Ginger might have left a large pair of boots Old Gringo Womens Bonnie Brass Cowgirl Boots L649-1 – J.C. Western ...  for me to fill but... 

I'm bringing back Favorite Reads!

My shoes may have a different style but I hope you enjoy my reviews.--Connie

Favorite Reads in 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐  A Small Town Mystery

An explosion destroys a dojo, leaving the town's computer geek dead. When it's discovered

 Marvin was murdered, Gilda and her male friend, team up to find who murdered Marvin. 

Fast-paced, witty, and humorous until the final reveal.

What I'm Reading/Listening to At the Moment!  


Strong Spirits (A Daisy Gumm Majesty Mystery, Book 1) (ebook)
Books We Love Insider Blog: DISCOVERY by Ginger Simpson
e-Book Kindle unlimited

May 2020

Annie's Choices (Settlers Book 4)
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 e-book/print

Well-plotted, all of the characters were where individuals with a strong voices. the depth of the storyline reminded me of the Thorn Bird--with strong character arcs that deeper the story. the history of out Australia and the Outback enriched the story.

It's 1843. Annie, seeking adventure, decides to visit her brother and his wife in Port Philip. Annie has inherited her mother's independent streak--which makes this story, Annie's Choices, a great selection for Ms. McGill's readers!

Street Justice

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Amazon/ Kindle Edition

I was never a fan of audiobooks until listening to Street Justice.  The storyline is flawless. Characters are realistic and believable.  Non-natives and those raised in the culture will experience the pull of the story and be amazed at the skill of John Fleming's narration!

Murder and Mint Tea: Mrs. Miller Mysteries, Book 1
Audio Version/ebook/print
Great Whodunit! 
Janet Lane Walters combines the classic voice of American whodunit with the traditional UK detective novel. Well-plotted, well-developed characters, and threads of the story tied up satisfactorily at the end. Bravo!

visit audible.com for the audio version,

April 2020
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Amazon/ Kindle Edition

Written in the 1st person, the story is reminiscent of the great Western authors: Louis L'Amour and Clancy Carlyle (my cousin). Grit, gun fights, fair ladies, and the cowboy-code-of-honor make for a great read! (Connie Vines, author of Tanayia: Whisper Upon the Water – Five-star review)


What a well-written and captivating story, and believable because what's going on in the novel happens everywhere today. Thank God for people like the heroine who gives a crap about those others choose to ignore. I highly recommend this book and author. Not only do you get a heart-tugging story about child trafficking, you also get a glimpse into what makes people tick. You won't be disappointed if you pick up this book. I promise! In exchange for reading Desert Heat, I promised to provide a fair and honest review, which I have gratefully done.


Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished Into the Land of Shadows and loved my journey. Imagine being 20 years old and looking
 for a man who owes you money, one you have a fake engagement with, and fully intending to send him

 back to his pregnant girlfriend. Wow...Ms. McCaffrey certainly made sure she didn't imitate another story. :)

Along with way, the heroine runs into the brother of the man she's seeking and he decides to travel

 with and protect her. Although she plans to escape his company, the longer she's with him, the more
 her heart dictates she stay, although she's not sure why. I really appreciated the humorous touches
 that made me giggle out loud, but don't be fooled...there is much action, adventure and obvious

 researched writing to keep you focused.

I really recommend this book to western lovers and I appreciated finding if on Reading Alley.

 I look forward to more of Ms. McCaffrey's work.

I provided a review in exchange for reading this story on Reading Alley. It was my pleasure, believe me.
I met Aunt Beatrice Lulu and loved her. If you don’t read anything else this year, treat yourself to Roseanne Dowell’s All’s Well That End’s Well and have some great laughs. I was so reminded of my own life and emotions, and it was awesome to know I wasn’t alone in being an aging woman with body issues to face. I definitely identified with the bathing suit scene. 

I can’t imagine you won’t feel like I do about this strong, independent woman who loves with all her heart. The book is written with realism, characters who will grab your heart and attention, and…Ed…dear, sweet Ed is Aunt Beatrice Lulu’s husband and the one we all would like to have…or maybe do. Well done, Ms. Dowell. Give us more. 

