Tag Archives: historical fiction

First Line Friday — Of Men And Angels

27 Mar

In keeping with my determination to share books from my TBR shelves, today’s First Line comes from Of Men And Angels, book two in The Galway Chronicles, by Bodie and Brock Thoene. This book, published in 1998, has been on my shelf a long, long time. I did read book 1, and really liked it. Now to find time to finish the series! I am supposed to go to Ireland for my birthday in May 😦 — plane tickets are purchased and hotel reservations made. But that probably won’t happen until later in the year. So, I really should get going with this series not only to prepare for my trip, but to pursue some virtual travel as well.

For more First Line Friday Fun, head over to Hoarding Books!

 

 

This novel takes readers into the life of Joseph Connor Burke, who has reclaimed his ancestral acres and the manor he was born to rule. But in a turbulent time when Ireland struggles under an unjust English oppressor, Joseph’s dreams are inevitably shattered by violence and betrayal. Soon the village of Ballynockanor will be swept into storms of political strife that will eventually spread to the entire Emerald Isle. Just when hope for a better life seems brightest, the darkness of evil and tragedy could snuff it out. Will Joseph stand for what he truly believes, no matter what it costs him? And when he makes his stand, will the woman he loves choose to be at his side?

Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced “Tay-nee”) have written over 45 works of historical fiction. That these best sellers have sold more than 10 million copies and won 8 ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discovered — the Thoenes are not only master stylists but also experts at capturing readers’ minds and hearts.

 

Book Review: The Land Beneath Us

26 Mar

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for — fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family — the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true

Sarah Sundin is the CBA-bestselling author of The Land Beneath Us (February 2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), and the Waves of Freedom series, the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series, all from Revell. In addition, she has a novella in Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook).

Her novels have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. In 2019, The Sea Before Us received the Reader’s Choice Award from Faith, Hope and Love. Both When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” Through Waters Deep was a 2016 Carol Award Finalist and won the 2016 INSPY Award, and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups, and has been well received.

She serves as Programming Director for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference, and she belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network.

 

My Impressions:

The Land Beneath Us is the concluding novel in Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series. The books feature the three Paxton brothers — men impacted by the actions of a single night back at their home in Texas. Lots of mistakes, poor decisions, and, yes, sins took place on that tragic day, and all three men have to deal with the repercussions. In The Land Beneath Us, youngest brother Clay takes center stage. He trains to be a Ranger to fulfill what he believes to be his destiny. On his way he meets a remarkable young woman whose own life has been marked by tragedy and violence. Her example of forgiveness impacts Clay, changing how he sees his life, his brothers, and God. An excellent finale to this series, this book gets a highly recommended rating from me.

There are so many things to love about The Land Beneath Us. I love how Sundin brings the day-to-day activities of WWII-era America to life. Small details such as fashion, baby care, scrap drives show just how life has changed in the modern world. Yet there is much to be learned — unity of purpose and watching out for our neighbors. There were definitely some dark aspects  — prejudices of many kinds — that shine a light on the shortcomings of modern day America as well. Sundin’s research is remarkable. I really felt I was in those Ranger training sessions and on the streets of small town Tennessee. And Clay’s experiences on D Day spotlight the courage and determination of our Greatest Generation. Spiritual themes abound and are naturally woven into the narrative. Forgiveness, feelings of unworthiness, and clinging to what others have done to us are just a few. The two main characters’ developing relationship was special as well. Through letters they go from a marriage of convenience to a deep love. The book includes an epilogue wrapping up all of the books — I loved that too!

For fans of historical fiction set during WWII, this series cannot be beat! If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you need to. Start at book 1 and get ready for a great reading experience.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — WWII Fiction

24 Mar

As Covid-19 news is everywhere, and people around the world are called to shelter in place, I have been giving more and more thought to what people endured during WWII. Talk about a world turned upside down overnight — Pearl Harbor, the invasion of Poland, Dunkirk, concentration camps, and D-Day. There are many excellent WWII novels from which to choose so it is hard to pick just 10, but I did my best to whittle the list down. I hope these novels inspire and encourage you with their messages of hope in a very dark time.

