Her Secret War

Author: Pam Lecky

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Interesting historical fiction account of the bombing of Dublin during WWII and the work of drafters for the Spitfire.

Sarah Gillespie spends her time focusing on her life and avoiding her brute of a father.  All that changes one night when the Germans bomb the North Strand section of Dublin where she lives, killing her sister and father.  Sarah herself is badly wounded but is dug out of their home and rehabilitated in a hospital.  With nothing left for her in Ireland, she takes passage to her uncle in England, where is employed at Southmarine as a tracer for drawings created for the spitfire airplane.  As she gets to know the other workers, she finds herself drawn into a spy ring where she must participate in order to keep her new family safe!

Overall, I enjoyed the story and learning some of the history behind the Dublin bombing as well as how the plans for different aircraft were drawn up for the Royal Air Force.  After the bombing, much of the story was a bit slow until the last 100 pages, which flew off the page.  It is definitely worth sticking with and the ending feels like there may be a sequel in the works.  I liked Sarah’s character and how she went from being self-absorbed to wanting to do her part to support the war effort. The main drawback I had was in the writing style as it felt like the author was telling me what was going on in Sarah’s mind rather than showing me.  Aside from that, it was intriguing, and I would be curious to read any future installments.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Never Leave Me

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Waters of Time #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a follow up!

Ellen Creighton lost her sister and father to a worthless pursuit to find flasks of holy water to free her from a genetic disease that will end her life at a young age.  She decides that she would rather spend her last days on her terms and her friend Harrison Burlington’s estate.  When Harrison manages to locate two of the holy water flasks, Ellen refuses to take part in his scheme because she believes she has lost so much.  But after he drinks one of the flasks and she watches what happens, she can’t refute the power of the water.  But what awaits her beyond the water is nothing short of the imagination!

If you thought the first book in the series was a wild ride, you haven’t read anything yet!  Never Leave Me picks right up where Come Back to Me left off and it is even more of a wild ride!  Whether this is because readers have already developed a connection with some of the characters or just the storyline gaining intensity, I was much more invested in the romance and suspense played out in these pages.  I couldn’t put it down until I was finished and now the waiting begins.  Ugh!  All said, the time travel aspect is still interesting, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Q&A with Melanie Dobson

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of more than twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels. Five of her novels have won Carol Awards; Catching the Wind and Memories of Glass were nominated for a Christy Award in the historical fiction category; Catching the Wind won an Audie Award in the inspirational fiction category; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year. Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes. Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters and live near Portland, Oregon.

What inspired the storyline and characters in The Winter Rose? Are any based on real historical figures?

I used to teach at George Fox University, a school in Oregon founded by the Religious Society of Friends, and had the privilege of learning about Quaker history there. The characters and storyline for this novel are a culmination of research and personal experience, and while The Winter Rose isn’t based on the life of one historical figure, Grace—my Quaker heroine in Nazi-occupied France—was inspired by women like Mary Elmes, Alice Resch, and Marjorie McClelland who cared for children during World War II through the American Friends Service Committee.

Tell us about some of the core themes of The Winter Rose. How do you hope these themes will resonate with and challenge your readers?

Beauty in brokenness was one of the most important themes in The Winter Rose. I was hoping to demonstrate the French concept of brocante—salvaging items that someone else trashed, then restoring and repurposing them in their brokenness for something new. I wanted to show how God can heal the most painful of wounds, restore complicated relationships, and through the incredible power of forgiveness and prayer, use the nicks and gashes and ultimately redemption in our stories for good.

Who did you write this book for?

I wrote The Winter Rose for readers who love to learn about history and enjoy being inspired and challenged through fiction. Part of this story was poured straight out of my heart for moms who’ve had a child they love turn away from their faith and family. My hope is that the heartache and eventually redemption among my fictional characters will encourage parents to never stop praying for their kids.

What was one of the most surprising things you discovered in your research for this novel?

Usually I travel to my main settings to research my novels, but with the pandemic, I wasn’t able to go to France or even to the American Friends archives in Philadelphia. People were incredibly generous with their time and resources to get me the information I needed for this story. The AFSC archivist answered my many questions, digging through files from home and forwarding them to me. The president of the American Synesthesia Association, Carol Steen, spent a significant amount of time on Zoom to help me build my synesthete character of Marguerite. During our time together, I was surprised to learn that synesthesia has been recognized in Europe for more than a hundred years. Carol also educated me on the artistic talents of those who see words, numbers, or emotions in vibrant color.

