When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin – Mixed Feelings

I love reading Sarah Sundin’s historical fiction novels and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book When Twilight Breaks.  This story starts before the beginning of World War II.  Unlike her earlier WWII novels, this story is not focused on characters in the military. 

Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent for American News Service based in Munich, Germany in 1938.  She has a few strikes against her, she’s a woman, young, and will do whatever it takes to get a story.  Evelyn wants to expose the truth of what’s she’s seeing no matter whose toes she’s stepping on.  Denied the opportunity to go where the action is at, Evelyn was sent to do a softball story about American students and their experiences at the University of Munich.  It’s there that Evelyn meets Peter Lang who is working on his Ph.D. in German.  Evelyn and Peter couldn’t be much different.  He appreciates what he sees in Germany, the changes that have happened since 1932 with prosperity, no unemployment, seemingly secure and very orderly.  Peter takes a fancy to Evelyn, though it’s not mutual, he is not easily deterred.

I struggled a bit with this book.  Evelyn’s character was rather off-putting.  She came across as judgmental and a know-it-all.  I felt like I was reading a story with a modern-day woman being put in the middle of a story in the 1930’s.  Something that’s common in today’s movies and TV shows is to portray men as being inferior to women.  I almost felt like that was what I was seeing and it surprised me in a book from an author who is Christian.  Evelyn was shown to have the moral high ground in recognizing the wrong road Germany was headed down.  Peter was depicted as someone who was somewhat blind to the changing atmosphere in Germany. 

My favorite character was Peter.  Though he was slow to start seeing the growing threat to Jewish people in Germany, once he recognized it, he didn’t hesitate to try to help people who were being victimized.  He was kind, caring, patient, and ready to put his life on the line and risk everything he had worked for to help a friend in need.

I did like the secondary characters, Evelyn’s friend Elizabeth White, Herr Gold and Peter’s friends the Schreiber family, and Paul and Simone Aubrey.  There were some heartwarming and good surprises about friends as well as vile words and behavior from so-called friends. 

Regarding the Christian faith, there wasn’t a lot about faith included in When Twilight Breaks.  It was “Christian lite” on the substance of faith and the Gospel was not shared.  I think the book would have been richer if that element of the story had been developed. 

The views of men and women in this book seem to reflect a more secular view from today’s culture.  I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Evelyn.  At first, she seemed selfish and ready to put people at risk for her cause, but later she learned the importance of being interdependent and putting others first. 

It was somewhat eerie reading about the growing intolerance for people who were deemed inferior since we are beginning to see that in our own Country.  A good warning to not go down that path. 

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I liked the character Peter and grew to appreciate Evelyn’s passion to get the truth out about what was happening in Germany.  It made me think about what it must have been like for the people living in Germany, both the Jewish people who were being persecuted and the German citizens who saw what was going on.  I found it both sobering and terrifying. 

I wasn’t keen on the feminist aspects of this book, especially in light of it being written by a Christian author and published by a company that publishes Christian books and authors. 

Would I recommend When Twilight Breaks?  I like Sarah Sundin’s writing, she’s a good storyteller.  However, I think this book was not as good as some of her other books because of what felt like a feminist agenda as opposed to telling a story.  It was informative, disturbing, and interesting to see the progression of Germany going down the wrong road. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Before the Crown by Flora Harding -Interesting Read

The story begins in 1943, Elizabeth is 17 years old, and she and her sister Margaret are doing a play at Windsor Castle.  Elizabeth is peeking out from behind the curtains to see if Prince Philip is in the audience.  She has a crush on the Prince and is hoping to see him again.  The story covers the next four years of their relationship.  Was it love and romance?  Or was it a practical arranged marriage between royalty to form alliances?

I found the story interesting, especially contemplating what a young woman’s life would be like as a princess.  In many respects, as the heir apparent, her life and choices were not her own.  I’m curious to know if this fictional account captured what Elizabeth’s personality was like.  The character had a solemnity about her because of the responsibilities that she would take on in the future.  Philip was quite a contrast to Elizabeth.  Though older the character came off as somewhat immature and irresponsible.  He was pressured by family to think practically about his future and opportunities and he wavered between that and desire for freedom and to live his life how he wanted to live it.

The book started out a little slow but picked up midway.  With each scene, I got to know a little bit more about Elizabeth and Philip.  Her father, King George, was an imposing character but you don’t really get to know him apart from his interaction with Elizabeth and Philip.  It was interesting to see their lives against the backdrop of WWII and the years after the war. 

I liked Before the Crown and found this book very interesting.  I wish that the author had included information about what was true and taken from facts and information versus what was fictional.  There is some profanity in this novel.  This book makes me want to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth and get insight into this woman who has been an influential figure for 58 years. 

What I liked best about Before the Crown is that it made me think about what it must be like to come from royalty and have great responsibilities thrust upon you.  I came away with a new respect for Queen Elizabeth.  While reading Before the Crown, I found online pictures of Queen Elizabeth as a young girl from Town & Country Magazine.  It was fascinating to see pictures of Elizabeth in connection with this historical fiction account.

I found Before the Crown, by Flora Harding, very interesting and enjoyed reading it.  If you like historical fiction, romance, or have an interest in royalty you may want to read this book.

I would like to thank publisher One More Chapter and NetGalley for an opportunity to read Before the Crown by Flora Harding.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the E-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin – Loved this book and Didn’t Want It to End.

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of the writers whose work I love to read.  Her newest book, The Land Beneath Us was wonderful.  This is the third book in Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series and this book focuses on the youngest of the Paxton brothers, Clay.  Readers of the first two books, The Sea Before Us and The Sky Above Us, will already be familiar with the Paxton’s story.  But it doesn’t take away from this book because you’ll get to see things through Clay’s eyes.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Clay, Leah, and the Paxton family as well as their close friends.  The characters are decent, honest, and caring people whom I’d like to know.  They are kind, but not perfect and have areas they need to grow in.  Forgiveness is a big theme in this book.  It’s was thought-provoking to see Clay and Leah wrestle with forgiveness and see them come to the realization that though they have been wronged they too have sins they need to deal with.