For more Genre Favorites from other bloggers, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top WWII-Era Novels

 

The Butterfly And The Violin by Kristy Cambron

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

Years of Nazi occupation have stolen much from Brigitte Durand. Family. Freedom. Hope for a future, especially for a woman with a past like hers. But that changes the day American fighter pilot Tom Jaeger is shot down over occupied France. Picked up by the Resistance, Tom becomes the linchpin in their plan to infiltrate a Germans-only brothel and get critical intel out through Brigitte, a prostitute rumored to be sympathetic to the Allied cause.D-day looms and everyone knows that invasion is imminent. But so is treachery, and the life of one American pilot unexpectedly jeopardizes everything. He becomes more important than the mission to a man who cannot bear to lose another agent and to a woman who is more than just a prostitute, who finally realizes that her actions could change the course of history.

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families — so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler’s blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little—known history of Ukraine’s tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright―a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call―piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen — Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war — if any of them survive — is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk — and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge

In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission

Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal.

In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness. Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him — even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends — only to confront a decision that will change everything.

Sunrise at Normandy series by Sarah Sundin

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.

 

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

A boy coming of age in a time of war . . .
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

 

Book Review + Giveaway! — Turning Tide

19 Mar

Turning Tide FB Banner

About The Book

Book:  Turning Tide

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Release Date: Feb 15, 2020

Turning TideAs the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

 

Click here for your copy!

 

My Impressions:

Turning Tide may be set almost 100 years in the past while WWI was raging and the Spanish Flu threatened, but this historical novel from Melody Carlson is a timely book for modern readers. World events shape the small town of Sunset Cove, Oregon, as the realities of war and pandemic impact even this small and charming town. The characters readers have come to know in the previous books are not immune to hardship, sacrifice, and fear, but they face day-to-day events and the future with determination and hope. I found their stories inspiring especially in our times of Covid-19 and economic uncertainty. The example of hope is what makes this book a great read for our times. The emphasis of care and concern for others and the reliance on God’s unchanging nature is a wonderful message.

Turning Tide is the 4th and final book in Carlson’s Legacy of Sunset Cove series. I had only read book 1 before starting this novel, and while I had no trouble with following the plot and catching up with characters, I recommend reading the whole series. You will not want to miss anything!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

 

 

About The Author

author photo Melody Carlson (1)Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

 

More from Melody

Writing about the WW1 era has definitely been a good history lesson for me. Prohibition laws in Oregon (and rum-runners breaking them) combined with a massive war that changed the world and a global epidemic is worth paying attention to. Especially since history sometimes repeats itself. The early 20th century had a lot going on—much that seems nearly forgotten. I’m glad to see the movie 1917 is doing well—and we plan to see it this week. Although I’m not a fan of gruesome war movies, this era continues to intrigue me. Even as I wrapped up my Sunset Cove series with Turning Tide I was left wondering . . . what’s next? But isn’t that the beauty of story?

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, March 16

For the Love of Literature, March 16

Through the Fire Blogs, March 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 17

Inklings and notions, March 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 18

deb’s Book Review, March 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 19

By The Book, March 19

Wishful Endings, March 19

Texas Book-aholic, March 20

She Lives To Read, March 20

Betti Mace, March 21

Remembrancy, March 21

janicesbookreviews, March 22

Mary Hake, March 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 22

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 23

Maureen’s Musings, March 24

My Devotional Thoughts, March 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 24

Christian Bookaholic, March 25

Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, March 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 27

Blogging With Carol, March 27

Daysong Reflections, March 27

SPLASHES of Joy, March 28

Vicky Sluiter, March 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 29

Pause for Tales, March 29

For the Love of Books, March 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize package of a complete set of The Legacy of Sunset Cove series!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE to enter.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Spring TBR

17 Mar

After a really rainy winter here in the “sunny” south, spring has really sprung! All the flowers are bursting forth bringing all the pollen too. Warmer temps are the norm, and more days feature sun rather than clouds. While we can now get out of the house, out and about is out of the picture. But we can still enjoy the fresh air and great outdoors even if it is on the back porch or apartment balcony. I plan to use this time of quiet pursuits reading new books. I know that’s not much different than how I normally spend my time 😉 , but the inside of a book is a great escape from the turmoil found in the media.