Then our Zoom world gave me the opportunity to connect with a Jewish gentleman who was rescued by Mary Elmes in 1942 and hidden in France for the remainder of the war. I was tremendously honored that he would share his story with me. While visiting a location and interviewing in person is ideal, it was a blessing in this strange, difficult season to find others willing to help me compile all the factual information needed to write The Winter Rose.

Which was your favorite character to write? Which one was the most challenging to write?

I had several favorite characters! Marguerite was a super fun character to write with her ability to see emotion in color and her passion to paint what she saw on the chateau walls. I also liked writing from the perspective of Louis who had been wounded deeply as a child and was living a lie in his later years. What a relief for me, as the author, to be able to offer him the gift of restoration. I was going to say that the perspective of Grace, my historical protagonist, was challenging to write, but Addie, the heroine in my contemporary story, who was even more challenging. I changed her backstory several times as I tried to understand where she came from and what happened to her deceased husband. While it stretched me as a writer, I was so pleased in the end with how Grace and Addie overcame the trauma from their pasts and fought for those they loved.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?

Right now I’m working on a series of books for younger readers called The Magic Portal, and it has been pure joy for me to brainstorm with my daughters to create these fairyland books.I’m also preparing to write a time-slip novel about a girl named Poppy who was lost a hundred years ago in the Thousand Islands of New York.

The Winter Rose

Author: Melanie Dobson

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: January 11, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out the Q&A with author Melanie Dobson!

What a great time-slip novel to kick off 2022!  A fantastic read for the new year!

Occupied France in 1943 is a dangerous place to be, but when smuggling out Jewish children into Spain, it becomes treacherous.  Grace Tonquin was born into Hollywood fame and fortune but wanted nothing to do with it nor her mother.  After a party goes awry, Grace is taken in by her grandparents, Quakers in Oregon.  She loves the Quaker lifestyle and originally goes to France in the 1930s to help Spanish refugee children during the Spanish civil war.  She never imagined that just a few short years later, she would be smuggling children back into Spain for safe harboring.  When it is no longer safe for her to return to France, Grace accompanies two children across the Atlantic to meet their uncle, who is later found out to be non-existent.  As their primary guardian, Grace takes them back to Oregon to shelter them from the trauma of war and the Holocaust.

Several decades later, Addie Hoult lives a life of reckless abandon until she is given the choice of jail time or a fresh start at a girl’s home in Tennessee.  Through this second chance, she turns her life around with the help of the home’s parent couple.  Now a widow with a baby on the way, Addie’s father figure Charlie Tonquin has a rare cancer that requires a bone marrow transplant from a relative.  Though Charlie has no interest in sharing his past history, Addie finds a photograph of a young Charlie at a lake in Oregon.  In an effort to save the man who essentially saved her life, Addie takes the plunge into uncovering what happened to Charlie’s family.

What a great time-slip novel to kick off 2022!  It doesn’t get much better than this!  Readers will love reading between time to discover the connection between the two stories and finally seeing the outcome so desired through the whole story.  With descriptive French scenery, both present day and war-torn Europe, as well as rural Portland, readers will be transported throughout out space and time.  Addie has tremendous character growth as a young woman, even from the start of the story.  Charlie too shows that characters can grow when they are nearing the end of their life span.  Multiple elements of faith, doubt, hurt, and love show up throughout the story.  A great read for the new year!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Beyond Possible

Author: Nimsdai Purja

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A great biography for overcoming obstacles in your path set at the highest of altitudes!

Nimsdai Purja has set goals all his life to achieve.  Growing up in Nepal, he wanted to be a Gurkha soldier, just like his father.  Through perseverance, he was able to achieve this goal.  Then he wanted to be more than just a soldier, but an elite warrior, so he set his sights on becoming a member of the Secret Boat Service (SBS) for the British military during the war on terror.  During his years of service, he was given the chance to climb Mount Everest and he was bit by the climbing bug, to say the least.  Wanting to do what everyone thought impossible, Nims developed Project Possible, a mission to climb the fourteen highest mountains in the world in only seven months, which is seven years faster than the world record.  What Nims learned about himself and fellow climbers throughout this mission is shared for readers to discover that they too can conquer the impossible.

