Tag Archives: Liz Tolsma

If You Liked The Sea Before Us . . .

29 Jun

My book club was unanimous in its approval of The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin. Although many of us have enjoyed lots of great books by Sundin, this was the first time we have read as a group a novel by her. It won’t be the last! In fact the only thing we didn’t like about the book was the fact we have to wait until next year for the next installment of the Sunrise at Normandy series, The Sky Above Us. So what should we and you read in the meantime? The following are my recommendation for WWII novels that feature strong women actively engaged in the war, either in official capacities or as a part of an underground network. Hope you enjoy!

 

Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey.

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci’s masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers’ adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on – and the runners are playing for keeps.

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.

Snow on The Tulips by Liz Tolsma.

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their  lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

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Top 10 Tuesday — I’ve Only Just Begun

26 Jun

While this week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme is all about series readers decided not to finish, I am again bucking the system. It is officially Opposite Day here at By The Book. My list features series that I haven’t finished because, well, they have just begun! Book 1 of each series is read, and I am eagerly awaiting the publication of book 2. For some series the wait is short; others require a bit more patience. All are series that I know I will love, love, love! (The links are to the reviews of book 1 in series.)

To discover what other bloggers think about finishing series, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Series I Began This Year

Blue Justice by Lynette Eason

Called to Protect (release date 7/31/18)

 

Bucklin Family Reunion by Debby Mayne

Fit to Be Tied (release date 8/28/18)

 

Dive Team Investigations by Lynn H. Blackburn

In Too Deep (release date 11/6/18)

 

Lavender Tides by Colleen Coble

The House at Saltwater Point (release date 7/3/18)

 

Music of Hope by Liz Tolsma

When The Heart Sings (release date 10/9/18)

 

Nantucket Legacy by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Minding The Light (release date 7/3/18)

 

Sunrise at Normandy by Sarah Sundin

The Sky Above Us (release date 2/5/19)

 

The Sugar Baron’s Daughters by Lisa T. Bergren

Verity (release date 4/2/19)

What series have you just begun?

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — War Torn Worlds

29 May

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme is book worlds that readers do/do not want to live in. I love that authors take me away to times and places I could not and would not dare to visit. I want to know what actual people went through, but I would never wish to have those experiences first hand. My list is all about the sieges, battles, and internment camps of war time. The books on my list are rich in detail and capture the times perfectly. They authors created worlds I am so glad I visited from the safety and peace of my favorite reading spot.

Make sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bookish worlds.

 

Top War Torn Book Worlds

The Civil War

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot (Andersonville Prison Camp)

Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green (Battle of Gettysburg)

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green (Sherman’s March to Atlanta)

 

WWII

The Butterfly And The Violin by Kristy Cambron (Auschwitz)

Daisies Are Forever by Liz Tolsma (Fall of Berlin)

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart (Ukraine)

 

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot (Dunkirk)

Remember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma (Philippine Internment Camp)

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer (Dutch East Indies Internment Camp)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Favorites of 2018 (So Far)

17 Apr

This week That Artsy Reader Girl of Top 10 Tuesday is letting bloggers have a Freebie. After much thought, I finally settled on sharing the Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year. The books on this list all were given a Highly Recommended rating by me. Covering a variety of genres, these books offer realistic and endearing characters, are beautifully written, and share messages of hope, healing, and grace. I loved them, and I think you will too. If you have read any of them, let me know if you agree with my assessment.

 

 

 

 Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

The Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin 

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey

What book is your favorite this year?

Top 10 Tuesday: Another Time, Another Place

27 Mar

This week’s prompt for Top 10 TuesdayBooks Set in Other Countries — could go a lot of different ways. I decided to feature historical fiction because even if time travel was a thing, I wouldn’t want to take the risks involved in traveling to foreign countries as they experience turmoil, war, disease, persecution, etc. You get the picture. 😉 Books, in this case, really are the only safe and realistic way to visit another time and another place! There’s a little something for everyone in these books — history, romance, suspense, and mystery. I hope you enjoy the trip!

Make sure you travel over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers and their favorite books.

