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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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review 2018-11-14 15:44
What is fascism?
The Anatomy of Fascism - Robert O. Paxton

Over the past few years, the word "fascist" has been deployed increasingly to describe modern-day political movements in the United States, Hungary, Greece, and Italy, to name a few places. The word brings with it some of the most odious associations from the 20th century, namely Nazi Germany and the most devastating war in human history. Yet to what degree is the label appropriate and to what extent is it more melodramatic epithet than an appropriate description?

 

It was in part to answer that question that I picked up a copy of Robert O. Paxton's book. As a longtime historian of 20th century France and author of a seminal work on the Vichy regime, he brings a perspective to the question that is not predominantly Italian or German. This shows in the narrative, as his work uses fascist movements in nearly every European country to draw out commonalities that explain the fascist phenomenon. As he demonstrates, fascism can be traced as far back as the 1880s, with elements of it proposed by authors and politicians across Europe in order to mobilize the growing population of voters (thanks to new measures of enfranchisement) to causes other than communism. Until then, it was assumed by nearly everyone that such voters would be automatic supporters for socialist movements. Fascism proposed a different appeal, one based around nationalist elements which socialism ostensibly rejected.

 

Despite this, fascism remained undeveloped until it emerged in Italy in the aftermath of the First World War. This gave Benito Mussolini and his comrades a flexibility in crafting an appeal that won over the established elites in Italian politics and society. From this emerged a pattern that Paxton identifies in the emergence of fascism in both Italy and later in Germany, which was their acceptance by existing leaders as a precondition for power. Contrary to the myth of Mussolini's "March on Rome," nowhere did fascism take over by seizing power; instead they were offered it by conservative politicians as a solution to political turmoil and the threatened emergence of a radical left-wing alternative. It was the absence of an alternative on the right which led to the acceptance of fascism; where such alternatives (of a more traditional right-authoritarian variety) existed, fascism remained on the fringes. The nature of their ascent into power also defined the regimes that emerged, which were characterized by tension between fascists and more traditional conservatives, and often proved to be far less revolutionary in practice than their rhetoric promised.

 

Paxton's analysis is buttressed by a sure command of his subject. He ranges widely over the era, comparing and contrasting national groups in a way that allows him to come up an overarching analysis of it as a movement. All of this leads him to this final definition:

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. (p. 218)

While elements of this are certainly present today, they are hardly unique to fascism and exist in various forms across the political spectrum. Just as important, as Paxton demonstrates, is the context: one in which existing institutions are so distrusted or discredited that the broader population is willing to sit by and watch as they are compromised, bypassed, or dismantled in the name of achieving fascism's goals. Paxton's arguments here, made a decade before Donald Trump first embarked on his candidacy, are as true now as they were then. Reading them helped me to appreciate better the challenge of fascism, both in interwar Europe and in our world today. Everyone seeking to understand it would do well to start with this perceptive and well-argued book.

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review 2018-09-10 03:14
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud is a determined to find his father despite what is thrown his way. He battles foster parents and siblings, his ability to keep up a lie, as well as hunger and homelessness during the Great Depression. Bud’s mother died when he was six leaving him an orphan because his father was not apart of his life. When Bud runs away from a foster home after being locked in a shed with vampires, he sets his sights on locating his long lost father. Bud’s journey to find his father leads him to an outcome he never expected. Bud uses a map to find various routes during his journey, an activity for students to do is use a map to help Bud find his way from city to city. The students could calculate how long bud would need to travel by foot and by car. An extension to this activity is to have research the cities and find information about those cities during the Great Depression and record them in a graphic organizer. The DRA reading level is 40-50.

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review 2017-04-08 02:58
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy is about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage at the age of six after his mother passes away. This story is taken place during the Great Depression. Bud is determined to find his biological father while he is moving from the orphanage to different families. I read this story a couple of years ago and thought it was fantastic.

 

This novel could be read in a 3-5th grade classroom aloud, or it could be read in 6-8th grade. I would use this story to have comprehension, analysis and theme discussions as reading it aloud in the class. I would have 5th grade students choose one object or person from the story that is a symbolic representation and have them write about it. For 3rd or 4th graders, I would have them choose one of the main characters and create a word web describing that character.

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