Ever By My Side

 Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight Acts Pets by Dr. Nick Trout is much more than a veteranarians account of his daily life.  It is a story of relationships, of hope, and of hurting.  The senior Mr. Trout had Nick pictured in a “James Herriot” type practice, so when Nick decides to go to America and practice, his father is disappointed.  Another disappointment came when Dr. Trout married a woman with cats and they didn’t add any dogs to their family home.  Dr. Trout tells how the pets in his life help him understand, enjoy, and get through hard decisions.  When his daughter became very ill, it took a pet to help him through her illness.  Of course his memoirs include animal antics that are hilarious and heart warming as well as sad.  You’ll enjoy this book if you like animals, but even if you aren’t an animal lover it’s a great story for everyone.

Wildflowers from Winter

Although Bethany is more interested in her career than her family and friends she left 10 years previously, she is compelled to return to her hometown to care for her grandfather as he recovers from a heart attack.  Also bidding her home, is her childhood friend, Robin, whose husband is dying.  Whatever happened in Bethany’s earlier life has affected her relationships in her small hometown.  She dispises her mother and fears letting her feelings come out of the controlled status she has kept them under.  Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert is a story of hurting, fleeing, returning and healing.  Ganshert’s characters are well described and you will find yourself becoming part of their lives and situations.

A Seeking Heart

Sam was on the run.  Little money and a starving belly.  When the clothesline revealed a large family with many children and the mailbox sported the family name, Sam figured it would be a cinch to get some food at the mercantile by charging it to the Klaassen family.   When the mercantile owner turned out to be the uncle of all those kids, Sam hightailed it out with the food, but not fast enough to avoid being tackled by Adam one of the Klaassen brothers.

With the sheriff away, Adam volunteered to take Sam home with him until he returns.  When the family questioned her, she knew she couldn’t reveal her real name or her father would find her.  The family’s kindness is something Samantha has experienced very little of in her seventeen years.  She is torn with living a lie and telling them the truth in fear of having to go back to her father.  A Seeking Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a heartwarming family story of kindness and love.

 

 

Hominids

Parallel worlds, both with scientific laboratories in caves miles underground.  One world is inhabited by Homo sapiens, the other by Homo neanderthalensis.  Ponter and Adikar were using their Quantum Computer to connect to other worlds, when Ponter disappeared.  In the other world, a man (Ponter)  is found in a tank of heavy water, how could he have gotten there and where did he come from?  Security was tight and the tank was sealed.   Homo sapien, Professor Mary Vaughan, runs DNA testing and finds that the man is indeed Neanderthal, but how he got there they haven’t a clue.  With the help of Ponter’s implanted computer, they are able to communicate, but Ponter has lost all hope of returning to his family and friends.

While back on the Homo neanderthalensis world, Adikar is being accused of murder.  A man has disappeared and there is no evidence of where he is.  While Adikar has an idea about his disappearance, he is not allowed back into his laboratory.   Adikar gets Ponter’s daughter to help him in his trial, but it isn’t enough.  So Lute, his woman mate, causes trouble in the viewing room, so that Adikar can get to the laboratory to try and get Ponter back.  Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer is the first book of a trilogy.  Humans is book two and Hybrids is book three.

Thunder and Rain

Tyler Steele, Texas Ranger first, husband and father second.  His wife, Andie, couldn’t handle the stress and finally after wiping out his funds ended up in a drug detox center.   After Tyler, also known as Cowboy, left the center he literally ran into a young mother, Sam and her daughter, Hope.  They needed help and that was his life, helping those in trouble.  A horrible crime had been committed, and the man who committed it would hunt them down no matter how long it took.  Tyler took them to his home town where they could get a fresh start and he could look after them.  Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin is written in a backward story telling way with Tyler doing most of the telling.   But we also get Hopes point of view with her letters to God.  Some of the information is giving out right, with details and circumstances coming later in natural dialogue.  This is a fast moving read making it hard to put down.

Be The Miracle

As you listen and read the news, do you ever think how nice it would be to hear or read good news or accounts of people doing something helpful?  Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett fits the bill.  The 50 lessons that Regina tells about are from her own experience or from people she has met in her years as a journalist.  It was amazing to me how little things that we may think inconsequential, can really make a great difference in someone’s life.  One day Regina stopped in an Ice Cream Shop to get directions, she met a young man scooping ice cream who wanted to be a neurosurgeon.  He had been attending a prestigious school, but his family ran out of money.  “When Regina called the school to check out his story, they were so glad to find him, they agreed to cover all his expenses.”  When a neurosurgeon read the column Regina wrote about the young man, he offered him a chance to observe in surgery.  And it all happened because Regina needed directions and took time to talk to a young man behind the ice cream counter.  “George Bernard Shaw wrote that the great secret wasn’t about having good or bad manners, but having the same kind of manners for everyone.”  You might be surprised at what miracles can happen when you take time to make them happen.

