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WILD HORSE SPRINGS: A Novel with Romance and Cowboys ~Jodi Thomas

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

“New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas is a fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. She is a certified marriage and family counselor, a Texas Tech graduate and writer-in-residence at West Texas A&M University. She lives with her husband in Amarillo, Texas.” (TLC website)

WILD HORSE SPRINGS is full of the love of Texas and begins with the beginnings of romance between two couples and the sorting out of a love triangle.  If you like romance this is a good book for you, and I know a number of folks who will truly enjoy this book and the vivid descriptions of Texas wrapped up with the author’s love of the beauty of the countryside.

I received an advance reader’s e-copy of the book and it was missing a cover, table of contents, author’s notes and any acknowledgements.  I can tell that the book was well written and the sentence structure was well constructed.  The dialogues made my mind just hear the drawl and the flavor of the country folks.  My copy also needed a good edit as the typos and misspellings were distracting at times.

I like a good romance and a good horse story (horses were not the main focus) and I thought the story of how a community supported their own and solved a dangerous problem caused by foreigners (not true Texans) and outsiders.  The support was fabulous and went the extra mile when a young boy needs assistance everyone rallies as best as they know how.  When a child is a victim everyone is concerned and does the right thing.

What I found disturbing is that this book promotes small thinking and encourages the reader to remain in small thinking.  There were only 2 characters that could really think and explore outside the 10 year old value-programed capacity.  The Park Ranger was a “follow the rules” person and yet was able to go beyond childhood thinking and explore other possibilities from her vast experiences of her childhood and her parental values.  She was a great character and I felt relief in each of her sections even while she was being “tamed” by a Texas Ranger.  She had depth and capacity not just redundancy and a tired old worldview.

I am not sure I want to promote this book, although a good story and I know my romance readers would truly enjoy it, I feel I need to point out that I do not want to share old, small ideas in this current era.  The book has an underlining current about prejudice and hate that many people will not even note or is so pervasive it will not even bubble into the conscious mind.   The bad, cruel people are totally outsiders and need to be removed from the community before they kill everyone. The Sheriff’s daughter has writer’s block until she comes home to find release in safety, and then there is no indication that her thinking got larger and more diverse; only clarified her relationship feelings – I figured she was going nowhere and I did not find hope in her character only sadness.  Dan and Brandi represented security and safety to so many and I am happy they found love – neither indicated intricate thinking skills but then their love was the central point of the story. I would suggest that WILD HORSE SPRINGS is a cautionary tale.

What we do not acknowledge and recognize is very frightening these days.

A TLC Book Tours Book You will find other reviews of this book at the TLC Link and I am sure most will be very favorable.

Jodi Thomas Website
Jodi Thomas Twitter
Jodi Thomas Facebook

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ECHOES OF FAMILY: A Novel ~Barbara Claypole White

Monday, September 26th, 2016

“A Brit living in North Carolina, Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness.  Her debut novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick.  Her third novel, THE PERFECT SON, was a semifinalist in the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction. (Cover)

Marianne is a mature woman who suffers with Bipolar Disorder and other mental health issues.  She also runs a successful recording studio with her husband Darius and her adoptive daughter Jade.  They all work and enjoy music together on Marianne’s property in North Carolina; there is a state of the art studio.  Marianne has not been suicidal for an extended period of time, but due to a recent car accident she is obsessing about another car accident in which her friend Simon died and she lost her pregnancy.  She believes Simon’s brother Gabriel is taking the blame and she wishes to remedy this problem – right now.

The vast majority of the story takes place in a small British town centered on the historic church where Gabriel is the rector.  Marianne stops taking her medications and sneaks out of her house and off to the UK to help Gabriel truly understand that the car accident was her fault and not his.  They were just 16 at the time.  Marianne also needs to understand why her birth mother rejected her and why her adoptive parents did not reject her.  They did move the family to the United States after the accident and after Marianne had a big “incident” in the community, as mental illness was becoming a new problem.

It does not take long for Jade and Darius to figure out where Marianne has gone and they too are soon part of Gabriel’s life as this family takes over his life, his house and all his time.  There are some wonderful, delightful British characters in the story and as Marianne ends up in a private mental hospital there are connections made, which have interesting consequences.

