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May 31, 2012

Summer of Promise (Westward Winds Book#1) by Amanda Cabot

Thursday, May 31, 2012
Set on a military base, this is great historical loving fun!
Summer of Promise (Westward Winds Book#1) by Amanda Cabot
Revell, January 2012
ISBN: 978-0800734596
416 pages paperback
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 2012
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 Stars

Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont with her sweetheart, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads West to Wyoming. The endless prairie seems monotonous, but when her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

When circumstances--and perhaps a bit of matchmaking--put Abigail and Ethan together, there's certainly attraction. But Abigail is planning to marry another man and return to life in Vermont as soon as she is finished attending to her sister. And Ethan loves his life in the Army and the wilds of Wyoming. When summer ends, will Abigail go back East? Or will she fall in love with this rugged land herself?

Book 1 of the new Westward Winds series, Summer of Promise is a tale of following your heart to unexpected places. Readers will enjoy Amanda Cabot's passionate characters and vibrant setting in the beautiful high prairie.

With a perfect mix of romance, suspense and discovery of faith Amanda Cabot brings us a bright new series featuring three sisters raised in the East. In this first book, the impulsive middle sister Abigail travels to Wyoming Territory to visit the eldest sister Charlotte at Fort Laramie in 1885. Abigail meets Lieutenant Ethan Bowles on the way there, and the two immediately hit it off.  Once the summer is over, Abigail must choose between the steady life and love she left behind or the promise of an eventful future with Ethan.

Before she does, she has to help Ethan discover who is behind the stagecoach robberies without either of them getting hurt, but that proves more difficult than it seems. Abigail's evolving character is likable, as we are eager to see Ethan and Abigail's mutual attraction become acknowledged. Sure to please any historical romance reader, this was a well written story with a great mix of characters with a fast moving plot that includes a range of topics from family bonds, Army deserters to mischievous puppies. I am already looking forward to the next installment of Westward Winds which will follow Charlotte's path. I am also on the hunt for the author's previous Texas Dreams series! I still do not know - five years post this review - what the author's pseudonym is though I tried several times to google unsuccessfully.

May 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, May 28, 2012
Happy Memorial Day! My thanks and my love to those who serve.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and May's host is Martha @ Martha’s Bookshelf

The Queen's Vow, Blue Asylum & The Drop of The Dice
As seen on my facebook timeline, I received these three lovely gowned ladies/books..

The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile (June 2012) by C.W. Gortner

No one believed I was destined for greatness. So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.
Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of more... at Goodreads

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall (April 2012) I won this at

Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property.
On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents--some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.
The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home?
Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.

The Drop of the Dice (aka Will You Love Me in September) by Philippa Carr
I now have both since I didn't realize they were the same. (Daughters of England #8)
Philippa Carr is the pseudonym for Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt.
This series begs to be read.. I hope to start the series sometime this summer as I now own all twenty of the books, it's on my Summer Bucket Reading List. The series starts with one family and then successive books go down the line featuring daughters of related families from what I can guess.

Clarissa Field:
Beautiful, spirited love child of a nobleman's dalliance with a tempestuous lady, Clarissa is only twelve when she first encounters the dashing officer, Lance Clavering. But she is not too young to fall in love, nor to become the pawn in a deadly game of power and passion which are both her heritage and her destiny. The time is 1715, the place an England rife with civil discontent threatening to explode into revolution. Clarissa is caught up in events which will alter England's history -- and lure her into a strange, shadow box future.
Is the dashing Lance what he pretends -- a heroic, charming lover -- or is he the agent of an evil cabal sworn to strip Clarissa of her fortune, her dignity . . . perhaps even her life?
Is the mysterious young rebel, Dickon Frenshaw -- first her jailer, then her salvation -- watching over her out of devotion . . . or spying on her for those who would see her destroyed?
As her dreams of romance and peace first seem to be realized in marriage, then ever more gravely thratened by that same marriage, with only herself to trust, Clarissa must penetrate the long-buried mysteries of her own legacy -- and risk a heartbreak more painful than betrayal.

And a special surprise with a sweet note from the author:
Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck (September 2012)
Hemingway's Girl

She remembered when Hemingway had planted a banyan at his house and told her its parasitic roots were like human desire. At the time she’d thought it romantic. She hadn’t understood his warning.”

In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match...and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.

When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation...even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths...and the possibility of losing everything she loves.

May 25, 2012

The Irish Healer: A Novel by Nancy Herriman

Friday, May 25, 2012

Loved this story of love, redemption and truth.
The Irish Healer: A Novel by Nancy Herriman
Worthy Publishing, April 2012
320 pages Paperback 9781936034789
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 2012
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5/4 stars

An inspiring yet predictable story of love blooming between different social classes, The Irish Healer depicts the story of Rachel Dunne, accused murderer. Forced to flee Ireland, she finds work at the home of Dr. Edmunds in London. Dr. Edmunds is battling his own personal demons but falls in love with Rachel from the start. Rachel is an accomplished healer, and would be a perfect fit as Dr. Edmunds assistant if she allowed herself to work in the trade again. With shame on her sleeve, the doctor knows there must be more to Rachel’s story but she refuses to share the real reason why she left Ireland. However, the cholera epidemic of the 1800’s derails both the doctor’s and Rachel’s stubbornness and forces the two to work together.

