Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Randy Singer's new title is a political/legal thriller

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members? Add Randy Singer’s new legal thriller, Rule of Law, to your must-read list this fall. For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top. Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know what happened. But will equal justice under law work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?

{More about Rule of Law}

Rule of Law (Tyndale, September 2017)
What did the president know? And when did she know it?
For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.
But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.
Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?
Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.
Equal justice under law.
It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?
Learn more and purchase a copy.
Randy Singer

{More About Randy Singer}

Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than ten legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel “Directed Verdict.” In addition to his law practice and writing, he serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school’s Board of Visitors.
Find out more about Randy at http://www.ra

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MERCY TRIUMPS by Jana Kelley

Jana Kelley has written a complex contemporary trilogy following Mia Weston as she and her family live in Sudan, hoping to make a difference through her husband's work at Kellar Hope Foundation.  Nothing about life there is what Jana expected, but the family finds a "new normal" and Mia is determined to carefully share her Christian faith with the women she meets.  Each of the three books shows both how perilous and how rewarding telling others about the forgiving love of Christ can be.
MERCY TRIUMPHS has Mia, her husband and their children preparing for a visit back to Texas, but unsure if their travels will be approved by the Sudanese government.  Meanwhile Halimah, a young convert whose story is told in the first two books, is working with refugees in Kenya.  Living under the name Sara, the new believer fears for her future but finds assurance that God will protect her.
So when her younger sister living in Dubai with an aunt and uncle asks her to visit, Sara believes God is leading both women to a new safe life.

Based on true events, Kelley's novels show how complicated life is for Christians living in Muslim dominated societies.  The stark differences between American society and life in Sudan is clear, and while it may be difficult to understand, we see that Mia truly comes to love the place which was home for three years.  As Jana Kelley writes on her website, she write(s) about faith and culture and about living a life that meshes the two," and she does it with an authenticity that is eye opening, entertaining, at times suspenseful, but mostly inspiring. I received a copy of this title from LITFUSE.  I was not compelled to write a review.  All opinions are mine.

Sunday, September 17, 2017



Debbie Macomber is one of America's most beloved authors of hopeful, contemporary novels, aimed mostly at women. Over 200 million copies of her books have sold with many of her stories  made into television movies and even a recent television series.  Set in close knit communities, her stories of overcoming adversity, finding love often make one want to find one of those cozy communities, purchase a big welcoming home, and sit on the front porch.  It has been quite a while since I've read one of Debbie's novels, so I looked forward to sinking into the pages of ANY DREAM WILL DO, her latest novel. Shay Benson knew she was making a huge mistake, but her brother needed her, or so she thought, and now five years later she has to start life all over.  Sure all chances of a normal life with someone to love or a job where people trust her have been destroyed, Shay shields her fears with a chip of her shoulder.  But something brings into the sanctuary of Pastor Drew Douglas's church on a cold winter's night. When he sees the young woman in the pews, his pastoral sense of duty kicks in and Drew takes the young woman to a shelter which works with women to give them a fresh start. But something keeps Drew checking back on Shay's progress and a friendship ensures, something both the widowed pastor and the determined Shay need.

While this book has all the hallmarks of Macomber's success -- a community with interesting, distinct characters  ( in this case, Drew's delightful young daughter); a hopeful story; and the expected romance,  too much of the story was expected, right down to the secret which Shay will not reveal.  I found this story almost like easy listening music or an often watched television series.  The story flowed quickly; I really did not need to engage my mind much to keep track of the story, and soon it was over.  I took this book along on a bus trip, and it was a good choice for that purpose.  I could read for a half hour or so on the bus and then leave the book alone to talk to my seat mate.  Then later I could pick up the book again and find myself right back into the story. Yes, I will continue to read Macomber's stories, but next time I am hoping for a bit more complexity.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND by Jane Kirkpatrick

