Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Evie Blackwell and the new team to solve cold cases are going from county to county to take on different unsolved cases. They add a new perspective on the cases and help put to rest what has happened to those who have disappeared. Evie and David, another investigator, have chosen two cases in the same area. One a missing college student and one a missing private investigator. Soon Evie finds evidence that something may have happened to the college student the night of a Triple M concert which happens to be David's fiance's band. David's case gets solved fairly quickly and then he and Evie are able to concentrate all of their efforts on keeping Maggie, David's fiance, safe and finding out what the connection between her band and the missing girl have in common.

Threads of Suspicion takes the reader on a step by step process of solving Evie and David's cold cases. At times I found this interesting and at other times I found it rather boring. The story seemed to plod along at a slow pace, but yet I still wanted to finish it to find out what happened. I think I enjoyed the different relationships better than I enjoyed the mystery of what happened in their cold cases. I did get a bit frustrated at Evie for still holding back on the man she is in love with. By the end of the book we are still left in the dark as to what she intends to answer the man who loves her(and honestly, I like the guy, but I thought she had more of a connection with Gabriel Thane from book one). David's relationship with Maggie isn't much better in that Maggie isn't a believer and David is. Again, we are left in the dark as to what happens in that relationship as well. So I'm assuming there will be another cold case to solve and that Evie and David and the rest of the team will be handy to solve them and hopefully we will get closure on their relationships. All in all it was a good read, and I am invested enough in the characters that I want to see what happens next. But, *whispering now* this still doesn't live up to this author's O'Malley series...shhhhhh, I didn't say that out loud!

Check out my review of the first Evie Blackwell book:

Traces of Guilt

Monday, April 17, 2017

Alexander and the Amazing Wide-Awake by Holly Schindler

Alexander is known throughout his school as an amazing inventor. He's created several wonderful inventions that make his fellow students school life easier. His newest invention is a desk-sifter. It helps his classmates clean out and organize their desks. But Alexander has a secret. He has help coming up with his invention ideas! So what happens when Alexander is asked to come up with an invention to help his sockball team win the championship and Alexander's secret weapon no longer works?

I think we all remember those pre-middle school years where we are trying to fit in and find our identity among our fellow students. Alexander thinks his identity/talent is lost. I love how one of his fellow students helps him find his way again. This story is lightly illustrated to help those reluctant readers identify with what is happening in the story. I love the discussion questions at the end of the book! I think this would be a perfect book club or reading group book for an elementary classroom. I'll be passing this one on to my grandkids knowing that they will enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Guest Post by Author Annette Laing

