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“The Melody of the Soul” by Liz Tolsma ~ Review

“The Melody of the Soul” by Liz Tolsma

Book One in the Music of Hope Series

Review copy from the publishers through Litfuse

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

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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.

 

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Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.
Find out more about Liz at http://www.liztolsma.com.
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My Thoughts:

 

 

Liz Tolsma has a remarkable knack for writing heart-filled WWII Fiction. “The Melody of the Soul”, book one in her new series, was a beautiful tale.
Anna Zadokova is a violinist, but she’s also a Jew, which in Czechoslovakia during the War means death. When her time runs out and she along with her grandmother receive their transport notice to Terezin, they fear the expected end. But the German Soldier living in their apartment building has a soft spot for Anna and her music-playing – Horst Engel rescues them from certain death by giving them a hiding spot. But how long can that last till the looming danger persists?
This book keeps you turning the pages to see Anna, her grandmother, and Horst struggle to survive undetected in Nazi- occupied Prague.
I really liked the music element of this novel. That the music was Anna’s passion, her soul. Even more, I liked the reminder spread throughout the book that the Lord was faithful and would provide for them. It was also realistic, seeing Anna’s struggle with trusting the Lord in the face of such tragedies.
It was enjoyable to see how Anna and Horst’s relationship developed, changed and grew. Each of the {good} characters were lovely and well-written!
There were heart-breaking scenes that I know were all too common during WWII. So terrible, and just…oh so awful.
The only thing that I was a little…I don’t know if ‘disappointed’ would be the right word, but I’ll use it for lack of a more fitting word…disappointed with was the fact that I guess I was expecting more from Anna being Jewish – don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of danger portrayed for her ethnicity, but I suppose I was expecting that being Jewish for Anna would be more than just her ethnicity – and when I read that she was a Christian Jew, I was even more interested to see how that would look in the 40’s, especially during WWII. But it seemed to me – and I could be wrong – that her being Jewish was not much more than just a word. It didn’t feel very ‘authentic’ to how a Jewish person would live then. As my family and I have been studying a little bit more about the Hebrew heritage and how that all connects us to the Messiah, we have learned that to be Jewish was  a very important thing to all of them, especially during WWI. It was their identity, it was who they were. And they followed the Torah and all of the Jewish Laws very strictly. Whereas in this book, she was ready to just flippantly denounce them – she seemed more like a Christian in any Christian Fiction rather than a Jewish person would be set in that time period. I feel like the story didn’t really mesh in that regard.
This is not to say that the book wasn’t good – as I’ve stated, I very much appreciated the faith strand, and the story as a whole. I was just expecting a bit more from her Jewish heritage, I suppose.
I recommend it for anyone with a taste for WWII Fiction :)
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Quotes:

Yes, I accidentally made two different graphics with the same quote…oops. ^.^

 

 

 

Giveaway:

Ends February 6th, so enter now!


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October 2017

The great month of October is over. That is rather sad, as it’s one of my most favourite months! But I do love Winter, too, which definitely starts in November here in Minnesota. We’ve already gotten our second snowfall, though it’s the first that has actually stayed a bit. We got 3 inches the other night, but now there’s only about an inch on the ground, with some ice. Because that’s how this time of the year rolls.

This wrap-up post is a bit late…but it’s the day that works to post this, so it’ll do. ;)

I’m rather awful at these wrap-up posts…I probably say that every month. But hey, it’s true. Life is hard to wrap up, even just one month.

“Too much, I sum up…”

Sooooo…October was great, with plenty of Fall weather to delight us with. I turned the whopping age of 22. And got my yearly bag (or two…) of candy corn. The changing of the leaves was beautiful, but too short. I’m thankful we got to see a good amount of Fall beauty while up north visiting my grandparents, and also just the beauty around here. Fall is such a pretty time of year! And for many places, it is still in progress – lovely! Here, as I mentioned, we’ve hit Winter. It’s a bit early this year, and there are still some leaves on top of the snow, but Winter it is nonetheless. In temperature if nothing else! But I’m sure no one really wants to read about the weather…

Another great part of October was the release for this book:

Out of the Dark

(You sick of seeing this graphic? Too bad. I really like how it turned out. XD)

In case you missed it, this blog was the host blog for the blog tour of “Out of the Dark”. ‘Twas fun! You can check out the first post HERE.

