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Tamela Mccann "taminator40" RSS Feed (Nashville, TN USA)
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Where the Heart Leads (Waiting for Summer's Return Series #2)
Where the Heart Leads (Waiting for Summer's Return Series #2)
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
126 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Tale, February 21, 2014
Set in 1904, Where the Heart Leads follows the story of Thomas Ollenburger, a young man recently finished with college and unsure of his direction in life. His rural Mennonite upbringing in Kansas conflicts with his lifestyle in Boston, where he earned his degree, and Thomas must decide if his future lies in the big city or back home with family. His relationship with the beautiful socialite Daphne and her family stands at odds with the simple friendship Thomas shares with his Kansas neighbor Belinda, and Thomas’s core beliefs are put to the test when he discovers his friends don’t share them. What will he choose for his life and can he live with the results?

Sawyer’s historical Christian novel is well written, and she has a gift for bringing her characters’ inner conflicts to life. The story moves deftly between characters and gives us insight into motivations and dreams. However, the major conflict of racial inequality is very politically correct, which pulled me out of the story. Also, the conversion to Christ of one of the main characters seemed unrealistic to me. Regardless, this is a sweet story that kept me entertained, and I would welcome opportunities to read more from this author.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.


The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel
The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel
by Kathleen Kent
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.67
396 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Heretic's Daughter, February 21, 2014
With The Heretic’s Daughter, debut author Kathleen Kent has taken the tragic story of Martha Carrier, a victim of the witch trials of Salem Village in 1692, and breathed life into the events surrounding this era of hysteria. The fact that Carrier is actually Kent’s ancestress adds drama to an already frightening and unbelievable tale.

Told through the eyes of Martha’s young daughter, Sarah, the book begins with several chapters of background-building that gives insight into the times and the family’s reputation in the area. Martha is a strong-willed woman who has managed to offend several members of the community, and Sarah watches in disbelief as, once accused, Martha refuses to do anything to save herself, believing that right will win out in the end. As the horror continues, even Sarah and her brothers are accused of witchcraft and are thrown into jail. Sarah discovers that she will have to make hard decisions that will either keep her alive or send her to the gallows. Kent builds the story and leads us to the sad, bitter ending, showing how mass hysteria feeds itself.

Once the story gets past the initial background-setting pages, The Heretic’s Daughter gains momentum, but I found the first part a tad tedious. As told through the experiences of young Sarah, this book seemed more young adult in tone and would likely appeal to teens interested in the period. I am also hoping that the final published copy will include an author’s note that gives more information about how Kent researched and developed the story. Overall The Heretic’s Daughter is indeed a good read, and highlights a truly dreadful time in history.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this book for review.


The Apothecary's Daughter
The Apothecary's Daughter
by Julie Klassen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.34
114 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Story, February 21, 2014
Lilly Haswell, an apothecary’s daughter from the village of Bedsley Priors, feels her luck has turned when her previously unknown aunt and uncle arrive and decide to take her to London with them for a season. Lilly, still reeling from her mother’s sudden disappearance a few years earlier, soon finds herself delightedly caught up in the social whirl of 1813, hopeful of finding a prosperous husband. But her newfound circumstances come to an abrupt halt when she is called back home to tend her ailing father and to attempt to revive her family’s once-thriving apothecary shop. Will all her dreams come to naught, or will Dr. Graves, who has followed her home, become the answer to her prayers?

Julie Klassen’s second novel is an engaging tale of loss and redemption, and the discovery that perhaps what you thought you wanted most isn’t precisely what will bring you happiness. Lilly is a hard-working young woman who occasionally oversteps her society’s boundaries for a lady; even though she’s bright and thoughtful, she often seems to overlook the people who should be most dear to her. As the story progresses, Lilly must make decisions not only for herself but for those she loves, and she must also face the disturbing facts surrounding her mother’s departure. Klassen has written a well-crafted Christian novel that will have you cheering Lilly on as she ultimately comes to realize that there’s no place like home.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.


Galway Bay
Galway Bay
by Mary Pat Kelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.15
111 used & new from $1.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Saga, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Galway Bay (Paperback)
Ireland, 1848: Blight has killed the potato crop for the third time in four years, there’s no work or food, the rents are due, and you are being turned out of your home. Just as you decide you must escape to America, your beloved husband dies, leaving you with four young children and another on the way. So what do you do? If you are Honora Kelly and her sister Maire, you forge ahead, doing what you must to survive and give your children a better life.