I’m a Brit who lives in the Deep South, a former Californian (Yes, Northern and Southern), and an accidental author. Fourteen years ago, I was a professor starting to build a reputation as a scholar of early American history. But  right after I earned tenure, I had a midlife crisis.  I guess a normal person would have dealt with that by purchasing a convertible, or taking a hike through the Andes. My therapy was to start  a children’s time-travel program that was basically a complicated bit of theatre.
TimeShop, as I called it, was totally self-indulgent, because like many of my generation in the UK, I have always been fascinated by the WWII home front. So I ended up with a hundred kids running around a university conference center in the rural South, pretending to be in a small town in England in 1940.  Moving from room to room, the kids shopped with ration books, sheltered from an air raid, and, most entertaining of all, sparred with a shrill “foster mother”. This harridan housewife demanded they do all her chores, yelled at the kids (to their great amusement) and gossiped with the vicar while the kids swept her floors and made toilet paper from torn-up sheets of newspaper. Those kids who eavesdropped on that conversation made a startling discovery: The wicked foster mother was only 19, and was terrified for her husband, held prisoner of war by the Nazis.   My student Jackie, playing the housewife, and my other native Georgian undergrads improvised characters in period costume, gamely attempting to pass themselves off as Brits (with considerable success). I realized that I had found a way to reach not only the kids, but these student volunteers, most of whom were not history majors. Three years in, the Associated Press published a feature about us.
TimeShop was also the start of The Snipesville Chronicles. The program handed me one massive earworm of a time-travel story, and in the summer of 2006, that story started writing itself: Middle schoolers and siblings Hannah and Alex Dias arrive in little Snipesville from San Francisco, much as I had moved to small-town Georgia from Los Angeles. They meet Brandon Clark, whose family’s funeral home qualifies him for the elite of local African-American society, and also puts him in danger of being stuck in suffocating Snipesville for the rest of his life. Within an hour of meeting, the three kids find themselves without warning in World War II England, and mired in a massive clash of cultures. But why is this happening to them, and what on earth does it have to do with Snipesville? Those are the big questions of the book, and the series.
As the plot of Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When evolved, it was driven largely by my characters, both the time travelers and the people they meet in the past. One character in particular has turned out to be an
unlikely smash hit with my readers: Elizabeth Devenish, the formidable middle-aged Englishwoman who fosters two of my time travelers, and whose forceful but kindly personality seems to speak to so many people.  It was moving to realize that I had based her on the no-nonsense World War II survivors who helped shape my postwar childhood. I even flew to England to visit the woman who most influenced the character of Mrs. Devenish, and just in time: She died six months later. Somehow, childhood memories had morphed and blended with my knowledge of wartime England, as well as with my experience of life for an outsider in modern rural Georgia.
The whole thing proved so personal, I was genuinely astonished by the delighted responses of my readers,  and also to discover that adults as well as kids and teens were reading and loving the book. Now I knew that I really did have a series.
But where would my time travelers land next? It was tempting to take them straight to colonial America, the period I know best, but I quickly realized that I had an awesome opportunity now to immerse myself in periods in British and American history that I know well, but normally had little chance to research or teach.
My love of the works of Charles Dickens, and my fascination with child labor in the Industrial Revolution,  American slavery, and all things Victorian, come through in A Different Day, A Different Destiny (The Snipesville Chronicles, Book 2)
In Book 2,  I was determined not to slip into formula. While the action in the first book took place in the fictitious English town of Balesworth,  I wrote this new story around three separate road trips, in which Hannah, Alex, and Brandon each deal alone with an alien past, before meeting at the first ever World’s Fair, the Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851. Along the way, they experience not only the challenges of 19th century travel, but also the horrors of industrialization and slavery. The research was fun: Not only spending time in archives in my Scottish hometown, but also visiting an Open Day at an iconic Victorian cemetery, complete with tea and cake. Only in England.
About this time, I began to realize that I was writing about the themes that interest me as a scholar: everyday life, race, class, and gender. Readers had praised Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When for its humor. But how do you get any humor out of race, class, and gender without being incredibly tasteless? The answer, honestly, is in my time travelers’ incredulous responses to what they witness in the past. Through them, readers see the absurdity of trying to operate according to 21st century values in what might as well be alien worlds.
Look Ahead, Look Back (Book 3) brought me, finally, to my main stomping grounds, colonial America.  I
figured this would be a piece of cake.
It wasn’t.
Early on, as I plotted out the book, I imagined my character Hannah, sitting outside a hut in the woods, twisting Georgia wiregrass in her fingers.
I had no idea what I would have her do next.  None at all.
I thought about Hannah, who has a huge attitude. What would she do? I looked at her. She glanced over at a kettle boiling on a nearby tripod, and sniffed. Then she looked straight back at me, wrinkled her nose, and shrugged. She didn’t know, either. What was I going to do? There were no other buildings in view, or people. It was a remote setting. I’m not exactly an outdoors kind of person.
How were my modern characters going to stay busy, much less have an adventure, in this pre-modern setting? It was so . . . boring.
And then I remembered that it wasn’t, just like Snipesville itself was far more interesting than my characters had assumed. Apart from the real-life tensions among the diverse people of the backwoods of the mid-18th century that would inspire much of the story and dialogue, there was the fact that people had other lives, virtual ones, that focused on religion and the supernatural. How the heck did I ever forget that? I’m a historian of religion, for heavens’ sake. At that moment, I realized how the book would progress. To help it along, I not only read folklore, but even became more outdoorsy. How dedicated was I? Let’s put it this way: A visit to the Okefenokee Swamp and a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a five-foot alligator almost ended the series prematurely.
Writing a finale for the complex series that Snipesville had become was the greatest challenge of all, and
might explain why One Way or Another (The Snipesville Chronicles, Book 4) took me four years to write, by far the longest process of any of the books. This time I began with settings, themes (including the sinister segregation of a small town in 1906 Georgia), great characters, and some interesting premises from previous books, including the return of the much-loved Elizabeth Devenish from Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When.  The tricky part?  Pulling all of it together in a way that also incorporated the conclusions I had been planning for years.
The end result was an ending that, I am told, made people gasp, and even cry. In a good way.
I, too, have laughed, gasped, and cried my way through The Snipesville Chronicles. It has been the most astonishing decade of my life, and I continue to be touched and overjoyed by readers’ continuing to discover and enjoy the product of one historian’s midlife crisis. Better than a Maserati? You bet.

Thank you so much Annette for writing such wonderful stories to share history with us! I will miss The Snipesville Chronicles, but will definitely look forward to your next time travel series.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

INTERVIEW with author Dr. Annette Laing

Welcome author and historian Dr. Annette Laing to My Favorite Pastime!

Annette Laing is a British native, an early American historian and former professor, a presenter of Non-Boring History in schools, and the author of The Snipesville Chronicles. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, teenage son, and demented dog.

 Did you know the ending of the Snipesville Chronicles when you started writing it years ago?

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but no, I had no clue!  Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When (Book 1) was written about three kids who accidentally tap into a strange time-travel connection between a small town in England, and the small Southern town in which they live.  I wrote it without a clear destination in mind, and I only figured out where I was headed as I wrote Book 2 (A Different Day, A Different Destiny) From then on, I had to make sure I did not contradict what I had already written. That was weirdly fun. One thing I got wrong in the first book was the year in which British suffragettes began throwing rocks through shop windows to draw attention to their cause. While I was annoyed when I realized what I’d done, I was able to make a whole subplot out of my mistake in One Way or Another (Book 4) So that was cool.
Understanding how I would end the series was very emotional for me. It was like, “Huh, how did I not get this from the very beginning?” I’ve been thrilled by my readers’ reactions to the jaw-dropping conclusion. My hope is that many will want to re-read the series, knowing what they know now, because (honestly) I started dropping hints as soon as I knew, and I made sure that everything worked
with Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When, too. I didn’t want the ending to come out of nowhere.

