Friday, November 27, 2020

Book Review: The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas


About the Book

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he'd obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.

The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal's absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family's basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it's his father he runs to tell--shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn't his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family's hearts again.

You can get your copy here.

My Review

What I loved about this book was that I was immersed in the story.  Author Thomas made the setting one in which I could understand the characters' motivations and the plot points because of when and where they took place.

Not only was it a coming-of-age story for Loyal, a young teen deaf boy, but there were major transformations for his parents, as well.  Loyal longed to be "regular," but his mother was very protective of him, and his father did not know how to deal with him.  Loyal finally was able to prove that he was capable, and his father ultimately came to the point where he not only trusted Loyal, but enjoyed his company. As the relationship between father and son deepened, the mother was able to let go.

This was a great story, and I recommend it.  Those with an interest in deaf culture or in 1930s West Virginia will especially enjoy this book.  Any fan of Thomas' writing will not be disappointed in this latest offering.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia.

Sarah is a fund-raiser for a children’s ministry who has time to write because she doesn’t have children of her own. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Coastal Carolina University and is the author of the acclaimed novels The Sound of Rain and Miracle in a Dry Season–winner of the 2015 Inspy Award. Sarah has also been a finalist for the Christy Award, ACFW Carol Award and the Christian Book of the Year Award. She and her husband live near Asheville, NC.

Learn more at

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Book Review With a Giveaway: The Bells of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig

 About the Book

Book: The Bells of New Cheltenham
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian fiction, Christmas romance
Release Date: October 15, 2020

Who knew that Christmas carols were love songs?

Justine Driscoll sure didn’t. Peace on earth? She’s heard of that. Holy and joyful? Something about that, too. But love songs sung by a bride about the birth of her bridegroom? That’s just weird stuff right there.

Weird or not, though, once Justine decides to enter a short story contest using a Christmas carol as the inspiration, she discovers love in the carols she investigates, in the story an ex-Army guy tells, and in the little tourist town of New Cheltenham.

“But what do the words mean?”

Ken Torsney is used to fighting for causes he believes in. He just never imagined he’d go from Army “warrior” to spiritual warrior in the span of one question from a stranger. Justine is like no girl he’s ever known— hungry for the gospel even as she rejects it.

He’s falling for her, and that’s bound to break his heart.

Love is in the air in New Cheltenham this Christmas. Again.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I am so glad I read this book.  It is oh, so Christmas-y, as Justine explores the canon of Christmas carols and Ken seeks to make them meaningful to her.  And he sings.  He's a caroler who goes about town with his ensemble.  New Cheltenham is all about Christmas, and this book will give you all the Christmas feels.

But there's more.  Christmas stories.  Redemption.  Reunions.  Handmade gifts.  Neighbors helping neighbors.  Kindness.  New beginnings.  This book has it all.

What was really interesting, was that coming from a non-religious family, Justine hardly had any framework on which to hang all the new information she was receiving about Christianity, through the carols.  It was amazing to eventually see all that come together for her.

This novel is second in a series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.  Although, I would really like to read Book One, because it sounds amazing.

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

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.


More from Chautona Havig

3 Things That Make My Christmas Heart Sing

I didn’t have a ghost of a chance.

The message popped up in my messenger at exactly the moment I sat down.  This is significant, because I get dozens of Facebook messages every day, and often, they get buried when a new one supersedes it. So, as you can see, it’s a near miracle that I ever saw the message at all.

The message offered me a spot in a collection of novellas—a Christmas collection.  Yep. Not a ghost of a chance.

Still, I tried to be responsible, you know?  After all, I had quite a few books due at the same time already.  Bookers on the Rocks, The Last Gasp, my Christmas Lights Collection “noella,” and my CrossRoads Collection “noella.”  And those didn’t include anything I wanted to write in spring or summer.

Then she added another layer of temptation. This collection had a theme.  That theme? Christmas carol inspired romances.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love music, Christmas, and specifically, Christmas music?

