Tag Archives: historical fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Vivid Settings

23 Jul

In some books the setting takes a backseat to characterization or plot — the book could take place just about anywhere. But in some books the setting is a major player in, well, setting the scenes. 😉 Whether it is the time or place, an author that can skillfully bring the reader to the site of the story is tops in my books. (Sorry/not sorry for the pun 😉 )  This week Top 10 Tuesday challenged bloggers to share settings they would like to see more of (or not at all), but of course I am tweaking yet again. My list features books that got the setting just right, allowing me to see and feel what the characters did. I hope you find a place to visit and a book to love!

For more on settings, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Settings in Recent Reads

 

Alaska — Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble

Ancient Israel — The Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

Colonial Canada — Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Colonial North Carolina — The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Edisto Island, South Carolina — The Bridge Between by Lindsey Brackett

Medieval England — Prince Edward’s Warrant by Mel Starr

WWII Germany — My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

WWII Poland — The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

Yellowstone National Park — Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

17 Jul

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.

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story — a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.

 

My Impressions:

Biographical fiction is a hard genre to master. You have to be true to your subject, yet present it in a creative and fresh way that will appeal to readers. Amanda Barratt took on a tough task when deciding to write a book featuring esteemed theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Her newest book, My Dearest Dietrich, captures the man that many did not know existed. An intimate look at the relationship between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, Maria von Wedemeyer, this novel reminds the reader of the lives and loves that exist even during the turmoil of war. I really liked this book, yet have a hard time articulating how it touched my heart. It is definitely a highly recommended read.

Before starting My Dearest Dietrich, I had only Bonhoeffer’s writings on the Christian life as a frame of reference. Barratt drew on those writings, plus the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and Maria, as well as other letters, to flesh out the man he truly was. Known as a brilliant theologian, a spy and conspirator determined to bring down Hitler, and an ultimate martyr to the cause, Bonhoeffer could be seen as larger than life. Barratt’s portrayal combines those elements with a heart of love and gentleness — a man who yearns for an ordinary life as husband, just as much as he yearns for a restored Germany. Maria is a young woman whose maturity grows as she faces hardship and heartache. Their story is set amidst the backdrop of cruelty and terror, yet it is the novel’s depiction of the mundane that allows the reader to see a blossoming relationship growing even in the hardest of times. There is a sense of hope in that. God was central to Maria and Dietrich’s lives, and their belief in Him determined their day-to-day decisions as well as their defiance of the Nazi regime. The book begins slowly, allowing the reader to see just what the characters are made of. Towards the end, the tension of the end of the war and the certain end of many of the characters’ lives made me read faster and faster. There are so many what-ifs the book brings to mind — what-if the conspiracy had been successful, what-if Bonhoeffer had not been discovered, what-if the Allies advancement on Berlin had been swifter. While I had a sense of sadness for Bonhoeffer and Maria, I am glad that I was given a small glimpse into their lives. Truly heroic, they serve as wonderful examples of lives devoted to each other, as well as Christ.

My Dearest Dietrich is perfect for book discussion groups. There is so, so much to talk about — a Christian’s role in civic affairs, the appropriateness of rebellion against authority, the importance of placing God’s values and laws above society’s — are just a few. But I believe it is the bittersweet love of Maria and Dietrich that will capture the reader’s heart. Grab a few friends to read this book with.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Auto-buy Authors

16 Jul

The auto-buy author prompt is not a new one for me, but the authors on this week’s list are! For Top 10 Tuesday, I am featuring new-to-me authors (and the novels I read) that made me buy (or pre-order) their other books. Whether it was a stellar debut or a first time read, these authors certainly got my attention. And I am really glad — it’s wonderful to find a must-read author.

For more bloggers’ auto-buy authors, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

New-To-Me Authors I Will Definitely Read Again!

Amanda Barratt — My Dearest Dietrich

Erin Bartels — We Hope For Better Things

Victoria Bylin — When He Found Me

Heidi Chiavaroli — The Edge of Mercy

Elizabeth Goddard — Never Let Go

Cathy Gohlke — The Medallion

Lindsay Harrel — The Heart Between Us

Patti Callahan Henry — Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Sarah Monzon — Freedom’s Kiss

Courtney Walsh — Just Let Go

Reading Road Trips — Cruising The Atlantic Beaches

10 Jul

I grew up 40 minutes away from the white sand beaches of Florida. I spent a lot of hours playing in the surf, baking in the sun, enjoying the sounds of the waves and seabirds and the smell/taste of hot French fries from concession stands. Those days of driving the beaches and walking the dunes are gone (conservation, you know), but I will never forget the great memories of sunny, carefree days. This week I am featuring books set among some of the beach communities along the Atlantic seaboard. It certainly is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started on a beach-y getaway. Some of the books on my list are set in real places, others are imagined, but representative of what you will find along the coast. I hope you will find one to love!

