The Lost Castle, by Kristy Cambron

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

First Thoughts:

I was sent this novel by Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild. I’ve read Kristy Cambron’s other novels so I was happy to read this one. Continue reading

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Until We Find Home, by Cathy Gohlke

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

First Thoughts:

I’ve read two other novels by Cathy Gohlke, and I gave both five stars. I’m hoping to be wowed again. Continue reading

The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever. 

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed Liz Tolsma’s previous novels set during World War 2. I can’t find anything about this title on the publisher’s website, however.

My Take:

Liz Tolsma returns with a new fiction series on her specialty subject of World War Two, this time based around the theme of music. It commences with a prologue set in the spring of 1943 as Anna’s family are deported to the camp at Terezin. Not surprisingly, she harbors strong resentment towards anyone in a Nazi uniform. But Horst is, perhaps, a different kind of Nazi. A military man due to nepotism, Horst isn’t exactly naïve but he prefers to close his eyes and not think about the fate of the deported Jews. That’s until he hears Anna’s violin and is inexplicably drawn to her.

This is a tense and emotional novel. Anna and her grandmother wait for their deportation notices to arrive and then wait to be discovered when they don’t obey the instructions. There’s a side story about one of Horst’s colleagues cozying up to a Czech woman who happens to be a member of the resistance. I couldn’t see the point of its inclusion at first, except perhaps to show a contrast in the officers’ behaviors. But the stories combine and lead to a stunning conclusion that makes you rethink what you just read.

Although primarily a dramatic love story set during war time, The Melody of the Soul raises some uncomfortable questions for both the characters and the book’s readers. At one point, Anna point blank asks Horst why no one stopped Hitler long ago, and especially after the events of Kristallnacht. He has no real response for her. The reader is also forced to confront the notion of “good Nazis” versus “bad Nazis.” For every hero in fiction there must be a villain, and Horst’s fellow officer fills that role as he struts around Prague, coerces/seduces Czech women, and willingly shoots any Jew who gets in his way. Still, we must ask ourselves if the notion of a “good Nazi” is based on individual acts such as Horst protecting Anna and her grandmother, rather than the inability to stop the Final Solution.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of The Melody of the Soul, which I received for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read The Melody of the Soul? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Gilead Publishing

Publication Date: 16 January 2018

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Liz Tolsma’s Website  Music and the Holocaust

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com