The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre by Natasha Lester


Published January 10, 2023-Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Alix St. Pierre is back in Paris-again. The man who had broken her is still lurking- somewhere.

Natasha Lester’s newest release weaves the threads of ill-fated love, a secret agent for the Resistance in Italy, World War ll and the House of Christian Dior into a masterpiece of spectacular descriptions layered with emotional revelations.  Alix St. Pierre’s journey takes her to Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and eventually New York City. Readers are treated to Natasha’s deep character development spanning the pre and post war years of Alix’s life. Alix becomes the Director of Publicity at the House of Dior and the famous spiral staircase, Christian Dior, and stunning gowns for Rita Hayworth are laced into Natasha Lester’s plot like a “knot of tangled ribbon.” Fans of Natasha Lester’s previous novels will be thrilled at the privilege of untangling the ribbon and placing a designer bow on Alix St. Pierre’s life story.

Sit back with a French 75, a chocolate tart, and savor The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre.

Book Description by Forever

New York Times bestselling author Natasha Lester delivers an unforgettable story of an orphan turned WWII spy turned fashion icon in Paris—perfect for fans of Kate Quinn and Fiona Davis.

Alix St. Pierre. An unforgettable name for an unforgettable woman. She grew up surrounded by Hollywood glamor, but, as an orphan, never truly felt part of that world. In 1943, with WWII raging and men headed overseas to fight, she lands a publicity job to recruit women into the workforce. Her skills—persuasion, daring, quick-witted under pressure—catch the attention of the U.S. government and she finds herself with an even bigger assignment: sent to Switzerland as a spy. Soon Alix is on the precipice of something big, very big. But how far can she trust her German informant…?
After an Allied victory that didn’t come nearly soon enough, Alix moves to Paris, ready to immerse herself in a new position as director of publicity for the yet-to-be-launched House of Dior. In the glamorous halls of the French fashion house, she can nearly forget everything she lost and the dangerous secret she carries. But when a figure from the war reappears and threatens to destroy her future, Alix realizes that only she can right the wrongs of the past …and finally find justice.

“When I’m not writing, I love collecting vintage fashion, travelling and practicing the art of fashion illustration. I live with my husband, three children and two chickens in Perth, Western Australia. “

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz


Published January 3, 2023-Revell Books-Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction-416 pp

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Religion and politics, taboo topics at social gatherings unless discussing The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz! The English Lady Blythe Hedley, a brilliant linguist, too tall and willowy to be seen as beautiful; would rather spend money “on books rather than silks and ribbons.” Due to Jacobite/Catholic sympathies her father is considered an enemy of the British crown and rumored to be hiding in France. With Blythe’s protection and possible matrimony in mind, he contacts Lord Hume, Blythe’s godfather, a long-lost connection between families.  The request is for Blythe to be sequestered at Wedderburn Castle across the border in Scotland- a protestant stronghold.  There you have it-the Catholic Tories vs. Protestant Whigs. Laura Frantz weaves the vast history of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and the unwanted arrival, but undeniable chemistry between Lady Blythe and hero, Everard Hume, into a luscious romantic tapestry.

Everard Hume declares he is seeking a Scottish lass to marry, not an Englishwoman. In emotionally charged scenes with his dying father, immensely tall and foreboding Everard, slowly evolves into a thoughtful, caring Lord of Wedderburn Castle. Frantz’s tender portrayal of the new Lord Hume, carrying youngest brother, Orin, on his shoulders at his father’s funeral, and giving generous bonuses and support to the castle staff, lends depth to Everard’s changing feelings, endearing him to readers.   

Blythe is involved in a tug of war between heart and head as she cannot let go of her mother’s past as a courtesan in the court of King Charles II. Frantz combines this past memory with Blythe’s longings to be loved for herself, not her assets. The blossoming connection between Lady Blythe and young Orin adds to the suspense involved with her father and the coming rebellion.

From chapters opening with quotes from the Bible, former kings, and famous poets to the vivid sensory descriptions of Edinburgh, Highlands and the Lowlands, readers are immersed in the Scottish landscape. England’s white rose, embroidered into hems and handkerchiefs and Scotland’s thistle, a badge of honor and symbol of heraldry for over 500 years, are royally and historically represented in Laura Frantz’s The Rose and the Thistle.


In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley’s father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems–a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies–and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.


The Rose and the Thistle Chapter 1, pages 11-14

“How fetching you look in your pale green gown, La Belle Hedley. Akin to a stalk of
celery,” Catherine teased, knowing Blythe didn’t give a fig for fashion and lamented her
height, exceeding most of the court’s gallants. “And though you may roll your eyes at
me for saying so, there’s no doubt you are the best-dressed woman here and have set
French society afire.”
’Tis not my fashion sense but my mother’s reputation that has done so. “I would rather
spend it all on books than silks and ribbons,” Blythe replied. But her dear father wouldn’t
let her. The duke was far more matrimonially minded than she. And given she lacked
any outward beauty save her garments, fashion was her one asset.
“You are unquestionably a la mode.” Catherine openly admired Blythe’s flawless
coiffure styled into pale coils over one bare shoulder and adorned with beribboned
rosettes. “I’ve heard the Duchess d’Orleans covets your hairdresser while Mary of
Modena covets your gems.” Her hazel eyes slid to the choker of sapphires around
Blythe’s throat and the ones set in silver and pearl adorning her ears. “Not paste gems
but true brilliants. I suppose they were your mother’s. Such a blinding, bewitching blue.”
Blythe touched an earring absently. “But how ridiculous I feel in red heels.” She looked
down at her new slippers in bemusement before reaching into her pocket. With a
practiced snap of her wrist, she unfurled a painted fan encrusted with tiny precious
stones, a gift from Catherine’s aunt, lady of the queen’s bedchamber.
Blythe tallied how many days she’d been exiled to—visiting—France. Sixty-three?
She and Catherine strolled on with no apparent aim beneath the strengthening spring
sun, their hooped, colorful skirts swaying in the breeze. “We’ve walked these paths for
weeks now.” The lament in Catherine’s tone was telling. “And not one glimpse of my
kindred, the ousted prince.”
Blythe’s gaze swept the manicured grounds as though James Francis Edward Stuart
would materialize before their eyes. Charming and highly polished, the would-be James
III of England and James VIII of Scotland was the catch of the continent—if he could
only regain his crown.
His Royal Highness remains in Lorraine,” Blythe said quietly. Much could be learned by
listening, as gossip and intrigue buzzed. at every turn. “He seeks a royal bride. One who
is wealthy and polished and—”
“That would be you.” Catherine cast her a knowing look.
“Alas, I lack the requisite curves and double chin, plain as I am,” Blythe replied with a
flutter of her fan. The foremost courtiers were voluptuous, sensuous women with heavily
rouged cheeks and lips, sporting beauty patches in myriad places.
“Ha! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not?”

“Most men of my acquaintance seem preoccupied with face, form, and fortune, in that
order. Yet I long to be loved for myself and nothing else.”
A shadow passed over Catherine’s porcelain-perfect features. “Though you profess to
being plain, there is no denying you are the Duke of Northumbria’s daughter.”
Blythe squinted as the sun strengthened. Not just his daughter. His only daughter—and
only child. The whole weight of the Northumbrian fortune and future was upon her. If
she failed to marry, failed to provide an heir . . .
“Alas, a duke’s daughter of scandalous lineage.”
Catherine raised slender shoulders in a shrug. “’Twas long ago and best forgotten.”
“Then needs be I find a man of dim memory and even greater purse than my beloved
“How few nobles fit, including our impoverished if dashing Stuart prince.” Catherine
sighed. “I fear we shall all be branded spinsters if we leave France unaffianced.”
“Marriage is not a right, nor is singleness a curse.” Blythe’s fan fluttered harder. “I’ve
been pondering other paths, like becoming a nun and joining a convent in Flanders or
Chaillot. Perhaps a contemplative order like the English Augustine nuns at Bruges.”
“Don’t you dare!” Catherine gave a vicious pinch to Blythe’s arm as if to bring her to her
senses. “You have too much to offer to shut yourself away so.”
Stung but in no mood to argue, Blythe made no reply.

From The Rose and the Thistle © 2023, Laura Frantz, published by Revell




Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Proud of her heritage, she is also a Daughter of the American Revolution. When
not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.

Fable & Fire: A Bookshop Bistro


Book Store Visit #21: Rockwall, Texas, -December 15, 2022

Rockwall, Texas is now home to this beautiful, unique bookshop & bistro. The vibe is warm and cozy-everything a book lover wants, all in one place: coffee & pastries, a bar for cocktails and a chat, an ever expanding menu for lunch or dinner, and best of all? BOOKS, VINYLS, and more BOOKS! There are comfortable chairs and sofas, conversation areas for book club discussions, even an outdoor patio for warm weather!

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden


Published October 11, 2022 by Crooked Lane Books -Historical Fiction, Crime Mystery, 336pp.

An Inspector Corravan Mystery

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Fans of crime mystery set in Victorian London will be thrilled with Under a Veiled Moon, a sequel to Karen Odden’s Down a Dark River. The mystery is based on the fatal disaster of the sinking of a pleasure steamer on the River Thames in September,1878.  The steamer, Princess Alice collided with coal carrier, Bywell Castle, with only 130 of 600 passengers surviving. This tragedy is shrouded in mystery and known as the worst maritime disaster London had seen at that time.

Under a Veiled Moon, book #2 in the Inspector Corravan Mystery Series, is easily read as a stand-alone novel. Odden transports readers to Victorian London through sensory descriptions of the deserted warehouses, tunnels, and cathedral priest holes as Scotland Yard’s Inspector Corrovan follows leads up and down the dark, twisting streets of East London’s Whitechapel. Odden connects readers to present day issues of fake news in current media by weaving the history of racism and persecution of the Irish with how “distortions and manipulations” in the press drastically impacted anti-Irish sentiment and public opinion. This created doubt and suspicions on all sides of the political issues. Odden couples the inspector’s frantic quest to uncover the possible instigator of the horrific disaster with the background of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the push for Irish Home Rule, and the secret societies formed by powerful Conservative MP’s.

The murder suspects are motivated by fear, love, revenge, and greed, while Corrovan is overcome at times with grief, regret, shame, and pain.  Filled with wise, insightful characters along with those not so likeable, readers will be fascinated with the clues to this mysterious tragedy that happened late one night on the Thames Under a Veiled Moon.

Karen received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and subsequently taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit have won awards for historical mystery and historical fiction. Under a Veiled Moon, her fifth mystery is the second book in the Inspector Corravan series.

Angels of the Resistance by Noelle Salazar


Publishing November 29, 2022, by Mira, 393 pp.