 

Cruising The Atlantic Beaches with A Good Book

Florida

The Discovery by Dan WalshGerard

Warner was not only a literary giant whose suspense novels sold in the millions, he was also a man devoted to his family, especially his wife of nearly 60 years. When he dies he leaves his Charleston estate to his grandson, Michael, an aspiring writer himself. Michael settles in to write his own first novel and discovers an unpublished manuscript his grandfather had written, something he’d kept hidden from everyone but clearly intended Michael to find. Michael begins to read an exciting tale about Nazi spies and sabotage, but something about this story is different from all of Gerard Warner’s other books. It’s actually a love story. As Michael delves deeper into the story he discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

Georgia

As The Tide Comes In by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

Cape Refuge (book one of a series) by Terri Blackstock

When the kindest couple in Cape Refuge is found murdered at their church, their daughter will have to find the killer . . . before her own husband is convicted.

Wade and Thelma Owens run a halfway house on the small island of Cape Refuge that caters to wayward souls just out of prison. So when Wade and Thelma turn up brutally murdered, the town goes into shock, concerned that one of the Hanover House residents is a murderer who could strike again.

Shattered by her parents’ deaths, Morgan Cleary struggles to keep Hanover House running while her husband, Jonathan, has been arrested for the murder.

As the killer runs free, a lethal race against time ensues, with far more than the halfway house at stake.

To Have And To Hold (book one of a series) by Judith Miller and Tracie Peterson

When Audrey Cunningham’s father proposes that they move to Bridal Veil Island, where he grew up, she agrees, thinking this will help keep him sober and close to God. But they arrive to find wealthy investors buying up land to build a grand resort on the secluded island–and they want the Cunninghams’ acreage.

Contractor Marshall Graham can’t imagine why the former drinking buddy of his deceased father would beckon him to Bridal Veil Island. And when Boyd Cunningham asks him to watch over Audrey, Marshall is even more confused. He has no desire to be saddled with caring for this fiery young woman who is openly hostile toward him. But when Audrey seems to be falling for another man–one who has two little girls Audrey adores–Marshall realizes she holds more of his heart than he realized. Which man will Audrey choose? And can she hold on to her ancestral property in the face of overwhelming odds?

South Carolina

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past — despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests — and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness — especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her — and Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart

Welcome to Jasper, South Carolina. A place where Southern hospitality thrives. Where social occasions are done right. And where, for generations, the four most upstanding ladies of this community ensure that the daughters of Jasper are married in the proper manner.

Friends from school days, “the gals” have long pooled their silver, china, and know-how to pull off beautiful events. They’re a force of nature, a well-oiled machine. But the wedding machine’s gears start to stick during the summer their own daughters line up to tie the knot. In the lowcountry heat and humidity, tempers flare, old secrets leak out . . . and both love and gardenias bloom in unlikely places.

North Carolina

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon–and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.

Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God’s presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

A wounded veteran and the police chief’s daughter must work together to bring a killer to justice

Caden Wallis lost friends, his girlfriend, and even his leg to the ravages of war. He arrives on the Outer Banks broken and still reeling, struggling to make peace with his new life.

McKenna Dockery has been stuck in limbo since her fiancé died three years ago. Now, when the handsome yet heartbroken Caden arrives at her doorstep, she starts to wonder if there may be hope for her heart after all . . .

But no sooner do they meet than a man is found murdered on McKenna’s property–and Caden is the prime suspect. The two must learn to trust each other, or no one will be safe in the tangled web of conspiracy, greed, and deceit lurking in the tidal marshlands of the Outer Banks.

Maryland

Deadly Isle by Dani Pettrey

 

Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on revenge before they become the next victims?

 

 

 

Massachusetts

Phoebe’s Light (book one of a series) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way—just in time.

Maine

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in — temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sometimes love hurts — and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island — a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals — and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

July Book Club Picks

1 Jul

My two book clubs, By The Book and Page Turners, have excellent selections this month — The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright and My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt. Both books are sure to inspire great conversations. Have you read them? We would love to know what you think!

 

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother — who is battling dementia — compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns — and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

 

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.

2019 Carol Award Finalists!

29 Jun

Congratulations to the talented authors who are finalists for the 2019 Carol Awards. Sponsored by ACFW, the winners will be announced at the annual conference in San Antonio. Your summer TBR stack just got taller!

Contemporary

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

Miles From Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Historical 

Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

 

Historical Romance

Where The Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

A Light on The Hill by Connilyn Cossette

Across The Blue by Carrie Turansky

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Cascade by Janice Boekhoff

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Novella

In Sheep’s Clothing from A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas

Her Redcoat from The Backcountry Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas

MissTaken Identity from The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Kimberley Woodhouse

 

Romance

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Freedom’s Kiss by Sarah Monzon

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

 

Romantic Suspense

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Called to Protect by Lynette Eason

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

 

Short Novel

A Widow’s Hope by Vanetta Chapman

The Rancher’s Surprise Daughter by Jill Lynn

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe

 

Speculative

Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart

 

Young Adult

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

A Worthy Rebel by Jody Hedlund

Common by Laurie Lucking

 

Debut

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

2019 Inspy Award Winners!

29 Jun

Congratulations to the 2019 Inspy Award Winners! What a talented group. The Inspys are a blogger-based awards program, so you know that these books are definitely reader-approved. I hope you find your next great read!

 

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Debut Fiction

Among The Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski

General Fiction

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Historical Romance

The Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Literature for Young Adults

The Edge of Over There by Shawn Smucker

Mystery/Thriller

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

Speculative Fiction

Mark of The Raven by Morgan L. Busse