Author Archives: Onto Her Bookshelf

Hidden Among the Stars

Hidden Among the Stars

By Melanie Dobson

The Story

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale Publishers)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The cover was what first drew me to Hidden Among the Stars. I mean, could it be more gorgeous and mysterious?

This novel was not at all what I expected. As I got further in to the story, it surprised me several times in the many twists and turns. I liked that it was written from the historical perspective of several teens, essentially. It was a difficult time to stand for what was right, and even more so when you’re still just trying to figure out your place in the world. I loved how Ms. Dobson explored the various ways each of these took a stand of courage, though it broke my heart at the end!

Annika, Max, and Luzia are all characters who are very much entwined with each other, though very different people. Each is unique and has their own set of motivations. I loved that this wasn’t your typical love story.

I also really enjoyed the modern element to this time-slip novel. The two balanced each other out as the story progressed. Callie is intriguing, with her love for children’s books and how they’ve shaped her. I liked seeing how she had to take steps of courage for herself, and how that looks for different people in different times.

Overall, the history of this book is fascinating. That was probably my favorite part. Ms. Dobson introduced me to several facets of WWII history that I was unfamiliar with and left me researching more for myself. The end was heart-rending and brought tears to my eyes. It begged the question, what would I do if faced with those circumstances? And how, in light of the world today, am I fighting the evil I find myself faced with?

This story is insightful, engaging, and relevant in a timeless way that leaves me with the knowledge that I will return to it someday again.

About the Author

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; 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 at George Fox University.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Visit Melanie online at http://www.melaniedobson.com.

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Advertisements

The Cumberland Bride

The Cumberland Bride

By Shannon McNear

The Story

Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.

A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road

In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

(Back cover summary from Amazon)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oooh, The Daughters of the Mayflower series just keeps getting better! When I saw that Shannon McNear’s book was going to be set in the Cumberland area, I knew I had to read it. I now live in that uniquely beautiful location, so I was eager to see what this book would consist of.

I loved the back story to this branch of the family. Kate’s father was a Hessian soldier fighting for the British, but his life took an unexpected turn. Kate’s love for other’s stories can—and does—get her in trouble, but it’s that fascination with other’s lives on a relational level that first draws her to Thomas Bledsoe.

Thomas is everything that Kate is not. He’s quiet, toughened by life, and far from God. As these two characters get to know each other, there’s an undeniable chemistry there. But with danger present nearly every step of their journey, it’s perilous to get involved with anyone else.

Shannon McNear is such a great story teller. I couldn’t help but get drawn into the story. Her writing style draws one back into the time period and resurfacing to modern times was no easy thing.

The characters in this story are so compelling, the historical period fascinating, and the romance spot-on. The faith element, as Thomas understands more about God and His ways, as much as man can, and Kate being put to the test to see what her faith is really made of, was so organic, that I felt I was taking that journey myself.

Either as a part of the series or as a stand-alone, The Cumberland Bride is a novel you do not want to miss. I couldn’t put it down and cannot recommend it heartily enough.

About the Author

Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. A Midwestern farm girl who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, for more than two decades before being transplanted to North Dakota, she’s a military wife, mother of 8, and a member of ACFW and RWA. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

(Biography from Amazon)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent

By Roseanna M. White

The Story

With Danger Creeping Ever Closer, Do Their Dreams Still Matter?

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war, including keeping an eye on a talented engineer working as a clockmaker. But not until he rescues the man’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly dreamed and worked for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end their engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clock repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges deeper into war, the race is on for any technological edge, and Evelina’s father’s ideas have captured the attention of many–perhaps too many. As danger seems to encroach from every side, it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Shadows Over England series has been so much fun to read, and the conclusion does not disappoint. An Hour Unspent finally gets to Barclay’s story, and I loved getting to know more about this caring man.

Barclay has given up thieving, at least for his own needs. He’s experienced a heart-change, but he struggles to know how he fits into that change. When Jesus saves us and changes our hearts, it’s something that changes everything, and Barclay learns in this story what that means in his life. I loved watching his fledgling faith grow.

I really enjoyed Evelina’s character, as she navigated the times in which she lived. She’s strong in some ways, and vulnerable in others. I liked seeing how she learned, and her viewpoint was changed on various things. The romance between the two characters is strong and sweet.

I like how Roseanna always weaves in various themes into her novels, and this one with clockmaking was an excellent one. It’s prevalent in Evelina’s life as she realizes God isn’t a clockmaker who sits back and watched the world unwind. Instead, He’s intricately and intimately involved in it all.

A page-turning conclusion to the series, An Hour Unspent left me satisfied, but longing for more maybe (hopefully!) someday from this unusual family.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White (www.roseannamwhite.com) is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

By Joanne Bischof

The Story

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

(Back cover summary from Thomas Nelson)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Sons of Blackbird Mountain, and absolutely fell in love with this book. At the time of writing this review, I have already read it a second time, this time, taking the time to savor the story.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain first appealed to me because of the brothers’ Norwegian heritage. One of my great-great-greats…came over on the boat from Norway, so I’ve always been fascinated with that culture. Then the fact that Thor is deaf was ultra-intriguing. I’ve taken some sign language classes, so I was curious as to how Joanne would portray this character.