I am joining other bloggers with Top 10 Spring TBR lists. My list includes a variety of genres — something for everyone! To find more fabulous lists, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on My TBR

 

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through unique stories of historical romantic suspense. Collect them all and be inspired by the hope that always finds its way even in the darkest of times.
 
Based on real events beginning in 1797 — Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend’s wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims. How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. After losing her family, her fiance, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she’s determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett’s chagrin, all the eyes of New York society — all the female ones, at least–are on him. Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.

When Eliza’s hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton’s path, sparks instantly begin to fly. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

The Englisch Daughter by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima has put her marriage and family ahead of herself for years. She’s set herself aside. Raising four children, she’s followed all the rules and has been patient in looking forward to her time to chase a dream of her own.

But when she finds out that her life savings for pursuing that dream is gone — and her husband, Roy, has been hiding a child with another woman — her entire world is shattered. Will she be able to listen to God and love Roy’s child? With so much at stake, how can she and Roy fix their relationship before their lives come crashing down?

Flight Risk by Cara Putman

Savannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career — an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target.

Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

A Gift to Cherish by Victoria Bylin

Rafe Donovan, a cop from Cincinnati, is haunted by a recurring nightmare about the death of his high school sweetheart. Those nightmares force him to take leave from his job, seek help, and shelter in Refuge, where he pounds nails for his brother’s construction business. Rafe has no desire to stay in Wyoming. His goal is to get back to being a cop in Ohio as soon as possible.

But then he meets Daisy Riley . . . When he finds her stranded late at night with a flat tire, he’s impressed by her courage. Daisy is equally impressed by him, but as a former victim of violence, she treasures her secure life in Refuge. Together they navigate the road to love — one that’s complicated by Daisy’s troubled best friend, online dating, and the impossible obstacle of 1,600 miles between her home and his.

The House at The End of The Moor by Michelle Griep

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?

Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for–fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family — the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true?

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson

Star Youngblood has always been a fighter–a necessity after her mother married a monster of a man. Now, she’s finally on the path to the stable life she’s always wanted. Her employer, Priscilla Kelly, is a sweet woman ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis, and Star will do anything to help her. Even if that means going toe to toe with Mrs. Kelly’s neglectful son.

After being betrayed on the mission field and devastated by the tragic death of his father, Paul Kelly gave up on God. He lives life on his own terms, biding his time as a corporate pilot until he can save enough money to begin his own flight school closer to home. His mother is all he has left, and he wants to be near her. He just didn’t expect her health to decline so quickly. When he discovers his mother has taken in a stray — a woman he’s not at all sure can be trusted — his protective instincts kick into high gear. Paul’s handled a lot of turbulence, but he’s never gone up against a force like Star.

As Paul and Star strive to protect his mother in their own ways, they soon find their own hearts are at the greatest risk.

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon

A year ago, ex-Delta Force operator Steven Roark left the rigors of combat behind to run fishing charters in Hope Harbor, decompress, and talk some sense into his kid brother. Business is good — but making peace with his past is more challenging than he expected.

First-grade teacher Holly Miller leads a quiet, low-profile existence — until she’s recruited to advocate for a cause that’s dear to her heart. When she solicits Steven’s assistance, sparks fly — especially after they find themselves on opposite sides of an issue that disrupts their placid seaside community.

As these two seemingly incompatible souls search for common ground, might they discover a deeper connection — and find that love can banish darkness and light the way to a future filled with promise?

The Traitor’s Pawn by Lisa Harris

When FBI agent Jack Shannon arrives in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is focused on one thing: find the man who has been selling encrypted government secrets to the Chinese through online birding chat rooms. But when a senator is shot during a hunting trip and the woman he was with is abducted, Jack agrees to join the search — especially when he discovers that the kidnapping victim is Aubrey Grayson, a woman he was once in love with.

As the search continues, it becomes clear the senator may not have been the intended victim — and Aubrey may be connected to the other case Jack is supposed to be working on. Can Jack untangle the knots before it’s too late? And when he learns the truth, will it be too painful to get past?

Join the hunt for the truth — and a traitor — in this tension-laden story of secrets, betrayal, and second chances.

