MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

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."

Friday, December 29, 2017

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
ISBN: 9781501115073
Publisher's Synopsis:

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

MrsK's Review:
Elsa is an inquisitive and discerning young girl. She is full of life, compassion, and loyalty. Having had a grandmother who was spunky and fanciful, Elsa learns the value of individuality and living a life full of adventures. Granny believed that those who are "bloody" politically correct thinkers are decisively "Society" oriented. For Granny, "driving people nuts" was a "superpower."  Elsa is raised up with the wisdom that living life can be complicated.

Although Elsa may live in the city, a tenement house bursting with unique borders, Granny raised Elsa in the fairy tale world of Miamas the Land-of-Almost-Awake. For Elsa, Granny was her "army," she was "...both a shield and a sword." Now that Granny is living in Miamas, her quest has begun. She must deliver Granny's letters to certain individuals with the message, "My Grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry."

Elsa begins unraveling the Land-of-Almost-Awake with every letter she delivers. She learns so many important perspectives from the recipients. Elsa discovers that her grief is now weaving the final chapters in her Granny's fairy tale. Individuals have stories that shape their choices, "monsters can be born of sorrow," collectors can be those uniquely empowered to bring safety, and some lives are "reality-challenged." Lives become stories, stories that are "never completely realistic and never entirely made-up."

Poignant, creative, stunning, and enthralling. This is a must read-to-share novel that will be endearing for a life time. Yet, as with all good stories, will continue needing readers to keep it living.
Do not pass up this experience, open its covers and begin Elsa's journey,
"Granny never says goodbye,' only 'see you."
A beautifully-striking read! 
Added to my shelf
Excellent Booked to Dine discussion choice.
Meet the Author:
Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.
Simon & Schuster

Thursday, December 28, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love

An Amish Christmas Love
ISBN: 9780529118707
Publisher's Synopsis:

Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman
Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.

MrsK's Review:
Delightful tale about the Stoltzfus women. Not only do they live together, they are florists for their small community. Naomi is a creative, hard-working young lady (grand-daughter) who has many dreams and aspirations for her future, a family, and what changes might be brought to her community. Barbara is a woman of strength who brings balance between her mother-in-law and her daughter. For her to find love would mean that the right Amish man would have to be full of life, loving, God-centered, and willing to accept her family with all of their "intolerable" ways. Ruth, well she is the "spice" within the family. She is feisty, full of life, and rather cunning. These ladies were not considering any type of love to come knocking on their door... until the renters showed up carrying their suitcases.

Once the three men arrived at the daadi haus, the last thing they expected so late at night was the sight of one of the owners falling into the deep snow, nor did they expect to see the other two women making a dash from the house. Jethro (the oldest of the three) was the first out of the door. With Wayne and finally Eli arriving at the scene. With gracious concern and inspiring hospitality, this night would usher in more than a blustery wind.

Beth Wiseman "I wish I had the time to review books and chat with you here, but my writing deadlines just don't allow it. Please like my Fans of Beth Wiseman Page on Facebook where I try to post any news and interact with readers."
Beth is the best-selling and award winning author of the Daughters of the Promise series - Plain Perfect, Plain Pursuit, Plain Promise, Plain Paradise, and Plain Proposal. She is contracted with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Her other series--the Land of Canaan Novels--begins with Seek Me With All Your Heart, then The Wonder of Your Love and now, His Love Endures Forever. Seek Me With All Your Heart is the first Amish fiction book selected as a Women of Faith novel in 2011. Beth has also written three contemporary Christian fiction novels, Need You Now published in 2012 and The House That Love Built in 2013. In The Promise, (2014) Beth jumps way outside the box. This story takes readers far away from Amish Country and small Texas towns to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by a true story, Beth believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time. 2015 brings Beth back to the Pennsylvania Amish with her new series, Amish Secrets. She is currently working on book #2 following much success with book #1, Her Brother's Keeper.

