The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date:  May 2014
Pages:  336
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format:  Paperback

Book Description: 
She Kept Her Secret for a Lifetime...

A shy girl with no family, Maria knows she's lucky to have landed in the sewing room of the royal household. Before World War I casts its shadow, she catches the eye of the Prince of Wales, a glamorous and intense gentleman. But her life takes a far darker turn, and soon all she has left is a fantastical story about her time at Buckingham Palace.

Decades later, Caroline Meadows discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother's attic. When she can't figure out the meaning of the message embroidered into its lining, she embarks on a quest to reveal its mystery, a puzzle that only seems to grow more important to her own heart. As Caroline pieces together the secret history of the quilt, she comes closer and closer to the truth about Maria.

Page-turning and heartbreaking, The Forgotten Seamstress weaves together past and present in an unforgettable journey.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Maria and Caroline, separated by decades, but their stories are brought together because of a special quilt. This is a story filled with hurt, deception, and regrets as secrets are revealed. You will lose all sense of time, as you become a part of this story.

Much of the story takes place in a mental asylum, Helena Hall, a place where madness has no respect for modesty. A life was being wasted because of a few short hours of feeling special, of being young and foolish. Her life was being taken away because she had been naïve and vulnerable, but there was nothing she could do to right those past wrongs.

The author creates a lot of character depth and good descriptive writing. Liz Trenow certainly knows the human heart – a masterful storyteller, indeed! This is truly a heartwarming story that I’ll not soon forget. I highly recommend with a 5 star rating.

About the Author:
Liz Trenow's family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions.

It was the recollections of Liz's father about how, during the Second World War, the mill worked night and day weaving parachute silk, that inspired her first novel, "The Last Telegram". It is the story of Lily Verner, a young woman who has to grow up very quickly and learn to manage the stresses and trials behind the Home Front in the Second World War.

The love story at the heart of the novel is also based on real life events and characters. In 1939, when war was imminent, Liz's family were so concerned about the plight of their many Jewish friends and business colleagues in Europe that travel to England and work at the mill. One of them fell in love with a local girl and, after internment in Australia and fighting for the Allies in Burma, returned to work at the mill, married and had a family, and lived a long and happy life. Unfortunately the story in "The Last Telegram" is not quite so straightforward!

Liz says: 'It is a coming of age story, a tale of love and loss, and how we come to terms with the mistakes we make.'

Sunday, September 20, 2015

WHEN NIGHT COMES By Dan Walsh⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publisher:  Bainbridge Press
Release Date:  October 2014
Pages:  246
Genre: Fiction/Suspense
Format:  Paperback

About the Book:Jack Turner comes back to Culpepper to give a series of lectures for his old history professor. Within days, he starts having bizarre experiences at night. Like he's traveling back in time, experiencing the epic events in his lectures firsthand. He has no control over these experiences and can't make them stop. Joe Boyd thought he'd left big city crime back in Pittsburgh when he took a detective job in Culpepper, Georgia, a sleepy southern college town. His peaceful life ends when two students turn up dead in two weeks. The coroner is saying natural causes, but something doesn't add up. Rachel Cook, a teaching assistant at Culpepper, can't believe Jack is back in her life again. She's had a crush on him since she was fourteen, but Jack never knew. He instantly seems attracted to her, but she can tell...something is deeply troubling him. Watching all this from a distance is Nigel Avery. He's certain this experiment's about to unravel. It'll be his job to tie up all the loose ends when it does. Bestselling author Dan Walsh is known for page-turning storylines. Fans of his novels The Discovery and What Follows After will especially love...When Night Comes.

Wanda's Thoughts:  I was quite impressed with my first Dan Walsh novel. It was well written, although a bit predictable, but with interesting characters and certainly an intriguing premise. Walsh has a way of laying out the storyline in a clear and concise manner with plenty of unexpected revelations throughout. There were well-researched historical scenes built around World War II events, including Pearl Harbor, and the Doolittle raid of Tokyo.