The servants in Dr. Edmunds’ employ created atmospheric appeal, particularly with the depiction of the amiable house boy Joe’s dialect. From a loyal housekeeper to a pompous sister-in-law, the supporting characters and scenery of England enrich the sometimes stagnant love story along with themes of prejudice, redemption and faith, both in oneself and God. The Irish Healer is an encouraging debut and should be enjoyed by most readers of Christian historical fiction.

May 23, 2012

A Lasting Impression (Belmont Mansion Series #1) by Tamera Alexander

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Loved this iridescent cover, to match its captivating storyline!
CBA and ECPA Bestseller
2012 Christy Award Nominee
A Lasting Impression (Belmont Mansion Series #1) by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House, November 2011
Christian Historical Fiction
Paperback 432 pages 0764206222
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
A shortened review was originally created for Historical Novels Review, May 2012
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars, Really Liked it!
To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.
Historic Belmont Mansion leaves a lasting impression indeed with this start of Tamera Alexander’s newest historical series. Featuring the courageous Civil War figure Adelicia Acklen, the series begins with the risky romance between Adelicia’s newest personal secretary Claire Laurent and Adelicia's lawyer Sutton Monroe.

Claire is so gifted in oil painting that her father’s business was dependent upon Claire’s forgeries, and it wasn’t until the gallery was robbed and her father killed that Claire could find a way out of her thankless job. Working for Adelicia has its rewards, but the truth of her past could land her in jail and lose the man of her dreams. Keeping Adelicia’s best interests at the top of his list, Sutton has a hunch that Claire may be hiding something, yet he also starts to fall in love with her.

Claire does a fabulous job at ingratiating herself with the demanding Adelicia, which makes her feel even guiltier about her past. Claire could soon become the belle of the ball at the magnificent Belmont Mansion, but the art forgery case that Sutton Monroe is investigating threatens her future and their budding romance. It is through Claire’s faith in God that she finally begins the healing process and allows her to move forward in her journey, and the author takes her time with this development. A thorough historical novel with menacing characters from Claire’s past mingling with Tennessee’s finest folks and the inspiring Belmont Mansion, A Lasting Impression is a compelling story that doesn’t let go once it takes hold.

Edited to add that A Lasting Impression was a 2012 Christy Award Finalist! Congrats!

May 21, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, May 21, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and May's host is Martha @ Martha’s Bookshelf
With thanks to my loving husband who pays attention to emails about buying your darling wife gift cards to HalfPrice Books..I bought these! I will go back during their 20% off  Memorial Day Sale.

Masquerade by Nancy Moser 
1886, New York City: Charlotte Gleason, a rich heiress from England, escapes a family crisis by traveling to America in order to marry the even wealthier Conrad Tremaine. She soon decides that an arranged marriage is not for her and persuades her maid, Dora, to take her place. What begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl wanting adventure becomes a test of survival. As for Dora, she lives a fairy tale complete with gowns, jewels, and lavish mansions--yet is tormented by guilt and the presence of another love that will not die. Will their masquerade be discovered? Will one of them have second thoughts?  Will love win out? There is no guarantee the switch will work. It's a risk. It's the chance of a lifetime.

A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick
(I am going to buy every single one of Jane Kirkpatrick's books, after reading her latest Where Lilacs Still Bloom)
This one was a Christy Award Nominee for Historical, 2010.

Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother's photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman's pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs,
but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man' s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing–and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.

Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick
Based on historical characters and events, A Gathering of Finches tells the story of a turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couple and the consequences of their choices, as seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid. Along the way, the reader will discover reasons to trust that money and possessions can't buy happiness or forgiveness, nor permit us to escape the consequences of our choices. The story emphasizes the message that real meaning is found in the relationships we nurture and in living our lives in obedience to God.

United by blood, divided by time, will three orphan train siblings ever find one another again?

Orphaned in a tenement fire, three Irish-immigrant children are sent to Missouri to be adopted. Despite eight-year-old Maelle's desperate attempts to keep her siblings together, each child is taken by a different family. Yet Maelle vows that she will never stop searching for her brother and sister... and that they will be together one day in the future. Seventeen years later, Maelle is still searching. But the years have washed away her hope... and her memories. What are Mattie and Molly doing now? Where has life taken them? Will she ever see her brother and sister again?

I finally found this!! I have Book One but hate reading series books if I can't read the next one soon after! So now I can finally read In the Shadow of the Sun King!! (I've had it for over 3 years, smack my head).

Lavish and Luxurious VersaillesKing Louis XIV's burgeoning palace is the place to be--and be seen. And the last place on earth Madeleine wants to be.

