Friday, September 25, 2015

Rocky Top: Peace in the Valley CD





Mandolin, guitar, autoharp, dulcimer, and of course, the fiddle -- the instruments of the mountains join together in this new album of old favorites.  As I listened to Jim Hendricks's renditions, I tried to pinpoint just who would be the key audience for these 16 songs.  First, let me remark, that it is rare to get 16 songs on one album.  I recently bought an album with only 9 songs on it. So just the length of the album alone makes it a good buy.  But back to the question about key audience.  I think this album will appeal to those who know and appreciate the acoustic instruments themselves.  Being familiar with the songs, listeners can key in on the instruments and how they change or enhance each piece.  For example, I'LL FLY AWAY sounds 
slightly different than the version made popular by Allison Krause, but Hendricks's version is equally angelic. 

 Recently, I've been reading about older favorite songs being used as therapy with the elderly, especially those with memory issues.  The nursing home where my father spent his last years was part of a study using MP3 players and personal play lists with dementia patients.  Results are showing that music calms and helps people stay connected to themselves, their families, and their past.  This album would be a wonderful choice to download for someone who has loved gospel music all their life.  Imagine the connections they could make when hearing these songs of faith and what a gift it would be to help someone remember their faith.
I received a copy of this cd from Family Christian for my honest review.  You can purchase a copy of this album in either CD or MP3 format at Family Christian

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Mind of Her Own   Mothers everywhere will recognize Louisa Copeland's frazzled state of mind in the opening chapter of MIND OF HER OWN. Sibling rivalry, mother-teenage daughter tension, a revolving taxi-short order cook service, and a too absent husband.  In a rush she reaches for the indoor grill on an upper shelf (think George Foreman) and crash!  The next scene is an emergency room as Louisa's husband rushes to the side of the woman with a bump on her head who says she has never heard of Louisa or her family, that she is Jazz Sweet, an unmarried, nonmother, romance author.  

Doctors diagnose temporary amnesia caused by the fall and quickly send Collin and Jazz home, encouraging Collin to expose Jazz to sounds, smells, anything that might trigger Jazz's transformation to Louisa.  The novel's mood alternates; from the first pages and Jazz'z initial reaction to Collin, I expected a light, humorous mood.  There are those moments, throughout, especially Jazz's first moments with the kids and her need to replace Louisa's beige life with some bursts of color and fun. But the book goes beyond that.  For one, Collin's reaction.  His family is in crisis and he has to abandon his 70 hour a week law practice to be a father.  And he has to find a workable role as Jazz's supporter while waiting and wanting (??) for Louisa to return.  In the process, he begins to see his wife in a new light. There is a depth there that goes beyond silly amnesia story.  Readers, like Jazz herself, will get caught up in Jazz'z life, all the while knowing she does not really exist.  But readers will also quickly sense (or at least I did) that behind the amnesia is something dark.  I figured out what that was quite easily and waiting for that reveal added a more serious, uneasy element to the book.  Brandmeyer is a talented writer; I totally liked her characters in this book and the more humorous moments.  I will leave it to each reader to decide if you like how all the pieces fit together into the complete story.  

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for my honest review.  I would say that the target audience for this contemporary novel would be young adults to mid-thirties.  

You can try reading the first chapter at http://dianabrandmeyer.com/  
  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Outdoorsy Lap Quilt using 8" Scrap Crazy Templates is finally FINISHED !!


I'm not really into shopping therapy anymore unless it involves a trip to a new-to-me quilt shop. Then I am all in.  Back in late July, childhood friend (and adulthood, too) Chris and I met for lunch, talking, and a quick visit to Loose Threads in Milton, WI.  There I purchased CREATIVE GRIDS Non-Slip Scrap Crazy 8" templates.  I've seen these rulers several times before and resisted (price is almost $25) but it was the sample project done in fall colors that pushed me into purchasing this time.  Plus I had a donation project in mind and wanted to be able to use up a multitude of scraps.

