Archives For historical fiction

“’It is about the heart and knowing the voice of the Great Good God in your spirit,’ he told them in his newborn fervor. ‘It is by His grace we are saved. By His goodness, not your own.’”
So speaks Joseph Tames-His-Horse, the Mohawk truth-teller from Lori Benton’s sweetly evocative novel, Burning Sky.

Burning Sky tells the story of Willa Obenchain, who was abducted from her family home at age fourteen in the early days of our country—when New York State was a frontier. (As an upstate New Yorker I so enjoy imagining that. Think Drums Along the Mohawk and Last of the Mohicans.) She lived with the Mohawk People until her husband died in a raid and small pox killed her children. As the novel begins, grief-stricken Willa is returning to New York to live out her days alone. However, God has other plans.

upstate new york today

Upstate New York today. My view of Catskill Mts. as I drive to work.

If Willa were a Bible character, she’d be . . .

Initially, Willa’s view of life could be summed up with Naomi’s pronouncement from the book of Ruth: “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Her story made me imagine what might have been different for Naomi had she been as young as Willa when tragedy struck. In real life, God brought new blessings to Naomi and filled up the three empty places in her heart.

The same happens for Lori Benton’s character, Willa. And her journey from brokenness to blessing, filled with adventure, romance, and grace, makes for great reading. I devoured this 300+ page story in two sittings and highly recommend it.

A section I loved  . . .

“’Sister,’ said the Indian, ‘I am called Joseph Tames-His-Horse, and I have come far to say a thing to you. In my dream of you, I was saying it. Will you let me say it now?’

For the first time she didn’t recoil at a Mohawk calling her sister. She would listen to anything this Indian had to say, as long as he said it in English. But what he said was one of the very last things she’d expected. A verse of Holy Scripture.

‘A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.’ Believe this, my sister, because He who said it is both great and good, and cannot lie.’”

burning sky 11a

Beautiful reminder, no?

Thoughts stirred by this theme: Reeds were bent and bruised not only when trodden under foot but also when used to fashion something strong and good—like a roof or basket. Though we don’t understand why griefs come as they do, we can rely on God’s promise that He will not crush His children.

Who will love this story?
  • Readers seeking faith-strengthening fiction.
  • History buffs, for sure
  • Fans of Laura Frantz, Rosslyn Elliott, Jocelyn Green, Elizabeth Camden, Colleen Coble.
  • Readers who love people of God portrayed as strong, believable characters.
  • Older teen readers on up.
  • Homeschoolers may particularly appreciate the attention to detail in capturing American frontier life of the 1780’s.

I purchased (pre-ordered even) Burning Sky after noticing comments and ads while browsing Amazon and Romantic Times. (It’s a Romantic Times Top Pick.)

***Follow this link to purchase or wish list your copy.

See more book reviews & top picks here.

Or check out my Goodreads shelves.

LoriBenton 3About the author: Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace.

You can connect with Lori at her website here and her Facebook page here.

This week I’m linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Miscellany Monday, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, The Better Mom, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Just Write, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Tuesday Muse, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Wise Woman Builds Her House, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Wednesday Hop @Adorned from Above, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Desire to Inspire,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Faithful Friday Blog Hop, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Aloha Friday Blog Hop, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, TGIF, Friday Company Girl Coffee Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Sunday Collective, and Heart Reflected.

Update: The end of this contest will come and go while I’m out of town. But I promise to email a winner on Monday! Blessings!

Part Shop Around the Corner and part Cherry Ames Flight Nurse, With Every Letter tells the story of two lonely people who find love—even though they haven’t met face-to-face.

sarah sundin with every letter 193x300

Set during World War II, the story focuses on Lt. Mellie Blake, a young woman supporting the war effort as a flight nurse, and Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an engineer doing his duty in North Africa. Though these two are brave and competent before their coworkers, they are both guarding inner vulnerabilities resulting from painful rejections in their pasts.

Mellie and Tom have learned the hard way to hide who they really are. Each believes he/she will never find that special someone who will cherish unconditionally. But even so, as anonymous pen pals, they pour out their hearts to each other. Though each can only imagine what the other looks like, with every letter they write, Tom and Mellie fall more and more deeply in love. When the time comes for them to meet, they must risk revealing all. Is their faith strong enough to see them through? . . . I could tell, but that would spoil it for you!

So Proudly We Hail

As I’ve said before, I should have been born in the 40′s. I love the clothes, the music, the movies.  And whenever I want to make a quick visit to this time period, I know I can count on author Sarah Sundin to take me there. Her latest novel reminds me of several classics: Of course, The Shop Around the Corner, where Jimmy Stewart woos his sweetheart as her secret pen pal. Also,  So Proudly We Hail, a movie about nurses serving in the South Pacific, and Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse, a favorite book from my childhood. Thanks, Sarah, not only for bringing to mind such great old stories but also for providing another wonderful drama to add to my growing list of ’40’s favorites!

Now that you’re eager to read With Every Letter, here are two ways you can get your hands on this book.  (1) I ended up with two copies. So I’m offering my extra to one lucky reader. (US only) Just leave a comment on this post to be included. (List bonus entries in that one comment.) Contest ends Thursday, September 20th. (2) Or follow this link to purchase the book. ***Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing the book for me to review.

Bonus Entries:

Follow this link to Sarah’s Kindle Fire or Nook Giveaway!

About the author: Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us was a finalist for an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

You can connect with Sarah at her website and at her Facebook author page.

This week I’m linking with The Weekend Whatever Link Up.

You know that lucky woman who gets to sneak away with a book while everyone else in the world is consumed with busyness? Maybe she relaxes in the tub or on the beach or on a deck overlooking a beautiful view. For a little while, she is removed from her own time and place and caught up in a world of dashing heroes, innocent maidens, romance, danger, intrigue . . .

