Book Review: Under The Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson

under the midnight sky tracie peterson book review

Synopsis:

Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated.

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishing

  • Published: 01/2019

  • Pages: 315

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.43 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 1/2 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings

Tea: Huckleberry Tea

Coffee: Espresso


And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
— 1 John 3 23-24

Why I Chose This Book

I absolutely adore this series. Tracie knows how to write a series that hooks you in from the start. I have been looking forward to reading the final book in this series and happy I finally had the chance to read it!

First Initial Thoughts

Tayler is a young lady who just graduated college with a degree in Botany and plans to be a naturalist and interpreter. We start the story with her as a young teenager on a camping trip with her Father. She absolutely adores her father and is what we call a “daddy’s girl”. He takes her fishing, camping, and hiking despite her mother’s pleas not too. We also are introduced to her brother and his friend, Emerson. Emerson is smitten on Tayler. And Tayler likes him too or at least she thinks she does.

As the story moves forward 10 years we find out that her father just passed away. We also find out that Emerson is not a good man. I won’t spoil the reasons but let’s just say he is an a'*!!H.

Tayler has a new position in Yellowstone but her mother and Emerson has other plans. Ever since her father passed away her mother has been acting odd. Emerson wants to marry her but Tayler absolutely does not want to marry him due to his past. Tayler finds it odd that they are both pressuring her so hard on this marriage - and her mother is being quite mysterious about her unusual actions and friendship with a new man.

We met Thomas in the previous story and in this story Thomas is all grown up and has returned from college. He is now working with Allen as a tour guide for the hotel guests. The hotel is increasingly getting more and more guests and tour requests. Because of this they need to hire more experts in the field. Thomas was quite surprised that Tayler was the new hire - at first we think it’s because she is a woman but we find out the real reason later on.

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

Setting

This series is entirely set within the Curry Hotel and surrounding area. The Curry Hotel was a real hotel in the early 20th century and very popular with the wealthy. Before National Parks were accessible to everyone, only the elite and wealthy were able to afford and visit the national parks. I have always wanted to visit Alaska, and this story brings the beauty of that state alive. Tracie does such a great job immersing us into the environment and what it was like to operate a hotel during that time.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Final Thoughts

This is the third book in the series. I felt that it could be read as a standalone in the series. However, they did bring in characters from the previous two books, so it may be slightly confusing. Though I definitely think you could read it without reading the other two books first.

Tayler grew a lot throughout this story. Not only did she have to let go of the thought that all men are spiteful but she had to learn to forgive Emerson and her Mother. This is a huge lesson we all have to go through a few times in our lives. I also liked the fact that Tracie mentioned the fact that running away doesn’t solve the issue. Tayler ran away from home to Yellowstone without resolving her issues. We all have to learn how to forgive and love those around you - even your enemies.

Thomas, the other main character in the story, he also had to learn to forgive. I liked that Tayler and Thomas were so similar to each other even though they grew up in completely different backgrounds. They both had similar circumstances in regards to their relationships prior. I think that helped them connect on a deeper level as they both could relate.

This series wrapped up so nicely and it was nice to get closure on all the character’s stories. I am kind of sad though that we won’t get an update on all the characters after all the events. But that is what our imagination is for!

Would I Recommend?

Yes! I would definitely recommend reading the other two books first, however. Anyone interested in Alaska and nature will absolutely adore this series.


You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you been to Alaska? If so, share your thoughts/experiences in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Book Feature & Giveaway: Song of Songs by Marc Graham

song of songs marc graham book feature giveaway

Synopsis:

Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife and mother of Israel’s first kings.

When Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father’s titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people’s survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people’s prosperity.

On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?


  • Publication Date: April 16, 2019

  • Blank Slate Press

  • Paperback; 400 Pages

  • Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Author

Marc Graham

Marc Graham studied mechanical engineering at Rice University in Texas, but has been writing since his first attempt at science fiction penned when he was ten. From there, he graduated to knock-off political thrillers, all safely locked away to protect the public, before settling on historical fiction. His first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, was published in March 2017.

He has won numerous writing contests including, the National Writers Assocation Manuscript Contest (Of Ashes and Dust), the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest – Historical (Of Ashes and Dust, Song of Songs), and the Colorado Gold Writing Contest – Mainstream (Prince of the West, coming from Blank Slate Press in Fall 2019).

He lives in Colorado on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to writing, he is an actor, narrator, speaker, story coach, shamanic practitioner, and whisky afficianado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage or studio, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found hiking with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Connect With Marc:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away two paperback copies of Song of Songs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Purchase Links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Song of Songs! Good luck if you entered the giveaway!

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Note: I am participating in the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour for this book. However, I am not being compensated to promote this book.

Book Review: A Silken Thread by Kim Vogel Sawyer

a silken thread kim vogel sawyer book review

Synopsis:

For readers who love a heartwarming romance and a rich historical setting comes a tale of a young woman with a heavy burden, the International Cotton Exposition, and the pursuit of true love.

Eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard, youngest of seven children, is expected to stay home and "take care of Mama" by her older siblings, but Laurel has dreams of starting her own family. Operating a silk loom at the Atlanta Exposition will give her the chance to capture the heart of a man wealthy enough to take care of Laurel and any children she might bear, as well as her mother.

Langdon Rochester's parents have given him an ultimatum: settle down with a wife or lose his family inheritance. At the Exposition, Langdon meets Laurel. Marrying her would satisfy his parents's command, she would look lovely on his arm for social events, and in her besotted state, he believes she would overlook him continuing pursuing rowdy adventures with his unmarried buddies. Langdon decides to woo Laurel. Willie Sharp is not well-off and must take on an extra job at the Atlanta Exposition as a security guard. When mischief-makers cause trouble in the Women's Building, Willie is put in charge of keeping the building secure. He enjoys visiting with Laurel, who seems like the little sister he never had, but his feelings for Laurel change to something much deeper. Can Willie convince Laurel that he can give her better life--even with so little to offer?

  • Genre: Christian Historical Romance/Fiction

  • Published: 4/2/2019

  • Publisher: Waterbrook Press

  • Pages: 352

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.47 Stars

a silken thread kim vogel sawyer review
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
— Luke 6:31

Why I Chose This Book

I was kindly sent a copy of this book from the publisher. I absolutely adore Kim’s books. They always make me feel good and all fuzzy inside. They are good wholesome books.

First Initial Thoughts

Laurel is a 18 year old who’s family asks her to take care of her mother who is aging. I really felt bad for Laurel because her siblings were quite rude about the request. Specifically blaming her that because their mother had her late that she was responsible for taking care of their mother. Laurel and her mother are weavers and have a business where they make rugs. She gets a job as a weaver at the cotton exposition that is coming to Atlanta for the fall.

Willie is a factory worker barely scraping by taking care of his father who recently suffered a stroke. He can not talk and has motor issues. He then gets a job at the cotton exposition as a security guard- specifically because he needs the extra money for his father to go to Rehab.

Quincy is Willie’s best friend and an African American. He gets a job as a groundskeeper as well at the exposition. This book is taken place during 30 years after the Civil War. In the south tensions were still high between the whites and blacks. There were still strong opinions about the war and I liked that Kim pointed this out in the book.

Langdon is the son of the man who opened the cotton exposition. He is quite annoyed with his son for not having any aspirations. I didn’t really like him from the start. He just seemed to complain just about anything, especially having to actually work.

Setting

I have ever only been to Atlanta once and that was during Hurricane Michael a few years back. It was a short trip to the only hotel we could find that wasn’t booked that allowed pets so we could evacuate from the storm. We didn’t go out and see much - as it was still kind of rainy even in Atlanta from the storm.

The whole book was centered around Laurel’s home and the Cotton Exposition. Which I liked because we weren’t distracted by unnecessary scenes. I really found the exposition interesting. I kind of found it to be similar to an international fair where they had booths about different international cultures and food. I would definitely have fun going to such an event!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
— Colossians 3: 23

Final Thoughts

Willie and Laurel meet each other over the days of the exposition. I really enjoyed their interactions. Especially between Laurel and Quincy. Everyone gave Quincy such a hard time because of his race and Laurel never gave it a second thought.

Laurel of course fell for Langdon and his complete charm. He took her out on boat rides, picnics, and made her feel special and loved. However, Langdon got on my nerves real quick. He was quite the charmer and I couldn’t blame Laurel for falling for him. At that age, we are naive in relationships. He was just looking for a wife who could to submit to his needs which I found repulsive.

I liked that we got a perspective from each character in the story. I always like this in books because it’s nice to get a perspective from each character.