 Product Details

Whenever I read a new Jane Kirkpatrick historical novel, I know I am going to meet a remarkable woman from our country's past, a lady who somehow stood up against the status quo and lived a life that changed the fate of families to come.  Jennie Pickett Parrish is that woman in Kirkpatrick's newest book ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND.  Married young to Charles Pickett, Jennie soon finds that the life of promise she expected is peppered with heartache.  Charles becomes moody and abusive, which Jennie attributes to drink and perhaps to a head injury; hoping to help support the family, Jennie begins distilling botanicals for healing essential oils.  Deep within Jennie is a desire to pursue the healing arts, perhaps even to be a doctor, but doubts and obstacles over shadow her dreams.  Few women have successfully entered the medical field, especially here in the new state of Oregon.  A learning disability, probably what we would call dyslexia, sets her apart from her siblings who all learned quickly.  For her, all book learning has been a burdensome challenge, so Jennie concentrates on raising her son, who even as a young child shows the signs of an addictive personality.

As we all experience, what is ahead in life is a complete unknown, and soon Jennie's life takes many twists, leaving her a divorcee, needing to find a way to support herself and her son. An opportunity to work as a nursing companion to an ailing wealthy woman allowing Jennie to pay back a loan her husband has defaulted on, and  ultimately leading to the chance to be the doctor Jennie always dreamed of being.  This isn't really a book about the world wanting to deny Jennie Pickett Parrish the opportunity to practice medicine; once she and her second husband decide she should pursue this dream, a pathway to the medical college opens for her --- possibly because her new husband (much older than she) was an influential Oregonian.  No, this is about the personal sacrifices necessary to pursue a quest for knowledge and a quest to improve the basic health of families.  The demons of addiction play a huge role in this book, and it is clear that Jennie Parrish sought the medical answers behind addiction, something we still seek.

Ever since I read my first book about Elizabeth Blackwell, I have been fascinated by the women who forged their way into the medical fields.  And I have been a Jane Kirkpatrick fan since I picked up my first title written by her, one that just happened to be set in Wisconsin, my home state.  ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND seemed a sure win for me and it was!  I must say that ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND is quieter than some of her books.  Set in the 1870's and after, this is not a book with lots of physical action -- no Indian/white settler disputes,  wagon trail treks, or starvation winters.  This is about the baby steps of change that lead to societal change.  It also shows that sometimes we have to accept that we cannot change other people, that we cannot heal them of their demons. And with that acceptance, we can move ahead to a life where we can make a difference. It is also a story about a love that defies age barriers.  I received an advanced reader's copy of ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND and I was not required to write a review.  All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans

 The Broken Road

Richard Paul Evans is probably best known for his heart-warming Christmas fiction, beginning with THE CHRISTMAS BOX, the book that started my annual quest for a new Christmas novel to read during the holiday rush.  Last year, I read and listened to his four-book series THE WALK which features a grief-stricken young widower who walks his way across the country, finding reasons to live along the way.  Recently I picked up the audio version of his new book BROKEN ROAD which resembles THE WALK series only in the fact that someone eventually ends up taking a walk, this time along Route 66 - LOL.  Charles James began life in poverty and abuse; his Saturday mornings always began with his father and he searching the restaurant and area dumpsters for food and goodies.  When his father's oppression and cruel discipline became too much, the teen-aged Charles left home, changed his name, and headed for California.  Determination, chance, and a drive to succeed propel Charles through the next decade.  A (fictional) encounter with the author Evans has Charles agreeing to tell his story.  Through a series of flashbacks, we learn how he met the love of his life and how he scrambled to the top of the high-profile financial presentation world.  You know what I mean, even though I can't grab the correct term for it -- those flashy presentations that promise instant wealth if you just buy their special books and programs, available today only,  all for a hefty fee.  With millions in his pockets and a face that everyone recognizes, Charles has begun to have nightmares and second thoughts.  His retelling of his success in book one of a trilogy ends with a cliffhanger, of course, leaving readers ready and eager for book two.

BROKEN ROAD was an easy and relatively short listen which I enjoyed while quilting and then driving to an appointment.  The only downside is the same one I always have with series books.  I wish I had discovered this title after all three books were released; then I could have had a continuous, smooth listen to the details of Charles James' life.  Oh, for just another teaser, did I tell you that Charles James claims to be the great grandson of Jesse James?

