Book Review: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Whose Waves These Are Amanda Dykes book review

Synopsis:

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.  

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

  • Published: 4/30/2019

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

  • Pages: 368

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.72 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Japanese Green Tea

Coffee:

New England Coffee - your flavor choice


I didn’t feel like a whole person. Just a handful of pieces, not sure how they all fit together.

Why I Chose This Book

This was May’s pick for Bethany House Publishing Blogger Group. I finally got around to reading this one and thought I would give it a go.

First Initial Thoughts

The book starts off the year before WWII ends (1944) with Robert devastated/heart broken that his love and crush for many years married his brother and best friend. He wants to go off to war to relieve the pain. He then decides to write a poem about his heartache. There he decides to spread his words throughout town.

In the modern day story Annie is the granddaughter of Bob. She grew up in Ansel By The Sea and has fond memories of her days growing up there. However, she now lives in Chicago as an Anthropologist. I loved that the character was an Anthropologist such as I adore that field. She then is summoned to her childhood home when her grandfather has an accident and is in the hospital. There she finds something in her Grandfather’s shed that will open the doors to her family history…

Setting

Ansel By The Sea is a town that just reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade painting of those charming ocean seaside towns. It just sounds like such a peaceful seaside town to visit or retire in. But let be honest- to live in!

She watches his complete abandon, haunted by the fullness of the song of this man with two letters to his name and a million to his story.

Final Thoughts

This is Amanda’s debut book and I was quite surprised because I could tell she has been writing for years and has such a talent at writing. She has a very unique writing style that I think sets her apart from other Christian authors. What I found interesting is that she wrote in somewhat of a poetic style. And I have to be honest, that is why I gave it four stars. It was hard to follow at times as I felt some parts of the story didn’t flow together easily.

One thing that I found quite prevalent was that there was a lot of pain that various characters went through. However, I think in that pain they grew the most. I often find that in our hardest and most difficult times we learn the most. We learn about hope and forgiveness. Hope that better days are ahead.

I really enjoyed both stories from the different time periods. I was always looking forward to when I would get back to their story to find out what would happen next. I really enjoyed reading Annie and Jeremiah’s love grow. I found it to be sweet and inspiring.

I think Annie also grew up a lot in this story. I think she kind of lost her way in Chicago and wasn’t truly herself. In Ansel By The Sea I found that she really shined. Through the story she found out about her families history and that - every story has a wave. They go up and down - poetic and very realistic too.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! Fans of WWII and duel time periods will enjoy reading this story. Those that are not into her writing style may want to second think about it, however.


You can purchase the book —-> HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

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

Book Review: Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn

becoming us robin jones gunn

Synopsis:

From the author of the best-selling Christy Miller and SisterChicks series comes a new book of community, friendship, and tackling the hard things of life with God and loved ones around a table.

Five young moms, including beloved Gunn character Christy Miller, gather to share meals and soon become unlikely best friends. The regular gatherings provide opportunities for the women to reveal their stories, and those life stories endear them to each other. They experience their lives naturally meshing as they raise their children together in community. In Becoming Us the group find ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They unite to be remembered for what they do as moms and not for what was done to them.

  • Genre: Christian Contemporary

  • Publisher: Multnomah

  • Published: 5/22/2019

  • Pages: 302

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Herbal Tea (of your choice)

Coffee:

Skinny Latte


A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24

Why I Chose This Book

I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. I thought it was a good book to read for a change of scenery from my usual that I read.

First Initial Thoughts

Emily, her husband and daughter are starting anew in California after financial ruin and marriage issues. Right at the beginning we are introduced to Christy and her group of friends. Emily is meeting them for the first time at a house party. At first she doesn’t know what to think of the group of ladies. She feels that she doesn’t belong and that they don’t really like her. At first she decides not to pursue friendship with them but she gives it a second shot.

I thought Emily to be this shy yet sweet woman. She was definitely insecure and had some personal issues to work through. Emily’s husband, even though an integral part of the story, I found was just kind of there in the background. We didn’t really get to know him that well but I think that was on purpose, as we find out later on in the story.

I did notice that I felt a little lost at times in the beginning. Though this is the first book in the series the characters come from a previous series, Christy and Todd Baby Years. So if you haven’t read those books, you may be slightly confused as well. I didn’t find it too confusing however, and still could understand what was going on.

Setting

I don’t know too much about Southern California other than from shows and movies. The way Robin describes this area makes it sound like a nice place to be. Warm sandy beaches (but not too hot) and just a nice pleasant area. Although I have heard the opposite so it was nice to hear something refreshing and different.

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Proverbs 27:9

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed reading Emily develop into more of a confident woman. She was really insecure in the beginning and I think with the move and creating those friendships she truly started to blossom into the woman she truly was.

This story is really about friendship and finding those true friends. I think today with social media and the ever growing need to work more and more hours, we loose that socializing with others. Millennials (and also Gen Z) have increasingly shown to have fewer friends. I remember watching 90s sitcoms and the close friendships that many of the main characters had. This is becoming more rare these days.

I think one of the reasons, as shown in the beginning of the book, is that people are afraid to connect with others. For the fear of what they think or believe that people are just superficial. However, as Emily learns throughout the novel is that people don’t just appear as who they are on the surface.

I think it’s important to connect with other like minded woman and form friendships. It’s in those friendships we can connect, help each-other out during difficult times, and celebrate the good times too. With prayer we can ask God for help in connecting with other woman and in turn find true friendships.

Would I Recommend?

Yes. If you are looking for a light, positive, and upbeat read you will probably really like this one! It’s not my absolute favorite but I found it inspirational.

Q&A with Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn
  1. Your new novel, Becoming Us, focuses on developing strong friendships.  Why do you think it’s important to build community with other women?

One of the prompts for me to write Becoming Us came from a tag line on an article in Simple magazine April, 2015.

Have we replaced real friendships with Facebook likes and are we too far gone to fix it? Here’s why face-to-face connections are so crucial.

The piece gave sobering statistics based on a study out of Duke University conducted over the last twenty years showing the changes in how we experience community.

- People who regularly invite friends over 30% drop

- People who join clubs and civic organizations 58% drop

- People who lack a close confidant and friend 25%

- People who are one friend away from social isolation 50%

- People who move away from their hometowns 60%

The article included a photo of a group of young women from Kentucky who started a book club but then changed it to a “non-book club” since so many of the women didn’t have time to read the book and then wouldn’t come. They switched to reading magazine articles instead and gathered to discuss them. One woman said, “We now share our deepest hopes and fears. I’m not sure any of us were expecting that level of connection.”

I’ve written several series of novels over the last few decades. All of them focus on a strong sense of community between the women. Christy Miller has her “Forever Friends”, the Women of Glenbrooke gathered together throughout the 8-book series and the Sisterchicks novels highlighted the benefits gained when traveling with other women. 

Over the last few years I’ve been paying attention to how this generation of young women is connecting and the ways they speak into each other’s lives. It’s different than the way their grandmothers did when they gathered to play bridge or the way their mothers joined a book club or a Bunko group. These women check each other out online before they get together. They can view images the other women post of their children, spouse, new sofa and what they made for dinner. 

What draws them together is the need to experience the non-verbal communication that can only be experienced when face-to-face. They want to be known. They want to share experiences. They want personal antidotal advice beyond Web MD for why their child won’t eat apples. They want to belong.

The characters in Becoming Us are fictional but their life stage is familiar to me because my daughter and daughter-in-law have shared what their socializing looks like and what they value. I’ve been invited to slip in to local gatherings of young moms and have been warmed by the depth at which the women share with each other. 

Life issues haven’t changed over the generations, but the way women gather and share those experiences has. Becoming Us takes readers into a world that will feel familiar because of the interaction between the characters. But the story also shows ways that women can beat the current statistics and develop meaningful friendships.

2. Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen and several other characters from your previous novels return in this book. What has it been like living with a character (Christy) for 30 years? What have you learned?

I’m not sure I have much to say about living with a character for 30 years, other than to say that Christy and Sierra sure seem real to me! But I definitely feel as if I’ve lived with the readers for over 30 years and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve heard their voices in emails, letters, social media posts and face to face every single week for the last three decades. The interaction with them has never let up. They tell me what they want – what they need – what’s missing in the other books they read and the movies they watch. 

Christy and Sierra have felt like real people and true friends to these Beautiful Readers. They want to be reunited with them and learn from them how to navigate the next season of life.

3. You introduce a new main character in this book, Emily Winslow. What was it like writing the story for a brand new main character and trying to blend her into the world of Christy and Sierra? 

The interesting thing about Emily was that I didn’t know her name as I was crafting the story. My process is to create binders for all my books and collect pieces long before I start writing. I saw a picture of a woman in a clothing catalog and immediately knew she was going to be the first-person voice telling the story in Becoming Us. I cut out the picture, pasted it on a piece of paper and put it in the binder. 

As I spend time with the cast of characters before I start writing, I listen until I can hear their voice in my imagination. I could hear Emily’s voice. I knew all about her life, her personal struggles, her husband and daughter. But she wouldn’t tell me her name. 

