I love cookbooks and will read them like a novel. Going through the sections and looking at pictures of the dishes is exciting as I imagine serving something to family and friends. This newest cookbook offering from beloved Amish author Wanda Brunstetter is fast becoming one of my favorites. There is so much in this beautiful, helpful book.
Throughout the book are over 200 recipes, inspirational quotes, advice, and vivid pictures. There are several indexes with recipe contributors, recipes by each section, and the extremely helpful index of main ingredients. This book is well organized and inviting. It has a spiral binding that allows it to open and lay flat for easy reading.
One of the many things that I love about this useful cookbook is that the ingredients used are ones most cooks have on hand. Some of the recipes will spark a memory of something that was made years ago by a family member. Those are ones that I am eager to try.
I highly recommend this lovely Amish cookbook. I gave two for Mother’s Day gifts and the recipients were delighted. These make great gifts for showers, birthdays, Christmas, or “just because”. If you are a cookbook collector, you will not want to miss having this one. It has many “must try” recipes. This wonderful cookbook gets a 5 star rating from me.
Guess How Much God Loves You by author Karen Ferguson is a lovely Christian Children’s Book with pictures. I thought this was a very nice book. Children will be drawn to the colorful images and learn from the easy to understand text.
This is the story of inquisitive first grader, Lucy Lu, and her grandfather, Papa Joe. Lucy has questions about God, and her grandfather brilliantly answers them using the Bible. The story is interesting and will easily engage children. It is written simply so that children may easily understand. The author has included creativity to allow further interest in her book.
This is a wonderful way to introduce and reinforce God’s love and Creation for all children. At the very end of the book is a page about Jesus. Material on Who He is and how He wants to be your friend will help children understand Him even more. Discussion questions are included.
I highly recommend this delightful adventurous picture book. It has quaint illustrations and an important message. Children will discover that God loves them unconditionally and made each one of them for a special purpose. This is a book for home, church, and gift-giving. It gets a 5 star rating from this reader. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but these are my honest thoughts.
About the Book
Book: Guess How Much God Loves You
Author: Karen Ferguson
Genre: Children’s book (picture book)
Release date: July 19, 2022
Take a journey through the Bible with Lucy Lu, a colorful, creatively curious first grader who is starting to have serious questions about God.
Questions like: How old is He? Does He sleep? What does He do all day? And the biggest one of all – does God reallylove me?
After one very hard day, feeling like she doesn’t matter, Lucy sits with her Papa Joe who has promised to answer these questions and more, launching them onto an exciting journey to discover God’s never changing, never failing, never ending love.
What follows in this book series is a wild adventure through the Bible, where Lucy and her Papa find themselves in the middle of it all, on each page of the powerful story of God’s love and faithfulness for all people, throughout all history.
This first book is all about God’s Creation
Guess How Much God Loves You is a vibrant, fun, and biblically based book that is sure to captivate young readers as it teaches them important Bible truths that will help them build a firm foundation in God and His Good Character – all through the lens of His unconditional love.
Karen Ferguson is a freelance writer and small business owner with a background in K-8 education. A grateful wife, mom, and grandmom she loves words and the Word of God and is passionate about writing stories that grab and hold young readers’ attention, teaching them all about God’s unchangeable truths, and His unchanging love for them.
Her first children’s book, Guess How Much God Loves You, was released in July 2022 through Ambassador International and is available wherever books are sold.
More from Karen
Are you looking for God honoring books that will captivate your child’s imagination, teach them faith-building biblical concepts, and help them grow in their reading skills?
Then I have the perfect book for your young reader…Guess How Much God Loves You
This beautifully illustrated book introduces young readers to the Creation Account, through the eyes of seven year old Lucy Lu, a creatively curious first grader who is starting to have serious questions about God.
How old is He? Does He sleep? What does He do all day? And the biggest one of all – does God really love me?
After one very hard day, feeling like she doesn’t matter, Lucy sits with her Papa Joe who has promised to answer these questions and more, launching them onto an exciting journey through the Bible to discover God’s never changing, never failing, never ending love.
I wrote this book because I want every child to know their life matters. To know that the God of all things created them in His image, on purpose and for a good purpose.
Guess How Much God Loves You will have seven books in the series with each one covering an important Bible account critical to building an understanding of God’s character and His love for all people, including your reader!
This first book is about the Creation Account as recorded in the Bible. Future books will cover the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, the Exodus and more.
I want children to understand these are not just stories about fictional characters, but historical accounts about real people they can relate to. People who experienced God’s power, love, and faithfulness.
My greatest desire is to see this next generation trust the Bible and enjoy reading it. More than ever, young readers need to hear the message that they are valuable, loved unconditionally by the One who created them and gave them the best gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize package of a $30 Amazon gift card, one signed hardcover, one eBook, and one digital activity workbook that will help to reinforce the learning concepts in a fun way!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Heart of Gold by author Lacy Williams is a Christian Historical Romance novel. It is part of the Wild Wyoming Hearts Series. I enjoyed it and found it to be a quick read.
This is the story of Ida. She comes from a large, loving family. It is also the tale of Tom Seymour, whose family is just the opposite. They meet during hazardous circumstances, but are drawn to each other.
The author has written a sweet, inviting story with characters that come to life on the pages. The children were an especially bright part of the story with their honesty and innocence. I felt like I was watching a movie or television show play out in my mind. The underlying themes of God’s love, guidance, and redemption shone brightly.
I highly recommend this sweet book. It is a nice, engaging read that will whisk you away to a big family Christmas from years past. It gets a 4 star rating from me. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: Heart of Gold
Author: Lacy Williams
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release date: May 11, 2023
They survived a harrowing near-death experience. Can a poignant family Christmas bring them together?
Ida needs a quiet Christmas at home to rest and find her footing again. But her boisterous family is anything but quiet and things only get worse when her U.S. Marshal brother brings home a prisoner for the holiday—the same outlaw that saved her life.
Tom Seymour discombobulates her. He’s arrogant and unrepentant. But when she’s forced to nurse his injuries, she realizes that his persona is all a facade. The man underneath is wounded and kind and in need of redemption.
But Tom must make a choice between his old life and the chance to make a new one with Ida. Can she trust the man he is becoming or will he betray her?
Lacy Williams wishes her writing career was more like what you see in Hallmark movies: dreamy brainstorming from a French chateau or a few minutes at the computer in a million-dollar New York City penthouse. In reality, she’s up before the sun, putting words on the page before her kids wake up for the day. Those early-morning and late-night writing sessions add up, and Lacy has published sixty books in a decade, first with a big five publisher and then as an indie author. When she needs to refill the well, you can find Lacy birdwatching, gardening, biking with the kiddos, or walking the dog. Find tons of bonus scenes and reader extras by becoming a VIP reader at http://www.lacywilliams.net/vip .
More from Lacy
Do you like “stranded together” stories as much as I do? Being stuck in an airport, a snowstorm, a wedding weekend… Yes, please, to all of the above.
But has it ever happened to you in real life?
Twenty-plus years ago, when I was a freshman in college and before I started dating my handsome hubby, I dated this other guy.
We met at a mixer during the first few days of the semester and hit it off pretty quickly. Classes started, we saw each other a few times socially.
He was pledging a fraternity and invited me to go with him to a co-ed overnight trip.
And then when we got there, he sort of just… disappeared. For hours. I finally found him and then followed him around… until I finally got the hint. Sometime in the days between when he’d invited me to the float trip, and when we arrived, his feelings changed.
It was SOOO awkward for the rest of the night and then the next day. Not the place and time I wanted to be ghosted. And it was worse because I’d ridden down with a mutual friend and had no way to get the two-plus hours home until the next day.
It wasn’t a romantic or fun time. More like a disaster.
A disaster is exactly what my heroine Ida thinks about being stuck with ex-bad guy Tom for Christmas. They get snowed in with her family (and her deputy older brother) and at first it is awkward.
And then… it’s not awkward anymore.
By the time the snow melts, Ida has caught feelings for Tom.
You can read this story free in KU or win a copy through this giveaway! Ida and Tom’s love story is called Heart of Gold.
Wait for Me is Book 4 in author extraordinaire Jody Hedlund’s Waters of Time Christian Time-Travel Series. This series is nothing short of captivating. If it is not made into a television or movie series, it will be a grave injustice. This may be read as a stand alone, but trust me, you will want to read the entire series. It is so fabulous. You might as well read them in order.
With her skillful pen, author Hedlund has presented a plausible solution to the time travel conundrum. It is the best I have heard yet and a Christian related one. The book is set in contemporary times and Middle Ages. Obviously a lot of research has been done to include so many details about the time period. I gleaned so much just from reading this series.