Monday, August 28, 2017

A TIME TO STAND by Robert Whitlow

 Image result for a time to stand whitlow

Campbellton, GA is the setting for Robert Whitlow's timely legal thriller.  The relationships between its black and white citizens go back generation to share cropper days and even to slavery.  When one of Campbellton's young black male's is shot by a new-to-the-city white police officer, the town divides its loyalties.  Just minutes after receiving a dispatch call that Deshaun Hamlin is a suspect in the robbery at the QuikMart, Officer Luke Nelson approaches Hamlin on a nearby street.  Sure that the young man is reaching for a gun when the youth puts his hand in a pocket, Nelson shoots.

As Deshaun teeters between life and death, it is learned that he never had a gun and probably was not involved in the robbery.  Luke is placed on leave and waits to learn if he will be indicted.  A family man, he is supported by his church and others in the community, while at the same time, dozens of others, especially the church members of Deshaun's grandmother's church, demand justice for the boy.

Meanwhile, a perfect storm of life events brings African-American attorney Adisa Johnson back to her hometown of Campbellton.  At first, Adisa's race and loyalty to her neighborhood have her leaning toward supporting those who want Nelson tried for assault and attempted murder, but her legal experience pushes her to see that the officer must get fair treatment.  Never did she consider defending him, but that is what happens.  Robert Whitlow is one of my favorite authors for legal fiction, and he does not disappoint in this timely novel. He fleshes out the town, making its history almost a distinct character in the book, and that helped me see that "place" is an important part of the stories behind the headlines of today's news.  There is prejudice at every turn in this book, but Whitlow shows that even strongly held prejudices can come down when a few people take a stand for fairness, forgiveness, and the truth.
I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley.  I was not required to write a review and all opinions are mine. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017


The Silver Star | Book by Jeannette Walls | Official Publisher Page ...

We had not been to a movie all summer, so last Friday I talked my husband into a mid-day trip to the Marcus theater in Sun Prairie, WI to see THE GLASS CASTLE.  I was a bit leery because I knew what the movie was a serious topic, plus hubby is not a big Woody Harrelson fan, but figured the popcorn and recliners were enough to keep him happy.  From the first moments both of us were pulled into this well executed drama based on Jeanette Walls' dysfunctional family.  It was over a hour into the movie before Russ whispered in my ear, "Is that Woody Harrelson?"  Needless to explain, Harrelson is superb at portraying the domineering, eccentric, alcoholic father who despite all his faults loves his family.  But topping his acting is the sensitive, heart wrenching acting done by the two girls who play the young Jeanette.  I seldom watch a movie twice, but I think I will rewatch this one on dvd or streaming when available.

Throughout the movie, I kept wondering why I was not making stronger connections between the book and the film.  Finally I came to the conclusion that indeed I had NOT read THE GLASS CASTLE, but had heard about it when our book club discussed HALF BROKE HORSES which is a fictionalized account of Walls' maternal grandmother's life.  That led me to the decision that I needed to read THE GLASS CASTLE (or reread it, if perchance I have read it).  When on the computer to place a hold for THE GLASS CASTLE through the library system, I found that our library had a copy of THE SILVER STAR, a fiction title by Walls released after CASTLE and HORSES.  Next time at the library, I picked SS up.

THE SILVER STAR shows again that Walls is an expert at revealing the trauma, the bravery, and the love that can be tangled together within dysfunction.  Sisters "Bean" and Liz find themselves on their own in 1970's California when their mother takes off.  With money running out and afraid that social services will realize they are alone, the two take off for Virginia and their Uncle Tinsley.  Liz remembers Uncle Tinsley and his wife as loving and happy, but Bean was only a toddler when they left Virginia with their mother in a frantic fugue.   After a harrowing cross-country bus trip, the pair arrive in Virginia to find that Tinsley has been living virtually a hermit's life since his wife's death.  Over the summer the trio meld into an unusual family while the girls wait for what they are sure will be their mother's return to her daughters.

