River Rising (Carson Chronicles #1) by John A Heldt-a review

River Rising (Carson Chronicles #1) by John A Heldt-a review

River Rising

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk / Amazon.au /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 20, 2017

Weeks after his parents disappear on a hike, engineer Adam Carson, 27, searches for answers. Then he discovers a secret web site and learns his mom and dad are time travelers stuck in the past. Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the 1880s.

While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in the Wild West, Adam, journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In RIVER RISING, the first novel in the Carson Chronicles series, five young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they experience America in the age of bustle dresses, gunslingers, and robber barons.


REVIEW: 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

HAPPY READER ALERT! John A. Heldt has a new series and I think it just may be my favourite one yet. This was a FANTASTIC book! 🙂

River Rising by John A. Heldt is the first book of his “Carson Chronicles” series. A time travel story that takes us back to the 1880’s, you will experience a story rich in true history, mystery, on the edge of your seat suspense, romance, some humour, serious devastation and some fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall in love with. So yes, pretty much EVERYTHING!

Adam Carson is the oldest sibling of 5 and has taken on the responsibility as head of his family when his time travelling parents have become stuck in the past. After convincing his siblings to venture back in time with him to find them, they all begin to realize that they have bitten off more than they can chew .. and now have to struggle in a time when life offered no electronics for communication, was ridden with danger and a looming disaster so great it wiped out generations.

The siblings do split up and I loved that we get to experience time travel in different parts of the country, which offers different obstacles, and new experience for the reader to enjoy. There is “The Great Flood” of 1889 looming and it’s so sad that our smart siblings had no clue it was coming. This is different from most of John’s previous stories as his time travellers always had a strong researched sense of what they would be travelling back to. This was not the case for the Carson siblings and they experienced this flood true to time, as so many did. I have to say, I had a box of tissue at the ready for this part of the book, it was really intense.

There is so much more to this story, but my goodness, I have come to know that when I pick up a John A. Heldt book, I am in for a ride. This was no exception and to be honest I think this just may be my fave of his yet. This long read had a different feel than his previous books and I think it has to do with the urgency to travel back and not being completely prepared for what the past had to offer. There was a naive feel to it in some ways.

John is the master of character development and choosing the right words in the right way to make his reader feel like we are completely immersed in his story. Vivid images always came to mind, and well researched aspects of the 1880’s made the story feel so very authentic. I am a history lover so I truely appreciate it when an author does their homework.

SO SO HAPPY you are back John and I am SO SO looking forward to your next book. You never disappoint!

If you love the time travel, love the adventure, love the history and love the feels, then you will LOVE this book.


Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel t.

about the author

John HeldtFollow John: Goodreads / Website/Blog/ Twitter /

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.


Hannah’s Moon ( American Journey #5) by John A. Heldt-a review

Hannah’s Moon (American Journey #5) by John A Heldt-a review

Hannah's Moon

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon. uk /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 8, 2017

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.



5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Predictably AMAZING John A. Heldt! Predictably INCREDIBLE John A. Heldt! I say predictably because I expect you to always deliver an easy flow, rich in history and charming time travel story with a dose of romance. You did it once again! 🙂

Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt is the 5th book of his American Journey, time travel, historical fiction, romance series and please PLEASE do yourself a favour and go back and read the first four books. This fifth book is his last book of this series and I am so sad to see it go. Truely! (small disclaimer .. all books can be read as standalones, but characters are revisited).

Claire Rasmussen is our leading lady and she was my fave of all the characters John has ever written. The book begins with utter devastation as Claire and Ron realize that holding their own child in their arms is too far out of their reach. Adoption is hard in current time, and both want a baby badly. Fate just so delivers a time travelling relative that thrust both Claire, Ron and David into 1945 just as WWII is slowing down. All three are soon met with the culture shock of what 1945 brings and while they have travelled with the intent of adopting a child during a time when orphans were plenty, they all begin to realize they are getting much more than they have bargained for.

Ron soon finds himself enlisted at a time when enlistment could mean death, Claire’s brother David is falling in love with a woman and Claire has to deal with being a woman with a child in an era she is not familiar with. So much more to it than all that but I am not spoiling any of this book for you!

John is an expert in my humble opinion, of writing many storylines concurrently and having them all flow together with no confusion what so ever. His writing style is so easy to follow, yet there is so much rich story packed into his pages. I always get a history lesson when reading this series and being a history lover you know I love that. I often find myself thinking about these books long after I am finished and I have concluded I think I may be living in the wrong era at times. LOL What an experience it would be to be a character in John A. Heldt’s book.

