Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Christmas Forevermore

Christmas Forevermore 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: October 3, 2023 

Description from the publisher: 
“A Family Christmas” by Sally Britton: After years abroad, Cyril Grant worries about relating to his highborn relatives at the family’s holiday celebration. But an unexpected connection with a member of the household staff opens his heart―in more ways than one. 

“Christmas Forevermore” by Sarah M. Eden: In this reimagining of the beloved Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol, spinster Minna Schofield is inadvertently ensnared by a local matchmaker whose meddling launches Minna on a journey of self-reflection that could lead her to unexpected love. 

“Christmas at Cranfield” by Ashtyn Newbold: Though childhood friends Hannah and Samuel secretly adore one another, fate conspires to keep them apart. But after years of shared holidays and missed opportunities, this Christmas brings the hope that their stars will align. 

“A Thrill of Hope” by Karen Thornell: After a devastating loss, Christmas holds little appeal for Isabel Reid. But when a snowstorm traps her in the company of a surprising traveling companion, the perpetual winter of Isabel’s heart may just begin to thaw. 

My Review: 
What a delightful collection of stories! This was the perfect book to kick off my holiday reading! I loved each of them! 
"A Family Christmas" by Sally Britton--I loved seeing how cheerful Jane was and how she pulled Cyril into his own family. Their interactions were just adorable. 
"Christmas Forevermore" by Sarah M. Eden--Although it's tough to pick a favorite with four great stories, this one did manage to gain that title. I loved the nods to "A Christmas Carol." I also liked seeing Minna's introspection and journey toward healing. The banter between her and Rupert is fantastic. Just a wonderful story! 
"Christmas at Cranfield" by Ashtyn Newbold was a bit of a star-crossed lovers story, with the circumstances and timing not being quite right for Hannah and Samuel to have a romance. I was quite interested to see how they would bring about their happily ever after. 
"A Thrill of Hope" by Karen Thornell features my favorite type of hero--grumpy exterior, sweet interior. Both Isbal and Robert needed to do some healing, and I loved seeing that come for both of them and for them to let their true selves show, rather than just the guarded selves they'd revealed at first. 

All of these stories, despite being novellas and not full-length stories, featured well-developed characters and plot-lines. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and hope I'll have time to revisit it soon! 
5 stars.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Under the Java Moon by Heather B. Moore

Under the Java Moon
By Heather B. Moore
Published by Shadow Mountain

Description from the publisher:
Based on a true story, this gripping WWII novel captures the resilience, hope, and courage of a Dutch family who is separated during the war when the Japanese occupy the Dutch East Indies.
Java Island, 1941
Six-year-old Rita Vischer cowers in her family’s dug-out bomb shelter, listening to the sirens and waiting for a bomb to fall. Her charmed life on Java—living with other Dutch families—had always been peaceful, but when Holland declares war on Japan and the Japanese army invades Indonesia, Rita’s family is forced to relocate to a POW camp, and Rita must help care for her little brother, Georgie.
Mary Vischer is three months pregnant when she enters the Tjident women’s camp with thousands of other women and children. Her husband, George, is somewhere on the Java Sea with the Dutch Navy, so she must care alone for her young children, Rita and Georgie, and her frail mother. The brutal conditions of the overcrowded camp make starvation, malaria, and dysentery a grim reality. Mary must do everything she can to keep her family alive.
George Vischer survives the bombing of his minesweeper but feels little hope floating on a small dinghy in the Java Sea. Reaching the northern tip of the Thousand Island would be a miracle. Focusing on the love of his life, Mary, and his two children, he battles against the sea and merciless sun. He’ll do whatever it takes to close the divide between him and his family, even if it means risking being captured by the Japanese.
Under the Java Moon highlights a little-known part of WWII history and the impact of war on Indonesia, its people, and the more than 100,000 Dutch men, women, and children who were funneled into prison camps and faced with the ultimate fight for survival.

My Review:
What a terrific book!
Interesting plot? Check.
Endearing characters? Check.
Excellent research? Check.
I love World War II books and have a read a ton of them, but I've never read one set in Indonesia, so I was super excited to read one now, particulary when I've read most of Heather B. Moore's books and know the research and details are always impeccable. That was definitely the case here; Moore brought the situations the Vischer family and others were under to life so clearly. It was so interesting to see how the Dutch in Indonesia were impacted by the war. I love the fact that this is based on a true story and that there's even an afterward from Marie (Rita) Vischer Elliott. It's an understandably somber book, as the Vischers are imprisoned in interment camps, but it also shows the resilience and kindness of so many.
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.