Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Novels with the Most Unique Settings

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

The official prompt is: Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I’ve Read or a variation on “unique books”. This one was a little harder to decide on because what think is unique might not be to you. So, I’ve settled on unique settings because that’s a pretty concrete story element we might agree on.

Some of these are highly unique because of their geographical setting and some are more so because of the combination of setting + era. In no particular order……

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10 Novels with the Most Unique Settings


1. The Lady and the Lionheart
by Joanne Bischof

Setting: a circus in Victorian-era Virginia. Lions (and their amazing trainer) and elephants all traveling by wagon, oh my! (No surprise it’s on another TTT list. I could talk about this book all day.)


2. The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Setting: A little bed-and-breakfast inn in modern Prince Edward Island, Canada. The first of two contemporary stories on my list this week, the setting is charming and picturesque while it makes its way into the heart of the heroine.


3. The Thorn Healer
by Pepper Basham

Setting: Hot Springs, NC that hosts a post-WWI German refugee camp. It’s a cultural wake-up call for the heroine as she learns to overcome prejudices in her little Appalachian community.


4. The Brontë Plot
by Katherine Reay

Setting: a good part comprises a literary tour of England, complete with London and a visit to the Brontës’ hometown, Haworth. This is the second contemporary story on the list!


5. The Measure of a Lady
by Deeanne Gist

Setting: Gold Rush San Francisco, CA (mid 1800s) with all its roughness and rugged coastal beauty — this is a place the heroine does not want to be, but the people there inexplicably draw her in…


6. The Captive Imposter
by Dawn Crandall

Setting: a wealthy family’s hotel in the mountains of Maine during the Gilded Age (early 1900s).


7. The Sentinels of Andersonville
by Tracy Groot

Setting: Andersonville prison in Andersonville, GA during the Civil War. This prison held Yankees, including one of the main characters.


8. Duchess
by Susan May Warren

Setting: the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, CA, in the 1930s then Europe during crucial parts of political unrest just before WWII.


9. Saving Amelie
by Cathy Gohlke

Setting: a little village in hostile Germany during WWII.


10. A Moonbow Night
by Laura Frantz

Setting: a family lodge and way station of sorts in the wilderness of the Kentucky frontier in the mid-1700s. Think Daniel Boone!

What is one of the most unique settings you’ve read about? Did you participate in TTT this week? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a FREEBIE topic! I was inspired by an older TTT topic of “books you loved but haven’t written a review for”. I thought: why not talk about some favorites I haven’t reviewed AND tell you a little of why I loved them? So, this custom topic was born: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed. 

First, a brief explanation concerning just why I haven’t reviewed these.

  • Some were read in connection with the INSPY awards so I couldn’t talk about them at the time
  • Some I’ve just never gotten around to reviewing, though I thoroughly enjoyed them
  • Some are older reads from before I started writing reviews

Whew, glad that’s off my chest. Now, on to the little reviews!

10 Mini Reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

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1. Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Fountain Creek Chronicles #3)

Though it’s been a while since I’ve read this one, I do remember it was my favorite of the series. I particularly remember some interesting freight wagon rides. My favorite part of this story was Véronique because of her determination and unique immigration perspective.

2. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

In a style and manner only Laura Frantz can achieve, the untamed wilderness swallows you in its wonder as you experience life through Morrow’s eyes. This still remains my favorite Laura Frantz novel for its beautiful romance. Two words: Red Shirt. Fans of historical romance and the American frontier take note: this novel is not to be missed.

3. The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist

I remember the setting standing out to me in this one: 1849 San Francisco, CA in the middle of the Gold Rush. And, an important bit about the Redwood forest. Besides the immersive setting, the characters left an impression, particularly the spiritual transformation of one and the coming-of-age journey, in a sense, of another.

4. A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund (Michigan Brides #2)

This story is a beautiful work of historical romance. I remember Carl, the hero, making quite the impression with his selfless (and swoony) manner. The themes of this novel include the importance of hope and forgiveness — and that family and love are worth fighting for.