 

Top Historical Novels Set in Another Country

 

Canada, 1910s

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever — if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

 

Czechoslovakia, WWII

Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

 

Ancient Egypt

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives — women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan — for them all?

 

France, 1600s

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

France, 1685. Catherine Gillet knows her brother, Jules, wants to protect her from the sinister threats of the French crown. But Jules is involved in a potentially deadly enterprise, one connected with an encoded document. When his actions put the whole family at risk, will Catherine find a way to save them?

Virginia, present day. Renee Talbot, a direct descendant of Catherine’s, is fascinated by the document that’s been part of her family legacy for more than three centuries. Certain its pages hold hidden secrets, she takes a closer look — and makes a shocking discovery. But when memories of a childhood trauma are rekindled, she’s forced to seek answers of a different kind. Inspired by the faith and bravery of Catherine, can Renee find the truth and face her deepest fears at last?

From the authors of the Christy Award-winning The Amish Midwife comes an epic story of two women, centuries apart, each discovering her own hidden bravery, standing for what she believes in, and finding love in unexpected places.

 

The Galilee, Palestine, 1st Century AD

Madman by Tracy Groot

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.

 

Greenland And Iceland, 900-1000s 

Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

Viking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother. Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland. But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland . . . and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened. In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence — her own heart. Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life.

 

 

Nevis, 1770s

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

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?

 

Scotland, 1800s

Within The Veil by Brandy Vallance

Feya Broon, a Scottish half Gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she’d ever want to be–captured by a palace guard. But there’s something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she’s ever had about the haughty English.

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a Gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fiancée’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty–both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts.

 

South Africa, post-WWII

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.

 

Ukraine, WWII

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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.

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?

 

Book Review (+ Giveaway!): The Melody of The Soul

30 Jan

Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

 

Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.

Find out more about Liz at http://www.liztolsma.com.

 

My Impressions:

Both man’s inhumanity and man’s compassion are revealed in Liz Tolsma’s latest novel set in WWII Europe, The Melody of The Soul. In this first novel in the Music of Hope series, Tolsma’s characters attempt to survive the soul-crushing cruelty of the Nazi regime in Prague and Terezin. This novel is a moving account that I just could not put down. Highly recommended.

Violinist Anna Zadok loves her family, Prague, and music. All three have been integral parts of her life for as long as she can remember. But with the occupation of the Nazi’s she loses one after the other as the Final Solution decimates the Jewish population of the city. Faced with either boarding a transport train or trusting a Nazi officer, Anna and her grandmother take a risk that God is really protecting them.

I loved the historical details that Tolsma effortlessly wove throughout The Melody of The Soul. The beauty and cultural richness of Prague is contrasted with the desperate conditions of the transition center the Nazi’s called Theresienstadt. She somehow portrays the horrible conditions of Terezin and the depraved actions of the Nazi occupiers without being too graphic. But the story still makes the heart break for all those lost in the Holocaust. The characters are very complex. Anna and Nazi officer Horst Engel struggle with their place in the drama that is unfolding around them, as well as what God is doing in their lives. Resistance fighters Particie and Georg place others above themselves. And the villain of the story, Stephan Jaeger, is a man of contrasts. Despite the hopelessness of many of the characters’ situations, they find themselves depending more and more on God and finding that He can indeed be trusted.

Music plays a major role in the characters’ lives. Anna’s brother David finds himself performing during his stay in Terezin. This is what it did for him — And then the music enveloped him, carried him far from this place. He sailed above Terezin’s confines, peering down on this miserable lot. He soared above green fields, majestic mountains of blue, shimmering turquoise oceans. Away, far away from the misery of his soul. The terrible ache in his heart over the loss of his parents, of his family faded. But music can only take you so far — only God can bring real salvation.

The Melody of The Soul displayed the human experience at its worst — grief, despair, fear and impotence, and at its best — sacrifice, faith, and perseverance in trial. While not always an easy read — there are many scenes I wished I could have looked away from — it is definitely a beautifully written and thought-provoking one.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

Giveaway and FB Party! 

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz’s prize pack giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the HERE. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz’s Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!