Tag Archives: WWII

Book Review: Almost Home

21 Mar

With America’s entrance into the Second World War, the town of Blackberry Springs, Alabama, has exploded virtually overnight. Workers from all over are coming south for jobs in Uncle Sam’s munitions plants — and they’re bringing their pasts with them, right into Dolly Chandler’s grand but fading family home turned boardinghouse.

An estranged young couple from the Midwest, unemployed professors from Chicago, a widower from Mississippi, a shattered young veteran struggling to heal from the war — they’re all hoping Dolly’s house will help them find their way back to the lives they left behind. But the house has a past of its own.

When tragedy strikes, Dolly’s only hope will be the circle of friends under her roof and their ability to discover the truth about what happened to a young bride who lived there a century before.

Award-winning and bestselling author Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into a cast of unforgettable characters in this complex and compassionate story of hurt and healing.

 

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

My Impressions:

Oh. My. Goodness! I loved, loved Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse! My book club read her debut novel, Missing Isaac, last year and were bowled over by the wonderful new voice of this author. We are set to discuss Almost Home in a few months, and I cannot wait to hear everyone’s reactions. This novel made me smile from start to finish (with a few tears sprinkled throughout). This one is a highly recommended read!

The “loop”, a road off a highway in middle of nowhere Alabama, is the setting for Almost Home. More specifically, Dolly’s 100 year old home that has been lovingly opened to boarders to pay the taxes as well as offer respite to hurting souls. WWII is still being fought across the ocean, and the people residing in the home come from across the country to work at the munitions plant. Their stories are varied and the same — life has dealt them a blow that leaves them in despair. The cast of characters is strong, and Luesse gives each one a distinctive voice. I came to love them as old friends and was reluctant to leave them when the last page was turned. The author did oblige my curiosity of where there lives will lead with a wonderful epilogue. The novel has a faith foundation that is consistent, but never preachy. And there is a sense of wonder and even magic in the turn of events that kept this reader looking for what would happen next. The novel is set in 1944 in rural Alabama, but the characters struggles are relevant today. I loved how the author captured the era so well, yet the stories and the people are consistent with our present-day world. A century-old legend captures the boarders’ (and the reader’s) imagination adding a sense of adventure and mystery to the novel.

Full of love, hope, and magic, Almost Home is perfect for those looking for a story that will whisk them away and bring them back feeling good!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Spring TBR

19 Mar

I am very excited about the books I have coming up this Spring — lots of favorite authors with new releases! There’s a little something for everyone on my list — romance, suspense, history, women’s fiction. All are new releases and have the loveliest, Spring-y covers. I hope you find a new book you can add to your Spring TBR List!

For more of what bloggers are reading in the coming months, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on My Spring TBR

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room — until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl invades her turf. But she needn’t worry. Dr. Logan West is too busy coping with an unexpected family, a radical lifestyle change, and an unruly pup to have any interest in his aloof and disagreeable neighbor.

Yet when both Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulled into the life of a tattered Christian family fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria, might they discover that love sometimes comes calling when it’s least expected?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites readers back to the charming seaside town of Hope Harbor, where they are sure to find peace, healing, and a second chance at happiness.

The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear…

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants — operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo.

When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions — particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah A. Ladd

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess — and the mystery shrouding her past — proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House. 

Moments We Forget by Beth Vogt

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans — but was that the truth?

After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.

Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?

Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past — and the most fearsome battle of his life.

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer.

MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete — no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister — a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.

 

What are you reading this Spring?

 

 

 

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

Book Review (+Giveaway): When The Heart Sings

29 Nov

Banner_WhenHeartSings_Blog

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

When the Heart Sings-FINAL-front_cover_020518a-HRTitle: When the Heart Sings
Series: Music of Hope #2
Author: Liz Tolsma
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Christian Book | Book Depository


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

liz tolsma

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

CONNECT WITH LIZ: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 

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MY IMPRESSIONS:

One of the highlights of this year was my trip to Poland in April. The experience was wonderful as we encountered beautiful cities, countryside and people. When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma brought all of that back to me, but through a different perspective. The novel set during WWII captures the beauty of the human spirit and its resilience in the face of extreme persecution. Just as my trip introduced me to a country with a strong cultural heritage in spite of the many hardships the people faced over the centuries, this book brought to life the ordinary people of Poland that survived the invasion of Nazi Germany. Powerful in its message and beautifully written, When The Heart Sings is a very highly recommended read.

