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A Rose for the Resistance by Angela Couch Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Rose for the Resistance

Author: Angela K. Couch

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Christian

Release date: April, 2022

9781636092072 (4)

A French Woman and German Soldier Create a Truce

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

With her father in a German POW camp and her home in Ste Mere Eglise, France, under Nazi occupation, Rosalie Barrieau will do anything to keep her younger brother safe. . .even from his desire to join the French resistance. Until she falls into the debt of a German solder—one who delivers a wounded British pilot to her door. Though not sure what to make of her German ally, Rosalie is thrust deep into the heart of the local underground. As tensions build toward the allied invasion of Normandy, she must decide how much she is willing to risk for freedom.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

An impossible situation in WWII France. A German soldier helping his French enemies. A young French boy, not quite man, deeply involved in the Resistance. His older, beautiful sister wants nothing but to pacify the Germans,certainly not to engage the enemy. What difference could one person make?

In A Rose for the Resistance, Angela K Couch brings to vivid life the danger and deprivation of occupied France. The hatred each opposing group held for each other, the inability to see the humanity of one for the deeds of the whole group. At one point, Franz tells Rosalie, “But I am not this uniform.” Can Rosalie look past his hair, his complexion, and see his heart? A timely question for our country and times.

I enjoyed seeing how Couch slowly lets the reader see what events and traumas of the past formed Rosalie and Franz into who they are when we meet them. I also appreciated the considerable growth of both characters throughout the book. The suspense is real, and fear seems omnipresent. Franz is afraid, maybe more than others. “I’m not ready to meet God. The truth of it settled, heavy in Franz’s chest. It really wasn’t death he feared. Truthfully, death might even be a release from the misery of this world. But to stand and be judged by God? His hands were too stained for that.”

Someone we never see during the book was my fave character. How could he not be?!! Rosalie keeps having flashbacks to her father’s tender ways and times with her. He taught her in small bits of teachable moments and assured her of his love. A father’s steady love can mirror the Father’s love for His children.

I cannot imagine the bleakness of an occupied land. I could understand why Rosalie felt useless against the evil in her land. Yet, she would learn the truth of these words:

“No one soldier will win this war. But each is needed for victory.”

While the Nazis could take their crops, ration their food, and change the future she had expected, Rosalie discovers a shining light amidst the darkness. “‘Don’t give up hope,’ she whispered. That was the one thing the Nazis could not take from her unless she allowed them.”

Hope spurred on by faith. Why these stories of WWII are so powerful and worth reading!

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Hope Shines in the Darkest Times!

About the Author

To keep from freezing in the great white north, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the 2016 International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and toasty warm) by chasing after four munchkins.

More from Angela

The story of A Rose for the Resistance has been in the making for a while. Rosalie and Franz came to life for me in the first novel I started writing as a teenager… (not even going to mention how long ago that was). Though much of that early work will never see the light of day, I am glad I can finally share them with you.

Every November 11th since I was a child, I would sit with my dad and watch WWII documentaries and movies like A Bridge too Far, or The Longest Day which featured Sainte-Mère-Église during the D-day landings. So many of those stories beg to be remembered and I tried to include as much as I could in this novel, even in passing. Stories such as John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment who dropped into the warzone of Sainte-Mère-Église that night and his chute caught on the spire of the church. He hung limply for hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. John later escaped and rejoined his division. Or, Henry Langrehr who landed five miles from his drop zone, crashing through a greenhouse on the way down. He was unharmed from the fall, but was later wounded and captured. He lived into his nineties to tell the tale.

Many of the events and deeds of The Resistance in the novel are also pulled from history. The French citizen’s willingness to risk their lives to transport weapons and information, and to staunchly resist the brutal German occupation. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 men women – and children – were killed, tortured, or deported by the Germans for their efforts.

Though many of the characters in this story are fictional, there are so many men and women who truly did live through the horrors of the War in Europe, and more importantly risked or sacrificed their all for the freedom and lives of others.

I pray we never forget.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 29

Books, Books, and More Books, April 29

The Write Escape, April 30

Remembrancy, April 30

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 1

Rachael’s Inkwell, May 1

Texas Book-aholic, May 1

Genesis 5020, May 2

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, May 2

Inklings and notions, May 2

She Lives To Read, May 3

lakesidelivingsite, May 3

Betti Mace, May 4

For Him and My Family, May 4

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 4

Sodbuster Living, May 5

deb’s Book Review, May 5

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, May 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 6

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 6

Vicarious Living, May 6

Older & Smarter?, May 7

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 7

Sylvan Musings, May 7

Connie’s History Classroom, May 8

Blossoms and Blessings, May 8

Mary Hake, May 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 9

Splashes of Joy, May 9

Through the Fire Blogs, May 9

Bizwings Blog, May 10

Pause for Tales, May 10

Labor Not in Vain, May 10

Bigreadersite, May 11

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 11

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, May 11

CarpeDiem, May 12

Lights in a Dark World, May 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angela is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!

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/1d3bb/a-rose-for-the-resistance-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, Kregel, NetGalley, New Author, New-to-Me Author, Read with Audra

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

Author: Janyre Tromp

Publisher: Kregel

Released: April 19, 2022

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

My Impressions

“Sometimes God uses broken things to save us … Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.”

Broken… that is what so many characters are, in Janyre Tromp’s debut novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. WWII is over, but as the surviving men return home, many face the kind of difficulties that own Sam Mattas and his family.

Wives and other family not going to war attempt to keep the family homestead going, waiting their men’s return. When Sam Mattas reappears, his wife and family are left to wonder how to navigate the much less-than-ideal situation God allows. Is God still to be trusted? Does God have a plan for this mess?

This psychological thriller is immersed in the Southern mountain culture, with the heart of truth only revealed after much emotional upheaval (including on the reader’s part!) First person narrative, alternating between Sam and Annie, made me want to choose sides, then switch repeatedly until my head was spinning. Characters are so multi-faceted and fluid that I found myself identifying with even some of the “villains.” I must admit this novel reminded me of some great classics- not easy to enter into for awhile, but once I did, I felt like I had discovered a treasure by the end!

My favorite character is Dovie May. Elderly, life has not been kind to her, yet she remains full of faith, optimism, and encouragement for others to keep pressing forward. Wisdom is certainly on her tongue.

