Book Review: Lighting the Stars by Gabriele Wills

Publisher:  Mindshadows, November 2020
Category: Historical Fiction, World War II, Historical Romance
Tour dates: May-June, 2021
ISBN: 978-1775035411
Available in Print and ebook, 477 pages

Lighting the Stars

Tucked into the rugged Canadian wilderness of Muskoka’s majestic lake country, Merilee Sutcliffe’s peaceful town seems worlds away from the escalating conflict in Europe. But life is about to change dramatically in the Summer of 1940. As her patriotic friends and relatives leave for battle, her small town is thrust into the war machine. Merilee’s formerly tranquil skies soon roar with aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Air Force, stationed nearby to train young men determined to liberate their country from Nazi occupation.  When German Prisoners of War march into her shocked community, they become Merilee’s closest neighbours – and biggest threat.

What unfolds in her remote town and on foreign shores sets Merilee and her growing circle on a collision course with an unimagined destiny. Caught up in the chaos is Luftwaffe pilot Erich Leitner. Shot down during the Battle of Britain and transplanted to a lakeside prison in Muskoka, he discovers he has more to fear from his comrades than his captors.

While her cousin-in-spirit, Elyse Thornton, navigates the treacherous skies of Britain as a Spitfire Girl, audaciously ferrying warplanes from factories to airfields, Merilee becomes quietly entangled in her own dangerous liaisons on the home front. Caught between worlds, with conflicted loyalties and a sense of duty, she joins the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division, and soon finds herself in ground-zero London, focussing her photographer’s lens on a city under bombardment.

Far from carefree summers on the lake, struggling to survive the relentless demands and sacrifices of war, Merilee, Elyse, and their friends wonder if they dare to risk their hearts as well.

As unlikely lives intersect, ideologies and social hierarchies are challenged, loves and friendships are forged or broken, and countless heroes are made and lost.  But even those who return to the serenity of Muskoka are changed forever.

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Guest Review by Sal


A stunning blend of emotionality and research, ‘Lighting The Stars,’ by Gabriele Wills is a novel for the ages.


Set in the summer of 1940, ‘Lighting The Stars’ centers around a large cast of characters, most of whom are living in the Canadian town of Muskoka, a peaceful lakeside community that used to have a large sanatorium.


Although World War II is in full swing in Europe, the only action that Muskoka has seen before the beginning of the novel is the local airport being used to land Air Force planes. But that all changes one summer afternoon when fifteen-year-old Merilee Sutcliffe is approached by a solider who informs her that the town is soon to be used for a German POW camp.


Soon, life in the small town begins to change at a rapid pace, and the lives of the people that live there are changed as well. Merilee begins to question her place in the war effort, how she can help her country and how many friends and family members will have to enlist. Her best friend Peggy, disabled by a polio outbreak three years earlier, is dismayed to discover that the POW camp is going to be set up at the abandoned sanitorium that is directly next to her house. Her family vows not to leave the land.
Meanwhile, a German pilot by the name of Erich Leitner is brought to the camp and soon begins a relationship with Merilee that will have lasting consequences for both of them.


Wills has created such a beautiful novel full of inspiring messages and relatable characters. I can only imagine the amount of research that goes into writing a novel of this caliber and she pulled it off seamlessly. ‘Lighting The Stars’ is both unmissable and unforgettable. I can’t wait to see what this author decides to write next!

About the Author

Gabriele Wills is the author of 6 highly acclaimed historical novels, including 4 in The Muskoka Novels saga set in North America, Britain, and Europe through the two cataclysmic World Wars and the seductive Jazz Age.

Her passion is to weave compelling stories around meticulously researched and often quirky or arcane facts in order to bring the past to life, especially with regard to women’s often forgotten contributions.

The first novel in her ‘Muskoka Novels’, ‘The Summer Before the Storm’ was the “Muskoka Chautauqua Reading List Winner”

Website: https://www.themuskokanovels.co
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GabrieleWills
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabrieleWills

Giveaway

3 winners of a print or e-copy of Lighting the Stars.

Print copies are open to the US and Canada only. Gifted kindle is open to the US only and Kobo is open to anyone who has a usable account on Kobo. Giveaway ends on June 20, 2021, midnight pacific time.

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Follow the Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 26 Tour Kickoff & Interview

Connywithay May 27 Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews May 28 Excerpt

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 1 Review

Kristen BookNAround June 2 Review

GudReader Goodreads June 4 Review

Laura Lee Celtic Lady’s Reviews June 9 Guest Review & Guest Post

Linda Lu All Things Jill-Elizabeth June 14 Guest Review

Betty Toots Book Reviews June 15 Review

Bookgirl Goodreads June 16 Review

Bee Book Pleasures June 17 Review

Bee Book Pleasures June 17 Interview

Am Goodreads June 18 Review

Patty Books, Cooks, Looks June 21 Review & Excerpt

Sal Bound 4 Escape June 23 Guest Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews June 24 Review

Denise Amazon.ca June 28 Review

Amy Locks Hooks, and Books June 29 Review

Book Review & Giveaway: Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald

Book Title:  Maxed Out (The Owl’s Nest Mysteries) 
Author:  C.S. McDonald
​Category:  Adult Fiction, 184 pages
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  McWriter Books
Release date:  April 2021
Content Rating:  G. C.S. McDonald’s books are appropriate for YA readers as well as adults–no bad language or sexual content.


