Friday, March 31, 2017

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco


No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

REVIEW

For those who love Christian fiction and animals, especially dogs, this is a novel that will warm the heart. Told from the point of view of a dog who follows Jesus, the reader is treated to a moving tale about how people can change through love and forgiveness. A quick and easy read that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions! Brilliant and unique.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Angel's Share by James Markert


Some believed he was the second coming of Christ.
William wasn’t so sure.

But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.

Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.
When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious. Yet miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.

But as news spreads about the miracles at the potter’s field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.
The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and of the mystery of miracles.

REVIEW

Kentucky at the end of Prohibition. The Great Depression is in full swing with many people homeless and hungry. The McFee family, however, is thriving because of their secret distillery they operated throughout the prohibition of liquor. When tragedy struck and the youngest boy was killed in an automobile accident, the family deeply suffered his loss.

In a potter's field next to their house, the eldest son named William witnesses a secret burial. Rumors circulate that the buried man performed miracles before his death, and this draws great crowds. As a subplot, the family patriarch learns that a dangerous criminal is searching for him with murder in mind, but is protected somewhat because of his false name.

The story is full of surprises, secrets, and the restoration of hope. There is something for everyone in this lovely story. It is classified as Christian because of the miracles and religious symbolism. If you love fresh, original, and unique stories with a wide appeal to readers of all genres, then this is a good book to add to your to be read list. Definitely recommended.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Second Mrs Hockady by Susan Rivers


“TAUT, ALMOST UNBEARABLE SUSPENSE . . . This galvanizing historical portrait of courage, determination, and abiding love mesmerizes and shocks.” —Booklist (starred review)
“All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”


When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?



Inspired by a true incident, this saga conjures the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation--and the next--began to see their world anew.

My Review

This beautifully written book is told through the voice of a young seventeen-year-old girl named Placidia through her diary and letters. It is an epistolatory novel that reveals the truth of the murder mystery bit by tantalizing bit. The tale kept me engrossed to the end. With a touch of mystery, secrets, and an enduring love, this is one book set during the Civil War that is not to be missed. Susan Rivers has written a spell-binding first novel. Look for more by Miss Rivers as she has a wonderful talent for storytelling. Definitely highly recommended. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by


For fans of Cold Mountain and The Invention of Wings comes “a tour de force of historical fiction” (Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain) that follows the epic journey of a slave-turned-Comanche warrior who travels from the brutality of a New Orleans sugar cane plantation to the indomitable frontier of an untamed Texas, searching not only for the woman he loves but so too for his own identity.


I have been to hangings before, but never my own.



Sitting in a jail cell on the eve of his hanging, April 1, 1875, freedman Persimmon “Persy” Wilson wants nothing more than to leave some record of the truth—his truth. He may be guilty, but not of what he stands accused: the kidnapping and rape of his former master’s wife.



In 1860, Persy had been sold to Sweetmore, a Louisiana sugar plantation, alongside a striking, light-skinned house slave named Chloe. Their deep and instant connection fueled a love affair and inspired plans to escape their owner, Master Wilson, who claimed Chloe as his concubine. But on the eve of the Union Army’s attack on New Orleans, Wilson shot Persy, leaving him for dead, and fled with Chloe and his other slaves to Texas. So began Persy’s journey across the frontier, determined to reunite with his lost love. Along the way, he would be captured by the Comanche, his only chance of survival to prove himself fierce and unbreakable enough to become a warrior. His odyssey of warfare, heartbreak, unlikely friendships, and newfound family would change the very core of his identity and teach him the meaning and the price of freedom.



From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Life Without WaterThe Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson is a sweeping love story that “is as deeply moving and exciting an American saga as has ever been penned” (Lee Smith, author of Dimestore).


Review
by

If you buy this book, prepare yourself to be utterly absorbed about a good, honest man, but also a poor black slave turned free who wanders and ultimately becomes a prisoner. On the eve of his execution, he recalls his life, his love, and all the events that led him to the gallows. 

Author Nancy Peacock thrusts readers deep into this man's heart and soul, giving us great insight into the tumultuous era in which he lived and loved. Persimmon's motivation is his great love for a woman. It is this love that leads him on a search despite the danger and trouble he will encounter. For her, he risks all, and it endeared this character to me. 

The tale is heart-wrenching and visceral, emotional and rich. One of the best stories I've ever read. Get this book now! It is sure to please and will stay with you a very long time.



Monday, March 20, 2017

The Kaiser's Last Kiss by Alan Judd



Soon to be a movie titled The Exception starring Christopher Plummer, Lily James, and Jai Courtney, this “crisp, adroit, and subtle tale of great personal power” (The New York Times) follows the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm, the young Nazi officer assigned to guard him, and the Jewish maid who unwittingly comes between them.


It is 1940 and the exiled monarch Kaiser Wilhelm is living in his Dutch chateau, Huis Doorn. The old German king spends his days chopping logs and musing on what might have been.



When the Nazis invade Holland, the Kaiser’s staff is replaced by SS guards, led by young and recently commissioned SS officer Martin Krebbs, and an unlikely relationship develops between the king and his keeper. While they agree on the rightfulness of German expansion and on holding the nation’s Jewish population accountable for all ills, they disagree on the solutions.



