~~~~ Reviews from my jumbled perspective. ~~~~
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**Not all lists are updated
**I apologize for the poor grammar in the earlier book reviews.
I think we all have mysteries that linger in our family histories or in our hometowns. Those tales are told at family gatherings, in the corners of local cafés, and around cook fires at Scout campouts. It's impossible not to wonder, when hearing the retellings of things that have been passed down by word-of-mouth for generations, how much is true? What real events inspired this story? Was it only spun in the mind of some cowpoke looking to entertain along the trail or were there real people involved? Who were they? What happened to them? Would it ever be possible to investigate and discover the truth?
It's captivating to consider the possibility of finding a personal connection to history -- a hidden treasure in a family trunk, an old journal at an estate sale, a letter that has somehow traveled through time. Wildwood Creek is a tale about a thoroughly modern girl drawn into discovering the story, and clearing the name, of a woman who lived and died long before. Despite the century and a half that separates Allie Kirkland and Bonnie Rose, there are striking similarities between them, both physically and in terms of their struggles with life, faith, and trust. Though the trappings of civilization change as centuries pass, the human heart does not. Wildwood Creek is in some ways a story about two different time periods, but it's also a story about the things that are timeless and those are the things that matter most.
What inspired the story? Is there a true story behind it?
A: The story is a combination of folk legend, historical fact, and wild flight of fancy. I like to think of it as part historical, part contemporary, part romance, part adventure, and part drama. The idea began spinning itself in my head after a chance encounter with a roadside monument. I'd tell you about the monument, but… well… that would spoil the story. Suffice to say that it commemorates a sad and much-debated chapter of Civil War history in Texas. Many people outside Texas aren't even aware that the state was part of the Confederacy, or that the issue was hotly debated among Texans as the conflict heated up to the east.
I have always been a lover of history, and having grown up in the era of sweeping western movies, I'm especially fond of the history of the American frontier. I'm a sucker for roadside monuments, Small-town museums, the foundations of old homesteads, historical markers, and old graveyards. Standing over the time-worn headstones of child graves -- sometimes several in the same family -- I've often felt the connection to the human side of the past, to the mothers of those children, whose grief at times must have been overwhelming. It's impossible not to wonder, from the safer vantage point of a modern life, if I could have endured what those pioneer women endured? If I were in the shoes of my ancestors, would I have the metal to survive?
That sense of wondering is part of Wildwood Creek. A 150 year old mystery lies hidden beneath Moses Lake in the story. Though the locals have long shared tall tales and legends of Wildwood, a town in which the citizenry suddenly vanished near the beginning of the war, no one knows what really happened. But as Allie accepts a position among the cast of a docudrama set to reenact the last days of Wildwood, a summer drought (yes, we had one of those in real life as I was writing the book) is closing in and the secrets of Wildwood are about to rise to the surface. You can learn more about the towns that reappeared during the real-life drought here:
What was the most challenging thing about writing Wildwood Creek?
There were two special challenges in writing Wildwood Creek. The first was definitely the research. Because there is an ongoing modern story interlaced with an ongoing historical story, both contemporary and historical research were required. Putting the novel together necessitated everything from learning about how frontier reenactment docudramas -- like the PBS Frontier House series -- might be filmed and staffed, to learning what the actual frontier life of the young Irish schoolteacher, Bonnie Rose, might have been like during the Civil War era in Texas. A fair bit of study on available means of transportation, clothing, cooking methods, and Texas politics of the time period was also necessary. I'm not complaining, mind you. I found more fascinating facts about skirmishes, Civil War espionage, riverboats, Irish immigrants, and general frontier life than I could possibly use. So often while I was writing of Allie's life on the reenactment set, or Bonnie's life in the town of Wildwood, I lost myself in their lives. The best stories are the ones that completely transport you to another place, another time, another life.
The second challenge in writing Wildwood Creek involved the actual threading together of Allie and Bonnie's stories. Their journeys -- the historical and the contemporary -- physically mirror one another, so that both characters journey to Wildwood, and finally arrive there at the same point in the story. Both are lulled by its beauty initially, both are caught in its dangers eventually. Syncing the two stories was a challenge.
of the past intertwined with Lisa's incredible storytelling equals
another book that had all my emotions captive.
story begins in 1875 with Hannie Gossett, a six-year-old slave born
girl. Hannie and her family are stolen from the Gossett's by a family
member who was supposed to be relocating them. Even at the young age
of six, Hannie memorizes each family member and where they were
sold...and to who.