Speaking of characters .. incredibly developed, easy to fall in love with, easy to empathize and sympathize with, easy to grieve/be happy/be angry etc with them. Easy to identify with.

I feel like I have gushed so much in previous reviews, I am trying to find new ways to say the same thing. Hannah’s Moon is packed full of adventure, intrigue, suspense, romance and tied up in the end in a perfect way. As expected, I had a box of tissues on demand just incase and I absolutely needed them for this story!

Thank you John A. Heldt for allowing me to be one of your “go to” reviewers for this series. I strongly recommend this series to my fellow history lovers and anyone else who likes an intense ride when they allow themselves to get swept away in a story.


Reading Order and Previous Reviews
September Sky
Mercer Street
Indiana Belle
Class of ’59
Hannah’s Moon

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel T.

About The Author

John HeldtFollow John: Goodreads / Website/Blog/ Twitter /

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.


With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel – a Review

With Love From the Inside  by Angela Pisel – a Review


With Love From the InsideAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.
            Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.
            Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.
            Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don’t try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.



With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is a standalone emotional and at times heartbreaking story line.  Grace Bradshaw has been on death row for 17 years, having been convicted of killing her young son.  Grace writes notes to her daughter in a journal, telling her about her days in prison, things of the past, and how much she misses her.   Grace has not seen her daughter in over 11 years.  Her lawyer has been actively searching for the daughter, as well as trying to find evidence to help her.  With all appeals exhausted, time is of essence, as a political change pushes up the dates for those on death row, and Grace’s execution is coming fast.

Sophie Logan lives a good life, as the wife of a successful surgeon.  She is well known in the community, as she attends functions to support her husband, Thomas.  Sophie has kept a secret from her husband. Being ashamed of the truth, Sophie told him her mother was dead. When she receives a letter from an attorney, and hears an announcement about executions being moved up, and a female child killer is next; Sophie decides to visit the attorney.  She makes the decision to not get involved, since she feels the evidence against her mother is true, and she does not want to ruin her current life.

After fainting, Thomas tells her to get checked out, and in doing so, Sophie discovers she is pregnant.  While talking to the doctor about the fainting, she accidently learns about a condition that might be in her family.   What follows is an exciting heart wrenching story that will have Sophie desperately working with the lawyer to prove her mother’s innocence.  It is an emotional tale of truths being told between a couple that will stand together in love; of a mother and daughter reuniting to love and forgiveness; of a desperate attempt to save a life. 

There are other stories within that have Grace being supportive of some of her female inmates; and of Sophie caring about a young motherless boy with medical problems.  The characters in the book were great, and very likeable.  I will not say too much more, as the last half of the book held my breath. It was a race to the finish that took an emotional toll on the reader.  I understand this is the debut novel for Angela Pisel, and it was very well written.  I look forward to more from this author.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Family Tree by Susan Wiggs – a Review

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs – a Review


Family TreeAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes.

Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Manhattan home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child.

But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a year-long coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned ex-cop. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.



Family Tree by Susan Wiggs is a standalone contemporary fiction novel.  We meet our heroine, Annie Rush immediately, as she is a successful producer of her own cooking show and happily married to Martin, who is the star of the show.  Annie discovers to her surprise that she is pregnant, and hurries to the studio to tell Martin the news.  At this point, Annie’s life is about to change.  Much to her dismay, she finds Martin with another woman, and when she runs away, a scaffolding accident will put her into a coma for one year.  When Annie awakens, she has a hard time focusing and remembers very little; she learns that she is back home in Vermont, in a hospital with her family surrounding her.

What follows is Annie’s road to recovery, starting with therapy to teach her body to learn how to do the basic functions again.  Annie confusion is partially due to memory loss, which will slowly return.  In the beginning she has no memory of Martin or her life in L.A.   Annie did have dreams while in her coma of her younger days in Vermont, especially the man she loved, Fletcher.  The story goes back and forth in flashbacks between the days when she was with Fletcher and doing a cooking video thesis, and current day. Family Tree is a story of survival, love, family and betrayal, as Annie tries to restart her life.

Fletcher was a great hero, having never forgotten Annie.  When he visits her in the hospital, she immediately remembers Fletcher, and slowly the romance between will begin. For now they remain just friends.   In her flashbacks, we learn that Fletcher, who was poor, decided that he could not keep up with Annie, and distanced himself.  Especially after a tragic accident with his father, which forced him to stay home.  We also watch in flashbacks how Fletcher learned from helping his father many legal aspects, which changed the direction of his life. In the current time Fletcher is now a successful Judge and wealthy.  Life has changed for both of them.

As Annie memory returns, she learns of Martin’s divorce, the loss of her child and her creation, the cooking show. But Annie’s family will be there for her every step of the way, as will Fletcher, bringing her back to her roots and changing her life for the better.  Once Annie is fully recovered, she will step up to get back what is hers, but with the help of her family and her true love.  Family Tree was excellent and well written story that focuses love, loss, betrayal and second chances.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


The Mud Dance by Neil Grimmett-a review

THE MUD DANCE by Neil Grimmett-a review

The Mud Dance

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 20,2016

When drummer Kenny meets piano prodigy Larry at school, they form their first band, The Pretty Horses, which is later renamed Marine Light. From their early gigs in rural Somerset with a taste of regional recognition to international touring, the two friends blaze their way through the rock and roll scene of the 1970s. Propelled by the promise of fame, sex, and drugs, the lifestyle begins to take its toll on both of them. Ego trips, hangers on, groupies, and warring band members see Kenny and Larry stretch to breaking point.

As cracks start to show in their band and their relationship, Kenny is forced to question the character of the person he’s called his best friend and begins to wonder about their uncertain future. Larry has always had a dark side, but how deep does it go?

Set in the heyday of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, The Mud Dance follows passionate musicians and friends from their well-intentioned beginnings, through to fame, and beyond.


REVIEW: THE MUD DANCE by the late Neil Grimmett is a stand alone story focusing on friendship, music, obsession and addiction. Told from first person point of view (Kenny) between the past and the present, THE MUD DANCE follows best friends Kenny and Larry who met at school in the 1970s, forming their first band leading the duo to a series of successes and failures with each incarnation of their British rock group. Kenny, as the drummer, stayed true to his calling but Larry was a man troubled in both mind and heart. What ensues is the back and forth, tumultuous relationship between two friends that does not end with a happily ever after.

Neil Grimmett’s THE MUD DANCE looks at the turbulent 70s era of rock and roll-the drugs, the groupies, the pressure to be number one, and the people pushing behind the scenes. Although many survived the upheaval, others were unable to overcome their own demons and the encroaching darkness. THE MUD DANCE is a fated tale of friendship, betrayal, and the madness of perfection and the shattered mind. The premise is a slow build; a dramatic, intense and tragic story. The characters are ill-fated and passionate but in the end, life is fleeting if balancing on the proverbial edge.

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy


The Burnt Fox by Neil Grimmett-a review

THE BURNT FOX by Neil Grimmett-a review

The Burnt Fox

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk /
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 20, 2016

‘It really is this place and not us. There’s a dark power in nature here. Some residue left over from its great, cruel past.’

With an overwhelming desire to escape from the council estate and fearful for his marriage, frustrated author Eliot decides to move his wife, Donna and Son, Bradley to the countryside. He takes a job at the grand and sprawling Cloothill estate. Eliot does his best to fit in while working for the aristocratic Compton family. However, it quickly becomes apparent that country life may not be as idyllic as he hoped.

Eliot and Donna’s marital troubles are exacerbated when farm worker Tobias sets his sights on Donna and Eliot begins to fixate on the Compton’s young au pair, Rebecca. The couple gradually begin to lose sight of themselves as life at Cloothill consumes them.

Unflinching and sexually charged, The Burnt Fox is a startling depiction of the unsavoury side of life in rural England.


NOTE: Author Neil Grimmett passed away in November 2015 following a brief illness.

REVIEW: THE BURNT FOX by Neil Grimmett is a stand alone, dramatic story line focusing on frustrated author Eliot Barnes, and his long suffering wife Donna. Told from third person point of view (Eliot) THE BURNT FOX follows Eliot and Donna as they struggle to regain control of their floundering marriage. When an opportunity presents itself to move to the English countryside, Eliot and Donna jump at the chance to leave the noisy and frustrating city life behind, hoping for a fresh start working for a reclusive couple and their small child. What ensues is a dark and conflicting series of events that pull the couple deeper into a world that is slowly closing in and destroying their lives. The seductive allure of peace and quiet blinds the couple to the truth about the people and places they have now come to call home.

