Month: March 2015

Available tomorrow: Meadowlands

Available April 1st:  Meadowlands by Elizabeth Jeffrey

**2.5/5 stars- it was ok, but something was missing

An aristocratic English family weathers the changes wrought by the Great War.

Recommended readers

  • Readers of World War I lit
  • Downton Abbey fans
  • Suckers for a family drama

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 2.5/5 for characters
  • 2.5/5 for plot
  • 2.5/5 overall


Meadowlands traces the lives of the four Barsham siblings through the great sea change of  the Great War in England, hitting every major social justice issue of the era along the way. The result is a bit jumbled and distant, falling short of the billed  “saga,” but a pleasant and quick read all the same.


Available soon on Amazon




Clean Reader App

Does the f-word ever throw off your reading experience? Or do you have a young reader in your house and want to ensure age appropriate content? cleanreader1

Clean Reader app is available on both Android and iOS and tries to clean up strong language in books. With three filter levels from mild censorship to the original book, Clean Reader find offensive words like bitch to lesser versions like witch. They can take words describing a woman’s body parts and change it to “bottom”.

Some authors are upset that the app changes their original work (Read comments from authors on CNET). But the makers say the app leaves the work original, but just changes what’s displayed on the screen, according to the CNET article.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Clean Reader App. Add your comments below.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Available this week: At the Water’s Edge: A Novel

*****5/5 starssgruen-water

Another historically compelling, deeply personal novel by Sara Gruen, At the Water’s Edge is a great read.

Recommended readers:

  • Book clubs
  • Those who like multiple genres in one book – historical, coming of age, romance and more
  • And if you liked Water for Elephants.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 5/5 plot
  • 5/5 overall


From the author of the hugely popular Water for Elephants comes another poignant historical drama: At the Water’s Edge. Maddy, a carefree and somewhat lackadaisical wife, and her husband, young socialite Ellis, have burnt all the bridges they have in Philadelphia with carelessness and drinking. Now Ellis and his best friend, both who have avoided being drafted into the war, decide to earn a name for themselves chasing the Loch Ness Monster – dragging Maddy with them to Scotland.

The Scottish Highlands provide a perfect WWII setting and an distinctive supporting cast. At the Water’s Edge has the perfect mix of plot, characters and prose, not to mention a multi-genre appeal from history and romance to women’s lit or coming of age stories. Gruen has a knack for writing historically compelling, deeply personal novels that leave a mark.

Available on Amazon: At the Water’s Edge: A Novel

Review: Daughter of the Regiment

Available today: Daughter of the Regiment

***3.5/5 stars

A Civil War romance with depth, Daughter of the Regiment is a great read.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like Civil War Fiction
  • If you like a taste of American history through a romance

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 3.5/5 overall
  • 2/5 steaminess


Typical American History recounts the Civil War from two separate sides, and Stephanie Grace Whitson tells a great PG-romance from the view of two women in Missouri stuck at opposite ends of the conflict. Maggie, the only female in the Malone Irish-immigrant family, has two brothers who have joined the Union.  In contrast, Elizabeth Blair has served as hostess for her wealthy brother, who’s political ambitions drive him to create a local militia for the Confederacy. I love the female perspective of a usually male dominated war – and paired with the contrasting women make this a romance with historical depth.

Available on Amazon: Daughter of the Regiment

Review: Breath of Scandal by Sandra Brown

Available Now: Breath of Scandal

****2.5/5 stars

Get ready for another gritty, fast paced thriller from Sandra Brown, but beware sensitive readers.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like books you just can’t put down
  • If you like a good modern-day suspense
  • If you’re a fan of Sandra Brown

Here’s my Rankings:


In Breath of Scandal, the now-successful Jade Sperry returns to her southern hometown to face those who stole her innocence years before. Typical of Brown’s works, the story is well written and fast-paced. But while the topic benefits from her deft handling, it was descriptive well beyond the scope I expected of teenage sexuality and downfall to be a book enjoyed.

Available on Amazon: Breath of a Scandal

Review: Angels at the Gate

Available this month: Angels at the Gate

****4.5/5 stars

Angels at the Gate is a fascinating adventure-romance and culturally powerful portrayal of early Biblical times.

Recommended readers:

  • If you enjoy learning about women in the Bible
  • Anyone who wants a realistic portrayal of early Biblical times
  • Looking for culture, adventure and a touch of romance

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 4/5 plot
  • 4.5/5 overall


As daughter (disguised as a boy) to her desert wonderer-merchant father, Adira has had a hard-working but protected life in her father’s caravan. When two Northmen – one mysterious, one friendly and charming – join the caravan, Adira is swept into a new life based on survival, selfish-ambition and love. Angels at the Gate brings Biblical times to life, albeit fictionally, and puts a realistic play on the early story of Abraham and Lot in Genesis. I particularly enjoyed how T.K. Thorne portrays the challenges of a woman during the early Biblical times. It’s a fabulous plot driven story of adventure and culture with a touch of romance.

Note: It’s interesting to read this along with excerpts from Genesis. While Angels at the Gate is fiction, it has some factual inclusions and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times – as noted in the back of the book.

Available on Amazon: Angels at the Gate

Review: Magnolia City

Available now: Magnolia City by Duncan W. Alderson

***3.5/5 stars

In the setting of high-society, oil- rich Houston, Hetty Allen has wealth, boredom, and sass, and two men on her tail.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like southern lit,
  • if you like just a bit of danger in a self-made man,
  • and if you like a throw-back romantic novel (not to be confused with romance novel) written by a man, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3.5/5 for characters
  • 3.5/5 for plot
  • 3.5/5 overall


Magnolia City is really two books in one: the first, a choice; the second, all the consequences and fulfillillment of a dream.  Together, this one has a bit of everything, from romance, family secrets, a quest, and a love triangle, to a touch of magical realism, a la old Mexico. Interesting characters, great storytelling, and most of all, rendering of a sense of a place in certain time of expectation.

Magnolia City is available on Amazon and through Oyster books.

Review: The Sweetness of Forgetting

Available now: The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

***3.5/5 stars

In this classic tale of present meets past, a struggling bakery owner learns that her family’s World War II legacy stretches far beyond her imagining. (Bonus: there’s recipes!)

Recommended readers:

  • If you like a bit of chic lit in your historical fiction,
  • If you could use a classic heart warmer,
  • And if you like to bake, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3.5/5 characters
  • 3.5/5 plot
  • 3.5/5 overall


The Sweetness of Forgetting is weaved by a gifted storyteller, making something that could be simple chic lit a nice plot and character- driven page turner. I won’t spoil the story’s unfolding with a summary of the engaging premise that drives the story at the outset, and though it does run a bit trite in the end,  it is overall a nice, heartwarming read.

Available on Amazon: The Sweetness of Forgetting

Review: The Book Thief

Available now: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

*****5/5 stars

Don’t be put off by the young adult category or the experimental format: this one is worth your time.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re open to experimental fiction and alternate formats,
  • If you’re looking for something new and utterly original in Halocaust literature,
  • And if you hope to be completely undone by a book once in a while, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 5/5 plot
  • 5/5 overall


“Brilliant” and “life-changing” boasts the cover, and I’m not sure I can do much better, except maybe to add life-affirming.  The Book Thief is uniquely narrated by a powerless Death, who must pause in his work–mandated by far reach of World War II– to notice one little girl and tell her story.  Overall, the takeaway is this: in an era when it’s difficult to keep up with books before they get made into a movie, this one is worth catching.  It’s disheartening and uplifting all at the same time, and it stays with you long after the last page is turned.

Available on Amazon: The Book Thief