Tag Archives: historical romance fiction

Book Review: The Christmas Blessing

2 Oct

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby’s father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant’s paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don’t know that she — or their grandson — exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?

 

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 novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors, 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 Romantic Time’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. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

My Impressions:

Melody Carlson is known for her heart-warming Christmas novellas, and many readers kick off the season with one of her new books. For the 2017 holidays, readers are in for a treat. The Christmas Blessing is part romance, part family drama, and all feel-good reading experience.

In the midst of WWII, young mother Amelia Richards embarks on a life-changing trip with her 7-week old baby. From sunny San Diego, Amelia travels to Montana to find a family for her and her young son. But life is hard on Amelia — first she has her funds stolen, then she and her baby, Jimmy, become ill. Desperate to provide for Jimmy, Amelia makes a hard decision. Will Jimmy and Amelia finally find a home?

The Christmas Blessing is a quick read; I finished it in one day. But don’t think that it is not long on all the things you like about a novella from Carlson. Characters, especially Amelia and Helene, will capture the reader’s heart. Both women love their sons fiercely and are determined to protect them. The setting is perfect for a nostalgic Christmas read — small town Montana from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The quaint town, the snowy scenery, and the chill in the air will make you snuggle up in an afghan with a cup of cocoa or tea. The drama surrounding Amelia may be a bit old-fashioned, but not that different from struggles single mothers face today. Although Amelia’s plight seems hopeless, there is a definite happily-ever-after in store for her and the reader. Carlson also makes sure that faith in God is woven naturally throughout the book.

If you are looking for a book to get you in the holiday mood, then The Christmas Blessing is a good choice.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

 

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday — Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do AKA Coming-of-Age Books

26 Sep

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish have challenged bloggers to list Books That Feature Characters ____ (culturally diverse characters, characters with mental illness, those who play sports, etc.). Because I really want to spotlight coming-of-age novels, I have titled this week’s list Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do. I just finished a really great novel, Child of The River by Irma Joubert, and it reminded me of other excellent coming-of-age stories. While there are some great classics– A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Chosen, etc. — I wanted to share some that you may be unfamiliar with. Hope you enjoy my list, even if I did have to finagle the challenge just a bit. 😉

 

Top Coming of Age Novels

 

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 Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

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.

The One True Love of Alice Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear ― having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

 The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

The Runaway by Claire Wong

Shortly before her eighteenth birthday, Rhiannon Morgan runs away from the remote Welsh village of Llandymna. Camping out in Dyrys Woods, she starts to make a new life for herself. In the woods she finds space for her active imagination — weaving together the stories she loves and memories of her past, including the mother she lost thirteen years ago.

Back in the village, Rhiannon’s disappearance triggers a series of events that uncover the cracks in Llandymna’s quiet surface. Relationships become frayed as a young police officer is forced to investigate his neighbors, and the village’s elderly storyteller hints at a secret that the older generation has kept for decades. But as painful as the village’s past may be, it may hold the key for hope in the present . . . .

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?

Son of A Soldier by Aiken A. Brown

Son of a Soldier is the powerful story of how God used one unlikely, country girl to change the course of history. It seemed impossible to believe that an eighteen-year-old girl from the middle-of-nowhere, Tennessee would have any real significance in the history of our nation…that is until God chose her to make a Godly man out of a flawed, military hero’s stubborn son.

Hailey was a small town, farm girl who had never left her home state of Tennessee. She was a naïve tomboy who possessed an unassuming charm, the power of which she could not comprehend.

Grant was a rebellious Army brat who had seen the world. Glib, sarcastic and self-destructive, he was a loner lost in a world he had never felt he fit into.

They seemingly had little in common, but when two hearts collided, two worlds became one; while Hailey embarks on a beautiful journey of self-discovery in this unique coming-of-age story, Grant travels a winding, dirt road that helps him rediscover a lost innocence and discover a renewed purpose.

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.

 

What are some of your favorite coming-of-age novels?

 

 

 

2017 Carol Award Winners

24 Sep

Congratulations to the 2017 Carol Award winners. Presented by The American Christian Fiction Writers, the Carol Awards are given in recognition of outstanding fiction in 10 genres.

 

Contemporary

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editor Amanda Bostic

 

Historical

Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart, Kregel Publications, editors Dawn Jackson and Janyre Tromp

 

Historical Romance

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published), editors Denise Harmer and Kara Swanson

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editors Amanda Bostic and Natalie Hanneman

 

Novella

The Doctor’s Woman (The Courageous Brides Collection) by Michelle Griep, Barbour Publishing, editor Becky Germany

 

Romance

A Season to Love by Nicole Deese, Waterfall Press, editors Amy Hosford and Kristin Mehus-Roe

 

Romantic Suspense

Always Watching (Elite Guardians) by Lynette Eason, Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing, editor Andrea Doering

 

Short Novel

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti, Worthy Inspired, editors Pamela Clements and Jamie Chavez

 

Speculative

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editors Amanda Bostic and Erin Healy

 

Debut

You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, editor Kathryn Davis

 

2017 Christy Award Finalists

21 Sep

Congratulations to all the finalists of the 2017 Christy Awards. The winners will be announced November 8, 2017.

