Tag Archives: WWII

June Book Club Selection — When Twilight Breaks

1 Jun

When Twilight Breaks, the WWII-era standalone novel by Sarah Sundin, is By The Book‘s June Selection. I read this novel a few months ago — loved it! Its look at the events leading up to WWII are informative, as well a cautionary tale for modern readers. Find out all the details below.

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country — or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she’ll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed — and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the bestselling author of When Twilight Breaks (February 2, 2021), The Land Beneath Us (2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), as well as the Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory series. 

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California and enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups. Sarah serves as Co-Director for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Please visit Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com, on Facebook at SarahSundinAuthor, on Twitter at @sarahsundin, and on Instagram at @sarahsundinauthor.

Book Review: When Twilight Breaks

22 Feb

Sarah Sundin is a go-to author for me. Her WWII-era novels are always well-researched and filled with relatable characters. When Twilight Breaks is an exceptionally good book — I found the pre-war Germany setting to be a chilling reminder to modern-day readers. It is highly recommended!

 

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country — or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she’ll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed–and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the bestselling author of When Twilight Breaks (February 2, 2021), The Land Beneath Us (2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), as well as the Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory series.

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California and enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups. Her novel The Land Beneath Us was a finalist for the 2020 Christy Award, The Sky Above Us won the 2020 Carol Award, The Sea Before Uswon the 2019 Reader’s Choice Award from Faith, Hope, and Love, and When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were both named to Booklist’s 101 Best Romance Novels of the Past 10 Years. Sarah serves as Co-Director for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Please visit Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com, on Facebook at SarahSundinAuthor, on Twitter at @sarahsundin, and on Instagram at @sarahsundinauthor.

 

My Impressions:

When Twilight Breaks, Sarah Sundin’s newest historical novel, is a page-turner! Sundin does an excellent job of creating characters that you not only come to love, but hold your breath and bite your nails over as they navigate the dangers of pre-WWII Germany! Well-researched, this book will get you thinking as you experience the race to war by Hitler and his regime. I could not put this one down!

When Twilight Breaks revolves around two main characters — Evelyn Brand, an American journalist assigned to Munich in 1938 and Peter Lang, an American doctoral candidate doing research at the university in the same city. At the beginning of the novel the two have very decidedly different views of Nazi Germany. They are repeatedly thrown together and become somewhat of a team, as Evelyn seeks to report on the true happenings in the Nazi regime. I was fascinated by the contrasting views Americans had of what was happening in Europe. While most readers are familiar with the war years, this perspective on how Hitler achieved power and exerted control over the citizens is eye-opening. There are a great many parallels to modern events, and the novel will make you think. You’ll also want to talk about it — When Twilight Breaks is an excellent choice for book clubs. (I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club later this year.) Concepts of justice, order, mercy, and freedom become concrete in the scenes depicted by Sundin. The book builds slowly as it prepares the characters and the readers for what is to come, but towards the end, I could not read fast enough. No spoilers, but this one will keep you on the edge of your seat. Romance also grows slowly, but when the two finally admit their true feelings? — there’s an awe moment. 😉

When Twilight Breaks has it all and has gone to the top of my favorites by Sarah Sundin. Grab a copy and some friends and jump in! You will love it too!

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

 

First Line Friday — When Twilight Breaks

19 Feb

Happy Friday! I am reading When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin and loving it! I can always depend on Sundin to provide a well-researched historical novel with just the right balance of suspense, drama, and romance. My book club is reading this novel later this year — can’t wait to talk about it with them!

Here’s the first line:

Evelyn Brand had done a crack bit of journalism, and she hadn’t even had to dress like a man to do so.

 

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country — or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she’ll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed–and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the bestselling author of When Twilight Breaks (February 2, 2021), The Land Beneath Us (2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), as well as the Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory series.

