Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Title: Daughter of the Regiment
Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: Faith Words
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2903-2
Publication Date: March 24th, 2015

Synopsis:
Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She'd rather let "the Americans" settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri's Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as "her boys." And while she doesn't see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother's Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker's business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her.

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.
Review:
As promised, sadly and I'm sorry, a little later then I had hoped, the review for Daughter of the Regiment.

I have always loved the civil war era, I say blame it on Gone With the Wind. For as long as I can remember, there has always been something that has drawn me to that time in history. There is still so much to learn and to discover and this era seems like a treasure trove, since it is such a pivotal part in American history.

Usually when reading about the Civil War from the women's perspective, especially from the south, it is from the perspective of the Southern Belle. It was refreshing when the main character, Maggie, is from an Irish immigrant family. She isn't living in the grand splendor of the southern mansions.  She is working the farm right along side her brothers and her uncle. They are trying their best to survive. It becomes tricky when her brother's loyalties lie with that of the north. Living in the border state of the Mason Dixon line pits neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother....and in some instances, brother against sister.

That is where Libbie comes into play, because really, you have to have a southern belle in the story some where. Libbie, when first introduced is through the eyes of Maggie. So, our first thoughts of her are a little swayed, but as we get to know Libbie and the life the she lives, we realize, not all is as it seems.

It is through these women that we get to watch the story unfold. I enjoyed the idea behind this story and the background that Stephanie built. The attention to historical detail was wonderful. The history of the Civil War is so rich and there is so much to use. Stephanie took the information and just ran with it!

Too Read
4 out of 5


About the Author:
Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over 20 inspirational novels and two works of nonfiction. When she isn't writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, Stephanie loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in the spring of 2012. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities. Stephanie resides with her husband in Lincoln, NE.


Thank you to the Hachette Book Group, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron (Litfuse Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Title: A Sparrow in Terezin
Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1-4016-9061-8
Publication Date: April 7th, 2015

Synopsis:
Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she’s planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.
Review:
I have to be honest and start off by saying, that I haven't finished reading A Sparrow in Terezin yet. I got a late start on the book, but I have already have read quiet a bit, and my goodness, even though I haven't finished it yet, it doesn't matter. My opinion on this story is set.

When I read Kristy Cambron's debut book last year, The Butterfly and the Violin, I fell in love with her story!  The story hooked me from page one and I was sad when it ended. I didn't want to leave these characters. Several months ago, when I heard about A Sparrow in Terezin, you can imagine how excited I was!

Kristy came off strong in her first book, and I have to say, not only has her writing stayed as beautiful, and has brought forth a gripping and heartbreaking story of two lives from two different eras.

We are reunited with Sera James from Butterfly, and with the continuation of her and William's story. Their story ended on a high note in the previous book and starts off with a bang in this story! Following them along, is a nail bitter with everything that has been happening.

Then we are introduced to Kaja. She is a young woman, who is living in a time of war. Everything she ever knew has been ripped from her and she must hide who she is for her and her family's safety. When introduced, she is so innocent and caring. It's heartbreaking the struggle she has to deal with, but as the story progresses, she does her best to move along in the right path, knowing that where she is only temporary till she can go back to her home.

This is a beautiful story and I honestly can't wait to finish up the last little bit I have left! Kristy Cambron has made a name for herself on my favorites shelf.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015. Cambron is an art/design manager at TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.



Giveaway:
Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron's new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

sparrow terezin - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
sparrow giveaway bastet 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy's blog.

sparrow terezin-enterbanner

{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}



Thank you to Litfuse and Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem

Title: The Tomb: A Novel of Martha
Author: Stephanie Landsem
Publisher: Howard Books
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8912-9
Publication Date: March 17th, 2015

Synopsis:
In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?
Review:
I discovered Stephanie Landsem's books last year, when I signed up to review The Thief. I didn't know what to expect when I started to read, but what I read blew me away! From there, I sought out The Well and devoured it and then impatiently waited for The Tomb to come out. I've read the whole The Living Water Series out of order, but I will tell you, it hasn't bothered me or messed up the story.

The Tomb is a story on Martha, she is known as the woman who was a worrier in the Bible. She was concerned so much about her work and doing everything the right way, then complained when her sister Mary, left all of her work alone to sit with Jesus. Plus, she and Mary were the sisters to Lazarus. Their family was very important to Jesus and his work.

Stephanie Landsem took what we knew of Martha, and grew her story from there. The fictional accounts that Stephanie was able to write, offered a hard and at times heartbreaking life Martha lived. She had so much to live up to, but mistakes can follow and at times haunt a person. And the standards we set for ourselves can be unattainable.

The writing of this story was fantastic. I enjoyed the rich details that played throughout this book. The characters were vivid and you could relate in some form or fashion to the joys and trials that they faced.

I really enjoyed Stephanie's interpretation of this prominent woman from the New Testament. It was interesting to see a possibility.

Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.




Thank you to Howard Books, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Each week features a book related topic that offers the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Well, this topic could go on for a while! There are so many authors that I love, old and new. This century and last and beyond. Let's see how far this will go. 

Ok, there is no way, this was staying at 10, so it is my top 20! These are in no particular order. They are all fantastic in their own writing style way!

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Jody Hedlund
3. Stephen Bly
4.  Louisa May Alcott
5. Elizabeth Camden
6. J.K Rowling
7. Laura Frantz
8. Cliff Graham
9. Becky Wade
10. Lynn Austin
11. Katherine Reay
12. Lori Benton
13. Lisa T. Bergren
14. Dani Pettrey
15. E.B. White
16. C.S. Lewis
18. Mesu Andrews
19. Tracy Groot
20. Jessica Dotta

Each and everyone of these authors has reached through the pages and have touched me in some form or fashion. Through their story, characters, or just over all message. Each have had the ability to transport me to a new time and place and that is a wonderful thing!

Who are your favorites?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Each week features a bookish related topic that offers the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

This is a fun topic. There have just been so many amazing quotes I have found. I will say, this may not all be inspiring quotes, but more like my most favorite of all time. Some may fall into the inspirational category.

1. Burdens are for shoulders strong enough to carry them. 
- Gone With the Wind 
by Margaret Mitchell

2. my love isn't a weapon, it's a lifeline, reach out and take hold, and don't let go!
- Redeeming  Love
by Francine Rivers

3. To lead the orchestra, you must turn your back to the crowd.
- Max Lucado

4. I am a place where two rivers meet, silted with upheaval and loss.
-Burning Sky
Lori Benton

5. You are a child of God, and that means that there is great, shining beauty within you.
- The Lady of Bolton Hill
by Elizabeth Camden

6. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling

7. The only stupid thing about words is spelling them.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

8. Love is the way back into Eden. It is the way back to life.
-Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers

9. He promises us a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into our future.
-Traveling Light
by Max Lucado

10. I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship.
- Little Women 
by Louisa May Alcott

What are some of your favorite quotes?

These just barely chip away at the iceberg of favorites. There are just so many wonderful lines out there in literature.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: Through Waters Deep

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight an up-and-coming release you are most excited about.

Waiting On:
Title: Through Waters Deep
Author: Sarah Sundin
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015

Synopsis: 
From GoodReads
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.
Why I'm Waiting:
I discovered Sarah Sundin last year and I really enjoyed her stories! Her research and attention to detail of the WW2 era just shine. I can't wait to what she has in store for her next series.


What are you waiting on this week?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson Author Q & A (Blog Tour)

Title: Daughter of the Regiment
Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: FaithWords
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2903-2
Publication Date: March 24th, 2015

Synopsis:
Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She'd rather let "the Americans" settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri's Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as "her boys." And while she doesn't see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother's Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker's business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her.

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.
About the Author:
Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over 20 inspirational novels and two works of nonfiction. When she isn't writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, Stephanie loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in the spring of 2012. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities. Stephanie resides with her husband in Lincoln, NE.


Author Q & A:
Why did you pick Missouri as the setting for your book?
I've lived in Nebraska since 1975, but I have many connections to Missouri and have made the trip "home" to southern Illinois dozens of times. Finally, I took time to investigate one of those interstate signs. It mentioned a Confederate Cemetery in Missouri. The idea that there were plantations worked by slaves a short drive east of Kansas City astonished me when I first followed those signs. I had no idea that Missouri had been such a hotbed of division during the Civil War. As one author wrote, "The Civil War came early and stayed late" in Missouri—it was a slave state that never joined the Confederacy. Missouri had two separate governments at one time—one pro-Union, one pro-Confederacy.

Any interesting discoveries along the way?
Dozens. One that stands out resulted from an exhibit called “Missouri in the Civil War” at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The curators did a superb job of showing how integral women were in the conflict. They even included a period newspaper article seeking the identity of a deceased soldier—discovered to be a woman after her death in battle. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. I discovered countless fascinating and diverse stories about women from all walks of life.

What inspired you to write this novel?
Reading about the real Daughters of the Regiment. Their heroism. One replaced a fallen color-bearer and stood throughout the battle with the colors held high so that her regiment knew who was where in the heat of battle. After a battle, one's skirt was riddled with bullet holes. She’d carried on, calmly tending the wounded with bullets whistling about her. Men wrote about these women with affection and respect. One earned a pension for her service, and another is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were extraordinary women, and they deserve to be remembered.

How did the cover shoot come about?
There is an original vivandièeres costume in the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. (The word vivandièeres comes from the women who were important in the French army during the Crimean war.)  FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot. It's a stunning piece made of soft, dark blue wool—very faithful to what a Daughter of the Regiment might actually have worn, complete with the shorter skirt that is pictured in so many period photographs and drawings (not all of these are military women, some are just in bloomers, but there are still some that are obviously military).

  


What about the timeliness of the book? 
On the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Women’s History Month, it is only fitting to laud the role women played. They worked in munitions factories, organized fundraising events to feed the hungry wives and children of soldiers who were off fighting, collected thousands of quilts to keep soldiers warm (neither government was prepare for the magnitude of the war and neither was able to supply their troops adequately), made countless shirts and "drawers," knitted socks and destroyed household towels and garments to make bandages. They took up the farm work in the men's absence, delivered clandestine letters (and were imprisoned for it), and supported "the cause" in every way imaginable.  Such rich stories from real history are better stories than anything I could ever make up!
Tell us about the crossover between your quilting experience and Civil War research.
Quilting is a multi-billion dollar industry in America, and many of those women do love the history and stories about the women who made antique quilts.

Antique textiles in general and quilts in particular have been a topic of personal study for decades. I've taken several classes in dating both antique quilts and fabric history from recognized experts in the field. I volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Researching the real stories behind antique quilts has inspired more than one of my historical novels, and I always enjoy being able to include some tidbit of quilt history in a story. The interest is high for this topic, as evidenced by the many Civil War exhibits at state history museums and historical societies, not the least of which is the American Textile History Museum’s Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, which premiered in June, 2012, and which tours across the U.S. through 2015.
I give a program titled “Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield” that includes information about quilts gathered and made for soldiers, ladies' aid societies established to benefit the troops, and the Sanitary Fairs conducted to raise money for the cause. Women's production of textiles was a vital part of the war effort for both North and South.


Review for this book will be posted soon. An unexpected delay occurred, but will have it up soon!

Thank you to the Hachette Book Group, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.