Book Description:

The Owl’s Nest Couturier Shoppe is a huge success! Business is booming and Alexa Owl’s love life is heating up. Yet much to the seamstress’s dismay, Detective Bobby Starr is suddenly back again! Bobby isn’t your everyday gumshoe. Rather, he’s an angel who’s trying to earn a place in Saint Peter’s Guardian Angel Squad. He’s required to solve murders he had left unsettled from when he walked the earth in order to be accepted into this prestigious group. Of course, they will need to return to the time period in which the murder took place, and again, Alexa is a reluctant time traveler. Oh, and there’s one more little problem—this time, Bobby’s brought along a friend, Maxi Krogen, and she’s no angel!


Buy the Book:
Amazon ~B&N
add to goodreads

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Maxed Out is the second book in the Owl’s Nest Mysteries. I didn’t read the first book, but there was enough back story throughout this book that it does stand on its own.

I like the main character, Alexa. She’s an independent and brave woman who owns her own business. Detective Bobby Starr is an interesting character, particularly since he’s dead. He wants to be part of an elite group of angels but in order to be in it, St. Peter wants him to prove he’s worthy by resolving some cases that he didn’t have a chance to finish when he was alive.

Alexa agrees to help Bobby again, but Maxi, the ghost they’re helping, doesn’t seem to be innocent by any means, and she has no desire to help them solve the case. Her dog doesn’t like her and neither did I.

Things get a little tense here and there, and I began to wonder if Bobby was going to fail and if Alexa was going to come out of this case unscathed.

This is a short but fun (and funny) murder mystery that I enjoyed. I may have to go back and read the first book.

About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

https://gleam.io/L7Y1A/maxed-out-book-tour-giveaway

Follow the Tour

June 21 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 21 – Working Mommy Journal – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 21 – Locks, Hooks and Books – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 22 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 22 – Bound 4 Escape – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 22 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 22 – Rajiv’s Reviews – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 23 – Splashes of Joy – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 23 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 23 – Working Mommy Journal – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 23 – Rajiv’s Reviews – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
June 24 – Buried Under Books – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 24 – Rajiv’s Reviews – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 24 – Locks, Hooks and Books – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
June 24 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
June 24 – Working Mommy Journal – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
June 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 25 – Olio by Marilyn – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 25 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 28 – Books for Books – book review of Maxed Out
June 28 – Blooming with Books – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 28 – Cover Lover Book Review – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 29 – Literary Flits – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
June 29 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
June 29 – Westveil Publishing – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 30 – Splashes of Joy – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
June 30 – Blooming with Books – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 1 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – book review of Maxed Out
July 1 – I Read What You Write – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 1 – Literary Flits – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 2 – Olio by Marilyn – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 2 – Westveil Publishing – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 2 – I Read What You Write – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 5 – Cover Lover Book Review – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 5 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder
July 6 – Blooming with Books – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 6 – Buried Under Books – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 6 – Bound 4 Escape – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 6 – Literary Flits – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 7 – I Read What You Write – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 7 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 7 – @twilight_reader – book review of Bon Voyage to Murder
July 7 – Bound 4 Escape – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 8 – Bigreadersite – book review of Maxed Out
July 8 – Laura’s Interests – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 8 – Books for Books – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder
July 8 – @twilight_reader – book review of Taking Notes on Murder
July 9 – Hall Ways Blog – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 9 – Westveil Publishing – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 9 – @twilight_reader – book review of Maxed Out
July 9 – Books for Books – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder
July 12 – Chit Chat with Charity – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 12 – Bigreadersite – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder
July 12 – Buried Under Books – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 12 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – book review of Taking Notes on Murder
July 13 – The Momma Spot – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 13 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 13 – Bigreadersite – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder
July 14 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 14 – Laura’s Interests – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 14 – Splashes of Joy – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 15 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 15 – Chit Chat with Charity – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 15 – Laura’s Interests – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 15 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – audiobook review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway
July 16 – Lisa’s Reading – book review of Maxed Out / giveaway
July 16 – Hall Ways Blog – audiobook review of Bon Voyage to Murder / giveaway
July 16 – Olio by Marilyn – book review of Taking Notes on Murder / giveaway

Book Review: The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barracca

Maxi, a homeless mutt in New York City, has always fended for himself. Then one day a kind taxi driver named Jim offers him friendship, a home, and a place in the front seat! From that moment on, Maxi and Jim revel in the sights and sounds of the city, and share all sorts of wild adventures-from rushing two clowns and a chimp to the circus, to singing duets with an opera diva! These and other adventures are brilliantly depicted in Mark Buehner’s witty, detail-packed oil paintings.

Amazon

My Review

I bought this book with a bunch of other books at an auction, and I’m so glad I did! I read it to my grandson the other day and we found the dog(s) in each picture.

The story about Maxi is sweet and told in rhymes, and the pictures by Mark Buehner are amazing. They’re detailed and full of vibrant colors and kept my 2-year-old grandson’s attention which is a major accomplishment. I predict that we’ll be reading it every weekend for a long time to come.