Tag Archives: historical fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Spring TBR

20 Mar

It has been spring here in middle Georgia for a while now. The unusually cold winter has given way to a very early spring. Everything is blooming here and the inevitable pollen has tinged all things yellow. But it is beautiful and promises warmer weather to come.

With March comes a new Spring TBR! Check out what other bloggers are reading in the coming months at That Artsy Reader Girl.


Top Books on The Spring TBR List

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

If I Live by Terri Blackstock

The Land Lord by Cheryl Colwell

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund

Presumption And Partiality by Rebekah Jones

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West 

What’s on your Spring TBR List?



Book Review: The House on Foster Hill

19 Mar

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com!


My Impressions:

Because I had heard a lot of positive buzz about Jaime Jo Wright’s debut novel, The House on Foster Hill, I thought I’d offer it to my book club as a possibility for our 2018 schedule. The blurb sold it to my group, but it was the actual reading experience that gave it a unanimous thumbs up! We loved the spooky atmosphere, the engaging characters, and the mystery that spanned over a hundred years. Because we read a lot of suspense it isn’t easy to surprise us, but this one did. We never saw the ending coming! We are excited to have found another author to add to our must-read list.

Dual plot lines set in the present day and in 1906, appealed to our members who like contemporary and/or historical novels. The two stories intertwine well. The action alternated between Kaine and Ivy’s stories keeping us turning the pages as quickly as possible — we had to know what was happening with both of these engaging and interesting characters. Kaine and Ivy are women of their times, but share a determination to get to the bottom of the mysteries that the shady Foster Hill House presents. Although some of us wanted to shake them from time to time, we generally loved them. The two male characters were a treat as well. Very different from each other, my group was split on which we liked better, but were pleased with how both added to the stories and the main characters’ lives. The book provided great discussion for our group — family history and secrets, human trafficking now and then, and keeping alive the memories of those who have passed.

Often my book club gets off task during our monthly discussions, but this month we had no trouble staying focused on The House on Foster Hill. Kudos for an impressive first novel. We look forward to many more from an author to watch.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It’s currently free for Kindle Unlimited)

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





Top 10 Tuesday — Surprise Endings

13 Mar

This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list books that surprised them. There are so many options for this theme, but I chose a few books that had endings I never saw coming. Those that changed my perspective on all that went before. These were endings that prompt the reader to go back and explore the book again. If you are looking for a wonderful novel, then I highly recommend all of these.

Find out what surprised other bloggers HERE.


Top Books That Surprised Me


The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

Dogwood by Chris Fabry

In the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Will returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved―only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison. The secrets of Will and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn’t survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

Not in The Heart by Chris Fabry

Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

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

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap his father and brothers left behind. 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.

Velma Stil Cooks in Leeway by Vinita Hampton Wright

As the town’s chief cook and part-time janitor for Jerusalem Baptist church, Velma Brendle has never done anything more outstanding than putting on a good meal at Velma’s Place, the one restaurant in Leeway, Kansas, but she takes good care of her customers, neighbors, and friends. However, in the midst of these two jobs, Velma’s husband stops talking, Cousin Albert comes to live with her, and she finds herself dealing with the town’s problems. As memories of past troubles plague her, she grows weary from even the tasks she loves the most. Old Sunday School lessons take on new meanings, and new problems illuminate trials Velma thought were long over. In sudden leaps of faith and moments of tragedy, Velma and all those she loves journey toward facing their sins and finding forgiveness.


What book surprised you?


Book Review (+Giveaway!): Keturah

12 Mar

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?


To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Lisa T. Bergren has published more than 40 books with more than 3 million books sold combined. She’s the author of the Christy Award-winning Waterfall, RITA®-finalist Firestorm, bestselling God Gave Us You, and popular historical series like Homeward, Grand Tour, and more. She’s also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three teen-and-older children.

Find out more about Lisa at http://lisatawnbergren.com.

