Book Review: Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee

Affiliate link used. If you purchase through this link we will receive a small commission to help support our blog.

Tyndale House Publishers

978-1-4964-5993-0

This is a very engaging dual-time period novel set in 1897 and 1961. I love historicals I can learn from and this one revealed a lot of Nashville’s history from both time periods. The story revolves around the Maxwell House Hotel. (Yes, like the coffee. I enjoyed this historical tidbit!) The earlier time period is set during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, which is an interesting historical event to learn about. The later time period looks back to that event through the scrapbook of a resident of the hotel during the decline of the hotel. Both Priscilla from 1897 and Audrey from 1961 learn to step out of their comfort zones to help those in need. The plight of immigrants and the exploitation of young girls who are either desolate or too innocent is one of those needs. Civil rights and the education of special needs kids is another. These things could overwhelm a novel but instead Shocklee explores how her characters choose to respond to the people in peril. The title comes from a proverb one of the characters tells Priscilla.

I won’t share any spoilers but this is a book that I’m glad I read and highly recommend.

Read the first chapter here.

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson

I was given a digital copy (via NetGalley) from the publisher for the purpose of review, but no review was required. This is my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Hardcover | $26.00
Published by Berkley
Feb 02, 2021 | 384 Pages | 6 x 9 | ISBN 9780451492180

Set in 1906 during the great San Fransisco earthquake, this new novel by Susan Meissner follows Irish immigrant Sophie Whalen who chose to leave poverty in New York City to become a mail order bride for widower Martin Hocking and his young daughter. But make no mistake. This is not your traditional mail order bride story. This is a mystery to be solved with characters to sort out. Nothing is as it first seems.

Before the earthquake Sophie learns about Martin’s secrets and is forced to make a decision to save the daughter Kat she’s become so fond of. The daughter doesn’t belong to her, however, and the events that unfold deliver twists and turns that made this book extremely hard to put down. The ending wasn’t predictable but like Meissner’s other stories, was satisfying and redemptive. Perhaps more so than in her previous stories, this main character pushes the fringes of good moral behavior, but her motivations gradually become clear, making Sophie a real, raw, character readers will root for.

The historical details are so vivid and detailed that readers will be swept into the story much like watching a film unfold on a big screen. When I read the ending all I could say was, “Wow!” Highly recommended.

I received an advance copy from the publisher for the purpose of review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

Cindy Thomson, http://www.cindyswriting.com