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 Witches’ Tree

The Witches' TreeAuthor: M.C. Beaton

Series: Agatha Raisin

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Readers of the Agatha Raisin series find their heroine PR exec and private detective happy to be at a really interesting case instead of her of-late cases of divorces and lost cats.  This time, she is investigating a murder: a woman is found hanged in a tree called the Witches’ Tree.  Late at night, on the way home from a dinner party, the new vicar and his lovely wife are returning to their Cotswolds village when they see the elderly spinster hanging there. At first they think it is clearly a suicide, but as Agatha and her team do some investigating, they realize that it is actually a murder.  While investigating the death of this lady, several other people turn up dead, and an attempt is even made on Agatha’s life.  Doing her best to solve the mystery while contemplating hanging up her detective’s hat, Agatha finds trouble, adventure, and lots of buried secrets along the way.

Written as the next in a long Agatha Raisin series, The Witches’ Tree is the perfect mystery for Halloween time.  It has real-life witches, several deaths, and sinister characters at every turn.  The weather is cold and dreary, adding to the setting of the crimes.  Reading the book immediately puts one in the mood for a good blanket, a cup of hot beverage, and a few uninterrupted hours to sit back and enjoy an autumn day.  The characters provide constant banter and even romantic tension to keep things interesting.

While the book is interesting and fun, because of the large cast of characters and the intricate plotlines from previous stories, it is very difficult to keep track of everything.  At some points I had to stop and research who each person was so I could understand the part he or she played in the story.  For this reason, it is not necessarily a great stand-alone book.  Surely faithful readers of the Agatha Raisin series will know the many tertiary characters and will find the story and everyone to be delightful.

Other than the confusion I felt at trying to keep the characters and storylines straight, the story itself was fun and moved quickly.  I enjoyed the new characters as well as some who had been around for a while.  I would recommend this book to mystery lovers and to those who just love a good story with witty banter.  There were some sexual situations and profanity that may be off-putting, so this book is recommended for mature readers.

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.

RE-W-OR-D-A-BLE

RewordableSo, typically I post about books, occasionally a few other things as well, but today I want to share with you this new game that was brought to my attention.  Rewordable is a fast paced game that can be played with several players and is really easy to pick up.  It is kind of like scrabble and boggle all mixed together, but easier and more attentive for young players.  By young, I mean likely junior high age.  It does say 8 and up, but some of the word sorting in your mind is a little easier with an expanded vocabulary.  At first, the fold out page of instructions was a little intimidating, but just hopping in to learn it seemed to be the best way to go.

I can say that it has helped my seven year old with some of his vocabulary and critical thinking skills for how words come together.  We like to play games as a family and this seemed like a good fit since we all like to read.  Don’t be afraid to try it out.  You might be surprised!

I received a complimentary set of this game from the manufacturer.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Doll Funeral

The Doll FuneralAuthor: Kate Hamer

Publisher: Meville House

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A strange, interesting tale that will leave readers deep in the woods of the story and not wanting to come out.

When Ruby turns thirteen she gets what she has wanted all her life, finding out her parents are not her real mother and father. Ruby makes it her mission to find her real parents and get out from under the abuse she has suffered her entire life.  Ruby sets off into the forest with her imaginary friend she calls Shadow boy and finds a group of siblings who have been living alone and welcome her to join them.  The longer she spends with them, the more she realizes they need her as much as she needs them and the reasons make it difficult to determine what is real and what is not.  Told from Ruby’s time and point of view and also that of her mother when she first became pregnant, The Doll Funeral is a tale that will engage the imagination and leave the reader wondering long after the last page.

This is a book that is very compelling, confusing and entertaining all at the same time. Ruby is a girl that sees much more than most her own age.  Ruby has an imaginary friend that helps her along the way with the troubles she goes through.  This relationship helps the story along giving the reader much more insight into the mindset of the characters.  All the characters in this book go on a very emotional journey and the writing brings the reader along to feel each of the emotions as the character experiences them.  Going back and forth between the timeline of Ruby and her mother shows how the actions of one trickles down to affect others.  A back and forth timeline can sometimes be a difficult thing to write but Kate Hamer has done an excellent job giving this duel timeline taking the story forward and engaging the reader.  There were a few pages throughout that I skimmed through to get back to the story but overall not much was to be missed.  This is a story I will recommend to readers that enjoy a thriller with a little bit of the supernatural sprinkled in throughout.

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

Another Man’s Ground

Another mans groundAuthor: Claire Booth

Series: Sheriff Hank Worth #2

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: July 2017

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Sheriff Hank Worth and his friends and family, along with some new characters, are back in Another Man’s Ground.  Just as Hank is in the midst of his campaign to be elected Sheriff, he is called to what seems to be a simple, and almost silly, theft case.  Vern Miles has called Hank because all of the bark has been stripped off his slippery elm trees, and he has been selling the bark to herbalists for its medicinal properties.  Since Vern has inherited the old family homestead, he has been selling the bark to pay the property taxes until he can decide what to do with the property itself.  However, as Hank walks the property to investigate, he comes across someone stuck in a crevice.  It turns out to be an illegal immigrant worker, but additionally, the worker has fallen onto a body.  The forensics tell Hank that the person died at someone else’s hand, so now he has a homicide to contend with.  Using his wits and relying on his faithful team to help him solve the crime, Hank gets more than he bargained for when family secrets come out and a local family dynasty falls.

This is the second in the Hank Worth series, and I have read both.  I really enjoyed the first one for its setting in Branson, MO, not the most typical location for a book.  The scenery and characters speak to me and to many readers because they are regular people.  Hank refuses to be bought and just wants to do his job and spend time with his family.  This second book, I must say, is even better than the first.  The characters are developed more, and are given more opportunities to shine.  The setting this time is summer in a woods, which gives a lot more possibility to crime and excitement.  Having a “good old boy” selling to natural medicine companies is unusual, but that makes the story all the more fun.  Throw in generations of a family that is so feared in the county that nobody will challenge them, let alone investigate them for a crime, and you have the makings of a great read.  As mentioned before, the book is the second of a series, but each could be read alone and appreciated with ease.  My hope is that there will be at least a book three, if not more.  It is refreshing to read a book in which the main character is witty but not out to be a hero and cannot be bought by local politicians.

I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy a good mystery, whether murder or otherwise.  This book has a lot of action and excitement, and even a few twists that keep it interesting until the very last page.  There is some strong profanity that may be offensive to some readers, but it is used sparingly and not unnecessarily.  Otherwise, the story is a great read for mature teens and up.

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