September 13, 2013

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson (Book Review)

If you have followed the life of Copper and her family through the Troublesome Creek series...and then walked in her daughter Lilly's shoes as she experiences life as a female doctor in the mining town of Skip Rock then you will be happy to read this latest novel by Jan Watson! And if you've never even HEARD of Copper or Lilly or Skip Rock or Troublesome Creek--you will STILL enjoy this book!
Tattler's Branch (Print)
Tattler's Branch (Kindle)

Now if you have been a reader of my blog for awhile, you know that I have this thing about reading books that are part of a series. I have to read them in order. I don't like starting a book only to discover it's really part of a long line of books. I hate missing all that backstory! Well, I have NOT read ANY of the Troublesome Creek series. No, not a single one! So getting this book to read meant going against everything I do! LOL! But I think that gives me a good edge on the review, right?

So here goes...
Lilly Corbett Still is a small-town doctor of Skip Rock, a tiny coal community in the Kentucky mountains...

Let me say that it was this first sentence on the book summary that caught my attention because I LIVE in Kentucky! I KNOW about these small coal towns because they still exist!

The book begins in the year 1911 with Armina, Doctor Lilly's good friend and neighbor who accidentally witnesses a murder of a woman by a man. She passes out and when she wakes up a bit later, she discovers that a baby is alone in a house near the scene of the crime. She sees the male perpetrator leaving the house to obviously bury the body, so she grabs the baby and a few diapers off the clothesline. She is discovered in the next chapter lying on the floor of her home after having a seizure like episode...and she now has NO memory of the day before. It is about this time that Doctor Lilly discovers the baby on Armina's bed. Not just any newborn baby...this baby has Down's Syndrome, Cleft Palette and a Heart Murmur...most definitely a special needs child.

From here the story takes off...we see inside of Doctor Lilly's mind as she ponders how she can best help this precious handicapped child. Armina starts to get better as the book continues, but still has no memory of the day and so throughout the book you are just waiting to know when it will come back to her...if it will! Then a few chapters in you meet Shade Harmon who is the baby's father--and murderer of her mother and we see the complexity of his character...his love for his missing child, his desire to get her back, and yet his careless attitude towards the fact that he's just committed murder.

Thankfully there was PLENTY of backstory worked into the book to satisfy me since I have this THING about jumping into series at the middle or end. I didn't feel like I was missing too much. 

The characters of this book are mostly women and they are STRONG women...doing more than the stereotypical roles that society placed on them. This was a very nice aspect of this book--I also liked that the book didn't play down the fact that the community was a poor one. The people were scraping by. I loved the language and references--definitely in character with the Kentucky mountains.

The only character I really had an issue with was Armina. We are told at the beginning that she is just twenty years old...but throughout the book you have to keep reminding yourself of that because she comes across as an old woman. I would have like to either had her age been increased or to keep referencing things that show us that she really is just a twenty year old girl. And just six years younger than the Doctor. You can still have an "old soul" and be twenty years old...without it coming across like you are elderly.

So how do I rate the book?
I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. It was intriguing. It held my attention and yes, it can stand alone for any poor reader who grabs it unaware that it's #7 in a line of books. LOL!

Interestingly enough I had considered reading the Troublesome Creek series but had put it down not intrigued enough by the plot summary. Now that I have read this one, I am finally willing to go back and start at the beginning to see HOW Doctor Lilly becomes the amazing woman she meeting her mother Copper. LOL!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Press as part of their book review bloggers program.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Here are the other books which tell all the backstory of Doctor Lilly's life and about her family...

As a side note---I just realized that the author Jan Watson has been writing for Kentucky of the magazines that I get being that I LIVE in Kentucky. Very nifty. ;0)
Here is a bit of Q&A between Tyndale Press and the author about her novel!

About the Author

Jan Watson won the 2004 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest for her first novel, Troublesome Creek. Her other awards include being named the Best Kentucky Author in 2012 by Kentucky Living magazine, a nomination for the Kentucky Literary Award in 2006, and second place in the 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice Contest sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Tattler's Branch is Jan's seventh novel. As a registered nurse for 25 years at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, she incorporates her nursing experience in the hospital’s mother/baby unit into her novels. Jan resides in Kentucky.
Visit Jan online at

Q and A with Jan Watson about Tattler's Branch
(courtesy of Tyndale Press)

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Tattler’s Branch?
I wrote this book because the people from Skip Rock Shallows had more stories to tell. I was reading my local paper one morning and came upon a story concerning something dramatic that had happened on a creek called Tattler’s. I could see Armina there.

2. Tell me about your main character Lilly Corbett Still. Was this character based on anyone in particular?
No, Lilly Gray Corbett Still is totally a figment of my imagination. Lilly is one smart and courageous young woman. I do love anything medical, so Lilly allowed me to indulge a bit in the medical practice of the time. If I were to live any of my characters’ lives, I would choose Lilly’s. She is so strong and determined. And kind—Lilly is very kind.

3. What lessons or truths will your reader find in the pages of this story?
A central truth in each of my books is that everyone is important and unique. Every person has a story to tell and that story is worth hearing.

4. How do you expect Lilly’s story to resonate with your readers?
I believe my readers will appreciate Lilly’s strength in the face of adversity.

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I especially enjoyed the relationship between Lilly and Armina. Armina is naturally funny and Lilly handles her prickly humor with aplomb. I also liked exploring the character of Shade Harmon. I learned a lot from Shade (including some things I didn’t need to know). The relationship he had with his first wife is especially telling.
The way he loved his baby girl touched my heart. Not to give anything away, but there’s a line in the book where Lilly says, “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.” I just love that she said that.

6. What is your hope for this novel? How would you like it to impact readers?
I want my readers to be entertained with wholesome, faith-affirming, thought provoking fiction.

7. What big questions will this novel get your readers thinking about?
I hope this humble story will inspire readers to look beyond a person’s earthly circumstance and ask themselves who that being really is and what lesson God sent them here to teach.


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