Praise for Cowgirl Dreams...
“…brings heart, verve and knowledge to her depiction of the intrepid Nettie. A lively look at the ranch women of an almost forgotten West.” ~ Deirdre McNamer, MFA English Professor UMt, Red Rover, My Russian, & One Sweet Quarrel
“…a fine drama of life as it was ninety years ago on a ranch in Montana...” ~ Norma Tadlock Johnson, Donna Rose and the Roots of Evil, Hazards of the Game
“… a triumph in every respect in this delightful celebration of life, is as inspiring as Erin Brockovitch, and as entertaining as The Horse Whisperer…” ~ Geraldine Ahearn, reviewer, author of 6 books, Founding Member ABI Women’s Review Board
“…lovely story… a real window into the challenges that women riders faced back in the 1920s…” ~ Allison Fraclose, Teens Read Too
“… a delightfully engrossing pleasure: a ‘good read’… great satisfaction found in experiencing a well-told story.” ~ Peter Olsen, male reader.
“…a great coming of age story with a lesson in history, lots of adventures, a touch of romance and a great lesson in perseverance.” ~ Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna, reviewer.
“…reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie series. Nettie, like those strong-willed girls who knew what they wanted, went after her dreams with determination and spirit.” ~ Sharon Miner, Horse Book Reviews
“…captured me from the very first page and I couldn’t put it down. Not many books can make me cry, but this one sure did.” ~ Rulan Capper-Starr, Fiction Showcase
“…a heart-warming read for all ages and lets us all know why Ms. Thomas is not only a fine editor of other authors’ books but shines as a skilled and compassionate writer herself...” ~ Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of 17 books, An Absence so Great, A Flickering Light
Praise for Follow the Dream...
“... I enjoyed Heidi Thomas’s bittersweet novel with its accurate depiction of the lives of cowgirls in 1930s Montana and its tender portrait of a marriage.” ~ Mary Clearman Blew, English professor U of ID, award-winning author of All But the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family, Balsamroot: A Memoir; Bone Deep in Language: Writing, Reading, and Place; Lambing Out and Other Stories, and Jackalope (Flyover Fiction).
"... In her poignant tale of Nettie Moser's diligent pursuit of a dream, Heidi Thomas gives a stunning example of what it means to "Cowgirl Up." Follow the Dream is a dynamic story of a woman's strength and determination that is sure to inspire as well as entertain." ~ Sandi Ault, award-winning author of the WILD Mystery Series, including Wild Indigo, Wild Inferno, Wild Sorrow, and Wild Penance.
"... Follow Your Dream draws the reader into the lives of tough Montana ranchers, Nettie and Jake Moser. Dreams come and go, but their ranching life goes on with hardships and struggles for basic survival, but also with abiding love and humor. A wonderful story of courage and endurance." ~ Mary Trimble, award-winning author of Tenderfoot, Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff.
5 Stars from a male reader:
“... I felt the thrill of a horses strength, the sleekness of his sweaty hair, his muscles bulging between my thighs and rump. As the novel progressed, I lived the danger of riding a vicious bull. Adrenaline edged my nervous system as I read Heidi’s pages, relived fears and victories of those not so long ago days of our ancestors. Heidi knows this world of chores, hot summers, cold winters, storms, disease, and loss. From a girl’s perspective she told of the interest and desire for a man. She recreated it vividly! Her work is good." ~Steve DeChenne, reader
A Dream Never Forgotten 5 stars
"...this is the second novel written by Heidi M. Thomas that is loosely based on her Montana grandmother who grew up riding horses and competing in local rodeos. In the book, Nettie’s childhood dream is to become a successful rodeo rider like her dear friend Marie. Follow The Dream begins when Nettie is invited by Marie to compete in a wild west rodeo in London, a chance of a lifetime. But fate has another plan for the newly married Nettie. The dream is put on hold, but never forgotten The story is set in Montana in the 20s and 30s. Nettie struggles with personal tragedy and the challenges of getting by raising horses with her husband. They face many droughts and blizzards, let alone the harsh realities of surviving in isolated rural settings. This book deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Ivan Doig’s coming of age in Montana novels." ~Dan A. Johnson
"... I’ll ride this steer, show my folks how good I am. Soon after you read; “Uh, yeah. How’d I get here?” That’s the beginning of a wistful story of a cowgirl getting ready for a rodeo. Women in the rodeo in the twenties and thirties were rare, but Heidi Thomas found some real cowgirls and built a wonderful story around them. She had enough material to write two books so far and I suspect we’re just seeing the beginning from this young lady.
It helps to have a friend of the same gender in the business and luckily, Nettie does. Starting out in the bull riding business tends to leave a lot of bruises and more time eating dust than staying on top. But to rise to the top you get back on and go again. Nettie was persistent and wanted to be the best. The question for readers is, how far can she go and how far did she actually go? Pick up a copy of this most delightful read and find out for yourself. I recommend this for all readers who love a good story." ~ Ron Berry author of Math for the Family and Laughs from Corn Country
"... what was great about the Great Depression? In a Montana style story of the Great Depression and one family’s survival, Heidi M. Thomas has written a sequel to her first novel, “Cowgirl Dreams” and has answered this question in a beautifully detailed way.