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don't normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry's favorite wing chair. But the cat isn't the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

MrsK's Review:
With gracious bravado and dignity, Emma soon realizes that the winter storm would be canceling her Christmas evening out. Even that frustrating cat isn't going along with her plans. Well, what could she do but accept the way the evening was unfolding. Baking Henry's favorite bars would not only fill her house with a "delicious aroma," but it would bring a seasonal welcome to the unexpected visitors that were venturing out on her behalf.

There is such a sweet reminiscent holiday spirit to this tale. I enjoyed the chattering of the young visitors. The "take over" attitude of the cat is quite charming. Yet, the memories that Emma shares with her visitors reminded me of all those women who have touched my life. It truly felt as if I, once more, had arrived home for the holidays. 

Amy Clipston Hi, I’m Amy Clipston. I am an author of Amish and Christian fiction with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Most of my books focus on the Amish community, faith, and love. I also write romance novels and young adult inspirational stories.

Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn't give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He's found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discover: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly's prayers for a Christmas love be answered?

MrsK's Review:
Molly has a shy smile that touches David's heart, instilling a hope of a future family. She is steady, friendly, giving, and very loyal. She is assured in faith and very determined to live a life that is governed by the will of God. David knows who he wants to marry, yet with Bobbie showing up at the  horse auction, he will need to decide if attraction is as valuable as the heart of the woman he knows is meant for him.

Their struggle will be the turning point in their relationship. What Molly's faith will offer is the wisdom that a marriage is made up of two "whole" people, one cannot be struggling between two alternative lives. Whether David finds strength in his faith is up to him, no one can give it to him. Some times letting go, means allowing your hope to become their freedom to grow. While Molly entrusts David into God's hands, she discovers that she can help bring joy into the lives of others, even if that means being creative and making it snow for two very special children.

Kelly Irvin Kelly Irvin's newest series, Every Amish Series, began with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. The second book, Beneath the Summer Sun, will debut in January 2018. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker's Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop's Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper's Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it "a beautifully woven masterpiece." The Beekeeper's Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song. 

Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?

MrsK's Review:
Wow, have you ever dreamed of being given a homestead from a relative. Well, the first thing you should do is know where that house is! Given Ellie's blundering events, not only has she made a lasting impression on her neighbor, but now his daughter and her dog are inseparable.

This is a high-spirited, rollicking series of events. What is endearing about this tale is penned with in the weaving of the romance. Neither Ellie or Ezra want to fall in love, yet, falling in love is not always something we plan. A little nudge here, a push there, and a giant leap can be the ingredients for a love that becomes foundational. Ruth  Reid  Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.

When you need the break...
between shopping, decorating, cooking,
and all things on your list...
this collection is a perfect retreat for your 
It is our Booked to Dine January choice!

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Holiday Cookies by Elisabet der Nederlanden

Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
ISBN: 9780399580253
Publisher's Synopsis:
This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with re-imagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.

MrsK's Review:
Happy Holidays equals many sorts of Yums! Starting before December was ushered in, three generations spent time browsing, drooling, and choosing which cookies we wanted to try. To be honest with you, we chose the next morsel every time we turned the page. Since a review can not be that lengthy, we tried to narrow it down to just a few temptations (25/50 was getting closer to our goal). Finally, one voice was given one vote!

Not only is Erin Scott's photography delectably delicious, your mouth will be tricked into believing that you are just about to taste something unbelievably scrumptious! Once of my most important "novice" requirements is with the organization, the language (a must is user friendly terms and ingredients), and the ease in relocating my choices. A shout out to the design, layout, and International sweetness for each section:
  • Very Merry Classics: Minty Spritz (pg.27); Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich (pg.35); Chocolate-stenciled Shortbread (pg.40)
  • Cookie Exchange Party: Red-and-white Meringue Kisses (pg.48); Oatmeal Crisps with Chocolate (pg.52); Malted Milk Chocolate (pg.63)
  • Warm Holiday Spice: Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam (pg.69); Saffron Pistachio Biscotti (pg.74) 
  • Around the World: South American Alfajores (pg.95); Danish Butter Wreaths (pg.99)
  • Holiday Confections: Peppermint Bark (pg.110); Apple Cider Caramels (pg.113); Bourbon and Maple Chocolate Truffles (pg.122)
  • Decorated Delights: Doily-Rolled Gingersnaps (pg.136); Stained-Glass Snowflakes (pg.144)
Are you tempted... Let's get baking!
"The aroma of baking that fills my home in December 
is unlike any other time of year
and heightens my excitement..."

