Tag Archives: Underground Railroad

Book Review: Sweeter Than Birdsong

13 Feb

When Ben casts lovely Kate Winter to sing in his latest show, they find they share a love for music and ideas. But Kate’s mother wants her daughter to marry a rich man. Ben has given his life to God, not to the pursuit of wealth.

Kate Winter will be the first female graduate of Otterbein College, and every young man in town courts her. But Kate’s dark family secrets leave her unspeakably shy. When Kate joins the Hanbys in their dangerous work on the Underground Railroad, she finds her courage and her voice. Can Ben and Kate find a way to be together in spite of the obstacle of Kate’s family?

Rosslyn Elliott is the award-winning author of Fairer than Morning, the first in the Saddler’s Legacy series. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue writing fiction. Elliott lives in Albuquerque, where she homeschools her daughter and works in children’s ministry.

Visit www.rosslynelliott.com for more information.

My Impressions:

Sweeter Than Birdsong continues the story of the Hanby family of Ohio, a true life family that was devoted to ending slavery and worked selflessly in the Underground Railroad during the first half of the 1800s.  In this second installment in the Saddler’s Legacy series, Ben Hanby is a college student determined to make a difference in the abolition movement.  His early experience with the loss of life and love among those who had been enslaved has shaped his character and his dedication to the cause.  It is difficult and dangerous work, but he is determined to make a difference.  Kate Winter is the shy daughter of a wealthy yet troubled family in Wersterville.  Also a student at Otterbein College, Kate’s desperation to escape her  circumstances puts her in Ben’s path. Kate’s introduction to the plight of slaves changes her attitude and the direction of her life.

Sweeter Than Birdsong, a stand alone novel, tells more than a story of new love and romance.  It is a fact based historical novel that brings the years leading up to the Civil War to life.  The Hanby family is real and their experiences with the Underground Railroad are well documented.  And Ben Hanby was the prolific writer of songs, one of which echoed the fight for freedom.  The story is also a reminder of the need for personal freedoms within the structure of God’s love. Rosslyn Elliott has again captured the Hanbys’ wonderful story in a way that keeps the reader turning the pages.  If you like history, suspense, or just a good story well told, pick up Sweeter Than Birdsong.


To read my review of Fairer Than Morning, click HERE.

To read the views of other reviewers, click HERE.

(I received a copy of Sweeter Than Birdsong from LitFuse in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Be sure to check out the iPod Giveaway to celebrate the release of Sweeter than Birdsong:

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner’s choice of color!)
  • Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
  • Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She’ll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, Seasons 1 and 2 of Downtown Abbey and a soundtrack DVD, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)

So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Book Review: Refuge on Crescent Hill

24 Oct

Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn’t seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion’s only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie’s bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion’s walls that could change her life — and the entire town — forever.


Melanie Beroth Dobson‘s first novel (Together for Good) was published in 2006, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011. Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Since they’ve been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to launching her own public relations company in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of both events and products. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. She worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Jon and Melanie have two daughters — Karly (8) and Kiki (7). The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

My Impressions:

History and mystery combine in Melanie Dobson’s novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill.  The house known as Crescent Hill has known its share of mysteries.  There are rumors of secret tunnels, ghosts and a lost treasure.    Its current owner has died and left it to her oldest granddaughter, Camden.  Camden has always felt a connection to the house.  It really is the only place she ever had any roots.   But now the mansion is in disrepair and she is without the resources to fix it up.  She joins forces with the city marketer/developer, Alex Yates, as they try to work out a plan to save the house from being torn down by the city.  Others with less altruistic motivations are interested in the house as well, or really the treasure the house may hold.

Refuge on Crescent Hill started out a bit slow for me.  There were lots of story threads that seemed unconnected.  But as the reader is let in on more and more of the secrets, the novel picks up pace.  I enjoyed how the personal aspects of the Civil War, including the Underground Railroad, were incorporated in the story. Not to give too much away — pay attention to the quilts — their history is fascinating.  I did think the ending a bit abrupt, but all in all it was a good read, full of puzzles and hints and questions a good mystery contains.


Beginning October 31, Refuge on Crescent Hill will be FREE for Kindle.  Click HERE to get your copy.
(I received Refuge on Crescent Hill from Kregel Publications in return for a review.   The opinions expressed are mine alone.)