My Impressions:

With its exotic locale, interesting time period, and relatable characters, Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren is a good choice for fans of historical fiction. The first book in The Sugar Baron’s Daughters series set on the Caribbean colonial island of Nevis, this novel doesn’t cover up the hardships or moral dilemmas facing the planters that sought to subdue nature and provide sugar to England. I can recommend this well-researched and richly detailed novel.

Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson is a determined woman who is facing down her fears by journeying to Nevis to reclaim her family’s fortunes. But while determination is a fine attribute, she soon finds that it alone will not make her plantation successful, nor prevent disasters that endanger its prospects. Along with her sisters Verity and Selah, Keturah must learn to trust in others for help and in God to provide.

Bergren does a great job of bringing the world of the late 1770s alive in Keturah. I loved the attention to detail — from the ship journeying to Nevis to the sights and smells that awaited the characters on-island. Nothing is prettied-up. It was a tough time that called for men and women to put aside sensibilities and manners to survive. The main characters are well-drawn. I could relate to Keturah as she sought to provide for and protect her sisters. Her childhood friend, Gray Covington was a wonderful character as well. A reformed playboy, Gray’s reliance on God’s providence proved an effective influence on Keturah. There are a few hard issues explored in Keturah — slavery and abuse. While I appreciate the author’s willingness to include subject matter that was commonplace in that time period, I would have liked her to delve a bit deeper. The main characters are much opposed to the ill-treatment of slaves, but justify owning them. Slavery is seen as an economic necessity even as they abhorred the practice. While modern readers can easily see the fallacy of their views, it would be good to remember that in our contemporary lives we too often tolerate sin for the sake of economics. Keturah struggles with her personal abuse at the hands of her deceased husband. I liked that she was able to overcome its hold on her life, but felt that it occurred a bit too quickly.

All in all, Keturah proved to be a fascinating look into a mostly unknown (at least to me 🙂 ) time and place. If you like historical fiction set in the colonial period of the New World, then this one is a definite must-read. There are two more books promised in this series — Verity and Selah; those are definitely on my TBR radar!


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE

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



Travel back in time to 1772 England and meet Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson, who has to go to the West Indies to save what is left of her family’s heritage in Lisa T. Bergren’s new book, Keturah. Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Enter to win a copy of Keturah. Five winners will be chosen! Click HERE to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 13 on the Litfuse blog!

Book Review: Madman

8 Mar

If there is a way into madness, logic says there is a way out. Logic says. Tallis, a philosopher’s servant, is sent to a Greek academy in Palestine only to discover that it has silently, ominously, disappeared. No one will tell him what happened, but he learns what has become of four of its scholars. One was murdered. One committed suicide. One worships in the temple of Dionysus. And one . . . one is a madman.

From Christy Award–winning author Tracy Groot comes a tale of mystery, horror, and hope in the midst of unimaginable darkness: the story behind the Gerasene demoniac of the Gospels of Mark and Luke.


Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award-winning author of several works of historical fiction. Her books have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called “beautifully written” and “page-turning” by Publishers Weekly, and “gripping” with “exquisitely drawn” characters by Library Journal.

Tracy and her husband have three sons, one daughter (in-law) and live in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Connect with Tracy at her website (tracygroot.com), or follow her on Facebook (@tracy.groot).


My Impressions:

I lead a combo Bible study/book club at my church. Our Faith And Fiction group was concentrating on the healing miracles of Jesus and chose Madman by Tracy Groot as the complimentary novel. The book is based on the Biblical account of the Gerasene demoniac. While the book received mixed reviews from the members of the study, I found it a challenging and viewpoint-expanding read. Complex in structure as well as characterization, Madman is a book that must be read slowly to experience all that it has to offer. It is Biblical fiction like no other I have encountered. Told from the perspective of a servant of a Greek philosopher, a student in his own right, Madman gives the reader a look into the Gentile life of Palestine. Should you read it? This one is not for someone who wants a quick, easy, or even light read. Its subject matter is madness and demonic possession and the power of Jesus to reach into both and set the captive free. If you are up for a challenge, then I urge you to give this one a look.