I received a copy of this book from the I Read with Audra Tour via NetGalley. No positive review is required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotable:

So many, but I will give my fave:

“We think everything eventually goes back to what we want it be. That everything’ll be happy and familiar, the good winning. We never want to travel beyond the point where everybody’s happy. But life’s everything after, and the question is, what are you going to do with the truth life drops in your lap?”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Fabulous Psychological Thriller of WWII Era

About the Author

Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist whose loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her website,www.JanyreTromp.com (where you can grab a free copy of her novella Wide Open).

More Behind Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

An Interview with Janyre Tromp,

Author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

 

In Shadows in the Mind’s Eye (Kregel Publications),debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense as she takes readers back in time to 1940s Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

 

When Sam claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

 

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

 

Q: The back of the book describes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye as, “A deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense.” In your own words, introduce us to your debut novel. 

 

Charlotte Anne Mattas wants to go back to the way things were before her husband, Sam, left their farm for the war in the Pacific. Sam used to be her protector, but when he arrives home in Spring of 1946, his battle fatigue has everyone questioning his sanity and her safety… especially after he nearly kills his brother, then claims to see men on the mountain where no else has seen them. Are there really dangerous men on the mountain or is his twisted mind conjuring things that aren’t there? 

 

In the tradition of Hitchcock with a hint of psychological thriller, In the Mind’s Eye explores the illness we now call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and persistent love in a world determined to destroy it.

 

Q: Sam and Charlotte Anne both expected life to go back to normal when he returned from the war, but that doesn’t exactly happen. How was life post-war different from what they expected? How does each of them respond to those differences?

 

This story actually began while talking to my grandparents over a glass of lemonade. My U.S. History professor had given us an assignment to talk to family about the Depression and/or World War II. Until that point, I’d had no real concept of what the war was like, either for the soldiers or their families back home. I guess I’d thought that the greatest generation slid back into life and easily became the loving people I knew my grandparents were in their 70s. When I discovered that wasn’t the case, I wondered how they had survived the fear and drastic changes. 

 

Like my grandfather, Sam glorified the home front, anticipating a glorious homecoming, delicious food, a soft bed, and an easier life.Charlotte Anne expected Sam to quickly become part of the teamagain as they worked their peach orchard. Instead, Sam has nightmares and reacts to food he used to love (I even gave Sam a reaction to orange marmalade just like my grandfather). Sam tends to jump to conclusions because he doesn’t understand the context, struggles with the physicality of farm work, and is overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done since Charlotte Anne wasn’t able to do a lot of the upkeep. 

 

At first, neither Sam nor Annie knows quite what to do with one another, but they’re determined to understand each other.Eventually they each open up to Sam’s mom, Dovie May, and she becomes a healing balm for each of them. If I had to give Dovie a theme, it would be: “You’d think holding joy right up against sadness would shatter a body. But it don’t. Joy, it sneaks in all around, sticks everything together, and finds a way to make you whole. See, light sneaks through the broken places.”

 

Q: In our current day, we are very aware of what PTSD is, and that it is very prevalent among men and women who have been in the military and seen war. What was known about PTSD back in the 1940s after World War II?

 

Although the general population didn’t shame WWII soldiers with PTSD symptoms as much as they did their WWI counterparts, WWII era doctors knew little about how to treat trauma of any kind. Battle fatigue, as it was known then, was treated with electroshock therapy (something that was terrifying and had limited success), and many of the men who suffered from it were often divorced, angry, confused, and quietly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Sam and Annie here, so I dug for treatment options and talked with a few modern therapists.

 

In my research, those who fared best were often those who lived a little off the grid, in places where they could be physically active, with people who loved them and gave them the space to remove themselves when necessary. Sam also stumbles on a bit of a modern treatment technique by accident. Most folks have heardthat going for a walk can help with mental stability. What isn’t as familiar is that the rhythm of walking combined with talking can actually replicate bits and pieces of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy which is one of the most successful battlefield PTSD treatments.

 

Q: What are some struggles Sam deals with upon returning home to Hot Springs? Is he able to hide what is going on from those closest to him or does it become apparent to everyone around him?

 

Sam’s reactions to “normal” stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control. He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger.

 

As the story progresses and circumstances continue to slide sideways, Sam faces his own mental instability. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it. 

 

Q: Sam claims to see and hear things going on around him that no one else does. How does Annie deal with what’s going on with her husband?

 

At first Annie is supportive of her husband and backs him up. She lists all the reasons she believes him: He’s a man she has always trusted. He’s amazing with his daughter. He’s gentle and kind and strong. Unfortunately, circumstances continue to prove that Sam is unstable, and she’s forced to question his sanity. She is rightfully terrified and confused.

 

To deal with her husband’s instability, she leans on her family—Sam’s mom and brother. They give Annie perspective and help with both the emotional and physical toll of working through unexpected circumstances. One of the things I’m most proud of in Annie is that she doesn’t allow Sam to abuse her even by accident. She holds the line and doesn’t budge from that. It’s something I hope all people do for themselves. That said, Sam is horrified by the fact that he hurt Annie in his sleep and refuses to put her in any further danger. But he also doesn’t give up.

 

Q: Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an unusual setting for a book. How did you choose the location and how does it play into the story?

 

Even though the book idea started with wondering how my grandparents’ marriage survived the pressure of war, the book isn’t biographical. So, I needed a setting other than my grandparents’ hometown. For the characters that I was building, I needed a small town. When one of my good friends told me she had an entire book of stories from her family in Arkansas, I jumped at the chance to read first-hand history. Amongst the Hughes family stories, I acquired the basis for Dovie May and Hot Springs, Arkansas—home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country.

 

Well, I don’t have to tell you that mobsters and illegal activity are an excellent backdrop for a story with a bit of suspense. The book The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott confirmed that Hot Springs mobsters operated with full permission of the authorities. In Shirley’s stories, I also discovered the foundation for Charlotte Anne’s father. All of which gave me a location and a cast of characters that could stoke Sam’s fears and make everyone (including the reader) wonder whether or not he was crazy.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do on the effects of war during that time period? What sparked the inspiration for that part of the story?

 

As I mentioned, the initial interest came from my grandparents and their stories. But PTSD is also something I’ve struggled with for years. I had some childhood trauma that I worked through back in college. I started writing this book using the nightmares and struggles I had as a kid. Then my daughter became very, very illwhich sparked a new trauma all its own. 

 

That said, battlefield PTSD has different components than the trauma I suffered. To research that, I had several long conversations with a friend who treats battlefield PTSD. She’s the one who reminded me that EMDR is, in essence, any activity thatuses bilateral stimulation to trigger both sides of the brain—thus the positive effects of walking and wide-open spaces. I also read Soldiers from the War Returning by Thomas Childers to get an idea of the authentic story of the men returning from war; The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. for how PTSD affects the brain and body; and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP to understand the battlefield specific emotional wounds, and how that affects a warrior’s family.

