Bent Tree Bride

Bent Tree BrideBent Tree Bride by Denise Weimer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this type of story! Lots of real history, a healthy sprinkling of historical characters, and woven all through it, a beautiful love story filled with all the angst and danger and difficulty that keeps the reader turning each page. A clash of cultures with the backdrop of war is not the place to fall in love, but few people on the early 1800s frontier had the luxury of picking the time and place. Sometimes love happens amid the chaos and against the rules.

If you’ve read Weimer’s “The Witness Tree,” you will recognize a few of these characters. While a stand-alone novel, it is nice to revisit some of the friends made in that novel as well. If you haven’t read “The Witness Tree,” you should.

The Stranger from the Sea

The Stranger from the Sea (Poldark, #8)The Stranger from the Sea by Winston Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I understand why the Masterpiece Theater series ended when it did. Book 8 – this one – takes a huge jump into the future. Jeremy is in this early 20s, Clowance her late teens. That would have been something to pull off in a TV show, because they’d have had to age Ross and Demelza by 20 years.

But it’s fun to read on and see what the ‘kids’ are up to. Geoffrey Charles makes an appearance as well. The country is changing although still at war with France. There is a new power in government. New innovations are being explored. And yet, some things stay comfortingly the same.

Looking forward to Book 9, but I think a little break to catch up on some other reading first.

The Angry Tide

The Angry Tide (Poldark, #7)The Angry Tide by Winston Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be the best book yet in the Poldark series. It’s a looong book at 612 pages, but so worth reading if you’ve loved this series. This book corresponds with season four of the Masterpiece Theater TV series, but it goes so much deeper than the TV version could – as good books always do. The ending was just as heart-grabbing as the TV version, but with deeper meaning, I think.

Now I venture into new territory! Books 8 – 12 were not included in the TV version. (Season five of the TV version was not based on any of the books – book 8 jumps forward 10 years from book 7.) Let the adventures continue!

The Duke and I (Bridgerton)

The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

People were gushing on social media about the Netflix (I think it was Netflix) show based on this book. I enjoy a good period drama, but I don’t have Netflix, so I borrowed the audiobook and listened. The story itself was fine, I could have enjoyed that, but the mommy-porn in the second half was so unnecessary. I like a good romance, but not a how-to sex manual, which is what this morphed into. I finished the book, but I won’t read or listen to any of the others in this series.

Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope (Beacons of Hope, #3)Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this story! Full disclosure, I’ve been to this lighthouse and love the setting, so it would have had to be a real goose egg for me not to like it, but I more than liked it. The characters are diverse and interesting, the plot is unique, and the setting … did I mention that I love the setting? And overall themes of sacrifice and redemption are beautifully handled without knocking the reader over the head. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

A Dance in Donegal

A Dance in DonegalA Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel and it won’t be the last of hers that I read. A delightful tale full of the textures of Ireland. The author has lived there – obviously – and really brought the reader onto its emerald shores. The characters’ dialect is reflected in their dialogue, and their old-world superstitions come to the fore. The story has romance, intrigue, and a complex set of characters that will keep you turning the pages.

The Moonlight School

The Moonlight SchoolThe Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love stories with real history and real historical characters woven seamlessly throughout the story. This is one of those! I had to stop myself from turning to the back to see if this or that was fact or fiction. I prefer to wait until the end most of the time, but the author did such a good job of combining this story that I was tempted – more than once – to peek. Wrapped around Lucy’s journey to adult independence is the history of one woman’s crusade against illiteracy in the deep hollows of Kentucky’s backcountry. But my favorite character was brother Wyatt. You’ll have to read it to see why. 🙂

Knitting Yarns

Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingKnitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting by Ann Hood
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This one was a real disappointment. It’s a book of essays by authors who knit. Or at least, that’s how it was billed. It’s not. Most of the essays – in the first half which is all I read – are about why they don’t knit even though they learned how. I dislike books with profanity, and this one is sprinkled with it. I dislike reading gloom & doom. I like uplifting, edifying, hope-filled stories. I really don’t care about someone’s lesbianism being challenged by a knitting man with absolutely no point to the story. Or the story about someone whose nanny crocheted … in a book about knitters. Or pages filled with purple prose, the writerly attempt to thrown every word they know on the page. And if you’re in marriage counseling on your third husband and it doesn’t work out in the end, why tell the world? What was the point? There was a lot of “what was the point?” in this book.

D. Wayne

D. Wayne: The High-Rolling and Fast Times of America's Premier Horse TrainerD. Wayne: The High-Rolling and Fast Times of America’s Premier Horse Trainer by Carlo DeVito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you love horse racing and have for some time, this is a MUST READ book. It’s an older book, released in 2002, but it was a wonderful stroll down memory lane for me. The names of the trainers, the names of the horses, the races … all good to remember. But the author took me behind the scenes, filled in a lot of backstory, and plenty of controversies I’d heard only a little about. Things written for the racing world that didn’t make prime time. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Horse racing fans will too.

My Grandfather’s Son

My Grandfather's SonMy Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Just … wow. What an inspirational story. Clarence Thomas’s life is truly an amazing testimony to family and faith. He doesn’t hold anything back. He’s clear about his own failings, his bad decisions, and his fight against anger and radicalism in his school years. Thomas talks about deep south racism when it was *real.* When rope lynchings still happened. (As opposed to the character lynching he was subjected to later on.) He talks about rebelling against the grandfather who raised him and about learning to appreciate him. He talks about rebelling against God and finding Him again. He talks about the people who supported him and those who did their best to stand in his way. (I was surprised on both accounts.) This book was released in 2007, so probably written in 2005, but it’s amazing how many of the people mentioned are still entrenched in the power circles of D.C. If you like stories of those who have overcome, stories about character vs culture, and/or stories of those who have made it in the murky waters of politics, you’ll love this book.