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review 2019-10-09 10:00
A Promise to Break Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book 


Book: A Promise to Break

Author: Kathryn Spurgeon

Genre: Christian Historical

Release Date: July 11, 2016

SIBYL TRIMBLE, the daughter of a wealthy banking family during the Great Depression in Shawnee, Oklahoma, promises her father to be part of a political movement to change the world. By 1932, the timing to fulfill that promise seems right. Her life consists of fashionable clothes, cruising in a Model T, and dancing every weekend at the local speakeasy.
 
FREMONT POPE is a handsome, blue-eyed, down-on-his-luck hobo, and Sibyl’s life turns upside down when she meets him. Her love for him and his Christian family opens her eyes to a different way of life than she has ever known.
 
Based on a true story, this historical novel follows Sibyl through some difficult choices. She must dig deep within herself to find strength to face her father and determine which, if any, of her past beliefs can be salvaged. What is more important, love or duty?


Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author


A Christian writer, Biblical counselor, teacher and speaker who offers insight, the author loves connecting to people individually and through retreats and conferences.
 
Kathryn’s mission is to teach that the passion of godly love knows no boundaries. Whether with prisoners, international students or those needing assistance, her platform strategy is the concept of personal, intimate encounters with Jesus. Her historical novel, “Up Town,” shows the importance of spiritual encounters with Jesus—small encounters that lead to a more mature spiritual life. Kathryn’s Biblical counseling and teaching background lends itself to this message.
 
She lived in South Korea for two years in her early twenties, spent time in an orphanage and adopted two Korean babies. A single mom for 18 years, she went from welfare to owner and CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation, Integrity Healthy Care. Her company took care of the medical needs of over 4,000 prisoners and during that time she counseled over 200 women.
 
Kathryn and her husband, Bill, hold Bible studies for international students attending the University of Central Oklahoma. They have had many different students live in their home and try to help students in all areas of their lives.
 
Kathryn is on the Mission Team at her home church, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she has been a member for over 13 years. While attending her prior church, Country Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, Oklahoma, she was on the Finance and Long Range Planning Committees, and taught DivorceCare and Financial classes. She is a Crown Money Map coach.
 
Bill and Kathryn have six children and nine grandchildren at the last count, including some adopted. Their family is internationally diverse. God’s love is enormous and includes all of us.
 

More from Kathryn

 

Nostalgic book
 
Have you ever wished to go back in time and question a relative who is no longer around? Ask what motivated her, discuss her greatest heartaches and how she overcame them, analyze her spiritual journey?
 
My grandmother’s life was full of upheavals and I wish I could have spent more time with her and studied her thought-processes. My mother did spend more time with her. With a clear mind of that time, Mom (and many others) enthusiastically shared memories and discussed the lessons the once wealthy Sibyl Trimble may have gathered in life.
 
What a trip it has been! Autobiographies. Publications. Notes in attic boxes containing information about secret love affairs and heart-breaking losses told with spiritual honesty. The more information I uncovered, the more I wanted to get to know Sibyl Trimble, the person. I wanted to know how God worked in her life. I wanted to write her story.
 
The nostalgic era of the 1930s came alive to me as I travelled to places of lively, boogie-woogie music, old handwritten documents, and tombstones. The amazing, booming town of Shawnee, Oklahoma, was the perfect setting for a Great Depression tale. Some people moved to California during that time. Others stayed in Shawnee. In contrast to “The Grapes of Wrath,” this book relates the experiences of some who remained during one of the worst times in U.S. history. They stayed and thrived.
 
This book is not a recount of simple facts but examines the essence of a brilliant woman who traversed through life, maneuvering the hardships along with the blessings. I uncovered anecdotes, read newspaper articles, and confirmed family lore that had been passed down through generations.
 
Many readers agree Sibyl could have been their grandmother, their heritage, and after reading this book series, they will know Sibyl almost as well as I do.
 
This story is an intimate look at a searching individual during the wistful days of a long-gone era. I expect, after you read “A Promise to Break,” you’ll agree that Sibyl Trimble’s story needed to be told.
 