 

Q: An author often writes part of herself into the story, or at least something she knows about. How have you been affected by PTSD?

 

There have been long stretches of my life where I was all too familiar with debilitating fear. I still have occasional flashes from my childhood, the rush of adrenaline causing my pulse to pound and hands to shake. I was terrified to have kids, to be the one responsible for their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. The last thing I wanted was for them to have the same problems I had. But, as Dovie May says, “The best place for miracles is where we don’t fully believe, where our believing has run out.” My husband, Chris, and his family, as well as my good friend, Sarah De Mey,and my mom (who worked hard to get help), have been amazing role models for me as I navigate what it looks like to raise emotionally healthy kids.

 

All that peace came crashing down when my daughter became ill. She was hospitalized seven times over a few months’ time and the doctors had no idea what caused her illness. After months of visiting doctors to find out why my thirteen-year-old daughter was experiencing increasing abdominal pain, she collapsed at school. What followed was a living nightmare. Doctors found her abdominal cavity full of a fungal infection that quickly went septic. That was the first time we almost lost her. Months later, she’d lost more than forty pounds, and both she and I were wracked with nightmares, an inability to drive anywhere near the hospital, or be in a room with needles. To this day, I can’t smell rubbing alcohol without my body responding with panic. 

 

On paper she should not have survived, and I can’t describe the immense fear that comes from the Pediatric ICU or a parade of doctors. My girl is doing great now, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I didn’t finish the book, and hadn’t found the path to hope until after my daughter had walked out of the hospital for the last time.

 

I’m enormously grateful for EMDR, my therapist, and the grace of God that much of my fear is gone.

 

Q: The novel includes a good deal of discussion about the nature of evil and the character of God. The characters acknowledge that God doesn’t stop bad things from happening. How do they reconcile the hurt and pain in their lives with their concept of a loving God?

 

The problem of pain is one that even the best and brightest theologians and thinkers don’t have a perfect answer for. There are pat answers—God uses hard things to make us better or God walks with us through our pain. But when I was in the hospital, totally overwhelmed and crying in the bathroom so my daughter wouldn’t hear me, the easy answers didn’t help. And so I (and my characters) often sit with C. S. Lewis saying, “I never knew grief felt so much like fear.” Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope, and that the Sam she marriedis lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it. 

 

And so what do we do?

 

In the story, Sam says, “If you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.” In essence, “Remember that it ain’t over until it’s over.” I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. 

 

Annie and Sam find their way to gratitude—for simple joys of a birthday Karo nut pie, collard greens, the sunrise, and mostly the people in their lives. Their determination to be the good in each other’s lives is what slowly, over time, turns their attention away from the shadows and back on the life they have. As Dovie May says, “Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.” It isn’t immediate. And it isn’t easy. But the sunrise always follows the dark night.

 

Q: How does the imagery of light and darkness, especially in a spiritual sense, weave throughout the story?

 

Early in the story, Annie says, “A body can hide where the light was closed out, but the devils can hide there just as easy.” The temptation for both Annie and Sam (and all of us, really) is to either give up (wallow in the darkness) or to run away from it (which only keeps us in the darkness longer). While wallowing or running seem like easier choices, they’re also dangerous and far more painful in the long run. Both Sam and Annie try to fight the darkness alone, each not quite trusting anyone else.

 

Throughout the book, they both learn that the dark places are really where strength starts. Since Sam and Annie are farmers, they come to think of it in terms of seeds. “There ain’t no growth without darkness. You know that better’n most. If you throw a seed atop the soil, it’ll get snatched away by the wind or the birds. You gottabury it in the good, rich soil, and then it’s gotta split open afore it can grow. . .. We were all made to grow and stretch into the sunlight.”

 

Q: You’ve been on the publisher’s side of things for many years, both in marketing and as an editor working with authors. Have you always wanted to write as well? Has anything surprised you being on the author side?

 

I didn’t start writing or really even think about being a writer until a few years into my career as the marketing manager for a publisher. I actually started college as a chemistry major and ended up as an English major by default. There’s a whole story in hereabout me being a sassy know-it-all seventeen-year-old punk, and my mom being right. But suffice it to say, the major change was me heeding my mom’s advice to do what I loved (reading). 

 

Anyway, I was freelancing for our editorial department, and our managing editor asked me if I would consider writing a book. It sounded interesting. I wrote a short novel for the middle schoolers I mentored at my church, then I did a few picture books for my daughter, and then I took a long break to raise my kids. When I found time to write a book again, it was so life-giving, I don’t even have words to describe it. I was hooked.

 

But let me tell you that being an author has changed drastically in the last decade. There’s a much heavier load to lift for authors now—both in terms of tracking story trends and marketing. But it’s also easier than ever to be in contact with readers. I absolutely adore the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives on Facebook, see their pictures on Instagram, and just talk books with the world. It’s crazy to me that I can chat with friends in California and Australia and South Africa and Brazil just by typing (or speaking) into a little box on a screen. I will forever love technology for that.

 

The writing community also took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a varied group as welcoming and helpful as this group. They’ve been a tremendous support as I’ve worked through edits and marketing and all the highs and lows that come with publishing. There’s so much love and joy there. Julie Cantrell, Rachel McDaniel, Janine Rosche, Susie Finkbeiner, J’nellCiesielski, and so many more have been absolutely amazing.

 

Learn more about Janyre Tromp on her website www.JaynreTromp.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), and Twitter (@JanyreTromp).

Book Giveaway

The prize pack includes:

– A copy of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye,

– A custom made silver peach tree necklace inspired by the book,

– A “Light speaks through the broken places” t-shirt also inspired by the book.

Click on the link below to enter the giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b3c91bb32/

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, NetGalley, New-to-Me Author

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Love’s Fortress

Author: Jennifer Uhlarik

Genre: Christian Fiction / Historical fiction / Romance

Release date: March, 2022

9781636091815 (2)

A Love Story from the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family

Walk through Doors to the Past via a series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. Among his effects is a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek the help of museum curator Brad Osgood to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it just another forgery?

Brad Osgood’s four-year-old niece, Brynn, needs a safe home, and Brad longs to provide it. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.

Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving God on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians arrive in St. Augustine, God changes their plans. Then when friendship develops between Sally Jo and Broken Bow and false accusations fly, it could cost them their lives.

Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I enjoyed Jennifer Uhlarik’s contribution to the Doors to the Past series by Barbour. Each book is a stand-alone novel that presents as an intriguing dual-timeline. Love’s Fortress connects the present day Florida to St. Augustine, FL, in the 1870s.

Matty is my favorite character in the present-day scenarios. He is so big, tough, and scary looking, but he has a heart of gold. He loves Jesus and he loves those around him. He sees people without any discrimination. “Everyone’s welcome in God’s kingdom, darlin’. Doesn’t matter what you wear or how you fix your hair. It’s what’s in here.” He is loyal to a fault and can be surprisingly gentle.

Broken Bow is my favorite character in the historical sections. I love how Uhlarik shows the Native American’s probable way of thinking in keeping with their tribal customs. While there are some clashes between the Native Americans and the white peoples, Uhlarik tries to present the good and bad of both sides, never saying one is better than the other. My heart wanted to cry at the injustices that Broken Bow and others like him endured simply because he was not white.

I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.

Uhlarik includes historical notes and fact vs. fiction at the end, always a welcome addition to any book that draws a historical picture for us.

Notable Quotables:

“Oh, sweet heavenly Father, thank You! You do have a plan!”

“Me? I’m just a mixed-up little girl in a grown-up girl’s body.”

“We may never see the. . .impact we make when we follow God’s leading.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I Learned a Lot About the Time of Native American Incarceration at St. Augustine.

About the Author

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.

More from Jennifer

Florida has been my home since I was ten, and I’ve visited the city of St. Augustine several times in my many years here. There, I stumbled across the fact that the Castillo de San Marcos, the town’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, was home to several groups of Native Americans in the 1800s. Ever since learning this fact, I’ve considered writing a story about the three-year period from 1875-1878 when seventy-three Plains Indians from various tribes called the fort (known then as Fort Marion) their home. However, since I’m mainly a western and western romance author, all of my story settings to date have been west of the Mississippi—not in Florida. So this interesting historical factoid remained dormant in my imagination for years, waiting for the right opportunity.

That opportunity came last year when I was asked to submit an idea for Barbour’s dual-timeline Doors to the Past series. These stories must be set in or around a major landmark, the plot must focus on a newsworthy event, and there must be a bit of a mystery that connects the historical timeline to the contemporary plot. Obviously, as the oldest masonry fort in the United States, Castillo de San Marcos is an important and interesting landmark. Originally built by the Spanish, it later became a British possession, reverted again to the Spanish, and eventually became part of the United States’ holdings. With such a long and varied history, I’m sure you can see why this unique structure would make an interesting landmark around which to base a story.

The newsworthy event the plot focuses on is the incarceration of those seventy-three Plains Indians, deemed some of the “worst of the worst” offenders in the Indians Wars of the West. Can you imagine the buzz such an event would create? Once the Indians fell into their routine inside the fort, they were given quite a bit of freedom to interact with the locals and tourists. People came from far and wide to see these men and their historic surroundings along the banks of the Matanzas River. With a simple day pass from the fort’s commander, outsiders could enter, walk among and talk with the prisoners, see the historic fort, and even watch cultural events like dances, powwows, mock buffalo hunts, and archery displays. The Native men could also leave the fort and venture into town to shop or sell handmade goods, from bows and arrows to hand-crafted items made from locally-sourced seashells and plants, to their original “ledger art.”

It’s the ledger art that comprises the mysterious puzzle piece connecting the historical timeline of Love’s Fortress to the present day. When Dani Sango learns her long-estranged father has died, she inherits his rundown St. Augustine house. Inside, she discovers a book of Native American art depicting events from one Indian’s daily life. But because her father was a convicted art forger, Dani questions why he would have the strange and rudimentary artwork. She suspects it was his latest scam, so she enlists the help of Brad Osgood, curator of a western art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help her discover where the art originated and how her father came to possess it. In the process, the pair digs deep into the history of the St. Augustine fort and its former residents.

I found it fascinating to research this brief period in the Castillo’s long history, and I hope you’ll enjoy the story that came from my efforts.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 27

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

Inklings and notions, March 28

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 28

Bigreadersite, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 30

Betti Mace, March 30

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 31

deb’s Book Review, April 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 1

Older & Smarter?, April 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 3

Life of Literature, April 3

Genesis 5020, April 4

For the Love of Literature, April 4

Connie’s History Classroom, April 5

Blossoms and Blessings, April 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 6 (Spotlight)

Splashes of Joy, April 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 7

Through the Fire Blogs, April 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 8

Pause for Tales, April 9

Labor Not in Vain, April 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and paperback copy of the book!!

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/1c10d/love-s-fortress-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, LPC, New-to-Me Author

A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti

About the Book

Title: A Strike to the Heart

Series: Strike to the Heart

(Prequel Novella: To Stand in the Breach

Christmas Novella: As Silent as the Night)

Author: Danielle Grandinetti

Publisher: Iron Stream Media

Genre: Historical Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

Releases: April 12, 2022 (I reviewed an ARC copy.)

She’s fiercely independent. He’s determined to protect her.

Wisconsin, 1933—When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe.

Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life.

Get your book at one of these links below!!

https://www.amazon.com/Strike-Heart-Danielle-Grandinetti/dp/1645263525

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-strike-to-the-heart-danielle-grandinetti/1139873924?ean=9781645263524

https://www.christianbook.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/9781645263524/pd/263521

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781645263524

https://shoplpc.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/

My Impressions

“He might be an ex-soldier, a sniper trained to kill, but he prayed daily that kindness would be the trait people would identify most when they interacted with him.”

I love how Danielle Grandinetti marries Miles’s sniper’s skills to that of a tender heart! Strong, shrewd, and swoon-worthy, Miles is willing to sacrifice everything for those he loves. A totally relatable romantic suspense hero. Then, Grandinetti’s heroine, Lily, is a similar juxtaposition of traits. Fiercely independent, Lily is a compassionate, dog trainer who needs protection. She can push the ones she cares about to great heights. Now Grandinetti really had my attention, and I was swiping pages as fast as I could to reach the conclusion of A Strike to the Heart. While this was my first Grandinetti novel, it won’t be my last.

Faith is a constant thread throughout this novel. Lily seeks God out daily. Miles isn’t quite as comfortable with God due to past events, but one hopes and prays he will find his way totally back to God. Perhaps… ”second chances were meant for redemption.”

Miles needs redemption in more ways than one. He fails his team, it seems. Will he fail to protect Lily, who is becoming very important to him? Will he fail his boss? Lily’s family, who doesn’t care much for him?

