Tag Archives: Liz Tolsma

Top 10 Tuesday — Out of The Comfort Zone

3 Sep

This week on Top 10 Tuesday we are talking books that took us out of our comfort zone. I generally think of new genres when hearing out of comfort zone reads, but today I am going to highlight books with difficult subject matter. The books on my list are beautifully written and touched my heart, but were definitely not light and easy reads. They focus on the difficulties of life — the things we hope never to experience. Why read books like this? To challenge, to inform, to engage our sympathies (and empathy), to make us uncomfortable. But lest you think these selections are going to leave you feeling worse than when you started them, please know they are filled with grace and redemption. If you haven’t read some on my list, I hope you find one that will speak to your heart.

For more out of comfort zone reading, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer―not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

Lead Me Home By Amy K. Sorrells

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

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

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

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

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

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district — and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time — from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War — to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose . . .

The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules — and the consequences for disobeying them — Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear — but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Baby Names Inspired by Favorite Characters

9 Jul

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a character freebie. My husband and I will be first time grandparents in early 2020 *woo hoo*, so it is time to bring out baby name suggestions. I am listing boy and girl names inspired by recent novels I’ve read. What do you think? (And no, I don’t really think any of the names on my list will be chosen by the parents! 😉 )

 

Top Baby Names from Recent Reads

Girls

Annie from All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Belinda from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Camden from On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cecile from The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

Elsie from Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Joanna from The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Kayden from Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Kiera from Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Rosa from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Sophie from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

 

Boys

Alex from The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Itzhak from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Kjell from Dawn’s Prelude by Tracie Peterson

Nate from Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Reef from Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Seth from On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Stone from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Tank from Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble

Zach from More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Zander from Sweet on You by Becky Wade

What’s your favorite character name?

 

 

Book Review + Giveaway! — The Pink Bonnet

2 Jul

About The Book

Book: The Pink Bonnet

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical, Suspense

Release date: June, 2019

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Impressions:

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma continues the true crime series that really exemplifies that fact is stranger than fiction. In the second book of the True Colors series, Tolsma presents a very personal look at the corruption and pure evil that dominated the adoption scene in Memphis from the 1920s right up to the 1950s. The infamous Georgia Tann and her Tennessee Children’s Home Society are at the center of the novel. Greed and power are two motivators for those who stole and sold children. But it is an unrelenting love that wins the day in this fictional account. Tolmsa uses historical touches — dress, setting, culture — to set the stage of this mystery/suspense set in the 1930s. A child is stolen, and mother Cecile Dowd never gives up on finding her daughter. Swept into the drama is lawyer and assistant to Tann, Percy Vance. The two are great complimentary characters — dogged in determination and set on seeing that evil does not win. While The Pink Bonnet is pure fiction, it is a good representation of the subject matter. I had heard of Georgia Tann, but did not truly know how she preyed on the desperate and vulnerable, with seemingly no opposition. While primarily a mystery/suspense novel, this quick read also features a budding romance — it really offers something for everyone.

For a glimpse into an historical true crime story, The Pink Bonnet is a good choice and receives a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

 

About The Author

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

More from Liz

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 6 unique stories of historical romantic suspense in the exciting new True Colors series.

In book two, The Pink Bonnet, Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child? Find out in The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma.

The True Crime Behind the Story

Georgia Tann was a woman who ran an adoption agency in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1924 until 1950. It is estimated that, in that time, she kidnapped over five thousand children and sold them to the highest bidder. She even advertised the children in the newspaper, especially around the holidays. Some of the nation’s biggest celebrities adopted through Miss Tann, including Joan Crawford, Dick Powell, and June Allyson. Learn more about Georgia Tann HERE and visit www.TrueColorsCrime.com for more exclusive content.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, June 20

The Becca Files, June 20

Livin’ Lit, June 20

The Power of Words, June 21

Christian Bookaholic, June 21

Godly Book Reviews, June 21

Spoken from the Heart, June 22

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 22

For HIm and my Family, June 22

Blossoms and Blessings, June 23

Inspired by fiction, June 23

Mary Hake, June 23

Connie’s History Classroom, June 24

Moments, June 24

Simple Harvest Reads, June 24

Daysong Reflections, June 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 25