She's trapped there as a pampered prisoner. If she stays in France, she'll be forced to deny her faith. By escaping the King's long arm, she may find freedom--but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Madeleine will need courage, hope, and total faith in God to outmaneuver the Sun King and reach her true destiny--and love--in another country.

From PaperbackSwap:
Lady MacBeth by Susan Fraser King
Lady Macbeth as you’ve never seen her . . .

Lady Gruadh, called Rue, is the last female descendant of Scotland’s most royal line. Married to a powerful northern lord, she is widowed while still carrying his child and forced to marry her husband’s murderer: a rising warlord named Macbeth. Encountering danger from Vikings, Saxons, and treacherous Scottish lords, Rue begins to respect the man she once despised–and then realizes that Macbeth’s complex ambitions extend beyond the borders of the vast northern region. Among the powerful warlords and their steel games, only Macbeth can unite Scotland–but his wife’s royal blood is the key to his ultimate success.

Determined to protect her son and a proud legacy of warrior kings and strong women, Rue invokes the ancient wisdom and secret practices of her female ancestors as she strives to hold her own in a warrior society. Finally, side by side as the last Celtic king and queen of Scotland, she and Macbeth must face the gathering storm brought on by their combined destiny.

From towering crags to misted moors and formidable fortresses, Lady Macbeth transports readers to the heart of eleventh-century Scotland, painting a bold, vivid portrait of a woman much maligned by history.

Last week, I watched a chat with a few Christian & historical fiction authors, such as Olivia Newport and Katie Ganshert~ I had recieved Wildflowers From Winter for review and I enjoyed learning of the messages behind their books. Very inspiring ladies. Here is Katie's debut novel, which has already gotten rave reviews; I am so glad to have received a chance to review this!

May 8 2012
Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert
Like the winter, grief has a season. Life returns with the spring.

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park. An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.

Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?

And now a personal rant:
I have now accumulated a mass library of my own. Full of fabulously fantastic books that I know I will enjoy and love.. but yet I will NEVER get to because I keep accepting review books.
It is time to really .. for once and for all .. reconsider the whole reviewing for publishers/authors thing.
Somehow, I have to make myself ignore all the new books that are just so awesome that 'I just have to have'. I have to be even more selective in my reads, and make sure I limit myself for each month. For the past few years, I have been able to choose the reads that I know I will enjoy, but turns out I must be easy to please, or there are some fabulous writers out there!!

I need a 12 Step Program, fast.. because it is so disheartening having this review schedule and seeing my library expand and taunt me. I must stop doing this to myself with this packed review schedule. It's like a form of masochism, accepting more review books when I have 600+ books that I own that I cannot read. I must stop. I must stop. I must stop. I must stop.

May 19, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, May 19, 2012
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog At Home With Books.

A lot of our trees have suffered or died due to the crazy drought here in Texas last year.
Half of this tree is dead.
The other half, is bearing fruit.
There is hope on one side, sorrow on the other.

May 16, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (GET THIS BOOK NOW!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A unique gem of a gut wrenching war story
(Originally published February 6th 2012 by Egmont Press )
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Hyperion reissue May 15 2012
Young Adult Literature Ages 14 +
Hardcover 352 pages
Review copy from NetGalley
Burton Book Review: five gut wrenching stars

I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.
Warning: My thoughts below cannot do the book justice. I apologize. Simply put, read this book.

'Young adult' is not a genre I would normally reach out to read.. but I saw Code Name Verity on several bloggers' sites and I had to see what the hype was. Some were really over the moon loving this one, so it was serendipity that NetGalley sent out a promo and said to download it now, and I did. I loved the tone of the novel in spite of the evil atmosphere of the Gestapo interrogating young ladies.. this young lady for the first half of the novel we'll call Queenie.. she is indeed of royal descent and is seemingly royally capable of doing covert operations during World War II, until she is captured.

The story begins with Queenie dictating everything she knows to her captors, who want all the secrets she can give regarding her British operations. She is a tough girl, though we can't really tell how old she is. Her voice is what you see in the synopsis: it is captivating, sad, haunting and yet still witty. She could make you cry and laugh in the same sentence. She writes of her comrade, Maddie, who is an awesome pilot despite being female and halfway through the book we switch to Maddie's story. And she spews her hatred of her captors that we have no choice but to hate them, too. It was really well done, with how everything going on around Queenie was impressed upon. And hovering throughout is the knowledge she is either going to be shot, burned alive or sent to some Nazi camp.. and it is just a silent torture that you keep reading and loving this story and loving these girls and knowing that this is not going to have a happy ending.. how could it?! You just want to curse out Engel and von Linden and his lackeys with the torture cigarettes... one of my thoughts while reading this was 'Sort of funny in a creepy sadistic kind of way'.. because of the brave voice of Queenie as she writes out this confession of sorts, as she knows with each word she prolongs her ultimate demise... yet she doesn't really want to give information to the enemy. And there I go, giving off too much information myself. I must stop.

