Sunday, February 19, 2012

For Maria, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)

Great news! (Well, for me, anyway...) J I've heard from my editor and For Maria, the sequel to Katia, is scheduled for publication in May of this year. Here's what the story's about:
December, 1939: The Gestapo haul Izaak and Maria Szpilmann away to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, leaving their twin infant daughters behind to die. But the twins do not die. Rescued by a neighbor couple, Gustaw and Ròsa Dudek, they escape occupied Poland to Salzburg, Austria. They are not heard from again.

Today: Maria Szpilmann has survived Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. She is now grandmother to Madeline Sommers, a young journalist who, despite the odds, passionately clings to the belief that the lost twins are still alive. She makes it her single-focused mission to find and reunite them with her failing grandmother before it’s too late.

For Maria took a year and a half of research-intensive, emotionally exhausting work—work that has changed this author in ways he's still discovering. It is offered in honor of those survivors of the Kindertransport, children who, from 1934-1945, were rescued from the clutches of the Nazis and spirited away to foreign lands to await reunions with their families. Most of those reunions never took place. Some of those survivors the author as had the unlimited joy of befriending. Others he wishes he could.

But most of all, the book is dedicated to the 1.5 million children who did not escape The Shoah, what most of us know as the Holocaust. May their memories be preserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reconciliations, by Susan Elizabeth Ball (Oak Tara)

A delicately written, but thought-provoking, story of lost love regained, and lost souls reconciled.

Ms. Ball has crafted a story that walks a thin line, and does it well.  In Reconciliations, you'll encounter a full and honest treatment of significant moral issues--the author does not shy away from the reality of our world--but in a way that doesn't slap you in the face, or deliberately shock your sensibilities.

Kevin is an honest, but worldly, man who appears quite unlucky in love. His wife, Christine, left him after adulterating their marriage with multiple affairs. The woman he dated for several months is now engaged to another man. And don't even ask about the most recent woman to enter his life!

Christine, a broken product of a dysfunctional family, continues in the way of the lost, rebounding from relationship to relationship, until one goes horribly wrong and she ends up in the hospital. Through Divine intervention (what the world sometimes misconstrues as 'coincidence') Christine and Kevin are thrown back together again, her welfare now dependent upon her ex-husband's--shall we say "reluctant" as an understatement?--care.

Enter Mark and Janet Vinson, and the congregation of Riverside Christian Fellowship, and the plot both deepens and softens into a genuine exhibition of Christian benevolence. Kevin and Christine must now deal not only with the turmoil of the unexpected return into each other's lives, but the inescapable and unyielding love of people committed to a faith neither Kevin nor Christine understand.

The tagline on the back cover promises, "A heart-warming story of a powerful love..." And that promise is kept between the pages of Reconciliations, the second in Ms. Ball's "Restored Hearts" series.

More about the author and this book can be found at

Reconciliations was provided by the publisher free for this review. But then, I'd have purchased it anyway.