The Milk Wagon

I was hooked when I read this book by Michael Hewes and I find it to be an unsung gem! One of my goals with this blog is to help newer or lesser known authors (and self published authors) promote their work to others who might not otherwise see it. This fantastic book swept me right back into the 1980’s, when I was a teenager, and it was a great ride. See my review below:

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The Milk Wagon is a fantastic thriller set in the 80’s, much of it revolving around a group of high school boys. As an 80’s high schooler myself, this was a wonderful walk down memory lane. This book has the 80’s high school mentality exactly right, and transported me back there as the movies we watched, the cars we drove, and the way we thought were so accurately described. 

This novel was perfectly woven together as both an 80’s book and a crime/murder thriller. There were many twists and turns, and although I am usually pretty good at guessing the “bad guy,” i was totally wrong this time. The fact that this book was not predictable impressed me. 

The characters are so well done, especially the 80s high school kids, that I was sad when it ended. That’s how you tell a great book. You don’t want it to end.

If you love crime thrillers, if you loved the 80s, or if you just love a well written book, check this one out.

I received a free copy of this book from Michael Hewes and BooksGoSocial via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the book on Amazon:

Link to other work by Michael Hewes:

Link to my Goodreads review (Like and Follow if you are so inclined):

Your Words

This poetry book is accompanied by beautiful photographs and primarily speaks to the author’s thoughts about the current pandemic, struggles in life, and her relationship with God. There are also some lovely story poems about nature. Although I enjoyed all of the poems, I was less interested in the ones about the pandemic, just because we hear so much about it in the news daily. However, I know others will feel differently about that. I was more interested in the poems about nature and relationship with God. The author shares her feelings honestly and with emotion.

The poem Power in Life spoke to me. It asks the question: “How can life go on when I’ve just experienced this crushing loss?” Having lost my Mom this year, I definitely can relate to that. I also enjoyed “A Life With You, Now and in Eternity.” This is about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins.

The photographs are well done and are a great companion to the poems.

The author’s style is warm and embracing, and she shares her faith in a loving way. I would read her poetry again.

I picked this book up on Kindle Unlimited, where members can get a digital copy for free. I also received a free copy of the print book from the author. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

This Kindle version of this book is also available for free to everyone on Amazon from November 19th to November 21st.

Link to Your Words on Amazon

Mountain Laurel

It is 1793, and Ian Cameron has returned to Mountain Laurel, his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina, where he spent time as a boy. Now a grown man, he is being groomed as his uncle’s heir. When Ian sees Seona for the first time, he is immediately captivated by her green eyes and does not realize she is enslaved to his kin. When he learns of Seona’s hidden talent as an artist, he encourages it and finds ways for her to hide it from his cruel step-aunt, Lucinda. Lucinda does not believe slaves should read, write, or do anything to take time away from their chores. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Ian and Seona, who has hidden her art all her life. “Every slave has a secret. This one is mine.” As time progresses, Ian finds himself conflicted between his growing feelings for Seona, his loyalty to his family, and his responsibility to all those enslaved on the plantation.

This heart-rending book from Benton shows us all the horrors of slavery. In addition to the beatings, rapes, terror, and torture, it shows the true effects of taking away someone’s will and refusing to let them have any dreams or desires. It shows how some people of that time watched slaves being paraded down the road in chains, did nothing, and then went to church on Sunday. Lori Benton writes about this as if she were there, laying bare the pain of someone else owning your body and your soul. However, faith and the desire for redemption are also present, especially in the quiet faith of the slave Lily and the redemption Ian desperately seeks.

This is the first book in the Kindred series, and I cannot wait to see these characters return.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.

Link to Mountain Laurel on Amazon

Link to Lori Benton’s Amazon Page

Link to my review on Goodreads

Chasing Flavor

Chasing Flavor is an amazing cookbook by Dan Kluger that is true to its name and helps you get the absolute best flavor into your food. He starts with suggestions for pantry and kitchen equipment to help you make his recipes. He shows different techniques, such as how to cut and blanch vegetables, make pasta, and slice brisket. The cookbook is full of great ideas, such as adding pureed cauliflower to tomato soup so you get creaminess without dairy, or turning chicken nuggets into something insanely special by adding a maple chile glaze. 

Among the recipes I plan to try are Cashew Vinaigrette, Crushed Cucumbers with Yogurt and Chiles, Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Parmesan Croutons, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Fermented Chile Sauce, Grandma Pie, Raisin Stuffed Pork Loin, and Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Warm Potato Salad.