This review for Angels of the Resistance was honored as EDITOR’S CHOICE in the Historical Novels Review Magazine’s November 1, 2022 Issue.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Dutch sisters, known as “the angels,” become the superheroes in Noelle Salazar’s Angels of the Resistance. Lien and Elif Vienke, teenagers responding to grief, feel called to serve the Netherlands in 1940. Inspired by the true story of Truus and Freddie Oversteegen, Salazar conjures a heart-thumping, riveting narrative with main characters that grow from sullen, angry teenagers to women of courage and strength. Their assignments start simply with distributing pamphlets, delivering messages, and forging identification cards then move on to training with pistols and daggers.  Superb research into the planning of missions, then intricate details and gut-wrenching descriptions of frightening situations, evoke a range of emotions as readers follow the Angels to train stations, barns, and safe houses. The wins and losses of the missions resonate deeply with the friends and families associated with Lien and Elif. Throughout the novel feelings of betrayal and guilt are mixed with triumph and relief.

Salazar has created characters with relatable human traits, relationships that dissipate then rebuild, and those that believe in something and prove it. The description and development of family friend and mentor, Aunt Liv, gives readers insight into the social settings and advantages of the wealthy, but also the cunning, daring, bravery of those who took risks to save families and soldiers. Noelle Salazar slips in American comic creation, Wonder Woman, and Lien admiring this superhero’s boldness, is determined not to repeat past decisions that caused hesitation and failure. Like Wonder Woman, she wants to become fearless, strong, determined. In Angels of the Resistance Noelle Salazar successfully creates a triumphant celebration of real-life Wonder Women!

Book Description:

Netherlands, 1940

As bombs fall across Europe, fourteen-year-old Lien Vinke fears that the reality of war is inescapable. Though she lives a quiet life with her mother and older sister, Elif, in their small town of Haarlem, they are no strangers to heartache, having recently suffered an immeasurable loss. And when the Nazis invade the Netherlands, joining the Dutch resistance with Elif offers just the atonement Lien craves.

Trained to shoot by their late father, the sisters are deadly wolves in sheep’s clothing. They soon find themselves entrenched in the underground movement, forging friendships with the other young recruits, and Lien even discovers a kindred spirit in a boy named Charlie. But in wartime, emotional attachments are a liability she can’t afford, especially when a deeply personal mission jeopardizes everything she holds dear—her friendships, her family, and her one shot at redemption.

The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader


Publishes December 6, 2022 by Graydon House, 356 pp.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Molly Fader’s The Sunshine Girls is the story of BettyKay and how five buttons purchased as a practical joke linked students “filled with possibility” for a lifetime.  The lives and emotional perspectives of first year nursing students and their limited social choices in the 1960’s are woven with the politics and aftermath of survivors of Viet Nam and the glittering emptiness of Hollywood.

The Sunshine Girls begins at the end: the funeral for BettyKay Beecher in 2019, Greensboro Iowa. The appearance of Hollywood star Kitty Devereaux at the visitation throws the small-town into a tizzy. Kitty quickly brings BettyKay’s adult daughters, Clara and Abbie, into her Hollywood aura to share memories of nursing school days with their mother.

Fader deftly alternates timelines between 2019 and 1967 going forward; recounting the past years from alternate points of view through the eyes of farm girl BettyKay, her roommate, Kitty Simon, and Jenny, who volunteered to serve in Viet Nam to protect her brother. Fader’s compelling prose and emotional dialogue gleams through relationships; Jenny with her dad over serving in Viet Nam, angst of sisters Clara and Abbie, and BettyKay’s revealing diary entries. Characters’ mixed feelings on the war in Viet Nam and individual relief or repercussions from decisions are disclosed to form the politically historical backdrop. Fader infuses music and movies of the times, such as Star Wars, as touchpoints for readers, adding “life twists,” as puzzle pieces fall in and out of place.  

When all five buttons are located and BettyKay’s secrets revealed, healing must take place between Kitty, Clara, and Abbie.  After exposing the truth. is reconciliation possible for The Sunshine Girls?  

Molly Fader is the author of The McAvoy Sister’s Book Of Secrets. As Molly O’Keefe she is the USA Today Bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances. She lives in Toronto Ontario with her husband, two kids and rescue dog.

Death on a Winter Stroll: A Merry Folger Christmas Mystery by Francine Mathews


Published Nov. 1, 2022, by Soho Crime, 288 pp.


No-nonsense Nantucket detective Merry Folger grapples with the aftermath of the
COVID-19 pandemic and two murders as the island is overtaken by Hollywood
stars and DC suits.
Nantucket Police Chief Meredith Folger is acutely conscious of the stress COVID-19 has placed on the community she loves. Although the island has proved a refuge for many during the pandemic, the cost to Nantucket has been high. Merry hopes that the Christmas Stroll, one of Nantucket’s favorite traditions, in which Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland, will lift the island’s spirits. But the arrival of a large-scale TV production, and the Secretary of State and her family, complicates matters significantly.
The TV shoot is plagued with problems from within, as a shady, power-hungry producer clashes with strong-willed actors. Across Nantucket, the Secretary’s troubled stepson keeps shaking off his security detail to visit a dilapidated house near conservation land, where an intriguing recluse guards secrets of her own. With all parties overly conscious of spending too much time in the public eye and secrets swirling around both camps, it is difficult to parse what behavior is suspicious or not—until the bodies turn up.
Now, it’s up to Merry and Detective Howie Seitz to find a connection between two
seemingly unconnected murders and catch the killer. But when everyone has a motive, and half of the suspects are politicians and actors, how can Merry and Howie tell fact from fiction?
This latest installment in critically acclaimed author Francine Mathews’ Merry Folger series is an immersive escape to festive Nantucket, a poignant exploration of grief as a result of parental absence, and a delicious new mystery to keep you guessing.

Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She
attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going
on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and
left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written thirty books, including six
previous novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-Season, Death in Rough
Water, Death in a Mood Indigo, Death in a Cold Hard Light, Death on Nantucket,
and Death on Tuckernuck) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the pen name Stephanie Barron. She lives and
works in Denver, Colorado.

Purchase Links:

Death on a Winter Stroll

Chapter 1, pg. 5-7

From Death on a Winter Stroll © 2022, Francine Mathews, published by Soho Crime

The first weekend of December had been Meredith Folger’s favorite time of year for as long as she could remember. People often say that about holiday traditions, of course, but Merry was convinced that nowhere on earth was the winter solstice heralded with such enthusiastic conviction as during the three days of Nantucket’s Christmas Stroll.

Anticipation started to rise all over the island in late November. The day after Thanksgiving, crowds gathered at the head of Main Street for the ceremonial lighting of the massive ever- green tree that shed its glow throughout the darkest hours of the year; the following weekend, Santa would arrive at the end of Straight Wharf by Coast Guard cutter. Waving from the back of an antique fire truck, he’d follow the Town Crier and a drum section of grade-school kids who’d been practicing with Ms. Benton the music teacher for weeks, parading up from the harbor and winding through town. Everybody standing on the curb—islanders, tourists, daytrippers—would fall in behind and follow the truck with guttural cheers. Eventually Santa would be enthroned next to the lighted town tree and take requests from a long line of children. This was what gave Christmas Stroll its name. It had been going on for half a century now, and although imitated by towns all over New England, Nantucket’s weekend remained unrivaled. People who loved the island arrived each year by land and sea, from all over the country and the world, to celebrate.

Over time the holiday had morphed into three full days of permission to wander amiably around town with steaming cups of cheer and weird hats, bells jangling from the ankles of elf booties. Over ten thousand tourists crowded the sidewalks of downtown. The shops and restaurants were full. People laughed freely and called jokes to friends across the brick sidewalks and paused in the middle of the morning to sit on available benches. They bought things they didn’t need, simply because they wanted them, then gifted them to others without a thought.

Costumed carolers sang on street corners. Tourists took selfies in front of window boxes and beneath mistletoe balls. A few of them found someone to kiss. They jostled each other good-naturedly, butting armfuls of colorful bags, as they trailed down the streets in their red and green Stroll scarves.

In lucky years, it snowed.

In less fortunate ones, it rained.

This year, the forecast was for Windy and Gorgeous.

Uniformed members of Merry’s police force would be up early and out on Main Street Saturday morning with sawhorses, barricading the heart of town against vehicular traffic. They’d stand in the crosswalks and near the sundial planter that sat right in the middle of the cobblestoned street. The Garden Association decorated the urn each year with fresh greens and red bows and tiny white lights. The police were there to maintain order and most of the Strollers were orderly, except for the occasional drunken jerk who vomited without warning on the uneven brick side- walk. Merry had observed the rhythms of Stroll her entire life, she reflected, and usually it never got old.

But this year, she was clenching her teeth and grinding her way through the holiday. This year, she was struggling to find the Joy of the Season. This year, she barely had time to care.

This year, she wasn’t merely another happy reveler hiding mysterious boxes on the top shelf of the spare bedroom’s closet, the scent of vanilla and cloves in her hair. She wasn’t pausing to rub pine or spruce branches on her early morning walks, so that the resinous oil lingered on her fingertips, or losing track of time while she snapped pictures of festive window boxes. This year, she was the Nantucket Police Department’s chief of police. And Christmas Stroll, to be completely honest, was shaping up to be a royal pain in the ass.

That Summer in Berlin by Lecia Cornwall


Publication September 2022, Berkley, 464 pp.

In the summer of 1936, while the Nazis make secret plans for World War II, a courageous and daring young woman struggles to expose the lies behind the dazzling spectacle of the Berlin Olympics. 

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Written for The Historical Novels Review Magazine, Historical Novel Society, Nov. 1, 2022

Lecia Cornwall’s That Summer in Berlin is a close-up view of the 1936 Berlin Olympics through the lens of two debutantes on a holiday filled with terrible risks but great rewards. This compelling novel immerses readers from the beginning of the well-staged opening of the 1936 Berlin Olympics through the 1940 Battle of Dunkirk. Readers are submerged in different societal classes, opposing familial expectations, and varying political views and goals.

In the 1930’s, the expectation of young upper-class women was to marry and produce heirs, not pursue careers. Cornwall explores this expectation through the main character, Viviane Alden. A secretly aspiring photographer, Viviane meets journalist Tom Graham, a well-educated Scotsman hired to appear as a Fascist sympathizer, who presents her with risky career choices in Germany.  Viviane chooses to accompany stepsister Julia to Count von Schroeder’s castle in Bavaria for the opportunity to follow her dreams. Viviane is settled in the politically divided household with the Count and Countess, and three sons.  Viviane’s interactions uncover the prejudices of each member’s involvement in the politics of Germany and the rising Nazi regime.

