Tag Archives: historical fiction

Book Review: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

The Dream Lover
By Elizabeth Berg
Releases 4/14/15
Downloaded free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 2 bones

I thought I would change things up and go back to a good old historical fiction, a break from mysteries, my genre of choice this year.  I knew I was in for a slower pace, but this was really slow at times.  We were switching back and forth from Aurore’s childhood to her present day life (in her 30’s and on) as writer George Sand.  While interesting, I felt myself longing for a plot line. This read more like a biography from the subject’s point of view with some emotions thrown in (which may have been the intent as I’m not claiming to be mislead.)  I could easily put the book down at night (a big indicator that I wasn’t invested in what was going to happen next) and it took me way too long to finish!


I’m a fighter, so I slowly fought my way through this book, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.  Again, Aurore/George led a very interesting life, but I never really liked her.  And call me ignorant if you will, but I read historical fiction to make myself smarter, so I was surprised to learn that Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, more commonly known as George Sand, was a real person!  And in my quick Wikipedia research confirmed the other characters in the book and many events in her life were indeed true.  And at the end, the author did have an “Afterward” (which I always very much appreciate!)

But back to George.  I started off very annoyed with her choices as a mother of 2 young kids.  Through flashbacks to her childhood, her behavior mimics that of her mother, but just because that was how you are raised, does not mean that is what you should do!  And then I felt like she just worked her way through lovers, fitting her kids in as she could, writing books, dressing as a man, creating all sorts of rumors and buzz, and overall led a very selfish life.  There was just nothing to latch onto, nothing to hold my interest, nothing to look forward to.

If I were better versed in George Sand or even in 1800’s European arts around which this took place, I could see liking this book much better, but it just didn’t hold my interest.  I did recognize some of the famous names, like composer Chopin, but many were lost on me.  I’ve heard wonderful things about Elizabeth Berg, so I definitely wouldn’t let this one keep me from picking up one or two of her MANY others, as the writing was beautiful.  For me, my rating is based on my personal enjoyment of the novel.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, but this one just fell flat for me.  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and review from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group.

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.
At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family’s estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name—George Sand—and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.
Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand’s many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?
Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.

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Book Review: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Night of a Thousand Stars
By Deanna Raybourn
Released 9/30/14
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 7 nights.  As I picked up this book…this author’s name sounds familiar, maybe I’ve read her before?  A few nights later…wait Evangeline Starke is a real person?  I know I’ve read about her before!  A few minutes later…oh wait I have read a book about her written by Deanna Raybourn before.  Duh!  That ever happen to you?  I sure hope so!  This book is a follow-up to City of Jasmine that I read and reviewed earlier this year!

“This book is a follow-up to City of Jasmine, with different main characters but the same setting and a few supporting characters that will be familiar faces.  It gave me a chance to visit that world again and pick up the threads of a story that reaches beyond the events of City of Jasmine.” (from the Reader’s Guide to this book)

If you read that review of mine – I feel like I could write the same review for this book.  I thought maybe it was because I had a lot of distractions going on, but I really felt confused by all the characters and allegiances throughout this book…again!  2 times is not a coincidence (actually maybe it is – but I still think it’s hard not to ignore!)  And again looking at the description – it’s a historical fiction – right up my alley – no question as to why I requested it!

I enjoyed the beginning, a young girl (Poppy) fleeing her wedding, picked up by a stranger, contemplating how to start over and figure out just who she is.  But then it quickly takes a sharp turn into non-stop action, drama, danger, and excitement.  I loved that I never knew what was next, but then I found myself trying to figure out who was working with who and who  you/Poppy could trust, and I just became a bit frustrated.  But then bits and pieces are put together and it all comes together nicely and I did enjoy the ending.

I enjoyed the main characters that I could keep track of – Sebastian as the handsome, mysterious, humble, unassuming hero and possible romantic interest.  Masterman as Poppy’s protector/lady’s maid and confidant but clearly with her own secrets and story.  And ofcourse Poppy, discovering herself for the first time.  She made a great main character and I found myself wondering what I would do if ever in her shoes (but also very glad I wasn’t!)

So a good, solid, historical fiction.  Not my favorite, but not one to pass off if you get the chance to read.  I did really enjoy the Reader’s Guide at the end that includes a Q&A with the author.  If I had a lot more time, I’d love to read her Julia Grey books and learn more about the March family!

Thanks again to NetGalley for this opportunity to read and review!

