Review: “Veiled in Smoke” by Jocelyn Green

Today I’m featuring one of my favorite kinds of stories: one filled with true history! While the characters and plot are fiction, Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green features so many accurate historical details of Chicago and life in the 1870s in the shadow of the Civil War. If you want to take a trip back in time, pick up this book…

About the Book

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Veiled in Smoke is a richly detailed story of sisters, family, love, and trust. Set during a fascinating time — featuring the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871 and the reconstruction period after the Civil War — it features a city and a family making sense of their lives in the aftermath of loss and destruction.

The many complexities of this novel are revealed at a steady pace along with the development and growth of characters. Meg, Sylvie, Nate, and Stephen share chapter points-of-view and convey the tension and emotions of events well – especially during the fire evacuation. From the dynamic of sisters to a love of literature, the trauma and aftermath of Andersonville prison, a couple new friendships and hints of romance, the way all of these elements work together is a feat in itself. This combined with a subtle mystery and suspense thread makes for a wonderful work of historical fiction.

A slight romantic element is there, too. While it is slowly explored from roots of friendship between the characters, it feels organic to the setting. Now I can talk about Nate! He is SUCH a likable gentleman. His character really shines a light on the theme of sharing everyday life with loved ones, with all its burdens and joys.

Author Jocelyn Green depicts history in a relatable way that always shines a light on unique or lesser-known aspects of the world. In a sense, this gives the past a voice, even in fiction. I’ve enjoyed each and every novel of hers I’ve read (3 to go!). Veiled in Smoke is just as enthralling and enjoyable. Its themes of second chances, trust in God’s unchanging nature, and the strength of love come to life along with the bustling city of Chicago as a backdrop. I am looking forward to the next book in this series — especially catching up with these characters and their bookstore!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Official topic: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

This seemed like an easy topic, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes! I could talk all about my #TBR mountain and how it grows weekly, but instead I’ll share a list of the most recent books I have acquired copies of (both purchased and through review services). Some of these I will be reading VERY soon!

(titles linked to Goodreads)

11 Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

Contemporary Books… I love the bright colors on these covers!

The Last Shot by Amy Matayo

If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company by Carla Laureano

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Historical Books… I LOVE these 5 covers!

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Follow the Dawn by Rachelle Rea Cobb

Bonus 11th BOOK: The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

cover The London Restoration

I recently read a really early ARC of The London Restoration, so it’s technically on my “shelf”! This is one I will be rereading in paperback form! (It also made it on to my Goodreads favorites shelf — only a few titles a year make the cut.)

It’s a wonderfully-told historical romance set in post-WWII London.

See my Goodreads review here!

Your turn! What books have you added to your shelves recently? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

best of 2019 graphic

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog (reading challenge?)

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

I read a lot more historical novels this year than I typically do! Narrowing down this list was a challenge — these are the best of the best!

Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | Review

Fortitude. Faith. Fireflies.

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof | Review

Restored trust. Extending grace. Family.

Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin | Review

Adventure. Honor. Intrigue.

Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan | Review

Friendship. Loyalty. Reggie’s “journal of independence”.

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander | Review

True-life romance. Freedom. Integrity.

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano | Review

Identity. Classic literature. Worth.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patty Callahan | Review

Journey to faith. Intelligent friendship. Grief.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden | Review

Dreams. Smart romance. Truth.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green | Review

Belonging. Courage. Forgiveness.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd | Review

Subtle mystery. Romance. Value.

Top Ten Tuesday: 12 Best Fictional Cats

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is officially a freebie topic week!

I’ve been compiling this list for a while now, being the cat person that I am. Today’s freebie topic day is THE DAY to share it with the world! This is not a comprehensive list, but it is one of notable and beloved felines in fiction.

12 Best Fictional Cats

Beloved Cats

Narnia in A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham | This one is extra-special because Pepper mostly named Emma’s cat after my own cat, Narnia, whom I had to say goodbye to earlier this year

Banjo and Good Luck in The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery | Maud captures the true natures of cats with these two personality-filled pets!

Parcheesi Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan | Parcheesi causes some allergies um, problems that endear the hero to the heroine

Pip of the photo studio, Archie of the truck in The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright | These two cats offer personality and humor to some otherwise serious scenes! Archie, in particular, serves as an example of the hero’s tendency to rescue ❤

Perry in The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo | Perry is a VERY pampered cat, whether he wants to be or not

My own #JaketheCat likes to nap while I read

Cats Who “Adopt” People

Agamemnon adopts Paul in Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood | While Lilia takes an instant liking to the stray, Paul’s reluctance is funny then sweet as the gray cat takes up residence with him anyway

Earl Gray adopts Kiera in A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | from his meager barn cat beginnings, Earl Gray becomes quite the companion and art critic!

The “Bookshop Cat” adopts the ladies of The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay | this cat is catered to by all three ladies, but he specifically seeks out Janet when she really doesn’t want to be a cat person

#JaketheCat is a fan of books!

Cats as Good Judges of Character

Dickens in Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green | He comically doesn’t like a particular suitor of Charlotte’s

Magpie in A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews | Laura’s cat Magpie takes a particular liking to Alex from the start!

Sometimes #JaketheCat photobombs

Your turn! Do you have any favorite fictional pets? Cats or Dogs? What did you pick for this week’s TTT topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Audiobook Review: “Wedded to War” by Jocelyn Green

Wedded to War is a fascinating, layered, and quite serious look at the front lines of women’s foray into nursing during the beginning of the Civil War. Jocelyn Green has written an epic story that encompasses many true-life historical figures and accurate events that serve as characters in themselves as heroines Charlotte Waverly, Ruby O’Flannery, and others work as part of the Sanitary Commission to aid, nurse, and manage the ghastly aftermath of war in their very own country. As Charlotte finds her purpose in showing compassion and grace to everyone around her, she also matures over the timeline of the story into a capable woman of character. The hint of a romance between Charlotte and the hero was happily fitting and complimentary to her role, and I was delighted to learn that the couple is based on a real historical couple! Ruby, too, is a compelling heroine. I wondered, at times, how the twisting and sad threads of her story were going to work into the whole, but like the theme of the novel, all of it works toward the surprising good and satisfying end to the story.

The research and work that went into this novel is obvious. I am in awe of what the real-life heroines who inspired this story did to sacrifice and serve in a time of war.

The audio presentation of this novel, in particular, is well-told and riveting. The narrator clearly and skillfully does different intonations and accents for the different characters, including Ruby’s Irish one!

THANK YOU to the author for the audiobook version of this novel for the purpose of a review. This is my honest review.

Wedded to War on Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

Review: “Between Two Shores” by Jocelyn Green

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Jocelyn Green’s latest historical fiction novel, Between Two Shores. Jocelyn has quickly joined my list of favorite historical authors who pen stories with similar detail, depth, and time periods like Laura Frantz and Lori Benton.

About the Book

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war.

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Between Two Shores is a riveting and powerful story of restoration, belonging, and courage. Jocelyn Green once again portrays atmosphere and culture in a manner both immersive and informative. In this case, the setting and intriguing facets of what we call the French and Indian War unfold from the perspective of Catherine Duval, a French-Mohawk trader caught in the middle.

The attention to historical detail and vivid characters come to life through a riveting story that surmounts both external dangers and the inner growth and emotional turmoil of Catherine. While the story is told from her singular perspective, the depth of each character’s personality was stunning and constant. This storytelling method impressed me with the way it allowed a slow unfolding of some details (like Samuel and his heart) and an immediate sympathy concerning other characters (like Catherine’s father and siblings).

While this is most definitely a historical fiction piece, a hint of a romantic thread is referenced near the beginning of the story through a series of flashback chapters. For my romance-loving heart, this was satisfying AND important to the deeper themes of the story. Green takes this relationship and goes beyond the draw of romantic love and portrays a more meaningful, yet changing, nature of love: true love is selfless in the face of pain or unknown consequences. And it never fails, even while human imperfections remain.

The action and history in Between Two Shores are fascinating, but the relational transformation and themes are the most significant. Catherine learns her place in the world and where she stands with her siblings (and her father) through the decisions she must make and their consequences. Most importantly, she finds her place as a child of God and knows the forgiveness and grace extended to her — actions she must reciprocate and pass on.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “A Refuge Assured” by Jocelyn Green

Sometimes, stories will sweep you up into an era and a people that both fascinate and stir the heart with truth. This is all the more special when such a story exhibits historical facts and accuracy which are results of detailed research. Author Jocelyn Green’s latest historical novel, A Refuge Assured, is just such a story. Its characters are as vivid as the tumultuous time frame portrayed: the peak of the French Revolution colliding with post-revolution America. With it, Jocelyn has worked her way onto my list of all-time favorite authors! I highly recommend this historical novel (with a hint of romance) to fans of authors like Lori Benton and Laura Frantz.

About the Book

A Refuge AssuredLacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A Refuge Assured is an emotionally gripping and immersive story of a search for refuge and peace. With high emotions and multifaceted characters, Jocelyn Green knows how to pen a story that appeals to the heart and displays a bright hope. I felt like I was witness to revolutions and cries for liberty!

A Refuge Assured QuoteThe plights of Vivienne, and subsequently Liam, are attention-getting and full of natural ups and downs as they face challenges from their environments, political pressures, family stresses, and personal secrets that determine their paths. The added knowledge that so much REAL historical facts and events are portrayed in this story makes it all the more interesting!

What is true freedom? Is it rooted in a government, a cause, authority? Or, is it found as a child of the King, in His will and freedom to choose His path of forgiveness? These are just a few of the questions a reader might ponder when reading A Refuge Assured. This story is more than a narrative on history with relatable characters, it’s an experience of an era, vivid settings, and the hearts of human beings.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Bethany House, for the complimentary review copy of this book. This is my honest review.