Cornwall’s narrative transports readers from London’s society balls and mob riots to nerve wracking, bone chilling missions in Germany, as careers and lives are risked in conflicts involving a clearly defined Nazi enemy. Enthralled readers will be shocked as the plot twists and Viviane takes more risks with her camera. The well-researched prose immerses readers in politically charged Germany with captivating dialogue and ominous reactions in clutch situations. Viviane’s balancing act exposes political and religious tensions as she nimbly walks a fine line with members of the von Schroeder family.  An engrossing, absorbing picture of the 1936 Olympics from the perspective of a “pretty young tourist taking holiday snaps.”

Lecia Cornwall, acclaimed author of numerous historical romance novels, lives and writes in the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies with four cats and a wild and crazy ninety-pound chocolate Lab named Andy. She has two grown children and one very patient husband. When she is not writing, Lecia is a dedicated volunteer at the Museum of the Highwood in High River, Alberta. That Summer in Berlin is her latest novel of historical women’s fiction.

The Unlocked Path by Janis Daly


Published by: Black Rose Writing Release Date: August 25, 2022 Pages: 346

Meet a “New Woman” of the early 20th century: educated, career-minded, independent Eliza Pearson Edwards. In 1897 Philadelphia, after witnessing her aunt’s suicide, Eliza rejects her mother’s wishes for a society debut, and enters medical college. With the support of a circle of women and determined to conquer curriculum demands, battle sexism, and overcome doubts, Eliza charts a new life course.”

Reviewed for Historical Novels Review Magazine, Issue #102 Published November 1, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In 1897 Laura Edwards is steamrolling daughter Eliza’s debut into Philadelphia society. Eliza wonders “is there more.” She soon discovers her grandfather was founder of the Female Medical College of Philadelphia and that the women in her life had “devoted themselves to following their hearts and helping others.”  Is medical school on Eliza’s path?

Janis Daly quickly creates confidence in both Eliza’s skills and ability and the wisdom and guidance of medical student Anandi. Experience Eliza’s sheer joy as she befriends wealthy classmate, Olga from Russia, and becomes enamored with a professor from Ireland. Olga’s humor adds levity and her attachment as a sister develops over the years. Daly’s portrayal of the medical students’ resourcefulness in support of each other and Laura’s progression of ideals and realizations are aligned with the times and so uplifting as graduations, marriages, and births take place.

Additionally, Daly’s descriptions of surgeries and procedures of the early 1900’s are supported by vast medical research. The prejudices and attitudes of male doctors and pharmacists, along with exhausting daily schedules are central to the emotional core of the novel. The amazing Bone Boxes and vivid descriptions from the physiology lab add sensory details connecting readers to the era.

Eliza’s world comes alive for readers as she experiences the ratification of the 19th Amendment, World War, a pandemic, and the sinking of the Titanic. She travels from the tenements of Philadelphia to the cottages of Newport searching for love, contentment, agreeability and hopefully, motherhood. Follow The Unlocked Path for the key to results and answers.

“Discovery that my great-great grandfather was a founder of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania inspired my next career direction: unearthing the stories of women whose lives have remained in the shadows. My debut novel, The Unlocked Path, balances authenticity and rich historical detail with deep emotional connections to create engaging fictional characters.”


A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry

Publication: November 8, 2022 by Random House Publishing/Ballentine Books

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Anne Perry’s annual Victorian mystery is a holiday gift readers receive with great expectation. A Christmas Deliverance bustles readers into Dr. Crowe’s toasty warm London clinic caring for the poor near the muddy banks of the Thames, with a bubbling pot of soup ready to serve the next patient and no expectation of payment. Over a year ago Dr. Crowe cared for Eliza Hollister, only daughter of wealthy widower, Albert Hollister, after a nasty carriage accident near his clinic. Realizing he’s in love and drawn to her street, Crowe witnesses Eliza being bullied by Paul, son of shipping magnate, Silas Dolan. Overhearing the two are to be wed right after Christmas ignites Crowe’s desire to find out WHY Eliza doesn’t walk away from Paul and his troubling behavior. What is the connection between Albert Hollister and Silas Dolan?

The well-drawn characters include Will Monk, Crowe’s assistant, admired and respected for his determination and perseverance to become a doctor. Known as Scuff, he reminds Crowe that some patients only need “a listening ear, kindness, and to be believed.” An endearing patient is five-year-old Mattie, street wise, intuitive, and loveable beyond all bounds. The perfect Christmas glow that Crowe and Scuff need in their lives.

Anne Perry’s mystery of a debt between two families involving fraud and murder reminds readers that the people we love are vulnerable and possess human frailties. Dr. Crowe’s quest to unwrap a case that seems to be tied up whisks readers from the surgery table to the blustery docks, barges, and warehouses on the River Thames. Dr. Crowe is reminded that Christmas is about family and love so get cozy near a crackling fire and revel in Anne Perry’s A Christmas Deliverance.

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of fifteen previous holiday novels, as well as the bestselling William Monk series, the bestselling Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, the new Daniel Pitt series, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles.

Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby


Publication November 1, 2022- Pegasus Books: 416 pp. Historical Fiction, Biographical Historical Fiction, “Austenesque”

A richly imagined novel inspired by the true story of Anne Sharp, a governess who became very close with Jane Austen and her family by the #1 International bestselling-author of Miss Austen.

On January 21, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess. At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go.

Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge—twelve-year-old Fanny
Austen—Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement. The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the “upstairs” and downstairs” members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.

When Mr. Edward Austen’s family comes to stay, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming, and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent, mistress can hardly fail to notice.

Meanwhile Jane’s brother, Henry, begins to take an unusually strong interest in the
lovely young governess. And from now on, Anne’s days at Godmersham Park are

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Godmersham Park Gill Hornby shares Anne Sharpe’s abrupt entrance into the Victorian world of working women. After the death of her mother, Anne is informed by her family’s “man of business” that she must vacate her home and live on a stipend of 35 pounds per year. Readers are immediately drawn to this emotional truth and curious how this beautiful, charming, indulged, only child will deal with such news. The solution is the position of governess in the Austen household. As Anne meets the mistress for the first time, her constant second guessing of responses and possible implications of appearing “forward, impertinent or grasping” reveals the sensibilities of the time and the insecurities Anne harbors. Her anxieties and excruciating headaches are another emotional tug for readers.

Upon entering the palatial Godmersham Park, Anne is excited to see the grand rooms so perfect for ‘theatricals’ until she realizes, not being a real part of the family, her quarters are in the attic. This insightful foreshadowing of Anne’s role in planning activities and writing scripts for plays involving the other eight children is evidence of Hornby’s superb prose.  Hornby brings the Victorian home to life by gently weaving Anne’s hectic daily schedule with the delicately balanced interactions of the household staff and the children in their care.  

Gill Hornby’s characters are richly drawn from her own research and diaries kept by Fanny Austen. The deep bond Anne forged with twelve-year-old Fanny over two years as governess is a forever balm for her grieving heart. Anne’s friendships and activities with Jane Austen and her very popular brother, Henry, reveal angst, suspense, and later her playful wit and writing skills. These relationships within the Austen family keep readers sipping tea and turning pages; thrilled with Gill Hornby’s engaging glimpse into Victorian life at Godmersham Park.

Order Here: Barnes & Noble

Amazon: Kindle:

Gill Hornby is the author of the novels Miss Austen, The Hive, and All Together Now,
as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives
in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.

#22in22Challenge Buxton Books & Charleston Preservation Society


Visit #18 and #19- Charleston, South Carolina

We were in Charleston for the South Carolina vs. Texas A&M game at the invitation of dear friends who live in Charleston. There were 9 couples; some traveled to the game in Columbia, while some stayed in Charleston to visit bookstores, attend the Zibby Owens event at the Charleston Library Society and shop on King Street. On this particular day the bookish events won out over Aggie game day for this “grateful reader.” Also, I do admit that shopping had a bit to do with the decision. It was a great trip with lots of walking, shopping, and eating! Here are the two bookstores I was able to visit, both on King Street!



#22in22Challenge Muddy Water Bookstore


#17 Navasota, Texas

For visit #17 we stopped in at this quirky small town Texas bookstore called the “best little bookstore in Texas!” Owner, Suzie Linnenbank was on site during our visit. The inventory is diverse and covers many genres. Suzie explained that she deals mostly in used books, but there was a selection of new books in the front window display. As usual I’m drawn to the children’s section and new historical fiction. Luckily for me, Suzie’s neighbor loves historical fiction and had read the 2022 release The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin, so I snapped it up! A fun bookstore I’ve been meaning to visit on our many trips through Texas. I’m glad I finally got there! Isn’t that corrugated steel awning the cutest?

Muddy Water Bookstore, Navasota, Texas

The Belle of Belgrave Square: Belles of London-Book 2


Publication October 11, 2022-by Berkley Romance Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Belle of Belgrave Square, book 2 in The Belles of London series, is a treat for fans of Historical Romance with a splash of fairy tale elements. Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, watch for good vs. evil, problems to be solved, supernatural beings, and the element of three. Don’t forget the moral and happy ending!

Main character, Captain Jasper Blunt, a battle-scarred soldier from the Crimean War, is considered a war hero, but is he good or evil? Mimi weaves in just enough of his hidden past to keep readers guessing. The beautiful Julia Wychwood, critically impaired by anxiety and her wealthy, invalid parents is imprisoned at Belgrave Square. Deprived of pets, except for her beloved horse, Cossack, Julia gains confidence through riding. Her anxiety is relieved by reading, stashing a novel into her reticule and escaping into libraries when attending parties. Readers will admire this Victorian girl’s resourceful spunk!

Problems are twofold. Captain Blunt needs a wealthy wife’s dowry to restore his dilapidated estate in Yorkshire, and Julia is desperate to escape the evil Dr. Cordingley, whose bloodletting is slowly killing her. Mimi Matthews’ tale is filled with the harrowing details of Julia’s daily life and the heartwarming descriptions of Captain Blunt’s eventful life with children and limited, aging staff at Goldfinch Hall.

Captain Blunt’s children fulfill the element of three and his allegedly haunted Goldfinch Hall, the supernatural.  Like the thick, luscious plaits in Julia’s hair, Mimi has braided the Captain’s secrets into the plot and readers will be as anxious as Julia while searching for reasons to believe in him. Seeking lessons learned and hoping for a happy ending make The Belle of Belgrave Square as fulfilling as a favorite fairy tale.

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.





Wherever the Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms


Happy Publication Day- October 18, 2022 by Lake Union Publishing

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Kelly Harms delivers another “sink or swim” adventure of a woman on the brink of a new life. Her main character, Becca, is newly divorced and faced with her past but willing to brace for the future. This tale of a mother and daughter sailing from Maine to Miami takes on a wide range of watery emotions. Becca’s learning to sail hardly compares to the gritty truths and grief at letting go of 22 years of marriage or the ecstasy and joy of discovering the real person below all those layers of the past. Kelly Harm’s novel brings new meaning to finding “the wind in your sails!” The forecast is smooth sailing ahead with Wherever the Wind Takes Us.