Bring on Maddie's voice for the second half of the book. I already knew her because Queenie told us how she was the Ultimate FlyGirl. But what happened to her after they crashed? We know Queenie was captured. Did Maddie go down in a comet of flames? Did Maddie know that Queenie was captured by the Nazis and could she get her Secret Allied friends to save Queenie? So many options. And I am not about spoil it.

I can say that at this point I was on the edge of my seat, with an anxious stomach as I awaited the fate of these Awesome Gestapo Hating Fly Girls. My adrenaline pumped for them till I couldn't stand it and I wanted to cry. And then I did cry.

I want to say something provocative like this is the sh*t, gosh darn it... but intelligent words fail me. I feel completely ravaged after this adventure. Something like 'f-ing Gestapo' went through my head a zillion times and that is the prevalent thought in my brain. And I loved the French phrases that were scattered throughout. "Vite! Vite!" Quickly!

Utterly gripping story that I could not stop thinking about. Completely imaginative and creative way the author chose to portray this story, absolutely brilliant. Author's note explains inaccuracies, and I say brava! to this great story.  Kudos to Disney-Hyperion for recognizing this gem and reissuing it. As soon as I can get my heart and stomach back in their right places, I'm buying this and re-reading it. Though Amazon Best Teen Books of the Month, May 2012: I think I'll wait till my daughter is about sixteen to share this gem.

Buy Code Name Verity 


May 15, 2012

Stardust: A Novel by Carla Stewart

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Intriguing read of a woman overcoming all odds, in a charming setting.
Stardust: A Novel by Carla Stewart
Hachette Book Group: FaithWords, May 15 2012
Literature & Fiction, Inspirational
Paperback 320 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review rating: 4 Texas Stars!
Shortly after burying her unfaithful husband, Georgia Peyton unexpectedly inherits the derelict Stardust motel from a distant relative. Despite doubts from the community and the aunt who raised her, she is determined to breathe new life into it. But the guests who arrive aren't what Georgia expects: Her gin-loving mother-in-law; her dead husband's mistress; an attractive but down-on-his-luck drifter who's tired of the endless road; and an aging Vaudeville entertainer with a disturbing link to Georgia's past.

Can Georgia find the courage to forgive those who've betrayed her, the grace to shelter those who need her, and the moxy to face the future? And will her dream of a new life under the flickering neon of the STARDUST ever come true?
Faith, betrayal, loss, grief, humanity, death all play parts in this spunky novel set in early fifties East Texas. The neon sign from the motel/resort Stardust is a bit of a symbol for Georgia Peyton, as she comes full circle from once being abandoned at the Stardust as a child, and then being bequeathed the Stardust the same week she finds herself a widow with two young girls. Told in first person narrative, it is easy to become immersed in Georgia's story as her life is irrevocably changed when her cheating husband is found washed up in the bayou.

Embracing the chance of rebirth for herself and her little girls, Georgia throws herself full force into rebuilding the Stardust, much to the dismay of her Aunt Cora who had raised her. Unknown to Georgia, the Stardust holds the answers to all of Georgia's questions growing up. Before she can unravel the mystery of her own life, she comes face to face with her dead husband's mistress and her children, inserting themselves into Georgia's life she never thought imaginable. The fear of polio and the anxiety of becoming infected becomes center stage as Georgia has to defend her family and the Stardust from the physical and psychological stigma of polio.

Amidst the setting of the Stardust is the loving colored family who helps take care of the Stardust with Georgia; with Ludi becoming not only a maid but as much part of Georgia's family as ever, despite the color difference of their skin. Ludi and her children are a delight to read, along with several supporting characters in the town of Mahaw, Texas. Georgia is a strong woman that the reader roots for from the beginning, as we try to decipher the clues to Georgia's mysterious past along the way. Learning the answers to Georgia's ultimate question is an emotional journey that twinkles along with that Stardust sign, bringing redemption and renewal to Georgia and her family. Spirituality and faith is a subtle theme but does not glare out as a strong element in the book; those who look for Him will be rewarded with its nuances of faith and forgiveness.

May 14, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, May 14, 2012
Hope you all had a beautiful Mother's Day yesterday!!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and May's host is Martha @ Martha’s Bookshelf

This week I didn't get a whole bunch of different reads, and I am not going to include the many kindle freebies I downloaded.. but I did receive a few special ones in the mail:
The new Hogarth Press prize pack! Launch Edition 878 of 1500 ;)
Hogarth Press is being revived by Random House, and they sent out this little prize pack (With my first Tote bag EVER!) to help get the word out about this imprint that was first created by Virginia Woolf in 1917.

 "Hogarth is a new home for a new generation of literary talent. Its list will be made up entirely of fiction; its intention is to publish contemporary, voice-drive, character-rich writing that entertains, informs, and moves readers."

