Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Key on the Quilt - Review

The Key on the Quilt
First in The Quilt Chronicles series
by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Jane Prescott is serving a 10 year sentence for a murder believed to have been committed by Jane Marquis. Jane Prescott and Jane Marquis are the same person, but she went back to using her first married name after being convicted of murdering her husband Owen Marquis.

She has a nine year old daughter, Rose Prescott, who went to live with Jane's sister Flora after the murder. Jane didn't give any reason for murdering Owen, a good man as far as anyone knew, except when he was drinking, then he became very abusive to Jane and that was never in public. He never hurt Rose, except for the fact that she heard and saw the abusiveness.

Jane had one person in town who tried to fight for her at the trial, but she wouldn't let him and she wouldn't say anything in defense of herself as to why she shot Owen. Dr Max Zimmer had seen the bruises and broken ribs as he watched her go to a silent obedient wife. He also treated Rose when she received an injury while Owen was teaching her to shoot a gun.

During her time in prison, Jane wrote to Rose and waited for Flora to bring her for a visit. After she'd been in there for a while she received a short note from her sister to quit writing to Rose because it was too upsetting to her and if she tried to continue there was a chance she'd move so Jane wouldn't know where they were.

Dr Zimmer continued to fight to get her out as he didn't think she was capable of commiting the crime she'd been convicted of. When he went to visit her after she'd served a few years one of the prisoners, Pearl Brand, attacked another prisoner who was pregnant, along with the warden. Dr Zimmer, being on site, treated the prisoner and delivered her baby. Jane was the prisoner selected to go with Vestal to be treated at the wardens house, but she and Max did not speak even one word to each other as that was not allowed. The next day, after visiting with the warden about the reason for coming to see him, to request a letter to take to the governor so Jane could be released, he got to see Jane and explain what he was doing. She told him to forget it and to not bother her again.

Jane had found a way to get through her ten year sentence by not thinking about the future when she would be free to see Rose again and have her daughter back. If she allowed Max to get her hopes up, she would have to start the process of forgetting where she was all over again, she just couldn't allow that to happen.

After the prison dust up, Pearl was not held with the other women and the warden's wife started helping out and would guard the women on Sunday's. After services one Sunday, the preacher's wife lost a necklace so that night Ellen took Jane to help her search for it and clean as they were looking. They didn't know that Pearl had escaped her cell with the help of a guard and had a homemade weapon. Ellen sent Jane to get a broom and when she returned Pearl had Ellen held hostage and now she would have Jane also. All the women were afraid of Pearl so Jane knew not to even talk to her but Ellen didn't, which worked out for them, she ended up finding out what the whole plan was. Max decided it was taking his wife an awful long time so he went looking for her, when Pearl saw him she jumped to stab Ellen, but Jane jumped up and diverted the attack to save the warden's wife and got stabbed instead.

Yep, that's it, you have to read it now! Stephanie did a great job with this book and holding your interest throughout. This is a must read! I just can't say enough good about this book. I am really anxious for the second book in this series, Shadow of a Name, to some out this September.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley <> book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth - Review

Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth
First book in A Pennsylvania-Dutch Mystery series
by Tamar Myers

Magdalena Yoder runs the PennDutch Inn in Hernia, PA and is related to almost everyone in town, either close, distant, or once removed, etc. Her sister Susannah, who left the Mennonites to marry but is now divorced, lives at the Inn but is very undependable, lazy, and sleeps around. Their parents died in an accident and Magdalena and Susannah are the only ones left in their immediate family.

It is the beginning of deer hunting season and they are looking at having a full house, so full that when Miss Brown shows up Susannah has to clean her room so Miss Brown can have that room. A Congressman, his wife Lydia and his aide are expected as are several members of A.P.E.S. (the Animal Parity Endowment Society). Billy Dee Grizzle and Lydia Ream are the nicest of the guests, Miss Brown wants to be left alone, even for meals, and the rest are just strange. The A.P.E.S group is vegan, the Congresman's group and Billy Dee want meat, so this causes problems with Freni, the cook and she ends up quitting and being fired several times.

The first night dinner is quite the scene but once every one is in bed, someone hears a thump and Miss Brown is discovered in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. The police are called and the body is taken away so they can do an autopsy. A couple of days later, after Magdalena gets shot at a couple of times, Susannah's dog Shnookums chokes but Magdalena saves him, the hunters have left the Inn each day (if that's what they're actually doing) and the A.P.E.S. group have spent their time looking for the Congressman's group to try and prevent them from hunting, (they never do find them), one of the other guests is discovered dead with her hand gripping a homemade quilt. Susannah discovers her as she is looking for Shnookums pacifier.

