Monday, September 4, 2023

He Should Have Told the Bees by Amanda Cox REVIEWED

About the Book: 

Beekeeper Beckett Walsh was living her dream, until her father's death sent her world into a tailspin. She suddenly finds she must deal with a new part owner of the family apiary--one who is looking to sell the property--and she cannot fathom why her father would put her in the position to lose everything they built together.

When Callie Peterson is named in the trust of a man she's never heard of, she's not sure what to do. Her fledgling business has just taken wing and her mother has reentered her life asking for help, making Callie's financial situation rather . . . precarious. She's sure she has no right to someone else's farm, but the money from the sale could solve her problems and give her the stability she's always craved.

With an entangled past behind them and an uncertain future ahead, Beckett and Callie must discover why they've been thrown together before all is lost. 

My Review:

"While there are some pungent smells, it smells like life here.  I don't know how to explain it, but it's different."  (p. 149)

When Callie spoke these words to Beckett, she never dreamed how truth laden those words would turn out to be!  I came to love and appreciate both young women in this novel, as well as the cast of characters that Amanda Cox uses to tell their story.  I never dreamed that this novel would tell the story that it did, and that it would impact my own life story is such a meaningful way!

Both Callie and Beckett struggle with having to share their lives with someone suddenly thrust into it by Samuel Walsh's untimely death.  As the story unfolds, each character presents her own unique circumstances that pull at your heart strings.  Neither of these young women have had an easy life experience, and when sorting through grief and loss - from very different standpoints - it was hard to imagine that any of this would or could end well.

Amanda Cox threw a few red herrings along the way that kept me guessing, and, once revealed, keep me reading!  There are many layers to this story, and if you skip any of it, you'll be so sorry you missed the journey!  Callie and Beckett couldn't be more different, but the similarities of what they long for in life are beautifully and almost prophetically captured in Callie's fist impression of Walsh Farm.  It did smell like life to her, but she could have never dreamed how much healing those sights and sounds would bring to her life!

I encourage you to make time for this story in your life!  The novel is beautifully written, and you'll be thinking of the characters long after you read the final words!  You'll learn a lot about bees, the human heart, and how God weaves it all together in unimaginable ways!  Happy reading!

About the Author:

Amanda Cox is the author of The Edge of Belonging and The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery, both of which were the Christy Award Book of the Year in 2021 and 2022, respectively. She holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling, but her first love is communicating through story. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband and their three children. Learn more at

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Long March Home by Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee REVIEWED

 About the Book:

Inspired by true stories, The Long March Home is a gripping coming-of-age tale of friendship, sacrifice, and the power of unrelenting hope.

Jimmy Propfield joined the army for two reasons: to get out of Mobile, Alabama, with his best friends Hank and Billy and to forget his high school sweetheart, Claire.

Life in the Philippines seems like paradise--until the morning of December 8, 1941, when news comes from Manila: Imperial Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours, the teenage friends are plunged into war as enemy warplanes attack Luzon, beginning a battle for control of the Pacific theater that will culminate with a last stand on the Bataan Peninsula and end with the largest surrender of American troops in history.

What follows will become known as one of the worst atrocities in modern warfare: the Bataan Death March. With no hope of rescue, the three friends vow to make it back home together. But the ordeal is only the beginning of their nearly four-year fight to survive.

My Thoughts:

"If we have to run - if we have to swim off this island - we're getting through this.  The three of us - all home alive.  that's our only aim from here on out"  (p. 131)

The Philippines is not a typical location that comes to mind when you think of WW II.  Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee have made sure I will never forget the price many men paid to defend our country - to bravely defend each other - and fight for years to survive the most horrific circumstances imaginable.  Yes, I said years.  Prisoners of war were captured and held for years in the Philippines!

