WWII Novels: A Novelty or Too Much?

*Disclaimer: I received this book for review from Celebrate Lit. All reviews and opinions are my own.

World War novels are probably some of my favourite (especially if they have Canadian leanings). But when I picked up this book to read for review, I found myself asking whether this genre had seen enough.

I really struggled to get into this book and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve really struggled with reading in general or if the novel just really wasn’t that novel for me. I found myself reading mere pages at a time before I had to put it down. But I kept going and was happy when I finished the book.

The storyline was, in essence, a unique one: a young woman sent to Nazi-occupied Paris by her father to bring back to England her wayward sister. I think, though, the plot itself fell somewhat flat for me. I struggled with relating in any way to the characters (which, since the main character was basically a spoiled, rich girl, really isn’t surprising). I felt, though, that the author could have built, both spiritually and physically, a deeper character that grew in a much stronger way than what was portrayed.

She questions her personality throughout which I COULD relate to to a degree. Seeing a person who is taken advantage of because she never stands up for herself becoming a woman, through this experience, who knows what she wants and is respected for it. I think that’s a personality that many of us could relate to on some level. But outside of that, she still maintained an element of stubborness that wasn’t addressed by the author and I found to be a little off-putting.

There was nothing inherently wrong with the book. I would recommend it if someone were looking for something fluffy to read. It just fell a little flat for me. Which was sad because I really do enjoy war-era books.

Read to the bottom for a giveaway!

About the Book

Book:  The Socialite

Author: J’nell Ciesielski

Genre:  Historical Romance

Release Date: April 14, 2020

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.

As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More from J’Nell

I blame Pinterest. Too many hours are spent chasing rabbit holes of glorious pictures of fashion from eras gone by, Highlanders in kilts, WWI ambulances, and fairytale castles. One day I was browsing something super important (or possibly escaping from the actual work I was supposed to be doing, er, we’ll never know) and stumbled across a black and white picture of six beautiful girls. Who are these lovely ladies? I wondered. A quick search brought up the Mitford sisters. Six gorgeous daughters born into an aristocratic English family, each girl with a different passion: Diana the fascist, Jessica the communist, Unity the Hitler lover, Nancy the novelist, Deborah the duchess, and Pamela the poultry connoisseur. Whoa. You know dinner time around their family table was interesting. How could such different personalities belong in the same family? What would you do if your sister got moon-eyed over Hitler??

Bam. An idea was born.

In the beginning, my little rebel Ellie was going to be a full-fledged Nazi ideology lover, but she quickly informed me that it wasn’t so much the Nazis or their crazy ideas she loved, but one man in particular. One twisted Nazi who had fallen completely under her spell, and she under his. The ideas of love can often be more difficult to break as Kat finds out when she tries to rescue her naïve sister. Luckily, she has a hunky Sottish bartender to help her while providing a few romantic intentions of his own. With everyone hiding past hurts and true identities, how will they ever hope to find the love they each long for when war rages under the bright lights of Paris? Guess you’ll have to read to find out 😉

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 22

Emily Yager, May 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 22

Back Porch Reads, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 23

Breny and Books, May 23

Stories By Gina , May 23

For Him and My Family, May 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 24

Connect in Fiction, May 24

Simple Harvest Reads, May 25 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 25

Life, Love, Writing, May 25

Livin’ Lit, May 26

Robin’s Nest, May 26

All-of-a-kind Mom, May 26

For the Love of Literature, May 26

Betti Mace, May 27

Maureen’s Musings, May 27

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 27

Genesis 5020, May 28

Book of Ruth Ann, May 28

Remembrancy, May 28

Read Review Rejoice, May 29

Quiet Workings, May 29

Mia Reads, May 29

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 30

Rebecca Tews, May 30

deb’s Book Review, May 30

Older & Smarter?, May 31

Texas Book-aholic, May 31

Books I’ve Read, May 31

Batya’s Bits, June 1

Blossoms and Blessings, June 1

Splashes of Joy, June 1

Through the Fire Blogs, June 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 2

Moments, June 2

Pause for Tales, June 3

Andrea Carmen, June 3

Just Your Average reviews, June 3

To Everything There Is A Season, June 3

Fiction Aficionado, June 4

Lis Loves Reading, June 4

Hallie Reads, June 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a book and a book sleeve!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fa09/the-socialite-celebration-tour-giveaway

What If Your Volition Was Taken Away?

*Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Celebrate Lit. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Volition: the faculty or power of using one’s will.

This book is so different from anything Chautona Havig has written. Kind of a sci-fi meets Leave It to Beaver. I have to say this actually has become one of my favourites out of everything she has written.

