Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: The Return (Amish Beginnings #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her.

Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge.

When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa? 

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

Paperback, 332 pages
 Published August 1st 2017
 by Fleming H. Revell Company
*****

The Return is the third book in the Amish Beginnings Series, it takes place 20 years after The Newcomer and Anna's Crossing.  Well it does work fine as a standalone I recommend starting from the beginning just because it's a great series and you really get to know the characters.

When Indians attack close to Anna and Bairn's emotions run amok, for Hans it is heartache, anger and helplessness, for Tessa's guilt and confusion. There is soul searching in store for both, but not always with a positive result.

Playing off of real historical events the author has again written a captivating novel full of emotion and intrigue, keeping me glued to the pages. It wasn't hard to feel the atmosphere and visualize everything taken place, from the wild stallion to the Indian reserve and just sitting around the kitchen table. A real eye opener to what what newcomers had to endure and the relationship with Indians (both good and bad).

Again Felix was one of my favorites, now a widower raising twin boys on his own brought me back to the crossing and his antics – just adding that extra spark to round out a great story. 

Faith plays a big role here, a lot of soul-searching takes place and it's through these dire situations where one is tested they discover who they truly are. 

I am so glad to have discovered this author my thanks to Graf Martin Communications (Nuts About Books) for the opportunity to review this one.

click on cover to take you to my review

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review & Giveaway: Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor


New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war.

As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently… Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. 

Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. 

Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Publication Date: October 3, 2017
William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback & eBook; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
****

I have been a fan of both of these authors for a while now and was thrilled when I heard they were working together on a new book. Seems to be a thing these days, to collaborate and I always go in with a bit of hesitation because it doesn't always work. Can they deliver a smooth story without it sounding choppy making the reader aware of two different writing styles? With the Last Christmas in Paris it worked wonderfully and to be honest I couldn't tell which author wrote what. 

This book begins at the dawn of World War 1 with Evie writing letters to her brother Will and his best friend Tom. As the letters continues through the war years the authors were able to give the depth of character needed to deliver a realistic story of heartache and love. It's a brutal time and not always are the wounds visible, worry and depression are common and a sense of uselessness for those left at home, there is the urge to do something but what?

The book is divided into war years with more time spent at the beginning years rather than the last few. I would have loved to have seen more of the last years of the war and (I can't really say too much for fear of giving anything away), but I found it a little rushed there at the end and it was the part I was most looking forward to. But don't get me wrong I still loved the book and highly recommend it. The research involved was evident, it's a wonderfully written book of strength, love & loss and the power of human endurance.



HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Up and coming, Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017, and The Phantom's Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae's point of view releases February 6, 2018. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.


HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 copies of Last Christmas in Paris!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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  Last Christmas in Paris


Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: The Newcomer (Amish Beginnings #2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier.

On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It's a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn's shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World--isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father--his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not--bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not. Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

Paperback, 336 pages / Audio 9 hours 6 minutes
 Published January 31st 2017
 by Fleming H. Revell Company
****

Book 2 in Suzanne Woods Fisher's Amish Beginning Series, I highly recommend going back to the first book, Anna's Crossing before reading this one, it gives a good picture of where this group came from and who they are.

It's 1737,  Anna and her friends have docked in Port Philadelphia and are ready to begin their new life. It isn't as easy as they thought and one can just picture the first impressions of this vast land as far as the eye could see. This has been an enjoyable series, a realistic story of the early Amish in North America, with the many trials and tribulations they went through getting there and all they really want is a new beginning and the freedom to worship as they please.

The author's notes showed the many characters direct from the pages of history as were events that took place.  It wasn't an easy go for the Amish or any new settlers but they had their faith, believing God would supply the needs, both physical and emotional to adjust to an untamed land.