The other authors in the set had already made their carol selections.  She sent a list of those that had already been claimed.  I read them with great trepidation. See, I already had two carols I’d want to use in the story for this collection that I hadn’t even agreed to participate in yet.

No one had chosen “The Holly and the Ivy” or “The Bells on Christmas Day.”

That ghost slowly transformed into the ghost of my resistance.

All that remained was for me to come up with a story idea.  I mean, why join a collection if you can’t even decide what to do with it?

That’s when it happened.

There’s always this moment when the first idea germinates, sprouts, and pushes up through the fertile soil of my imagination.  My favorite moment.  And it hit me.  What if the theme for the collection was my story idea?  My character could enter a contest that requires a short story based on a Christmas carol.

And once I had that idea, the rest came in a whoosh!  Mitchell, from The Ghosts of New Cheltenham could be sick to death of this annual ghost storytelling contest and decide to create his own contest.  And then… well…

The Bells of New Cheltenham was born.

If you’ve not read The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, you’ll follow this “noella” just fine. It is meant to be a stand-alone.  However, if you want a richer reading experience, I recommend reading The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, followed by the companion short story, “The Ghastly Therapist” first. Both are available through Kindle Unlimited.  Additionally, if you send your receipt (or a screenshot of the final page of the eBook from Kindle Unlimited) for the Melodies of Christmas Love collection to, I’ll send YOU the bonus short story—the one Justine Driscoll writes in this “noella.”

But I promised to tell you three things that make my heart sing at Christmas.

  1. The way people are often just a little kinder and a little more giving and understanding.
  2. The joy that seems to fill every part of life—family, friends, parties, presents, church services, reading, singing…
  3. The music that plays everywhere—and often sings of a Savior’s love.

What makes your heart sing at Christmas?

Blog Stops

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 9
21st Century Keeper at Home, November 9
Simple Harvest Reads, November 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 10
Texas Book-aholic, November 11
Blogging With Carol , November 11
Among the Reads, November 12
Artistic Nobody, November 12 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Inklings and notions, November 13
batya’s Bits, November 13
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 14
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 14
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15
Worthy2Read, November 15
For Him and My Family, November 16
Labor Not in Vain, November 16
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17
lakesidelivingsite, November 17
Aryn the Libraryan, November 18
Lots of Helpers, November 19
deb’s Book Review, November 19
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20
Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 20
She Lives To Read, November 21
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 22
Mary Hake, November 22


To celebrate her tour, Chautona 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.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review with a Giveaway: Her Merriweather Hero by Rachel Skatvold

About the Book

Book: Her Merriweather Hero 
Author: Rachel Skatvold
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 27, 2020 

He just wanted a place to rest and recuperate.

She only needed a repairman to help fix up her beach house.

For marine sergeant Tyler Banner, nothing could be further from the memories of his time in Iraq than the slow, easy pace on Merriweather Island. Taking up a job as a physical trainer serves to keep him in shape while he enjoys a little downtime. Making friends with the local vet—veterinarian, that is—on his morning jog is just a bonus.

When Kendall’s sister tricked her into recruiting Tyler’s help one day, she didn’t fortify herself against a breach to her heart. Making friends with the marine was easy, but helping him overcome the PTSD that holds him captive isn’t. As she picks her way across a minefield of memories and horrors Tyler endured, Kendall begins to hope he could be the man she’s prayed for.

Falling in love wasn’t in Tyler’s orders, but a new deployment to Iraq is. How can he convince Kendall not to go AWOL when she hears? What can he do to convince her that they’ll make it… together?

This “Merriweather book” is the fourth in a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

It was so good to visit the islands again.  I have been enjoying the Independence Islands series, and Her Merriweather Hero was a nice addition to the collection.

Dr. Kendall Mulligan and her vet tech sister Carly moved to Merriweather Island for a fresh start.  However, working so closely together was a challenge for them that they had to work through.  Additionally, both sisters still were mourning the loss of their brother, and were working through that loss.  Kendall's desperation for this new business in a new location to succeed could have been fleshed out more, because I didn't feel that intensity as I read.  I did, however, have empathy for Tyler Banner as he worked through PTSD and the tragic loss of his brother-in-law during their service in the Marine Corps.  I appreciated Tyler's devotion to his sister and his family, and his willingness to help Kendall and Carly in many situations.

