Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar Review

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Synopsis:

In 1943 Germany, Helene is just about to wake up her children to go to school when a group of policemen break into her house. The policemen want to haul away her gypsy husband and their five children. The police tell Helene that as a German she does not have to go with them, but she decides to share the fate of her family. After convincing her children that they are going off to a vacation place, so as to calm them, the entire family is deported to Auschwitz.

For being German, they are settled in the first barracks of the Gypsy Camp. The living conditions are extremely harsh, but at least she is with her five children. A few days after their arrival, Doctor Mengele comes to pay her a visit, having noticed on her entry card that she is a nurse. He proposes that she direct the camp’s nursery. The facilities would be set up in Barrack 29 and Barrack 31, one of which would be the nursery for newborn infants and the other for children over six years old.

Helene, with the help of two Polish Jewish prisoners and four gypsy mothers, organizes the buildings. Though Mengele provides them with swings, Disney movies, school supplies, and food, the people are living in crowded conditions under extreme conditions. And less than 400 yards away, two gas chambers are exterminating thousands of people daily.

For sixteen months, Helene lives with this reality, desperately trying to find a way to save her children. Auschwitz Lullaby is a story of perseverance, of hope, and of strength in one of the most horrific times in history.

My Thoughts:

This book tells the story of Helen Hannemann, a German woman married to a man of Romani heritage, who goes with her husband and children to Auschwitz by her own choosing and is asked to organize a school and nursery in the camp. Based on a true person in history, this story was full of chilling details and shows how strong the bond is between a mother and her children as well as how scary humans can be.

The author wastes no time getting into the story, I never felt like there were unnecessary details or that the story dragged. The descriptions of the train ride and the experiences in Auschwitz were so vivid that I almost felt like I was watching a movie.

The fact that this story is based on things that actually happened in history made this story even more disturbing and terrifying. Some of the things that occurred in this book would have seemed unrealistic or far-fetched to me had I not known that they were based on true facts.

It is sad to see how mob mentality and power, along with brainwashing and a lot of satanic influence can change people. Although these types of books are not easy or fun to read, they are very important because history is something we should remember, so that we don’t allow it to repeat itself.

The writing was superb, the translation was very smooth, and the story moved at a great pace. I highly recommend this book!

My Rating:

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I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson Review

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Synopsis

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
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.

My Thoughts

This story, although fictional, is based on a true period in history. The time that it portrays was a very dark, scary time where evil seemed to be reigning. There are some gritty scenes in the story that are difficult to read but the author did well at giving enough information to explain the situation without getting too graphic.

The story is a time slip style that jumps between past and present and in each time period, new things are revealed about the other. The mysteries surrounding Annika and an old copy of Bambi were very intriguing and I was eager to learn the truth about them.

I didn’t care for the present day story line as much, with the exception of the revealing of information about the past. The characters in the present didn’t really interest me and I found myself a little disappointed when I was taken out of the past.

Although this was a difficult story to read, there was still some glimmers of hope found in the pages…the gospel was presented well and the way people came together to help each other was very touching.

I would highly recommend this story.

My Rating

4.5 stars

I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano Review

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Synopsis

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He 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. 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.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

My Thoughts

This is Joanna’s sophomore novel and it was just as amazing (or better) than her debut. Her writing is beautiful. She is very gifted at setting the scene and placing the reader in the environment right beside the characters.

The setting of this story was an old castle but in the time period of 1866. The story had a Gothic feel which added to the atmospheric quality of the story.

There were some twists in the story (one in particular) that I would classify as jaw dropping. I live for twists in my books so I loved this aspect in the book.

I also loved the plot…it was such a fun concept of a treasure hunt to locate this “rumored fortune”. It reminded me of modern day families, friends, and acquaintances that “come out of the woodwork” when someone is blessed (or cursed) with a windfall.

The fact that there were several unlikable characters in the story made it more fun for me. For some reason, I find that the addition of unlikable characters add validity and more of a realistic quality to stories.

Overall, this was an excellent, quick read that I adored and I will read anything that Joanna writes from now on!

My Rating

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I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Promise Forged by Cara Putman Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book Title: A Promise Forged

Author: Cara Putman

Genre: World War 2 Romance

Release date: Originally released in 2010, Re-released in 2017

Kat transformed in front of him. Her chin came up, her fingers stopped twitching with the fabric of her gown, and a real sparkle bubbled in her eyes. It was like watching Snow White come to life when the prince kissed her.