My Review

 

The 1930s is not a time period with which I am very well acquainted. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I haven’t read many books set during this decade. The fact that Kathryn Spurgeon’s “A Promise to Break” is based on a true story enhanced my appreciation for this book, and because it is written in the first person, it truly felt like stepping back almost 90 years into the past. Something that struck me almost immediately was how much things have actually remained the same. Issues that our society and our country is now contending with may seem new, but in reality they are longstanding. Sybil Trimble’s father is an advocate for Socialism, and yet as a well-to-do bank auditor, he is more inclined to talk and not to action. He is not willing to sacrifice anything himself but thinks that he has all of the answers to society’s ills. As Sybil remarks, “Papa, not God, decided what was right or wrong for our family. And right and wrong always depended on his mood that particular day.”

As the oldest child and her father’s protégé, Sybil follows a path already set forth for her. It is not until she meets Fremont, a poor young man and a hobo, that she begins to see beyond the close confines of her sheltered life. Spurgeon does well in demonstrating the conflict within Sybil as her upbringing collides with Fremont’s worldview. Up until this point, she has lived under her father’s thumb, and her goal in life is to please him: “I would do anything to make Papa proud. Anything… I promised I would help Papa change the world. I could never break that promise—Papa was my hero.” As her eyes begin to open to the world outside of her own comfortable home, she finds herself questioning her future and what she truly believes. Sybil’s spiritual journey likewise progresses, and her questions and doubts are very credible coming from someone of her upbringing and class. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 9:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When we have everything we need to live securely, it is easy to rely upon ourselves and forget that the Lord is the one who blesses us and provides for us. The journey to accepting and trusting God may be filled with bumps and detours, as is Sybil’s, but what a spectacular treasure awaits for the heart of the faithful!

Anyone who enjoys reading historical memoirs and books about the 1930s, the disparity between rich and poor, and flawed but endearing and sympathetic characters will appreciate Kathryn Spurgeon’s debut, “A Promise to Break.” There were some grammatical errors throughout, but none of them detracted from the story itself, which contains an appealing mixture of faith, family, heartache, and triumph.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 1

To Everything There Is A Season, October 1

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 2

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 2

Through the Fire Blogs, October 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , October 3

Connie’s History Classroom , October 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 4

Betti Mace, October 4

Older & Smarter?, October 5

Blogging With Carol , October 5

Hallie Reads, October 6

Life of Literature, October 6

Genesis 5020, October 7

A Baker’s Perspective, October 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, October 7

Moments, October 8

Emily Yager, October 8

For the Love of Literature, October 9

Maureen’s Musings, October 9

She Lives to Read, October 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 10

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, October 10

Pause for Tales , October 11

Connect in Fiction, October 11

Reader’s Cozy Corner,October 11

Texas Book-aholic, October 12

Bigreadersite, October 12

Inklings and notions, October 13

janicesbookreviews, October 13

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, October 13

A Reader’s Brain, October 14

Batya’s Bits, October 14

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Kathryn is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon card and a copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2019-09-26 12:31
Historical fiction where sisterhood wins the day. Highly Recommended
The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

Thanks to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

Jojo Moyes was a name familiar to me (from bestseller lists, movie adaptations, bookshops…) but she was one of the authors I knew by name but hadn’t yet read. When I saw this book on offer at NetGalley and read the description and the fact that it was based on a real historical scheme, the 1930s Horseback Librarians of Kentucky, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to familiarise myself with her writing. As a book lover, I am always fond of stories about books and libraries, and the historical angle was a bonus for me. The Horseback Librarians of Kentucky was one of the projects set up by the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a New Deal Agency established as an attempt to provide work for victims of the Great Depression. In this case, women who could ride (horses, mules…) set up the equivalent of a mobile library, and offered books and reading materials to their neighbours, reaching even those who lived deep in the mountains, too far and too busy to regularly visit the town. In an area as beautiful as it was poor (and it seems it still remains fairly poor and under resourced), the levels of literacy were minimal, and the librarians went beyond the simple delivering of books, becoming a lifeline to many of the families they regularly visited. Although I had read about the WPA and some of their projects, I wasn’t familiar with this one, and it does make for a fascinating setting to the story.

