Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Surprised By Love by Julie Lessman in Review

I recently read an advanced copy of Surprised by Love, the third installment of The Heart of San Francisco Series by Julie Lessman.  I enjoyed getting more involved with the McClare family of San Francisco, California, circa 1904.

Surprised by Love, Heart of San Francisco Series #3   -     By: Julie Lessman
This book centers on 18-year-old Megan who is just returning after a year in Paris.  When she left home she was a chubby, four-eyed girl whose heart had been tromped on more than once by cruel classmates who saw only the outward shy Meg.  One in particular, Devin Caldwell her nemesis and chief taunter, is one who is bound to eat crow when he meets her again as a beautiful debutante.

Bram Hughes is ten years Meg's senior, a close family friend and attorney in Meg's uncle Logan's firm and Megan's closest friend and confidante.  She is hardly recognizable to him after growing into such a beauty poised with charm, confidence and sporting contact lenses, something else altogether new.

One of Meg's dreams is to become an attorney and she has accepted an internship offer at the District Attorney's office. It is during her second week on the job that Meg discovers that Devin Caldwell is the nephew of Andrew Turner, District Attorney.  He does not recognize Megs and has a bit of crow to eat once he finds the truth. Can she trust him to be who he says he is after years of tormenting her?

The book is a good study of character and forgiveness. Oh there is another romance in the story as well as the continuation of cleaning up the  Barbary Coast. It would spoil the fun if I shared it all but I hope I have teased you well enough to pick up a copy of the book  and get to know more about Megan and the McClare family. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reviewing At Bluebonnet Lake


I hear Bluebonnets are brilliant in Texas and after reading At Bluebonnet Lake I would love to see them firsthand in the spring.  Amanda  Cabot has a talent for getting us to read more into her characters. This book is no exception. Kate Sherwood is on track to make partner with Maddox and Associates, the Advertising and Consulting Agency where she worked. She lived and breathed her job and was never far from her phone or laptop.


Sally Fuller, Kate's grandmother has a desire to return to Texas to visit Rainbow's End, a Christian Resort she and her late husband Larry stayed at more than forty years ago.  When Sally recovers from a health scare with her heart, Kate is persuaded to spend a month at Bluebonnet Lake. A whole month away from the office with promises to check her messages frequently, Kate feels reluctant when she and Sally drive through the gates at Rainbow's End.

To Sally, it seems just like it did when she came with Grandpa Larry. To Kate, it seems like a deceptive ad campaign where the best kept secret was how it really looked. After checking in, they find a young man repairing one of the window screens.  Inside, the cabin has not television, no phone and definitely no internet connection for her laptop. Dread settles into Kate as she realizes that her promise to stay in touch with the office just may require a lot more creativity on her part.

When the handyman who fixed their screens joins their table at dinner, Kate suspects that the employees must sit with the guests for meals. There is much more to Greg than Kate realizes yet she can't put her finger on it. Joining Greg at the table is Roy Gordon who appeared to be the same age as Sally.  As fate would have it, Roy is attracted to Sally immediately.  Greg remains a mystery. He is between jobs, which worries Kate. He cares little about technology and the need to be connected 24/7 to their job like Kate.

The story is an old lesson on finding what is important in life with a little less predictability. I enjoyed the story and how the characters were developed. The small town with a broken down resort nearby will win you over. If you enjoy reading Amanda Cabot's books you won't be disappointed with At Bluebonnet Lake.   And....if you have read other books by Amanda, you will be rewarded when a carousel spotted between the pages.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Authenticity in Fiction

I love reading a good book and appreciate how wonderfully researched so many of our favorite authors are. When the setting of the book is in the 1800's and is not true to the era, it feels a bit out of sync. In a recent book I read the heroine comments on how unfair it is that men seemed to be allowed much more freedom in society than women. She reflected on the "gender" differences and what she would do if the could change things. Jane Austen, who more than once reflected on this topic, would have talked about the difficulties of her sex, meaning, of course, being a woman.
Another instance came from a book that was highly recommended to me. The heroine is frustrated when a young man she disagrees with tells her how he handles things...."How's that working out for you?"  From then on I decided there are too many well written books that I can spend my time reading.

I am not a writer, have never published any works but when I read them, I want a well written book to read. I am at risk right now of slighting the punctuation experts but I want to visualize the setting, meet the characters and enjoy the author's story.  I don't want to read slang that is not relative to the setting of the book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Along the Journey

As we go along through the seasons, it is good to look back at pictures in order to find out where we want to go next time around. Every spring we have the loftiest plans for our back yard and every fall I think of what I haven't accomplished. Is it because I lose my way or run or find my ambitions were just to big?

Spring brings me energy that restores me to creative ideas. Fall brings me the promise of a new season of gratitude for what I have.  When I see the colors that dress my trees right now I know that I am part of something glorious.  The news can intrude into our homes by television, radio and the internet but one step outside and that all seems so far away.