Silva comes to teach at a school in a poor area. Augustine, Louisiana
will be her home for the next five years...and then her student loans
will be forgiven. Not so easy when has large numbers of students in
each class, with very few caring to learn.
house she rents is on an old plantation. When she learns of the
history and brings that to her classroom, everything changes. **Received from publisher for an honest review
This story is told in past and present. The past is May's story. How she grew up on a riverboat, a river gypsy, her and three sisters and a baby brother. Until they were taken away one night when her parents had to leave the boat.
The present is told by Avery Stafford. A woman who lived in the limelight of being raised in a wealthy family with a father who's a senator. And she was being groomed to one day take his place.
Everything changed when an older woman in a nursing home seems to recognize her. It sets Avery on a path that she must follow, must see where it leads. Even if it shakes her perfectly manicured world to its core.
I loved this story. It stirs so many emotions. Seeing the mistreatment of young children in the orphanage and the woman who smoothly lies to make a profit from their lives. The sadness of families being torn apart. Yet, how sometimes the past must be faced before we can move on to the future. Another well-written story by this author.
We Were Yoursbecame
more than just a bestseller. It became a life changer. It took a real
situation—Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home
Society—and put fictional faces on the children to tell a story of
what could have been. Families are torn apart so this evil woman could
profit from it. Commodities to be bought...and returned if they
didn't fit right.
takes it a step further and puts the real faces on the true story.
Some with happy endings...many without. This book records those
stories from those now-adult children. Many have always known they
didn't quite “fit in” and that something was missing.
This book brings those adults who are able back to Memphis for a reunion.
They can meet other “survivors” and tell their stories. I found
it hard to put the book down. In my case, I also needed tissues
handy. Georgia Tann was a greedy woman, she didn't care who she
destroyed to get rich. Yes, many of the children had good
lives...but the cost was high. I highly recommend this book and if
you haven't read Before We Were Yours,
I suggest reading it first.
a copy from the publisher for an honest review
Ben and Kate Bowman were “living the life” as some say. Things changed in the blink of an eye. A baby born with heart issues. Hospital bills that were piling up and insurance refusing to pay. And Grandma Rose needing someone to stay with her until after Christmas because of health issues.
Kate was on extended leave from work and Ben could work from home. So the adventure began. Grandma Rose was not an easy women to be around. Kate's family was at odds with each other for the past six years. And the money issues were pulling at Kate's marriage.
Another story that pulls at the heartstrings and gets the tear ducts flowing. And more. I wish I'd taken more time to sit and learn my own history before my grandparents and mom had passed away. Our busy lives often keep us so focused on the future, that we forget to remember our past. Thank you, Lisa Wingate, for another well-written book that is so much more than just a fiction read.
**Received book through Penguin Random House for an honest review
Twenty-year-old Jenilee Lane whose dreams are as narrow as the sky is wide, is the last person to expect anything good to come out of the tornado that rips across the Missouri farmland surrounding her home. But some inner spark compels her to rescue her elderly neighbor, Eudora Gibson, from the cellar in which she's been trapped. To make her way to the nearby town of Poetry, where the townspeople have begun to gather. To collect from the landscape letters, photographs, and mementos that might mean something to people who have lost everything. Brought close by tragedy, Jenilee and Eudora will learn lessons about the resilience of the human spirit and the ties that make a community strong. They will travel to a place they never would have imagined.
Karen Sommerfield has been hiding from life-immersing herself in a high-powered job-until the day the company downsizes her out of a job and the doctor tells her that she may have cancer. It's a double blow that sends Karen on a search for herself in the last place she ever thought to look: Grandma Rose's old farm.
As Karen's hectic schedule falls away, she opens up to the unexpected. In the quiet of the Missouri Ozarks, she hears the soft, secret language of the sycamore trees, and discovers answers and a joy to make her life complete.
Once a gifted ballet dancer, Julia Costell buckled under the demands of a professional dance career, and has landed with a thud in an unglamorous job as a guidance counselor at a performing arts high school. Living back home with her parents and feeling lost, she is afraid she’ll never soar again…until the day young Dell Jordan is sent to her office, carrying an essay.
In Dell’s writing, Julia sees luminous sparks of hope. But as she fights to forge a brighter future for one disadvantaged student, she is drawn into startling undercurrents of conflict and denial within the academy. Only when she is tested in ways she never could have imagined does she begin to discover where real meaning and fulfillment lie—and realize that even though her life has seemed off course, she’s been on the right path all along.