Which begs the next question. In this fast-paced action novel, who is trustworthy? Who is treacherous? Relationships are tested. The milk strikes of 1933 were dangerous, yet Lily’s family is embroiled in the midst of it all. What, if anything, does Lily’s kidnapping have to do with the strikes?

So many questions!! So many possibilities! I suspected some answers, but Grandinetti successfully includes a lot of twists and turns until more than Miles and Lily were unsure.

I love to highlight a notable secondary character. Gio is so awesome. He has Miles’s back, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The special way Gio prays for Lily is just amazing and it teaches Miles how to pray effectively for a loved one at the same time. Maybe Gio will get his own book soon.

So many Notable Quotables…

“Whom should he fear more … the men who would kill them or the woman who tested the fortifications of his heart?”

“…the simple change of clothes caused him to go from intense protector to confident friend.”

“She would have hope for both of them until there was no hope left to be had.”

I received this book from the author. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! These Two Characters Stole My Heart!!

About the Author

Danielle Grandinetti is a book blogger at DaniellesWritingSpot.com, focusing on Christian historical romance, romantic suspense, and sweet romance.

Her historical romantic suspense (published by Heritage Beacon Fiction) releases in April 2022.

A Chicagoland native, Danielle lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. She loves quiet mornings served with the perfect cup of tea.

More from Danielle

Because I had a lot of questions for Danielle about her book, she was gracious enough to respond and give us readers a peek into what goes on in the mind of a writer…Thank you, Danielle!!

Q: What inspired you to write about the milk strikes of 1933 in Wisconsin?

A few years ago, Wisconsin farmers were in a position where they had to dump their cow’s milk because it was more expensive to transport than dump. That made me curious as to whether it had happened before. Not only had it, but in 1933, farmers organized three strikes in order to prompt a raise in milk prices. 

Q: I love that you made Miles a trained sniper who prays people see him as a loving, caring person. Probably one reason I love this book so much. What gave you the idea to make him have two very different sides to his personality?

Snipers seem to have this distant, cold persona, but as I dug into Miles’ past, I realized his skill and his personality were at odds, creating an internal conflict for him. I had him wrestle through holding life and death in his hands as he held the rifle and doing so because of his desire to protect those he cared about.

Q: I love that you made Lily a dog trainer. (My daughter and I have taken our puppies through basic obedience, and years ago our daughters took our dogs through rigorous 4-H training for the local fair. It’s a lot of hard work!! How did you research Lily’s professional dog training?

I’ve also always loved dog training and have studied it myself for years. What made the historical aspect even more fun to include was because of the history of dog obedience training. In October of 1933, two women in New York became the first individuals to organize Dog Obedience Trials. As a nod to them, I made Lily a dog trainer.

Q: Do you rely on a team of writing buddies to help you when you hit writer’s block?

I do have several writing friends who help me with all aspects of my writing career. Two names stand out: My critique partner, Ann Elizabeth Fryer, who also writes Historical Romance, sees my rough drafts before my editor does and she helps me through plot holes and brainstorming ideas. My writing friend Beth Pugh, who writes Contemporary Romance, signed with my publishing house at the same time as I did, so I’m grateful to have been through the process together.

Q: Do you include snippets of yourself in your characters?

I think every author does to some extent. As for the characters in A Strike to the Heart, Lily’s dog training and Gio’s Italian heritage are two aspects of myself I included.

Q: Can you tell us about your next book? Is there a story coming for Gio? You have made him so charismatic, I certainly hope so!!

Yes!! Gio gets a story! I love Gio, too, and was so excited to give him a story, at Christmas no less. As Silent as the Night releases in September.

He can procure anything, except his heart’s deepest wish. She might hold the key, if she’s not discovered first.

Chicago, 1933―Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity.

Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers.

Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love?

Q: Lastly, you are writing at least a three-book series. Is it necessary to read the books in order, or would we just feel more connected to the characters if we do?

Readers do not need to read the three books in order. A Strike to the Heart is the main book in the series and the only full-length novel. To get a little back story and a running start into the conflict, I recommend reading To Stand in the Breach, the prequel novella featuring Lily’s brother and her best friend. Gio’s Christmas novella, As Silent as the Night, serves as a Christmas wrap-up that will hopefully have everyone getting a happily ever after.

Wow, I for one am ready for Gio’s story—yesterday!! Thank you for your time with us, Danielle!!

ARC, Bethany House, BLOG, Kindle, NetGalley

Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green Review

About the Book

Title: Drawn by the Current

Series: #3, Saga of the Windy City

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: February 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can’t give up her search.

A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastlandcapsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it’s only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.

While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her–and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve?

My Impressions

Your value comes from a much deeper place than who your employer is. You were made in the image of God, and who you are is bigger than what you do.”

Jocelyn Green is an amazing author who accurately relates historical events while conveying solid truth in an unforgettable novel. Drawn by the Current is the third and final book of The Windy City Saga which tells the story of one Chicago family from the Chicago fire through the sinking of the SS Eastland.

While Green gives enough background for Drawn by the Current to stand alone, the book is so much richer with the memories of the previous novels. I enjoyed seeing old friends Sylvie, Kristof, and Meg again. The personalities of those three have matured and wrap the reader in the comfort of older, wise, and loved confidantes.

Olive fights many of the battles of a modern woman, yet fits within her era. She is a nurturer at heart, finding meaning in life as she helps others. She works at a life insurance company, and wishes to advance, but her boss feels women cannot use their brains. Olive deals with domestic abuse, PTSD, and loyalty. She desperately searches for the truth while concealing secrets of her own. I wholly identified with Olive when she at last learns a great lesson about herself and how God sees her.

Erik is charming through and through. I loved how he takes so much time out of his life to help Olive with her searches. He is so brave to protect Olive. Yet, he doesn’t protect her heart.

A historical novel of great depth, plumbing what it means to survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For the keeper shelf.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Forgotten Tragedy Remembered, Great Truths Buried in Novel

About the Author

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage. The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more. Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville. Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Purchase

Song of the Rockies by Angela Breidenbach Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Song of the Rockies

Author: Angela Breidenbach

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: October 1, 2021

Song-of-the-Rockies-Generic

1890, Helena MT Song of the Rockies is the story of a sweet music teacher and eleven boys given one chance or else! Evan Russell lost everything—his ranch, his wife, and now, after trusting relatives with his young son, even the little boy is missing. How can a beautiful symphony of the heart come from such chaos?

