Monday, September 25, 2023

The Pillars of the Earth Series by Ken Follett

 I am rereading the Pillars of the Earth series by Ken Follett in preparation for the fifth book of the series.  The series starts before the Norman Invasion of England and sweeps through the Industrial Revolution.  Each book takes place at the same location, a place where there was a ferry.  The books each look at three families, a villain, a family with a woman, and a family with a man.  They are romances, but the happy ending takes years to materialize.  The books are fascinating, and I feel the characters are real people while I am reading them.  The first book in the series is actually the fourth book published, but you want to read the books in the order I am discussing them.

The Evening and the Morning
by Ken Follett

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Those in power bend justice according to their will, regardless of ordinary people and often in conflict with the king. Without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns.

In these turbulent times, three characters find their lives intertwined. A young boatbuilder's life is turned upside down when his home is raided by Vikings, forcing him and his family to move and start their lives anew in a small hamlet where he does not fit in. . . . A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land, but the customs of her husband's homeland are shockingly different, and it soon becomes clear to her that a single misstep could be catastrophic. . . . A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe. And each in turn comes into dangerous conflict with a clever and ruthless bishop who will do anything to increase his wealth and power.

The Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

“Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner,” extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett’s unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal.

The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect—a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.

World Without End 
By Ken Follett

World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroads of new ideas—about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race—the Black Death.

A Column of Fire
By Ken Follett

As Europe erupts, can one young spy protect his queen? #1 New York Times bestselling author Ken Follett takes us deep into the treacherous world of powerful monarchs, intrigue, murder, and treason with his magnificent new epic, A Column of Fire. A thrilling read that makes the perfect gift for the holidays.

In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love.

Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.

The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost.

The Armor of Light
By Ken Follett
Available September 26, 2023

The long-awaited sequel to A Column of Fire, The Armor of Light, heralds a new dawn for Kingsbridge, England, where progress clashes with tradition, class struggles push into every part of society, and war in Europe engulfs the entire continent and beyond.

The Spinning Jenny was invented in 1770, and with that, a new era of manufacturing and industry changed lives everywhere within a generation. A world filled with unrest wrestles for control over this new world order: A mother’s husband is killed in a work accident due to negligence; a young woman fights to fund her school for impoverished children; a well-intentioned young man unexpectedly inherits a failing business; one man ruthlessly protects his wealth no matter the cost, all the while war cries are heard from France, as Napoleon sets forth a violent master plan to become emperor of the world. As institutions are challenged and toppled in unprecedented fashion, ripples of change ricochet through our characters’ lives as they are left to reckon with the future and a world they must rebuild from the ashes of war.
I really like the books in this series and am eagerly awaiting the last one.

Friday, September 22, 2023


 By Caroline Clemmons

Each of us likes new clothes occasionally. For books, that means a new cover. The three books I’m featuring today have new covers from Charlene Raddon’s Silver Sage Book Covers. Can’t you imagine the women on the covers preening in their new “clothes”? I can, but then many of us writers are slightly crazy. But I digress. Bear with me while I remind you about the trilogy with the new wardrobe, the Pearson Grove books.

When I was growing up, my dad told us stories about his family and things that had happened to them since they arrived in Texas in 1876. He was from a family of one girl and seven boys—and what a rowdy bunch of boys they were (poor girl!). When he was eight, he moved from the rural Pilot Grove community where he’d been born to the town of Denison, Texas so he could attend a good school. That town is the county seat of Grayson County and an important stop on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway, known as the Katy. I’ve visited Denison several times due to my curiosity about what my dad might have seen as well as research for my historical books. The site for my Pearson Grove Series is near the community of Pilot’s Grove. There are very few buildings left there now, but it’s between Blue Ridge and Van Alstyne. Dad’s first name was Pearson, which is the reason for the series name.  

Each of the series is available in e-book and in paperback and is free on Kindle Unlimited. These are stand-alone books. But I’d love for you to start with the first one if you haven’t already read them. The continuity is more enjoyable if they’re read in order.

Here are the new covers and  blurbs.