The characters are relatable and believable as well as expertly crafted. They were not perfect and had issues, just like we all do. Dawson was a perfect hero. He smoldered yet showed restraint and was a gentleman. Tall, strong, and handsome with morals. Very swoon worthy.
Conversations sounded realistic and were some of my favorite parts of the book. The romance was clean yet so heartfelt but seemed a little rushed due to the storyline. Both characters had immediate chemistry, and sparks flew off of the pages as I read.
I adore the beautiful way that the author writes. Her prose completely whisks me away to another time and place where I become absorbed in the story. Life and Christian messages are always included. Her books, especially this one, are such page-turners that I devour each in one sitting.
I highly recommend this as well as the entire series. It is nothing short of exceptional. I am hoping there will be more to this series. Everyone will enjoy this page turning, intriguing, masterpiece. I give it a 5 star review. A copy was provided but these are my honest words.
The Swindler’s Daughter by author Stephenia H. McGee is a Christian historical romance fiction by Revell Publishing. It is a hefty 348 page paperback with a cover that is both endearing and interesting. Set in the early 1900s, the story takes place in rural Georgia.
This is the story of Lillian. She learns that what she has been told about her father was not true. While she was always told he had died, she just receives word of his death and her inheritance. Lillian must leave the city and her city ways and travel to rural Georgia.
Characters are well developed. They are realistic and relatable. I was able to engage with them and become invested early in the book. The Swindler’s Daughter is a tale of secrets, trust, family, and romance. There is a Christian message and strong faith in God. Life lessons of forgiveness, trust, and hope are also demonstrated. I learned a few things while reading this, too.
There are a few twists as well as some predictable moments. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing. She told an interesting story in words that held my attention. I was able to easily picture scenes. The dialogue sounded authentic. After the story concludes, there are some pages from a book by the author, historical note, acknowledgments, biography, and advertisements.
I highly recommend this book. Anyone interested in historical fiction will love it. It gets a 5 star rating from me. A copy was provided by the publisher, but these are my honest words.
About the Author
Stephenia H. McGee is a multi-published author of stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. She lives in Mississippi, where she is a mom of two rambunctious boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Her novel The Cedar Key was a 2021 Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice award winner. A member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), she loves all things books and history. Stephenia also loves connecting with readers and can often be found having fun with her Faithful Readers Team on Facebook. For more on books and upcoming events and to connect with Stephenia, visit her at www.StepheniaMcGee.com.
A Brighter Dawn by extremely gifted storyteller, Leslie Gould, is book one in her Amish Memories Series. This is a Christian time-slip novel. It is a hefty 432 pages in paperback form and has an endearing cover.
Set in 2014, this is the tale of Ivy Zimmerman, a young Mennonite girl, and her family in Oregon. The historical side is from 1930s and is the story of Clare Simmons. Clare is a relative who visited Germany years ago, and stayed with a family of three sisters.
This tale is filled with poignant scenes, history, family drama, faith, romance, and mystery. It has quite a few surprises, too.
The beginning was slow for me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, which is a rarity with me for any offering from author Gould. After a few pages, the author wove her magic and I was hooked. It is evident that much research went into this thought-provoking, amazing novel.
There is so much included in this book. I gleaned a lot of historical information. This is a beautiful story. Characters are believable and the Christian message is uplifting. I highly recommend it. It gets a 4 star rating from me. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my own words.
About the Book
Book: A Brighter Dawn
Author: Leslie Gould
Genre: Amish Romance
Release date: March 28, 2023
Ivy Zimmerman is successfully navigating her life as a young Mennonite woman, one generation removed from her parents’ Old Order Amish upbringing. But when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, Ivy’s way of life is upended. As she deals with her grief, her younger sisters’ needs, the relationship with her boyfriend, and her Dawdi and Mammi’s strict rules, Ivy finds solace in both an upcoming trip to Germany for an international Mennonite youth gathering and in her great-great-aunt’s story about Clare Simons, another young woman who visited Germany in the late 1930s.
As Ivy grows suspicious that her parents’ deaths weren’t, in fact, an accident, she gains courage from what she learns of Clare’s time in pre-World War II Germany. With the encouragement and inspiration of the women who have gone before her, Ivy seeks justice for her parents, her sisters, and herself.