Mirielle Sheehan, a music teacher at an exclusive boys’ school, believes scholarships for disadvantaged boys will solve the plight of hopeless homeless children. Mirielle’s challenge is to turn eleven street ruffians of various ages into stellar, disciplined boys with a future. Most think guttersnipes like this should be sold into indenture to learn a trade or pressed into the military. Get those miscreants off the streets!

Evan Russell, new mining millionaire, lost everything in the disastrous winter of 1886. Then his wife died leaving him with a son. Relatives in Helena offer a safe home for the child while Evan must find work in the mines. When he returns, he’s devastated to learn the entire family perished in a fire, and his son has never been found. Though he gained a fortune, he’s lost everything he valued! Romantic, sweet adventure set in picturesque Helena, Montana written by a bestselling author who is also a professional genealogist.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Could eleven unruly boys really become future community leaders?”

Song of the Rockies by Angela Breidenbach takes us back to Montana in 1890, as Montana stands on the brink of statehood. This is the second book of the Queen of the Rockies series. I suggest reading the series in order.

While Calista and Albert laid the groundwork in the first book for the eleven boys, street ruffians according to most, to be cared for, many still want rid of these “newsies.” Mirielle Sheehan has just a few days to find a way to pay for all eleven boys’ education at the private school where she teaches music.

I love Mirielle, who is another of those brave souls who will stand against society for what she knows is right. She loves the newsies and sees them as valuable humans, not because of what they’ve done, but because God made them in His image. She enlists the help of Evan Russell, who has his own agenda, and Mrs. Broadmore, a leader among high society’s ladies.

I thought the solution Mirielle comes up with is genius, and she executes her plan well. Evan fits into the story nicely and makes a great romantic foil. However, I felt his part of the story seemed like it ended too abruptly. I wanted to see this vein of the novel more developed with a more full resolution.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“I suppose we just keep trusting as we keep on doing.”

“There could be no fracture in the team’s purpose. Not a bit of doubt. Hopelessness sprouted as easily as faith. Whichever seed they chose to plant, that’s what they’d harvest.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great! I am Ready for the Next Installment!

About the Author

Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, bestselling author, and screenwriter. She’s also the Christian Authors Network president. Angie lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angie can also. Catch her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach!

http://AngelaBreidenbach.com

More from Angela

Song of the Rockies idea came from the need to continue deepen the experience from Queen of the Rockies to share more about the orphaned children on the streets of Helena MT in the late 1800s. A lot of readers asked a lot of questions that kept me fired up and involved in the story. That led to the full six-book series because I just couldn’t stop once the first book sparked all the curiosity.

The people of Montana are very civic-minded, committed to volunteerism, and helping those who can’t help themselves. And that’s the modern society. But that kind of a “personality” of a place doesn’t come from a void. The people of Montana have a reputation of being intensely independent. But the heart of the people isn’t about independence, that’s just the way we are because life here is spread out and requires a lot of individual effort to survive and thrive. The result of such a spread-out population is the opposite of intense independence—devout and loyal support of one another. So, though Montanans are independent, we’re also fiercely supportive.

An ironic history tidbit I ran into on my research for this series, but couldn’t use, was the famous Thomas Meagher who was originally from Ireland. We have a massive, gorgeous statue of him on his horse in front of the Montana State Capital Building in Helena because of his contributions toward Montana becoming a state. He was educated in Ireland by the Jesuits and then in England. He spent time in France as well. His last name is pronounced like the planet, “Mar”. The irony is that Thomas Meagher escaped from imprisonment in Australia, banished there by the British for crime of sedition. He believed in Irish independence. Thomas was a hero to the Irish independent movement, a Civil War hero who flipped from supporting the Confederate South to the Union when the Catholic Church put their support behind the North, and after a successful military career he moved to Montana. Evidently, he put all those skills to good use as Montana became a state. But he was also a well-known scoundrel whose stories didn’t always add up. He met his end in a murky manner, well that’s what they say… Thomas was purportedly drinking and playing cards on a paddle boat up the Missouri River near Fort Benton. Somehow, though he was supposedly a good swimmer, he managed to fall overboard and drowned. Was he drunk? Was he cheating and murdered? Did he run into those he’d flipped on during the war? Was he pushed over? He did have a bad knee… No one knows. His body was never found. Hmm… We have a bar/pub in Missoula called the The Meagher Bar that serves delicious Irish fare. So, if you visit Montana, please don’t ask for the “Meeger” Bar, not a soul will understand what you’re looking for. But now, you know how to pronounce his name.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, February 18

Bizwings Blog, February 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 19

For Him and My Family, February 20

Mary Hake, February 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 21

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 21 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, February 22

Inklings and notions, February 22

deb’s Book Review, February 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 24

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 25

Blogging With Carol, February 25

Connie’s History Classroom, February 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 27

Blossoms and Blessings, February 27

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 1

Austen’s Angle, March 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 3

Pause for Tales, March 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angela is giving away the grand prize 20-minute genealogy consultation to a winner via Zoom!!

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/1ab2b/song-of-the-rockies-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, New-to-Me Author

When Dignity Came to Harlan by Rebecca Duvall Scott Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: When Dignity Came to Harlan

Author: Rebecca Duvall Scott

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: January 17, 2021

I made up my mind right then and there that I would just have to wade into this move like wading into a pond or lake I’d never seen before – slow and steady, feeling around for my footing and trying to avoid the sharp edges at the bottom that you never see coming.

***

News of what really happened to me – to us – spread through town like wildfire. It caught from one dry gossip tree to another and burned them to the ground with shame.

***

“Y’can do this, child – show ’em why I call y’Dignity,” my old friend winked at me.                

Skillfully written and sure to draw you in to its pages, When Dignity Came to Harlan is set in the early 1900s and follows twelve-year-old Anna Beth Atwood as she leaves Missouri with her family dreaming of a better life in the coal-rich mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky. Anna Beth’s parents lose everything on the trip, however, and upon asking strangers to take their girls in until they get on their feet, Anna Beth and her baby sister are dropped into the home of Jack and Grace Grainger – who have plenty of problems of their own. Anna Beth suffers several hardships during her time in Harlan, and if it wasn’t for her humble and wise old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares, all would be lost.

Based on a true family history, this is a story of heartbreak and hope, challenges and perseverance, good and evil, justice and merciful redemption. It exemplifies the human experience in all its many facets and shows what it means to have real grit.

