Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

I have been reading a great many books lately by new to me authors and Buttermilk Sky is my first read from Jan Watson.  It was a lovely coming of age story about a young woman who is trying to find her own way in life.  Mazy (I really liked that name) has left her small mountain town of Skip Rock and is going to secretarial school in the city.  This story takes place during the year 1913.  When she left, she also left the sheriff, Chanis, who is a few years older than her and very much in love with her.  Though they are apart for most of the story, we get a really good characterization of both Mazy and Chanis as we are seeing life happen through both of their viewpoints.  I really liked both characters.  Mazy was sweet and innocent and really had to learn about the world through her own experiences before she could see the gifts she already had.  She had a couple of harrowing near misses and I enjoyed seeing her relate with her city friends.  Chanis was a really fun character to get to know.  He was a simple fellow who for the most part knew what he wanted in life.  He took care of his responsibilities and he loved Mazy with his whole heart.  Some of the situations he found himself in, because he was the sheriff, had me laughing out loud even though they were serious situations that could have taken his life.  Again, he was such a fun character and Jan Watson’s writing was a delight to read.  I received my review copy from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: The Lady and the Officer by Mary Ellis

The Lady and the Officer by Mary Ellis was a sweeping Civil War story depicting one woman’s life and decisions during the last two years of that most brutal war.  Having been widowed due to the war, Madeline Howard has also lost her late husband’s business (he was a horse breeder), her home, and purpose in Pennsylvania.  Being a Yankee through and through, she still decided she needed to move to Richmond, Virginia to seek shelter with her wealthy Uncle, Aunt, and cousin.  However, before she leaves she has managed to capture the attention of a Union officer by the name of James Downing.  He implores her to stay on the North side during the war however she feels she still needs to go to family.  Since there is nothing James can do while the war is going on, he promises to write and vows to her and (himself) that he will find her after the war. 

Now what I found very fascinating was how Madeline, being from the north and very much wanting the Union to win, has learned how to live her daily life in the very capital of the Confederacy.  How she still loves her family and they her, yet they have very opposing views.  There is intrigue, spies, and a bit of a love triangle when a Confederate soldier steps into her life in Richmond making Madeline’s decisions more complicated.  This is my first Mary Ellis book and her romantic historical had me right there experiencing the South with Madeline.  This story was very unpredictable and I so very enjoyed the resolution of this book.  One particular scene was just amazing to me with how it played out.  Thank you to the The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) for my review copy.  The opinions are my own. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy is one of my go to authors that I know I will get a great story.  Tried and True I do believe is my new favorite of hers.  Taking place some months after the Civil War, we have three sisters and their Pa taking advantage of the homesteading laws out west, the location of their homesteads being in the Idaho territory.  The interesting part is that all three sisters had disguised themselves as men and fought in the war due to their father’s goading them in honor of their late brother.  Bailey and Shannon, the two oldest, have taken their roles as men and embraced them.  Kylie, the youngest however, wants to be a woman and has let her hair grow and wears skirts.  She wants to be taken care of and wants to forget the horrors of the war she fought in.  In steps Aaron Masterson, who also fought as a Union soldier, who is now working as a land agent for the US government.   Wanting to make sure everything is legal, he finds out that Kylie is not who she says she is and there ensues a legal problem.  That is only the icing on the cake as we meet other folks of the territory, those who want Kylie’s land and will stoop pretty low to scare her off and those who want her watering rights.  Told with her trademark style infused with humor, Aaron and Kylie seem to fall into one mess after another as they are falling in love.  And just when everything seems to be looking up for our characters, we get some unexpected twists and turns.   Like I said earlier, I do believe this is my favorite Mary Connealy book to date.  I look forward to the next two books in the Wilde sisters’ trilogy, especially after reading the excerpt for book two.  I received my review copy from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Proper Attire by Danielle Thorn

Proper Attire was a cute and fun swashbuckling adventurous read about a maiden in distress, pirates, natives, captains, and a mystery guy taking place in a beautiful West Indie setting.  This regency novel finds our heroine on a ship headed towards her admiral Uncle’s home.  She is being sent away as she will not marry whom her stepmother has chosen for her.  On her way, the ship is attacked by pirates and she meets John Smith, our very enigmatic hero.  From then on there were twists and turns throughout this story and I read it rather quickly.  So if you are looking for a clean, adventurous short novel with a thread of romance, I think you may enjoy Danielle Thorn’s story.  I myself look forward to more of her tales.   I received an e-copy for review and the opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: A Christmas Gift by Kathy Macias