Well, if that woman ever gets to be you, the experience will not be complete unless you have a Laura Frantz book in your hands!

When I began to write this review of Laura’s latest book, The Colonel’s Lady, the phrase that kept coming back to my mind was swept away.

With the first longing look between beautiful Roxana Rowan and dazzling Colonel Cassius McLinn, this novel immersed me in the period and feel of Fort Endeavor in the Kentucke Territory of 1779.

Our heroine, Roxie, is a lady of genteel birth, who travels to the fort with a ragtag group of fallen women, yet retains her innocence. She experiences the harsh realities of life and death as American soldiers wage war against both British and Indian warriors, yet retains her optimism. While others around her fall prey to the lax morals of the frontier culture, she retains her purity. And though she sometimes runs ahead of God and questions His ways, she retains her faith.

Roxana’s world is populated by colorful characters. Among my favorites were Bella, the outspoken washerwoman who takes it upon herself to become Roxie’s ladies’ maid, mentor, and unofficial life coach, and Abby, the tiny sprite of a girl who steals the hearts of everyone in the camp without uttering a word.

This story played in my mind like a lovely old movie. (from Drums Along the Mohawk)

And as for Roxana’s love interest, Colonel McLinn is an old-fashioned, hard-riding, tender with children, outspoken to the point of rudeness, angst-ridden enough to know he needs the love of a good woman, brave and upright hero.

There are just too many great scenes to mention—Roxie charming the Indian warriors, Cass and Roxie’s first dance, Cass and the Indian princess, a romantic cribbage game, and much, much more.

Sounds like your cup of tea? Then follow this link to purchase this sweeping saga for yourself. As soon as it arrives, clear your calendar, fix that cup of tea, and make yourself comfortable (see above for location suggestions).  You’re about to embark on a wonderful trip!

Meet the author: Only a special writer could find it within themselves to consistently create such sweet heroines. Laura Frantz is one of the kindest authors I’ve “met” on the internet. Follow this link to her website and get to know her better. You’ll see where her incredible stories come from.

Laura’s first book, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, is a free download for Kindle right now. It’s a lovely story with a brave, beautiful heroine and a hero who reminds me of Neil MacNeill from ChristyYou can download it here.

Giveaway: This post is the first August Giveaway Post! I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card at the end of the month. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. There will be other designated giveaway posts in the coming days to increase your chances of winning. How fun is that?!

***The Colonel’s Lady is available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to the good folks at Revell for providing a copy of this beautiful book for me to review!

I have favorite books for every mood or season of life I’ve experienced. When I rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 (on Good Reads or Amazon), I give 4’s to the novels that are well-written, suspenseful, and engaging. I save the 5’s for those books that mean something more to me.

A 5 is for a novel that has helped me grow as a person, comforted me, filled up a crack or two in my heart, or bolstered my faith in God. I think Martha by Diana Wallis Taylor earned a 5 because it did all of these things. This lovely story brought to life a woman I’ve long admired. Martha was specifically mentioned in Scripture as a friend of Jesus. He felt at home in her house, visited frequently, and trusted her to make his followers comfortable as well. I loved how the author depicted Jesus speaking to Martha’s heart and making Himself a part of her life, as in this excerpt . . .

“The disciples, enjoying a respite after long hours on the road, were in a mood to celebrate. Thomas pulled a kinnor, a small harp, from his sash and began to plunk its strings, sending a simple melody through the courtyard. Mary picked up her lyre and joined in the music. Jesus seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, his eyes dancing with the music. Martha suddenly felt like celebrating with them.

As the hour grew late, Jesus rose from the table and his disciples, ever aware of his movements, rose with him. Martha hated to see them leave. ‘Master, you are welcome to sleep here.’

Jesus at Martha’s hous

‘You are kind, Martha, and a generous hostess, but we will retire to the Mount of Olives for the night.’

‘Will you come again?’

He smiled and she was lost in the depths of his eyes. ‘I must travel a long way, but whenever we are in this area again, we will come.’

Jesus glanced to where Thomas and Mary were talking quietly. ‘I believe at least one of my disciples has good reason to return also.’ His eyes danced and Martha was filled with love for him—not the love she’d known with Thaddeus, but a holy love, deep and abiding. It didn’t matter what others said about him. She knew who he was.”

The author created a beautiful inner voice for Martha. I found myself hurting with her as she bids farewell to loved ones, struggles to release cherished dreams, and prepares to embrace a solitary life. The peace that Jesus gives Martha felt real to me. Both those who have experienced that peace—as well as those who are seeking it—will enjoy this novel.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the happy ending Diana Wallis Taylor imagined for her sweet main character. Did it happen that way for Martha in real life? Someday I’ll ask her!

***Available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Revell for providing my review copy of this book. Don’t miss this uplifting story! Follow this link to purchase your copy.

July Giveaway Contest: At the end of July, I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one fortunate commenter. All you need to do to be entered is comment on any eligible post up until July 31st. (I will label the contest posts.) I will then submit all names to the Random Number Generator to determine a winner. I will submit your name as many times as you comment, but you also have a great chance of winning by commenting on just one post! Today’s post is the First Contest Post.

***So feel free to comment and also tell me if you’d like to be included in the drawing. Or you could just leave a comment to say hello. (We bloggers love that!)

Journey to the Well: You can order Diana’s first book from at this link.

About the author: Diana Wallis Taylor lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California. Between them they have six grown children and ten grandchildren. She serves on the board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild and is active in Christian Women’s Fellowship. Follow this link to visit Diana’s website.