All She Left Behind

All She Left BehindAuthor: Jane Kirkpatrick

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As always, great historical fiction based on factual events!

Jennie Pickett’s life has taught her how to become a healer using natural herbs. She loves to help people with their ailments and longs to become a doctor.  But in the Oregon Frontier of the 1870s, professional life for a woman has not yet become a reality.  So, when she has the opportunity to take care of an elderly woman, she takes it.  But after her patient dies, Jennie discovers that she has developed a romantic interest in the widowed husband, who is several years older than her.  However, he may be able to open doors to where she could become a professional healer.

The prologue of this book had me hooked. I was ready to find out what happened immediately after reading that only to find that I had to fill in a few gaps first.  Kirkpatrick is a master of historical fiction based on actual events and it appears that she is a fan of the Oregon frontier as well.  Having read her previous novel The Road We Traveled, I knew some of what to expect on her research, which also makes me research.  For historical fiction lovers, pick up a copy of this one!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Return

The ReturnAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Amish Beginnings #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Faith, struggle, and history set the tone for this series!

Several years have passed since Bairn and Anna were wed and they now have a fifteen year old daughter, Tessa. Tessa is smitten with Bairn’s adopted brother Hans, but he is taken by lovely Betsy Zook.  Things drastically change when colony that Betsy’s family lives in is massacred by the local Indians.  Betsy’s parents are murdered and she is taken captive to an Indian family who lost a daughter the same age as her.  As she struggles to adjust to her captive lifestyle, she meets a half blood Indian named Caleb who inspires her to look beyond her struggles and make the most of her life.  Meanwhile, Hans burns with revenge to destroy those who took Betsy, but must subside his anger due to his church’s passiveness.  He finds comfort in Tessa, who helps him through this tough time.  But what would happen if Betsy were returned to their colony?

There was plenty of conflict throughout this book sprinkled with historical characters. This is what has made this series so interesting.  Set in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War, notable characters from history continue to make their appearance including Benjamin Franklin and John Elder.  It is like living through a history lesson through an Amish looking glass.  And to throw in the development of the Conestoga wagon made it even more fun to read.  The author did a great job on her research in both this book and the series.  If you are interested in this time period, this is a must read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

These Healing Hills

These Healing hillsAuthor: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Delightful, historical romance at it’s best.

Francine Howard has a plan for her life. She is promised to a young soldier off to fight in the second great war.  But things have a way of changing when least expected, especially when she receives a letter saying that he has falling in love with someone else in Europe and plans to remain there.  Reeling from this shock, Francine must figure out what to do with her life now.  She decides to move to the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky and join the Frontier Nursing Service.  And as always, plans change when she meets another young soldier home from the horrors of war.

I love Ann Gabhart’s cozy mystery series, but have never tried one of her historical novels. So, I got the chance and gave it a try.  Her descriptive settings brings the beauty of the Kentucky Hills to life.  I have read several books set in the Appalachians during this time frame, but this one by far takes me there the best.  I also really enjoyed the history that Gabhart brought for the Frontier Nursing Service.  I hadn’t read about this before and as with any great historical fiction novel, I found myself researching as much as I could about it as I read along.  Terrific read for lovers of historical fiction and those looking to give it a try.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

To Wager Her Heart

To Wager Her HeartAuthor: Tamera Alexander

Series: Belle Meade Plantation #3

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A brilliant work of historical fiction coupled with a meant to be romance sure to consume many readers.

In 1871 Nashville, Alexandra Jamison comes from a high society family that requires her to put her family’s best interest above her own. Two of her older brothers left the state and married to get away from their father, while her third brother perished in the war.  In an effort to make her own life, she fell in love with a scholar that believed in racial equality only to lose him to a train accident at Dutchmen’s Curve just outside of Nashville.  Now with her father intent on marrying her to a wealthy older gentleman, Alexandra makes the decision to leave her family to teach at the freedman’s college Fisk University, but the cost is far greater than she anticipated.

Sylas Rutledge is a young railroad owner from Colorado intent on expanding his rail system by bringing the railroad to General William Harding’s Belle Meade Plantation. But he is going to have to bid against several other railroaders to win.  Being in Nashville brings an emotional torment to Sylas as his father was on his final run as an engineer when he perished in the train wreck of Dutchmen’s Curve and was blamed for the incident.  Intent on clearing his father’s name, Sylas attempts to track down the truth while trying to win the railroad bid.  But Nashville wealth has still not fully accepted racial equality and at what cost will Sylas be willing to make to ensure he wins the railroad bid?

I’m always a little weary when I start third book in a series; however, this is a perfect example of a standalone novel that has no need of a series. I felt immediately drawn into the story and the characters.  The conflict that was introduced almost immediately between Alexandra and Sylas keep the story propelling forward quickly making me want to see what the outcome would be.  Alexandra has her share of hardships and  I can’t begin to imagine what she (and all those who actually encountered) the Dutchmen Curve wreck.  And then to have her father turn his back on her for her beliefs, which I know was not uncommon of that time period.

