Almost every American soldier who served in the United States military from 1941-46 remembers smiling greeters serving coffee and snacks in a quaint train station in North Platte, Nebraska. A bright spot on a cross-country train ride, the North Platte Canteen defied all sensible business models, dependent on volunteer labor and donated goods.
Sixty years after the heyday of the Canteen’s service, Bob Greene traveled to North Platte, spending a few weeks in the heat of the summer to learn more about the town and its unprecedented outpouring of gratitude and groceries to six million servicemen and women.
Greene is a newspaper columnist and the book is written in column-length vignettes. Greene visited with senior citizens who were teenagers in the 40s. Their stories are told through the eyes of youth, now wiser, but blissfully ignorant years ago.
Greene interviewed veterans who still grow misty-eyed and struggle to speak when they recall the oasis of comfort and gratitude in a very uncertain time. North Platte’s weak coffee, boiled eggs and smiles of encouragement still touched the hearts of men who had survived the war.
Once Upon a Town is selling today for $8.89. Though it is not a cheap read, the book tells a story of sacrifice by many ordinary families to aid in the freedom of all around the world.
John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” Today and every day, please remember those who have sacrificed for us.
Love In the Balance is an entertaining love story set in historic Texas.
This is the second book by author Regina Jennings. It’s not necessary to read the books in order, but some characters from Sixty Acres and A Bride ($9.99) are in this book. I think I’ll go back and read that book now.
Molly Lovelace lives in Lockhart, Texas, during the week working in the land office at the County Courthouse. On weekends, she travels home to stay with her parents.
The book opens with a hilarious scene in which her beau, Bailey Garner “confesses” to sins that make Molly blush. With her father’s orders to find a more suitable match, Molly becomes taken with a wealthy traveler passing through Texas. She discovers that her heart doesn’t always follow the sensible path and that Bailey may have more to offer than it first appears.
The writing in this book was delightful. A certain turn of phrase could make an ordinary passage come to life. It had a Texas flavor and some unexpected turns to make it surprising to the very end. The story line at times seemed to jump around and it took awhile to determine what exactly was happening. Overall, a solid four stars.
The Kindle edition is now available for $9.99.
I received this book as part of Bethany House’s book review program in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you for dropping by to the Daily Cheap Read Book Club as we discuss Murder on a Girls’ Night Out by Anne George.
Today Paula and Susan have posted their reviews and overall impressions of the book below. Join the conversation and tell us your thoughts about the book and the sisters in general. We’ll be discussing characters and the plot in more detail soon.
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Bless their hearts, what can you say about two Southern ladies who become embroiled in a murder investigation that reveals the unsavory side of a prominent political family?
In Murder on a Girls’ Night Out ($2.99), the first book in a series of eight whodunits, Mary Alice and her sidekick sister Patricia Anne are introduced. The two are stereotypical Southern women – yet polar opposites. Mary Alice is larger than life, flamboyant, rebellious and impulsive. Patricia Anne is nicknamed Mouse for a reason. She is a people-pleaser, prudent and methodical, and lives in Mary Alice’s shadow. Mary Alice is the creative, right-brained sibling; Patricia the logical, left-brained one.
When Mary Alice impulsively buys a Country Western dance bar, Patricia is drawn into her latest adventure. When the previous owner is murdered just a couple of days after the purchase, Patricia Anne starts poking around for answers. Before the murderer is identified another man dies and Patricia Anne nearly meets the same fate at the hands of the killer.
The novel is in first-person, told by Patricia Anne who used more detail than necessary to describe even small things; i.e. An old mimeograph machine, the kind that turned out tests printed in pale purple ink that the kids complained they couldn’t read.
A little slow to start as the characters and story were introduced, the ending seemed rushed to the resolution. I had not guessed the murderer or the motive before the end and the characters and history became a bit jumbled. I mentally tried to create a family tree to follow it all but just couldn’t visualize it.
I enjoyed the interaction between the sisters, chuckling at their verbal sparring and Southern expressions. They make the book and I’ll read at least one more Southern Sisters mysteries to see if Patricia Anne ever really stands up to Sister.
The fun thing about reading a cozy mystery is you know what you’re going to get. This book delivered in many ways – quirky characters, vivid setting, unexplained death and lots of red herrings.
The sisters’ interaction was the highlight of the book. It was especially entertaining as they tried to best each other at getting a date for their single daughters. Patricia Anne was an especially engaging character who added some nice depth to a story line that dragged at times. Although it may not have been relevant to the murder investigation, the details of making homemade applesauce did bring detail to the story. The Southern charm of the characters and setting were also a lot of fun.
One of the reasons to read a mystery is to try to solve it along with the characters. That made me feel cheated when the murderer confessed to the crime before the sisters actually solved it. The sleuths were asking the same questions I was about what happened.