One Way Or Another is about double the size of the other books in the series, and you cut a lot of words from the first manuscript. How did you go about cutting? And were you tempted to split the book up into two or were you willing to keep it this long from the beginning?

I cut 80,000 words, and it’s still very long! Insane! Originally, there were supposed to be five books in the series, but, strangely, I don’t think that’s why it’s so long, because the last book was intended to be set in 1951, and I only used a few pages of material from it.
Another reason for the length is that I dropped the spare, episodic structure of the earlier volumes completely for this last book, going instead for a day-by-day chronicle, which gave me the chance to really immerse us all in the two worlds of the book: a frighteningly segregated small Southern town in an era of racial violence, when a new black middle class was struggling to figure out a way forward, and a complacent, suffocating middle-class household in an England that was  at the height of its power, and at the most unequal time in British history, when working-class people and women were starting to awaken to their lack of rights.
I was able to cut as much as I did because I trained as a journalist, and learned a very long time ago not to become too wedded to my words: I love to be edited by professionals, and don’t take it personally at all. When it’s me editing, as it was in making these cuts from the first draft, I am ruthless. Everything has to pass the “does it advance the plot?” test. Well, almost everything. Some bits that I could have dumped are also the most entertaining and provocative. Brandon’s meetings with W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, for example, show how the issues they raised in real life about black education are startlingly relevant to education today: Is education meant to be job training  for social advancement and social control, or is it important for its own sake to us as human beings, allowing us to have fulfilled lives? Now you can tell where I stand, as if it weren’t obvious from the start. The character of the Professor is, to some extent, my avatar, and when she said in Book 1 “Isn’t the experience itself the point?” she gave me away.

The character of Eric seemed like he was a total idiot about racism. I got that he was from England, but did you research the attitudes of the people of the times? Or is Eric just a character you gave this personality to?

I was raised in 1970s Britain, in a place that was overwhelmingly white, and moved to multicultural California in the 80s. Race as a subject has fascinated me all my life, including as a scholar of early America. Starting in Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When, I tried hard to represent a typical range of whites’ views of race from twentieth-century Britain, based on both my study of history and my personal understanding. One thing I have noticed today on both sides of the Atlantic is that most people at some point label ourselves “not racist” and content ourselves with that, until and unless something jars us out of our complacency. That is certainly true of Eric. Having grown up in an overwhelmingly white Britain in the 1930s and 1940s, he had only known one black person in his life, who was himself raised by a white family. Eric had an horror of segregation, which he had read about, but he had never been exposed to it, nor did he know much about America, nor had he studied much history (he is more of a science type). So he set about trying to understand 1906 Snipesville in the only context he did understand, which was the society and values of postwar Britain, which put great emphasis on human decency and progress in the aftermath of war and the Holocaust. Eric means well, but he is clueless. Which I think is also true of me, by the way.

What drew you to studying, writing, and teaching about history? What or who inspired you?

Thanks to some excellent British teachers and the BBC, among other inspirations, I have always loved history books, documentaries, docudramas, and museums. But I haven’t always wanted to be a professional historian. From the age of seven, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter, and I worked nonstop on student publications from the age of 10 until I was 22, and editor of my college newspaper in California. Then I woke up one day realizing I didn’t want to be a journalist. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted to teach and write history. I wanted an intellectual challenge, and I thought I could do a good job teaching. I also wanted to write for the public, as I made clear in my graduate school application. This was painfully naïve, since in those days, PhD programs had the single goal of producing future scholars, My grad school ignored that, and put me into its well-honed machine for churning out historians who write impossibly complex history for other historians. I do enjoy writing history—the mental stretch is bracing—but I didn’t find it half as rewarding as writing for regular folks. As a historian, I wasn’t especially productive (which is what happens when you work in a dysfunctional institution and also have a kid). But  I’m known in my field of early American history for an article called “Heathens and Infidels?” about African-American religion in the eighteenth century. I get some very kind fan mail from professors and grad students. To be honest, though, scholarly work is not where my heart lies. However, I am glad to have the chance to translate scholarly work for audiences as young as nine.

I noticed in this book Brandon being more "religious" than in the previous books. Why is this?

I always knew Brandon was an evangelical Christian, as are most people in a small Southern town. Black communities in towns like “Snipesville” are bound together through church, and while churches play social and political roles, these roles are never separable from religion. I did toy with the idea that Brandon would eventually distance himself from the faith of his childhood, but if that ever happens (and it may not) it won’t happen while he’s young. I also felt that the Dias siblings, as agnostics with a Catholic Christian background, were representative of a more secular outlook, and that I wanted to represent a person of faith interpreting the world through a different lens.  We’re so divided in America now, and it’s important to keep practicing empathy even when others don’t.
Although Brandon mentions prayer in Book 1, you’re correct that  he’s not as explicit about his faith as he is later. Time travel challenges his entire value system, and he finds himself in settings—just as a 19th century workhouse—that call for the word “godforsaken”. But Brandon draws confidence from his faith. As he sheds more and more of his naiveté in Look Ahead, Look Back (Book 3), set in the 18th century, he becomes increasingly invested in his Christian faith. In Book 4, confronted with the evil of racial segregation, he finds enormous courage in religion. It is not by accident that, landing in 1906 Snipesville, he finds sanctuary and community and light in the darkness when he enters a church.

