Historic Downtown Cincinnati

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Written by Steven J. Rolfes and Kent Jones

Images of America

This book begins with sketches in 1788, when Cincinnati (originally named Losantiville) began. The early sketches included one of Fort Washington, the city’s first fort. It illustrates how much the city has grown!

The author includes some history of the Civil War as well as a section of the city’s famous businesses. Photos for early clothing stores paint a picture of what it must have been like to shop in those early days.

Books in this series are always very well done. They have old photographs and sketches that are so helpful in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor in 1883-84. Studying old photographs often brings a sense of what it must have been like in those bygone days.

Recommended for readers who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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Cincinnati on the Go by Allen J. Singer

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Images of America

History of Mass Transit

This book is packed with old photographs and sketches to illustrate various periods of how Cincinnatians got around.

Singer discusses steamboat travel and commerce in the 1800s. The Ohio River flooded city streets at various times in its history. The author shares interesting photos of folks getting around flooded streets by rowboat.

Carriages, canals, and inclines were also modes of transportation in the city.

Trains became an important way to travel in the 1800s and into the 1900s. An old menu for a 1950s dining car fascinated me.

Books in this series always have old photographs and sketches that are so helpful in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati in 1883-84, A Not So Persistent Suitor. One of my characters often rides the incline to get to her college in the suburbs. She most often rides rail cars, which were horse-drawn cars that followed a raised rail in the streets.

Recommended for readers who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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The Inclines of Cincinnati by Melissa Kramer

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Images of Rail

This book is packed with old photographs and sketches of Cincinnati’s five inclines. Once a popular way to get to the suburbs of Cincinnati, the last one closed in 1948.

The city’s first incline opened in 1872. It was known as the Main Street Incline and also the Mount Auburn Incline. The Lookout House was built at the top of the incline. The entertainment complex drew up to 10,000 guests on a regular basis.

Mount Adams Incline opened in 1876 and closed in 1948. Highland House was the name of this incline’s resort where about 8,000 guests regularly enjoyed concerts, such as those by the city’s symphony orchestra.

The author did a good job finding old photographs and sketches and her descriptions further explained the photos.

I love books in this series and look for them in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor in 1883-84. One my characters often rides the incline to get to her college in the suburbs.

Recommended for readers who love sweet treats and those who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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Cincinnati Candy by Dann Woellert

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A Sweet History

This book about the early history of confectioners in Cincinnati is a fun and easy read.

Readers may recognize early candy makers like Goelitz and Mullane. I’m uncertain how to spell the Doscher’s family name—Doscher’s Candies is painted on its storefront and a photo of an invoice says A.&J. Doescher, Wholesale Confectioners.

Regardless, there’s lots of fun historical tidbits about the candy industry in Cincinnati—even the surprising role the city’s candy makers played in Sweetest Day.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor. My heroine works in a soda and candy store where the shop is set up in a similar manner to Mullane’s.    

Recommended for readers who love sweet treats and those who love the history of Ohio.

Lights! Camera! Christmas! by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Mysteries of Lancaster County series, Book 9  

This is the first book I’ve read of this cozy mystery series. Three sisters share ownership of a Victorian home and a business called Secondhand Blessings.

Elizabeth, who took care of her aging parents until they died, shuns changes, of which there are plenty in this story.

Recently-divorced Mary paints beautiful ornaments that sell the next day and must be replenished.

Martha, a widow coping with the recent loss of her husband, maintains the store’s books and sells baked goods.

It’s Martha’s baked goods that capture the eye of Martine Fontaine, star of It’s Always a Party with Marti, who decides she must tape her Christmas baking show in the sisters’ home.

From there, chaos ensues. Too many accidents that nearly kill Martine have Martha, an amateur sleuth, trying to discover who is behind them before the star of the show is killed.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and found myself trying to figure out the culprit along with the sisters. I especially love that the story is set at Christmas. Conflicts with Mary’s children and Martha’s children seem real and enhance the story.

A satisfying read. Recommended for those who enjoy cozy mysteries.

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O Little Town, A Romance Christmas Collection

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

What a very different set of novellas! The main thing that each story shares is a connection with the school in Mapleview, Michigan, and the main story is set in that town. The titles from the Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” fit all the stories. They all end at Christmas.

In Hopes and Fears by Amanda Wen, Frederick has always loved Emma, even when they were fiercely competitive as children. Past mistakes prevent him from accepting the love Emma has for him. This 1912 story grabbed my attention right away and is a wonderful, feel-good, historical read.

While Mortals Sleep by Janyre Tromp takes place during World War II. Though historical, it deals with murder, danger, and long-held bitterness giving it a very different feel from the first story. It’s suspenseful and kept me turning pages because I feared our heroine would make the wrong ultimate choices.