A heartwarming WWII historical from award-winning author Cara Putman:

Kat Miller has dreamed of playing baseball her entire life. When she earns a spot on a team in the All-American Girls Professional Softball League, she finds that things aren’t as glamorous as she imagined. She struggles with long road trips, grueling practices, and older teammates who are jealous of her success. And to top it all off, an irritating reporter is constantly getting under Kat’s skin.

Events in Jack Raymond’s career have left him cynical and distanced from God. He never wanted to write at a small paper, and he certainly didn’t want to be assigned to something as inconsequential as a women’s softball team. Then Kat walks into his life. The fiery, young softball player somehow climbs the walls around his heart and makes him want to hope again.

When lies fly and the league appears to fail, will Kat and Jack’s new love survive?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

This was such a fun story! I loved following Kat as she played on the All American Girls Softball League. She is young and innocent but strong in her faith. She faces some obstacles during the story but handles them with grace and dignity.

I wasn’t as much a fan of Jack…it took me a while to warm up to him (although I think this was possibly the author’s intention).

There are many similarities to the movie “A League of Their Own”, which I loved but this story still has many unique facets and perspectives.

The time period was described very vividly, and what an interesting time it was. America during WWII was a bit tumultuous and stressful but also fun and the author does a good job at portraying that.

For a shorter story, this book packed a big punch. It was a quick, fun, easy read…great for a summer day!

My Rating

3 stars

I received this book from the publisher/author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently working on book 30 and 31.

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW, and currently serves on its Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, and Krannert School of Management. You can learn more about Cara at www.caraputman.com <http://www.caraputman.com/>.

Guest Post from Cara

Each of my books starts with a hook that engages my interest, and then as I play with it, I think it will engage readers. A Promise Forged was no different. For this book I was writing a series of three World War II novels for Barbour. I already had two historical hooks that fascinated me: children evacuated from London to Ohio, a top secret project to break Engima in Dayton, but I needed one more. I knew the lead characters were going to be siblings, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the kid sister. Then I remembered the All-American Girls Professional Softball/Baseball League.

And I started thinking.

What would it have been like to desperately want a chance to play a sport you loved professionally?

And to be part of the nascent league when no one was sure whether it was a good or bad idea?

I decided that was the perfect place for Kat. She was the kid sister with fire and passion. She wanted a chance to prove herself, and this would be the perfect place. Then she needed a hero worthy of her. One who could go toe-to-toe with her and still see who she could be.

He came in the form of Jack, a cynical reporter who is disappointed to be assigned to cover girls’ baseball. But then he gets to know Kat and some of the others. And he sees something in her that she doesn’t see in herself. It’s the beginning of fireworks that he doesn’t think can go anywhere because she has to go home to her senior year of high school.

As I began researching the history of the league, I learned that the AAGPS/BL archives were kept at a small museum in South Bend, a couple hours from where I live. I spent a day there talking with the curator and exploring all the records. Because the league wasn’t expected to last there weren’t many records from the first year. That meant I had to guess about some things like schedules based on what happened in the years after.

A Promise Forged became a book I loved writing. Kat was feisty, Jack was cynical, and baseball provided a great setting. I can’t believe this football loving woman can admit that!

Blog Stops

History, Mystery & Faith, August 4

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 4

Among the Reads, August 4

The Power of Words, August 4

C Jane Read, August 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, August 5

Christian Bookaholic, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Reading Is My SuperPower, August 6

Genesis 5020, August 6

lady ansel book vibes, August 6

Kat’s Corner Books, August 7

Carpe Diem, August 7

proud to be an autism mom, August 7

Janices book reviews, August 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 8

A Baker’s Perspective, August 8

Blossoms and Blessings, August 8

Mary Hake, August 8

By The Book, August 9

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, August 9

Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, August 10

Lighthouse Academy, August 10

Remembrancy, August 10

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 10

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, August 11

100 Pages per Hour, August 11

Luv’N Lambert Life, August 11

Bigreadersite, August 11

Godly Book Reviews, August 12

Cafinated Reads, August 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12

A Reader’s Brain, August 13

a good book and cup of tea, August 13

Book by Book, August 13

All-of-a-kind Mom, August 14

Maureen’s Musings, August 14

Daysong Reflections, August 14

The Morning Chapter, August 15

amandainpa, August 15

Inklings and notions, August 15

Connie’s History Classroom, August 16

All 4 and About Books, August 16

Bibliophile Reviews, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 17

For the Love of Books, August 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize that includes the movie League of Their Own, a box of cracker jacks, M&Ms and a $20 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d2ac/a-promise-forged-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof Review

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About the Book

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Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Author: Joanne Bischof

Genre: Historical Romance

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.