This book really reminded me of young love and learning mistakes in relationships. Leaning on God and trusting in him to let us learn from those mistakes. This book also touches on racial issues. Even though this book takes place 30 years after the Civil War we can still see racial issues today and how it impacts our community and society. It is still really sad how we treat people of color and other races - still to do this day.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! I definitely think this book has a unique synopsis and story from the other historical romance books I have read. Even though the story was slightly predictable, I enjoyed reading how the story played out.




Q&A with Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer


Tell us about your new historical fiction novel, A Silken Thread

This is a story about loyalty—to family, friends, and God. Each of the main characters face personal crises, and consequently they have important decisions to make that will impact the rest of their lives as well as the lives of people they care about. Of course, I always hope they will choose wisely!

The book centers on the International Cotton Exposition in 1895 Atlanta. With most of your novels taking place on the Kansas prairie, how and why did you decide on this setting

I came across a large photograph of the expo in a museum in Atlanta, and it captured my interest. After reading some articles about the event, I knew I wanted to set a story there. There was no way I could include everything that happened during those three months of the expo in my story—it was like a small city/circus/amusement park sprang to life on the grounds. Sometimes I wish I had a time machine. I’d love to actually walk through the expo the way Laurel, Willie, Quincy, and Langdon did.

One of your characters is a black groundskeeper at the exposition who is the victim of others’ biases and acts of racism. Why did you choose to include this thread in the story? 

Given the time period and the location, not including a thread about racism would have been historically inaccurate. More than that, racism is a subject that still needs to be addressed. You can tackle a tough subject in story form and allow the reader to see multiple points of view—something we can’t always do in real life because we’re only looking through our own eyes/experiences. When I write, I want to entertain, but I also want to edify. I hope the story will shed light on the inappropriateness of treating others unkindly simply because they are different from us.

Which scene did you most enjoy writing? 

I think my favorite scene is between Quincy and Laurel near the end of the story, when both have made a startling discovery and realize how alike they are despite their external differences. A close second is the courtroom scene when a janitor named Ray Welch takes the stand. I named the character for a man in our church who graduated to heaven last year but had a fun sense of humor. He would have gotten such a kick out of being “in” the book.

What do you hope readers take away from A Silken Thread

I hope readers will come away with a fresh awareness of the importance of treating people equally. I also hope they will be inspired by some of the characters’ dedication to friendship even in the face of conflict and potential loss. 

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you ever visited Atlanta? If so, share your travel experiences in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.

10 Newly Released Amish Fiction Books To Read

New Release Amish Fiction

Happy Monday everyone! March has been quite a month for me - first my car had issues running and had to be fixed, then I was sick all last week. So I apologize for the lack of posts and reviews! Also, we are in the midst of selling our home, so it’s been quite a stressful and eventful month.

I will have a book review up this Thursday so I appreciate you all hanging in there!

Let’s get onto today’s post! Today is all about newly released Amish Fiction. I love a good Amish Fiction book. They remind me to slow down and live more simply. They also remind me of family values and how important family is.

Here are 10 newly released Amish Fiction books to look out for today at the bookstore!:

A Faithful Gathering by Leslie Gould

Leisel Bachmann left her Amish roots and beloved sisters to pursue a career in medicine without a second thought. She has an Englisch boyfriend, Nick Jordan, and dreams of a new life--but those dreams come crashing down when her sister Marie is diagnosed with cancer.

Soon nothing is going as she planned--not her state boards, not her first nursing job, and certainly not her relationship with Nick. As she becomes increasingly discouraged, her aunt shares the story of Leisel's grandfather during World War II and the struggle he faced between returning to Lancaster or being with the woman he loved.

Peace and a vision for the future are difficult to find, and when Nick leaves Pennsylvania for a completely new life, Leisel is faced with impossible choices. Will she stay in Lancaster, close to her family and the traditions of her past? Or learn from her grandfather's story and embrace a life of love and service in an uncertain future?

