Cover Image: Count the Nights by Stars

Count the Nights by Stars

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Member Reviews

This dual timeline, Christian historical fiction novel was engaging from the start.  I really enjoyed learning about these time periods of Nashville history, especially about the Maxwell House Hotel.  There was a romance plot line, but it wasn’t the sole focus, which I greatly appreciated.  It was a real treat to read this, my first Michelle Shocklee book, and I am looking forward to checking out some of the other books she has written.

Thanks go to NetGalley and Tyndale House for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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It's not a romance, even though it has minor romantic subplots.

This is a split time novel between 1897 and 1961, centered around the Maxwell House Hotel, which I'd never heard of (only the coffee).

I liked both settings: the excitement of the state centennial and the exposition, including the hotel's grandeur, and then decades later, the residents and what the hotel means to them.

I also liked the two main characters, Priscilla and Audrey, and their different strengths.

I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.
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The writing style is good, the storytelling not too bad, but I just could not get into this book, It’s due to two main reasons. Knowing that Priscilla was going to end up a lonely recluse for two decades  in her old age just did not inspire me to read about her life when she was young. It’s just too depressing. Secondly, the focus on the Maxwell  House Hotel and the Exposition did not interest me that much.

So, not really a book for me, though possibly of interest to those who would like to read about  the local history of the area.
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This dual-timeline novel takes us to Nashville, Tennessee in both 1897 and 1961. In 1961, Audrey Whitfield is home from college after the death of her mother. She is helping out her grief-stricken father at the historic Maxwell House Hotel. While cleaning out the room of an elderly guest who has had a stroke, she finds a scrapbook of mementos from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Hints of a long-ago romance, and possible evidence of the disappearance of young women at the exposition, start Audrey on an investigation into Nashville’s past. In 1897, Priscilla Nichols is staying at the Maxwell House Hotel and exploring the Tennessee Centennial Exposition with her driver, Luca Moretti, until a disappearance changes everything.

This captivating story takes us to the exposition as it begins in 1897. The descriptions of the shining exhibits at Exposition Park make you feel as if you are there. Through the wealthy Priscilla and the working-class immigrant Gia, we see the oppression of women of the time in different ways. The haughty privilege and power seized and abused by the rich are also portrayed, and are shocking to behold. In 1961, Audrey learns more about the American civil rights movement through Jason, who wants to be a civil rights attorney. The reader learns the history of the movement and is told of lunch counter sit-ins and the Freedom Riders, fighting for equality against the evil Jim Crow laws. In 1897, when the disappearance occurs and the mystery begins, it is shocking and compelling. Audrey and Priscilla unravel elements of this secret in two timelines. At the same time, shadowy figures from the upper class try to interfere. Rich in history and mystery, Count the Nights by Stars is a novel that will teach and inspire.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine.  My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
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Just like in the heart-felt, memorable novel, Under the Tulip Tree, the author takes readers to a moving and emotional time. This dual timeline story has readers experience the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, up close and personal through the eyes of, Priscilla Nichols twenty-five-year-old, whose father has spent lots of time and money on the celebration. Priscilla’s parents are concerned about this gathering and hire Luca and his sister Gia Moretti to be her guide throughout the festivities. Priscilla begins to see things she’s never noticed before.

Readers then get to know Audrey Whitfield in 1961. She’s a young lady grieving the death of her mother. She has put her plans on hold to help her father out at the Maxwell Hotel, at the same time caring for her special needs brother Emmett. He’s just witnessed an older woman collapse on the floor of a stroke. He runs to his sister for help.

While the woman is in the hospital recovering, Audrey and her friend Jason, helps sort out her things. It’s then they come across a fascinating scrap book that includes love letters to and from “Peaches” and “Luca” Both are intrigued by the letters, this love story, and the mystery behind it all. They want to know more (so did I).

Jason and Audrey read a story about six young immigrant women that disappeared during the exposition. No foul play is suspected and there is no investigation. Audrey says, “How could the police assume that there was no foul play? Six or more women gone, just like that. Their families or friends were obviously worried and reported them missing otherwise the newspaper wouldn’t have picked up the story.” So, the drama unfolds.