Sheriff Reuse was an especially interesting character and I would like to know what happens to him in the rest of the series.
We want to wish a happy Easter to all our readers. May this season of spring and new life renew hope for each of you.
I (Susan) wanted to share some inspirational fiction that I read recently. Stephanie Grace Whitson’s Quilt Chronicles is set in historic Lincoln, Neb. As an author, she really gets delves into women’s hearts and explores complex emotions. The first two books are selling for just $2.99 right now.
The Key on the Quilt is set inside a women’s prison facility, tracing how lives intersect in unexpected ways. In The Shadow on the Quilt which I just finished, Juliana Sutton faces terrible pain when her husband dies in a fire at a brothel. She and her husband’s two maiden aunts find healing together. The story had an element of romance with a most lovable hero, but I found Juliana’s story complete in itself.
The third book in the series, The Message on the Quilt releases tomorrow. I preordered it for $5.30 as an Easter gift for myself.
The books are independent stories in the series, so it doesn’t matter which one you read first.
Description: When Emilie Rhodes convinces her newspaper editor father to assign her to interview the speakers at the 1890 Chautauqua series, she meets and falls in love with “The Man of Many Voices.” But Noah Shaw’s professional life is only one reason he’s in Nebraska. Noah is on a quest to find answers. . .but will a treasured quilt bear a message of brokenness—or hope and healing?
Silent Revenge by Laura Langdon has a familiar plotline for Regency romance readers: the wealthy heiress must marry to secure her inheritance and the titled gentleman needs her money.
Jessica is a talented, reclusive young lady. Simon left England years earlier amid rumors he murdered his father. He has returned to find his family’s estate in foreclosure.
A bit slow in the beginning, the story soon gathers speed. Jessica has secrets she is keeping from both Simon and the ton and Simon has secrets he is keeping from Jessica.
They face a common enemy in Jessica’s stepbrother. The inevitable confrontation is expected, but suspenseful and well written.
One of Jessica’s secrets is a vital part of the story, adding a dimension I have not read in other historical romances. I won’t give the secret away and be careful reading the reader reviews as some tell all.
The best feature of this romance is that Ms. Langdon has written a true romance with rich characters and plot, but without explicit bedroom scenes. Silent Revenge is an entertaining romance suitable for all readers. Thank you, Ms. Langdon.
Purchase this historical romance for only $1.99 through Thursday, January 31.
I’m an avid reader of Christian fiction and this year, I enjoyed some really good books. Here are my favorites from 2012.
The Q Manifesto by Alan Schleimer, a fast-paced thriller with an edge of reality that kept me turning pages, is my top selection for 2012.
An ancient manuscript shows up that refutes the Gospels and the world is in turmoil. Jay Hunt, a backcountry tour guide, receives a strange message from his father, an expert in the Dead Sea scrolls. Before he can reach him, his father is killed in a traffic accident in Jerasulem. Jay takes off on a global chase to uncover the truth – both new and ancient.
The father-son relationship gave this exciting story an Indiana Jones feel. The first book in the Ezra Chronicles, it’s a cheap read at just $2.99.
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden is a fascinating historical novel. Lydia Pallas works as a translator in the Navy shipyard and an assignment takes her into the heart of danger. I really liked reading about a working woman in a historical setting and a more realistic romance. It is available for $9.68.
The Bride’s Prerogative is a three-book bundle about the ladies’ shooting club of Fergus, Idaho. The bundle is just $9.99. The three stories tie together. Each book includes a romance and mystery, but each story works together to describe a quirky little town and the independent women who make it home.
Lisa Wingate never disappoints and her Blue Moon Bay is a touching look at family dynamics and making peace with the past. It is priced at $9.99.
When I purchased this devotional book The Experience of Christmas I didn’t realize it was written for families with children. And I’m really glad I didn’t!
Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these Christmas themed devotionals. They are filled with scripture, historical context and sincere prayers. I especially like how it explains how the traditions of Christmas point to Christ. Children need this lesson for the first time and I certainly need some refreshers in this busy season.
Lee said he wrote the book because he wanted something that would help families turn their thoughts toward the Savior during Advent and beyond. Christmas isn’t an event on a calendar. Instead, it’s an experience. It contains devotions that are easy enough for kids to understand, while also giving them Christmas carols to sing, discussion questions they can comprehend, and activities that relate to each message.
It took me a little bit to get used to using my Kindle for a devotion, but it works really well. And my favorite part is the prayers for young children which keep me focused for the holiday. The book is just $2.99 for Kindle.
Click here to purchase The Experience of Christmas
As an avid reader of Christian fiction, the past few months I’ve read some really enjoyable books set in a diverse periods of history and wanted to share them with you.