This story is as sweet and tangy by turns as the cider that Thor makes, and I think the effort put into this book was just as painstaking and loving. Sons of Blackbird Mountain really took my breath away. The description of the Appalachian mountain area (where I currently live) caught the beauty of this place. The romance made my heart sing, and I didn’t want to put this book down. Ever. It’s a cruel thing for an author to make a reader want to read as fast as possible, and yet savor for as long as she can. I wondered how Joanne would portray a hearing woman and a deaf man falling in love. I didn’t need to wonder, because I feel as if I’ve fallen for Thor just as hard. 😉 His struggle with his addiction felt real, and I felt the pain along with him.

This book is at the top of my best of 2018 reads. It’s real and raw in a way that I long for in the fiction I read. I am so ecstatic that there will be a second book following this one! I don’t think my heart could take it, leaving it as it is.

About the Author

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com; Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof; Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

(Biography from Thomas Nelson)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

A Rumored Fortune

A Rumored Fortune

By Joanna Davidson Politano

The Story

Welcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England

Tressa Harlowe’s father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it.

It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joanna Davidson Politano once again swept me away on an intriguing and insightful adventure, this time departing from the city streets to a country estate.

I love, love, love how unique this author’s writing style is! There is a vast array of books out there, and somehow she is able to stand apart from all the rest.

I will admit, it did take me a few pages to get into this story. I had to submerse myself into their world, and then I was hooked. Tressa and Donegan are compelling characters. Tressa’s lack is that of her father’s presence in her life. It’s something she longs—yearns—for, and it marks her life indelibly. Donegan is harnessed by guilt to past mistakes, he’s blunt and gruff, but somehow turns out to be the sweetest hero. I loved how Ms. Politano brought some of her own love story into this novel.

The search for the hidden treasure in this book also kept me going, but at the end, I found the true treasure was this novel. Somehow Ms. Politano spoke to me where I was at, and beckoned me closer with her subtle analogies to the Vine and the Branches (which I LOVED), her exploration of our fathers and the Father, and the connection we all long for that is only truly fulfilled in One.

If you’re willing to take the plunge, I promise you, you will not go away unchanged from A Rumored Fortune.

About the Author

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com .

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Patriot Bride

The Patriot Bride

By Kimberley Woodhouse

The Story

Spies Work Together for the Patriot Cause

Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?

(Back cover summary from Netgalley)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve really enjoyed The Daughters of the Mayflower series. It’s been fun to get to read some new authors and reacquaint myself with others. The saga continues with a novel set during the fight for independence.

I liked the premise of this book. Faith is a strong, independent woman, so for her it is no hardship to do her part for her country. Matthew is a man who is willing to got to extremes for what he believes in.

However, I just couldn’t get into the story. I thought at times that Matthew’s thoughts and dialogue were too close to how Faith’s ‘sounded’. In some ways, to me, their characters were too similar. It was a fine story, but I think I just don’t connect with this style of writing.

That being said, the attention to detail and the balance of historical fact versus the liberties fiction takes, were done very well.

I’m glad that I read the latest in The Daughters of the Mayflower, but it wasn’t my favorite of the books so far.

About the Author

Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she’s shared her theme of “Joy Through Trials” with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She’s passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story.

You can connect with Kimberley at: http://www.kimberleywoodhouse.com and www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor

(Biography from Barbour Books)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

A Defense of Honor

A Defense of Honor

By Kristi Ann Hunter

The Story

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and to raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. But as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, the risk of revealing the truth may come at too high a price for those she loves.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Defense of Honor is a refreshing breath of air to the Regency genre. It’s very different from any other novel I’ve read set in that era—and I loved it!

Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series hooked me first, but now I’m a forever-fan. Her characters are unforgettable. Kit is not your average lady of the period. She’s strong, to the point of weakness, and she’s driven. Graham is searching for an aim, a purpose, before he even knows it. I loved how he pursued Kit, with a desire to know her, not an easy task to achieve. The secondary characters, from Kit’s fellow workers and charges, to Graham’s friends and Priscilla, are all stellar as well. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series!

The faith element of this book is boots-on-the-ground Christianity. It is easy to say one is trusting Christ, but it is another thing entirely to live like it. I appreciated that Kristi didn’t skirt around this, but faced it head-on in an honest, and sometimes painful, way.

If you’re looking for a story that’s a bit out of the norm, yet still has a strong plot, excellent historical detail, and an engaging romance, all in the genre you love (Regency) then you MUST try A Defense of Honor. If any of the above qualities in fiction appeal to you, then this story is for you too.

About the Author

Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.