I loved learning about the Maxwell Hotel, and all that went into celebrating the 1897 Tennessee Centennial. I liked the sensitivity in which the author handled Audrey’s disabled brother, Emmett, and the human trafficking situation. She does a compelling job of shining light into the grim subject of human trafficking. It’s an eye opener! 

This moving story is rich in history, filled with intrigue, great relatable, mysterious characters, with a few surprising twists, turns and tender scenes that leave you teary-eyed. This book is a must-read, for yourself and for book club!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
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"Count your nights by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears" Italian proverb

Congratulations to Michelle Shocklee for publishing her novel Count the Nights by Stars. With its dreamy cover and lyrical title, I hoped this would be an immersive reading experience, and it was!

This dual timeline historical novel is set in Nashville at the historic Maxwell House Hotel and centers around the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. In one storyline, the characters experience the excitement of the Expo in real time. Readers primarily see it through the eyes of Priscilla Nichols, only child of a socially elite family. While attending the Expo, she experiences far more, both thrilling and horrifying, than she could have imagined, and the people she meets alters the course of her life.

The second timeline is set in 1961. Audrey Whitfield, daughter of the Maxwell House Hotel manager, agrees to pack up the possessions of a reclusive long-term resident who suffered a stroke and is unable to return. While packing boxes, she discovers a unique scrapbook overflowing with ephemera from the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition which captivates her attention, especially as it includes newspaper articles about prostitution and several never-mailed postcards addressed to Luca and signed by Peaches. When a handsome young hotel guest assists Audrey to explore the history of the Expo and the scrapbook items, their investigation goes in unexpected directions.

I was completely captivated by both storylines in this novel. Through Ms. Shocklee's descriptive writing, I could picture the settings in my mind, especially the grand scope of the Maxwell House Hotel and the excitement, excess, and chaos of the Expo. And I was very intrigued by the wide array of characters, from sincere Luca, and Emmett, a secondary character with developmental disabilities, to rich people behaving badly, The author's note shares the novel's theme of "I see you" which was meaningfully illustrated through three key characters in very different ways.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley for the review copy.
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** “That is our mission, dear. To see people for who they are beneath the pain. Beneath the sin. To see them as God sees them: a beautiful creation, with plans and purposes only he knows.” **

Michelle Shocklee delivers an incredible dual-timeline story with “Count the Nights by Stars.”

Told during two timeframes — the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition and the Christmas season of 1961 — “Count the Nights by Stars” centrally revolves around the historic Maxwell House Hotel and its residents.

In 1897, Priscilla Nichols travels with her family to Nashville to celebrate the state’s historic centennial celebration. While there, 25-year-old Priscilla comes into her own person while meeting Italian immigrants and siblings Luca and Gia Moretti. While there, she also comes to realize the plight of young, disadvantaged women and how they are abused and placed into disreputable situations. 

In 1961, Audrey Whitfield is still reeling from her mother’s death. When a resident at the historic hotel, which is now a long-term residential hotel where her father is manager, suffers a stroke, Audrey is introduced to the Centennial Exposition while going through her belongings. When she finds letters between “Peaches” and “Luca,” Audrey is intrigued to dig into their romantic story.

As the two women’s stories come together, both women learn to see the real “you” in a person — Priscilla with women in questionable situations and Audrey inspired by her brother with special needs, as well as Audrey’s new friend Jason who is a champion for civil rights.

Shocklee does an incredible job of creating two beautiful yet intriguing plots, all while brilliantly weaving together the two storylines. She develops great characters that are highly likable and relatable. She also fills “Count the Nights by Stars” with some great themes, like morning always comes; a new day is full of blessings waiting to be discovered; tomorrow isn’t always promised; we should help change things for the better; God’s ways aren’t always our ways (“The book of Isaiah says God’s ways are not our ways, that his ways are higher. I think what that means is we aren’t meant to understand the whys of everything. We’re simply asked to trust in the One who does”); fighting injustice (“She wasn’t satisfied to sit on the sidelines. She got out there and did something about the injustices she saw. Seems like the world would be a better place if we all did our part, you know?”); and caring for the least of these.