Ginger says:  I recently spent a week camping and decided to try to put a dent in my TBR pile on my Kindle.  I discovered two authors who quickly made the "look for more by this person,"list.  I loved both books and read them in two days.  Couldn't put them down until I found what happened next, and before I knew it I was on the last page.  These are the kind that make you want more.


Heartbreak Trail by Shirley Kennedy takes you on an adventure across the country, seeing life through the eyes of those in search of gold in California.  Lucy, the heroine, finds herself trapped in a home with an overbearing stepmother, and chooses to marry a handsome man whom she believes to love and tries hard to convince herself she does but actually only uses him as a means of escape.  She soon finds Jacob is under the influence and thumb of his older brother, a religious zealot, who quotes scriptures for every occasion.  Unfortunately, the life Lucy hopes for in Boston, living close to her family and raising a family doesn't happen, as Abner decides it's time to sell both farms and join the wagon train headed for gold country. 

Be prepared to experience every tragedy suffered by those making the journey.  This story is so realistic and well researched, I found myself captivated by the many characters who all have very distinctive personalities and traits.  You'll cry with, cheer for, and wonder how things are going to end for Lucy, who experiences great loss and gains even great determination to stay strong.

You can bet, I'm on the hunt for more by Shirley Kennedy.  This was a book with which I truly connected.  You know western and civil war stories are my favs.  :)


Okatibbee Creek by Lori Crane carried me on a journey through the eyes of a young girl who grows to adulthood and experiences life and loss through the Civil War.  This was a great story dealing with births, deaths, and wedding of the time, and you'll be so engaged in the story, you'll laugh, cry, and be astounded how life could be so cruel at times.   This made me really question why so many people take umbrage at the stars and bars.  This book really makes me feel the pride for those who left their lives and loved ones at home to fight for something they truly believed in....the war was about so much more than slavery.  Okatibbee Creek is featured in the beginning and the end, so the title is so perfect.

Lori Crane joins Shirley Kennedy on my list of authors who really reeled me in.  I highly recommend both of these books and if there were any things to nitpick, I was too caught up in the storylines to remember.

Well done, ladies.  Well done!


I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Smallwood's realistic and fast-paced novel. There was not a single place where the story bogged down, and I never had any doubt about the time and place in which the story occurred. This fictional tale, where the heroine rescues a hero just released from prison and near death, provides a pleasing change from the boy meets girl, boy gets girl, they live happily ever after. Montana Man is not something the reader feels was written to meet word requirements or to fill a mandated outline.

The heroine, Wisteria, (love the name) makes sacrifices that might cause her to forfeit the love she feels for Ben (the hero), and although he's embroiled in memories from a painful four years in prison and a vendetta still to be met, she becomes his reason for living. The author certainly knows how to elicit emotions and put the reader into the character's shoes. Not only does Ben see the score evened and find the peace he seeks, there is much more in his future he didn't see coming.

I read the book in one sitting, it was that good. Bravo Deann Smallwood. You write a great story.

I was provided a copy of this book through Reading Alley when I signed up to review.
Comment | 
Ginger says...Talk about bang for your buck! The Apothecary's Widow could have been a series of three, there are so many storylines involved. Who killed Lady Pentreath and why? Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author threw in another suspect that made me change my mind. Of course, once Doctor Treen discovered Arsenic was used, the widow and local Apothecary, Jenna Rosedew became the prime suspect...as long as I wasn't following the thinking of those who were convinced that Branek Pentreath, the husband, was the villain. I absolutely love the descriptions Ms. Scott Lewis uses. You'll find every sense involved in her stories, including the smells wafting in the air. One would think this author was born and raised abroad, but I know differently, and she amazes me with her ability to write and think like someone from Jolly Old England. If you haven't tried one of her books, this one is definitely one you won't want to miss. She definitely does her research and it shows.

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to read, but I plan to start again.  I did want to mention my favorite book...one I read last year but didn't post because Rita was my blog partner..  Trust me, that connection has nothing to do with the fact that I absolutely loved White Berry on the Red Willow.  In this book, Rita combines history with the modern-day and the future and gives you a glimpse of why she is such a talented author.  Honestly, I couldn't stop turning pages, and I was sad when I got the last one.  I'd give this book a ten if I could because of the way it held my attention and I read it in one night because I couldn't put it down.