Cutting the five pieces needed for each blog using the three plastic templates was simple; I basically was a one woman assembly line, cutting the shapes and stacking them in a plastic project container.
Then I just carved out a few minutes at a time to sew blocks.  They go together quickly -- one two-piece half and one three-piece half.  Then the halves are assembled. Having all the pieces cut ahead and stacked in a container made the sewing so inviting.  Finished blocks are 8.5 inches.  I decided to add some interest by interspersing some solid blocks embroidered with simple outdoor designs.  I got my designs from the Embroidery Library's WALK IN THE WOODS . I stitched out multiple blocks of my favorite four designs - canoe, cabin, bear, and fish.  I like how they blend with the fall, outdoorsy fabric.  Each pieced block has a crazy block feel so I used to decorative quilting stitches to set them off.  I sort of did my own version of quilt as you go, breaking the quilt into two chunks that were quilted to the batting with the decorative stitches.  Then those two pieces were seamed into one piece which was then paired with the backing.  Then another top stitch was used both horizontally and vertically across all the blocks.  Doing this allowed me to work with manageable pieces, plus I never had to use any of those special strips to sew sections together, and when it was time to pin the top and back together, I was working with two layers (one being the top and batting already quilted), not three.  My stash of browns, oranges, tans, and greens is much smaller now, and I have a quilted project finished.  YEAH.  I know I will be using these templates again and so I guess they were a smart investment.
Closeup of crazy blocks and embroidered block
The templates and a sample block

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gather Around the Amish Table:Treasured Recipes and Stories from Plain Communities by Lucy Leid

 I've collected cookbooks since I was a teenager (over 50 years, but who is counting) and my family always teases me when I read them cover to cover like novels.  I sift through the recipes, deciding which ones I will try.  While I will look at almost any cookbook, I truly treasure those packed with "down home" family recipes, with maybe a slight twist of originality.  I do love those community cookbooks packed with side comments and inspirational messages from the cooks.  Lucy Leid has gathered together both recipes and stories from Amish communities around the country.  For those who don't know much about the Amish, this book is a warm introduction with some great basic recipes to boot.  I live in a rural area with a strong Amish presence so I have been able to purchase many Amish cookbooks over the years as families, schools, and communities frequently put together cookbooks to raise money.  Although GATHER AROUND THE AMISH TABLE may have fewer recipes than some of those, it is a more professional, colorful publication.  The recipe for oven baked chicken caught my eye when I first looked through the cookbook.  A mixture of butter, crushed cornflakes and Parmesan cheese coats the chicken which then bakes in the oven.  Mmm, I thought.  I used to make something similar but haven't in a long time.  It was so easy and good.   I've been making apple crisp since my early 4-H days but when we were having company for Saturday night supper a few weeks ago, I decided to use the recipe in GATHER AROUND THE AMISH TABLE instead of digging out my old, battered recipe.  Pretty similar except the Amish version adds a dash of nutmeg.  Made with Melba apples, freshly picked in Bayfield Co, WI, this dessert was a hit.  Basic cakes, filling casseroles, healthy soups, and even made from scratch puddings and custards.  This book is chocked full of tried and true recipes that have been making families smile around the dinner table for years.  GATHER AROUND THE TABLE would make a special gift for anyone interested in this more simple culture, the people themselves, and of course, their favorite foods.  I recieved a copy of this title from LitFuse for my honest review

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

  fpoDavid McCullough's THE WRIGHT BROTHERS ranks as one of our favorite audio books to date.  Husband and I listened to it while we made our most recent trip to our cabin and back.  Since we took a side trip for an extra day on the way home, and then one day after getting home had a quick trip to our daughter's place in Green Bay, we were able to finish the entire book in five days.  Not often that we spend that much "confined" time together  Russ, who used to have his private pilot's license (and has always regretted giving up that expensive hobby) was fascinated by all the details of actual flights -- the changes in wings, engines, and such.  He would often explain to me why certain things were being tried or why something was successful while something else was not.  Let's just say he was caught up in the science of the book and the determination of the two Wright brothers.  I, on the other hand, was pulled in by the family story.  As I have mentioned in a recent post, I knew a little bit about Katherine Wright's sacrifice to help her brothers.  I found myself learning much more about her and her father Bishop Wright, and it quickly became apparent that Katherine was the glue that held the family together. Especially notable was the care that Katherine gave Orville after the September 17, 1908 plane crash that left Lt. Selfridge dead and Orville with multiple broken bones.  Rushing to his hospital bed after the accident, Katherine spent many nights there, knowing that Orville would rest better with her present.  Many speculate that Orville would not have recovered without his sister's attention.