Rose of Winslow Street is set in the small town of Colden, Massachusetts. Libby Sawyer is a spinster, content to create drawings of her father’s drawings and paint pictures of plants. Her quiet life is upended when Michael Dobrescu and his family move into their home, claiming it as their inheritance.
Lots of interesting little details in this story. Michael grows unusual plants and makes perfume; Libby is hiding the secret that she is illiterate. This romance with rich, historical setting is selling for $9.68.
Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin was a fabulous journey. Alice is a small-town librarian during the Great Depression. She travels to eastern Kentucky to deliver donated books. She meets the “pack horse librarians,” women who delivered books to remote homes on horseback. She discovers a real-life adventure greater than she ever encountered in a book.
With its reverent treatment of books and librarians, readers will enjoy this Christian fiction romance that is selling for $8.54.
A women’s prison sounded like an unusual setting for Christian fiction, but Stephanie Grace Whitson really made it work in The Key on the Quilt.
The lives of three women intersect in unexpected ways – Jane Prescott is serving time for murder; Mamie Dawson feels called to reach the women in her charge; and Ellen McKenna is reluctant to accept her husband’s new position as warden.
A tightly woven, captivating story for just $10.39 on Kindle.
Doctor in Petticoats is the first in a three-part series that follows up the Petticoat Ranch series.
This book stands alone nicely, as newly trained nurse Beth McClellan finds herself partnering with doctor Alex Buchanan who would just as soon run from his past. An adventure on horseback and romance are both in store. This book is priced at $7.99.
For Time and Eternity was so gripping, I read it in a few days and immediately bought the sequel, Forsaking All Others ($9.99). The two-book series tells the story of Camilla Deardon Fox, living in Iowa when the Mormon wagon trains moved through on their way to Utah. Her heart is quickly stolen by Nathan Fox, a young man who has become a devout convert to Mormonism. When the choice comes to choose between her father and Nathan, young Camilla follows her heart.
Life in the close-knit Mormon community is not what she expected and Camilla faces hard choices about family and faith.
For Time and Eternity is selling for $9.39.
I read Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah at the suggestion of a friend. It is essentially two stories in one. The contemporary story is about two sisters whose father dies unexpectedly. On his deathbed, their father asks them to connect to their emotionally distant mother. Their mother agrees to tell the ending to a fairy tale which she has shared they were children. No surprise, the fairy tale is actually their mother’s life story and is the more interesting part of the book.
The first half of the book drags very slowly and the characters not all that likable. It picks up and the ending is nice, if not entirely plausible. Fans of women fiction will like it more than I did. I gave it three out of five stars. Unfortunately, Amazon has it at full price of $9.99.
A new introduction from Amazon is an old form of reading a story: The Serial.
These were a hit back in the day when people got to read an episode each week in the newspaper. Just as the Kindle has revived reading, it has revived the practice. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published. You can enjoy reading as the author creates the story.
Westerns are classic for the serial genre, so I started with The Circuit Rider by Dani Amore (a pen name, I assume.) On the ordering page, it states that the serial contains six episodes and one will be delivered each month. That is nice to know that information up front.
The first installment was about 500 locations which I read in two sittings. A month feels like a long time to wait in between episodes, which appears to be a typical for the serials Amazon is now offering.
The Circuit Rider was divided into very short chapters. It ended with enough of a satisfying ending to wrap up that episode, but created suspense for the next installment. This serialized Western, however, was not particularly well written and was very violent, so I’m not exactly holding my breath waiting for the next month to pass.
I also downloaded The Many Lives of Lilith Lane which has new episode every two weeks. Two episodes had been released when I bought it and it came as one file.
The Many Lives of Lilith Lane was a fresh, fun story with lots of plot twists that made this very entertaining for the episodic format.
Both of these were priced at just $1.99 each. You pay that price to receive the first download and subsequent installments are delivered at no additional cost. Amazon states that “New episodes will be added to the same book on your Kindle, keeping your place and retaining your notes and highlights.”
Amazon also has opened customer discussion forums for each serial where you can join other readers in a virtual review of the plot and characters. You will find the link on the serial’s webpage.
The serial is a neat way to capitalize on the technology of the Kindle by automatically sending new episodes to readers’ devices. In a way, though, it feels out of place. When there are so many great books out there for instant download, why wait six months to read a story in fits and starts? I’m also curious to find out how Amazon will notify me that a new episode has been downloaded.
Has anyone else read the serials? What’s your take?
Cheap Reads – More serials – mysteries, thrillers, and more – selling for $1.99 each
And if you would like to relive a book that was originally a serial, these two Charles Dickens’ novels are free in serial form.