While I really enjoyed the historical details here it was the people that really brought the story to life. The characters are believable, the struggles are real, the wilderness is scary and the Indians are not always bad. Not everyone is as they seemed and as events unfold there were enough twists and turns to make this book a pleasure to read. Definitely a series I recommend.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Excerpt: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

  
From #1 CBA Bestselling Author Tamera Alexander Impeccable historical research woven with heart-gripping fiction!




                     To read an excerpt from this book, click here


With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first.

Seeking justice . . .

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father’s name. One man holds the key to Sy’s success–General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. .

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville’s society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison’s fiancé–and has shattered her world.

Struggling to restore honor . . .

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But family–and Nashville society–do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy’s roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn’t count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

Set against the real history of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a powerful love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in American history when both were tenuous and hard-won. It’s Tamera Alexander – impeccable historical research and heart-gripping fiction – at her best!

Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Zondervan



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times… 

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Baseball coach and English teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are admirable advocates for their autistic son, Gabe, and well-respected throughout town—that is, until one of the many reporters who arrives to investigate the odd bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar… and leaving Alicia to wonder if she ever really knew her husband...

And when Lucia Hamm suddenly disappears, the police only seem to have one suspect: Nate.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 
by Atria Books
****

It was both the author and cover that drew me towards this book, it has that ominous feel which peaked my interest.  I read the author's previous book, The Vanishing Girl, in audio format and really enjoyed that one also (click title to take you to my review).

The Blackbird Season is a very character driven story. There are four different points of view, Nate his wife Alicia, their friend Britney and the troubled student Lucia.  All flawed characters and at times unlikable to some degree, well I did feel for Alicia here but each seemed rather self possessed, which made the story work.

The author did a great job with their story lines, as the plot developed she unveils things at a pace that kept me glued to the pages, at the conclusion of each chapter I just wanted to continue reading wondering what the true story was. I was keep guessing as the twists and turns took place totally keeping me on my toes.

Taking place in a small town in Pennsylvania that thrives on rumors and gossip. The day it rained dead birds gives it a Gothic feel, setting the mood.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an advanced copy. This book releases next Tuesday and I highly recommend it.


Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year, Thought I Knew You, and Binds That Tie. 

She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and kids. Find out more at katemoretti.com.



Connect: 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Audio Review: The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective.

But the accident that felled him has left him with only half a life; his memory and his entire past have vanished. As he tries to hide the truth, Monk returns to work and is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a Crimean War hero and man about town.

Which makes Monk's efforts doubly difficult, since he's forgotten his professional skills along with everything else...

First published 1990
Audio 13 hours 23 minutes
****


This book has it been on my TBR pile for a long time, once I found out the author was going to be a presenter at a conference I am attending next month it got boosted closer to the top, then it became an audible 2/1 deal and I jumped at the chance to go that route. Read by Davina Porter I knew I was in for a treat (this is coming after finishing an Outlander book which she also read, it took me a bit to realize that Jamie and Claire weren't going to show up).

It's the 1850's when William Monk wakes up in the hospital, at least they are telling him that is his name, he has no recollection of who he is or anything about his past. Victorian London is brought to life here as Monk manoeuvres his way as a police detective to solve a murder while at the same time trying to discover any info about himself. He is also hiding the fact his memory is gone from workmates and just the general impression he might not have a nice guy.

The Face of a Stranger is a well written mystery and the first in the William Monk series. With vivid descriptions, life during this era is displayed showing not just the distinctions of class but the way of life. The mystery itself was interesting, a decorated English office from the Crimean war is brutally murdered and as Monk digs deeper into the investigation he starts to learn more about himself as well. There were twists and turns and a surprising, yet fitting conclusion. Definitely a series I will continue to read.

This book is part of my 'Reading my TBR 2017 Challenge"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: Anna's Crossing (Amish Beginnings #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

When Anna Konig first meets Bairn, the Scottish ship carpenter of the "Charming Nancy," their encounter is anything but pleasant. Anna is on the ship only to ensure the safe arrival of her loved ones to the New World.