Now with two deaths, looking more and more like murders happening in her Inn what will happen? Will people still want to come, looking at the reputation she's had up until now, or will they decide it's not the kind of place they want to stay at?

Don't judge this book by it's title, the Mennonites are not anything like you'd expect. Magdalena's brain seems to be thinking strange thoughts constantly, it's kind of funny some of the things she thinks to herself. There are some curse words, which really surprised me, not a lot and not 'filthy' ones but if you don't like reading these words, I would suggest you not read this book. If you like cozy mystery's you'd probably really like this.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shades of Earl Grey - Review

Shades of Earl Grey
Third book in A Tea Shop Mystery series
by Laura Childs

Theo's friend, Delaine Dish is throwing an engagement party for her niece Camille and her fiance Captain Corey Buchanan, one of 'THE BUCHANAN'S' of Charleston. This is an elegant affair and the wedding ring is being displayed for the party because it is a piece of the Estate jewelery. Unfortunately things don't go very well. As they are waiting for the couple to arrive the ring is stolen and the groom meets with a freak accident. Captain Buchanan dies and so the mystery begins, why would anyone want to kill him or was it an accident and the ring seems to have disappeared too.

The following weekend the ring was supposed to be displayed at the Heritage Society's Treasures Show, that won't be happening now, but the show must go on. Even though everyone is in a tizzy over the accident, or murder, of Captain Buchanan, Theo, Drayton and Haley are planning for an open-house to introduce The Indigo Tea Shop's new line of T-Bath products.

The Heritage Society goes ahead with the Treasures Show when all of a sudden the lights go out, then when the generator kicks in there is a Blue Kashmir (sapphire) necklace missing. Theo's mind goes into high gear and along with Drayton and Haley they come up with a scenario, a cat burgler, but if that's the case why is Captain Buchanan dead? The police don't agree with her, but the more Theo and her friends put their heads together they even come up with three suspects.

See if you agree with them and if you can figure it out before you get to the end of the book. I am finding that these books move along kind of slow and for a mystery I'm finding more emphasis on the Indigo Tea Shop than the mystery part. I do understand that, in a way, because it is A Tea Shop Mystery series but when I hear 'mystery' I guess I expect a little more sleuthing than this book had. 

A Life Restored by Karen Baney - Review

A Life Restored
Third book in Prescott Pioneers series
by Karen Baney

Caroline Larson really missed her brother Adam and best friend Julia Colter after they ran off to Arizona, not by choice and not as a couple, but to save Julia from her brother Reuben. Not only did she miss them but she wanted to see herself married with a family of her own. Always one to come up with a plan, good or bad, her plan now was to chase down a suitor. She thought if she kissed both Jesse Shoemaker and Nathan Finley that would tell her who she should marry. Caroline didn't plan on her brother catching her kissing one of them. This plan didn't work very well, not only was she in trouble, but she couldn't see herself marrying either one of the young men. Now what?

She soon comes up with a plan to go to Arizona but knowing her Father would not let her travel alone, she advertises in the paper for a traveling companion and finds one. The problem is the companions are not going all the way to Prescott, AZ but she neglects to tell her parents this little fact. Caroline convinces her parents to let her brother Georgie accompany her part way then she would meet up with Reverend Pritchett and his daughter Millicent. They were going as far as Wickenburg to start a Presbyterian church and once they reached their destination they would escort her onto Prescott, AZ a couple of weeks later. That was the plan and it worked out fine until Caroline gets bored in Wickenburg within a few days and decides to sneak off on a stagecoach for Prescott by herself.

Wickenburg, as far as Caroline is concerned anyway, is a wretched town. There were two saloons, a mercantile, a hotel and a stage station. After deciding she can't take living in a tent, the dirty town, and rude miners she goes to the stage office and almost gets run over by the Pony Express Rider, Thomas Anderson. She obtains her ticket and sneaks off on the stagecoach on Saturday, the only female aboard with four men as passengers. About five miles out of Wickenburg the stage coach gets robbed by Robert Garrett and his gang, Robert orders his men to kill all the men aboard. He also recognizes her as Caroline Larson from Texas and decides to let her live so he can get even with Will Colter and Adam Larson, his plan is to have his men return to get her, they can have their fun with her and then he'll use her for ransom.