Book Description:

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than there seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.



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Book Review: The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

The Moonlight Palace (click book or see below for description)
By Liz Rosenberg
Releases 10/1/14
Downloaded free through Kindle First Program – September 2014

Rating:4 bones

Finish Time: 5-6 nights.  I was excited to see a historical fiction read on the Kindle First list for September and this month has (you still have time to get one Prime members!) some pretty good selections compared to some past ones.  Upon my highly technical Google search, I learned that this was actually a true historical fiction in that the Kampong Glam Palace (pictured below in present day) does exist and was under control of Sultan Hussein. This story follows Agnes Hussein, a direct descendant of said Sultan, who appears to be fictional.

Malay Heritage Centre, Istana Kampong Glam 3, Dec 05.JPG

17-year-old Agnes “Aggie” and random family members reside in the now crumbling Kampong Glam Palace in Singapore in the 1920’s.  At first appearing naive, then coming into her own as the story proceeds, she makes it her mission to save her family’s home.  The story contains a vibrant cast of characters ranging from her Uncle Chachi, to Nei-Nei Up and Nei-Nei down.  Throw in a British Grandfather, some palace employees and boarders, along with a few outsiders, this story was full of drama from start to finish.

I really had a vivid picture of this crumbling palace around them (not at all like the picture above!) Almost everyone seemed to accept their situation, but Aggie knew there was something more and was determined to save her family.  A bit of mystery was thrown in at the end and left me wanting so much more when it was over.

Sequel?  I hope so, I felt like it ended well, yet left so much to be desired.  Thanks Amazon for a great September selection!

Description from Amazon:

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

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Teaser Tuesday: June 24th

Happy Tuesday!   Review of The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart went up last week.

Today’s teaser is from When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney (click on book for description), set to release on August 5th, 2014.  The book begins on V-J Day and has been very interesting so far!

“Once, when the world was young,” Loretta began, and this time, it took a comic turn, as if Loretta was trying to cheer Wally-or herself-up, “there were no grown-ups anywhere, because the world hadn’t been there long enough for the first babies to grow up yet.  Now the only problem was, the babies had to raise themselves, and so naturally by the time they were young children like yourself and Georgie, there we already spoiled rotten.  They ate whatever the pleased and stayed up late every night, and there was no one to tell them it shouldn’t be that way…”
(14% into book)

Thanks for stopping by today! Share yours in the comments please!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



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Book Review: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
By Susan Jane Gilman
Releases 6/10/14
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 bones

Finish Time:  7 nights.  So good to be back to historical fiction.  My favorite genre by far.  I feel smarter!  And what a great story to get back into it!  I was a tad disappointed that the story was in fact not real.  It was loosely based on the Carvel Ice Cream story, according to the Q & A with the author at the end.  A very much appreciated segment, as it answered many questions I had leaving a historical novel such as this.

And also so good to give a book a 5-bone rating.  I loved it.  It had everything.  A good old rags to riches, striving for the American dream, immigration story.   Romance, suspense, thrill, crazy characters, and let me tell you about the main character.  Born Malka Treynovsky, with a few names in between, our leading lady is Lillian Dunkle, aka the Ice Cream Queen, not only of Orchard Street, but America, is quite the character.

Victim of awful parents, and really an awful society, Malka fights her way through life.  Doing whatever she has to to survive.  Not all is right but she is clever and the reader can understand the choices she makes.  The defining point of her life is when she gets run over by a horse and is crippled.  During a time of rampant illnesses, many times it is mistaken for polio, which later on in the book is used to her advantage, both for good and bad.  Never knowing who she can trust and being let down time and time again, her actions make sense, as she is the true definition of a fighter.

The book jumps between past and present (the present of the book being the early 1980’s), to tell Malka’s transformation into Lillian Dunkle, the Ice Cream Queen.  And then her on trial for tax evasion and for another crime, not that it’s a huge spoiler, but it’s a bit humorous so read the book to find out!  Along the way she meets the love of her life, Albert Dunkle.  Both her husband and business partner, their story is so sweet.  What I’m assuming are facts about the ice cream industry are also found throughout, different flavors, processes (the invention of the soft serve machine), presentations (invention of the cone), competitors, among others.  While probably not credited to the correct person, they were very interesting and really helped the story along.

Faces from her past pop up throughout the book and I loved reading how Lillian handled all of them.  Surprises were at every page-turn, and it was just that, a page-turner, until the very end.  I really loved it.   Really.  Check it out when it comes out in June, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.

Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, “The Ice Cream Queen” — doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality. 

Lillian’s rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

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Book Review: I Always Loved You: A Novel by Robin Oliveira

I Always Loved You: A Novel (click book for description and product page)
By Robin Oliveira
Publication Date: 02/04/14
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:  4 bones

Finish time: 9 nights.  After my last book (here), I was hoping for a bit of an easier read, but somehow I ended up on this one that took me almost as long.  And centered around art again too.  Hmmm.  Not a bad thing, just kind of funny.  I had a love, hate relationship with this book, but after thinking about it the last day, I did like it, and it’s prompted me to want to learn more on a topic 10 days ago I had no interest in.  So I’d take that as a sign of a good book (see the bottom for some of my “research.”

Having no background in art history, I could recognize some of the names, but I had no idea much more about them.  And this is a random comparison, but what kept popping into my head after I finished on how to describe this book is: Real World: Paris, 19th Century  Or the Impressionists.  And the people all happened to be artists.  Renoir, Manet, Monet, Cassatt, Degas, Morisot, Pissaro (and many more).  Some names familiar to me, others not, but in my brief Wikipedia research, they all were real (and quite the motley crew), as were the other characters in the book.  I guess it was also a “before they were famous” story too.  A bunch of starving artists spending their days dreaming, painting, partying, trying to make a buck, and preparing for the next exhibition.

The main character in the book was Mary Cassatt, an American painter, invited to join the group, and her struggle to fit in among the Paris natives, and make a name for herself in the Paris art scene.  Her relationship throughout the book with Degas is a fun, yet very frustrating one.  Her family comes to join her in Paris too and even in the 1800’s, her struggles with them were so easy to relate to.  I especially enjoyed her relationship with her sister Lydia (again who I confirmed was real – see her portrait by Mary below.)

File:Cassatt Mary At the Theater 1879.jpg

Fun facts were thrown in all over the place, like her friend Abigail Alcott, whose more famous sister is Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women.  At some points, I felt a map of Paris would have been helpful as they discussed a lot of landmarks, not a bad thing, and not that I know Paris, but would have been fun to see in the book.  But overall the book was just packed with great stories, complex and compelling relationships, and a ton of history.

As you can guess from the title, a love story too, but what’s fun is that it actually could be a few love stories.  A lot of plot lines are intertwined, and I was confused at some points, but as I said when I started, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  Look out for it in just a few weeks.  This is the perfect historical fiction.

And here is the result of some of my research and some notable art mentioned throughout the book.  All taken from Wikipedia.

Degas Little Dancer (a sculpture discussed a lot in the book):

File:Dancer sculpture by Degas at the Met.jpg

Mary Cassatt’s & Edgar Degas’ Self Portraits:

Mary Cassatt - Portrait of the Artist - MMA 1975.319.1.jpg Edgar Degas self portrait 1855.jpeg

Berthe Morisot as painted by Edouard Manet (2 other fascinating characters in the book):

Edouard Manet 040.jpg

And then a lot was centered around the ballet.  Degas painted the dancers, while Cassatt painted the crowd.File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 004.jpg



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Book Review: Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexandra

Tuscan Rose
By Belinda Alexandra
Releases 11/19/13
Book was provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Finish Time: 8 Nights.  Wow.  This books packs A LOT into it and was definitely not what I expected.  My expectation was a nice historical romance (from the nice pretty cover), maybe a little mystery or suspense, but definitely not what I read.  A bit disturbing, very intriguing, not a dull moment, this book was action packed from the moment I picked it up.  Many of the last few nights were spent up late rapidly turning the pages of this book.

I’ll starting by saying this book was “not my favorite” (that is how we explain things to our kids!).  There was much about this book I liked, but some that was just not my taste.  Not a bad thing and the things that didn’t fit my preference may fit yours.  If you’ve read my reviews for a while, I do have genres I like but I’ve definitely been pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and this book (unbeknownst to me) was one of those.  While it is very well written, the subject matter – Italy in the early 1900’s under Mussolini’s Fascist leadership – is a dark, dreary, awful time of history, and makes for a very depressing read.  There were parts I enjoyed, but the last few nights I was desperate for this book to be over, hoping the graphic imagery did not enter my dreams.

