©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shine Like the Dawn

Maggie and her family are on an outing to celebrate her older sister's birthday when the boat sprang a leak.  When it became apparent that they were not going to be able to get back to shore, Maggie's father told her to swim to shore with her baby sister, Violet, who was only two years old.  Maggie's mother and older sister were not able to swim, but Maggie saved herself and Violet.  Four years later, Maggie and Violet are living with their grandmother making hats in her millinery shop when Violet is involved in an accident when she is hit by a motor car and breaks her leg. Even with Violet's accident, there is nothing Maggie wants more than to find out what happened when her family drowned.  A face from Maggie's past shows up to help.  Nate Harcourt has come home because his father is ill and Nate needs to take over his father's responsibilities.

Carrie Turansky writes incredible novels with intriguing plot lines that make her novels hard to put down.  In Shine Like the Dawn, Carrie has not only given us a novel with an interesting plot, but she's also given us a peek into the daily life of England near the turn of the twentieth century.  She's also shown us the very real human foibles we all have, but entertained us while doing so.  The romance in this novel is not over the top, but more understated--almost taking a back seat to the characters and plot lines.  Her plots move seamlessly through several character points of view and bring a cohesive story to the reader.

This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and the clues to solve a serious mystery.

My thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Heart Belongs

When I began to read this novel, I was almost prepared to dismiss it as a formulaic romance.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that this novel takes a few detours along the formula line. While it does have a bit of a slow start, the pace of the plot picks up quite quickly.  In a comedy of mistaken identities and a rush to the altar before everything is understood, Tad and Rebecca find themselves married, when Rebecca was supposed to marry Tad's cousin, Theodore.  The animosity between Tad and Theodore adds to the comedy of errors.

Suzanne Dietze has contributed to several of Barbour Publishing's novella collections and I always find her writing entertaining and worth the time to read. This novel is no different.  My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho, has all kinds of adventure, angst, and growth. Some of the characters have to overcome a prejudice and find the kindness within themselves.  For that reason alone, the book is worth reading.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a marriage to the right man.

My thanks goes to Barbour Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Behind the Scenes

Imagine, opening your mail and find that you have been invited to a masquerade ball at Alva Vanderbilt's home, the creme de la creme of society.  You are a women's page writer for the New York Sun and this invitation allows you access to the inner workings of her home and to see all of the Knickerbockers while also allowing you to gain tasty tidbits of society gossip for your column.

Such was the case for Miss Permilia Griswold, who wrote under the pen name of Miss Quill.  Her writing allowed those not at the party to feel as if they'd been there and seen the people.  Permilia talked about the gowns the ladies wore, the escorts they had, the dances they danced, but left out salacious details of the evening.

Leaving out the salacious details is what got Miss Quill fired from her job at the New York Sun, but that was secondary to the murder plot Permilia accidently overheard.  Jen Turano writes novels that exude humor and delight and that entertain the reader from page one to the last page.  Behind the Scenes is one such novel.  Permilia has been handicapped by her step-mother and her step-sister who live for drama, making the right impressions and being seen in the right company always.

I didn't realize that Jen had chosen "Permilia" as her heroine's name, I'd only heard of this name one other time--in researching my family tree, one of the great-great-grandmother's had this name, and her mother was Parmilia.  I adore Jen Turano's writings because of her humor and settings.  Her characters are more than just the fluffy, air-headed society debutantes.  This is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and a dress that doesn't look like a chicken molted all over it.

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride

Judith McCoy Miller writes amazing novels with charming characters and incredible settings.  Her research is impeccable and informative. I learn something nearly every time I read one of her books.

The Chapel Car Bride taught me that there was at one time in history train cars where preachers traveled on the railroad teaching about Christ.  I'd never heard of this before, but it's not outside the realms of credulity.

