MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Book That Mattered Most by Ann Hood

The Book That Matters Most
ISBN: 9780393354096
Publisher's Synopsis:
Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.
"Until I feared I would lose it,
I never loved to read.
One doesn't love breathing."
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
MrsK's Review:
Ava's story is intertwined with the book choices and stories from those in her book club. What will keep you intrigued will be your interpretation as to why each of the book club members choose the titles as their book that mattered the most. Many of them have deep personal changes, some of them have a memory that mattered most while they read the book. For Ava, she only remembers the title of a book and doesn't know the mystery behind why that book is important. Once her story unfolds, all you will think is a resounding, "Wow!" 

Most reader's are intrigued with books about books. If you are like our Booked to Dine book club, we knew that this book would lead us into sharing which book mattered the most in our lives. So many choices, some of us could name many... other's named one or two. What was interesting was our discussions around the books that Ava's book club chose.
"Find out what you already know
and you will see the way to fly."
Meet the Author:
Ann Hood
I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember. My favorite books when I was a kid were Little Women and Nancy Drew. Later, I loved Marjorie Morningstar, Les Miserables and Doctor Zhivago, obviously choosing books by size!

A Rhode Island native, I was born in West Warwick and spent high school working as a Marsha Jordan Girl, modeling for the Jordan Marsh department store at the Warwick Mall. I majored in English at the University of Rhode Island, and that's where I fell in love with Shakespeare, Willa Cather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Prairie Girl's Faith by Stephen W. Hines

A Prairie Girl's Faith: The Spiritual Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder
ISBN: 9780735289789
Publisher's Synopsis:
A Prairie Girl's Faith provides the first extended, in depth discussion of the Christian faith of one of America's most beloved pioneer women--Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although the faith of the Ingalls' family pervades books in the Little House series, the more specific details of Laura's faith have never been fully explored. It took extraordinary pluck for anyone to survive the harshness of frontier life--from the heartbreak of sudden crop losses to murderous storms to unrelentling loneliness. This book reveals how in surviving, the brave Laura drew not just on her character, but found encouragement, strength, and hope in her relationship with God.

The beloved author of the Little House books was not only one of America's great pioneer storytellers but a woman of vibrant faith.
MrsK's Review:
Little House on the Prairie, there was no better experience for a young third grader! To enter the school's library doors, to run to the "W" section under the bay window, and then to pull off of the shelf the next Little House book. I could hear my heart beat with joy and anticipation about Laura's next adventure. Even the cover gave me a sense of pure family living in a time of calico, log homes, winter chills, and sunny afternoons fishing by a stream. Could life be any better?

I was so honored to receive this book. It was like taking a promised journey home. Now as an educator/Librarian getting ready for retirement, what more could I learn about "my" Laura? What insights might get I get from Laura's faith that I could replant in a new generation of readers? How could Laura's faith resonate with my readers within my classroom?  All good thoughts!

What I learned, well that might just be easier for you to discover for yourself. What was confirmed, now that is something I can reveal. This book is more than a biography about Laura's faith, you will get a second perspective from her daughter, Rose. As this biography unfolds, Laura's faith is compared with the faith of Rose. I had no idea that Rose helped her mother write some of the books. I did not know that Rose was an accomplished writer. Nor did I know the extent of Laura's writing beyond the endearing series.

Faith. What every pioneer needed for survival. What if church faith was not as reliable as your home-schooled faith? What if you didn't discuss faith... you lived it! 
A read that will bring a renewed love for the series!
An irreplaceable depth into a childhood favorite.