Leslie Gould (www.lesliegould.com) is a Christy Award-winning and #1 bestselling author of over 35 novels, including four Lancaster County Amish series. She holds an MFA in creative writing and enjoys studying church history, research trips, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, and are the parents of four adult children.
More from Leslie
The historical thread of my dual-time novel A Brighter Dawn is set in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1939. During that period of time, Germany incorporated Austria, mandatory registration of all Jewish property began, and concentration camps opened. Then came the Night of Broken Glass—the anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. Soon following was the German occupation of Czechoslovakia before the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939.
My main character, Clare Simons, is a Mennonite young woman from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who is staying with her uncle and cousins in Frankfurt, Germany. She doesn’t follow current events much and struggles to balance the Nazi propaganda her uncle and oldest cousin believe with the events unfolding around her. Slowly, she begins to see the truth behind the Nazi lies.
One thing that broke up the narrative of the heavy events I researched and wrote about? The food.
When I traveled in Germany with my husband (who had lived there during his Army service years ago), I marveled over the scenery, became engrossed in the history, and definitely enjoyed the food. My background is Swiss, so it wasn’t that the food was unfamiliar. It was just at a level I hadn’t experienced before!
As I researched what Clare would fix for meals, I pored through cookbooks. For added inspiration, hubby and I ate at German restaurants. Jägerschnitzel (seared pork with gravy). Rinderbraten (paprika and caraway spiced beef roasted in red wine gravy). Wienerschnitzel (breaded and fried pork loin with warm potato salad and a vegetable remoulade.)
I noted food in research books, documentaries, and films. The entrees became focal points in the stories, including rabbit stew, a Christmas goose, and Sauerbraten with Spätzle and red cabbage. So did the desserts, including trifle and Black Forest cake.
When I visited Germany with my hubby, one of the things I really loved was stopping in a café for Apfelkuchen (apple cake) and coffee in the afternoon. In one scene in A Brighter Dawn, when Clare and her cousin Lena stop for coffee, they order apple cake too. Then, in another scene, Clare bakes an apple cake for the family of the nearby Jewish grocer who will soon lose their property.
Below is a recipe for a simple and dense German apple cake (which may have originated in Poland and been influenced by a Jewish apple cake recipe).
The food in A Brighter Dawn doesn’t take away from the narrative, but it is a reminder that a nurturing soul, such as my character Clare, can stand against the lies of an evil regime.
German Apple Cake
1 cup salted butter, melted
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 cups apples—peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (to soften apple slices before baking, place in a microwavable dish with a lid and microwave them with a Tablespoon of water for 3–4 minutes)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan.
Beat butter and eggs with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla; beat well.
Stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture; mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in apples and walnuts by hand using a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45–50 minutes. After 30 minutes, put a sheet of foil over the top of the cake to keep it from burning. Cool cake on a wire rack.
Crumble: ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup white sugar, ½ cup flour, 4–6 Tablespoons softened butter. Combine ingredients and evenly spread over the top of cake.
Butterscotch: Sprinkle a package of butterscotch chips over the top of the cake.
Almonds: Sprinkle almond slivers over the top of the cake.
Mail-Order Bride Substitute by author Linda Ford is a Christian historical fiction novel. This 268 page western story is Book Three in the Montana Mail-Order Brides series and her 100th published book! If you haven’t read the first two books, this may be read as a stand alone. However, I think you would benefit reading them first to learn the back story on some of the unique characters.
This is the story of Riley Shannon, eldest of the Shannon brothers. He has been corresponding with Sylvia and offered marriage to this mail-order bride candidate. The problem is that she has found a local man to love so her friend Olivia steps in to take her place. Things do not go as planned. Riley is a stubborn man with bad memories from the past. Olivia has been hurt, too, and equally hardheaded. When these two got together it was a game of cat and mouse with sparks flying.
This is a fun book. I was immediately engaged with the characters and captivating story. The characters are unique and believable. Riley had two married brothers, one single one, as well as some other supporting characters that kept the story running at a page turning pace. I found it difficult to put the book down, so I did not!
The cooking results and lessons that Olivia attempted were humorous. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the story. The young children brought levity and smiles, too. Christian messages were heavily sprinkled throughout the book. That is one of my favorite things in a Christian book. I love inspirational messages that are upfront and not concealed.
