Tag Archives: historical fiction

Book Review: The Power of Harmony, a novel – by Jan Coates

 

 

 

 






Book: The Power of Harmony
Author: Jan L. Coates
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Date: May 13, 2013
Genre: MG; gr 4-6; age 9-11
Pages: 260
Price: $12.95
My rating: An enjoyable and relatable read for young people. 

This is a novel I purchased from its author at the children’s book fair I attended in 2016.

The Power of Harmony by Jan L. Coates is a fictional story based in the late 1960’s in Nova Scotia, Canada. This novel was an Atlantic Book Awards finalist, and for good reason, I might add. In Spring of 2017 the Nova Scotia Board of Education purchased copies for every school in the province!

The main character, Jennifer, loves to sing, but she is very afraid to sing in public. She prepares for a competition anyway, with not-so-good results, and has to deal with being ridiculed later. With her best friend having moved away, shy Jenn is now faced with being bullied by some mean girls at her school with no close friend there for her.

Recently a First Nations girl, Melody, moved into the neighbourhood. The other kids pick on her, too, because of who she is without even knowing her. Jennifer discovers Melody likes music and books, same as she does, and they become friends. There are also some strange things going on, and Melody seems to have a secret. 

This is such a meaningful story of friendship, bullying, adolescent struggles and fears, acceptance, and even grief through the death of a loved one. It’s a very realistic and moving story, and a pleasure to read.

You can find my reviews of other books by Jan here and here and here.

You can find The Power of Harmony by Jan L. Coates on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also will post it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Chapters.Indigo, and Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse – by Lila Hope-Simpson

fiddles-and-spoons

 

 

 




Book: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse
Author: Lila Hope-Simpson
Illustrator: Doretta Groenendyk
Publisher: DPG: Dery Publishing Group
Date: 2004
Genre: children's historical fiction; age 5-9, gr K-4
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: historical event wonderfully-told for children

This is one of the beautiful books I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016, although my copy has a different cover, as you see below. Apparently, the image above is the newer edition which includes more illustrations.

fiddles-spoons-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse is written by Canadian author Lila Hope-Simpson, who, in fact, lives only a few miles from me. Illustrator Doretta Groenendyk is also a local artist.

First of all, look at this dedication – which seems very suited to the times we are living in – that she wrote in her book:  This book is dedicated to uprooted people from every place and time, whose spirits have proven that after adversity, life goes on.       And sometimes, there is even dancing.

Fiddles & Spoons is a historical fiction, fanciful for the child reader. This story is about a mouse family, the expulsion of the Acadians, and the will to survive.

In the small Acadian village of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, Canada, life was good. Families worked hard to keep their village functioning and to make a life they could be proud of. The men built sturdy dykes to hold back the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy, creating very fertile farmland along the coast – and those dykes are still there doing what they were intended to do.

Under the floorboards of the homestead of the hardworking Dubois family lived the Souris mouse family. They feasted on the crumbs that fell down through,  particularly enjoying Saturday nights when everyone danced and played their fiddles and spoons.

One night in 1755 it all changed. Soldiers marched in and separated the men from the women and children. Mama Souris was determined to not leave the Dubois family, so she and her family scurried along near the feet of all the people being forced onto boats. It was a long rugged trip until they finally arrived in a new land and were reunited with their loved ones. From there they had to start over. 

Lila Hope-Simpson told this story of an important historical event in a wonderful way, introducing children – and perhaps adult readers – to the Expulsion of the Acadians, which is a memorable part of local, and far-reaching, history. It is not heavy-handed so as to include lurid details of the atrocities committed against an honest, God-fearing people. On the other hand it is not overly gently told so that the drama cannot be felt and understood. 

Doretta Groenendyk‘s illustrations are colourful, playful, effective. I especially like the scenes of Minas Basin and Cape Blomidon which are very familiar to me.

