Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fiction Friday: Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep is my first foray into pages written by Sarah Sundin and it was not a disappointment. I love American History and the time leading up to World War Two was one time our country desperately needed to come together. The world was a scary place and our countrymen were at odds with each other over deep political views. Europe was at war and England needed our support. Wary of getting into another war, isolationist and interventionist points of view created dangerous partnerships as new ships were being built in the Boston Navy Yard.

Mary Stirling, secretary extraordinaire quietly saw to the details of the launch ceremony of the Ettinger and noticed there was something amiss with the foil on the bottle of champagne. Had she read too many Nancy Drew novels in school or was something going to happen. A near miss encounter with gasoline substituted for champagne sets the stage for our quiet, unassuming heroine who would just as soon stay in the background than avoid all the clues of sabotage she stumbles onto.
Through Waters Deep
Ensign Jim Avery, a familiar face from back home in Vermilion, Ohio is also on the platform waiting to see the ceremony for the Ettinger.  Mary spotted him but was pretty sure he wouldn't remember her, the girl always in the shadow of others.  As fate would have it he sees her and remembers her as the sidekick of his former high school crush.  She remembers much more....but as one who was always content to be in the background, it is a step out of the comfort zone to play tour guide to Jim, his buddy Arch and his glamorous girlfirend Gloria.

Events at the Naval Yard puts Mary in an interesting position where she sees a lot, hears a lot and has a nose for clues leading to the resolution of developing sabotage.  I have to bite my tongue or in this case, watch my keystrokes to keep sharing some spoilers. The story is lively, refreshing and full of the hopes and dreams of the young men and women in one of the scariest times in our country. We know the outcome of the war but not the names of the saboteurs and their motives.

The ensuing love story is one that stretches Mary and Jim, making them become stronger in ways that only a developing war surrounding them could bring forth.  I recommend this book for the wonderful characters and a plot that had me going almost until the end!

I am looking forward to the next two books in the Waves of Freedom series Anchor In The Storm and and The Face of The Deep.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Reading: Reviewing Gone Without A Trace

I could hardly put this book down. I love suspense novels and in my opinion award winning author Patricia Bradley can write a plot that is unpredictable. Gone Without a Trace is no exception. The story is book three in the Logan Lake series and includes characters from Promise To Protect and Shadows of the Past. 

Livy Reynolds, a homicide detective from Memphis is taking a little time off after a shooting incident.  Enter handsome  Dallas Private Investigator Alex Jennings and you do have some predictable sparks of romance. That is where the predictability stops.

Alex is searching for the granddaughter of a Texas State Senator and Livy believes there are similarities between the case of Samantha Jo Woodson and the sudden disappearance of her cousin Robyn two years ago.  Both cases involve waitresses working in diners. In both cases, the victims are warned to quit their jobs from cryptic notes. The two are joined together in the hunt to find similarities to these cases and other cold cases that involve waitresses who left without a trace.

So many things run through my mind in a mystery, like trying to figure out who the perpetrator is and remembering clues that lead to solving the case. Patricia is particularly good at developing complex plots that keep me on the edge of my seat. This book is for the reader who likes complex characters and a plot that thickens right up to the end.

I recommend this book to you and I guarantee that one quick look on page one and you will be flipping to page two as though you were reeled into the story.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Tales: Reviewing The Innocent

the-innocentI have read a few of Ann H. Gabhart's books and I have to say that The Innocent is quite a change for me from Summer of Joy or Love Comes home. Imagine you are a young woman waiting two years for the return of your missing husband from the Civil War. Although the war is long over, she keept alive the hope thathe is still alive.  After all, He was eported only missing, not dead. Barely able to survive on her own and care for their farm, she persisted in working hard only to lose her home.

The story unfolds into a bittersweet tale of one lone woman against the odds. Unable to support herself after losing her farm, Carlyn Kearney makes a decision to join the Shakers at Harmony Hill.  I was surprised to learn everything she had to give up to to move into the quiet, secure Shaker community, including her dog.  Life is peaceful there until strange, unsettling things began to happen within the village that cast newcomer into a Carlyn a natural suspect.

Sheriff Mitchell Brodie knows that there are strange things happening at Harmony Hill and he believes everything goes much deeper than the arrival of a young, beautiful widow. He is determined to solve the mysteries, prove her innocence and, hopefully, safe.

I have been  having a hard time not spilling out the whole story but you will want to read it yourself. I read it in two days with a lot of interruptions. Ann is a master at hooking you into a story and tackling difficult topics. I have no prior knowledge of the Shaker lifestyle and associate them with beautiful wooden boxes and a calm demeaner. I believe a good witer influences us to dig deeper into part of the story. I plan to do a little research on the Shaker lifestyle.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fiction Friday with Melody Carlson!