On the inaugural list pictured above:
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (May 2012)
SO excited about this, as I had seen this around the blogs and getting great reviews!

 A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.

Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.

When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.(

The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents (May 2012)
An inventive debut that recalls the imagination of Aimee Bender and the sardonic wit of Lorrie Moore.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them as they navigate the treachery of first dates, temp jobs and roommates, failed relationships and unexpected affairs – all the things that make their lives seem full of possibility, but also rife with potential disappointment.

Shot through with laugh-out-loud lines, yet still wrenchingly emotional and resonant, The Kissing List is a book about women who bravely defy expectations and take outrageous chances in the face of a life that might turn out to be anything less than extraordinary

The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (June 2012)
Following a desperate night-long battle, a group of beleaguered soldiers in an isolated base in Kandahar are faced with a lone woman demanding the return of her brother’s body. Is she a spy, a black widow, a lunatic, or is she what she claims to be: a grieving young sister intent on burying her brother according to local rites? Single-minded in her mission, she refuses to move from her spot on the field in full view of every soldier in the stark outpost. Her presence quickly proves dangerous as the camp’s tense, claustrophobic atmosphere comes to a boil when the men begin arguing about what to do next.
Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s heartbreaking and haunting novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan. Taking its cues from the Antigone myth, Roy-Bhattacharya brilliantly recreates the chaos, intensity, and immediacy of battle, and conveys the inevitable repercussions felt by the soldiers, their families, and by one sister. The result is a gripping tour through the reality of this very contemporary conflict, and our most powerful expression to date of the nature and futility of war.

The Dead Do not Improve by Jay Caspian Kang (August 2012)
Hailed as The Awl’s 2012’s novel to anticipate, this glorious debut stars hippie detectives, a singular city, and an MFA student on the run.

On a residential Bay Area block struggling with the collision of gentrifier condos and longtime residents, stymied recent MFA grad Philip Kim is sleeping the night away when bullets fly through a window in his apartment building and end up killing one of his neighbors. Philip only learns about the murder the next day when bored and Googling himself. But when he gets caught up in the investigation and becomes the focus of an elaborate, violent scheme, he will learn far more than he ever wanted to about his former four-eggs-at-a-time borrowing neighbor Dolores Stone, aka “The Grey Beaver,” and her shocking connections to an underworld only a city like this one could create.
Siddhartha “Sid” Finch, a homicide detective bitter about everything except his gorgeous wife, and his phlegmatic, pock-marked partner Jim Kim, land the case. Sid and Jim race after Philip through a menacing, unknowable San Francisco fending off militant surfers, vaguely European cafes, and aggressive Advanced Creative Writing students as they all try to figure out just who’s causing trouble in this city they love to hate.
Exceedingly unique, pulsing with vigor and heart, and loaded with fierce, fresh language, The Dead Do Not Improve confirms Jay Caspian Kang as a true American original as obsessed with surfing and surviving as with the power of unforgettable storytelling.

And that's all of the Hogarth Press ARC's... The next one is a beautiful hardcover that has such an intriguing synopsis:

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman June 19th 2012 by Viking Adult
From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in seventeenth-century Manhattan

It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.

Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters, The Orphanmaster is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.

May 12, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, May 12, 2012
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog At Home With Books.

After several sunsets/sunrises for my Saturday Snapshots, I will share a picture of two of my dear family members (Sweetie and Ollie), in my favorite room (library), with a favorite view (a green front yard).

My Favorite Things (DOES NOT include the actual huge cat tree!)
Click to enlarge.

May 11, 2012

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato

Friday, May 11, 2012
A heartwarming tale of adventure, love and family

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato
Bethany House, March 1, 2012
Paperback 299 pages
Christian Historical Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars
Rich in Historical Detail, This Is a Romance that Delivers!

An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.

Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.

As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love.

Captain Brogan Talvis is a soft-hearted privateer who seeks the boy who is being passed off as Lorena's little brother. Lorena is really like a mother to this boy who was seemingly orphaned as a baby, but now his true father, the Captain, has finally learned of his whereabouts. He must find a way into the family of Lorena, and her wealthy father Nathaniel Huntley in order for his plan to take his son back with him to succeed.

Lorena poses an unforeseen problem for the now-hardened Captain, as she slowly breaks through his tough exterior. Lorena is a devout Christian, though harbors a secret about her own family and the boy's background. The secrets have to come out in the open eventually, but not before Lorena and the Captain get to know each other. A sudden sinister plot to abduct not the boy, but Lorena, forces the Captain to take action that puts everything in jeopardy. The plot line was swift and intriguing, as well as the characters easy to like, even though I could guess fairly easy the way the story would end.

Prize of My Heart was a short novel, and didn't beat around the bush filling in space; it is a fast-paced and enjoyable historical romance. I enjoyed the historical setting in Massachusetts and especially appreciated the journey of faith that the Captain undertook as he went through several periods of loneliness and doubt. A perfect Saturday read, and I wouldn't mind at all reading a sequel to this one if we could be so lucky to be honored with one.