I enjoyed Rosa as a main character.  Her transformation throughout the book was amazing and her struggles hurt my heart.  No one should have to endure as much as she did.  She never had a “woe-is-me” attitude, thought through every action, learned from the past, all while having a huge heart.  Her compassion and love for animals hit home with me and I enjoyed that theme coming back often through several animals throughout the book.  The people she met all left an impression on her heart and I did enjoy many characters from her past popping up throughout the book, sometimes when you least expected it.

I enjoyed the mystery woven in as throughout the book, Rosa collected pieces of information about her history (the book begins with her being dropped off as an infant at a convent).  Bits and pieces were spread out throughout the book and it really had you (and Rosa) guessing until the very end.

Words that do not describe this book are: happy, predictable, or settling.  (You can figure out the opposite of those!)  Non-stop action, no idea what would happen next, so many twist and turns, all until the very end.  I do think it was a good book, it challenged me, had me thinking what I would do (but thanking God I have never been in any of those situations), and hanging on til the very end to see what happened.  It was just such a heart-wrenching period of history and the author did not spare the readers of any details.  Not a terrible thing at all, just maybe a book to read more during the day (versus right before bed.)

I’ve mentioned before, and I will say it again, as it is true with this book.  I love when an author writes a note to their readers at the end.  Especially with historical books (as I’m definitely not a history buff), it helps me decipher what really happened versus what was made up.  In this case, I really enjoyed learning that one of the animal characters was actual a real dog!  His name was Fido, meaning “faithful” in Latin, and he waiting everyday at a bus stop for his owner.  His owner tragically passed away as a result of WW2, yet Fido kept coming back and waiting, which grabbed the attention of the town.  A story that has me in tears now reading more about it, but both heart warming and breaking as the love of animals is an unconditional one, which is also a passion of the author’s (which makes me like her so much more!)  Read more about Fido’s story HERE.  And see his monument at the end!

I could go on, but we’ll leave it at that.  This book is well written, has great characters, mystery, suspense, romance, passion, war, really something to please everyone.  My one complaint is just the amount of detail around some very graphic, gruesome, disturbing happenings.  Maybe it adds to the emotion around the book and paints a true scene, but all I can say is it’s not for me and I think next will be something a little lighter?  Who knows though – the great thing about books is that they can surprise you!

fidoMonument to Fido – Click on the picture for an awesome article about a TON of dog monuments.  Dogs are just so amazing!


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Book Review: The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

The Pieces We Keep
By Kristina McMorris
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Available for Purchase 11/26/13

Finish Time:  too long for me.  I’ve been exhausted, so I don’t want my time to finish to be any sort of indicator to how this book is.  It was a very enjoyable read, but the last 2 weeks, my droopy eyelids beat out wanting to read on, thus the longer time between reviews.  I’m almost tempted to go back and read it (and I may) as there are so many little details that are tied up as the book go on that I feel like I may have missed some!

This book jumps back and forth between the 1940’s and present day – 2012.  Throughout the book the stories mesh together, which was fun, because at the back of my mind was how are they going to tie these two stories together?  But the author did and it was perfect.  Not exactly a happy topic, but delivered very well.  The 1940’s part was part love-story, part suspense/thriller, and a great glimpse into history (WWII/Nazi Germany time period.)  Great characters.  I could clearly picture Vivian, Luanne, Gene, and Isaak in my head and really felt invested in their stories.  I also always enjoy when authors explain (at the end) what details were actual events or based on real people versus detail they made up (or created from facts!)

Fast forward to present day and the main characters were Audra and Jack, a recent widow and her son.  Jack is dealing with a variety of issues (mainly night terrors) and my heartstrings were tugged (and almost broken) as Audra, as a mother, struggles to figure it out and keep her son safe.  Through a historical mystery spurred from Jack’s dreams, a war vet, grieving in-laws, a pending job change and move, and some good friends, Audra makes her way through and it does not fall short of non-stop action and eager page-turning.  You can feel her raw emotion come through the pages and really is one of the most real characters I’ve encountered in a book.

The ending uncovers many mysteries presented throughout the book and wraps everything up nicely.  Even may have left it open for a sequel?  I left this book feeling content and satisfied.  Definitely will look for more from the author!

Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read by far, and this book does not disappoint.  A great glimpse into history and even present day challenges of being a mother.  I really enjoyed it – check it out if you get a chance this November!!