Neither Kendall nor Tyler were looking for a relationship, so it was sweet to watch them grow closer.  I also appreciated that they were able to encourage each other spiritually.  Those who enjoy contemporary romance and beach reads will certainly want to read this book.  

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

Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance and encouraging blogs. Rachel completed her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas in 2014 and is now working on the Hart Ranch Series, set in the Montana wilderness and the Ladies of Ardena Series, set in medieval times. She is also a contributing author in the Whispers in Wyoming, Brides of Pelican Rapids and Independence Island Series. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons. You can find more information about Rachel and her books on her website:

More from Rachel

Her Merriweather Hero has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding stories I have written. Often when I am starting a new book, I immerse myself in the world-building process, which involves a lot of research and note taking. This time around, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Celebrate Lit and the authors in the Independence Islands Series to map out these beautiful island stories. It has been an exciting journey so far. 

This story was inspired by my parents who met through letters while my dad was in the Marine Corps. They both came from different backgrounds, with my mom being from Massachusetts and my dad from a small town in Iowa, but their differences didn’t stop them from falling in love. For Her Merriweather Hero, I used themes of opposites attracting, New England, and the Marine Corps from my parent’s love story. 

Kendall is a young veterinarian who moves to the Independence Islands with her sister to start a new mobile clinic. There, she meets Sergeant Tyler Banner, who is on medical leave after a tour overseas. She tries to avoid Tyler at first, determined to concentrate on making her business a success, but over time she can’t ignore the handsome military guy who keeps "accidentally" crossing her path. It doesn’t help he lives a few doors down from her fixer-upper beach house. Can she continue to try to ignore him or is it true that opposites attract? 

This romantic island tale is also inspired by the verses from Hebrews 6:18-19 which describe God as our anchor. The characters feel tossed around by waves of difficulties at certain parts of the story, but He is always the anchor who keeps them secured.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 16
Daysong Reflections, November 16
Texas Book-aholic, November 17
lakesidelivingsite, November 17
Inklings and notions, November 18
21st Century Keeper at Home, November 18
Joanne Markey, November 18
For Him and My Family, November 19
Emily Yager, November 19
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 20
deb’s Book Review, November 20
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 21
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 21
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 21
Artistic Nobody, November 22 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Rebecca Tews, November 22
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 23
The Cafe Scholar, November 23
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 24
Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 24
The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 24
Aryn The Libraryan 📚, November 25
She Lives To Read, November 25
Simple Harvst Reads, November 26 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Livin’ Lit, November 26
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 27
Rebekah Reads, November 27
Connect in Fiction, November 27
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 28
Life, Love, Writing, November 28
Blossoms and Blessings, November 29
Batya’s Bits, November 29
Godly Book Reviews, November 29


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

Book Review: Besotted by Jody Hedlund


About the Book

In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .

A young queen trying to stay alive until she comes of age to rule, and a prince turned into a pauper.

Queen Aurora of Mercia has spent her entire life deep in Inglewood Forest, hiding from Warwick’s Queen Margery, who seeks her demise. As the time draws near for Aurora to take the throne, she happens upon a handsome woodcutter. Although friendship with outsiders is forbidden and dangerous, she cannot stay away from the charming stranger.

Only two months away from completing his royal testing, Prince Kresten of Scania is ready to be finished with the poverty and hardships of being a woodcutter. When he meets a beautiful peasant woman, he doesn’t plan to fall in love, especially when he must soon leave and return to his homeland.

As Queen Margery’s forces close in, Aurora finds herself in mortal danger. Kresten knows a future with Aurora is impossible, but he is desperate to save her and bring an end to the queen’s threat. To do so, he joins the ultimate battle against the evil queen, risking everything, including his chance at true love.

The real Sleeping Beauty story.

