Tag Archives: Appalachian Mountains

Review & Giveaway: What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles


Cindy K. SprolesChristian Historical Fiction

Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 256

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Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie’s mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.


Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers—one greedy and the other a drunkard—Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma’s children.
Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
PRAISE for What Momma Left Behind: 

“Worie Dressar isn’t your typical heroine
she’s tough, she’s opinionated, and she’s loud. But at her core she wants to love and be lovedjust like the rest of us. Cindy’s special talent is in telling about life the way it ishard parts and allwhile preserving the beauty and wonder of love shining through even the darkest night.” Sarah Loudin Thomas, Christy Award-nominated author of Miracle in a Dry Season

“Seldom does a story move me to tears and encourage me to examine my life. A powerful story. Highly recommended.” DiAnn Mills, author of Fatal Strike

“Cindy Sproles has a way of placing readers inside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her ability to transport readers into her Appalachian adventures is nothing short of genius. Leaving us hanging on every word, Cindy writes with feeling and incredible historical knowledge. This book is a must-read!” LaTan Murphy, writer, speaker, author of Courageous Women of the Bible



What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles is the kind of book that I will reread when I need to feel inspired and find inner strength or peace. If you were to judge this book by its cover, you would probably assume that this was another run of the mill historical fiction with a fluffy love story. I wouldn’t blame you because the cover is gorgeous and fits right in with that type of book. And the description on the back cover also does not prepare you for the harrowing story contained within.

We lay eyes on Worie Dressar at the lowest point of her young, hard life. Sproles points out several times that her characters have had to grow up quickly because of their environment. But the opening scene is something that someone even near the end of his or her life would have a hard time coping with. Physically, we see the characters in this novel carry on because nothing would get done if they threw themselves down and mourned for days on end. But Sproles lets us in on their inner turmoil with subtle descriptions and inner dialogue since the story is told from Worie’s perspective. And I suppose it dawned on me that this was not a romance novel when the author did not waste words on the physical appearance of the characters. As a reader who craves love stories in even action or horror genres, this was a big jarring to me. But it made sense given how pragmatic Worie is.

Sproles’ authenticity is consistent in every way, from the characters’ dialect (even in Worie’s narrative point of view) to the description of daily life and the norms of that society. And it is because of that authenticity that it never registered to me that this was a Christian book as well. I suppose because the Bible was the one book that everyone in America read if they knew how to read, I just assumed that folks from that time period quoted the good book frequently. Also, Christian books are not the only ones that teach us lessons in faith and forgiveness.

Maybe you’re not into Christian books. Fear not, because What Momma Left Behind does not read like one. The villain in this novel is among the worst human beings I have ever read in fiction. This is not your cloyingly sweet novel with a picture perfect happy ending; nor does it thump you over the head with the Bible unnecessarily. There are quotes from scripture, but they’re used in a way like if Dan Brown wrote his cryptic clues down and floated them in a bottle. So basically, they have a purpose beyond getting some heathens to read the Word of God.

I thought I was going to read a soothing story of a young woman who teaches orphans to hunt and farm the land. That is not what this story is. It is so much better and more real. I recommend this book to people who like to read realistic historical fiction. Not to mention, a book about the effects of an influenza and typhoid pandemic in America is quite timely during COVID-19.


Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family. 

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First Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind + $20 B&N Gift Card 
Second Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind  + $5 Starbucks Gift Card 
Third Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind
 June 23-July 3, 2020
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Review & Giveaway: These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart




  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: September 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 368

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Bestselling Author Transports Readers to the Appalachian Mountains for Adventure and Healing

Packed with history, These Healing Hills by bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart introduces readers to the fascinating and difficult life of frontier nursing.

When the soldier Francine Howard planned to marry after WWII writes to tell her he is in love with a woman in England, Francine is devastated and in need of a change. She seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Services.

It is in these mountains that Francine crosses paths with Ben Locke, a soldier still very much suffering from the horrors of war. With his future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

While Francine and Ben find they are from completely different worlds and possess very different values, they both learn that things don’t always go the way we plan. Ann H. Gabhart invites readers to witness the healing power of love and step forward to tantalizing new possibilities. 