I highly recommend this brilliant book. Readers of Christian historical, western, romance will adore it. This one certainly did. I give it a 5 star rating. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: Mail-Order Bride Substitute
Author: Linda Ford
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Release date: March 29, 2023
Olivia comes from a rich family, but it hasn’t protected her from malicious rumors. A marriage of convenience as a mail-order bride to Riley Shannon is exactly what she needs for a fresh start. Especially when he makes it clear he wants no romance. Something she is in complete agreement with. She’ll go in place of her friend, Sylvia, who has changed her mind about the arrangement she made with Riley.
Riley has bitter memories of loving a rich woman who doesn’t care to embrace ranch life. He has no intention of repeating that lesson. When Olivia steps from the train, offering to be his substitute bride, his answer is a resounding ‘no thanks.’ But Olivia isn’t about to take no for an answer and makes her way to the ranch, determined to prove she is the answer to his prayers.
What will it take for these two to overcome the barriers to their love?
Linda Ford is a multi-published author who makes her home in rural Alberta, Canada where she is near enough to the Rockies to see them every day. She didn’t always want to be an author. In fact, she dreamed of running an orphanage. In a way, her dream came true. She married a rancher. They had four children then adopted ten, an experience which has given her much fodder for the happy-ever-after stories she writes. Growing up on the prairie and learning to notice the small details it hides has given her an appreciation for watching God at work in His creation. Her upbringing also included being taught to trust God in everything and through everything—a theme that resonates in her stories.
Mail-Order Bride Substitute is her 100th title.
More from Linda
For the most part, I write westerns. Historical western romances to be exact. Now I’m not a cowgirl. I don’t even ride horseback. (Shh. Don’t tell anyone.) So, you might well ask, what qualifies me to write stories of this era and these kinds of people?
Well, I could list a number of reasons. 1) I had a father who liked to visit museums and tell stories about settling the west. Not only that, but for a few summers when I was very young, my mother and my siblings accompanied him to live in a…well, the best way to describe it is to say it was a cabin on wheels with nothing inside but a few cupboards and rough bunk beds. You could say I experienced pioneer life firsthand albeit it through the eyes of a child 2) As a child, I read anything I could get my hands on, including Zane Grey. I fell in love with his heroes, his heroines and his settings. 3) I dated and married a man who lives to watch westerns. And as a good date and later, a good wife, I spent many hours watching them. 4). I still love those larger-than-life heroes (aka cowboys) and the stubborn but kind heroines.
Mail-Order Bride Substitute is the third in a 5-book (and counting) series of Montana Mail-Order Brides. I like creating families and have done exactly that in this series. There are four brothers—the Shannons–and then their friends who see how successful their marriages are and decide to try this mail-order bride business for themselves.
I tend to create strong families and this series is no exception. Mrs. Shannon was a kind, guiding mother. Mr. Shannon was tough as old leather yet fair. Their sons do their best to honor them. I also prefer settings that include mountains which is why I have set this series in beautiful western Montana.
I love these stories. Or maybe it’s the cowboys and the brides who gather their courage around them to travel west to marry—and yes, tame—these young men.
Incidentally, this is my 100th book to be published.
Windswept Way by author Irene Hannon is book nine in her Hope Harbor series. This 353 page paperback is a Christian contemporary romance novel. It is a clean fiction but does use slang words such as heck and dang.
In this book, Jon and Rose were somewhat reclusive as they tried to stay in the shadows while in public. Ashley was outgoing and up-lifting. All three had been hurt deeply by the ones that they had loved. It took me a few chapters to become interested in the characters and the story. After a bit things really started to click and I was really engrossed in it. The town map was a pleasant addition.
The life and spiritual lessons in this book are timeless. They made me ponder many things. The author has a pleasant style of writing. After a slow start things fell into place and I was able to lose myself in the story. The characters are very believable. They have issues that are relatable. The one thing that bothered me is that pronouns when speaking about God were not always capitalized. For me it’s something that should always be done.
Even though this is book nine, it could be read as a stand alone book. After the story is a peak at another series, acknowledgments, as well as the author’s biography. Readers that enjoy contemporary Christian romance or women’s fiction should find this to their taste. Book clubs will find a lot to discuss if they choose this title as a selection.
I highly recommend this novel. A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher, and this is my honest opinion. It gets a 4 out of 5 star rating from me.