Andi is such a relatable character. I loved her feelings of justice, anger towards an unjust system (kind of relating to that right now especially), her love for God, and the idea that her volition was taken away because it was a no-brainer decision. The decision to marry James was virtually taken away from her and the questions of its validity before God was an interesting path to follow through the book.

I probably related most to her trying to figure out how to be the wife God intended for her to be. Of course, her situation is one that none of us will ever find ourselves in. Many, however, do still deal with arranged marriages and in that form, I think they could relate to this book on a deeper level. In a general sense, though, I think we all struggle with what God expects from US. Being a good wife looks different for each person and instead of trying to fit someone else’s mold we need to see ask the Lord for wisdom to figure out what that will look like for us, in light of Scripture.

That was something else that I took out of this book. Andi loved her Bible, took great comfort in reading it, and freely gave it for someone else to learn about the Lord she loved. It is convicting to consider how much time I spend in my Bible. And if I were in Andi’s position would I bargain for my Bible?

The main characters in this book have a deepness to them that drew me in. When I picked up this book I was struggling with reading anything, and yet, I couldn’t put this down.

I love Chautona Havig’s style of writing. She often talks to Christians (not necessarily unsaved people) and she challenges how we live our faith out. I highly recommend this book (and any of her books, really!)

About the Book

Book:  Volition

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Christian fiction, futuristic

Release Date: December 31, 2019

Print

“I should have made that left turn at Tucumcari.”

It’s Doctor Who meets mail-order brides when “rescuers” from the future arrive to save Andi Flanders from a happy life with her loving family and fiancé.

Okay, so they meant to get her suicidal roommate, but hey. Mistakes happen, right?

And as far as Andi’s concerned, they can fix them—by sending her home.

However, when she learns what happens when she disappears from home, Andi has an impossible choice. Stay in the government-controlled futuristic world she despises and never see her family again or return to the twenty-first century and doom an innocent person to death.

Volition— Life and death decisions are so overrated.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Havig_Chautona (1)

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

What Happens When You Explore Logical Progressions?

She used chopsticks. Me? I’m a fork kind of gal. But over plates of sesame chicken and fried rice, we hashed out what our NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) books would be. Every year, I challenged myself.  Once by writing drippy romance (Discovering Hope).  Once by turning a sermon into a story that wasn’t preachy (Argosy Junction). (psst… links are affiliate links—they provide a small commission at no extra expense to you!)

This time, I’d decided the challenge would include writing in the first person.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I don’t like the first-person perspective. As we tried to figure out what our plots would be, my friend added another challenge. “Do science fiction.”

I’ll be honest. I almost laughed her out of the restaurant. But then an idea hit me.  Why shouldn’t I?  I could kill two dislikes in one book.  Bam! Done!

That kicked off a book I probably never would have written otherwise.

I knew doing major techno-science stuff wouldn’t be conducive to trying to write 50,000 words in thirty days, so I immediately chose futuristic over space travel.  The decision to go with a form of time travel was probably inspired by Doctor Who, now that I think of it. I didn’t back then. I just went with what I thought I might be able to make interesting—to write, if not to read.

That kicked off an idea that sent my brain spinning.

What would happen if you got kidnapped and taken to the future, but returning to your former life means someone’s soul will never be redeemed?

Of course, it would take a really strong, amazing character to pull off that kind of thing. Not everyone could do it. But who… who give up her life for someone else?

That’s when I knew. That soul saved would have to belong to someone my character didn’t even like. Gotta raise the stakes, you know?

That’s also when I discovered that I wouldn’t like her—not at first.

Andi Flanders jumped onto the page with hands on hips and eyes flashing. She was livid that people in the future had interfered with her life. Then she’s broken when she realizes she can’t go back.

Fiercely independent, Andi enters futuristic Rockland with a critical eye and condemning spirit.  Since most sci-fi stuff I’ve seen focuses on sleek, pristine futures full of glass and steel, I wanted to go a different direction.  But how?

That’s when my solution came to me.

I’d take today’s world and push everything to logical exaggerated conclusions.

  • Environmentalism? We’ll have a world that tries not to encroach on nature any more than necessary
  • Population? I took China’s “one child” policy and made it worldwide… and then let the future deal with the fallout.
  • Globalism? I let them have their one-world government that protects everyone from themselves.
  • Apathetic faith? I didn’t persecute Christians. I just let their faith die a slow, natural death.

And then I threw in a character with a love for Jesus and a minor obsession with Ayn Rand’s objectivism.  Yes, I’m aware that those two things can be mutually exclusive. That was the fun of it.

