Top Ten Tuesday: True History in Fiction

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a “Back to School” Freebie! I’m taking a suggested idea of Books to Complement a History Lesson and turning it into a list of true history in fiction. I enjoy historical fiction — especially when I’m learning something new through story. I am allowing myself to go a *little* over 10 books (I’m listing 18 books in total). I hope you find a new era or event you’re interested in learning more about!

Wait, that’s a true story? True History in Fiction

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

1520s The early Protestant Reformation and the true-life romance between the prominent protestant reformation starter Martin Luther and former Catholic nun Katharina von Bora.

The Sound of Diamonds

The “Steadfast Love” series by Rachelle Rea Cobb

The Sound of Diamonds | The Sound of Silver | The Sound of Emeralds

1566 A Catholic girl’s changing perspective in Protestant Reformation-Era England.


The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

1719-22 Early French settlement of New Orleans and the Louisiana area.

Woods Edge

The “Pathfinders” duology by Lori Benton

The Wood’s Edge | A Flight of Arrows

1757-1777 New York settlement and Native American involvement in Revolutionary War.


A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

1777 Kentucky wilderness during the early American frontier– plus a little of Daniel Boone’s personal influence on its settlement.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

1787 The “State of Franklin” dispute in the Appalachians and western North Carolina.

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

1857 The “orphan train” era, including working conditions and an inside look at poverty in immigrant communities of NYC.


The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

1864 Andersonville prison in Georgia and its conditions toward the end of the Civil War.

The Thorn Bearer

The “Penned in Time” series by Pepper D. Basham

The Thorn Bearer | The Thorn Keeper | The Thorn Healer

1910s WWI England and post-war America, including the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, events on the England homefront, and a German internment camp in the Appalachians.

High as the Heavens

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

1917 WWI Belgium, with secret spy networks and methods (the heroine was inspired by 3 different real women).

maggie bright

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

1940 England and Dunkirk, France during the WWII evacuation event.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

1940s WWII Auschwitz and the role of Jewish musicians/artists in concentration camps.

With Love, Wherever You Are

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

1941-45 America and Europe, late WWII conditions from a nurse and doctor’s perspectives. Fun fact: The couple in this story is based on the real-life parents of the author and includes much of their real-life correspondence during the war.

As always, thank you for reading!

What did you pick for this back-to-school week? Have you read any of the books on my list? What is your favorite era/setting for historical fiction? Do share in the comments!

Review: “The Sound of Silver” by Rachelle Rea

Today I’m back with a book review of the second book in Rachelle Rea’s “Steadfast Love” series, The Sound of Silver. You might’ve seen my previous post featuring the lovely Rachelle Rea in an interview and a book review of her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds. Please do check it out after this!About the Book

The Sound of Silver
The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

ReviewWhile this is the second book in the series, AND I’m recommending you read them in order, it *could* be read by itself because it does relate enough of the backstory of these characters.

Rachelle continues telling the story with alternating first person POV between the two main characters in this book. It still works extremely well, especially with Rachelle’s almost prose-like observations and included setting details. I really enjoyed how it showed these two characters going through similar struggles during a time when they were apart. And, from these struggles, God drew each of them closer to Him and reached out to their hearts in unique ways.

Fire and Rain

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book!

The strong characters and personalities already well-established since book 1 increase with added depth through the twists and turns of this story. While this IS the middle book of a series, it certainly has its own contained plot that’s mostly tied up by the end. Still, some lingering questions and suspicions of mine are waiting eagerly for book 3, The Sound of Emeralds! Middle books can be tricky sometimes, but Silver still has shining moments of import you won’t want to miss out on.

I could say so much more about the these characters, but I don’t want to give away any of the story! So, I’ll just say their journeys through loss, pain, and grief mingle beautifully in a period of history wrought with change.

Right now, there is an awesome Goodreads giveaway (until April 5) for a signed copy of The Sound of Silver! Click here to enter.

Have you read a recent historical you loved? Do you enjoy books told in first person POV?

Review & Author Interview: “The Sound of Diamonds” by Rachelle Rea

Review & Author Interview: “The Sound of Diamonds” by Rachelle Rea

One of my favorite things about book blogging is virtually “meeting” bloggers and authors who share a similar passion for story. Another one of my favorite things is seeing the success of bloggers-turned-authors –whether through a major or small publisher, or those who brave self-publishing. Rachelle Rea is one such author braving the market through a smaller publishing house. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, deserves a shout from the rooftops to spread the beauty of her story (and humble talent) to the world! 🙂 I’m thrilled to be sharing my review and an interview with Rachelle today!

About the Book

Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.

With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. The Sound of Diamonds.jpgBut when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle’s castle. She doesn’t dare to trust him…and yet doesn’t dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash?

The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope…or be overcome.


Rachelle writes first person point of view with major skills. It’s something that can be tricky for an author to pull off!!!!  Sometimes, a character can come off self-centered, but that is not the case with Gwyn and Dirk. I can see why Rachelle chose to tackle that format for this series. A shift in perspective between Dirk and Gwyn each chapter added additional interest and made the journey very personal and relatable. It also caused the action scenes to be more dramatic because you’re experiencing them through the eyes of one person at a time.


One of my FAVORITE quotes from this book!

The mystery surrounding the connection Dirk and Gwyn have –the source of her hostility and his determination to prove honorable — was expertly revealed. I was anxious to know just what drove Dirk to such lengths and what caused Gwyn’s initial bitterness. And when all is revealed, the deep emotion of each of them is poignantly communicated.

Though the era and religious turmoil of the Reformation age seems far removed from contemporary times, the questions and doubts these characters wrestle with are very relevant today. Does God’s holiness make Him distant because of our sin, or does He really want to extend forgiveness and offer a personal relationship to us? Let me assure you, He does offer forgiveness and grace with the desire that all would come to Him. These questions are addressed with themes of hope and forgiveness shining in a beautiful way through the journeys of Gwyn and Dirk.

This story had the perfect combination of action, suspenseful drama, mild humor, serious issues of faith, and a sweet and promising romance. I’m already on to book two where Gwyn and Dirk seem to be getting out of one scrape into another!

Thank you to Rachelle and WhiteFire Publishing for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Interview with the Author

What inspired you to write The Sound of Diamonds?

The title came first, as I was driving down the road one day. I decided I needed to know what the sound of diamonds even was, so I started writing a story about a girl who needs glasses and gets herself embroiled in the middle of the Dutch Revolution–and of course the handsome red-headed hero who saves her!

Rachelle ReaWhat spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with The Sound of Diamonds?

Hope. Specifically, how hope can be had even in the midst of life’s tragedies…like the death of loved ones, the death of dreams held dear.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Probably nit-picking the little details! I searched for what felt like the randomest facts: what sleeves looked like in the 16th century, what the most common beverage was since water sanitation was, well, not quite up to par. And how far a horse could travel in a day. Although it could be frustrating, it could be fun, too.

Do you have any hobbies?

I spent way too long staring at this question, LOL. Do writing-related hobbies count? Book signings make me nervous and happy at the same time! I enjoy blogging more as a hobby than a regularly-posting blogger. And I’m always, always tempted to put writing as a hobby at times like these, before I remember that I actually get to call that a job now. 🙂

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it
be and why?

The Elizabethan era! It fascinates me, which is one of the reasons I wrote about it…

What are you currently* reading?

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg! I haven’t gotten very far yet but I already really like Ava and Seth. Also, I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time. Currently in number four!

*I’m sure Rachelle has finished these books by now…. I have been terribly slow at posting this interview! I ❤ Melissa Tagg, too!

Thank you SO MUCH for answering my interview questions! It’s fascinating to learn stories behind a book or author. I’m glad to hear you googled sleeves 🙂 Now I know I’m not the only person who googles odd things!


Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. An Oreo addict, she is also a homeschool graduate and retired gymnast. She wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.






Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea

What is one of your favorite eras to READ about? Have you ever read a book set in the Elizabethan or Protestant Reformation era? 

Review: “Luther and Katharina” by Jody Hedlund

When writing book reviews, I always start with the best of intentions to keep my reviews precise and informative. But then feelings and stories and lovable characters get in the way. And before I know it, I’ve practically written a short story myself. But, I’ve decided this is not an editorial journal, it’s my blog, so I’m going to tell you what I think — even if it takes a few hundred extra words 🙂

This review of Jody Hedlund’s recent release – Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion – does get a little long. But I love Jody! This is the first historical from her, as opposed to her usual historical romance/YA books. That means the plot is driven more by historical events and less by relationships or romance. Don’t worry, there is still a sweet and earnest love story that unfolds. History tells us that Luther and Katharina did marry, but Jody’s style just makes their story all the more relatable.
Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Book Summary: Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

My thoughts: Jody Hedlund has successfully done something very challenging — she has written the fictional account of actual historical figures in a manner both realistic and entertaining. I applaud her for the work she put into this story to include as much historical accuracy, detail, and actual quotes from Martin Luther as possible (her website and her author’s note are very informative!). On top of all that, the story itself is riveting, spiritually deep, and romantic.

This is a very fascinating and interesting era. I can see why it is sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages: spiritual matters, including any reading of the Bible, were left up to the very high figures of the church. The concept of a personal relationship with God was revolutionary for Luther to preach. In this story, the characters are caught up in the turmoil of the era. Luther is caught between pledging loyalty to the noblemen and peasants in the Peasant War. And, Katharina is struggling to find balance between the stricture of her old life and trusting in her newfound relationship with God.

At times, this was tough to read because the lives they lived were hard, with a constant threat of persecution. These people had to deal with turmoil and real doubts in a time where spiritual leadership was severely lacking. Oh to meet them someday in heaven! I admire their faith and bravery. Little did they know this would be the start of the Protestant Reformation and how would impact Christianity.

This is the type of story with many layers and themes. The main takeaway from it, I think, is the example of how Luther and Katharina each chose to commit their whole lives to God. They left it in His hands for Him to receive glory, whether it came about through their persecution, trials, or fulfilled dreams. Trusting in God and learning from their circumstances brought about growth of character (as in the personality trait) and ultimately led to contentment with their lives.

For more info on Jody’s books, fun extras that go with Luther and Katharina, or to connect with her visit her website. If you’ve read Luther and Katharina already :), you’re invited to join in a discussion as part of Cassie and Jamie’s #HedlundChallenge2015 later in October!

Thank you to Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Press for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Jody’s? Do you prefer historical fiction or historical romances?