Meet the author
Irene Hannon, who writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense, is the author of more than 60 novels. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA awards from Romance Writers of America (the “Oscar” of romance fiction) and she is a member of that organization’s elite Hall of Fame. She has also received a Career Achievement award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Other awards for individual books include National Readers’ Choice, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Retailers Choice, Booksellers’ Best, and Reviewers’ Choice from RT Book Reviews. She is also a two-time Christy award finalist.
A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, Irene now writes full time. To learn more about Irene and her books, visit www.irenehannon.com.
The Escape Game by author Marilyn Turk is a Christian historical romance novel. Set in Leeds, England in 1941, this is a World War II story inspired by real events. It is centered around prisoners of war and a board game that helps them. How intriguing is that!
This is the story of Beryl Clarke. She is a secretary at a Game factory in Leeds, England, and also is an Air Raid Warden. Her brother, a pilot, is a prisoner of war along with his friend American Kenneth Borderlon.
The author has done a great deal of research for this book. She takes readers into the middle of the war and POW Camp. Her characters were believable. Their conversations sounded authentic. I learned a lot from this book. It was fascinating to read how a board game helped the soldiers.
I had trouble becoming invested in the story and characters for the first part of the book. It seemed slow to me. Finally I did and I was glad I stuck with it. This book leaves readers with her findings on the war. It provides a story full of intrigue, adventure and romance. Be sure to read the author notes at the end.
Even though I had difficulty with the first part of the book, I would recommend it. It is a different type of war story and fascinating. I loved that it was based on true events. There is much to be gleaned by reading it. It gets a 4 star rating from me. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit and NetGalley, but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: The Escape Game
Author: Marilyn Turk
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Release date: March, 2023
A Board Game Holds Keys to Prisoners’ Escape
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
After the Nazis started the bombing blitz of England, Beryl Clarke puts her college on hold to return to Leeds, care for her mother, and work as a secretary at the Waddington game company. While she endures the war at home, her brother James fights the enemy in the air. When he is shot down, injured, and captured, James meets American POW Kenneth Anderson, and they plan to escape the Nazi prison camp. Beryl knows there is a board game with escape plans being delivered to POWs by the Red Cross. But how will the men discover the game’s secret?
Award-winning author Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance. Marilyn also writes devotions for Daily Guideposts. She and her husband are lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over one hundred lighthouses, and also served as volunteer lighthouse caretakers at Little River Light off the coast of Maine.
When not writing or visiting lighthouses, Marilyn enjoys boating, fishing, gardening, tennis, playing with grandkids, and her golden retriever Dolly.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers; Faith, Hope and Love; Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; and Word Weavers International.
More from Marilyn
The Story behind The Escape Game
In the process of writing my books, I’ve become fascinated by the real stories that happened during World War II. I’ve discovered information I didn’t know before and am finding out that many people I know, even those older than myself, didn’t know either. Every time I come across an interesting tidbit, I want to write about it. Since my husband knows I look for such things, when he came across a story about how the Monopoly game was used during the war, he shared it with me.
The true story was kept top-secret for over fifty years after the war, so few had heard about it, especially outside the United Kingdom. Of course, my writer’s mind set off asking “What If?” So the story developed about a woman who works for the company that makes the game and what happened after she found out about the secret. What if she had a close relative who had been captured before the British informed their soldiers about the game and he needed to know the information? How could she convey that to him?
I wish I could have gone to the UK for research, but that was not a possibility. Maybe someday. However, the people I contacted there were very helpful, and I was thrilled to make contact with the great granddaughter of the president of Waddintons, the company which manufactured the game. She was able to fill in a few details about the company, although when she was a child, her grandfather ran the company.
One thing many people find hard to believe, based on the horrible treatment the Nazi army inflicted on people they thought inferior, is that the treatment of POW’s was somewhat better, especially for pilots. Thanks to the rules of the Geneva Convention after WWI, the Germans abided by them for the most part. That involved treatment of prisoners who escaped. Most of them were caught and returned to the camp from which they escaped. And normally, the punishment was solitary confinement. The biggest hardship of the POWs besides lack of freedom was the meager food they were given, especially as the war continued, since the Germans themselves were facing food shortages.
The challenge for me as a writer was to accurately describe life in both England and the POW camp. The other big challenge was writing a love story when the two characters were apart for so long. But it’s true that many soldiers fell in love with women they corresponded with back home. That fact is verified in the many letters on record, including the ones my father-in-law wrote to a fellow soldier’s fiancé after the soldier was killed in action. Their relationship grew into love, and after the war, the two met in person at the train station for the first time and married the same day.