Walls captures the 70's, but it is her depictions of children who shoulder the responsibilities of an adult world, while the demons of alcohol, mental illness, loneliness, and failure prevent the adults from fully participating in life that kept me reading.   But children are children that should be protected and nurtured and this book makes that point very clearly.  THE SILVER STAR was a fast, entertaining, but thoughtful read.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Life in a Northern Town: Cooking, Eating and other adventures along Lake Superior by Mary Dougherty

Title: Life in a Northern Town: Cooking, Eating, and Other Adventures along Lake Superior, Author: Mary Dougherty

In the throes of a vacation in a charming, almost dreamy, village with views and beaches that defy description, have you considered giving up your "real" life and just staying in that heavenly spot?  I think we have all had those day dreams, but for Mary Dougherty, her husband and their young family, those dreams over several summer sailing trips to Bayfield, WI became reality.  After moving to Bayfield from Minnesota,the family expanded, Mary opened (and closed) a restaurant, and the whole family grew attached to this tiny town that leads into the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. Known for its fish, orchards, closeness to nature, and its famous Chautauqua Big Top music, Bayfield can almost claim its own culture.  A photographer and a foodie, Mary's book combines her thoughts on the place she now calls home, the meals she prepares using local foods, and stunning photography into a delightful book.  While smaller than a traditional coffee table book, LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN goes way beyond a regional cookbook and offers more than a book of photographs.  In fact, many of the photographs are a bit small, making me wish each had their own full page spread.  Arranged around the seasons, Mary's book gives us an insider's look into what it might be to live along the big lake.  Imagine, getting a late summer day call from your spouse, saying, "Let's take a sail tonight.  Gather the kids, pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine, and let's go."
Within an hour, you and the whole family are out on an uninhabited Apostle Island beach, and while the kids jump into the water from the rocks, you and hubby are unwinding!  Or, how about taking Saturday morning excursions to find the unmarked waterfalls of the area and then returning home to your own special chili simmering on the stove?  Those are just a few normal life-special memory stories that the author shares.

Poetry and carefully selected quotations underscore Dougherty's musings on valuing one's friends, taking time to savor what one eats, and even planning now for winter's needs.  While I must admit that I will probably only make a few of her recipes because most contain spices that aren't part of my diet scope, I still loved reading the stories behind each recipe.  Despite already having a special affinity for the Apostle Islands and Bayfield (the spot where we honeymooned and have visited several time since), I gained a whole new layer of "LOVE" for the town.  And just maybe we all need to think about our real hometowns, little or big, in a new light.  What evening picnic surprises are we missing?  Where are our Saturday morning adventures and what favorite food can we share with neighbors and friends? This book was published by the Wisconsin Historical Society
and I borrowed a copy from the Winnefox Library System.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

 Beneath Copper Falls (Rock Harbor Series) by [Coble, Colleen]

In the last two days, I've read two of Colleen Coble's Rock Harbor suspense books.  That's a lot of
fast-paced, mind-twisting mystery and a LOT of time on the NOOK in less than 48 hours. The first book was a re-release of Abomination, now called HOUSE OF SWANS, and the second book was Coble's July release BENEATH COPPER FALLS.  BENEATH COPPER FALLS was definitely Coble at her A-game. She delivered a tightly woven story that offered the Upper Peninsula Michigan setting that I love, along with a chilling mystery (when you get to the end, you will know why I chose the word chilling), and a budding romance, as well as believable side stories. I liked that the romance which grew between Dana Newell and Boone was not as fast paced as the suspense.  To the pair, it just seemed like they had a growing friendship and a natural concern for each other, especially since Dana's former boyfriend was stalking her and had followed her all the way from Washington state to Rock Harbor on Lake Superior. When Dana fears a link between Garrett, her former boyfriend, and an elusive man dubbed "The Groom Reaper," both Dana and Boone alert the authorities and begin their own investigations.  There are a lot of short chapters in BENEATH COPPER FALLS with change of characters and even change of cities.  While these may seem abrupt and confusing, that is the intent since we are being given pieces to a puzzle that do not easily fit together until later.  I found my mind trying to race ahead and fit it all together.