Mary Pat Kelly’s Galway Bay is based on her great-great-grandmother’s life, and what a tale it is. Honora Kelly not only sailed to America with her unconventional sister and their eight children, but she determinedly dragged them all to Chicago in hopes of locating her late husband’s brother, Patrick. Once there, Honora and her sister find work and watch as their sons grow strong in the shadow of the upcoming Civil War, all the while trying to maintain a sense of their Irish heritage.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy Galway Bay; the author spends the first few chapters being what I thought of as “too Irish”: repeating Irish folklore and using Irish words so often that it became distracting rather than illuminating. However, as the story continued, her characters took over the narration and led me into their lives and hearts; I surprised myself after fifty pages or so at how drawn into the story I’d become. Kelly does an admirable job of giving the grim details of The Great Starvation, and her characters’ desperation for survival literally swept me away. By the end I was cheering them all on proudly and willing the story never to end. This is not a pretty tale, but it is ultimately an uplifting one. Highly recommended.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2014 11:31 AM PDT


The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" (Once upon a Time)
The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" (Once upon a Time)
by Suzanne Weyn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.29
68 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Retelling, February 21, 2014
In the late 1800s, many Irish immigrated to the United States in order to provide a better life for themselves. Most came with little other than dreams and a few family heirlooms, but a lucky few also had a skill that was in demand. Such was the case with Bridget O’Malley, whose seamstress skills (and the audacious bragging of her father) help her land a valuable job creating dresses for the daughters of an industrialist. Unfortunately, while talented, Bridget’s work isn’t quite up to the creations demanded by her new employer, and she must turn to Ray Stalls, a mysterious young man whose sewing and designing far exceed her own. But what price will Ray exact from Bridget as payment for his help? Would he even demand her firstborn child?

Suzanne Weyn’s The Crimson Thread is a delightful retelling of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, but instead of a mysterious little man spinning straw into gold, we have an elusive young man who seems to have fallen in love with our heroine. Throughout the book Weyn gives fairly reasonable explanations for things that were more magical in the original tale; Bridget’s “firstborn child” being her younger sister and the straw spun into gold being a thread created by Ray. I enjoyed Weyn’s realistic spin, even if it does include a thoroughly unlikely marriage proposal and a mild touch of political correctness. And while I understood the reasons for name changes, they tended to be distracting. However, these are minor annoyances that did not take away from my overall enjoyment.

The Crimson Thread is part of a series of fairy tale retellings from Simon Pulse, and I’m intrigued to pick up more to see if they measure up as well as this one did. This young adult novel will appeal to readers of historical fiction and romance alike.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this book for review.


The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
by Jeane Westin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.80
47 used & new from $0.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart Wrenching and Different, February 21, 2014
It seems as though everything that could be written about the Tudors has been done in recent years, with a glut of books retreading the same tales saturating the market. So it was with mild trepidation that I opened Jeane Westin’s The Virgin’s Daughters, wary yet hopeful that maybe this novel would succeed where others had become stale. After literally racing through its 400 pages, I happily breathed a contented sigh of relief that yes, indeed, this is a Tudor novel not to be missed.

The Virgin’s Daughters is actually two tales woven together by service to Elizabeth I. The first half of the book focuses on Lady Katherine Grey, sister to Lady Jane, whose illicit love affair and marriage with Lord Hertford leads to disaster when discovered by Elizabeth. Katherine’s nearness to the throne and her impetuous nature fuel this part of the story as she runs headlong past her cousin’s adamant dictate that she remain an unmarried virgin. In the second part of the novel, set almost forty years later, young Mary Rogers begins her service to Elizabeth with good intentions of remaining devotedly virtuous, yet still manages to find herself in love with one of the queen’s godsons. Though much time has passed, Mary’s story begins to echo Katherine’s; time alone will show whether or not she retains the fortitude to withstand her beloved’s advances.

Well told and well researched, this book gripped me from its earliest pages and wouldn’t let go until I’d read all the way through the reader’s guide at the end. I became caught up in the lives of these two relatively unknown ladies of Elizabeth’s court, and the way Westin ties both tales together is unique and riveting. What might have been merely two love stories truly became history brought to life. Highly recommended.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.


The King's Daughter (Thornleigh)
The King's Daughter (Thornleigh)
Price: $4.30

3.0 out of 5 stars Lacking In Intrigue, February 21, 2014
While Thomas Wyatt leads a rebellion against Queen Mary Tudor for marrying the Spanish Philip, spunky Isabel Thornleigh and her fiancé, Martin, work to become involved in the scheme. Events go awry when Isabel’s mother’s past as an accused heretic comes to light and a vengeful neighbor rashly shoots her, causing Isabel’s father to kill the attacker. Isabel, left alone as Martin works with Wyatt, desperately begins seeking her father in jails throughout London with the help of escaped convict Carlos Valverde, whose own ties to the man behind her mother’s shooting remain unknown. As time goes quickly forward, Isabel discovers more shocking news about her family and must make hard decisions about where her loyalties lie.

The King’s Daughter is a reprint of Kyle’s 1995 novel A Dangerous Devotion, though it has been reworked for today’s market. Although the events take place over a short time, the story seemed to plod for a large portion of the book as Isabel continuously seeks her father, often just missing him. Isabel’s involvement in the rebellion and her insistence on putting herself in danger felt forced and unbelievable. I wanted to like the relationship between Carlos and Isabel, but it lacked chemistry, and their choices left me feeling bewildered. Most annoyingly, there were several historical inaccuracies that pulled me out of the story: for example, the Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane Grey’s father, attempts to lead the rebellion against Queen Mary with his sons, when it is known that he had none living, as evidenced by the fact that he tried to put Lady Jane on the throne. While the action scenes are reasonably well written, overall this is a novel that I can’t recommend to those who are looking for either romance or believable plotting.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.


