Hidden Among the Stars (Melanie Dobson) – Review + Giveaway

6 Sept Hidden-among-the-stars-FB-banner-copy

~ About the Book ~

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Time-slip
Release date:  4 September 2018
Pages:  416
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  iTunes  //  Goodreads  //  Koorong

~ Excerpt ~

Inkspot settles in beside my beanbag on a pink square of rug, and I open the cover of Bambi. Inside is an inscription, written in beautiful script. Thanks to Charlotte, I can read some German.

Annika Knopf
Schloss Schwansee, 1932

I push down one of the corners, bent from wear, as my brain tumbles the words into translation. The Castle of Swan Lake.
Underneath the name of the castle and date is another inscription, simple and yet deeply profound.

Mit all meine Liebe, Mama.

My fingers against the page, I can almost feel the lingering heat from this mother’s love, and my thoughts travel back to the woman who birthed me and then thought it witty to name me Calisandra, after herself and the abbreviation of her favorite state—a woman who moved to Santa Monica when I was two and left me behind with the man who never got around to proposing marriage. A man who died fourteen years later. Sandra Dermott friended me on Facebook while I was in college. She has a family in California now, four children whom she clearly adores.
What happened to the girl who once owned this book in my hands? Did she treasure her mother’s gift for the rest of her life, or give it away?
The pages are smudged, worn. In the first section are illustrations of Bambi and Faline, and then pictures of the stag and Man.
The book was written a decade before Hitler came to power, but Hitler, I’d read in my research, amplified the anti-Semitism already rampant in Europe. Perhaps Salten saw the scribblings of persecution long before they coated the walls.
Turning the pages, I begin to notice something different about this version of Bambi. In black ink, under the original German print, are extra lines on every other page as if someone decided to add to the story. I recognize many of the German words in the story, but none in the handwritten lines.
My eyes finally heavy, I close the book and lower it to the carpet.
Brie and I have found plenty of books marked up in the past, but I’ve never seen anything like this writing at the bottom of the pages, as if the words were part of the original story.
Who marked up this valuable edition, almost a hundred years old? An aspiring author, perhaps? Or had Annika or someone else tried to leave some sort of message hidden in the pages?
My skin tingles at the thought.

Taken from Hidden in the Stars by Melanie Dobson. Copyright © 2018.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved

~ Review ~

Some books, I think, can be like cats. No matter where they’re sent, they have this uncanny ability to find their way back home.

Nothing sparks my imaginationThis is the story of a book that finds so much more than its way back home. And if, as Callie Randall says at one point, tears are one of the greatest tributes of all, then I spent the last hour of this book paying it immense tribute. I cried anew for the atrocities committed under Hitler’s regime, I cried for the injustice, the cruelty, and the loss, and I cried for the bittersweet beauty that only intensified as the story drew to its conclusion.


Death is no longer a threatI read the first quarter of this book in fits and starts, thanks to a busy few days, but the further I got into the story, the more spellbound I became—to the point where I knew I was just going to have to sit down and finish it or I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else. I was desperate to know what happened to Annika, Max, and Luzia, but at the same time, I found the contrasting pace and feel of the contemporary story almost a relief. Although she’s not a charismatic character (unless she’s wearing her cape and her red-striped Story Girl socks while sharing her love of story with kids), I found myself appreciating Callie’s tendency toward contemplation, and I loved watching her gradually bloom under the right conditions. And the answers she uncovered only fed my hunger to know what happened to the historical characters. I love it when the two settings of a time-slip novel complement each other like that!

Tears best tributeAnd the writing. I’m trying to pinpoint exactly what it was that captured me about the writing. I’m not sure I can, but I found myself highlighting all over the place. All these little nuggets that I wanted to come back to and think on later. The best I can do is to say that the writing was almost…musical at times, but effortlessly and unobtrusively so.

But I guess you’ve already got the idea that I loved this story, so perhaps that’s all I need to say, except that I will now be searching out more of Melanie Dobson’s books!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ Guest Post by Melanie Dobson ~

Hallstatt’s Hiding Places

Backpacking across Europe—that’s how my husband Jon and I decided to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We savored the old world culture and charm as we hiked along Italy’s coast, toured medieval castles in Germany, and cruised the canals in Belgium; we both left a bit of our hearts in an ancient lakeside town called Hallstatt.

The moment we stepped off the ferryboat and into this storybook village, we crossed through a portal of sorts, traveling back several centuries in time. The rugged, snow-capped mountains around us and alpine lake, the quaint village with its church steeples and cobblestone lanes and waterfall that spilled into town—all of it captivated us.