Book 1, is MAIL ORDER MORIAH (A Brides of Beckham romance):

A woman searching for a place where she is accepted…

A disillusioned man…

A couple searching to meld their lives and build for the future.

Moriah Singleton faced hardship to get from England to America but met more problems once she arrived. The only solution was to become a mail-order bride in r away Texas. How will she ever save enough to bring her sister to America?

After a disastrous brief engagement ended badly, Scott Ferguson sent for a mail-order bride. He needs her help in his mercantile. He hopes his wife will also be his life’s helpmate.

Danger, family entanglements, and disaster await the couple. Will the problems bring them closer or drive them apart?

The Amazon buy link is.


A wealthy woman forced to change…

 A heroic sheriff standing his ground…

The danger that unites them…

Alexandra Novak has been raised in wealth and is used to having whatever she wishes. Her parents have spoiled her and she’d begun to believe it her right. A fire that destroys her family home and almost costs her mother’s life starts Alexandra rethinking her values. When her father’s revelation shatters her world, she is determined to do whatever necessary to make her father happy—even if it means being nice to that girl he’s brought into their home.

Virgil Witt is the best sheriff Pearson Grove has had. Under his leadership, crime is at an all-time low. He has reconciled himself to the fact that he is destined to live alone except for his dog. Maybe that’s best since his job is a dangerous one. He can’t understand why Alexandra chases him, especially not after he’s explained he has no money.

When danger strikes the Novak family, can Virgil solve the problem in time? Can Alexandra convince Virgil she has changed? Can the two of them work together or will her need for the best resurface?

The Amazon buy link is


What can Deborah do to protect herself from the devil plaguing her hometown?

Can a young man who’s been away for six years fit into the community he left?

What madman is responsible for the murder and mayhem plaguing Pearson Grove?

Deborah Taber has been concerned by her inability to choose her life’s occupation. That worry was pushed aside when someone shot her brother and fire bombed her family’s newspaper, The Pearson Grove Gazette. She believes Trey Pearson is innocent of attacking her brother—isn’t he? She’s had a crush on Trey since second grade and desperately wants to trust him.

Wade Pearson III, called Trey, is happy to be home on Pearson Ranch after six years in New England. He trained to manage his family’s far-reaching investments. Nothing prepared him to be accused of murder or targeted by a killer. If not for quick action by the sheriff, Trey would have been lynched by vigilantes. He wants to help trap the real villain while protecting Deborah, her family, and his.

Can Deborah and Trey survive the threats against them? Will this clever murderer be caught before he delivers his terrible revenge against those he believes slighted him? 

 Here’s the Amazon buy link:


If you haven’t already these books, please do so. I think you’ll enjoy them.

 Stay safe and keep reading! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

When Cardinals Appear by Katie Eagan Schenck



She has a promise to keep. But when her plans are thrown into a tailspin, will a persistent red bird show her how to let her dreams take flight?

When Cardinals Appear

The Love Birds Book 1

by Katie Eagan Schenck

Genre: Women's Romance Fiction

She has a promise to keep. But when her plans are thrown into a tailspin, will a persistent red bird show her how to let her dreams take flight?

Lanie McAllister is ready to move on. Wrestling with her mom’s death, the young woman just wants to settle the estate and soar off for good to her boyfriend in California—far away from painful memories. But she suspects the lucky cardinal she keeps seeing is trying to send a message when a flat tire puts her back in the path of the man who broke her heart.

With fate constantly throwing the man her mother always hated in her way, Lanie can’t seem to shake the wounds of the past. And when her current love makes a serious misstep and she discovers her ex harbors a secret, she starts to rethink what will make her truly happy.

Questioning her vow to her mother to never look back, is the cardinal a clue Lanie’s true happiness is hiding in plain sight?

When Cardinals Appear is the emotional first book in The Love Birds women’s romantic fiction series. If you like heroines who grow, overcoming loss, and second chances, then you’ll adore Katie Eagan Schenck’s bittersweet tale.

Buy When Cardinals Appear to read the signs today!

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“What changed your mind?” 

His words brought me back to the present, and I worked to keep my face neutral while my shoulders sagged in relief. Curiosity danced in his eyes, along with another emotion I couldn’t place, but at least he didn’t seem angry or upset. 