My Review

Besotted was the perfect conclusion to the Fairest Maidens Young Adult series by Jody Hedlund.  Aurora and Kresten's story was believable and heart-wrenching, and played flawlessly into the overarching conflict introduced earlier in the series.  Both Aurora and Kresten were honorable, and dedicated to the ultimate goal of doing what was best for their respective countries.  Their personal growth was critical to their success in meeting those goals.

The book began as a pleasant boy-meets-girl story, but when the action and suspense began building, it didn't stop until the final page.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Besotted is written in the first person, from both Aurora's and Kresten's perspectives.  Different fonts for each narrator help identify the speaker.  And although it is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.  I was glad to have read Beholden previously for the setting and history.  

This is a wonderful, clean YA read that an adult reader of Christian fiction would enjoy, as well.  If you need more medieval romance in your life, I highly recommend this book and the entire Fairest Maidens series.

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

About the Author

JODY HEDLUND is a bestselling and award-winning author who loves fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI, with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Book Review With a Giveaway: The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham


About the Book

Book: The Red Ribbon

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian historical/suspense

Release Date: October, 2020

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912

Book 8 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

 Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Author Pepper Basham truly brought the Appalachian mountain culture to life in The Red Ribbon.  Life in the mountains was not easy.  People worked hard to survive, and it took a lot of time to travel by foot, donkey, or wagon to visit a neighbor or travel to town.  With the undercurrent of conflict and feud an ever-present reality, many lived their day-to-day lives on edge or in fear.

Ava Burcham was an intelligent, compassionate young woman.  She was a talented seamstress, with the dream to be a writer.  She could hold her own in a confrontation, but lived with a worry that she would develop the mental illness that crippled her family.  Jeremiah Sutphin was a hard-working carpenter who worked to make his dreams come true.  Both were orphans, and knew the pain of loss caused by feuding and moonshining.

The story had a slow build to it, with past heartbreak and hope for the future coming together for Ava and Jeremiah.  The embers of conflict were fed until an explosion erupted.  

I enjoyed this book, and recommend it for those who have an interest in Appalachia, and readers of historical romance and Christian fiction.

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

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains where her family have lived for generations. She’s the mom of five kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at the award winning Writer’s Alley blog. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015, and the second in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuted in April 2016.


More from Pepper

Feuds, Moonshine, and Family Loyalties by Pepper Basham

My upcoming release for Barbour’s True Colors series is really close to my heart…and pretty close to my house.

The Red Ribbon, my first foray into a historical suspense novel, takes place in the county where I grew up. Carroll County, Virginia, is a county on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, not too far from Mt. Airy (Mayberry).  Nestled in the foothills and mountains of the Blue Ridge, it is a part of the Appalachian Mountains, and with that comes similar histories as other backwoods Appalachian communities: feuds, moonshine, and family loyalties.

One thing I love most about my Appalachian upbringing is the intense closeness of family – and when I say ‘family’ I mean, of course, my mom, dad, and brother, but also my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents…the whole “gang”, as my granny used to say.

The closeness of family, and the protection of the family name, is a big deal in Appalachia. There’s a lot of pride in the way your ‘name’ is thought of throughout the community, so when someone insults your name, there’s a good chance the repercussions aren’t going to be pleasant. Especially back in the early 1900s, when The Red Ribbon takes place. In fact, insulting someone by “stealing a kiss” is one of the events that leads to The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre/Tragedy.

A long-time feud between the Allen family and the “Courthouse Clan” came to a head inside the Hillsville Courthouse in March 1912 and this event resulted in the largest shootout within a courthouse in Virginia history. The story followed with a nationwide manhunt and made national news until the sinking of the Titanic the following month.

Growing up in Carroll County, I knew a few things about this story. Rumors and whispers, really. Most folks didn’t talk about it because it still caused a stir among those who were descendants (because another thing about Appalachia is that families tend to stay on or around family land for generations). People still took “sides.”  So, when I decided to write this book, I knew I was stepping into precarious territory. Not that anyone would start up a shootout nowadays because of a book, but because people still have some deep feelings about how their ancestors are portrayed in history, and since many of my family members still live in Carroll County, I wanted to tread carefully into the events of “The Allen Tragedy”.

