“Red Sky Over America” by Tamera Lynn Kraft

“Red Sky Over America” by Tamera Lynn Kraft is a novel written about the pre-Civil war era and the abolitionists helping runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad.  This book is the first in the series Ladies of Oberlin.  Oberlin College in Ohio had a reputation as a center for abolitionist activities and many of the college’s presidents embraced these efforts.  Oberlin was a key stop along the Underground Railroad, an informal network of back-road routes and safe houses used to harbor escaped slaves seeking freedom in the Northers states and Canada.

America Leighton was a student at Oberlin seeking to become a missionary to China.  Her slave-owning father Colonel Leighton was not keen on her choice of livelihood and requested her return to Kentucky for the Christmas break.  She was afraid that once she returned home, he would prevent her from returning to Oberlin for her last year of schooling.  Since she was also an abolitionist, she feared that her desire to persuade her father to free his slaves and hire them with a living wage would result with his wrath.

William, a classmate of America’s is destined to become a preacher and has also come to Kentucky, but to preach abolition in the community churches.  Neither America nor William is well received in the slave-holding state of Kentucky.  It is very fascinating to read about conditions that prevailed in slave-holding areas before the Civil War.  It is also rewarding to read how many citizens braved the cruelty of some who did not believe as they did.

I really liked reading this story.  I can’t say that I enjoyed reading of the harsh treatment of both slaves and abolitionists alike, but this book served as a reminder of what our country struggled with so many years ago.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Desert Breeze publishing through LitFusePublicity.com.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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“Who the Bishop Knows” by Vannetta Chapman

Vannetta Chapman has written a very appealing series of Amish mysteries, The Amish Bishop Mysteries.  “Who the Bishop Knows” is the third book of the series.  I have read each one and am amazed at the convoluted situations that define each story.  Although Bishop Henry Lapp is unable to use his extraordinary talent of drawing exactly what and who he has seen, in this murder case, it is nonetheless exciting to see how he manages to use his perceptions to solve the murder.

Although the English police and the Amish do not usually work together, in this instance, Henry and the Sheriff complement each other’s abilities in solving the intricacies of investigations.  Henry must persuade the members of his community to give help to the authorities in order to find the person who is responsible.  These mysteries of Ms. Chapmans definitely do not lack suspects.  This is what motivates the reader to make sure to read every page until the end.  There is something relatable to the case on every page.

I have enjoyed reading the Bishop Series and hope that Ms. Chapman continues to write in this vein. I highly recommend her work.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers through NetGalley.com.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain” by Joanne Bischof

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain” by Joanne Bischof is a beautifully written novel.  Set in the aftermath of the Civil War, the story takes place on Blackbird Mountain.  Jorgan, Thor and Haakan Norgaard make their living on a piece of land populated by apple trees.  Thor’s job is to make the cider that the brothers sell to their neighbors and businesses.  In Thor’s case, the cider is an addiction that he has tried to kick before without success.  During those times he goes through a horrible withdrawal that takes a toll on the whole homestead.

Aven Norgaard has come from Norway at the invitation of their aunt Dorothe, to join the family helping to care for the “little” boys, as she thinks they are.  When she arrives, alone, with nowhere else to turn, they take her in as she is their cousin’s widow.  Her presence lights a fire under two of the brothers, each smitten in their own way with her gentle ways.

Making things harder for everyone is the fact that Thor has been deaf since birth.  When small, he was sent to a boarding school for the deaf and dumb where he learned American Sign Language and also how to read lips.  He is a tortured soul that Aven’s presence seems to quiet.  Haakan, too, is drawn to Aven.  So what should she do?

I thought Ms. Bisdchof’s characters were extremely well defined.  Her grasp of the difficulties that deaf persons experience every day was handled with care and compassion.  I think the story itself was well developed too.  There was love, compassion, trials and tribulation that each and every one of them experienced that brought the reader to tears at times.  I thought this was a beautiful story full of beautiful people.  Well done.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley.com.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Beneath a Prairie Moon” by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer writes very well and I enjoy her books.  “Beneath a Prairie Moon” is no exception.  This is another mail-order bride novel, but with a twist.

Helena Bingham has a business matching eligible men with women of marriageable status, for a price.  Abigail Grant has been sent to four different men for marriage, but either has returned of her own free will or has BEEN returned.  She was raised in wealth, and when her father brought shame to their family by committing fraud, if she wanted to be married, since she was shunned by her former friends, she needed to become a mail-order bride.

