Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Story Description: 
Baker Publishing Group|May 1, 2005|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-3080-2 
Before Ann H. Gabhart became well-known for her much-loved Shaker novels, she wrote three poignant novels centered on the loveable Jocie Brooke and her family, who lived in 1960’s small-town Kentucky.  Once named as one of Booklist’s Top Ten Christian Novels and now featuring a brand new cover, Scent of Lilacs is poised to capture the hearts of new readers everywhere.  Life-changing events rarely happen here, and when they do, they are few and far between.  But for Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once.  Jocie has questions that need answers.  As she digs into her family’s past, she finds a whirlwind of discoveries, and everything begins to change.  In the end, will Jocie find the answers everyone so desperately needs, or will her questions lead to truths that were better left uncovered? 
Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story takes readers through the universal experiences of true love, new life, and renewed faith.  With a beautiful new cover, Scent of Lilacs is poised to capture the hearts of readers everywhere. 
My Review: 
Thirteen-year-old Jocie Brooks prays for a dog and then finds one in the woods that she names Jezebel or Jeb for short.  Jocie is always praying the dog prayer and the sister prayer hoping beyond hope that God would send her both.  Her mother left home when Jocie was only five and took her older sister Tabitha with her but Jocie hasn’t seen her since and misses her terribly.  Jocie is a loner and her very best friend in the world is five times her age and tells her he is from the planet Jupiter. 
David Brooks, Jocie’s father loves and adores Jocie and would do anything for her.  He preaches at their local church, Mt. Pleasant and is hoping to be voted in as the interim pastor until a full-time candidate can be found.  David was only going to be voted in as “interim” pastor instead of full-time pastor because the Baptists church liked their pastors to be married.  He also works at the ‘Hollyhill Banner’, the local newspaper office to make ends meet to put food on the table.  His wife, Adrienne left him and had taken their daughter, Tabitha with her when she left for California.  Tabitha was only thirteen-years-old at the time, the same age that Jocie is now, but Tabitha will be turning twenty on her next birthday in a month’s time.  David used to be a solider on a submarine but couldn’t handle the constant darkness and black-outs on the sub and got out. 
Aunt Love is seventy-eight-years-old and is slowly losing her mind and going a bit senile.  She often puts things on the stove, forgets they are there until someone else begins to smell smoke.  Jocie and David worry about her, of course.  The only part of her memory that remains totally intact is that part that enables her to quote scripture passages from the Bible which she uses on, Jocie, to keep her behaviour in check.  Jocie and Aunt Love don’t always see eye-to-eye on things.  Aunt Love has never been married nor had any children. 
Wes works at the paper with David and thinks he came to Hollyhill from Jupiter!  He believed the dog Jocie found was also from Jupiter and that head man on the ship had turned one of the other aliens into a dog.  He believes his name was Harlan and figured Harlan was just hiding out as a dog, but Wes is Jocie’s best friend in the whole world and she loves hearing about his tales of Jupiter. 
One evening arriving home from church, David, Jocie, and Aunt Love could see someone sitting on their porch and a very faint light like that from a candle.  Much to their surprise it was Tabitha, she had returned from California but without her mother.  Adrienne was still out there and had apparently taken to calling herself DeeDee. Tabitha comes home with news that surprises her father. 
Jeb, the dog, takes off into Grampa’s old woods again and Jocie gives chase on her bike soon to find herself lost.  She finally stumbles upon an old broken down remnant of a house.  There was a river just down the hill from the house and a cave.  The dog ran into the cave and came out carrying the “skull of a baby!”  Jocie was startled and terrified but crawled back in to return the skull to the grave.  She rode home and told Aunt Love who became immediately upset and told her to fetch Wes and his motorcycle.  Aunt Love rode on the back of Wes’s bike and retrieved the entire skeleton.  Why did Aunt Lovie do this? 
In the meantime, some mean boy on the street reveals some startling news to Jocie that upsets her terribly and now she is full of questions but is so very upset that she runs away because she’s too afraid to ask the questions and hear the answers.  She soon finds herself in trouble and trapped in the middle of a sudden tornado.  Will Jocie live through the tornado unscathed to ask the questions and if so, will she be able to handle the answers?
Scent of Lilacs is a beautifully written novel that will keep you entertained for an entire afternoon.  I read the book in one sitting and will definitely be recommending it to my friends.  Thank you to Graf-Martin for providing me a copy of this book.  The opinions expressed here are purely my own and I received no compensation for my review.  