Moyes usually writes contemporary fiction (with more than a touch of romance), so this novel breaks new ground. As I haven’t read any of her previous novels, I cannot make comparisons, but I had a great time reading this novel, which combines an easy and fluid writing style (with some wonderful descriptions of the Kentucky mountains), strong and compelling characters, especially the librarians, with a plot full of adventures, sad and joyful events, romance, and even a possible murder. This is a tale of sisterhood, of women fighting against all odds (society’s prejudices, difficult conditions, nature, illness, domestic violence, evil…), of the power of books, and of a time and a place that are far from us and yet familiar (unfortunately, some things haven’t changed that much).

What did I like, in particular? Many things. I am not an expert on Kentucky or on the historical period, so you must take this with a pinch of salt, but I loved the atmosphere and the period feel. I enjoyed the description of the feelings of the women as they rode their routes, particularly because by telling the story from the point of view of two of the women, Margery, who’s lived there all her life, and Alice, just arrived from England and totally unfamiliar with the area and the lifestyle, we get the familiarity and the newness, and learn that the heartfelt experience goes beyond being comfortable and at home. The mountains have an effect on these women, and at a point when Alice’s life is collapsing around her, give her the strength to go on. Both, the beauty of untamed nature and the comfort of literature, help give meaning to the lives of the protagonists and those who come in contact with them. Of course, not everybody appreciates those, and, in fact, the true villains of the story are people (mostly men, but not only, and I’m not going to reveal the plot in detail) who don’t care for literature and don’t respect nature. (There is an environmental aspect to the story as well, the coalmining industry caring little for the workers or the land if it got in the way of the profit margin).

I also fell for the characters. Margery is magnetic from the beginning: a woman whose father was violent, an abuser and an alcoholic, with a reputation that has tainted her as well; she is determined to live life her own way, help others, and not let anybody tell her what to do (and that includes the man she loves, who is rather nice). Although the novel is written in the third person, we see many of the events from her point of view, and although she is a woman who guards her emotions tightly and does not scare easy, she is put to the test, suffers a great deal, and she softens a bit and becomes more willing to give up some of her independence in exchange for a life richer in relationships and connections by the end of the story. Alice, on the other hand, starts as a naïve newcomer, with little common sense, that makes rushed decisions and believes in fairy tales. She thinks Bennett, her husband, is the charming prince who’s come to rescue her from an uncaring family, but she soon discovers she has changed a prison for another. Her transformation is, in some ways, the complete opposite to that of Margery. She becomes more independent, learns to care less about appearances and opinions, and discovers what is truly important for her.

 In a way, the librarians provide a catalogue of different models of womanhood and also of diversity (we have a woman who lives alone with her male relatives, smokes, drinks and is outspoken; a young girl with a limp due to polio who lives under the shadow of her mother; an African American woman who gave up on her dreams to look after her brother, and who is the only trained librarian; and a widow from the mountains, saved by the power of books and by her relationship with other women), and although there are male characters —both, enablers, like Fred and Sven, and out and out enemies— these are not as well defined or important to the story (well, they set things in motion, but they are not at the heart of the story). I was quite curious about Bennett, Alice’s husband, whom I found a bit of a puzzle (he does not understand his wife, for sure, but he is not intentionally bad, and I was never sure he really knew himself), and would have liked to know more about the women whose points of view we were not privy to, but I enjoyed getting to know them all and sharing in their adventures. (Oh, and I loved the ending, that offers interesting glimpses into some of the characters we don’t hear so much about).

And yes, adventures there are aplenty. I’ve seen this book described as an epic, and it is not a bad word. There are floods, a murder trial, stories of corruption and shady business deals, bigotry and scandal, a couple of books that play important parts (a little blue book, and, one of my favourite reads as a young girl, Little Women, and its role made me smile), recipes, libraries, births, deaths, confrontations, violence (not extreme), and romance (no erotica or explicit sex scenes). This being a very conservative (and in some ways isolated society), the examples of what was considered acceptable male and female behaviour might seem old-fashioned even for the time, but, as the #MeToo movement has reminded us, some things are slow to change.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Well, no, but people need to be aware that this is a light read, a melodrama, and although it provides an inspirational tale of sisterhood, it does not offer an in-depth analysis of the ills of the society at the time. The villains, are presented as bad individuals, pure evil, and we learn nothing about them other than they are bad.  Although many other important topics are hinted at and appear in the background, this is the story of this particular individuals, and not a full depiction of the historical period, but it is a great yarn and very enjoyable.