 

I also wrote a blog post that was NOT related to books. Shocker! You can find that here: “Social Media and Me”.

 

What else happened in October….

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I just don’t know.

 

 

 

Well then, let’s move on to the book section! (I can hear imaginary groans here, but what can I say…I love books.)

 

 

So yep, as the pictures show, I swapped some books, got review books, bought a couple books for SUPER cheap at a used Christian bookstore up north, and then redeemed my reward points on MyReaderRewards (used to be Tyndale Rewards).

 

I read 6 books:

 

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano  Justice Buried by Patricia  Bradley  Whither Shall I Go? by Gina Holder  Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan  Perception by Emily Ann Benedict  An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

The first three already have their reviews up (just click on the image to go to it), and I will be posting the other three shortly. The review of “Perception” will be up on the 9th. :)

They were each pretty good books. :)

 

This month, I have quite a bit of reading to do, as usual. So that hopefully means more book reviews, once I get caught up! :D

 

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This is one of the books on my list. I’ve actually already started it! :)

 

So, how was your October? Are you still enjoying the Fall Leaves?

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“Out of the Ashes” by A.M. Heath ~ Book Spotlight

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(I know that by the time this post goes live, the facebook party will have long been over, but the banner image is so nice, I wanted to still use it!)

Hello readers! Today I am sharing in the celebrations for “Out of the Ashes”‘s release with a book spotlight! Congrats on the release, A.M. Heath!

~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~

 

Out of the Ashes (Ancient Words Series Book 3) by [Heath, A.M.]

 

About “Out of the Ashes”:

Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

 

Check out these books on Amazon:
Where Can I Flee

In the Shadow of Thy Wings

Out of the Ashes

 

 

About the Author:

 

Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

 

Contact Links: 
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/AMHeathfanpage/
Blog: https://amheathblog.wordpress.com/
You’ll also find me on Pinterest, Goodreads, and Twitter but I’m most active on Facebook and my blog.

 

 

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Giveaway!!

You can either click on the image or this link to enter the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b7851a908/?

 

 

Follow along with the tour:

 

July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review

Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review

Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review

Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview

Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review

Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review

Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review

Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review

Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review

Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight

Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

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Wanted to Share…

Hey-ho, Kermet!

 

Going to be quick here…I was hoping to have this posted this morning, but we had to leave the house before I got the chance, so here I am now. :)

A couple days ago fellow blogger, Ashley posted a blog post that was really good and I wanted to share it because I enjoyed it, and she gave the okay, so here I am to share. I know a lot of you just add favourite posts in your monthly wrap-up and so one would think that’s what I should do, but to be honest, I can never remember to do that. ^.^ So, I’m here now while I’m thinking of it! So yep, here’s a post by Ashley that I enjoyed reading. Hope you can enjoy it too!

Below is the beginning snippet, but be to go HERE to read the rest.

 

 

I remember taking an American Literature class my senior year of high school. I really enjoyed it, and not just because I love reading and I love history (especially American history). I found it fascinating, because it showed me how entertainment not only reflects culture, but also influences it. When I looked at the various time periods, I saw how the books, poems, and short stories written expressed how people felt at that time. I witnessed how society viewed God, morality, science, technology, government, etc.

We oftentimes dismiss entertainment as just that. Entertainment. Movies, books, and songs make us laugh, stir our emotions, and provide a brief respite from the reality of life.

But there is something deeper to entertainment that we often fail to realize.

 

“Entertainment and the value of human life” by Ashley Bogner.

Another snippet to interest you – one I loved:

We were made in God’s image, a concept I’ve been really learning a lot about in some of my Bible college classes. This phrase comes from Genesis 1:26-27, where it specifically says that man and woman were made in His image. How cool is that? God made us in His image and breathed life into us. We’re pretty special to Him. Do you think He views the death of one of His “image-bearers” lightly? I don’t think so. And neither should we. We should see everyone in this light, as one of God’s children.

