Carved in Stone

Carved in Stone (The Blackstone Legacy, #1)Carved in Stone by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Elizabeth Camden’s early novels, but then I read a few that didn’t interest me much. This book was a choice I picked from a reading challenge on Goodreads. I’m so glad I did! It’s a well-written story about a woman from a rich New York family in 1900 and an Irish immigrant lawyer who falls in love with her. If you know your history at all, you’ll know that the Irish were treated very poorly in New York around 1900. The chasm between her world and his was vast. How they manage to walk between the two is a beautiful story with its share of intrigue. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Season of My Enemy

Season of My Enemy (Heroines of WWII)Season of My Enemy by Naomi Dawn Musch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! It’s a beautiful picture of the world of WWII seen from the American home front. Most WWII books have to deal with the battles and/or people in Europe caught in the fighting. This story is about the people left behind who worry for their loved ones, deal with everyday sacrifices for the war effort, and try to keep their lives and livelihoods on an even keel. Fannie is one of those people, and when her only way to save the farm and feed the troops – including two of her brothers – is to hire German prisoners of war, she reluctantly concedes. And she learns what so many people eventually learn when forced to work side-by-side with the “enemy.” They are people too. Some are good, and some are bad. The trouble is telling them apart.

Boulevard of Confusion

Boulevard of Confusion (Spies of the Civil War #2)Boulevard of Confusion by Sandra Merville Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Sandra Merville Hart did a great job with this sequel to Avenue of Betrayal. In fact, I liked this one better! (But you need to read these in order, for sure.) Bea – Annie’s sister from book one – travels to visit her aunt in Richmond during the Civil War. Her family is split by the war, which is confusing to her, but we watch as she learns to balance the love of her family with her loyalties. And then comes Jay, the handsome Confederate soldier she barely remembers from her childhood visits. A beautiful balancing act develops between the two characters on their way to find – hopefully – happiness together. Can’t wait for book three to find out the rest of the story. (Read that last bit in your best Paul Harvey voice.)

The Librarian’s Journey

The Librarian's Journey: 4 Historical RomancesThe Librarian’s Journey: 4 Historical Romances by Patty Smith Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A historical romance collection themed around the packhorse librarians of the Great Depression. It’s a fun read. My favorite was For Such a Time by Patty Smith Hall. That story introduced the real-life character of Cason Callaway! (Great Lakes boatnerds will know that name!) And it was a charming story about choices in hard times. I also really enjoyed the last story, The Librarian and the Lawman by Kathleen Y’Barbo, which had a bit of a mystery to it. Well worth reading!

Chasing Shadows

Chasing ShadowsChasing Shadows by Lynn Austin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With everything going on in Ukraine, reading this account set during WWII in the Netherlands was just eerily similar to what we’re watching on the nightly news. A country overrun by the Nazis, towns overrun, bombs dropped, no food or water… it was hard to read.

But it’s a wonderful story!

Set during those horribly incredible years, it was a story of family and friends and faith. You’ll pull for the people caught up in such a terrible time, both Christian and Jewish. The setting is so well done, you feel like you’re there with the families. Austin did a fabulous job of keeping a large cast of characters all very individual, both in their backgrounds and personalities, as well as in their struggles with the situation.

I’m not a big WWI/WWII book reader, but this one is definitely worth reading.

Because Fiction Podcast

I had the pleasure of talking to Chautona Havig on her podcast, Because Fiction, a couple of weeks ago. That podcast is now live! Here’s a link to her blog: https://chautona.com/because-fiction-128/ but you can find her podcast all over the place in podcastland. And definitely subscribe to it. I discovered Because Fiction at the beginning of this year and have loved each episode. She is a bubbly and enthusiastic interviewer who knows how to draw out the author … even me!

https://chautona.com/because-fiction-128/

Moondrop Miracle

Moondrop Miracle (Windy City Hearts #1)Moondrop Miracle by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I bought a long time ago, always meant to read, and somehow didn’t get around to. Whyever did I wait so long?! It’s a wonderful story set in Chicago at the start of the Great Depression. Jennifer Lamont Leo reconstructs a country in turmoil when the money disappeared and families broke apart and people many times had to relearn how to survive.

Connie has it all, a wealthy husband she loves, a beautiful home, and the support of loving parents and a rather eccentric aunt. And then the unthinkable happens. We walk with her through the process of losing the things she most valued, only to find that sometimes the most valuable things of all are those you can’t purchase with coins.

The story is a study in courage, integrity, and a willingness to change and grow rather than give in to despair.

Avenue of Betrayal

Avenue of Betrayal (Spies of the Civil War, #1)Avenue of Betrayal by Sandra Merville Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandy Merville Hart’s Avenue of Betrayal is a look into Washington City—now known as Washington D.C.—during the early days of the American Civil War. It was a city divided, with people who were staunchly pro-Union living side-by-side with those who were fiercely pro-Confederacy. People didn’t know who to trust, sometimes even within their own families. Hart does a wonderful job of bringing that level of uncertainty and angst to the reader along with a gentle romance that must survive the secrecy and divided loyalties.

Angelina’s Resolve

Angelina’s Resolve (Village of Women #1)Angelina’s Resolve by Cindy Ervin Huff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this “what if” story. Author Huff explains that the idea came about from “what if” Horace Greeley’s “Go west, young man!” had been answered by a group of women. And while it could have been a typical “I’m as good as any man” type of drivel, it’s not. It’s a refreshingly honest look at what women could – and couldn’t – hope to accomplish on their own in the post-Civil War years. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Lumberjacks & Ladies

Lumberjacks & Ladies: 4 Historical Stories of Romance Among the PinesLumberjacks & Ladies: 4 Historical Stories of Romance Among the Pines by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really fun collection to be a part of. First, I got to write with some of my favorite authors! Second, I got to set my novella in the collection right in my own backyard. Third, I got to write a lighter, more upbeat story after digging into deep issues and harsh history in the Fort of Refuge novels.

Follow the stories of lumberjacks and their ladies as trees fell across the country from 1851 Maine to 1865 Michigan to 1881 Wisconsin to 1890 Idaho.