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About the Book
Red Sky Over America is the first book I’ve read by Tamera Lynn Kraft and is the first book in the Ladies of Oberlin series. And it definitely won’t be the last!
Ms. Kraft has written an excellent story about the years before the American Civil War, seen through the eyes of two young abolitionists: America, the daughter of a slave owner, and William, a minister. I was excited to read this book as it is hard to find stories about the years just prior to the Civil War, and it does not disappoint!
America Leighton is our main character, and she is a great one. She struggles with trusting God, her belief that slavery is wrong, and her love for her father, who sees nothing wrong with slavery. The family dynamics that Ms. Kraft creates are handled well. We often find ourselves not believing the same way as our families and that causes friction, as it does here between America and her father.
William Woods is the other main character, and I will admit I struggled to like him at first. In one of their first scenes together, he is judgmental toward America because she doesn’t behave how he expected when interacting with two of her family’s slaves. Over the course of the book, however, we see William’s deep commitment to abolition, his faith, and his calling as an overseas missionary, and I liked him more as the book continued.
Trying to control his daughter, Colonel Leighton arranges a suitor for her, a local mill owner. America reluctantly agrees to the courtship despite the fact he owns slaves, as he promises he will free them if they are married. This is where she struggles between her overseas missionary calling and her abolitionist views, because she believes him. Needles to say, there is a lot more to Harland than meets the eye and I feel this plotline was settled satisfactorily.
Though the writing is simplistic at times, this story is engaging and well-researched. I was so engrossed in the story I hardly stopped reading to take notes! Red Sky Over America is not an easy book to read, as there are detailed descriptions of beatings and violence against slaves and allusions to rape.
This book has a wonderful balance of romance, suspense, and Christian themes. I appreciated America’s struggle between her faith, her family and what she’d known growing up, and what is morally right. I give Red Sky Over America 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about this time frame just before the Civil War.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
Guest Post from Tamera Lynn Kraft
100 Steps to Freedom
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.
One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.
One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.
Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin.
Rev. John Rankin’s house is in my novel, Red Sky Over America. John Parker also is introduced as a minor character. The story takes place on the Ohio River in Kentucky across from Ripley where all these exciting events happened.
Oberlin College: A School Ahead of Its Time
My current novel series, Ladies of Oberlin, is about 3 women roommates who graduated from one of the most amazing colleges in American history, Oberlin College. Book 1, Red Sky Over Americafocuses on America, a woman attending Oberlin who is an abolitionist studying to become a missionary. The problem is her father is a slave owner. Here’s a little bit about this amazing college.
Oberlin College, founded in 1833 in Northern Ohio, was a college ahead of its time in many ways. In 1835, it became the first college in the United States to regularly admit African Americans. It’s also the oldest co-educational college in the US. In 1837, it admitted four women, three of whom graduated and earned a college degree. Mary Jane Patterson, another Obeberlin graduate, became the first African American woman in 1862 to earn a Bachelor of Arts college degree.
One of Oberlin’s founders once bragged that “Oberlin is peculiar in that which is good”. Oberlin was peculiar in many ways in advancing the causes of the time. Charles Finney, the second president of the college, helped it earn its controversial reputation. He was the fiery evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, a Christian revivalist movement in the early and mid 1800s.
Oberlin College was the hotbed of abolitionist activity and a stop for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. It was once called “the town that started the Civil War” because of its participation in the Oberlin Wellington Rescue in 1858. Slave catchers came to Oberlin to capture an escaped slave and return him to Kentucky. Most of the town came to the slave’s aid and rescued him. For their trouble, over twenty were arrested and put on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. During the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, three men from Oberlin participated.
Oberlin College was also well known for the women who graduated from the college and participated in the suffrage and prohibition movements. Lucy Stone, considered a pioneer for the women’s movement, graduated from Oberlin College in 1847.
Oberlin was also very well known in the missionary movement of the late 1800s. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of missionaries sent overseas by the American Missionary Society were graduates of Oberlin College. Between 1899 and 1901, thirteen missionaries from Oberlin were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion of China. An arch in Tappan Square at the center of Oberlin pays honor to their sacrifices.
Carpe Diem, May 29
Books, Books, and More Books., May 30
proud to be an autism mom, May 30
Genesis 5020, May 31
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 31
Janices book reviews, June 1
Mary Hake, June 1
proud to be an autism mom, June 2
Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 2
History, Mystery & Faith, June 3
ansel book blog, June 3
Artistic Nobody, June 4 (Spotlight)
Bigreadersite, June 4
Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 5
Simple Harvest Reads, June 6 (Spotlight)
Reading is my Super Power, June 6 (Interview)
Two Points of interest, June 7
margaret kazmierczak, June 7 (Interview)
A Baker’s Perspective, June 8
Pause for Tales, June 9
Red Headed Book Lady, June 9
Bibliophile Reviews, June 10
Texas Book-aholic, June 11
Have A Wonderful Day, June 11
To celebrate her tour, Tamera is giving away a themed basket with autographed books of Resurrection of Hope, Alice’s Notions, Red Sky Over America, a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the book is mentioned in the novel) and a copy of Then Sings My Soul (stories about the hymns), plus a $10 Amazon Card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cebb/red-sky-over-america-celebration-tour-giveaway
About the Book
But danger lurks where one never expects it.
Can her passion for cooking help Gina survive and thrive in this world of privilege, pleasure and menace?
Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies is the first book I’ve read by Evy Journey, and I’m not sure if I will read another one.
Ms. Journey has written a book that begins with a bang in a prologue where the main character is on a hospital gurney in danger, but the rest of the book doesn’t live up to the excitement of that first scene.