Two days later Thomas is finally on his return trip to Prescott when he sees an obstruction ahead and is very leery about going on. He knows how dangerous it is to be out here alone and you have to listen for any noise out of the ordinary and any strange activity or sites. Since there isn't anyplace to take cover he decides to hurry past as fast as he can. Caroline seeing him approach, realizes he isn't going to stop, so she throws her Bible at his back. That stops him! He knows he can't leave her out there alone and he only has the horse he's riding, since the stage horses were stolen too, but she is insisting on taking her carpet bag and thus is their second argument. When Thomas starts to leave without Caroline she finally gives in and agrees to only take her Bible that her Grandma Larson had given her.

They eventually reach Prescott and Caroline finds out that Thomas is familiar with Will's ranch and knows Adam and Julia. But, just who is Robert Garrett and what does he have against Will Colter and Adam Larson, why is he out for revenge. Now that Caroline is in Prescott, will things be the way she thought they would be and will she find happiness in her new home?

I love this series, thought I would get the full story, but NOOO, there's another book, A Hope Revealed, coming out in May of this year. I can hardly wait to read it since I feel kind of like Karen left me hanging about Robert Garrett. You will not be disappointed in this series.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brush of Angel's Wings by Ruth Reid - Review of the second book in the Heaven on Earth series

Brush of Angel's Wings 
Second book in Heaven on Earth series 
by Ruth Reid

Rachel Hartzler does not fit in her Amish community, she likes to race her horse and buggy beating the boys, she can't cook or sew like normal Amish girls, and is resigned that she will be a leddich maydel. Two years ago she was encouraged to find the Angel that Judith Fischer talked to by Kate Bender who happened to be engaged to Rachel's brother James. In her haste to go to the river, she didn't get the gate shut to the sheep pen and some got out. James was trying to catch the sheep and drowned in the river. Rachel has never forgiven Kate for encouraging her to try and find Judith's Angel. She has tried to take the place of her father's only son by doing the work James would have done, therefore she doesn't ever see herself becoming a wife or mother. Instead she is going to try to be the teacher of the new school, which is exactly what Kate wants to do also since she can't seem to move on from losing James.

Jordan Engles is not Amish but his Mother was and he is now living with his Uncle and looking for work. His father, a truck driver, left when he was very little and he never heard from him again. When Jordan's mother got cancer they lost everything trying to pay the medical bills and on her deathbed she asked him to go live with her brother to see what Amish life was like. Jordan gets hired on at the Hartzler farm which makes Rachel mad as he's taking her place helping her dad, which she see's as trying to take James' place.

Kayla Davy is a rich Englischer who brings her horse to the Hartzler's to have him shoed, when she sees Jordan she flirts with him and Rachel doesn't like that. After the horse is there a few days she comes over to ride him but Jordan tells her it's too wet and not safe, he refuses to go with her so she saddles the horse and goes by herself. Jordan jumps on the horse to go get her, then drives her home. Kayla loans him her cell phone so he can look up truck driving schools because he thinks he'd have a better chance finding his dad that way.

Jordan eventually feels his work is done at the Hartzler's so he hires on at the Davy's farm but when Micah Hartzler gets hurt and has to spend time in the hospital, Jordan returns to their farm to help out. That is until Kayla comes over to show him a text from his dad. Jordan's dad saw a message on the internet that Jordan's looking for him so he sends a text to Kayla's phone. Arrangements are made for Jordan and Clint, his father, to meet and from that meeting arrangements are mad for Jordan to go on the road with Clint.

During the time he's gone Rachel's sister Sadie, who's having a troubled pregnancy, goes into early labor, delivers baby Ella, but loses her own life. Timothy, Sadie's husband, is beside himself and Rachel takes over the care of Ella during the day and his mother stays the night caring for Ella. Rachel tries to get Timothy to spend time with his daughter but he fights her every inch of the way.

Timothy finally decides he can't care for his baby and his work so he asks Rachel to marry him. He explains that he's already gotten the Bishop's approval and they can grow to love each other. Rachel is stunned, she's dreamed about having a husband like Timothy, he loved Sadie so, was kind, caring, everything one would want in a husband, but she can't say yes. She promises to talk to her parents and pray about it.

Throughout this story there are two Angel's, Nathaniel the good Angel and Tangus the bad Angel. These Angels are both assigned to Rachel and Jordan, and they seem more like you would think of your conscious talking to you, but you don't always hear everything your conscious tells you to do and which one do you listen to?

Now you have to figure out, do Rachel and Timothy get married for Ella's sake, since Rachel promised to be there to care for her, does Jordan become a truck driver, does he stay English and return to Kayla or does he become Amish and return to Rachel, and if he returns to Rachel is it too late?

I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to anyone that likes Amish books. The focus on the Angels in this book seem more like what you would experience in your life, like your subconscious talking to you. Very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to the third book in the series Angel At Her Side coming out in January 2013.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”