Saturday, May 30, 2020

Book Review: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman


Book Review:


The Heirloom Garden


Viola Shipman


Book Description:

In her inimitable style, Viola Shipman explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose…and flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.


Buy Now:




My 5-Star Review:

When you pick up a book by Viola Shipman, you know you’re in for a treat. This heartwarming story is no exception. Her novels are always populated with broken, lost characters who have lost their way or purpose and somehow find a way back to happiness. In this one, a woman who has lost everything and has isolated herself from the world soon befriends the family that is renting from her next door and finds there may be more to life than she’d thought.

Iris is a complicated character who has a broken life and has found solace in her garden. She creates beautiful flowers which originated from her grandmother’s garden, and they bring her joy. Abby, her neighbor, is trying her best to keep her family together despite the stress of her husband’s PTSD, her new job, and caring for her young daughter. She is overwhelmed. But upon meeting Iris, she feels a kinship with the older woman and slowly they begin to create a bond. But changing one’s life isn’t always easy.

This is a beautiful story that is sure to touch your heart. Perfect for those who love heartwarming women’s fiction novels.



About the Author:

Dear Reader:

Does your garden tell a story? Mine does. And it’s the inspiration behind my new novel, The Heirloom Garden, which explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose … and flowers.

My grandma was a grand gardener, and many of her original flowers (like her perfumed peonies!) now live in my garden. Each has a memory that reminds me of family. If you love multigenerational sagas filled with hope and history (this explores WWII Victory Gardens, and 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of WWII’s end), love to garden or just love books and flowers, The Heirloom Garden is the spring “pick” for you!

I consider The Heirloom Garden to be my richest, deepest, and most moving work to date. The later Dorothea Benton Frank, who I miss dearly, said of the novel, “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice.”

The Heirloom Garden explores how loss and loneliness affect us, how we cope and – too often – how we don’t. As an author, I always start my novels not with an heirloom in mind, or certain character, but a question. In this novel, my questions were, “What makes us isolate ourselves from the world? And what gives us hope?” In the novel, two women scarred by war – World War II and the Iraq War – are united by loss and a love of flowers. In my case, much of the pain I explore in the novel is real: My brother died when he was just 17, still a child in so many ways, and his loss had a profound impact on me and my family. How we healed, how we came together, how we found faith – and each other – again is a huge part of this novel.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II (on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered, with documents signed on the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on September 2, officially ending the war). In addition, The Heirloom Garden also explores the history of Victory Gardens and their importance in America and World War II. Thousands of gardens were started in cities, large and small, all across America – women leading the charge – and they helped feed their own families and communities as well as our troops and allies. Today’s resurgence of urban and community gardens is a legacy of those Victory Gardens.

Like my previous book, The Summer Cottage – which was the #1 bestselling novel in Michigan last year – I am honored to be able to write novels that are inspired by my grandmothers’ and mom’s heirlooms, lives, lessons and love. The multigenerational family sagas I write are meant to serve as a universal tribute to our elders, whose stories and sacrifices helped shape us and make us the people we are today. They are meant to serve as a tribute to family and to remind readers of what’s most important in life. And in these turbulent times, my novels are meant to give us hope, something we need more than every right now.

(Viola Shipman is a pen name used by author Wade Rouse)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Cover Reveal: The Ones We Leave Behind by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Cover Reveal


I am so excited to share my upcoming historical women's fiction novel with you

THE ONES WE LEAVE BEHIND

A heart-wrenching story of family, loss, and redemption.


The amazing cover is designed by
Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Design


Book Description:

Diane picked up her mother’s phone. “How do you feel about your mother being let out of prison today after sixty-five years?” the reporter asked. Diane stared at her mother. “My grandmother is alive?” That one phone call hurled shock waves throughout the entire family.