Melody Carlson's Once Upon a Summertime has so much appeal for the young reader. Have you every had a dream only to have roadblocks detouring the high road to the alley with ruts you clearly want ed to miss?  When Anna Gordon finished graduate school she never dreamed she would be back in Springville managing the Value Lodge!  Her dream was to visit the world and manage a 5-star hotel not sleep on her grandmother's sofa and manage a -1 motel. 

Her career takes a  right turn when she bumps into Marley, an old friend who happens to be helping out at her family's restaurant for a couple of weeks.  Marley leads an exciting life in New York as an international flight attendant.  While Anna may be embarrassed to share her current career, Marley is not shy about offering advice about getting Anna out of Springville and onto the fast track at a boutique hotel opening up in New York.  Anna Get a call for an interview for the Rothsberg, but before she can take her references to New York she is fired from her job a Value Lodge. Trying to make changes at a motel that was content to be just a cheap spot on the road backfired.                                                                                                 Without references for the past two years she can't compete with Sean O'Neil, former manager of a boutique hotel in Dublin. Anna lands a good job at the Rothsberg. Sean, who is also from her hometown of Springville, is falling for Anna and she is doing her best to avoid a strict policy on office romance.                                                                                                            There are a lot of wonderful twists to the plot and I don't want to spoil any one of them for a reader considering this book for purchase. I recommend this as a good addition to your summer reading list. You will share with Anna's joys, fret with her worries and find joy after all. Pick up a copy at your favorite bookseller or get an ebook to read it right away!  As with her other books Melody Carlson develops her characters into people you can identify with as yourself, a friend or someone else who had that dilemma you shared between the pages. Once Upon a Summer time is the first book in her new Follow Your Heart Series.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Sentiments

What a hot summer so far! 

I attended a Strawberry Festival yesterday at a local grange. It was wonderful to see so many  multi-generational families attend together. Young an old alike enjoyed strawberry lemonade, strawberry shortcake and barbecued hot dogs and sausages. There were a lot of entrepreneurial vendors displaying goods from shabby chic to homemade strawberry jam. It brings us back to simpler times, even if only for a few hours. With the Fourth of July coming soon, it is a good time to remember the principles our country was founded on. Imagine our forefathers meeting hours on end to craft the constitution "Of the People, By the People and For the People." They talked, argued and negotiated to get the wording in just a way to be meaningful for many generations to come. 

Many things have changed over the years and technology has wrought even more change. While things are quicker with technology, such as news 24/7, it is not necessarily simpler these days. We learn of more things than we could imagine or need to know. 

My hope for the world is to see more strawberry moments and to take time out for families. These times are precious and quickly become a memory saved in pictures or on Facebook.
Happy Birthday America! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fiction Friday Reviews A Bride At Last!

A Bride at Last Melissa Jagears can tell a story that will leave you asking for more. A Bride to Last is no different. I have to say I enjoyed this book and was so sad to put it down. I met Silas Jonesy, the hero of our story before and was surprised to find him to be the handsome man on the street at the beginning of this story. He was an angry man who took to the bottle when his mail-order bride left him after a short 7- month stay on the homestead.

Kate Dawson, a young school teacher is tending young Anthony's dying mother. When Lucinda passes, Anthony believes Kate will take him in. Lucy had written to his Pa...both of them!  Only one is his flesh and blood but also a stranger.

Arriving too late, Silas hadn't the chance for Lucy to tell him that in their brief time together, he fathered a son. Richard kept Lucy as his mistress for a time and Anthony knew him as Pa. He shuddered to thing he would have to live with either man. He heard nothing but bad things about Silas and Richard was cruel and abusive.

Kate has difficulties as a single woman who made her way teaching school and living as a boarder to a family of one of her students. She is held to unreasonable standards and scrutiny. She loves Anthony as if her were her own child and yet, the school board makes it difficult for her.  She can't bear to lose him to either man yet she can't keep him and her position as a teacher. What follows is a story of love and healing that will warm your heart in the end. There are many struggles in the lives of Kate, Anthony and Silas.

Getting to know Silas and his trials will give you a glimpse into a man used to living a rugged life. The lengths he goes to to build a life for his son could make any man give up and retreat to  his former way of life.  But he has faith.