Young readers who love action and adventure will love this autobiography of Nimsdai Purja with his pursuit to climb all fourteen death zone mountains.  The first half of the book is geared towards his life up to the point he decides to make the lifestyle transition necessary to climb all fourteen peaks.  The second half is dedicated to a chapter-by-chapter description of each mountain and what occurred while he and his team were climbing.  They had to overcome several obstacles on the way up and the way down.  Just because you have achieved something doesn’t mean you won’t face something on you journey back!  There is quite a bit of climbing lingo, but with enough context clues, readers will be able to understand what is going on.  Very exciting book for young readers!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Heart Adrift

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A second chance romance written by a master at historical fiction?  Yes, please!

Esmee Shaw lives a content life in York, Virginia as a chocolatier.  She has been courted in the past, but the romance failed and she has yet to find someone that she would prefer to spend the remaining years of her life with.  Now twenty-eight, she wishes that she could find some meaning in her life.

Captain Henri Lennox has never gotten over his romance with Esmee Shaw.  Now back in Virginia, he focuses on restoring the lighthouse that was one their shared vision.  But when his government calls on him to enter the war against France, will he be able to restore their relationship before it’s too late?

There are two things that happen like clockwork every January: A New Year and a new Laura Frantz novel!  If you love reading about colonial America, Frantz is an author that you need to read.  Her research of this time period is unmatched by any I’ve found.  Coupled with fictional and real characters, her stories weaver together the strands of remembered history with characters that you can’t help but cheer on through their hardships and troubles.  I never tire of her stories and this one will stay on the shelf for another peek in the future.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

100 Prayers Every Christian Should Know

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 19, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book is packed full of prayers.  Literally!  It is broken down into different categories that readers may be seeking answers from:  Peace and Comfort, Guidance, Adoration, Changed Hearts, Justice, Moving a Nation, Pain and Grief, Strength, Thanksgiving, Mercy, Faithfulness, and Humility.  Each prayer comes from a historical figure that gives personal background for both the author and the prayer.  This is a great resource for many!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Conquer Your Deliverance

Author: John Rameriz

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 12, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In Conquer Your Deliverance, evangelist John Rameriz shares his personal story of being ensnared by the devil and how he was shown the truth and freed!  This is written in a very plain manner that readers can use the information to apply to their personal lives.  If someone is struggling with their belief system or understanding what is happening in today’s world, this book is a key resource to help them either get their life on track or back on track. 

While it does read as a manual, it is also probably the closet thing to an autobiography for Rameriz to understand his past and why he is so passionate about what he does!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Persevere with Power

Author: Samuel Rodriguez

Publisher: Bethany House/Chose

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Samuel Rodriquez shares many of his personal experiences having to persevere to overcome obstacles.  Whether it is being born into a family with small means and having to work through obstacles to become successful in business or overcoming fear when a loved one has contracted COVID-19, this book uses personal stories to encourage readers to overcome obstacles.  Several biblical characters are referenced throughout as well showing how God can give you the power to overcome these obstacles and move forward.

This is a powerful book that has the potential to change the lives of many readers.  IT’s packed with both today’s world and biblical experience so that readers can understand the power that is available to them through God. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Sunrise

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: Sky King Ranch #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Susan May Warren does a fantastic job crafting a Contemporary Romance story that readers will enjoy and a setting that is downright chilling!

Dodge Kingston left home over a decade ago after a family fight. He now returns to help salvage Sky King Ranch after his father is in an accident. What he doesn’t count on is meeting back up with his old flame, Echo Yazzie and having all the same feelings come right back to the surface. Echo never left Alaska and has been working as a dogsledder and research guide for the DNR; it is a dangerous life but one she loves. One of the researchers working with Echo goes missing and Echo doesn’t hesitate to head out in search with her dog team. Dodge now must put hurt feelings aside and try to find Echo before it is too late. Not only are they racing against the Alaskan wilderness, but other dangers await them in the wild.

Susan May Warren is a great Christian fiction writer that puts out books faster than most any other author out there. I have loved her romantic suspense series and her collaboration writing the Rembrant Stone series. Sunrise is her newest and it is a contemporary romance; the story is good with characters that intrigued me from the beginning. I did feel that things got a little repetitive at times causing the story to drag a bit, not a lot, but at a few key points I was wanting it to pick up when it was moving at the slower pace. The ending was by far the best part and left me aching for more! Luckily with her. you don’t have to wait too long for the next book to come out.

One thing that got me scratching my head was the use of so many unique names, Dodge, Echo, Idaho, Colt, and Range, not many normal names throughout the book. I get wanting to have names that will stick with the reader but at times it can take readers out of the story with so many unique names. I must admit, I’m more of a fan of suspense than contemporary but this was a good read and I think fans of Warren’s writing will enjoy this new story and beautiful setting.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.