West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance
West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance
Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.
Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed–until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.
When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success–but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America–just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015–and the world has become an unrecognizable place.
Katherine Mueller–crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle–offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?
Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Anyone reading this book review likely knows that historical fiction set during World War Two is one of my favorite genres and time periods with which to read. I rarely pass a chance to read a novel set during the Second World War, so when an author friend of mine posted a link to Rick Barry’s upcoming World War Two book I instantly went to the publisher’s website to request a review copy. Although The Methuselah Project deviates the typical historical romances on my bookshelves, I am beyond excited for this novel to claim a spot amongst other fabulous World War Two fiction authors.
People are creatures of habit–including readers who tend to choose novels based on favorite genres of authors–but sometimes it is beneficial to break away from what we know best. In my case, although I am well versed in World War Two romance fiction, I am new to Barry’s twist on the subject via science and super-hero fiction. Keep in mind that The Methuselah Project is not another Captain America story, but for the purpose of comparison the base storyline of both the book and movie are good indicators of what one will find in Barry’s novel. If nothing anything (although it’s not the case here), I am glad that I read The Methuselah Project because this book brought me a vastly different outlook on World War Two, soldiers and veterans, and historical significance. I love that Barry approached this time period with a different outlook and dared to write a story that goes beyond the typical battle grounds, settings, themes, romance, and possible after effects of war.
The Methuselah Project is a blend of the historical, contemporary, and science fiction genres. Based on those categorizations alone I would not have chosen to read this book. Based on the recommendation of an author friend, I was willing to put aside the fact that I don’t like science fiction in order to read this book. Barry’s novel demonstrates how and why categorizing books by genre can be both helpful and detrimental to readers because I, for one, found myself captivated by The Methuselah Project despite the odd (to me) scientific aspects of the story. The author blends historical research with scientific facts throughout the book, never once leaning too far towards either science or history so that readers will not be alienated by a subject they do not care for.
Roger Greene and Katherine Mueller, the hero and heroine of The Methuselah Project, drive this story through their unique experiences and challenges of the times they live in. Barry’s hero flew off the page (what a pun to use for a pilot, right?) with his 1940’s lingo, daring feats of flying, and strong character. I enjoyed Roger’s character because he was a hero in every sense of the word–not necessarily a prince from a Disney movie, but a real-life hero and gentleman who fought in a war and subsequently fought to stay alive through the brutal circumstances. For Greene’s counterpart, Barry wrote southern-belle Katherine Mueller, who fills her day as a freelance editor and Kadet in a secret organization. The Methuselah Project‘s heroine was one of my least favorite aspects of this novel. I found Katherine harsh, naive, and obstinate; her prickly personality and judgmental attitude made it hard for me to warm up to her.
The Methuselah Project utilizes dual storylines to tell Roger and Katherine’s stories. The pacing of Barry’s book flows quickly, and for the first quarter of the book I found myself challenged to swap time periods–and all that goes with it, such as dialect, word choice, etc.–and remember that Katherine and Roger experienced vast differences between them. Additionally, the chapters that focused on Roger jumped decades of his captivity, which also jarred me as I mentally refocused on what Roger would have known as a prisoner of war. I realize that Barry could not literally give his readers a day-by-day account of Roger’s experiences in prison; however, the time hopping made empathizing with the character a challenge because I constantly had to focus on setting and time period rather than on Roger. Focusing solely on the characters became easier once Roger and Katherine’s are brought together. In the spirit of a timely and quick ending, Barry finishes Methuselah Project in an action-packed adventure, but the fast pace brings a sense of unbelievability to his novel. I would have preferred a longer novel focused on authentic situations to end this book.
I enjoyed The Methuselah Project for its stellar story filled with historical research. Despite the aspects of the story that I didn’t care for, I still would recommend this book to readers because the merits of this novel strongly outweigh any pacing or character issues. I would especially like to commend Barry for writing a Christian historical novel that I believe is well suited for boys and men. While women, such as myself, surely will enjoy the book, The Methuselah Project is a novel that I would hand out to men of any age in a heartbeat.