Meet the Author:
STEPHEN HINES is a recognized authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder and has authored several best-selling volumes on her life, including Little House in the Ozarks. He grew up in the midwest in an area where Wilder once lived. Hines was the founding Director of Communications for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and has held several editorial positions in magazine, newspaper, and book publishing. The author is a contributor to a He lives with his wife, Gwen, in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Coming to Rosemont by Barbara Hinske

Coming to Rosemont (Rosemont Saga, #1)
ISBN: 9781481125277
Publisher's Synopsis:
Forensic accountant Maggie Martin's well-ordered life is shattered by her husband's untimely death and the double life he concealed. Dealing with the financial and emotional wreckage left in Paul's wake, she is stunned to learn he inherited an estate known as Rosemont in the seemingly-serene Midwestern town of Westbury. Seeking a fresh start and a quiet, solitary life, she moves halfway across the country to make Rosemont her home. Before she can unpack her first box, she's knee-deep in a battle against political corruption, where defeat and retreat are not an option. Still bearing the scars of betrayal, will she find joy, romance and possibility in Westbury?
"Maggie made herself tea in a Wedgewood cup
 and wandered through the house... settled into the chair's protective embrace...
An unblemished blanket of snow in the garden looked like frosting on a cake."
MrsK's Review:
Maggie Martin first learned of the house from Paul as he was dying. What did he mean the house was for her? She had just inherited Rosemont, of course nothing was too surprising any more. Her life had totally flipped upside down and in so many degrees she didn't know what was real, let alone what could ever be considered "surprising." What she didn't expect was the overwhelming sense of home once she stepped over the threshold of Rosemont.

With the key to Rosemont, Maggie discovers beauty can come from the ashes of a life that was lived, shared, and unimaginably untrue. The only security that appeared "real" was the handyman that would help her bring life to Rosemont. A few years her senior, Sam Torres and his wife lived just a few minutes away, which meant they would be the only true security Maggie could rely on.

Frank Haynes is a frustrated swindler who is determined to make a name for himself in "his" town. What began as a few dishonest property endeavors is now threatening his ill-conceived plans. There are so many that he needs to clean up after, including Paul's wife Maggie.

John Allen is a man with a "gentle nature and deep, abiding kindness." He is the local veterinarian who instantly wonders where this "gorgeous woman" has been all of his life.  

Once the town council meets, there are far too many financial concerns and not enough answers. Now begins the unraveling of the truth behind so many of the mysterious happenings around the town. What Maggie can do for the town, will depend on what a small group of friends will do to support her while she digs deep into the council's cover up. For Maggie, the investigation will prove easier than opening her heart to new friendships, the possibility of love, and the hope for a new season of life. 

To follow your intuition, to be given a key to a home that would set your life in a new direction,
well if your children are grown and your husband has died...
Why not?
"Be very discreet,... We're starting to pull on a thread,
and we don't know what it will unravel."
Not Just any Enjoyable Read!
Coming to Rosemont inspires you to follow your intuition.

"This book was sent to me for this unbiased review."
Thank you Barbara for Rosemont!
Meet the Author:
 Barbara Hinske Barbara Hinske is a BookBub Bestselling Author in the Women's Fiction category. She is a practicing attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, who inherited the writing gene from her dad. She has two grown children with her exceedingly kind and good second husband who died of cancer in 2006. Lucky in love, Barb married another exceptional man and father of two in 2010, and they live in their own Rosemont with two adorable and spoiled dogs.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

Death at Thorburn Hall (Drew Farthering Mystery #6)
ISBN: 9780764218293
Publisher's Synopsis:
Drew Farthering finds a new mystery on his hands when he arrives at Thorburn Hall in Scotland for the 1935 British Open. His host, Lord Rainsby, asks Drew to investigate a suspected embezzler--then dies in a suspicious accident the next day. However, the house is full of guests with potential motives. Can Drew discover the killer among them?

MrsK's Review:
It is a wonderful moment for a reader when you receive an anticipated arrival of another book from a favorite series. In 1935, Drew visits Scotland for the British Open with a bit of trepidation about staying with a relative that he doesn't know very well. Yet, with all of the support from his wife Madeline and a few pints with his friend Nick, Drew feels it could very well be a relaxing time for everyone. That is until the murder of Lord Rainsby tends to separate his wife and Nick's maybe fiance from Thorburn Hall. Now the only thing to occupy his mind will be the promise to his cousin.

Once you step off the train at Waverley Station you are transfixed into an age of gentleman kindness, ladies with manners, elite living, oh and of course there is an inconvenience of murder. You would think that back in the day more people would be honest, forthright, and completely honorable. What is comforting is the fact that Drew and Madeline will not disappoint your expectations of  "time well spent" solving a murder with them. 