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Story Description:
Grand Central Publishing|September 25, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-58236-0 
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family.  Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb – spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood – is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it’s there.  Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager.  But it is Ginny, Mosey’s strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love brands together the strands of the women’s shared past – and who will stop at nothing to defend their future. 
My Review: 
This is my first Joshilyn Jackson novel and I wasn’t disappointed.  Her writing is simply magical and she has a way with words that make you feel even more endeared to the story. 
In A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, trouble visits itself every fifteen years upon three generations of Slocumb women.  The matriarch of the family, Ginny, is forty-five –years-old and gave birth to her daughter, Liza, at age fifteen.  Liza, at age fifteen begat her daughter, Mosey, and now that Mosey is at that mysterious, trouble-ridden number of “fifteen” years of age, Ginny knows problems are arising.  After all “something” bad happens every fifteen years and it won’t be good. 
The personalities of the three Slocumb women are diverse and shaped through years of desperate lives and very hard times.  Liza had a stroke at age thirty and at age forty-five is still struggling to fight her way back to some sort of normalcy. 
Now that, Mosey, has turned fifteen, Ginny, is very worried that she will repeat the mistakes in her life that both she and her mother did.  On the other hand, Mosey, is determined and committed to NOT repeat those same mistakes. 
The story is told in all three voices through alternating chapters.  You’re so glued to each woman’s story that it makes you wish you had a whole book on each of their lives.  I was so enamoured with these three women that I wished I could befriend them all!  A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is definitely the next book you should be reading.  Well-done Ms. Jackson, I’ll be ordering the rest of your novels!!


Halcyon Moon Books|September 11, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 9780615685489
Story Description: 
Fourteen-year-old, Willa Burkett, has been waiting her whole life to leave Hoosick Falls, a nowhere place that fails to hold even a single good memory.  But, when a series of vengeful incidents stir Willa’s mother Stella to impulsively pack-up and go, it is to find themselves stranded in yet another ugly, near extinct town, only now, with a broken down car and no ready way out.  Unable to move on until an alternate plan shows itself, they accept a job working for Omega Pearl Brodie, proprietress of the Moonglow motel a long forgotten, steadily decaying relic, where mostly nothing happens, except now, when everything does. 
It is here in this place of desperate loneliness and restless boredom that Willa will have her world rocked to the core in ways she doesn’t immediately comprehend or understand.  The craziness of the life she’s left behind all but eclipsed by the dark turn of the here and now, as Willa attempts to keep one step ahead of the ever-twisting whims of a mother prone to keeping secrets and telling lies, a murderous arsonist returned to the scene of his earlier crimes to dole out revenge one fiery victim at a time, and Jesse Truman.  An unknowable boy with indigo eyes that Omega Pearl has hired as handyman at the Moonglow, who Willa longs to save, if only she understood what it is he needs saving from. 
My Review: 
Asleep Without Dreaming is an immensely powerful story.  Fourteen-year-old Willa Burkett moves with her mother, Stella, from Hoosick Falls to the small, rotting town of Harriet’ Bluff.  They were originally heading to California but when their car breaks down this is where they ended up.  Willa’s father, Martin, left the home and marriage for parts unknown. 
Willa and Stella end up in a room at the Moonglow owned and run by the nosey, over- bearing Omega Pearl Brodie.  Omega offers Stella a housekeeping job for a very small salary and free accommodations.  However, the extremely small pay won’t allow Stella to save money fast enough to vacate Harriet’s Bluff anytime in the near future. 
Stella is an uncaring, self-absorbed woman who does nothing for anyone but herself – everything she does is for personal gain.  She doesn’t have one loving, self-repecting bone in her body and no love, respect or trust in anyone else.  She constantly dreams up money making schemes that will profit only her and keeps all the money while poor Willa, her very own flesh and blood, starves unless she herself picks fruit and vegetables from unsuspecting neighbour’s backyards. 
Willa is a bright, intelligent girl who has a wisdom beyond her years and I wish I could have reached through the pages of the story to tell her that she “mattered” and that she has a lot to give this world.  She was constantly berated by her mother, Stella, and missed her father, Martin.  She always hopes that he will return. 
