presenting Sarah as a woman whose sense of humor will take her through any circumstance.

There’s a bit of strong language in this story, since it's general market fiction, but I loved this book and can't recommend it highly enough. For sure, you'll never again use your cell phone while driving.

Monday, February 28, 2011

ANGEL SISTER, by Ann H. Gabhart

Angel Sister is set in 1936 in the little town of Rosey Corner, Kentucky, where Kate Merritt is the middle child in a family of three daughters. Gabhart's skillful writing puts the reader in the midst of this community and its characters--we know the people, and we feel the heat of a Kentucky summer.

Kate is the responsible sister who feels it's up to her to keep her family together. The task she takes onto her fourteen-year-old shoulders is a daunting one. Her father is sliding into alcoholism and her mother is trying desperately to keep food on the table. Kate's sisters are no help--the older one is a prima donna and the younger girl is just, well, too young. Throw in a couple of disagreeable grandfathers and you can see what Kate faces daily.

One day, on her way to visit one of her grandfathers, Kate is stopped by the sight of a little girl alone and crying on the steps of Kate,s grandfather,s church. How Lorena Birdsong,s arrival affects the Merritt family and the community of Rosey Corner is the catalyst for this all-consuming story.

Gabhart does a masterful job of weaving plot lines together as Angel Sister rolls to a suspenseful conclusion.

This book is on my "keeper" shelf for re-reading. I loved the characters and will want to visit Rosey Corner again.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ANOTHER DAWN, by Kathryn Cushman

Grace Graham has spent years running from tough situations--until the day her sister calls with a plea for help with their widowed father. Given no choice, Grace and her four-year-old son leave their California home for Shoal Creek. Tennessee.
Grace plans to do the minimum asked of her, then leave as quickly as possible. But she didn't anticipate the events that would conspire to hold her in Tennessee. Decisions she made in years past put the life of her son and other children in danger, and she's forced to face the consequences of her choices.
Another Dawn explores contemporary issues in a way that is sure to cause readers to wonder if there are choices in their own lives that have had unintended consequences.
Cushman explores a serious issue with compassion and understanding. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby when you read this book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Frantz has crafted another winner in Courting Morrow Little. Her first novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, captivated me throughout, and Courting Morrow Little did the same.
The story is set in1778 Kentucky (Kentucke, as it was spelled then). Morrow Little is a young woman with heartbreak in her past. When she returns from Philadelphia after being under her aunt's care for two years, she finds that the memory of the Shawnee raid that tore her family apart has left her fearful of shadows surrounding the cabin she shares with her ailing father.
How she learns to overcome these fears, and where forgiveness leads her, brings her to a choice that most women in her time would find unthinkable.
Frantz guides the reader through many fascinating plot twists that kept me up reading past my bedtime for several nights. The believable characters and beautifully researched background make this book a keeper on my shelf. I loved this story and recommend it highly!
I read Courting Morrow Little a few months ago, but am behind in posting reviews. Now I'm anxious to read The Colonel's Lady, her newest, which is scheduled for release on August 1 of this year.

Monday, February 7, 2011

LADY IN WAITING, by Susan Meissner

Lady in Waiting is the story of two Janes, separated by centuries. Jane Lindsay is an antiques dealer in Manhattan, comfortable in her twenty-two year marriage--until the day her husband leaves. Soon afterward, she discovers a jeweled ring in a shipment of antiques from England. The name inscribed inside the band is "Jane."
Jane Lindsay is captivated by her find, and here Lady in Waiting takes the reader to 16th century England and the life of Lady Jane Gray. At its heart, Lady in Waiting is a novel about the choices each Jane is forced to make. Both stories are fascinating. It’s hard to say which one I enjoyed most.
Meissner is a gifted author. I loved her earlier book, The Shape of Mercy, which also shifts between time periods. Her novels are a delight for both those who enjoy the skilled use of language,and anyone looking for an absorbing read.
I wholeheartedly recommend Lady in Waiting.

Monday, January 31, 2011


One of the characters in the novel I'm writing for my next series adopts a stray collie-type dog. Please help me name him--the dog, not the character! The time frame of the story is 1866, in Missouri, so the name should fit the era.
The winner of the contest will receive:
1. A signed copy of Book 1 in the At Home in Beldon Grove series;
2. An extra entry in the SPECTACULAR contest I'll be announcing in late February to celebrate the release of The Dawn of a Dream, Book 3 in the series;
3. and, the winner's name will be added to the list for a free copy of the new book, plus listed in the acknowledgements when the book goes to the publisher.
I'm looking forward to some great suggestions! The contest ends Friday, February 4, at midnight. Please go to my Ann Shorey Author page on Facebook to post your suggestions, or leave them as a comment on the blog. The winner's name will be posted on the Ann Shorey Author page, as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett

Reading The Help is like a personal tour behind the headlines of 1962 Mississippi. Told from three points of view: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter's, this story is in turn humorous, heartwarming, and incredibly sad.
Skeeter comes home after graduating from Ole Miss and finds she's begun to view the status quo in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, through the eyes of an outsider. The petty cruelties some of her friends inflict on their Negro maids stands out sharply in Skeeter's new view of her hometown.
Aibileen has spent most of her life working for white women in Jackson. She's a keeper of secrets, a compassionate woman, and a grieving mother.
Minny is mouthy, stubborn, and one of the best cooks in town--when she’s not being fired for being outspoken.
The Help brings these three women together in a relationship that changes all of their lives. One of the interesting sidelights to the novel is the way Stockett makes historical events come alive by showing the reactions of the characters as they live through Rosa Parks' courageous bus ride, the murder of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and President Kennedy's assassination.
I don't want to make The Help sound like a political novel--it's not. It's a look at three women who come to understand and care for one another despite the vast cultural barriers of the times. It is said that the mark of a great story is one that makes the characters so real you think they're alive. After I finished reading The Help I thought about Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny for days--wondering how their lives went after the book ended.
I can't recommend The Help highly enough. It was on the best-seller lists for a couple of years, and with good reason. It’s one of the best books I've read in a long time, and will go into my "keeper" collection.
(The Help is general market fiction, so it does contain a minor amount of mild profanity.)

Monday, January 3, 2011


The Frontiersman’s Daughter is set in Kentucky in 1777. Drawing upon historical events, Frantz has woven a fascinating tale of Lael Click, who is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman.
The Frontiersman’s Daughter is historical writing at its best. The details of backwoods life fill the story with authenticity. The characters are created with originality--there are no stereotypes in this book. The reader will be drawn into the daily drama of survival in a time when settlers had nothing but their own resources upon which to rely.
The story begins with Lael as a thirteen-year-old, and follows her life into young womanhood. How she triumphs over the trials of her family issues, Indian threat, and romantic entanglements forms the basis of the story, yet it’s so much more. I'm avoiding saying much about plot specifics because I don't want to spoil any of the events in this engrossing novel.
I loved this book and recommend it highly. If you haven't read Laura Frantz's books yet, make it a New Year’s resolution to do so! I’ll be reviewing Courting Morrow Little, her next story about early Kentucky, soon.