#INSPYSundays | Blog Book Tour feat. “The Medallion” by Cathy Gohlke

Posted Sunday, 9 June, 2019 by jorielov , , 7 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Medallion” direct from the publisher Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I am launching a special showcase called #INPSYSundays:

You might be aware of my 7o Authors Challenge – wherein I am attempting to get to know more Inspirational Fiction authors and their series? I have been wanting to find a way to bring this reading focus into the life of my blog but also, highlight some of the stories I am receiving for review purposes as well – not all of them can be featured on the weekends, but those which can I’ll be highlighting through this new series of posts as I love the idea of showcasing them on a day meant for renewal of spirit & rest.

The short version of “Inspirational Fiction” is INSPY and I have enjoyed using the tag #INSPY on Twitter to talk about the stories which fall under this umbrella of literature. It is far more encompassing than strictly reading Christian based fiction as INSPY is inclusive of all religions and faith backgrounds of interest – which is why eventually I’ll be expounding outwards from my initial wanderings of my reading challenge and seeking out more authors who write stories of INSPY that are from new and differing perspectives. A lot of what I currently have marked to read are traditional Christian Fiction selections as they were found via a fellow book blogger’s blog.

Although I had intended to introduce this featured focus in January, 2019 – I decided the timing wasn’t right for me to do so until June. I look forward to seeing where my readerly wanderings will take me as this will be just as wicked interesting of a feature to follow as my #HistoricalMondays or #SaturdaysAreBookish!

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#INSPYSundays | Blog Book Tour feat. “The Medallion” by Cathy GohlkeThe Medallion
by Cathy Gohlke
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen–Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war–if any of them survive–is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, War Drama

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496429674

Published by Tyndale House Publishers

on 4th June, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 409

Published By: Tyndale House Publishers (@TyndaleHouse)
secondary site: Crazy4Fiction (@Crazy4Fiction)

Formats Available: Trade paperback, ebook and audiobook

Converse via: #TheMedallion, #INSPY w/ #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic

About Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.

Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.

When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

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the tree of life:

When I first saw the book cover for this novel, I couldn’t quite make out the design of the medallion itself – it was when I went to read the book, I realised this was the Tree of Life. A symbol I have loved and one that isn’t oft represented in jewelry as much as others. I was quite taken by the choice of having this on the medallion and I look forward to seeing if it had special meaning to the character(s) involved but also if it was going to be talked about or just a component of the story as the medallion held a certain weight of its own.

my review of the medallion:

Beginning a story at a person’s wedding is an interesting foothold into their stories – you see them in a more joyous state than perhaps the drama of what would entreat into their lives afterwards. Seeing Itzhak (Issac) and Rosa taking their vows – you could tell how much love was between them simply due to how overwhelmed he was in the moment where they were uniting as one couple. He was full of admiration and awe; she was caught in the traditions of the service and of how they needed to stay within the patterns of what was required before she could feel a bit of what he had himself. Theirs was a beautiful union and you only hoped the best for them – even if on the fringes of reading this you were already attuned to the fact war was inching closer to their feet.

You feel as close to Sophie as if you were living through the current hell she’s become encompassed by herself – the bombs are coming fast and sure, the safety of the city has fallen and not one thing looks or smells the way it had before all this craziness began. She has attempted to leave the one place she might have been safer to stay – the library, except even there, she had her nerves brought against her as the building itself was sustaining one hit after another – reducing itself into splintered fragments of glass and plaster. She was in of herself a woman caught in the upturnt nightmare of war – where no one was truly safe and where only the skies would rain down something far more menacing than rain.

It was here where you tucked close to her – feeling her pain as she longed to know about her husband, a fighter pilot and held strong to the hope he would survive as much as she could herself. She was withchild during this wretched time and as she lost those round her, only her heart could think about what was left behind – how we only have ourselves and our courage to take us into the future where the present no longer glimmers a way towards. She was injured and alone; the isolation alone gave you credence to her situation but it was how she worried about her unbourne child and the condition she was in after having survived one of the bombings which anchoured you emotionally to her life.