I loved learning about the training and preparation the Rangers and Army went through as they prepared for D-Day.  While this is a small picture of what the men endured in WWII, it gave me a renewed appreciation for what they did as we come up to the 75th Anniversary V-E Day, May 8, 1945.  D-Day was a critical part of winning that battle.

I appreciated that the Christian faith was included in the storyline and that the book was clean and not filled with sexual immorality and vulgarity.  I found it interesting to learn what it may have been like to be an orphan growing up in the 1930s and 40s and the prejudice orphans may have faced.  I loved the courage that Clay demonstrated in battle, in relationships, and looking in the mirror at his own flaws.  Leah also demonstrated and lived out courage and chose to look at the good instead of focusing on the bad.

Though The Land Beneath Us is the 3rd book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, it would make a good stand-alone book.  The author does a good job of filling in the background of what happened with the characters in the first two books.

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin was wonderful and I was sorry to see it end.  This is a book and series I would want to read again.  I loved this book and highly recommend it.  If you haven’t read the first two books, you may want to read them as well, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Land Beneath Us.  I was supplied with a complimentary e-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham – A Pleasant and Enjoyable Read

After reading the description of Yours Truly, Thomas I found myself intrigued at the storyline and setting of Rachel Fordham’s newest book.

Following the death of her father, Penny had taken a job to support herself and her mother.  For three years she has been working as a clerk at the Dead Letters Office in Washington DC.  It’s at work that she comes across romantic letters written by a man named Thomas to a woman named Clara Finley in Alexandria.  Penny takes it upon herself to try and get the letters to Clara, only to find out that she had died in a tragic accident.  That’s just the beginning and soon Penny finds herself on a train going to a place she’s never been, Azure Spring Iowa, to try and find the man who has touched her heart through his letters to another.

I found the idea of a Dead Letters Office intriguing and how, over 135 years ago, they would have researched to try and find a recipient of an undeliverable letter.  I liked the character Penny, she was kind, thoughtful, caring and romantic.  She was also very brave, adventuresome and a bit naïve.

In the story about Thomas, there was a bit of a forgiveness and redemption theme going on.  Thomas was a better man and he changed and grew through difficult circumstances and wrong choices he had made in the past.  In this story, you can see how friendships can impact others and make a difference for good, people like Dinah, Margaret and Abraham.

The Christian faith is not an overt part of the story, but God, prayer, and providence are mentioned.  I think it would have been a richer story if faith had played a more prominent role.  The story is clean and free of sexual immorality and profanity.

Yours Truly, Thomas was a pleasant and enjoyable read.  This is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Fordham and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of Yours Truly, Thomas by Revell Publishing and NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

 

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett – A Real Gem

I love finding books by authors whose work is new to me.  I found a real gem in Karen Barnett’s new book Ever Faithful, which is the third book in the Vintage National Parks Novel series.

Reading Ever Faithful was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, the setting of the novel in Yellowstone National Park in the 1930s brings a whole different feel to the book.  The pace of the story is relaxed and enjoyable and I feel like the characters were unveiled slowly and over time the reader gets to know them.  I enjoyed the characters, even though there was a mystery and someone made bad choices, characters weren’t vilified.  Faith was a part of the storyline, especially forgiveness.

Karen does a great job in her descriptions of nature and the surroundings.  She does so without being too wordy and lets the readers imagine the beauty of the Yellowstone National Park.  It was interesting learning what the park was like 90 years ago and what it would have been like to work at the park.  I had never heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but it sounded like an excellent program to help young men during a very hard time in our Nation.  It was also a great way to introduce people from different walks of life and bring them together for the storyline and watch them grow and learn.  You can’t help but know all the research and time Karen must have put in to write this book and make the characters and setting come alive.

I loved reading Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett.  I took my time reading the book because every time I opened the book, I felt like I was taking a break and going somewhere beautiful with people I enjoyed.  I could set aside the demands of the moment and get away to a different place and time.  After reading Ever Faithful, I want to go back and Karen’s other books and look forward to her future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and WaterBrook Publishers for the opportunity to read Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Ever Faithful will be available on June 18, 2019.

 

 

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin – A Real Treasure – Fascinating Historical Fiction

I absolutely love finding a good book and I found a real treasure in The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin.  Not only did I find a really good book, but an author whose novels I want to read.

I selected The Sea Before Us based on the subject matter, World War II and D-Day.  My parents and grandfather were in the military and fought in World War II.  They were part of the greatest generation who fought with great courage to defeat Hitler.

The Sea Before Us starts out in 1941 with a young man in Texas, Wyatt Paxton, who’s in middle of circumstances that will change the trajectory of not only own his life, but his family’s as well.  Fast forward three years to London, England where readers are introduced to Dorothy Fairfax a Second Officer with the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  Wyatt and Dorothy are just two of the British and Allied forces who are working diligently to prepare maps and intelligence for the troops and their upcoming invasion of France to beat back and crush Hitler, the German forces and all those who’ve perpetrated such great evil.

The setting of the novel during World War II and the preparation for the upcoming Allied invasion was fascinating.  The author’s research and attention to detail comes through.  The characters were well written and I appreciated how their faith and personal growth was developed during the course of the story.

I highly recommend The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin, it’s an interesting book with likeable realistic characters you will want to get to know.  This author knows how to write historical fiction that will grab you and keep your attention.  I look forward to reading Sarah’s earlier work and future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sea Before Us in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.