But when Krebbs becomes attracted to Akki, a Jewish maid in the house, he begins to question his belief in Nazism. As the threads of history conspire with the recklessness of the heart, The Kaiser, Untersturmfuhrer Krebbs, and the mysterious Akki find themselves increasingly conflicted and gravely at risk…


Review

It is always fascinating to get fresh new perspectives on many of the people whose lives were affected by the politics and machinations of World War II. This novel is full of fascinating and mysterious characters who evolve throughout the story, many truly villainous and painfully evil, and others who truly touched me. Although the love story is not a dominant factor, it adds to the ambiance of the tale. One of my favorite plot basics was the setting - an old house filled with precious artifact and antiques. I'm definitely looking forward to the movie version of this story. A quick, easy read which I highly recommend.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

"An enchanting, atmospheric work of historical fiction that is a rich blend of Downton Abbey and Jane EyreThe Echo ofTwilight is a wonderful novel to curl up with this winter."--Booklist

From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.


As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.

In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...

My Review

An orphan all her life, Pearl was raised by her aunt and grandfather. Upon their deaths, she found work as a ladies maid with Lady Ottoline Campbell. They become fast friends and travel from England to Scotland on the eve of World War I. As Ottoline's sons and nephews join up, the two women are distraught.

The two women become further linked by a dark secret that can destroy their lives.

I enjoyed this wonderful family saga set in the early 1900's. The book is well paced with larger than life characters, an interesting plot which culminates in a most satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

Thank You

Richard Patzer
November 20, 1946
to
February 24, 2017
I sincerely thank readers, authors, and publishers for their patience over the past few months as I took a break from blogging to care for my husband during his illness and hospitalization. He passed away peacefully at the end of February. His loss has left me and my family in grief and in a struggle to move forward in our lives without him. 

Slowly, I am gathering up the threads of my work I was forced to abandon in my husband's time of need.  

To authors and publishers who have trusted me with your books to review, please know I am slowly working through a backlog and you will receive a review in due time. To readers who have waited patiently for my opinions and recommendations on new historical book releases, please visit often as I get back to reading and reviewing once more. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Scandalous Lady Mercy by Maggi Andersen



PUBLISHER'S BLURB

After her four sisters married for love, Mercy Baxendale, in her first London Season, wants the same for herself. Her requirements are simple. The man she marries must be madly in love with her, and he must also be prepared to support her business venture.

When an incident lands Mercy and Grant, Viscount Northcliffe in the scandal sheets and has everyone in London talking, they are forced into a marriage of convenience. Although Northcliffe is quite the most handsome man she’s met, he does not fill her criterion for a husband. Not only does he appear to be a man with secrets, he has a very public mistress.


Grant foresees no rush to marry and produce an heir. His grandfather, the Duke of Rotherham, and Grant’s father are still above ground. And squiring a fiancée around London for the Season is difficult with the dangerous work he’s undertaken for the Crown.


While he accepts that circumstances have thrust marriage upon him, he wishes his reluctant fiancée would be warmer. There’s a decidedly chilly expression in her beautiful blue eyes when she looks at him.


Will they find it possible to overcome their differences and love one another, or will his secrets destroy their chance of happiness?


REVIEW

I have had the privilege of reading Maggi Andersen's latest delightful novel which focuses on another of the Baxendale sisters. Mercy is the tomboy of the family who matures into a thoughtful and considerate girl who has no wish to rock the family respectability so when scandal threatens, she does what is expected of her and marries Grant, Viscount Northcliffe. 

Mercy might be strong willed and capable, with an eye to starting her own business, but she longs to be loved by the husband she has grown to adore. However, Grant's secret work for the Crown prevents him sharing a large part of his life with his new wife, while Mercy worries that he is also continuing his liaison with his mistress.

This is a lovely story where pride and misunderstandings stand in the way of a couple's happiness until Mercy's life is put in danger and all secrets must be revealed.

I shall be sorry when Ms Andersen runs out of Baxendale girls, but as most of them have children, so perhaps she will introduce us to the next generation?




 .



Monday, March 6, 2017

Murder at Merisham Lodge by Celina Grace


Book Blurb

A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. 

Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen maid Joan Hart and lady’s maid, Verity Hunter, know that when it comes to a crime, all is not always as it seems. 

With suspicions and motives thick on the ground, Joan and Verity must use all the wit and courage they possess to expose a deadly murderer who will stop at nothing to achieve their aim…

Murder at Merisham Lodge is the first in a new series of historical mysteries, Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate, set in the 1930s. The author, Celina Grace, is the creator of the bestselling The Kate Redman Mysteries and The Asharton Manor Mysteries, as well as several standalone thrillers.

Review

A delightful cosy mystery written in first person from the point of view of Joan Hart, which gave a charming and informative insight into the life of a kitchen maid in a large house in 1930. When the lady of the house is murdered and her son is arrested, Joan and her best friend Verity think something is wrong. They start to ask questions and watch the activities of those in the house, hampered by the fact their time isn’t their own and have to work around the demands of their employers and their superiors in the servants hall.

Despite these restrictions, and Joan’s natural insecurity where dealing with Inspector Marks, the policeman in charge of the case, the two women set about proving who really did bash lady Eveline’s head in. Their motive being natural curiosity and a sense of justice rather than self-interest, other than keeping their jobs if the family are all killed or jailed.

How the upstairs family regard the downstairs staff is well illustrated, as well as just how demanding  working as a servant must have been after WWI at a time when so many country houses had to reduce their staff numbers for the sake of economy; a trend that was to worsen with the coming of WWII. There is a scene where Joan works all day to produce a complicated meal which the family don’t even eat - I could feel her frustration at her wasted labour.

I really liked Joan, who had more nous than she gave herself credit for, and Verity was the delightful, more daring one of the two who wasn’t verse to helping herself to the brandy when the need arose.
I look forward to reading more of Joan and Verity’s adventures.