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.


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

Grounded Hearts, by Jeanne M. Dickson

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.

But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?


First Thoughts:

I’m unfamiliar with Ireland’s role in World War 2, so I’m hoping for a novel that’s informative as well as entertaining.

My Take:

When Dutch Whitney parachutes into an Irish bog, he has two thoughts on his mind: the fate of his crew, and getting back to the fight. But County Clare is a long way from safety, and he’s injured. He’s fortunate to stop at the isolated cottage of a nurse and midwife who can tend to his wounds and who has a car he can “borrow” – if he can get it running.

Grounded Hearts Jeanne M. DicksonI have mixed feelings about Grounded Hearts. I felt the plot plodded for the first two-thirds and I didn’t feel the rising tension I expected. I was waiting for Dutch to be discovered, but nothing in my emotions screamed “Danger!” I did grow increasingly annoyed with each appearance of the lecherous – and ambitious – army reserve officer investigating Whitney’s whereabouts. I couldn’t connect with Nan: her Catholic beliefs left her feeling guilty for much of what she did, while my opinion of her republican background was colored by my own experiences of growing up in England during a time of IRA bombs.

One aspect I did make note of was how Nan and Dutch changed. Nan was a lonely woman who eventually found herself surrounded by friends eager to help her. Dutch saw how his military actions could impact innocent civilians just trying to get on with their lives. While helping her ‘flyboy’ escape north, Nan was able to escape from her recent, tragic, past. The title might be Grounded Hearts, but these were two hearts that took flight.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Waterfall Press for my complimentary copy of Grounded Hearts, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read Grounded Hearts? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Waterfall Press (an imprint of Amazon Publishing)

Publication Date: 13 June 2017

Page Count: 348

Read more on:   Jeanne M. Dickson Website

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