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Book reviews for a few gems I discovered this summer.

True Life Memoir


I sat next to Vanessa at a writers dinner on the campus of WTAMU in Canyon, Texas this past summer. As with most gatherings that involve writers, the question always comes up: what do you write? Vanessa tells me that she just finished her memoir but it took her many years to write it. In answer to my question as to what makes her life’s memoir so unique, she says, “I was on the run from the FBI.” Of course I had to read it.

This memoir packs a punch! Vanessa is forced to flee from the FBI after they raided her husband’s drug lab. The literary prose is stunning, and the story is haunting. She holds nothing back. “The summer I turned eighteen, Shane and his handsome danger blast into my life on a Harley Davidson…  By the end of that first year there is no me left.” 

Beginning with being stranded in the far North, the true story is told in reverse, skipping around through the years which makes it confusing sometimes. I read in small bits of time whenever I get the chance. When I got back to the book after several days, I’d have to go back and figure out what was going on. I finally just stayed up late and finished it.  Settle in and make time to absorb this one. It’s hard to put down. “You never know what you can endure until you’ve lived through it and you hear yourself telling the story to someone years later.”

Women’s Fiction, Historical Western

THE BEATEN TERRITORY by Randi Samuelson-Brown (Five Star Publishing, 2017)

At the Western Writers of American meeting in Billings, I met Randi and soon realized that she has an intense passion for history. I could hardly wait to read her book. Set in 1890s Denver, the story follows the struggles of women who survive in the underworld of prostitutes, booze, and opium dens. One of the main characters, wealthy and smart Lydia, battles an abusive husband and her own addictions, while struggling to maintain a reputation as a successful property owner and real estate broker. Written with emotional intensity, this book is hard to put down. Her path crosses with Annie, a hardened brothel owner who rents a building from her and rules the upstairs girls with an iron will. The writing is superb and the subject matter is tastefully done. I love the complex, strong female characters. Intriguing and very entertaining, and of course this novel is based in part on true events.

Womens Fiction, Regency Romance

SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS by Elizabeth Boyle (Avon, 2017)

Witty, snappy dialogue and a strong, independent main character who navigates the male dominated world of espionage while keeping her reputation in tact. This is just plain fun. I’ve just discovered Ms. Boyle’s work and anxious to add more of her books to my “to be read” pile.

For Your Daily Devotional

SECRET OF RUTH by Patricia Mitchell (Barbour Books, 2016)

Dig deep into the book of Ruth with this study guide. Fresh Perspectives on Biblical Wisdom for Women. Strong women of the Biblical world and their stories.

Writers’ Life

The Overwhelmed Writer by Colleen Story.

Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within

5 of 5 Stars!  So many new ideas about the writing process and how my brain works. Things I had never considered before. Thought provoking and filled with ideas for rethinking your own process and schedule. This is a must for every overworked and exhausted writers’ reference library.


Happy reading, everybody!