Where do you go from Snipesville? Will you continue to write fictional stories?

Absolutely! Most women get their history from fiction, and I am convinced that fiction (or heavily dramatized non-fiction) is the best way to engage kids in history. Making social and cultural history accessible seems to be my life’s mission.  Scholars have not written for a wider audience for years now. When historians think of writing for the public, they think of highly-educated and influential people. I believe that if we still want to have a democracy, we need to find a way to reach everyone, and I don’t think that’s pie-in-the-sky. I’m proudest when people tell me that Snipesville not only entertains them, but makes them think. My next novel will again be time travel, and will be set in the American Revolution. It will be much shorter than One Way or Another!

If you haven't read the Snipesville Chronicles go grab your copies today! I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them!

Come back tomorrow for a guest post by author Dr. Annette Laing and find out how the Snipesville Chronicles evolved through the years.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

One Way Or Another by Annette Laing

Hannah Dias has learned that she can make herself time travel. She misses Mrs. Devenish so much that she transports herself into 1951 to find her. One problem though is she brings someone with her. Alex, Hannah's brother, has never liked their time travel adventures and he certainly isn't happy about it now. Hannah is so happy to see Mrs. D, but Mrs. Devenish's lack of excitement to see her makes Hannah hurt and angry. Hannah is then transported to the early 1900's Balesworth, and once again brings someone with her. She had been holding on to Alex, but Alex is nowhere to be found. Verity on the otherhand has come with her from 1951. Of course the professor is there to help them know what they are doing in that time period. Hannah is to become a maid in young Elizabeth Hughes(Devenish) home. She learns about the early suffragettes movement and she also learns many things about what made Mrs. Devenish who she is. Young Elizabeth is impetuous and headstrong. She also learns about the caste system of servants vs. elites. In the meantime Brandon has been transported to Snipesville, Georgia and has his own problems.

Brandon has been sent to 1905 Snipesville close to the time of the "We don't talk about that" incident. Slavery has been abolished for only 40 years and prejudices still run high. Snipesville is pretty much owned by a Mr. Hughes who fancies himself the leader or king of the whole town. Snipesville has always been a town filled with prejudices and rascism and Brandon is set right in the middle of all of the racial tension. The attitude of the times is that as long as a black person knows their place and keeps to it they are useful, but if anything happens anger and tension runs high and the blame all goes to the black citizens. Alex and Eric, now engaged to Verity in 1951, are transported to Snipesville as well. Brandon knows the ropes of rascism and even though he hates it he knows the history of what happens if a black person makes waves. Alex and Eric on the otherhand have no idea what it means to not be able to treat Brandon as an equal. Brandon feels that his job in traveling to this time period is to help establish a college for black people to further their education. He goes on a journey to raise money from some famous black people of the times, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. Two huge names in black history with two different views on education and the movement to end prejudice. In Snipesville Brandon, Alex and Eric get a firsthand look at rascism and the treatment of strangers in their small town that hasn't changed much in the 21st century where they live today.

This is the 4th and last book in The Snipesville Chronicles. It is also the longest! So much information is packed into this book. I liked the switching back and forth between Balesworth where Hannah and Verity were, to Snipesville where Brandon, Alex and Eric were. Both in or around 1905-1906. It was interesting and hard to read about the racial issues of the day. It seems like we have come so far from those times of segragation, but yet we as a country still deal with racial tensions. It boggles my mind, as it should, how people can treat someone of different color or ethnicity so cruelly. I think I could make many more observations on rascism in today's society, but that is not the point of my review. Let's just say that even though we have come a long way, there seems to still be a long way to go. I much preferred Hannah's part of the story which was dealing more with her relationship issues with the young Elizabeth Hughes. Yes, there were prejudicial issues involving class, and the Suffregette's movement getting into full swing, but I was definitely more interested in the relationships. It seems that Hannah has finally matured and she ended up not frustrating me as much as she has in the past. I was definitely glad to see that. Eric and Alex in Snipesville on the otherhand really got on my nerves how naive they were about racial history even as it was slapping them in the face and Brandon was practically yelling it from the rooftops to them! I loved how the whole Snipesville Chronicles was wrapped up, I'm not going to give any spoilers, but it was a twist learning about the Professor! All in all this was a great end to the series.

Come back to my blog tomorrow to read an interview with author and historian Dr. Annette Laing! 

Check out my reviews of the other books in the series:

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When

A Different Day, A Different Destiny

Look Ahead, Look Back

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

If you are a fan of fairytale retelling's then this is definitely a book for you! I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Danielle lives with her step-mother and step-sisters. She works in a vegetarian food truck with Sage, a girl she barely talks to while at work. "Elle" writes a blog that criticizes the new actor portaying Starfield's new Prince Carmindor.

Darien Freeman is less than thrilled when his manager father signs him up to go to Excelsicon. Before he took the role as Prince Carmindor Darien was thrilled to attend the Excelsicon, but now with fans criticizing his ability to play their beloved Prince, Darien has no desire to go.

Danielle hasn't attended the con for years. Her father started the con and their would be too many memories of her parents if she attended. But this year Danielle is not only wanting to attend the con, she is also wanting to enter the Cosplay contest to win and attend the Cosplay Ball.  Maybe if she wins this will give Elle the chance she needs to get away from her overbearing step-mother and sisters.

