Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Watch a beautiful trailer for Once Upon a Wardrobe: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/once-upon-a-wardrobe

This link will take you to many videos of Oxford, The Kilns-C.S. Lewis’ home, and more: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/videos-and-podcasts

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Once upon a wardrobe, not very long ago, and not far away” in the town of Oxford, England, Megs Devonshire followed the winding, icy path to The Kilns, the home of the famous author, C.S. Lewis. His newest book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was hugely popular, and her brother George was obsessed with the land of Narnia.  Megs was desperately hoping to find the courage to speak to Mr. Lewis and ask, “Where did Narnia come from?” Desperate because her 8-year-old brother, George, didn’t have long to live and he wanted to know. Megs, an introverted physics student ruled by logic and equations, not fairy tales, was boosted by her deep devotion and love for George. Mr. Lewis or Jack, and his older brother, Warnie, welcomed Megs into their common room with worn leather chairs, books piled high and a roaring fire and tea to warm her. Thus, Megs begins frequent visits to The Kilns and walks about the woods with Jack and Warnie as her questions lead to accounts of the death of his mother at age 9, the horrible Wynyard School, and his time in the army at The Somme -all told by the genius with wit; Jack wants Megs to just listen and take notes later. This quest to find the beginnings of Narnia will lead to much, much more-for readers, for George, and Megs.

As Megs returns to George’s sickbed to retell the stories shared by Jack and Warnie, George and readers are anxious for her to keep sharing. Megs is becoming quite a storyteller and readers realize that through stories one can see ‘reality from new angles.’ Megs is enthralled, becomes distracted from her exams, and finds herself in the Bodleian Library searching for Phantastes, a fantasy novel by Scottish writer George MacDonald, that Jack claims “baptized his imagination!” A lesson Megs learns from George is that all fairy tales have a bad part, a scary part-just as in real life. George is helping Megs to cope with his illness as much as she is helping him by sharing Jack’s stories.  Patti Callahan weaves history through Jack’s life stories so Megs finds out about Operation Pied Piper, when in 1939 children were brought to The Kilns from London to escape The Blitz. This novel shines a glowing lantern of compassion on Clive Sterling Lewis and his efforts to comfort the children with his stories and a home along with his deep empathy for their parents during this time of separation. (Children coming from London to live with a professor, sound familiar?)

The only gift George wishes for this Christmas 1950, is a trip to Ireland to visit Dunlace Castle. Will his wish be granted? Will he find out where Narnia came from? Come along on this “Grand Adventure” to find answers and see if you hear “the lion’s roar” as Patti Callahan unravels mysteries of the universe and the magic of hope in Once Upon A Wardrobe-an outpouring of love and enlightenment.

The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

Happy Publication Day-September 7, 2021

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Wish Book Christmas was read and reviewed for the Historical Novels Review Magazine that will publish on November 1, 2021. After that date the review may be published. In the meantime, here’s the summary from Amazon. If I Were You is inspirational historical fiction set in London WWll and post-war America. It is a prequel, although The Wish Book Christmas may be read as a stand alone novel.

From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab―since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek(2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Happy Publication Day! The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

“ONE UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER . . . When Remy discovers she’s mysteriously inherited a house on the French Riviera she drops everything to go there…”

Available August 31, 2021

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oréal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts and has written several novels including A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald, Her Mother’s Secret, The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer, and The Paris Secret.

In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-up with her three children. She lives in Perth.

For all the latest news from Natasha visit:
http://www.natashalester.com.au
Twitter: @Natasha_Lester
Instagram: natashalester
Facebook: NatashaLesterAuthor

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An envelope with money, a key, and the title to a villa on the French Riviera.