Bachelors in Spiveyville, Kansas wanted wives, for comfort and for help on their farms and in their businesses.  Since there were no single women in their town or surrounding parts, they collectively wrote letters to Mrs. Bingham seeking brides.  When their letters arrive, Mrs. Bingham was appalled by their crudeness and illiteracy, not to mention lack of societal manners.  In order to make sure she was not sending her girls into a bad situation, she decided that she and Abigail would travel to Kansas to provide classes for the men to teach them how to be husband material.

Although these marriage broker novels are mostly the same, this one in particular, is a joy to read.  I found it so interesting because of the various characters and their mannerisms and also I found it very humorous which kept me reading.  Ms. Sawyer has produced a good novel and I recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley.com.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“The Missing Bride” by Tish Davis

“The Missing Bride” by Tish Davis was a typical mail-order bride novel.  That’s not to say that is was a boring read though.  It’s just that the reader could almost predict what would happen next.

In order to keep women from pestering him to marry, Lee Anders advertises for a mail-order bride.  I guess my question here is: how is that any different from marrying someone you know?  I would think it very risky to take a chance on someone sight unseen.

Lily Solomon is being forced to marry a colleague of her father’s, one who is not what he really is in front of her parents.  To them he is courteous and gracious, but with Lily, he is possessive, abusive and conniving.  She knows that if she marries him, her live will be a misery, so she decides to answer Lee’s ad for a mail-order bride.  Even though she has been raised in gentility, she will now have to work harder than ever before.  Can she change her life and make a good marriage?

I found the characters to be very likable and the plot to be interesting, even though it is predictable.

“Enemies in Love” by Alexis Clark

“Enemies in Love” by Alexis Clark is a novel about the unlikely love between a German POW and a Black nurse during WWII.  This is a true story which the author pieced together from interviews with a son and friends of the couple.

Frederih Albert was a German POW captured by the Allies and sent to a POW camo in the Arizona desert.  Elinor Powell was a Black nurse in the military during the war.  Black nurses were treated as second class citizens by the military, much like the black soldiers were treated.  Jim Crow was alive and well during this period of our history.  It is interesting that Nazi Germany considered colored people and mixed race people the same as some Americans thought of them.  Fraternization between the two races was highly frowned upon by the military brass and the citizens in general.  In fact, the German POW’s received better treatment than the Black nurses and soldiers.

An unlikely romance blossomed between Frederich and Elinor.  Before Frederich was shipped back home to Germany, Elinor became pregnant, had to leave the military and move back home with her mother.  She counted on the fact that Frederich promised to come back and that they would marry.  Some years after their son was born, Frederich was able to get a visa to the United States; they married and began life together.  It was not easy, as mixed marriages were not legal in all the states at this time.  The book goes on to tell their story.

Even though this book is supposed to be about love between enemies, most of the book details the treatment of blacks in this country during that time.  I was not aware of some of the methods of segregation.  Even though I did know about the Jim Crow attitude of white citizens, I was not aware of the depth of hatred and humiliation handed down to those of color.  To say that this book was interesting to read is an understatement.

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com and was under no obligation to post a review.

“The Innkeepers Daughter” by Michelle Griep

“The Innkeepers Daughter” by Michelle Griep is a novel set in the Regency period in England.  Johanna Langley, her mother and her brother Thomas are trying to keep their ramshackle inn and pub in business.  Johanna’s main worry is to keep the place afloat until she can gather the rent money and taxes that need to be paid.  If she cannot do that, she and her family will be transported to the poor house.

Enter Alex Morton, a handsome rogue with deep pockets who always seems to be where he is needed and at the right time.  As a Bow Street Runner, all he wants is to be the best Runner he can be.  For his latest assignment he is to go undercover to flush out those who would commit treason.  All indications point to a Viscount and his minions from Dover.  He is required to take a room at The Blue Hedge Inn, Johanna’s establishment.  He finds more than a dilapidated inn.  He is smitten with the lovely Johanna, but she has a wall around herself that will be very hard for him to crack.  With the secrets he knows, the lies he tells, and the company he keeps, it is difficult to woo the lady.  Mind you, all this subterfuge is necessary in order for him to keep himself alive.  No one can be trusted and the reader does not find out who the miscreants are until the very end.

I have read other books by Ms. Griep and have also enjoyed them.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.