31 October 2013

The Tenth Witness by Leonard Rosen, Book review

Publisher: Permanent Press (August 16, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1579623197


On the night of October 9, 1799, the frigate HMS Lutine breaks apart on the shoals of the Frisian Islands off the Dutch coast. When the insurer Lloyds of London pays on the wreck, it takes ownership and plans expeditions to recoup the lost millions in gold and silver. Nearly two hundres years later, after a series of largely failed salvage operations, Lloyds tries again - this time on the strength of new technologies and a strategy devised by the gifted young engineer Henri Poincare.

It is late spring, 1978. Poincare has worked to near-exhaustion preparing for the Lutine dive. Before the salvage season begins, he takes a rare holiday: a hike at low tide across the vast, muddy flats of the Wadden Sea. His guide is Liesel Kraus - smart, able, appealing...and troubled. She and her brother Anselm, directors of Kraus Steel, are haunted by a violent history that generates both rage and an enormous, corrupting wealth. The closer Poincare draws to Liesel and Anselm, the more warped life becomes until love and a death threat compel him to investigate what no one else - aside from Interpol - will. Pain as well as treasure, he discovers, can be dredged up from the past to reshape the present.

The Tenth Witness, a prequel to the award-winning All Cry Chaos, is the tale of a man upended: a twenty-eight year old who rejects a brilliant career in engineering for an uncertain, darker one: international police work.

(Frigate HMS Lutine - Source HERE)

Here are my thoughts:

With such a synopsis my imagination went soaring and I just had to read 'the rest of the story'! Amazingly I won this novel (I enter ONLY for books and rarely am blessed with a win but this one I would have loathed to miss!)

The Tenth Witness is the second novel by this gifted author and as a reader who thrives on historical details and action, I was rewarded with a most proficiently crafted plot! Leonard Rosen takes you on an international ramble from the flats of the Wadden Sea to Hong Kong to Germany. From the onset you get the feeling there is a captivating stratum to this multi layered story and it is hard to put the book down. 

For those of you familiar with Rosen's first novel All Cry Chaos, the protagonist Henri Poincare is shown in his earlier years, showcasing how he went from a successful engineering career to being recruited by Interpol. And as a quick note, this second novel stands just as well alone!

Betwixt diving for treasure on the sea floor or building engineering marvels, our hero discovers a hidden talent for solving mysteries and intrigues. Meeting troubled Liesel Krause leads him to uncover WW2 unethical business practices which profited so many, including her father. 
Despite his rising attraction to the young and beautiful Liesel, Henri finds himself unwilling to ignore her family involvement in the running of a Nazi labor camp and is searching for the tenth witness of a post war trial in which her father Otto Krause was exonerated.

Somehow we face an intricate tableau where Hitler's final solution is helped out by civilians with the assistance of worldwide organizations thus enabling Nazis criminals to evade punishment. Confronted with this bitter reality Henri Poincare decides to follow a dangerous path, and seek justice for those who no longer can!

Rich in historical and geographical specifics, this unforgettable novel has everything you want in a great mystery and will have you clamoring for more! 

5 Stars!!

Note: Recommended for mature readers due to language and reality contents.

About the Author:

Leonard Rosen grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he taught high school English. Graduate studies in literature followed, and he went on to a university teaching career.  Len writes full time now in the Boston area.  He has contributed radio commentaries to Boston’s NPR station, written best-selling textbooks on writing, and taught writing at Harvard University and Bentley University.  

The Tenth Witness is a prequel to his (Award winning) first novel, All Cry Chaos!

For more information on this author visit his website (HERE)

Note to Readers: Chance was with me as I won this autographed ARC from the author as mentioned earlier! Thank you Mr. Rosen! 

Please note a review was not requested and any opinion reflected in this post is entirely my own!

Tonight Is The Night...

Walt Disney Home Video
Run Time: 96 minutes
rated: PG

Tonight is the night....All Hallows' Eve...
I am sure most of you are familiar with Hocus Pocus, a classic! We see it ourselves each year!