The characters in this book are complex. The scenery is vivid and I can almost hear the coming of the trains at the depot. If you are like me  you will feel emotional as the story progresses.  I love American History and novels with an historical bent are a standard on my bookshelves. The great migration west in the 1800's was an incredible part of the history of our country.  People survived or they did not. Melissa has a gift for capturing the heart of that era. I recommend this book with 5 stars. Pick up your copy at your favorite local book store or online bookseller.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fiction Friday: Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole is a story of courage, trust and finally love. The second in the Beacon of Hope series by Jody Hedlund will capture your heart from page one until you turn the last page. Our story unfolds at Windmill Point Lighthouse in Michigan. The lightkeeper and the doctor are leaving the shores of Lake St. Claire as a storm brews. Afraid for her father, Caroline Taylor wills him to come back but all her pleading cannot convince him to abandon a trip that will bring much needed medicine for her invalid sister Sarah. As he set course, she watched in horror as his rowboat sinks, sending him to a watery grave. Her two sisters and young twin brothers depend on her skills developed as her father's lighthouse assistant to support them. Her one  hope is that her skills will convince Mr. Finick the district supervisor to give her the job full time.

Set just after the Civil War at a time when men were returning home to rebuild their lives, The lighthouse districts will hire returning veterans as thanks for their service. Ryan Chambers is one such veteran and arrives to begin his new position as new keeper of the Windmill Point Lighthouse. Badly injured in the war physically and spiritually, he believes this job is his last chance. He surprises the Taylor's, who believed they had a full week to pack up and find a new livelihood. As he comes to quickly realize their dire circumstances, he agrees to give them their full week to prepare for the move. He hadn't dreamed that this capable young woman lost her job and he was the one who was taking it!

What follows is a story full of second chances for people who would not have met for the tragic events that unfolded at the start. It is brought them together. The characters are well developed and the story is very engaging.  I recommend Hearts Made Whole and the Beacons of Hope series. the books are good as stand alone books, but if you are like me, when you find an author you like you want to keep reading more.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reviewing No Place To Hide

Product DetailsProduct DetailsI enjoy a good, suspenseful mystery so when the opportunity to review No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason came along I couldn't pass it up. The story begins with Jackie Sellers breaking into a home. Once inside Ian Lockwood's darkened home....the story unfolds and the reader begins to guess what and who is behind a sinister plot to instill terror.  I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. I have read Lynettte's novels before and this one lived up to my expectations. I was surprised by the ending and pleased with how well the puzzle went together. Lynette weaves a tale so well that I can't find any cracks in the plot. As the story grows, so does a love story that seems impossible for all the unresolved emotions and surrounding deception. If you are looking for a good mystery, pick up a copy of No Place to Hide today! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: In Firefly Valley

For fans of Amanda Cabot the wait is over! Book 2 in  the Texas Crossroads series is available now. I enjoyed reading At Bluebonnet Lake so I was really looking forward to reading In Firefly Valley. Kate and Greg welcome new guests to Rainbow's End and each new member will warm your heart as much as the characters in the first book.

Beautiful Marisa St. George is swept off her feet by Blake Kendall, a financial planner from California. She believes he is perfect in every way until she discovers he is covering his real profession as an author of suspenseful, fast paced fiction that she loathes.

He thinks she is the one woman who can make him happy until she shows a lack of forgiveness to those who don't measure up to her standards. First on her list of  unforgivable people is the father who abandoned her and her mother Carmen on the day of Marisa's high school graduation.

The story is very centered on forgiveness and it delivers a powerful message by Amanda. Believing people cannot change makes life difficult for Marisa. Can she love people who have made mistakes she disapproves of?   Can anyone live up to the standards of perfection she exacts?

The characters are developed, the story is engaging and perfect for your summer reading list.  Pick up a copy of In Firefly Valley and if you haven't read At Bluebonnet Lake yet, I recommend you read it first to get the history of Rainbow's End.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Heart of the Amish A Treasure for Study

The Heart of the AmishIf you would like a good book on renewal and forgiveness, I have one you can't miss. I enjoyed reading The Heart of the Amish by Suzanne Woods Fisher, It is not one of her captivating novels but rather a collection of stories on forgiveness. The power of forgiveness is that you do not know how wide its path will be but as sure as the sun comes up the impact is beyond imagination. I was compelled to limit myself to one story a day so that I could  savor the lesson learned. Imagine giving beyond measure to those who have wronged you and see them turn over time from trouble to good neighbors. Or how about wild teenage boys who could easily be sent away for the trouble they cause only tho have the innocent party intercede on their behalf. I shook my head more than one but the legacy of the Amish and wish that we had more of this type of peaceful living in our society today.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has a wealth of knowledge on the Amish and her books are favorites on my shelves. I look forward to her next book.