The book is narrated by David McCullough himself whose voice can be slightly gravelly and choppy, but I am glad he is the one who told the story.  It is easy to get caught up in the story of each flight, each advancement and the passing years without realizing all the intense research and documentation that went into laying out this historical gem.  Having the author himself narrate, kept bringing that thought to my mind.  Both in teaching English and library skills, I taught kids about research basics and always included a focus on the difficult work of using primary sources (the actual letters, newspapers, and documents of a person's life or an event).  As I listened to the book, I often notice when McCullough referred to or quoted a family/personal letter, a newspaper headline, a telegraph message, and even correspondence between competing aviators.  He must have spent several years combing all the primary documents available and he did a marvelous job of piecing the years and the family's lives together.

Both Russ and I noticed the intense competitive drive of the Wright duo and their single-minded purpose which drew on individual strengths.  Yet both brothers continued to possess simple humility and gentleness.  They were loyal to each other and to their family.  At one time, Wilbur set aside much of his aviation work for a short time to help his minister father (Bishop Wright) through a conflict with his church.  I was surprised to learn that the Smithsonian Institution actually financed a competing aviator's work and for years that caused a rift between the Smithsonian and the successful Wright duo.  Later in life, Orville sent the original plane to England rather than give it to the Smithsonian.  It was only years later that it returned to America.  Also of great interest to me were Orville's comments in the 1940's, shortly before his death, after he had seen aviation used to drop bombs. On a lighter note, several times we both broke out laughing as McCullough referred to newspaper reporters who completely fabricated stories, telling lies about the brothers' social lives in France and exaggerating their accomplishments.  Other times, other reporters published stories claiming their flights never happened.  A dishonest, headline seeking press?? Imagine that. LOL!

If you like nonfiction packed with details, but also with a human story, then I recommend THE WRIGHT BROTHERS.  If you've seen or read McCullough's JOHN ADAMS or THE JOHNSTON FLOOD, you know what kind of writer he is.  Grab the book or the audio version and learn about our founders of flight.  Many libraries in our library system have the print book, and while there were many holds early in the summer, it appears that demand is slowing down.  However, when I checked the ebook version and the audio books, lots of holds still exist.  Check your own libraries if you have an interest.  I waited for at least two months for my copy to come through, but it was certainly worth the wait.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

American Christian Fiction Writers give out Carol Awards

The American Christian Fiction Writers gave out their 2015 Awards last night.  Francine Rivers was honored for  life time achievement and Kate Breslin was recognized for her debut novel.  I have copied this list of winners from the ACFW webpage.  http://www.acfw.com/carol/2015_carol_award_winners  Looks like I have more reading to do.

2015 Carol Award Winners

Contemporary
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House)

Historical
Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson (Howard [Simon & Schuster])
Historical Romance
With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House [Baker]) Publishing
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Novella
An October Bride by Katie Ganshert (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Romance
The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Romantic Suspense
Under a Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter (Abingdon Press)

Short Novel
Second Chance Summer by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Speculative
A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)
Young Adult
Storm Siren by Mary Weber (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Debut Novel
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
- See more at: http://www.acfw.com/carol/2015_carol_award_winners#sthash.bkTlvluE.dpuf

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me by Jane Yolen

My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me  Some of my most favorite children's books are ones that introduce children to people and events of American history, but are told from an unique viewpoint, one that goes beyond the barebone facts that we are all expected to know.  MY BROTHERS' FLYING MACHINE: WILBUR, ORVILLE, AND ME is one of those books.  Written by the talented Jane Yolen, whose works for young readers are numerous and varied, and illustrated by Jim Burke, this nonfiction picture book is told from the view of Katherine Wright, younger sister to the famous Ohio brothers who first flew at Kitty Hawk.  She tells of the brothers' fascination with a flying toy which eventually translated into their quest to take to the air themselves.  All of that may be already known by young readers and listeners, but they will be surprised to learn that Katherine kept the bike shop open while Orville and Wilbur went to Kitty Hawk multiple times.  She even quit her teaching job when necessary to help the brothers.  Observant eyes will find that illustrator Burke has filled the pages with details which silently tell us more about how the family lived and worked.