Meet the Sandersons witches, Winifred, Sarah and Mary:

Winifred: "-Therefore, it stands to reason, does it not sisters dear? That we must find the book, brew the potion and suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise. Otherwise it's curtains. We evaporate! We cease to exist! Dost thou comprehend?
Sarah: -You explained it beautifully, Winnie. The way in which you started out with the adventure part and slowly...
Mary: - Explained what?
Winifred: - Come, we fly! "

Now what have I done with my other shoe??

Have a safe Halloween everyone!

29 October 2013

In Thoughts and Prayers...

(Source HERE)

Like many we have been listening to the BBC to hear how family and friends are faring in 99mph winds in Britain. At this time it is also known that the storm has hit the Continent and caused much havoc overthere as well and more has yet to come!

More information (HERE) and (HERE).

Sending thoughts and prayers to all on Blogland! May you and your families be safe!
God speed!

Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith, Book review (AND GIVEAWAY!)

Publisher: B&H Kids (October 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1433680458


From best-selling women’s author Angie Smith (I Will Carry You, Mended) comes this sweet children’s book about a stuffed animal named Audrey Bunny who fears her imperfections make her unworthy of a little girl’s love. She'll learn the truth soon enough, and young readers will learn that everyone is special and wonderfully made by God.

Note to Readers: Great news!  Audrey Bunny is now #1 in Christian Children's Books at Amazon.com!

Here are my thoughts:

By far one of the most meaningful children stories I have read in a long time, AUDREY BUNNY reminded me immediately of another time, another little girl and her own bunny...This review is for us Dearest...

Lovingly illustrated by talented Breezy Brookshire this story reminds us that whilst we might have some imperfections, we are all children of God and loved!

AUDREY BUNNY will capture each child's imagination (Warning: as a direct result, parents might find themselves buying a soon to be much loved stuffed friend!) as we see that Caroline knew exactly what she wanted when stepping in the toy shoppe! 
Loved at first sight, AUDREY BUNNY is so happy to be adopted by Caroline but very much afraid her own imperfection once discovered means she will be rejected.

My favourite moment:
'Bunny peeked over the animals in the barrel. It was her! It was the same little girl from a few days ago. She straightened her ears as high as they would go and squeezed her eyes shut as the little girl walked in her direction. She was too nervous to look. Could today be the day she got picked?'

Author Angie Smith finds just the right words to reassure little ones (and big ones) that we are special in our own way!

An amazing work of love, geared for 4 to 8 years old, it is a story you will treasure and hopefully share with all your loved ones! This one Folks is meant to be on a special shelf to be read over and over!

5 Stars!! 
Note to Readers: This is # 2 in my list of favourite Holiday gifts!

About the Author:

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah), best-selling author of MendedI Will Carry You, and What Women Fear, and one of the most popular speakers and blog writers in the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental
Psychology from Vanderbilt University.

 Here are the best news: One lucky reader will receive a copy of AUDREY BUNNY thanks to the generosity of the Author and FlyBy Promotions!

All you have to do is place a comment on this post and tell me you would like to see your name added into the hat!
Random.org will be used to chose a winner! 
Winner's name will be published on 4 October 2013 and contacted via email - never published - Be sure to include your email in the following (or similar) format 123[at]yahoo[period]com

Thank you for entering and Good Luck! 

I received a copy of this title from FLYBY PROMOTIONS as part of their blogger review program.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

28 October 2013

Erma Bombeck Had It Right!

Life is just a bowl of cherries...or so I thought! I even imagined I was the only one 'in the pits' but not so!
Erma Bombeck had it right: If Life is supposed to be a bowl of cherries, why am I in the pits?

I think all of us are  familiar with the saying but have we read this down to earth and very witty author's writing? Not in my case so I will have to remedy this asap!  It definitively applies here, trust me without my boring you with all the details!

Since we have already lost the power twice whilst I wrote this post I am rushing to publish it as fast as I can!