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GIVEAWAY & Book Review: Melody of Secrets by Jeffrey Stepakoff

The Melody of Secrets
By Jeffrey Stepakoff
This book was provided to me free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Finish Time: 4 Nights.  Yet another opportunity to review a book pre-release!  Fun!  AND what is even better is you can check it out too!  Fill out the entry form below and I will select one random winner to receive a hard copy of this book sent directly too them from the publisher!  Win-win for all of us!

This was a great story of a young woman, Maria, a German citizen, later relocated to Alabama, US between the years 1945-1957.  The story begins as Maria, also an acclaimed violinist, is playing her violin to escape the sound of bombs going off around her house, when an American soldier, James Cooper, appears in her house.  The story then bounces back and forth between 1945 Germany and present day (1957) Alabama.  The author did a wonderful job of going back at forth at pertinent times so the reader could get immediate insight into the history behind a present day emotion or reaction.  Maria is such a likable main character.  She has an amazing heart and that comes through the pages and I felt like I was right there with her through the story.

The book hits upon both Nazi Germany at its peak, and later segregation in the American South.  I thought both of these topics were addressed with sincerity from Maria and approached in a manner respectful to the reader, thus not causing any reason for debate or controversy.  Not being a history buff, I believe the main facts presented in the story were historical truth with fictional characters woven in.  Your typical historical fiction and my favorite genre to read.

Present day, in the story, Maria’s German rocket scientist husband Hans, is stationed in Alabama and recently been commissioned to help the American’s build a rocket to get into space.  The story is part mystery as Maria, with the help of James and some friends, discover who she is really married to and how she needs to handle that information.  And part romance as her initial meeting of James Cooper is recounted and how they pick up where they left off 12 years prior when they coincidentally cross paths again.  I also really enjoyed the details of Maria’s music, as her town was getting ready to launch its own orchestra with Maria on first violin.  There is also a fun story-line involving the violin which was an added bonus.

No spoilers about the ending, but the only way I can think of describing it was that I appreciated it.  Kind of weird wording I know.  Again I won’t give it away and I won’t elude to whether it was predictable or not or whether it was how I wanted it to end or not, but it was ended well.  I’d love to chat about it – so send me a message if you read it and want to discuss!  Overall a great read, covering many topics, time well spent!

Simply enter your name, email address, blog (if applicable), and “GIVEAWAY” in the form below.  I will select 1 (ONE) random winner, I will announce first name only on here and then send you a direct email to get your mailing address for the publisher to send you a hard copy directly!  Easy as pie!  Giveaway ends NOON (12pm) EST on Friday October 11th.

Thanks and good luck!!

Thank you everyone for entering.  Congrats to Michelle to winning a copy of this not-yet-released book!  Stay tuned for more!

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Book Review: Oh to Grace by Abby Rosser

Oh to Grace
By Abby Rosser
This book was provided to me free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finish time: 5 nights.  This was one of those books that I wish I had read in hard copy.  You know the ones I’m talking about, where each chapter begins with a date and they aren’t necessarily in chronological order.  So on the Kindle, it’s hard to backtrack.  For that reason, and not really paying attention to the dates until later in the book, I found the book hard to follow at first.  It jumps around a bit between time periods and characters, that I’m not sure I ever really felt I had it all figured out.

The book begins and goes back each chapter to a granddaughter interviewing her great-aunt (I believe) Frankie about her family’s history.  Her family’s story included lots of interesting characters, lots of little adventures, and painted a great picture of life during the early 1900’s.  But I felt it was lacking a larger story to tie it all together.  I guess looking back the book starts out with a boy running into a store and proclaiming to the owner that his son is dead, but it takes a long time to come back to that point, that I had completely forgotten about it by the time it circled back around.  And throughout the story there is mention of a pocket-watch, but it seemed inconsequential and I couldn’t keep track of whose it was and who had it now, so I did appreciate its timeline at the end of the story.

The writing was good, I enjoyed the story of Anna and Ernest and his family, and I especially loved the ending.  Again, looking back, there is mention of hymns and church, but just not much.  But at the end (without spoiling anything) the discussions about faith and God were so good, I wished there was more through the book, or even more build up to that point in everyone’s lives (especially Anna).

So really an enjoyable read, and everything was eventually tied together, it was just a little frustrating as I don’t think I ever had all the characters straight, and was confused a lot of the book.  But the ending really redeemed it all for me and left feeling satisfied and happy.

I don’t normally tie in songs or verses to my book reviews, but the verse below from Romans and past post HERE were in my head since finishing this book and I couldn’t help but share as it’s one of my favorites!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39


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