Adopted at thirteen, Dell Jordan was loved, mentored, and encouraged to pursue her passion for music. Now, at twenty, after a year abroad with a traveling symphony, a scholarship to Julliard is within reach. But underneath Dell's smoothly polished surface lurk mysteries from the past. Why did her mother abandon her? Who was her father? Are there faces somewhere that look like hers-blood relatives she's never met?
Determined to find answers, Dell sets off on a secret journey into Oklahoma's Kiamichi Mountains, drawn by the only remaining link to her origins- a father's Native American name on her birth certificate. In the voices of her Choctaw ancestors, she'll discover the keys to a future unlike anything she could have imagined.
MOSES LAKE WAS A CONSTANT PLACE, ON THE SURFACE. BUT YOU CAN'T ALWAYS TELL BY LOOKING, WHAT MIGHT BE BREWING UNDERNEATH....
After surviving the worst year of her life, Andrea Henderson moves home to sleepy little Moses Lake, Texas, to recover her shattered faith and build a new life for herself and her son.
Game Warden Mart McClendon finds himself in Moses Lake for a different reason: to forget a tragedy for which he can't forgive himself.
But when a mysterious little girl is suddenly seen with the town recluse, these two unlikely allies are drawn together in a search for her identity. As wounded pasts collide, will their quest bring the redemption and hope they need -- or consequences neither of them expected?
Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, to help facilitate the sale of a family farm as part of a planned industrial plant that will provide the area with much-needed jobs. Heather's future fiance has brokered the deal, and Heather is in line to do her first large-scale architectural design--if the deal goes through.
But the currents of Moses Lake have a way of taking visitors on unexpected journeys. What was intended to be a quick trip suddenly morphs into Valentine's week--with Blaine Underhill, the handsome banker who just happens to be opposing Heather's project. Spending the holiday in an ex-funeral parlor seems like a nightmare, but Heather slowly finds herself being drawn into the area's history, hope, and heart.
Unlike her four older, married sisters, Mallory Hale wanted to be independent and make her own decisions. Not catering to the wants and needs of a husband. She was working in DC at The Hill, making her own path in the political world, like her dad. The day she ran into Daniel Webster Everson, literally, changed her life and it quickly became an adventure.
The story is told from Mallory's view. A city girl born and raised, used to the trappings and business of DC, who finds herself in the quiet town of Moses Lake, Texas. The most exciting store being a Walmart the next town over. The reader follows along as she deals with creepy crawly critters, becoming a mom, a wife and a frontier woman. She meets unique people from the small town and faces the fact that she is snobbish from her upbringing. Rumors about her husband’s boss has her wanting to flee back to the world she knows.
There were so many great twists and turns in this book. People being more than they seemed at first glance. And lessons of life, how one person can really make a difference in peoples lives.
**Received Through Bethany House Publishers for review
Allie Kirkland mourned her father and grandmother's passing and just did not seem to fit in with her mom's new family. Her step-dad wanted her to join his law office, she wanted to follow her dad's steps in the film business. And the opportunity has been provided. A chance as an assistant in a docudrama being filmed near Moses Lake. A mystery. All the people in the 1860's town of Wildwood had mysteriously disappeared. Never to be heard from again. Stepping into the past helped Allie see the present and future in a new light.
Bonnie Rose O'Brien was an Irish immigrant. After a tragedy, it's just her sister Maggie May and Bonnie left. Both are left with scars that will stay with them forever, inside and out. In 1861 she signs on to be a schoolteacher in Wildwood. She has no future ahead of her because of the past. Wildwood turns out to be nothing of what she expected. Will she has survived one nightmare in her life, can she survive a second?
This story is told from Bonnie Rose and Allie Kirkland's point of view. I could hardly put the book down once I started as the story pulled me in. It is so well written that at times the eras and characters seemed to blend into one. The scenery and tension could be seen and felt through the words on the pages. And the author pulled it together in the end in a brilliant finale that left me in tears, good tears. A mystery, a romance, a look into the past and more.
Elizabeth Gallagher has been balancing on the ragged edge for a while now. Then a rough case on the boards of her 911 operator’s job collides with a family conflict at home, and Elizabeth finds herself finally coming apart at the seams. A four-state road trip—trapped in a car with her mother—is the last thing she needs. Their destination may be beautiful Hatteras Island, but the reason for going is anything by pleasant. After one disastrous hurricane, and with a second one working its way up the coast, it’s time to convince Aunt Sandy to abandon her little seaside store on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and return to the family fold in Michigan. But when the storm sweeps through, the three women will discover that sisterhood and the sea can change hearts, lives, and futures . . . often in the most unpredictable of ways.
