Tag Archives: split time

Spotlight — Two Books Set in Ukraine

8 Mar

With all that is going on in the world right now, I thought it would be good to spotlight two books with ties to Ukraine. One is historical and the other a split time novel. As always it’s good to revisit the past to put the present in perspective. I have read Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart– it is excellent! Then Sings My Soul by Amy K Sorrells (one of my favorite authors) has been on my shelf way too long. It is the surprise selection for my book club in April. If you have read either of these books, I’d love to know your thoughts. And if you have other suggestions for books set in Ukraine, leave me a comment. Thanks!

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

Winner of the 2017 American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award –Best Christian Fiction of the Year

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.

Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells

1904, Chudniv, Ukraine. Playing hide-and-seek in bucolic fields of sunflowers, young Jakob never imagines the horrific secrets he will carry as he and his brother escape through genocide-ridden Eastern Europe.

1994, South Haven, Michigan. At age 94, time is running out for any hope that Jakob can be free from his burden of guilt.

When Jakob’s wife dies, he and his daughter, Nel, are forced to face the realities of his worsening dementia―including a near-naked, midnight jaunt down the middle of main street―as well as emerging shadows Nel had no idea lay beneath her father’s beloved, curmudgeonly ways.

While Nel navigates the restoration and sale of Jakob’s dilapidated lake house, her high school sweetheart shows up in town, along with unexpected correspondence from Ukraine. And when she discovers a mysterious gemstone in Jakob’s old lapidary room, Jakob’s condition worsens as he begins having flashbacks about his baby sister from nearly a century past.

As father and daughter race against time to discover the truth behind Jackob’s fragmented memories, the God they have both been running from shows that he redeems not only broken years, but also the future.

Book Review — The Edge of Belonging

20 Jan

My book club chose The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox for discussion this month. I am eager to find out what my group thought. I found this split time novel to be a poignant read that focuses on the importance of identity with a family unit — even if the family is very unconventional. This novel won 2 Christy Awards in 2021 — Book of The Year and Best Debut. It is very deserving. Find out all the details and my impressions below.

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, Amanda Cox spent her time counseling children, families, and individuals through life’s challenging moments. Now she uses those same skills to develop layered characters and stories, bringing them on a journey of hope and healing. A journey she hopes her readers experience in their own lives as they read.

A few of her favorite things are the sanctuary of the great outdoors, the feeling of pen on paper, the sound of her children’s laughter, and exploring new places with her husband of 15 years. (Oh, let’s not forget good fiction and good coffee. She’s addicted to both.) You can stay connected with her latest writing updates at http://www.amandacoxwrites.com. You can find her on social media by searching Amanda Cox Writes.

To get a free short story featuring characters from The Edge of Belonging visit: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/fuj7mlfd83

My Impressions:

The Edge of Belonging won two Christy Awards in 2021. It is easy to understand why — this book is excellent. This is a split time novel with a present day storyline and one that occurred 24 years before. The two are wonderfully interwoven as the reader discovers the secrets behind Ivy’s adoption. Family members all hold keys to the truth that at 24 she now wants to know. Yes this is a story of a child found and cherished, but also a story of the importance of identity, a deeply felt truth of being known and seen. The characters are all wonderful, but the two that stood out the most to me were Harvey and Pearl. The persistence each has in protecting and nurturing touched my heart. You may think that the book is all about Ivy, and her story is central to the novel. But all the characters are impacted by the confirmation that they belong. The truth of how God draws His children to Himself and adopts them is beautifully illustrated throughout the narrative. There are also themes of finding peace and acceptance. Not all situations resolve in a happy ending — this book doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of life — but I felt that the book ended with a rightness.

As you can probably tell from my ramblings that I found The Edge of Belonging not easy to describe. Just know that it is really, really, really good. 😉

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankful for Family

23 Nov

Last Thanksgiving I had the pleasure and blessing of having all of my immediate family together. This year, due to law school exams, conferences, and other family obligations we will not be all together on the same day. But . . . we have already had one small gathering and will be headed to another on Turkey Day. And FaceTime is a winner! I’ll be able to see my granddaughter though we are separated by a lot of miles. These thoughts led me to a Thankful for Family TTT post. No, it’s not the theme for today, but I wanted to do it anyway. LOL! So today my list is all about families. Whatever your favorite genre, I have a book(s) for you!

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Series Featuring Families

Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey — Romantic Suspense

Bucklin Family Reunion series by Debby Mayne — Southern/Chick Lit

Chicory Inn series by Deborah Raney — Family Drama

Cousins of The Dove series by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould — Time Split

Bradford Sisters Romance series by Becky Wade — Romance

Book Review: The London House

10 Nov

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.

Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. KnightleyLizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily PriceThe Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flairKatherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and is a wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL.


