Category Archives: General Fiction

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

harrietchanceHarriet Chance has always taken a back seat in her life.  As described in the novel, she’ “cheap” with herself.  She decides to take a chance on a trip, not knowing that she’ll soon discover everything she’s known is turned upside down.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
by Jonathan Evison
Algonquin Books
September 2015

Harriet Chance just spent the last two years of her life caring for her husband during his rapidly declining mental health.  Two years after his passing, she gets a call telling her he’s won a cruise to Alaska.  Against what’s normal for her, she decides to go and invites her spontaneous best friend on the trip.

At the last minute, her friend backs out.  Sending a cryptic letter explaining the absence.    What follows are glimpses into Harriet’s past and the way that Harriet has justified her life and treatment from Bernard during their marriage.  The picture painted is very different than what Harriet has created in her mind.

The tale that Jonathan Evison weaves in this novel is in turns hilarious and tragic.  You meet Harriet’s adult daughter and learn things about Harriet that change your view of her.  Overall, I think younger generations get the idea of the “cute little old lady,” and Evison tosses that to the wind.  You get to know Harriet as an individual, you see how she’s treated as a senior citizen, and you are challenged in the way YOU treat those in generations before you.

As the novel unfolds, Evison uses flashbacks that are tied to what’s occurring in Harriet’s present.  This is the PERFECT way to incorporate flashbacks into a novel.  It’s relevant to what you’re reading, and it doesn’t feel jarring like flashbacks used in other novels I’ve read recently.

No spoilers, but the ending left me floundering.  I was expecting something completely different, and Evison threw me for a loop.  While I LOVED the novel as a whole, the end left me unsatisfied.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

blackeyedTessa is the lone survivor of a serial killer. The only Susan to survive several brutal murders. She helped put the killer behind bars. Years later, as his execution date approaches, Tessa finds messages left for her. Is the wrong man behind bars?

Black-Eyed Susans
by Julia Heaberlin
Ballentine Books
June 2015

 At seventeen years old, Tessa was subjected to pain and torture, left blinded by psychosis, and survived the rampage of a serial killer.  She fought to put the pieces of her life back together, slowly but surely.  She’s even been able to heal enough to have her own daughter.

Many times over the years, Tessa was approached by an inmate’s advocate who questioned the guilt of the man sentenced for the crimes.  It’s not until his exectution approaches that Tessa also begins to question.  And she only questions based on “gifts” that are being left for her.

I really wanted to like this.  The premise seemed solid, as did the characters.  The flaw in Julia Heaberlin’s novel is really in the formatting.  I don’t mind flashbacks as a general rule.  However, every other chapter in this novel flashes back to Tessa’s past, followed by a chapter in present day.  This continues through the entire book.

After a few chapters, it gets cumbersome to wade through.  I want to be able to enjoy fiction and focus on the building suspense in thrillers.  For me, this jumping back and forth only served as a disruption, never really allowing that suspense to build.

In the end, it became so disruptive to me that I couldn’t finish the novel.   I wasn’t left like I NEEDED to find out what happened.

So I didn’t.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 7 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

wabanaki-blues-coverMona Lisa LaPierre’s parents give her little notice that she’ll be spending the summer after graduation  in a remote cabin with her curmudgeonly grandfather.    Mona must learn who she is in the face of family secrets and her dual Native American heritage.

Wabanaki Blues
by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
The Poisoned Pencil
June 2015

When Mona’s parents announce they’ll be heading to Russia to study bears, Mona is shocked to learn she’ll be spending the time with her granfather in remote New England woods.  She is forced to miss graduation and the chance to get her crush, Beetle, to notice her before they part.

Mona, the child of both Mohegan and Abenaki tribes, has a passion for blues.  This passion and the voice of her grandmother Bilki keep her grounded as she goes on a journey to learn the truth about a young woman’s disappearance and in reality, about herself.

Zobel, being Native American herself, really paid tribute to her heritage.  Instead of watering down Native traditions and stories, they took forefront in this novel.  Zobel shares her traditions and writes them with such reverence and respect.

I REALLY wanted to like this book.  Unfortunately, too many story lines and crossing details made it hard to keep the different parts of the story straight.  It’s a genuine coming of age story told in an uncoventional way, which I appreciate.  It just became very complex in a way that wasn’t able to keep me engaged.  Complex in the name of suspense is fantastic.  This just fell short of that for me.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

 

The Healing Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter

91p39eAji4L._SL1500_Emma and Lamar are an Amish couple that have recently married and moved to Sarasota, Florida for the winter. Emma decides to have a quilting class in her new home.

The Healing Quilt
by Wanda Brunstetter
Shiloh Run Press
August 2014

The Healing Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter was a delightful story and it makes me want to go back and read the earlier books in the series. Emma and Lamar Miller, an Amish couple, have recently married and moved to Sarasota, Florida for the winter. Emma misses teaching quilting classes so she decides to hold a class in her new home. It seems that individuals that are hurting or have some other problem, gravitate toward Emma and her quilting classes. Jennifer, Phyllis, Erika, Kim, Noreen, and BJ sign up for the class and during the six weeks, Emma works her magic which is not really magic but just good common sense and a devout belief in God.