 

Author, Author! — Jocelyn Green

24 Feb

If you are a fan of historical fiction, then Jocelyn Green needs to be your go-to author. She consistently creates novels with complex characters and meticulously researched historical details. Her books have opened my eyes to the Civil War, the early settlement of Louisiana, and the conflict between British, American colonists, and Native Peoples in the 1700s. I cannot wait to read her latest book, Veiled in Smoke which is set during the Great Chicago Fire and is the first book in a series that explores Chicago history.

Thanks so much, Jocelyn, for sharing with us today about your writing journey.

 

 

 

Q&A with Jocelyn Green

Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

The same was true for me. My first book was writing captions in my Bugs Bunny coloring book to make it an actual story. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing. My first published books were nonfiction, though, mostly devotionals, before I started writing historical fiction.

Why do you write historical fiction?

History still matters today. We can learn so much from the people who lived before us, and how they shaped and were shaped by the events of their generations. Not only can we find inspiration from them, but also a much better perspective as we look at the world today. Unfortunately, so often, history is distilled into a list of dates and names — not interesting at all. The vehicle of historical fiction allows us to explore segments of the past through the lens of the people who lived it. We get to explore the full spectrum of the human condition through the novel. 

Personally, I love learning while being entertained with drama, and studies show that when we’re curious about something — such as what will happen to our heroine in the next chapter — we’re far more likely to remember surrounding details, such as the historical context. To me, that’s the icing on the cake. When readers care about characters and learn about history at the same time, I’m thrilled.

What types of research do you pursue?

All kinds! I use books, scholarly articles, YouTube videos, site visits, interviews with historians and museum curators, interviews with experts on any given topic in the novel. For Veiled in Smoke, aside from reading every book and article about the fire and its aftermath I could find, I toured Chicago with a guide who designed a tour based specifically on what I wanted to know and see before I started writing the novel.  On the same trip, I spent time in the Chicago Historical Society’s archives, reading primary source material such as letters, diaries, first person accounts of the fire, etc. Through the wonder of microfilm, I read newspapers published in Chicago during the weeks and months following the fire. An ongoing correspondence with CHS staff after I went home helped me fill in any blanks I had in my manuscript. 

Other than the historical research, I also consulted with an art professor, bookstore owner, psychologist specializing in work with combat veterans, surgeon, and physical therapist to help me get other details right in my characters’ personal journeys.

Tell us a little about what inspired Veiled in Smoke.

I’m always looking for settings that are rife with conflict and great change, regardless of the century. The Great Chicago Fire was an unprecedented disaster that made 100,000 people homeless overnight, which was a third of the city at the time. Writing about the resurrection of both the city and individuals and families after such an event allows me, as an author, to explore themes of resilience, community, and faith in powerful ways.

How long does it usually take to craft a book?

If we are including the time it takes to research before I start writing, I would say about 18 months until the very last proofing round.

What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing?

A typical writing day looks like me sitting down in my office and cranking out about two thousand words before calling it quits for the day. There is usually a small pot of tea on my desk, a mess of research materials, and one sleeping cat, who is good for moral support. I’m pretty structured in my writing schedule, but I also expect interruptions. I’ve learned to build in extra time to the schedule to allow for those. 

What are you working on next?

Veiled in Smoke is the first book of three in The Windy City Saga, so right now I’m working on the second book. I’m really excited about this series, because we get to watch a family grow through three generations, and see Chicago grow, too. Veiled in Smoke really is a family story, but it focuses more on Meg Townsend, one of the bookshop-owning sisters. Book 2 will be set in Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893, and it’s the story of Meg’s sister Sylvie, who will be 43 years old when the story begins. Book 3 in the series will pick up with Meg’s adult daughter Olive in 1915, which is when the Eastland Disaster took place in the Chicago River. Each book explores a seminal part of Chicago’s history and how the Townsend family overcomes in the face of change and trials.

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

 

Author, Author! (+ Giveaway!) — Lori Benton

19 Feb

Lori Benton has been a go-to, must-read author for me for years! I read her first novel, Burning Sky, and was blown away. It continues to be my most recommended book for fans of historical fiction. Lori is sharing today a little about her writing journey and what she has up next. Thanks so much Lori!