Like most suspense series set in a central location, there are repeat characters.  In the Rock Harbor books, that would be Bree, who trains search and rescue dogs and her husband Kade.  I like their presence in the books and they had a layer of authenticity to the UP setting.  However, both of the last two books feature their restored lighthouse home as a place that a "bad guy" tries to break into, and each time their young children are there.  While the author has not actually written scenes in which the kids face the dangerous person, I guess the kids' inclusion in these scenes is a bit too dark for me.
I know if Colleen Coble writes another Rock Harbor mystery, I will return to this fictional Lake Superior town, but for now I long for a real journey to the UP forests, shorelines, and rocks that I find most peaceful.  If I can't get there in person this fall, I will be searching for another book (but not a suspense) that will take me there.

I obtained a copy of HOUSE OF SWANS from WPLC, the Wisconsin libraries spot for e-books, and received an e-version of BENEATH COPPER FALLS from NetGalley.  All opinions are mine and I was not required to write a review. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Image result for radio girls stratford Image result for wisconsin on the air

Like the early days of aviation, the beginnings of radio are a bit vague with much happening in different places at approximately the same time.  That said, the University of Wisconsin physics department claims the first broadcasting of voice (song actually) to a different location 100 years ago this year. That was the beginning of what we today call Wisconsin Public Radio, although regular broadcasting was sketchy at best for several years. Early this summer I found out about the nonfiction title WISCONSIN ON THE AIR which gives a retrospective look at radio in our state and also found a fiction title RADIO GIRLS which focuses on the early days of the BBC in London.  Written by Sarah-Jane Stratford, RADIO GIRLS draws on both historical figures in late 1920's BBC and purely fictional characters.  American-raised (Canadian born) Maisie Musgrave (fictional character) finds work as a secretary at the BBC and is soon fascinated by all aspects of this fledgling technological endeavor.  Readers will probably be amazed, as I was, that early radio could NOT broadcast current news, a limitation lobbied for by the newspaper industry to protect their own monopoly, but soon the radio growth in popularity was due in part to the wide ranging people and topics that were part of the TALKS programming.  This division of the BBC was led by a woman, Hilda Matheson.  Stratford's portrayal of the real Matheson is just what you would expect for a norm-defying nineteen twenties woman.  She out-manages all the men and seems to never tire of the challenges she faces.  When Matheson becomes Maisie's boss, Hilda sees great potential in the mousy, poor girl.  Within months, Maisie blossoms into not only a fledgling radio programmer, but also a bit of a spy.

I really enjoyed the technological, political and social threads of this book.  We need to be reminded that other decades saw great shifts in thought and way of life.  Stratford borrowed a bit of German history (Goebel's desire take over the radio stations and to bar all women from jobs) and fictionalizes it into a German led plot to infiltrate the BBC, and while this gives the book a mystery for Maisie and Hilda, I felt disappointed when I read the author's notes on what was true and what was fiction.  To me, what was really happening in Great Britain at the time, including women getting the vote, was drama enough.  I have to confess that I read this book as we were camping at a Canadian Provincial Park. which made finding any time to read quite low on my priority list. Uusually if I am drawn into a book, I will be able to finish it in 1-2 days no matter what, buy this book took an entire week, and I can't blame it all on vacation mode. 

Since I finished RADIO GIRLS, I started the nonfiction book WISCONSIN ON THE AIR; 100 years of Public Broadcasting in the State That Invented It by Jack Mitchell.  Although I have not finished the book, I already see many parallels with the early days of the BBC.  In fact, one of the real BBC people in the novel has already been mentioned in the nonfiction title, as has the TALKS programming.  The early rifts between broadcasting and newspapers is also evident, plus Wisconsin had an educational mission similar to the one of the BBC.  I started reading WISCONSIN ON THE AIR yesterday while on our 10 hour+ drive back from Canada, and I felt I was reading faster, being more drawn into this book than the fiction one, even though this title borders on being highly academic.  And while reading, I found myself switching off XM radio as soon as I could get a Wisconsin Public Radio signal!!  Time for a bit of Saturday morning games, classical music, and a broadcast of the entertaining Dr. Zorba Paster.   Final lesson -- other technologies have vastly changed our societies and cultures, and those new technologies were heralded as methods of great advancement, while, at the same time, feared as the downfall of intelligence and thought.