Take the journey with us and see how, with the unseen hand of God, one girl changed the heart and soul of an entire town.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Rebecca Duvall Scott is an award-winning author with titles holding #1 bestseller within her publishing companies long after release. Her first work was self-help memoir, Sensational Kids, Sensational Families: Hope for Sensory Processing Differences, which she wrote in the years following her son’s sensory processing disorder diagnosis and their family’s successful treatment plan. While her special-needs advocacy helping parents, teachers, and professionals better understand individuals with SPD has a large part of her heart, her roots have always been in historical fiction. Her long-awaited Christian historical fiction novel, When Dignity Came to Harlan, was based on her great-grandmother’s childhood, and Teaching Dignity continues the tender and heroic story. She looks forward to writing more in both the Dignity and Sensational Kids series.

In addition to writing, Rebecca enjoys family, church, educating her children at home, painting, and directing a local homeschool cooperative organization where she works hard to accommodate all special needs.

More from Rebecca

From the time I was a little girl, my grandmother would gather me around her kitchen table – usually with homemade peach pies – and tell me stories of our forebears. I found the experiences of those who came before me to be both tragic and joyful, but most of all I found them worthy of being told and never forgotten. When I was 16, I started taking notes on everything my grandmother could remember about her mother (one of the humblest and most heroic of my ancestors) and as a senior in college, I turned in the first 70 pages of the manuscript based on her childhood, When Dignity Came to Harlan. I’ll never forget how on graduation day, my creative writing teacher shook my hand and said, “Rebecca, please finish the story.” It took years to finish my debut novel… I think because I had to grow up and develop a deep enough emotional well to do it justice… but finish the story I did. Little did I know, however, this bestselling and award-winning book, the one I was always meant to write, would be the starter of a new, yet powerfully old-fashioned, Christian historical fiction series!

My Impressions

Twelve year-old Anna Beth Atwood narrates When Dignity Came to Harlan by Rebecca Duvall Scott. This is a fictionalized account of Scott’s own great-grandmother’s coming-of-age.

Gritty and straightforward, this was an emotionally difficult story to read. I would have liked to have had better warning ahead of time of some of the subject matter. The first-person narration is well-done, with excellent attention to local color and accent.

Ben and Laura Atwood move their young family of four girls from Missouri to the coal mining town of Harlan, Kentucky. Out of both work and money, they farm the girls out to their new neighbors in exchange for the girls’ room and board. And so Anna Beth’s story slowly builds in emotional intensity. I was spellbound while I was terrified for Annabeth and Grace.

While life is difficult for Anna Beth, she determines to make the most of the life she’s been handed. She is extremely brave beyond her years. I was so happy when she was able to make a few friends who sustained her through very tough times.

Anna Beth realizes she needs the faith in God that she saw in her parents and now sees in Grace. True belief in God is equated with a wonderful emotional experience.

Scott includes comprehension questions at the end (I wish she would have called them discussion questions: I felt like a jr. higher answering questions about a passage read at school). A fact vs. fiction chart is also included which is very interesting.

Notable Quotables:

Who would I become if I forgot my roots?

Secrets have a life of their own; they scratch from the inside, clawing their way to the light.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great!! Anna Beth is Bravery Personified!!

Blog Stops

deb’s Book Review, February 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 13

Inklings and notions, February 14

Texas Book-aholic, February 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

For Him and My Family, February 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 19 (Spotlight)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 21

Connie’s History Classroom, February 22

Lots of Helpers, February 23

Elly Gilbert, February 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 25

Giveaway

One winner will receive the grand prize package of signed copies of When Dignity Came to Harlan and Teaching Dignity, a handmade ornament, and popular early 1900s candy!

Click below to enter the giveaway!

https://promosimple.com/ps/1a45d/when-dignity-comes-to-harlan-celebration-tour-giveaway

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Lessman

About the Book

Title: Shadows of Swanford Abbey

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2021

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

My Impressions

“For the first time in years, the rusty hinges of his shuttered heart gave an experimental creak.”
Julie Lessman entices the reader into the world of the Jane Austen era with beautifully crafted sentences like this. Lessman’s latest offering, The Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is wonderfully stuffed with mystery, Regency-era (even a bit of Gothic) romance, and faith.

It is March of 1820 in Worcestershire, England.
Rebecca Lane returns home to care for her foundering brother. His problems are deeper than Rebecca realized, and she must board at a nearby hotel, where a famous writer is in residence.

A former family friend who is also their landlord, Frederick Wilford, is staying at this hotel. Wilford’s manor renovations, started by his deceased wife, were never completed. Before his marriage, young Rebecca carried a torch for Frederick. Can she hide the embarrassment of that attraction now?

So many different characters to puzzle out, whether Rebecca’s brother, John, Miss Selina Newport or Lady Fitzhoward, to name a few of the supporting cast. What fun it is when there are several well-thought-out and presented mysteries to try to work through before all is revealed.

Rebecca is greatly loyal, but that lands her in a heap of trouble. “She just wanted her brother back as he had once been, but she feared that John was gone forever.” She wants to help John, but how far will she go in the name of brotherly love? What will that do to the attraction that is finally blossoming between her and her erstwhile unrequited love? One thing she does realize is this:
“Family . . . once gone, there’s no replacing them.”

A ghost. Secrets of the former convent. Relationships are hidden, some for nefarious reasons, some discarded in the shadows of the past. What will come to light at the end?

Lovers of Regency Romance, who also want faith and mystery will devour this Lessman novel, as will historical buffs. Definitely discovering I have not read enough of Julie Klassen’s expertly crafted Regency tales! Hand me another, please!!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House via NetGalley. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Expertly Crafted Gothic Regency!! One of my faves for 2021!

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

The Nutcracker’s Suite by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Nutcracker’s Suite

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Christmas Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 26, 2021

Nutcracker

“Time to dance, sugarplum.”

A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is
strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s
office, especially one in particular.

Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of
secrets.

When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to
prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo
Natale and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.

A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the
offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before
the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
too.

This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker
Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Totally Terrific!! Chautona Havig can write any genre she undertakes. In The Nutcracker’s Suite, though, she outdoes herself in presenting a suspenseful mystery mashing together a retelling of the Nutcracker, a 1920s Prohibition mob mix-up, and a romance with faith interspersed. I was glued to my seat until I finished, at turns laughing out loud and terrified. I get the distinct impression the author is having a blast with the creation of this story! As a result, the reader has a rollicking good time.
I’ve read several Havig novels, and The Nutcracker’s Suite just vaulted to the top and into my list of Top Ten CF Novels of 2021!! The mystery kept me guessing and I never did quite figure it out!! Well-done!! I must admit, I loved Havig’s use of sarcasm, especially as it relates to Clarice’s thoughts. I hope there will be a book for Lily in the future.