Hardened by years of living at sea, Bairn resents toting these naive farmers--dubbed "Peculiars" by deckhands--across the ocean. As delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions afflict crew and passengers alike, Bairn finds himself drawn to Anna's serene nature. For her part, Anna can't seem to stay below deck and far away from the aloof ship's carpenter, despite warnings.

When an act of sacrifice leaves Anna in a perilous situation, Bairn discovers he may not have left his faith as firmly in the past as he thought. But has the revelation come too late?

Amish fiction favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her fans back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing as seen through the eyes of a devout young woman and an irreverent man. Blending the worlds of Amish and historical fiction, Fisher is sure to delight her longtime fans even as she attracts new ones with her superb and always surprise-filled writing.

Amazon Marketplace Paperback, 336 pages
 Published March 3rd 2015
 by Fleming H. Revell Company
**** 1/2

In the timeline of history I love reading books on virtually unknown pieces of the past. Which is exactly what Anna's Crossing is.  Given the opportunity to review book 3 in this series (Amish Beginnings) I decided to go back to the beginning and I boy I sure glad I did. The year is 1737 and a sect of Germans are making the long voyage to begin a new life in America. I even can't begin to fathom what that voyage was like but the author does a great deal of painting a picture with not just the sights but the smells as well.

Told from the perspective of not just Anna and Bairn but also Felix, he added that spark and entertainment to this book, there were many times I couldn't help but smile at his antics.  I liked Anna, she was naïve in some instances but she was determined and compassionate in stark contrast to Bairn who had a chip on his shoulder especially for this sect of passengers. Anna didn't hold back about her faith, believing God would provide and see them through the rough times, which further infuriated Bairn.

This is the first time reading this author and I am quite impressed. Based on an actual ship named the Charming Nancy, captained by Charles Stedman, departing from Rotterdam heading to Philadelphia with a mix of Amish and Mennonite family's. They were seeking freedom to worship in the new land but none were prepared for toil the months at sea would take.

There were some wonderful pages of authors notes where Suzanne Woods Fisher described her research, what she included, what she omitted and why, further piquing my interest in the Anabaptist/Amish community. This whole book deals with the crossing and I'm glad I had read it first, the next book in the series is called The Newcomer and book 3 is The Return both of which I will be reviewing in the next few weeks.

This book was from my personal library, where I can see myself collecting more from this author.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: A Mother Like Mine (Hartley-by-the-Sea #3) by Kate Hewitt

 Welcome to England's beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother.... Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiance's unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town's beach cafe. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future--and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother's life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Amazon Marketplace Paperback, 384 pages 
Published August 8th 2017 
by Berkley Books
****

Laura and Abby, mother and daughter, similar yet vastly different. After many years separated (by Laura's choice) when thrust together when Laura decides its time. A Mother Like Mine is booked 3 in the Hartley-by-the Sea Series, I had no issues at all with the fact that I have not read any of the previous books, definitely works as a standalone.

Both of these women had babies while single and young. Laura leaves when Abby is only two years old and the interaction between the years is minimal at best, there is no real relationship here to speak of. Their stories unfold over this almost 400 page book.

It was an interesting read as I found myself wondering how a mother could abandon her child like that even if she was only a teen. The author has written a poignant story as these two attempt to build a relationship and come to terms with the past. It is well written and has the genuine feel of a small village environment. Even though I struggled a little bit in the first few chapters it wasn't long before I found myself curious and seeing what happened in the past.

 A Mother Like Mine is a book about family, or more specifically relationships,in this case between mother / daughter, forgiveness and second chances.  Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this tour and introducing me to a new author.


Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children.

She also writes as Katharine Swartz.




Connect with Kate

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Review: The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister

Set in the turbulent times of the War of Independence, 'The Long Way Home' follows the lives of Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele who are friends, former slaves, fellows-in-arms and leaders of the Black Brigade. Their real-life story is an epic adventure tale as they battle bounty hunters, racism, poverty and epidemic in their adopted country after the war.