The story holds the reader’s attention with plenty of details and descriptions and one can certainly identify with the frustrations that mental illness brings to situations.  There are several happy endings and one difficult one to bring the story to a good conclusion.  I liked the included book group question section and there is a great interview with the author included.  A very good read and I am going to suggest it to my book group to add it to the list. A sensitive treatment of Bipolar Disorder and an engaging read.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an e-copy for reading and review.

There is a 100 e-copy giveaway on Goodreads for this book!

Barbara Claypole White On Facebook
Barbara Claypole White Twitter

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FAMILY TREE: A Relationship Story ~Susan Wiggs

Monday, August 15th, 2016

“Susan Wiggs is the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of more than fifty novels, with her books in print in thirty countries.  A native of a small town in upstate New York, she now lives with her husband at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather can commute to her writers’ group in a twenty-one-foot motorboat.  A former teacher and graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard, Susan is also an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier, and cautious mountain biker – yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. (From the book jacket)

FAMILY TREE is just a lovely read and it was such a pleasure to curl up and enjoy each page on a rainy summers day.  The story unfolds in a small rural community in Vermont, on a farm dedicated to Maple Syrup and healthy lifestyles.  Annie is the girl who drives herself to do everything well and is determined to follow her passion into a big career in the media.  She has learned under the careful tutelage of her Grandmother the ‘Art of Baking’ and she has an innate skill for the craft.

FAMILY TREE is a generational story, which includes the art of creating Maple Syrup to the art of building family relationships that grow and do not consume.  There is considerable wisdom shared in the gentle writing style through the school years, college years and into career building.  Will family patterns repeat and continue into future problems?   What will be success for the family, each character and for the community?

I learned a great deal about the small family farmer, the maple sugar industry, distilling and cooking.  The book came complete with recipe cards for some of the amazing meals served up between the pages.  The book is also about persevering and adapting to change happening to and around each of the characters. A very nice study and I am sure many readers will want this story to come true for them selves.

When I leave the movies it takes a minute or two to come back into the present tense.  It is the same with FAMILY TREE.  The story suspends time and relaxes the reader; taking them away from their own life and problems delightfully.  I am sure it is another bestseller in the making and I can recommend it.  I have not made any of the recipes but I did enjoy FAMILY TREE with several cozy cups of tea.

TLC Book Tours sent me a print copy of this book for review.

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BENEATH STILL WATERS: A Novel ~Cynthia A. Graham

Monday, March 7th, 2016

About the Author:

“As a child, Cynthia A. Graham spent every weekend and vacation in the cotton belt of Missouri where she grew to love the mystery and beauty of the stark, delta plane.  Today, Cynthia lives in St. Louis where she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with a B.A. in English.  She has won several awards for her short stories and has been published in both university and national literary publication.  She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild. ~BENEATH STILL WATERS is her first novel.” (Cover)

Hick Blackburn has returned from World War II and has been elected Sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas.  He is having a difficult time returning to his hometown and letting go of the war.  At 22 he is doing his very best, although he is missing his father very much.  His father the Principal of the local school was someone who Hick admired and learned from; his father died while he was off fighting.

In this small town there are lots of stories and as we mature we have to learn to let go of what we learned as a child and see the moments of reality.  This is quite a study of the good and evil within people and how they use their lives to make decisions.

Two young boys fishing at the slough find a headless baby, Sheriff Blackburn has to put all his skills into play to solve this mystery. He does not have computers or databases or even DNA testing.  Who is this child and what is the story behind her death?  This event raises the spectrum of atrocities, which he witnessed during the war and causes grief and nightmares.

There is not much work in this town and the secondary characters are not as detailed as Blackburn.  Their stories begin to fall into place during the twists as the end of the story unfolds.  The author has certainly caught the small town, southern mentality and the mythology, which can often hold a place together.  The ignorance of the community and the smallness of thinking is well exerted in the story and I found it hardly different years and years later when I was living in the area.  Beautiful part of the country and the author shares the story well

A good read and a good escape into another time period and human interaction.  Although a mystery is solved, the book is a bigger look at human behavior and the trauma of war.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review and I enjoyed the read very much.

Cynthia A. Graham Webpage

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