I received a free, temporary digital copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

The Stars of Heaven

The Stars of Heaven is a fictionalized account of the devastating earthquake on All Saints’ Day in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1755. Cecília de Santa Rita e Durante is living in Lisbon with her mother and sister but is away from home when the earthquake hits. She struggles to find her family in the resulting chaos and to rebuild her life as the city is being rebuilt. As the land has been shaken, so has the political climate. She finds herself caught between warring political factions, and the allegiances she chooses could mean life or death. A devout Catholic, she is also fighting challenges to her view of religion and a powerful attraction to an English Protestant deemed quite unsuitable for her.

This is a compelling account of the struggle between the old noble families of Portugal and the new guard led by Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the First Minister, who had the support of the King. The good and bad sides of both factions are shown. Caught in the middle, Cecília must choose between right and wrong, which is usually not very clear. At times naive and at times quite devious, she must decide what is most important to her, or at least what she can live with.

The reader will learn a lot about the Lisbon Earthquake and the fascinating and bloody political struggle of that time. I found this book to be interesting, informative, and exciting, as religion, espionage, and danger combine for a fascinating read. The characters are well developed, especially Cecília and the sometimes sinister and very real Carvalho. I immediately wanted to learn more about him. An enjoyable novel for anyone interested in the Lisbon Earthquake or the politics of that time.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers and Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.

Link to the book on Amazon

Link to my Goodreads review

Link to Jessica Dall’s Amazon page

The Kissing Tree

This is a really heartwarming collection of four novellas, all revolving around the same grand old oak “Kissing Tree” in Oak Springs, Texas. The extraordinary thing is that although each story is done by a different author, they collectively maintain the history of the town and are well woven together. The stories span from 1868 to contemporary times, as the town changes, romance blooms, and initials are carved into the tree.

Broken Limbs, Mended Fences by Regina Jennings begins in 1868. Adam Fisher returns to his boyhood town as a threshing machine salesman, determined to convince the town to embrace the changes of the times. He also wants to see Bella again, and apologize for an accident three years before.

Inn For A Surprise by Karen Witemeyer is the delightful story of how opposites attract. In 1891, Phoebe Woodward, a romantic at heart, wants to open The Kissing Tree Inn. Her father sends the ultra practical Barnabas Ackerby to assist her, and sparks fly.

From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes tells the story of Luke Hampstead and Hannah Garland. An airman during the war, Luke has been writing to Hannah, the sister of a buddy who was tragically killed. When it’s time for him to go home, he seeks Hannah out in Texas. 

Heartwood by Nicole Deese is the story of Abby and Griffin, and how they deal with pain and loss. 

From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes is my favorite Novella in the book. I instantly connected with the characters, and the story touched my heart. This is the second work I’ve ready by Dykes, and she’s becoming one of my favorite authors.

I wasn’t entirely on board with the ending of Heartwood, the last novella in the book, but overall these stories were woven together well and definitely enjoyable.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kissing-Tree-Novellas-Rooted-Timeless-ebook/dp/B087RSFS5V/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+kissing+tree&qid=1603651552&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Link to Amanda Dykes’ blog: http://amandadykes.com/#welcome

Link to Karen Witemeyer’s (And Others) Blog: https://inspiredbylifeandfiction.com

Link to my Goodreads review (Like and follow if you are so inclined): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3591015714?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Bonnie Reads and Writes

I’m Bonnie, and this is my blog, Bonnie Reads And Writes. Like many of you, I work a full time job. But that is not my dream. My dream is to create a career out of reviewing books and maybe someday write my own book. I am set to retire from my day job in 3 and a half years and I am starting to take steps towards that dream. It is never too late to make your dreams happen. I am 56 years old, but I haven’t stopped dreaming, and neither should you! Please join me on my book review journey. I have been reviewing books on Netgalley for over a year, and have started doing voluntary reviews for Historical Novels Review Magazine as well. I would love to share my reviews with you. I dabble in writing a little, so you might see a poem or just an observation of the world. And I am lucky to live in the Appalachian Mountains, so I will definitely share pictures of the beauty around me with you.

I have the following badges by reviewing advance copies of books on Netgalley:

Reviews Published This means that more than three publishers have featured my reviews on their sites.

Professional Reader This means I am a Reviewer for Netgalley

Frequently Auto-ApprovedThis means more than 3 publishers have given me access to read all their available books on Netgalley. Right now, I am approved to read all Netgalley offerings for Bethany House, Revell, BooksGoSocial, BookBuzz.net, Black Rose Writing, Canelo, and Amazon UK.

100 Book Reviews

I recently achieved my goal of completing 200 reviews on Netgalley by the end of 2020. I have set myself the monumental task of reaching 500 Netgalley reviews by the end of 2021.

REVIEW REQUESTS ACCEPTED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO REVIEW YOUR BOOK, JUST EMAIL ME at bonniereadsandwrites@gmail.com. My review will include a statement that a free copy was obtained from the author and my review is voluntary. I am not accepting the following genres or situations: Horror, Current Politics, Graphic Sexual Situations, or Graphic Language.