Marion Marchetto

I'm an author, book reviewer, and blogger. You can find info on me and my books on my website:

The Little Yarnmouth Abduction by Tim Van Minton


Twelve year old Evan Peregrine is plagued by nightmares where he relives the accident at sea where he lost not only his leg but his mother as well. Currently living with his Uncle Cedric on the small island of Little Yarnmouth, his days are filled with his studies at school on the neighboring island of Middle Langton where he is constantly being bullied by B. H. Potts, a rich boy who looks down on him. With a storm brewing, Evan keeps his eye on the sky during his after school detention. But detention is only the beginning of his problems as he is quickly accusing, by B.H. Potts of course, of having murdered the teacher who ordered the detention. Evan makes a run for it. He aims his little boat into the wild storm and sets course for Little Yarnmouth but instead is blown ashore on to a third island, Little Reikel, where he meets Nira. Nira is about his age and is an actress in the making. She persuades Evan to take her with him as her father took their boat over to Middle Langton. Along the way they stop at Little Yarnmouth to find the island completely deserted of its inhabitants. They do find two rather shady characters resting in another boat at the pier.


As Evan sets about to prove his innocence and rescue the abducted residents of Little Yarnmouth, he runs into several colorful characters, among them a dog named Corporal Punishment and a rat named Charles who likes to play fetch. Eventually Evan’s name is cleared, his nightmares although not gone now have an newly added aspect, and the rescued islanders look at him in a heroic fashion.


Although this book is geared toward young adult readers there is much here for the adult reader as well. Well drawn characters, a setting that is harsh and unforgiving (North Scotland Isles), a plot full of twists and turns, and a mystery unlike any other I’ve read all make for a page-turning story that will hold your interest. Happily, the conclusion lends itself to a possible sequel. A great story to be read by parents with their children.



The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller

In The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller we find a detailed account of the first years of settlement in the Boston colony and its environs. Beginning in 1633, we find Rebekah onboard a ship from England just as they sight the land surrounding Massachusetts Bay. Rebekah is coming to join her father, an elder in the church. She is excited to reach the colony yet after leaving the comfort of a cozy home with servants she is somewhat taken aback at the conditions she finds in Boston. Things go downhill once more when she leaves the relatively civilized Boston for the new settlement of Agawam at the edge of the wilderness. Throughout the story Rebekah will deal with betrayal, loss, and love. But will she opt to return to England and the chance to be a bride or choose to remain in the colony and seek her true love?


The Primrose Way is a clever tapestry of fact and fiction that is skillfully woven by the author. Great detail into the everyday existence of both white settlers and Native Americans gives the reader a true picture of what life was like in the early 17th century. Easy reading that will move you through the story at a rapid pace but you'll want to slow down and savor each finely drawn scene. Don't gloss over the details - they add so much to the story. And while the story is placed in early America the characters deal with problems that are relevant today.


This book includes a glossary of Native American terms as well as a detailed bibliography for further reading. Teachers and students alike will enjoy The Primrose Way not only for its story but for the lessons it teaches. Highly recommended.


One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus


One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd, a Chicago socialite from the 1800s, who signs on to the Federal government plan of Brides for Indians as a means to escape an insane asylum where her family has placed her because she had fallen in love with a man below her station. Through her journals May describes her life in the asylum and later her new life as a prairie bride of Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyennes. Along her journey she tells of her fellow brides who come from all walks of life. In return for their marriage to a Cheyenne and subsequent bearing of a mixed race baby or two, the government hopes to assimilate the Cheyennes into the white man’s culture. Along the way May meets an Army Captain and they fall in love but part, knowing that their love could never be. May continues on her journey, assimilating into the life of the Cheyennes as the third wife of Chief Little Wolf, all the while keeping a set of notebooks that become her journals.


The descriptions of life on the prairie are both breathtaking and brutal. But through it all May begins to question which side is the real savage – Native American or white Christian. A detailed and fast booking book, it will appear to the reader that the journals they are reading are true although the author states up front that everything contained in the book is fiction based on the true fact that such a Brides for Indians program was proposed but never acted upon.


I loved the different ‘brides’ who, although stereotypical, give much needed diversity to the story. And although we see Chief Little Wolf as a proud and courageous warrior we soon learn that he is so much more. Finely researched, cleverly written, and engrossing the reader will find this story difficult to put down.

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Heart’s Bend, Tennessee is the setting for The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck. Let the town’s name give you a clue as to the message contained within this story  – the love story of Jimmy and Colette. Their tale begins in 1948 when Colette and her sister Peg arrive in town to live with their aunt and uncle. The girls are war orphans who lost both parents as a result of World War II. When Jimmy sees a picture of the two girls before they arrive in town, he loses his heart to the younger of the girls, Colette. But due to his shyness around girls and her overbearing sister, the two have a hard time getting to know each other and end up merely looking at one another from afar. Jimmy overcomes his shyness enough to make the first move and the two fall in love. Fast forward to the current day and we find Jimmy and Colette in their early eighties, living lives much different from what they first imagined. Jimmy is now the retired coach of the local high school football team. Colette is living a life of luxury in a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park; she is adored by her fans after having played Vivica Spenser on a soap opera for 60+ years. What has split these two young lovers apart? What secrets does each hold close to their heart? And how does a never used wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend figure into their love story?


A second love story set in the present is also interwoven throughout, that of Taylor and Jack. They too are natives of Heart’s Bend who left the country to find fame and fortune and is so doing find each other. But each has a boatload of baggage that they’ve brought with them. In spite of that they both want desperately to make their marriage work but fear the unknown. Will the wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend bring these two closer or finalize their split?

A tale of love and lost love, secrets and lies, and healing of wounds is the central theme of this wonderful story. Interwoven with an unshakable faith in God, you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters in this charming tale.

Oak Cliff – Free Chapter



I’m offering here the Prologue of OAK CLIFF: A TALE OF DARKNESS AND DESPAIR




Inky darkness cloaked the bedroom as the gaunt figure of a man carefully drew back the layers of bedclothes from the flannel-clad, sleeping woman. With fingers rendered stiff and icy cold by the frigid night air he hoisted her from the warmth of the bed, murmuring soothingly into her ear. Her eyes fluttered open and she tried to focus but it was difficult for her to see clearly. Although the woman could barely make out the man’s silhouette through a drug-induced haze, her senses told her she had nothing to fear. She snuggled closer into the security of her husband’s arms, resting her head on his shoulder. His presence gave her comfort. The woman’s eyelids drooped as her head nodded forward, her hair partially obscuring her face. The man halted momentarily, balancing himself and firming his grip on the woman’s slight frame. Assuring himself that his hold on his wife was still secure the man moved out to the hall.


Despite her dishevelment, the peaceful look on his wife’s face made her appear almost angelic. The man’s grimace softened; the depth of his love for her was evident. But that loving gaze instantaneously reverted to a hard, glassy stare.


He made his way to the top of the staircase, grateful for the pale moonlight filtering through a frosty windowpane. Moving cautiously, he paused briefly on each of the steep, narrow steps on the way to the kitchen below. She mustn’t awake!


A thin sliver of moonlight from another frosted window weakly illuminated the spacious kitchen that retained some warmth from the swiftly cooling coal-burning stove. The woman stirred in his arms, her muscles relaxing a tiny bit as her body detected the slight increase in air temperature; the threadbare nightgown she wore only served as a modesty panel, offering little warmth to its wearer.


With the tip of a foot encased in worn leather the man nudged open a door leading to the cellar. Here too the wooden stairs were steep, narrow, and without benefit of a railing. A shaft of dim light down below pierced the darkness as it cast deep shadows on all sides of the stairs, providing little guidance for the man and his burden. As he neared the bottom of the steps he could smell the freshly-turned earth of a nearby trench, measuring about six feet long by two and a half feet wide. He had labored in secret for many nights to dig the hole, the mouth of which, barely visible in the shadows of the smoky light, waited patiently to be filled.


The man moved reverently toward the trench all the while maintaining a firm grip on the sleeping woman. He sank to his knees at the edge of the trench. She shivered slightly in the dank cold and he hugged her closer for a brief time until her trembling stopped. Through it all she slept on.


“Soon,” he thought, “soon it will all be over.”


Gently he lowered her into the hole, using an old blanket that lay nearby to cover her. In her sleep she reached out and pulled it over her shoulders, never once surfacing from her drugged stupor. He continued to watch over her until her breathing evened out and he was assured that she was fully asleep.


Soundlessly, he reached for his spade and began to fill in the hole, one shovelful of dirt at a time. He gingerly filled in the area around her feet, being careful not to disturb her slumber. Soon, however, he warmed to the task and began to shovel the dirt randomly into the pit. Still the woman slept.


As he worked the man muttered, “Now at last I’ll be done with those who have betrayed me.” Faster and faster he shoveled the dirt into what was quickly becoming the woman’s grave. “No more of you Confederate whores and bastards to tempt me or punish me for my human frailties.”


He silently counted the number of times he lifted, scooped and flung.







and so on.


At last the sleeping woman shifted under the weight of the dirt. She tried moving her arms but they were pinned to her side. The smell of freshly turned earth enveloped her senses. Her breathing became shallow. Her eyes flew open. A meager ribbon of light was visible but soon was obliterated as a shovelful of dirt landed on her head; her attempts to shake off the heavy clumps were useless. Her nightgown and the blanket offered her little warmth and her body began to shake uncontrollably from the cold emanating from the clods of earth atop her. As the realization of what was happening crystallized in her fuzzy brain she felt something building deep within her. Seconds was all it took for the forceful scream to push past her tongue and explode out of her mouth.


“Go ahead,” the man taunted her in a gravelly voice. “No one will hear you.”


Another shovelful of dirt followed his words and the taste of cold earth lingered on her tongue. Short twists of her head momentarily cleared the dirt from her irritated eyes.

There was no way to ask this man, her husband whom she loved dearly, why he was doing this abominable thing to her. Even the slightest attempt to move her limbs proved that her petite size, which her husband had once admired, was no match for the weight of the dirt mounded atop her.


“Think!” she scolded herself mentally.


Her heart was pounding furiously as she sought to keep the terror at bay.


“Stop struggling and think. There must be a way out of this!”


She fought her fears and by concentrating her efforts was able to cease her futile struggles. Though her eyes were closed she listened intently and heard her husband throw down his shovel. Whatever she had done to displease him must have been appeased somehow by his erratic behavior. Perhaps all wasn’t lost yet.


In her heart she knew that her husband loved her. They had been through so much together these past few years. Upon his return home from his prolonged captivity by the Confederate Army, she had been the one to sit by his side through the tortuous nights and interminable days. He had been lost to her then, but she had never given up hope. When she had tried to question him about his time as a prisoner of war he had, until recently, given vague answers. So instead of delving too deeply and making him confront the horrors of those days, she had comforted and cared for him, soothing him when he would waken from his nightmares. Now that the war was three years in the past and their lives were getting back on track she had felt he was better. Slowly his sanity had returned. Or so it had seemed.


More recently, though, he had begun to look at her strangely and would accuse her of being one of ‘them’ – a Southern spy. He had retreated further and further into the recesses of his mind, looking at her from the corners of his eyes, watching her moves, noting when and where she would go and with whom she spoke.


If only she could talk to him now she would make him understand how much she loved him; but speech was out of the question. Any movement on her part would bring a hill of fresh soil into her mouth and nose. A sharp noise made her eyes fly open and falling clods of dirt burned her inner eyelids as she tried to focus her blurred and teary vision.

The man began pulling wooden planks over her earthy bed. She tried to engage him with her eyes, the only tool remaining at her disposal, hoping he would see her fear and end this madness. He kept his gaze averted from her face even as he pulled the final board over her head, effectively blocking any light from seeping into the cold trench. The woman closed her eyes then and courageously fought the panic welling up inside her chest. There was no way to reach out to him now. Only God could save her. She turned her heart and mind to prayer, silently begging the Lord for a miracle. As she prayed she heard a heavy thump. The man was placing rocks atop the wooden planks.


“No way you’ll escape now, you traitorous bitch,” he said.


It took the better part of an hour before the man had completed constructing a cairn over the wooden planks. When he was satisfied with his efforts he lifted the oil lamp in his grimy hands and slowly climbed the steep steps to the kitchen with nary a backward glance. It was obvious from his spritely movements that he felt better than he had for a long time. In fact, he felt so good that he continued right on up to the same bedroom that he had shared with his wife. There he stretched out on the bed and slept soundlessly and dreamlessly for the next ten hours.


The woman in the pit two floors below him had no way of knowing how much time had passed. Quite soon, however, she felt her lungs begin to constrict. Breathing was almost impossible in the deep darkness of her tomb. Her time was short. With supreme willpower she was able to move one hand from beneath the weighted blanket and was barely able to reach the wooden plank above her by stretching two fingers in a final, futile attempt.


On the outside of her grave one could hear the light scratches, like the sound of mice feet scurrying inside of a wall. Her feeble scratching continued on for a few minutes but soon ceased. In the end a dark silence enveloped the basement once more.


Present Day

Once again that awful nightmare had haunted my dreams, leaving me to awaken in an irritable mood. Was I forever doomed to relive that night? Although I had been there and witnessed the entire episode, there was no way I could have intervened or prevented what happened. Now, one hundred and fifty years later, the scenario still causes me sleepless nights. In the depths of my cellar still lie the remains of Ilsa Rowan, the victim of her husband’s demented mind.


When the night is quiet I can still hear the light scratching of her fingers as she hopelessly tries to escape her grave. At least I imagine that’s what I hear. More likely it really is just a mouse scurrying in from outdoors.


All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Light


Marie-Laure LeBlanc is alone in her Uncle’s home when she hears the approach of American planes on their path to bombing the city where she resides. Except for the Germans there are few residents left thanks to the flyers previously dropped by the Americans warning the French citizens to evacuate or be killed. It is apprently the intention of the Allies to level the city – one of the last strongholds of the German forces. But Marie-Laure knows nothing of this as she is blind and cannot see the flyers. Not far away is a young German man named Werner who is a radio specialist. During the bombing he is one of three men who make it to an underground cellar. By the time the bombing is over, he is able to dig out from the cellar. During the war he has been part of a small force that moves from town to town tracking down and destroying the radio broadcasts of the French Resistance. When Werner is once again above ground, he tracks down the radio wires that lead him to Marie-Laure’s uncle’ house.


Flashbacks take the reader to an earlier time when Werner and his younger sister Jutta are still in the orphans’s home. The children like to go out and scavenge and Werner teaches himself to build and fix a radio receiver from spare parts. It is his greatest pleasure during those years to tune in to a scratchy broadcast of an older gentleman who speaks of all things: scientific, spiritual, and so much more. It is those broadcasts, made by the heavily foreign accented voice, that make orphan life bearable.


Thus when the soldier Werner has become meets Marie-Laure at the house where he has gone to destroy the radio transmitter, it suddenly realizes that this is the place where those childhood broadcasts were made and that it is this girl’s uncle whose voice he remembers. What follows is one of the most touching scenes I have read this year.


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is a wonderful commentary on coming of age during World War II. Additionally it is a wonderful look at the war from two distinctly different viewpoints. The writing is crisp and carries the reader along in a pleasantly consistent fashion. At the conclusion, I found myself hoping for a second book to follow the lives further in post-war years. All in all, a terrific book you will enjoy.


Everything: The Untold Story of The Rich Young Ruler by Richard A. Hackett, Jr.



Have you often wondered how the stories in the Bible relate to today’s world? I, for one, have done that many times. Many times I’ve tried to draw parallel lines between today and yesterday. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But within the pages of this book Addi ben Zuriel, the central character, brings new understanding to an old story.

In the Bible Jesus tells this young man, Addi, that in order to find eternal life he (Addi) should sell all of his possessions and follow the Lord. Of course Addi is skeptical since it is he, along with an elite band of Pharisees, who are seemingly preparing for a great leader in the guise of their Messiah to arise and with a vast army break the people freefrom the chains of Rome’s rule.


What follows is the story of how Addi comes to accept Jesus as the Messiah; it also takes Addi quite some time to reailze that the ‘new world order’ is not to be of this world but a kingdom of the heart. Through the perils and intrigues of a Biblical Jerusalem at Passover, we follow Addi as he in turn follows Jesus through the Passover and ultimately through the crucifixion. We become friends with the disciples and with Jesus’s mother Mary.


I wish the Bible could be retold in a manner similar to this book. It is easy to read and understand. For me, it was also easy to see the amount of research that has gone into this tome. And while it can easily be read in a day or two I took several weeks to finish it, allowing myself the time to absorb the personal meanings. It is a book rich in detail yet easily understood.


I look forward to reading another book by Richard Hackett. Note: This Kindle edition did have several typos, however, not enough to interfere with the enjoyment of the story.

Please note that all proceeds from the sale of Mr. Hackett’s books go to fund the work of SeaMercy, a non-profit organization that brings healthcare to the remote islands of the South Pacific.


A First Class Christmas by Marion Marchetto (short story)

A First Class Christmas



While the wealthy Newkirk family is preparing to celebrate Christmas Eve, Jakub Bobrowski is finishing up his work for the day and looking forward to his own Christmas Eve with his wife and children. But before Jakub can do that he must make the long journey from Bridgewater’s stables to his own small apartment some thirty miles away. Throughout his journey home he weighs the responsibilities of providing for his family as he tries to come up with new ways to increase their income; yet mere steps away in the Bridgewater manor house a completely different lifestyle contrasts with his own. When he receives some happy but unsettling news on this Christmas Eve his plans for the futureare changed. But an Old World resilience shines through and when his young daughter gives him pause, he realizes that life isn’t always better when you’re wealthy.


This is an original short story based on The Bridgewater Chronicles by the same author. A quick read, suitable for all ages. 


The Last Orphans by N. W. Harris

The Last Orphans



We first meet sixteen-year-old Shane just after his grandmother’s funeral. He is there with his father and his father’s lady friend. On their way home Shane and his dad have a falling out – complete with a yelling match – which ends when Shane gets out of the car and his father drives away. Spotting an approaching storm, Shane decides his grandmother’s farmhouse is closer than trying to walk home and he sets off that way. That is the last normal thing that happens in this story.


On his way to grandmother’s farmhouse, Shane notices that all is not right with nature. There are animals and insects that begin to act strangely. When he passes by the farm of Kelly and her sister Natalie, he sees them in tears. Secretly he has been in love with 17 year old Kelly and welcomes the opportunity to help her. She tearfully tells him that her parents are dead – killed by their own cattle. Both Shane and Kelly think the cattle were spooked because of the approaching storm and feel it has something to do with the green color of the approaching clouds. Together they head off down the road and are met by Shane’s aunt who is also on the way to grandmother’s house. They youngsters climb into the car and just as they are about to make it to safety the car is attacked by a swarm of angry bees – the ultimate result being that Shane’s aunt dies a very unpleasant death while he and the two girls are left untouched.


The story follows the youngsters as they meet up with several others at the local school. Seems that only children (18 and younger) are left alive. All the adults are dead. We are left with the questions: what happened? why are only the adults killed? and will the same happen to the children eventually?


I found the premise engaging at first but the reveal of the cataclysmic event causing all of this took a long time in coming. We spend a lot of time trying to get inside Shane’s mind as he deals with loss after loss before the conclusion of the story. The action is quick paced. The characters are well drawn. However, the story wasn’t enough to captivate me into not setting the book down. I half expected to meet a few zombies. I don’t think this story is well suited to youngsters under 14.


Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam

Rena's Promise



I have read many stories about the harsh realities suffered by the Jews during World War II. Nothing I’ve read comes close to the story of Rena’s Promise.

We first meet Rena at her home in North Carolina and learn to love her vivacious manner and the loving interchange between she and her husband John. We also meet the author Heather Macadam, whose job was to take Rena’s long-held memories of Auschwitz and put them into a contemporary book. The author’s goal was to keep the memory of those Polish Jews alive for future generations.

As Rena tells her story we are immediately taken back to the wonderful yet strict life Rena and her sisters had in their hometown of Tylicz, Poland (a rural farming area). Slowly their lives change until at last the invading Nazis take control. What follows is an almost daily accounting of what happens after Rena turns herself in to the Nazis; she believes that since she is a strong farm-bred young woman who is accustomed to working long hours in the fields that she will volunteer to work in the labor camps and thus spare her family and friends any undue attention and scrutiny. She dresses in her best clothes and presents herself to the Nazis, hoping to prove to them that personal dignity can not be taken away. The next three years prove to be the undoing of Rena as she clings to her younger sister Danka. It is only the closeness of the sisters that keeps them from losing their sanity – although at times they come very close to doing so. I will not elaborate on the atrocities that they suffer. The reader needs to experience them firsthand through Rena’s memories.

At times in Rena’s narration, there are shifts from present day to that horrendous time as her memories take hold and pull her back. One can sense the way she is compelled tofinish her story in order to exorcise some of the violent hatred from her very soul. This book can be described by me as compelling, powerful, gripping, and encompassing. I could not put it down.

There were times when I felt the fear, degradation, and pain that Rena and Danka suffered. And in all of my reading about World War II, never have I been so moved by the Allies’ liberation. I could not stop the tears from falling even though I knew that Rena had survived.

The book concludes nicely with a follow up of the other people we meet through Rena’s story. I wish I could give this story more than five stars. I highly recommend it.


Adrift by Robin Wainwright



I absolutely love stories with a touch of history and the paranormal. So I was excited to win a copy of Adrift from the author’s giveaway. The story begins with Heather, who has recently lost her father. She is lonely and miserable and rattling around the house they both shared. Heather’s has had no social life since she had been her father’s caregiver. On a whim to escape the encroaching depression, she throws a packed suitcase into her car and sets off on a drive along the California coast to parts unknown. By late afternoon she arrives at the tourist village of Crescent Bay. In short order (a day or two) she becomes friends with Sarah, owner of the local B&B. At this point fate steps in and takes over. Or is it the ofttimes seen ghost who inhabits the abandoned and dilapidated lighthouse and keeper’s cottage? Meanwhile, Sarah convinces the town council to have the lighthouse renovated as a means to bring in tourist money. The company selected to offer a bid has sent their top guy Daniel – literally he is the president of 1906 Renovation that specializes in lighthouses. As fate would have it Daniel and Heather are instantly attracted to each other. There is plenty of flirtatious banter until the ghost of the lighthouse steps in.


I enjoyed this story very much and could easily see it as a made-for-tv movie on one of the chick-flick channels. The action moves along fairly well and there are several secondary characters that provide lots of interest, i.e., Michael and Jennifer. There are several areas that I would have liked to know more about. Mainly, who is the ghost and why is he/she so adamant about keeping Heather and Daniel apart? A bit more backstory could have been easily included. I’m hoping that since this is the first book in a trilogy that the answer will become more evident in one of the other books.


A good read for those who like something light.


The Sapphire Brooch by Katherine Lowry Logan

Sapphire Brooch



Charlotte Mallory is a well-respected surgeon in Richmond, Virginia. Her brother Jack is a successful author. The Mallory name has been a part of Virginia’s history for about two hundred years. And while Jack is holed up in his office writing his next bestseller, Charlotte is honoring the Mallory name as she’s done for the past twenty years by taking part in the annual recreation of the Battle of Cedar Creek. We first meet Charlotte dressed in her Civil War uniform and wearing a beard – she is the living embodiment of her great-great-grandfather Carlton Jackson Mallory who was a surgeon attending the wounded at Cedar Creek during the war. Please note that to Southerners it is not called the Civil War – it was, and remains, the War of Northern Aggression. On her way to the re-enactment Charlotte takes a moment to sort through her mail before leaving her car and opens a small box sent to her by a law firm in Scotland. Inside she finds a beautiful vintage sapphire brooch. She tinkers with it and opens the secret compartment to reveal some old Celtic writing. As she reads the words aloud she is enveloped in a mist and finds herself back on the battlefield of Cedar Creek but the year is now 1863. With live bullets whizzing around her head she runs for cover. What follows, dear reader, is a most astounding, vivid, action packed historical story that will keep you turning pages until the very end. Oh, and don’t forget the romance that holds the entire story together.


I can’t find the right words to praise the writing of Katherine Lowry Logan and I won’t bore you with a litany of words. I will urge you to pick up The Sapphire Brooch and read it for yourself. Our heroine Charlotte and the man whose life she saves, Braham, are wonderfully complex characters that will have you rooting for them when you’re not trying to shake some sense into them. A full cast of characters including President Lincoln and his staff populate the book and bring the era of the Civil War to life. For me, the icing on this slice of history, is the reappearance of Elliott Fraser who first made his appearance in The Last MacKlenna (you’ll recall from my review of that book that I consider Elliott the new Rhett Butler).


All of Ms. Logan’s books are rich in description, place setting and action. Don’t miss any of them! I look forward to The Emerald Brooch. For a last bit of praise I will say I would rate this book more than five stars. Katherine: When I grow up I want to write like you!


Rhinoceros Summer by JamieThornton


Lydia Gibbs is the daughter of a mild-mannered pastor and his wife. As such, she feels that she is type-cast by her classmates as the goody-two-shoes kind of girl. Lydia’s passion, however, is what drives her. Her passion is photography. She wants to work for National Geographic and take pictures that will make global impact. The summer she graduates from high school, Lydia finds herself in a dead-end job but she’s trying to save money to buy a good camera. Meanwhile, in Tanzania, a former classmate of Pastor Gibb is in a financial bind. Paul is a PH (short for professional hunter), having left his seminary days far behind him. He needs a photographer to film his safaris in order to gain rich clients and thus keep Blue Nile Resort and Safaris in business. Things only go from bad to worse when the man from the Wildlife Division is arrives to audit the safaris, especially since it is Paul’s own son Caleb who shows up. Needless to say things are not good between the two and haven’t been. Paul contacts Pastor Gibb and asks if Lydia might want to come to Tanzania and shoot safari photos – of course he can’t afford to pay her but the experience should be worth something. Lydia is thrilled to accept the offer in spite of her parents misgivings. Even better the congregation pulls together to provide camera and equipment for Lydia.


In Tanzania, Lydia faces the real world for the first time. From a scare at the airport upon her arrival, to being used as bait for the gentlemen clients, to ultimately facing the gritty reality of dying animals – even endangered ones – Lydia finds her strength and makes the most of the situation going so far as to having feelings for Caleb.


Rhinoceros Summer is a real world book that sheds light on the atrocities of killing animals just for their trophies (tusks, antlers, heads, etc). The culture of the Tanzanians is brought to the fore as rich Westerners demand the amenities of home while stalking their prey. Through it all is the coming-of-age of a young girl brought up in the sheltered culture of her religion.


I immensely enjoyed this book. After the first several chapters I found I couldn’t put it down. When I reached the conclusion, I found I wanted to know more about these well-developed characters. I sincerely hope Ms. Thornton is writing a sequel.


Word of caution: the safari scenes where the animals are hunted can be brutal.