The author did an excellent job in the development of all aspects of the book. Everyone of the characters came to life on the pages of the book and the dialogue of each was very believable. All the scenes were so vividly described that I felt myself right in the center of all the action. Each individual that had a problem at the beginning of the class seemed to work through their feelings and situations and ended with happy results. It was actually inspiring to read about Emma and Lamar’s life and how they helped everyone that came in contact with the couple.

I recommend this book to all that enjoy a good story about the Amish.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

To Swim At Midnight by Suzanne D. Willi

912AsslwTOL._SL1500_Five years ago, Tristan Scott spent the last day of summer vacation with Brie as they went for a midnight swim in the lake. He has not seen Brie since then and has no idea that they have a son.

To Swim At Midnight
by Suzanne D. Williams
Self Published
July 2014

To Swim At Midnight by Suzanne D. Williams is a Christian love story but with a somewhat different plot than most Christian novels. Tristan Scott has returned to the lake where he spent the best summer of his life. His father has died and Tristan has to sell the lake house to pay the debts left by his father. He does not want to sell the house for it is filled with memories that he can’t forget and the best memory is Brie Angler. She and he shared a midnight swim that he will never forget. It has been five years since he has seen Brie but in driving by the house where Brie lived, he sees her in the yard and all the memories come rushing back. When Tristan stops to talk with Brie, he gets the shock of his life when he sees a very young boy who looks exactly like him. Tristan is at the lake house with his current girlfriend and she is not happy with the way he is acting for of course she has learned about Brie.

Suzanne has done it again with another great story. This Christian story is different for the main character does not become a Christian in the story. However, the reader is left with the feeling that he will become a Christian for Brie is now a Christian and is rearing their son with Christian values. The characters were so well developed that I was feeling each of their emotions right along with them. The dialogue of all the characters seemed to be exactly what would have been said in all the situations. I was pulling for Tristan and Brie to get together but I did feel a little sorry for the girlfriend. The author did have her speak her mind but she was not cruel as she could have been. There was some suspense in the plot line for I did not know if Tristan would marry the girlfriend or if he would end up with Brie. This story definitely showed the power of love and how it can change circumstances. The story had a good ending and I would like to see a sequel.

I definitely recommend this book even though it is not your typical Christian romance.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Postmarked Ever After by Mary L. Ball

81O+O31+ZjL._SL1500_Serena Gray works as an emergency nurse and when she receives a letter stating that her husband has a daughter that he never knew, her life is filled with unanswered questions.

Postmarked Ever After
by Mary L. Ball
Lovely Romance Press
August 2014

Postmarked Ever After by Mary L. Ball is a very good Christian romance that leaves you with a good feeling when the story is finished. Serena Gray works as an emergency room nurse and is beginning to move on after the death of her husband. A letter addressed to her late husband arrives and it is from a woman dying of cancer telling him that he has a daughter he never knew. Through a chance meeting, Serena meets Adam Knox who just happens to be the husband of the woman who wrote the letter. Serena gives a talk on nursing at the school where Adam is the principal and one of the students at the lecture is Nicky, Adam’s daughter. Serena is sure that Nicky is her husband’s daughter and the story gets very interesting at this point. Should Serena show the letter to Adam or should she just remain quiet? Is there really an attraction between Adam and Serena?

Mary Ball did an excellent job in the development of this story. The characters came to life on the pages of the book and I actually felt as if Serena, Adam, and Nicky were close friends. It was good to have a pre-teen portrayed in such a loving and sweet way and the dialogue between Nicky and the adults was a joy to read. Scenes were so well described that I could see myself right in the middle of everything that was happening. Actually I was more standing in the background urging Serena to show the letter to Adam for I was sure that he knew that Nicky was not his biological daughter. The suspense throughout the story dealt mainly with Serena and the letter. Would she give Adam the letter or destroy it? Another little surprise was the dream of a young boy in the hospital and when he told Serena about the dream, she was not sure what to make of the dream. When the three main characters finally worked though all their problems, the story had a wonderful ending.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great love story with a Christian message.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

812Enaqf4dL._SL1500_Lauren, Bethanne, and Linda are friends and all are having problems in their relationships and/or businesses.

Blossom Street Brides
by Debbie Macomber
Random House
March 2014

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber is an inspiring story about three women and the problems in their lives. Lauren Elliott is dismayed when she learns that her younger sister is pregnant. Lauren has been waiting for years for Todd to propose. After deciding to take matters into her own hands, she meets a man named Rooster. Bethanne Scranton is a newlywed but she lives in Seattle and Max lives in California. Neither feels that they can move because of their businesses but the miles between them are beginning to cause problems. Linda Goetz is very happy with her husband Brad but she is deeply troubled about the future of her yarn shop for business has dropped off. The business is given a boost when someone starts leaving baskets all over town with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and to buy their yarn at A Good Yarn.

