Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: Warwick

Tony Riches

Warwick: The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses

By Tony Riches
CreateSpace, March 2014

About the Book

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the “Kingmaker”, is the wealthiest noble in England. He becomes a warrior knight, bravely protecting the north against invasion by the Scots. A key figure in what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, he fought in most of the important battles. As Captain of Calais, he turns privateer, daring to take on the might of the Spanish fleet and becoming Admiral of England. The friend of kings, he is the sworn enemy of Queen Margaret of Anjou. Then, in an amazing change of heart, why does he risk everything to fight for her cause?

Writers from William Shakespeare to best-selling modern authors have tried to show what sort of man Richard Neville must have been, with quite different results. Sometimes Warwick is portrayed as the skilled political manipulator behind the throne, shaping events for his own advantage. Others describe him as the “last of the barons”, ruling his fiefdom like an uncrowned king. Whatever the truth, his story is one of adventure, power and influence at the heart of one of the most dangerous times in the history of England.

My Review

Riches provides incredible detail into Warwick’s life, including the relationship between Richard and his brothers John and George, each of whom vacillated between loyalty to Richard and loyalty to their sworn king, Edward IV. We also get a glimpse into Warwick’s private life and his relationship with his parents and the illegitimate daughter who, Riches suggests, was the ancestress of Fletcher Christian of the Bounty.

This story is rich in detail, conflict, and history. The relationships described here give us a better idea of the man Warwick was than most stories provide. This story is told with a more masculine audience in mind, action over emotions. But as a female reader, I am most interested in what drove Warwick to slander his own aunt by suggesting Edward IV’s illegitimacy? Was it only revenge that drove him to kill Earl Rivers and his son? Why did he risk his daughter Isabel’s life, crossing the channel with the king’s men in pursuit? Was it simple pride on Warwick’s part? Desperation? Greed? Revenge?

These are what has made him one of history’s most infamous villains. That’s what I think readers like myself are most anxious to see—to jump into Warwick’s head and get the complex motivations behind those very questions. Here Warwick is portrayed as an intelligent, feeling man, so a glimpse into what made him tick would have made this all the more powerful.

I think this is a strong fictionalized biography of one man’s life, with an emphasis on his military exploits. But a peek into some of his inner most thoughts, struggles, and the reasoning behind his actions would have made it even stronger, at least from a female reader’s perspective.

I received a complimentary copy from Mr. Riches in exchange for an honest review.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cara C. Putman, Sarah Sundin & Tricia Goyer: The stories behind the stories

Welcome back for our second day with authors Cara C. Putman, Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer! We’re helping them celebrate the release of Where Treetops Glisten, a World War II Christmas novella collection that they each wrote a story for.

Would you share one of your family’s Christmas traditions with us? Or did any of your traditions find their way into your novella?

Cara: My kids and I like to bake cookies for our neighbors. We bake dozens from several recipes, and I had Abigail and her grandma do that in the novella.

Sarah: Growing up, we always opened family gifts on Christmas Eve and the stockings on Christmas morning, a German tradition, I was always told. For my novella, I wanted the Turners to open gifts on Christmas Eve for plot purposes, and borrowed the tradition. Since Merry Turner was born on Christmas Day, we tweaked it so the Turner tradition was to open Christmas gifts on December 24 and Merry’s gifts on December 25. Either way, you get two days of celebration!

Tricia: We have a cookie decorating party for neighbors and friends. We bake a lot of cookies, make a lot of frosting, and have fun!

Those are all great traditions! What do you love so much about writing World War II stories?

Author Cara C. Putman
Cara: I love honoring the men and women who served during World War II and those that serve today. I also want to capture the stories so that we never forget.

Sarah: World War II is such a fascinating time period, filled with dramatic stories. It’s a time when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and when women tried out new roles—while remaining ladies.

Tricia: Can I just copy Cara's answer? :) It also was a time when the fight between good and evil was so evident. Also, ordinary people from small towns all over the US found themselves fighting in a great big war.

Author Sarah Sundin
Can you give us a sneak peek at any other books we’ll be seeing from you soon?

Cara: I’m working on a legal romantic suspense idea. I’m excited to see what happens with that!

Sarah: My next novel, Through Waters Deep, comes out in August 2015. In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but when evidence of sabotage is found on the destroyer, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit.

Tricia: I have a few books coming out next year. Prayers that Changed History comes out next June. I also have a book Teen Mom: You're Stronger Than You Think coming out in March. Both are different than what I usually write, but I'm excited!

Author Tricia Goyer
That’s a lot of variety for only three authors, but they all sound great! Thanks so much for joining us this week – it’s been fun to learn some of the stories behind the stories.

Visitors, don’t forget to answer their question in the comments section for your chance to win a copy of Where Treetops Glisten (be sure to include your email, spelling out ‘dot’ and ‘at’ to help cut down on spam)! The winner will be announced Friday morning. Here’s their question again:

How do you simplify Christmas at your house?

You can also find out lots more about Cara, Sarah and Tricia and their books online. Here’s how you can connect with them:




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Triple Author Spotlight with Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer!

This week we have an extra special interview and author spotlight – we’re hosting Cara C. Putman, Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer, all of whom have a novella in When Treetops Glisten. We’ve hosted each of them individually here at PASTimes, but are excited about having them all here today.  

Cara C. Putman, the award-winning author of 19 books, graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.’” Cara is a business law lecturer to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, practices law, and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She also serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

Sarah Sundin is the author of six historical novels, including In Perfect Time (Revell, August 2014) plus a novella in Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook, September 2014). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards, and in 2011 Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A bestselling author, Tricia has published forty-seven books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by Tricia is also on the blogging team at, and other homeschooling and Christian sites.

Welcome, everyone, and congratulations on the release of Where Treetops Glisten! We know you’ve all written World War II stories before and that this is a World War II Christmas novella collection. How did it come about?

Cara: It was my idea because I’d written in a couple novella collections for Barbour and wanted to do one that focused on WWII at Christmas. I was so DELIGHTED when Sarah and Tricia said yes, they’d do this with me.

Sarah: It was Cara’s idea to write a WWII Christmas novella collection. I’d always thought it would be fun to write a novella, so I jumped on the idea. And the opportunity to work with these creative and energetic women really appealed to me.

Tricia: Well, since I adore these two women—and their writing—it wasn't hard to say YES. Cara brought up the idea and after one phone conversation with both Cara and Sarah, we were off! Get three writers, who are passionate about the same time in history, together and it's easy to have something fun to write about!

Can you tell us a bit about your novella and its characters?

Cara: White Christmas is Abigail Turner’s story of finding love by moving past the pain of the past. She’s a student at Purdue University who makes candy canes at a local candy shop in town. Jackson works at a local puzzle factory and is trying to stop the foreclosure of his family’s farm. They’re thrust together trying to save it. They might just find love along the way.

Sarah: In I’ll Be Home for Christmas, fighter pilot Lt. Pete Turner has just come home to Lafayette on furlough after a combat tour, and he’s flying on empty. He meets a little girl in search of something she’s lost…and the child’s lovely widowed mother, Grace Kessler. However, Grace remembers Pete as the bully he once was. Can Pete’s unusual gift fill the empty places in their hearts?

Tricia: In Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart. It's a Christmas on the warfront that Merry will never forget.

Those all sound great! Let’s imagine your main character lives with us here in 2014. What would he or she want for Christmas?

Cara: An iPad or another tablet. She’s in school and needs something that can multi-task with her.

Sarah: Pete’s very serious and mature—but he has a wild side. I could see him enjoying the latest video game system. He’d probably teach little Linnie to play and drive her mother crazy.

Tricia: Meredith would order up a full turkey dinner for everyone going through hard times. She sees needs and wants to help. If she had to pick a present for herself she'd pick something sentimental like a snow globe with white sand from Miami Beach.

Where was the idea for your novella born?

Cara: I had worked on a couple novella collections and asked Sarah and Tricia if they’d like to do one. Fortunately, they said yes!

Sarah: For me, ideas usually need lots of percolating and stoking, but Pete and Grace’s story came together in a flash on a long car drive at Christmastime, listening to Christmas music. The whole plot flew together in a matter of hours. It was a blast!

Tricia: And as soon as Cara contacted me I knew that I wanted to write about the Battle of the Bulge. I've interviewed numerous veterans who served on the war front, and what many people don't know is that there were nurses so close to the front during World War II. I didn't want the romance to be with a doctor or a soldier, so I found a way to bring in a past love in a unique way.

Would you share one of your family’s Christmas traditions with us? Or did any of your traditions find their way into your novella?

Visitors, come back tomorrow for the answer to this and other questions from Cara, Sarah, and Tricia. In the meantime, answer this question from them in the comments section to be entered in our drawing to win a copy of When Treetops Glisten:

How do you simplify Christmas at your house?

We’re looking forward to seeing your answers, and to hearing more from our spotlight authors tomorrow. See you then!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Sisters of Treason

Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters of Treason

By Elizabeth Fremantle
Simon and Schuster, July 2014

About the Book

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act.

It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

My Review

At first I thought Levina an odd choice as co-narrator, but she serves as a much-needed balance to Catherine’s “irrepressible sense of fun”. Steady, independent, and loyal, Levina tries to protect the girls as much as she can, particularly after the untimely death of their mother. But she does this at great cost to herself.

I was captured by the relationship between Levina and her husband George, which was often rocky, and I was sorry that we see relatively little of it because I thought it a fascinating dynamic: a sixteenth-century working woman and the price she ultimately pays for her independence. Obviously this book is primarily about the Grey girls, so Levina’s story comes only in highlights, but I thought Levina a wonderful and unusual observer with her painter’s eye revealing much about the characters of the Tudor court. I would have loved to see even more through her eyes.

This is an engaging look into a troubled family who is deemed guilty by association and lives in fear most of their lives. Fremantle makes these women come alive, giving voices to those whose stories are largely lost to time. Their tales are seamless, with one picking up after the other leaves off, and Fremantle achieves a balance of the three perspectives that is remarkable. The reader gets a deep sense of their dilemma and how their lives are forever altered because of it. Highly recommended!

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Combining Art with WWII: Kristy Cambron Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of an interview with my friend and debut author Kristy Cambron. Her debut novel The Butterfly and the Violin is connecting with readers everywhere. It is a beautiful story. Don't forget to read to the end to participate in the giveaway of her book. 

What surprised you most as you researched and wrote this book?
That the art even existed! I learned about the art of Auschwitz more than a decade ago, when completing my undergraduate work in art history. One of my professors began showing slides of watercolors, sketch drawings, even paintings found hidden on the walls inside the camp – and I think every student in that room was shocked to silence. None of us had ever heard of it before.

The heroine had to learn how to love God regardless of what happened to her. Have you walked this same journey?
I’m open about my family’s journey in 2013. It was a year of totally new things – a leukemia diagnosis for my Dad, a first publishing contract, visiting a chemo center for the first time, first book signings and my dream of becoming an author, losing my Dad to cancer… The ups and downs of this life, whatever they are to each of us, they don’t stop when you become a Christian. I think that was a tough thing I had to realize. Being a Christian is not about perfection. It’s messy sometimes. We have hope in Christ, but our faith can be sorely tested when the big storms come. I had to really dig deep this year, and cling to Christ like I never have before. Through the pain of loss, challenges, and the uncertainty that can come in life – they’ve been difficult, but He has made me stronger through them.

What do you hope stays with readers after they close the cover on this novel?
That we’re all in our own journeys through this life. We all have different challenges, struggles, defining moments… I’d love all of us to have God-given strength that is very real in our lives, especially at our weakest moments. I hope readers can see some of themselves in Adele– just like I did in writing her– and know that they can rely on Christ for every one of the barriers that arise in our lives, no matter how large or small. He is a very real, very loving God who has infinite care for the challenges we face.

Can you give us a sneak peek at what’s next for you?
Absolutely! My next book is A SPARROW IN TEREZIN, Book #2 in the Hidden Masterpiece series. The story centers around the children’s art of the Theresienstadt transport camp (also known as Terezín), the Nazis’ propaganda camp north of Prague. It follows a key character from the historical storyline in THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (which I can’t share because it would be a major Spoiler). It also introduces Kája Makovský, a Czech-born journalist who survives the worst of The London Blitz in 1940, only to be later transported to Terezín when trying to help her family flee Nazi-occupied Prague at the height of the war. Here in the camp, Kája uses her love of art and of storytelling to help the children – all under the age of fifteen – cope through the horrific experiences of the Holocaust. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN will release from Thomas Nelson (Harper Collins Christian Publishing) in April, 2015.

This is another GREAT cover, Kristy! Where can people connect with you?
Twitter: @kcambronauthor – Facebook: Kristy L. Cambron – GoodReads: Kristy Cambron  Website:

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Combining Art with WWII: Kristy Cambron Part I

kristyToday I'm delighted to introduce you to a new friend of mine in this writing journey. Kristy Cambron is an author who's first novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, is out and garnering acclaim. Her book is the perfect blending of a contemporary and WWII story -- but not only is the book WONDERFUL, she's become a sweet friend who radiates Jesus. I LOVE her debut novel so much I have to share it with you. I'm also giving away a copy of her book so be sure to read to the end.

Kristy masterfully weaves contemporary and historical storylines together. While this half of the book takes place in Auschwitz, it is laced with hope...and the reality that God is with us anywhere we go. This book is beautiful and haunting. Breath-taking and page-turning. You’ll love it! If you love WWII fiction, you must go buy it immediately!
So Kristy's here and I want to introduce her to you and tell you more about her book. First, lets all take a moment to enjoy the GORGEOUS cover. Ahhhh. Okay, now onto the interview! 

The Butterfly and the Violin takes readers back to WWII in Austria and a concentration camp. How did you get the idea for this novel?
The idea for Adele’s story had been in the recesses of my heart for more than a decade, since I was a young college student in art school. It was then that I first learned that prisoners created art inside concentration camps - under penalty of death if caught in many circumstances. The majority of the artists did not survive and to this day, most remain unknown. The thought of creating art while facing death made me want to understand it more. I began reading anything I could find on the subject – in particular, Elie Wiesel’s Night had a profound impact on my desire to write this book.  

One element that I loved about this story was the incorporation of art inside the concentration camps. It’s a largely unknown story. Can you give us an example of how people continued to create inside the camps?

I think the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz is just one of many examples. There was an official orchestra where musicians played to survive. I had the unbelievable opportunity to interview a survivor from Auschwitz-Birkenau when researching this book. I asked her about the orchestra – did she remember it? Did she see the musicians? What did the music sound like? She told me something I’ll never forget: each prisoner’s survival story was so unique, so terrifying, that they could have all heard the orchestra and remembered hearing a different song. I think that’s what connected me to Adele’s character most. Her experience had to be unique and so raw in places, but the artistic self-expression was something that united many of the prisoners.

