I picked up a copy of The Waking Bell almost a year ago, and it finally made it to the top of my TBR. This was my first time reading either of the co-authors, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but the blurb for this book intrigued me.
Set in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee during World War II, this book has elements of mystery, deceit, passion, family dynamics, and romance. Small towns often hold the biggest secrets, and the setting of this book is no exception.
The protagonist, Cady Blue, is thought of by many as being simple-minded. In fact, she’s smarter than most people give her credit for. Since childhood, she’s heard “warning bells” in her head.
When a young boy goes missing after a tent revival, Cady finds an important clue. The local sheriff promptly dismisses it, but Cady learns there is a connection between the boy’s disappearance and the apparently accidental death of a young wife.
I was skeptical about this book at first, thinking it might be overly religious, but it wasn’t. Co-authored by Jackie Weger and Jeri Hines, this one will keep you turning the pages and guessing right up to the end.
This book was different from what I usually read but nonetheless enjoyable.
March was a busy month for me, reading-wise. Here’s the second part of my reviews. If you missed the other post, you can read it by clicking here.
Between The Vines
Rating: 5 out of 5.
After reading the first two books of Staci Troilo’s latest series, I couldn’t wait for Between the Vines. It didn’t disappoint.
Between the Vines is the third and final novella in the Keystone Couples Series. And just when I thought the books couldn’t get better, this one did.
The storyline is well-written and nicely paced. There are touches of humor, and the setting is perfect.
The attraction between Elena and Aaron is apparent from the beginning, although neither one wants to admit it at first.
Add to that Aaron’s ex-fiancée, Heather, who is out to make trouble for Elena. If ever there was a villain to hate, it’s Heather. Troilo did a fantastic job with this character as she did with Elena and Aaron.
I enjoyed all the books in the Keystone Couples series, but this is my favorite. Highly recommend it.
When my husband insisted he needed to buy me a birthday gift, I asked if I could pick out something I wanted. I went straight to Amazon and purchased the second set of William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. I hope to finish all the previous titles before the nineteenth book releases in August.
This is the fourth book of the Cork O’Connor series, and it didn’t disappoint. When a young woman goes out of a snowmobile ride on a frigid winter night and doesn’t return, Cork O’Connor is part of the search and rescue team.
Months later, a couple of tourists discover her body. The incompetent sheriff focuses on one potential suspect, Solemn Winter Moon. When Solemn is arrested, Cork’s wife Jo agrees to defend him. She asks for Cork’s help in finding the real killer.
Krueger left a lot of breadcrumbs. Although I had a few suspicions, I kept guessing right up to the end.
The story also touches on the O’Connor family dynamics, Cork, Jo, the children, and Jo’s sister, Rose. Cork also does a lot of soul searching in this one.
I enjoy the small-town setting of Aurora and look forward to revisiting several recurring characters such as Henry Meloux. Krueger also introduces new ones with each book that keep the storylines interesting. Like with the other books, his descriptions of the Minnesota wilderness put the reader in the heart of the setting.
If you like mysteries with small town settings, this is a great series.
I’ve had this book on my radar for quite some time. Given my recent interest in reading about Native Americans, I decided to give it a try.
After reading several reviews, I had high hopes for this book. While there were many good things about the story, I also found several issues.
I’ll begin with the positive. First, I applaud the amount of research that the author did in writing this book. It’s apparent he did his homework. The combination of real historical events and fiction had the makings of a compelling story.
I enjoyed the author’s use of Native American terms such as “six night’s sleep,” or “fourteen winters.” Language such as “The Winter of the Lone Elk” intrigued me. Not to mention the Dakota Tribe’s names of the moons — “Moon when cherries grow ripe,” and “Moon of the Changing Season,” are two examples.
However, there are several issues that I found distracting. The book was written in different tenses. I first noticed it changed with chapters, later during scenes, and finally, there was past and present in one scene. This jarred me from the story.
The repeated use of phrases like “As the whites tell time” were overdone and distracting. I think we know what the year 1858 means.
The book often changed narratives from the fictional story into historical facts. It was like reading a novel and a textbook in the same book.
There was a lot of telling and not enough showing. No showing of emotion. I found it hard to connect to the characters.
There were excerpts that bordered on author intrusion. As an example. “He then heads to the Baker farm to see the bodies for himself and to retrieve the Baker and Jones children, not knowing Clara Jones is dead.”
If the author had taken the time to show readers that scene, it would have read so much better.
Yellow Hair was not a page-turner and the pace slowed even more in the middle. I trudged on but found myself skimming the last few chapters.
Bottom line: Andrew Joyce is a good storyteller. The use of a good editor could have made a difference.
I love a good bargain, especially when it comes to books. (If you haven’t signed up for BookBub, you really should. Not only can you follow your favorite authors, but you can get email notifications when books in your favorite genres are on sale.) Anyway…
I also enjoy a good dual-timeline story. The Secrets of Thistle Cottage delivered.
1661, North Berwick, Scotland One stormy night, healer Honor Seton and her daughter Alice are summoned to save the town lord’s wife – but they’re too late. A vengeful crusade against the Seton women leads to whispers of witchcraft all over town. Honor hopes her connections can protect them from unproven rumours and dangerous accusations – but is the truth finally catching up with them?