Not all is what it appears as the story unfolds ---

Jack Turner was returning to Culpepper, his alma mater, as a lecturer on Pearl Harbor. He was looking for a diversion from his life and looking forward to making progress on his new book. Somehow Jack finds himself traveling back in time to 1941 to that fateful day in Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle raid of Tokyo.

Professor Thomas Thornton is Jack’s former mentor and the person responsible for Jack being at Culpepper. The Professor faces many difficult choices throughout as secrets begin to unfold.

Rachel Cook is a sweet, likeable character that works as a teaching assistant in the political science department. Her teenage crush for Jack has never gone away, but has gotten stronger since they reconnected.

The character of Nigel Avery, the villain, is shadowy, violent and relentless. He excelled at surveillance. He is hired to watch the Professor.

Sergeant Joe Boyd – Culpepper, Georgia seemed like a better place to raise his family – nothing bad seemed to ever happen here. He left the excitement of being a homicide detective in the Pittsburgh PD. I was somewhat disappointed in this character, as he seemed to shirk his responsibilities.

The last third of the book has a crescendo of suspense that kept me flipping the pages. It is the perfect choice for readers looking for suspense, historical events, and a touch of romance. My rating is 4.5 stars.

About the Author:  Dan Walsh's debut novel, The Unfinished Gift, won 2 Carol Awards and has been published in several editions and different languages. It continues to be an Amazon bestseller during the Christmas season 5 years later and has sold over 50,000 copies.

With the sequel, The Homecoming, book reviewers began to liken Dan's writing to Nicholas Sparks. Dan's 3rd novel, The Deepest Waters, earned his 3rd Carol Award for Best Short Historical. His 4th novel, Remembering Christmas became his first national bestseller and was a finalist for Inspirational Book of the Year.

Since then, Dan has written 10 more novels, including a 4-book fiction series with Gary Smalley. The Discovery and The Reunion, both stand-alones, were also named finalists for RT's Inspirational Book of the Year and both have over 250 5-Star reviews on Amazon. The Reunion has also been optioned for a movie by Team Two Entertainment.

Dan released his first indie-published suspense novel, When Night Comes, Nov 1st.

He lives in the Daytona Beach area with his wife, Cindi, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. They've been married for 38 years and have 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

BENEDICTION (Plainsong #3) By Kent Haruf⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publisher:  Knopf
Release Date: 2013
Pages:  258
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description: 
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation when he offers more than they are used to getting on Sunday mornings. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Wanda's Thoughts: 
This is good old-fashioned story telling at its best and certainly realistic fiction. Several stories are woven together with characters that all have problems of their own, and each will attach themselves to your heart. The characters are ordinary people, but all unique in their own way.

The story comes alive and unfolds in the small town of Holt and I truly felt that I was there.

Dad Lewis has just learned he has just a few short weeks to live.

Mary – Dad’s wife is such a caring person who tries to make his last few weeks meaningful as she reflects on the years gone by.

Lorraine is the daughter who is very devoted to her parents, but with problems of her own. She is in a relationship with Richard – a relationship that Dad does not approve.

Alice is the 8 year-old who will just warm your heart, and lives with her grandmother, Berta May. They are next-door neighbors to Dad and Mary Lewis.

Reverend Lyle is not an ordinary preacher. He is new in town with a wife who doesn’t support him, and a son with deep problems.

Willa and Alene Johnson are my favorite characters. They are longtime residents of Holt County and members of the church. Alene is a 60 year-old retired teacher and unmarried. She is the daughter of Willa and an interesting part of the storyline.

Benediction is beautiful, comforting, and poignant. Included are both sadness and happiness as the author demonstrates how he knows the human heart. I am amazed at the simplicity of the dialogue, and yet Haruf delivers so much impact. He certainly knows how to evoke the emotions.