THE BURNT FOX is a well written, slow building (mostly) narrative that follows two people whose lives have spiraled out of control, consumed by the darkness, and yet feel helpless in the face of the oncoming disaster. Like watching an accident about to happen, the reader is caught in the maelstrom and chaos without the ability to walk away or stop the ongoing fallout when temptation beckons behind closed doors.

Neil Grimmett has written a passionate, intimate and imaginative story; a disturbing look at the dark side of country life; the pitfalls, the dangerous passages, the controlling power of a segregated people who live life by their own rules. The premise is intriguing and dramatic; the characters are controversial and tragic.

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy


Platinum Doll by Anne Girard-a review

PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard-a review

Platinum Doll

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 26, 2016

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream; to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want; a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends; except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth; that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.


REVIEW: PLATINUM DOLL is a fictionalized account of Jean Harlow’s rise to stardom. The ‘Roaring 20s’ and the invention of the ‘talkie’ are the backdrop to Harlean Carpenter McGrew’s life in Hollywood along with her marriage to first husband Chuck McGrew at the age of sixteen; her overbearing stage mother who lived vicariously through the success of her daughter; and heartbreaking ‘miscarriage’ as she started to climb the ladder of success.

PLATINUM DOLL covers but the first few years of Jean Harlow in Hollywood up to her infamous handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, using historical information and fictionalized events surrounding the tumultuous personal life of the ‘Platinum Blonde’. Jean’s introduction to Hollywood begins at an early age (told through flashbacks and memories) as her mother traverses the studios and hot spots hoping to be noticed, while her only child is discovered on a back lot, waiting for a friend.

The story line covers but five years in the life of the Platinum Blonde-from a seventeen year old newlywed to Hollywood’s acknowledgement in wet cement. Because PLATINUM DOLL is a fictionalized story of Jean Harlow’s life, many of the personal and private events should not be taken at face value or to heart. PLATINUM DOLL reads like a movie script or journal documenting Jean Harlow’s rise to stardom.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy


Unwanted Girl by M.K. Schiller-a review

UNWANTED GIRL by M.K. Schiller-a review

Unwanted Girl

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 19, 2016

When a man loves a woman

Recovering addict Nick Dorsey finds solace in his regimented life. That is until he meets Shyla Metha. Something about the shy Indian beauty who delivers take-out to his Greenwich Village loft inspires the reclusive writer. And when Shyla reveals her desire to write a book of her own, he agrees to help her. The tale of a young Indian girl growing up against a landscape of brutal choices isn’t Nick’s usual territory, but something about the story, and the beautiful storyteller, draws him in deep.

Shyla is drawn to Nick, but she never imagines falling for him. Like Nick, Shyla hails from a village, too…a rural village in India. They have nothing in common, yet he makes her feel alive for the first time in her life. She is not ready for their journey to end, but the plans she’s made cannot be broken…not even by him. Can they find a way to rewrite the next chapter?


REVIEW: UNWANTED GIRL by M.K. Schiller is a story within a story about a young, twenty two year old East Indian woman known as Shyla Metha, and twenty-seven year old American author Nick Dorsey. Shyla is in New York, on a scholarship to earn a degree in elementary education. Working part -time at a local deli finds our heroine face to face with the reclusive Nick Dorsey-an author who has lost his muse and a man who is lonely in the face of being alone. What ensues is a building friendship, a novel co-authored by Shyla and Nick, and a romance with an end date that Nick refuses to accept.

Part of UNWANTED GIRL focuses on female gendercide-the destruction, murder and killing of girl babies especially as it pertains to India, and their desire for a male heir or a son. Our heroine is a woman who needs to write a story that follows Asha- one family’s experiences and losses due to the illegal and ritual practice of killing baby girls. The other part of the story line follows the romance and love between a recovering meth addict, and a woman who needs to return home to help those who are unable to help themselves. There is a major twist to the story -one that I had suspected from the start -but a twist that, at times, felt unrealistic. Nick is the broken but perfect hero with a dark and dangerous past; Shyla is a strong heroine who knows that her time with Nick is limited until her college graduation whereupon she will return to India and the poverty-ridden slums she knows too well.

For many readers, UNWANTED GIRL is a sociological study in cultural differences and beliefs, while others will have a difficult time with the romance aspect of a story where so much pain and suffering has befallen a society who view women as nothing more than chattel. UNWANTED GIRL is a story of survival; of betrayal and loss; of moving forward and but never forgetting those left behind. UNWANTED GIRL is not a traditional romance story line – the gendercide aspect is not commonplace, conventional or ordinary especially wrapped between a romantic story.

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy