First Line Friday: When Stars Rain Down

Happy Friday everyone! You know what that means…it’s time for First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books. Grab the book nearest to you and share the first line! 

Today we are featuring the first line of When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown.

and the first line is…


“The inside of Miss Peggy’s house was hot like the end of days the preachers preached about during summertime revival meetings.”


ABOUT THE BOOK

This summer has the potential to change everything.

The summer of 1936 in Parsons, Georgia, is unseasonably hot, and Opal Pruitt can sense a nameless storm coming. She hopes this foreboding feeling won’t overshadow her upcoming eighteenth birthday or the annual Founder’s Day celebration in just a few weeks. As hard as she works in the home of the widow Miss Peggy, Opal enjoys having something to look forward to.

But when the Ku Klux Klan descends on Opal’s neighborhood of Colored Town, the tight-knit community is shaken in every way. Parsons’s residents—both Black and white—are forced to acknowledge the unspoken codes of conduct in their post-Reconstruction era town. To complicate matters, Opal finds herself torn between two unexpected romantic interests, awakening many new emotions. She never thought that becoming a woman would bring with it such complicated decisions about what type of person she wants to be.

In When Stars Rain Down, Angela Jackson-Brown introduces us to a small Southern town grappling with haunting questions still relevant today—and to a young woman whose search for meaning resonates across the ages.

GOODREADS | AMAZON


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Jackson-Brown is an award winning writer, poet and playwright who teaches Creative Writing and English at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She is a graduate of Troy University, Auburn University and the Spalding low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She is the author of the novel Drinking From A Bitter Cup and has published in numerous literary journals.  Angela’s play, Anna’s Wings, was selected in 2016 to be a part of the IndyFringe DivaFest and her play, Flossie Bailey Takes a Stand, was part of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. She also wrote and produced the play It Is Well and she was the co-playwright with Ashya Thomas on a play called Black Lives Matter (Too). In the spring of 2018, Angela co-wrote a musical with her colleague, Peter Davis, called Dear Bobby: The Musical, that was part of the 2018 OnyxFest in Indianapolis, IN. Her book of poetry called House Repairs was published by Negative Capability Press in the fall of 2018, and in the fall of 2019, she directed and produced a play she wrote called Still Singing Those Weary Blues. Her new novel, When Stars Rain Down, to be published by Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins, is forthcoming in 2021.

WEBSITETWITTER | GOODREADS 


Let us know the first line of the book closest to you & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!

Throwback Thursday — Indian No More

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Today I am sharing a middle-grade historical novel based on the life of the late Author Charlene Willing McManis, a member of the Umpqua Nation in Central Oregon.

 

About the Book

Winner of the 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Middle-Grade Book!


Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight–even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.

With no good jobs available in Oregon, Regina’s father signs the family up for the Indian Relocation program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She’s never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.

Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it’s not that easy. It’s 1957 during the Civil Rights Era. The family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.

In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis’s own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian? Is she American? And will she and her family ever be okay?

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

This moving story, based upon Author Charlene Willing McManis’s childhood, reminded me of how I felt after reading Author Lauren Wolk’s ‘Wolf Hollow’ and Author Kirby Larson’s ‘Dash’. These stories all remained on my mind for a long time after I finished reading them because they are so powerful . . .

‘Indian No More’ describes, in great detail, events in American history which I knew nothing about prior to picking up this book.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 588. “The law said the government didn’t need to provide for our education, health care, of anything else as promised in the treaties. The government declared us only Americans now instead of our own nation. We didn’t need a reservation anymore.” (page 20)

In 1956, Congress passed the Indian Relocation Act. “This removed many more Native people from their reservation homelands and relocated them to big cities like Chicago, Minneapolos, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The government promised moving costs, jobs, higher education, and housing.” (page 180)

The Petit family in the story moved to Los Angeles. They moved into a diverse neighborhood with black and Cuban families. I shed tears at the many ways in which these diverse groups were treated unfairly and unkindly in the community, in the schools, and in society, in general.

One of the uplifting scenes in the book that I could personally relate to was when Regina’s grandmother taught her to sew. They worked together from start to finish on remaking a man’s jacket into a jacket for one of the neighbor boys. Regina’s grandmother taught her how to draft patterns, cut out the fabric pieces, sew the garment together using their Singer sewing machine, and then handsew the finishing touches.

This brought back so many happy memories of my Grandma McCrary and I sewing together in the summer before I began sixth grade. Grandma shared all of her knowledge and expertise with me, but I know I enjoyed the love and time she shared with me even more.

The Back Matter is excellent — Definitions; Author’s Note; Photographs of the author’s family and significant locations mentioned in the book; Co-Author’s Note, Editor’s Note; and the text of an Umpqua story mentioned in the novel, ‘The Beaver and the Coyote’, are included.

There are so many layers to this book. There is the historical perspective of what the government did and effect it had upon these native peoples. There are the feelings of prejudice experienced by these diverse groups. Most importantly, since the story is told by an eight-year-old girl, we are given the insight of the magnitude of these two laws and the ensuing events they caused from the perspective of an innocent child.

I highly-recommend this book to children and adults. This book would make a great classroom or family read-aloud. Many events in the story will require open discussion about sensitive topics. There are a lot of emotions and issues to digest, but I felt richly-rewarded by having read this book.

I borrowed this book from the local public library.


About the Authors

— The late Charlene Willing McManis (1953-2018) was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in Los Angeles. She was of Umpqua tribal heritage and enrolled in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Charlene served in the U.S. Navy and later received her Bachelor’s degree in Native American Education. She lived with her family in Vermont and served on that state’s Commission on Native American Affairs. In 2016, Charlene received a mentorship with award-winning poet and author Margarita Engle through We Need Diverse Books. That manuscript became the novel Indian No More, which is based on her family’s experiences after their tribe was terminated in 1954. She passed away in 2018, knowing that her friend Traci Sorell would complete the revisions Charlene was unable to finish.

Traci Sorell writes poems as well as fiction and nonfiction works for children and teens featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies—the type of books she sought out in her school and public libraries as a child.

Traci’s debut nonfiction picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, was awarded a 2019 Sibert Honor, a 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Honor and a 2019 Orbis Picture Honor. Illustrated by Frané Lessac and published by Charlesbridge Publishing, it also received four starred reviews (Kirkus, School Library Journal, The Horn Book and Shelf Awareness). An audio book is available from Live Oak Media.

Her debut fiction picture book, At the Mountain’s Base, is illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre and published by Kokila/Penguin.

Traci is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located and her relatives still live. Find out more about Traci at www.tracisorell.com.

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First Line Friday: Heart of a Warrior

Welcome to First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books! Today we’re traveling back in time to the Oregon Trail as it wove through the Rocky Mountains in the historical romance Heart of a Warrior by Angela K. Couch. The first line is:

Autumn 1859

Eyes clamped shut against the subsiding ache in her abdomen, Christina Astle sucked in cool mountain air.

About the Book

Heart of a Warrior

The Man She Fears Is Her Only Chance For Survival . . .

All Christina Astle wants is to reach Oregon before her baby is born, but the wagon train is attacked, and her husband killed, stranding her in a mountain labyrinth. Raised in the East, within civilization’s embrace, survival is not a skill she’s learned. Neither is evading the lone warrior dogging her trail.

Disgusted by the greed and cruelty of men like his white father, Towan has turned to the simpler existence of his mother’s tribal people. He is not prepared for the fiery woman who threatens to upturn his entire life … and his heart.

This is an Inspirational Historical Romance published by Pelican Book Group. You can find this book blurb as well as various purchase links on Goodreads.

About the Author

Angela K Couch To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after four munchkins. (from her website)

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Throwback Thursday — Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Today I am sharing a new-to-me historical picture book which documents events that rocked Memphis, Tennessee — and ultimately the world — in the winter and spring of 1968.

 

MEMPHIS, MARTIN--COVER

About the Book

This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.

In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I was thrilled when I saw this title come up in our library’s online catalog. Late last year we watched an American Experience show on PBS about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to Memphis in April, 1968. I learned so much from the documentary, and I was anxious to read this book to see how this tragic event was handled in a book written for children.

The main character, nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, is based upon a teacher in Memphis who participated in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike with her parents when she was a child.

The conflict began in January, 1968, when two black sanitation workers were killed by a malfunctioning packer blade on an old and poorly-maintained garbage truck. Echol Cole and Robert Walker worked with Lorraine’s father.

$1.70 per hour — this was the average pay of a Memphis sanitation worker. The workers formed a labor union with the hope of gaining better pay, better treatment on the job, and improved safety. Memphis’s mayor, Henry Loeb, would not grant a pay increase, and he refused to acknowledge the workers’ labor union.

Beginning on February 12, 1968, and lasting for sixty-five days, 1,300 men went on strike. They marched to City Hall carrying signs. The workers and their families sacrificed greatly during this strike. A group of preachers in Memphis organized and used church donations to help the striking workers pay their bills. “The NAACP organized boycotts to support the strike.” (page 9)

The workers attended rallies each night. They sang freedom songs and listened to preachers. “The mayor railed NO! to every labor request, and my daddy kept right on marching.” (page 11)

The excitement described by the narrator, nine-year-old Lorraine, when it was announced that Martin Luther King, Jr., would be traveling to Memphis in March to try to assist in the sanitation workers’ cause was palpable. When Dr. King arrived on March 18th, he preached, and then made a plan to march with the workers on March 22nd. Except the march didn’t happen that day because an unusual amount of sixteen inches of snow fell in Memphis.

The march was rescheduled for March 28th on Beale Street. Six thousand women, men, and children attended. Unfortunately, instead of a peaceful march, some militant individuals created a riot. In response, Mayor Loeb called in four thousand National Guard troops and set a 7:00PM curfew. 

Dr. King left Memphis, but he promised to return . . .  Dr. King did return to the city on April 3rd. He spoke to the sanitation workers with passion that evening. The next day, Dr. King was assassinated by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

The final chapters of the book are about Mrs. Coretta Scott King and the termination of the Memphis Sanitation Strike on April 16, 1968. The book includes several poems.

Back Matter includes a detailed ‘Memphis Sanitation Strike–1968–Timeline’, information about the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Sources, and Source Notes. 

Words cannot express the profound affect this book had on me. Its poignant retelling of this part of our nation’s history is powerful. The author’s well-chosen words are fully-supported by the illustrator’s beautiful paintings.

Highly-recommended to teachers, librarians, and families. This book will open up important discussions about civil rights, respect, tolerance, perseverance, and determination. 



Alice-Faye-Duncan-333x500
Alice Faye Duncan

About the Author

On the author’s website you will find information about her books along with a set of lesson plans designed for several of her books.

Bonus Content:

Here is a link to a movie of ‘Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop’ made by the Memphis Public Library:  https://youtu.be/MrbGrqynB_g

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R. GREGORY CHRISTIER. Gregory Christie

About the Illustrator

Gregory Christie received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He is a three-time recipient of The New York Times’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, a six-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, and a winner of the Boston Globe­–Horn Book Award, the NAACP’s Image Award, and the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award from the Museum of Tolerance. Visit Mr. Christie’s website at Gas-Art.com.


 

Book Review: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

Hello reader friends! Today I am thrilled to share such a beautifully written novel, but first want to let you know that it is certainly not for everyone. There are some triggers in this book, as you can surmise based on the book blurb. However, if you are able to, I highly recommend reading this book. It will surprise you in ways you didn’t imagine.

 

About the Book

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

A powerful story based on true events surrounding Donaldina Cameron and other brave women who fought to help Chinese-American women escape discrimination and slavery in the late 19th century in California.

When Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women immigrants, but, within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. San Francisco has a dark side, one where a powerful underground organization – the criminal tong – brings Chinese young women to America to sell them as slaves. With the help of Chinese interpreters and the Chinatown police squad, Donaldina becomes a tireless social reformer to stop the abominable slave and prostitution trade.

Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the “Gold Mountain” in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead she finds herself sold into prostitution – beaten, starved, and forced into an opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life.

AMAZON  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |   GOODREADS


My Thoughts

 

There is so much history in this novel I don’t even know where to begin. The author’s attention to detail, and countless hours of research is evident on each and every page. Yes, it was a hard read at times. But all history isn’t cheery and roses. It is tough. It is hard to swallow. But at the end of the day, it still provides hope, which is exactly what Moore has done here.

Donaldina, “Dolly”,  is a character we can all connect with – a girl who wants to help out, thinking she is brave enough to handle it. A girl with a big heart, trying to make a difference. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me. As we often find in life, Donaldina found that the work she was doing wasn’t really what she had in mind, and was much harder than she ever thought. But that didn’t stop her. In fact, she found herself doing things she never dreamed of, and that in itself was inspirational.

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown is a poignant story that had me reaching for the tissues. The stories of the things these young woman (and girls) went through absolutely broke my heart. The addition of Mei Lien to the storyline was perfect. She provided a POV that I was nervous about reading, but found myself clinging to every scene. Again, it was hard to read, and I know there were women in much worse circumstances than her. It really makes you think about things, about life.

If you are looking for a historically accurate read that will open your eyes and take your breath away, I highly recommend this book. It is full of emotion, sadness, and darkness. But I find that you can always find a little light in a dark world, and that’s exactly what Moore does. She brings readers hope.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


About the Author

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty publications. Her historical novels and thrillers are written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women’s fiction, romance and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom. Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Please join Heather’s email list at: HBMoore.com/contact/
Blog: MyWritersLair.blogspot.com
Website: HBMoore.com
Instagram: @authorhbmoore
Twitter: @heatherbmoore
Facebook: Fans of H.B. Moore


 

Do you like reading historically accurate stories, even if they are emotionally hard to read?

 


Post by Contributor Jessica Baker

 

Book Review: An Uncommon Beauty

Happy Wednesday! Today’s book review is An Uncommon Beauty (Abiding Love Book 2) by Kari Trumbo. 


ABOUT THE BOOK

WHAT’S A SHERIFF TO DO WHEN LOVE TEMPTS HIM TO BREAK THE LAW? 

THE WRONG MAN FOR THE JOB 

After failing to catch a rustling ring right under his nose, Sheriff Carl Rainer sees anger and mistrust everywhere he looks. Seeking to do right by the town, he makes an arrest that will either turn the tide or force the mayor to fire him. 

THE RIGHT WOMAN IN THE WRONG TIME 

Esther Greening is a woman ahead of her time. As former co-owner of an orphanage, she steps in as temporary teacher of the Albertville school when the sheriff arrests the last one for murder. However, a threat against one of her former charges sends Esther running to the girl’s rescue in direct defiance of Carl’s insistence that she keep safe. 

A PAIR THAT CAN NEVER BE 

With a law that forbids a white man to marry a black woman, a relationship could get either of them thrown out of town. But when a former rustler abducts Esther, Carl will stop at nothing to get her back. 

What will it take for Carl and Esther to gain the support of the town and for love to conquer prejudice?

AMAZON |GOODREADS |


MY THOUGHTS

An Uncommon Beauty drew me in from the first page. It’s a story filled with romance, action, and suspense, and it’s a story about people standing beside their friends.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kari Trumbo is a bestselling author of Christian and sweet romance.

She writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with historical detail and heart.

She’s a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. When she isn’t writing, or editing, she home schools her children and pretends to keep up with them.

Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB


Post by Contributor Allyson Anthony

Throwback Thursday — Code Word Courage

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Today I am sharing one of my favorite WWII historical fiction novels by Author Kirby Larson. This exceptional book features the Navajo Code Talker program of WWII and diverse characters from the Navajo Nation and Mexico.

 

CODE WORD COURAGE

About the Book

Billie has lived with her great-aunt ever since her mom passed away and her dad left. Billie’s big brother, Leo, is about to leave, too, for the warfront. But first, she gets one more weekend with him at the ranch.

Billie’s surprised when Leo brings home a fellow Marine from boot camp, Denny. She has so much to ask Leo — about losing her best friend and trying to find their father — but Denny, who is Navajo, or Diné, comes with something special: a gorgeous, but injured, stray dog. As Billie cares for the dog, whom they name Bear, she and Bear grow deeply attached to each other.
 
Soon enough, it’s time for Leo and Denny, a Navajo Code Talker, to ship out. Billie does her part for the war effort, but she worries whether Leo and Denny will make it home, whether she’ll find a new friend, and if her father will ever come back. Can Bear help Billie — and Denny — find what’s most important?
 
A powerful tale about unsung heroism on the WWII battlefield and the home front.

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I was drawn to this book by a review I read. This book has three elements I always look for in middle-grade books before I begin reading them:  Historical fiction–this one is set during World War II. Diverse characters–this one features Navajo and Mexican characters portrayed positively and in important roles.Animals as inspirational supporting characters–this one has a dog.  

The other component I look for as I am reading the book are the feelings of empathy and compassion and the maturing of a character through lessons learned. These elements can only be garnered by a skilled author. 

This book possesses all of these traits. 

What sets this story apart from others is Kirby Larson’s awesome writing style. She seems to flawlessly place the right words on the page at just the right tempo and in just the right order. Her setting and characters are well-developed. Her novel is obviously well-researched from my reading of non-fiction about this time period.

I particularly liked the way the main character, Billie, reached beyond her lonely, mournful life to touch others through her kindness and friendship. In particular, she forges a friendship with a boy from Mexico whose father works on Billie’s great-aunt’s ranch. Tito is wise beyond his years, in my opinion, when it comes to his emotional intelligence regarding being bullied by the so-called popular kids in school.

Another exceptional aspect of this book is the World War II depiction of military life and the battle scenes the author so carefully researched.  Billie’s close relationship with her older brother, Leo, is admirable. 

Finally, the inclusion of Denny, a Navajo friend of Leo’s, and the abandoned dog he brought home to Billie’s house enrich the plot ten-fold. The tribute to the ‘Navajo Code Talker’ program in WWII and the courageous men who participated in this ground-breaking mission was intriguing.

I believe this is a story that should not be missed by middle-grade readers. It would also make a worthwhile read-aloud in class or during a family’s reading time. So many great life lessons are taught in its pages.

Highly recommended to middle-grade readers, fans of historical and military fiction, fans of animal-centered fiction, and fans of literature which includes diverse populations as strong characters.

I borrowed this book from the Children’s Section of the local public library.

Below is a link to the Goodreads page listing all four installments in the ‘Dogs of World War II’ series by this author with links to their book blurbs.

LINK TO ‘DOGS OF WORLD WAR II’ SERIES ON GOODREADS


Kirby Larson

About the Author

Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE–which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a finalist for the Washington State Book Award– and DASH–which has garnered two starred reviews, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Capitol Choices nomination.

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend Mary Nethery resulting in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: TWO BOBBIES: A TRUE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL, and NUBS: THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE AND A MIRACLE.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, and traveling. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it.

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Throwback Thursday — Dash

Welcome to Throwback Thursday this final Thursday of May, 2020. In recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would like to share a poignant middle-grade historical novel about the Japanese American internment camps in the United States during World War II.

About the Book

What happens when a war comes between a girl and her dog?

New from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, the moving story of a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog upon being sent to an incarceration camp during WWII.

Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home—or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it.

The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they’ve lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I am a huge fan of Kirby Larson’s historical fiction. Her books are well-written and well-researched. Her characters are multi-dimensional and her settings are so well-developed they become like characters in and of themselves.

A couple of summers ago I read her Young Adult historical series, ‘Hattie Big Sky’ and ‘Hattie Ever After’. Those stories are set in 1917 in Montana. I read and reviewed her fourth book in this ‘Dogs of World War II’ series, ‘Code Word Courage’.

One of the things I enjoyed about each of these books, including ‘Dash’, is the author’s ability to capture a reader’s attention and interest right from the start! In this book, we are introduced to the main character, Mitsi Kashino, and her beloved dog, Dash, in the first paragraph of the book. The story opens in Washington state right after Christmas, 1941.

Upon returning to school after the Christmas break Mitsi and the other students of Japanese descent are met with anger, resentment, and hatred from the majority of their classmates. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fueled these negative feelings about the Japanese in the United States.

I believe this theme is an important historical issue to introduce to and discuss with middle-grade readers because we live in a diverse culture. Respect and acceptance are keys to thriving in our society.  I feel fiction can reach out to youngsters and touch their hearts in ways merely telling them to show ‘respect’ or ‘be kind’ cannot.

Throughout this moving story Mitsi navigates the serious issues of shame, prejudice, loss of friends, evacuation from her home, and internment in two Japanese relocation camps. She meets many cruel and insensitive people along the way. I found the author’s portrayal of these unkind individuals to be realistic and frankly, heart-wrenching.

The depiction of the depolorable conditions at the internment camps is accurate as far as my research into and knowledge of this subject matter. Family life at the camps was not easy for the internees because of the rustic/crude living conditions, lack of privacy, unfamiliar food, and severe weather conditions. I could almost taste the grit from the dust blowing around everywhere and smell the horrible odors in the latrines as described by this author.

A theme in this book which I especially appreciated was the kindness and understanding of several of the surrounding characters who were not internees.

Miss Wyatt, Mitsi’s school teacher, is a lovely person who does whatever she can to make Mitsi’s situation a little more bearable for the eleven-year-old. Mrs. Bowker, the Kashina family’s widowed neighbor, is loving and compassionate toward Mitsi and models what being a good neighbor and friend is all about. Some of the workers at the camps go out of their way to smile at and treat the internees with kindness. And then there is Dash, Mitsi’s loyal best friend! The two shared a deep bond and were both heartbroken when they were separated when the Kashina’s were evacuated.

Highly recommended for teachers, librarians, and parents/grandparents. Fans of World War II/American/California history and stories with diverse characters will appreciate this richly-layered story, too.

To learn more about this subject, follow this link to the United states national parks service website: 

Japanese American Confinement


Kirby Larson

About the Author

Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE–which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a finalist for the Washington State Book Award– and DASH–which has garnered two starred reviews, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Capitol Choices nomination.

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend Mary Nethery resulting in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: TWO BOBBIES: A TRUE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL, and NUBS: THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE AND A MIRACLE.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, and traveling. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it.

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Book Review: The Ranger Takes a Bride

Hi, reader friends! Today’s review features The Ranger Takes a Bride by Misty M. Beller, the second book of her debut series, Texas Rancher Trilogy.

About the Book

The Ranger Takes a Bride by Misty M. BellerThe bloody Las Cuevas War robbed Alejandra Diaz of her father, her fiancé, and her home—and left her with an intense hatred for men in uniform. She escapes across the border with her almost-mother-in-law and finds work on a quiet Texas ranch. The place seems like the safe haven she’d been looking for. Until she meets the rancher’s tall, handsome brother who wears the soldier’s badge of a Texas Ranger…

Edward Stewart has spent years proving his abilities as a man, separate from the overbearing protection of his family. As a Texas Ranger, he has the chance to help tame the Wild West and save the innocent. Innocents like the enchanting Mexican woman he rescued, who now lives and works on his sister’s ranch. But the moment she sees his badge, she won’t have anything to do with him.

Can Edward prove to Alejandra that he’s different from the cruel soldiers she’s known before? Will Alejandra hold onto the fear ingrained from her past, or can she open her heart to the kindness of this good lawman? When danger escalates in the form of a band of desperados with deadly intent, Alejandra must fight her hardest battle yet…

goodreads | amazonBOOKDEPOSITORY | bookbub

 

My Thoughts

What a lovely trio of redemptive, feel-good stories! I completely enjoyed getting to know all the folks on this small-town Texas ranch. These stories have just the right amount of spunk and action to liven up the sweetly romantic plots. Settings and cultures are figuratively painted across each chapter with vibrant brushstrokes.

Alejandra’s plight is heartwrenching yet inspiring as she overcomes her fears and the language barrier (without the help of Rosetta Stone) to remain with her fiance’s mother in a foreign country. Edward isn’t perfect but he makes up for his flaws with a large helping of patience and compassion.

I’m a big fan of Misty M. Beller’s Mountain series so I’ve had my eyes on this Texas series for a while now and it does not disappoint! Since I listened to this book on audio, here are my brief thoughts on the recordings: in my opinion, the narrations for the series are fair to good. For me, the first book’s performance is best followed by the third book with the second book starting out a bit rough (almost echoing) but improving in quality as the story progressed.

I borrowed this book through an audible escape trial. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

About the Author

Misty M BellerMisty M. Beller writes Christian historical romance and is the author of the bestselling Mountain Dreams Series and the Texas Rancher Trilogy. 

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family—both immediate and extended—is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Visit her website!

 

Texas Rancher Trilogy

The Rancher Takes a Cook The Ranger Takes a Bride by Misty M. Beller The Rancher Takes a Cowgirl

I love stories of cultures diverging in a peaceful blend of something new!
The Texas Rancher Trilogy is also available on Kindle Unlimited
!
Listening to this story gave me a richer experience than reading since my Spanish vocabulary is limited to foods, numbers one through ten, a few greetings, and “where is the bathroom?”!

Have you listened to any audiobooks with unfamiliar phrases or languages recently? 

Review by Beth Erin

Author Interview: Stephenia H. McGee

Happy Monday!

On Friday, I shared my book review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Today, I’m pleased to share part of my interview with the author, an interview first posted at my own blog.

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercyMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


Hi dear Stephenia! Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages! Let’s start with a couple of ‘just for fun’ questions first 😉

Q: Which books are “on your nightstand”?

Stephenia: If we ignore my Kindle full of hundreds of books stored in that one slim little device, then I have: Shadows over England series, books 1- 3 and the Everstone Chronicles, books 1 – 5. And then there’s Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids in my drawer. But don’t tell my boys.

Carrie: haha! I highly recommend both of those series… and your boys won’t hear it from me 😉

Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?

Stephenia: It would tell you I need to throw away a bunch of crumbled receipts, I prefer lip gloss over lipstick, I have a keychain that I could use to hurt you (should you be a nefarious villain of ill-intent) and that I must never have to actually remove my key from the depths of my purse in order to start my car.

Carrie: LOL – hopefully that keychain is more accessible than the key, should you run into any nefarious villains of ill-intent!

Q: What was something you learned in the process/challenge of writing Mercy as a diverse main character?

Stephenia:Writing outside of your own ethnicity is daunting. I’m very grateful for the gracious guidance and insights of some awesome authors who performed a sensitivity read. The hardest part was having to write in some of the cruelty and hateful attitudes toward Mercy. I love her as a character. She’s smart, feisty, and strong-willed. Having people treat her as less than because of her physical appearance and disregarding the soul and mind inside was difficult.

Carrie: I adore Mercy – and those scenes broke my heart for her. Vital to the story – and to her character development – but heartbreaking nonetheless ♥

Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: There is a scene toward the end of the book (I won’t give it away!) that is inspired by “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack. Actually, that song really could be the theme song for Mercy.

Carrie: I think I know which scene you’re talking about and I nearly stood up and clapped after reading it!

Q: How would Mercy and Faith each personally define ‘freedom’?

Stephenia: Freedom and what it means is a major theme in this book. In the beginning, Mercy defines freedom as life away from the isolated community of Ironwood, and Faith defines it as making her own way without depending on a man. However, as the story progresses, they both discover that true freedom, and how that relates to their relationship with God, is deeper than they imagined.

Carrie: I really love this theme in the book, and how it fine-tunes in each of their lives.

Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: Every book means a lesson I have to learn. It’s no coincidence that during this particular book, I was struggling with asking God how I was supposed to maintain the calling to write when He also told me to homeschool. I couldn’t find a way to do both in the ways I expected. I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way. I’m still struggling with it, but the lessons Mercy learns are also things God taught me about following His plans instead of mine.

Carrie: I think that’s something we all struggle with at some point – just in different forms. ‘I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way.” – love this!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What stuck out to you most about this interview?