 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Her One And Only by Becky Wade

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

FIRST NOVEL

Counted with The Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

GENERAL FICTION

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

HISTORICAL

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

Miriam by Mesu Andrews

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

MURDER/SUSPENSE/THILLER

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

SHORT FORM

Looking Into You by Chris Fabry

Mirror Image by Laura Scott

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

VISIONARY

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

King’s Folly by Jill Williamson

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James Rubart

YOUNG ADULT

If You’re Gone by Brittany Goodwin

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Unblemished by Sara Ella

 

 

 

If You Loved . . . The One True Love of Alice-Ann

31 Aug

I have found that when I finish a book I really, really like, I want to read more books just like it. So I am starting a new feature on By The Book. At the end of each month, I will recommend books based on By The Book’s monthly book club selection. In August we read The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson. We loved it! It is set on the American home front during WWII. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to! 🙂 If you have and want to read more like it, check out the following recommendations.

Books Set On The American Home Front During WWII

The Discovery By Dan Walsh

Gerard 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.

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval even marry a man she doesn’t love. Lt. Walter Novak fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt’s muddy bomber base in England and Allie’s mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

Nightingale by Susan May Warren

Nightingale Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancé — she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion.  Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy.  Or is he?  Peter Hess is not who he seems.  Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life.  A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart . . . a battle where only one will survive.

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer/Cara Putnam/Sarah Sundin

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Back to School Reading (For Mom!)

22 Aug

Top 10 Tuesday is back this week with reading lists for school days. I went back and forth on what to post this week. I debated sharing historical fiction, doing a “Don’t Know Much” post, etc. But because I was a slacker this weekend (I relaxed at our north Georgia cabin for total eclipse viewing), I decided to go with light and easy — Reading for The Car Line. My kids are all grown now, but I remember the many minutes, adding up to hours, that I spent sitting in car pick up lines or at the orthodontist or at ball practices. For times like those you need a book that will hold your attention, is entertaining, and is a quick read. This list contains something for everyone — history, mystery, suspense, and romance. I hope you enjoy these books as much I did! And because I was an English major, not a math major, you get 11 books!

And if you are looking for other great reading lists, check out Green Mockingbird and Reading Is My Superpower.

 

Top Car Line Books

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Moving Target by Lynette Gentry

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

True to You by Becky Wade

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

What are you reading now that the kids are back in school?

Book Review: The One True Love of Alice-Ann

17 Aug

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear ― having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

Eva Marie Everson grew up in rural Georgia just outside of Savannah and currently lives in Central Florida. She taught Old Testament theology for six years at Life Training Center in Longwood, Florida and has written numerous articles for Crosswalk.com (including the acclaimed Falling Into The Bible), and has had articles featured in Christian Bride Magazine, Christian Retailing Magazine, The Godly Business Woman and Marriage Partnershipmagazines. Eva Marie has been interviewed by a number of media outlets including radio, television, newspaper, magazines, and the Internet. In 2002 Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour. She was forever changed.

Eva Marie’s work includes award winning books such as: Shadow of Dreams, The Potluck Club, and Sex, Lies, and the Media. She has over 20 titles to her credit.

Eva Marie is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. She won AWSA’s very first Member of the Year Award in 2002. She is the past president of Word Weavers, one of the fastest growing Christian writers groups in the US. She is a graduate of CLASS and a member of several writer’s organizations. Both an international and national speaker, her passion is helping others to hear the heartbeat of God.

My Impressions:

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson is By The Book’s August selection. Everson is a favorite author of ours primarily because of her endearing characters and her novels’ wonderful sense of time and place. This book is no exception. Part romance and part coming-of-age, Alice-Ann is a quiet, yet quick-paced novel. I felt like I had been set right into the small town of Bynum, GA, and I sure loved my visit. This one is a highly recommended read from me.

The novel opens on Alice-Ann’s 16th birthday — December 7, 1941. As events of that infamous day unfold, Alice-Ann senses that her world is about to change dramatically. Many of the young men in town enlist, and those that are left send prayers for their safety. Life in the rural farming community will never be the same.

I loved the character of Alice-Ann Branch. She grows as the story unfolds, changing from naive teenager to a compassionate young woman. I loved how her viewpoint on life, family, and the war itself matures. Additionally, the supporting characters are well-developed, coming into their own as the novel progresses. Bynum is a fictional town, but Everson has added historical details and inspiration from real-life events to allow the reader to view life as it was on the home front. I especially liked the inclusion of German POWs. My father was stationed in Texas during WWII and told tales of the POWs he encountered there. (My parents even had a painting from a German POW.) This and other details gave a different slant from other WWII novels I have read, rounding out that era for me. Faith in God is a strong part of the story. As difficult situations arise, the characters lean on God instead of their own understanding. They call on Him to manage the distresses they face (Psalm 25:17). And for those who love romance, The One True Love of Alice-Ann presents a sweet and satisfying love story.

I really liked The One True Love of Alice-Ann. Its depiction of the greatest generation — all they lost, endured, and found victory in — and the era that made them is perfect! On a side note, the author’s website is a treasure trove of information. Be sure to check it out.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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