Throughout the story we deal with Norman Hitchcock, a former criminal who has returned to town to exact revenge on the townsfolk one person at a time by setting fire after fire after fire.  He is an arsonist extraordinaire.  He moves throughout the story like a ghost behind the scenes.  You’re never constantly aware of him in the forefront of your mind but at the same time, the suspense of waiting for him to pop up again is palpable.  You just know he’s there, but WHERE??
Omega hires, Jesse Truman, a young man who does the handywork around the Moonglow.  When Willa meets Jesse she really likes him and for the first time in her life feels wanted and needed by someone but that proves, as you’ll see, to be a fruitless endeavour on her part.  I’ve never felt more sorry for kid in all my life.  Willa deserved so much better from everyone in her life, especially her mother, Stella.  She doesn’t deserve the horrendous and horrible person that Stella is. 
The ending was absolutely and totally unexpected.  I DID NOT see THAT coming!!  Never before have I read a novel where the ending so shocked and surprised me…Barbara Forte Abate is a phenomenal author who deserves to be there with the big names.  If you want a totally engaging read that will stop your heart and make you feel emotions you didn’t even know you had, then Asleep Without Dreaming should be next on your to be read list.  Thank you Barbara for a most entertaining read!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Story Description: 
NAL Trade|February 5, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-451-23917-4 
In his international bestseller, Beneath a Marble Sky, John Shors wrote about the ancient passion, beauty, and brilliance that inspired the building of the Taj Mahal.  Now with Temple of a Thousand Faces, he brings the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, an unrivaled marvel of ornately carved towers and stone statues.  There, in a story set nearly a thousand years ago, an empire is lost, a royal love is tested, and heroism is reborn. 
When his land is taken by force, Prince Jayavar, of the Khmer people narrowly escapes death at the hands of the conquering Cham king, Indravarman.  Exiled from their homeland, he and his mystical wife, Ajadevi, set up a secret camp in the jungle with the intention of amassing an army bold enough to reclaim their kingdom and free their people.  Meanwhile, Indravarman, rules with an iron fist, pitting even his most trusted men against each other and quashing any hint of rebellion. 
Moving from a poor fisherman’s family whose sons find the courage to take up arms against their oppressors, to a beautiful bride who becomes a prize of war, to an ambitious warrior whose allegiance is torn – Temple of a Thousand Faces is an unforgettable saga of love, betrayal, and survival at any cost. 
My Review: 
John Shors newest novel is an absolute work of genius!  The novel, a historical fiction, set in the 1100’s is one of his best works yet.  I’ve read all of John’s previous books and each was truly a stunning success on its own, however, Temple of a Thousand Faces really shines through as the magnum opus. 
The novel is about the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia where, John himself traveled to research this book, and is set in the year 1177.  The  Khmer people and the Cham people go to war to seek ownership of this grand, majestic, and massive temple.  I especially loved the “echo chamber”. 
The Khmer people were led by, Prince Jayavar with his beautiful wife, Ajadevi by his side.  They are a people of unbiding and unconditional love and caring and want their citizens to live in peace and prosperity.  Indravarman is head of the Cham people and is an evil, wicked, self-serving man who rules with an iron fist and has an altogether different agenda.  The Cham’s soliders are all dedicated to Indravarman and his evil ways except one named, Asal who falls in love with a Khmer woman named, Voisanne.  Will this love be enough to make him turn tide? 
I loved a wonderful family we meet along the way whose patriarch is nothing but a simple fisherman.  His lovely wife, Soriya and their two boys, Prak, who is almost blind, and Vibol are Khmers.  The family is so dedicated to their Prince and the people that they too are brave enough to take up arms and aid in the war.  Their part in the story will make you feel good and your heart will most certainly go out to them. 
Temple of a Thousand Faces is filled with a rich history, beautiful imagery, full of suspense, drama, intrigue, love, hatred, a brutal war, and finally a stunning conclusion. 
One of my favourite all-time books has been Pillars of the Earth written by Ken Follett but John Shors has just bumped Pillars to second place on my list.   John is truly a master storyteller. 
I’ve just ordered five more copies to give to friends as an act of kindness and to ensure that they don’t leave this earth without reading THE BEST novel they’ll ever read in their lives.  Thank you, John, for providing me with the best 507 pages!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Random House of Canada|May 28, 2002|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 0-679-31132-7
In the 1910's and 1920's, when circus was the most popular form of entertainment in North American, Mabel Stark made her name in a man's world as the greatest female tiger trainer in history, the centre-ring finale act for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Baily Circus.  Brazen, courageous, obsessed with tigers and sexually eccentric, Stark survived a dozen severe maulings - and five husbands.  Now, at age 80 and about to lose her job, she decides that there is one last thing she needs to do: Mabel Stark wants to confess. 