Yolen published this book in 2003 for the 100th anniversary of the first recognized successful flight.  That is when I purchased this book for our elementary school library and I certainly enjoyed reading it with classes.  As I said, I delight in books which put a "fresh" but accurate spin on history.  Giving Katherine some credit for her part in this scientific quest was fun, and she has always stayed in my mind.  This book came back to me in full force when Russ and I started listening to David McCullough's newest best seller THE WRIGHT BROTHERS.  I will be posting about that audio book soon.  While titled for the brothers, McCullough's book even more fully shows Katherine's role in the family's success.  I encourage those looking for "mighty girl" role models to check out Katherine Wright!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

I was slow in getting on the band wagon for the original Mitford novels about Father Tim Kavanagh, his late in life marriage, his adopted son, and his love for the unique people of his congregation.  When I did start reading them, it was a joy to follow from one novel to another.  All the subsequent novels I've read about pastors and their congregants or other quiet small town novels have been compared to Karon's works.  When Father Tim retired (last book in the original series) I again got behind and did not read HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS until most other fans had already read it.  And I am quite sure that I never got around to reading the next book set in Ireland, but I will have to.  When I saw that Karon will have a new book coming out soon, one in which young Dooley has finished vet school and is ready for marriage, I knew I better read SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD, the book that precedes it.  Father Tim and wife have returned from Ireland.  Five years have passed since he retired and now he must adjust to life in Mitford as "civilians."  What does a former pastor do with his time?  How does he interact with those who were friends but also congregants?  And when you're older, how do you accept change?  Dooley is now the one giving Timothy advice, his old restaurant hang out is gone and now the guys are meeting at a coffee shop, and more.  When the young bookstore owner is sent home on bedrest until her baby is born, Father Timothy steps in to run the shop one day a week.  And when Dooley's brother Sammy seems to be upsetting his landlady and the community with his quick temper and foolish behavior, the former pastor has  to reach deep for a way to connect with the young man.  

Like all the Jan Karon novels, I love the quiet, yet substantial plots. Faith is shown through action, not speeches or lectures.  And Christ's love rises up on every page in everyday acts of caring for one's fellowman.  If you want a lesson in how to love your neighbor, read a Jan Karon book.  Plus the people are so unique --  meet Coot Hendrick who after years of caring for his aged mother finally is able to learn to read or Esther, who has made a deal to let the bakery start making her famous Orange Marmalade Cake, but just can't let go of her precious recipe.  If you have never been to Mitford on your reading travels, why not start?  You will have quite a lengthy journey, and will find there are troubles, and troubled people, but that's all right.  You will find joy and good deeds there also.  And if you are like me, and you've met Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley and the animals, but have not visited in a while, get caught up, why don't you?  I am ready now for COME RAIN OR COME SHINE which releases next week.  I already have my name on the holds list for our library system.  If you're looking for a particular Karon book to read, why don't you check your library system?  Most libraries have her books and I read SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD as an ebook download from WPLC, the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium.  They also have the book in audio format.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vintage by Susan Gloss

The BookOur August book club title was a contemporary first novel by a Wisconsin author.  Set in Madison, just a few streets from the university, VINTAGE tells the story of three women.  Violet loves Hourglass Vintage, the shop she has worked so hard to establish; she especially likes her unique customers and the personal quests that bring them into her shop. Even so, she finds herself telling the young distressed woman who wants to return a wedding dress that she does not accept returns on such items.  The firm refusal leaves Violet slightly unsettled and only a few days later Violet finds her life intersecting when the young woman is placed on a summer work internship at Violet's shop.  All the details have been orchestrated by a shop customer and philanthropist friend of Violet's.  It seems that pregnant, 18 year old April, needs not only a job, but some stability in her life, having been left at the alter by her college-aged boyfriend only months after her mother died in an accident.  Soon Violet finds her life even more complicated as she is told that her rent-to-own lease will end within weeks unless she can deliver a full purchase payment.  The story is given more depth and flavor by the inclusion of a third woman's story -- that of Amithi Singh who begins to bring in beautiful Indian saris and scarves to sell at the shop.  Little by little readers will learn the woman's story of betrayal.  