By the looks of the cover on A Christmas Gift, I thought that I was going to get a sweet, heartwarming, fuzzy feeling read.  Well, I really should not have judged this book by its cover.  This was a first read for me by Kathy Macias.  While reading this book I felt a lot of emotions: heartbreak, familial love, excitement for new adventure, and fear.  Fear?  Yes, fear.  I was not sure if this book was going to have a happy ending or not, but Kathy Macias’s writing did not disappoint.  I was constantly turning the pages to get to a resolution of this poor heroine.  From the moment I started the book and read the prologue I knew I was in for a roller coaster of a ride.  Not a typical Christmas story but a well told story nonetheless.  I received my review copy from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and as always the opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Honor by Lyn Cote

Honor by Lyn Cote is an extraordinary tale of one Quaker woman’s faith and endurance during the time period of 1819-1820.  Standing up and having faith in her late father’s abolitionist beliefs, she goes against her grandfather’s stubborn will and pro-slavery beliefs.  Raised on the High Oaks plantation, Honor was set to inherit her family’s legacy however, she was betrayed by her grandfather after he passed on.  Now left with only $100 and her maid Royale (a former slave she set free), these two women must leave the only home they have ever known and embark on a new way of life.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Honor finds herself in a marriage of convenience, quite literally, to a man who is deaf and his three year old nephew who needs a mother.  As they head west to Ohio to start their new lives, they come against prejudice, peril, and man’s inhumanity to man.  Facing all kinds of trials and circumstances, Honor and her little family must learn to trust, depend on, and love each other.  However when secrets come to light and are revealed, Honor will need to learn to forgive.

I was very caught up in this very riveting yet heartbreaking tale.  The cover is beautiful and just looking at Honor peering back at me I knew she had an intriguing story to tell.  The history of Ohio and its stand on slavery and its role that it played in the Underground Railroad was also very interesting to read about.  This was my first Lyn Cote book and I look forward to reading her previous books and the second in the Quaker Bride Series, Blessing.  I received this book from The Book Club Network, (TBCN) however, my opinions are my own and I highly recommend this book.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: Silver Bells by Lucinda Brant, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, Annette Lyon, and Becca Wilhite

Silver Bells is a historical Christmas collection by six different authors.  They are clean, quick little stories that all have a Christmas theme within them.   I enjoyed reading stories from familiar authors and I liked that I was able to sample some authors that I had not read before.   I tend to savor a tale from Sarah Eden and am always on the lookout for her new releases.  I have read Heather B. Moore and Annette Lyon in the first Christmas anthology volume and I was looking forward to Lucinda Brant’s story as I have a few of her other books.  I enjoyed all the stories, and especially was interested in learning about Macy’s department store in the early 1920’s.  We even get to meet a friend of a young Ebenezer Scrooge.    All in all these were standalone novelettes that were entertaining to read and to put you in the Christmas spirit.  I look forward to more of the Romance Anthology Collections.  I was given an ebook for review, however the opinions are mine.

Review: Emma Learns To Sprout by Shir Guez

Emma Learns to Sprout is a cute book for kids that can help them in the understanding of sprouting lentils.  I think this would be a cute book in using with kids for a science experiment.  I think it might be fun for them to watch their lentils grow, and then eat them.  I also like that this book promotes healthy eating habits in a fun way.  I read this to my little guy who is four however, I think kids even older would enjoy sprouting their own food.   

Review: The Last Queen of Sheba by Jill Francis Hudson

The Last Queen of Sheba was a mesmerizing book for me.  While reading this and for a whole week, I was dreaming this book.  In my dreams I was in the halls and court of the great wise king Solomon.  I don’t normally read a lot of Biblical fiction however this book intrigued me due to its subject matter.  I always found the account of The Queen of Sheba and Solomon, found in both I Kings 10:1-3 and 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, as interesting.  Jesus also mentions her in the New Testament in Mathew 12:42 and also Luke 11:31.  Who was this queen, where exactly did she come from, and what was her background story?   Ms. Hudson gives us a plausible story and sites her historical information and sources at the end of the book.  In my homeschooling journey with my children, I had come across the Ethiopian Jews and their journey to Israel to escape communism, and their belief that they were descended from Menelik, whom some believe is the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.   I have also read accounts that some Ethiopian Christians believe that the Ark of the Covenant is located and closely guarded in Ethiopia.  Ms. Hudson does mention this in her historical research and also a great deal more. 
Something else I have always wondered about: why did the wisest man in the world choose to live the latter part of his life in the way that he did?  How in the world could you have so many wives and concubines and let them set up alters to their gods, especially, when he started his reign on the right path and the teachings that he was brought up with?  What made this wisest of men fall?

Told through the eyes of the Queen of Sheba’s uncle Tamrin, we are told the background of the Queen, we travel to Israel and back over a 20 plus year period, watch the glorious dedication of the Temple, and finally the deterioration of Israel right before the Nation of Israel split, with 10 tribes separating themselves from King David’s heirs.   I could go on about this book but this review is long enough.  This was a riveting read for me and I thank The Book Club Network, (TBCN) for my review copy.  The opinions expressed are my own.