My Review:
Written as a fictional autobiography in the first person, ‘The Final Confession of Mabel Stark’ is a true-life historical account of Mabel Stark who made a name for herself by becoming the world’s greatest female tiger trainer during the early to mid-1900’s when the circus was the most popular form of entertainment. Stark was a centre-ring act for the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Now 80-years-old, Mabel recounts her life and confesses to the proud and not so proud moments and events of her life, from a 17-year-old rebellious teenager growing up in Kentucky as Mary Haynie, through five marriages and at least a dozen severe maulings by the very tigers she became world famous for training. Through the colourful and descriptive narration you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time and are there, with Mabel, observing from somewhere underneath the big top! You can almost smell the oil from the tiger’s skin, breathe in the heady scent of the straw bales set out as seats for circus goers, and hear the crack of the tiger trainer’s whip, and shouts of instruction to the animals!!

Mabel, a woman filled with love, courage, strength, tragedy, and adventure is not reluctant to show her abrasive and brash sides. She is not a woman to hold her tongue or pussy-foot her way around etiquette and manners, and is not adverse to projecting her tough-as-nails persona, creating antagonism, or speaking about her sexually promiscuous exploits.

Robert Hough proves to us in this great piece of writing that even we imperfect and flawed human beings can contribute to society in positive and remembered ways. Mabel’s quick wit, sharp tongue and indelible stubbornness will leave you wanting to hear more of little Mary Haynie’s life. I couldn’t put this book down and didn’t want it to end!

An extra nice touch was the few photos of Mabel Stark contained with the book.


Monday, February 4, 2013


Story Description: 
Random House Publishing Group||June 1,  2010|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-345-49821-2 
Thirty-year-old Charlotte Wheelwright seems to have at last found her niche, running an organic gardening business on the island of Nantucket, thanks in large part to her spry grandmother Nona, who donated a portion of land on the family’s seaside compound to get Charlotte started.  Though Charlotte’s skill with plants is bringing her success, cultivating something deeper with people – particularly her handsome neighbour Coop – might be more of a challenge. 
Now the entire Wheelwright clan is making its annual summer pilgrimage to the homestead, including Charlotte’s mother, Helen, who brings a heavy heart as she confronts a betrayal that threatens her sense of place and her sense of self.  Bringing together three generations of strong-willed women, each wrestling with life-changing decisions.  Nancy Thayer’s luminous novel shows that no matter where life’s path my lead, love always finds a way back home. 
My Review: 
Charlotte Wheelwright is thirty-years-old, unmarried and unattached to any man.  However, she does get involved with next door neighbour, Coop, but will it last?  She rents acreage from her grandmother, Nona and has finally found her calling – running an organic garden on Nantucket Island at the family’s seaside compound. 
During the summer months the entire Wheelwright family make the pilgrimage to Nona’s summer house and there are a lot of them - aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.  Charlotte’s mother, Helen makes a heart rendering discovery bringing into question everything she believed her life to be.  Her father, Worth, is given some devastating information that calls into question every single thing his entire life has been and the news upsets this sixty-year-old man and shakes him to his very core. 
Charlotte’s alcoholic brother, Teddy shows up with a very pregnant girl named, Suzette and the family isn’t exactly ecstatic, especially when the baby is born looking nothing  like anyone in the Wheelwright family and Worth refuses to accept the baby as his grandchild.  Is the baby even Teddy’s and are Teddy and Suzette really married like they say they are? 
And, Oliver, Charlotte’s other brother has come home to the island to have a commitment ceremony with his male partner. 
So much is going on within this family that you have to wonder if they’re going to survive.  However, thankfully everyone is comfortable talking to and confiding in ninety-year-old, Nona, the family matriarch.  She is such a sweet, sensible woman but even she pulls a stunt that sends Charlotte’s family wondering if senility has finally settled in. 
Summer House was a wonderful read and powerfully written.  I loved all the characters who were so well typecast and clearly defined.  I’ll definitely be recommending this novel to family and friends.  I can’t wait to read my next Nancy Thayer novel.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Story Description: 
St. Martin’s Press|February 12, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-250-01453-5 
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930’s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.  Ninety-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favour to ask her hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis.  It’s a big one.  Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati with no clear explanation as to why tomorrow. 
Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle’s guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives. 
Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship.  They are friends.  But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son’s irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her. 
Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930’s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper – in a town where blacks weren’t allowed out after dark.  The tale of their forbidden relationship and it’s tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle’s first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way. 
My Review: 
I really enjoyed the way this story was told in alternating voices between Dorrie and Isabelle.  Isabelle’s chapters are told in the first person with memories of her childhood whereas Dorrie’s chapters deal with present day occurrences. 
Dorrie is thirty-six-years-old and is an African-American hairdresser who owns her own shop.  She has a teenage son, Steve Junior and a younger daughter, Bebe.  Dorrie constantly worries over the choices young Steve makes and is divorced but has a new man in her life, Teague who is a single Dad of three children.  She isn’t sure whether she wants to take that next step with this man and become more involved in the relationship.    
Miss Isabelle is ninety-years-old and has been friends with Dorrie for ten years and thinks of Dorrie as a daughter.  Dorrie feels Isabelle is more of a mother to her than the one she has. 
Dorrie has been doing Isabelle’s hair at Isabelle’s home for five years now since she had a bad fall and the doctor told her she couldn’t drive anymore.  People of Isabelle’s age suffer all sorts of loses. 
Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her one-thousand miles from their home in Arlington, Texas to Cincinnati for a funeral but doesn’t tell her who the funeral is for.  There were a lot of things that Dorrie wondered about Isabelle and during their drive she finally got up the nerve to ask her: “Did you have a high school sweetheart?  Your husband, was he yours?”  The response Dorrie received was: “My high school sweetheart…that’s a story – it all started and ended with a funeral dress.” 
In 1939, Isabelle’s father was a physician and the only one in the town of Shalverville, Kentucky.  At age seventeen, she was a very serious girl and didn’t like attending parties.  However, she would consent to their hairdresser, Nell ‘dolling her up’ if forced to attend one.  Isabelle snuck out of the house one night to meet up with her new friend, Trudie who was taking them to a new club in town called the, Rendezvous but the only dress she had looked like a funeral dress but it would have to do for she had nothing better.  While standing alone listening to swing music a boy approached her with a couple of drinks and led her outside to the patio where he immediately began to take advantage of her.  Just as she was getting into some real difficulty with this boy, Nell’s son (her hairdresser), Robert Prewitt showed up and saved her.  Trudie had gone off with some guy so Robert walked Isabelle home even though he was taking a terrible chance as blacks weren’t allowed outside after dark, there was a curfew.  If caught, Robert would be in a heap of trouble but he felt that Isabelle was more than worth the risk he was taking.  Soon Robert and Isabelle were together again when they spend an afternoon at the creek due to the severe heat.  A sudden thunder and lightning storm blew up and they took cover under a tree.  Isabelle loved it but wouldn’t tell Robert that and she was quite sad and disappointed when the storm was over and Robert let her go.  Isabelle was already falling in love with the young, Robert Prewitt! 
Listening to all this as she drove, Dorrie quickly formed an opinion that Isabelle most likely was not the quiet, reserved little thing as a young woman she had first thought she was.  This new version of Isabelle would make it easier for Dorrie to reveal her own missteps and made her feel more confident that Isabelle wouldn’t judge her for it. 
Dorrie finally musters the nerve to tell Isabelle that she thinks Steve junior’s girlfriend, Bailey is pregnant.  Much to her surprise, Isabelle tells Dorrie to love that grandchild no matter what.  
As the miles ticked by between Texas and Cincinnati, Dorrie and Isabelle stopped to eat, sleep, and continue the confiding of their own personal stories. 
Isabelle began meeting Robert at his church each Wednesday helping him prune and sweep and even brought him a piece of pie that his own mother baked as she worked for Isabelle’s family so she had to be doubly careful not to get caught meeting up with Robert.  Sneaking out of the house one night to head to Robert’s church to her Nell sing a solo, she finally told Robert she loved him. 
The two women are growing more comfortable confiding in each as they continue to drive when Dorrie tells Isabelle that Steve Jr., phoned to say, Bailey was indeed pregnant and was planning on having an abortion tomorrow!  Isabelle finally confides to Dorrie that it is most likely she’ll be the ONLY white person at the funeral in Cincinnati.  We still, at this point in the story, don’t know whose funeral they are attending.  Isabelle is keeping that a closely guarded secret.  But why? 
