Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Bethany House ISBN 978-0-7642-0990-1
Life in Caldwell County, Texas in 1878 consisted of` hard work for men. Life was even harder for the two widowed women who return to Lockhart, Texas from Mexico where both their husbands died. Louise Garner and her Mexican daughter in law, Rosa, come back to reclaim Louise Garner and her deceased husband’s sixty acre farm that they had rented out during their absence. The tenants left the property and never paid the taxes. If they don’t pay $166 in taxes both Mrs. Garners may find themselves evicted.
Sometimes even doing your best isn’t good enough. Both women work hard to generate income, but there were obstacles and complications. A neighbor, Jay Tillerton, poses the biggest threat to both Rosa and the eventual ownership of the property. While trying to find her place in her new life in Texas, Rosa struggles to fit in and not offend anyone- often with unforeseen results. Louise believes her faith will see them through. Could she be right? Rosa knows there was love lacking in her marriage to Louise’s son. She meets Louise’s nephew, Weston Garner who is a widower and what ensues is a complex and heart wrenching relationship- one filled with fear, self doubt, guilt and ultimately, honesty.
This is a story of family as well as of values and deep personal faith. The author skillfully details human frailties and their strengths. The characters have distinctive voices and the reader is given the rare opportunity to look into their souls. She masterfully keeps the reader involved in the story without revealing the story’s conclusion prematurely. I recommend reading this book.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers and I give this review of my own free will.
Farm Fresh Southern Cooking by Tammy Algood
Thomas Nelson ISBN 978-1-4016-0158–4
Farm Fresh Southern Cooking by Tammy Algood is much more than a cookbook. While the book has a great collection of recipes, it also encourages the reader to shop from local growers. Ms. Algood considers growers and craftsmen to be important members of communities and rightfully so. Her enthusiasm for shopping locally is contagious.
The book is divided into the following chapters: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Sides, Breads, Entrees, Desserts, and Breakfast and Brunch. In addition, there is a an excellent section on canning that emphasizes safety. At the beginning of each chapter is a list of the recipes included in the chapter. Ms. Algood introduces each recipe. Included in the introductions are serving suggestions and personal observations. This provides a wonderful personal touch. Each chapter includes “Spotlight” pages where information on southern foods and growers is provided. The recipes are easy to read and consist of ingredients that most have access to. I prepared several of the recipes and I was not disappointed.
Both the text and the photographs have an earthy quality which creates a warm feeling when reading the book. This is a comfortable book to read. I especially appreciated the references to local growers and the encouragement to look for Farmers Markets. Ms. Algood writes in her introduction “There is nothing better than knowing who grew or made the foods you enjoy daily.” I whole heartedly agree. Some of the best times I have had have been in the company of local growers. They possess a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to share. Using their products enhances any recipe thereby creating something special. This a special cookbook and I highly recommend it.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book reviews blogger program and I give this review of my own free will.
Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Press ISBN 978-1-4000-7430-3
Hulda Klager wanted a crisper apple so that she could make a better pie. In time, she developed this apple and so much more. Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, Where Lilacs Still Bloom, is based on Mrs. Klager’s life. The prologue introduces the reader to Hulda in 1948 as she is watching flood waters destroy what she has worked tirelessly and passionately to create. The following chapters read like journal entries. The first chapter, as well as many of the others, is in Hulda’s voice . She moved from Germany to Wisconsin as a child . The story opens in 1889 and Hulda is married. The family has moved to Woodland, Washington. Hulda and Frank have four children. Even though truly devoted to her family , she is able to find time to develop her incredible horticultural talents. The entire family, as well as a host of others worked in her garden and their stories are told as well. Indoor plumbing, running water, electricity didn’t come until later in her life, but this didn’t stand in the way of her progress. She went from hybridizing apples to hybridizing lilacs. She hand pollenated the lilacs which led to over 200 varieties. Her intention was not so much to change things but to create and to make things better.
This is more than a story of apples and lilacs. Hulda lived in a time when a woman’s role was clearly defined. She wanted more and with the support of her loving family, and those members of the community that also became part of her family, she was able to achieve her goals. Over time her husband became her biggest supporter. Together they endured multiple tragedies . In part, tending the gardens brought some comfort. This is also a story of generosity. Hulda had numerous opportunities to sell her cuttings- Frank would have welcomed the additional income. She struggled with this. She just wanted to share them with others.
Where Lilacs Still Bloom is skillfully written and populated with richly developed characters . The author provides insight into what most find important: generosity, commitment, tolerance and the gift of tactfulness. This is an easy book to read and it is filled with important lessons on what matters. Now that I have read this book, I will always think of Hulda Klager whenever I see a lilac. I received this book for free from Water Brook Multomah Publishing Group for this review.