Other Books by Kelly Harms:

Life is short. Read Deliciously.

That’s the message that guides Kelly as she writes what Booklist dubs her “Witty, lively, and au courant,” novels set in the lives of everyday women living outside their everyday circumstances. Combining her trademark “spunky leading ladies you can take to the beach” (Fitness Magazine) with “an honest look at weighty topics (Kirkus Reviews), Kelly keeps readers laughing and thinking year after year, across a dozen languages and every imaginable format. Her works have been #1 bestsellers at Amazon and Audible and garnered more than 40,000 reviews.

A former literary agent and associate editor at HarperCollins Publishers, Kelly speaks on creative living and a life in publishing from both sides of the editor’s desk, at libraries, book clubs, festivals, and wherever good books are sold. She also enjoys working with young adult writers through partnerships with public schools and libraries.”


In The Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore


Publication Date: October 4, 2022 by Shadow Mountain Publishing

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Are Free-Spirited Royals Your Cup of Tea?” When this question appeared as the subject line in an email from Laurel Ann Nattress, Director at Austen Prose PR, I HAD to read this novel! Readers will adore Princess Louise! Here’s my review:

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather Moore opens with a journal entry from Queen Victoria on the birth of Princess Louise, her sixth child. Now it’s 1861, and that beautiful baby girl is twelve years old. Moore provides readers with an immediate emotional touchpoint as a personal letter or journal entry is shared at the beginning of each chapter.

Heather Moore’s use of comparison biographies is highly evident as she shares details of Princess Louise and her eight siblings. Readers gain insight into birth order, rivalries, and conflict.  Moore focuses on individual reactions to father, Prince Albert’s death, marriages, political relations, and the women’s suffrage movement.  She also brings out Louise’s likeable, relatable personality through her relationship with Sybil Grey. The young girls become “true friends” and Louise gains access to media, experiences in social settings, and honest conversations.

Princess Louise’s quest to become a sculptor flares to life as she convinces the Queen to allow a studio for sculpting and art teachers are hired, not a traditional path for young ladies. Princess Louise is coming of age so finding a marriage partner becomes the novel’s focus and the Queen’s quest. The parade of eligible men at breakfasts and dinners, plus sibling intervention wreak havoc on the royal plans and is quite entertaining. There is much suspense with the impending match and marriage contract; a reminder that one is “marrying into a complicated family and royal dynasty with traditions and expectations.”

Fans of all things Royal will thoroughly appreciate the accomplishments of Princess Louise as she becomes an independent thinker, a champion of change, and develops her own opinions despite being “in the shadow of a queen.”

LINK HERE TO A GORGEOUS WEBSITE : “Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any previous British monarch and is known as the Victorian era.”

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than
seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on
both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended
school abroad at the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of
Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical





A Place to Land by Lauren K. Denton


Publication: October 4, 2022 from Harper Muse Publishing


For sisters Violet and Trudy, a hidden past isn’t past at all.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Lauren K. Denton is a Southern author whose wonderful stories of love, belonging, and finding home are set in fictional towns with characters richly drawn from her own life and imagination. In the South “your people” are the link to the past and a key to the present! Lauren’s “people” are written with deep, meaningful lives that evoke a wide range of emotions.  

A Place to Land is the story of how love and a promise to a mother impacts the lives of sisters Violet and Trudy Figg.  Violet, whose life is on hold to protect her sister, fills her days surveying birds for the Coastal Alabama Audubon Society.  Trudy, who only communicates by writing notes, silently creates artwork for their shop, Two Sisters Art in Sugar Bend, Alabama. Now the past Violet and Trudy have tried to bury bumps right into the present when after forty years a sunken boat resurfaces on the muddy, weed filled banks of the winding Little River.

Lauren K. Denton’s plot is filled with secrets and winds around as many bends as the Little River. Denton’s novel is chocked full of stories of bird watching, lost love, hurtful tales of the “friendliest guy in town’, and a teenage victim of the foster care system. With a mysterious boat, teens Maya and Tyler searching for courage to leave their present life to forge a future, and the Figg sisters hoping love transcends past decisions, readers will get a warm, safe sense of Southern belonging and what it truly means to finally find A Place to Land.

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent

Tastes Better from Scratch by Lauren Allen


Publishes September 27, 2022

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Remember the cartoon of the confused young bride searching the grocery aisles for “scratch”? Lauren Allen can help with that! She hosts a popular food blog and website, Tastes Better from Scratch, and now her well tested fan & family favorites are available in her debut cookbook. Lauren believes that “good food is essential for our physical and financial health and our social well-being.”

This cookbook is well organized with 116 recipes, colorful photos, and step-by-step instructions. Tips for key kitchen tools, ideas for getting kids or grandkids to eat the same meals as adults, and even QR codes that connect to how-to videos make this cookbook the perfect choice.

Categories include Breakfasts, Muffins & Breads, Dinners, Soups, and Desserts. The alphabetical index is also helpful with live links if using the digital edition. Tastes Better from Scratch makes a wonderful wedding gift, but also a beautiful addition to a seasoned cook’s collection.

I tried the German Pancakes. Next time I’ll use a bit smaller pan and lower the oven temperature. Delicious, as voted by my family!

German Pancakes by Dorothy

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner


Publishes October 18, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

When We Had Wings is a riveting account of the Japanese takeover of the Philippines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 1941, told seamlessly by three authors through the lives of three nurses.

The three nurses representing the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Filipina community, Penny, Eleanor, and Lita, experience hospitals with few supplies, orphans facing starvation, and the horrors of prisons and internment camps in Manila, the Bataan Peninsula, and Corregidor Island.  The Philippine assignment was considered ‘paradise’ at the time each enlisted but after the declaration of war they must come to grips with atrocities and realities of warfare.

The history of the Philippines, the political and social upheavals, along with demolished cities and details of conflicts add to compelling personal accounts as the three nurses are separated for years and wonder who survives. The detailed descriptions of their personal contributions, experiences and sacrifices evoke feelings ranging from pure disgust to extreme delight, as they became the first female prisoners of World War ll.

General MacArthur pledged “I shall return!” This commitment keeps hopeful readers interned with the “Angels of the Bataan and Corregidor” until the tanks roll in, hatches open, and they hear in a distinct American accent, “Hello, folks”. God Bless America!

#22in22Challenge The Wild Detectives


Visit #16 Dallas, Texas-Bishop Arts District

“Two birds with one stone.” We had an appointment at The Book Doctor in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, so decided to visit The Wild Detectives Bookstore in the same trip. This is an independent bookstore with tables & seating for those wanting to read or work using the WiFi, outdoor patio seating in the backyard for cooler weather and author events, and a bar for cocktails or coffee for cozy reading inside. Everything from Fiction & Nonfiction to Poetry & Books in Spanish is available, along with online ordering. Located in the beautiful Bishop Arts district with lots of boutiques on tree lined streets to wander in and out of along with restaurants aplenty!

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown


Published January 5, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Like sunflower seeds that rest dormant under winter snow, Teri M. Brown’s Sunflowers Beneath the Snow reveals the underlying strength of three generations of women living in Ukraine between 1973-2021. Ivanna, a grandmother, Yevtsye, her daughter, and Ionna, the granddaughter share their stories of survival and accomplishments despite political upheaval, economic hardships, and social and religious disparities.

In the opening pages Ivanna’s husband, Lyaksandro, is abducted for his efforts to squash Communism and restore the traditions of Ukraine his father instilled in him as a youth. Teri Brown weaves the history of the USSR and the customs and culture of Ukraine with the personal beliefs of Ivanna as she stays true to the Party. Readers are treated to descriptions of Christmas celebrations of the past as hunger pangs continue for parents and children as they forage for food and burn furniture to stay alive.  

Themes of forgetting and forgiveness fill the emotional dialogue and personal religious conflicts between Ivanna and her daughter, Yevtsye, as they navigate tumultuous decades of personal separation, political unrest, and Ukraine’s declaration of independence. Through Ionna’s experiences truths are exposed and a timeline of historical developments helps the reader internalize the reality behind personal and political struggles.

Based on true events, the individual decisions and reactions to situations create “astonishing solutions more powerful than fiction.” In the fall of 2022 as the media reports daily on military progress in Ukraine, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is an extremely emotional, currently relevant educational novel presented through the lens of one family and their extraordinary sacrifices over a lifetime.  Highly recommended.

Sunflowers are easy to find in Ukraine. The sunflower seeds brought by early explorers from America, provide food, oil, medicine, and dyes. Fields of flowers, carved into furniture or embroidered on clothing; the sunflower is the national symbol of Ukraine.

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M. Brown now calls the North Carolina coast home. In 2020, she and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. Learn more at


#22in22Challenge Galveston Book Shop

Visit #15: Galveston Island, Texas

This was my second visit to The Galveston Book Shop. I purchased a book on the Maceo family who plays a large part in The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird.

So a trip to Maceo’s Spice & Import was a must! It’s a step back in time with a vast array of spices, and a restaurant, too! The muffuletta was recommended and a treat for lunch at the beach.

The Portraitist – A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap


Publication August 30, 2022

This novel is the result of seven years of research, writing, and revising. I’m excited to share it with you! Kirkus Reviews called it “an imaginative work that brings the story of a little-known artist to vivid life.” Susanne Dunlap

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Portraitist Susanne Dunlap explores the sumptuous world of art in Paris in the 18th century during the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. Readers are introduced to the current social and political issues through struggling female artist, Adélaïde Labille-Guitard, and her rival Vigée Le Brun, well known for her royal connections and commissioned portraits.

Dunlap’s impeccable research shines a light on the historical backdrop of the storming of the Bastille and the world of the Royalists and the Jacobins. The sounds of angry chants, loud drumming, and marching feet keep readers seeking an end to the bloodshed as the Revolution comes alive on the pages. Dunlap weaves the details of the artists’ lives and attempts at reform of women’s acceptance in the Académie Royale with studios at the Louvre and the palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette, the Guillotine, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Robespierre add to the suspenseful political intrigue.  

The spicy details of Adélaïde’s desperate, dangerous solution to earning money, decisions she makes to survive and ideals she’s willing to fight for, make her a character that women will connect with emotionally and socially.  The pressures of women in the 18th century are not so unlike those women face today.  The Portraitist is filled with luscious period details, the French Revolution and Adélaïde’s attention to advancing women in the arts while seeking equal rights in the Académie Royale. Truly a French masterpiece. C’est très magnifique!  

