Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

 I am enthralled with this new author Katherine Reay. She writes with such empathy and such delicacy. Here is someone who does not insult the reader by rehashing so much of the storyline you wonder where the story actually is. She captures just the right way to make you laugh out loud, or to make you cry. When was the last time I cried when reading a work of fiction?  Ummmm. 1902? Oh, I've cried while writing my own stuff, but that's because I deeply felt what I was writing about. I cried in this book because I had such deep empathy for the antagonist, Samantha Moore.

I love the fact she wanted to be a journalist. I've lived that life, and I understand it. Obviously, Reay has taken a few courses in journalism. But, I'm not sure she's taken Master's courses in it. Some of that didn't ring true, but there are all sorts of colleges and all sorts of approaches. Everything else rang completely true and believable. So much so that I found myself constantly thinking about the characters as real people and real situations. That rarely happens with me. Character development is crucial for a really good novel, and critical for good story. Reay nails the character development as well as the growth of the main character. Little by little you see her blossom, and you can almost hear Jane Austin cheering from the sidelines.

Reay also has a unique way of telling her story through letters. Reminds me of Lady Susan. I love this because there is no head jumping, no threads hanging, no flash backs Praise the Lord! Great story telling.

Great book. Go buy it. You will be very pleased.

5 of 5 stars
Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.


Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate


Rarely have I enjoyed a book so much that I read far into the night, and then thought about it during the day. This one met the bill.

Wingate out does herself with this novel. There are a few characters that we've met before from Moses Lake, which is interesting and neat. Grandma Rita has passed on, but her pithy humor and wonderful sayings come though loud and clear from her granddaughter Allie Kirkland.

At first, I thought I would not like this book because after I was "in" to it, I discovered it was written from two different perspectives. I do not like head jumping from one character to another if it is not done to perfection. I did not need to fear. Wingate has perfected this tactic of story telling to that soft, silky slide like slipping into the most comfortable bed in the world. She proves herself a Master.

Allie's story is wonderfully written with the development of all the characters. Little hints and breadcrumbs are dropped to fill out characterizations. There is no... zero... nada rehashing of character development or character situations. Sure there is whining about a situation, but that character (Kim, Allie's best friend) is designed to whine. There is some gentle reminding of certain rules in place for the film crew and the actors. I say gentle because it is done so delicately, you just get all tense inside and start screaming at Allie, "Don't do that! You'll get fired!" Of course, she doesn't listen. The reader is drawn into the friendship between Kim and Allie, wondering why they are so close when they are obviously so different.

Blake--who would not fall in love with Blake. Surely, there is a Blake somewhere for me??? Maybe he is too good to be true? But those are the kinds of characters that make romance so wonderful to devour.

Bonnie Rose's story is gripping. There is a character development masterfully done without having to revert to agonizing rehash. Bonnie Rose has suffered tragedy, but the full truth is slowly revealed like coffee that is too good to gulp down.

Classy. Riveting. Nail-biting. Satisfying. Delicious romance. Mysterious. Culminating in a most satisfying ending that feels just right.

This book receives 5 of 5 stars. It's perfect.

With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.

When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.


    Lisa Wingate
    Photo courtesy of Jarrett Studios
  1. Lisa Wingate

    Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Talk of the Town, Blue Moon Bay, and Larkspur Cove, which won the 2011 Carol Award for Women's...
    Continue reading about Lisa Wingate


Beowolf by Ronnie Kendig

(I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley, so I read it on my Kindle.)

I usually do not jump into a series of books at the last or the middle.

I am not a fan of all kinds of action going on and then the music swells and the protagonists gaze longingly into each others eyes and ba-boom the kiss. Fortunately, that does not happen here. Romance, yes... suspense laden romance which is my cup of tea. The back drop is Afghanistan, and I am not a fan of this... it seems this is military life, so we if we must, we must.

You do not have to read the first 2 in order to deeply appreciate this book. It is stand alone, and very well done stand alone. Character development is fever-pitched from the start and that makes the storyline extremely impactful. Kendig does a very nice job of storyline weaving in and throughout the characters. Where some fiction seems forced, this is a good story flow, without plot surprises coming from forced character actions--in other words, the characters are believable and act according to their profile with gradual changes for the better, changes toward harmony. That is rare these days.
However, with this book, I did. I really liked the Discarded Heroes series, so I figured this one would be excellent... and it is,  for the most part.


Former Navy handler Timbrel Hogan has more attitude than her Explosives Detection Dog, Beowulf, but she’s a tough woman who gets the job done.

Green Beret Tony “Candyman” VanAllen likes a challenge and convincing the hard-hitting handler they belong together might just get him killed. When tragedy strikes and Tony’s career is jeopardized, Timbrel must re-evaluate her life and priorities—and fast. A terrorist plots to unleash a weapon of mass destruction on American soil.

Can Timbrel and Beowulf track the chemicals in time? Will Tony surrender everything to save the woman nobody wants to love—except him?

4 of 5 stars
Good book worth the money.
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