1955 – Anna Bergman Craine’s life changes in an instant when she commits a crime of passion and is sentenced to life in prison. Leaving behind two young children, she is left alone in the world, never to hear from family or friends again. Decades later, she is set free, and finds she has a family that has chosen to forget her. What caused this beautiful, intelligent, young woman to commit such a drastic deed that would pull her away from everyone she loved?

2020 – Diane Martin is shocked to learn that not only is her maternal grandmother alive, but she’s just been released after decades in prison. Against her aging mother’s wishes, she visits the older woman and soon hears a tale of the events that led up to that tragic day in 1955. Diane realizes that her own life has mirrored that of her grandmother’s and, had circumstances gone differently that fateful day, she might have experienced the same fate.

A heart-wrenching story of a family torn apart because of a moment in time and trying to put the pieces together after being separated for decades.


Historical Women's Fiction

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Preorder now on:


Will also be available on Kindle Unlimited

Coming also to:

Paperback and Audiobook


I can't wait for you to read Anna's story!



Sunday, April 5, 2020

Book Review: Dovetail by Karen McQuestion

Book Review


Dovetail: A Novel

Karen McQuestion




Book Description:

Joe Arneson’s ordinary life is upended by troubling dreams of himself as a different man in another place and time. It isn’t until he visits his estranged grandmother, Pearl, in her Wisconsin hometown that a startling connection emerges.
Drawn into his family’s past, Joe discovers secrets weighing on the old woman’s soul: the tragic death of her sister Alice a half century ago and its ripple effect on all who loved her. Digging into the events of that summer in 1916, Joe is convinced that his recurrent visions relate to Alice’s untimely passing and to the beloved man she meant to marry. With the help of Kathleen, a local woman Joe’s fallen for, the puzzles of the past start falling into place.
As uncovered truths bring Joe and Kathleen closer together, they also reveal a new danger. For Joe’s dreams may be a warning—from one star-crossed couple to another.


Buy on Amazon:





My 5-Star Review:

A skillfully written novel about romance, mystery, and family secrets. Author Karen McQuestion weaves together a story about the secrets a family keeps and the length they will go to keep those secrets hidden.

When Joe is rescued from a mental hospital by the grandmother he’s never met and thought was dead, he is both confused and intrigued. She takes him to her family home and asks him to pack up her house as she is too old to deal with it. Plagued by disturbing dreams he is unable to understand, Joe takes on the job as an opportunity to get to know his grandmother and to clear his mind. What he doesn’t realize is the past will rear its ugly head and place him right in the middle of a family drama.

I really enjoyed this story that takes the reader between two time periods as the family mystery unfolds. The perfect story for those who love duel-timeline historical fiction with a touch of romance and suspense.



About the Author:

Karen McQuestion is the author of more than a dozen novels and has sold over a million books worldwide. Her publishing story has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR and she has appeared on ABC's World News Now and America This Morning. McQuestion’s books share common themes of connection and kindness. She lives in Hartland, Wisconsin.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain


Book Review

Big Lies in a Small Town


Diane Chamberlain


Book Description:

North Carolina, 2018:
Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940:
Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


Buy Now:



My 5-Star Review:

An amazing story written by a talented author. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain takes the reader on a journey through time between 1940 and today. When Morgan Christopher is released from jail to restore an old mural, she is confused as to why she was chosen. And after she sees how damaged the mural is, she wonders how she will do a good job of it with her limited talent of restoration. But others are depending on her to not only finish it, but finish it on time. And as she works on it, she becomes intrigued by the original artist, Anna Dale, who’d created the mural in 1940. Her interest soon becomes an obsession to learn what had become of the artist after tragedy had befallen both her and the small town.

Just like the mural, this story is full of layers about the small town of Edenton, North Carolina and its inhabitants. Mystery, murder, and a touch of a love story all combine to create a story that you just can’t put down. Those who love a good duel-timeline historical novel will love this book.



About the Author:

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

Please visit Diane's website at www.dianechamberlain.com for her event schedule and for more information on her newest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, as well as a complete list of her books.



The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews