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Book Review: In Times Like These by Gail Kittleson

Posted by Julie on May 20, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
In Times Like This by Gail Kittleson.

In Times Like This by Gail Kittleson.

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war. But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stroke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment. When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits. Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future? This extraordinary literary writing classically captures the mindset of the 1940’s. Addie and her friend Kate reflect the voices women hear as they face confusing dilemmas even seventy-five years later—my first read kept me up into the wee hours. I will refer my readers to In Times Like These! Patricia Evans, Author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Controlling People and other books listed at

Gail Kittleson transports the readers back to WWII with Americans Addie and Harold. The war affects everyone in the country, and in Iowa, Harold wants to join the cause and fight the Nazis. However, he’s not able to, and the rejection makes him bitter. He takes his anger out on Addie with verbal wounds.

Addie’s best friend, Kate, is in London. The two write and share their hurts through letters. The letters give Addie strength in a time where abuse was not defined.

I really enjoyed In Times Like These. I really felt like I was in this part of history, WWII. It’s not easy to write a historical, much less a character who does hurtful things even though we understand his pain. Also not easy is to craft a friendship and evolve characters through letters. Gail Kittleson makes all these things seem effortless, and for that, it’s a page turner.

I highly recommend you set aside some time and go back to WWII with Gail Kittleson and In Times Like These. You won’t regret it.

I received In Times Like These in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase In Times Like These, click here.

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Surrender Story: Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard

Posted by Julie on February 4, 2016 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Julie’s Note:
My heart is to change the world through fiction, by creating characters who ultimately surrender whatever issue is holding them back from complete freedom in Christ. I love the premise behind Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard because there is definitely surrender in this story. I hope you enjoy the interview Terri shares with the heroine of the story, Heidi.


Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard.

Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard.

Heidi, was there any aspect of being at war that you did not anticipate?


The loneliness, or maybe I should say the aloneness. In Germany, we didn’t know who we could trust. We may have been good friends with our neighbors before, but during the Third Reich, we had to keep our opinions to ourselves. If our views did not agree with Nazi doctrine (and they didn’t), we could be denounced as traitors. If someone held a grudge against you, a trumped up charge might land you in a concentration camp with a good possibility of torture and death. Even relatives could betray you, intentionally or not. That happened to me.


What was your reaction when Hitler declared war on the United States?


Despair. Feeling sick to my stomach. Knowing for sure we’d lose the war. Being at war against England was bad enough. I didn’t know anyone there. But the United States! I knew a lot of Americans. And my generation bore the brunt of the fighting. That meant boys I’d gone to school with would be fighting us. Being at war with the U.S. meant no more mail service, so I lost touch with my American friends.


Why were you sure Germany would lose after the United States entered the war?


Common sense. Remember, I lived in the U.S. for three years. It’s a huge country, capable of massive manufacturing. America had already been helping the Allies with war material. Now they would work that much harder to supply themselves.


Hitler fancied himself a military genius, but his actions proved otherwise. When England refused to capitulate during the Battle of Britain, he quit the attack and declared war on Russia. If he couldn’t subdue one enemy, why should he think he could subdue two? Insanity. Pure insanity.


Your American friends urged you to return to the U.S. when the war began in 1939. Do you regret staying in Germany?


That’s a hard question. Life would have been easier for me. But what about my family? The children I helped care for? I believe caring for the children was my calling. I was able to do some good. What would I have done in the U.S., where I would have been an enemy alien? And if I had gone, what would have happened to Paul when he needed help?


Speaking of Paul, what about Erich? Do you think of him often?


Oh dear! I do wonder what life would be like if he still lived. I often think of how he died. That was so stupid of his commander. Diving their damaged submarine was suicidal. Why did he dive? He had no right to condemn his men like that. If he couldn’t face surrender, at least he could have allowed the crew to get off before he submerged. I would like to know what happened before they dove. Did Erich object? Did anyone? That still bothers me.


The Allies took command of the air over Germany in the years of the war. What was that like to see them overhead?