Baking is an enjoyable art
for everyone...
Get ready to spend time
planning the "Yum" for your 

Meet the Author:
Elisabet is a food stylist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is passionate about baking and specializes in styling and recipe development for baked goods.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Penguin Random House

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper's Wife
ISBN: 9780393354256
Publisher's Synopsis:
1939: the Germans have invaded Poland. The keepers of the Warsaw zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, survive the bombardment of the city, only to see the occupiers ruthlessly kill many of their animals. The Nazis then carry off the prized specimens to Berlin for their program to create the “purest” breeds, much as they saw themselves as the purest human race. Opposed to all the Nazis represented, the Zabinskis risked their lives by hiding Jews in the now-empty animal cages, saving as many as three hundred people from extermination. Acclaimed, best-selling author Diane Ackerman, fascinated both by the Zabinskis’ courage and by Antonina’s incredible sensitivity to all living beings, tells a moving and dramatic story of the power of empathy and the strength of love.

"It pleased Antonina that her zoo offered an orient of fabled creatures,
where book pages sprang alive and people could parley with
ferocious animals."
MrsK's Review:
In the summer of 1935, Antonina Zabinski had many zoo concerns which weighed heavily upon her. The Warsaw Zoo's needs were her passion. The war was of concern, but not the most pressing need. For her husband, Jan, the war issues would begin a process for helping shelter many from the Nazi invasion.

Antonina's talents for painting, needlework, culinary delights and family/friends would create a well-tended home life. Her animals would become an avenue of shelter for many.  Her fascination and affection for their "senses" as they "tested" their environment provided insights into their needs. When the soldiers began "flooding" into the area the animals became alarmed. When the invasion became a reality, she agrees to take their son, Rys, to a resort village where they had a chance to keep him from the cruelty of  the invasion.

By September of 1939, the Nazi soldiers were marching closer to the village. Jan arrived with a decision that Antonina and Rys needed to come back to the zoo, after all their army would protect their capital. Of course, that would not be the outcome. As they returned home what they experienced would forever be etched upon their hearts. The bombing had found the zoo. Fear for and of the wild animals, the Polish soldiers began shooting the frantic animals.

Once the zoo is officially closed, Jan focused of his "Home Army" duties. Antoninia begins her efforts in transitioning the zoo facilities into a place of refuge. 

"How do you retain a spirit of affection and humor in a
crazed, homicidal, unpredictable society?"
With poignant scenes, heart-wrenching accuracy, and life-changing decisions, this story is a must read. Historically, Jan and Antoninia's story should be retold and discussed with every generation. The compassion, grit, mercy, and desire to live through an invasion should not be forgotten. Their voices need you, as readers, you can pick up the torch can carry on...
"That which doesn't kill you,
makes you stronger."
Any war time novel that deals with the Nazi invasion causes
a rebellion to arise within you.

Be determined to never forget... 
Teach the truth!

Meet the Author:
Diane Ackerman Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the bestsellers The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses.
The Zookeeper’s Wife, a little known true story of WWII, became a New York Timesbestseller, and received the Orion Book Award, which honored it as, "a groundbreaking work of nonfiction." A movie of The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl, releases in theaters March 31st, 2017 from Focus Features.

The movie The Zookeeper’s Wife, based on the New York Times best selling book, 

opens March 2017.
Image result for w.w. norton publishers logo

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel (Shadows of the Wilderness #1)
ISBN: 9780735289543
Publisher's Synopsis:
In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn't relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.
When Margie's former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer's plans might put more than just the park in danger."

"The promised view of the mountain peak waited, 
cloaked in mist like a tissue-wrapped gift not ready to be unveiled."
MrsK's Review:
Margie Lane is more than a naturalist, she is dedicated and committed to preserving our National Parks. With a dream and hope, Margie is finally given the opportunity to work at the Mount Rainier National Park. With high expectations, her cherished botany and zoology books, and enough "grit" to meet the mountain head on... Margie will soon discover that sometimes the Lord might put you in a situation in order to open a door for Him.  