 'The Long Way Home' has resonated with readers around the world as an unforgettable account of courage, hope and determination triumphing over despair and injustice. Thomas Peters, thoughtful and charismatic, and Murphy Steele, strong and impulsive, lead their followers on an inspirational search for a place where they can be free.



 Paperback, 348 pages 
Published September 15th 2016 
by Fireship Press
****

Thomas and Murphy are friends, former slaves and real hstorical figures during the War of Independence, the late 1700's. While I have read books on slaves that escaped, were captured or eluded capture this is my first time reading about slaves that have gone on to fight with/for the British.

It was a hard life for slaves and even harder for those who tried to escape. The author did a great job in developing not just the characters but the era as well. Thomas and Murphy are very likable characters, they were determined and brave, desperate to make something of their lives away from slavery.

I enjoyed the author's writing style it flowed smoothly showing the extent of research done while weaving an original tale. I would have loved for there to be author's notes just to get clarification of what was fact and what was fiction, but that being said once finished I started googling.

The Long Way Home is an inspiring story, selfless to the extent of fighting for future generations. It's an unknown part of history that I've never seen before making it all the more interesting. This is the author's debut with a sequel in the works, definitely one I look forward to reading.

Thank you to see your TLC tours for advanced copy.

Purchase Links 




Kevin Bannister is a rancher and writer living in the beautiful foothills of central Alberta. He would like Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele to be celebrated as the heroes that they were in their lifetimes and to be inspirations to young people everywhere to persevere in the face of bigotry, poverty, government indifference or any other adversity. 

Connect with Kevin on Goodreads.


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Spotlight: What is Forgiven by C.F. Yetman

 C.F. Yetmen, author of The Roses Underneath, which won the IPPY Historical Fiction of the Year Award in 2015, Shelf Unbound’s Best Indie Book of the Year in 2014, and was a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year is set to release the second novel in her historical mystery series, The Anna Klein Trilogy on September 5, 2017.


What is Forgiven follows Anna Klein, who has been working with the Monuments Men for a few months and continues to struggle to put her life back together.

In this book, she confronts the Holocaust and her complicity, as a German citizen, in the atrocities the Nazis committed. Because the Nazis stole the property of Jewish collectors, the art now under the Americans’ control must be restituted. But she learns that when the stakes are this high, people rationalize their greed and crimes to protect themselves, their reputations, and their loved ones.

The series is inspired by the circumstances of the German half of Yetmen’s family at the end of World War II. Although no one worked with the Monuments Men, her grandmother, who was displaced, along with her great-grandmother and mother—then five years old— was lucky enough to get a job working for the American Occupation Forces. Yetmen’s day job as an architectural writer sparked her interest in the work of the Monuments Men, many of whom were architects. The two ideas collided to create the stories of the Anna Klein Trilogy.

Pre-order What is Forgiven here: 



C.F. Yetmen lives and works in Austin, Texas. 














 Excerpt 

Wiesbaden Germany, 1945 The man’s pale face was cracked, the scars of his ordeal revealed under the ribbon of sunlight streaming through the dirty window. Just under his chin, a ridge of pink paint hinted at the jowls that told his age, but the same paint gave a youthful rosiness to his cheek. He looked at Anna with near-black eyes, his expression defiant and expectant, as if they were engaged in conversation and it was her turn to reply. A light warping torqued the canvas in its frame and a small tear was visible at one corner, but it was nothing that wasn’t fixable. Anna lowered her face toward the painting as it rested on the swatch of cloth the conservators used to protect the precious inventory, and when she was sure no one was looking, she ran her hand across the rough paint, feeling its texture on her fingertips. She knew she shouldn’t touch it, even with gloves, but the temptation was too great. The familiar sounds of army boots squeaking on the waxed floors and the low rumble of American voices continued in the near background, and the sun illuminated the dust in the air. She inhaled the distant oily scent and exhaled it for a long time, sending a cloud of tiny particles swirling toward the ceiling. She considered what the Man in a Green Jacket had endured in order to arrive here, into her care. Months in a damp cellar wrapped in bed sheets alongside a few dozen of his fellow travelers had not diminished the gleam in his eyes nor weakened the set of his shoulders. It was a painting that told of another time. What would the man say, if he could speak?