With quick-witted conversations, excellent period detail, and so many red herrings...
how could any mystery fan not fall for this mystery of old!

A must read for every fan!
Meet the Author:
Julianna Deering
JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014).
"I received this book for free for this honest review."
Bethany House

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller

The Promise of a Letter (Amish Letter #2)
Kathleen Fuller
ISBN: 9780718082543
Publisher's Synopsis:
Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don't go as planned, Roman's prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn't plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional--strange, even--Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she's never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn't mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

MrsK's Review:
When we first meet Leanna, she is roller-blading her way home from work. She is "settled" in her life and though she may live in the dawdi haus on her brother's property, she was happy as a mechanic. In spite of her brother's concern, she knew that her life was perfect the way it was.

Roman had walked away from his family, he had dreams that would not be fulfilled in the Amish way. He had hoped that getting an education would be the first step in attaining his dreams. For the moment the convenience store wasn't keeping the "aimless"  feelings away. When he discovered that his grandmother had passed away, well that was the moment when his hidden struggles began bringing him back to his brother's side.

Neither could foresee the troubles that would align their paths, cross roads are interesting that way. What begins with a grandmother's prayer, blessing and request will change the hurt of past decisions and provide opportunities for maturity. 

Moving beyond past scars is often times harder than leaving,
Continued pleasure every time the cover is opened, 
Kathleen Fuller is a gifted story-teller!
Very inspiring...
Meet the Author:
Kathleen Fuller Kathleen Fuller Creating stories and characters. I love that part of the process--finding a new story and letting the characters speak to me. Best-selling author of Amish fiction. Also a wife, mother, crafter, coffee addict, football fan, and chocolate aficionado.

"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

Sunday, January 14, 2018

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation, #3)
ISBN: 9780310291084
Publisher's Synopsis:
With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society's expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn't tear them apart first.

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks.

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. But he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra's fiancé and shattered her world.

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

"I'm here because I desire to help the freedmen in their new lives.
I believe we have a responsibility to teach any and all who 
would like to learn. Up until recently, the freedmen have not
been afforded that opportunity. And I would like to help change that."
MrsK's Review:
Alexandra Jamison is spunky, loyal, trust worthy, and willing to accomplish those things that most people will shy away from.

In 1871, women were told who to marry. Alexandra loved her father, yet she had a life to live and her father's plan of marriage didn't fit in any way. Even though she was part of Nashville's founding families, the social life for a lady wasn't of importance. Since Dutchman's Curve and David, her life would have a different meaning.

When her father requests that she help the owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, she didn't expect all the frustration nor the bonding that would eventually lead her to discovering the truth about why her husband died at Dutchman's Curve.

Silas Rutledge doesn't have time to become a "Southern Gentleman." Coming from Colorado, he knows how to get things done. Yet, Alexandra had an intriguing solution. If he wanted to win the bid for his railroad, he would have to be taught how to the prospective owner of the Belle Meade Station thought which meant he would need to think like a southern gentleman.

When Alexandra begins her new life as an instructor at the Fisk University, she was determined to help all who attended her classes become educated. Fisk students were expected to become scholars. Scholars who were well educated in the knowledge of eternity, the Creator, His Son, and the Spirit. She never considered that she might called to travel with the Fisk Jubilee Singers as they performed for funding of their university. Nor did she expect to be mentoring Mr. Rutledge in the expectations of southern etiquette.

For Silas, he thought winning the bid was his main purpose for coming to Nashville. He was not prepared to learn the ways of the south, nor was he completely prepared to clear his father's name from the scandal that was associated with the train wreck at Dutchman's Curve. The last thing he had on his mind was an intelligent, albeit strong-willed women and her need for his truth in her healing.

The delightfully entertaining quips between Silas and Alexandra are equally matched as a captivator and a spitfire. Be prepared to smile, entertain moments with a few giggles, and become completely engaged in the lives of these characters.