I started writing the book and when I got to the scene in the first chapter where Jennalyn, the hostess of the Christmas party introduces everyone, I watched my fingers type as Jennalyn introduce her as Emily. I stopped typing and said out loud, “Well, hello, Emily. So nice to finally meet you.” I remembered thinking that Emily was even more shy than I realized and I loved her for her timidity. That character quality played out in the book and endeared Emily to me all the more. We’ve all been Emily’s at some point. It was so healing to watch my ole’ friends Christy and Sierra encircle Emily and invite her into their group. Who doesn’t want to be invited to belong?

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

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

Book Review: The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke


the medallion cathy gohlke review

the medallion cathy gohlke blog tour

Synopsis:

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen–Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war–if any of them survive–is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2019

  • Tyndale House Publishers

  • Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 432 Pages

  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Christian

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.70


Heidi’s Rating:

5 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Honey and Lavender Tea

Coffee:

Mocha Latte


I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
— Anne Frank

Why I Chose This Book

When I first heard about this book I knew I had to sign up for the blog tour. I always enjoy reading WWII stories- despite some of them being very hard to read!

First Initial Thoughts

Rosa and Itzhak are newly married when WWII begins and the German’s start occupying Poland. They are both Jewish and head to Warsaw to take care of Rosa’s mother. They were only going to be there for a short time but as well know from history, Jews were soon prevented from traveling anywhere without proper papers/permission from the Germans. Rosa is a headstrong and determined lady. She kept everything together for her mother and Husband despite the difficulties they were facing.

Rosa then becomes pregnant and shortly after the baby is born - she has to make a decision that will forever alter their lives.

Sophia is a young English woman who is living in Poland and is also recently married to a man named Janek. Janek is a Polish man and is away fighting the war. She soon makes friends with a woman named Terri and one day gets swept away into the world of the underground; where individuals save Jews and Jewish children from the Ghetto and eventually the concentration camps.

Setting

Cathy brought Poland to life and the hardship the country went through during the German occupation. She had such a talent in describing the details of the Ghetto, city, and surrounding areas that it felt like you were there along with the story. I think this helps make the reader feel more emotional when reading it.

Yet a part of you still believes you can fight and survive no matter what your mind knows. It’s not so strange. Where there’s still life, there’s still hope. What happens is up to God
— Louis Zamperini

Final Thoughts

Basically my whole feeling reading the book:

This was one epic read. I won’t give anything away but it was a one big tragic story. We all know WWII in Europe was devastating, however, this story really connected you with the characters and it was hard to read some of the circumstances they had to go through.

I found that Sophia and Rosa were very similar in character. They both experienced infertility issues and loss of loved ones. I won’t say how their paths crossed but I would do what Sophia chose to do in a heartbeat.

What I found interesting is that this book is based on true events (well duh..) but what I didn’t know is that the Germans forced the Jews into Ghetto’s in the middle of the city - blocking them off from the rest of the city. They would only give them little food to live on, barely any medical care, and families would be forced to live together in the same apartment. Often 2-3 families (10-20 or so) would be living in the same small apartment. They also didn’t have running water, electricity, and no heat. This led to Typhus and other diseases.

This was BEFORE they took them to the concentration camps. It was also a time when many families outside the wall or Ghetto that would take Jewish children into their care and pretend that they were their own. Many families would risk their lives to save children (and adults) during this time. One of the characters in the book - Irena was a real person. So I thought that it was interesting for Cathy to include that.

I couldn’t imagine what these people went through. It is one period of our history that many try to forget. I also think that without these stories, we don’t have messages of hope. Hope that one day things will get better. I often hear stories of Jews in concentration camps that held onto that thread of hope - hope of freedom - those were the one’s that survived. The one’s who lost all faith, died sooner (at least the one’s that made it that far).

Would I Recommend?

Yes! However, if you are sensitive to this type of material, you may want to second think about reading this book. It is very hard to read, emotional wise.

About The Author

Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.

Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.
When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com and on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.

Giveaway Time!!

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away 5 paperback copies of The Medallion! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US 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 a new winner is chosen.

Purchase links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | CBD.COM | WAL-MART

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I am participating in the HFVBT blog tour for this book. I was sent an ARC copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Cover Reveal: The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The work of art mimi matthews

03_Work of Art Poster.jpg

Synopsis:

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland—a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the Duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her—and her heart—in more danger than ever?

  • Publication Date: July 23, 2019

  • Perfectly Proper Press

  • Genre: Historical Romance

Excerpt LINK

About The Author

03_Mimi Matthews.jpg


USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and BeautyThe Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.



AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: 

AMAZON | APPLE | BARNES AND NOBLE | KOBO

How gorgeous is this cover?!! What do you think of the cover?

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I am participating in the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour for this cover reveal. I was not compensated to promote this book.