Rating: 3.5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
By God’s grace, I’m the author of the novels The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s Run, Kiriath’s Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a writer and World War II buff, my main role is Director of Church Planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry active in Eastern Europe. I hold a degree in foreign languages, speak Russian, and every summer I assist with children’s camps in Eastern Europe. I live near Indianapolis with my wonderful wife Pam. Visit me at facebook.com/AuthorRickBarry, or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry).
Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Revell, August 2015)
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.
Fresh onto a new series set within her favored genre of World War Two historical romance, veteran author Sarah Sundin takes readers on a suspenseful and romantic ride in 1941 Boston. I have read each of Sundin’s novels, and I firmly believe at this point that she keeps writing stories better and better each time. With Through Waters Deep she has taken her trademark historical romance and blended in a thoroughly developed mystery with suspense and deeper themes than in her previous novels. If this novel is indicative of her future works, readers are in for a fantastic lineup of Sundin’s books to come.
I enjoy Sundin’s novels because she writes in my favorite time period—World War Two—with elements that make any story great: history, romance, faith, and friendship. Through Waters Deep contains all of these elements but stands out most highly because of the care Sundin took to research the time period and setting of the novel. I read blog posts on the author’s trips to Boston where she learned about the Navy Yard and various places around the city, but even without those posts I could glean from Through Waters Deep how much work Sundin took to bring the time period alive. From meticulous details about the ship the hero lived on, to the particularities of Boston in 1941, I could easily imagine every scene and setting in this novel.
These details blend into the other aspect of Through Waters Deep that signifies Sundin’s latest release’s superiority over her other novels: the mystery and suspense of the Boston Navy Yard saboteur. Never in my life would I wander into a bookstore specifically looking for a mystery novel; however, I just may have to reconsider that statement in the future when it applies to historical Christian fiction. Sundin researched the particularities of writing mysteries before taking on Through Waters Deep, and both the prose and story demonstrate how much studying the craft of writing can assist a writer in penning an excellent book. Each page of Through Waters Deep brims with suspense, and the red herrings continually keep readers guessing at whom the real saboteur could be. In addition, Sundin betters her story by giving each potential villain a side story that turns him into a person with whom the reader could sympathize. I sat on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book—and I loved Through Waters Deep for that.
Main characters Jim Avery and Mary Stirling became two of my favorite characters as I read Through Waters Deep. Jim is a dashing hero who charms his way into Mary’s and reader’s hearts; he carries just enough bravado to make him a man’s man, while simultaneously becoming a man of God’s own heart. Mary is a sweet and hardworking lady of faith, curious about the world around her and with a good and loyal heart. Between the two of them they prove that friendship always makes for a strong romance, and they grow in faith in love. Through Waters Deep could very well be Sundin’s strongest novel regarding faith. She makes the faith element of this story accessible, believable, and applicable for her readers.
I loved Through Waters Deep and plan to re-read this novel because I’m sure there are elements of the story—especially the mystery—that I missed the first time around for reading it too fast. I just simply couldn’t put the novel down! The next book in the series, Anchor in the Storm, releases in 2016 and is already on my pre-order list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Sundin is the author of the upcoming Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep releases August 2015), the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time), and the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow), all from Revell. In addition she has a novella in Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook, September 2014).
Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.
A buried vow and a broken past meet face to face on enemy territory… Lieutenant Maggie Johnson has had to overcome many obstacles in her life, including her parents’ disapproval of her enlistment in the Army Nurse Corps and the sudden death of her GI boyfriend, Danny Russo. A sudden blow that forced her to leave behind a promise once made. But Germany introduces more hurdles that hinder her life. Like Army nurse lieutenant, Peggy Blizzard—a woman as cold as her name. While trying to avoid a war breaking out within her own barracks, Maggie pushes through Germany’s harsh winter, and Peggy’s cold shoulder, and aims to do her job—saving lives. But when tragedy strikes the field hospital, it’s Maggie’s life that needs saving instead. Maggie’s harrowing rescue will haunt her for months to come when a ruggedly handsome soldier comes to her aid and resembles the face of a man she once loved . . . a man who is dead. Is war playing mind games with Maggie, or is she facing the ghosts of her past?