Tandi Jo Reese’s life is pretty much a mess. The most stable people in her life had been her grandparents, but her parents eventually kept them out of her life. She has allowed her children to take care of themselves as she barely can help herself. Until she moves to Hatteras Island, one place with a good childhood memory. She lives in fear of her past and future until the day her she finds her elderly landlord dead and the woman seems to speak to Tandi through letters she had written to God.
This book has as many treasures in it as Iola Anne Poole's letters. A look into the past and it's prejudices. Watching Tandi’s daughter Zoey follow in her mom’s footsteps with bad choices. The struggle of falling into old habits when pushed by guilt, and so much more. It had some mystery to it along with the strength of a small community needing to pull together after a disaster.
Tandi Jo Reese’s life is finally on track. She is going to marry a wonderful man in two weeks, her children are happy and the Benoit museum will be opening soon. After coming across the prayer boxes Iola Poole left behind...it really changed Tandi’s life.
One thing hasn’t changed though, her sister Gina. Tandi receives notice she is being sued for fraud, and it all ends up at Gina’s door, again. When another blast from the past hits Tandi her world begins to tilt slightly. Can Paul’s love and her new understanding of God carry her through this crisis as well?
This is a short novella that picks up on Tandi’s life after The Prayer Box. Sometimes you have to face the past head on in order to move ahead to path before you. You can’t keep walking forward while looking behind. The struggles Tandi faces are so real. Loving someone and yet having to be firm isn’t easy with her dysfunctional past trying to hang on.
Jennia Beth Gibbs left her home in the North Carolina mountains to the streets of New York City without looking back. Now she’s just Jen Gibbs, editor. A week on her newest job a mysterious old manuscript shows up on her desk, she reads it and wants more. She wants this story. She finds herself heading back to the one place she never wanted to go. Home.
She’s convinced the author of this twenty year old manuscript is the very man who wrote a popular book series and then hid himself from the world. And he’s not an easy nut to crack. But her new job depends on his cooperation.
The story includes a secondary story, Rand and Sarra’s. I love the way this author writes. It’s more than a story, it’s a tale of the way people live in the mountains. Their knowledge of nature, roots, herbs, etc. Kin helping kin. And in Sarra’s story...prejudice. The two stories intertwined create a real page turner, just as in her book Wildwood Creek.
As in all of her books, the author takes the reader on an adventure. Several adventures, actually. Not only does the reader travel from Michigan to The Outer Banks with Whitney Monroe, but we also travel back in time as she finds letters telling of another life in another time.
The present has Whitney struggling between her business in Michigan and dealing with an estranged stepfather and an old hotel in North Carolina. The easy thing is to put Clyde in a home and sell the hotel, dislodging business owners as well. Some old items she finds has her rethinking her decisions. Her life.
Old letters bring the reader to the past. Tales of a great aunt Whitney never knew she had. A woman who traveled the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains to tell the stories of the people hidden there. Finding prejudice and superstitions that are not so hidden.
This is a great series and each book is standalone but if you enjoy reading series, you'll want to read the previous books as the same characters come into this story.
For Rebecca Macklin, an ordinary summer brings about an extraordinary change of heart when she discovers that her aging father has been wandering the Dallas streets alone, and his wife, Hanna Beth, has landed in a nursing home. Now Rebecca must put aside old resentments and return to her childhood home. In this moving story of separation and forgiveness, two women will unravel the betrayals of the past and discover the true meaning of family.
With her adopted son missing and the rest of her family increasingly estranged, Sandra Kaye Darden is drawn to the little pink house where her Uncle Poppy once provided security. What begins for Sandra as a simple painting project, meant to prepare the house for sale, becomes a secret venture that eventually changes everything.
Cass Blue is having trouble keeping food on the table since she ditched foster care. When Sandra Kaye shows up with lunch one day, Cass has no way of knowing that the meeting will lead to the creation of a place of refuge that could reunite a divided community.
In this moving story of second chances, two unlikely allies realize their ability to make a difference...and the power of what becomes known as the Summer Kitchen to nourish the soul.
When Tam Lambert learns that her family's upscale home is in foreclosure, the life she's known is forever changed. Tam and her family must move to a changing Dallas neighborhood called Blue Sky Hill...