The Bataan Death March has been carefully woven throughout the life story of three young me - Jimmy, Hank and Billy - all from Mobile, Alabama.  This is a coming of age story like none I've ever read, and, I must be honest, it was a hard read. This story brought to lives of these three young men to vivid reality - their hearts filled with such life despite many personal challenges!  They did what so many did during the early 40's and served their country - never imagining what horror war would hold.

Honestly, it was only because the life experiences were interwoven so skillfully between the brutality of war, that I was able to keep reading.  This story wrapped my heart around the three main characters and then ripped it out! This is an unforgettable story in every sense of the word!  You will laugh, you will cry, and you will leave its pages forever changed! I am happy to recommend this book to everyone who reads!! 

About the Authors:

Marcus Brotherton is the New York TimesUSA TodayPublishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books that have been called "fascinating," "brilliantly arranged," "magical," and "refreshingly frank."

Tosca Lee is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 novels, including The Line Between, The Progeny, The Legend of Sheba, and Iscariot. Lee's work has been praised as "deeply human," "powerful," and "mind-bending historical fiction."

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Saturday, April 1, 2023

After The Shadows by Amada Cabot REVIEWED

About the Book:

A brighter future awaits--if she can escape the shadows of the past

Emily Leland sheds no tears when her abusive husband is killed in a bar fight, but what awaits her back home in Sweetwater Crossing is far from the welcome and comfort she expected. First she discovers her father has died under mysterious circumstances. Then the house where the handsome new schoolteacher, Craig Ferguson, and his son are supposed to board burns, leaving them homeless. When Emily proposes turning the family home into a boardinghouse, her sister is so incensed that she leaves town.

Alone and broke, her family name sullied by controversy, Emily is determined to solve the mystery of her father's death--and to aid Craig, despite her fears of men. The widowed schoolmaster proves to be a devoted father, an innovative teacher, and an unexpected ally. As they work to uncover the truth, they just may find the key to unlock a future neither could have imagined.

My Thoughts:

"I'm trying to protect you," she said.  (p. 289)

This one, five-word sentence, encapsulates so much about the nuances of this story!  Amanda Cabot is one of my favorite authors simply because she seamlessly weaves multiple story lines together that it takes your breath away when everything comes together!  

When I first started to read this novel, I thought I knew the direction it would take based solely on the relationships with the main family -  Emily Leland and her sisters - and their relationship with the community of Sweetwater Crossing.  That, in itself, was going to be a great read. However, Cabot takes that one thread and weaves in in and out among the life of a grieving widower and his son, the drama of mysterious circumstances around the death of Emily's father, a new pastor coming to town to name just a few!  Everyone in this town is keeping secrets, and that fact alone keeps them blind to a very dangerous presence in their midst!

I could not put this book down!  Every time I thought I was close to figuring out what was going on, Cabot would throw something else in and I'd go off in another direction!  The bottom line is that this novel kept me entertained from first page to last, dealt realistically with timeless issues that need never be hidden, and weaves everything together in a believable and heart-tugging way that will cause you to pause and remember the folks in your own life that are real and truly life-giving.

Thank you, Amanda Cabot, for such a GREAT novel!  I anxiously await the next! 

About the Author: 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of After the Shadows, as well as several historical and contemporary romance series, including Mesquite Springs, Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz REVIEWED

About the Book:

In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley's father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Blythe quietly awaits the crowning of a new king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with her maid in tow. He has his own problems--a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

In this whirlwind of intrigue, ambitions, and shifting alliances, Blythe yearns for someone she can trust. But the same forces that draw her and Everard together also threaten to tear them apart.

My Thoughts:

"Lady Hedley would nae more agree to wed me than she would the pirate Blackbeard" (p. 186)

Everard Hume becomes Lord Welderburn upon the death of his father, but Lady Blythe Headley sees naught but a prison guard keeping her locked away from life and liberty.  However, the fact that her own father has placed her in hiding for her safety keeps her willing to stay on in a Scottsman's castle. She remains in willful denial that a war between Catholic Jacobites and Protestants bode ill for all that brush up against its growing tumult - up until it explodes into her own life!