This is my first time reading a novel by Kent Haruf and I’ve developed a deep respect for this late author and his writing skills. I simply loved this book and I highly recommend it. 5 stars.

About the Author:  Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.

Haruf is the author of Plainsong, which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award. Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. His novel, The Tie That Binds, received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation. In 2006, Haruf was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s.

Haruf lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado, with their three daughters. He died of cancer on November 30, 2014.

Monday, September 7, 2015

5 Minutes with Jesus By Sheila Walsh⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date:  August 11, 2015
Pages:  192
Genre:  Devotional
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description:  Spending time with Jesus will make all the difference in your busy day.

We balance so many things day after day--families, jobs, church, sports. Sometimes it feels like there is no time left for the most important thing: spending time with Jesus. But Sheila Walsh will help us do just that through these concise but substantial daily readings.

Each entry includes Scripture, a brief devotional thought, and a helpful takeaway. Even after just a few minutes of reading, you will have spent time with God's truth in a meaningful way, and be inspired to think on that truth and live in response to it the rest of the day.

Sheila is a master of short but profound thoughts such as "Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ," which" "have been retweeted time and time again. Readers will be thrilled to find these kinds of encouraging words--along with Sheila's characteristic approach of combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with Scripture--in "Five Minutes with Jesus. "They'll be reminded of how powerful it is to be in the presence of Jesus, and how much He wants us to stay close to Him every minute of the day.

Wanda's Thoughts: 5 Minutes with Jesus is a compilation of daily devotions that will give comfort, peace, and hope to those who have minimal time to spend reading Scripture. Each day a reading is accompanied by a selection of four or five verses of Scripture that you can leisurely look up and experience the word of God. These readings will encourage you to reflect on what the Word has to say to you and how you can apply it to your own needs. My rating is 4 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author: Sheila Walsh (05-07-1956) is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. A featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with God's Word.

Author of the best-selling memoir Honestly and the Gold Medallion nominee for The Heartache No One Sees, Sheila's most recent release, The Shelter of God's Promises, has also been turned into a DVD curriculum and in-depth Bible study. The Gigi, God's Little Princess book and video series has won the National Retailer's Choice Award twice and is the most popular Christian brand for young girls in the United States.

Sheila co-hosted The 700 Club and her own show Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh. She is currently completing her Masters in Theology.

Twitter @SheilaWalsh,!/sheilawalshconnects

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Martha Stewart's APPETIZERS (More Than 200 Recipes) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️By Martha Stewart

Publisher:  Clarkson Potter
Release Date:  September 8, 2015
Pages:  256
Genre: Cookbook
Format: Hardcover

Book Description: 
Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites, and Sips

Hors d’oeuvres made modern: Today’s style of entertaining calls for fuss-free party foods that are easy to make and just as delicious as ever. With more than 200 recipes for tasty predinner bites, substantial small plates, special-occasion finger foods, and quick snacks to enjoy with drinks, Martha Stewart’s Appetizers is the new go-to guide for any type of get-together.

Wanda's Thoughts:  This is definitely a notch above any other appetizer book I’ve used. Martha Stewart certainly adds a touch of class, with elegance, to the more than 200 recipes included. And the illustrations of the finished products are absolutely beautiful!

The contents include Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites, and Sips. My favorite section is the Stylish Bites where I have marked many recipes to try. Also included are Golden Rules for Hosting a Party and Party Planning: Tips and Strategies.

I have several appetizer books, but this one will certainly be at the top of the pile as my go-to. If you are into entertaining you’ll love this book. I highly recommend with a 5 star rating.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author: 
Martha Stewart is an American business magnate, author, editor and homemaking advocate. She is also a former stockbroker and fashion model. Over the last two decades Stewart has held a prominent position in the American publishing industry; as the author of several books, hundreds of articles on the domestic arts, editor of a national home-keeping magazine, host for two popular daytime television programs, and commercial spokeswoman for K-Mart. In 2001 she was named the third most powerful woman in America by Ladies Home Journal