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Book Review: “Emmeline” by Sarah Holman

 

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

 

“Emmeline” by Sarah Holman

Part of the Vintage Jane Austen Retellings

 

About the Book:

 

What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

 

 

 

My Review:     //4 out of 5 Stars//

 

This idea of a Jane Austen retelling collection is brilliant, and so when the chance to read/review “Emmeline” (Sarah Holman’s retelling) came up, I jumped! Back when Miss Holman opened up the writing contest for this collection I had planned on entering myself, and had even started writing, but it wasn’t to be – I wasn’t able to finish it. Ah well. At least I can enjoy reading those who did enter!
I have not read the original of “Emma”, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this retelling. I understand that it is very close to the original, so I don’t feel like I was missing anything to understand.
“Emmeline” is remarkably well-written. I think this might be the best yet of Miss Holman’s writing; it flowed so smoothly and read just effortlessly.
I admit I had a bit of a hard time with Emmeline sometimes, because of her character, but I really loved her turn-around at the end, and despite her flaws she was still a like-able character. And Frederick Knight was fantastic! I really enjoyed his character, and how he handled Emmeline was great. I loved his “scoldings”, too, as they were done out of love.
The Christian message was very well done and tied together beautifully at the end.
The whole story was a very good one, and I was really impressed with it. There was a bit at the end that maybe seemed a little rushed, but didn’t hamper the enjoying of it at all.

Good story! Can’t wait to read the rest. :)

 

*I received a complimentary ecopy for review.

 

emmeline

 

 

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6 Years?!

This is a rather impromptu post…I realized the other day that I had forgotten to prepare a “January Wrap-Up” post. Ooops! There’s been a sickness bug floating around though, so I blame that (no, I didn’t come down with it, but other family members did).

But anyway, I was going to work on said wrap-up post when WordPress informs me that I’ve been blogging here for SIX years! Happy six anniversary to me. XD Once again, I was not prepared for this….one would think I would know that this day was coming, and would have some planned out celebratory post to share, with fun graphics, links, and confetti. But, erm, nope. Dat’s not my style, apparently.

What made me start blogging in the first place, you might ask? Well, technically me first bloggeroo was started on that good ol’ site once known as Homeschool Blogger (which is no longer in existence). That (and Webkinz…let’s be honest here) was actually my first introduction to the wonders (and peril?!) of the Internet. I do have fond memories of HSB – I met my first penpal there; I was 11 years old. ^.^ (She and I are still friends, which is cool). And then came along…..JibeNow. A social-media site for, you guessed it, homeschoolers. A friend on HSB had recruited me to this new, incredible site. I loved it – it was super fun, great, and…enjoyable. This was about 6-7 years ago now. I met peoples on JN (some whom I got to meet in person, no less), made some memories, and then….it shut down! After only a few months of me being on it. *cries* ‘Twas sad, I tell you. Maybe for the best, since I spent way too much time on there, but that is neither here nor there right now. Back to the whole blogging thing – so when I joined JibeNow, I switched my blog over to that site. And when that closed, WordPress became my new domain. Ta-da.

 

And now, 6 years later, I am still blogging. Under the same blog name, God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae. Because that is what I am – a Peculiar Treasure to God. That’s what we all are. I think I am definitely on the Peculiar side, so it fits. :) I love the Bible verse behind it. It’s in Exodus – go look it up. :D

I honestly cringe to return to some of my first blog posts. Looking back at my 14-16 year old self is not the most pleasant experience. Haha. ^.^

 

Soooo….that’s about all I’ve got for a special 6-year Blog Anniversary Post.  I guess I could sum up January while I’m here, huh?

January. Umm…I read a lot? Around 9 books.  Got some books too:

 

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“The World of The Vikings”

“The Flaming Sword” by Heather FitzGerald (such a gorgeous cover it has!!)

