Monday Review- R. L. Syme

Penance on the Prairies by R.L. Syme was next up in my to be read pile.

Is it possible to ever get to the end of the to-be-read pile? Every time I finish a book I tend to add two or three more to my list to read. And that’s what happened after reading Penance on the Prairies. The test will be is — can I wait to read the rest of the series? It’s going to be hard since I’m attempting to read and review on the blog I don’t want to review every book in a series.

Ah, I suppose I could do that or I can read more books in a month so I can have something fresh for you to discover and add to your own to-be-read pile.

Back to this book.

Penance on the Prairies (The Vangie Vale Mysteries Book 1) by [R.L. Syme]

This was fun. I suffer from the “I know who did it” problem I think because I am a writer and know what to look for but… I didn’t see the way R. L. Syme would have it all play it. I was surprised. And I love that! I was still right but Syme did not take the easy way out. Her ending was great for those of us who want to have a bit of “I didn’t see that coming.”

typewriter, coffee cup, picture frame with the book cover for Penance and prairies, field with a barn, blue green sky and trees

This is book 1 and it is .99 and not in Kindle Unlimited which is sad for me but I will still get the rest of the Vange Vale series because I like it.

Vange is a part time pastor and the rest of the time she runs a bakery. I wanted to make macaroons after reading this book. In fact, when you get this book have some macaroons available to eat. 🙂 Pinterest has tons of recipes if you don’t know how to make them. They are easy.

All Vange did was give an irritating person the wrong directions… and life spiraled out of control. Actions do have consequences, even those simple ones!

This book has excitement, danger but not the kind that stops your heart, and a small town. All necessary ingredients for a good cozy mystery.

Here’s the back of the book information.

One part Vicar of Dibley, one part amateur sleuth who loves pastries, set in the mountains of Montana where no one’s business is her own…Between the police scanners, the coffee ladies, and the senior center, no secret is safe for long. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar. So when her new business is linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body.

Can’t have that.

In order to clear her good name and keep her face off the front page, this part-time-baker-part-time-pastor becomes extra nosy…with a little side of breaking-and-entering. But when she comes face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the real murderer.

Get Penance on the Prairies here!

Monday Book Review

The Cedar Key by Stephenia H. McGee

This was a pleasure to read. While it is a small southern town contemporary it almost feels like a historical read. That ticks both of my love to read genre boxes.

It starts with the inheritance of a Victorian house and a very broken character, Casey Adams. She’s been fighting her whole life looking to belong to someone. This is her second chance but before she can find out much about her past her grandmother, the one person who could tell her dies.

But her grandmother leaves her clues through letters delivered to her by her neighbor.

Casey hasn’t had an easy past and it looks like the future of a good one may very well disappear like sugar in rain.

It’s a book that surprises in a gentle way. Perfect for afternoon reading on a swing while you sip iced tea.

I enjoyed the way it entertained but didn’t stress me while reading and yet I couldn’t stop reading it.

It has a great spiritual thread that doesn’t preach at you but fits into the story the way it should in a Christian book.

Casey’s journey will stick with me for a long time.

The Cedar Key: A Small Town Southern Contemporary by [Stephenia H. McGee]

Get it here

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death, Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome—and often frustrating—new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

Monday Review Marc Levy

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury

Isn’t that a great title? The book is by Marc Levy, a French writer but the book is translated well into English.

This is one of those writer moments when you read a book and think you wish you would have written it. 

It’s a bit different from what I normally read. I do try to read in my genre so I know what my readers expect when they pick up my books. 

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury is a bit more literary and I found it refreshing because I had to work a bit harder at reading it. I didn’t know how it would end, I suspected but I think that is because I am a writer and I know the ‘things’ that make a book work. You don’t want to watch a movie with me. I can tell you how it will end almost every time within five minutes of watching it. 

Alice is a Nose. She creates perfume and sees the world through smells.

One evening Alice’s friends tease her into seeing a fortune teller at the fair. She doesn’t believe in such things of course but she goes to get them to leave her alone and that they can catch the train back to London on time. 

