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Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Land of My Heart (Heirs of Montana) by Tracie Peterson

When Dianne Chadwick’s father is killed during an altercation in front of his store as conflict between the north and south rises, she and her mother decide to move their family to Montana. They believe it will keep their boys away from the civil war conflict. But the attempt to bring safety and security is short lived when Trenton the eldest chooses to join Confederate rebels in order to avenge his father’s death and the family’s trip by wagon train brings with it unspeakable tragedy. The love interests in this are Cole Selby a wagon train scout and Diane.

 The first book sets up events to happen in the series. After reading this book I have a new appreciation for the risks people took to travel across Indian inhabited lands where they risked everything to start a new life. The descriptions of Montana make me want to see the country I have never seen. I also appreciate the fair treatment Peterson gives of the Indians  (there are both good and bad).  However, I didn’t find the characters as fleshed out as I would have liked which made it difficult to really feel for them. More internal monologue may have helped.  Still, this Christian romance is a good story if you like prairie romances. 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: 1929, Book One (The 1929 Series) by M. L. Gardener

When the stock market crashes in 1929 it crushes the wealthy lifestyles of three young couples whose lives are intertwined. This riches to rags story captured my interest and I hung in there for the entire book because it started off well. Jonathan Garrett the husband of one of the couples feels responsibility for their circumstances as it was his brokerage firm that they had all invested in.

With scarcely more than the clothes on their backs they leave everything behind and secure apartments in shabby tenements of a ruthless landlord who already has ties to the Garretts. He's a villain right out of a melodrama. The story held my interest for maybe the first third of the book despite the ridiculous premise that three couples would stay together and work together rather than go their separate ways.
And though Gardener introduces conflict through adversity, Victor the landlord, and Elise, a French prostitute from Jonathan's past, it just isn't enough. The story drags on an on as we hop from one character's head to another (too many points of view) and we must trudge through mundane chapters with scarcely any plot advancement.

There's also a lot of telling rather than showing what happens which does nothing to make this more interesting. I kept reading, not because it was captivating, but I really did want to know how they got out of their situation. I don' t want to ruin the end for you, but if you want a page turner, this is not going to be it and I am definitely not going to read any further in this series.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: A Painted House by John Grisham

I have actually read this book before but didn't review it. It's just as good the second time round and a deviation from Grisham's usual legal mystery/thrillers. Frankly, I feel it's his best work. The first person narrative and southern setting reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird though the plot is quite different.

At the heart of the story is an Arkansas farming family, the Chandlers. The story is told through the eyes of 7 year old Luke Caldwell.  The cotton is ready for picking and migrant workers (Mexicans and Hill People) have arrived to pick it.

There's plenty of conflict from Hank, the mean bully from the Spruill family whose cruel actions leave one young man dead after a street brawl, and Cowboy, a Mexican with a ruthless streak. Then there's the fight against the elements every farmer faces to try to make a living off unforgiving land. Luke witnesses not one but two murders and is bound to secrecy in fear for his life.

There is slight nudity at one part, a few issues with language but not too much, and a couple of scenes with violence. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Sail Upon the Land by Josa Young

The prologue of this book starts in India with the rape of Damson a sheltered young woman. From there it takes us back to the 1930's and traces forward through four generations of English women ending with Damson.  The superb writing and the sensitive treatment of real life circumstances such as depression, being born with physical challenges, pregnancies out of wedlock and even inheriting property and title with no funds for upkeep all make this story intriguing. I think Ms. Young has done a superb job and I look forward to reading more stories by her. I give this woman’s fiction five out of five stars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: Storm Clouds Rolling in by Ginny Dye

The first book in a series.  Carrie Cromwell has grown up on a Virginia plantation so she is used to the comfort of a privileged life and she’s an independent thinker. Slaves have always been a part of her lifestyle, but the older she gets the more she questions whether slavery is right or wrong. The story gives us both sides of the slavery issue including the rationalization many southerners made (using the Bible as their foundation) that helped them remain morally okay with it. Carrie also has dreams of being a doctor and as the tension mounts between North and South and the time draws near for beginning of the civil war, she must make some difficult decisions regarding what she believes and the young man she is drawn to who is from a similar wealthy circumstances. The author gives interesting historical background that helps the reader understand Virgina’s position during the civil war the moral struggle many people faced. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: By Eastern Windows by Gretta Curran Browne

A unique historical romance that focuses on a male main character, Lachlan Macquarie. The book begins in Scotland with Macquarie as a young soldier, then moves to India where he rises through the ranks of the English military. He meets the love of his life, lovely  Jane Jarvis who has been raised in India but the happy marriage is short-lived. When tragedy strikes, Browne makes us feel Macquarie’s agony in the loss of wife and the horrific ordeal he faces following her death in China. Toward the end of the book he is given a second chance at love with Elizabeth, a young Scottish woman who has loved Lachlan since the first day she met him.  Browne writes with great sensitivity and a gift for making the readers experience life through her main character’s eyes to the fullest sense. Though I have never been to India, it felt like I was there. This is the first in a series and I hope to read more. I give it five out of five stars.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: Susanna and the Spy by Anna Elliot

Susanna Ward’s grandfather cut her father off from his inheritance years ago because he disapproved of his marriage. When  her father dies, she is forced to see work as a governess. Ok. This is not the newest plot in the world, but it’s a mystery and therein lies the different. Her grandfather meets with a mysterious death which a stranger indicates might have been the result of murder.  She resolves to impose on her relatives residing in her grandfather’s estate and ask to stay with them, determined to learn if the stranger’s accusations are true.  Before she is welcomed into the household, she stays overnight in the local inn during which time a  wounded man, running for the authorities seeks refuge in her room. Could he be the famous Captain Clark rumored to be the leader of a local smuggling ring?  This book is heavier on the mystery than the romance. I had a little trouble believing a young lady would keep getting up and having adventures in the middle of the night, but despite that it was a wholesome and fun fantasy read.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.