Lady Blythe's world is abruptly upended, so I found it easy to believe she would barely tolerate being hidden away from the world for long.  A learned scholar in her own right, her mind is quick to intuit ways to break out of her imposed solitude.  Once she does, she wins the hearts of all she meets - with the lone exception of the traitor among the family.

This novel moves believably and rapidly from scene to scene - chapter to chapter! Lovers of historic fiction/romance will literally devour this book!  Everard and Blythe are the perfect focal point of the story, and their relationship unfolds as tempestuously as the rebellion building in the world around them.  Orin, one of Everard's many brothers, makes a sweet counterpoint to all the mystery and intrigue that swirls about him!  Laura Franz never ceases to amaze me!! Bravo!!

About the Author:

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Lacemaker, and A Heart Adrift. She is a proud mom of an American soldier and a career firefighter. A direct descendent of George Hume of Wedderburn Castle, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion, Laura lives with her husband in Washington State. Learn more at

Friday, October 28, 2022

Jar of Pennies by John Yearwood

 About the Book:

In the summer of 1979, the small town of Whitmire Texas—deep in the eastern piney woods of the state—is rocked by a series of murders None of the victims knew one another, none lived close by. A police chief floats to the surface of a lake, hooked on a trot line; a divorcing wife apparently overdoses on illegal drugs; the skeletons of a young mother and her three-year-old toddler are found near an abandoned barn; a Congressman is murdered in a shoot-out at his home, which also claims the lives of two drug pushers from Houston and a used car dealer. 

The sleepy private town of Whitmire is terrified and the town's newspaper publisher is determined to bring the mystery to a resolution. BoMac—short for Beaufort Sebastian Maclean—is a young University of Virginia dropout devoted to journalism and committed to chronicling the life of the little community. He takes the publishing job at the weekly Whitmire Standard very seriously, pouring his life into a job that demands he not only write the news but also take the photos and sell the ads. In the fraught atmosphere of Whitmire where daily routines are thrown off kilter by the unknown terror, he keeps his eyes open and finally spots a jar of pennies: the evidence that clenches the death sentence for the killer.

About the Author:

Former stringer for the New York Times, John Yearwood taught in high schools and universities for 30 years, and was an award-winning journalist for 15 years. He has published hundreds of editorials and columns and thousands of news stories, as well as academic works on the First Amendment and the extra-Constitutional powers of the Presidency during times of crisis. After retiring in 2012, he now volunteers helping elementary students improve their reading skills, and assisting refugee immigrants when he is not writing. 

He is the author of The Icarus Series: The Icarus Jump, The City and the Gate and The Gender of Fire; as well as The Lie Detector App, which is set in modern California and follows the unfolding life of a genius kid who creates apps for the smartphone, and discovers there is truth everywhere if you know how to look; and Jar of Pennies, a historical and cultural crime fiction novel set in a small town in East Texas. John lives in Austin with his wife and two small dogs.

Get to know John! John Yearwood

My Thoughts:  (Very bried)

I made an effort to engage with this story.  However, chapter after chapter the story began to FEEL like pennies in a jar....totally separate thoughts piled one on top of another, filling a book with pages but remaining separate and unconnected.  I could not engage.  I tried.  The concept appealed to me when I read the synopsis, but, for me at least, failed to deliver a cohesive narrative.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

You Wonder all the Time by Deborah Farmer Kris Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin REVIEWED

About the Book:

This affirming book celebrates curiosity and the thought-provoking questions children ask.

“Where do colors go at night, and why do shadows creep?” You Wonder All the Time celebrates curiosity and the thought-provoking questions children ask and supports them as they continue to learn. “Will you stay curious as you grow? It’s a brilliant part of you!” 