Autumn has showned its face on our island with much marine fog, stormy weather and dreary skies!
To those of you who have shared the wonderful colours of Fall elsewhere, thank you! Indian summers are so beautiful!
A pod of whales swam nearby, seagulls are following what must be a rather large school of herrings and seals are seen bopping along the shore.

An idyllic life if it weren't for a series of mishaps one after the other starting with our Corgi being bitten by a rather nasty spider on 4th October! 
One emergency evacuation (in a skiff since we were in dry dock!) to an animal hospital followed by around the clock care, followed by another visit to our regular Vet for what appears to be the result of scratching (it's a dog people!), more shaving (we now nicknamed him Scarface) another round of antibiotics, antibacterial spray and finally the ignominy of wearing a (cone of infamy) collar...

Thanks to a kindred spirit (Meet Bailey Bear and his human HERE), Mac did not have to wear one of those stiff plastic collar (we are talking Corgis here Folks, short on legs!) and is now sporting (day and night) the latest apparatus for keeping oneself from scratching (at least for dogs!).

Below a recap if you missed it the first time:


And here is Mac (so depressed we called the Vet today...Going back on 4 November!)

I believe God never gives to anyone more than he or she can handle but I also believe He is more of an optimist than I am! 
Right now, I am going to hide in a book, grab a chocolate (or two) and try to forget our woes!
Meet you here tomorrow with the first of a series of great reviews, including a GIVEAWAY Mums and Grandmother's won't want to miss!

27 October 2013

Kindred Spirits...

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

(Anne - with an E - of Green Gables) 

Circumstances have kept me from posting many reviews but I am catching up so prepare yourselves for some great novels and even giveaways.

I have found many kindred spirits on Blogland and always enjoy visiting them. If I have failed to stop by, please forgive me! I don't always have time to leave a comment but I try.

Wishing each and everyone a splendid weekend!

24 October 2013

The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons, Book review

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (September 3, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1626360747


The Kindertransport and the escape from Nazi Germany to the United Kingdom, grippingly depicted and revealed through the eyes of a little girl.

This powerful, meticulously researched novel is a moving tale of one girl’s struggle against a world in turmoil. In 1930s Berlin, choked by the tightening of Hitler’s fist, the Klein family is gradually losing everything that is precious to them. Their fifteen-year-old daughter, Rosa, slips out of Germany on a Kindertransport train to begin a new life in England. Charged with the task of securing a safe passage for her family, she vows that she will not rest until they are safe. But as war breaks out and she loses contact with her parents, Rosa finds herself wondering if there are some vows that can’t be kept.

A sweeping tale of love and loss, with the poignant story of the Kindertransport at its heart, this is an exceptional accomplishment from one of Britain’s bravest and most-vibrant young writers.

Here are my thoughts:

A powerfully written novel from a dynamic (and most promising) young author, The English German Girl brings us in Part One a poignant view of the years leading to the Nazis excluding anyone connected with the Jewish race and Judaism from society. 
There is nothing more excruciating for a parent than having to chose who will live and who will remain behind, a decision the Klein's family along many others made in the thirties.
Jake Wallis Simons goes a step further as we discover in Part Two of his book as we follow Rosa Klein now Rosa Clark in wartime England and even beyond Victory Day!

The Kindertransport carried hundred of youngsters to 'safer' lands but as we see eventually, some were too late.
I must first point out I have never read a more thorough detailed recount of the reluctance of so many families to acknowledge the political growing danger or their eventual despair when they realize they are being stripped of their citizenship and their rights to live, just live!
Imagine being told you can no longer be a tenant or buy food or go out, sit on a park bench,  work or...the list goes on!

In this remarkable novel Jake Wallis Simons tells us of fifteen year old Rosa Klein leaving her beloved Germany to join other evacuees en route to England and what happens to her in the ensuing years. 
Much praise should be given to the author for taking particular attention to not capitalize on sensationalism but instead providing a thoughtful and accurate idea of the period as well as a capital storyline. An impressive achievement indeed!