Gina is the main character, and the story is entirely told through first person point of view. This book is written in the present tense, which is difficult for a novel, and Ms. Journey doesn’t always manage the POV well. Gina is an interesting character. She grew up poor, and worked hard for where she is now, as a chef at a fancy restaurant.
She meets Leon at the restaurant. Leon is a rich businessman, though what type of business is never mentioned. His family is wealthy and he’s expected to take over the entire business once his father decides to retire. He’s also creepy. He sends flowers to Gina at her home (she hadn’t given him the address) and almost immediately declares himself in love with her.
The third part of the love triangle is Brent, a police detective. In comparison to Leon, he is completely normal. He’s nice and works hard. However, he, like Leon, also falls quickly in love with Gina. It felt a little unrealistic!
Ms. Journey has filled this book with a ton of dialogue and introspection, and very little scene setting. This book could really take place anywhere! This book also includes non-explicit sex scenes, so if you do not enjoy that in a story, I would avoid this one!
Themes that are hinted at are classism, snobbery, family expectations/loyalty, but this story could’ve delved deeper into all those themes.
These characters read more like teenagers/college students than grown adults. I probably would’ve liked this book more if it was Young Adult/New Adult fiction. There is also a mystery plot involving Gina that happens quite late and appears out of nowhere, and I was blindsided by it.
I give Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies 3/5 stars. The themes that Ms. Journey touches on, especially classism, family duty, and love, have the potential to form into an interesting story but it is not executed well.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Loving the Book. All opinions are my own.**
I’m alive. I’m dead. I’m in-between. In that limbo where my vital signs hover just above death. I rise above my body and look down on it, lying on a gurney. Hospital staff are rushing me along the brightly-lit hallway to the operating room. One of them holds an oxygen mask on my face. Another, a bag of intravenous fluid connected to my veins by a tube.
I’m not ready to die yet. These good people anxious to rescue me don’t know that my resolve is the only thing that is keeping me alive. No, I’m not ready to die—I’ve only just begun to live. I have yet to prove to myself, to the world, that I have what it takes to prevail.
My family—now on their way to the hospital—doesn’t know yet exactly what happened to me. And except for one detective, neither do the police. I see him now by the foot of the gurney, keeping pace with the nurses. He’s scowling, his lips pressed into a grim line.
A tall, taut, and solitary man, he has deep-set gray eyes clouded by too many images of violent death and a lower lip that hangs perpetually open in disgust or despair. So much darkness he has already seen in his thirty odd years in this world. He needs to piece together the facts that constitute the attempt on my life, events that may have led to it, and various fragments of my past to understand what brought me to this point.
The first time I met him, I fell in love with him. There was something primal about him, some paternal, animalistic instinct to save hurt or fallen victims. Like me, maybe. It gave him power and it made him irresistible to me.
But fate is fickle. It teases. It entices. One day, something quite ordinary happens to you. Yet, you sense that that ordinary something can change your life. Not necessarily for something better, but for something new. Fate is dangling before you the promise of a world that, before then, was totally out of your reach. How can you not seize it?
Now, of course, I see the end of that promise. And it’s not where I want to be.
It’s tragic, don’t you think, that the end of that promise should be right here on a gurney, with me fighting for my life? It certainly is not what I hoped for.
How could it end this way? I embraced life, took chances, but half-dead on this gurney, I wonder: Am I paying with my life? But, like I said. I’m not ready to die yet
About the Book
Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees is the second book in The Silent Years series. I’ve enjoyed previous books by Angela Hunt and was excited to have an opportunity to read more. The Silent Years series are not connected to each other, so you don’t need to read the first one prior to Judah's Wife, though I recommend it as Ms. Hunt writes excellent Biblical Fiction.
Ms. Hunt brings the story of Judah and his wife Leah to life in a well researched and well-written book that anyone who wants to learn more about the Maccabean Revolt will appreciate.
Judah’s Wife alternates first person point of view between Leah and Judah and that can be difficult to pull off, but Ms. Hunt manages it deftly. Leah’s and Judah’s voices are very distinct from each other and it is easy to feel the differences in their characters.
The title character is Leah, who is raised in an abusive household. She has an encounter with Judah where he saves her from harm and is intrigued, as he is so different from her own father. Judah is also intrigued by her and their fathers arrange a marriage. Judah is twenty-four and Leah fourteen when the marriage takes place.
Based on her childhood, Leah’s desire for a safe, pleasant, untroubled life is understandable. Judah’s lack of interest in violence makes her happy and they begin to fall in love. Yet when the Maccabean Revolt begins and Judah believes he is called to fight, she begins to fear he is violent like her father and draws away from him. However, it takes longer than I would have liked for Judah and Leah to talk with each other about this.
Judah struggles with what he feels God is calling him to do (leading the Revolt) and his love for Leah. His characterization is not as deep as Leah’s but I understood his emotions and feelings, and was pleased with this character development. Judah’s chapters spend a lot of time recounting battles and at times they read like a textbook, but Ms. Hunt writes so well that the chapters are enjoyable and propel the story forward.
The themes that Ms. Hunt develops include listening for God’s voice instead of our own. Both both Leah and Judah struggle with their callings and their own ideas about what they want out of life. Ms. Hunt also touches on the conflict between following God and submitting to governments if they are demanding we do not follow God.
One of the things that Leah struggles with regarding her faith is not understanding who God is. She also doesn’t think she is special enough for God to speak to her. That is a point a lot of Christians struggle with.
Judah’s Wife is a well-written, well researched work of Biblical Fiction. Leah and Judah are both great characters and the journeys they undertake together and separately are worth the read. The other characters aren’t fleshed out as well, though none feel superfluous or unimportant to the story.
I will definitely read more books by Ms. Hunt and the other books in this series. I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it for anyone who enjoys Biblical Fiction.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, the publisher. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran. Bakery Owner.