My family and my home is my haven. It is imperfect but it is ours, incomparable to other's and I wouldn't trade it for anything. With a grateful heart and love for God's seasons, let this fall be the beginning of a wonderful time for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Promise To Protect is One Book to Read!

What happens when a man encounters the one woman he can't get out of his mind suddenly becomes an unwilling victim he is sworn to protect? When Acting Sheriff Ben Logan gets  a call from Dr. Leigh Somerall his life is turned upside down and into a nightmare that he fights to wake up from.  Promise To Protect by Patricia Bradley is a book I have no hesitation to recommend.

Ben agrees to meet Leigh's brother Tony Jackson at a Memphis hotel only to find him on the floor dying from a gunshot wound. In his last breath, Tony asks Ben to protect Leigh. Protect her from what? Tony had information for Ben about a crime he stumbled onto. He also had information on who shot Ben's dad, Sheriff Tom Logan. Tom was still recuperating at home after suffering from a stroke after his accident. The case is still  unsolved. Now this murder and the need to find Leigh and tell her that her only living relative has been killed.

The last person Leigh Somerall wanted to see is Ben Logan. She loved him ten years ago but abruptly left town without telling him why. Only Ben's father Tom knows the reason. She returned to Logan Point with her son T.J. only to fulfill a contract at Bradford General Hospital that would pay off her student loan.  She and her son lived with her brother at the home of her late grandmother. The home she lived in as a girl after her parents both died.

Ben let her know about Tony's wish for her to be protected but she balked at the idea until the house catches fire and someone takes a shot at them in the morning. Unwittingly, she is the target of someone who believes she has something Tony was hiding. As the story goes on, more threats and attempts are made on her life and the life of her son.

Why is Leigh a target and why do they think she has what they are looking for?  She has a secret of her own and wants the case solved so she can remove her son from Logan Point. Along the way other hidden crimes are discovered that link together the truth. The characters are engaging and Patricia Bradley is a master story teller of suspense and action. I stayed up way too late to finish this book but it was worth it. To solve the mystery, pick up a copy and read this book!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Becoming Bea A Hit for Leslie Gould



Becoming Bea, fourth in The Courtship of Lancaster County series is the wonderful story of Beatrice Zook. She a young girl who grows up quickly when she begins to live with purpose. After her father's death and her mother's surgery for a benign brain tumor, Bea's older sister Molly the assumed role of parent.  Their farm thrives with a flower growing business that Molly and her husband manage and Bea manages the homemaking duties. Bea likes to stay home and could be content to live her life just as it is with no changes.  All this is well and good until a bombshell is dropped and she learns her family is traveling to Montana where her brother-in-law is from. Bea, being Bea, doesn't want to go along. She needs to find a reason to stay home and that reason becomes a job taking care of Bob and Nan Miller's premature triplets. With no experience in caring for newborns save the strong desire to avoid traveling to Montana, Bea embarks on a job that becomes for her, a life changing event.

Bea thrives at the Millers and soon learns to work with confidence and care. She grows into a patient young woman who learns to put the needs of others before herself. The book is an endearing story of how this young woman comes into herself and learns important lessons on life and love. I truly enjoyed this book and have been tempted to tell the story but it isn't mine tell, only to share.

I have read Courting Cate, book one in the Courtship of Lancaster County series and it is also very good. I like having characters continue in a series.  Leslie Gould has a knack for developing strong, lovable heroines to her books. I eagerly await a trip to the book store for the other two books in the series.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thunder in Review!

I recently finished reading Thunder, Book 1 of the Stone Braide Chronicles by Bonnie S Calhoun and published by Revell. Reading this book was a step out of the box for me, a gal who doesn't read books of a futuristic, science fiction genre. I am glad, however, that I chose to read this book on my quiet weekend retreat at our cabin. What a story! First off, download the prequel, Tremors: http://www.amazon.com/Tremors-Stone-Braide-Chronicles-Story-ebook/dp/B00KQS1DLG

Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles)
I was hooked right away. I love history and to see what follows after....it is intriguing. The story takes place after a time of great sorrows when the world is left in rubble and people are struggling for their livelihoods.  As time passes, many lessons have been learned. Sometimes even with great changes things will remain the same.

The main characters, Selah and Bodhi are thrust together in an unlikely turn of events and learn to trust each other in order to complete a quest that is unthinkable. Can they beat the sinister evil that lurks beneath the mountain?

Bodhi, is a Lander, and was caught by Selah, only to be stolen by their brothers who plan to take him to the mountain and sell him as a slave. Selah follows them on the journey out of spite to reclaim her captive. She is tired of her brothers showing her up and taking her Lander pushed her to take a journey that opened ways that stretched her farther than she ever imagined.

She had awakened the following day, her 18th birthday with a mysterious mark on her chest. Her mother told her she must flee her home for her protection in order to avoid being the hunted instead of the huntress!  The mark on her chest is the same as the mark on the side of  Bodhi's head, the mark of a Lander!

