Rosemary Gresham is a thief.
Besides that, she's an excellent thief. From a band of orphans turned family of excellent thieves.
Excellent thieves in need of money. Which is why she's taken this job from the mysterious Mr. V. To track down Peter Holstein and figure out who he is--to determine whether he is loyal to England or Germany as war rumbles in the distance.
Of course, neither she nor Mr. V counted on her actually liking him.
A Name Unknown features a whole cast of vibrant characters, from thieves to novelists to even kings. And not just main characters like Rosemary or Peter. The side characters sparkle as well.
The book is also a great (and realistic) peek into a writer's life. The plot may not be the fastest thing in the world, but it doesn't need to be. On top of that, themes of identity and the One Who gives us that identity shine through.
A Name Unknown doesn't deserve to be a book unknown.
Most of us, in one way or another, have heard of D-Day.
Wyatt Paxton and Dorothy Fairfax are living it.
Wyatt is running from his past. Or rather, trying to earn enough money to go back to it. To make right the things he wronged in the name of protection.
Dorothy is trying to catch her future. A future away from her distant father. A future she believes lies in Lawrence Eaton, if she can only catch his eye.
All while trying to prepare for one of the most influential battles of the Second World War.
The emotion Sarah Sundin packed into this story is incredible. Wyatt's guilt, and the feeling that he has to measure up, especially as an oldest. Dorothy, trying to measure up to her father, to Lawrence, to anyone who might love her. Even though Dorothy can be a bit on the naive side, I could still find myself resonating with the reasons why, even if I wanted to shake some sense into her from time to time.
I loved learning more about the WRENS, the women of England who banded together to help plan for D-Day. I knew nothing of them before reading this book. They were an intriguing addition.
Sarah Sundin also uses symbolism and metaphors well to pack that emotion in there and paint vivid images. All of it tunnels up to strong Christian messages sown throughout the book.
She is also quite knowledgeable on her topic. While very accurate, from time to time, I got a little lost in the battle maneuvers, technology, terminology, and such. She would tell me they were moving into position x, but I would still be at a loss as to why that was important. Likely after a couple more times of reading it, I will get a clearer picture, but a little more description or explanation would have been helpful. (Believe it or not, I was not in Normandy on D-Day.) However, it doesn't diminish the plot.
The conclusion? The Sea Before Us is certainly worth diving into.
War has come to the Mennonite colonies of Russia, leaving no choice for Reinhardt and Lillian, their three sons, and Reinhardt's foster brother Eli but to take a chance on the fields of America--Kansas, to be more specific. But no sooner is their ship out of the dock and tragedy strikes. A tragedy that leads Eli and Lillian to a very serious decision.
Fields of Grace is the story of a family trying desperately to survive. To survive the loss of everything familiar. To survive tragedy. To survive their own inner conflicts.
As a young adult reader, the perspective of Lillian's teenage son, Henrik, did wonders to get me in the story. Where otherwise we would have seen him as nothing more than a rebel, the sections written from his perspective show us why.
Lillian's other son, Joseph, was also a stellar addition to the characters, especially near the end of the book. As Eli and Lillian try to sort out their marriage, showing how the dysfunction affects Joseph was a valuable point in the story and in keeping the story realistic.
The book does use a number of phrases in the language of the Mennonites in that time. While they sparkled and made the culture real, I wish there had been a glossary to define them.
Fields of Grace is a journey. And not all of it is graceful. Lillian and Eli doubt the God they have been devoted to so long. This book provides a good look at a relationship with God amidst tragedy, change, and hardship. It gave me a new appreciation of what some Mennonites went through for their beliefs. It's a journey of stubborn love--and stubborn grace.
Just out of curiosity, have any of you heard of the Amana Colonies? Anyone? If you know what they are, bravo. If you don't, well, neither did I. I had heard of them, but didn't know really what they were . . . and who they were.
Somewhere To Belong changed that.
Welcome to the Amana Colonies. Where hard-working Johanna tries to do her best, even as she wonders about her brother in the outside world. Where newcomer Berta struggles to quell her rebellion and discover where her fun-loving spirit fits.
Where secrets lie buried. Secrets that will change everything both Johanna and Berta thought true.
