Tag Archives: Linda Thompson

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2020

29 Dec

Who knew that 2020 would be such a difficult year? It started out all bright and shiny with the birth of my first grandchild, then a landslide of a lump and a biopsy in February pointed to breast cancer. My surgery and the good news of no chemo or radiation was followed by 15 days to crush the curve. We all know where that went. While life became a bit more normal in June here in Georgia, this year has been filled with anxiety and grief. I am certainly ready for a brand new year!

While I am glad 2020 will soon be in the rearview mirror, I did read A LOT OF GREAT BOOKS this year. I couldn’t whittle the list down to 10, but I did confine it to an even dozen. And that was hard! As always my favorites span a variety of genres — historical, suspense, romance.  I hope you find a book you will love.

For more best of the best lists, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Books of 2020

 

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

 

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Book Review: The Mulberry Leaf Whispers

21 Dec

If you are looking for something a little different, The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson is a very good choice. This dual timeline historical novel takes place in Japan in the years following WWII and during the 16th century giving the reader wonderful insights on the cultural differences between the Western world and Japan. It is definitely a highly recommended read for its unique subject matter and perspective.

 

1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.

1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future — all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?

Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves — stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an O.C.W. Cascade Award winner and a finalist for several 2019 awards: Christy and Carol Awards, plus the Independent Book Award in two categories. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading — yes, that does make her a throwback — taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan, and Wales.

 

My Impressions:

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers, the second book in Linda Thompson’s Brands from The Burning series, whisks the reader back to a time and place not often visited in Christian fiction, at least not Ameican CF. Japan was very foreign indeed in the 16th century, and the values that embodied the time of the Samurais was still in place during WWII. Honor in dying, shame in capture are just two of the principles explored in this novel. I found the settings fascinating, but it really was the main characters that captured my imagination. For unique insight and fresh perspective, this novel is a highly recommended read.

The two stories revolve around Omura Sono and Matsuura Akira, two characters who could not be more different, yet I became very invested in both of their life journeys. Sono is the daughter of a lord who becomes an offering as she weds the son of another great house and seals a peace treaty. Unique for her time, Sono is a Christian, having been taught by the Portuguese Jesuits. She is promised the freedom of following her beliefs, but finds promises and reality very different. Akira is a young and devoted naval officer who finds himself a prisoner following the Doolittle raids on Japan. His shame dominates his time in a US camp, until he discovers the mystifying concepts of forgiveness and surrender. I really liked the inner struggles that the two share — the will to persevere in the face of hostile opposition and to surrender to the sovereignty of God. As I said, the settings proved to be fascinating. I feel the author really captured the times in which the characters lived. Historical details including food, dress, and rituals gave this reader a vivid reading experience. Sono was a historical of the time period, and Akira was inspired by a real person — her research into the two made the novel all the more believable. The faith messages are strong and are beautifully woven within the narrative. I especially found the expressions of the sanctity of life very moving.

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers is not a quick read — it is one that should be given time in order for it to seep into one’s thoughts. Make some time for this one — you won’t be sorry. It can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading The Plum Blooms in Winter first. And because both are available you will have lots of quality reading time!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults. 

(I purchased the book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Author, Author! — Linda Thompson

3 Dec

I was introduced to Linda Thompson‘s writing last year when I read The Plum Blooms in Winter. Wow, was I blown away by this excellent WWII-era novel that has two protagonists — a US airman and a Japanese young woman. Set in China and Japan during and after the war, the novel was moving and insightful. It is definitely a must-read. Linda’s sequel The Mulberry Leaf Whispers releases this month, and I cannot wait to read it! Linda joins us today to take us on her writing journey. Thanks, Linda!

By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Linda — I have always been a reader, and as a marketing professional in technology, I wrote a great deal — of technical literature. But my fiction writing journey has been a bit backwards as compared with many other authors I know. I didn’t decide to write, then go looking for the story. The story found me and begged me to write it! 

My husband, an avid military history buff, handed me a history book one day. He had it open to the true story that ultimately inspired my debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter. 

There needs to be a book about that. I knew that instantly. But there was a lot of time and prayer involved before I concluded the Lord was calling me to write that book. And honestly, I had no idea what would be involved! If I’d known, I’m not sure I would have ventured it.

BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

Linda — My parents taught me to love reading, and to appreciate the magic and the beauty in the right words. My husband is a big reader and has been a wonderful supporter of my author journey. My kids are proud of me and have cheerfully put up with a certain degree of healthy neglect! But I’m sure I would have foundered if I hadn’t found a wonderful online fiction writing course, which led me to an awesome coach / mentor and a strong critique group. Writers really need each other! 

BTB — Why did you choose the historical fiction genre?

Linda — Easy enough — it’s what I’ve loved to read as long as I can remember. I’ve always relished a book that picked me up and carried me off to a world I couldn’t visit on my own. So my reading has always leaned toward either historical novels or fantasy. And when I started writing, I was more confident that I could research a compelling world than that I could invent one, so . . . historical won out over fantasy.

BTB — Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication?

Linda — I have the same story every published author does of stacks of rejections. You have to put your thick skin on for this journey. What pulled me through was believing that the Lord had called me on this path, and that the story He’d given me was worth telling. No matter how many rewrites it took to tell it well!

My biggest challenge right now is that I’m not a fast writer. I tend to really auger into the research because I want to get the details right, and I want to look at the issues from multiple perspectives to examine some of the real-world complexities of the history. I spent seven years writing my first novel, and three years writing my second. The expectation that authors will bring out a new novel each year, while simultaneously serving as their own marketing departments, graphic artists, and website admins has just about pulled me under!

BTB — What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc.

Linda — Yes, lots of books. I often find myself ordering used books that are out of print, because the topics I need to explore can be pretty far off the beaten path! I have done some site visits and interviews as well. Those were very impactful.

I sure wish a research trip to Japan fit in my budget! I spent some time there in my corporate life but I haven’t visited the specific regions I write about. I would love to visit Kyushu, the island where a big portion of The Mulberry Leaf Whispers is set. It looks fascinating!

I’m sure Google is every historical author’s bread and butter today. You can find an incredible wealth of resources if you’re a determined “Google-ista.” For Mulberry, one of the most rewarding research experiences I had was when I worked on a scene set in 1948 Havana. With Google maps, you can virtually walk the streets of a place. And since, sadly, Havana hasn’t changed much since Castro, I was really able to use Google maps to put myself in the scene! Another place I’d love to visit! Now there’s an occupational hazard. 😊 

 BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

Linda — I’ve always been an early riser, but my precise schedule varies based on the season. I’m a devoted afficionado of dawn and dusk, so I usually take some time for Bible study and prayer during the hour before sunrise. This time of year, I’m typically at my desk well before 5:30 a.m., with a break at dawn. 

I am a firm believer in the power of a nap!

My author-ing days are pretty long. Honestly, I worked hard in the corporate world, but I find I working even harder as an underpaid author!

BTB — How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

Linda — LOL. I haven’t arrived at a “usually” yet. At least I hope not — I hope three years isn’t going to be “my usual.”

BTB — Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel.

Linda — There is a key character in The Plum Blooms in Winter who goes dark for a number of years. So his “lost years” were crying to be explored, weren’t they? Also, I confess I was itching to try a “time slip” novel. The challenge of writing two stories, each compelling in their own right, that ultimately knit together in a way that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts was something I felt eager to try my hand at. 

I’ve learned to expect God to show up when I’m writing. When I started The Mulberry Leaf Whispers, I didn’t know what would weave the two stories together. Three hundred years is a huge abyss of time to bridge! But just at the point where I was starting to despair as to whether my story concept would work, the Lord gave me the answer. That is the amazing aspect of writing for Him!

BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

You may have noticed that I don’t write about light topics! Although I hope my books are entertaining, entertainment is not my ultimate goal. My goal is to portray a BIG God, at work in a BIG way, seeking and saving and redeeming even through the darkest circumstances imaginable. I want my readers to come away heartened that no matter how dark the times, evil doesn’t win.

BTB — Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

At this point, I’m not sure. My first two novels were set in the 1940s in Asia. I love the time period and I’m contemplating a new series set in the 1940s in Israel. But now that I have an understanding of how big an investment a novel is, I’m really waiting on the Lord to speak to me. The author’s life is definitely not a retirement!

 

Thanks, Linda, for sharing with my readers!

 

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves — stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis contest winner and a finalist for FOUR 2019 awards: a Carol Award, the Independent Book Award in two categories, and a Cascade Award. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading — yes, that does make her a throwback — taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan, and Wales.

 

The Plum Blooms in Winter

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge

In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission

Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal.

In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness. Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him — even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends — only to confront a decision that will change everything.

 

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers

1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.

1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future — all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?

Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Top New Must-Read Authors

1 Dec

This week Top 10 Tuesday is focusing on re-reads. I have done a couple of those posts before. (Find them HERE and HERE.) So, as a tweak of the meme, I am featuring new-to-me authors that I read over the past year or so that are now must-read authors. Those first books blew me away, so I will be reading more of their books. My list includes the books I have on my TBR list to read next as well.

 

 

Top New-To-Me Must Read Authors

 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

 

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

 

Engraved on The Heart by Tara Johnson

 

The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal

 

In The Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

 

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

 

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

 

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

 

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

 

Happy Release Day! — The Mulberry Leaf Whispers

1 Dec

After reading The Plum Blooms in Winter, Linda Thompson‘s excellent debut novel, I knew I had to read the second book of the series, The Mulberry Leaf Whispers. These WWII-era novels are different from those you may be used to. Told from the perspective of a Japanese character, they give a Western reader a fresh insight into the war and the culture of the time. The Mulberry Leaf Whispers is available today! I cannot wait to start reading. Find out all about it below.

1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.

1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future — all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?

Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves — stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis contest winner and a finalist for FOUR 2019 awards: a Carol Award, the Independent Book Award in two categories, and a Cascade Award. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading — yes, that does make her a throwback — taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan, and Wales.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Books to Movies

18 Aug

I have a big confession: I do not subscribe to Netflix! I think one of my kids has an account downloaded to my TV, but it is only watched when they come to visit. I know this is shocking, but I don’t even turn my TV on anymore. My husband watched Inspector Morris the past few months and has now moved on to Endeavor, but other than a few glimpses up from my book reading, I have not watched TV since April. I have to say I haven’t missed it either. The topic of which books should be made into movies/Netflix series always leaves me with mixed emotions. It would be great if wonderful books could reach more people, but frankly I would rather people enjoy the original source. 😉

For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday I am listing historical fiction that I think would make great movies. The books on my list have a number of strengths — great sense of time and place, interesting and perhaps little known topics, strong characters, intrigue, unputdownableness.

For more recommendations, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Historical Fiction That Should Be Made Into A Movie

 

The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin (currently free for Kindle for Prime Members!)

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Top 10 Tuesday — WWII Fiction

24 Mar

As Covid-19 news is everywhere, and people around the world are called to shelter in place, I have been giving more and more thought to what people endured during WWII. Talk about a world turned upside down overnight — Pearl Harbor, the invasion of Poland, Dunkirk, concentration camps, and D-Day. There are many excellent WWII novels from which to choose so it is hard to pick just 10, but I did my best to whittle the list down. I hope these novels inspire and encourage you with their messages of hope in a very dark time.

For more Genre Favorites from other bloggers, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top WWII-Era Novels

 

The Butterfly And The Violin by Kristy Cambron

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

Years of Nazi occupation have stolen much from Brigitte Durand. Family. Freedom. Hope for a future, especially for a woman with a past like hers. But that changes the day American fighter pilot Tom Jaeger is shot down over occupied France. Picked up by the Resistance, Tom becomes the linchpin in their plan to infiltrate a Germans-only brothel and get critical intel out through Brigitte, a prostitute rumored to be sympathetic to the Allied cause.D-day looms and everyone knows that invasion is imminent. But so is treachery, and the life of one American pilot unexpectedly jeopardizes everything. He becomes more important than the mission to a man who cannot bear to lose another agent and to a woman who is more than just a prostitute, who finally realizes that her actions could change the course of history.

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families — so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

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

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler’s blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little—known history of Ukraine’s tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

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

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

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

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

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

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

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

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

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk — and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge

In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission

Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal.

In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness. Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him — even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends — only to confront a decision that will change everything.

Sunrise at Normandy series by Sarah Sundin

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.

 

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

A boy coming of age in a time of war . . .
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — New to Me Authors

14 Jan

2019 was a great year for reading! I discovered a number of new and exciting authors. Discovered, as in I read them for the first time. Some of the authors had been published before and some had debut releases. (Some I met in person last year — squee!) You may be familiar with some or all of them, but in case you aren’t, they are all recommended by me. I look forward to more great books to discover from these authors.

 Hope you discover a new author too!