Tomorrow I'll share more about Kristy's book, but now I want to share more about Kristy. We'll call it the speed-fire round of quick-hit questions:

Favorite food? Italian
Coffee or tea? Yes, please.
World traveler? Not yet – here’s hoping!
Dream vacation? Museum-walking in Paris, while holding my husband’s hand
Favorite movie? Classic 1930s-40s films, Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Favorite TV show? Downton Abbey, Little House on the Prairie
Favorite book? Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and Night by Elie Wiesel
Favorite place to write? Everywhere! I write chapters on my iPhone wherever I am.
Funny quirk? I don’t wear pink
Secret love? NFL football (Go Colts!)
Most memorable Mom-moment? Saying, “Stop playing with the puke bucket!” – more than once
Why I write? Jesus Christ is everything to me, and I want every story to tell someone about Him.
Life verse? Joshua 1:9NIV – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
From reading those answers, I think you can see why Kristy and I are becoming writer friends. We are eerily similar -- except for the puke bucket comment! Here's more about her book, then be sure to read to the end for a giveaway of her book!

"In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’s Night, will want to read." —Library Journal, Starred Review

". . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith." —Publishers Weekly

More about The Butterfly and the Violin 
A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Surprising Facts about Christianity in the Dark Ages

Today we are treated to a guest post by author Kim Rendfeld

Religion plays a central role in the lives of my early medieval characters, but portraying Christianity in the days of Charlemagne takes more than having prayers in Latin. Here are a five aspects of Christianity in this period that might surprise you.

Midwives could baptize newborns if they feared the child would die. Childbirth was so risky, mothers were urged to confess their sins as their time drew near. Bringing a child into the world was seen as part of life, not medicine, so expectant mothers relied on midwives instead of doctors. Responsible for the baby’s physical and spiritual needs, midwives were the only laypeople who could baptize infants.

Baptizing a healthy infant was not an urgent matter. When half of children died before age 5, you’d think early medieval parents would take their babies to the font soon after the birth and not take any chances. In practice, parents usually were told to wait until Easter eve or Pentecost. Alert reader will notice my qualifier, the word healthy. If a child became seriously ill, parents would rush them to the priest.

via Wikipedia: Lorsch Gospel, produced during the Carolingian era
Marriage was not a sacrament. In fact, it was more of a civil affair accompanied by an exchange of property and among aristocrats, a means to build alliances. While there were loving marriages, affection often had little to do with the decision. Still, the Church saw itself as the protector of marriage and opposed divorce, and it insisted that the rite be performed publicly. Christian couples normally sought a priest to bless their union. They wanted the same God who could determine victory in battle to make their marriage a success. In political marriages, that blessing was important to having the society accepting the arrangement.

Unlike today’s meticulous process, local bishops decided whether a martyr or heroically virtuous person was a saint and sent word to neighboring areas. But popes always had the authority to decide whom the universal Church should honor as a saint. By the 11th century, the standards for sainthood among bishops had gotten too lax, and popes decided that councils would examine the facts. Controversy over who qualified as a saint continued until 1634, when Pope Urban VIII published a bull that made canonization and beatification exclusive to the Holy See.
Not bathing was a form of penance. Yes, people in the Dark Ages bathed, and they thought it was healthy. Aristocrats had bath day once a week, but peasants might have washed up less frequently because of the labor and time involved. Between baths, medieval folk washed hands and faces every day. Abstaining from the bath was similar to giving up meat or wine or other pleasures.
These are just a few of the gems I found in my research about eighth century Europe and few examples of why this era fascinates me so much I’ve written two novels and have started on a third.

Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, Pierre Riché, translated by Jo Ann McNamara

“Capturing the Wandering Womb” by Kate Phillips, The Haverford Journal, April 2007

Europe after Rome: A New Cultural History 500-1000 by Julia M.H. Smith

"Beatification and Canonization" by Camillo Beccari, The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. []

Kim Rendfeld is the author of The Cross and the Dragon (2012, Fireship Press), a story of a young noblewoman contending with a vengeful jilted suitor and anxiety for her husband about to go to war, and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (2014, Fireship Press), a tale of the lengths a Saxon peasant will go to protect her children. To read the first chapters of either novel or learn more about Kim, visit You’re also welcome to visit her blog Outtakes of a Historical Novelist at, like her on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter at @kimrendfeld, or contact her at kim [at] kimrendfeld [dot] com.