You can find Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Book Review: Songbird Under a German Moon – by Tricia Goyer

Songbird Under a German MoonBook: Songbird Under a German Moon
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Summerside
Date: June 13, 2011
Genre: Christian romance; historical fiction
Pages: 320
Price: Kindle $7.77
My Rating: dramatic fiction to interest romance readers

 

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer is set in the post WWII years in Germany. The story begins in a noisy twin engine airplane that is transporting Betty – a twenty-year-old singer – with several soldiers on their way to Germany,  but already there is drama. The plane is having engine trouble and must try to make a safe emergency landing in Nuremberg, Germany.

In Bayreuth, Germany, there is a famous opera house – Festspielhaus – where Hitler was said to enjoy operas, especially those of Richard Wagner. This opera house is where the musical entertainment is being performed for the soldiers, not far from the house where Hitler had sometimes stayed and where the ladies are now living between performances. But there is something creepy about that war damaged building, something unsettling.

When Betty, and Frank, a photographer for the military, first see one another romance is soon in the air. But Frank is not all he appears to be; he has a secret. He is not the only one with a secret, though, and when there is a murder those secrets start being revealed. Realizing her life may be in danger, Betty thinks she can trust Frank to help her.

Some scenes seemed a little stilted in this story, perhaps a bit unrealistic when dealing with human emotions in relationships, but the drama pulls one’s attention in another direction. It was easy to get interested in Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer. 

Interesting facts, around which Songbird Under a German Moon was written,  about Festspielhaus opera house, Wahnfried house, and Richard Wagner can be found on the Internet.

If you enjoy historical fiction with romance and a Christian flavour this may be the book for you. You can get a history lesson at the same time!

You can find Songbird Under a German Moon listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Chasing Mona Lisa – by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

Chasing Mona LisaBook: Chasing Mona Lisa
Author (s): Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey
Publisher: Revell
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: January 1, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Pages: 337
Price: Kindle list price $15, available for much less
My Rating: a fast-paced exciting read
 

If you don’t know much about the Second World War, or even if you do, Chasing Mona Lisa will present to you a different slant on how things were. Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey take the reader into the drama and danger of the time when Nazi Germany was overpowering Europe and laying claim to all the wealth they wanted.

Hitler’s Germany had overrun France, and some over-zealous prominent military officials were determined to add to their private collections as much valued artwork as they could.

We meet the famous Louvre’s curator who is responsible for priceless art treasures sought by the above-mentioned officials. We also meet spies, a few members of the Resistance group determined to get their country – and their country’s art treasures – back, some other interesting characters who round out the story, and a convincing glimpse into World War II.

Chasing Mona Lisa holds the reader’s interest from the beginning to the end. It is impossible to tell who of the two authors, Tricia Goyer or Mike Yorkey,  wrote which part. It is a well-delivered story, full of tension, excitement, faith, hope, drama, intrigue, suspense, and there are history lessons to be learned amid the fiction built around the facts. The reader gets drawn into a time of war, and introduced to situations where there is theft, kidnapping, a little romance, deception, blackmail, and more.

I found Chasing Mona Lisa to be a  fast-paced book, one I was eager to pick up again after short periods away from my reading. I had to know what was going to happen next! And my guess is you will, too. 🙂

You can find Chasing Mona Lisa listed on BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

News about best-selling author Sue Harrison’s Alaska books! (Interview)

Today I’m doing things a little differently. For those of you who haven’t made this discovery yet on your own, I have an exciting announcement about Sue Harrison’s Alaska novels. Now you can purchase them for yourself for your electronic reader! Instead of a book review today, the rest of this post is a sort of interview and is dedicated to Sue for her relating of her e-book experience. Links are included to make it easy to find where you can purchase copies – if you are so tempted and just can’t resist. 🙂

My question to Sue was: Sue, I haven’t yet mentioned on my blog about your books becoming available as e-books. Do you have information for me regarding that? The following is her reply.

Lynn has asked me to share about the story of  the ebook release of my 6 Alaska novels, so this is a story about a little dream becoming a lot bigger than I ever thought it would.

In August 2012, my husband Neil mentioned that we really should look into my old contracts and see if we could get the ebook rights assigned to us by the publishers of my Alaska books, Doubleday, William Morrow, and HarperCollins. We weren’t all that motivated, thinking that it might take us a long time to jump through all the necessary hoops, but we dug out the contracts and were met with a very welcome surprise. We already owned the rights! The literary agent who represented my Alaska novels, Rhoda Weyr (now retired), had retained those rights – way back in the 1990s before ebooks were “invented,” and I am extraordinarily grateful for her foresight and wisdom.

My husband set to work finding a company that would scan my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY in preparation for us to self-publish the novel in ebook format. We found Golden Images LLC, and Stan Drew and his people did a super job for us. However, our plans did an abrupt turn around when I received an email on November 7, 2012, from Maggie Lichota Crawford. Maggie was the Avon paperback editor for my first two Alaska books, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY and MY SISTER THE MOON. Maggie wrote that she was now working at Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publisher based in New York City. She told us that Open Road publishes many distinguished authors digitally, including James Joyce, Pearl S. Buck, Pat Conroy, William Styron, Anne Perry…. 

And they wanted MY novels?  Wow, serious happy-dancing.

The next few months were filled with fun activities like updating and submitting my biography, reviewing cover artwork, and posing for new author photos. (Thank you, Erin Johnson!) The six novels were released in May 2013, and are available from Open Road and all ebook retailers. What a dream come true!

These are links to each novel (click link to see where to purchase book):

ebook mother-earth-father-sky 

 

Mother Earth Father Sky

 

ebook my-sister-the-moon

 

My Sister the Moon

  

ebook brother-wind

 

 

 Brother Wind

 

ebook song-of-the-river  

 

Song of the River

  

ebook cry-of-the-wind

 

Cry of the Wind

  

ebook call-down-the-stars

 

 

Call Down the Stars

 

But wait, we weren’t finished. Open Road decided to send producer Corey Maloney and cinematographer Luke Locurcio to our house to shoot a publicity video. Here’s the finished product:

Meet Sue Harrison   <– click here to watch the video

For those who are wondering, most of the video was shot here at our house and on our beach and surrounding woods. The hand hefting the axe is my husband’s. And no, we do not have that spectacular waterfall in our backyard. That is Tahquamenon Falls, located about an hour and a half drive northwest of us, and is one of the most recognized landmarks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Open Road had another big surprise for us in September 2013. It was a Tuesday, and I had begun the mundane work of washing bedding, cleaning, and generally getting back into a routine after a three-day weekend of company. I sat down at the computer and buzzed through the emails that had accumulated and just happened to notice that one of them was from my aunt, Ruth Danner. Ruth’s message said that she’d turned on her Kindle and up popped a very nice advertisement about my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY.

I immediately did a little sleuthing, found an email from my publicist Laura at Open Road and discovered that MEFS had been selected as the Kindle Daily Deal. Wow! Was that a shocker.

The rest of the day, I was pretty much involved in watching the numbers. (I know that’s vain.) Wednesday was more of the same. Although my novel was back to normal price, people were still buying it. During those two days, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY rose to #3 nationwide for Amazon ebook sales, and my author ranking rose to #4 nationwide . That author ranking lasted only a few hours, but I have to admit that it was heady to see myself ranked higher than Stephen King and Clive Cussler.

Despite all this talk about fame, please know that I know fame is a very brittle, unstable foundation for life, for self-worth, or for happiness. I’m so grateful that I don’t need accolades to tell me that I’m loved. My Bible tells me that. My family tells me that. My friends tell me that. I don’t need high author ranks to motivate me to work each day in whatever way God intends. But I did enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, and this is my opportunity to thank all of you for your support, for your help, for your kind words, and for reading my books.

Sue Harrison

Thanks, Sue, for this fabulous and thrilling story of the revival of your books! 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Book Review: Watching Jimmy – by Nancy Hartry

Book: Watching Jimmy
Author: Nancy Hartry
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: September 11, 2012 (reprint edition)
Genre: Historical Fiction for young people (age 9 and up)
Pages: 160; paperback
Price: $9.95
My Rating: exciting and absorbing from start to finish
 

I received this book from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review.

This little book was a surprise. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to be so big for its size. By that I mean, this book may be small but it is jam-packed – in such a nice way.

Nancy Hartry grabbed my attention right away with how she began this tale. She set the scene in chapter one, then hit with a gut-wrenching punch in chapter two. Even so, this interesting – yet painful – story that’s easy to read, easy to follow, easy to understand, is hard to put down until the end. And once there it evokes a satisfied sigh and leaves the reader thinking it all over.

Carolyn and Jimmy were best friends. When Jimmy got hurt, Uncle Ted’s story was that he fell off the swing. What nobody knows is that Carolyn saw the whole thing, but who can she tell? And what good would it do?

This story is set in 1958, after World War II, during a time of struggle and recovery in Canada, a historical time that will change the nation. Nancy Hartry writes in a way that illuminates that era without the reader realizing there is a history lesson being presented.

This book is well worth the read. It is very believable and captures the reader for a step back in time to learn what life in Canada was like then, and what it means to be courageous, dedicated, and truthful.

Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, and the Ontario Library Association’s Golden Oak Award.

If you enjoy historical fiction you will certainly appreciate Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry.

You can find Watching Jimmy listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Kaydie by Penny A. Zeller

It didn’t work out for me to post another book review in April, but I am one of several bloggers offered the opportunity of taking part in a blog tour. We each have interviewed the author of the book I am reviewing today. My day of the tour is Monday, May 9, so do come back to meet author Penny Zeller in my interview with her. I was privileged to receive the ARC of this book so that I could write a review before posting the interview with Penny. Now here is my review of her newly published book.

Book: Kaydie
Author: Penny A. Zeller
Genre: Christian historical romance; fiction
Pages: 144, paperback
Price: $9.99
Released: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Whitaker House
My rating: A novel to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good romance story without erotica.

I have to be honest here. Romance novels are not the ones I typically go for anymore, but this book has not just the undercurrent of attraction going on, it also is a good story set in the rugged Montana Territory of the old West. Kaydie is book two of Penny Zeller’s Montana Skies series.

This story centers around the main character, Kaydie Worthington Kraemer, but several other interesting characters are introduced early on. Kaydie is a young woman who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her former husband, Darius, who played a clever game to get her family wealth. After his death, she was rescued and taken in by her sister and brother-in-law to live with them on their ranch. Pregnant and facing recurring nightmares and haunting memories, Kaydie wonders if she can ever trust enough to love again. When a gentle, caring man with his own difficult past walks into her life, and then a childhood friend is sent by her illustrious parents to court her, she has a hard decision to make. Does she surrender to what she thinks she knows and return to a life of wealth, or does she trust her heart?

During the progression of the story the reader discovers Kaydie’s will to survive and her determination to heal in order to secure a normal and safe life for herself and her baby. Penny Zeller wrote in a way that follows closely to how a woman, struggling with memories and fears, thinks things through, over and over, on her way to emotional healing.

Penny included enough suspense to keep the pages turning, humour to lighten the mood when certain characters were faced with difficulties, and historical details revealing life in the early years of settlement. Admittedly, at one point while reading I spoke out loud, “No way!” To say I got pulled into the story would be an accurate statement.

Although Kaydie is a Christian-based novel, the reader will not feel overwhelmed by religious thought being pushed down her throat. (I say ‘her’ because most readers of this series will probably be women.) It is not preachy but puts forward the encouragement found in a relationship with God. Penny Zeller has taken a gentle but unwavering approach in presenting to the reader a valid option of how to deal with life’s problems.

If you enjoy romance novels, or if you have never read one but are curious, I encourage you to get this one.

You can find Kaydie listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Watch for my interview with Penny Zeller, scheduled for May 9.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