5. The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (A Rush of Wings #3)

A story of finding hope and healing, this riveting contemporary novel remains a favorite in its genre. And, Morgan Spencer is possibly my favorite hero Kristen has penned. It exquisitely executes one of my favorite plot devices to bring the heroine and hero together, but I won’t say exactly how it happens because that would ruin the surprise! If you’re looking for a fresh take on romantic suspense with a tasteful yet passionate love story (this is still Christian fiction), I HIGHLY recommend this novel and series.

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6. The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann (Diamond of the Rockies #1)

I recall this glimpse of the west in all its ruggedness and wild beauty left an impression of me. Particularly, Carina and her feisty spirit, determined to succeed and find happiness. As with several of Kristen’s novels, a slight mysterious element is present, adding to the interest and appeal of the story (and its hero).

7. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

This one is a well-crafted historical romance that reminds me of Austen or Brontë in its era, setting, and mystery. I remember the characters being well developed and “real” even amid the proper society and tradition they adhere to. Themes of mercy and forgiveness entwine this story set in the beautiful Cornwall region of England.

8. A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman (Daughters of Boston #1)

This is where it all began. The O’Conner saga that let to 6 full-length books (with the Winds of Change series following) and several novellas. Though I knew how this would end because I read the series out of order, I was still glued to the story as I witnessed the battle of will vs faith. And, Julie’s signature “passion with a purpose” romance style was an added bonus!

9. Ruby by Lauraine Snelling (Dakotah Treasures #1)

This one is special because it was my first venture into “grown-up” Christian Fiction. I can still remember specifically where I got it — shopping with my mom. Having since reread this entire series, I can say it is a great example of western romance with likable characters and connected story arcs in each book.

10. Duchess by Susan May Warren (Daughters of Fortune #3)

With this novel, I learned that Susan pens historicals in the same complex, riveting manner as her contemporary novels. This was a glimpse of “old Hollywood” with all its glamour AND problems, with a few twists involving WWII. Ultimately, a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and hope.

Thank you to Bethany House, Tyndale, and Summerside Press for the complimentary INSPY review copies. These reviews reflect my honest opinion.


Have you read any of these books or authors? Are there any books you loved but never reviewed or blogged about?

Review: “A Moonbow Night” by Laura Frantz ~ Revell Reads Blog Tour

a-moonbow-nightAuthor Laura Frantz returns to her Kentucky roots with her new novel A Moonbow Night. Laura Frantz is on my #mustread author list because her stories always paint epic pictures of individuals in American history in a prose-like, lyrical, immersive style.
If I may apply the topographical wording of “north northwest” to the genre, this novel is “historical historical romance”, with slightly more emphasis on the drama and history, though the romance that unfolds slowly is heartfelt and central to the story.

About the Book

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It’s a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke–men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn’t expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe’s skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other.
With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons readers to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

Review

A Moonbow Night is as prolific and flowing as expected, with a new level of grittiness exploring the raw reality of frontier life, conditions, and conflict. Instead of typical plot and story, Moonbow offers what feels like an inside look at true frontier living. The monotony, the labor, the wild beauty, the challenge. The toughness of character required. The trust in the Almighty and fellow man. And, the sweetness of love and family which surpasses all eras.

screenshot_2017-01-06-15-25-44-1.pngSion is a hero of few words and many actions. His steadfast presence is an anchor to the story, dependable for Tempe whose life seems ever-changing. Tempe, a strong character herself, is good at the heart and willing to do anything necessary for the people she cares for, whether it be family or a rough group of surveyors with a formidable 🙂 leader.

This story delves deep into the heart, revealing slowly an intricate picture influenced by grief and love. While the reader doesn’t know the backstory of Sion or Tempe for a little while, one can still sense the pain in each character’s voice and wonder at what happened. Patience is rewarded as Frantz reveals the acts behind each character’s carried heartache and brings to light surprising secrets connecting this ragtag group of characters in unexpected ways.

While they traverse many trials and crazy-dangerous situations in the wilds of “Kentucke”, some making me anxious and wondering how any good could come from the current predicament, the magnetic draw between Tempe and Sion was unmistakable. This is, perhaps, my favorite part of this story: the bittersweet romance between them. Slow to manifest itself, I was constantly rooting for them to see beyond their own pain and realize the blessing and life found in each other. Their eventual path to this realization surprised me in several ways, but it offered a thread of hope, of purpose, tying the story together and pointing to God’s ultimate plan and provision.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this novel. This review reflects my honest opinion.

You can visit my previous reviews here:

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish People You Should Follow on Pinterest

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is Ten Bookish People You Should Follow on _____ (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, other social media, blogs, etc.). I’ve chosen to adapt it to Pinterest because I’m obsessed with pinning.

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Click to follow The Green Mockingbird on Pinterest

One awesome part of the reading experience in modern times, I think, is connecting with authors via social media. The Pinterest platform allows authors to share their story’s “world” with locations, character ideas, behind-the-scenes news, quotes, etc. I’ve chosen to share 10 of my favorite pinning-authors and my favorite of their book boards! I so appreciate these authors for taking the time to compile and share their inspirations and unique worlds this way.

Top 10 Favorite Pinterest Authors & my Favorite Book Boards

  1. Amber Stokes — click here to visit her board for How a Star Falls
  2. Dawn Crandall — click here to visit her board for The Hesitant Heiress
  3. Dani Pettrey — click here to visit her board for Cold Shot
  4. Hillary Lodge — click here to visit her board for Reservations for Two
  5. Laura Frantz — click here to visit her board for The Mistress of Tall Acre
  6. Lori Benton — click here to visit her board for The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
  7. Pepper Basham — click here to visit her board for The Thorn Keeper
  8. Rachel McMillan — click here to visit her board for The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder
  9. Rachelle Rea — click here to visit her board for the “Steadfast Love” series
  10. Tamera Alexander — click here to visit her board for A Beauty So Rare

Honorable mentions: Melissa Tagg, Kristy Cambron, Lynne Gentry, Jessica Dotta, The Silver Petticoat Review, and this book quote board “Favorite Quotes from Christian Fiction”.

Do you follow any authors via Pinterest or other social media? I welcome your comments and recommendations!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top {11} Book Quotes

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a FREEBIE topic for Top Ten Tuesday! So, looking back through past topics, I was inspired to share some favorite book quotes (originally a topic in 2010, I believe). While I have many favorite book quotes, I have chosen 11 to share here that hopefully make sense out of context. Narrowing it down was not easy!

Top {11} Book Quotes

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 NIV

Taking a sip of tea, she felt immediately better. Tea was comfort. Tranquility. Civility. – Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped. – Persuasion by Jane Austen

“You put new meaning to the word bookworm. More like a book… boa constrictor.” – Blake in Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

We said goodbye at the end of the day with the kind of reluctance usually reserved for small children leaving Disneyland. – A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

“…one cannot turn one’s back on the truth. One cannot wish it away, or pray it away, or even live it away.” – Verity in Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

“I know it’s difficult to see right now, but if we trust Him, God can bring us through these dark places, through our fears and even what we think is impossible, to give us more. More of Him. Even more of ourselves, through Him. In fact, He can do more than you can ask or imagine if you let Him.”  – Grace in When I Fall In Love by Susan May Warren

“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.” – Mr. Thornton in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

“Do you know-” her tone went musing- “belief does something marvelous to courage. Courage is something to be drummed up without it, but if you have belief, it does the drumming.” – Clare in Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Not everything that happens to us in this life will bring us joy. …But in time God will work even the worst things men do to us for our lasting good. Eternal good. Trust in the Almighty, in His love for you, and you’ll have no need to dread anything He has befall you. For with a test, a trial, He gives an equal measure of grace to bear it and the comfort of His fellowship as He strengthens us. He is acquainted with suffering. – The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Imagine how differently we’d treat people if at the beginning of an acquaintance we were given opportunity to know how that person would affect our life. – Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite book quotes?

Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

New books by my favorite authors always make me happy. It’s the little things in life, right? 🙂 This time, The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz surpassed my already high expectations. I have heard a few other reviewers use the adjectives “beautiful” and “poignant” to describe it. They are most definitely right, and I’m going to add “heartfelt characters” and “grand setting” to the list!