What I discovered was a story that still held a whole lot of mystery even one hundred years later. Bullet holes still mark the courthouse steps from that fateful day, rumors still circulate about who was to blame, and no one knows who fired the first gunshot that began the tragic shooting.

I’m not a “scary” book writer or reader, but I love a good adventure, so this book takes the reader on an adventure into Appalachia to my neck of the woods, and follows the journey of Ava Burcham and Jeremiah Sutphin as they live among the illegal moonshiners, dirty cops, and mountain gunslingers of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

(To learn more about the true events of the Courthouse Tragedy, you can read about it here:

Have you ever read a book set in Appalachia? If so, what was the title and what did you learn about the Appalachian culture? Have you ever visited the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Let’s chat mountain people, mountain ways, and mountain books. 😊

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29
Fiction Aficionado, October 29
deb’s Book Review, October 29
Blossoms and Blessings, October 29
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 30
Texas Book-aholic, October 30
Blogging With Carol, October 30
Inklings and notions, October 31
Emily Yager, October 31
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 31
Hallie Reads, October 31
For Him and My Family, November 1
reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1
Christian Bookaholic, November 1
Betti Mace, November 2
Genesis 5020, November 2
For the Love of Literature, November 2
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 2
Rebecca Tews, November 3
Robin’s Nest, November 3
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 3
Connect in Fiction, November 4
Older & Smarter?, November 4
To Everything There Is A Season, November 4
Artistic Nobody, November 4 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
21st Century Keeper at Home, November 5
By The Book, November 5
Remembrancy, November 5
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 6
Britt Reads Fiction, November 6
Life of Literature, November 6
Connie’s History Classroom, November 7
Splashes of Joy, November 7
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 7
A Reader’s Brain, November 8
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 8
Through the Fire Blogs, November 8
Godly Book Reviews, November 8
Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, November 9
Bigreadersite, November 9
Where Faith and books Meet, November 9
Books I’ve Read, November 10
Just the Write Escape, November 10
Adventures of a Travelers Life, November 10
Amanda Tero, blog, November 11
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 11
Pause for Tales, November 11


To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Book Review: A Haven for Her Heart by Susan Anne Mason

About the Book

Homeless after being released from a women's reformatory in 1939
Toronto, Olivia Rosetti is taken in by an angel of mercy, Ruth Bennington. The two discover they share a painful past and together decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.

Despite the success of the home, Olivia is haunted by her inhumane treatment at the reformatory and the way her newborn son was taken from her. She feels undeserving of love--until she meets businessman Darius Reed. Although his attention makes her heart soar, he can never learn of her past.

Greek widower Darius Reed is determined to protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother. He'll ensure her future by marrying a woman from a respected Toronto family. But when Darius meets Olivia, he's immediately drawn to her beauty and compassion.

Can love prove stronger than prejudice and past mistakes? Or will Olivia's secrets destroy any chance at a future together?

This book is available for purchase here.

My Review

From the beautiful cover to its wonderful conclusion, there is much to love about this series opener from author Susan Anne Mason.

Olivia Rosetti had been hurt, rejected, and abused too much in her short life.  But she was strong, compassionate, and kind.  In spite of her hurts and tragic experiences she sought to help young women who needed love and compassion, and she did that well.  It was a privilege to journey with Olivia on her healing path.

It was also wonderful to watch the changes in Darius.  Not immune to tragedy himself, throughout the book he began to look outside of himself more and more and became a man who stood up for what was right.

I truly enjoyed this story.  It moved along well, and I could truly empathize with the characters as they were hurting, and as they were rejoicing.  I recommend it to fans of historical romance and Christian fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, on behalf of the author, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Susan lives in a suburb near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she works part-time as a church secretary. She is a wife and the mother of two amazing kids, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). In addition to writing, she likes to scrapbook and to research her family history on-line. You can connect with her on Facebook or on her website

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.