Praise for These Healing Hills:

“Reading These Healing Hills is like wrapping up in a beloved quilt and stepping back in time. Ann H. Gabhart captures a fascinating slice of Appalachian history in this tale of a mountain midwife and a soldier, bringing it to life as only a native Kentuckian can. Poignant and romantic, witty and wise, with enduring spiritual truths, this is my favorite novel of hers to date.”

—Laura Frantz, author of A Moonbow Night

“What a wonderful story! Filled with true-to-life characters (including some four-footed ones) and fascinating historical details, These Healing Hills is a beautifully written, heartwarming story of life in the Appalachian Mountains at the end of the Second World War. Ann Gabhart combines vivid descriptions, meticulous research, and a deep understanding of the human heart to create a story that will linger in readers’ memories long after the last page is turned. This is a book to savor, not just once, but over and over. A true keeper.”

—Amanda Cabot, bestselling author of A Stolen Heart

“Ann H. Gabhart delivers a rich tale set in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains at the close of World War II. Francine buries the painful loss of the man she loves beneath the difficult work of a frontier nurse-midwife. The mountain people touch a place deep in her heart, and she gladly sacrifices the life she always wanted in order to serve them. But can she ever be truly happy among the hills and hollows where modern medicine often gives way to ancient folk cures? These Healing Hills is a fascinating and beautifully crafted story that I highly recommend.”

—Virginia Smith, bestselling author of The Amish Widower

“You are sure to enjoy this endearing story of love lost and found in the enchanting hills of Kentucky.”

—Jan Watson, author of the Troublesome Creek series


I love reading historical fiction as an adult because history was one of my worst subjects in school growing up. Books like this teach me something about a time period, place, or people that my history classes either failed to cover or that my overstimulated teenage brain couldn’t comprehend at the time. How fascinating that a British woman would choose to start a midwivery school in America; in Kentucky of all places!
I imagine that the women who joined the Frontier Nursing Service were plucky and maybe even adventure junkies. Or perhaps they just wanted to save the poor and uneducated women and children from early deaths like FNS founder, Mary Breckinridge. At any rate, these women often left a life of comfort to rough it out among people who sometimes did not appreciate their assistance.
Gabhart’s use of dialect in the story is among the best I have set eyes on. With other books I’ve read, I often have to read passages aloud to decipher clunky dialect. But this was never the case with this book. The author’s writing style is natural, giving the characters an added dimension of authenticity.
There were times where I thought that the mountain people stereotypes were drilled in a bit much, but I think that Gabhart intended to drive home the stark contrast between outsiders and the mountain people. You know, just in case the reader is not aware of the conflicts that existed during that time in the Appalachian area. My only prior knowledge of these issues came from reading Christy by Catherine Marshall years ago. I like that Gabhart’s portrait of the mountain people is much kinder than Marshall’s.
Maybe because I’m a delayed launcher myself, I felt like this was sort of a coming of age book. After suppressing her true desires to please her mother and fill the void of her father’s absence, Francine finally goes out into the world alone to find out what she’s made of. Not to mention, she is finally free to do things that she has never been able to do before. The devastation of her broken engagement is reminiscent of that first heartbreak. Francine might be 23 years old, but Seth was her only boyfriend and high school sweetheart. I could also relate to the complicated mother-daughter dynamic.
I found this to be a really lovely book and it has been added to my collection of cozy books to be reread while drinking a nice cup of cocoa.

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted—as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. 



Grand Prize:

Copy of These Healing Hills + The Kentucky Snack Basket (11 items including a Derby Pie Tart, Bourbon Pecan Brittle, Bourbon Chocolates, Spiced Pretzels, Modjeskas, Coffee, Snack Mix, Candy Bar, Caramel Corn, and a Horseshoe from Churchill Downs!)

First Runner-Up:

Copy of These Healing Hills + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

Second Runner-Up:

Copy of These Healing Hills + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

September 5 – 14, 2017

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