Rosa's life is one of a survivor and you cannot but hold your breath, turn yet another page whilst immersing yourself in every aspect of the emotional roller coaster she endures even when a ray of sunshine appears!
Be prepared for a lesson in courage and a bittersweet reminder that Rosa was lucky and given a chance at life when so many did not!

(UK cover, with details far more accurate!)

Folks, this is one time when I wish I could give it more than its 5 stars!

About the Author:

(Photo source HERE)

A versatile journalist, speaker and writer Jake Wallis Simons was born in London in 1978, graduated with a first in English from St Peter’s College, Oxford, and went on to gain a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Jake is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, and a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University.

Jake is a regular contributor to From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary Crouching Low, Hidden Camera: Life as a Private Investigator.
His novels include the award-winning The English German Girl (2011), The Pure (2012), and The Exiled Times of a Tibetan Jew (2005), which was an Independent on Sunday Book of the Year. His next novel, Jam, which is set in a traffic jam on the M25, is due to be published in March 2014.

Vist his website (HERE) for more information!

Note to Readers: This was a library loan, a review was not requested and this post reflects ONLY my opinion!

23 October 2013

Reach for the Stars and Change the World

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."

(Harriet Tubman)

20 October 2013

The Spiritual World Of The Hobbit by James Stuart Bell, Book review

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (September 15, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0764210204


From the Back Cover

Find Wisdom and Inspiration in One of the Greatest Adventures Ever Told

Let this book be your guide as you discover hidden truths embedded in J.R.R. Tolkien's epic adventure. As one of the bestselling books of the last hundred years, and now a blockbuster movie, the magical charm of The Hobbit has delighted millions. But there is a spiritual dimension that will strike an even deeper chord. The Spiritual World of the Hobbit will take you behind the scenes, revealing Tolkien's beliefs and motivations. From there it will walk you step-by-step through the story itself, uncovering powerful themes of providence, mercy, and courage that are as important in our own lives today as they were to the hobbits in Middle-Earth.

As you take a closer look at this timeless tale of good vs. evil, you will be filled with wonder once again. For you will see that at the heart of The Hobbit, Tolkien embedded images of faith and spiritual longing that are sure to inspire us all.

"Bell not only navigates the reader capably around the Shire, but also motivates the literary-minded reader to learn more about Middle-earth and its Christian themes." --St. Anthony Messenger
"As a self-proclaimed nerd and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy, I was excited to read this well-worn, but fresh peek into the world of Tolkein, Bilbo and Gandalf in The Spiritual World of the Hobbit by James Stuart Bell. Each chapter is packed with parallel insight, describing the world of Middle Earth and the spiritual underpinning behind not only how The Hobbit was written, but why certain characters and places were written the way they were. There are several great quotes and insights on writing from Tolkien himself throughout the book, and Bell does a wonderful job of offering character profiles for each of the main character(s) from Bilbo to Gandalf to the elves, dwarves and goblins. Each profile tells us the character, how each was written into the story, and the spiritual significance in Tolkein's allegorical world.

If you are a fan of Middle Earth, you'll love the book. If you are a youth worker who wants to make the movie (or the cartoon version) The Hobbit a focus for discussion or lessons, you'll love this book. There is more information than you can use in a mid-week gathering, but if you read through and do only the character studies, this would a make a cool 6-week small group study to go along with the book and/or movie. I may have learned more than I needed to know about the spiritual significance of The Hobbit, but I am not complaining about it and you won't either. Huzzah!"   --Youthworker Journal

Here are my thoughts:

I'll admit it, I am a big fan of J. R. Tolkien's work and found 'The Spiritual World Of The Hobbit' both entertaining and informative!  

Bell's extensive knowledge of Tolkien's writing clearly demonstrates the author's deep understanding of biblical events and characters and provides many scriptures for reference. 
Personally to decipher the motivation of each of the key players in these well known stories,  from the Dwarfs, Elves, Goblins to Smaug the dragon was an unprecedented experience!