Gohlke slips us back and forth through the toils of anguish between Rosa and Itzhak’s journey back into Warsaw to find Rosa’s Mum and how their lives are being lived concurrently to Sophie’s own journey to endure what the war has brought to them all. There is such an emotional eclipse to reading how Rosa finds her mother – how all those hours of worriment and fear, suddenly collide into the realisation that if they had even hesitated for a second longer, they might not have found her alive. You dig into their lives with such a heart-pulse on their emotions and their internal struggles to find compassionate patience with what is happening that you cannot erase the hardening realities that they are currently facing. They can barely find the courage to believe there is a future for them but first, they must fight the everyday battles just to alleviate the most ordinary of concerns that are still important to address. It was here where your heart went out to Rosa – how seeing her mother was both an emotional release but also a rooting of the realities of how much her mother had lost after the sudden death of her father.

As Sophie’s life continued to spiral outside her own control – where having an intellectual and curious mind was now an issue with the fear of being found out by the Germans, she had to think about survival and how whatever she would choose to do next could be the difference between living through the war and dying young. Her thoughts were encased with worries over her husband – where news of what was happening to the fighter pilots only increased her resolve not to break through the unending bouts of nervous concerns erasing further hope that something would happen to end this chasm of hopelessness. It was only when she realised she would have to alter her own identity that she realised the greater depths of what was happening – not just to her but to everyone. How everyone near her and round her were facing the same harsh reality – to hide was to live but how to hide when hiding brought its own concerns?

Your heart lurches with the pain of Sophie’s loss – hearing what she was hearing and knowing what that would mean for herself – for everyone. It wasn’t even the loss of the library that was generating the most fear, it was the ways in which the people were being dismissed as if human life no longer mattered and the only route forward was either to get away completely or to find a way to live with the oppression which was constantly removing any right to live at all. Gohlke has truly bridged the gaps in time by placing you dead-lock and centre into the anguishing realities of the people who lived through this war – she doesn’t give you time to consider what has happened, there is too much still left to be shared. You have to bolster yourself together just like Sophie and muster through to see what was going to become of her and the rest of the characters you feel are as alive as their composites in reality. Gohlke has made them feel real and has found a tangible entry into how they once lived.

Any family whose had to become the caregivers for their parents and/or their grandparents knows how hard it was for Rosa each day she tried to bring a bit more light into her Mum’s world. And, how hard you hold onto the moments where your loved one is lucid enough to remember the details you pray will not become unknown to them completely. It is with achingly brilliant insight how Gohlke not just parallels the brutality of the war – of how disparate the situation truly is for everyone who is involved but how she carves out space to give measure of meaning to the purpose of being there for your family. Not just when you can make a bit of a difference but simply by having your presence there – because sometimes that affects more change than anything else you could do.

One of the best examples of how your heart can grow in compassion for others is how Gohlke showed us how the suggestion Terri tucked into Sophie’s ear about helping the oppressed Jews truly took root and became a part of Sophie’s path. For Sophie, she was already aware of the dangers lying in wait for her and Terri; of how their own lives were not secure nor safe as they each had their own reasons for being placed on a dangerous path in regards to the authorities. However, it was how Gohlke showed how Sophie’s will to become active in the fight to help others was organically portrayed by how she observed those horrors and how her mind would not will herself to stay inactive. It was how she saw humanity being removed step by step that truly broke her resolve but also how those she once knew before the war were changing (er, erasing) right in front of her eyes. It was a humbling moment in the novel – where despite her fears, Sophie was willing to place others ahead of her own welfare.

My heart felt full after reading The Medallion – there is so much to digest after reading a story of this magnitude and the fact that this particular novel was inspired by real events and the real persons who lived this story only sought to amplify it more for me. The hardest part of course is Sophie’s choices – how she not only endured but she fought for ways to improve the lives of those who were struggling during the war. This had a boomerang effect on her own soul though – she made critical choices that at the time felt right for her to make but in the end, they held a high cost that she was almost unwilling to face and to put back to rights lateron.