When The Heart Sings is a small story — small in that it is set in a small town, with a small forced-labor factory, with a small cast of characters. But it certainly is not small in message. Everything about it seeks to put a face on what the people of Poland endured during the dark days of occupation. The characters could be you or me. A young couple displaced from their farm and forced to work under unimaginable circumstances, really slaves to the Nazis. A doctor who against all odds is left to live and practice medicine and do what he can to undermine the efforts of the regime. A young, naive German woman who despite indoctrination and abuse, knows deep down the right thing to do. And the cruel face of evil in the very real form of a Nazi officer. The book also examines the small actions that we can take that have big results.  And under, around, and through all of the drama of the novel, God is not only present, but in control. As one of the character states: “We look at our circumstances and see things as not good. But we don’t see the picture clearly, as the Lord does. He knows what is going on.. Things happen just the way he has planned they will.” (p. 258) A hard truth to accept sometimes, but truth nonetheless. Where is God? is a question asked repeatedly, and in the end the characters and the readers know.

As you can probably guess from the title, song has a large part in the narrative. The music and words of lullabies, love songs, classical works, and hymns encourage, comfort, and help to keep sane those who find themselves in impossible situations. There is an especially moving scene in which song softens the heart of a brutal captor. Even if you have a tin ear (like me 😉 ), you will love the way Tolsma incorporates music.

I absolutely loved When The Heart Sings. It is part of a series, but the books are only connected through theme and setting and can be read as standalones. It is definitely a book you are going to talk about — great for book clubs or friends/family who love to read together.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

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

 


when the heart sings blog giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive (US only)

  • a print copy of When the Heart Sings
  • Just One More Chapter’ throw pillow seen HERE

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 26, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 3, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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Top 10 Tuesday — Halloween Randomness

30 Oct

As a blogger/reviewer of Inspirational and Clean Fiction it is a challenge to come up with a Halloween theme each year. I’ve racked my brain this year and have come up with not much of anything. I have already done Halloween Cozies, Spooky Christian Fiction, and even Reformation Reading. Yes I was reaching with that one. 😉 So this year I am opting for Halloween Randomness — covers that remind me of October days, covers that are ominous, and some good old fashioned supernatural fiction. I have read a few of these books; others are at the top of my TBR. I hope you find one you will love!

Be sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl where I am sure you will find some Halloween fun much more clever than mine!

Halloween Randomness

 

Fall-ish Covers

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

 

Ominous Covers

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

 

Good Old Fashioned Supernatural Thrillers

The Windy Ridge Legal Thriller Series by Rachel Dylan

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Missing Out

25 Sep

Because the number of books on my shelf, Kindle, and wish lists don’t equal the amount of free time I have to read, i have *gasp* unread books by favorite authors. Those are the books that whisper the loudest read me as I pass their resting place. Many of the books have been waiting many years; others are more recent additions. Some, when read, will put a finished check mark next to a series. I have every intention of reading them all!  That Artsy Reader Girl wants us to fess up this week and share those deserving titles. Have you read any of the books on my list? Tell me which one I should read next.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl for other bloggers’ true confessions.

 

Top 10 Unread Books by Favorite Authors

 

Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Journey by Angela Hunt

Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

Mine Is The Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Stones of My Accusers by Tracy Groot

 

What books by favorite authors do you need to read?

 

 

Book Review + Giveaway: Hidden Among The Stars

17 Sep

About The Book

Hidden-Among-The-Stars-Book-Cover

Book Title: Hidden Among The Stars

Author: Melanie Dobson

Genre: Historical Fiction (However, this is a time-slip novel, so there is also a contemporary component to the story)

Release date: September 4, 2018

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Click HERE to purchase.


About The Author

Melanie-Dobson-Author-PhotoMelanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Visit Melanie online at www.melaniedobson.com.

 

My Impressions:

I have been a big fan of Melanie Dobson for a number of years. Her novels always deliver a story full of wonderfully developed characters, unforgettable settings, and powerful messages. Hidden Among The Stars is no exception and has moved to the top of my all-time favorites from this talented author. You really need to read this book! Very highly recommended!

Hidden Among The Stars has a dual timeline that while popular with authors and readers alike, certainly has to be very difficult to achieve. I often find that one story is missing something. Not so with Hidden Among The Stars. I was fully invested in both the modern day story of children’s book store owner Callie as she sought to find the connections and secrets hidden within the pages of storybooks and the story of oppression and fear, hope and sacrifice in the early years of WWII-era Austria. The characters touched my heart and became like well known friends. I hurt for them, cheered them on, and was amazed at their resilience and nobility in the face of cruelty. While all the characters are striking in their portrayal, my favorite was the simple, teenaged Annika who was caught up in events much larger than her experience. A very ordinary young woman, Annika extraordinarily lives out Christ’s love. The history surrounding the occupation of Austria, the early years of Nazi oppression, and the hidden treasures that were lost was fascinating. Dobson weaves a mystery that will captivate your imagination while forcing you to turn the pages faster and faster. For those who love books, children’s books in particular, Hidden Among The Stars is a treat. I loved the history shared about the authors and their life experiences.

