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Book Review: The Sea Before Us

18 Jun

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.

 

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of ten novels, including the The Sea Before Us (February 2018) and the Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, Anchor in the Storm, and When Tides Turn).

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were both named to Booklist’s 101 Best Romance Novels of the Past 10 Years. Through Waters Deep was a 2016 Carol Award Finalist and won the INSPY Award, and her novella in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist in the 2015 Carol Awards. In 2011 she received the Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Please visit Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com, on Facebook at SarahSundinAuthor, and on Twitter at @sarahsundin.

 

My Impressions:

My book club gives its unanimous approval to The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin. This WWII-era romance has everything we look for in a book — great relatable characters, realistic story line, and a setting that captures our imagination. We also had plenty to talk about! Most of us didn’t know much about the planning of the D-Day invasion or the sea support of the campaign, and this novel was a wonderful glimpse into the strategy and sheer determination of the participants. This one is a recommended read from By The Book.

The Sea Before Us is set in the months leading up to the D-Day invasion. Main characters Dorothy, a WREN, and Wyatt, a US Naval officer, are both involved in the planning stages. I loved the detail Sundin shares in the meticulous mapping of the Normandy coast in a time way before Google Earth. In addition, the complexity of the naval operation is told in a way even those with no military background can understand. But this novel also gives a glimpse into the wartime psyche of the people of England. The famous stiff upper lip hid a multitude of fears but served as a means for civilians and military alike to defeat the evil that took over Europe. Dorothy and Wyatt, both dedicated to their jobs, were influenced by their past mistakes and sense of unworthiness. While it helped get the job done, both needed to put aside failures and rejections in order to discover their worth in God’s eyes. This aspect of the novel made both characters realistic. As for the romance, sparks ignite for the Texas cowboy and the vivacious red-headed English girl. For Dorothy a family secret is revealed, but Wyatt’s family issues remain — the story will continue in the next two books.

We all loved The Sea Before Us, but are not satisfied that we will have to wait so long for the next two books! But we are definitely putting them on our 2019 and 2020 reading list.

Recommended.

Book Club Approved.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I received an ARC from Library Thing and purchased a copy from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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Audiobook Review: Land of Silence

14 Jun

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

 

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of 2016 and won the INSPY Award for General Fiction. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year in the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards. Tessa lived in the Middle East for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States. She holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. But that has not cured her from being exceptionally fond of chocolate. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/.

 

My Impressions:

I was looking for something a bit different for my morning walks when I came across the audiobook Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and Afshar has never disappointed, so I decided to travel to Judea during the time of Christ while getting some exercise. I am very glad I did! This one provided a wonderful listening experience. If you are looking for Biblical fiction that will keep you engaged while making you think, then I highly recommend Land of Silence.

The novel is an interpretation of the life of the woman with the issue of blood who reached out to touch Jesus’ garment. Elianna’s story begins with the tragic death of her young brother. From there Elianna struggles with guilt and feelings of unworthiness. Her life is filled with more tragic events, some that are out of her control and some that are of her own choice. But regardless of the causes, the circumstances impact her life and her relationships. The novel is written in Elianna’s first person voice, giving the reader insights into the reasons for her actions. There were some times I wanted to shake her, LOL! How many times did she resist grace and choose her own limited strength? Sounds a bit like my own life. That’s what makes Elianna a character that readers can relate to.

Land of Silence is well-researched and richly detailed. The manners, customs, laws, and traditions of Judea and the Roman rulers are naturally woven throughout the novel giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of the characters. Secondary characters are well-drawn and add depth to the story. Inclusion of historical characters in the fictional framework gives the novel an authentic feel. While the novel is a fictionalized account, the what-ifs presented feel credible. In Elianna’s quest for healing, she endures a number of medical procedures that leave her worse off physically, emotionally, and financially. I found it interesting that she was willing to seek out these so-called physicians yet was reluctant to go to Jesus. It reminded me that many, including myself, will try just about anything to find relief from the trials of the world, but use God as a last resort.

I am glad I chose the audio version of Land of Silence. The narrator did a great job of capturing Elianna’s personality. I felt like I was listening to a real person’s life story. This was especially effective when Elianna finally meets Jesus. The depth of gratitude and awe brought tears to my eyes.

Land of Silence was a great listening experience. This book is a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book Review: The Weaver’s Daughter

12 Jun

Kate’s loyalties bind her to the past. Henry’s loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions? Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder — including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father’s pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war hoping to find a refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather’s goals to modernize his family’s wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort out the truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family’s livelihood and legacy.Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry’s side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village’s future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls — even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature, and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her the idea of what life would’ve looked like in that era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance.

My Impressions:

For Regency novels, my go-to author is Sarah E. Ladd. Her latest book, The Weaver’s Daughter exceeded my expectations due primarily to the unusual subject matter. While most Regency novels are set in the drawing rooms and assemblies of the gentry, Ladd explores the merchant, working, and craftsmen classes of Northern England. I found this to be fascinating. Definitely another recommended read from Ladd.