I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“His ability to think dashed out and into the street where he was certain, it would be run over by a police car.”

“The lies are piling up faster than finished nutcrackers.”

“Did she just lie with the truth?”

“Not married, but I’ll remember that if I ever find a nice girl.” He didn’t say, “like you,” but Milo heard it and wanted to tie the man’s throat in a knot for it.”

“Keep her safe. If you aren’t a man of faith, become one and then pray until you can’t think anymore, but keep her safe.” It was a fool’s promise, but Milo made it. “I will.”

“…feelings always demanded an audience, even at the expense of truth.”

“Topo. It means mouse. I’m the attic mouse.”

“Every word the man spoke sat on a paragraph of threats.”

“People dying have a way of interfering with one’s shopping.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! A Rollicking Good Time IF You Survive Suspense

About the Author

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours, and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Here Are Several Fun Facts & a Secret about The Nutcracker’s Suite

You’d think that while writing a book based on the fairy tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I’d have heard “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my head as I wrote. Well, I guess for a brief moment I did, because at some point, someone actually says that. “Dance, sugar plum!”

But Tchaikovsky isn’t who played in my head as I wrote. Over and over, word after word, my fingers did their bourres and glissades across my keyboard to one, rather unexpected song. “Ballerina” (I prefer the version sung by Buddy Clark. You can listen HERE.)

However, there are so many elements of the original ballet’s story in mine. I thought I’d share a few of them.

Let’s talk about the cast of characters.

Clarice Stahl is our “leading lady.” It’s kind of obvious where I got her name since the original character was Clara Stahlbaum.

Clarice works for Mr. Dieter Meyer, the owner of Meyer’s Toys. He gives her the job of painting nutcrackers. So, it’s not too difficult to see the connection to Uncle Drosselmeyer who gives Clara the nutcracker, no?

All of 1925 Rockland is in the clutches of mob king, Mario Topo. For those not fluent in Italian, can you guess what “topo” is in that language? Remember… he’s the mob “king.” 😉

But I think my favorite name of all is Emiliano (I call him Milo) Natale (Christmas in Italian… just sayin’) who is known as “the nutcracker.” He’s an enforcer for Mr. Topo, and that means he squeezes people until they crack and do what Topo wants. Let’s hope he repents!

Yes, I had a boatload of fun coming up with this stuff! How’d you guess?

I have a secret to confess about this book. I’m writing this post when I’m only about a quarter of the way done. I went to get the synopsis for this tour and went, “oops!” You see, I forgot that I’d planned to make Milo going missing a big part of the plot.

Guess who has to flex? I’d better get back to it. They need to figure out who killed our victim… and why. And before Clarice is next!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

For the Love of Literature, November 28

By the Book, November 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 29

Inklings and notions, November 29

For Him and My Family, November 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, November 30

deb’s Book Review, December 1

Bizwings Blog, December 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 2

Genesis 5020, December 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 3

Simple Harvest Reads, December 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Connie’s History Classroom, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 5

Connect in Fiction, December 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 6

Mary Hake, December 6

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Lots of Helpers, December 8

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 9 (Author Interview)

Back Porch Reads, December 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away to three winners one Prize box each including a paperback of The Nutcracker’s Suite, themed goodies, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card in each!!

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/13cfb/the-nutcracker-s-suite-celebration-tour-giveaway

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, PB

A Deep Divide by Kimberley Woodhouse

About the Book

Title: A Deep Divide

Series: #1 Secrets of the Canyon

Author: Kimberley Woodhouse

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: October 2021

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

After being kidnapped as a child, heiress Emma Grace McMurray has seen firsthand the devastation that greed causes in the world, and she wants nothing to do with it–including her father’s offering her hand in a business deal. She sneaks away to be a Harvey Girl at the El Tovar Grand Canyon Hotel, planning to stay hidden even if it means always looking over her shoulder.

Ray Watkins arrives at the hotel wanting to impress his father by finding success on his own. Then maybe he can take on more of the family business and do something good with the profits.

Ray immediately admires Emma Grace, and though a friendship forms, she’s afraid he’s just like every other wealthy man she’s known. Then art and jewels go missing from El Tovar and the nearby Hopi House, a mystery that pulls them in and stirs up their worst fears. When shocking revelations come to light, they’ll have to question all they thought to be true. 

My Impressions

“Her whole identity was a façade. How could she be real with anyone?”

I really loved A Deep Divide by Kimberley Woodhouse. I think it may be her best work yet. A historical set mostly at the Grand Canyon, we see plenty of great description of this beautiful landmark. The writing style is solid, with a touch of wistfulness that will draw you in with its suspense, romance, and faith. Plus, the great historical detail Woodhouse includes shows her meticulous research.

Emma Grace McMurray learns in childhood that those most responsible for caring for her cannot be trusted. Now she is in hiding, trusting no man, always looking over her shoulder.

I like Emma Grace’s character. She is humble and not too proud to work, when many in her position would be. She befriends those around her in need. She does have an issue with those of the upper class and quickly categorizes most as snobby and self-absorbed.

Ray Watkins has his work cut out for him. Interested in the calm, collected, and beautiful waitress, he has a hard time getting her to pay him any attention. Ray is someone I felt very sorry for. His father is very domineering, with some health issues, that make working for his approval nearly impossible. Ray tries hard to live up to his new faith, but his father and his associates make that difficult.

I loved Ruth, who ended up being such a loyal friend. Always ready to listen, ready to comfort, ready to think the best of her new friend.

I loved learning about the Harvey Girls and the Harvey House, El Tovar, at the Grand Canyon.
We saw a display about the Harvey House Girls while we visited the canyon, but we were in a hurry at the display, and I didn’t catch the significance. Thank you, Ms. Woodhouse, for this great, fun education on the Harvey House Girls and the Grand hotel there!

I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.

Notable Quotables:

“A man was a man, no matter his status.”

“She’d love to have a real friend, but she had too many secrets.”

“…you are valuable to us for who you are.”

“You’re so busy trying to be brave and take care of yourself that you’ve shoved God back because you don’t think He can be trusted.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! I Loved Learning about the Harvey Girls!!

About the Author

Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than twenty-five books. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate and the promise of eighteen holes on the golf course. She loves music, kayaking, and her family. Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader’s Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, and others. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Married to the love of her life for three decades, she lives and writes in the Poconos where she’s traded in her hat of “craziest mom” for “coolest grandma.” Connect with Kim at www.kimberleywoodhouse.com www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAu…
www.instagram.com/kimberleywoodhouse
www.twitter.com/kimwoodhouse