Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon – Book Review

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall

When I got this book from the library, I thought that it was a continuation of the Outlander series.  Of course, this was only because I jumped on the book when I saw it, grabbed it before anyone else could, and never looked at the front inside cover.  Grabby much?  However, although I was initially disappointed by the fact that it was not the next book, these stories more than made up for my first disappointment.

Suffice it to say that they add to the wonderful historical fiction that makes up the Outlander world.  While I have only read the Outlander series itself (as opposed to the books of the Lord John Grey series), all of these short novellas were new to me.  Apparently, all but two of the seven stories have been published before in various places.  I must say that I really liked them all, and of course the back-history is, as always fascinating.  I don’t want to give anything away, but I do highly recommend this compilation since it is well written, exciting and highly entertaining.  Well done, Gabaldon!

Outlander-Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon



The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss – Book Review

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

I really liked this novel.  The atmosphere, setting and underlying creepiness were just so delicious!  Who doesn’t love a Gothic novel done just right?  This novel gives us the orphaned Mary Jekyll, daughter of Dr. Jekyll, who due to money problems tries to collect the reward for information regarding the murderer Mr. Hyde.  In the process, she becomes associated with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

There is much murder, mystery and intriguing characters.  There are young ladies who have been experimented on by their “fathers”, including such luminaries as, Moreau, Frankenstein and Rappaccini.  Their individual stories are horribly fascinating.


I won’t let any black cats out of the bag, but simply tell you that the novel is wonderful, and happily there is a sequel that will be out in about a year.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Goss!


Theodora Goss

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor – Book Review

TheLostLetter by Cantor

This novel moves back and forth between Austria 1938 and California, 1989.  In 1938, Kristoff an 18-year-old apprentice finds a position with the Faber family as an engraver of stamps for the Austrian government.  This is Kristoff’s first experience living with a family, and it is one he enjoys whole-heartedly.


Meanwhile in 1989, Katie Nelson decides to have her father’s extensive stamp collection appraised since her father is in the beginning stages of dementia, and he has always insisted that the stamps may one day be worth a lot of money.  The appraiser, Benjamin Grossman discovers a rare stamp which he doesn’t know anything about.  As Benjamin and Katie try to unravel the mystery of this highly unusual stamp, we are treated to the story of the stamp, Kristoff’s early life, and the Austrian underground.

Since I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll just say that this novel was well written and well researched.  I really loved this novel and highly recommend it.  Well done Cantor!


Jillian Cantor


The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne – Book Review

The Marsh King's Daughter

At the age of 14, Helena Pelletier’s mother was lured away from home by Jacob Holbrook.  Even though there was an extensive search, she was never found.  At the age of 16, she gave birth to Helena, and they all lived in the wilderness in the middle of a marsh until Helena saved her mother from certain death brought about by her father.  Years later Jacob escapes prison, kills two police officers and comes looking for Helena and her two young daughters.  It’s up to Helena to track him through the marsh to keep her family safe.

The novel moves through time by way of flashbacks of Helena’s early life with her mother and father in the marsh.  Her love of Jacob is complicated.  He treated her well one moment and horribly the next.  She revered Jacob for years since he encouraged her hunting and tracking skills.  Helena was interested in learning how to survive in the wilderness, and Jacob encouraged her behavior as a means to marginalize her mother.  Her lack of understanding of her mother is at the fore in this novel, and Helena ends up understanding her mother much more than she ever did before, since Jacob’s prison escape has forced her to re-evaluate her childhood, and come to an understanding of what really had been going on.

marsh cabin

I found this novel very compelling.  The backstory was captivating, as was the hunt for Jacob.  Helena grows as a person during the hunt for her father and works through her history as she has never done before.  A thrilling thriller.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Dionne!


Karen Dionne

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley – Book Review


Nancy Murphy has been having a difficult time of it.  Her husband has been unfaithful recently, the family has moved to Hawaii for her husband’s job, and their twin teenagers are acting out by setting fires.  They are hoping the move will reinvent the marriage, and stop the boys from becoming fire-bugs.  In other words, there is a lot riding on this move.

Since her husband’s infidelity, Nancy has been having a crisis.  She’s been a stay-at-home mother since the birth of the twins, and is having a hard time deciding who she is.  Her husband’s affair has left her vulnerable, and Ana, a yoga instructor Nancy meets is more than happy to exploit this vulnerability.


What follows is a wild ride for a boring, stay-at-home mother in the middle of a crisis.  I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t.  I loved how true the writing was for a woman in crisis, and a marriage on the way down the tubes.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Huntley!



The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Book Review


When relatively unknown reporter, Monique Grant is contacted by legendary actress Evelyn Hugo to write her autobiography, Monique cannot believe her luck.  However, she soon realizes that there will be a price to be paid for the riches and fame that will follow.

Evelyn reveals all, telling the truth for the first time in her life.  As all is slowly revealed, Monique’s estimation of Evelyn keeps rising, until the final curtain is drawn back.  While I won’t reveal all, I can say that the story of Evelyn’s rise to the top of the acting game is an exciting story with more twists and turns then any movie.


The story is engaging and the characters are life-like and interesting.  I love how both Evelyn and Monique were portrayed as real people with real characteristics.  This novel is hardly black and white, instead it resides with real life, where gray is the presiding color – no one is only good or bad, we’re all a combination of the two.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Reid!


Taylor Jenkins Reid

Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy – Book Review

Little Sister

I found this novel to be extremely interesting, since I’ve long had a fascination with lightning.  When thunderstorms hit, Rose Bowen finds herself inside another woman’s body, experiencing her life and living her emotions.  Is this only a migraine, as Rose’s boyfriend, the tediously boring Victor asserts, or is something else happening?

Rose’s life is the same, day-after-day, taking care of her mother who suffers from dementia, running the family classic movie theater, and sleeping with Victor on the same nights week after week.  Having a peek at another, more exciting life becomes an obsession for Rose.  She seeks our thunderstorms with the hopes of experiencing someone else’s life.


When Rose realizes that this is a real woman, whose life she is experiencing, she begins to track her down, for what reason, Rose is not entirely sure.  I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, so I’ll just leave it here.  However, I will say that this experience gives Rose the jolt (pun intended) that she has needed for a long time.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Gowdy!

Barbara Gowdy

Barbara Gowdy