The Uncommon Memories of Zeenat Querishi by Veena Nagpal

When I was asked if I would like to review this book, I immediately said yes because I thought it would be interesting to learn about the culture of India – a culture which is very different from the one in which I live. I began to read and was immediately immersed in the middle of an age-old disagreement between two Indian families – one Hindu and the other Muslim. Intriguing to me. However, as I read further I became hopelessly lost – more and more so as I continued to read. Several times I had to backtrack and reread several chapters in order to progress. This was annoying at the least. The author’s descriptions of localities and people was detailed, in fact sometimes too much so. I felt they detracted from the story trying to be told. Many times things were described and prayers or phrases offered up by characters without explanation for Western readers.


Sadly, I must admit defeat. I tried for over eight weeks to make my way through this book but only made it half way. I’m sure that the story is easily read and understood by those who have a greater understanding of the Indian culture. I can sense the depth of the story lurking in the second half of the book and hope someday to give it another chance.


Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Sweet Expectations by Mary Ellen Taylor


Sweet Expectations is the sequel to Union Street Bakery. Daisy McCrae, ex-financier has taken on the role of running the bakery so that her father can retire. All of this is established in the first book. This book picks up with Daisy and her sisters renovating the bakery that has been in the family for several generations. The mystery begins when an old recipe box is uncovered during the demolition of a wall in the bakery. Too tired and suffering from what she thinks is the flu, Daisy sets the recipe box aside during the renovations. When she finally picks it up she discovers the recipes of Jenna Davis, a former employee, along with an old photo of the girl standing between two WWII soldiers. Amidst the turmoil of the renovations Daisy finds herself dealing with morning sickness and a quick trip to the doctor confirms the fact. The only problem is that the baby’s father is not her last boyfriend but a one-night stand with an old colleague she considers a jerk. Oh, and then there’s the ghost of Jenna who wants Daisy to find Jenna’s son who was taken away the day after he was born as Jenna died during childbirth.


There’s a lot going on here but all of it is marvelous. Not one dull moment. Yes, there are some things that are repetitious but all in all I found it a very satisfying book. Easy to read and follow, a charming tale overall. I certainly hope the author is working on a third installment as I’m curious to follow the adventures of all the McCrae sisters.


War Brides by Helen Bryan



Five young women from diverse backgrounds form a bond due to the imminent invasion of England by the Germans in WW II. Most of the action in this book takes place in Crowmarsh Priors, a rural southern England location. The village is peaceful and bucolic in the days leading up to Britain declaring war on Germany. Alice Osbourne, the late vicar’s daughter, is the town sweetheart. She has just become engaged to Richard Fairfax, whose family is several rungs up the proverbial class ladder. Richard is a junior officer in the British Navy and is part of a group that goes to the United States for an official visit. While there, he meets and succumbs to the charms of Evangeline Fontaine. Evangeline has a secret that would ostracize her from New Orleans society and convinces Richard to take her with him on his return to Britain. They are married at sea by the captain. Frances Foxleigh is the daughter of a highly placed British admiral and is a wild young thing. She is sent to her aunt, Lady Marchmont, in Crowmarsh Priors, to get her away from the bad company she keeps. Elsie is the eldest daughter of poor folks from London’s East End. She is too old to be billeted away from London with other British children but finds a place as a domestic in Lady Marchmont’s estate home. Elsie is one of seven children and worries about her mum and little ones. Antoinette Joseph (Tanni) is Jewish and just barely escapes from her German home by marrying a family friend who is able to get her to London. Her husband is a professor and works for the British Intelligence. She is waiting to hear about her twin sisters aged four or five. The girls were supposed to be trained out of Germany but delays have caused problems and no one knows where they are. These five young women form a bond during the dark and dreadful days of the war. We follow their stories through an interweaving that is both complex yet plausible. Eventually, we meet up with these women fifty years later when they come back to Crowmarsh Priors and finish up some old business.


This story gripped me from page one! I read it in three days. It was suspenseful, intriguing, and educational all the while adding in a bit of wartime romance. I found it to be well written. I bought the paperback edition and did not find anything negative to say about the editing. There were one or two typos but they did not affect the overall story. The final chapters filled in many of the blanks but I think a second book would have fleshed out the next generation a bit and given the reader more of the back story. That said, I rate this as a five star book for its readability and engaging characters.