I love fairytale retellings and really enjoyed Geekerella! I loved the characters in Geekerella. Elle's nerdishness was entertaining and the way she was treated by her steps had me wanting to climb through the pages to defend her. I loved Sage. She managed to worm her way into Elle's affections even though Elle had cut herself off from any relationships. Then there is Elle's texting buddy. I love that they were able to be there for each other even though they kept their true identities secret until the con. In typical Cinderella fashion everything doesn't work out as planned, but there is a Prince Charming and definitely a Happily Ever After to this story. I enjoyed it very much.

**Warning: There is some mild language in this book that may offend some readers**

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Murder at the Courthouse by A.H. Gabhart

I always seem to be starting a series in the middle or at least one book in. Murder at the Courthouse is the first book in the Hidden Springs series. I read the 2nd book 1st. Murder Comes by Mail and then I was able to get an ARC copy of the 3rd book that hasn't come out yet, Murder is no Accident. And then I finally read book number 1! I don't know why or how I manage to do that, but it just seems to happen. Anyway, here are my thoughts on Murder at the Courthouse, book 1 in the Hidden Springs Mysteries:

When a body turns up on the courthouse steps Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane must find out who killed the poor man and why. During the course of his investigation we are introduced to many eccentric characters that belong to Hidden Springs. Michael has his hands full when another murder occurs. Not only is Michael trying to find a murderer, but he is also trying to keep track of juvenile delinquent Anthony who's mother left years before. Add to that his possible relationship with pastor Karen and also his affection for his childhood friend Alexandria and Michael is one busy Deputy Sheriff. As Michael plods along solving the mystery we get a picture of how this small town has woven Michael into the man he is today. Will Michael be able to find the murderer before he/she commits another?

I really enjoyed going back to the beginning of the series and finding out more about Michael's life and reading more about the accident that caused him to lose his parents and his memory. I have to admit I figured out "who done it" pretty early on, it was kind of obvious, but I still enjoyed following Michael in solving the crime. I think the Hidden Spring Mystery series is a pretty solid series and I hope there will be plenty more installments to the series.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Home by Ginny Yttrup

Not only do I have a cold, but I have just been reduced to a pile of mushy tears when I finished this book! My poor nose!

So many emotions while reading HOME. There was sadness, fear, trepidation, exasperation, empathy, sympathy, frustration and relief. I feared for Melanie and her husband Craig's marriage. I thought for sure that I knew where the author was going with their story, but in reality I had no idea. I experienced exasperation at Melanie's behavior...before I understood what she was going through. I felt sympathy for their neighbor Jill and her husband Marcos. I admired the characters for getting the help that they needed, all in different ways. I admired Craig's faithfulness even when temptation assailed him. I admired Marco's in the way he supported his wife and encouraged her to seek help. Each character had a struggle, a hurdle to overcome and a grief to work through.

HOME is about allowing ourselves to experience and work through the grieving process. Some of the characters in HOME embraced their grief and worked through it, some of the characters were unable to do that until events in their lives brought them face to face with having to deal with their grief. I love what Melanie's husband Craig said at one point,

"What Jesus suffered for mankind, for me, makes what I'm going through look trivial at best. Yet the Spirit assures me that God feels my pain--it isn't trivial to Him."

Isn't it wonderful that we have such a relational God? I know this is a work of fiction, but so many truths were packed in it, so many poignant, gut-wrenching scenes, with characters that seemed so real that I felt like they were a part of my life.

HOME is one of those stories that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock

Casey Cox is still on the run trying to prove her innocence of the murder of her friend Brent. Dylan has been hired by Brent's parents to find Casey and bring her to justice. The media is confused by Casey's behavior. Told that Casey is a cold-blooded murderer, yet her actions in helping rescue a woman held captive, tell a different story. Once again Casey has had to change her identity and move on, and once again she gets mixed up into someone else's troubles and must at all costs help them even if it means being found by the men who framed her for murder. Can Dylan find Casey before these men? And can he find enough evidence against them before they kill Casey?

If I'm Found starts right where If I Run ends. There is a lot of action and a lot of emotions in this book. There are really two stories being told in this book. Of course the main story is Casey trying to prove her innocence and trying to stay alive long enough to do it and then the story of the people that Casey helps is woven into Casey's life. That story isn't pretty at all. I definitely had a hard time reading parts of that. The author has a way of presenting the evils of human behavior that cause the reader to be aware of things that happen outside of our every day bubble of security and contentment. Not only does she show us the evil that humans are capable of, she also shows us the need for a Savior to cleanse us of that evil. The clear message of salvation is definitely one of the things I especially appreciate in this authors writing. At the end of If I'm Found we are left with closure for the secondary story and a cliff-hanger in Casey's life. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Monday, March 20, 2017

All The Future Holds by Miranda Atchley

In this sequel to A Castle in the Sky, author Abi Hensley has made a name for herself in New York. she is enjoying her success as an author and also enjoying her life in New York. Abi's known for writing strong female characters that resonate with the times. With the Women's Suffrugette movement getting started Abi is not sure what her role will be. Abi believes that all are created equal, but is she willing to go out and march for this cause? Abi is content with her life, but her parents are still disappointed in her lack of interest in any male suitors. Abi isn't against marriage, but it isn't for her at this time in her life. Does that make her a Suffragette? Throughout the story Abi struggles with what society's expectations for women are and her desire to be herself and the woman that God created her to be.