So be ready to be inspired and 'step into the Shire' as you study more closely this tale of good vs evil! 
Divided in two parts, 'Behind the scenes' and 'Between the pages' the author invites us to seek a better understanding of The Hobbit which albeit different from such as The Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion both in style and tone, is every bit the work of a staunch Christian! 

Don't be misguided by the cover (or by the cinematographic version of these stories!), Bell's insight on the true meaning behind the original storyteller's concept: "The best stories contain a moment that catches readers, even changed through the story's power" is spot on!

Consider The Spiritual World of The Hobbit as the ideal companion to the original stories of Middle-Earth created by Tolkien.

Well worth checking out (and a keeper in my case!)  
5 Stars!!

About the Author:

James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. 
He is the editor of many story collections, including the Cup of Comfort series, the compiler of From the Library of Charles Spurgeon and From the Library of C. S. Lewis, and the coauthor or author of several books, including Inside the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Complete Idiot's Guide to the World of Narnia.

I received a paperback copy of this title from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS as part of their blogger review program . I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

18 October 2013

Halloween Merrymaking by Diane C. Arkins, Book review

Publisher: Pelican Publishing (September 30, 2004)
ISBN-13: 978-1589801134

(From the inside flap)

"October, the golden month, when Nature having reaped a wonder harvest of beauty, wastes it like a spendthrift for our joy! What hostess can fail of success in entertaining this month when there are autumn leaves, flowers, 'golden glorious,' and vines flushing with crimson, to bedeck the table?" --The Housekeeper, October 1910 For late-October revelers, Halloween has traditionally been filled with surprise. 
Contemporary readers, though, might be amazed to discover how vastly differently this popular holiday was celebrated in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Halloween observances staged between the late 1870s and the early 1930s--a period often referred to as the holiday's "Golden Age"--routinely boasted decorations gleaned from nature, clever homemade party favors, winsome (not gruesome) masquerade attire, and intriguing old, old-fashioned games that were often designed to divine the identity of one's future mate. 
Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past offers a fascinating glimpse at material from a vast assortment of the vintage party guides and magazines that guided intrepid hostesses in their quests to stage parties worthy of the holiday's reputation for mystery and fun. 
Filled with illustrations and mementos, Halloween Merrymaking pays splendid tribute to the imaginative festivities of yesteryear. 
Here are my thoughts:

A nostalgic look on past All Hallows Eve's revelries, Diane C. Arkins 'Halloween Merrymaking' shows a different side to the Halloween we know these days, one which reflects surprisingly wholesome mirth and seasonal frolic in a classic setting! 
In October 1914 The Woman's Magazine  printed for their readers the following:
"Of all the months of the year, October is the most charming one in which to entertain and of all the nights in the year the thirty first of October is the most fascinating one to choose for a party. It presents so many alluring possibilities that no hostess need worry about the question of decorations, amusements or menu."

Halloween just happens to be my daughter's favourite holiday (despite some grumbling from her Dad's corner!) so when I spotted this book on a library shelf, my interest in vintage facts made it impossible for me to walk away! 
Readers, this is a marvelous edition of true Halloween merrymaking! I could not hold off posting this review as I hope many of you will have the opportunity to peruse more closely Diane's book!

Diane C. Arkins introduces readers to a whole spectrum of All Hallow's Eve past festivities. Far from the ghoulish and often scary atmosphere often associated with this holiday today, her tasteful illustration of merrymaking shows fun frolic, ingenious party decorations, costumes and food to please one and all, be they children or adults! 

With great care the author gives a marvelous look into the past using vintage magazines and party guides you will delight in discovering! 
Who would have thought such exquisite details were once undertaken to celebrate a holiday still known for mystery and fun gatherings? 
From how to personalize your invitations to decorate the haunted halls, set the perfect Halloween table including prepare food with a side of fun and individuals favours with a twist, you will enjoy discovering a whole new meaning to the 31st of October frolics!