The author provides information on her note to the reader about the historical background and how she became interested in the story, and I’ve read some reviews highlighting the existence of other books on the topic, that I wouldn’t mind reading either. For me, this book brings to light an interesting episode of American history and of women’s history, creating a fascinating narrative that illustrates the lives of women in the Kentucky Mountains in the 1930s, with characters that I got to care for, suffer and rejoice with. Yes, I did shed the odd tear. And I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys historical fiction, women’s fiction, and to Moyes’s fans. This might be a departure from her usual writing, but, at least for me, it’s a welcome one.

 

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url 2019-08-07 07:03
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review 2019-07-30 09:02
Geschmackssache
Das magische Portal - Aileen P. Roberts

Aileen P. Roberts war das Pseudonym der deutschen Fantastik-Autorin Claudia Lössl, die tragischerweise im Alter von 40 Jahren am 05. Dezember 2015 verstarb. Sie hinterließ ihren Ehemann Stephan, mit dem sie unter dem Sammelpseudonym C.S. West ebenfalls fantastische Romane verfasste, und ihre Tochter. Die Schriftstellerin litt unter einer schweren Krankheit, wovon offenbar nicht einmal ihr Verlag Goldmann Kenntnis hatte. Die Nachricht ihres Todes überraschte Fans wie Verleger gleichermaßen. Ich möchte ihrer Familie an dieser Stelle mein tief empfundenes Beileid aussprechen. Ich wusste nicht, dass sie nicht mehr unter uns weilt, als ich „Das magische Portal“, den ersten Band der „Weltennebel“-Trilogie, las. Durch ihre Bücher bleibt sie auf ewig in Erinnerung.

 

Was hat die unscheinbare Mia bloß an sich, dass sich Darian zu ihr hingezogen fühlt? Weder entspricht sie seinem Typ, noch verkehrt sie in denselben sozialen Kreisen. Er ist beliebt und wohlhabend, sie hingegen wird von allen „die Vogelscheuche“ genannt. Als sie sich auf einer Studienreise nach Schottland näherkommen, erkennt Darian, dass sein Interesse an Mia über eine harmlose Schwärmerei hinausgeht. Sie verbirgt ein unglaubliches Geheimnis: sie ist kein Mensch. Sie stammt aus einem magischen Land namens Albany, dessen königliche Familie vor 25 Jahren Opfer einer heimtückischen Verschwörung wurde. Nur der jüngste Prinz überlebte und wurde durch den Weltennebel in Sicherheit gebracht. Von Verzweiflung getrieben offenbart sie Darian die Wahrheit: er ist Albanys verschollener Prinz, der Thronerbe und muss schnellstmöglich zurückkehren, um sein geknechtetes Volk zu erlösen. Obwohl Mias Geschichte verrückt klingt, glaubt Darian ihr. Doch die Reise nach Albany fordert Opfer und schon bald muss Darian einsehen, dass er in seiner Heimat vielleicht nicht willkommen ist…

 

„Das magische Portal“ ist wohl Geschmackssache. Ich fand den ersten Band der „Weltennebel“-Trilogie nicht schlecht, doch leider war er überhaupt nicht meins. Als glühender High Fantasy – Fan sind Crossgenre-Vertreter wie dieser Roman für mich ein Glücksspiel, weil mich die fiktive Welt, die sie vorstellen, weit mehr interessiert als die Ereignisse in unserer Realität. Das heißt, sowohl der Übergang in diese Welt muss gelungen sein als auch das Wordbuilding selbiger, das dann wiederum die Handlung bestimmt. „Das magische Portal“ überzeugte mich in allen drei Punkten nicht. Anfangs war ich überrascht, wie schnell sich das Geschehen entwickelt: Darian erfährt früh, dass er der verlorene Prinz Albanys ist und entscheidet ungeachtet der Konsequenzen sofort, seinen Thron in Besitz zu nehmen. Seine Entschlussfreudigkeit sagte mir zu, schließlich wollte ich Albany kennenlernen. Während Mia und Darian darum kämpfen, die Reise in die Tat umzusetzen, beschlichen mich jedoch Zweifel. Wollte Darian nicht viel zu wenig über das Land, das er zu regieren gedachte, wissen? Natürlich stellt er Mia die grundlegendsten Fragen, wichtige Themen wie Politik und Wirtschaft hingegen streift er lediglich. Ich begann, seine Kurzentschlossenheit als überstürzt und naiv zu interpretieren. Mir schwante Übles für das magische Reich und sobald Darian in Albany eintraf – natürlich nicht ohne Verluste – bestätigte sich meine Vorahnung. Darian ist unverantwortlich schlecht auf seine neue Position vorbereitet und wird vollkommen allein gelassen, was ich als Folge der gravierenden Lücken des oberflächlichen Worldbuildings auslege. Albany erschien mir wie ein zweidimensionales Gemälde. All die kleinen Details, die eine fiktionale Welt trotz fantastischer Elemente real wirken lassen, fehlen dort. Territoriale Grenzen sind diffus und inkonsequent, die Beziehungen zwischen den Völkern schwer nachzuvollziehen, politische und ökonomische Gegebenheiten und Gesetze maximal grob umrissen. Für mich fühlte sich das Land wie eine Spielwelt an, die Aileen P. Roberts erschuf, um ihren verträumten Vorstellungen eines parallelen, verzauberten Universums Gestalt zu verleihen, ohne sich ernsthaft um Realismus oder Logik zu bemühen. Ich fand das sehr schade, denn Albany hat definitiv Charme. Unglücklicherweise langweilte mich die Handlung allerdings so sehr, dass ich die bezaubernden Facetten des Settings nicht schätzen konnte. Es passiert einfach zu wenig. Von Trauer gelähmt lässt sich Darian um seinen Thron betrügen und gerät in eine qualvolle Spirale aus Verzweiflung und Selbstekel. Er versinkt in einer hübschen, ausgewachsenen Depression, die ihn daran hindert, seine Situation zu ändern. Mich berührte sein Schmerz überhaupt nicht, weil ich sein Verhalten als egoistisch empfand. Sein Volk braucht ihn. Derweil er sich ausgiebig im Selbstmitleid suhlt, leiden sie unter horrend hohen Steuern und einer herzlosen Politik der Willkür. Das konnte ich ihm nicht verzeihen, obwohl er zum Ende von „Das magische Portal“ eine vollständige Läuterung durchläuft. Es war zu spät – meiner Auffassung nach hatte er sein Anrecht auf den Thron längst verspielt.

 

Über die Toten soll man nur Gutes reden, besagt ein altes lateinisches Sprichwort. Deswegen fiel mir diese Rezension zu „Das magische Portal“ ziemlich schwer, denn der tragisch frühe Tod von Aileen P. Roberts alias Claudia Lössl löste in mir den reflexhaften Wunsch aus, alle Kritik an ihrem Trilogieauftakt zu verschweigen. Aber das wäre unehrlich. Ich glaube, dass man den Toten Respekt erweist, indem man ihr Vermächtnis aufrichtig beurteilt. „Das magische Portal“ bot mir zu wenig Abwechslung, kränkt meiner Meinung nach am schemenhaften Worldbuilding und war zu sehr auf die emotionale Ebene fokussiert. Leser_innen, die feminine, magische Liebesgeschichten mögen und zugunsten der Gefühle weniger Wert auf ein konsequentes Weltendesign legen, sind hier sicher besser aufgehoben. Ich bin nicht das richtige Publikum für die „Weltennebel“-Trilogie und kehre Albany demzufolge den Rücken.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/aileen-p-roberts-das-magische-portal
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