The Wondrous Gift by Deborah Raney begins in February with the staff of a Christian school in Mapleview learning the school will close in two weeks. This doesn’t allow much time for planning and that urgency draws our hero and heroine together. Both Rachel and Caleb make new plans that don’t involve working at a school, but clash when their dreams settle on the same property. This contemporary story also held my attention.

I like to read Christmas stories during the holidays and each romance—one historical, one historical suspense, and one contemporary—is well-written with hidden clues to tie them together.

Christianbook.com

Flora’s Wish by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

The Secret Lives of Will Tucker, Book 1

It’s 1887, and Flora Brimm must get a fiancé to live long enough to marry her and produce an heir to her grandfather’s Natchez home, where her crippled sister resides. If not, her cousin stands to inherit it and he will sell the estate.

Unfortunately, four men have died before their intended wedding day, earning her the nickname “Fatal Flora.” The fifth man she agrees to marry must make it to the altar. She doesn’t love Will Tucker, but time is running out. They must marry.

Lucas McMinn, a Pinkerton agent with personal reasons for arresting Will Tucker, has his hands full when taking on the task of protecting Flora from her fiancé.

There’s a lot of action and adventure in this story. The characters are believable and likeable. There was plenty of suspense and danger as well. Romantic scenes often happened in the midst of danger and had the effect of lessening the suspense for me.

Recommended for readers of inspirational historical romance.

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Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Subtitle: A plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People who would really rather Sleep All Day

I bought this book at a writers’ conference several years and was inspired by the creative way the author put the book together.

The font changes a few times on a single page. Sentences vary in size on the same page. There are fun sketches throughout. A quote runs down the side of a page.

And pearls of wisdom abound.

There are chapters on “The Land of No,” “The World of Yes,” and “Making Creative Dreams Real with MicroMOVEments.” The book is packed with practical advice, ideas, and inspiration.

I love the phrase “Great Big Dream Flapping Wings” where the word “Dream” has wings. It’s an example of what you’ll find throughout the book.

Another thing I like is that I can pick it up and read a section and set it down with my imagination fueled.

Recommended for writers, painters, actors, artists, quilters, designers—anyone working in a creative field. If you are looking for your creative dream or fear pursuing your dream, this book may inspire you.

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Ripley Ohio Underground Railroad Sites by Dewey Scott

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A Self-Guiding Automobile Tour Book

I spent several hours in Ripley, Ohio, recently with some author friends. We were drawn to the area by the rich history of the Underground Railroad activities that went on there. It was dangerous for all involved.

The author has arranged this guide book for Underground Railroad sites with the love of someone who knows the area well. This book gives some historical background of the Underground Railroad’s activities as it touched various locations in the city.

I found this book informative and well-organized. I loved that some historical photos were included with current day photos.  

My friends and I had a wonderful tour of the Rankin House where we learned much that can’t be found in history books. Then we went to the museum at the John P. Parker House where we all listened to a fascinating talk about John P. Parker, who had been born into slavery in 1827.

That talk was given by author of this book, Dewey Scott. What we learned from him was so riveting that several of us purchased his guidebook that day, including me.

The Underground Railroad is a topic in Byway to Danger, Book 3 in my “Spies of the Civil War” series.

Recommended for those desiring to learn more about the history of slavery.

**The book is available for purchase at the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio.

All Through the Night by Tara Johnson

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

It’s 1861 and the Civil War begins in the first chapter of this book.

Cadence Piper has been told for years that she’ll never amount to much because of her slow speech. Her father won’t even allow her to work in his toy store. Cadence fears he’s ashamed of her. She wants to help with nursing duties for the sick and wounded soldiers at the hospitals but even this is denied her. Yet everyone is enchanted by her singing.

Dr. Joshua Ivy believes Cadence is too young and lovely to be of any use in a hospital and he sets out to frighten her away, partly because he fears of losing his heart to her. As an abolitionist, he’s involved in dangerous activities that can turn deadly for those he loves.

Both have a heart for the sick and wounded soldiers but danger reaches out and threatens to envelope both of them.

The characters in this book drew me into their story quickly. I didn’t like Joshua at first because of his harshness. The author reveals the reason for his harsh words bit by bit. The only time Cadence never stammers is when she sings, which she often does to soothe sick and dying soldiers.

The further I got into the story, the harder it was to put it down. The author does a great job of tugging at readers’ emotions. Descriptions of scenes grounded me to the story. I learned quite a bit about a secret organization that infiltrated high levels of government with its evil deeds.

A story of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. Recommend for readers of inspirational historical romance.

Christianbook.com