That is when her life shifts, memories she doesn’t believe are hers infiltrate her dreams and eventually sends her on a trip to Istanbul with her neighbor Mr. Daldry.

This is not a paranormal book, it’s historical and takes place in 1950. I want to make that clear because of the fortune teller comment earlier.

This book…with the way the author brings in smells and taste it feels as if you are in Istanbul.

I wanted to take my time and savor every page but Marc Levy has a way with words. I kept turning the page until it was early in the morning.   

Get it here!

From international bestselling author Marc Levy comes a witty and beguiling novel of one woman’s unexpected journey to follow her destiny.

Alice Pendelbury believes everything in her life is pretty much in order—from her good friends to her burgeoning career. But even Alice has to admit it’s been an odd week. Not only has her belligerent neighbor, Mr. Daldry, suddenly become a surprisingly agreeable confidant, but he’s encouraging her to take seriously the fortune-teller who told her that only by traveling to Turkey can Alice meet the most important person in her life.

What’s more, the peculiarly insistent Mr. Daldry has even agreed to finance Alice’s trip—one that against all reason seems to be predestined. It’s on this journey, crazy from the outset and strangely irresistible, that Alice will find out that nothing in her life is real, that her past is not true, and that the six people she’s about to encounter will shape her future in ways she could never have dreamed.

June Brides

Planning a June wedding should happen like a year before the wedding if not even further back. When we were planning ours it was not as easy as we thought it would be.

The idea was a small wedding, my church and book a banquet hall. Neither of us wanted to go crazy with spending money because this was our second marriage. We were both widowed and knew what weddings were really about. Music and food for the guests. Hopefully not overcooked, cold or so strange no one would eat it. So we went for simple–hey we had three kids between us. Simple meant that they ate.

That wedding happened 31 years ago. I can barely remember the wedding. I was as scared as I was the first time I’d said yes to a man I loved at that altar. What I do remember was Ed’s smile, the love in his eyes, and our youngest son saying, “that’s my mom” when I walked down the aisle.

Then there was that beautiful double rainbow when we left the church and it hadn’t even rained.

It was a perfect wedding. Happy Anniversary Ed. I hope we have many many many more.

So if you like books with brides check out this month long promo. It’s full of weddings, happy endings and romance.

Candied Ginger and a Novel?

It occurred to me as I was making my new favorite snack candied ginger that the process is a lot like writing a novel.

A book idea is one big knot with a lot of possible roads to take to writing ‘The End.’

Ginger has a palm (at least I think it does) and fingers all in different lengths and thicknesses. There are even knuckles which makes peeling ginger tricky.

A character is like one of those fingers. There are stubborn spots like the ginger’s knuckles that fight against discovery. It takes effort to peel it and find the true spice which brings the heroine or hero to life.

Once you get your ginger peeled it has to be boiled in sugar water (stevia for me) until it’s just right. It takes patience to wait, the ginger spice aroma floats through the kitchen and you just want to be at the end of the process and snacking.

With the book, as the author I almost always know the ending way before I get to it. I want to rush through with my story so I can get it to my readers. But I can’t. I must use patience or the end result will be unreadable.

Once the process of boiling the ginger and coating it with sugar or in my case Trim Healthy Mama gentle sweet (stevia and erythritol), then baking it in the oven you get this delight.

If this makes you hungry search Pinterest for some recipes. I can’t give you mine because it’s copyrighted. I hope you try making this because ginger is good for you and candied ginger is as satisfying as a good book.

As for books? These are the process of taking my time and discovering the character’s story.

Love Finds an Outlaw

It’s the book birthday for Love Finds an Outlaw!

Can a pistol-packing spinster and an adventure-loving reporter find love amidst the mishaps and trials of the Sana Fe railroad’s ill-fated inaugural excursion?

Mary Outlaw has a ticket to ride the Santa Fe train on a sight-seeing excursion from Topeka, Kansas to Pueblo, Colorado.  She intends to live life unrestrained on this trip because it may be her only chance unless she can convince her father to let her choose her own husband. A future of cooking and babies is not the life she wants.