Find Maggie’s Mission on Amazon.
Certain books and authors resonate deeply with readers so that when a new book is published by a certain author that reader does not even question the content of the novel. Maggie’s Mission was one such book for me because I whole-heartedly enjoy author Rachel Muller’s stories and company. Last summer Muller’s debut novel, Letters from Grace, was my favorite novel of 2014. By the time I finished this best-selling novel, Maggie’s Mission could not come soon enough for my avid reading tastes. While I found Letters from Grace to be the better of Muller’s two published novels, Maggie’s Mission is an enjoyable story that deftly draws readers into the European theater with rich historical detail, deep relationships between characters, and a background of faith that strongly exemplifies lessons readers can take into their own lives.
Maggie’s Mission is primarily set within the European theater, with the rich details of that time and place shining brightly as one of the strongest aspects of Muller’s novel. As a combat nurse, Maggie’s experiences in Germany in the field hospitals are breathtaking to experience. Muller imagines the smells, sights, sounds, and emotions these nurses go through with sensitivity and thorough care for the veterans who bravely fought for our country. I am not one who searches out any sort of entertainment that showcases medical distress, but I truly did enjoy Muller’s hospital scenes in spite of the horrific trauma that went on in those field hospitals. She describes with detail the tasks Army doctors and nurses performed in the theater without overt graphics. I appreciated reading these scenes because it gave me a chance to fully comprehend the stress, pain, and complications of wartime medicine.
Friendship and romance are at the core of Maggie’s Mission, and the relationships that comprise this novel form the backbone of Muller’s story. Throughout the story Maggie’s triumphs and struggles with her fellow Army nurses provide life lessons of friendships that readers can emulate and learn from in real ways. Muller has a knack for filling her novels with relationships that are thought-provoking and deep. In Maggie’s Mission we see the main character remain firmly rooted in her friendship with Grace, from Muller’s first novel, and cross boundaries with Peggy Blizzard, a surprisingly refreshing character who teaches Maggie about loving like Jesus. My favorite part of reading Maggie’s Mission was watching Maggie’s friendships deepen and unfold in the European theater. The drama and danger these women experienced while depending upon each other is rather remarkable to imagine.
Romance in Maggie’s Mission centers around the lost loves so many men and women experienced because of the horrors of war. Maggie grieves the loss of her boyfriend, Daniel Russo, through much of the novel while simultaneously attempting to move on with life with another man. I did not feel much of a connection to either man as a romantic lead, but nevertheless reading Maggie, Danny, and Walter’s romance brought me back to a time when life and love were tumultuous at best.
Maggie’s Mission is an addition to Muller’s Love and War series that I recommend for anyone who enjoys World War Two fiction. This is Christian fiction that will move readers deeply with its emphasis on the strengths of relationships and faith. I am definitely looking forward to Muller’s third novel in the series, Philip’s War, as this story will focus on the challenges of soldiers returning home from war. Muller’s love for War World Two history and the people who experienced all that went on during that time is evident in the tone she sets with her writing. I am certain that the pain, heartaches, and ultimately love that brought veterans and their wives and families through this time will drive Philip’s War in a beautiful way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In late 1800s Kansas, redemption, compassion, love, and trust challenge characters in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Through the Deep Waters to meet God in unprecedented ways as they discover who they are truly meant to be and how they are to live in their lives.