This book reminds us to “Count your nights by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears.”

Fans of dual-timeline stories, historical fiction and series like the “Doors to the Past” series will love “Count the Nights by Stars.”

Five stars out of five. 

Tyndale House Publishers provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.
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A very well written split time novel.  The two story lines are woven seamlessly together.   If you enjoy historical books I recommend this book.  My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance ebook.  This is my unbiased review.
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Thank you Net Galley for the ARC of this book. This story of two women who live in the same hotel is told in duel timelines. Both women go through life experiences that cause them to realize their independence and strength. I found the characters to be relatable and likable. I enjoyed learning more about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, an event I had no prior knowledge of, and I felt like I could imagine the excitement of the event.

The author did a good job of creating the historical setting, but there are some historical references, such as descriptions of items from the era and policies that existed in that time period, that felt forced as if the author needed to prove her research abilities and justify her writing. This caused the story to drag in the middle for me. 

Overall, I enjoyed Count the Nights by Stars, but I think it would benefit from being edited down to come to the conclusion sooner.
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"That is our mission, dear. To see people for who they are beneath the pain. Beneath the sin. To see them as God sees them: a beautiful creation, with plans and purposes only he knows."

Count the Nights by Stars is a gripping split-time novel, bringing Nashville history to life in both the 1890s and 1960s. The iconic Maxwell House hotel plays a role in both timelines, as does the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Both Priscilla and Audrey are strong, compelling heroines - both coming to terms with their places in their families and their purpose in life. The story also shines a light on the dark subject of human trafficking in a powerful, eye-opening way. If you are looking for a poignant story that is rich with history, heartbreak, and hope, you have found it in Count the Nights by Stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee is a dual time line Christian story that takes place in 1897 during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and 1961 at the Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel. Resident Priscilla Nichols suffers a stroke and will not be returning to the hotel. The hotel manager’s daughter, Audrey, is boxing up Priscilla’s belongings when she runs across a scrapbook.

This is an easy to read story that is actually two romance stories in one. It is wonderfully written and kept me reading it to find out what happened in 1897.

This is a fun to read story that is based on actually places in our history. It is evident the author has done research to write this wonderful story. I enjoyed the similarities between Priscilla and Audrey with the strength they each had and how they devoted their time to helping others in need. They both lost someone important to them, but went on to help others. It was sad to read of the declining conditions of such an important hotel, yet they continued important events like the Christmas dinner. This story does touch on prostitution and human trafficking.

I voluntarily received a complimentary copy of this story from Tyndale Publishing through NetGalley, this is my honest review.
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I love a good dual timeline story and Count the Night by Stars is just that with each part of the story blending so well together. I often find myself drawn to one or the other of the stories in a dual timeline but I loved both of these. Michelle Shocklee has written such beautiful characters. This was not a quick read and some of it heavy but a beautiful story just the same. I loved Priscilla and Luca and their relationship. I was captivated by the quote the title comes from “Count your night by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears.” I knew nothing of the Nashville Centennial Exposition of 1897 so that history was interesting, and I really enjoyed the historical facts included about the Maxwell House Hotel. This was the first time I have read this author, but it won’t be my last. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House for the opportunity to read and review.
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An enjoyable dual timeline novel that readers of historical fiction will be sure to enjoy.  This was a new to me author and I look forward to her other books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
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Michelle Shocklee has penned a beautifully written, but intense dual-timeline—one that shattered my emotions like a broken mirror—the shards of which I never could completely recover. 

Beginning at the Maxwell House Hotel in 1960 Nashville and alternating between the exciting Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, we meet two heroines who become connected by a mysterious scrapbook. A scrapbook hinting at a forbidden, all consuming love, the disappearance of young women at the exposition, & an enigmatic character dubbed "Peaches."