I was awestruck. That sounds horrible for a German to say, but it’s true. Those formations of bombers looked invincible marching across the sky. Oh, I saw some come down. A lot of them were shot down. But they kept coming. Since I spent much of the war in the countryside, I never experienced their bombing. Only one time was I under the bombs, and that was a British night raid.


You live in the States now. What are your thoughts about your homeland?


Germany lies in ruins, and that hurts my heart. So much was beautiful, and so much good came from Germany. The Gutenberg Bible, great hymns of the church. Now all people think of are the death camps. I don’t understand how so many people could work at those camps, agree with what they were doing. It’s unfathomable. What happened to people’s faith in God? Had it been destroyed by the Great War and its aftermath?


My hope is Germany will rise from the rubble, and work for peace, not for conquest. That great men like Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer will lead people in the ways of God.

Christian Library Journal, and Church Libraries

About Friends and Enemies

World War II rages across Europe, particularly in Germany, claiming the life of Heidi Wetzel’s husband. In a bid to escape her grief and the frequent bombings of German cities, Heidi and her sister flee Hagen to a farm in the German countryside, where they help care for orphaned children. While there, Heidi comes across an American airman, Paul, with whom she spent time when her family was living in Milwaukee during her high school years. When Paul’s plane is shot down over Germany, his only thought is survival—until he hears God’s voice guiding him to his late wife’s friend.

Terri_editedTerri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her occupied as an associate editor.

Friends and Enemies:

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Book Review: Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton

Posted by Julie on October 3, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Life Lessons, surrender |

91NFpHoGmUL._SL1500_Sergeant Rowdy Slater is the most skilled-and most incorrigible-soldier in Dog Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, an elite group of paratroopers fighting for the world’s freedom in World War II.

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, Rowdy returns to the States after the war, turns his life around, and falls into the only job he can find-preacher at the sparsely populated community church in Cut Eye, Texas, a dusty highway town situated at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.

The town’s lawman, suspicious that Rowdy has changed his ways only as a cover up, gives an ultimatum: Rowdy must survive one complete year as Cut Eye’s new minister or end up in jail.

At first Rowdy thinks the job will be easy, particularly because he’s taking over for a young female missionary who’s held the church together while the men were at war. But when a dark-hearted acquaintance from Rowdy’s past shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared due to an irrevocable favor, and life turns decidedly difficult.

Rowdy’s a man used to solving problems one of two ways: with his rifle or with his fists. Will he be able to thwart his old friend’s evil schemes while remaining true to his new higher calling?

This is a wild ride of a book bursting with a bank robbery, kidnapping, desperate prayers, and barroom brawls. Before the smoke clears, all sides just might end up getting exactly what they want.

Marcus Brotherton is a new name to me and as an avid reader, I’m ashamed to admit that. Feast for Thieves is his debut fiction work.

This story starts with action and doesn’t let up. Rowdy is a WWII vet down on his luck when an opportunity to turn things around comes up. He ends up as Reverend Rowdy and he, nor the people of Cut Eye, Texas, will ever be the same.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started Feast for Thieves. I don’t always love post WWII era books. Although I write in first person, it’s very hard to pull off. The voice has to be strong. Rowdy is a character I’m so glad is in first person POV. He’s a strong, multi dimensional character and the author painted an equally strong setting and secondary characters. There’s conflict, humor, bar fights, sermons you won’t forget, and everything in between. I read 2/3 in one evening and would have kept going had I not needed to be somewhere else.

I truly enjoyed Feast of Thieves, and I think you will, too.

To purchase Feast of Thieves, click here.

I received Feast of Thieves from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


c55771a88da016f00255d110.L._CB242860148_SL140_RO5,1,174,177,178,255,255,255,15_AA160_Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer known internationally for his books and literary collaborations with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel. He has authored or coauthored more than 25 books.
Notable works include We Who Are Alive and Remain, a New York Times bestseller, A Company of Heroes, which ranked No. 1 in the country among World War II/Western Front books, and the widely-acclaimed Shifty’s War.
Marcus’ books have been praised by the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Entertainment Weekly, Associated Press, Booklist, Publishers Weekly and more. Critics have called Marcus’s books “…fascinating…” “…brilliantly arranged…” “…magical…” and “…refreshingly frank…”
He has been interviewed by the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC World Today, and The John Batchelor Show, and was featured in the documentary film A Company of Heroes, which aired on PBS stations around the country.
Collaborative works include projects with Lt. Buck Compton (one of the original Band of Brothers), apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias, NFL quarterback Colt McCoy, psychologist Dr. Nancy Heche, fashion journalist Lauren Scruggs, Austin Stone pastor Matt Carter, Bronze Star winner Colonel Susan Luz, Alabama restaurateur Martha Hawkins, humanitarian Susan Scott Krabacher, speaker Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, youth ministry expert Doug Fields, radio show host Steven Arterburn, First Place weight loss program CEO Carole Lewis, musician Tommy Walker, youth speaker Ryan Dobson, university chancellor Rev. Wayne Cordeiro, and more.
Born in Canada in 1968, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and journalism from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree in practical theology and writing from Talbot Seminary at Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors.
Marcus lives with his wife and children in Washington State. More information about Marcus can be found online at

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Book Review: Lady Blues: Forget-Me-Not by Aaron Paul Lazar

Posted by Julie on April 16, 2014 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Blank white book w/path

Book Description:
Past and present collide when an Alzheimer’s patient’s fragile memory holds the key to solving mysteries dating back to World War II—including a long lost secret love affair.

Music professor Gus LeGarde is just doing a favor for a friend when he agrees to play piano for church services at a local nursing home. He doesn’t expect to be drawn into a new friendship with an elderly Alzheimer’s patient dubbed “the music man” or to stumble across a decades-old mystery locked inside the man’s mind.

Octogenarian Kip Sterling doesn’t know his own name—but he speaks Gus’s language, spouting jazz terms like “cadence” and “interlude” and “riff.” He’s also obsessed with “his Bella,” but nobody knows who she is.

When Kip is given a new drug called Memorphyl, he starts to remember bits and pieces of his life. Gus learns Bella was Kip’s first and only love, but their relationship was shrouded in scandal. Intrigued, Gus agrees to help search for her. Could she still be alive?

Horrified when the miracle drug suddenly stops working and patients begin to backslide, Gus panics. Can he help Kip find his beloved Bella before all the memories disappear?

What an enjoyable read Lady Blues was. Gus LeGarde has another mystery on his hands when a senior citizen in a nursing home befriends him and starts remembering his past after taking a new medication. Suddenly many residents are being discharged thanks to the miracle cure found inthe form of a pill. But just as fast as the medication helped, Kip and his peers are starting to regress. It’s up to Gus and his strong support system to find out why.

I loved flipping the pages to find out the “why.” It’s a great mystery with a backdrop I don’t see too far out of the realm of possibility of being a real news headline. Lady Blues takes place in one of my favorite places, the Genesee Valley of Upstate NY. Aaron Paul Lazar does a fantastic job bringing Livingston County alive to readers with places like Livonia, Honeoye Falls, Conesus, and even a Rochester mention.

There’s also history to adore, and I did. For music lovers, Gus is a music professor at a college that sounds very much the same one I graduated from. It’s music that first brings him to Kip, and Kip’s entire life is wrapped up in music. When Kip remembers his past love, Bella, a blues singer, there is the tie-in to history, Kip was mentored by Glenn Miller. The key to Kip and Bella being torn apart is found in Glenn Miller, too. I loved the entire music background, the war, and how everything worked together.

Lady Blues also has strong secondary stories that are multi dimensional, but don’t take away from the main plot and characters. Sieg and Lily, Curtis, and Camille.

A head’s up, there is some profanity.

All in all, Lady Blues was a wonderful blend of mystery, romance, music, and history.

To purchase Lady Blues, click here.

I received a copy of Lady Blues in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Date with Death by Ace Collins

Posted by Julie on January 8, 2014 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Book Description:


Helen Meeker is back and has less than thirty days to stop the execution of an innocent pastor who has unbelievably confessed to being a Nazi spy. While on a case that has dynamic implications to uncovering an espionage ring operating on American and British soil, Helen defuses a hostage crisis in a bank robbery gone wrong, unearths an explosive coffin, and is introduced to a dead English hero who seems very much alive. The fate of an innocent girl and the world’s two most dynamic leaders depend upon Helen’s connecting cases before Wilbur Shellmeyer faces a firing squad, and Churchill and Roosevelt meet for a secret conference in upstate New York. 

Set against the backdrop of the early days of World War II, A Date with Death combines action, adventure, mystery, and romance in a tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until they, like Helen Meeker, answer the question, “Do I save the leader of the free world or an innocent man scheduled to die to protect someone he loves?” Which life is more important? 

Though the answer to this question will be revealed at the end of A Date with Death, Helen’s action and adventure will continue at a break-neck pace throughout the “In the President’s Service Series,” as she takes on new challenges and dangers. 

What a ride A Date with Death was. I went into this book knowing little. I knew it was set in the 40’s and was part of the “In the President’s Service” series that will release each month.

I loved this book. Helen Meeker is a strong heroine who defies the 40’s stereotypes that the men keep trying to put on her. Perhaps she’s a little too good at what she does, but I didn’t care. I love espionage and WWII stories and A Date with Death had everything. Romance. Suspense. Thrills. Action. History. And a great cliffhanger to set up the next story in the series.

I’m fairly discerning in guessing who is a good guy and who isn’t, and this was a guess until the end. I also loved bringing a president to life in fiction. The interactions between President Roosevelt and Helen were fun to read. I could picture it.

I also was surprised to read cities I grew up near mentioned. I lived 20 miles from Elmira. I know Ithaca well. It’s always fun to see places you know “in real life.”

If you love 1940 thrillers with intrigue, strong characters, constant guessing, and non stop action, you need to make a date with this book, and series.

To purchase A Date with Death, click here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Tricia Goyer’s Along Wooded Paths

When I offer book reviews I typically start with the book and then share a little about the author. Today I’m doing things a little different. If you aren’t sure who Tricia Goyer is and you enjoy reading, you need to learn more about her and her work.

From LitFuse Group:

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

I’ve followed Tricia’s work for years. I remember reading her MOPS articles. WWII books. Writing geared for marriage. Book encouragement for moms. Her latest, Along Wooded Paths, is Book 2 in her Amish Big Sky series. It really helps if you read Beside Still Waters first. Anyway, I write all I do about Tricia to show you her talent. Most authors stick to a genre and don’t waver too far from it. Few dance between fiction and non and when they do, the results aren’t often great. Tricia is a clear conduit of the Lord’s pen. She’s gifted in words I can’t even adequately communicate. The next writing project I’m half-watching for her to announce is her plan to align herself with speculative or fantasy. She’s a master in each genre she writes. I am a reader and I’m telling you, she truly has His favor and is a tremendous talent. You need to get your hands on all her books and devour them. Seriously.

That said, Along Wooded Paths treats readers to Amish life in Montana for Marianna Sommers and her family. The more Marianna adjusts to her new life in the mountains the more questions she has. Thanks to a deepening friendship with an Englischer she’s drawing closer to God through His Word. Her family grieves previous losses to the world so their concerns are constant. Tension elevates when the Amish man Marianna thought she was going to marry in Indiana arrives in her Montana town.

I enjoyed the tension and the mounting stakes Marianna faces. Each character has questions and their choices have impact that ripple not just through Montana waters, but even through previous generations.  The beautiful setting Tricia painted in Book 1 continues to be a quiet, endearing character in Along Wooded Paths. I recommend while you are following my suggestion to find Tricia Goyer’s books you make sure Beside Still Waters and Along Wooded Paths are at the top of your list.

For more about Tricia and her other books visit

About the book:

All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Read an excerpt.

More about the Facebook Party and Live Author Chat! 

Tricia is celebrating the release of Along Wooded Paths with a Fabulous Facebook party on October 18th. She’ll be giving away prizes and a sneak peak at the next book in the Big Sky series.

Then during the second half of the party she’ll be hosting a LIVE AUTHOR CHAT on her website and announcing something BIG! CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party – then go here to sign up for the Live Author Chat.

To purchase Along Wooded Paths click here.

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This book was provided to me for review by B&H publishers and much of the information apart from my review comes from Litfuse Publicity Group.

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