 “Let’s get you back home,” she said. “You’ve been very patient.” She turned the painting over on the work table, which was really just one of the old oversized doors from the back of the building balanced on a pair of smaller folding tables. 

She was so engrossed in reading the gallery and exhibition labels on the back of the painting that she didn’t notice Cooper step into the workroom. 

 “Frau Klein? Can you speed this along, please?” He stood in the half-open door, rolling the sleeve of his uniform down his arm. “The new hire will be here soon. Let’s meet up in my office.” Captain Henry Cooper was her immediate superior—she his translator and assistant, he an architect assigned to safeguard Germany’s damaged monuments and restitute its stolen art for the Monuments Men unit Anna had fallen into a job with. It was no small task, for sure, and one made all the more interesting by Cooper’s penchant for ignoring the military’s protocols.

“I’m almost done here.” She turned back to her work, adjusting the table lamp to get a better look at the hodgepodge of stamps, labels, and numbers that told the painting’s story. Anna knew by now the familiar stencils of the ERR, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Hitler’s ruthless art thieving unit. She made a note of the markings on the condition report part of the long and repetitive intake form, following the established protocol. This canvas, an oil painting of a seated man looking over his left shoulder, likely belonged to the same collector as the dozens of others she had catalogued over the last few days. The Nazi cataloging stamps on the back told that it had been taken from a Jewish family in Frankfurt. Thanks to meticulous Nazi record keeping, the Americans had already made good progress on connecting the paintings with their rightful owners. The only problem, and it was a big one, was finding those owners, if they were even still alive. Of all the Jewish collectors whose paintings they had identified, the Americans had not found a single one yet.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Spotlight: The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz

The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz

Publication Date: September 15, 2017
eBook & Paperback
Series: Heaven's Pond Trilogy, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction

The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war. The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control? ​

The Soldier’s Return is the second book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy and will be released on September 15, 2017.

Available on Amazon



 

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today.

When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

For more information, please visit Laura Libricz's website and blog.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway: Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole


Publication Date: August 8, 2017 
Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House 
Paperback & eBook; 352 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction | Women’s Fiction 

A woman sets out on a cross-country road trip, unknowingly tracing in reverse the path her mother traveled thirty years before. 

In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage. 

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival. 

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.


 “Tender, touching, original, and rich with delicious period detail of Hollywood’s heyday—buckle up, because you’ll definitely want to go on a road trip after reading this delightful book!”—Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home





 Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War.

She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, two children, and far too many books.

For more information, please visit Jessica Brockmole’s website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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  Woman Enters Left

Monday, September 4, 2017

Audio Review: The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon, Davina Porter (Narrator)

 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander Diana Gabaldon mesmerized readers with her award-winning Outlander novels, four dazzling New York Times bestsellers featuring 18th-century Scotsman James Fraser and his 20th-century time-traveling wife, Claire Randall.

 Now, in this eagerly awaited fifth volume, Diana Gabaldon continues their extraordinary saga, a masterpiece of pure storytelling and her most astonishing Outlander novel yet....

 The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.

 Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.

 Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead — or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes....

 Grand, sweeping, utterly unforgettable, Diana Gabaldon’s new novel is riveting entertainment, a vibrant tapestry of history and human drama. Crossing the boundaries of genre with its unrivaled storytelling, The Fiery Cross is a gift both to her millions of loyal fans and to the lucky readers who have yet to discover her.