My Impressions:

I just closed the cover of Katherine Reay‘s latest novel, The London House, and all I can manage to say is WOW! Okay, that is not going to suffice for a review, so bear with me as I try to put into words all the feelings and emotions and ruminations that accompanied my reading experience. First, let me say that The London House is an exceptionally well-written novel. It is told from the first person POV of Caroline Payne, a young woman who has been dealing with emotional turmoil, grief, and perceived rejection for most of her life. She is our modern-day connection to the history of her family, and specifically her grandmother, Margaret and her great-aunt Caro. Their two stories are told in a series of letters and diary entries that Reay masterfully wove into a tale of betrayal and unforgiveness, courage and triumph. Caroline is determined to set the story straight about just what happened to her great-aunt during WWII and the examine the impact her choices made on the whole family from that point on to the present. Helping her is Mat, a long lost friend who shatters Caroline’s equilibrium. All of the characters within The London House are flawed and real and highly relatable. Their past sins and past failures resonated with this reader. All have a long way to grow, and Reay does a great job of exposing and exploring their personalities. The main story is full of mystery. What-ifs of the spy rings of the early days of the war kept me turning the pages. I have to admit that I did have a hard time with the beginning of the book — there seemed to be a lot of chaos surrounding the characters and their stories. But I think that was the point. The book takes all those loose ends and weaves a story full of hope and redemption. There is an overarching theme of perception vs truth. We often think that a thing is true because we perceive it to be. But as the character’s discover reality or history based on perceptions alone is flawed from the beginning. I loved how Reay inserted C. S. Lewis’ radio broadcasts that were part of the time period and used them to assert that there are absolute truths, whether we care to believe that or not. I found this message in The London House pertinent for today — not only in the world in which we live, but in my own personal life. This book made me think! And isn’t that a great bonus to a riveting story?! The historical details are fascinating, and I loved vicariously visiting modern day London and Paris.

The London House is perfect for those who like time-slip novels, WWII tales, and family relationship dramas. It is also for those who love an excellently told story. It is also perfect for a book club. You will want to talk about this book. As an additional bonus, one of the characters cooks. I found a new favorite recipe inspired by my reading — Lemon Olive Oil Cake. Google it and then make it, You will love it too! 😉

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: Adults.

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

Book Review — Memories of Glass

29 Sep

Melanie Dobson is a must-read author for me. I don’t even have to read the blurb to know that I will be reading her book. 😉 My book club chose Memories of Glass, and I now have a new favorite by this talented author. A split-time novel, this book explores how people react in the face of evil — acquiescence or rebellion, apathy or heroism. This one is very highly recommended.

Reminiscent of Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, this stunning novel draws from true accounts to shine a light on a period of Holland’s darkest history and bravest heroes.

1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape.

Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life―and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.

Illuminating the story and strength of these women, award-winning author Melanie Dobson transports readers through time and place, from World War II Holland to contemporary Uganda, in this rich and inspiring novel.

Writing fiction is Melanie Dobson‘s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of almost thirty books, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories including The Curator’s DaughterMemories of Glass, and the Legacy of Love novels (legacyofloveseries.com). Five of her novels have received a Carol Award for historical fiction, Catching the Wind‘s audiobook won the 2018 Audie for Inspirational Novel, and The Black Cloister was ForeWord’s Book of the Year for Religious Fiction. Her next time-slip novel, The Winter Rose, comes out in January 2022. 

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon’s work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, dancing, and reading stories with her girls. 

More information about Melanie and her books is available at her website (melaniedobson.com) or at the following social media platforms: 


My Impressions:

Memories of Glass was inspired by the heroics of the Dutch resistance in WWII. Because of their sacrifice, many Jewish children were saved from the Nazi death camps. The story is told from three points of view — Eliese, a young, privileged Jewish woman put in an impossible situation, Josie, a young Dutch woman who could not stand by and let children perish, and Ava, a young American woman who wants desperately to find her place in a family, but won’t compromise the faith shared by her mother. All three must make choices that will impact not just their own futures. I found each of their stories compelling. Ordinary women who have to face extraordinary circumstances. Each of their stories are intertwined and develop a complete whole.

The rich historical detail of Memories of Glass shows diligent research on the part of Dobson. She injects historical figures into the narrative, while also using inspiration of real figures to create her fictional characters. The contrast between those who are working for good and those who are working for evil is chilling. There really is no fence-sitting in the stories — all make their choices. The complex construction of the story and the vividly-drawn characters make this an unputdownable book. There were many anonymous heroes during WWII, and Memories of Glass pays homage to them. While we may never know their names, their actions count towards eternity.

My book club chose Memories of Glass, and I cannot wait to discuss it with them. I anticipate a great conversation about the historical detail, the choices characters made, and the implications in our own lives. If you can, I recommend you read it with a friend or two — you are going to want to talk about this book!

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

First Line Friday — Roots of Wood And Stone

29 Jan

Whew! What a week. TGIF! My girl is home for her wedding dress fitting — squee — and some other wedding chores. I’ve just gotten a few minutes to write this First Line Friday post. A few hours before it’s officially Saturday, but, hey, I made it. Today I am featuring a split time debut novel that released this week — Roots of Wood And Stone by Amanda Wen. This is a very personal story for the author, and I cannot wait to read it.

Here’s the first line:

Sloane Kelley stood in the lobby of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, the thick buffalo robe hanging warm and heavy on her arms.



This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . . until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love — and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.\

In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team, and accompanying high school and middle school choirs. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.


What’s the first line of your book this weekend?


Head to Hoarding Books for more first line fun!