Nettie Moser’s story is the continued tale of the author’s own grandmother. The combined historical aspect and the family connection all set against the harsh backdrop of Montana is carefully crafted. The story is a realistic account of the lonely life of families on farms raising horses, cows and crops in a time when the weather determined the outcome of their efforts.
Most of us have images of cowboys in the wild west. This can be an unreal image where Heidi’s book shows how women had to work side by side come hell or high water with their men and children. It was a rough and tumble world but Nettie still holds on to her dream of being in the Rodeo although it almost slips away.
Nettie’s love for her husband, Jake, and her son, Neil, is vivid in good times and bad. The family makes choices that are hard but they do overcome their difficulties.
I highly recommend this book, especially ideal for young adult readers." ~ Mary Lydic, Seattle WA reader.
Praise for Dare to Dream
"... the best of the Dare to Dream trilogy! I'm always afraid to review friends' books, and hardly ever do it because if the book is not good, how can I say so without losing a friend? So when in a weak moment I offered to review Dare To Dream by Heidi M Thomas, I procrastinated for a couple of months before I got up the courage to read the book.
I read it in one sitting. The conflicts between Nettie and her husband, her husband and their son, between Nettie and people who disapprove of women riding rodeo broncs and bulls kept me turning the pages of this quiet little novel long after I should have put it down. It may be difficult for younger women to recall a time when we were constantly told, "Girls don't ..." or Nice girls don't..." but girls and women constantly found our aspirations brought up as short as though we were tied to a snubbing post. We were never told that not long before us, in the period between the wars, women did things like ride bucking horses and bulls in rodeos for money.
Dare to Dream chronicles the period in American history when the dream begins to shut down for cowgirls. While Nettie as a younger woman could ride broncs and bulls if she could overcome her family's opposition, the young aspiring cowgirls Nettie mentors are barred when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bars women at the end of the 1930's. The only activity allowed them in rodeo is trick riding.
Thomas's descriptions of the girls' practice sessions are nothing short of harrowing. They learn to hang from their saddles with their heads under their horses' bellies at full gallop. At any moment an iron horse shoe could connect with a girl's skull. And for others Thomas mentions, it does. She mentions cowgirls who suffer horrible injuries and are killed in this sport, but even knowing that, Nettie and the young trick riders still go on.
This is a story of the same undaunted courage we're accustomed to reading about men, and it leaps off the page and into the heart." ~ Carol Buchanan, author of the "Vigilante Quartet"
"... powerful look at personalities & relationships The venue could have been anything, but the decline of women's role in rodeo in graphically told in a you-are-there way. The time could have been any time but the uniqueness of life in rural Montana during the 1940's pre-war, wartime, and post-war are revealingly pictured. As fascinating as rodeo and WWII Montana are, the personalities and relationships take center stage in Heidi Thomas' latest book. I found myself totally engrossed on every page, giving advice to everyone of Heidi's people (they couldn't hear it and neither could she--so it's probably ok)." ~ Lonnie Johnson, Bozeman MT reader
Praise for Cowgirl Up!
"... women Who Broke the Glass Ceiling in the early 1900s. Heidi Thomas’s story struck a resounding chord with me as I began chapter twelve. I loved the book up to that point, but on page 111 the stories of rodeo women intersected the story I tell, about the forgotten women pilots of World War II, the WASP. The seat hit the saddle and the rubber met the runway. From early in the twentieth century, women began ‘making it’ in the rodeo, in aviation — in life — but the Depression followed by the War changed everything. The years since are witness to a world where women have had to re-earn what they were on the verge of having in the early 1940s. Here, a descendant of a rodeo cowgirl spins a fascinating tale of hard-won accomplishment, and she tells it artfully, with love, honesty, and respect.” ~ Sarah Byrn Rickman, author of five fiction and nonfiction books about the WASP of World War II
4 Stars from male reader
"... the best kind of history lesson; Informative and entertaining. Thomas does a great job of showing the lifestyles of these women in a very male dominated world, and how through hard work and determination they gained the respect of many people not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. You can't help but be impressed with the toughness of these women, who competed even with broken bones and other injuries. An eye-opening look at the world of rodeo, and the accomplishments of these women." ~ John J. Rust, author of Sea Raptor and Arizona's All Time Baseball Team
"A riveting account of Montana women who followed their dreams. Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women by Heidi M. Thomas provides an exciting insight into women’s role in one of America’s greatest passions, rodeo. American rodeo started at small ranch gatherings when cowboys showed off their roping, bulldogging (steer wrestling), and riding prowess. In those days, it was pretty much a male sport.