Audible Audio, Unabridged, 55 hours 34 minutes
 Published November 3rd 2011 
by Recorded Books (first published November 6th 2001)
***
This is book 5 in the Outlander series and I opted for the audio version. It didn't start out that way, one of my little reading quirks is protecting my books by not breaking the spine, which would have been next to impossible with a 1400+ mass paperback.  But I did try, I began reading and reading and reading some more waiting for something exciting to happen and finally I switched over to the audio book. Like I said it's a big book with the audio coming in over 55 hours in length. Davina Porter is the reader and she is phenomenal, I enjoy every book that I have ever listen to that she has done.  I will admit with this one I put the speed up to 1.25 and towards the end for the last 10 hours I ramped it up to 1.5 just because I wanted to finish this thing.

Was the book that bad? No, it wasn't but it is not one of my favorites. The first book and Voyager (book 3) hold that title. With The Fiery Cross I just found the book rather flat. It chronicles life for the Fraser family as they prepare for weddings and life on the ridge. There were peaks in the storyline where I was thankful for the action and intrigue but they were short lived.

Did I hate the book? No I didn't, Diana Gabaldon has a wonderful way with words,  she knows how to describe, embellish and immerse the reader into the time period. But there were times where some words were not necessary and didn't really add anything to the story.  I also think this book was setting the groundwork for the Revolution and what will happen when the date of their deaths comes around.

I'm not going to jump into the next book just yet, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, it's another biggie coming in over 57 hours for the audio version. Maybe over the long cold winter months I will tackle it.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

 Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor? As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

 But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

 Paperback: 368 pages 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 11, 2017)
****

Beneath Copper Falls is the 6th book in the Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble. This is my first time venturing into this series, though I was a little hesitant to begin with book 6, but it does work as a standalone quite nicely. If anything it has perked my interest to start at the beginning to read about some of the other characters.

 Driven back to her hometown of Rock Harbor, Dina Newell hopes for some peace and quiet after escaping from an abusive relationship, however such is not the case here. Told from three different points of view, Dina, Boone, and the ex-boyfriend, it wasn't hard to stay focused with what was happening.

There are many layers to this mystery and it didn't take long to be immersed. So many questions arose as I was reading this, that had me scratching my head trying to unravel the mystery before it was revealed. Beginning a new life with her old friends and brother isn't easy when one of her friends is brutally murdered. Could her ex be responsible for that?

There is romance here and I did cringe at the 'insta love' elements that took my place.  It's not a favorite of mine but might be for others.

Colleen Coburg has written a suspenseful novel that wasn't just a murder mystery but a story of self discovery, closure and hope.  Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be part of this tour.


  Purchase Links 


 USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best.

She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. .

Connect with Colleen Website | Facebook | Twitter






Review: Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.
In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.

Kindle Edition, 258 pages 
Published April 18th 2017 
by Grand Harbor Press
***

Dryland was a relatively quick and easy read for me. I don't usually read a lot of nonfiction, when I received the invite from TLC Tours I felt this one had potential.

While living in Abu Dhabi the author finally come to terms with her addiction to alcohol and stops cold turkey. The story went back-and-forth in the time, from the day she made her decision to quit and then backtracks to her life story and how she got to where she was. So you really need to pay attention to the chapter dates to avoid confusion. 

The traveling to different places was interesting and showed the different cultures the author was able to experience.  I appreciate her honesty here and being so open, letting readers into all that she has been through. While I commend the author for her decision, she never really came out and said she was an alcoholic and my overall impression felt like it was too easy a thing to give up and realistically I am not sure that is the case normally. Showing more of the physical and mental struggles she went through would have really enhanced this memoir. But all in all a nice read.

Thanks to TLC tours and Netgalley for an e-book copy

 Purchase Links: 

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea Herald, U.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and ScaryMommy.com.

In addition to Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, she is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.

She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.