My thanks to Bethany House (see my other reviews!)  for providing this book for revew; I have yet to find an unenjoyable novel from them yet.

May 7, 2012

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

Monday, May 07, 2012
A NEW FAVORITE OF 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing April 17, 2012
Literary/Historical Christian Fiction
Paperback 384 pages
Review copy from the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: Fantastic!

One woman, an impossible dream, and the faith it took to see it through.
German immigrant and farm wife Hulda Klager possesses only an eighth-grade education—and a burning desire to create something beautiful. What begins as a hobby to create an easy-peeling apple for her pies becomes Hulda’s driving purpose: a time-consuming interest in plant hybridization that puts her at odds with family and community, as she challenges the early twentieth-century expectations for a simple housewife. 

Through the years, seasonal floods continually threaten to erase her Woodland, Washington garden and a series of family tragedies cause even Hulda to question her focus. In a time of practicality, can one person’s simple gifts of beauty make a difference? 

Based on the life of Hulda Klager, Where Lilacs Still Bloom is a story of triumph over an impossible dream and the power of a generous heart.

“Beauty matters… it does. God gave us flowers for a reason. Flowers remind us to put away fear, to stop our rushing and running and worrying about this and that, and for a moment, have a piece of paradise right here on earth.”
The endearing and captivating prose of Jane Kirkpatrick vividly brings to life the whimsy of lilacs and the lives that they inspired in this story of love, loyalty, faith, friendship, and flowers. The novel follows the path of Hulda, of German descent, raising her family during the early 1900's in Washington State. Cross breeding plants was Hulda's passion, and she enjoyed bringing her family into her flowery dreams of improved apples, lilacs and daffodils.

The story is not all about Hulda, however. It reaches for a saga type nuance by bringing in new characters, such as Shelly and Bill Snyder in Baltimore, and Shelly's overbearing mother-in-law. Flowers are incorporated their story, too. The neighbor girls, their families, and Hulda's daughters all bring new characters to add to the all-encompassing feel of togetherness and community. And there was Fritz, the most loyal and dear son a mother could hope for.

And of course there is Hulda's husband Frank, who had an endearing way of saying "I submit" often. After horses trampled Hulda's precious garden, Frank empathized but said "But you'll make lemonade of it, after all, I submit. Yes, indeed, that's what I submit."

Imagery and metaphors - such as walking on lily pads when speaking to someone who was grieving for a loved one - graced the pages, and the spirit of Hulda's passion shone with glistening hope as I read and devoured this story. There is no way my simple words can express the level of emotion I felt while reading this story, which was fraught with ups and downs of a family, from happy moments to tragic events all happening to Hulda as she strove for that perfect creamy white twelve petal lilac. The story of Hulda Klager touched my soul as I cried during the floods and the deaths that Hulda had endured during her very long life. Touching upon the questions of faith versus nature versus God's creation, the tone of the book was such that I could not put it down. Where Lilacs Still Bloom is the epitome of a page turner.

Most of all refreshing and touching, Hulda was indeed a real person, and the author brilliantly brought this special person back to life. I was so enamored with the story that I wept right along with Hulda, just as if she were my own grandmother. I would be remiss if I didn't pay homage to the lilac: the fragrance of the flower that I can still recall after leaving behind my lilac bush seventeen years ago. I still think of that very lilac bush from time to time. I wish the lilac would bloom in Texas, but I will have to settle for the memories, which will now include this fantastic and mesmerizing novel.

With both historical details and factual details regarding flowers, Where Lilacs Still Bloom incorporates many elements which makes it indescribable. This book goes to top of my list as the Best of 2012. I can hardly contain myself as I want to go and buy all of Jane Kirkpatrick's books immediately. Where to begin?!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this honest review. I thank them wholeheartedly for this amazing experience.

You can help me get more amazing books like this by rating my review online:
 Review: Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

Mailbox Monday

Monday, May 07, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and May's host is Martha @ Martha’s Bookshelf

This week I could not ignore the hype, no matter how hard I tried, even though this is YA which I do not normally read:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (See a review at the Historical Novel Society)
I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

This one is another I couldn't resist requesting,
 The Wild Princess, by Mary Hart Perry(novel about Queen Victoria’s “wild child” daughter, Princess Louise, July 2012)
The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert produced nine children—five of them princesses, all trained for the role of marriage to future monarchs. However, the fourth princess, Louise—later the duchess of Argyll—became known by the court as “the wild one.” She fought the constraints placed on her brothers and sisters. She broke with tradition by marrying outside of the elite circle of European royals at a time when no child of the English throne had wed a commoner in 300 years. Some said she married for love. Others whispered of scandal covered up by the Crown.