Filled with countless memorabilia this book is a treasure you will delight in sharing with family and friends for years to come and a great source of inspiration for those classy parties you are dying to hold!
P.S. Here is a quiz for you: Do you know what a bogie* is or luggies**? (scroll down for answers)

5 Stars!!

Note to Readers: Diane C. Arkins is also the author of 'Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear'!

About the Author:

Diane C. Arkins began her career as a freelance writer at the age of nineteen by publishing feature articles in Seventeen, Co-Ed, and Woman's Day magazines. In 1988, her work began to appear in the Chicago Sun-Times. 
After earning a BS in journalism from Northern Illinois University, she continued her writing endeavors by publishing magazine and newspaper stories while employed full time at the offices of the Australian Consulate-General in Chicago.

Arkins' “Home Truths” humor column appeared in the Homelife real estate section of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1988 through 2000. Her work has appeared on the Op-Ed pages of numerous major daily newspapers, including a stint as a regular contributor to USA Today. Arkins has written for Country Living, Victoria, Family Circle, Brides, Country Collectibles, Country Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman's World, Antiques & Collecting Magazine, and a wide variety of other publications.

Arkins has a passion for animals, gardening, and collecting vintage images, early illustrated postcards, and holiday memorabilia. 

(Source HERE

A gypsy fire is on the hearth,
Sign of the carnival of mirth,
Through the dun fields and from the glade,
Flash merry folk in masquerade,
For this is Hallowe’en! 

(Author unknown)

Note to Readers: This was a library loan. A review was not requested by either author or publisher and  reflects MY opinion only!

*Bogie: Hobgoblin
** Luggies: Fortune-vessels, so called after small bowls resembling Druids lamps.

15 October 2013

A Christmas Gift For Rose by Tricia Goyer, Book review And GIVEAWAY

Publisher: Zondervan (September 24, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0310336785


Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War
II---only to discover she's an Englischer herself.
Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work.
Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own
When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.


Here are my thoughts:

With her Liberator series* to my thinking, Tricia Goyer proved to be a formidable author and her novels reflects a deep faith along great research! That said, I have enjoyed far more other authors' Amish novels as you will have noticed by my reviews here. 
A Christmas Gift For Rose however struck a special cord with me and I was only too happy to make the cut as a reviewer for this particular title! 
Christmas is on the horizon Folks!

Whilst stationed overseas Jonathan wrote to Rose: "I'll be back in Berlin before Christmas Rose. Let's not wait until next harvest to get married."

Thanksgiving - Berlin, Ohio 1945: Rose has endured the murmurs behind her back from neighbours and friends, even the Bishop has visited to express his concerns about Jonathan volunteering to go overseas and serve as a Medic and perhaps already determined to leave their community.
Despite Jonathan's assurance he has not carried a weapon and cared only for the wounded, it is quite conceivable he will no longer fit in the Amish circle and Rose will not speak to him.

With Thanksgiving celebrations and WW 2 now over, Rose and her family offers prayers for the many families who lost their loved ones during the conflict and for those soldiers who came home carrying the heavy burden of the horrors they have witnessed on the battlefields.
After meeting with a nearby Englisher neighbour, she realizes the reasoning behind Jonathan's involvement and lets him back in her life.

For years Rose has experienced nightmares and her Mem worries she might stumble on a secret which would devastate their family. When Mem reveals Rose is an Englisher, she feels her whole life is a sham and she is desperately trying to figure where she belongs. Perhaps like Jonathan, she no longer fits in their community!
Distressed, Rose shares with Jonathan her findings albeit his reaction is not exactly what she anticipated!

A journey of love, faith and sacrifice, A Christmas Gift For Rose is a beautiful story set in the Amish community in the aftermath of WW2.

Don't miss it! A great gift for Amish aficionados and well worth 5 stars!

* Note to Readers: three of my favourite books are by this author:
  -  From Dust and Ashes
  -  Night Song 
  -  Dawn of a Thousand Nights

About the Author:

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and "Lead Your Family Like Jesus," (co-written with Ken Blanchard). 
She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. 
She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show.