Hidden Among The Stars will undoubtedly make my best of 2018 list. A book that pulls you in from the opening lines, it is a beautifully written, emotionally charged, and powerfully moving depiction of love, honor, and sacrifice. Grab this one and some of your friends — you are going to want to talk about this book!

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: older teens and adults.

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

 

 

Guest Post from Melanie

Hallstatt’s Hiding Places

Backpacking across Europe—that’s how my husband Jon and I decided to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We savored the old world culture and charm as we hiked along Italy’s coast, toured medieval castles in Germany, and cruised the canals in Belgium; we both left a bit of our hearts in an ancient lakeside town called Hallstatt.

The moment we stepped off the ferryboat and into this storybook village, we crossed through a portal of sorts, traveling back several centuries in time. The rugged, snow-capped mountains around us and alpine lake, the quaint village with its church steeples and cobblestone lanes and waterfall that spilled into town—all of it captivated us.

Along the shore, hidden partially by trees, we could see spires of an abandoned castle, and I wanted to know its story. No one in Hallstatt could tell us who’d lived in the castle—at least, not in English—so my husband agreed to a new adventure. With a swan as our escort, we glided across the lake in an electric boat so I could study the rusty turrets, boarded windows, and wooden boathouse resting in the water like a felled log.

Instead of quelling my curiosity, the match of inspiration ignited my mind. Who had lived in this castle, and what happened there? I began writing in my journal that night, trying to capture my rogue thoughts on paper, hoping that one day a novel would emerge from the ashes of this castle’s story.

When we returned home, I began researching more of Hallstatt’s history and discovered that this region, in all of its beauty and mystique, had been infiltrated by an enemy in 1938. This town and the surrounding Salzkammergut became a mountain retreat for Nazi officials who built mansions on the shores of its many lakes and used salt mines to hide “ownerless treasure”—the gold bullion and artwork they’d stolen from the Jewish people.

The Nazis intended to build a Fourth Reich in this alpine fortress, but the Allies had other plans. Near the end of the war, these lakes became a dustbin of sorts, collecting whatever the enemy dumped into its waters—weapons, counterfeit banknotes, concentration camp lists—as they fled south from the Allied troops. The Devil’s Dustbin, locals call it.

Lake Hallstatt plunges more than four hundred feet between the fortress of mountains. Because of its depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, divers continue finding World War II artifacts today. Some still believe there’s a treasure trove buried on the bottom, but no one has reported finding any gold.

After our trip, a story about this castle and what happened to the heirlooms of the Austrian Jewish people continued to burn inside me until I finally put it on paper. So I built Schloss Schwansee—Castle of Swan Lake—in my mind, inspired by the castle along Lake Hallstatt, and created a cast of historical and contemporary characters who are searching for lost treasure.

Hidden Among the Stars is a time-slip novel about a castle and treasure and fairytales, but most of all, it’s a story about God using ordinary people across Austria to resist evil in their own extraordinary way.

Blog Stops

Reading Is My SuperPower, September 6

Fiction Aficionado, September 6

Back Porch Reads, September 6

Among the Reads, September 6

The Power of Words, September 7

Multifarious, September 7

lady ansel book vibes, September 7

The Becca Files, September 7

God’s Little Bookworm, September 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, September 8

Painting with Words, September 8

Lis Loves Reading, September 8

cherylbbookblog, September 9

Living LIfe Free in Christ, September 9

Madeline Clark, September 9

Mary Hake, September 9

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 10

Genesis 5020, September 10

Faithfully Bookish, September 10

Simple Harvest Reads, September 10 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Margaret Kazmierczak, September 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 11

Daysong Reflections, September 11

Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews, September 11

Seasons of Opportunities, September 12

Remembrancy, September 12

Inklings and notions, September 12

amandainpa, September 12

Maureen’s Musing, September 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 13

Just Commonly, September 13

Book by Book, September 13

Connect in Fiction, September 14

Pause for Tales, September 14

Have A Wonderful Day, September 14

Splashes of Joy, September 14

The Christian Fiction Girl, September 15

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 15

To Everything A Season, September 15

A Baker’s Perspective, September 15

proud to be an autism mom, September 16

Bibliophile Reviews, September 16

Bigreadersite, September 16

Aryn The Libraryan, September 16

By The Book, September 17

Christian author, J.E. Grace, September 17

Janices book reviews, September 17

Texas Book-aholic, September 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

Carpe Diem, September 18

Godly Book Reviews, September 19

For The Love of Books, September 19

Live. Love. Read., September 19

Reader’s Cozy Corner, September 19

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Melanie is giving away a grand prize package that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, Catching the Wind paperback, and Hidden Among the Stars paperback!!

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/d2ad/hidden-among-the-stars-celebration-tour-giveaway