Who she meets and how she fares on her journey are worth taking up a copy of this book to discover on your own. I don't want to share any spoilers!  In the end, you will be waiting for the next book, Lightening, due out in the fall of 2015!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sewing Memories

I remember seeing this book at home when I was a little girl. I wanted to be the little girl in the picture, sewing industriously. The book was published in 1958 under the supervision of Singer Sewing Machine Company.

The illustrations were done by Catherine Scholz, who has several children's books to her credit. Her style is unique to an era where we wore dresses every day. Aprons were commonplace and the more the merrier. My mother favored the old cobbler style apron, preferring all over protection from flying flour or spatters.

When it came time for my first Home Economics class, I hoped we wouldn't make an apron. I didn't want to have one made from organdy; it seemed to impractical. My teacher, a venerable Franciscan nun decided to let us make a purse instead. I made mine from corduroy and lined it with half inch gingham check. That purse was a workhorse that took abuse all through high school.

Over the years I have made so many things and still have many more things I want to create. I started sitting by my mother's sewing machine at a young age and watched her mend our clothes or create new dresses. She turned my brother's collars when they began to show wear. Thrift was practiced and it is amazing how resourceful you can be when you sew. I am in the process once again of cleaning and purging in my sewing room/office. Much is to be done so I can relax and start sewing for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sinister and Suspenseful! A Review of Deceived by Irene Hannon

I was blessed to get an advance copy of Deceived by Irene Hannon to review from Revell Publishing. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the story and had a hard time putting it down. The story was compelling the characters very real.

DeceivedThe death of a child is one of a mother's worst nightmares. To lose a child and a husband in a freak boating accident is more than I can fathom.  After suffering this loss and learning to cope,  Kate Marshall picks up her life and moves from New York to St. Louis.  Fast forward three years, we meet her at the mall, an odd setting for someone who does not enjoy shopping! It is when she is riding down the escalator that she hears a small voice asking about getting a poppysicle that she whips around to see a young boy who looks like Kevin the son she lost in that horrible accident.  She scrambles down through the crowd and pushes herself up the escalator trying to catch up with the boy being ushered into the upper level by a man wearing a baseball cap, slung low on his forehead.  She loses them but not before she is totally shaken.

She talks to Mall Security and to the St. Louis Police who are not convinced the boy is her son and that she is merely distraught. She buried her husband but no body was ever found of her son Kevin. Nearly convinced she is mistaken she goes forward and hires Phoenix Inc.,( a Private Eye group with men who hold credentials as a former undercover A.T.F. agent, former Secret Service man and a former Police Detective) with the hope of putting it to rest once and for all.  She meets handsome Connor Sullivan, the former Secret Service man and the PI who plans on looking into the matter. After the doubts of the mall security and the police she is hesitant to discuss the matter with Connor. Quickly putting her at ease with respect and dignity she begins the story that takes them both on a journey worthy of the reader investing hours in a good novel.  I cannot share anything else or it would ruin the carefully crafted suspense in the book except recommend that you read Deceived and discover for yourself  how the story ends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer A Heartwarming Story!

I am a champion of younger sisters, being number 9 in a family of 11 children, I was that younger sister. In Playing by Heart, Anne Mateer has captured many feelings I had growing up under the discerning eyes of older siblings who were inclined to give me advice on what I should do. I love them dearly, but as with our heroine, Lulu Bowman, sometimes you just wish they would let you get on with what you really want to do with your life. Or at least, think you want to do.

 Lulu earned the prestigious Donnally Mathematics Award, the first time the award was won by a woman. This award granted her a teaching job and tuition while she did graduate studies. Pulled back to Dunn after the untimely death of her brother-in-law, her oldest siblings decide she will give up Donnally Award and teaching at the college to support her widowed sister Jewel with her five children.

Set during World War I, our story settles on Lulu and Chet Vaughn, a handsome young teacher at the high school in Dunn Oklahoma. Both Lulu and Chet are living their lives to please others. Neither Chet nor Lulu have intentions to marry. Strict conduct rules were enforced, mostly against the women teachers of the day and Lulu was determined to abide by them.  An unlikely friendship begins when Lulu gets a job as the Music Teacher under condition of coaching the girls basketball team!


Chet has remained in Dunn to live with his mother while his brother is off fighting the war in Europe. Chet has a difficult time living with his mother but finds refuge in his faith and in coaching the boys basketball team.  He is a champion for his students and works hard both in the classroom and on the basketball court to encourage his students to graduate from high school.

The story is filled with rich characters who lived in a very different time than young teachers today.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, the people and the glimpse the early days of  basketball. I didn't realize the game was played by girls back then. I can only imagine the girls on our local high school teams going back in time and wearing such cumbersome uniforms!   If I were in a book club, this would be a selection; there are questions on Anne Mateer's website to start a good discussion!