Many ranch girls learned to rope and ride as they helped their fathers, brothers and later their husbands with ranch work. These girls learned to “cowgirl up,” which means to rise to the occasion without whining or complaining. As local competition became popular events, girls got into the spirit and began competing with the men. Girls’ involvement raised some eyebrows, but they persisted, often wearing cumbersome skirts to be less offensive and more ladylike. Even so, many people thought of rodeo cowgirls as “loose women.”
Cowgirl Up! is about these women of rodeo, many of whom started their careers as young as fourteen, competing against and often earning higher points than seasoned cowboys. The 1920s were rodeo heydays for cowgirls, producing more champion female riders than any time since. These girls knew hardships, but persisted in their rodeo dreams.
Soon organized circuits formed and performers traveled from rodeo to rodeo, paying their own travel expenses and fees, often sleeping in tents. Many women brought their babies with them. It was a tough life for both men and women, but in addition to roping, riding bucking broncs, staying atop a writhing, twisting bull, these women made it their business to still appear feminine when not in the arena." ~ Mary E. Trimble, author of several novels and two memoirs, including Sailing With Impunity
Praise for Seeking the American Dream
By far one of the best books I've read in a LONG TIME!! Great writing, exciting story, from the first page to the last. Amazing that the story is based on true life. The hardships they went through to be together and faced after reuniting is incredible! I didn't stop reading until I was finished with the book. I've read all Heidi Thomas's books and this one, by far, was the very best one. I cannot wait until the next book comes out! Fantastic, Heidi!!!
Anna Moser anticipates a romantic, satisfying new life in America. Having survived Allied bombings, starvation, and the attention of a former Nazi, she longs for escape to the US and her true love, Neil. Anna soon realizes how harsh and demanding a Montana ranch environment can be. Being terribly homesick for her family and all the things she took for granted in Germany, she faces many challenges: feeling she doesn’t fit in with her in-laws, her neighbors, and the odd ways of this new country. Learning to speak English is her first challenge but certainly not the last. This is a surprising book, well-researched, and thrilling to the last chapter. I recommend it.
"With beautifully researched detail, haunting descriptions, and the authentic language of the heart, Heidi Thomas's Seeking the American Dream is a classic immigrant's tale, a domestic drama that shows the rebuilding of the world as planned at the kitchen table, enacted in the fields, and put into action in the financial, emotional, and psychological details of daily life. A story of longing--and finally of belonging--we see one woman's dream become the fulfillment of the American dream one step at a time." - Mara Purl, best-selling author of the Milford-Haven Novels
Praise for Finding True Home
This sequel to Seeking the American Dream continues Heidi Thomas’ heart-tugging saga of the life of a World War II war bride as she struggles to adjust to life on a Montana ranch, where family is everything and neighbor helps neighbor through the toughest situations. Struggling through isolation, prejudice, and self-doubt, Anna Moser finally finds peace, acceptance, and her true home through a lifetime of love and sacrifice.” – Donis Casey, author of the Alafair Tucker series
Finding True Home by Heidi Thomas is a heart-touching, heart-breaking novel full of love, hope, and emotional honesty. Anna, the main character, emigrates from Germany to Montana just after WWII to marry Neil. It was a time when, in her experience, others still held the Germans, all Germans, responsible for the war. Anna is self-conscious and wanting to be liked, but fearing that others look down on her. She misses her parents terribly and wonders if she should have stayed in Germany. In spite of the harsh weather, hard work, and feeling lonely, she stays in the US. Together, Anna and Neil build a ranch in Eastern Montana, have three children, and raise their family. So much of this story rang so true for me. I cried several times while reading Finding True Home because I was touched to the core by the strength and courage of Anna’s love, every day love that parents experience while raising children. Finding True Home was easy and enjoyable to read, and I finished it within a couple of days. I highly recommend this novel. It is full of genuine grace, courage, and the determined perseverance that comes from loving a family.
Once again, Heidi Thomas mines her family’s history to fictionalize life in rural 20th century Montana. This particular story documents the tribulations of a German immigrant woman to fit in to a culture where she can’t seem to find her footing among her neighbors’ post-war prejudice, a husband unable to verbalize his feelings, and eventually three children very different in personality from her and from each other. Anna Moser and her American husband, Neil, are willing to face all the arduous work involved and any hardship nature or ranch life can throw at them, in order to hang onto the land. A child of undemonstrative parents, Anna tries to be the best parent she can with her own children, but as they grow up and away from her, over and over again Anna’s response is to clutch much too hard in an effort to keep them near.
This was an interesting book, a realistic picture of the isolation of ranch life, the difficulty of fitting in with others, especially town folks, and the ways rural people learn to cope on their own without benefit of social services or mental health counseling. It functions satisfactorily as a standalone even though it’s the second volume of Anna’s story. As well as a general audience of Western American history, and people who appreciate stories of Western family life, anyone with immigrant relatives a generation or two back will enjoy this illuminating novel.