Book Review: “Then Sings My Soul” by Amy K. Sorrells

Nel Stewart hasn’t been home in years when her mother’s sudden death brings her back to Michigan from Arizona. Her father’s deep grief and oncoming dementia causes Nel to stay longer than she originally intended. Together, Nel and Jakob work through their present pain as well as learn to deal with their past griefs.

Using alternating story lines, Sorrells tells Jakob’s story of his escape from the Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine, a story Nel never knew. We also learn Nel’s story of why she left home and the significance of Jakob’s hobby of the lapidary arts.

I was immediately drawn into this book because of the historical descriptions of a time and place I know little about (the Ukraine and the Jewish pogroms). The use of the lapidary arts was also an interesting addition, giving insight to the characters–their backgrounds and their interests.

From the title, I thought it was going to be a book about the song, “How Great Thou Art”, but it’s not; exactly. The author explains the meaning behind the title at the end, so make sure you read that. Highly recommend!

 

 

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson

20161207_114254In Sacramento in 1853, the gold rush is on and people are coming from all over the country to try their luck. Isabelle runs a hotel and seems to be successfully overcoming a secret in her past, in spite of the loss of her beloved aunt. When a man enters her hotel in search of his slave, Isabelle becomes involved in helping and hiding slaves in this state which has no clear laws on the issues of slavery.

From Virginia, comes Alden with a twelve year old slave, Isaac. Isabelle recognizes Alden from her past, but he does not recognize her. Soon, another man from Isabelle’s past arrives in Sacramento, and Isabelle has no doubt that this man means her harm. Isabelle becomes caught between wanting to help others who are trapped in slavery and needing to save herself. Her aunt taught her to trust in God, but can she trust Him to deliver her from this evil?

This is my first book by Melanie Dobson though I have read good things about her books and have had a couple of them on my TBR for awhile. Receiving this Kindle edition gave me my excuse to read Dobson’s newest book, and I was not disappointed. I don’t remember ever reading before of California’s stance during the time of slavery or hearing of their own underground railroad, so I found the history interesting and appreciated the details Dobson brings to her story. There is romance, suspense, and colorful characters–all helping to bring together an entertaining story. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads.

Though I received a free Kindle copy through Goodreads, the review is my own.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild
The Improbability of Love
by Hannah Mary Rothschild

Patricia Gilmer‘s review

Sep 29, 2016  ·  edit
really liked it

bookshelves: library-book

Read from September 23 to 29, 2016

 

A many layered tale about a painting that a young chef, Annie, buys on a whim from a junk shop in London. Though she is working for two art dealers, she has no real interest in art, but is soon persuaded to try and find out the origins of the painting.
Meanwhile, a powerful art dealer, who built his family business as a German Jew who survived WWII, begins to desperately seek for a painting he had given a lover who unexpectedly died. Though his daughter doesn’t understand why this painting is so important to her father, she begins to search for the painting and begins to uncover the history of the painting, as well as that of her father.
Suspense, a bit of romance, an array of interesting characters, and the history of an 18th century French artist all add up to make an entertaining tale.

The Scribe’s Daughter by Stephanie Churchill

scribe's daughterThe Scribe’s Daughter is listed as a fantasy, but not the type of fairies and dragons. It reads like historical fiction, but the lands and their people are the creation of the author.

This book tells the story of 17-year old Kassia, whose mother has died and whose father has been missing for some 3 years. Kassia and her older sister are doing what they can to survive and to keep the terrifying landlord from the door, so when a stranger appears and asks Kassia to take on some metalwork, she agrees though she knows this is beyond her qualifications.

Taking on this job leads to danger and Kassia finds herself involved in political intrigue and ends up fleeing for her life. She meets new friends who help her to safety and to discovering why she is of interest to anyone.

It took me a bit to get into the story, but I enjoyed getting to know the characters and learning of their various backgrounds. The book ends with a satisfactory conclusion yet gives hints of more to come; most specifically, learning what became of Kassia’s sister. I’m hoping that there is a sequel in the works.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5518302-patricia”>View all my reviews</a>

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

 

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I picked up Secrets of a Charmed Life because I have read other books by this author and have always enjoyed them. When I realized it was “another WWII novel”, I almost put it away for another time. Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre, and I have read and enjoyed my share of WWII novels, but lately, there just seems to be a glut of books taking place in this time period in both my reading and my TBR pile of books. However, I’m very glad I decided to go ahead and read this novel. It may be “another WWII novel”, but it has its own charms (sorry!).

The story is told as an older woman looking back and telling her story, for the first time ever, to a student reporter. So, it begins in present day Oxford, but mostly takes place as a flashback to the war and the effect it had on two children who were among the ones evacuated from London to protect them from the coming Blitz.

This is a story of two sisters who are caught up in a war, their separation, and the trials they go through to find each other again. It’s a story of motherhood, sisterhood, forgiveness, and learning to live with and through our mistakes.

It’s a story of history; both personal and worldwide. As one character says of history: “What good is remembering an event if you don’t remember how it made you feel. How it impacted others. How it made them feel. You would learn nothing and neither would anyone else.”

I highly recommend this book by Meissner as well any other book she has written. Check out her other books on her website: susanmeissner.com

 

 

 

 

Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers

Leota’s Garden is not the latest by Francine Rivers, but it is new to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Leota is an 84 yr old woman, living alone, and estranged from her children. Her daughter, Nora, is very bitter towards her mother and has kept her children from getting to know her. However, Leota’s granddaughter, Annie, finds she needs to break away from her mother’s control over her life and seeks out the grandmother she has never really known.

Through getting to know her grandmother, Annie finds out the secrets of her grandmother’s past and the reasons for her mother’s misconceptions. In trying to live out her faith, Annie works to reconcile her family, helping them all to learn about love and forgiveness.

I liked this book because I could relate to the characters. I have seen how hurts and unforgiveness can be caused by not always

knowing the truth of other people’s lives. I appreciated the characters and the struggles they go through, and how Annie puts her faith into action. She has to step away from her mother’s control and stand up for herself, but she never stops loving her mother or trying to help her to understand how she feels.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Imagine a circus that just appears  in your town one day, is only open at night, and everything is in black and white. Imagine a circus that has so many tents that you will want to come every night to try and see them all. Imagine a circus that smells of caramel and cinnamon, has a bonfire that never goes out, an ice garden, and characters with names like Poppet, Widget, Celia, and Marco. Imagine the circus is gone one morning and you don’t know if it will ever be back.

I’ve never really been one for circuses, but this one is different. Why it is so different makes the story the compelling fantasy that it is. Who is really running the circus? Is it all illusion and mirrors or is there real magic involved? Is it all good or is there some kind of hidden evil involved?

Two children are trained and prepared for a trial or test. What kind of trial? How does one win? What does that have to do with the circus?

I loved this book. It has magic, love, and complicated characters. One that I wanted to finish to see how it would end, yet hated for it to be over. This is Erin Morgenstern’s first book and I hope she is working on another!