My Thoughts:

I don’t use this phrase often,  but this book gave me “all the feels”. Joanne Bischof is a master storyteller. There were moments when I laughed out loud and moments where tears were in my eyes as I read this beautiful tale.

The characters in this story are very richly developed. They are flawed and real in a way that made me feel for them more than most fictional characters I read about.

The inclusion of a person who is deaf was very interesting. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be in that isolation of a silent world. The author’s descriptions of what this character’s life is like were very good. She brought to attention things that I had never thought about…not only the character’s experiences but also his emotions.

The romance, (ah, the romance!) in this book was one of my favorite love stories. It was beautiful and never felt rushed or forced. Can I say that I have my first official book boyfriend?

The historical setting was very descriptive….taking place in 1890, soon after the Civil War ended, there was a lot of turmoil in Virginia, where this book is set. The author never sugar coats the facts of that time period and I appreciate that as I feel that history should be remembered so that it isn’t repeated.

I loved this book. I was immersed in the story and the lives of the characters. It is definitely a story that will stay with me and a favorite read of 2018. I highly recommend it!

*I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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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.

Guest Video from Joanne Bischof

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, July 5

Carpe Diem, July 5

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 5

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 6

The Power of Words, July 6

Among the Reads, July 6

Fiction Aficionado, July 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 7

A Baker’s Perspective, July 7

History, Mystery & Faith, July 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, July 8

Luv’N Lambert Life, July 8

Cordially Barbara, July 9

Kathleen Denly, July 9

Reading Is My SuperPower, July 9

Faithfully Bookish, July 10

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, July 10

Simple Harvest Reads, July 10 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Novels corner, July 11

Inklings and notions, July 11

Just Commonly, July 11

Two Points of Interest, July 11

Maureen’s Musings, July 12

Book by Book, July 12

To Everything A Season, July 12

Inspiration Clothesline, July 13

With a Joyful Noise, July 13

Pause for Tales, July 13

Radiant Light, July 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 14

Remembrancy, July 14

proud to be an autism mom, July 14

Just the Write Escape, July 15

Bibliophile Reviews, July 15

Vicky sluiter, July 15

By The Book, July 16

Texas Book-aholic, July 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 16

Janices book reviews, July 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 17

Bigreadersite, July 17

Connie’s History Classroom, July 18

amandainpa, July 18

Seasons of Opportunities, July 18

Reader’s cozy corner, July 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away

Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!

Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d140/sons-of-blackbird-mountain-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson Review

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Synopsis:

From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn. With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.

My Thoughts:

I have been eager to pick up a fairy tale retelling for a long time and have heard amazing things about Melanie’s writing so I couldn’t wait to dig into this book. Unfortunately, this probably wasn’t the best one to start with.

The story is supposed to be based on Aladdin, but there are very few similarities, mostly only the names Aladdin and Abu. The main theme of the story is focused on a relationship between Aladdin and Lady Kirsten, who have serious communication issues. So many things could have been resolved had the characters talked things out. It became very frustrating for me to read.

I did enjoy the setting and the time period. I love stories that are in and around castles and small villages. I also related to Kirsten in the way she didn’t always fit in with her family, but felt that Aladdin really understood her like no one else (I have my own Aladdin in my life 🙂 The faith content was also great and the story is very clean. This would be a book I wouldn’t hesitate to allow my 12 year old daughter to read, which I really appreciate.

Overall, the story was a bit bland and the story dragged on too long for my liking but I still plan on revisiting Melanie Dickerson’s books.

My Rating:

2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli Review

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Synopsis:

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

My Thoughts:

This story was heavy…it is the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time and caused me to think a lot about the issues that were presented.

I had a hard time getting into the story…it took me about 150 pages to really start to enjoy it but once I hit that point, I flew through the book. I became very invested in the characters (past and present) and learned a lot about historical events.

I love how the author took a story from the past and present and connected them. I also loved the faith content in the story. There are many quotes from scripture and references to the Lord as our “hiding place”, which I loved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, it just took a bit of time for me to become invested in it (but once I did, I was hooked!).

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.