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California and enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups. Her novel The Land Beneath Us was a finalist for the 2020 Christy Award, The Sky Above Us won the 2020 Carol Award, The Sea Before Us won the 2019 Reader’s Choice Award from Faith, Hope, and Love, and When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were both named to Booklist’s 101 Best Romance Novels of the Past 10 Years. Sarah serves as Co-Director for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Please visit Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com, on Facebook at SarahSundinAuthor, on Twitter at @sarahsundin, and on Instagram at @sarahsundinauthor.

 

For more first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Audiobook Mini-Review: Unintended Consequences

10 Nov

My husband and I have been steadily working our way through Dan Walsh‘s Jack Turner Suspense series in audiobook form. The combination of modern day suspense and WWII flashbacks make for compelling reading. The third book in the series, Unintended Consequences, is a bit different from the other books in the series. If you like action set in WWII, you will love this one. Recommended!

 

Jack and Rachel leave Culpepper for their long-awaited honeymoon trip, a driving tour through New England. On day three, they stop at a little bayside town in Cape Cod to visit Jack’s grandmother. After he gets called away to handle an emergency, Rachel stays and listens as Jack’s grandmother shares a remarkable story about how she and Jack’s grandfather met in the early days of World War 2. It’s a story filled with danger, decades-old family secrets, daring rescues and romance. Jack is named after his grandfather, and this story set the course and direction for Jack’s life to the present day. After hearing it, Rachel is amazed that anyone survived.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 22 novels (all available on Amazon), including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley, When Night Comes and The Reunion (now being made into a feature film). Over 1 million copies of Dan’s books are in print or downloaded. He’s won both the Carol and Selah Awards multiple times, 4 of his novels have been finalists for RT Reviews Inspirational Novel of the Year.

Reviewers often remark about Dan’s rich, character-driven storylines and page-turning suspense (even with his more inspirational books). He’s been writing full-time since 2010. He and his wife Cindi have been married 43 years, have 2 grown children and 4 grandchildren. They live in the Daytona Beach area, where Dan grew up. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter, read his blog, or preview all his books by visiting his website at http://www.danwalshbooks.com.

 

My Impressions:

The Jack Turner Suspense series by Dan Walsh is a great choice for those who love suspense with a little history thrown in. The third book in the series, Unintended Consequences, is almost all WWII action and intrigue. The love story of Jack’s grandparents is introduced as newlyweds Jack and Rachel make a stop at Jack’s grandmother Renee’s home during their honeymoon tour. When Jack is called away on some university business, Rachel settles in for the exiting tale Renee spins. The story revolves around American-born Jack Turner as he sets off to join the RAF before America enters the war. He is also on a quest to discover the truth behind his mother’s death and the chance to find his twin brother. While that intriguing story is enough to make this book, Walsh adds the thrill of dogfights during the Battle of Britain, a wartime romance, and a daring escape. My husband and I listened to the audiobook which was again expertly read. We both loved this book — action combined with great storytelling make this one a recommended read from both of us.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

 

Book Review + Giveaway! — The Refrain Within

26 Oct

refrain within-banner

About The Book

Book: The Refrain Within

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: WWII Fiction

Release Date: September 29, 2020

the refrain within coverTo save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .

 

Click here to get your copy!




My Impressions:

Liz Tolsma again chose WWII and music to create a framework for a novel. The Refrain Within features clarinetist, Eva Bognar (Bognar Eva in the Hungarian style) a young woman dedicated to the beauty of music, yet surrounded by the ugliness of war. Her beloved Hungary has become occupied by the Germans after a failed attempt by its government to form an alliance with the Allies. I really liked the historical and political context that Tolsma chose. I knew little about Hungary’s role in WWII, and The Refrain Within was a great introduction. Jews from other Eastern European countries found refuge within Hungary’s borders, at least for a little while. It is spring/summer of 1944 when this book takes place. The Nazis begin deporting the Jews from Hungary and the resistance is working hard to prevent it. A good bit of the novel surrounds the efforts of Jewish men and women who worked in secret for their people. The novel is plot-driven with a good bit of suspense, with not a lot of character development. But I did find some of the characters, especially Zofia and Patrik, intriguing in their motivations. Main character Eva seemed very naive to me, lacking in understanding of what was really happening around her. Lies and secrets separate the characters from each other, both physically and emotionally. The novel brings up the question of whether lies are justified if used to protect others. The Refrain Within leaves a few of the story lines unfinished, which was disappointing to me, but in retrospect realistic given the world in which the characters lived.