Being an older reader, I appreciate books that interweave multiple ages.  April's story of young love and disappointment has all the emotion you would expect such a story to have.  Violet's story is more complex; she has worked hard to get where she is and doesn't want to lose it.  Both the eviction notice and an ex-husband threaten her future success.  A chance at new love brings its own road traps.  And the older Amithi shows that heartache at hit at any age and in any culture.  I loved that each chapter began with a  description of a vintage item, part of Hourglass's inventory, followed by a brief description of how it was acquired.  I found myself visualizing each item and also picturing the quaint shop.  When I found out that author Susan Gloss actually had a vintage online business, I began searching for it online, and also searched to see if Madison had any independent vintage stores that may have been models for the book.  Sadly, I did not find a State street vintage store!  Anybody want to start one??

The consensus of our book club was that this was a fun read for the summer.  A kind of chick lit for multiple audiences.  I found a few things got too much emphasis and a few other things rushed to abrupt endings, but overall I liked her writing.  I hope that Gloss continues to write, but it appears she is the mother of a toddler, a practicing attorney, and part of that vintage online business.  Does that mean she won't have time to write?  I hope not.  Let's hope she is an overachiever and can juggle all her jobs.  We need good authors who can continue to write Wisconsin stories.

Our book club almost always obtains our books through interlibrary loan, so getting a copy of this book should not be difficult.  I actually listened to the first half of the book and then finished by reading the hard copy.  I got the audio version through WPLC (Wisconsin Public Library Consortium).  I like listening to this type of fiction; the narration gives the people and setting a realistic vibe.  

  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Plain Choice: The True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life by Sherry Gore

Plain Choice, The: A True S...  I first encountered Sherry Gore's name when I ran across a reference to the magazine COOKING AND SUCH which at the time she helped publish.  I learned that Sherry lived in Pinecraft, Florida, an Amish and Mennonite settlement in Sarasota.  Photos of Pinecraft and writings of Sherry's that I found online told me this community was totally different that the Old Order Amish that live in our area of Wisconsin.  When I found out that Sherry had authored a cookbook, I put the title on my Christmas list.  While I liked the recipes (lots of pie recipes), I was more intrigued by the writings about live in Pinecraft that filled half the book.  Ever since, I've followed Sherry on Facebook, listened to podcasts and television appearances she has made.  I read her next cookbook SIMPLY DELICIOUS AMISH COOKING (yes I read cookbooks like novels). The more I learned about Sherry, the more I was intrigued.  Clearly her Amish community was more liberal - she occasionally drove, she had her photos taken, and she appeared on television.

 Eventually I learned that Sherry had CHOSEN to become Amish and belonged to a Beachy Amish Mennonite community.  Drawing again on what I know about the Amish from our neighbors (Old Order Amish), I knew that they do not seek converts and having someone join is very, very rare.  So when Zondervan published her new book which describes her journey from a world of California and Florida sun, rock and roll, parties and bleached hair to a life of simple clothes, head coverings and an old fashioned bike, I wanted to read the inside story.  In a nutshell, Sherry shares how that California life was an empty one filled with flawed relationships, dead-end jobs, and even abuse.  After the birth of her first two children, Gore knew she had to change her life, and in doing so, she found God.  But Sherry felt that she needed more than a church; she needed the community of support found in the early Christian church and her search led her to Pinecraft, a place just minutes from her early days in Florida.   This memoir does not go into her life as pie judge, cooking show host, or participant on the series Amish:Out of Order.  I sort of wish the book had covered all that, but it focuses on the more important aspects of Gore's life -- why she needed to change, how God touched her heart, guided her struggles, gave her a new beginning, and has given her strength for her most difficult heartache --- watching her eldest daughter suffer from multiple incurable illnesses. Since finishing this book, Gore's daughter Jacinda has died.  To people who already have "met" Sherry Gore, this book may answer many of their questions about her life.  To readers who know nothing about her, they will be able to concentrate on the story of faith found.  Then they can decide whether want to learn more about how she lives her daily life now.   I received a copy of this title from BOOKLOOK for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Through Waters DeepSarah Sundin's Wings of Nightingale series,which features World War II nurses serving in the European war theater, was packed with lots of fast paced action and danger, along with heartfelt personal stories and romance.  I expected something similar from THROUGH WATERS DEEP, the first book in Sundin's new series Waves of Freedom, but Sundin has concentrated on a different time and place for this title.  It is fall 1941 and America has not yet entered the war.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has signed the Lend Lease Act which will send planes, ships, and other military materials to bolster England's defense.  Reaction back here in America is mixed, and that is especially true at the Boston Navy Yard where defense workers are on a tight schedule to turn out as many ships as possible.