As predicted in the Ghost Dance Vision, life has come full circle in 2054. The Blackfeet now control Yellowstone National Park, where the buffalo have multiplied, as have the people themselves.
Outside the Indian lands, thousands are dying of Quake Fever every day. Doctor Alcina Hancock struggles to find a cure before her mother dies. Thrust into the world of the Indians, she not only discovers what it will take to save her people but also herself.

Ekuskini, son of the Blackfeet chief, revels in the demise of the non-Indian. Then he meets Alcina and finds himself searching the old ones for the answers. Together Alcina and Ekuskini realize they must learn from the past and use it to make things better for the future of all people.


My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

This is possibly one of the best books I've ever read...especially from an educational viewpoint.  Axie Muldoon, a child brought up in the slums of New York, tells a true story based on being born to a mother and father, but going to being an orphan in a short time and transported by orphan's society to a strange land where despite promises of keeping her and her two siblings together, she is soon separated, found unadoptable and shipped back on the next train bound for the city. 

Taken in by a doctor and his wife who specialize in servicing the needs of women, Axie works with the missus and learns midwifery. Despite warnings from the housekeeper, Axie also falls for a handsome and smooth-talking charmer called Charlie who was raised in the orphanage and has to adopt the last name from a street sign.  I totally saw how her loneliness and desire to belong made her victim.

I was surprised to learn that around 1880, aborting a child prior to "quickening" was not considered a crime, and Axie and her mentor performed medical procedures purely to help women caught in unfortunate circumstances.  I found myself feeling pity and understanding for all involved.  However, times changed, and the head of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, Anthony Comstock, makes it his personal vendetta to stop Axie, whose popularity and wealth has grown considerably.  Now known as Dr. Debeausacq, Axie has definitely been underestimated.  

This is one of the longest books I've ever read, but I must confess, I had problems putting it down.  The story is a family legacy, expertly told and so easily related to that you'll smell the stench on Axie's Cherry Street, shed tears when her Mam passes, and hunch with fear just like you're a young girl feeling responsible for her siblings when they are stolen from her.  I highly recommend this read, and I know you'll love it, too.

I can be easily impressed by the cover art, and in this case, the keyhole cut out on the front and the loose side that served as wonderful bookmarks won me over even more.  There is so much about this novel to appreciate.

I was prompted to purchase Finding Me - A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed after watching Michelle Knight's interview on the Dr. Phil show.  I'm not generally interested in anything mainstream published, but something about this girl made me want to know more about her life.

I was moved to tears, yet inspired by her bravery and perseverance, and appalled that another human could be as cruel as Ariel Castro.  The one thing that kept Michelle alive were thoughts of the two-year-old son she left behind, and the irony...she was kidnapped on her way to a court hearing to try to get him back after he'd been removed from her family home because of nothing she did.  She accepted the welcome offer of a ride from Castro because she was friends with his daughter and sort of knew him. 

 To say, you have to read this book is an understatement, and I downloaded it in a few minutes onto my Kindle and stayed up late into the night because I couldn't quit reading.  I always wanted a daughter, and to think Michelle's mom had one and didn't even appreciate her makes me sad.  I would gladly raise my hand to have someone like Michelle in my life.  

The facts, in this case, are startling.  The man was a school bus driver with children of his own, yet devastated because his wife took them and left.  He lashed out, and the three girls he kidnapped bore the wrath of his vengeance.  Thank God, they were eventually rescued, but they didn't even get the satisfaction of knowing their captor had to endure the same incarceration they suffered for so long.  The coward hung himself.

I know I would never have the courage that Michelle displayed and held onto, but reading her story has made me determined to live each day to the fullest and be the best person I can be.  Thank you, Michelle, for sharing a horrible, horrible time in your life and allowing others to learn from your experiences. There certainly is a place in heaven with your name on it.