In fact, many years after Louise’s death, a civil lawsuit claimed that the teenage princess secretly gave birth to a baby boy out of wedlock. One Henry Locock sought to prove through DNA evidence that his grandfather was Louise’s child, delivered by Queen Victoria’s gynecologist then secretly adopted by the doctor’s young son and his wife, thereby avoiding scandal and preserving the line of succession to the throne. But the mysteries and drama involving Louise’s life don’t stop there...This is her story.

I kept seeing this one at various Mailbox Monday blogs last week, so again I could not resist snagging a copy for myself:

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling: A Novel by Michael Boccacino (July 24, 2012)
Neil Gaiman meets Tim Burton in this debut-a Victorian gothic tale of the world beyond the living and the price you pay to save those you love
We bid you welcome to the House of Darkling…
When Nanny Prum, the nanny to the young Darrow boys, is found mysteriously murdered in the forest, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to care for the children. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, the place for the things that cannot die, where Lily Darrow, the late mistress of Everton, has been waiting. She invites them into the ominous House of Darkling, a wondrous, dangerous place filled with enchantment, mystery and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human.

Through repeated visits with Lily, Charlotte and the boys discover the wonders of the House of Darkling, careful to keep the place and their mother's existence a secret from their father, Henry Darrow, lest the spell linking the two worlds together be broken. But when the boys and their mother become trapped in the enchanted house, Charlotte has no choice but to confide everything to Henry, to whom she finds herself increasingly drawn. Together they search to find a way to travel back into The Ending, but when they learn the price demanded by the creatures who inhabit the netherworld, Charlotte and Henry must decide if the sacrifice is worth the danger.

Not since Coraline unlocked a door and discovered a distorted world through a mirror has the simple act of walking through a dense fog revealed such a fantastic journey that is so splendidly strange, frightening, and exhilarating.

Hearts That Survive by Yvonne Lehman (Free Kindle download!) In April 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope, against all that Craven Dowd desires for her and himself. Her friendship with Caroline Chadwick deepens as they plan Lydia’s wedding on board the “grandest ship ever built.” Then both women suffer tragic losses when the “unsinkable” Titanic collides with an iceberg and there are only 20 lifeboats for 2207 passengers. They struggle to keep their families and dreams together.

Decades later, Caroline’s granddaughter, working at the museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, plans for the 50th memorial for the sinking and contacts survivors and descendants of survivors. Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed novelist who lost his life when the Titanic sank. He becomes caught up in finding his identity in the past and must come to terms with his present and the meaning of true success.

Characters struggle to answer whether love is more powerful than the pain of loss and learn what it means for a heart to survive.

For Review, I received two huge galley manuscript things which are going to be so annoying to lug around. These are apparent reissues from the nineties which I wasn't aware of either when I accepted for review (which brings on a whole new discussion of why I do not want to review for publishers any longer):

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser
The glimmering Huguenot cross she innocently wears leads her deep into the shadows. When Gabriella Madison arrives in France in 1961 to continue her university studies, she doesn’t anticipate being drawn into the secretive world behind the Algerian war for independence from France. The further she delves into the war efforts, the more her faith is challenged. The people who surround her bring a whirlwind of transforming forces—a wise nun involved in the smuggling, a little girl carrying secret information, and a man with unknown loyalties who captures her heart. When she discovers a long hidden secret from her past, it all leads to questions about trust, faith in action, and the power of forgiveness to move beyond the pain of the past.

Two Testaments by Elizabeth Musser
The slightest spark will ignite an explosion. The tinderbox of broken political and racial relations in France and Algeria provides plenty of kindling. And the growing friction, especially in Algeria, will soon combust. A tentative ceasefire offers little to cool the heat. And in the midst of the turmoil, Gabriella Madison guards the orphans in her care, while battling jealousy when Anne-Marie Duchemin, David’s former flame, arrives in Castelnau, France. As they protect the little ones in their care amid rising discomfort in the community with the multi-cultural orphanage, each wonders who David will choose. Meanwhile, David is trapped in Algeria, caught in the turmoil of a country gone mad. He seeks a way to guard his life and, at the same time, protect the refugees he came to help. And escape seems impossible. Unable to predict what lies ahead, Gabriella and David learn that in life, waiting is the hardest part. The answers lie in two testaments.

May 5, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, May 05, 2012
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog At Home With Books.

Over the past few days, I've been reading a fantastic novel, Where The Lilacs Still Bloom, by Jane Kirkpatrick. Inspiring and mesmerizing, it has touched my soul and is a favorite book of 2012, probably number one on the list.

I can't capture the beauty the book has instilled, but I did want to capture the colors of the sunset last night. It is a shame though that I have so many trees blocking the view of the sun, yet I am still thankful for those very same trees.

Click on the photos for a larger view

May 4, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Friday, May 04, 2012
Absolute MUST read for lovers of Austen and Downton Abbey! A Favorite read of 2012!

Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
416 pages paperback
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 2012
Burton Book Review Rating:5 Shiny Stars A FAVORITE OF 2012!

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an "invisible" servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of "serve one another in love."

Julie Klassen has written a clever book that incorporates what readers love of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey and even a bit of Jane Eyre. The novel offers everything a historical romance reader looks for, and I was sad to let these fun characters go. Margaret Macy’s once spoiled life takes a turn for the worse after her father dies and her evil step-father wants to take control of her inheritance. She impulsively runs away, and finds herself becoming a maid in a household where two former suitors reside, Nathanial and Lewis Upchurch.

Margaret, masquerading as Nora, mimics the servants’ mannerisms and dons a wig to hide her identity, eventually finding an unexpected accomplice in the sister at Fairbourne Hall. Margaret matures as she is able to realize how blessed her life once was and acknowledges the hard life of a servant, as well as the missed opportunity with Nathanial. However, the disappearance of Margaret from the social set causes a stir, forcing her out of hiding. Is there hope that the right Upchurch brother could rescue Margaret? The atmosphere of the belowstairs administering to the upper crust, along with historical quotes annotating each chapter makes this an entertaining and inspiring read.

I loved this one and recommend it to lovers of either historical fiction, romance, regency or inspirational readers. There were small mentions of Margaret's doubts of spirituality, but it was barely a theme, so if you are one who does not like Christian Fiction, please do not let that label persuade you to not read this one. This was an entertaining read that I couldn't put down, and I already have The Girl in the Gatehouse, Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary's Daughter on my TBR shelf and will definitely be adding anything else of hers that she writes.

Julie Klassen is also the author of Lady of Milkweed Manor; The Apothecary's Daughter; The Silent Governess; The Girl in the Gatehouse.. all of these are going to be high on my TBR pile soon! She is a two time Christy Award winner, among other accomplishments. Check out some of the awesome reviews she has received over on Goodreads.

Edited to add that The Maid of Fairbourne Hall was the 2012 Christy Award WINNER! Congrats!

May 1, 2012

Lady Anne's Quest by Susan Page Davis

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A page-turning Western!
Lady Anne's Quest (Prairie Dreams #2) by Susan Page Davis
Barbour Publishing, April 1 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Historical (Christian?) Fiction
Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars, enjoyed the story very much!

Love Lost. . .and Found

Lady Anne Stone believes her prayers are answered and she’s at last found her long lost uncle. Unwilling to let her meet him on her own, Daniel Adams accompanies her to her uncle’s ranch. But instead of answers, Anne is left with more questions. Both Dan and Anne are convinced the man introduced as her uncle is an impostor and decide to continue the search for the new Earl of Stoneford.

But now the swindler is on their trail, hoping to steal Uncle David’s inheritance. Dan has his hands full trying to protect Anne, but he finds he must guard his heart just as carefully. Even though he’s good at keeping her safe, he knows he’ll never convince Anne to become a farmer’s wife in Oregon when she has her sights set on returning to her home in England. But as Anne’s quest becomes even more difficult — and dangerous — Anne begins to see Dan differently. Will she soon be envisioning a new life in America?

This is the second book in Susan Page Davis' Prairie Dreams series, which I was unaware of until I started reading it. However, not reading the first book, The Lady's Maid, did not cause confusion with this novel. It seems the first novel followed more closely the story of Elise, the maid to Lady Anne, as they traveled to Oregon via wagon trail in search for Uncle David. This second installment picks up the story where the first left off, this time focusing on the story of Lady Anne and her ongoing search for Uncle David.

During the journey, Anne is accompanied by loyal friend and admirer Dan Adams, who protects and leads her as Anne gets closer to finding the elusive Uncle David. It's circa 1855, and a simple phone call just isn't possible to let Uncle David know that he is the new Earl of Stoneford back in England. Lady Anne is on Uncle David's trail, but she is impeded by impostors and reprehensible characters along the way. And it turns out that a murderer from the first book is also on Lady Anne's trail again. They come across some helpful folks to help them find the real Uncle David, until disaster occurs and the given trust proves unwarranted.

There are several intriguing characters in Lady Anne's Quest, including Millie and Sam being the two scoundrels that seek to hinder the journey of Lady Anne. Millie reaches Uncle David first, and the consequences of that meeting threaten everything that Lady Anne has worked for. Behind the scenes is Anne's fellow traveler, Dan, who we know loves Anne sincerely and deeply. The romance portion of the novel is very discreet and unnoticeable, as the key to this story is the search for Uncle David. With all the plot twists, it reads more like a mystery, with very gentle undertones of the Christian fiction theme. Lady Anne's Quest was a page-turner embracing the historical setting of the Oregon trail and the quaint hotels along the way. Very well-written, I would recommend Lady Anne's Quest for readers of historical fiction who would enjoy its Western theme.

If I could do it over again, I would read The Lady's Maid first. Chronological events are evident in book two that would probably hinder my ability of enjoying of the first book after the second. But, I will definitely look up the rest of the novels that are written by Susan Page Davis to see what others to add to my to-be-read pile. And I will be reading book number three, A Lady in the Making (October 2012), which finally follows more of Uncle David's character.