I enjoyed glimpses of the struggle that women in the Suffragette era were faced with. I also liked how Abi's struggle was portrayed. As a single woman in society she was expected to marry and let a man care for her. But Abi chose to make her own living and that was looked down upon not only by men, but even some more vocal and cruel women. In the same way that Abi wished to live her life the way she felt God called her to live, she wasn't willing to just jump in and be the voice of the movement. Abi knew her limits and decided to work within those. I loved how that was portrayed in the story. We each have a gift given us by our Creator, and Abi was using that gift to reach many people.

While the Suffragette movement was a big part of the story I also enjoyed the friendships that Abi has made. Those that have invested in her and the ones that she has invested in have given Abi a nice family of friends to keep her company and her life full. All the Future Holds left us with a huge cliff hanger so I will be looking forward to the next Abi Hensley book!

My Review of A Castle in the Sky

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Comfort Me by Debbie Viguie

Things start off hoping in COMFORT ME! Now that Cindy is out of a job at her church she is working for a temp agency. Much to her dismay her latest job has landed her with a less than desirable boss and the mysterious disappearance of the girl she has replaced.

Meanwhile Mark and Jeremiah are trying to find out who put Mark's partner Liam in the hospital barely clinging to life.

Once again an exciting read in this fantastic series! If you have been waiting for this latest book, you will not be disappointed and you definitely will be left wanting more, and like Mark, you will be sleep deprived because I guarantee that you will not want to put this one down until you finish it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Murder Is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart

Maggie Greene is where she shouldn't be when she hears voices and then someone falling. When Maggie discovers a dead woman she panics. She calls 911 from the victims phone and she leaves the scene. Unfortunately someone knows that Maggie was at Miss Fonda's house and that someone threatens to harm her and her family if she says anything to anyone.

Deputy Michael Keane has his suspicions of who called 911. Getting her to talk though is another story. Not only is Michael investigating another death in Hidden Springs, but his childhood friend and the woman he loves, Alex, has returned from Washington D.C. to help her uncle. Michael is ready to move on with their relationship but he senses that Alex is hesitant. Will this be the end of their relationship?

I really am enjoying this series! I like the characters. Michael is a good deputy who cares for the town he grew up in. He loves Alex and is willing to make things work in order to be with her. Alex frustrated me, because of how driven she was for her career and not even willing to think that there could be a way for her and Michael to be together. I like their history together though and that they realize that they are meant to be together. The mystery was good as well and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened late into the evening.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Her Baby's Protector

SAVED BY THE LAWMAN by Margaret Daley

As Kate Forster is out for her evening run with her baby boy a man with a ski mask on tries to snatch him away from her. Hearing her cries for help police officer Chase Walker rushes to her aid. Chase manages to pursue the would-be kidnapper for a while, but when the man jumps in a car and drives away he loses him. As a family-court judge Kate has tried many cases and has made a few enemies. Is one of them determined to kidnap her son to get even with her?

I really enjoyed SAVED BY THE LAWMAN. It was full of suspense and a bit of romance between Kate and Chase. Chase's care for Kate's son was touching and Kate's determination to keep her son safe was inspiring. There was a bit of a twist at the end that I sort of expected to come, but I still enjoyed it.

SAVED BY THE SEAL by Susan Sleeman

Bree Hatfield knows that her friends were murdered even though their deaths have been ruled an accident. Now Bree is raising her friends baby girl and investigating their death. Someone doesn't like her snooping where she doesn't belong. When Bree and her baby's life are threatened she escapes to the only place she knows will be safe. Bree's ex-boyfriend is a navy SEAL pledged to protect people. He's never stopped loving Bree, but his job has made it impossible for them to be together. Clint will stop at nothing to help Bree and her baby even if it means breaking his heart all over again.

It is hard to resist a strong military protector! I loved Clint's character and his desire to protect Bree and her baby. I also loved how he was with the baby. There's something about seeing(or reading) about a strong man who turns to mush when a baby gets put in his arms! I thought the suspense/mystery was well-written as well and kept me turning the pages quickly. Another fantastic read by this author.

Both books were quick reads and both books held my interest throughout with engaging characters and that touch of suspense that kept me wanting more after each chapter finished.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

GUEST POST by Author Keli Gwyn

Please welcome Author Keli Gwyn to my blog today! Keli's book HER MOTHERHOOD WISH came out today. Here's a little bit about Keli:

Award-winning author Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era 
town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, other Gold Rush-era towns and historical museums. 

Here are the details about the book:

Her Motherhood Wish
Building a Family
En route to the Double T Orphanage to work on its expansion, carpenter Chip Evans and Caroline Hunt discover two orphaned children—and become their caregivers. But Chip’s determined not to let himself get too attached to the children who just lost their widowed father…or to the lovely woman helping him care for them. Especially since Callie and the little ones just don’t fit into his detailed plans for the future.
Callie can’t help but fall in love with the orphans, and despite her better judgment, she’s falling for Chip, too. Her dreams of being a wife and mother were not quite like this. But Callie believes a plan bigger than Chip’s brought them all together…and now she just has to help him see it, too.
Copyright © 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
or its affiliated companies, used under license.
You can check out my review of HER MOTHERHOOD WISH
Here's Keli to tell us about her experience with adoption:
The Joys of Adoption

by Keli Gwyn

Adoption plays an important role in my latest release, Her Motherhood Wish. The heroine, Callie, takes a job at an orphanage and hopes the children living there are adopted into loving homes, as she was after she lost her parents.