With its eye toward historical and cultural detail, The Refrain Within explored what was a new aspect of WWII for me, making it a recommended read for those who like the genre.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

About The Author

Liz TolsmaPassionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

 

More from Liz

This is the third book in a series all set around music. The first heroine, Anna in The Melody of the Soul, was a violinist. The second heroine, Natia in When the Heart Sings, sang beautifully. So what did I choose for this heroine?

When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher from the middle school came to our class and encouraged us to join. She brought instruments with her for us to try. I really wanted to play the flute. I thought it was very feminine. But all the girls wanted to play that, and I would have to be really good to get a good chair. So I decided on the clarinet. I played all through middle school and high school, making first chair a couple of times. I participated in marching band and in solo and ensemble contests, earning a couple of first places in state competitions. Even after my “career” ended, I continued to play from time to time. I still play in church. I love the rich, full sound of the instrument. When played well, the clarinet is beautiful. It can be playful and happy or dark and sad. It can skip and it can cry. I’m very glad now that I chose the clarinet instead of the flute.

That’s why the heroine of The Refrain Within plays the clarinet. In fact, she comes from a family of clarinet makers, and her family stamp on the barrel of a clarinet means a great deal to her. As God would have it, my editor, Janyre Tromp, is also a clarinet player. Between the two of us, we worked hard bring out the unique aspects of playing clarinet, like the callous that forms on the inside of your bottom lip.

Eva is a special character to me because we share this passion for the clarinet. There have been many times throughout my life that my clarinet has skipped with me and plenty of times when it has cried with me. Music is God’s beautiful gift to us, and I thank Him for the opportunity to share some of that with you in The Refrain Within.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 23

Among the Reads, October 23

Maureen’s Musings, October 23

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 24

Texas Book-aholic, October 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 25

deb’s Book Review, October 25

21st Century Keeper at Home, October 25

By The Book, October 26

lakesidelivingsite, October 26

A Baker’s Perspective, October 26

Inklings and notions, October 27

CarpeDiem, October 27

Mary Hake, October 27

For Him and My Family, October 28

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 28

Emily Yager, October 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 29

Older & Smarter?, October 29

Genesis 5020, October 29

Betti Mace, October 30

Christian Bookaholic, October 30

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 30

Artistic Nobody, October 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Simple Harvest Reads, October 31 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Rebecca Tews, November 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1

Connie’s History Classroom, November 2

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 2

Splashes of Joy, November 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 3

As He Leads is Joy, November 3

Bigreadersite, November 3

Pause for Tales, November 4

Hallie Reads, November 4

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4

Amanda Tero, author, November 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 5

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 5

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/102a9/the-refrain-within-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy Release Day — The London Restoration

18 Aug

It’s finally here — release day for The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan. I have been wanting to get my hands on this historical romance novel set in the days following WWII for a long time. Now you and I can! If you love historical romance, you have got to check this book out. See all the details below.

From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II London and features a strong female lead.

Determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world.

London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.

Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.

Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction.

To purchase, click HERE.

Rachel McMillan is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary romances set in opulent Vienna, and the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries praised for bringing an authentic 1930’s Boston world to life while normalizing the fictional conversation surrounding mental illness. She is also the author of Dream, Plan and Go: A Romantic’s Guide to Independent Travel and A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide, which explores her love of made-for-TV Christmas movies. Her upcoming historical romances The London Restoration and The Mozart Code (Harper Collins) take readers deep into an atmospheric look ofr post-war London, Vienna and Prague. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada.

