Tag Archives: historical fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Literary Settings

5 Dec

 

Oh the places you’ll go . .  . when you are in a book! This week the folks at The Broke And Bookish are talking settings. You can travel just about anywhere without leaving your chair, which comes in handy if you are short of money, or the place you want to go requires a time capsule or a space ship! Want to know where other bloggers have been traveling? Click HERE. Bon voyage!

Top 10 Book Settings

I’ve been to lots of places thanks to a book — mountains, jungles, Merry Olde England, the Middle East  . . . . You name it, I’ve probably been there. But that would mean this post ought to be titled Top 1000s of Book Settings. In order to fit within the theme’s parameters, I have chosen 10 beautiful and/or unique settings that I have encountered in my reading this year — settings that made reading a deeper experience. I’ve included both contemporary and historical novels that showed me a different world or a destination that’s fit for a bucket list. Hope you enjoy the trip!

 

East Africa — Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Early 1900s Appalachia — Christy by Catherine Marshall

Arizona Back Country — Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll

Ancient Israel — Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt

California Wine Country — The Memory of You by Catherine West

Victorian England — A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

Mount Ranier, Washington — The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

The Oregon Coast — Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Apartheid-era South Africa — Child of The River by Irma Joubert

Sudan — Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

 

Where do you want to travel in your next book?

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Book Review + Giveaway!): Christy

3 Dec

New edition of Catherine Marshall’s inspirational classic!

The train taking nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, might as well be transporting her to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions, and century-old traditions.

But as Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, some see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Yearning to make a difference, will Christy’s determination and devotion be enough?

Learn more, get a free map of Cutter Gap, and purchase a copy.

 

Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), The New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in A Man Called Peter. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts, forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.

Find out more about Catherine at http://gileadpublishing.com/christy.

 

My Impressions:

Confession time: I had never read the best-selling classic Christy by Catherine Marshall before I opened its pages last week. I know! I have been missing something very special for a very long time. This book made Christianity Today‘s most influential book list for a good reason. This 50 year-old classic tells the story of young Christy Huddleston, an earnest young woman who sets out to teach the children of Cutter Gap in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Idealistic and enthusiastic, Christy finds herself in a poverty-stricken area where superstitions run deep, literacy is rare, and disease often brings heartache to an already hard existence. And while Christy brings considerable energy and talent to the job, she ends up learning more than her pupils. The insights she gleans from her friends are ones that the reader can cherish as well. I loved, loved, loved this book! If you haven’t read it yet, you must! If its been awhile since you’ve visited the community of Cutter Gap, what are you waiting for? And if you are looking for a Christmas gift for that special someone (especially older teen girls), Christy is the perfect choice.

Christy is set in the backwoods of a time-gone-by Tennessee. Based on the real life adventures of Catherine Marshall’s mother, this book opens up a window on what mountain people had to combat in the early 1900s — an isolated area fraught with hygiene problems, ignorance, and suspicion of outside influences. The story is told in Christy Huddleston’s first person voice, giving fresh eyes to the world of Cutter Gap. I loved how Christy grew as a person as she came to love and minister to the children and women. Teacher was of great influence, yet Christy learned more from her interactions with mentor Miss Alice, friends Fairlight and Opal, and pupils like Little Burl, Ruby Mae, and Lundy. She learned to overlook the smells and dirt and the sometimes backward ways of men and women, as her view became colored by the love she grew to have for the people. The book itself is filled with flowing prose that captures the beauty of the mountains, the nobility (and meanness) of the people, and the work of God in nature and man. All the characters have a complexity that makes them so very real. And if you think that a book that was written 50 years ago about a place and time now remote to the modern reader, then you will be pleasantly surprised. Christy may tell of a time 100 years in the past, but has a relevance for 2017. God’s love is the prevailing theme of the novel, and many of the characters struggle to accept it or live it out in real and meaningful ways. Miss Alice’s character is the plumb line for all others, and she brought a wisdom to the book when others were struggling.

Christy set my imagination aflame! Cutter Gap is a place I know I will visit again.

Very Highly Recommended!

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Giveaway!

Celebrate the new 50th anniversary edition of Christy by entering to win one of TWO $50 Visa cash cards (details below) and by attending a Facebook Live party on December 5!

TWO grand prize winners will receive:

  • One copy of Christy
  • One $50 Visa Cash Card

Enter today by clicking the HERE. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 5. The winner will be announced at the Christy Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with authors who’ve been impacted by Christy and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

First Line Friday — 12 Days at Bleakley Manor

1 Dec

 

It’s officially the Christmas season! Oh, I know that many of you have your house all decorated and have been humming Christmas carols since Halloween. The stores here in Middle Georgia have certainly been decked out for months. But I like the Thanksgiving leftovers to be consumed and the calendar to read December 1st before I really start to celebrate. But don’t call me a Scrooge, because I am all in when it comes to Christmas books, indulging long before I crack open the ornament box. Speaking of Scrooge, my FLF selection is a Victorian novel a la Dickens. In fact, this book is the first in the Once Upon A Dickens Christmas series by Michelle Griep 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

So grab the closest book, share its first line in the comments, and then head on over to Hoarding Books for more bloggers and their FLF posts!