New resident Shasta Williams knows nothing of real estate schemes when she and her husband purchase a home in Blue Sky Hill. To her it's the perfect place to raise her children. Better yet is getting to know Tam, who lives next door. When neighbors realize that a corrupt deal could force them from their homes, friendships and loyalties are tested. Over the span of one summer, two young women discover the strength and maturity to do the impossible. They find that even in Blue Sky Hill, life-altering relationships and amazing possibilities can begin to blossom...
All her life, Epiphany Salerno has been tossed like a dandelion seed on the wind. Now, at sixteen, she must move to the low-rent side of Blue Sky Hill and work where she's not wanted: in an upscale home on The Hill.
J. Norman Alvord's daughter has hired a teenager to stay with him in the afternoons. Widowed and suffering from heart trouble, Norman wants to be left alone. But in Epie's presence, Norman discovers a mystery- memories of another life and a woman who saved him. As he and Epie take an unexpected road trip through sleepy Southern towns, they form a life-changing friendship-and uncover long-held family secrets.
Between Hollywood glamour and small-town secrets, what is the truth? The show American Superstars is the hottest thing on television, but its associate producer, Mandalay Florentino, is worried. She's just arrived in the tiny town of Daily, Texas, to arrange a surprise "reunion concert" for hometown finalist Amber Amberson. Only it turns out everyone in town seems to know the secret. And paparazzi are arriving. And word from Hollywood is that Amber has disappeared with a "bad boy" actor. Can anything go right in this tumbleweed town?
Imagene Doll loves her town of Daily, Texas, but things are lonelier without her beloved husband. Life seems dull. At least until that fancy-dressed woman pulls into town, looking terrified and glamorous all at once. Soon life's not the least bit boring as Imagene--and the rest of Daily--find themselves at the center of a media maelstrom...with a young girl's future on the line.
Lauren Eldridge had avoided returning home to Daily, Texas, until her father confesses to being in over his head. Paying back an old favor, he's invested in a horse that's supposed to be the star of a new Hollywood movie. Only the horse won't behave. And Lauren is the best trainer in the state. Convinced to return, she soon finds more than she bargained for when the movie's screenwriter turns out to be leading-man handsome.
This movie may be Nate Heath's last shot at turning his career around. He didn't have high hopes at first, but the town of Daily may be just what everyone needs to find hope and healing. And maybe even a little romance.
Kai Miller floats through life like driftwood tossed by waves. She's never put down roots in any one place--and she doesn't plan to. But when a chaotic hurricane evacuation lands her in Daily, Texas, she begins to think twice about her wayfaring existence. And when she meets hometown-boy Kemp Eldridge, she can almost picture settling down in Daily--until she discovers he may be promised to someone else. Daily has always been a place of refuge for those the wind blows in, but for Kai, it looks like it will be just another place to leave behind. Then again, Daily always has a few surprises in store--especially when Aunt Donetta has cooked up a scheme.
Texas Hill Country Series Book 1: Texas Cooking Amazon
No one is more surprised than Colleen Collins when she's offered a job writing fluffy magazine articles about rural Texas cooking. But after only a few days in the charming little town of San Saline, the big-city reporter is falling for the local residents, and finding it impossible to resist the infuriating True McKittrick, a local boy-made-good whose mere presence makes her feel alive...and at home.
Laura Draper is having the worst day of her life. By noon, her career as a magazine editor, her relationship with a well-known photojournalist, and her very sanity are all in doubt. She finds herself marooned at a crossroads in Nowhere, Texas, wondering which way to turn.
What's a girl to do? Certainly not allow herself to be lured into the ramshackle Lone Star Cafe run by two crazy old ladies who claim their coffee has mystical secret ingredients. Definitely not return again and again. And under no circumstances fall for the laid-back moves, twinkling eyes, and slow grins of guitar-picking local guy Graham Keeton.
But Laura can't help herself. Suddenly her uptight professionalism is out the window. She's landing in the most amazing, undignified, hilarious situations with Graham, and she likes it. What in the world is happening to her? Where is she heading, and why does it feel as if she's finally come home.
Big Lizard Bottoms-where getting hitched is a local industry-is not any place Lindsey Attwood, a play-it-safe paleontologist who's sworn off romance, ever expected to find herself. She's here posing as a horse psychology student to help recover dinosaur tracks stolen from a local guest ranch. After only a day at the ranch, things start spiraling out of control. Her horse-therapy horse hates her, she's been adopted by a huge stray dog with a bad reputation, and there's this local rancher who has her all moonstruck. After years of digging around in the past, Lindsey's wondering if it's finally time to see what the present has to offer.