Present-day, North Berwick, Scotland After an explosive scandal lands her husband in prison, Tess Blyth flees Edinburgh to start afresh in Thistle Cottage. As she hides from the media’s unforgiving glare, Tess is intrigued by the shadowy stories of witchcraft surrounding the women who lived in the cottage centuries ago. But she quickly discovers modern-day witch hunts can be just as vicious: someone in town knows her secret – and they won’t let Tess forget it…
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Set in Scotland, The Secrets of Thistle Cottage is a dual timeline story of two mothers and their daughters.
In 1661 widow Honor Seaton and her daughter Alice live in Thistle Cottage in the seaside town of North Berwick. Honor isn’t like most women of her day. She’s able to read, has a vast knowledge of plants and herbal remedies, and many of the townsfolk call on her when they have ailing family members.
Honor’s late husband left her with a position as a burgess, giving her a voice in matters involving the town—something only men of that era usually had. This doesn’t sit well with the laird, Gregor Kincaid. When Honor votes against his idea to deepen the harbor in order to bring trading ships to the area, it’s the beginning of her troubles.
Honor’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Alice, was born “in the caul.” Some believe babies born this way have power, second sight, and the ability to raise storms on sunny days.
Gregor Kincaid’s wife, mother, and nephew become ill with a sudden illness and he and his brother Davey call on Honor to help. Accompanied by Alice, Honor isn’t able to save Gregor’s wife, but Davey’s son and their mother survive. Was it Honor’s tincture that cured them, or did Alice play a role when she touched Davey on the head willing him to live?
The modern-day story begins when Tess Blyth and her daughter Jemimah (Jem) move into Thistle Cottage, leaving Edinburg after Tess’s husband, Alistair, was convicted of the sexual assault of three women. Alistair was a television personality, so the case got a lot of publicity. Jem’s “friends” turned against her, and remarks made by Tess on Twitter were misinterpreted by many to believe she supported her husband.
Tess is a little paranoid, not wanting Jem to have any social media accounts, and she’s a little overprotective. Jem, more outgoing, befriends their elderly neighbor Eva and starts making friends at school. It’s not long before Jem and her best friend Cassie embark on a historical project that is supposed to tie the past to the present. They select the story of Honor and Alice Seaton.
When a major storm causes a tree to crash into Jem’s bedroom window, she finds a mysterious bottle wedged beneath the window seal. They soon learn it was a “witches bottle” something women used to hide as protection against those who proclaimed them as witches. Another bottle contains a note written by Alice.
Strange things begin to happen at the cottage. Someone paints the word “witch” on their fence, and later on the windows and walls. Two skeletons are placed near their door—one wearing one of Tess’s scarves which had gone missing, the other a tie belonging to Jem.
Tess, who has tried to keep their identity a secret, begins to suspect a young woman who works at The Haven, a women’s center where Tess does pro bono legal work. Or is it Cassie’s mother? Or Rory, the handyman who repaired the damage to the cottage?
Will Honor be burned at the stake having been accused of being a witch? Or will the townsfolk support her against a vindictive Gregor Kincaid and the witch hunter he brought to town? There are similarities between the lives of Honor and Alice with that of Tess and Jem. I found the dual timelines easy to follow. While I thought the ending for Tess and Gem was a little rushed, overall this was a satisfying read.
Hey, everyone! I’m behind on posting reviews, so this week I’m including two books. The first is by Sally Cronin.
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.
The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.
Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far-reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.
I read a lot of thrillers and psychological fiction and every so often I need something light-hearted. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries provided that. It’s a collection of poetry and short stories which show us that life is sometimes sweet but other times bitter.
Divided in sections of Technology, Connections, Winning Streak, and Falling in and Out of Love, this collection of poetry and short stories offers something for just about every reader.
While I enjoyed all of them, some of my favorites were The Nanny, The Wedding Day, The Scratch Card, and The Night Shift. Friday Night and Gaffer Tape had me cheering the heroines. The book is easily read in one or two sittings but reading a story or poem each night is a perfect way to end your day. I highly recommend this delightful book. Five stars.
Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel, the town’s widely respected sheriff, has been killed while transporting a prisoner in an apparent accident, she vows to seek the truth about his death.
Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.
From miles away but worlds apart, Lily’s and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was perhaps not the man that either of them believed him to be.
Two Widows is a historical fiction novel set in Ohio during the mid-1920s. It’s written in alternating points of view—Lily, the widow of murdered sheriff Daniel Ross, and Marvena, his “close” friend. Marvena became a widow after the death of her common-law husband in a mine shaft owned by Daniel’s half-brother.
Lily and Marvena first meet after Daniel’s murder. When Lily is appointed sheriff, the two women join forces to find the person responsible for Daniel’s death and discover what happened to Marvena’s missing daughter.
The book has twists and turns. There are several suspects, including Daniel’s half-brother Luther, some ruthless Pinkerton guards hired by him, and some shady characters who had a hold on Daniel. I suspected several people, was right on one count, but I was surprised at the end. I like when an author keeps me guessing.
Both women are strong characters. The author did her research, as the character of Lily was based on Ohio’s first appointed female sheriff. Parts of the book are a little slow, and for this reason, I’m rating it four stars. If you like historical fiction with a touch of mystery and suspense, you’ll enjoy this one.
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