Monday, March 1, 2021

A Tough Story, Hemmed in Hope -- Facing the Dawn

Sometimes I read a book and get a lot of simple enjoyment out of it -- I learn something new, I enjoy visiting a new location, I get to "meet" some interesting people with interesting stories, I just enjoy the escape from whatever life happens to be at the moment. Then there are the times when I read a book and WHAM!, I get hit full force with the impact of the story. Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti is one of those books!  

This story has its tough moments. In fact, there was a point fairly early on where I wondered if I should give up and admit that I just couldn't do this one. But I had previously read several books by Cynthia Ruchti and knew that this story would somehow be "hemmed in hope." And oh my goodness, was it ever! Every hurt, every loss, every point of despair led to beautiful lessons of God's provision, His grace, and the way He uses just the right people at just the right time to bring a beautiful new dawn after the darkness and healing to desperately hurting hearts.

I highly recommend this book to readers of great inspirational contemporary fiction. But be prepared as you open to the first page: Don't think you can read a few pages or chapters of this book and then put it down and go to sleep! That might work for the first couple of chapters or so, but then . . . there is no stopping point until the words run out at the end of the story! (We won't even talk about the ridiculous time I finally went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning after the final pages.)

Thanks to the author and her publisher for allowing me to be a part of her launch team and providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.


About the Book

While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she's supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is eight time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone and needy kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam's three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.


About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, including the novels Miles from Where We StartedA Fragile HopeSong of SilenceWhen the Morning Glory Blooms, and They Almost Always Come Home. Her books have been honored with more than 40 awards, including Romantic Times' Inspirational Novel of the Year, two Selah Awards, and three Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and she has been a finalist for many others, including the Carol and the Christy. Former president of and current professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Cynthia lives in Wisconsin and can be found online at www.cynthiaruchti.com.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Emotionally gripping story UPDATED -- The Butterfly and the Violin

UPDATE: I first read this book about 6 1/2 years ago and just re-read it as part of a "nostalgic reader" challenge for this month. It was definitely worth a second time through.

The horrors of the concentration camp were just as real as they were the first time I read it. Even though the particular details of the story are fictional, the message is so real and so relevant, no matter how many times I read it --  seeing my life and whatever I can accomplish can be an act of worship toward my Creator in even the most horrid of circumstances. This author allowed that lesson to shine through in brilliant fashion!


The Butterfly and the Violin
 by Kristy Cambron is a story that I found emotionally gripping -- not in the tears streaming down my face kind of way, but in a way that touched me deeply nonetheless. Kristy writes with vivid detail that allows you to see and feel the horrors of the concentration camp, while at the same time sharing glimmers of hope in worshiping God in the midst of the suffering.

The two points of view in the story, years and worlds apart -- yet drawn together over time and distance -- fit together to tell a beautiful story.  Wondering how all the people and pieces match up keeps the story moving at a very compelling pace through the very last chapters where it all comes together.

I was intrigued to learn more of the personal history of the holocaust and the part that music and art played in those times.  An inspiring theme throughout the story is best expressed in the author's own words in her note at the end of the book:  "Even in the most evil of circumstances, the art of human expression was so powerful that it couldn't be overshadowed, not even by death. . . It's about worship through God's creation -- our lives."

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing a digital copy of The Butterfly and the Violin in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

And then came war . . .

Today. Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems
.
Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?
 
As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait—Adele—they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.

About the Author
 
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and has 15 years industry experience as a corporate learning facilitator and communications consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction. She makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Website: www.kristycambron.com Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Intense Pre-War Intrigue -- When Twilight Breaks

Eons ago when I was in high school, history was my least favorite subject, the one I took only because it was required, not for any useful purpose I could think of. So how is it that now historical fiction -- especially the stories with lots of real-life history in them -- has become one of my favorite genres?

OK, maybe maturity and life experience have contributed to my understanding of the value of history, but there is more to it than that. Brilliantly written stories filled with intensively researched historical facts really help to bring to life events and people from the past.

Sarah Sundin has written several awesome series from the WWII time period with fascinating fiction built around well-researched historical facts. When Twilight Breaks is a gripping story that goes back a little farther, to the years when tensions and conflicting ideologies were growing toward the ultimate point of war.

Evelyn and Peter are fascinating characters who come to life on the pages of this book. They, as well as others in the story, represent a cross section of the people who were caught up in the chaos and uncertainty of the time, especially those living and/or working in Germany itself. The people and actions are so well portrayed that I found myself feeling like I was right there with them. The historical details masterfully intertwined with the fictional story provide evidence of the level of in-depth research that this author does so well. And of course, there is a lovely thread of romance that adds another level to the story.

I highly recommend When Twilight Breaks to fans of great historical fiction, especially those intrigued by the WWII era. Thanks to Revell Reads for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.


About the Book

Munich, 1938

Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she'll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home.

Peter Lang is an American graduate student working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

As the world marches relentlessly toward war, Evelyn and Peter are on a collision course with destiny.


About the Author

Sarah Sundin is the bestselling author of several popular WWII series, including Sunrise at Normandy, Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory. Her novels have received starred reviews from BooklistLibrary Journal, and Publishers WeeklyThe Sky Above Us received the Carol Award, her bestselling The Sea Before Us received the FHL Reader's Choice Award, and both Through Waters Deep and When Tides Turn were named on Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years." Sarah lives in Northern California. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.