This Rand-spouting, Jesus loving, freckle-faced, fiery redhead had to deal with all if this stuff in a world as opposite from her freedom-loving self as can stand.

Ninety-thousand words later, I was done.  And then I shelved the book.

For ten years.

On December 27, 2019, I got a message from my son.

He’d found a book cover design contest and wondered if he should enter.  And if so, with what book?  We hashed out ideas when I remembered Volition.  It wasn’t edited.  Done, but not edited.  Could I possibly get the whole thing cleaned up before December 31 rolled over into January 1?

I decided to try.

Nolan got to work on a cover while I began editing like nobody’s business.

With the help of my amazing launch team, an incredible editor, and no sleep, the book was live on New Year’s Eve with three hours to spare.

Then my son decided not to worry about entering this year.

He lives. This is a testimony to God’s grace and control over my life.  And my hands.

Or maybe it’s because he lives three hours south of me, and I’ve only seen him once since then. You don’t kill your son at your daughter’s wedding reception. Just sayin’.

But let’s go with the first reason. It makes me sound more spiritual or something. 😉

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 12

Wishful Endings, May 12

Lots of Helpers, May 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 14

Pause for Tales, May 14

Emily Yager, May 15

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 16

Robin’s Nest, May 16

Texas Book-aholic, May 17

Inklings and notions, May 18

Worthy2Read, May 18

For Him and My Family, May 19

Read Review Rejoice, May 19

deb’s Book Review, May 20

Rebecca Tews, May 20

Book of Ruth Ann, May 21

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 22

Blogging With Carol, May 23

Quiet Workings, May 24

Breny and Books, May 24

Artistic Nobody, May 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter:

https://promosimple.com/ps/f9f5/volition-celebration-tour-giveaway

To All The Ladies: A Note From A Pastor’s Wife

This week my Pastor’s wife shared a beautiful note on her Facebook page For Such A Time As This, and it was so well-worded that I asked her if I could share it here and she agreed. I hope you all have a weekend, filled with normal expections, and love from your family. <3

“As Mother’s Day is approaching just around the corner…I think of the many ways of being a mother, especially shown in my own family and beyond.

…there are women who couldn’t be tummy mommy’s but have children through the blessing of adoption & fostering like one of our dear daughters.

….another daughter has two beautiful step-daughters whom she loves dearly.

….our third daughter has a precious baby girl in Heaven, and 5 years later was blessed with a healthy baby boy.

….I think of my own sister, who miscarried precious babies, but has been like a mom and a grandmother to my children.

I think of the birth moms that have placed children for adoption or miscarried.

Those that are single parents, like I was.

Or have children who passed away.

I think of the women who are raising grandchildren or looking after elderly parents.

There are the dear women who have wanted children, but couldn’t and have cared for others in a special way.

So many ways of mothering, caring and loving. To all you dear women, my hat’s off to you, for the difference you make in the world! <3 <3

God bless your hearts!”

Brenda Parrett

The Importance of the Top Sheet: Teaching our Children to Keep a Home

Over the last year it has been really interesting to me to see posts from bloggers about not washing their bed sheets. I am absolutely floored at the amount of people who commented with an “Amen” and the length of time that most people go between washings (the average seeming to be 3-6 months from what I read in comments).

Now before you all think I’m some special housewife, I get it. I have often struggled to maintain dishes and regular laundry let alone bed sheets, usually due to health issues, but not always. Let me tell you something I won’t do, though. I won’t brag about it on social media. Because not keeping my house clean is not a badge I wear with honour. It’s actually something I really struggle with and feel it’s one area as a Christian mom that I, personally, need to work on.

Proverbs 31 tells us of a special lady who kept her house clean. Her children called her “blessed” because she did the needful things. Titus tells us that women are to be “keepers at home.” That’s not a death sentence, Ladies. That is a higher calling!

My mom has always been that Proverbs 31 woman to me. I look back and honestly wonder how she got it all done (I remember us having an immaculate house and her still having time to read). My mom had a strict schedule when it came to our house. I’m terrible with following schedules. Something I wish I had more in common with my mom.

When it came to the bed linens, though, my mom had a no-nonsense approach to keeping them clean! My mom washed her bed linens every week (because she said two people slept on them!) and us kids washed ours every other week (also cutting down on water since we paid for that). I don’t remember ever missing that bi-weekly switch. It was a Saturday ritual.