“Almost Like Being in Love” by Beth K. Vogt

“Princess Ever After” by Rachel Hauck

“Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana” by Melanie Dobson

“Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas” by Janice Hanna

“Outlining Your Novel” by K.M. Weiland

 

I think I only purchased 4 of them…from the library booksale. So, that’s nice. :)

 

As for what I read…

“Love Me Tender” by Janice Hanna

“Operation Space Cats” by Lesa McKee

“A Basket of Flowers” by Christoph Van Schmid

“Why Not?” A novella by Debra E. Marvin

“Destiny Defied”, “Destiny Delivered”, and “Destiny Defended” by J.A. Marx

and then I read some of a book, but skimmed some and didn’t finish it because of inappropriate content.

 

And just today I finished reading this book called “Everything’s Coming Up, Josey” by Susan May Warren (a MN author! Cooooool.), that I had picked up from the library just because. And oh my word, I loved it! It was SO cute, and so relatable. I just majorly bonded with the main character, Josey. Even to her height. XD Super good. And super witty. ^.^

 

Anyway, I know this isn’t much of a wrap up post, or a celebration one, but I must be off. Toodle-pip!! Here’s to another who-knows-how-many-years of blogging!

 

 

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Don’t Lie

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Our relationship with Jesus is very personal. That’s what I believe. We are, because He is. He’s Holy, and Perfect, and Loving. We’re broken, and at this stage, un-perfect. But we’ll only stay that way if we don’t let Him into our lives. What’s broken can be healed, and what’s blemished can be perfected. It’s all grace. But we do have to choose. Choose to live like that – choose to be perfected, to let Jesus’ all encompassing grace surround us and make us new.

“Not my will, but Yours be done” – most of us are familiar with that phrase, I’m sure. But how often do we truly pray it ourselves? It’s h.a.r.d. To actually mean it, at least. But still, praying with our mouths still sets our direction and aligns our will with His.

I recently had a prayer appointment with a family friend. Many good things came from it, but one was not lying. To myself. We can’t lie to God – He knows everything anyway. But we can lie to ourselves. Maybe you’ve done this, too: I wouldn’t be totally authentic with God about what I was feeling because I didn’t think I “should” be feeling what I felt. For example, I wanted specific physical healing. But I wouldn’t truly ask for it because I knew I “should be thankful in all things”. And that’s true – we are to be thankful in all things, but it has to start from the heart. And I was lying to my heart, making me sick in a way. So sitting there in that prayer appointment, He said “Stop lying. Tell Me what you want,”. It sounds unconventional. Maybe it is. But my God is a Healing God – He knows the steps for inner and perfect healing. So I did, I let out all my pent-up feelings to Him. I listed off what I wanted, one by one. For years I never did that – I never was truly authentic out of fear of being “wrong” or making myself “unlovable”. Childhood fears. We all have them – He just unearths them slowly and gently when we give Him room to.

As I listed my wants, I was emptying myself so something beautiful could happen by His hands. When I was done speaking out my wants, He showed me that it was good, but now it’s time to give those wants over to Him and understand “Not my will but Yours be done”. Then He led me to want what HE wants. So if that means no immediate healing, Blessed be His Name. He’s teaching me to pray “This is what I want Lord, but not my will but Yours be done”.

Is it easier now? Heck no! We live in an ongoing battle. He showed me that I will have to keep affirming out loud that I want what He wants. It’s not going to be easy. And I’m still going to stumble. But He wants honesty. It’s cool how something two-sided can be bonded together. He wants to hear what I want, but also for me to align myself with His will – both of these work in harmony. “You have not because you ask not”  – so let us ask, let us be honest. Let us not lie. And watch as He brings us to a place of “not my will but Yours be done, Father”.

 

There’s a quote in one of my favourite books that I’m rereading right now (“Destiny Defied” by J.A.Marx”)  that says:

“Heal the spirit and the rest will fall in line.”

 

And that’s truth. Once we allow the Lord to heal our spirit, the rest really will follow.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all this shall be added unto you.