Friday, July 28, 2017

My Daughter's Legacy by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Image result for My Daughter's LegacyMindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould successfully end their three book Cousins of the Dove series with MY DAUGHTER'S LEGACY.  With each book telling dual stories, one historic and one contemporary, that's a total of six captivating stories.  One of the strongest points for me was that I was able to read all the novels within a four month period - no dredging through the crooks and crannies of my memory to fit the pieces together.  All the stories revolve around the Talbot family, paper makers who first leave France in the 17th century for religious freedom.  The contemporary stories focus on a small group of female cousins who even though adults bear the scars of a bloody discovery they made over twenty years ago.  While I always found the historical story in each novel to be a bit more interesting, the modern female characters were well developed, each with her own talents, but also a struggle.

MY DAUGHTER'S LEGACY features Therese, lifelong friend and neighbor to the Talbots, who has been raised by her northern father, a staunch abolitionist, and her genteel mother, a product of Southern plantation life.  When her father dies, quickly followed by her grandfather, Therese pushes her mother to free her grandfather's slaves and when she does not, Therese leaves for Richmond to work as a governess.  The contemporary story re-introduces Nicole, the youngest of the cousins, and the one whose life has been most tumultuous since that long ago discovery.  Now clean and sober, Nicole has returned to Virginia for the summer, just when a story surfaces about an illuminated scripture rescued by a 19th Century Talbot that may have a bearing on a crime in 1995.    Could new evidence implicate their grandfather?

These novels led me to think about our own ancestors and our connections to them.  Sure we share ethnicity, country of origin, and a family tree -- maybe even a few photos or heirlooms.  If we are lucky, there may be some oral history to latch onto.  But think how powerful it would be to know how our personalities, our beliefs, our life struggles lined up with those of our ancestors?  Well, that isn't exactly what happens in the six stories that make up the Talbot saga, especially since the contemporary day Talbots never quite get the full stories of their other century counterparts, but we readers are privy to more information, making it clearer for us how the stories intertwine.  Bravery driven by faith and the moral code born of that faith, strength of family, and love are the themes in each of these intriguing stories.  I can't recommend THE COUSINS OF THE DOVE series enough.  I received a copy of this title from Litfuse.  I was not required to review this book, and all opinions are mine.

By the way, right now the e-copy of this book is on sale!!  And the authors currently are hosting a giveaway of a $75 gift card.  Just follow this link.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A NAME UNKNOWN by Roseanna M. White

What do political intrigue, a pending war, identity fraud, and  the need for family and a sense of
belonging have to do with each other?  In Roseanna M. White's finely crafted novel A NAME UNKNOWN all these elements blend into a delightful story.  Rosie has been part of a band of pick pockets and thieves (think David Copperfield) since she was left without parents at a young age.  Now a grown woman, her "jobs" are more sophisticated, bordering on espionage.  The start of WWI threatens and the British are questioning everyone's loyalty. Even the king is considering changing his German-rooted surname to a more English sounding one.  Likewise Peter Holstein is seeking a way to squelch the rumors about his ties to Germany.  Can he prove his British loyalty despite having a German paternal grandfather and a German mother?  Hindered by his constant stutter, Holstein hopes that proof of allegiance lies in the family's huge, but vastly disorganized library.  What he really needs is someone to help him sort out the immense mess.

