Sep 15, 2014

Love's Fortune

Love's Fortune (The Ballantyne Legacy #3)Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She has a way with a story, does Ms. Frantz. Love's Fortune doesn't disappoint. This is the third in a series and I haven't read the first two, but it reads just fine as a stand alone story. (Although I will be purchasing those first two books - soon!)

Wren Ballantyne grew up in rustic, pre-Civil War Kentucky. After her mother's death and mourning period, Wren and her father move to Pennsylvania with his relatives. His very wealthy relatives. Wren finds herself thrust into a world and a life she never wanted.

James Sackett may be Silas Ballantyne's right-hand man, and the best river captain of the Ballantyne fleet, but he has no business falling in love with his boss's granddaughter... and he knows it. Not only was he not born to nobility, he has a price on his head.

The characters are deep, believable, and soon become the reader's friends. Struggles, twists, villains, danger, love... plenty to keep the pages turning. I highly recommend this book!

This is the third book I've read by Laura Frantz and this is the third one I've given 5 stars. Here are my reviews of The Colonel's Lady and Courting Marrow Little.

Sep 3, 2014

A Light in the Wilderness

A Light in the WildernessA Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While reading through this I kept thinking how "real" the story was. Well researched and plausible, the characters fleshed out, with strengths and weaknesses, and understandable motivations. Then I read the epilogue and learned that it is based on a true story. Well. Duh.

Jane Kirkpatrick brings to life the story of Letitia Carson. Born a slave and later freed, Letitia navigates the unsettled landscape of pre-Civil War America. Moved from Kentucky to Missouri, she finds a place with Davey Carson. Together they make the trek westward to the Oregon Territory. At each point along the way, Letitia struggles to overcome not only physical hardship, but deep-seated prejudice. Yet she also finds friendship - and love - on the raw frontier.

Not a cozy read, this book takes us deeper into the growing pains of our nation. It also unleashes the hardships faced by women on the frontier. This is not a romance white-wash of the journey. This is gritty, sometimes ugly, but also inspiring as we watch the characters grow and change with the rugged countryside.

Aug 28, 2014

A New Day Rising

A New Day Rising (Red River of the North, #2)A New Day Rising by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm sold on this series! It reminds me of the old TV mini-series, Centennial, that was so popular in the 1970s. A true saga of a family with all their trials and triumphs.

This is book 2 and it's every bit as good as the first one. Ingeborg Bjorklund is an easy heroine to love. She's no one-dimensional stick figure. Complicated and complex, she's a little bit of most of the women I know and admire. After the heartbreak and spiritual renewal in book 1, I was thrilled to cheer her on as she continued to scratch a living out of the thick North Dakota sod.

I love finding a series like this that is more than a decade old and completely written. No waiting for the next book to be published! Highly recommend... and moving on to book 3.

Aug 21, 2014

An Untamed Land

An Untamed Land (Red River of the North, #1)An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I'm reading the series on the recommendation - and loan - from a friend. But wow... I didn't expect the grittiness within these pages.

The raw emotions, the struggles, the realities of life with no sugar coating to glaze them over. This is powerful reading. It's the type of book where you want to have the next one in the series sitting next to you when you finish the one you're reading. This isn't a simple "happily ever after" type of story. It more real than that.

I highly recommend this book to people who like historical fiction, well researched and true to its time period. Set in North Dakota in the 1880s, Lauraine Snelling paints a picture of hardship, sacrifice, and triumph over the untamed prairie. But it's not without cost.

Ingeborg Bjorklund immigrates from Norway with her husband, his son, his brother and sister-in-law. They make their way to the plains of North Dakota and find a land that will work as hard to break them as they work to tame the land.

Aug 16, 2014

The Lady and the Officer

The Lady and the Officer (Civil War Heroines #2)The Lady and the Officer by Mary Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read several of Mary Ellis's books and this one is my favorite so far. A touching depiction of the Civil War from a woman's point of view, it centers on divided loyalties.

Madeline Howard is a widow, left alone when her Union soldier husband was killed at the beginning of the war. During the battle of Gettysburg, she is rescued by a handsome Union soldier from her burning home. Sparks fly between them that have nothing to do with the fire.

With little more than the clothes on her back, Madeline makes her way to her closest relatives. . .in the Confederate capitol of Richmond.

Very enjoyable story with strong, likable characters. I highly recommend this one!

Aug 7, 2014

One Nation

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's FutureOne Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future by Ben Carson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book. I decided to read it based on interviews I'd read and heard from Dr. Carson. Every time the man opens his mouth, common sense falls out. I wanted to know more.

The book is a collection of Dr. Carson's thoughts on today's hot-button issues. He pulls no punches and takes no prisoners, discussing everything from political correctness to Washington in-fighting and everything in between. He offers practical - common sense - ways to look at the issues and suggests strategies - common sense - to deal with them.

This isn't a bash-and-dash-to-the-polls type of book. It's a thoughtful look at what it's going to take to move past the morass that is our current political system. Dr. Carson offers hope. It's a refreshing read for that alone.

I'm tickled pink and every other color I can think of to know that Dr. Carson is considering a run for the White House. We need common sense in Washington again. It's been a long, long time.

Jul 31, 2014

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake MethodHow to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Randy Ingermanson presents his Snowflake Method of plotting a story by... telling a story. Filled with characters you'll recognize from childhood, Randy's story follows a wannabe writer's journey to completing her manuscript. As the heroine attends a writer's conference, we learn along with her as she slugs through a couple of classes before landing in the Snowflake Method class. Put on the hot seat, she learns - and we learn through her - how to craft a novel by taking it 10 steps at a time.

Entertaining and helpful. I can't say I learned anything new, but I am intrigued to try some of the ways Randy applies the principles he lays out in the story. Worth the cost of the e-book for sure.