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Oct 29, 2014
Believing the Dream (Return to Red River, #2)Believing the Dream by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the Return to Red River series. It picks up where the first book leaves off and sets up the third book. This series has a totally different feel than the original Red River of the North series. It reads more like a soap opera, with all the angst and personal emotional turmoil of that type of story. It lacks the gritty, deeper human struggle, the epic feel of the original series.

The characters are well developed and interesting. The history and setting are well done. The deeper historical issue of the railroads and unions is mentioned but not explored. The focus is much more on the love interests, making it more of a love story although not a traditional romance novel.

Oct 20, 2014
A Dream to Follow (Return to Red River, #1)A Dream to Follow by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series picks up several years after the first Red River of the North series ends. We find the children of the first series graduating and thinking about life after school. The same cast of characters from Blessing are there, plus we meet Elizabeth Rogers from Minnesota. They suffer another death, rejoice over another birth, and continue to farm against the elements of nature.

There isn't much new here. There isn't a lot of compelling conflict with these older versions of the Blessing characters. They certainly don't face the challenges that their parents did. I feel like this book is simply setting up the rest of the Return to Red River series. I'm already starting book 2, Believing the Dream, and hoping it deepens the story.

If you've read the series up until now, you'll feel like you've spent time with old friends.
Oct 14, 2014
Blessing in Disguise (Red River of the North, #6)Blessing in Disguise by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent end to this series! Or is it? Lauraine Snelling completes the stories of the main characters while leaving the door wide open for several more books to follow.

Augusta Bjorklund comes to America to help her mother run the boarding house in Blessing. Against all the advice she gets, she refuses to learn English before she boards the ship. Once on America's shore, she realizes how large the country is - and how non-Norwegian. A mix-up with the trains lands her on a ranch in South Dakota, many miles from her family and anyone who can understand her. But Kane Moyer is more than willing to try.

I liked the way this segment of the series ended. There are so many story lines to pick up on, I'm looking forward to continuing with the Bjorklund clan in the other books Mrs. Snelling has written and will write.
Oct 11, 2014
Tender Mercies (Red River of the North, #5)Tender Mercies by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Bjorklund family continues to branch out and fill the town of Blessing in what is soon to become the state of North Dakota. Besides following the well-known characters, we're also reunited with Mary Martha MacCallister, Zeb's older sister.

While Tender Mercies keeps the story moving, it doesn't rise to the level of the four prior books in the series. It ends very abruptly, and I recommend the reader have book 6 - Blessing in Disguise - close by and ready to read. It feels as if the story will finish there.
Oct 9, 2014
The Bound Heart (The Everstone Chronicles, #2)The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dawn Crandall delivers another beautifully crafted love story set in New England during the Victorian Era. The second installment of the Everstone Chronicles, we follow the lives of Meredyth Summercourt and Lawry Hampton, who we met in the first book, The Hesitant Heiress.

Meredyth Summercourt is waiting to marry Vance Everstone. And she's been waiting a long, long time. Lawry Hampton is her best friend. At least, he was ... before that kiss. And that kiss might have changed everything.

No spoilers here! But if you loved Lawry in The Hesitant Heiress, you're really going to love him in The Bound Heart. Lots of tension, some interesting plot twists, and all of it playing out in the Victorian Era of etiquette and social expectations. Dawn Crandall does a wonderful job of setting the scene and helping the modern reader understand the moral code these characters lived under.

This is one series I would highly recommend be read in order. This story definitely builds off the first story. And now I can't wait for the next book!

NOTE - I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The book is due to release on 11/3/14. Watch for it!
Oct 4, 2014
The Reapers Song (Red River of the North, #4)The Reapers Song by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The saga continues from the North Dakota plains. Lauraine Snelling does an excellent job of keeping the story moving forward, the characters true to the books before, and interesting new characters added to the mix.

Bridget Bjorklund - Ingeborg's first mother-in-law - arrives on the plains. She brings with her a daughter, a nephew, a cousin, and an orphan she collected on the boat from Norway. The Bjorklund houses are filled to capacity.

Zeb MacCallister, a non-Norwegian, rides into town looking for work. A man of secrets with two children not his own, he captures the eye of pretty Katy Bjorklund.

And the town of Blessing takes shape as more of the Bjorklund clan and others move off the farms and into town. But not everything goes off without a hitch. In the land where dangers are many and doctors are few, hardships are unavoidable. Their deep-seated belief in God and the willingness to help each other is all that pulls them through.

Sep 30, 2014
A Land to Call Home (Red River of the North, #3)A Land to Call Home by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ingeborg's youngest brother-in-law, Hjelmer Bjorklund, beat a hasty retreat from their North Dakota homestead in front of an angry father with a shotgun. Confessing his innocence the entire time, he pledges to come home to the girl he loves, Penny Sjornson. But after months without a single letter, the entire family is left wondering if Hjelmer is alive or dead.

Kaaren gives birth to premature twin girls. Her sister, Solveig, is due to arrive, but instead of being helpful with the twins, Solveig is seriously injured in a railroad accident. Everyday life becomes a struggle to survive.

If the railroad would map it's expansion through the Bjorklund's land, life would be so much easier. But will it? And who can find out? Will their tiny corner of the prairie become a real town... or not?