To top it off, my mom would also stand and iron every single pillowcase Saturday night before bed. Eventually that became my job and I remember, when I got married, people laughed at me because I still did it (in all disclosure, I haven’t ironed pillowcases in years)

Well, Ladies (and Gents if you’re the ones who keep the house), it turns out there is a good reason for my mom’s schedule and cleaning regimen. And one that makes that top sheet, that so many throw away, incredibly important:

Bacteria

Let’s start off by saying that not all bacteria is bad. If you know Science, you know that our bodies are made up of bacteria and there are both good and bad bacteria.

However, if we look at what we do in the run of a day, and what we place on our beds, you’ll get a picture of what you’re sleeping in.

Imagine the effects of this on your health?

When we don’t wash our sheets on a regular basis, that bacteria continues to build. Check out the articles below for more information on this.

And I didn’t even think about this until I started looking for articles to back up my premise on the importance of a top sheet! For all of you who think the top sheet is unimportant, just think about when you finally get around to washing your bottom sheet, do you wash your top duvet?

I actually remember my mom telling me this when I was a kid and was questioning the importance of a top sheet. That top sheet essentially “helps” (it’s not the end-all, be-all mind you,) but it helps act as a barrier to keep your duvet cleaner than if you didn’t use one. And you should also wash your duvet a couple times a year!

So yes, the top sheet, and teaching our children about this, is IMPORTANT.

I’m so thankful for the lessons my mom taught me. Although I haven’t been as good at keeping up with them in my house, I recognize my need to grow in this area. I want to teach my children to have habits that encourage healthy habits. What are one of the things we should be teaching them? How to wash bedding. It sounds silly, but it’s quickly becoming a lost art, and it makes me wonder if a lot of the health issues we face could be fixed by keeping up with daily chores around the house.

Here are some easy steps you can use to help your kids learn to keep their beds clean:

  1. No eating in bed.
  2. In the morning, fold your sheets back for an hour and allow your bed to “dry” before making it..
  3. Make your bed (don’t place anything on your sheets)
  4. Change the sheets and pillowcases weekly
  5. Wash the mattress pad and pillows at least twice a year
  6. Use natural sprays or essential oils on your mattress to kill dust mites, etc.
  7. Diffuse essential oils in the bedrooms to help cut down on dust and more…

Let’s teach our kids to do better! <3

Sources:

Dunn, Robert, Home Life: Factors Structuring the Bacterial Diversity Found within and between Homes, 2013

Shultz, Colin, Germophobes Take Note: Your Pillowcase Is As Dirty As Your Toilet, SmithsonianMag.com, 2012

WebMD.com, Health Hazards When You Don’t Wash Your Sheets, Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, 2019

Hyde, Mackenzie, Bacteria in your Bed, amerisleep.com, 2020

When Life Hands You Lemons…Just Pull Out Your Sugar.

*Affiliate Links are included in this post.

I was SO excited!!! I was going to spend 2 full weeks in Ontario with my parents (the first planned vacation there with all 3 of my kids) for my mom’s birthday. It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve been home. It was a pretty big deal. I had plans, guys.

I was going to go check out a Charlotte-Mason curriculum store, purchase fabric online and pick it up so I didn’t have to pay shipping, and, most importantly, go to the biggest homeschool conference I have ever attended!!!

And then it happened. I got handed a bowl-full of lemons. Not only was I not going to Ontario as planned, but ALL the homeschool conferences were canceled this year. Even the one in New Brunswick I was planning to attend in June where Heidi St. John was going to be speaking.

Subsequently, while I wasn’t “devastated” over events, I was just a little disappointed. As a homeschool mom, I look forward to those times of getting out. That’s the hardest part of isolating. Due to already spending 90% of my week at home (minus church and groceries), I look forward to these big times of getting together with other moms and friends.

Despite being a little down about the cancellations, I became excited when I found out about this amazing conference being held online – in a LIVE format so it’s just like being at an in-person conference! And it was like someone handed me a bag of sugar to make that lemonade!

Enter the Canadian Homeschool Symposium

Canadian Homschool Symposium

The line-up of speakers is absolutely incredible! I mean check it out! Some of the speakers include Rebecca Spooner, Diane Geerlinks, Louise House, Lisa Marie Fletcher, and SO MANY MORE!

For $20 (that’s like 1/3 of the price I was going to pay to be in-person at a conference) you’ll get access to a swag bag of coupon codes and free product. Plus, you can meet up with many of the speakers in the vendor hall.

The Canadian Homeschool Symposium is going to be an online event like no other and I hope you’ll join us! Order curriculum, join some fun, and be encouraged through this special event. I hope to see you there!

Click on the picture to sign up today. The fun starts tomorrow!

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