 

For more bookish discoveries across the blogosphere, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Amanda Barratt — My Dearest Dietrich

Erin Bartels — We Hope for Better Things

Victoria Bylin — When He Found Me

Cathy Gohlke — The Medallion

Janet Ferguson — The Art of Rivers

Lindsay Franklin — The Story Peddler

James Hannibal — The Gryphon Heist

Kristi Ann Hunter — A Defense of Honor

Tara Johnson — Engraved on The Heart

David Rawlings — The Baggage Handler

Linda Thompson — The Plum Blooms in Winter

Abigail Wilson — In The Shadows of Croft Towers

 

What new author did you discover last year?

 

Best of The Decade — 10 Years of Great Books

2 Jan

I started blogging about books 10 years ago — November 2009. That was also when I started keeping track of the books I read and deliberately listing the books that had the greatest impact. (You can find pages for the best books of every year in the blog’s header.) When best of the decade lists began to pop up, I thought that I could do that too, but what a daunting task! I have been fortunate to read so many wonderful books. The list below is, of course, subjective, but these are the books I continue to think about and recommend wholeheartedly. The list includes many different genres, so there is something for everyone. If you have read any of them, I would love to know what you thought. If you haven’t, well, you now have a great TBR list! 😉

 

 

2010

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pitman

All Camilla Deardon knows of the Mormons camping nearby is the songs she hears floating on the breeze. Then she meets one of them—a young man named Nathan Fox. Never did she imagine he would be so handsome, so charming, especially after Mama and Papa’s warnings to stay away. Though she knows she should obey her parents, Camilla can’t refuse her heart. But even Nathan’s promises cannot prepare her for what she will face in Utah.

 

2011

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng― City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love―and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints―and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents ― City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation.

 

2012

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Four brides. One Dress.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history — and its new bride — begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

 

2013

Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

When an overweight woman who’s hidden from romance discovers a handsome doctor is in love with her, will she finally risk her heart?

Ellyn — chef, cafe owner, and lover of butter — is hiding something behind her extra weight. While she sees the good in others, she has only condemnation for herself. So when a handsome widower claims he’s attracted to Ellyn, she’s certain there’s something wrong with him.

Sabina — tall, slender, and exotic — left her husband, young adult daughters, and a thriving counseling practice to spend a year in Northern California where she says she’s come to heal. But it seems to Ellyn that Sabina’s doing more hiding than healing. Why?

Twila has come out of hiding and is working to gain back the pounds she lost when her only goal was to disappear. When her eating disorder is triggered again, she’s tempted to go back into hiding.

As these women’s lives intertwine, will they dare to come out of hiding?

 

2014

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence: her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.
 
When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.
 
As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage — the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

 

2015

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families — so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome. 

 

2016

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl — before it’s too late.

With its stunning writing and relentless pace, Annabel Lee will captivate readers from the first page.

 

2017

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stuart

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.
 
Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with—and ultimately celebrates — life after loss.

 

2018

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan ― even their very lives ― in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

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

 

2019

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

1942. Pilot Dave Delham sees his Japanese bombing mission as an act of heroism. But his naive view turns grim when he’s caught and endures years of imprisonment at the hands of cruel captors. Despairing that he’ll survive, Dave vows if he escapes, he’ll answer God’s calling.

Osaka, Japan, 1948. Miyako Matsuura longs to restore her family’s shattered honor. After watching her little brother die in a horrific American air raid, she’s been reduced to prostitution to survive. When the pilot whose bomb stole her brother’s life returns as a missionary, her thirst for revenge consumes her.

Two damaged people race along a collision course that could bring their souls eternal change. Can Dave and Miyako transform their tragic histories and surrender to compassion and faith?

The Plum Blooms in Winter is the first book in the inspiring Brands From the Burning historical Christian fiction series. If you like pulse-pounding AND heart-warming tales of redemption drawn from life, brimming with deeply drawn characters and taut suspense, then you’ll love Linda Thompson’s powerful novel.

 

What were some of your favorite books from the past decade?

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Top Books Read in 2019

31 Dec

It is always hard to compile a best of list every year. I read a lot of really good books in 2019. A. Lot. But in going back through the archives, I found the following eleven that captured my imagination, touched my emotions, and made me think about my world and myself long after I closed the cover. The books are a mixed bag of genres — speculative, allegory, dual timeline, contemporary, and historical — so basically something for every taste. I hope one grabs your interest and you find a great read! (The links are to my reviews.)

For more Best Books of 2019 lists, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Best Books Read in 2019

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

 

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

The Secrets of Paper And Ink by Lindsay Harrel

 

A Silver Willow by The Shore by Kelli Stuart

The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green