This takes place soon after the turn of the century of 1900s.  Prohibition was about to come into play, but in West Virginia, it was already being enacted, county by county.  Where prohibition exists, moonshining and bootlegging exists alongside.  Moonshining is part of my family's history--a cousin and a great uncle on my mom's side of the family were the still owners, and my grandfather on my dad's side was their customer.  Cousin Wesley was the grand joke of the family.  If something was mentioned about illegal booze, Cousin Wesley's name was not far behind.  He spent time in and out of the federal penintentiary, and often listed his occupation as "sugar delivery for Weyerhaueser." I know this world, not well, but I know it.

Another significant part of the plot is the location--the back hills of West Virginia.  Hill people are hill people, no matter where they are, and Judith has written a true portrayal of the hill people in this book.  They are closed off, wary of strangers, slow to trust outsiders, and definitely mistrustful of people from the government.  I've lived in a community like that.  Some of them believe they are a law unto themselves, and can tell stories about that, but that's for another day.

The relationships Judith has put into the plot are charming and insightful.  I LOVED this book.  I couldn't wait to finish it, but I wanted it to go longer.  It's five stars, two thumbs up, and NO moonshine!

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Journey Toward Home

Carol Cox writes historical novels with a humorous twist and creates an entertaining read for her fans.  In this offering from Barbour Books, she has two stories make a complete narrative, and both are highly entertaining.

Journey Toward Home details the life of Judith Alder as she's moving from Missouri to New Mexico to live with her uncle instead of with her aunt.  In order for her aunt to allow her to make the move, her aunt set her up to travel with a family going west in a wagon train. The woman of the family was extremely severe and actually resented Judith being with the family, and at the first opportunity, the family abandoned Judith in the middle of the desert.  Judith learns how resilient she really is.

Measure of a Man, which is a bonus story in the book picks up a few years after Journey Toward Home ends.  Lizzie is looking for "that" one man who will love her and keep her life adventurous.  There are two men vying for her attention, and they are vastly different in lifestyle, beliefs, and basic character.  Lizzie has a tough choice ahead of her.

This is the first book with a bonus story that had a connection to the first novel in the book, and I thought that added to the charm of the collection.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a move west.

I would like to thank Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Goosey, Goosey, Gander

Melanie Dickerson takes ordinary fairy tales and reworks them to make complete novels.  She does a masterful job at taking the child-like story and making it an enjoyable narrative for adults to read.  Magdalen has been called to Wolfberg to wed the Duke there.  She only goes because she wants to better the lives of the people living in her demesne since the copper in her father's mines has played out.  Steffen is the Duke, but he's been in Prague going to school and his uncle has been overseeing his land and castle. His uncle calls him home to get married, but. . .

The story is set in Germany and puts the The Goose Girl into a setting where she is allowed to bloom and grow even though her identity has been stolen from her.  Steffen becomes her ally in this problematic situation because his life was being threatened by his uncle.

The Noble Servant is quite a story that is a quick read and hard to put down.  I appreciate Melanie's talent in telling the tale and her ability to make it so enjoyable.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a goose-feather quill.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Treasured Grace

One of the first things I learned about after I moved to Washington State was the Whitman Massacre.  When my children were about six and eight, we went to Walla Walla to visit the Mission.  To see where history happens is one of those experiences everyone should have.

Tracie Peterson has written a novel that brings history to life in the Whitman Mission Massacre.  She has done her research well, she has developed characters to flesh out the plot lines, her plot and setting are incredible, she has added intensity to the telling of the story to make it more than just  retelling of the history of the events.

Grace Martindale and her two younger sisters have come west with a man Grace married so that he could set up a mission for the "savages."  Along the way, he died, and Grace was left alone with her sisters to finish out the trip.  Grace has been gifted with the gift of healing and knows how to use herbs and other botanicals for her remedies.  She butts heads with Dr Whitman about helping people with their ailments.  I truly believe that Tracie researched these characters well to show how they acted in real life.  I never realized the ego Dr Whitman had. Egos clashing played a large part of the massacre.

But Grace had an ego of her own that she had to overcome, especially when it came to her love life, but she did and she did it graciously.

This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and healing for your soul.

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.