I immensely enjoyed the setting of Belle Meade Plantation and getting to know some of history’s supporting characters such as Uncle Bob. I also enjoyed that the author referenced other major historical events as well.  I enjoy getting to research what I read as I read it.  My only complaint was that the actual Dutchmen Curve wreck occurred in a different time period, which was acknowledged by the author.  However, I understand that the conflict created between the characters of this even made for a terrific plot.

Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Beautiful Poison

A Beautiful PoisomnAuthor: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Beautifully written historical fiction, yet slightly confusing at times.

Set in Manhattan in 1918, several American soldiers have just returned from World War I and brought home the Spanish influenza with them. As the disease begins its widespread outbreak, Allene recruits her two estranged childhood friends Birdie and Jasper to try and find a cure.  But as the disease begins to affect family and friends, it becomes apparent that this may not be stopped until several more have met their fate.

This was a very fast read that was mostly enjoyable. I always enjoy historical fiction and making it a medical thriller added some suspense.  But there were times that the storyline was a little bit confusing.  There were lots of twist and turns that keep the pages moving, but sometimes didn’t make a lot of sense, especially when I went back to reread how the twist had happened.  Even so, the writing is very well done and the characters finally became more likable the closer you get to the end of the book.  If you are up for something a little different or enjoy the time period that the book is set in, give it a try.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Egypt’s Sister

Egypts SsiterAuthor: Angela Hunt

Series: The Silent Years #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

You’ve heard of Cleopatra, but have you heard of her friend?

Chava is daughter to a Hebrew royal tutor living in Alexandria during the time of Julius Caesar. She has always had the opportunity to spend time at the palace with her friend and princess, Urbi, daughter to Ptolemy.  But when he suddenly passes away, Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra.  No one has heard from Yahweh for over 300 years, but one night Chava clearly hears a message that she will be with the Queen on her best day and her last day and will bless her.  But Chava finds herself in some unfavorable situations with the Queen that ultimately lead to her imprisonment and sale into slavery.  Could she have misheard her mission?  Or is there still hope for her and her family?

I love reading Angela Hunt’s historical fiction novels because she pours so much research into her work that it makes it an amazing read. The amount of history that shines through makes it so interesting.  I’ve always been fascinated with this time period, so needless to say, I enjoyed the book.  However, there are some disturbing sections of the book that represent the way of live in the Roman world during that time that some readers will find difficultly reading.  However, Hunt keeps the read clean and enjoyable throughout.

Chava was an interesting character to get to know. She was extremely naïve throughout much of the first portion of the book, but then had to learn life lessons the hard way.  Even then, she stayed very optimistic despite being used as a pawn in wealthy men’s wars.  She grew and found grace.

I recommend this book to history lovers, especially if you enjoy reading about the life of Cleopatra.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

 

Betrayal at Iga

betrayal.jpgAuthor: Susan Spann

Series: A Shinobi Mystery #5

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is quickly becoming my favorite series!

With Portuguese being evacuated from Kyoto, Hiro must take Father Mateo and his housekeeper Ana with him to Iga, which is the last place he wants to go. Everyone at Iga is trained to be a spy and an assassin, but at least Father Mateo should be safe.  After they arrive, Iga’s leader Hattori Hanzo invites the guest to a feast.  Also arriving at Iga are four emissaries from the nearby Koga clan, which Hanzo hopes to form an alliance with to stand against the new shogun.  During the second meal course, the lead emissary suddenly starts retching and dies shortly thereafter from poison.  Immediately the Koga clan blame Hanzo.  After much deliberation, it is decided that Father Mateo and Hiro have three days to determine who the killer is in order to maintain peace or start a war.  But when everyone is a trained assassin, can anyone be trusted?

I absolutely love this book and this series. These are some of the best stories with the quirkiest characters that I have ever read.  It’s hard to explain, but the way that everyone plays off of each over is masterfully done.  Father Mateo and Hiro’s demeanor is hilarious at times that you can help but laugh out loud.  Add Hiro’s family and it is almost like watching a samurai soap opera unfold.  Finally, Hiro’s past life’s story comes to life that has always been hinted about in the previous books.  We’ve heard about Neko and finally get to meet her.  And his mother and grandmother and some odd characters too, but make the story great.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in this story that I almost forget it is set in 1565. Even so, the historically accuracy is spot on and makes the reader feel like they are right in the middle of it.  I highly recommend this book for mystery lovers and those who just love a good read.  There is some history in the previous books, so I would suggest starting at the beginning, but don’t let that hinder you if you want to start it now!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The comments and views stated in the above review are my own.