Ruby’s Slippers

>by Leanna Ellis
Dottie and Abby’s Grandmother worked on set with Judy Garland in the making of The Wizard of Oz.  Dottie is happy keeping the family’s Kansas farm going, but Abby has her heart set on becoming a “star”. 

When Dottie suffers from a head injury during a tornado, Abby moves her to a nursing home in California.  With a bit of amnesia, Dottie takes awhile to realize that Abby is going to or has already sold the family farm. Then a pair of rubby slippers are left for her by her father, whom she hasn’t seen since childhood.  Sophie, one of the residents at the home, encourages Dottie to search for her father.  The two of them take off on an adventure with Sophie behind the wheel.  As they travel, they soon realize someone is after the shoes, which are believed to have been worn by Judy in the movie.  When Sophie’s son joins the group, there is trouble around every corner, but there is romance in the air.  Ruby’s Slippers by Leanna Ellis is a fun story of adventure and love.

Song of My Heart

>by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Song of My Heart takes us to Kansas in the day of prohibition.  Sadie needs to provide for her family while her step-father is recovering from a mining accident in Indiana.  Cousin Sid encourages Sadie to come to Goldtree, Kansas, to accept a job at the local mercantile.  But, it’s the added bonus of being able to sing in the Opera House that convinces Sadie to take the offer.  Sadie is happy with her new positions in Goldtree until, Asa, the opera house owner, wants her to sing questionable tunes for a new crowd.   Because Sadie doesn’t want to let her family down she feels pressed to do a Asa says.

In the meantime Mayor Hanaman hires Thad, a wanna be preacher, to rouse out the moonshiners before the growing town is brought to ruin.  Of course, Sadie and Thad are attracted to one another, but when Thad hears Sadie practicing bawdy tunes and also appears to be involved in the moonshining business, all romancing is cancelled.

Kim Sawyer brings us another good read you won’t want to miss.

A Sound Among the Trees

>by Susan Meissner

Marielle married a wonderful man, Carson, a widower of five years with two young children.  She agreed to live in his previous wife’s family home, along with Adelaide the matriarch, “for the children’s sake” and to take care of Sara’s grandmother.  It may not be the most comfortable of conditions but, Marielle did love the children and cared very much for Adelaide.

Holly Oak was an historical mansion in Fredricksburg, Virgina, that had survived the Civil War.  It was rumored that Adelaide’s Great Grandmother, Susannah, was a spy for the Union Army and that Holly Oak was haunted.  The truth of the stately mansion is told through Susannah’s letters written to her cousin in Maine during the war.  Susan Meissner brings her characters alive and there is evidence that she has done much research before the telling of A Sound Among the Trees.

The Measure of Katie Calloway

>by Serena Miller
Katie Calloway flees her Georgia home with her 8 year old brother, Ned.  Harlan, Katie’s husband, wants her dead so that he can marry a rich widow and rebuild his war torn plantation.  He blames Katie for letting the Union soldiers burn down the home that his grandfather had built.  While Harlan is gone, Katie takes his horse and his money to get as far away from him as possible. 
In Bay City, Michigan, Robert Foster is looking for a cook for his lumber camp.  When he tastes Katie’s apple pie, he offers her the job.  Katie believes the lumber camp deep in the Michigan forest is the best place to hide from Harlan.  Although the work is hard, the accomodations are sparse, and the injured camp cook, Jigger, doesn’t want her there, Katie gets to do something she loves.  The lumbermen greatly appreciate her cooking, which is something Harlan never did.
While Katie’s boss is a perfect gentleman and extremely handsome, Katie is still married.  She is determined to keep her place as cook for the seven months as she agreed.  But then she must find another place to work, because it is just too hard to be near Robert.
This was a fast read, maybe because I just couldn’t put it down.  The lumbercamp was a new experience and the extra’s that Serena Miller added, a starving sqaw & infant, Roberts sister & kids, made the journey with Katie fun.  If you like Kim Sawyer, Lauraine Snelling, Mary Connealy, or Karen Witemeyer you’ll like The Measure of Katie Calloway.

Portrait of a Spy

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by Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon is an artist, restoring valuable pieces of art.  He is also a retired Israeli spy who travels with his wife, Chiara.  On one of his trips to England, he spots a possible suicide bomber and follows him with the intent of killing him before the detonator is pressed.  Just before he pulls the trigger, he is tackled by British police and the bomber kills eighteen innocent people.  Gabriel is pardoned for his attempt of murder only by working with the CIA to put a stop to terrorism.  He must convince Nadia, the daughter of the terriorist Gabriel killed 5 years earlier, to help them discover who the head man is.  Portrait of a Spy is number eleven in the Gabriel Allon Series.