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, Paris 1749–1803 Paris) Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788), 1785 Oil on canvas; 83 x 59 1/2 in. (210.8 x 151.1 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5)

History is my muse. I love writing, dogs, cycling, and writing. Did I say writing already?

I’m fascinated by the women of the past, how they lived, how they negotiated with the conditions of their time to thrive as best they could.

I’ve written about real historical women and invented characters who might have lived then.

The Manhattan Girls by Gill Paul


Published August 18, 2022

It’s a 1920s version of Sex and the City, as Dorothy Parker—one of the wittiest women who ever wielded a pen—and her three friends navigate life, love, and careers in New York City.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Gill Paul’s Manhattan Girls takes readers behind the desks of New York publishers, into speakeasies, and onto Broadway in 1921, as she chooses a bridge group to connect the lives of four real New York career women, each with their own individual style. Gill Paul wins the hand by developing dialogue and moving the plot through four “players”: Dorothy Parker, writer, and Jane Grant, a reporter at the New York Times; kindred spirits of journalism, and Broadway actress Winnifred Lenihan and Margaret (Peggy) Leech, an advertising sales agent for Condé Nast. These women never saw swapping fashion tips at beauty salons or looking after a husband as their sole purpose in life. Gill Paul surrounds the main characters with husbands, lovers, friends, editors, newspaper columnists, authors, playwrights, actresses, and bootleggers! Seems a lot, but readers will be intrigued with the character interactions and entanglements. Her juicy descriptions of gatherings read like newspaper society columns.  

Due to the war and more women in the work force, the four women are on the cusp of social change as the decade ends. Readers will be invested in how Gill Paul interprets the ideals and dreams of the four women and their relationships in this challenging time in history.  The Manhattan Girls support each other’s strengths as they bid and win with the cards they’ve been dealt.   

Gill Paul’s historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and UK kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages. She specializes in relatively recent history, mostly 20th century, and enjoys re-evaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads.

With LOVE from WISH & CO. by Minnie Darke


Publication: August 16, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

What are we prepared to give-and give up-in the name of love? Minnie Darke proves relationships are tricky in this captivating tale of Marnie Fairchild, professional gift buyer, and how her one mistake causes the implosion of the Charlesworth family. Marnie’s goal as owner of Wish & Co. is to build-up her clientele and finances so she’s fiscally able to purchase the historic building where her grandfather’s shop was once located. After one uncharacteristic mistake her dreams may be dashed and the families are in a knotted mess, complicated on all levels.

The well-developed characters will charm or worm their way into readers’ hearts. So many relationships to evolve or dissolve while Marnie seeks to build her unique business. One simple mistake wreaks havoc on relationships between husband/wife, father/son, father/daughter, and even old/new budding romances! What a tangled web Minnie Darke weaves; sticky with several targets captured.  Dealing with disappointment, moral dilemmas, forgiveness, and pride hits readers squarely in the gut then the heart, all while reading through laughter and tears. A favorite line: “Love’s the hokey pokey! You’ve got to put your whole self in.” Readers will be all in reading Minnie Darke’s With Love from Wish & Co.

Minnie Darke writes smart, contemporary stories about love … of all kinds. Minnie Darke is a lover of freshly sharpened pencils, Russian Caravan tea and books of all kinds. She lives on the beautiful island of lutruwita/Tasmania, at the bottom of the world.

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong


Published August 9, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A remarkable story about “the magic and power of words to give comfort and effect change.” Addison Armstrong weaves this dual timeline of the upbringing and youth of Emmaline Balakin and Kathleen Carre into a tale of women who are filled with stamina, courage, and leadership.

Emmaline’s story set in 1918 France during WWl is based on the letters of real-life war librarian Mary Frances Isom. With Armstrong’s deeply researched details of soldiers in the trenches and sensory filled descriptions of the war-ravaged French countryside readers are truly “mired in the muddy lanes” and politics of war as Emmaline delivers her wheelbarrow of books to soldiers.  Emmaline draws strength from memories of her parents and why they left Russia; not because the Czar was banning weapons, but because he was banning books. “Ideas are more dangerous than war” energizes her passionate belief that books are for everyone, no matter race, religion, political beliefs, or economic standing.  Armstrong’s depictions of the colored soldiers’ treatment places readers squarely into the remote crowded tents with no heat and lack of prompt medical care. The scenes of Emmaline reading aloud to the colored soldiers “being more comforting than mama’s blackberry pie and like a magic carpet” caused tears of joy as she shared the love of reading.  Emmaline’s beliefs and courage to do what’s right has a life changing effect on her service as a war librarian.

Emmaline’s war experiences are alternated with Kathleen Carre’s 1976 experiences in the first class of females at the United States Naval Academy. Kathleen’s grandmother, Nana, having served in the WWl Motor Corps, is her hero and the driving force for Kathleen to serve her country.  Armstrong creates strong conflict and presents the prejudices of females intruding in a “man’s world” as Nana so aptly warns her. The insecure male cadets, hoping to force the women to leave, were relentless in their cruel treatment, slurs, and ransacking of rooms; only considered hazing by the USNA. This maddening harassment and the collective strategies of the female plebes truly sets these women apart and makes them heroes for exposing the truth. This emotionally challenging read requires some calm down breaks! Addison Armstrong’s The War Librarian accurately depicts racial injustices without being offensive and focuses on obvious gender biases. Read for satisfying justice in the end.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a five-year old writing stories about talking school supplies and ants getting their revenge on exterminators. While a junior at Vanderbilt University studying elementary education, I wrote my first historical fiction novel, The Light of Luna Park, and sold it to G.P. Putnam’s Sons in January of my senior year. Now that I’ve graduated with my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Language & Literacy Studies, as well as a Master’s in Reading Education with an ESL endorsement, I’m teaching third grade English language learners in Nashville and continuing to write.

Courage for the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker


Publishes August 4, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

War changes people and in Courage for the Cornish Girls readers catch up with the changes coming to Cornwall, England in 1942.  Betty Walker keeps readers up to date on the charming characters from books # 1 & #2 while providing ample backstory of past happenings in Porthcurno for new readers.  Aunt Violet, her nieces Lily and Alice and new chum, Demelza, are each being called to serve “king and country” while now living in Penzance. Personal relationships build but the war heats up, air raids increase, and Aunt Violet, Lily, and Demelza each must “do their bit.” Will their hearts be broken in the midst of war? The mystery of Lily and Alice’s father, sibling evacuees to protect and raise, and possible weddings to plan will keep readers anxiously waiting for Betty Walker’s continuation of the Cornish Girls series.

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall with her large family, where she enjoys gardening and coastal walks. She loves discovering curious historical facts, and devotes much time to investigating her family tree. She also writes bestselling contemporary thrillers as Jane Holland.

By Way of the Moonlight by Elizabeth Musser


Publication: August 2, 2022

Visit Elizabeth’s beautiful website

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Elizabeth Musser’s By Way of the Moonlight will gallop away with your heart. This is a story of love and horses and how each can define a life. The dual timeline opens in present-day Atlanta with flashbacks to the 1930’s and 40’s, highlighting the involvement of the U.S. in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War ll.  Allie, a physical therapist, is all set to marry the love of her life, veterinarian, Dr. Austin Andrews, and open Hickory Hills Horse Therapy. Her grandmother, known as Nana Dale, recently passed away and had always promised Allie she would inherit the house, barn, acreage and money to open an equine therapy center. Readers saddle up for a wild ride as the trusted family lawyer shares the latest life changing revelations regarding Nana Dale’s property.

In the 1930’s time-line Elizabeth Musser takes readers back to Nana Dale’s idyllic Georgia childhood growing up with horses, competitions with her champion filly, Essie, and the love of her life, Tommy.  Through skillful dialogue, intriguing characters and weaving of the two love stories, the time-line alternates back and forth between Dale and Allie.  Demolished dreams and letters from Nana Dale send Allie desperately searching for a carved wooden chest that holds the key to possibly saving Hickory Hills and the long-hidden details of Nana Dale’s secret life during World War ll.

Elizabeth Musser’s narrative is laced with defining historical markers. The 1940 Olympics, tankers torpedoed off the coast of Georgia, the building of Liberty ships, and the U.S Coast Guard Mounted Beach Patrol known as Sand Pounders all play key roles in the 1943 Battle of the Atlantic; the backdrop for Dale Butler’s riveting love story.

By Way of the Moonlight is filled with ricocheting emotions, feelings of accomplishment, and plenty of nerve-wracking suspense. Key themes are obsession and its impact on lives, along with pride’s effect on decisions. Elizabeth Musser shares optimism and hope through her emotional and suspenseful tale of two spirited women bound by the love of family, the power of prayer and gratitude, and the indisputable, therapeutic healing of horses.  Like Dale’s winning ribbons and trophies for her champion Essie, By Way of the Moonlight is Southern historical fiction worthy of a silver cup in Elizabeth Musser’s own ‘ribbon room.’

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads).

All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and have been international best-sellers. Two Destinies, the final novel in The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. Her new novel, The Long Highway Home, has already been a bestseller in Europe and was a finalist for the Carol Awards.

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford


Publishes August 2, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Jamie Ford transports readers across continents and centuries with an epic saga of the descendants of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to step foot in America. With the artful and masterful skill readers of Jamie Ford have come to love and appreciate each of the ‘many daughters” shares her own life story, how she bears inherited trauma and its effects on family and social relationships. The narrative encompasses social and economic mores, racially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and historical events impacting the daughters’ lives spanning the 19th-21st centuries. Generationally inherited trauma becomes very real when main character Dorothy Moy’s 5-year-old daughter, Annabel begins to recall details from ancestors’ lives. Now Dorothy fears Annabel also has inherited trauma, so hoping to find a way to cure her daughter, seeks an unproven treatment for herself from Dr. Shedhorn. The doctor’s analogy of inherited trauma being like a perennial plant: “A part of us comes back each new season, carrying a bit of the previous floret,” helps clarify transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. A novel to enlighten and heighten readers’ understanding of being different, feeling unworthy, and “otherness.”

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name Ford, thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into thirty-five languages. Having grown up in Seattle, he now lives in Montana with his wife and a one-eyed pug.


The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Publication Day: July 19, 2022

Katherine’s website: Look for the video of the real Texas ranch setting in the novel!

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Hannah Brooks is an Executive Protection Agent, aka Bodyguard. She is assigned to a famous move star on hiatus due to a family crisis; the death of the brother that was a buffer for the family. Protecting one famous brother while he follows his mother’s wishes is in this recipe for a romantic comedy! Katherine Center, known as the “queen of comfort reads,” blends ingredients of witty banter, inner workings of a protection agency, and Hannah’s goal of remaining professional while in the presence of a handsome movie star with layers of childhood memories and disappointment, betrayal, and grief. The icing on the cake is swirled with Center’s delicious toppings of restoring friendships, the power of kindness, and refusing to give up on hope and optimism. There are plenty of relationship twists and tweaks to the recipe and readers will cheer for Hannah when she discovers that ‘love is something you do.”

The Bodyguard is also a treat for the senses: exploring the views of the Brazos River and the ranch in Texas, delving into the harshness of brothers revealing disturbing feelings and tensions, to hugs that prove to Hannah she is lovable. A favorite sprinkle of wisdom: “People loving you for your best qualities is not the same as people loving you despite your worst.” Thanks, Katherine, for whipping up The Bodyguard during the Pandemic; a “satisfying, delectable dessert” for fans of romantic comedy.

The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey


Published July 7, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue Martha and Charlotte want to make a difference in the coming war. Ella Carey takes on a nonlinear timeline to weave the love story of Lawrence and Chloe Belmont in 1918 with the whispers of another war in 1938. Readers will sail the Atlantic with the Belmont’s daughter, Martha, as she travels to Paris to convince her sister, Charlotte, to return to safety in New York City before war escalates.  Ella Carey alternately and passionately bridges the emotional plots of Martha and Charlotte through the seasons and years of World War ll.

Ella Carey’s treatment of the dramatic events unfolding in Europe includes movements of the Germans and Nazis, the Vichy government in France, and details of curators & guards packing and hiding thousands of pieces of artwork from the Louvre and private galleries.  She adds well researched, rich history to the development of characters involved in heroic situations which seamlessly enfolds the lives and activities of workers in the Resistance along with descriptions of prison camps, solitary confinement, and the highly stressful goal of the protection and movement of paintings such as the Mona Lisa in the French countryside. Historical figures Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, and Eleanor Roosevelt add to the timeline that takes readers from Central Park in 1938 to the mountains of Alsace in 1946. 

Through the excellent character development in Ella Carey’s The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue readers will experience the deep pain felt by Martha and Charlotte and discover important themes such as life after loss, finding and recognizing love, and realizing there are no limits when it comes to protecting those we love.

Scarlet Carnation by Laila Ibrahim


Published April 1, 2022

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

May and Naomi can trace their lineage back to a pre-Civil War Virginia plantation where their grandmothers’ lives and future generations were woven together. Author Laila Ibrahim’s previous novels, Yellow Crocus, Mustard Seed, and Golden Poppies are the prequels to Scarlet Carnation. The author’s research and character development of May, a young white woman and Naomi, the descendent of an enslaved family make this a stand-alone novel, but at the conclusion of the novel readers will be compelled to go back to the beginnings of these two families.

Scarlet Carnation, set in Oakland, California, 1915, covers important historical events. Feminist themes such as early contraception, struggles of unwed mothers, and children born with disabilities are explored through the life of May. Naomi’s activity with the NAACP, her husband’s “passing” and sons’ involvement in World War l shed an eye-opening light on racial injustice and attempts at segregation. Readers will connect with May and Naomi on many levels as they “support each other’s quest for liberation and dignity.” Laila Ibrahim deftly weaves the history of Mother’s Day and the wearing of carnations with the epidemic of 1918, presidential elections, and the eugenics movement. These historical events have great impact on the lives of May and Naomi and help maintain readers’ curiosity and add quick pace to the novel.

The choices made by May and Naomi will linger for quite a while as readers contemplate many similar social crises and situations in our world today. Scarlet Carnation, set over one hundred years ago but still very relevant today. Five “Carnations” from the Grateful Reader!


Tomboy by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Publication: June 28, 2022

Book #2 in the Jane Benjamin Series , Book #3 coming Nov, 2023

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Jane Benjamin is on the brink of a new job as a gossip columnist, but the world is on the brink of war.

Tomboy, Shelley Blanton-Stroud’s second novel in the Jane Benjamin series, opens in San Francisco, June 1939. Readers are in for a bumpy train ride and a tension filled voyage across the Atlantic as Jane wrangles a way to cover the women’s finals at Wimbledon. The hometown tennis star and cover girl, Tommie O’Rourke takes “Centre Court” not only at Wimbledon but the center of attention on the RMS Queen Mary’s return to the U.S.

The author’s attention to the ship’s settings to start each chapter plants readers solidly aboard with a great view of the Sun Deck, the Cabin Class Dining Room, the Movie Theater, and Tommie’s Suite on the Main Deck. The days aboard the Queen Mary float tenuously between the posh set of passengers aboard the Queen Mary and Jane’s flashbacks to her Hooverville childhood.  Both timelines are packed with mysteries inside of mysteries. How Jane handles the gossip from Wimbledon, the death of Tommie’s Coach, and war brewing in Europe will keep readers gripping the rails on the promenade deck until the Queen Mary docks in New York City. Be on the lookout for Book #3 in the Jane Benjamin Series coming in November 2023. (Plenty of time for Jane to change her mind…? )

“I grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. I recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consult with writers in the energy industry. Copy Boy is my first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy (She Writes Press 2022) will be my second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023.”


A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen

Publishes July 5, 2022

Tessa Arlen is the author of the Woman of World War II Mysteries and the novel In Royal Service to the Queen. Born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat, she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. She now lives with her husband in historic Santa Fe, where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

This is an inspirational novel based on the true story of Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, and the design house she created, Lucille Ltd. In 1893, Lucy finds herself divorced from an alcoholic, spendthrift husband, needing to support herself and her five-year-old daughter. Lucy’s one skill is dress design and a natural vision for color and line.

Tessa Arlen’s characters are developed from deep research into Lucy’s background, the history of her designs, her sister Elinor’s support through her influential friend circle, and despite Lucy’s pretentious, overbearing mother. Arlen highlights Lucy’s business acumen in discovering, hiring, and depending on Celia and the ensuing staff required. From the beginning when Lucy designs her first dress of violet taffeta, named “A Dream of Endless Summer,” readers will be enthralled with the “fairy-tale dress” described by Celia as “all light and shadows and as ethereal as gossamer.” Overcoming the fact that only men were designers in haute couture, Lucy was driven to succeed as the first woman known for her original gowns and creative ideas for presenting the first fashion shows. In this “designer’s dream,” Tessa Arlen laces together strands of women’s independence, ingenuity, and trust with the real world of turn of the century couture, presentation to royalty, Warwick Castle, and even the sailing of the Titanic. Readers will want a gossamer ball gown and a glittering gala to attend when the last model dons A Dress of Violet Taffeta.


A Week of Warm Weather by Lee Bukowski

Published June 7, 2022

Born and raised in a large family in eastern Pennsylvania, Lee Bukowski has always had an interest in reading, writing, and storytelling. She holds a BA in English and Secondary Education from Millersville University and taught seventh grade English and writing for fifteen years. In 2017, she obtained an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Currently, she teaches writing at the college level and freelances as a proofreader and editor. When she’s not teaching or writing, she loves reading and traveling, especially visiting her grown daughters in Boston and Fort Lauderdale. A Week of Warm Weather is her debut novel. Lee lives with her husband in Reading, PA. 

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An impactful, unforgettable account of one woman’s experience with an addict husband and the codependency that occurs: stemming from her own dealings with abandonment. For Tessa, “What you don’t know can and will hurt you,” is true. She finds that creating a fake life, covering lies with more lies, eventually breaks everyone involved. There’s so much to learn about abusive behaviors and addictions through Lee Bukowski’s thought provoking, inciteful novel; the pages practically turn themselves.

Lee Bukowski’s debut novel, A Week of Warm Weather, pulls back the unwanted, dirty film off the lens peering directly and openly into marriage through addiction. Read, understand, share.

Somewhere, Right Now by Kerry Docherty, Illustrated by Suzie Mason

Imagining Beauty, Mindfulness for all ages!

Kerry Docherty is a founder and Chief Impact Officer of Faherty Brand, a lifestyle clothing brand centered on sustainability, craft, and community. Prior to starting Faherty, her background was in law, human rights, and mindfulness. She’s passionate about using creativity and community as a tool to cultivate joy. She lives in Brooklyn with her two kids, husband, and an orange tree. This is her first book.

Suzie Mason is a New York Times bestselling illustrator living in Worcestershire, England, with her family and ball-of-fuzz kitty. Since switching from her scientific background to art in her mid-twenties, she has drawn over twenty picture books, including TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb’s two children’s books. From her little English cottage, she is constantly inspired by the beauty of the natural world around her and delights in creating happy, colorful artwork. 

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Somewhere, Right Now, Kerry Docherty examines human emotions through the experiences of a young family. In a mindfulness teaching moment, the mother tells Alma that imagining a beautiful scene somewhere in the world will help her handle her emotions. Alma then shares the idea with her family as they explore feeling scared, mad, sad, and tired. Children and parents will appreciate the colorful palette used in the illustrations by Suzie Mason.  Emotions are also easily read through the facial expressions of the family. Reading Somewhere, Right Now aloud while imagining will give readers an overall peaceful feeling, a mindfulness tip for all ages.

Oleander City by Matt Bondurant


Published June 14, 2022

“Matt Bondurant’s latest novel Oleander City will be in book stores nationwide June 14, 2022.  His previous novels include The Night Swimmer, which was featured in the New York Times Book ReviewOutside Magazine, and The Daily Beast, among others.  His second novel The Wettest County in the World is an international bestseller, a New York Times Editor’s Pick, a San Francisco Chronicle Best 50 Books of the Year, and was made into a feature film (Lawless) by Director John Hillcoat, starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce.”

Readers will want to spend some time checking out Matt Bondurant’s wonderful website, full of research, photos, and facts about Galveston. Link provided below:

Jack & Joe being released from Galveston Jail, March 21, 1901.  Sheriff Henry Thomas shakes Joe’s hand as Jack stands between them, surrounded by deputies and other city officials.  The little girl (and dog) in the foreground are unknown.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Great Storm of 1900 that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. Matt Bondurant’s Oleander City recounts the days and weeks after the disaster from three points of view. Readers are immediately submerged in the devastating descriptions of human suffering and loss through the frantic, scared eyes of six-year-old Hester, the lone survivor from The Sisters of the Incarnate Word Orphanage. The second is the ringside view of bold, educated Jewish boxer Joe Choynski, who is hired to fight the “Galveston Giant” in a fund raiser for the recovery effort. The third view is from Diana, assistant to Clara Barton, American Red Cross Director, in Galveston to minister to survivors.

Based on the true story of a famous boxing match, Matt Bondurant ties Galveston’s gambling history, persecution by the Ku Klux Klan and the island’s recovery efforts into knots that are only untangled because of his in-depth historical research and superb weaving of the three narratives. This account goes beyond the architectural devastation and rebuilding to the colossal human effort that was required to restore families, businesses and hope for the future of the island.