The tension and violence that occurred between the weavers and mill owners in Yorkshire in the early 1800s is the backdrop to The Weaver’s Daughter. The early days of the Industrial Revolution in England produced great strides in commerce, but also displaced those who practiced the age-old trade of weaving. Well-researched, the novel presents the clash of new ideas and processes with old ways and traditions. There are characters, both good and bad, on both sides. In the middle of the war is the heir to the Stockton Mill and the daughter of the most influential weaver in the area. There’s a bit of a Romeo and Juliet vibe to Kate and Henry’s relationship. Both characters are complex and well-drawn — there’s much to like about this star-crossed pair. I loved how they both sought to honor their families, yet stay true to their own hearts. Loyalty and prejudice play large roles in the shaping of the characters, and I loved how Ladd grew them past pre-conceived notions and misplaced duty.  A bit of mystery and intrigue are intertwined within this historical romance, making it a suspenseful read as well. Kate and Henry’s story is brought to a close, but Ladd leaves a bit of a teaser for a supporting character that I hope she follows-up with in another book.

So if you want a unique twist on a Regency romance you definitely need to check out The Weaver’s Daughter. A well-written and complex book, this one is definitely recommended!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE

(Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Seasons Blog Tour

11 Jun

Seasons series blog tour 4

Welcome to the Seasons series (by Robin E. Mason) Blog Tour and giveaway, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


About the Seasons series
Goodreads | Amazon

The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind.

It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.


the long shadows of summerTitle: The Long Shadows of Summer
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.

But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


the tilting leaves of autumnTitle: The Tilting Leaves of Autumn
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: November 22, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Scarlett was the shrinking violet in the group. Faithful to her friends, and hiding secrets of her own. When Mercedes steps in to rescue her, she unknowingly plucks the thread that unravels Scarlett’s whole world.

But as Scarlett strives to hold fast to what is familiar the fabric of her life continues to come undone and secrets that are best kept hidden are exposed.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


The Silent Song of WinterTitle: The Silent Song of Winter
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

When all the noise has gone silent, all that is left is her song.

Pearl had lived under the impossible taskmaster of perfection. Nothing she does or ever did pleased her mother. And nothing she ever did could disappoint her father.

Caught up in the mystery of her friend’s curious—and secretive—return, Pearl wrestles with her own decisions, and flees lest her own secrets are exposed.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


The Whispering Winds of SpringTitle: The Whispering Winds of Spring
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Amidst the clamor of confusion, can she hear the whisper of her memories?

Simone Dubois’ life was unraveling. All she had known and held dear was gone from her. At ten, all she wanted was to escape beneath the black waters of the Edisto River. She couldn’t know her whole life would be stolen from her.

When she returns to Saisons sixteen years later, she has no memory of ever having been there. Not even that it was her birthplace. Enlisting the help of her childhood friend, Mercedes—whose name stayed with her, if in shadowy dreams only—Simone encounters misty memories, and stirs up more mystery than she started with.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


About the Author

robin elizabeth mason

I’ve always had voices — er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design. I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years. My characters face many of these same demons.

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

CONNECT WITH ROBIN: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Impressions of The Long Shadows of Summer:

The Long Shadows of Summer is the first book in the Seasons series and features Mercedes, one of the four childhood friends that the novels revolve around. Although all four women play a part in the story, it is the first person voice of Mercedes that the reader must rely on. As a belowstairs servant, she is privy to a number of family and community secrets, but it seems that she is ignorant of the most shocking, including one that involves herself. Mercedes is a sympathetic character, and the nature of the insular community of Saisons, South Carolina is explored through her narrative. The reader gets a good glimpse into the day-to-day running of a wealthy family and estate and the class differences that existed in the early 1900s. Mercedes has always been a devoted reader of detective stories, and the mysteries surrounding the residents of Saisons provide a big puzzler for her and the reader. I have to admit that I found it hard to keep up with the many characters and their relationships to each other. Information is given sparingly, and while the narrative has lots of description, it did not provide enough backstory for my tastes. The book is long — over 500 pages — and in my opinion could have been cut and still have retained the essentials for the mysteries explored. Mercedes’ own story is resolved, but for the other characters, and the reader, will have to wait for the succeeding books in the series. While The Long Shadows of Summer really wasn’t my cup of tea, there are a number positive reviews on Amazon. Be sure to check them out.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the author and JustRead Book Tours for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


seasons series giveaway

Robin E. Mason is offering a Seasons series prize pack for her tour! ONE winner (US only) will receive:

  • a packette of Saisons Plantation tea
  • a Seasons series mug
  • a Seasons bookmark (handmade by the author)
  • Seasons notecards (also handmade by the author)
  • 4 pairs of earrings (one pair to represent each book)
  • AND winner’s choice of (1) signed print copy of Seasons book of choice OR kindle copies of all 4 books!

Giveaway will run from midnight June 11, 2018 through 11:59pm June 18, 2018. It is subject to the policies found here.

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Click on the banner below for a full tour schedule & more chances to win!

tour schedule

Book Review: Where The Fire Falls

7 Jun

Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as “pervaded with divine light.”

Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty.

After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling?

As Clark opens Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas–a revelation that may bring her charade to an end.

