Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Book Review: The Warsaw Sisters by Amanda Barratt

If you are a fan of historical fiction that doesn't not shy from the hard truths, the book "The Warsaw Sisters" by Amanda Barratt is one to add to your list. The book follows twin sisters Antonina and Helena in Warsaw during the German occupation after the father and only parent leaves to join the Poland army. 

Written from the alternating perspective, readers follow each sister, alike but yet so different, as they experience the struggles of their city, neighbors and drastic changes to their own young adult lives during occupation, extreme food shortages, bombings, and more. Each sister faces difficult questions of when to stand up for something at the risk their lives vs keeping their heads down to survive. 

After Antonina's special young man is persecuted for his Jewish faith and eventually forced to live in the ghetto with rumors of deportation, she becomes part of a group of brave women sheltering Jewish children to get them to safety. Helena's desire to see her beloved city free, becomes part of an underground army, passing dangerous messages and training for the day they will fight. Each doing her best to protect the other from what they believe won't be understood. Secrets abound and almost cost the sisters everything they hold dear.

I was quickly pulled into the story of these amazing sisters. The author did the hard job of including the realistic heart-wrenching details of the life or death choices made during wartime. As a reader, it was hard to hold onto hope for the characters as their experiences became bleaker. Reading of hope in terrible circumstances, bravery in face of unthinkable odds, and love when surrounded by loss makes this a story to remember.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Book Review: Well Said by Sarah Molitor

I just finished listening to an early audio copy of Sarah Molitor's book "Well Said" and I can't wait to get my hands on the physical copy that should arrive in the next day or two so I can dog-ear some pages and underline favorite words of wisdom.

If you have ever struggled with saying more than you meant to, responding with sharper words than was needed, or desire to get better at using life-giving words to build up or pour into others in your life, this book is for you. 

Sarah digs into the impact of our words, both positive and negative, that flow from our mouths but ultimately our hearts, with honesty, wisdom, and authenticity. She encourages readers with honest and imperfect examples from her own life, scripture that guided her, plus advice and habits to better manage the words flowing out of us. She even digs into the impact of words as it applies to the challenges of social media. The author's faith and love shone throughout the book.

I believe this book has something for everyone, no matter where you fall in life's journey of taming the tongue and encouraging others. It held so many great reminders for me, causing me to pause the re-evaluate how I'm doing with my words lately and what I'm modeling for my children as a mother to two teens and a tween whose natural inclination is to let their words fly unfiltered.

Truth, encouragement, and practical help for all of us.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Book Review: He Should Have Told the Bees by Amanda Cox

 In Amanda Cox's "He Should Have Told the Bees", readers are introduced to two women living wildly different lives. Beckett is a beekeeper living her dream of a quiet life on the farm with her bees when her father's sudden death forces her to interact with life outside the farm and the chance she might loose everything she holds dear. Callie is a struggling to build a new business, making a life she's dreamed of when her troubled mother asks for financial help that might cost her everything and a man she's never heard of names her in his trust giving her rights to a farm she's never seen.

The author brilliantly weaves the threads of the story together keeping readers hooked as these two women struggle with promises they've made, hurts from their past that come roaring back, and dreams that may or may not every come to be. Life connections are made, horizons broaded and questions are answered.

I enjoyed the colorful characters, especially the supporting ones, the realistic struggles, the wisdom learned and shared, and fullness of the story. As a reader, you quickly realize how the main characters are connected but the author builds the story in the way to keep you reading to find out exactly how all the conflict and doubt will be resolved.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Book Review: All-American by Susan Finkbeiner

I recently finished the book  "All American" by Susan Finkbeiner. A favorite summer read here on the gravelly road as I could barely put it down once I started it. 

Set in 1952, this book follows the two sisters of the Harding family, with the narrative switching perspectives between the sisters throughout the book. Bertha, the oldest, dreams of baseball, unlike her high peers. Flossie just wants to read instead of having to deal with late elementary school friendship challenges. The world of both sisters comes crashing down when neighbor accuses their father of being a member of the communist party.

I was quickly drawn into the world created by the author, the emotions of the characters, the chasing of unlikely dreams, the history woven throughout and the plot twists that kept me on my toes. The family faced huge challenges yet stood strong in their faith and never gave up. Bertha found encouragement to chase her dream of playing baseball in unlikely places, and even when it seemed her dream was falling apart, she never lost hope. 

Family. Baseball. Determination. Dreams. A great story indeed.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Book Review: Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels

book Everything is Just Beginning by Erin BartelsI have another great new book to share with you. The book Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels is a story that pulls you in with relatable characters, twist in the plot that keep you on your toes, musical and historical details making the story feel authentic and wisdom that stays with you long after the story ends.

The story follows Michael Sullivan after he is ousted from his band and apartment, resulting in moving in with his uncle in a run down trailer. An unexpected New Years party invitation, not addressed to him, provides an introduction to an unlikely friend, musical opportunity, and kicks off a year that will change their lives.

I was not ready for this story to end and wanted to know more of the characters that had been through so much. The story was filled with emotion, yet for the most part relatable and  realistic situations. The main characters each had unique hard journeys to travel, from completely different backgrounds and yet the author weaved their stories together expertly. This one is worth the read!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Book Review: The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz

It is a long time since I've posted in this space but with the chance to start writing book reviews again with Revell, I'm happy to dust off this writing spot.

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz is a historical Christian romance that released earlier this month. The book takes place in 1715 Scotland during the Jacobite uprising and tells the story of Lady Blythe Hedley who flees northern England for safety in southern Scotland at the home of her godfather during the political unrest and the dangerous situation caused by her father's Jacobite allegiances. At Wedderburn Castle, she finds shelter under the care of Everard Hume, the new Lord of Wedderburn, after the death of the godfather she had never met. 

Far from home in a strange area, full of worry, with danger on all sides, conflicts within the Hume family, Blythe faces challenges that push her outside of her comfort zone but with time she finds more than she ever expected. Everard, still grieving his father, new to the position of Lord and managing the family estate, and brothers adding challenges to his plate, is unsure of this new charge thrust upon him and the implications of his father's promise.

I enjoyed this book greatly, getting swept up in the storyline and at the same time also enjoying the historical details woven in by the author in a way that did not distracting from the story. I often find myself being cautious about historical fiction, especially Christian historical fiction, unless I know the author as often the plots become rather predictable, many still good for vacay reads but not a book to really dive into. Frantz has created characters with enough depth you will root for them, plot twists to keep you guessing, and faith elements woven in to encourage you. When the book ended, I was not ready yet to say goodbye to the characters nor the time period.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

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