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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Color of the Season by Julianne MacLean

NOTE:  Due to a serious need to cut back on my workload, this will be my last official book review on this blog.

It doesn’t seem possible that the evening can get any worse for police officer Josh Wallace after he is dumped by the girlfriend he planned to propose to, but it does.  Josh and his partner are shot while chasing a carjacking suspect. While on the operating table Josh dies and has an after death experience that drastically alters his life and the lives of several people from his past.

I began reading this book with skepticism dreading the part where the near death experience enters the picture. I figured it would be the hokey bright light thing. There is some of that (minus the chees factor) but the story takes a different turn and goes off in a completely different direction after Josh is saved on the operating table.  I don’t want to spoil any surprises so I won’t say too much. It’s a great story of love lost, love found, and the importance of family and forgiveness. I give it five out of five stars.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Review: Swept Away (Trouble in texas Book 1) by Mary Connealy

Ruthy MacNeil is rescued by Luke Stone after she nearly drowns fording a flooded river with a wagon train. Her step family doesn’t survive and she is finally free of their mistreatment. Luke surived the horrific ordeal as a prisoner of war in notorious Anderson prison during the civil war, only to learn that his father has been killed and the family ranch stolen.

With the help of his friends, also survivors of Anderson and known as the Regulators, Luke plots to take back the ranch at the same time rescuing the woman who is the wife of the man who murdered his father. Luke is immediately smitten with Ruthy and it doesn’t take long for her to feel drawn to him. I loved the way Luke dubs Ruthy “Rosie” as an endearment and throughout the book she keeps correcting him to no avail for some good comic relief. I also like Luke’s friends, especially the doctor, Dare (love that name).

The beginning of the book really held my interest but the story seemed to drag a bit in the middle as the friends plotted how they would help Luke take back the ranch. Connealy set the plot up well for the next book in the series but the book is complete, unlike some series, and doesn’t leave you hanging. I give this four out of five stars.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review of Everything She Ever Wanted by Ann Rule

When Pat Taylor wed Tom Allanson he had no way of knowing it would destroy his life in just a matter of weeks

In fact, Pat destroyed a lot of people’s lives. The attractive Southern belle was spoiled by her mother and she expected to live a lavish lifestyle at any cost. Nobody crosses Pat who was fascinated with Scarlett O’Hara. Pat could pour on the charm, but underneath the beautiful fa├žade was a cruel and evil heart. She was manipulative and controlling and if anyone crossed her, well, they’d better watch their back. At the heart of this story is the murder of Tom’s parents, orchestrated by Pat. But it doesn’t stop there. She’s determined to get to Tom’s grandparents money, even if she has to revert to poison.

There’s lots more to tell but I don’t want to spoil all the intrigue. Rule, a former police woman, spares no details regarding this true story and delves into two troubled families and the horrific, twisted behavior of Taylor who has no conscience.  This is not a new book but it’s still a fascinating read. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review of Ruby, Dakotah Treasures by Lorraine Snelling

Ruby’s had to be grown up ever since her mom died when Ruby was just a girl  and Ruby has not only been in charge of the care of her little sister but has been a Nanny to several other children. When she receives word her father is dying out west, she and her little sister Opal, venture west to Little Missouri (also called Little Misery by its residents.)  They arrive just in time for her father’s death.  He bequeaths  the only asset he had, a saloon complete with saloon girls who make their living as soiled doves. 

This first book in the series takes us through Ruby’s struggle to keep her promise to her father to “take care of the girls,” while changing the purpose of the saloon to a hotel and dining establishment. It isn’t easy. Thrown into the mix is her desperate need for cash to prop up the failing business and conflict with Belle one of the girls who seems bent on making her life miserable.

There is a taste of romance as Ruby gets to know the cavalry captain and a second hint at romance as she encounters a local rancher who rubs her the wrong way.  I found it rather ridiculous that Ruby’s father would day the very next day after her arrival and that she is absolutely clueless that the girls are saloon girls and “working girls.”  Sure, she’s sheltered, but really?  If you want full- fledged romance you will have to wait until the next book in the series.  The book end abruptly  with no resolution regarding the romance. All in all, it’s a nice prairie romance with likable characters though I would have liked the ends to have been a little more wrapped up.  I give it three out of five stars.

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. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: Treasure Me by Christine Nolfi

Birdie Kaminsky is the daughter of con artists and is herself a petty thief but once you learn how difficult her up bringing is you'll grow a soft spot for her. Having moved from place to place in order to keep one step ahead of the law (partly her fault and partly her parents) all she really  wants is a place to belong and  to fill the void in her life where love should be. She also wants
Petty thief Birdie Kamisky wants to go straight but the odds are against her. She's the daughter of con artists who are always on the run. It's difficult to change when she has no real skills.

She arrives In Liberty, Ohio in hopes of tracking down treasure she's heard exists, the story of it has been passed down through her dysfunctional family. But she gets more than she bargains for when she arrives and has to share an apartment along with a handsome  down-on-his-luck reporter. She takes a job as a waitress in the local cafe where the treasure is believed to be hidden. 

I found this to be a charming story about two messed up people who want to straighten out their lives and find a place where they belong and it's also filled with humor and some pretty fun and quirky characters. A very fun and sensitive read. You'll fall in love with Birdie. I give it four out of five stars.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: Georgiana Darcy's Diary: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Continued by Anna Elliot and Laura Masselos

I'm a big Austen fan and I love Pride and Prejudice so my fear was this would be a feeble attempt at sequel. I was pleasantly surprised. Georgiana Darcey, Mr. Darcey's younger sister, is now 18 years old and in love with her co-guardian Colonel Fitzwilliams.

 Elliot and Masselos do a great job fleshing out some of the peripheral characters from the first story including Georgiana and introducing new ones. I especially like the way Georgiana takes sickly Anne de Bourgh (Lady Catherine's daughter) under her wing. Watching Georgiana and Anne blossom is fun. Of course there have to be some villains and Wickham returns for an encore and there's an additional one I don't want to giveaway. A very fun read. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Standing Stones by Beth Camp

This first book in a promising series, takes place in 19th century Scotland in the Orkney islands at the time of the Clearances. It was a time when wealthy landowners were changing their mode of land management and ruthlessly throwing tenants off the land.

When Lord McDonald takes over the estate of Westland and its holdings, he's determined to make improvements and increase his income to match the holding of his prosperous brother. But the extreme changes he makes brings even more hardship to the tenants of his lands when they are already struggling to survive. These include increased rental fees and bringing in a new breed of sheep, and forcing the fishermen to alter their boats at their own expense. With only an eye for profit, the new lord doesn't care that the people who serve him aren't able to make the rent and many are going hungry. When he brings in some thugs to enforce his decrees, it is more than the people can bear. Those who stand up to him including Mac, the eldest son in the MacDonnells clan, face harsh consequences.

This saga follows the plight of the McDonnells and their loved ones. What a great story based on true facts, though the characters are fictional. It increased my awareness of great wrongs that have been done in the past and the people who weathered these storms. I give it five our of four stars.