In that way, what nearly breaks your heart is what sacrifice Sophie is motivated to ask of Itzhak and how selfish she comes across when she does. It is a harsh reality war – it changes you and it makes you do things you might not have considered previously out of desperation and out of necessity to survive. In Sophie’s case, her heart splintered into different pieces not just from the war but from the loss of her unbourne child. That marked her for the rest of her life – it would become a cornerstone of her future choices and it would effectively cause her to do things some of us might not have done ourselves because we could not directly relate to that kind of untethering her soul went through with her heart.

Gohlke has written an impressive novel about the harrowing route a person can take to survive an adverse circumstance and anchoured it through a testament of faith. How without hope and faith, none of us are strong enough to face tomorrow but it is tomorrow which might hold the greatest test of all. To face not just what you fear but to find a way to heal the past by the actions you can take today. This is a riveting real and honest story which pays homage to those who lived those hours in Warsaw and never knew what their future could become today.

One note of confusion:

There was one component of reading this story which did offer a bit of confusion for me – the styling of the names. I was constantly confused by “Pani” and “Pan” and kept trying to remember which of the two was either the male or female characters. I am unsure why that was such a confusion to me but I think sometimes when names are dearly close in similarity to each other, I sometimes stumble to remember who is whom. There were also multiple people given the same name which also affected me realising who was whom. Until I reached the end of Chapter Seven and realised “Pani” must refer to “Ms or Mrs” and “Pan” is referring to Mr – this made much more sense and brought me a sense of clarity.

There were a few other instances with character names that were also equally as confusing which did take a bit away from the rhythm of reading this story but not too much to where I was out of sync with Rosa and Sophie; the two I felt were at the very heart of the story.

on the historical narrative style of cathy gohlke:

I wanted to mention, I loved reading the Acknowledgements section of this ARC – as sometimes these pages are not included and I dearly appreciate when they are as they give a bit of a window into the heart of the writer I am reading. Thus, after having spent time with her thoughts and the inspiring path which led her to tell this story, my heart was full of the serendipitous joy and the heartwarming way the people who lived this story were brought to her attention in order to have their story told. Some stories truly do seek out the writer and I felt this one sought out Ms Gohlke.

I loved how Ms Gohlke places you right in the midst of how Warsaw fell during the war – right at the moment really where the bombings were erasing the city, where the citizens were attempting to help their neighbours and where everything they had once known was now being removed. They were a city lost between the past and the present; they didn’t have enough warning to understand what was going to happen to them nor do I think could they have processed those changes prior to arriving in their lives as who could have had the capacity to understand that kind of horror? Despite the seriousness of the story, what I liked most about how Gohlke’s approach towards telling the story is how she rooted in in her characters – she let them tell this story from their own perspectives and gave us a riveting front line view of what it was like to be alive when the darkness overtook the light.

She doesn’t hold back from telling you the most immediately hard facts of what was happening during occupation – from the senseless lives taken prematurely to the hardness of being rationed to the brink (or past it) of starvation and to the guttingly brutal ways in which ordinary people were no longer treated with any ounce of humanity. Despite being an INSPY novel, Gohlke still brings you those horrors of war – she simply doesn’t get into the harder details (for myself, that is a truer blessing!) mainstream war dramas will disclose and I, personally have read enough of for a lifetime. I’d prefer her style of it – she doesn’t lean too hard on the graphic visuals but rather the emotional and psychological scope of war – how it imprints itself into the fibre of your being and how it is harder to overcome once it has touched your life. Meaning, there is much more to war than what is seen on the peripheral surface of it. Much, much more indeed and Gohlke paints a strong portrait of what war does to the human spirit and the soul.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Medallion blog tour via HFVBTs

Be sure to not only follow the rest of the tour for keen insight into the novel but for special guest features – one of the beautiful things about blog tours is getting different readerly insight and being able to see ‘behind-the-book’ with the authors we’re reading. Have a lovely day routing through the tour!

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Reading this novel counted towards some of my 2019 reading challenges:

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2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Medallion”, book synopsis, author biography and photograph for Cathy Gohlke, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. 2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #INSPYSundays banner Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 9 June, 2019 by jorielov in #INSPYSundays, 20th Century, Aftermath of World War II, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Judiasm, Loss of an unbourne child, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, The World Wars, Women's Health

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7 responses to “#INSPYSundays | Blog Book Tour feat. “The Medallion” by Cathy Gohlke

  1. World War II is definitely a time period we should not forget. Unfortunately, as that event recedes into the past, I’m afraid people are starting to forget the lessons of that time period and may be doomed to repeat some of those mistakes. This sounds like an interesting book!

    Brooke Lorren recently posted: Unpopular Bookish Opinions
    • Hallo, Hallo Brooke,

      I truly agree with your sentiments. It is a sombering truth about how the further we step away from a historic event, the harder it is for people to remember what was previously learnt. I am hopeful though by the writers like Ms Gohlke who are bringing the ‘past’ to brilliant life with such a soul touching story like this one, people will start to keep those lessons of the past fervently in mind. This is one blessing of Historical Fiction – it brings the past to life in such a way as to allow people who might not have known as much about History to live it through the lives of these characters the writers are presenting to us through their stories. We all have to keep the hope for the future aligned with the truths of the past; whether or not history repeats, the only thing we can each do is still hold the light. Keeping the truth alive and keep passing down the stories – its the living histories of humanity which will have greater import down the road. It always has and always will — I believe a part of that is credited to these novelists, too. They are reaching a wider audience and thereby, there is a chance more will continue to remember.

      Thanks for stopping by and I am thankful the heart of the story resonated with you – may you find it an emotional read as much as I had myself.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Bruno,

      This story truly spoke to me and I am thankful my words could offer such insight for readers considering to read it. This has become a popular review on my blog – it was trending for several days after I released it. I am uncertain who shared it on Facebook but this is what started the momentum of people finding it – based on what I could tell from the Admin side of my blog. From there, it went like wildfire from reader to reader and even was socially shared on Twitter. It is a thankful and humbling day for me realising my review touched so many hearts and gave readers a chance to ‘meet’ a new author they want to pick up to read themselves. As that is what all of us who blog our readerly lives hope to give back to the reading community. I appreciate being given this blog tour – I won’t soon forget the story.

  2. Jorie Loves a Story–what a wonderful name for your blog! I am truly honored and swept away by your review of The Medallion. You have captured the heart of the story and the conflicts of the characters. What more could a writer hope for? Thank you! God bless!

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Gohlke,

      I have some lovely news to share with you – my review for The Medallion has been trending on my blog since the day I released it!! I am unsure who shared it via Facebook, but several days straight this review was lovingly read, joyfully shared through different social channels (including Twitter) and has become one of the most read reviews I’ve shared. I am thankful my words were able to honour the story you’ve written, especially as without Historical Fiction writers like you, our current generation and the one after, will not always remember the ‘History’ like those of us who had grandparents who served during the war eras. As we inch further into the new century, a lot of the connections to the war generations will become lost or distorted; it is a blessing indeed that those of you who are writing these stories are providing an necessary anchour to that history and thereby, allowing these stories to be heard.

      I was truly thankful you visited with me – as whenever I write a review like this one, I feel like the review is for the author, as a note of gratitude from a reader who appreciated the vision they gave to the story. I am blessed knowing my words not only resonated with the story you wanted me to feel and find, but I was able to lift your story through my ruminations and allow others to find it as well.

      The story might have crushed my soul and left my heart bleeding for these characters, but you found such a riveting path back into the past, I am forever changed for the story. I know I can’t keep re-visiting this period of history, as it affects me on a deep level; your story will be one of the ones I will fondly remember as being one that honoured the past and gave new light to the people who lived through this era and for those who lost their lives within it.

      May your inspiration continue and may grace be with you as you continue to write convicting fiction which speaks to the soul of humanity.

      • I’m so glad your words are traveling far and wide. They deserve to. I think many people have shared your review–I shared it on Facebook as did others, but since I don’t do Twitter, surely someone else did as well. Not only does The Medallion call attention to this important time in history and its heart breaking lessons, but so does your review. Without reviewers and bloggers far fewer readers would ever know about the books authors write. I am most grateful, and thank you! God bless!

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