 

 

Book Review: The Last Year of The War

13 Aug

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
 
In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa — aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
 
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
 
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
 
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Susan Meissner is the USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick; As Bright as Heaven, which received a starred review from Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice award finalist; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014. She is also RITA finalist and Christy Award and Carol Award winner. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Visit Susan at her website: http://susanmeissner.com and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

 

My Impressions:

I had a copy of The Last Year of The War on my TBR shelf for well over a year before I opened its pages. Life and other reading obligations kept me from beginning, but once I did I could not put it down! This WWII-era novel opened up a world I knew little about — the internment of German and Japanese-Americans deemed enemy aliens. Susan Meissner chose well to tell their story through the innocent eyes of a very American teenager from Davenport, Iowa. Elise Sontag tells of her bewildering upheaval giving the novel a first person perspective informed by all she has learned in her life. This is a novel not to be missed. It is very highly recommended.

The history surrounding The Last Year of The War is fascinating. Viewed from the 21st century, the round-up of people who had lived in the US for decades, including their American-born children, seems unbelievable. But as I read, I could see parallels in today’s society that gave me pause. Those who found themselves in the dry, hot, and very brown south Texas camp would never have conceived of such a thing just months before. Elise’s family finds themselves in Crystal City awaiting the end of the war so they can resume their very ordinary lives. But they and the reader soon learn that nothing will ever be the same. Meissner’s detailed descriptions took me from the dusty streets of the camp to a bombed and beaten Germany. I felt just like Elise, unbelieving that Americans could have endured such things. Identity and belonging are recurring themes throughout the novel, and not just for Elise. WWII brought new perspectives for many.

The Last Year of The War is a complex novel with well-drawn characters that isn’t easily left behind after the last page is turned. This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in this little known aspect of WWII, but more so for those who want a book they can become a part of. For avid readers, you know what I mean. 😉 It is also a great book for discussion — your book club will thank you for the suggestion.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

First Line Friday — Far on The Ringing Plains

24 Jul

I hit a home run with the purchase of a book for my husband. While we sometimes love the same books, more often than not the books I read my husband would not pick up. When I saw a blurb for Far on The Ringing Plains by Murray Pura and Patrick E. Craig, I took a shot and ordered. My husband loved this book set in the early days of WWII in the Pacific theater. I am featuring the first line in the hopes that you too (or a friend or spouse) may also find this book intriguing. It is the first of a planned three part Islands series. My husband is eagerly awaiting the next release.

 

When I first saw the Islands, it was August 7, 1942, at 0400 hours . . .

 

In the spirit of The Thin Red Line, Hacksaw Ridge, Flags of our Fathers, and Pearl Harbor.

Realistic. Gritty. Gutsy. Without taking it too far, Craig and Pura take it far enough to bring war home to your heart, mind, and soul. The rough edge of combat is here. And the rough edge of language, human passion, and our flawed humanity. If you can handle the ruggedness and honesty of Saving Private Ryan, 1917 or Dunkirk, you can handle the power and authenticity of ISLANDS: Far on the Ringing Plains.

For the beauty and the honor is here too. Just like the Bible, in all its roughness and realism and truthfulness about life, reaching out for God is ever-present in ISLANDS. So are hope and faith and self-sacrifice. Prayer. Christ. Courage. An indomitable spirit. And the best of human nature, triumphing over the worst.

Bud Parmalee, Johnny Strange, Billy Martens — three men that had each other’s backs and the backs of every Marine in their company and platoon. All three were raised never to fight. All three saw no other choice but to enlist and try to make a difference. All three would never be the same again. Never. And neither would their world.

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next twenty-six years as a worship leader, pastor, and seminar speaker in churches and at retreats, seminars, and conferences all across the Western United States.

After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches in Northern California, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books.

Murray Andrew Pura was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and has traveled extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Ordained as a Baptist minister in 1986, Pura has served five churches in Canada and headlined numerous speaking engagements in Canada and the United States. He has five books published, was a contributor to the Life With God Bible, has been a finalist for The Paraclete Fiction Award, The Dartmouth Book Award, and The John Spencer Hill Literary Award, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Kobzar Literary Award of Canada.

 

For more first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.