While reading this story one has to remember that during Isabelle’s time in the 1930’s and 1940’s, black and white communities were kept separate.  Even many years “after” the civil war, Isabelle’s town still didn’t allow African-Americans to live inside its borders.  
Isabelle and Robert Prewitt shared a wonderful bond and a love so deep it’ll give you goose bumps.  There is so much more packed into this story that you’re going to have a very hard time putting it down.  In this review I have only scratched the surface and the ending is totally unexpected and will absolutely blow you right out of your chair!  The feeling of melancholy will overtake you at this point. 
Calling Me Home is a novel of friendship, bonding, trust, sharing confidences, part love story, learning to let go, hope for the future and an end to the past.  Julie Kibler’s debut novel, in my opinion, will become a big hit and I expect to see it on the bestseller lists within a relatively short time.  Thank you, Julie for writing a story that evoked so many emotions in me and one I won’t soon forget.  I’ll always carry a piece of Miss Isabelle and Dorrie with me for a long time to come.  Calling Me Home is also the perfect title for this novel and once you’ve read it, you’ll understand why.  Well-done!!


Story Description: 
BelleBooks|April 6, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-61194-123-4 
Broken in body and spirit, thirty-year-old, Roslyn Byrne secludes herself in the mystical wilderness of Manny’s Island Georgia.  Can she find herself in the sweetness of old songs, old ways, and the gentle magic of the river people? 
Kimberly Brock is a native Southerner, a former actor and special needs educator.  Her work has appeared in anthologies and magazines.  She lives with her husband and three children north of Atlanta, Georgia.  The River Witch is her first novel.  Visit her at  
My Review: 
Roslyn secludes herself in the wilds of a Georgia island surrounded by beauty and a beautiful river.  After an accident that ended her dream of becoming a ballerina and losing a baby, she spends two months is this mystical and strange place with which she learns to come to terms with the river people and her life. 
I was mesmerized by this story from beginning to end and read it in one sitting.  It was like paddling my own canoe down the lazy river partaking in the lives of the characters who were so clearly defined that I felt I knew each on intimately.  The Trezevant family was an odd bunch all searching for something in this life while listening with their hearts to the stories of the past.  This novel evoked a great deal of emotion for me. 
Little ten-year-old, Damascus was an absolute charmer who lost her mother to cancer at very young age and was left with her angry, non-responsive, unemotional father who rarely spoke to her except to say things like: “Do we got milk?” or “Can I run that laundry?”  She received no affection from him whatsoever, that she got from visiting the elderly at the local nursing home by allowing the old people to touch her, pat her on the head, and hold onto her hands.  She said “they just love it….it’s kind of gross.”  I think Damascus loved it as much as they did for it was really the only form of affection she herself got and that made me terribly sad.  However, Damascus introduces, Roslyn to alligators and hoodoo magic in this gothic setting. 
I was immensely disappointed when her father, Urey didn’t have the decency to show up at the family dinner Damascus had worked so hard to prepare.  And I thought to myself, “How DARE he show up at the end and waltz in after it was over and Damascus and JB were out canoeing on river.”  I loved that Roslyn slapped the pie plate off the table and told him he didn’t deserve to eat even that one chunk of crust in the bottom of the pan.  I could picture myself standing beside Roslyn waiting for her to finish berating him just so I could lite into him myself! 
Roslyn, Aunt Ivy, and her cousin, JB were influences in her life and provided her with most of the things she needed.  Aunt Ivy homeschooled Damascus, JB spent a lot of time with her and Roslyn presented as a friend, but also entertainment for Damascus in trying to figure out exactly who this woman was that rented their summer cottage.  But no one can take the place of real mother and father. 
The ending was totally, totally unexpected regarding the letter and seeds that Damascus’s mother left behind for her before she died.  What letter and seeds you ask?  You’ll have to read the story to find out. 
Kimberly Brock’s debut novel The River Witch is a beautifully written story of enchantment and intrigue and loss and healing complete with rich and vibrant imagery.  It was like listening to the voices carry across the water in the dark of night.  I felt immensely close to each of the characters and like them all for various reasons.  Each brought an important part to the story and without their input the story wouldn’t be what it was.  In my opinion both Roslyn and Damascus’s stories were equally heartbreaking. 
This is one book I’ll be highly recommending and kudos to you Ms. Brock for a well-written novel!  Congratulations and well done! This is one story that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.   I can’t wait for a second book.