Monday, November 2, 2020

Book Review with a Giveaway: The Refrain Within by Liz Tolsma


About the Book

Book: The Refrain Within
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: WWII Fiction
Release Date: September 29, 2020

To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . . 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

The Refrain Within, a World War II novel, was quite an exciting book.  It didn't take long for the book to capture my attention as it introduced me to the characters and their situation.  I initially wondered if the romance was going to be too sugary-sweet for my taste.  However, it was just a short time until the action was heightened, and the relationships were defined and solidified.  It was a special touch that the characters were musicians and instrument makers.  It was a uniqueness that brought them together, and helped them get through their challenges.

The horrors of being sought and captured by the Gestapo in German-occupied Hungary were described realistically.  As a reader. I felt the hopelessness, pain, and fear just as the characters did.  I was pleased that the main characters sought God for direction and comfort.

Anyone who enjoys stories set in World War II will certainly enjoy this one.  The action kept building throughout the story, and the conclusion was satisfying.  

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.


More from Liz

This is the third book in a series all set around music. The first heroine, Anna in The Melody of the Soul, was a violinist. The second heroine, Natia in When the Heart Sings, sang beautifully. So what did I choose for this heroine?

When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher from the middle school came to our class and encouraged us to join. She brought instruments with her for us to try. I really wanted to play the flute. I thought it was very feminine. But all the girls wanted to play that, and I would have to be really good to get a good chair. So I decided on the clarinet. I played all through middle school and high school, making first chair a couple of times. I participated in marching band and in solo and ensemble contests, earning a couple of first places in state competitions. Even after my “career” ended, I continued to play from time to time. I still play in church. I love the rich, full sound of the instrument. When played well, the clarinet is beautiful. It can be playful and happy or dark and sad. It can skip and it can cry. I’m very glad now that I chose the clarinet instead of the flute.

That’s why the heroine of The Refrain Within plays the clarinet. In fact, she comes from a family of clarinet makers, and her family stamp on the barrel of a clarinet means a great deal to her. As God would have it, my editor, Janyre Tromp, is also a clarinet player. Between the two of us, we worked hard bring out the unique aspects of playing clarinet, like the callous that forms on the inside of your bottom lip.

Eva is a special character to me because we share this passion for the clarinet. There have been many times throughout my life that my clarinet has skipped with me and plenty of times when it has cried with me. Music is God’s beautiful gift to us, and I thank Him for the opportunity to share some of that with you in The Refrain Within.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 23
Among the Reads, October 23
Maureen’s Musings, October 23
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 24
Texas Book-aholic, October 24
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 25
deb’s Book Review, October 25
21st Century Keeper at Home, October 25
By The Book, October 26
lakesidelivingsite, October 26
A Baker’s Perspective, October 26
Inklings and notions, October 27
CarpeDiem, October 27
Mary Hake, October 27
For Him and My Family, October 28
Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 28
Emily Yager, October 28
Locks, Hooks and Books, October 29
Older & Smarter?, October 29
Genesis 5020, October 29
Betti Mace, October 30
Christian Bookaholic, October 30
Sara Jane Jacobs, October 30
Artistic Nobody, October 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Simple Harvest Reads, October 31 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Rebecca Tews, November 1
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 1
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1
Connie’s History Classroom, November 2
Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 2
Splashes of Joy, November 2
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 3
As He Leads is Joy, November 3
Bigreadersite, November 3
Pause for Tales, November 4
Hallie Reads, November 4
Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4
Amanda Tero, author, November 5
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 5
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 5


To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


  1. Thank you for sharing your review and the book and author details, this sounds like a wonderful read.

  2. I love WWII fiction and Liz's books! Thanks for your review.