 

Q&A with Lori Benton

Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, making up stories as a child. Really! I was in the third grade and already a voracious reader when my best friend said out of the blue, “I wrote a story.” She showed it to me, and I was instantly intrigued. Could I write a story? It was an epiphany. I wrote a story. And never really stopped. But one day I decided to get more serious about it (I was about 21 by this time) and see if I could write a novel and maybe (if I could figure out how one did so) get it published. That novel, which I did finish, wasn’t published. Nor the one I wrote after that. It was quite a few years later (22 years in fact) before my debut novel Burning Sky reached store shelves. 

Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

My parents always supported and took an interest in whatever I was doing. My fifth grade teacher once made a comment on a book report I’d done that let me know she thought I wrote well. But honestly? I’ve been so driven by my artistic passions that no one needed to encourage me. I’ve always been a self-motivated, where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way sort of girl. 

Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication? 

Yes. Small ones in the beginning. I began writing before there were home computers, Internet, and everything that makes learning to write, research, and the publishing business so easy these days. I also didn’t know any published writers. I just had a story idea and started writing it (on lined paper, with a ball point pen). My learning process was very slow because I lacked the resources available today. A big obstacle I faced later, at age 30 (still writing, still unpublished), was a cancer diagnosis. The treatment was straightforward and I was in remission within nine months, but I then spent several years unable to write because of chemo fog — which eventually cleared, thanks be to God. 

What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc. 

I read dozens of books for each novel I write and spend hours online reading articles or chatting with folks who know about the things I want to put in my novels. I watch any historical documentaries I can find that cover the history, trade, or situation I’m writing about. I watch YouTube videos on things like how to raise a cabin, get dressed in the 18th century, cook food, and travel. Speaking of, I travel to the places my stories are set whenever I can, which isn’t often enough to suit me since I live 3000 miles away from them! But I grew up on the east coast so I have many memories to draw on and know what it’s like to walk through a humid forest in summer trying not to pick up ticks, or what a hardwood forest smells like in autumn. This spring I look forward to visiting historical areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

I thrive with routine, so I’m as structured as I can be. My ideal writing day starts at 9am (earlier if I can manage it) goes until lunchtime, then picks back up from 1-3 or 4pm. Sometimes my afternoon must be given over to getting life stuff done or to writing related tasks that aren’t actually novel writing. If I know I won’t have the house to myself especially during those morning hours (my best writing time), I’ll get up at 3am and work until the rest of the house is up and making noise, around 8am. That strategy keeps everyone happy.

How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

No two books have required the same amount of time. Most of them take 18 months to two years simply to research and write, but I’m not working on just one book at a time now. I’m usually researching and developing one (or two!) while writing another and editing or promoting yet another. I have one very special case (my September 1, 2020 release) which has taken nearly twenty years from initial inspiration to final edits (which are still underway as I write this). 

Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel?

The King’s Mercy was inspired by Paul’s letter to Philemon, in the New Testament. In this brief letter, Paul writes concerning another man he encountered while a prisoner in Rome, a runaway slave belonging to Philemon. This encounter changed the life of this slave, Onesimus. In the letter, which Onesimus is bearing back to his master, Paul describes this slave, once unprofitable to Philemon, as having become a fellow laborer and brother profitable to them both. Paul asks Philemon to receive back his runaway, as a personal favor to Paul, and forgive him. A few years ago it occurred to me that the situation these three men found themselves in might well translate to an eighteenth-century setting . . . and so The King’s Mercy was inspired. 

What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

One thing I’ve discovered about celebrating the redemptive power of Jesus Christ in the form of story is that while I’ve had my conversation with the Lord about these characters and themes during the writing, after the book is published it becomes the reader’s turn. I pray that God will speak to each heart something unique. Whatever that is, I hope they turn that last page more in love with our merciful Jesus than when they began.

Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

My next book will release from Tyndale House this fall (Sept 1). It’s called Mountain Laurel, the first in the Kindred duology (a two-book series). Readers of The King’s Mercy might remember Mountain Laurel. They got to visit briefly with some of its characters in that book. Get ready to time travel forward from that glimpse into life at Mountain Laurel to the 1790s, when I’ll be showing you around the place and uncovering all the secrets it’s been holding for over fifty years.

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing its sequel.

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.

 

Giveaway!

Lori is very graciously giving away a copy of The King’s Mercy to one of my readers. Just leave a comment why you love historical fiction. A winner will be randomly selected on March 4. (Please note: US only.)

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy – exile to the Colony of North Carolina – he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.