Buy Link


First of all...I'm not soliciting books for review!  I've decided to take advantage of the time I spend reading, and while I may not be able to write a full review about the books I've truly enjoyed, I will post the titles here, along with a buy link for you.  Anyone I list has to have written an exceptional book and I will be sending them their own "Dishin' It Out Award.  I've just updated the year and I'm about to finish my first recommendation as soon as my eye surgery is over.

2013 PICKS:

Through Gypsy Eyes by Killarney Sheffield

All-in-all, this was a story I will long remember and I'm so glad I read it. If you're looking for a romance that contains a whole lot more, you'll appreciate the fact she's left most of the sexual exploits to your own fantasies, and she's written in twists and turns you'll not see coming. I consider this worthy of my "I Dug It" award.

Keowee Valley by Katherine Scott Crawford

As a debut novel, I was quite enthralled with this story.  Although for me, it did bog down a bit at the beginning, the lull didn't dim my desire to know the outcome of the storyline.  I was particularly drawn in by the descriptive abilities and beautiful scenes portrayed by Ms. Crawford.  If this is her first offering, I can only imagine how wonderful her novels yet to come will be.

I highly recommend this book based on so many facets, including the historical accuracy and the fact that I was captured by each and every one of her characters.  If I had to pick what she excels in, I would say descriptive phrasing that puts the reader immediately in the scene.  She's wonderful at showing and not telling.

Bountiful Creek by Steven B. Weissman

I was moved to tears by the ending...not because it didn't come with the tidy little bow everyone seems to expect these days, but because I honestly sensed the sadness and loss between two who loved one another, but it didn't work out.  I also had a few giggles when Martha told her aunt off, but as most other reviewers on Amazon have pointed out...this story is real, touching, and entertaining.  Writing in a telling more than showing style are signs of a new novelist, but I gladly raise my hand to read more by this author, and I've already sent him my "I Dug It" award for his creative ability to spin an interesting tale, and keep me turning pages till the end...especially when I usually read with an editorial eye and the exciting turn of events in each chapter kept me on edge.  Not the best-written novel I've ever read, but certainly one I'll tell my friends about and urge them to read.

Dream Weaver by S.A. Martin

The author of this historical/modern time-travel did a wonderful job with the story, both historically and describing how a woman caught in 1762 might react to being without all the modern conveniences she's come to rely upon.  I honestly couldn't put this book down until I finished it.  It's worthy of my "I Dug It" award.

You can purchase this Books We Love offering on Amazon.

I didn't rate Dogs of War: Vertigo a 5 but I still dug it!  I've left a review on Amazon and Goodreads.  The only reason it didn't earn a five is because its beginning didn't drag me into the story right away with a hook, but once I got involved, I not only was moved to the edge of my seat, I learned something I never knew...how dogs were used during wartime for various reasons.  This book was a touch of paranormal, mystery, suspense, romance, history...just about everything a reader could enjoy.  Francis Pauli did herself proud with this one, and I recommend all those who think they can figure out "whodunit" to succeed.  I sure didn't...not until the "villain" was revealed.

The book is available at Amazon and you can read the reviews while you're there.

2012 Picks:

Erotic Deception by Karen Cote
The feisty heroine and the handsome hero who doesn't let her pull any punches will make you giggle out loud. Oh, there's tension, romance, and mystery in Karen Cote's romance...a little bit of everything you love in a good book, but as someone who always reads with my internal editor in full swing, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself so caught up in the story, I didn't care if a comma was missing or a word echoed in the same paragraph. That, to me, is the sign of an award-winning book. If I can sit back and enjoy reading and not be distracted, then I'm a happy camper.  The hyper-link title will lead you to Muse It Up Publishing where you can purchase your own copy.

Sweet Glory by Lisa Potocar

 The descriptions in this book are amazingly real and emotional.  I love a novel that puts me in the character's shoes, or in this case, boots, and lets me see the story through the roleplayer's eyes.  Sweet Glory certainly did that for me.  I cried at the misery, pain, and suffering and laughed with the joy of discovery, love, and hope.  The breeze caressed my cheeks, the honeysuckle pleased my senses, and dimmed the stench of blood and rotting limbs in the crowded hospital tents right before the hangman's noose chafed my throat.  You must experience this story for yourself and present it to young adult so they can see for themselves the difference between telling and showing a story.  Kudos Lisa Potocar, you've written something wonderful.