Ranger "Ford" Brayden is not at all pleased that he is being asked to "over see" a female whose father is a Senator. Just what is he suppose to do with her? First things first, he would put her in the oldest cabin where there would be no "wealthy" accommodations. Then he would assign her to someone else.

Ford decides to introduce Margie to his friend Luke the caretaker of Paradise Inn with hopes that she would agree to giving "fireside talks" to visitors. What he didn't anticipate was the connection she had with some of the dignitaries that would be attending a fund raiser. Of course he knew that the Senator would be on the list, but why was Margie having problems with Philip Carmichael?

Margie is determined to make her mark as a naturalist. She enjoys her discussions and outings with the visitors. To her, being on the mountain is like being wrapped in God's embrace. She even has a little house-critter that has become a welcomed guest. Yet, when ever she is around Ranger Ford something seems so unsettling. Of course her ex-boyfriend is causing way too much trouble and things are about to get even more out of control when Philip offers a challenge.

I was taken by surprise by these characters, the beautifully detailed settings, and a triumphant ending. This will not be the only Barnett novel you experience...
"A person --a man-- has to earn the right to that title.
You're not a ranger. Just a -- a naturalist.
And here on trial, at that."
Wonderfully Enjoyable!
To be in a Natural Park setting...
To enjoy quick wit and true grit...
Continue reading about other courageous women of Mt. Rainer. 
Meet the Author:
Karen   Barnett Karen Barnett is the award-winning author of the Golden Gate Chronicles (Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, Through the Shadows) and MISTAKEN. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two kids, and a bevy of furry friends.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The House Girl
ISBN: 9780062207517
Publisher's Synopsis:
Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. While following the runaway girl’s faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: How did Lina’s mother die? And why will he never speak about her?

Moving between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing, suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of art and history, love and secrets, explores what it means to repair a wrong and asks whether truth is sometimes more important than justice.
"On the open page of her notebook, Lina wrote,
'Nature of the harm----slavery.'"
MrsK's Review:
In 1852, Josephine knows she is going to run. There are so many freedoms that Josephine wanted to experience. Simple every day choices like eating when she was hungry, choosing what to wear, smiling and loving... all of which a slave can not do. 

Mister and Missus Lu have a tobacco farm, Bell Creek, in Virginia. So much has gone wrong, yet the Mister was not a man Josephine had pity for. He was a cruel man. Missus Lu is much worse and even her art work can not keep her from the sick bed. Every moment in which she is not sleeping, she is relying on Josephine.

In 2004, Lina Sparrow is a litigation associate at Clifton & Harp LLP. Lina's father is an artist whose living has always been meager. Her mother is only a memory. A memory in which Lina isn't sure if it is a true memory or perhaps a desired memory. Her father has kept all things about her mother a secret until he decided it was a good idea to begin painting her mother. And now, he wanted her to view them. With so much on her mind and in her schedule, she was not prepared for a new case. Especially one of reparation. A reparation that would be offered to the fourth or fifth generation of slaves or ex-slaves.

Written with characters whose voices echo within your heart, settings that are vividly portrayed, and masterfully crafted emotions true to "real-time" experiences you will be beckoned with in the story itself. Uniquely woven between Lina's personal life and her litigation research is a design in which, you become the story's weaver with each thread of Josephine's story as soon as Lina discovers it.
The message is as moving as the story, timely and yet powerful. As an educator this story caused me to ponder what we have forgotten when raising the next generation. In today's world, would any of our children or grandchildren care about Josephine's story or just the reparation pay out?
"The harm is immeasurable."
Inspiring, yet unsettling.
Be prepared to sense a calling towards doing your part in making the world better!

Meet the Author:
 Tara Conklin Tara Conklin was born on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and raised in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Yale University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and New York University School of Law. A joint US-UK citizen, Tara now lives with her family in Seattle. The House Girl is her first novel.

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

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