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her first Christmas novella,  
A Christmas Gift for Rose
with a  
Christmas Gift giveaway! 

Enter to win a NEW Kindle Fire HDX for you AND one for a friend!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX and one to give away to a friend!
  • A Christmas Gift for Rose, by Tricia Goyer for you and your friend!
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Christmas Gift for Rose Christmas pack (includes a recipe card, bookmark, a signed book plate, discussion questions, and a Gathering & Giving handout!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. All winners will be announced October 21st at Tricia's blog

Don't miss a moment of the fun!

 Enter today and be sure to visit Tricia's blog on the 21st to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

I received a hardback copy of this title from LITFUSE as part of their blogger review program . I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

The Light In The Ruins by Chris Bohjalian, Book review

Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (July 9, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0385534819


From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.

1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.

Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

Here are my thoughts:

A New York bestseller, Chris Bohjalian has carved a name for himself on the famous list choosing often tragic moments in our history as the backdrop of his novels. I have not yet read 'The Sandcastle Girls' (a love story set amidst the Armenian genocide) but it features on my list! 

The Light In The Ruins is my first book by this author and whilst his gripping storytelling takes a little getting used to, it is none the less worth checking out. I must warn you however parts of the story are not for the squeamish! Personally I concentrated on the rest of the story preferring to ignore the gruesome details of the murders. 

Alternating betwixt the 1943 and 1955 periods of Italy's troubled times, the author draws a stunning psychological thriller and for those of you who anticipate lots of action, there are much of that in this story! Furthermore, the alternate 'voice' (in bold letters in the novel) of the killer is quite chilling!

The noble lineage of the Rosati family sets them apart in the Florence countryside yet like all their countrymen they suffer greatly during WW2. There is an uneasy relationship betwixt Axis allies and the Rosatis walk a very fine line, entertaining German officers even when supplies are scarce whilst resenting their presence and those of Black shirts (Fascists)  . 
An archaeologist, their eldest son Vittore is working with the Germans 'relocating' ancient artifacts for preservation. An ancient Etruscan site found decades earlier on his family land calls the attention of the SS in their constant search for Aryan roots.

By 1943, their family is torn apart with Italy surrendering to the invading Allies and the full force of German occupation hits them hard. There is little food to be had, their home is requisitioned and they have no news of their youngest son, an Italian officer in charge of securing Sicily's beaches.

Love blooms however for their younger daughter who meets a young Wehrmacht officer at the dismay of  her family. For Cristina, life revolves around her family, her lover and her horses.

It is now 1955, two hideous crimes are being committed, the victims related and Serafina the young detective in charge of the investigation remembers another time, another place: A damp place redolent with mushroom smells and a fresco showing a young boy rowing a boat...

Clearly the author knows his craft and if ghastly murders are to your taste, you will find this novel entertaining. 
Whilst the 1943 period rendering is faultless, I found however the depiction of the 1950's in Italy lacking somewhat in details. 
Finally with its definite allegory (Dante's Inferno), marginal events are left unclear, the ending a little too pat and disappoints.

I give it 4 stars.

(Etruscan artifacts)

About the Author:

Chris Bohjalian's new novel, The Light in the Ruins, arrived in July 2013. It's the tale of two young women in war-ravaged Tuscany in 1943 and 1944, one a partisan and one a noblewoman in love with a German lieutenant.
Another recent novel, The Sandcastle Girls, was published in July 2012 to great acclaim. A love story set in the midst of the Armenian Genocide, it debuted at #7 on the New York Times bestseller list, and appeared as well on the Publishers' Weekly, USA Today, and national Independent Bookstore bestseller lists.
USA Today called it "stirring. . .a deeply moving story of survival and enduring love." Entertainment Weekly observed, "Bohjalian - the grandson of Armenian survivors - pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance." And the Washington Post concluded that the novel was "intense. . .staggering. . .and utterly riveting."

Visit his website (HERE)

Note to Readers: This was a library loan. This review was not requested and offers ONLY my opinion!