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger . . .and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it — and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series — a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale — by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes — except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild).

 

 

If You Liked A Time to Stand . . .

30 Nov

If you liked BTB’s November 2017 selection, A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow, check out these books!

The Color of Justice by Ace Collins.

Two racially charged cases. Two attorneys searching for the truth. But only one will stay alive long enough to find it. 

1964

Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile façade that is about to crumble.  When attorney Coop Lindsay agrees to defend a black man accused of murdering a white teenager, the bribes and death threats don’t intimidate him. As he prepares for the case of a lifetime, the young lawyer knows it’s the verdict that poses the real threat—innocent or guilty, because of his stand Coop is no longer welcome in Justice. As he follows his conscience, he wonders just how far some people will go to make sure he doesn’t finish his job?

2014

To some, the result of the trial still feels like a fresh wound even fifty years later, when Coop’s grandson arrives in Justice seeking answers to the questions unresolved by the trial that changed his family’s legacy. When a new case is presented, again pitting white against black, this third generation Lindsay may have the opportunity he needs to right the wrongs of the past. 

But hate destroys everything it touches, and the Lindsay family will not escape unscathed.

Home at Last by Deborah Raney.

Why did their differences matter so much?

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite — well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse. (BTB’s February 2018 Selection)

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete–and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias.

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr, and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress ANC movement against Apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm. When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge or forgiveness and selfless love. Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

Happy Book Birthday! — A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

28 Nov

 

 

Pearl Spence has finally settled into a routine in Bliss, Michigan, far from her home in Red River, Oklahoma. Like all the other kids, she goes to school each day, plays in the woods, and does her chores. But there’s one big difference: Mama is still gone, and doesn’t seem to have a thought for the family she’s left behind.

Escaping from her worries is another part of Pearl’s new routine, whether that’s running to Aunt Carrie’s farm, listening to the radio with Ray, or losing herself in a book. In fact, a chair in the stacks, surrounded by books, might be her favorite place on earth–until she discovers swing dancing. The music transports Pearl to a whole other world.

When Mama unexpectedly returns, it isn’t the happy occasion Pearl had imagined. Mama is distant and Pearl can’t figure out how to please her. And the horrible way she treats Daddy is more than Pearl can bear. Seems life would be better if Mama would just stay away.

Finkbeiner’s portrayal of both tragedy and everyday life in times of great change is charged with a raw beauty that will haunt readers. Fans of the two prior Pearl Spence novels won’t be disappointed!

Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to. (From Amazon.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

28 Nov

Although winter is officially a few weeks away, it is never too early to make a list for those long evenings when only a cup of something warm, a cozy chair and afghan, and a good book will do. Here’s my Top 10 Winter TBR — including review books and book club selections. Looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead! For more reading lists for the long winter months, check out The Broke And The Bookish.

 

Top 10 Winter TBR

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Life on The Porcelain Edge by C. E. Hilbert

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

 

What’s on your winter TBR list?

 

 

Book Review: Lady Jayne Disappears

27 Nov

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

 

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, released October 3 from Revell. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods and shares stories that move her at http://www.jdpstories.com.

 

My Impressions:

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano is an impressive debut novel. Complex in its plotting and characterization, it reveals a heart for story and the One who is the Master Storyteller. A beautiful first offering, this book promises great things for readers — a wonderful new voice in CF.

Aurelie Rosette Harcourt is the product of a life spent in debtor’s prison. Raised by a gentleman who spins spell-binding stories while languishing in the desperation of squalor and despair, Aurelia is a bit otherworldly — a young woman who seemingly fits everywhere and nowhere. Following her father’s death, she is thrust into a glittering world that is no less a prison for its inhabitants. As Aurelie continues her father’s work and legacy, she searches for the truth that proves both elusive and dangerous.

The setting for Lady Jayne Disappears is Victorian England. A great chasm exists between the privileged and the poor. Politano’s novel is a wonderful look into the world that once was. A strong sense of atmosphere permeates the novel. Strong descriptive narrative from the first person point of view of Aurelie combined with an alternate third person view, causes the reader feel she has stepped right into the filth of debtor’s prison and the pristine environs of Lynhurst Manor. While the characters are very much Victorian in their actions and attitudes (quite Dickensian in their development), they are also real and relatable for the modern reader. The novel presents a story within a story as Aurelie takes on the persona of Nathaniel Droll, the pen name of her father. The serial novel Aurelie completes parallels her current situation as well as seeks to uncover the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. There are lots of twists and turns, keeping both Aurelie and the reader a bit off balance as story and reality are interwoven. Just what is real and what is fancy? Aurelie is a young woman who doesn’t know her own worth, but she certainly knows the One who gives it to her. I loved her powerful and active prayer life. Emphasis is placed on the power of story to heal, comfort, and confront. At one point Aurelie realizes this — Fiction was not always a lie, but a truth told in parallel to real life. A pill of advice disguised in an easy-to-swallow tale (p. 188).

A bit romance, a bit mystery, this beautifully told historical novel will appeal to a widespread audience. I certainly loved it! I am eagerly awaiting more from Politano’s talented pen.

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase click HERE.

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