Natasha Lester’s The Riviera House is the tale of daring women protecting famous artworks since the Nazis are coming for France! It’s 1939, and the Louvre is closing for three days for “essential repair work.” Main character, Eliane Dufort, a student of art history, goes to school and works at the Louvre. Eliane, becomes involved in protecting the art by adding codes on crates of artwork being sent to another smaller museum, the Jeu de Paume, for cataloging and eventually transit. Her brother, Luc, an aspiring artist, and his friend Xavier, also become involved in the plot to save the famous artworks. Natasha Lester provides an excellent character study of brother and sister, and the wealthy friend, Xavier Laurent, whose father owns art galleries in Paris, London, and New York City. According to Xavier, Hitler is “not just seizing nations, he’s destroying their art and culture, too.” Readers learn to distrust both Luc and Xavier, for different reasons. Eliane and the reader fall for Xavier as Natasha Lester, in a time of such fear, gives a very calming and tender description of Xavier’s love for Eliane. Later Xavier appears with Reichsmarshall Goring as a guide at the Louvre and readers are filled with extreme doubt! Who can Eliane trust?

In a dual timeline, Natasha Lester whisks the reader to the grand vistas of the French Riviera, to a breathtaking villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. (See below!) At the urging of her best friend Antoinette, Remy Lang has come from Sydney, Australia, to spend three months in France to recover and reassemble her life. In 2015, Remy is a widow of two years, and owner/curator of a vintage fashion business.  Remy is in a “coma of agony.” Natasha Lester has a way with the language that speaks to the soul. As Remy navigates her journey of grief NL injects doubt and questioning, so   readers are urged to examine their own conscience and come to conclusions.  The villa is part of Remy’s inheritance, and her quandary is “How do I have in my possession a painting that Herman Goring stole seventy years ago?” That answer is filled with art history, mystery, and “Wait. What?” moments.

As Xavier says, “Art is all we have when words fail us, mankind fails us, and we fail each other.” Join the throng of Natasha Lester fans, to discover the treasures and uncover the mysteries hidden in The Riviera House.

The Sorting Room by Michael Rose

“A moving and evocative tale, sweeping in scope- Its depiction of Depression-era New York City is vivid and haunting.” Amazon

Publishes: September 21, 2021

https://www.amazon.com/Sorting-Room-Novel-Michael-Rose/dp/168463105X

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sorting-room-michael-rose/1138488965

Michael Rose was raised on a small family dairy farm in Upstate New York. He retired after serving in executive positions for several global multinational enterprises. He has been a non-executive director for three public companies headquartered in the U.S. The Sorting Room is his debut novel. He lives and writes in San Francisco.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A game of marbles led to an accident leaving ten-year-old Eunice Ritter’s older brother mentally impaired. In 1928, New York City, Eunice is forced to support her alcoholic parents and her siblings, as punishment for the accident. The spunky Eunice convinces David Welles, owner of an industrial laundry, to give her a chance at a job in his “sorting room.” Against his better judgement and not expecting her to last 15 minutes, Eunice begins her life’s work.   With Gussie as a mentor and Mr. Welles’ gambling brother, Martin, and cousin Alfred as enemies, Eunice not only survives the stench and grueling shifts, but eventually becomes a supervisor. Michael Rose stirs the melting pot of Prohibition-era New York City with Swedish immigrants escaping tragedy and Native Americans escaping the reservation.

 As the saga slowly unfolds Rose’s characters evolve with clarity and depth so readers will be cheering for Eunice and Gussie, hopeful for Joshua and Jackson from the reservation and despising Eunice’s father and JP, the wicked man she’s forced to marry.  Rose lends a much-needed lift with a clever sense of humor in reference to Eunice as a witch and uses a mirror in a bar scene to give readers a different and interesting view of patrons. Eunice plods through her life with perseverance, enduring her marriage of “slavery” since women still need a husband’s signature for a lease. Rose adds suspense with a kidnapping and continuity with the thread of the ‘annual Mother’s Day trip to Grammas.’  Readers will develop sincere empathy for Eunice and the family she creates as Michael Rose’s debut novel opens with foreshadowing of a life to come- a spunky ten-year-old girl lands a job with the ‘dirty dirties’ in The Sorting Room.

The Ice Swan by J’Nell Ciesielski

“Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarch, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.”

Bestselling author and with a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’Nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. She is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at: http://www.jnellciesielski.com.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Ice Swan opens in the chapter of Russian history, 1917, when the Bolsheviks are ridding the country of royalty. Distant relatives of the Tsar, Princess Svetlana Dalsky and family are fleeing the Blue Palace in Petrograd, seeking safety in Paris. Known as the “cold, conceited, condescending” princess, Svetlana crosses paths with Scotsman surgeon, Dr. Edwynn MacCallan, second son of wealthy Duke of Kilbride. Svetlana and Wynn, each facing fears and distanced by pride and stubbornness, are flung closer when the influenza epidemic strikes her family. A Paris hotel turned hospital is where Dr. Wynn performs daring cardiac surgery and Svetlana reveals her servant heart. Svetlana, a princess who speaks six languages and finds joy in ballet, has become indebted to Sheremetev, ruler of the underworld and the decadent White Bear Club. With his disgusting offer of marriage to offset her mother’s debts and the alarming announcement that the entire Romanov family has been executed, Svetlana races from the club with Wynn in close pursuit.

Readers will thrill to Ciesielski’s crisp details and dialogue as “revolution, murder, and survival tend to block out the pretense of happiness.” Ciesielski’s stunning descriptions of Paris streets and charming exchanges showing humor are delightful; especially as Wynn translates Scottish expressions and puns for Svetlana. Ciesielski uses analogies of caring for plants and the changing threads in a pattern to explain Svetlana’s transformation and tangled feelings. Wynn’s conundrum is very rightly compared to women’s choices and their right to vote. Readers need to bundle up to face the decisions of “duty vs. personal desires, finding grace out of ruin, and turning fear to trust.” Along with traditional Scottish kilts and bannocks, royal tiaras and vareniki, readers will weep with joy at this astonishing story. The Ice Swan, elegant Svetlana will warm readers’ hearts, and as Wynn would say, “It’s a bonny read!”

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral -Paris, Svetlana & family lived in the basement

A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling tale of love, loyalty, and espionage, based on the incredible true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a Cold War double agent spying for the Russians and the United States, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.

Publishing September 14, 2021

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She is the author of seven novels and lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska. https://www.stephaniethorntonauthor.com/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In A Most Clever Girl, based on the true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a World War ll spy and Cold War informer, Stephanie Thornton teaches readers tricks of the spy trade along with life lessons. Catherine Gray, a journalism major and an intern at the White House, is in shock after the death of her mother, discovery of an unsettling letter, and the assassination of President Kennedy. Catherine has concluded that Elizabeth Bentley is the reason her life has been a complete lie and wanting an explanation, has tracked down Elizabeth and given her one hour to explain the lies before she pulls the trigger. So, at the end of her life, on the clock and at gunpoint, Elizabeth Bentley, through flashbacks, recounts her life of espionage to explain how life as a spy was really one of loneliness, love, and sacrifice, along with courage. Readers will sneak through the bar scenes, while keeping up with disguises, code names, and ‘honey traps’ and take Elizabeth’s advice to stay one move ahead, as she compares spy strategies to a chess board and “A Queen’s Gambit.” Political heavy weights such as J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Richard Nixon are mingled with Meet the Press, NBC, and the New York Times. Encrypted codes, and double-speak are woven into life lessons on people as puzzles, figuring out motivations, and the study of human behaviors. Stephanie Thornton’s A Most Clever Girl peeks into the Golden Age of Spying and post-World War ll America, while jerking back the curtain on Communism. The last question for readers: After court cases, prison sentences, and informants sent to the electric chair, was Elizabeth Bentley telling the truth?

Publishes September 14, 2021

The Singer and The Scientist by Lisa Rose-Illustrated by Isabel Muñoz

Singer, Marion Anderson, and Scientist, Albert Einstein, find they share the hurt of prejudice and the love of music.

Lisa Rose lives near Detroit, Michigan. She likes to swim, practice yoga, and eat ice cream, but not at the same time. http://www.LisaRoseWrites.com

Isabel studied Fine Arts at the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. Painting for a living was her dream, and now she’s proud to be the illustrator of several children books. She works from a tiny and colorful studio in northern Spain.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Singer Marian Anderson and scientist Albert Einstein cross paths in 1937 at a performance in New Jersey. In a time of racial and religious discrimination in America, Albert Einstein shows kindness to Marian by inviting her to stay at his home when she is denied lodging at the nearby hotel. The glimpse into Germany and the treatment of Jews through Albert’s eyes and Marian’s plight will evoke sympathy in hearts of young readers and is relevant in today’s social climate. Young readers may not have heard of Marian Anderson but through Albert and Marian’s sharing of life stories over years of friendship Rose creates a connection between science, music, and math. Historical connections to Eleanor Roosevelt, the DAR, and the Lincoln Memorial in the Author’s Notes are links for further correlation and study. Rose’s choice of wording is both melodic and rhythmic for reading aloud, and themes of doing what is right and showing kindness makes The Singer and the Scientist a current and fulfilling addition to any library.

Nathan’s Song by Leda Schubert – Illustrated by Maya Ish-Shalom

Everyone in the Russian shtetl loves young Nathan’s singing. “That Nathan!” say the neighbors. “He can lift your heart with his voice.”

Leda Schubert lives in Vermont, writes books for children, LOVES music and dogs-and lots of other stuff. Read about her here and see other wonderful books she has written: https://www.ledaschubert.com/bio.htm

Maya Ish-Shalom is an Israeli illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her B.Des from the Department of Visual Communication in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. ُShe tells stories through colorful, lively illustrations that spark viewers’ imagination and empathy. Maya’s portfolio varies from minimalist and simple illustrations to highly detailed, complex works.https://www.instagram.com/maya_ishshalom/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Nathan’s Song was inspired by the author’s grandfather, born in a Jewish shtetl in Russia in the late 1800’s. Always singing as a child and after hearing an opera singer in a nearby village, Nathan and his family are determined to earn enough money for his singing lessons in Italy. At age 16, he travels from Russia to Italy, but a mishap at the dock ends with Nathan on a ship to New York City instead. Leda Schubert’s prose is filled with geography, persecution of Jews, ship travel, Ellis Island, and immigration; all which make Nathan’s Song superb enrichment to a Social Studies curriculum. Young readers will relish the suspense of Nathan’s travels and the leaving of his cap is an especially poignant symbol of themes of family commitments and life goals. Nathan learns to speak English, gets a job, and even marries, but will he rejoin his family? Illustrator, Maya Ish-Shalom’s use of bold, vibrant colors and geometric shapes in collage illustrations has great appeal for readers of all ages and adds immensely to the prose.  As music lifts our hearts and spirits, so will Leda Shubert’s Nathan’s Song.

Ellis Island may not appear large on a map, but it is an unparalleled destination in United States history. After welcoming more than 12 million immigrants to our shores, Ellis Island is now a poetic symbol of the American Dream. This photo is from the National Immigration Museum:

https://www.statueofliberty.org/ellis-island/

The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is a living monument to the story of the American people. Housed inside the restored Main Building of the former immigration complex, the Museum documents the rich story of American immigration through a carefully curated collection of photographs, heirlooms, and searchable historic records.https://www.statueofliberty.org/ellis-island/national-immigration-museum/

At Summer’s End by Courtney Ellis

When an ambitious female artist accepts an unexpected commission at a powerful earl’s country estate in 1920s England, she finds his war-torn family crumbling under the weight of long-kept secrets. From debut author Courtney Ellis comes a captivating novel about finding the courage to heal after the ravages of war. Available August 10, 2021

Courtney Ellis is the author of the forthcoming historical fiction novel, AT SUMMER’S END. She began writing at a young age, and developed an interest in history from her grandfather’s stories of World War II. After obtaining her BA in English and Creative Writing, she went on to pursue a career in publishing. She lives in Western New York with her rescue dog.

Find her online at @CellisWriter on Twitter, and courtneyellisauthor on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest​.