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz ReviewedBook summary: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

*on to the enthusiastic review*

Laura Frantz has a unique gift of storytelling which engulfs the reader in the story completely. From the very beginning, I was caught up in Sophie’s emotions: her relief that the war was over, her remaining uncertainty of what was to come, her longing for a family of her own. And, I think Laura Frantz used a new method to build romantic suspense in the story – tell the reader two characters will get together in the summary, then put it off longer than expected! At least, it was a little longer than this reader wanted. But all good things are worth the wait. ❤

Both Sophie Menzies and Seamus Ogilvy were very strong characters. She, used to living with little, was unfairly caught between two sides of society and left to the mercy of others. He was trying to readjust to life after the war and find his way back into his little girl’s life. It was precious how Sophie’s newfound companionship with little Lily Cate united her in purpose with Seamus in his efforts to be a good father.

Seamus’s time in the war had left him seemingly stern and abrupt at times (on the outside), but he was so sweet with Lily Cate! That’s what made me like him even more. Readjusting to the role of father or friend had to be hard during that era for returning soldiers used to commanding others. As the story progressed, Seamus proved to be very caring and tender. His strong determination and choice to face whatever tough decision might come were more reasons to love him.

I enjoyed seeing how these characters grew and changed because of their circumstances and influence on each other. For instance, Sophie brought out a different side of Seamus, an intensity and honesty. She encouraged him to lean on his faith in a different way than he had considered. Her experiences gave her a self confidence and renewed trust in God’s mercy. And, Lily Cate’s childlike trust in both Seamus and Sophie made them stronger.

Along with all the reasons I love this story, I want to tell you one teeny-tiny thing I didn’t like about the finished version of it. That is, the back cover summary made me think there would be somewhat of a love triangle, maybe with a previous love interest. This is happily not quite the case. So don’t let the summary discourage you if you don’t like love triangles, because this is NOT that type of story.

The way Scriptures and truths are woven in this story is beautiful. (I know, I’m overusing the word beautiful). A hint at truth being freeing, new mercies given each morning, and children being a gift from God are just a few examples.

There is an intensity to this story and an uncertainty which keeps the plot moving forward.The small element of suspense was very well executed by Laura. I don’t want to say more for fear of revealing too much, but I’ll say after a few particularly agonizing pages, I think I was holding my breath!

Laura Frantz sets the bar high for her genre — and keeps raising it– with each book! If you are new to historical fiction, Christian fiction, or new to Laura Frantz, this book is a perfect place to start.

A sincere thanks to Revell Publishers and Laura Frantz for a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

“Love’s Fortune” by Laura Frantz – Revell Reads Blog Tour

Have I mentioned that Laura Frantz is a favorite author of mine? No? Well, read my recent review of Love’s Awakeningthen, to see more of why I love her stories. Her latest, Love’s Fortune, is just as epic and beautiful. It’s the third and final book in the “Ballantyne Legacy” series. It follows the story of Ansel’s daughter, Rowena “Wren” Ballantyne.

Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Isn’t this cover just breathtaking? I love the rich autumn hues.

Plot Synopsis from Goodreads: Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas’s vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world–filled with family members she’s never met, dances she’s never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes’ shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Wren is caught between a new family she loves dearly and the expectations that come with society –including a “season” with suitors. Unlike Ellie in the previous book, Wren doesn’t have a strong sense of her place in the Ballantyne family. She’s grown up as an outsider, so experiencing life with the Ballantynes — and the reputation that follows — is new and daunting. In addition, the lavish lifestyle of others in Pittsburgh makes her uncomfortable.

As she struggles to reconcile her new surroundings with what she knows of her father’s history, she finds some comfort in the companionship she shares with James. He, however, is caught up in perilous situations as his role working for Silas brings risk and new enemies. Because he’s afraid open his heart to Wren, another potential suitor comes on the scene, railroad magnate Malachi Cameron, causing Wren to question her destiny of finding love or fulfilling her responsibilities as a Ballantyne. (I’ll say no more about the romance element of the story — you’ll have to just read it for yourself! Laura definitely leaves you wondering which man she’ll choose…)

I thought the setting in pre-Civil War Pittsburgh unique and interesting, with the industry there, balls, concerts, and large mansions and homeplaces also in Love’s Awakening. This book is a good conclusion to this series, answering little questions I had about the characters from the previous story. Ultimately, the story illustrated the importance of following God’s path for your heart and life. And, trusting that His protection is there even when we feel vulnerable or confused. With this series finished, I’m eager to see what’s next from Laura!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Revell!

What have you been reading lately?