News reporter, Wyatt Cross bought the last ticket for the excursion, hoping one of the 84 women (he knows because he checked before buying his ticket for this scenic tour) would be someone he could love and who would share his sense of adventure. This is a last-ditch effort to keep his father happy and to preserve his inheritance. While waiting to board, he notices a tall, beautiful woman, Mary. The speed her hands move while she speaks fascinates him. Hope sparks inside of him. Maybe the trip will turn out to be more than a scenic ride up the mountain.

Amazon Link



Barnes and Noble

*This story originally appeared in the Rails to Love Collection titled Outlaw on the Pueblo Excursion.

Fall Reading

There is something about the shorter days and cooler air that has me grabbing research books, my kindle and my kindle fire. Yes, I am one of those reader/authors.

I love to read but I’ve discovered it’s hard to keep my books in one place. There’s the physical of course but what about ebooks. I use my kindle fire for my business/research books. My kindle gets my fiction love and sometimes my ipad and iphone kindle apps get called into action as well for research books.

This is my spot in the winter. As close as I can possibly get to the woodstove without igniting.

The book is Seeking St. Louis. It’s huge and I can only read a little at a time because it is so full of information. I haven’t used it yet in a book series but the time is coming. I want to be ready.

Are you out of books? Try finding some new reads here. One of mine, Hearts on the Road is on sale for 99¢.

Where do you like to read in the colder months? And how many blankets do you need? If I don’t have a fire I need at least two!

What I’m reading Monday

Broken lines by Kelsey Gietl is not a book for the faint of heart. It definitely does not fall into the category of rainbows and puppies. This book comes with a sensitivity warning for those readers who are triggered by alcohol-related stories or domestic abuse.

That being said, Gietl’s book Broken Lines is a terrific read with a satisfying ending, one I wasn’t sure would happen.

What if just before you board a ship back home to Germany, your brother informs you that you can’t come with him. Instead, he insists that you don’t. He hands you a ticket to St. Louis, tells you to change your name and to marry an American? That’s what happens to Amara. When she tries to do as her brother requested she is rejected and abandoned on a street in a city she doesn’t know.

The main characters of this book struggle with what side of the war they favor. How do you give up what you know and embrace what is new or has been your life for only a few years? There is an identity struggle that was common before and during the war. Are you German or American? There is not an in-between and if your name sounds German then there will be trouble.

The story begins just before America joins the allies fighting against the Germans. It is set in St. Louis, Missouri during 1916. A familiar city to me as I grew up in a small town close by as did the author. A lot of the landmarks and history in the story were familiar, making the reading the descriptions of back then even more intriguing to me.

Emil works as a morality police officer. He along with his partner frequently breaks the moral laws that he is supposed to be upholding.  He wrestles with this throughout the book knowing that what he is doing is not right. He’s not willing to change until he meets Amara a woman he must decide to change his life for, or let go. It is not an easy decision for him.

Amara has her own demons to fight, an abusive ex-fiancé, and a man she thinks she could love but wants nothing to do with her. How will she be able to stay safe if she can’t find an American citizen to marry?

Emil and Amara’s journey is intense with action and filled with secrets. Broken Lines is book 1 in this series but it is a complete story. If you like books where characters have a chance at redemption this one is for you. 

Broken Lines is a terrific read and will likely keep you up until you finish it. Geitl knows her history and she weaves it throughout the book with an intricacy that doesn’t shout here’s a historical fact that you need to know. She slips in those details where they make the most sense helping the reader feel the story.

What I Read Monday

All that Was by Tanya. E. Williams

I picked the perfect day to read this book. It was raining and gloomy with a chill in the air. Perfect for a book set in Seattle.

This book isn’t a quick light read. It’s one where you sink down into your reading chair with a cup of tea and a soft blanket and shut out the world kind of read.