Rosie, although an accomplished thief, will charm you from the first pages.  Maybe it will be the way she cares for the younger members of the "family" or perhaps it will be the humorous challenges she exchanges with her brother.  For me, it was the description of the skirt she so carefully created, copying the latest fashion magazine, ending up with an outfit that rivaled the work of London's best tailors. Then there is the way she tackles a new assignment, even learning another language and spending hours of study in libraries and museums.  All the subterfuge and assumed identities may have you remembering classic art theft/spy movies.   And we know that those movies relied on a spark of romance, and A NAME UNKNOWN will not disappoint in that category.  I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Celebrate Lit.  All review opinions are mine.

If you are interested in other people's reviews of this novel, check out the following bloggers and their take.  Special note, my blog date was changed to today because of a conflict.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

July 20: Genesis 5020*
July 21: Pause for Tales
July 22: Bigreadersite*
July 23: Vicky Sluiter
July 26: God1meover*
July 26: Carpe Diem*
July 27: cherylbbookblog
July 31: Cafinated Reads

A bit more about the book
She’s Out to Steal His Name.

Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary’s challenge of a lifetime comes when she’s assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moved closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown—so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.
When danger and suspicion continue to mount, though, and both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth—about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE by Kathleen Ernst

Kathleen Ernst, Death on the Prairie book   Kathleen Ernst first came on my radar when I became our school district's librarian.   After teaching secondary students for 15 years, I had to quickly catch up on children's literature, which I had not studied much since college.  Of course, I had kept up with my own kids' taste in kid lit.  In those first months as librarian, I really immersed myself in all the levels and genres. With fourth graders expanding their reading to include more genres - mysteries, historical fiction, Wisconsin history, fantasy,  I soon found that they also liked series books.  Among the popular series for this age group (for girls at least) were the American Girl books that accompanied the dolls. Kathleen Ernst, a Wisconsinite, wrote some of those novels and also some of their special history-mystery books. Like I still do, back then, I always gave special attention to Wisconsin authors, so more than a few times I booked talked Ernst's history mystery titles.  A few years ago, I stumbled upon her adult/young adult mystery series featuring Chloe Ellefson.  DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE, her 33rd book and sixth in the Ellefson series,
all revolves around a trip Chloe and her sister take to see the sites which preserve the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

There are so many reasons for me to like Ernst's gentle mystery series.  First of all, Chloe Ellefson works as a museum curator/archivist for Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, WI, a living history museum which features re-enactments and a whole preserved village.  One of those buildings - a town hall, I believe, is the actual building where my mother and her students would hold their Christmas program.  Eagle itself is about 35 minutes from the community where I grew up, and my father's family settled in Eagle in the late 1800's. And then Chloe's choice of job is similar to what my daughter does, although my daughter's work as an archivist is for the Catholic church, not for a public museum.  I also love that this series is set in 1980's so there are no cell phones or internet to mess up the mystery.  I found it refreshing, especially in this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, to remember the 80's and the first wave of Little House on the Prairie television viewers.  If you read Ernst's biography, you will find out that she actually worked at
Old World Wisconsin in the the 1980's, so her take on that historical site and Chloe's job is based on
experience, not speculation. 

This particular story features an inherited quilt (could it really have been made by Laura), a road trip between adult sisters (everyone knows that families create their own drama), and some mysterious ominous happenings.  Meanwhile back in Eagle, Chloe's boyfriend, police officer Roelke is trying to decide whether to make a career move or buy his grandfather's farm to preserve that heritage.  By the time I had finished the novel, not only had a series of mysterious happenings been cleared up, but I had vicariously visited the Laura historic sites (in real life, I have only visited Pepin's cabin in the woods) and had learned many interesting true facts about her, her daughter and the Little House books.    If you like history and the world of museums, give Kathleen Ernst's writing a chance.
Check out her to learn more about her life and the books.
I obtained my Chloe Ellefson mystery book through the Winnefox Library System.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Image result for high as the heavens breslinKate Breslin is again taking readers back to WWI and the ordinary people affected by the War to End All Wars.  For this novel, Breslin patterns her main character Evelyn Marche on three real Belgian heroines, one who was a Red Cross nurse like fictional Evelyn.  The real women, Gabrielle Petit, Edith Cavell, and Marthe McKenna worked as spies after the Germans invaded and took over neutral Belgium.  Two of the three women eventually faced firing squads.  In the novel, HIGH AS THE HEAVENS, Evelyn leaves Britain after learning that her husband's plane has been shot down and travels to Belgium to be with her mother and siblings there.  When the Germans invade, Evelyn must fight to survive, and three years later, although she has been accepted by the Germans as a neutral Red Cross nurse, she bears many internal scars and guilt from her actions when the Germans first invaded. Now in Brussels and separated from her siblings, Evelyn and her mother play an important role in the Belgian underground.  As the book opens, Evelyn travels by bike to meet a Brit parachuting in.  But something goes wrong and the plane crashes.  Evelyn finds only one survivor -- her husband.