The Tudor Conspiracy: A Novel (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)
The Tudor Conspiracy: A Novel (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)
by C. W. Gortner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.29
56 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and Vivid, February 21, 2014
The Tudor Conspiracy, second in the series by C.W. Gortner, starts off quickly, with Brendan Prescott being recruited by William Cecil to return to Mary I’s court to uncover a conspiracy to depose the monarch and place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne. Though reluctant to return, Brendan takes his squire (and friend) Peregrine to court and soon finds himself a double agent, spying for both Elizabeth and Mary. When he realizes that Mary’s Spanish advisor, Renard, is setting a trap that will cost Elizabeth her head, Brendan moves to trail those whom he believes are attempting to use Elizabeth’s letters against her. Amid the intrigue and danger, Brendan has to learn who he can trust and whether his dalliance with the court beauty Sybilla is worth losing his beloved Kate back home.
Gortner weaves Brendan effortlessly into the real-life circumstances surrounding the aborted coup that would have removed the Catholic Mary from the throne. I was quite impressed with the author’s knowledge of the incident and Tudor history in general; all of the characters, both real and fictional, leapt off the page. Brendan is a hero I could root for; both his arrogance and his mistakes make him wholly believable and endearing. There is a lot of action throughout, and several times I felt I’d reached the climax of the story only to be taken aboard yet another wild ride almost immediately. Well-written, well-plotted, and well-researched, The Tudor Conspiracy is a page turner that has me eager for the next book in this delicious spy series.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this book for review.


The Wild Rose
The Wild Rose
by Jennifer Donnelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.84
83 used & new from $3.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Ending, February 21, 2014
This review is from: The Wild Rose (Paperback)
Jennifer Donnelly’s The Wild Rose is the third of her celebrated “Rose” novels, and it is every bit as wonderful as the previous two books. Still following the Finnegan family, The Wild Rose focuses mainly on Seamie and his estranged love, Willa. Deliberately distancing herself from Seamie after a tragic accident, Willa is called home to England after the death of her father and finds that her love for the now-married Seamie cannot be denied. As World War I approaches, however, more than just marriage will separate the lovers as the landscape moves between London, Damascus, and Paris; lies, espionage, imprisonment, drug use, and the horrors of war swirl around all members of the Finnegan clan as Seamie and Willa slowly find their way beyond terrible hurt and crushed expectations.

The Wild Rose is filled with the rich description and heartbreaking circumstances of the previous novels; Donnelly moves deftly through exotic locales and actual historic events. Her gift, however, is in her characterizations. Not only do I feel as though I’m visiting with dear friends; I am experiencing their lives through Donnelly’s vibrant words. In particular, Donnelly’s descriptions of the tragedies of World War I and the emergence of women’s rights as a major source for change were riveting. I cried with Fiona’s heartbreak and I cheered Sid as he once again took on the mob scene, but mostly I just luxuriated in the world and family Donnelly has created. If the final resolution to the espionage thread was a bit too convenient, I can overlook that flaw because this is a novel not to be missed for its strong emotion and its historical detail. Highly recommended.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.


You Make Me Feel So Dead (A Rat Pack Mystery)
You Make Me Feel So Dead (A Rat Pack Mystery)
by Robert J. Randisi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86
55 used & new from $11.35

4.0 out of 5 stars The Rat Pack Mysteries, February 21, 2014
Eddie Gianelli is a pit boss at the famous Sands Hotel and has become friends with the Rat Pack in Vegas of 1964. Early on in You Make Me Feel So Dead, one of those friends, Frank Sinatra, calls Eddie G. and asks him to show a friend a good time; the friend in question is Elvis Presley, and Eddie’s job also includes keeping Elvis out of trouble (by request of Colonel Tom Parker). This proves more difficult than Eddie imagined when another close friend is accused of murder and Eddie becomes involved in the investigation. Before long, Frank, Dino, and Elvis are helping Eddie track down possible leads and interacting with mobsters and suspicious policemen.

You Make Me Feel So Dead is a fun mystery, and its use of the Rat Pack and other celebrities is thoroughly enjoyable. Randisi takes some of the known facts of the time and works Eddie G. into them flawlessly. The mystery is simple and not hard to follow. There is a lot of emphasis on who is eating what for some reason, but Randisi makes it entirely plausible that the Rat Pack and Elvis somehow become involved in a murder investigation. My only personal issue was I didn’t realize this was the newest in a series, so occasionally I was wondering about stories referenced. But overall I was immersed in the atmosphere of Las Vegas in the '60s and had a rollicking good time. I’ll be searching out others in the series.

Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing me with a copy of this novel for review.


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