Tag Archives: WWII

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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Review: The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish

  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344


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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.





“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   — Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” — Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address




From the get-go, Fish reels you in with vivid descriptions. I can feel Lane’s trepidation on this journey, although I haven’t gotten to know her enough yet. I am at the train station, too, overwhelmed by the chaos of activity and people. And as intrigued as I am by Lane’s snippets of life in Paris, I am even more in awe of her situational awareness. I instantly  become a fan when she outwits a pickpocket and, cool as a cucumber, is swept away by train to her new life.
I apologize if my gushing makes the novel sound melodramatic. Believe me, it is far from that. The people are very real and the situation even more so. The subject of oil is a touchy one, especially when there’s a war going on. No hunch is too small to investigate. And no person is insignificant it seems.
As an attractive, single (widowed) woman, Lane has to navigate small town life carefully. And that’s easier said than done when her boss is a handsome lady’s man. When she isn’t busy batting away blind date offers, Lane has to fend off a few tempting suitors as well. While some women would fall prey to men like that, Lane is truly a completely different breed of woman. Her dedication to her job and sense of honor allows her to brush off society’s misconceptions and the annoyances that result from them.
Lane has to tail her boss constantly to ensure his safety, earning her the nickname “Elmer”. As in the glue. Get it? Haha! Even the people working closely with her couldn’t help making assumptions. I was amazed that her honor wasn’t completely drowned in the gossip pool. Several times, her good deeds got her into a bit of trouble. Submerging her further into that pool. But Lane is an exceptional swimmer.
I might have made her out to be perfect, but Lane does manage to underestimate a handful of characters. Which leads to surprisingly good and unfortunately bad ends. I can’t get into all that without ruining the story. But let me just praise Fish a bit more on her ability to fashion such a compelling and believable protagonist. I really enjoyed learning a little bit about Lane each time she slipped up and let another character get to see who she really is.
And Ms. Fish, if you’re reading this, I would really like a novel about Sergeant Tesco.
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.

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March 822, 2017

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Review: Finding Dorothy Scott by Sarah Byrn Rickman

Letters of a WASP Pilot 




Sarah Byrn Rickman
Genre: Military History / Biography
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: May 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
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More than eleven hundred women pilots flew military aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. These pioneering female aviators were known first as WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron) and eventually as WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Thirty-eight of them died while serving their country.
Dorothy Scott was one of the thirty-eight. She died in a mid-air crash at the age of twenty-three.
Born in 1920, Scott was a member of the first group of women selected to fly as ferry pilots for the Army Air Forces. Her story would have been lost had her twin brother not donated her wartime letters home to the WASP Archives. Dorothy’s extraordinary voice, as heard through her lively letters, tells of her initial decision to serve, and then of her training and service, first as a part of the WAFS and then the WASP. The letters offer a window into the mind of a young, patriotic, funny, and ambitious young woman who was determined to use her piloting skills to help the US war effort. The letters also offer archival records of the day-to-day barracks life for the first women to fly military aircraft. The WASP received some long overdue recognition in 2010 when they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest honor that Congress can bestow on civilians.
email: ttup@ttu.edu
phone: 800.742.2982


ReviewGrowing up, history never interested me much. Foolish child. As a grownup, I am starting to understand and genuinely reflect on the quote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In elementary school, the movie “A League of Their Own” opened my eyes to the patriotism and drive of American (and Canadian) women during WWII. Things that public school history classes only briefly touched. At least they taught us about Rosie the Riveter, I guess. But why did we never hear about the female aviators?
I’m not exaggerating here. This book was the FIRST time I’ve ever heard about the WAFS. Rickman’s talent for unfolding an important and interesting part of history is a relief. Combined with Dorothy’s wonderful letters, I have hope that children from here on out will not be as ignorant as I have been. With the recognition that the WASPs (not a typo, read the book to see what I did there) are finally receiving from our government, I truly hope to see history textbooks share these wonderful stories of courageous women.
I would love to see this book on the required reading lists of American History and Women’s Studies courses. Rickman and Dorothy’s voices are so vibrant that they make the material interesting, and their knowledge of events and the particulars of military and aviation make this book a standout among history texts.
In the Epilogue, Rickman share’s a paper that Dorothy wrote titled “A Private Utopia”. It has cute things like, “Dentists would be required to run Disney cartoons for their patients” to serious like “all doctors would have the responsibility of keeping the people well instead of just getting them that way.” Another great bit I liked was, “The children would be “The Chosen People.” All of them would be raised in the country, all learn to shoot, ride, and take care of pets. Their schooling would include more teachers, fewer exams, and better vocational guidance – and incidentally, longer vacations. They would be sorted according to ability, and competition made the incentive for work.”
Can you imagine the even larger impact Dorothy Scott would have made on our world if she had lived beyond her 23 years? This from a young woman who didn’t see herself as a leader, but through her kindness and handwork, inspired her superiors to do better and encouraged her students to be the best possible aviators that they could be.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We still see gender inequality today. A quote is making the rounds on Facebook that goes: “1. Being a woman is kind of like being a cyclist in a city where all the cars represent men. 2. You’re supposed to be able to share the road equally with cars, but that’s not how it works. 3. The roads are built for cars and you spend a great deal of physical and mental energy being defensive and trying not to get hurt.”
Nancy Love and the WASP Militarization Committee strived to overturn the injustices that the brave female aviators faced. I hope that we can build on their strength so that we meet equality issues head on and beat them down. Let’s fix things now, not in retrospect.

Sarah Byrn Rickman is editor of the official WASP of World War II newsletter, the author of five previous books about the WASP, and an amateur pilot. In addition to her books, Sarah is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles about the WASP. Sarah is a former reporter/columnist for The Detroit News (Michigan) and former editor of the Centerville-Bellbrook Times (Ohio). She earned her B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University McGregor.

Sarah was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and grew up in Denver, Colorado. She now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Richard, and their black Lab, Lady.

5 WINNERS Each Win a Signed Copy of the Book



  June 1 – June 10, 2016
6/1       Hall Ways Blog              — Review
6/2       StoreyBook Reviews     — Excerpt #1
6/3       My Book Fix Blog          — Author Interview #1
6/4       Forgotten Winds           — Review
6/5       Books and Broomsticks — Guest Post
6/6       Texas Book Lover          — Author Interview #2
6/7       Missus Gonzo               — Review
6/8       The Page Unbound       — Excerpt #2
6/9       The Crazy Booksellers   — Author Interview #3
6/10     It’s a Jenn World           — Review


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