For the Love of Literature, June 25

Remembrancy, June 26

As He Leads is Joy, June 26

Emily Yager, June 26

Genesis 5020, June 27

Reader’s Cozy Corner, June 27

Carla Loves to Read, June 27

Inklings and notions, June 28

Changed by Him, June 28

Bigreadersite, June 28

Through the Fire Blogs, June 28

Inspiration Clothesline, June 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 29

Pause for Tales, June 29

Hallie Reads, June 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 30

For the Love of Books, June 30

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 1

Texas Book-aholic, July 1

janicesbookreviews, July 2

Older & Smarter?, July 2

By The Book, July 2

A Reader’s Brain, July 3

amandainpa, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Pink Bonnet!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/e331/the-pink-bonnet-celebration-tour-giveaway

If You Liked The Sky Above Us …

30 Apr

My book club loved The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin. It has a unique perspective — the Army Air Force pilots who aided the Allied effort before and during D Day and the mission of the American Red Cross in England. So, for today’s If You Liked post I decided to recommend WWII novels also with a unique perspective. Two focus on incidents early in the war — Dunkirk and the Blitz. The other novel explores the end of the Reich from the perspective of an American caught in Nazi Germany. All three are great reads — enjoy!

Direct Hit by Mike Hollow

The jagged blast of high explosives rips through the evening air. In the sky over East London the searchlights criss-cross in search of the enemy.

On the first night of the Blitz, a corpse is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. Detective Inspector John Jago recognizes the dead man as local Justice of the Peace Charles Villiers. But then a German bomb obliterates all evidence.

Villiers, not a popular man, was both powerful and feared. As the sirens wail, the detective must start matching motive to opportunity – and it doesn’t help when his boss foists an intrusive American journalist on him.

Jago soon discovers the dead man held many secrets, some reaching back to World War I. A lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to conceal a murder.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

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

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

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

Daises Are Forever by Liz Tolsma

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.

Prussia, 1945

The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst.
Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her.

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye, Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer.

Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Traveling Back In Time

26 Feb

Welcome to Top 10 Tuesday. This week we were charged with sharing the various book locations we would love to visit. I decided to share places I have journeyed to recently that are best suited for book travel. Each well-researched book brought a new perspective to a time and place in history. And while a time machine would be required to visit the places I have listed, it is my affection for flush toilets, antibiotics, and the safety of my own home, that prompts a book-only adventure! 😉

For more bookish travel, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Book Locations I Liked Visiting (But Only In A Book! 😉 )

 

Freedom’s Kiss by Sarah Monzon (early 1800 Florida)

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson (WWII Austria)

The Liberty Bride by Marylu Tyndall (War of 1812)

The Patriot Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse (Revolutionary War)

Prince Edward’s Warrant by Mel Starr (14th century England)

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton (early 1800s Tennessee)

The Seamstress by Allison Pittman (French Revolution)

Searching for You by Jody Hedlund (1850s orphan trains)

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette (OT Israel)

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma (WWII Poland)

 

Where would you like to travel?

Top 10 Tuesday — Married Couples

12 Feb

Today is the Valentine’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday — favorite couples. While there are plenty of books that feature the romantic beginnings for couples, there are fewer that detail the good and the bad of marriage relationships. So instead of featuring my favorite young lovers, I am sharing books with old married couples. Old is in italics because that’s how many see a couple who has settled in, but the books I share today show the trials and victories of married life no matter how long the couple has been blissfully wed. A variety of genres are shared to appeal to all reading preferences. I’ve even included a Christmas novella.

For more favorite couples, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books Featuring Married Couples

The Breath of Peace by Penelope Wilcock

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Emergency Case by Richard Mabry

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

No One to Trust by Lynette Eason

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

When Sings The Heart by Liz Tolsma