This novel alternates in both time and viewpoint, but all pieces fit together in a cohesive, compelling story of love, resistance, survival, and faith.  HIGH AS THE HEAVENS joins a number of well
written historical fiction books about civilians who lives are forever changed by war that I've read in recent years.  Each one adds a bit more to my historical knowledge but also to my understanding of how civilians suffered and survived.  One of the lasting images I will take away from this book is the necessity to live among the enemy that those people in occupied territories had to accept. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House.  All opinions are mine.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cover Art

 A few months ago, I  read and reviewed Kate Breslin's World War II novel FOR SUCH A TIME and back in 2015 I read her World War I title NOT BY SIGHT.  When given the opportunity to read an early copy of her second World War I novel HIGH AS THE HEAVENS, I was delighted to accept.  I wish I could say that I devoured the book the moment it arrived, but like many of my reading obligations, it had to take its place in a stack of other books.  Well, it was worth the wait.  Breslin creates characters with not only depth, but with moral character.  Her details about the war and civilian life broaden my understanding.  Knowing that the book is worth the wait, I am setting up a bit of a teaser. Fellow historical fiction lovers,  read the publicity below about Breslin's latest title.  Then in a couple days I will post my personal review.  I am hoping two postings about her latest works will send you right to the library or the book store.

A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a caf├ę . . . or so it seems. Eve's most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she's en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?

". . . Breslin creates a tale difficult to put down until its touching, soul-satisfying ending."--RT Book Reviews on Not by Sight

The Author

  1. Kate Breslin
    ©Samantha Panzera Photography

    Kate Breslin

    A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is the author of For Such a Time and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at
    Continue reading about Kate Breslin


"Breslin's latest has non-stop action and intrigue set in the fascinating time period of World War I. The characters are detailed and realistic, reflecting emotions that speak to a broad audience in any era. The storyline is intricately plotted and filled with incredible detail that will keep readers engaged and desperate to know what will happen. The romance is tender and the historical events are captivating, making this a book that is not to be missed."
RT Book Reviews Top Pick

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


A Family Shaped by Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter MostA FAMILY SHAPED BY GRACE by Gary Morland is subtitled "How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most," an apt description of the book's major theme.  As the author details, those people who we love the most often are the most difficult for us to deal with.  Whether it is "old baggage" or simply the fact that we save our best manners and behaviors for work, we often are less than our best at home.  For Morland, family dynamics were also influenced by an alcoholic, distant father and then his own alcoholism.  He credits his acceptance of Jesus as the turning point.  Using a flowing river as a visual device, Morland has written a how-to book about avoiding the rocks of disharmony and discord.  The main message that seemed to resonate with me was the call to be caring and patient and giving.  As he shows, we have been extended grace, and we are called to offer grace. He also made clear that we should each and every day be considering what role model we are being.  Without realizing it, we daily influence other people's lives.  Now a grandparent, Morland sees what an influence he can be for his grandchildren, and that really calls to me, too.  Our 6 grandchildren are growing up so rapidly and what place we have in their lives is also changing. What we do with our time and money, how we express our faith, the way we treat others or talk about them -- these are aspects of me that I want them to see in a positive way.

I received a copy of A FAMILY SHAPED BY GRACE by Revell Reads.  All opinions are mine.