The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan

Published May 31, 2022

Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A heartwarming novel of three women brought together in Aldhurst, England, in 1942. Famous London couturier, Cressida Westcott is forced by the Blitz to the small village to stay with her niece Violet at the Westcott estate. Violet feels the urgent need to find an aristocratic husband but her schemes are interrupted when she receives her conscription letter. Third is subservient Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter; engaged and feels duty bound to serve her community. Vicar, Ben Carlisle, has found his late wife’s wedding gown, ravaged by moths and time, for Grace to wear at her wedding. This is where Cressida finds her purpose, not only to help restore a dress for Grace, but to help Grace find herself.

Jennifer Ryan’s comforting words help readers rejoice as each character makes wise decisions and becomes involved in the community outside of individual desires. A competition in London to find well designed affordable clothing of good quality adds to the growth of Grace as a designer and Cressida as a businesswoman. The author weaves several budding relationships into the village sewing circle which evolves into the creation of a Wedding Dress Exchange. Some pairings readers will be rooting for, others not so much! Members of the Wedding Dress Sewing Circle learned more than “Make Do and Mend.” Jennifer Ryan’s strong character development leads to women finding their voice, a new calling, and discovering a path forward. A very different view of World War ll and the role of women and rationing.


#22in22Challenge: Rolling Hills Ministries Bookstore

Book Store Visit #12: Ruston, Louisiana

Outside Rolling Hills Ministries BookStore

My #12 visit was to this gem in the piney woods of Northeast Louisiana. I was in Ruston for my niece’s wedding and had some time on Saturday morning. This book store was such a surprise!! All the books are donated, along with gifts, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. It was a treasure trove of row upon row of shelves; all perfectly in order by genre and author. Hardbacks-$5, Paperbacks-$4-how did I come out with only 5 books and a set of bookends?? The coffee bar and newly added back porch were very inviting!


The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Published May 17, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Bloomsbury Girls is the delectable telling of how three extremely different, but cunning young women and five miscalculating men interact in the Bloomsbury Bookshop in postwar London, 1950. Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum, the University of London, and the Bloomsbury Bookstore where general manager, Herbert Dutton and his 51 Rules have been in charge for 20 years. He now employs quiet but forthright Cambridge graduate, Evie Stone; Grace Perkins escaping from her unreal life with Gordon, a war survivor; and Vivien Lowry, “an orphan in a storm with no social connections.”

Jenner’s cast of characters includes politicians, aristocrats, American socialites, writers, and publishers, all intertwined with a gossipy thread.  Jenner’s narrative creates endearing characters readers will care about; strong females who support and encourage each other and bookstore events with newsworthy surprises! There are also entanglements and budding romances which create great anticipation for readers and Evie’s secret mission leads readers on a wonderful “book chase.” With the fate of the bookstore, marriages, and mysteries waiting to be revealed, there are lots of reasons to celebrate and read The Bloomsbury Girls.


#22in22Challenge Bookstore Visit #11: Murder by the Book, Houston TX

I visited this wonderful treasure on the way to Galveston to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It was a dreary, rainy day in Houston, but the wide selection and staff brightened our day! The top of the shelves was a museum of memorabilia, framed autographed photos, and treasures from around the world. I could’ve just moved in for a week, or more like a month!

Store History

“Murder By The Book is one of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores, established in 1980 by Martha Farrington, and purchased by McKenna Jordan in 2009.  The store stocks over 25,000 books — new & used, hardbacks & paperbacks, first editions, collectibles, gift items, mystery magazines, and more.  We host over 200 of the hottest mystery, crime, and fantasy authors for book signing events every year.  We’ve had everyone from Dick Francis to P.D. James, Sue Grafton to Robert Crais, Michael Connelly to Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke to Daniel Silva.”

The Grand Design by Joy Callaway


Published May 17, 2022

Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Joy is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, John, and her children, Alevia and John.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In 1908 everyone that was anyone summered at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Joy Callaway escorts readers right into the enormous dining hall prepared for Greenbrier’s Centennial Celebration filled with “silk & chiffon served atop a platter of tradition and romance.”

Callaway shares the story of socialite Dorothy Tuckerman’s attempt to escape the prison of expectations through her rebellious and creative lifestyle. In this dual timeline, thirty-eight years later, Dorothy is challenged with overcoming the stigma of divorce and sustaining her design business. She had established herself as one of the first female interior designers but having been raised by a father who found fame uncouth, Dorothy had become dependent on it and praise. Callaway peels back layers of confidence, waxing and waning, as insecurities immerge, affecting Dorothy’s business and personal life.

In alternating chapters Callaway portrays a clear portrait of Dorothy as a debutante in 1908 as she recalls the details and “what ifs” of her last summer at the Greenbrier.  In 1946, Dorothy Draper is hired to transform the Greenbrier from an Army hospital to its former glory as a destination resort.  Different designs for every guestroom, restoration of antiques, and acquiring artworks along with tales of presidents, royals, and movie stars gracing the halls and cottages make for rich renditions of spectacular events. While hoping for a successful “resort reveal” readers are immersed in the lush details and vibrant colors of Dorothy Draper designs. Scandal, secrets, and love are wrapped in the historic theme of the Greenbrier Resort: romance and rhododendrons.   

I received a complimentary copy; the opinions expressed are my own.



Bookstore Visit #10-Holy Grounds Christian Books, Gifts & Coffee-Grapevine, Texas

This was a combination bookstore & wine pick-up trip to Grapevine, Texas. What could be better than books, coffee and then WINE??? Grapevine is a short 30 minute drive for us. Main Street is filled with cute boutiques, restaurants, coffee bars, and wine tasting rooms! The visit to Holy Grounds was visit #10 in my #22in22Challenge. I found a devotional book filled with stories about Texas A&M so that was a “win” for a birthday gift. There were lots of gifts, books and of course, coffee! Holy Grounds is just down Main St. from Messina Hof Winery, so we combined the book store visit with our wine club pick-up. BOOKS, COFFEE, WINE? Yes, please!

The Kew Gardens Girls at War by Posy Lovell


Published April 19, 2022
Inspired by real events, a touching novel about a new class of courageous women who worked at London’s historic Kew Gardens during World War II.

Posy Lovell is a pseudonym for British author and journalist Kerry Barrett. Born in Edinburgh, she moved to London as a child with her family. She has a passion for uncovering the role of women in the past. She lives in London with her family and is the author of The Kew Gardens Girls.

Here’s The Grateful Reader’s review of Posy Lovell’s first book, The Kew Gardens Girls. This post includes the review/summary and a map and photos of Kew Gardens in London. Enjoy!

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Gardening’s all about the future, isn’t it?” Ivy asked Daisy.

For readers and gardeners who are always looking to the future for hope, this is an inspiring tribute to the courageous women who filled in the gaps during World War ll. Posy Lovell continues her series set at the historic Kew Gardens by featuring the “Dig for Victory” model created to provide an example of how a back garden of fruits and vegetables could feed a family year-round. Daisy and Beth, two young girls from opposite parts of London are chosen to plot, plant, and promote the Dig for Victory garden. The hope is that the model allotment-vegetable garden will attract many visitors seeking advice and asking questions. Equally important, the Vegetable Drugs Committee is created to harvest British grown plants for medicinal purposes. This concept and the model allotment project blossoms and grows beyond anyone’s imagination.

Following the lives of Daisy and Beth through the growing seasons of 1940 and beyond, readers will reap many benefits from the life lessons learned as they each face inner turmoil and make personal choices that impact not only their families, but their future. Posy Lovell’s superbly developed characters take readers on an emotional garden path; sowed with agony and grief, choked with confusion, chaos, even shock, but at the end discover a bountiful harvest of relief and joy. The theme of racial and gender injustice influences the cultural landscape of The Kew Gardens Girls at War, but the women learn that adapting, making the best of situations, and helping others is key to helping yourself.

#22in22Challenge-Independent Bookstore Day, April 30, 2022


Bookstore Visit #9-Interabang Books

My favorite local bookstore is INTERABANG in Dallas. This is where I order all my print copies to support authors. I was one of the designated Zibby Books Ambassadors and thoroughly enjoyed my role. The store was busy and everyone was enjoying the snacks and shopping! I was thrilled to see so many guests and loved hearing all the bookish conversations and delightful laughter.

Interabang Books, Dallas, Texas

The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan

Publication April 26, 2022

Aimie writes fiction, both historical and contemporary, that celebrates the spirit of strong women. In addition to her writing, she is active as a speaker and educator in the writing community. She lives in Colorado with her amazing husband, kids, cats, and pet dragon.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The School for German Brides examines the impact of social and political beliefs on the lives of three young girls living in Germany 1938 and beyond.  First, Hanna Rombauer, following her mother’s unexpected death has been sent to live in Berlin with Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Otto, Hitler supporters. Hanna’s aspiration is to study medicine at university following in her mother’s footsteps.

Hanna is befriended at school by second teen, Klara Schmidt. Klara’s parents, active in the Nazi Party, have grand plans for Klara to marry an SS officer.  Aimee K. Runyan’s discerning insights into the strained social settings the teens are thrust into cause readers sincere stress and angst. Events hosted by Charlotte and Otto and the deplorable, disgusting plans that involve Hanna are unimaginable. Third, Mathilde Altman, a Mischling- mixed Jewish and Gentile, is an amazing seamstress and she and her mom live in fear for their safety. They earn a meager living with a fabric shop while Tilde’s dream of studying law disappears.

Runyan’s novel is filled with historical background and political views of women’s “duty” to Germany. Young girls, groomed to be in service to the Fatherland are encouraged to join the BDM- Bund Deutscher Madel or Band of German Maidens, part of the Hitler Youth. “Schools for German brides” taught that “motherhood is your sacred duty…the very reason you were born.” Hanna, Klara, and Tilde cross paths at the school for brides, the luxurious Villa on Schwanenwerder Island. Each young woman is at a crossroads, facing life changing decisions. Runyan’s novel is compelling and intriguing as readers find out how the girls serve their country and find one last gesture to honor the memory of their friendship.


Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Publishing May 3, 2022

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 29 novels (including The Santa Suit; The Newcomer; Hello, SummerSunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The WeekendersBeach Town; Save the Date; Ladies’ Night; Christmas Bliss; Spring FeverSummer Rental; The Fixer Upper; Deep Dish; Blue Christmas; Savannah Breeze; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Love It or List It and Fixer Upper fans, listen up! Tune your summer reading dial to Mary Kay Andrew’s The Homewreckers, airing today at a book seller near you! The Homewreckers pairs headstrong home remodeler Hattie Kavanaugh from Savannah, Georgia, with devilishly handsome TV designer Trae Bartholomew in hopes of creating onscreen chemistry as an abandoned, dilapidated house is restored in a reality TV show. Hattie’s compassionate, lovable father-in-law, Tug, and just the right amount of sarcasm and insights from her protective site foreman, Cassie, add to this delightful cast of characters. When the “showrunner” Taleetha Carr gets involved in tighter launch scheduling along with creator Mauricio, Mo, the cast drama intensifies! While Mo is explaining “sizzle reels” and creating scenes to tape, the unsolved disappearance of a beloved high school teacher heats back up when a wallet is found on demo day! High school memories and secrets are woven into dialogue with nosy neighbors, former owners, city code enforcers, and investigating cops that creates a range of feelings from suspicion to “heart squeeze” moments for readers. Will the TV show help save the struggling Kavanaugh & Sons? Readers will anxiously flip pages for the “before/after” of Hattie Kavanaugh as she saves Savannah’s historic district one house at a time.


Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird

Published April 12, 2022-Reviewed for Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 1, 2022

Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird’s Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes.

“Sarah is the author of 11 novels. Her latest, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in April 2022. In addition to her novels, she has written screenplays for television and magazine articles for national magazines, including The New York Times MagazineTexas Monthly and the Chicago Tribune. Sarah and her husband, George Jones, live in Austin, Texas, with their son and, arguably, the cutest corgi in the world.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab-

The full review of The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier will be published in the Historical Novels Review Magazine on May 1.

“Welcome to Galveston. Playground of the Southwest,” greeted visitors to Galveston Island, Texas,1932. Sarah Bird shares the riveting story of Evie Grace Devlin’s life during the Great Depression and the world of dance marathons. Evie, having won a scholarship, is following her dream to be a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital. She meets student Sophie Amadeo of the infamous family who “owns” the island with their illegal booze and gambling racket and during three years of nursing school the two become “pinky promise” friends.”

Sarah Bird masterfully develops the characters in this first-person, gut-wrenching account as Evie hides her past as a child performer in Vaudeville to fulfill her lifelong dream. The horribly despicable actions of Evie’s mom, Mamie, and the Director of St. Mary’s are well scripted, offensive, and appalling. Devilishly delightful Sister T from the nursing school and later dance partners Cleo and Zave add to the suspense and relief like the fifteen-minute breaks in dance marathons.

Bird’s vivid account of Evie’s life after nursing school in 1932, leads readers on an exhausting whirl of dance marathons through West Texas, Chicago and back to Galveston’s iconic landmarks, the Hollywood Dinner Club, Buccaneer Hotel, Guido’s, and Starlight Palace. “Newsies” keep readers up to date with the Lindbergh kidnapping and the nomination of FDR in the upcoming election. Sensory observations of a bayou; the “oily rag/rotten egg smell of the refineries” and Bird’s use of shoes, black-and-white spectator wingtips, high-heeled Mary Janes, and white bucks; to symbolize the wealthy in the box seats, are examples of exquisite prose. Bird’s theme of “love that rescues a person” shines like a spotlight on the dance floor. So as the Vaudeville saying goes, ‘Absotively, possolutely’ read Last Dance on the Starlight Pier.

Galveston Landmarks from The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier:


The Blue Butterfly: A Novel for Marion Davies by Leslie Johansen Nack

Publishes May 3, 2022

Leslie Johansen Nack’s debut, Fourteen, A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival received five indie awards, including the 2016 Finalist in Memoir at the Next Generation Indie Book Award. She lives in sunny San Diego and enjoys sailing, hiking and her granddog, Alice.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Blue Butterfly is the love story of William Randolph Hearst, the richest man in the country, and Marion Davies, a Ziegfeld Follies dancer. Hearst’s money turned her into a movie star while his love for her lasted a lifetime. The novel spans the glittering world of Hollywood and the coming of “talkies”, the rise and fall of the Hearst empire, and the east coast-west coast battle between Hearst’s wife, Millicent, and Marion, his mistress. Leslie Nack develops the deep love and devotion that Marion and Hearst share amidst California garden parties, politics, the building of La Cuesta Encantada in San Simeon, and collapsing economics. Tangling strong feelings of rejection with tender caring moments involving death and grief, others infuriating; the reader is along for an emotional ride. Told in first person the reader cheers for Marion as her deepest fears and insecurities change to confidence and determination to overcome stuttering and develop writing and comedic skills on the stage. Famous Hollywood stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and even the Marx brothers have roles to play in the “blue butterfly’s” story.

Leslie Johansen Nack has written a star-studded novel that will leave readers searching for the movie Citizen Kane “that threatened to invalidate all Marion’s successes,” Mank, and The Hearst & Davies Affair to continue the love story. The Blue Butterfly combines the opulence of Hollywood and the audacity and double standard enjoyed by wealthy, powerful men with naivety and lust for stardom. This is a combustible potion when mixed with jealousy and love, adding heat to the inferno of The Blue Butterfly.

Hearst Castle: San Simeon, California Reopening for tours May 2022

“(1863-1951) William Randolph Hearst, the man who conceived Hearst Castle, was a media genius whose influence extended to publishing, politics, Hollywood, the art world and everyday American life. His power and vision allowed him to pursue one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in American history, the result of which can be seen in magnificent grounds and structures of Hearst Castle.” Read More:

“Marion Davies was the stage name of Marion Cecilia Douras, born in Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She was the youngest of five children born to Bernard and Rose Douras.” Read More:


The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

Published April 12, 2022

Kimberly Brock is the award-winning author of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare and The River Witch. She is the founder of Tinderbox Writers Workshop and has served as a guest lecturer for many regional and national writing workshops including at the Pat Conroy Literary Center. She lives near Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Photo cred: Claire Brock Photography

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

History, mystery, and myths are the ingredients blended into The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare. The journal or ‘lost book” is a Commonplace Book, over 400 years old, kept by generations of Dare women. The history of the Colony of Roanoke and Sir Walter Raleigh, 1587, told by Eleanor Dare is alternated with first person narratives by war widow Alice, slowly uncovering her inner self, and her 13-year-old daughter Penn’s newly discovered quest. Emotions from the past stirred with mother-daughter relationships create a dangerous concoction; one that keeps readers hanging on Kimberly Brock’s accounts of Eleanor and the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the rebuilding and decisions to be made about Evertell mansion by the women who now own it. From a radio receiving messages high up in the cupola to a mysterious stone tower at the edge of the forest hiding a chandlery, to the peacocks and Tybee Island, readers will savor Brock’s imagery in descriptions, the loving, endearing character traits, and the search for that silvery light that was supposed to be inside the heirs of Eleanor Dare. Brock slowly reveals Alice’s story as the “peeling layers” of fear and grief gives way to her daughter Penn’s coming of age as the Commonplace Book is discovered and treasured by both mother and daughter. Readers travel from the lonely coast of North Carolina in 1587 to Evertell on the banks of the Savannah River 1945, with some surprising twists. Kimberly Brock’s The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare, truth mixed with myth, is haunting and memorable.

What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? This is the beginning of an article from this website:

“The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new colony, would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. But just as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I called on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada. In August 1590, White finally returned to Roanoke, where he had left his wife and daughter, his infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) and the other settlers three long years before. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, and few clues to what might have happened, apart from a single word—“Croatoan”—carved into a wooden post.”

My What If Year-A Memoir by Alisha Fernandez Miranda

Publishes February 7, 2023-Zibby Books

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab


Last night, while I lay thinking here,

Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

And pranced and partied all night long

And sang their same old Whatif song.

Shel Silverstein

My What If Year is a humorous, witty memoir.

Alisha “had it all.” An expanding business, a family, a dream life in London. She thought she was happy, but she really, really wasn’t. She was stuck.

Hurtling towards forty during the pandemic Alisha Miranda feared turning into a middle-aged woman whose best years were behind her. As CEO of I.G. Advisors, she and her husband helped connect companies and foundations with charitable organizations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and UN Women! So yes, Alisha was successful, but unsatisfied, riddled with guilt. During a much needed night out with her friends, Alisha admitted she wasn’t sure she was “living the dream.”   What resulted was a conversation centered around becoming an intern in careers she had harbored in her dreams. All the “what ifs.” The year of 2020 became Alisha’s “what if year.”

The internships included a Broadway theater, a virtual fitness studio, a London art gallery, and a luxury hotel in Scotland. Learning life lessons along with Alisha during her four internships are treats to be treasured. Just a few: How to be uncomfortable in not being the expert in the room, how to do small tasks carefully and find joy in completing them, pay attention to intentionally seeking joy, look for right brained, creative activities, find confidence in applying skills in completely different fields. And many more!

Be entertained and enlightened. Read Alisha Miranda’s My What If Year and know: “It’s never too late to say yes to second chances and explore the roads untraveled throughout your life.”

The hardcover, paperback, ebook or audiobook (oh my!) can be bought at this very moment:

The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict

Published January 17, 2023-Sourcebooks Landmark-HB352 pp


From New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict comes an explosive novel of history’s most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

The Grateful Reader Review

Marie Benedict tells the compelling story of the Mitford sisters and their involvement in politics between the World Wars. Notorious for beauty, social connections and wealth, Benedict’s focus is on three of the sisters. Diana has married into the wealthy Guinness family but is recently divorced and enamored with a fascist leader. Unity’s desire to outdo Diana and her fascination with fascism leads her to Germany to become part of Hitler’s inner circle. Nancy, the eldest, a successful novelist and first member of British Society’s “Bright Young Things,” finds herself confronted with complicated choices.

Readers will find Diana and Unity’s behavior “unbelievably appalling,” which adds to the “who would do this, but it’s true?” aspect of the novel. Benedict admits that writing the part of Unity and her infatuation with Hitler was challenging, knowing what the world knows now. Those passages are convincing to a point, until background knowledge and historical facts take over and the readers’ emotions are catapulted 180*! This is a thought-provoking novel that explores how deep personal world views and political perspectives challenge family relations and call responsibility and duty into question.


Between the World Wars, the six Mitford sisters — each more beautiful, brilliant, and eccentric than the next — dominate the English political, literary, and social scenes. Though they’ve weathered scandals before, the family falls into disarray when Diana divorces her wealthy husband to marry a fascist leader and Unity follows her sister’s lead all the way to Munich, inciting rumors that she’s become Hitler’s mistress.

As the Nazis rise in power, novelist Nancy Mitford grows suspicious of her sisters’ constant visits to Germany and the high-ranking fascist company they keep. When she overhears alarming conversations and uncovers disquieting documents, Nancy must make excruciating choices as Great Britain goes to war with Germany.

Probing the torrid political climate in the lead-up to World War II and the ways that seemingly sensible people can be sucked into radical action, The Mitford Affair follows Nancy’s valiant efforts to stop the Nazis from taking over Great Britain, and the complicated choices she must make between the personal and the political.