Two of the recently orphaned children, whom Callie and the hero of the story, Chip, rescued after their father was fatally wounded, come to mean a great deal to her. Her wish is to experience marriage and motherhood, with a husband like Chip and children like Jasper and Ruby, but the handsome carpenter has other plans, which don’t include adoption.

I was excited about writing this story because adoption has played an important role in my life.

When I was seven, my world was rocked when I learned that my dad wasn’t my “real dad.” I don’t remember much about that revelation, but I’ve been told Dad found me on my bed when he got home from work on that life-altering day, sobbing.

I was heartbroken. Dad had been in my life as far back as I could remember, having married my mom when I was one. Finding out that he wasn’t my “real” father left me feeling confused, curious and conflicted.

I consoled myself with the thought that Dad had to take what he got with my younger siblings, but he chose me. Such are the rationalizations of a young child desperate to be wanted and worthy of love.

As children, we long to know we belong. I yearned to be as much my dad’s daughter as my siblings were. Dad didn’t treat me any differently, and yet I knew something was different. Years passed before I was old enough to understand the biology.

For decades, I considered myself my dad’s heart-adopted daughter, but the little girl in me harbored the dream of becoming Dad’s daughter for real.

That dream came true on a sunny day in March 1996. I was thirty-six years old when my husband, our daughter, my dad
and I walked into the historic courthouse in my Gold Rush-era town. I sat at a table on one side of the aisle, facing the judge high up at his bench, with my dad seated at the table on the other side of the aisle.

The proceedings only took a few minutes. The judge concluded them by pronouncing us father and daughter, in the eyes of the law. Although I’d spent my life as Dad’s daughter, making our relationship legal meant a great deal to me. At long last, I had the real dad I’d dreamed of.

Dad gave me a special gift to commemorate that day, a plate bearing the words: “Loved you yesterday. Love you still.
Always have. Always will.” I hung it in a place where I see it every day, and it makes me smile.

We lost Dad a few years back, following his short battle with Alzheimers. I miss him, but I have many wonderful memories of the man who welcomed me into his heart from the start.

Questions for You

When you think of adoption, what comes to mind?

Have you read stories that include the joys of adoption?

Has adoption played a role in your life or in the life of someone you know?

I can answer the last question that Keli asks us. My middle sister has two biological daughters. When they were teenagers my oldest niece told her mom about a friend who needed a place to stay. My sister took him in. Then his brother arrived. And then my sister petitioned to be a foster parent to 4 other siblings. Eventually my sister adopted the 4 youngest siblings, and all 6 call her mom. Adoption is a beautiful thing no matter what age! 

How about you? Can you answer any of Keli's questions? Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences.


Keli has graciously offered to give one copy of her book HER MOTHERHOOD WISH to one lucky winner. Leave a comment on this post and winner will be chosen by Random.org on Friday March 10th. 

Thanks so much to Keli Gwyn for sharing on my blog today! 


WINNER!!!! Jennifer Hibdon contact me at gravesok@gmail.com and give me your mailing address to pass on to Keli for your book! Congratulations!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seven Brides For Seven Texans by various authors

The Setup:

GW Hart gives his 7 sons the ultimatum of marry within the year or lose your inheritance. Each brothers story is written by a different author.

FIRST COMES LOVE by Gabrielle Meyer:

Hays Hart is the youngest of the Hart brothers and he is determined to be the first to wed following his fathers ultimatum. Hays decides that he will put up posters asking for women to apply to be his wife. When Emma Longley the new school teacher catches him hanging one of his posters outside of the church she is highly offended. Hays has always tried to make people happy and Emma is no exception. When Hays finds out that Emma wants to build a schoolhouse he's happy to jump right in and help her. Working with Hays, Emma grows more and more attracted to him, but she mustn't allow that to happen because she is determined to move back to her home in Minnesota sure that God is calling her to teach among the Ojibwe Indians. Besides, how can she be sure Hays isn't attracted to her just to get a wife so he can get his inheritance?

I loved this beginning to the Hart brothers finding wives! I've never read any books by this author, but I was immediately drawn into her story and was quite pleased with how Hays's story turned out. I loved Hays's character. He was funny and yet he was serious in his goal to find a wife. He went after what he wanted. I liked that about him. I liked how sassy Emma was, she won't be pushed around by Hays that for sure! Great story!

THE HEART OF TEXAS by Lorna Seilstad

This is the story of Texas Ranger Chisholm Hart, the next youngest of the Hart brothers. When Chisholm and his partner Whit arrive to investigate cattle rustling they come upon Caro Cardova being overtaken by a group of men attempting to hang her cousin for the cattle rustling. Caro swears that Ricardo is innocent and Chisholm and Whit end up staying at the ranch that Caro and her mother work at. Caro is a spit-fire that captures Chisholms attention immediately. With her quick tongue and feisty behavior it isn't long before Chisholm is quite attracted to Caro. But Caro swears she will have nothing to do with a man who puts duty above those he loves like her father did. And Chisholm is all about his duty as a Ranger.

