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Books and Books

Find Your New Favorite Book!

Nineteen-year-old Ada Weeks confronts danger and calamity along the hazard-filled journey to California in 1846.
Half-Minute Review:
This convincing reconstruction of the Donner Party's journey and fate is one of the best I've ever read. Although Ada is a fictional character, you'll relive this point in history through her eyes. Ada's story takes us from near their beginning to well past the end of a journey that not only changed the lives of everyone in their party but also changed the lives of everyone who has ever heard their story. This account is skillfully crafted and amazingly well researched, so much so, that when winter's onslaught hits, my own body shivered from the cold. 

The Civil War hadn’t expected Robin Walkingstick Heatherton. Neither had Garrison Parker, a Union Army hero.
Half-Minute Review: In May 1864, Robin Walkingstick Heatherton, a beautiful young woman of half-Cherokee descent, has disguised herself as a Union soldier and infiltrated the Union Army in order to spy for the Confederacy. Union Army Major Corley has offered $1000 in gold for information leading to her capture; he also has vowed to track her down and kill her himself. This is one of those stories that is rarely told, showing the women of the Civil War in a light that captures their intellect, their courage, and the impact they had on America. 

Emory is a modern-day rancher trying to hold on to her family’s traditional ranching ways in Colorado.
Half-Minute Review: Emory Cross is a young and tough, no nonsense brand inspector in Colorado cattle country. She’s intent on preserving her family ranch’s traditional way of life in Colorado at all costs…even if it means crossing lines.
 Prior to becoming a brand inspector, she finds a pair of calves that have strayed onto the Lost Daughter Ranch and decides to brand them as her own, even though she’s technically operating in a grey area of cattle rustling…something she’ll soon be meant to be ferreting out rather than participating in. That decision leads her down a dangerous road.
This cli-fi novel from a notable archaeologist and anthropologist explores a frozen future where archaic species struggle to survive an apocalyptic Ice Age.
Half-Minute Review:
This book has a fascinating premise! In a "desperate gamble to save life on Earth" after catastrophic global warming, Ice Age species were recreated to re-establish life, saving Earth's inhabitants from total extinction. Now, a thousand years later, the survivors are primitive people who only have tales of what life was like when the Jemen, god-like beings, fought the Ice Giants, trying to turn the world warm again. The story takes place in a frozen dystopian world.

From western word-slinger and anthropologist W. Michael Gear, comes an entirely new type of western – a contemporary apocalyptic western.
Half-Minute Review:
The collapse of the banking system is powerful enough to virtually stop the world in its tracks, but what happens when you're a "big city" college kid on your way to nowhere Wyoming when it hits? Meet Sam Delgado, Anthropology graduate. (Debit cards not working? Weird, right? Got any cash on you?) Soon, the realities of how bad a human can be in a disaster situation surfaces, but fortunately, so does a bit of good humanity.
One thing you can expect from Matthew McConaughey is that he always has something interesting to say. He is curious and fun. And, every so often, a little eccentric.
Half-Minute Review:
Be prepared for a jarring start to this story! This is Matthew McConaughey's autobiography from the age of a young man to current day. The book is startling at times, distasteful at times, and simply beautiful at times. He is the man he is for a reason. Definitely a story unique unto itself. 
In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called “the best chef in America” tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award–winning superstar who taught millions how to cook.
Half-Minute Review:
If you love cooking, restaurants, and catering stories, you're going to be thrilled with this wonderful autobiographical story of Jacques Pepin, the French chef who has won 16 James Beard Foundation Awards. His story spans decades of incredible experiences.
From Harlequin Heartwarming:
Hitting rock bottom has landed country star Boone Williams in the middle of his worst nightmare: a recording studio on a horse therapy farm hours away from Nashville.
Half-Minute Review:  So many readers reject Category Romance without even giving them a chance, but I doubt they've read any of today's books. This is a wonderful novel, well-written, engaging, presenting fully fleshed out characters that are hard to forget. If you love country and cowboys, I dare you to read this, and then give it an honest review. It's a great story told so well, you'll forget you're reading a romance. It's a lovely, quick read.
Five very different women, each carrying her own secret, meet on the Jersey shore for a retreat: Embracing the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty. A story about change, self-acceptance, and sisterhood.
Half-Minute Review:    A delightful Women's Fiction book! It's one of those "come escape with me for a few hours" stories. This book grabbed my attention on the first page and soon had my thoughts whirling. What would I do if I arrived at my retreat only to find out that my host was gone, leaving a key? It's hard to say which character was my favorite. Each had a very real perspective on life. 

An exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder.  Where the Crawdads Sing touched hearts.
Half-Minute Review:    A bit of everything exists in this wonderful novel including mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, especially the protagonist, Kya. Hers is a tale of a forgotten girl surviving in the coastal marshes of North Carolina.

Set in a small Midwest town in the late 1960s and helmed by an unforgettable young protagonist—compassionate, uncannily wise Grace—This I Know is a luminous coming-of-age story.
Half-Minute Review: There is a unique voice to this story that just captivates me. In fact, you'll notice several of the books on my list have a similar tone to this one, but this author has added an "old soul" to the voice of a young girl that makes it doubly unique. It's remarkable storytelling that shouldn't be missed.

A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a coastal village in Maine—and to a string of unsolved murders—in this novel of romance and psychological suspense.
Half-Minute Review: This is a supernatural thriller complete with a haunted house, a murder, and a protagonist who may, or may not be, descending into madness. 

STEAMY READS!


New York Times bestselling author LaVyrle Spencer presents one of her most beautiful and captivating novels—a powerful story of the human heart you will never forget.
Half-Minute Review:   I'll admit it... this was my first LaVryle Spencer novel, even though I'd seen her name for many years. This is a story about true love and longing. Twice Loved is a beautiful tale of lost-love, uniquely told. Set in Nantucket Bay in 1837, the story of Laura, Rye, and Dan will surely capture your heart in a way few stories can.

When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter.
Half-Minute Review: Yes, I read Book #3 of "The Texas Trilogy" first! It hit the road running (literally) from page one. This is Contemporary Romantic Suspense, and it is a page-turner! It is an easy read with characters so well drawn you might actually think you're reading a Dateline story while hoping for a Hallmark ending.

USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins continues her captivating Women Who Dare series with a female rancher who forges her own path in the wake of the Civil War.
Half-Minute Review: This Historical Fiction Romance is set in Wyoming during the Reconstruction-era. While the story held true to its historical aspects (details that can sometimes derail a healthy romance) the facts did not interfere in the least with the tale of this fearless protagonist—a strong, smart, and determined woman whose desires steered this lusty story down history's road. 

Middle-Grade Books (ages 8-14)


Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend so he can work a railroad job. With just a few possessions, she jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Half-Minute Review: The Great Depression ravaged towns and people, many being changed forever. This story takes place in 1936 in a town called Manifest. It's the story of a twelve-year-old girl who is determined to piece together the life story of her father, who has sent her away to live in his hometown for the summer. 

This Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic is about a motherless boy who decides to hit the road in 1936, looking to find his father.
BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2004: 
The New York Times
School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
Half-Minute Review: Times are hard in Flint, Michigan, and life isn't easy. Bud can attest to that. He's had to face  crowded orphanages, mean foster parents, a shed full of wasps, and the open road. This story is not all roses, but it's one of my all-time favorite middle-grade stories. It bends back time and puts the reader smack-dab in the middle of life when it was real. At least it was for one very determined young boy.

Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle is proud of her country roots and the “Indian-ness in her blood.” She travels from Ohio to Idaho with eccentric grandparents as her story begins to unfold. Her only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.
Half-Minute Review: This was a wonderful book filled with twists and turns and humor. The author, Sharon Creech, developed a unique "voice" here that felt very real to me.  Although the story is quite serious, the relationships formed between the characters kept hope and happiness alive. In the end, reality and hard-truths win out, but the story wouldn't be "the story" without all of it being told.