I enjoyed learning about the wondrous exhilarating month long event full of fun and frolic, but obscured by a darkness too deep to fathom. You will meet the handsome and honorable, Luca, his beautiful sister, Gia—and the wealthy woman he dares to fall in love with—whilst another romance is brewing later at the Maxwell House Hotel (pardon my pun!) 

The haunting realities in this novel were emotionally hard to read and many times my eyes were filled with unshed tears, but oh, the lessons learned as each character evolves by the grace of God. Count the Nights by Stars literally kept me up burning the midnight oil—it was just that good.

“Count your nights by stars, not shadows.  Count your life with smiles, not tears." Luca

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.*
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Beautifully written time slip novel set at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and early 1960s. Priscilla proves to be an amazing woman with a very interesting past.   Love the descriptions of the Expo! Readers will be able to capture the excitement of the historic event through the characters. Tough subject matter but handled well. I loved seeing Audrey grow as she dove into Priscilla's life to uncover an unexpected ending. Highly recommended!
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When I hear Maxwell House, my mind immediately thinks coffee! A timeline read between 1897 to 1961 centered in Nashville Tennessee at the Historic Maxwell House.

This is a beautifully crafted Christian read, that will quickly have you page turning! We get to attend the Tennessee Centennial Exposition with the gift of a scrap book, and through this we follow the lives of two strong women.

We are given some sweet romance, a look at those whom were born with the silver spoon, and also a dark side of human trafficking, along with a past meeting present in this great book!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.
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This dual time novel is an interesting trip to the Tennessee Centennial Exhibition in 1897. Descriptions of the Exhibition Grounds pull the reader into a world of extravagance, where no expense was spared in creating models of world famous attractions. And the renowned hotel, Maxwell House Hotel (famous for their coffee brand), is just as magnificent in its description.

During the exhibition, immigrant women go missing – including Priscilla Nichols’s lady’s maid Gia. Concerned over the fate of these girls, Priscilla is determined to rescue as many as can be found.

In 1961 the Maxwell has lost its grandeur and appeal as a short term hotel option for visitors. There are sixty long-term residents who live there. Audrey is the daughter of the proprietor. When Miss Nichols is found unresponsive in her bed, Audrey begins the long task of packing up the woman’s things. And while she does, she uncovers a mystery involving the Centennial Exhibition and their tenant.

The characters are likeable, especially Luca Morretti the older brother of Gia, and Priscilla’s love interest. There are just as many despicable characters, such as Kenton. 

I especially appreciated the reference to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, as they were quite active in 1897. The author introduces readers to issues outside of temperance and suffrage the WCTU was quite involved with, such as prostitution and lobbying the government to raise the age of consent from 10 years old to 18.

The connection between the past and present is quite clear, and refreshing to have a character that is presented in both storylines. The mystery surrounds the missing girls from the Exhibition. A fun twist is added to the end which ties up both stories with a neat little bow.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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I adore historical fiction, and this is such an interesting premise. I recommend because of the story itself, writing style, and its ability to transport you into a different world/time period.
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Really enjoyed this book. Both time periods were engaging and I loved learning some Nashville history. Full review coming at
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This was a most anticipated book for me.
I wasn't disappointed not by far.
Lots of good things in this book along with the spiritual messages. My favorite thing of course. 
The true message and theme of this book could be a reminder for us all in real life.  The world would be a much better place in my opinion. 
I finished this book in one day because it was so good!
5 stars for a well written story and unforgettable characters. 
The dual time line was awesome too of course.  
I used to not like them because they confused me at times but now I do. I love seeing how they wrap up into one.
I admired Audra and Priscilla very much.  Their strength and endurance are amazing. 
I enjoyed their journey and I learned a lot!
The descriptions the author writs made me feel like I was along for the ride. 
Thank you for another wonderful story.  I didn't want to put it down.  I was sad when it ended. 
My thanks for a copy of this book. I  was NOT required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own
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