When we meet Emily it doesn’t take long to realize she’s bottled up her grief over losing her parents so tight that it has taken over her life. Despite help offered and then refused she gets through her days thinking she is fine, though nothing will ever be good again.

Take heart reader, Emily embarks upon a life-changing experience when she agrees to archive the records of a historic church in Seattle. Hired by her law company as a first-year lawyer she gets the job to comb through centuries of old documents in a dark windowless room.

Emily doesn’t mind doing the work until memories of her parents begin to invade the space. How will she handle them when they won’t stop coming?

Elizabet, a spirit who has refused to move forward takes the reader on a journey similar to Emily’s. It’s not to be missed. Because of Elizabet the reader gets a view of what this church meant to people throughout the decades. The research on this book must have been time consuming but every detail adds to the ambiance of the setting.

When Emily is forced to look back on her life, she has choices to make moving forward. That’s what this book is about, being afraid for a minute and having the courage to move forward.

There is much to enjoy about this book, so I don’t wish to give away much. It is a good literary women’s fiction book. This is a book about two worlds, but not fantasy, scary type fiction.

All that Was has a happy ending which is important to me.

Separated by a century. Bonded by loss. Will examining all that was invoke comfort or calamity?

Seattle, 2015. Emily Reed refuses to dwell on her emotions. When the first-year attorney is assigned a church archival project, she dives into the records to hide from her own heartache. But when she discovers her parents were married in this very chapel, she is forced to confront the grief she buried a decade ago.

After she died in 1935, Elizabet Thomas was devastated when her beloved husband wasn’t waiting for her on the other side. A lost soul, she’s wandered their church for the past eighty years, desperate to find him. And now she must persuade a young, living lawyer that the historic building needs to be preserved rather than sold and torn down.

Discovering a diary among the disarray in the building’s basement, Emily is first engrossed and then moved by the dead woman’s words. And as the fate of her home unravels, Elizabet realizes she and the grieving archivist have more in common than she ever would have guessed.

Can Emily and Elizabet save themselves and their cherished sanctuary?

Get your copy!

What I read: Monday

Is there someone in your life that is also a reader?

Do you share the same love for certain genres?

My mom is responsible for helping me learn to read at an early age. She spent hours reading to me, helping me pick out the words for myself and even walking with me to the bookmobile because we didn’t have a car. I was four or maybe five when we did that. At the time, for someone who couldn’t leave her yard, the trip there was exciting. We had to walk along the side of the road and cross a bridge!

The way back was harder. I was hot, tired, thirsty and couldn’t wait to read my books. How long was that walk? Round trip about a mile. That used to impress me until I had kids and realized just how far they will walk if they are having fun.

Mom loves reading true crime, mysteries, and things that make me want to hide under the covers. Stories were people do terrible things to each other. She says it’s human nature. I think in a different time she might have been a forensic psychologist.

I love the puppies and rainbow kind of books. Happy endings give me great joy, books with endings that end with possible good in the characters future are my second favorites.

We have found a few places where we connect. The books aren’t true (for me) and the story is well-written and could have happened in real life.

When I finished reading Kristin Hannah’s book The Great Alone I knew it was one of those books mom and I could connect over. I ordered a paperback for mom. She’s reading it now and we are having our own little book club moment discussing it every day.

It’s set in the 1970s so that decade is a familiar one to me as I was in high school then. The angst of being a teenager and moving to another state and not having the right clothes is universal but what follows in this book I pray isn’t a normal life for anyone.

While the relationship between Leni and Cora is unhealthy it brought me back to living with my own mom. The closeness that grows between a mother and daughter when there is sadness and problems they can’t control is what kept me reading page after page. Peas in a pod is her mother’s favorite saying.

If stories of abuse are a trigger for you then please give this book a pass. If not, it’s a book full of relationships, the beauty, and roughness of Alaska, and the possibilities of hope.

The Great Alone: A Novel by [Kristin Hannah]

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.

The book is $9.99 for ebook or paperback but it is also in KindleUnlimted if you have a subscription this book almost pays for your month, read one more and you’ve saved money. 🙂