The Amish Candy Maker by Lara Hilton

Agnes Zook finds herself on her own in a small Amish community in Mackinac County after a tragedy kills her family. Most of the Amish call her “off in den Kopf” (strange) since she’s starting her own business and forging her own way in the community instead of relying on the bishop to take care of her. Since she’s viewed as non-submissive and too-forward for an Amish woman, she’s not courted by young men in the area.
Isaac Mast is on the verge of leaving the Amish church. He’s become a sought-after auctioneer and has a thriving business, but he feels confined by the strict rules. When his brother is severely injured in a wild fire, Isaac receives a letter from his sister-in-law, begging him to come to Mackinac County to help out while his brother is hospitalized. Isaac agrees but is unsure how to manage their young children when he has weekend auctions he’s expected to attend.
Agnes may be the answer to a prayer. Sparks fly when she and Isaac meet. But could their differences help them form a deeper connection to their faith...and each other?

A Love Made New by Kathleen Fuller

It seems as if everyone is falling in love in Birch Creek, including Abigail Schrock. But when heartbreak descends on her already fragile world, she can’t help but feel that if she’d only been a little prettier, she could be on her way down the aisle. To make matters worse, Abigail’s two sisters have found love, and all Abigail can seem to find is the chocolate she has stashed away in the pantry.

Asa Bontrager has never had trouble with the ladies in his Amish community—his good looks have always gotten him far. Which is why he’s baffled by the call he’s received from God to pursue Abigail, a woman who seems determined to turn him away.

Can Abigail find the peace and joy she so desperately desires? Will she allow herself to stop running and melt into the embrace of unforeseen comfort? If she does, she may discover a love powerful enough to restore her hope in a promising future.

An Amish Reunion - Various Authors

From bestselling authors in the Amish genre come four stories about reuniting with those you love. 

An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.

Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt 

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.

If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?

Hearts in Harmony by Beth Wiseman

Musical prodigy Levi Shetler hasn’t touched a piano since he secretly played one years ago. His strict Amish community forbids instruments or the singing of any music not in their approved songbook. Levi asks God often why music tempts him when playing an instrument isn’t allowed in his world. 

One person knows Levi’s talents: Mary Hershberger, the girl who promised years ago to keep his secret. Mary comes from a more liberal district than Levi, but she’s facing family troubles of her own. The mutual care for an aging Englischer, Adeline, reunites Mary and Levi as young adults. They realize that, despite their differences, they have a shared love of music—and a shared confusion about whether their talents are God-given gifts or temptations luring them into the Englisch world. 

The couple realizes they must compromise or part ways, but a tragic accident shakes their decision. Both Mary and Levi will need to reconcile what they love with what their hearts say is right—because even as their passion for music brings them together, it could be what tears them apart. 

Mending Fences by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he's hurt--a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused. 

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn't so simple. It's gut-wrenching. 

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miranda, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke's clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge. 

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers' favorite characters.

The Patient One by Shirley Shepard Gray

When word had gotten out that Andy Warner had committed suicide, everyone in Walnut Creek, Ohio, had been shocked. For seven men and women in their twenties, some Amish, some Mennonite, and some English, each of whom had once counted his or herself as one of Andy’s best friends, it had been extremely painful.

And, maybe, a source of guilt.

Years have passed since they’d all been together last. Some of them got into trouble. A couple got into arguments. Eventually they all drifted apart. But even though none of them really saw each other anymore, there was a steadfast certainty that they’d always have each other’s backs—even when no one else did. Their bond was that strong…until Andy did the unthinkable.

Now the seven remaining friends, still reeling from Andy’s death, have vowed to look after each other again. As far as they’re concerned, it doesn’t matter that they’re now in their twenties and have drifted far apart. They need to connect again…for Andy.

The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

With her Amish parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise--the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life. 

Sylvia's bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda's relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia's recent engagement to the preacher's grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

With Winters First Frost by Kelly Irvin

At age seventy-three, Laura Kauffman knows she is closer to the end of life than the beginning. If God willed it, she would join her beloved late husband soon. Even so, Laura wonders what purpose God might have for her in this winter of her life—and why this season seems so lonely.

Widower Zechariah Stutzman is facing his own barren season, despite the great-grandchildren swirling around him. With his Parkinson’s worsening, he had no choice but to move in with his grandson’s family, though now he feels adrift and useless.

When Laura offers to help with Zechariah’s five great-grandchildren after their mother has a difficult childbirth, Zechariah is unsure how he will adjust to the warm but tart demeanor of this woman he has known since grade school. But soon Laura and Zechariah learn they are asking God the same questions about loss and hope. And they begin to wonder if He is providing answers after all.

I hope you found a new book or two to read! Which one is on your list?

the caffeinated bibliophile