Asking questions is an important part of learning that helps children grow and understand the world. Inspired by and containing questions from real kids, You Wonder All the Time explores and affirms all the questions children ask. The book features a series of engaging, playful, and curious what, when, where, why, and how questions from the child to the adult. “What if we rode a T-Rex and shook the forest floor?” 

Its charming rhyme and heartwarming message that children’s many questions are welcomed and their wondering is loved make the book perfect for storytime, home, and the preschool classroom.

My Thoughts:

I was blessed to raise two very curious boys to adulthood, and I totally related to the words on the next to the last page:  "The world is full of questions, so I will ask one too.  will you stay as curious as you grow? It's a brilliant part of you!"  I think every adult who is blessed to either have children of their own, or contribute to the life of a growing child is as wonder-filled as they are just to watch them discover the world and all that it holds for their imagination!

I had a Mom who read to me from the very beginning of my life, and I think books like this one add so much to a child's ability to discover and explore their world, because they learn to love books and reading.  Books like this one open their minds, hearts and imagination to be free to discover and learn all about the mystery of life!

I look forward to sharing this book with the little ones in my life!!

About the Author:

Deborah Farmer Kris is a child development expert and parent educator. She serves as a columnist and consultant for PBS KIDS, and she writes for NPR’s MindShift and other national publications. Over the course of her career, Deborah has taught almost every grade K–12, served as a school administrator, directed leadership institutes, and presented to hundreds of parents and educators around the United States. Deborah and her husband live in Massachusetts with their two kids—who love to test every theory she’s ever had about child development. Mostly, she loves sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive. You can learn more at


Monday, July 25, 2022

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold REVIEWED

 About the Book:

A throwaway assignment is about to change two lives forever

Aidyn Kelley is talented, ambitious, and ready for a more serious assignment than the fluff pieces she's been getting as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. In her eagerness, she pushes too hard, earning herself the menial task of writing an obituary for an unremarkable woman who's just entered hospice care.

But there's more to Clara Kip than meets the eye. The spirited septuagenarian may be dying, but she's not quite ready to cash it in yet. Never one to shy away from an assignment herself, she can see that God brought the young reporter into her life for a reason. And if it's a story Aidyn Kelley wants, that's just what Mrs. Kip will give her--but she's going to have to work for it.

My Thoughts:

"We can all attest to your thousands of extraordinary deaths."  (p, 331)

Aiden Kelly speaks these words after an unexpected assignment from her editor to write someone's obituary.  I think I was as surprised, if not more so, than the main character to discover the depth and breath of a persons life.  Clara Kip became a person I'll never forget, because she represents many spiritual giants that I'm privileged to know who gave of themselves as selflessly as Mrs. Kip.  

This is a story of self discovery in so many ways!  Mrs. Kip is discovering what it's like to walk her final journey in her mortal body, and Aiden Kelley is learning that her life holds endless possibility.  No one will leave this story unchanged, because the reader is made to pause and consider how much goes on in the lives of others that is missed if not taken time to uncover.  Relationships can impact lives no matter how brief the interaction, and that is a lesson I hope never to take for granted.

I was hesitant to read this book, because my Mom passed away a few weeks ago.  Her time in hospice care changed my life forever, and I was able to relate to both of the main characters in very real ways! I'm in my own season of discovery and growth just as Aiden was in the book, and My Mom and Mrs. Kip were strikingly similar in the way they loved others. This is a PRECIOUS novel, and one I will read again.  I recommend this book to everyone who wants to experience an unexpected gift of relationship unfolding right before their eyes!  This novel is a treasure!!!

About the Author:

Sara Brunsvold creates stories that speak hope, truth, and life. Influenced by humble women of God who find his fingerprints in the everyday, she does the same in her life and her storytelling. Sara's recognitions include the 2020 ACFW Genesis Award for Contemporary Fiction. She lives with her family in Kansas City, Missouri, where she can often be spotted writing at a park or library. Learn more at