Veteran historical-fiction author Sawyer, a native of Kansas, brings readers to the Clifton Hotel in her latest novel. Through the Deep Waters begins in Chicago, as seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley struggles to break free of the bonds of being born-and-raised in the brothel that employed her mother for Dinah’s entire life. Shortly before her mother’s death, Dinah is forced to make a decision that ultimately impacts her future both positively and negatively. Believing that making a new life for herself as Harvey girl—a celebrated waitress for a wealthy businessman that operates hotels and restaurants along major train lines—she relocates to Kansas to build a new life. In her search to find the respectability she lacked growing up at the brothel, Dinah realizes over time that the acceptance and compassion she so longs for can only come through God’s loving grace and redemption.
Amos Ackerman’s life is forever changed with Dinah Hubley’s arrival in Florence Kansas. A hard-working chicken farmer dedicated to making a successful life for himself, Amos and Dinah form an unlikely friendship through a mutual understanding that compassion and kindness are often the only offerings needed to be given to make a connection with another person. Amos’ greatest desire—to support and grow a loving family—is heightened by Dinah’s arrival because he believes that God’s plan for him involves Amos’ taking Dinah for a wife. However, as his plans frustratingly become more and more sidetracked, Amos has to consider that his wants and desires may not be what God has in mind for him.
Through the Deep Waters is an excellent novel for many reasons, but Sawyer excels most in her inspirational teachings of compassion, redemption, mercy, and God’s plans for His children. From the blunt yet gentle reminder of prostitution’s harsh realities to God’s simple and unfailing love for each person who gives their lives to Him, Sawyer could not make it any plainer in Through the Deep Waters that people do not need to be good to deserve God’s love. Dinah and Amos experience devastating circumstances and do not come to peaceful lives easily. Yet through their painful situations and subsequent lessons learned, readers find gentle Scriptural teachings that show not just the verses that explain God’s love but how to go about asking and receiving His mercy and redemption. Minor characters who offer unlimited support of friendship and Christian teachings make the lessons and questions believable as they share God’s Word with Dinah and Amos. Sawyer’s two main characters are wholly real because they constantly question, become frustrated and angry and passionate, and question what is going on in their lives as they thought they had situations—and God—figured out.
Amos, Dinah, and minor character Ruthie—who, although minor, actually plays a rather significant role in the novel—are loveable and challenging characters whom readers will instantly connect with in Through the Deep Waters because all of them are flawed but good people. Readers will hurt with Dinah for her painful past but hope for her to overcome the negative emotions to succeed as a potential Harvey girl. Dinah’s emotions are valid, but her refusal to connect with others becomes grating at later points in the novel. At some point it becomes wearisome to wonder whether Dinah will always hold onto her past…but the questioning is worth it come the ending of the novel. Amos is the quintessential hero who does not know how valuable he is as a friend and potential beau. A prince among men, readers will cheer for Amos as he tirelessly works to build up his chicken farm in preparation to take a wife and support a family. His frustration with romantic adventures will make readers cringe in disappointment as Amos struggles to find his way between who God wants him to love and the girl is actually the one for him. Dinah’s roommate and friend, Ruthie, is the friend that everyone has in their lifetime: the one who comforts, who supports, and who shares their family unconditionally…but who also becomes jealous at times and becomes frustrated when it seems that the other friend has all the blessings. Dinah and Ruthie’s friendship is one that all readers are blessed to share with another and with the characters of the novel.
Through the Deep Waters is an inspirational story of love, mercy, and redemption whose lessons will stay with readers long after the novel is finished being read. Sawyer’s writing is flawless—full sentences are used through the book, which doesn’t always happen in Christian fiction and is much appreciated by readers who prefer well-written prose over simplicity. The Christian lessons and Scripture verses are incorporated seamlessly into the plot and are easy to both understand within the content of the story and within personal lives. Sawyer’s choice of a setting—the Harvey girls’ hotel stories—is commendable because the history is not well-known. If readers are not previously known to Sawyer’s stories, Through the Deep Waters will have them hooked and wanting to read the author’s other novels.
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