Photo by Kelly Gleason

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Everything important and remarkable I had ever done, I’d done on my own.” Bertie

Alberta Preston, an unknown aspiring artist in 1922 England, enters a competition as Bertie, hoping the assumption would be that ‘she’ is a ‘he.’ Her painting titled, Something for the Pain, wins and is featured in the Times.  Soon Alberta receives a letter from the Earl of Wakeford, addressed to Mr. Preston, offering to commission ‘him’ for several paintings of his estate in Wiltshire, England, known as Castle Braemore. Against her parents’ wishes Bertie accepts the commission to spend the summer at the castle and the experience changes her life forever. This debut novel by Courtney Ellis is a superb character study of women and their aspirations in the early 20th century, the long-term effects of World War One on soldiers, nurses, and those left behind, along with the economic aftermath dealt with by families. Upon his father’s death, 12- year-old Julian becomes the Earl of Wakeford and his oldest sister, Gwen, takes over the responsibilities of her siblings. The author’s use of flashbacks develops compassion and empathy as alternating chapters take a glimpse into the family dynamics, early years, and the personalities of each of the Wakeford children. Bertie’s personal feelings are explored as she comes to grips with her own aspirations and her feelings of unworthiness within her own family. Readers will get a true sense of Bertie’s inspiration and obsession in painting and sketching Castle Braemore as Courtney Ellis fills in with superb descriptions of the palace and grounds, along with artistic details of composition and techniques. As the family faces reality, the Earl of Wakeford and his siblings attempt to heal their wounds of war with love and loyalty. Readers will be filled with suspense, sometimes even anxiousness, but also cheer for Bertie’s boldness, her sense of accomplishment and the decision she makes “at summer’s end.”

Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

From Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, the bestselling authors of Meet Me in Monaco, comes a coming-of-age novel set in pre-WWII Europe, perfect for fans of Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Kate Quinn.

Three cities, two sisters, one chance to correct the past…

Available July 27, 2021

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times and international bestselling author. Her most recent historical novel, set in China during WW2, published as THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE, in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and as WHEN WE WERE YOUNG & BRAVE in the USA and Canada, was an Irish Times bestseller, a National Bestseller in the USA and was shortlisted for the 2020 Irish Book Awards. Her next novel, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, co-written with Heather Webb,  will be published in the USA and Canada in July 2021, and in the UK and Ireland in September 2021. https://www.hazelgaynor.com/

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of seven historical novels. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was a Goodread’s Top Pick, and in 2018, Last Christmas in Paris won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. Meet Me in Monaco, was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Goldsboro RNA award in the UK, as well as the 2019 Digital Book World’s Fiction prize. https://heatherwebbauthor.com/site/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Violet, too ill to travel in 1937, has organized a journey to Europe for granddaughters Clara and Maddy to deliver good-bye letters to the meaningful people in her life of 40 years ago. The sisters, once inseparable as young girls, have barely spoken since their father’s death over a year ago. Co-authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have done a superb job of defining the personalities of Clara and Maddy, using poignant memories and images from their childhood and complexities of their adult desires, inhibitions, and fears. Clara, cautious, pessimistic, rules and schedules dictate her days, is a promising artist. Maddy, ambitious, refuses to conform and insists on going her own way, is a budding journalist. Violet encourages the girls to “enjoy your differences,” which also suggests readers do the same with family and friends. The journey to Paris, Venice, and Vienna is as much for Violet’s last good-byes to be delivered as it is for Clara and Maddy to experience time for self-examination. Maddy, very inquisitive, bold, and brash is directly opposite of Clara who has not found her voice, even with her fiancé, millionaire Charles Hancock. The self-analysis and discoveries made by each sister along the way gives the reader plenty to ponder long after the journey is over. One thing the sisters DO agree on is Violet’s transportation choices which include the opulent Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the Hindenburg. With the detailed descriptions and perfect analogies readers will travel first class throughout the trip! The suspense of decisions to be made and secrets to be revealed are intensified as the sisters travel to each destination. In Three Words for Goodbye, the anticipation of what lies ahead for Clara and Maddy adds to this enriching, enjoyable journey.