The Smell of Spring by author Mary Ann Hake is the first book in her Smell of the Seasons series. This is a picture book series that will delight children from ages three to eight. It is delightfully illustrated by Marina from Get Your Books Illustrated. Young children will love the story and pictures.
Author Hake uses rhymes to engage readers. The book shares thoughts on a variety of spring smells. Older children will immediately remember what the Spring aroma is. The author has a nice style of writing. Using words that children understand and a poetic rhythm, kids will be able to remember a lot of what is presented.
There are many life lessons that may be taught from this book. The main character, April, is blind. She has a variety of animals and loves nature. There are many activities and adventures she enjoys in this fun book.
At the end of the book there are questions and activities that parents and teachers might use with children after reading the book. This would make a nice addition to a preschool, home school, or church library. My complaints are it doesn’t mention God, only being in church, and I was not fond of the part about a skunk and its “rear end”. I would be concerned that young children would misinterpreted this.
I do recommend this book. It would make a nice addition to an Easter Basket or baby gift. If you are hoping for a book with a spiritual message, you might be disappointed. Boys and girls alike will enjoy exploring the smells of Spring with this cute book. It gets a 4 star rating from me. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: The Smell of Spring
Author: Mary Hake
Genre: Picture Book
Release date: December 15, 2022
In The Smell of Spring, April, a blind girl, enjoys the world around her and discovers spring scents. Join April and her menagerie of pets in their springtime adventures. The Smell of Spring shows children how we experience the world around us through the sense of smell. Kids will enjoy her many interesting pets and can have fun with the activities at the end using the sense of smell.
Mary Ann Hake has loved learning and writing for as long as she can remember. She has been scribbling stories and poems since she first learned to write and has published hundreds of stories, articles, poems, puzzles, devotions, and more for both children and adults plus written hundreds of book reviews. She loved working in a bookstore and as a librarian and enjoyed reading to children at story times and conducting summer reading programs. She has also taught writing to children and at writers’ conferences. In addition to writing, she continues to work as a freelance editor. Visit her website, www.maryannhake.com, and subscribe to her newsletter for activities for children and updates on future books. Also find her on Facebook at Mary A. Hake author, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057370041720.
More from Mary Ann
I have always loved books and reading, and even as an adult I still enjoy picture books. I had tried writing my own in the past, but The Smell of Spring is the first picture book I have published. The online classes I took during the pandemic and all the years of writers’ conferences, particularly Oregon Christian Writers conferences, have helped me learn and polish my craft. I have published hundreds of pieces, for both children and adults, in a variety of periodicals and a dozen compilation books plus some curricula.
I chose to present this concept book in rhyme because it came out more appealing and fun for kids than straight prose. The Smell of Spring shows how a blind girl uses her sense of smell to experience life around her. Along with her menagerie of pets, April explores her world. The story includes elements that would make it a handy companion text for connection to science: senses, the weather, nature, animals—domestic and wild, flowers and trees, and food. It also models responsibility as April cares for the animals. The Smell of Spring is the first book in the four-book series of Smells of the Seasons.
Readers of all ages are enjoying this fresh look at springtime.
Comments from early readers:
“In sweet, simple prose, with lovely illustrations, this book shows a child how they can appreciate their sense of smell.”
“A delightfully whimsical book that invites children to become mindfully aware of the many smells, both pleasant and unpleasant, that accompany the spring season.”
“A charming way to encounter the season for all children.” “This was a very delightful book! I loved all the places she found smells in. I also loved how you made the book rhyme. It flowed very smoothly.” “So well done, from the rhyme to the message.”
“Mary Hake gives the reader insights into what the world is like to a blind girl, who perceives the world through other senses besides sight. The focus on smell may encourage young listeners/readers to pay closer attention to the smells they like or dislike and to be more aware of different aspects of their world. It may also make them more understanding of children with disabilities.”
“Teachers, parents, and children will appreciate the activities at the end of this book.”
“The whole book is full of delightful images and easy-to-read phrases that describe all the many smells. Including some fun relatable parts. I think children will get a kick out of a few of the smells.”
Sign up for updates on my website, https://maryannhake.com/, and received a PDF of activities for children using the sense of smell. Further fun things will be coming in the future.