What a fun story! I loved how feisty Caro was. Yes, she did frustrate at points with not listening or heeding warnings, but that is what endeared her to Chisholm so I forgave her. ha! There was a touch of suspense throughout the story as well as some humor that kept me thoroughly entertained. Another Hart brother has found his match!

THE TRUEST HEART by Amanda Barratt

Years ago Annie Parker's father made her marry a man she did not love. Now a widow and wishing to give her 9 year old son a better upbringing Annie moves back to Hartville. Annie is now a midwife ready to serve in the community, but not ready to meet doctor Travis Hart, the man she has always loved, but the man she can never have.

Travis Hart knew when his father issued his edict that he must marry within a year in order to receive his inheritance that he would probably not get his. There was only one woman that Travis ever loved, and that woman was Annie Parker. Now that Annie is back in Hartville does Travis have a chance to win her heart?

Travis and Annie make a good team. I was definitely not a fan of Annie's father, and wanted to reach through the pages and give him a swift kick to the backside! Loved the way that Travis was with Annie's son Robbie. This is number 3 of the Hart brothers, will the rest find their matches?


Houston Hart has returned from California to prove to his father that he can be a cattle rancher like his brothers. Houston left years ago, leaving family and his love Coralee behind. Coralee broke his heart then and Houston has no intention of letting it happen again.

Coralee couldn't possibly leave with Houston years ago, but he didn't even give her a chance to explain why so she has no interest in renewing her relationship with him. Coralee has been happy with her life so she is definitely not interested in Houston being home again.

Awww, poor Houston and Coralee! Both so determined to ignore each other and be just friends, but their hearts have different ideas. I enjoyed this Hart brothers story very much. This couple really complement each other well. They are both very caring and love their families. I loved the way Houston stepped in to help Coralee's brother with their ranch and the way he was so caring to Coralee's father. I also loved that after Houston left the first time that Coralee didn't just whither up and fade away, but she became a part of the community and showed her love for people even in the midst of caring for her father. Another sweet story and another Hart brother to the alter! Three more to go!

FOR LOVE OR MONEY by Susan Page Davis

When Crockett Hart finds their neighbors house on fire he immediately jumps in to help put out the fire. Crockett has always liked his neighbor Jane, but her father is a drunk who has let their ranch sink into disarray. Jane and her brother have tried their best to keep up, but now with the fire they have nothing. Crockett enlists the help of his brothers and other neighbors to help Jane and her family rebuild. With his father's edict hanging over his head even though Crockett knows he must marry soon is he willing to let himself fall for Jane and all of her troubles?

I liked Crockett's care for his neighbors, and his willingness to rally everyone to help the Haymaker's get their home rebuilt. I also liked Jane's character. Even though she and Ben had a lazy father they somehow had developed a moral character that he didn't teach them. I did think that there was a giant leap from the normal concern for a neighbor to the hey, I think I love you, let's get married ending. I wish there had been a bit more character development along with some more romantic scenes between Crockett and Jane. That being said, I am happy to see another Hart boy happily paired up with his lady-love...Two more to go and only a couple of months left to fulfill the edict. Who's next?

MAIL-ORDER MAYHEM by Vickie McDonough

Austin Hart is running out of time to meet his father's edict of marrying in one year. He's come up with a plan to meet that deadline. Austin has sent for a mail-order bride.

Rebekah and her sister Jenny are soon to be penniless and homeless. The only way Rebekah sees out of their predicament is to marry. Rebekah's fiance refuses to allow Jenny to live with them so the only thing that Rebekah sees to do is for Jenny to marry Austin Hart. The problem is that Jenny is not ready to marry and Rebekah is already spoken for. Will Austin have to start all over again to find a wife?

I love mail-order bride stories and found MAIL-ORDER MAYHEM to be quite entertaining. I really like Austin's character and was hoping for he and Rebekah to realize that they were meant for each other. Only one Hart brother left, will Bowie find his perfect mate before the year is up?

LOVE AT LAST by Erica Vetsch

Bowie Hart is the last Hart brother left to fulfill his father's edict to marry in a year in order to receive his inheritance. Bowie knows that no woman around Hartville would ever consent to marry him, a broken and scarred replica of humanity. But Bowie has never forgotten his nurse during the war, the only person who never cringed at the sight of his wounds. Bowie sets off to find her and hope that she will consent to be his wife, at least on paper.

Awwwww, Bowie! I absolutely loved this last Hart brothers story! Bowie is such a wounded soul, and Elise is his perfect match. Both starving for affection, one so ready and willing to give and the other so wounded he pushes people away. I loved how Elise managed to break down Bowie's defenses and show him he wasn't the monster he thought he was. Excellent ending to the Hart brothers stories!

The Wrap Up:

What a fun read! I totally loved the whole book and looked forward to each brother's story. Each author did a great job in portraying their brother and gave each brother a unique character. I was attached to some brothers more than others, but I enjoyed all of them. The ending of the story had me crying happy tears for all of the brothers, and left me satisfied that they all were going to live their Happily Ever After lives with their special brides.