Treat yourself to a copy of this book at Tate Publishing and available for preorder on Amazon.

…And Remember That I Am A Man - The Life of Moses Grandy by John Bushore, is a superbly SHOWN story of a strong, humble being born as a Negro, and is an adept portrayal of his life from childhood until death.

According to the author’s notes at the end of the novel, this book was written with several purposes in mind…and after a great deal of research.  I didn’t have to read his narrative to know the purposes because I’d realized them during the reading of his book. Although I’ve long known about slavery and professed no accountability for it, this was an eye-opening experience.  Every one of us is most likely a descendent of someone who owned slaves and treated human beings as property.  I’ve always considered the attitude young blacks carry as the excess baggage of their ancestry, but I have a much better understanding of the bitterness that has transcended time.  Mr. Bushore made Moses Grandy my new friend, and I took his treatment and betrayals very personally.

 As for the research, I thoroughly admire Mr. Bushore for doing his homework and knowing his subject so well.  Talk about putting a reader in the character’s shoes…I walked as a slave through every page.  I dripped with sweat at the back-breaking work, swatted bugs in the Dismal Swamp, and cried when my babies were sold.

The few writing issues that jumped out at my editorial eye were minimal considering the power of the story, the emotions, and the reality of Mr. Bushore’s descriptions. This story is definitely a keeper…if not on a shelf, then in the back of your mind so that never again in this country will we so devalue the worth of others simply because of the color of their skin.

As a postscript to my review, the timing of reading about Moses was further enhanced by watching the TV program, "Who Do You Think You Are," where three celebrities traced their roots back to slavery and were appalled at learning their own personal family history.  I so wished I could have recommended they read Mr. Bushore’s novel.  I missed that opportunity, but I can certainly make that suggestion to everyone who reads this.  I’m definitely going to be looking for the companion novel Boy In Chains which is a true story of the Great Dismal Swamp. Although listed as suitable for mid-grade students through young adults, I intend to share it with my grandson to help him learn there is no place for prejudice in his life.

Family Secrets by Jamie Hill

 The smooth flow, the natural dialogue, the realistic characters, and an attention-grabbing storyline, made me keep turning pages to find out what happened to the trusting young woman who went from babysitter to unwilling mother in one fell swoop. The detective who's investigating the disappearance of the children's father and the murder of a homeless man found in front of her apartment has the charm and appeal of any of my favorite TV characters, and I loved how their relationship developed. Family Secrets is that warm fuzzy type of book that leaves an imprint on your heart. I highly recommend it and I look forward to more in the series.

Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogers 

This is my first book by Jacquie Rogers, but definitely not my last.  Number One in her Hearts of Owyhee series, Much Ado About Marshals, entertained me, lifted my spirits, and kept me laughing at the crazy antics of the heroine. Of course, I didn't miss out on a minute of conflict, romance, and the cast of secondary characters who add so much to this tale, but I love how the humor influenced the writing.

Daisy Gardner is hooked on dime-store crime novels.  The problem: her parents want to marry her off to someone who lives in the middle of nowhere, so how could she possibly solve crimes and emulate her heroine, Honey Beaulieu? 

Daisy has her cap set on handsome, Cole Richards, a rancher who saves his friend from robbing a bank, and whom she now mistakes for the new marshal. When the real deal comes along, even though he's equally as handsome, Daisy drugs him until she can figure out who he really is.  Get set for some giggling.

 While the real marshal is sequestered away, Daisy tends to Cole while he heals and plans a way to make him propose.  He either has to fess up and hang for a robbery in which he played no part, or assume the lawman's role and marry her.  What a pickle!

The entire storyline is unique and unlike so many westerns I've read, so I truly appreciated Ms. Roger's creative mind.  Don't assume because humor is involved that this book didn't take twists and turns or that there weren't some surprises in store for the reader.  Kudos, Jacquie Rogers...I dug this book, and I can't wait to dig into title number two, Much Ado About Madams.


  1. Jamie- Thanks for the awesome review.
    - Kelly

  2. Ginger, thanks for the glowing review. I'm glad you enjoyed All's Well that Ends Well.


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