Messina: Book 1, The Casa Bella Chronicles ~ Liz Galvano


Messina, Sicily December 28th, 1908.


Seventy thousand people never woke up. Of the first sixty days after the catastrophe, it rained forty-five, making rescue extremely hazardous for the doctors, nurses and rescue crews. When all was said and done, the death toll estimate stood at two-hundred thousand people. Some details in regard to the earthquake have been changed to help the flow of this story. The overall account of this tragedy, however, remains intact. This is a fictional tale based on historical events, yet by no means represents all that happened in Messina.

This book is dedicated to the men and women who sacrificed themselves willingly to help during this great tragedy, and to those who were lost that fateful night.

My Thoughts

Encouraged to follow her heart, Lucy James studied hard and became a doctor—a surgeon, in fact—only to be looked upon as inferior in 1908 society. But being ostracized didn’t bother Lucy. She never desired to be a member of the boy’s club. All she ever wanted was to heal the sick and hurting.

When Messina is devastated by an earthquake, Lucy quickly volunteers to help in the makeshift hospital. A fact that raises Dr. Giovanni Castello’s blood pressure. Will he permit her to stay long enough to prove her medical expertise?

Giovanni lives in Messina and chooses to stay and help the people. Working in the horrific conditions, he and the new lady doctor does whatever they can to aid the injured, hungry, and homeless. Giovanni questions Lucy’s presence and safety in Messina’s current condition. He needs men capable of taking care of themselves in a world thrown into chaos, not this woman.

Heart-breaking? Gruesome? Riveting? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Thankfully, Galvano doesn’t leave her characters amid the horrors of devastation but sweeps them to the family home of Giovanni’s ancestors where he and Lucy become better acquainted and find hope for the future. But when they think they’ve found happiness, tragedy strikes again.

Galvano has done an excellent job describing the devastation during this historical event. Her characters are well-rounded and likable. I enjoyed the way she allowed their friendship to evolve through the day-to-day triumphs and heartaches.

I confess, Messina was a pleasant surprise. It’s not your ordinary book. So if your reading time has stalled and you’re looking for an out-of-the-box experience, I recommend Messina.

I was given a copy of this book by the author but not required to write a review.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Liz Galvano AuthorLiz Galvano has been writing since she was a little girl. Her stories combine old style adventure and romance with a dash of humor. She loves family, food, animals, and all things Italian. Liz lives with her husband Jeff, two rambunctious dogs, two entitled cats, and a horse who thinks she’s a princess.

To connect with Liz Galvano visit:







Sutter’s Landing (Kinsman Redeemer Series, Book 2) ~ Betty Thomason Owens

The year is 1955, and although they don’t have a comfortable life, Connie and Annabelle are happy to be home in Trenton, Tennessee.  But as Connie’s marriage draws closer, Annabelle worries about being alone. Something she doesn’t look forward to after losing her husband and sons. But, when an old friend shows up on her doorstep with a plan, Annabelle must make a decision to hold to her beliefs or live out her days alone.

Owens gently weaves a picture of the South with all its charm and bigotry. Through Connie’s eyes, we feel the pain when asked to leave a store because of color. We understand her remorse when friends are not treated like other folks. And we empathize with her when she and Alton are kept apart by family members.

One of my favorite scenes is the accidental meeting with a famous singer. I found the song mentioned on Youtube. I loved the fact that Owens included that particular part of history in her book because it made the story pop.

I have another favorite scene where one character is praying. I can’t share all the details without revealing too much. But I wanted to explain why this story will stay with me for a long time. During this particular scene, I suddenly had an epiphany of how the Lord continually watches over us, loving us, even though we may not return His love. And yet, He is still part of our lives whether we want Him or not.

How sad it must be to love and watch over and not have that love returned!

Although the author didn’t bring out my spiritual thoughts, the scene was the springboard that catapulted me into a wonderous moment. And that, my friend, is why I give Sutter’s Landing 5 hearts.

The second installment in the Kinsman Redeemer series is a crawl-into-your-favorite-chair-and-sit-awhile kinda book. Anyone who enjoys family, history, and the South, will enjoy Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens.

I received an advance reader’s copy from the author. All views expressed are my own.

#BOOKGIVEAWAY: Today on Writing Prompts Thoughts and Ideas, Betty is offering to giveaway either a print copy or Kindle to one commenter. So click the link and comment for your chance to win!

img_9428 copyBetty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of their Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Along with the upcoming Sutter’s Landing, Book 2, Kinsman Redeemer series (June 2017), her writing credits include a 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy (2014), Carlotta’s Legacy (2016) Books 1 & 2, Legacy Series, and the Grace-Award-winning Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer Series (2015) (Write Integrity Press). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Amazon Author Page

Wings of the Wind ~ Connilyn Cossette

Wings of the Wind is the story of Alanah, a Canaanite woman bent on revenge after her father and brothers are killed by the invading Hebrew army in the battle with Arvad. Not a stranger to the weapons of warfare her arrow soon finds its mark. But Alanah hasn’t the time to rejoice before she is wounded. Buried beneath her fallen comrades, she is discovered by Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior.

When Tobiah realizes the wounded enemy he’s found is a woman, he rescues her from the battlefield and enlists the help of Shira, a midwife, to tend Alanah’s wound. Shira reminds Tobiah of the Law and tells him the only way to keep Alanah safe is to marry her. Tobiah agrees. However, Alanah’s secret soon separates them and puts her and a friend on the path of destruction.

Will Yahweh save her or will she die among those marked for destruction?

4.9 stars out 5 stars

My thoughts:

I like a feisty heroine, and Alanah didn’t disappoint. She was confident, vibrant, and self-sacrificing without being obnoxious or weak. I commiserated with her need for revenge, her pain of betrayal, and her ache to be loved. Her relationship with Yahweh caused me to reflect upon my own. There is nothing I would change about this character except…

Tobiah was a breath of fresh air. He was a warrior, strong and adept. His love for Yahweh was evident but in no way did it emasculate him. His love for his family made him stronger still. And his need to protect Alanah from the brutality forced upon women during that time endeared him to me even more.

Without giving away anything, I would like to share what didn’t work for me.

While being raised on a farm and skilled in warfare by three brothers and a father, I wondered where Alanah obtained her vocabulary. Her choice of words didn’t sound like a girl raised on a remote farm with crude men. But for the most part, the descriptions the characters used were perfect. I loved the way Cossette weaved their way of life into their thoughts and words.

Although I thought the familial tie in the final chapters unique, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the way the historical character was portrayed. For instance, she often seemed clueless about the whole situation unless she was told the facts by Alanah. I understand this is a plot thread to give Alanah a reason for being there at that particular time.

Yet, when reading the account from the Bible, this particular woman understands the rumors flying around concerning the invading army and is very much aware of the fear and dread that has taken hold of her city. Her decision to leave seemed to be at the last minute. Something I find hard to comprehend when you know what’s about to happen.

All in all, I wouldn’t change Alanah’s and Tobiah’s story. It is a story I will remember and probably read over and over again in the coming years. In fact, I loved it so much I bought the first and second installments of this series. I highly recommend this series to anyone who reads biblical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House. The above comments are my own.