I love Judith Miller's writing style. She gets me inside a character's head from page one. Besides that, her characters are so vibrant and full of quirks that I can't help but follow their adventures to the last page. Even Berta. While Berta's rebellion and attitude could get up on my very last nerve, I'd still stick with her, because I knew why she was acting that way.
As I mentioned above, I knew very little about the Amana Colonies going into this book. I was quickly immersed in their culture, a very intriguing culture. But not only that, it takes us into the reasons this group of Christians formed their hard-working and seemingly strict colonies. It takes us into a community of believers trying to do their best to worship God. It's inspiring.
Somewhere To Belong also shows the reality of dishonesty. Nowhere do we see that keeping secrets never hurt anyone or that you can tell a lie for the right reasons. We see the reasons the characters were motivated to lie and we see the consequences.
I'd say that Somewhere To Belong belongs on my bookshelf.
Her name is Misty Wayfair, and she is a ghost.
She's been terrorizing the not-so-pleasant Pleasant Valley for years--most specifically the Coyle family. Could it have something to do with that old asylum out in the woods? Two different women, years and cultures apart but not so different at all, are about to come face-to-face with her and the truth about themselves.
Misty Wayfair is a ghost story. As someone who's not into ghost stories, I found this one particularly intriguing. Two heroines both searching for their identity, one battling abandonment, one battling anxiety. Love interests who aren't the handsome-on-top-of-everything-else type. A chilling villain (most especially in the historical sections) and an out-of-nowhere climax.
But the two things that caught me most about The Curse of Misty Wayfair? One: the sensitive looks at topics such as depression, anxiety, and especially her inclusion of an autistic character. Jaime Jo Wright portrays them all realistically and in an understanding manner, which is rare. As someone with hands-on experience with autism, I appreciated and was impressed by Emma's presence in the book.
The second thing was the strong themes of identity. This is a book that does not back down from probing who the heroes really are, who the villains really are, and who the reader really is. It doesn't shy away from the only One Who can give us our identity either, also becoming a rarity in books.
But who is Misty Wayfair, really? You'll have to read it to find out.
*climbs out of giant open treasure chest in the corner of the room and peers around* Are they gone? The pirates, I mean?
Good! Alrighty, then! *brushes hands off* Who's up for a treasure hunt?
What's this all about, you ask? Have you ever heard the story of Peter Pan? *pulls another treasure chest off the top shelf* I'll bet you've never heard it quite like this before!
The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.
Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real--since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire's desperate search points to London . . . and a boy who shouldn't exist.
Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.
The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan--and herself.
I am so excited for this release, have my copy pre-ordered and everything! *searches treasure chests for pre-order confirmation and comes up empty* Oh, well. I was not one of the advanced readers, so following along and reading the interviews and reviews from my fellow treasure protectors has been just as much fun (or more) for me as it is for you! I'm excited about some of the themes that I've been told are woven into it. I'm excited about the plot and the characters (especially Peter, I hear he's a pretty vibrant character). I can't wait to see what twists Kara has spun on this tale!
Here's another little secret . . . Kara is actually one of my instructors on the Young Writer's Workshop. I've been able to kind of peek over her shoulder as she's worked through the publishing process. And now Dust is finally here!
But back to the treasure hunt. Word around Neverland has it that there's a treasure waiting at the end of our journey.
Who wouldn't want to hunt that? (And I hear that the first Lost Boy or Girl who makes it to the end gets an advanced reader copy of the book! With an autograph! It's exclusive . . . and stuff.)
Unfortunately, you (Lost Boys and Girls, did you say it was?) aren't the only ones after it. Hence the treasure chest in the corner that's the perfect size for hiding from pirates.
Then again, hiding in a treasure chest to escape pirates might not be my best idea yet.
To beat the pirates and have a look at that treasure, you're going to want to stop in at *rustles through even more treasure chests*: https://paperstrider.com tomorrow! If you've gotten a bit turned around (it's hard to get the hang of this flying thing at first), here's where the whole hunt began: https://gracebought.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/dust-blog-tour-kickoff/
One more thing before you go. *lifts floorboard and reaches for very sparkly treasure chest* You're going to want this keyword. Remember, collect all 36 to decode a quote from the book!
Have. A good word, have.
You'd best fly faster, though, because I think I hear pirates in the distance. Happy hunting! *hops back in treasure chest*
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!