When historical fiction is well woven, the reader forgets which time frame they are presently entertaining...
"The time had come for her to choose her own path...
No matter the cost."
Very inspiring... quick... spirited... and oh, so entertaining!
Meet the Author:
Tamera Alexander
Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling author and one of today's most popular writers in the inspirational historical fiction genre. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee, not far from the Southern mansions that serve as the backdrop for six of her award-winning novels.
"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Portrait of Vengeance (Gwen Marcey #4)
ISBN: 9780718083786
Publisher's Synopsis:
Gwen Marcey has done a good job of keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here?

No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, her ex-husband back home is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter.

As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

MrsK's Review:
A story within a story is always intriguing. As the story begins, Gwen is reminded of that fatal day in which the front door had been left opened. As an investigator, Gwen requests a missing child investigation in Idaho. Many aspects of this case will begin unlocking the truth about that day so long ago in 1994. The challenge for Gwen will be locating the missing girl in time. What will make Gwen's blood run cold will be those memories that overshadow her investigation.

With the help of her best friend Beth, Gwen will face humility, disgrace, doubt, and her worst fears. For Gwen, every ounce of courage will need to be called up. Uncovering her past truths will cause a tilting of her reality, yet within her past will be the path that could lead to a little girl's freedom.

An unnerving story with deep roots. The author has masterfully created a page turner that keeps you guessing with every turn, plot twist, and discovery. Red herrings are not blatantly foreshadowed, you must discover with Gwen each step that must be taken.
Enjoy this law enforcement mystery, it is a tangled web!

"Run Gwen! If ever you find us dead, it means he found us!"
Filled with suspense, twists and turns,
unexpected frustrations and enough page turners
for every reader!
Meet the Author:
Carrie Stuart Parks  Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.
"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Whizbang Machine by Danielle A. Vann

The Whizbang Machine
ISBN: 9781943847921
Publisher's Synopsis:
After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG! Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets that need to be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries. To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse. The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

"Everything changed the sweltering summer of 2007"
MrsK's Review:
When Elizabeth was fifteen, she was waiting for her grandfather while typing her English paper. She is a writer, a writer who loves the sound of the keys and the "hum" of her light blue electric typewriter (I can relate to her satisfaction!). It had been eight years since her father had died, since her grandfather had sold Yale's Shelves (a book store her family had owned for fifty years), and since she had seen him (only his travel postcards kept her informed). She had no idea that in two days she would be traveling with her grandfather on a quest to Casablanca, Morocco.

What begins as a small "tingly" sensation as she reached for a box in her grandfather's storage soon becomes an "explosion of thunder" (it helped that there was a storm outside). Lying inside of a tan case was a vintage typewriter. Of course this wasn't just any typewriter, nope, it had been securely locked... and it was seated in "red plush velvet," which to any writer means a typewriter of distinction.
"Positioning my fingers among the keys,
they rested for half a second before the machine screamed to life.
Whiz-Whiz, BANG!"
From that moment on, Elizabeth would be on a quest to find the rightful owner. Although, as in any well written quest, there would be moments of pain... fear... life-threatening foes... heart-racing chases... and a few visions that will haunt and spur Elizabeth through the streets of Morocco.

As an educator, I couldn't ask for a better "on the edge" story line. Sharing certain portions of the story caused hands to fly up for ownership. As a reader, I experienced trepidation every time Elizabeth had to touch the keys. I was exhausted and angry with her grandfather for placing leading her into danger. I was pulling for her to get beyond this quest and just go home. I didn't want to read another word, and yet... I was compelled to enter into the chaos once more.
Enjoy this treasure of a story,
"There's something romantic about writing on an old typewriter... 
Uniquely Enjoyable!
An excellent choice for any 3rd-5th grade reader.
Meet the Author:
  Danielle A. Vann grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As the only child, she loved to write stories and create wild characters at an early age. That love of writing sparked her career in journalism. She was a news reporter and anchor before she married her husband, Todd. After having three children, the idea of writing children’s books intrigued her. Her best source of inspiration is often her children’s zany antics. When she isn’t writing you can find her in digging in her organic garden, running and training for the next race, or playing chef in her kitchen. She currently lives in Mansfield, Texas.
"This book was sent to me by the author for this honest review."

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