When the christening of a new ship is sabotaged, many believe that it is the work of a Nazi sympathizer and point their fingers at a  German immigrant at the yard, but others believe that the sabotage may actually be the work of someone who wishes to push America into a full blown war effort.  Mary Stirling, a Navy Yard secretary, realizes that her job is the perfect foil for hearing, seeing, and recording the unrest developing among the workers.  At first when she shares her "reports" with the authorities, they laugh at her attempts to be a "Nancy Drew" but she continues to snoop.  Meanwhile she encounters a childhood friend, Jim Avery, now a Navy ensign.  Soon she knows her feelings go beyond friendship but remains silent knowing that Jim still carries a torch for her best friend.  Jim encourages her to keep snooping, but also worries about her safety.

I've always enjoyed Sundin's writing, and while I enjoyed both Mary and Jim and their personal stories in the novel, I was slightly disappointed in the overall plot.  I want my historical fiction to be as accurate as possible and I felt THROUGH DEEP WATERS slightly missed the target here.  Yes, there really was much dissension here at home prior to entering the war and Sundin does an excellent job of capturing that emotional tension but there was never any "terrorism" or "sabotage" as depicted in the story. Clearly Sundin felt justified in creating a sabotage event for the story since there was actual fear of it happening, but I felt cheated by having sabotage be a key element of the book.   I don't know what mystery or suspense Sundin could have created for Mary to be part of, but I wish it had been something more authentic.  On a positive note, I liked the humor and heartbreak added by Jim's wealthy friend who was seeking a girl not influenced by his money.  Also, Jim's brothers, also Navymen, are introduced (from a distance) and that prepares readers for the next books in the series.  Since this book ends as Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, I assume the brothers' stories will be set in the thick of World War II and we know that Sundin can write good fiction about the war action.  I received a copy of this novel from Revell Reads for my honest review.
  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

1911 Long Island, New York -- Gil Whelan owes his college degree and so much more to the O'Leary family, who have raised him like their own, so when James O'Leary and his Long Island hourse farm face financial difficulties, Gil returns to help.  From the the start he knows his largest obstacle will be keeping his affections of tomboy turned Irish beauty Brianna O'Leary in tow. Brianna knows there is a spark between herself and Gil but she's determined to avoid romance and convince her father that she deserves a college education.  But when Brianna hears her older sister Colleen say she has set her sights on Gild for a little flirtation while she waits for a rich suitor, Brianna knows she must save Gil.  The arrival of a distant cousin from Ireland complicates Colleen's plans even more.  Dark, handsome Ryan Montgomery is supposed to be on the path to priesthood.  When then does his smile, dark eyes, and even his presence unsettle Colleen so much.

IRISH MEADOWS is Susan Anne Mason's first historical novel and she has done an excellent job of capturing the early 1900 society.  Gil has been cared for like one of the family, yet he isn't the right class to marry the young Brianna O'Leary.  Despite being intelligent and ambitious, Brianna is destined to marry young to a suitor of her father's choosing.  Patriach James O'Leary seems to have control over every family member's life and his main concern is securing needed money for the horse farm and keeping up appearances.  Any 21st Century woman reading the book will bristle at his heavy handed power.  Having two very different sisters as central characters brings a more complex plot structure to the book, and I liked that. In the self-centered, bored Colleen, author Mason has created a wonderful opportunity to present a character that grows and changes.  As Colleen  interacts with Ryan , we see her begin to evaluate her values and choices.  Meanwhile Brianna must muster the courage to achieve her dreams, even when that means standing up against her family.  From the first page, I enjoyed reading this title and recommend it to others.  I also want to commend Bethany House for their choice of cover art.  This cover will draw readers in and they will not be disappointed.
I received a copy of IRISH MEADOWS from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

Check out Susan Anne Mason's website to learn more about the book and the author.