Along the shore, hidden partially by trees, we could see spires of an abandoned castle, and I wanted to know its story. No one in Hallstatt could tell us who’d lived in the castle—at least, not in English—so my husband agreed to a new adventure. With a swan as our escort, we glided across the lake in an electric boat so I could study the rusty turrets, boarded windows, and wooden boathouse resting in the water like a felled log.

Instead of quelling my curiosity, the match of inspiration ignited my mind. Who had lived in this castle, and what happened there? I began writing in my journal that night, trying to capture my rogue thoughts on paper, hoping that one day a novel would emerge from the ashes of this castle’s story.

When we returned home, I began researching more of Hallstatt’s history and discovered that this region, in all of its beauty and mystique, had been infiltrated by an enemy in 1938. This town and the surrounding Salzkammergut became a mountain retreat for Nazi officials who built mansions on the shores of its many lakes and used salt mines to hide “ownerless treasure”—the gold bullion and artwork they’d stolen from the Jewish people.

The Nazis intended to build a Fourth Reich in this alpine fortress, but the Allies had other plans. Near the end of the war, these lakes became a dustbin of sorts, collecting whatever the enemy dumped into its waters—weapons, counterfeit banknotes, concentration camp lists—as they fled south from the Allied troops. The Devil’s Dustbin, locals call it.

Lake Hallstatt plunges more than four hundred feet between the fortress of mountains. Because of its depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, divers continue finding World War II artifacts today. Some still believe there’s a treasure trove buried on the bottom, but no one has reported finding any gold.

After our trip, a story about this castle and what happened to the heirlooms of the Austrian Jewish people continued to burn inside me until I finally put it on paper. So I built Schloss Schwansee—Castle of Swan Lake—in my mind, inspired by the castle along Lake Hallstatt, and created a cast of historical and contemporary characters who are searching for lost treasure.

Hidden Among the Stars is a time-slip novel about a castle and treasure and fairytales, but most of all, it’s a story about God using ordinary people across Austria to resist evil in their own extraordinary way.

~ About the Author ~


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Connect with Melanie:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Goodreads  //  Pinterest

~ Giveaway ~

Amazon Gift card

To celebrate her tour, Melanie is giving away a grand prize package that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, Catching the Wind paperback, and Hidden Among the Stars paperback!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d2ad/hidden-among-the-stars-celebration-tour-giveaway

~ Tour Stops ~

6 September
Reading Is My SuperPower // Fiction Aficionado // Back Porch Reads // Among the Reads

7 September
The Power of Words // Multifarious // lady ansel book vibes // The Becca Files

8 September
God’s Little Bookworm // Christian Chick’s Thoughts // Painting with Words // Lis Loves Reading

9 September
cherylbbookblog // Living Life Free in Christ // Madeline Clark // Mary Hake

10 September
Reflections From My Bookshelves // Genesis 5020 // Faithfully Bookish // Simple Harvest Reads

11 September
Margaret Kazmierczak // All-of-a-kind Mom // Daysong Reflections // Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews

12 September
Seasons of Opportunities // Remembrancy // Inklings and notions // amandainpa

13 September
Maureen’s Musing // Locks, Hooks and Books // Just Commonly // Book by Book

14 September
Connect in Fiction // Pause for Tales // Have A Wonderful Day // Splashes of Joy

15 September
The Christian Fiction Girl // Tell Tale Book Reviews // To Everything A Season // A Baker’s Perspective

16 September
proud to be an autism mom // Bibliophile Reviews // Bigreadersite // Aryn The Libraryan

17 September
By The Book // Christian author, J.E. Grace // Janices book reviews

18 September
Texas Book-aholic // Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations // Carpe Diem

19 September
Godly Book Reviews // For The Love of Books // Live. Love. Read. // Reader’s Cozy Corner

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, New Releases, Timeslip and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Hidden Among the Stars (Melanie Dobson) – Review + Giveaway

  1. bellesmoma16 says:

    Great review! I can’t wait to read this book. It’s next up for me to read!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James Robert says:

    Thank you so much for taking time to bring to our attention another great read. I enjoy these tours and finding out about many terrific books.


  3. Jeanne says:

    I’ve read so many good things about this book. Can’t wait to read it.


  4. Winnie Thomas says:

    This is near the top of my TBR pile. I visited Hallstatt a few years ago and was completely fascinated. It’s a stunning place! I’m excited to read the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. carylkane says:

    Fabulous review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Deanne Patterson says:

    Wonderful review. I love Melanie Dobson’s books and hope to be able to read this soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MJSH says:

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jarm says:

    Oooh. This sounds like a good read. Great to be with you on Lynn Austin’s Book Launch Team!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Best of 2018: The Emoji Files, Part II – Got Me in the Feels | Fiction Aficionado

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