Waking Hours

>by Lis Wiehl

Tommy Gunderson, former NFL linebacker, is taken down by the seemingly supernatural strength of an elderly woman who he finds trespassing on his property.  The woman appears to be a little crazy as she is gutting a frog and yelling at him in what sounds like Latin.  Later that night, Tommy is informed that a teen he’s been mentoring, is suspect of maliciously murdering a teenage girl.  Dani Harris, a forensic psychologist, is called to investigate the case.  Many of the East Salem’s teens were at the same party as the victim that night.  When the teens are questioned, none of them can remember what happened.  Tommy’s new passion is being a PI and he works with Dani to help solve the crime.  They both start having haunting nightmares, strangely wake at 2:13, and find items moved around when they awake.  There is definitely something sinister happening in New Salem, NY.  Waking Hours is the first book in the East Salem Trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Lis Wiehl.

Vengeance Valley

>by Richard S. Wheeler

Even though Vengeance Valley is labeled as a Western, it goes beyond the genre.  There is the political deception in running the town and keeping the gold. The characters are well developed and become your friends or enemies.  Then of course there is an unlikely love story to round it off. 

A town has  grown around a silver mine in the middle of nowhere.  The next closest town is a hard 5 miles away and 3,000 feet down the mountain.  Needless to say this group of people were committed to their little town. Hard Luck Yancey, gave the town it’s name.  He was called Hard Luck because three times his fortunes had been lost to other schemeing men.  In this case Alfred Noble, who really wasn’t, had legally taken Yancey’s mine away.  One thing that set the town of Yancey apart from other mining towns was that it had a hospital with nurses and a doctor.  Sister Carmela, known as Sister Drill Sergeant, ran the hospital along with Doc Borden.  The only reason Doc is there is because he wants to practise medicine, but no civilized hospital would have him.  Then we have Adelaide, widow and now owner of the Clover Club.  She just wants to make her late husbands business prosper.  The silver mine is failing and Noble knows there is gold under the hospital.  Getting Sister Drill Sergeant to move the hospital is impossible, yet Mr. Noble is determined to take it out from under them.  Catastrophe happens, no water, no town.  But Yancey has a plan to get his fortune back.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

>by Winifred Watson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a charming story originally written in 1938.  As Miss Pettigrew arrives at Delysia LaFosse’s flat to interview for what she thinks is a governess position, she is whirled into the dizzying pace of Miss LaFosse’s social life.  Even before a how-di-do, Miss LaFasse presents Miss Pettigrew with a problem that must be solved immediately.  The man in her bedroom must be gotten out without a trace of his being there and he mustn’t know Miss LaFosse desires him to leave. Now, before I go any farther, you must know that Miss Pettigrew is a dowdy non-worldly woman who blushes at even the thought of a couple’s kiss, while Miss LaFosse is a world wise woman with three men on the line.  With determination (this may be her last chance at a job) Miss Pettigrew resolves to do what she is asked, even if it goes against her upbringing.   Almost before the breeze of the man’s passing is gone, a second man appears at her door with great suspicion & searches the flat for evidence of the other man.  Miss Pettigrew doesn’t miss a beat when he finds a cigar butt in the kitchen, “‘Young man…if there’s one thing I completely abominate it’s the effeminate type of man that snaps round a house like an old, peeking busybody….If I want to smoke cheroots, I’ll smoke cheroots,…Have one.  I can recommend them.’ Miss Pettigrew opened her bag.  She took out a worn packet of cheroots.”  As Miss Pettigrew continues to help Delysia out of her many self made predicaments, Delysia turns Miss Pettigrew into a beautiful companion for her day filled with social affairs.  This Cinderella, from rags to almost riches, story is a delight to read.  I’ve heard the movie is fun too.

The Man From Beijing

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by Henning Mankell

Swedish author Henning Mankell starts off this adventure with a furious ride! When a journalist arrives to photograph one of Sweden’s dwindling villages, he finds a mass murder has occurred and the bodies are still warm. Traumatized by fear that the murderer may still be in the village, he escapes the scene to find help. Alas, so strong was his fear that he succumbs to a heart attack causing him to swerve in front of a semi. With his last breath, he is able to utter the name of the village. When authorities investigate, they find the village that had consisted of 21 people, now filled with 19 corpses as well as their slaughtered pets. Who would do such a heinous crime and why?

When this horrific news is broadcast, Birgitta Roslin, one of Sweden’s Supreme Court judges, realizes she has seen the village somewhere before. Searching through he mother’s papers, she finds a photo of her mother’s childhood home that matches one of the homes on the news. Curious and wanting connection with her mother’s family she sets off to find out if it is indeed the home of her mother’s foster parents. She finds clues that she thinks are important, but the local authorities are not interested.

This journey will have you traveling across the world and back in time to solve the mystery. While the title gives a clue to the involvement of China, you’ll also make a track to mid 1860’s America, and also a side adventure to Africa. The perpetrator is known midway through the story, but the “what will he do next” will keep you reading. Have a fun ride while reading The Man from Beijing.