Karen Barnett is the award-winning author of The Golden Gate Chronicles (Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows) and Mistaken. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her family through dusty history museums. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken, in 2014. In 2016, she was named Writer of the Year by the prestigious Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Karen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) and has been published in Guideposts and other national magazines.

 

My Impressions:

My happy place is a cabin nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While it doesn’t match the majestic peaks found out west, my views are still awe-inspiring. There is just something about the mountains! That’s one of the reasons I like Karen Barnett’s Vintage National Parks series — she brings to life the early days of the National Parks and the beauty of God’s handiwork. In her latest book, Where The Fire Falls, readers travel to Yosemite circa 1929. This well-researched novel explores the wonders of Yosemite while capturing the era so well. This one is another recommended read!

Artist Olivia Rutherford has remade herself. The packaging matches what she thinks art collectors want — a sophisticated flapper. But Olivia has a past that she tries to run from all the while being held captive by devastating secrets. When offered a prestigious job painting scenes of Yosemite, she wavers, but how can she give up the lure of fame and fortune?

As I stated above, I loved the setting of Where The Fire Falls. It was such a treat to visit the hotels, camps, and join in on the entertainments that have long passed away. Of course, the beauty of the national park remains today, but barring a bucket list trip, I will have to be content to enjoy it through the author’s detailed descriptions. The characters of Olivia and Clark are wonderfully written. The two main characters have complex spiritual journeys that readers can identify with — both feel a weight of judgment from their past experiences. Supporting characters add depth to the story. Mystery, peril, and romance in store for Olivia and Clark keep the pages turning. There is really something for everyone in this story!

Although part of a series, Where The Fire Falls can be read as a standalone. But when you are finished with this one, you’ll want to head over to Mt. Ranier and The Road to Paradise for more adventure and romance! I can’t wait for more from Barnett!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Children’s Corner — Beautiful Name

6 Jun

“But what is your name?” Mo asked God.

From the author of Tinko, Matt Gosselin, comes a beautiful book about a spunky girl named Mo whose curiosity and imagination fill the pages and the minds of its readers.

After an argument with Mama, Mo asks God about His name. “Is it Marvin, Mike or Morgan?” she asks as any six-year-old might.

The lesson of the meaning of God’s name is one which teaches us who God is. Love. Over 30 illustrations fill the pages of this hardcover and digitally available book.

To purchase, click HERE

 

Matthew Gosselin is a father to three beautiful names, Evan, Aiden and Emma Grace. He is a corporate marketing leader, author, speaker and lives in Central Florida with his wife Nicole.

 

My Impressions:

In this world where the name of God is used cheaply, it is a pleasure to read a children’s book that emphasizes not only what God’s name is, but how it defines His character. Beautiful Name by Matt Gosselin tells the story of a grumpy 6 year old and her discovery of what God’s name is and means. I loved the the way the author introduces Mo and shows her to be not so different from other kids (and adults). Her search for the name of God will first bring chuckles and then awe as God makes His name real to her. Your child will learn right along with Mo that God is holy, always with us, and is Love.  The lovely illustrations filled with movement pair perfectly with Mo’s story — they are as engaging as the words. As you share this book with your favorite child, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to share what God says about His name directly from His word — Beautiful Name includes references to scripture.

All in all, Beautiful Name is a great addition to your family’s library. Whether you use it during morning devotionals or bedtime prayers, this book will be a requested time and time again.

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 4-8.

(Thanks to BookCrash for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The Captured Bride

4 Jun

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady

Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.  Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.   Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

 

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of both Regency and Colonial historical romances but also leaped the writerly fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. Keep up with her escapades at www.michellegriep.comor stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

My Impressions:

The third book in the Daughters of The Mayflower series, The Captured Bride, is another great journey back to the early days of America. Filled with adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance, this book has it all as it takes you away to another time and place. I know you’ll love the trip as much as I did. Recommended.

The wilds of New York colony is the setting of The Captured Bride. In 1759, the French and Indian War is still raging, and the western part of this British colony is a very dangerous place to be. But the main characters, Mercy Lytton and Elias Dubois, while seemingly on opposite sides, are up to the challenge, but perhaps not up to the attraction between them!

Setting is an important part of The Captured Bride. The reader gets a glimpse at the privation and peril that faced settlers, soldiers, and scouts during this time. Threats are abundant. You never know when you’ll come under attack by the French army, the Native Americans on the French side, or the fickleness of nature. Griep kept the characters and this reader off balance from the unknowns around each bend in the path. And what great main characters the author has created! Mercy, a determined young woman with her feet in two cultures, is strong and fearless. Elias is noble from the beginning, in contrast to his reputation as a thief and traitor. Their romance is an unlikely one, yet develops in a most satisfying way. There is also a strong spiritual thread that runs throughout the novel. Mercy has keen eyesight that makes her a valuable scout, yet she is blind to the truth that had been shared by her Mother and now Elias. Her reliance on her strength is tested when she begins to suspect that those she once viewed as weak were indeed strong through Christ.

Another great addition to a wonderful series celebrating the beginnings of America, The Captured Bride is a good choice for your summer reading, especially as July 4th approaches.

Recommended.

Audience: adults

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Barbour Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)