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” I laughed, shaking my head. “Let’s just say a little bird told me I should.” 

He rubbed his chin, and a slow smile broke over his face, stealing my breath. But he still hadn’t said what he thought, and that worried me. 

I frowned. “Aren’t you going to say anything?” 

“I’m a little speechless,” Nate admitted. He slid his hand across the table, and I tentatively placed mine in it. “And I’m not sure what’s... safe to say.” 

I cocked my head. “Safe? What do you mean?” 

“Just that, well, the other day, you wouldn’t even consider applying, and now, you’ve applied and interviewed.” He pulled away and ran his hand through his hair. “I guess I’m trying to understand what changed.” 

The oven timer beeped, and I jumped up to toss the rolls in the oven, grateful for the interruption. I wasn’t sure how I should answer him. To blame it on James and the apartment felt childish and reckless. Besides, I wasn’t even sure if Nate knew about James. We’d never talked about him. 

And I couldn’t very well tell him that my neighbor thought my mother’s spirit was trying to communicate with me through a bird. My joke about it earlier had been more for my benefit than his. 

When I returned to him, he stared at me with that same intensity again, and it was all I could do not to fidget. I decided that a half-truth was better than nothing. 

“My dad is dead set on me staying in Cedar Haven,” I said, forcing a smile. “And I feel like I owe it to him, as the only parent I have left, to at least see how that would work. I’m not making any promises, but it might get him off my back for a while.” 

“Did they say when they would make their decision?” Nate asked, and I breathed a little easier. 

“As soon as possible.” I shrugged. “But you know the government. I’m sure there are levels of approval they’d need to go through. It went well, though.” 

“I’m glad to hear it,” Nate said. “If you stay, do you think you’ll still sell the house?” 

“Probably. I can’t afford to buy Steven out of his share of the estate, and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel comfortable here without her.” I took another sip of wine. “I haven’t really thought about that. It was an impulse decision, and I hadn’t expected to be interviewed so soon.” 

“I don’t think they’ve had a lot of applicants,” Nate said. “Not many people looking for small-town life these days. I’m glad you applied. It’s good to have options.” 

I spun around at his words, and he gave me a wary look. Swallowing, I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry, it’s... I… I, er, that’s something my mom would say.” 

Nate sat perfectly still, and I had the distinct impression that he was choosing his next words carefully. All the air seemed to leave the room as I waited, wondering if he was about to reveal whatever secret he’d been keeping from me. 

“Perhaps I heard her say it once or twice,” Nate finally replied, his voice strained. “But it’s a common saying.” 

I nodded, choosing not to force the issue. The oven timer went off behind me, and I bent to check dinner. 

Nate stood and got plates and silverware while I set out the shepherd’s pie and rolls on the table. I refilled our wineglasses, though the last thing I needed right then was more alcohol, and took a seat, gesturing for him to serve himself. After spooning out a healthy portion, he passed the spoon, grazing my fingers. His eyes met mine briefly before looking away. 

“This is delicious.” He scooped up a mouthful of mashed potatoes. 

“Better than a TV dinner?” I teased. 

“Not even in the same neighborhood.” 

“You never learned to cook?” 

He shook his head. “I’m afraid the most I do is grill.” 

A laugh bubbled up in my throat. “Cooking is just grilling indoors.” 

“I disagree,” he said as he reached for his wine. “There’s something about burning something over an open flame that brings out the caveman in all of us.” 

I snorted. “‘Burning something’? So what you’re saying is, you’re not good at grilling either?” 

“Hey now, I said I grill. I never said how the food turned out!”  

“Did you learn your skills from Max McAllister? He never met a hamburger he couldn’t turn into a hockey puck.” 

“I don’t believe I ever had the pleasure of your dad’s, er, culinary experiments.” His mouth twisted as he stumbled over the words, and I laughed again. 

Katie Eagan Schenck writes sweet romance and women’s fiction that warms the heart and gives all the feels. She has an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte and her debut novel, A Home for Christmas, was released in October of 2022. When she's not writing she's either drafting regulations for the federal government, baking delicious treats, or binging Hallmark movies. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, and their three cats.

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