Debbie Macomber did an excellent job with all elements of this story. I felt as if I knew each character personally for they were so well developed. I must say that my favorite character was Rooster. You will have to read the book to learn his real name and why he was called Rooster. I became involved in all the scenes for again Debbie made them so realistic. The story kept me reading when I should have been doing something else because I had to know how each woman would solve her problems. I was not disappointed with any of the solutions.

I definitely recommend this book to all who love a good romantic story and enjoy books by Debbie Macomber.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner

913lplqBa5L._SL1500_ Jake Miller is an apprentice blacksmith and he also has a unique way of handling horses. Priscilla Kinsinger has returned to Lancaster after six years and to Jake’s dismay, she also has a way with horses.

The Amish Blacksmith
by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner
Harvest House Publishers
August 2014

The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner is a delightful Amish novel that was a joy to read. Jake Miller is an apprentice blacksmith and he also has a way with horses. Priscilla Kinsinger has returned to Lancaster after being away for six years. Priscilla also has a way with horses but Jake is very skeptical of her ability. Jake is interested in courting Amanda Shetler and is quite upset when his boss, Priscilla’s uncle, asks him to help Priscilla become a part of the community again. Amanda thinks it is a great idea and immediately starts to play matchmaker and Jake unexpectedly begins to find himself drawn to Priscilla.

The authors developed the characters so well that I felt that I personally knew everyone and they all came to life on the pages of the book. When they were describing the work that Jake and Priscilla were doing with the horses, I was right there with them urging them on. The way the authors had Jake helping Priscilla to realize that her mother’s death was not her fault was very touching and even brought tears to my eyes. Amanda provided several laughs due to her working so hard to be a matchmaker. The unanswered questions surrounding the death of Priscilla’s mother were finally answered. The other question to be answered was would Jake choose Amanda or Priscilla?

If you are a lover of Amish fiction then you definitely want to read this book.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

A Call to Arms by P. G. Nagle

91sRDL0m-NL._SL1500_ Fictional story based on the real life adventures of Sara Emma Edmonds who served in the Civil War for two years as Private Frank Thompson.

A Call to Arms
P. G. Nagle
Evennight Books
April 2014

A Call to Arms by P. G. Nagle is fiction but based on the real life adventures of Sarah Emma Edmonds who served in the Civil War for two years as Private Frank Thompson. Sarah grew up on a farm with a father who wanted a son, therefore, she could ride and shoot as well as any man. Since she had a strong feeling of patriotism, she joined the 2nd Michigan Volunteers. In the army she worked as a nurse, a spy, and other non-combat jobs. Her greatest fear was that she would be exposed as a woman for this would have lead to a court-martial and disgrace. The story began many years after the war had ended when Sarah was in Washington seeking her pension.

The characters were well developed and they all came to life on the pages of the book. I could feel Sarah’s worry as she had to always be on guard that she did nothing to reveal that she was a woman. The battle scenes were very realistic and I was anxious to know the outcome of each battle. For me it seemed that the only mystery was if Sarah would be found out. We all know how the war ended so there was nothing to anticipate there. The author did a good job of switching between the years of the war and to the events happening in Washington twenty years after the war ended.

II recommend this book but be aware that there is some profanity.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis

91JHFxdboNL._SL1500_The infant daughter of Kelly Maines was kidnapped at birth, a victim of a black market adoption ring. Kelly has been searching for her daughter for eight years.

Child of Mine
by David & Beverly Lewis
Bethany House
June 2014

Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis is a wonderful story that touches the heart. Kelly Maines has been searching eight years for her daughter who was stolen at birth, a victim of a black market adoption ring. Finally, Kelly has a lead on a young girl that just may be her daughter. This young girl is the adopted niece of Jack Livingston and he has been rearing her since the death of her adopted parents. Jack travels a great deal in his work and when he is gone, Laura, an Amish nanny. cares for Natalie and loves her as if she were her own. Kelly arranges a chance meeting with Jack and this meeting leads to more meetings and Kelly realizes that she is falling for Jack and he is falling for her. This happens before she gets up enough courage to tell him the real reason they met. As Kelly gets to know Natalie she begins to wonder if Natalie is really her daughter.

The authors did an excellent job in the development of the story. All the characters were so well developed that I felt as if I knew each one of them personally. I especially loved Natalie, a little girl that could steal anyone’s heart. All the scenes were so real that I could feel myself being right in the middle of what was happening. Dialogue was great and I especially loved everything that was uttered by Natalie. There were many twists and turns in the story and these kept me guessing as to which woman was really Natalie’s mother. When the real mother was revealed I must admit that I was somewhat surprised. The story had a great ending with everyone being happy and content.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story that has love, forgiveness, laughter, and tears.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.