Tallis has been sent by his master, Calimachus, to the Decapolis in Palestine to find out what has happened to the philosophical school that had been founded in his name. What Tallis finds is mystery and danger and a tormented man who lives in the tombs.

The story is told from the third person point of view of Tallis and letters to his master back in Athens. Tallis has scars from a childhood trauma that make him vulnerable to both human and spiritual attack. But as he receives warning after warning to go home, Tallis is determined to find the truth. Supporting characters are interesting and unlike what I am used to in traditional Biblical fiction. Part of that may stem from the fact that all of the characters are Gentiles, descendants of Greek colonists that now make the Decapolis their home. The Decapolis is very definitely not a Jewish enclave. Its cultural life is based upon its Greek origins and includes the pagan rites and worship foreign to their Jewish neighbors. It is this paganism that I found the most interesting. While the Greeks prided themselves on rational thought and discourse, parts of their society clung to worship of gods that demanded much from their adherents. Tallis must deal with the whys of the man’s demonic possession, something that is missing from the Biblical record. The reader soon discovers that pride, arrogance, and the search for god-like power and knowledge leave more than the man in the tombs vulnerable to demonic attack. The entrance of Jesus into the story comes late in the book, but there is a great anticipation of his arrival that is felt throughout. I found the portrayal of the demoniac’s torment and his ultimate deliverance especially powerful.

Madman is an early book by Tracy Groot. This Christy Award winner for historical fiction has just been recently re-released. While I am not sure my reading experience was one of enjoyment, I am glad I read this riveting novel.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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


Top 10 Tuesday: First Lines

6 Mar

Today I am recycling because that is what busy bloggers do when they are short on time and inspiration! 😉 This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list their Top 10 Favorite Book Quotes. I’m a slacker when it comes to keeping a journal filled with the wonderful nuggets I find in the pages of a book. But as I thought about the topic, I couldn’t help but think how it is the first lines that I almost always remember. I haven’t read (or rather re-read) Rebecca in a long while, but I can still quote that memorable first line — Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Another wonderful weekly meme I participate in is First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books (their tagline is it’s not HOARDING if it’s BOOKS — great, huh?). It has been lots of fun discovering new books and authors through first lines. So today, I will share some first lines from books that were fabulous reads. I hope that you find your next great book today!


Top First Lines

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Christy by Catherine Marshall 

Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart 


What’s your favorite book quote?


If You Liked Missing Isaac . . .

28 Feb

By The Book read Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse and loved it! This coming-of-age novel set in Alabama of the 1960s, was a quiet novel that had a dramatic backdrop, yet was more about ordinary people’s actions and reactions rather than the headlines of the time. In coming up with a list of books to recommend for further reading, I kept that in mind. Each of the following books are set in turbulent times, but have at their heart people struggling to make sense of the times in which they live and to make a difference in small ways. I hope you enjoy these novels as well.

Child of The River by Irma Joubert

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune — are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her — dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her — the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland — she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

The Pearl Spence Trilogy by Susie Finkbeiner

A Cup of Dust 

Where you come from isn’t who you are.

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.
Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

A Trail of Crumbs

“I believed it would have been a sin to stay inside when God had sent us such fine weather. According to Pastor Ezra Anderson, sin was the reason we’d got in the dusty mess we were in. The way I saw it, that day was God’s way of letting us know He wasn’t mad at us anymore. Just maybe He’d seen fit to forgive us.”

Pearl Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. But through it all, her family has been by her side. They may not be perfect, but they love her and they all love each other, come what may. That’s one thing Pearl no longer questions.

But the end of her beautiful day signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now her family is fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland. Pearl isn’t sure she’ll ever see home or happiness again. Are there any crumbs powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?

The strong narrative voice of Finkbeiner’s young protagonist from A Cup of Dust returns in this gritty yet hopeful sequel, sure to please her many fans.

A Song of Home

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.

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition

When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

 Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.

When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?