Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Thora Bell was born, raised, and brought up her family in the coaching inn The Bell- only to see her son die suddenly and pass the family business on to his gentlewoman wife, Jane Bell- who has seemingly never taken in interest in the inn. Jane is forced to take in interest however when she finds that her husband has left a massive loan on the books- and the bank is long past being repaid! With their livelihood, past memories, and future security on the line Jane and Thora must find a way to work together and to bring the inn back to its former glory and pay off the debt before they are left with nothing!

Two women from two very different backgrounds and lives are the highlights of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill! I cannot remember anytime recently seeing or reading a book where the two main characters were women of different generations and I loved seeing it here!

Thora is a working woman and always has been. She is steeped and invested in her family business and known for her knowledgeable running of the inn and for her sharply honest tongue. Jane is born to a life of privilege that lies far in the past with both of her parents dead and her family home being left in ruins. She is not accustomed to the life she’s been thrust into since her husband’s passing but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the mind for it, or the strong will to survive! Together Thora and Jane make an unlikely pair, but a pair that works together the harder the circumstances that surround them become!

Something I thought was really interesting about this book was the look it gave to women working in the Regency era. This isn’t a book that is puffed up on a whirlwind romance in the halls of Bath’s best balls; it is an honest look at the working class of the countryside. Women are and always have been the backbone of farm and country industry. It was neat to learn about the strong connections of how woman and business in these small towns are truly dependent on each other and work to help each other.

Another thing I liked about this book is that it isn’t primarily a romance novel. There is certainly no end of potential suitors for both of the woman in this book but it never overtakes and overshadows the main conflict of the inn’s future. Both storylines complement each other but they do not fight each other for the spotlight. With this being the first installment of Klassen’s first series I was also rather delighted that this book felt like returning to the BBC’s Cranford and getting bits and pieces of all the lives of everyone in the village! I will look forward to the story continuing to unfold and for more to be revealed about all of the characters as the series progresses!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone- even those that have never tried a Regency set book before! I was very happy reading this and am looking forward to the end of the year when the next installment will be released!

Final Rating: 5

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Book Review: The Loyal Heart

I was really excited to get into The Loyal Heart as I had enjoyed Shelley Shepard Gray’s short story that was a part of the book “Among the Fair Magnolias”. It’s not every day anymore that you get a western theme novel so I was excited to see this story set in Texas! 

This story has a really intriguing premise, Robert Truax, former Confederate Officer and war prisoner has some to Galveston to check in on the widow of his former comrade and to make sure she is comfortable and secure. What he finds when he arrives at Maranda Markham’s home turned boarding house is that everything is far from okay. Maranda is in a deep depression, her home threatened by her mother-in-law, and worse of all her husband, Philip’s, name dragged through the mud after being branded a traitor after his death.

Robert wants to honor the promise he made to Philip and the other men in his company to watch out for and care for each other after the war but he hardly knows where to start after discovering the position Maranda is in! As he begins to remedy the situation she is in he finds himself in danger of losing his heart- something that was never part of the mission!

I thought this was a nice story from start to finish. However- It really didn’t draw me in or delight me the way that the previous stories of the author that I have read and that surprised me and rather disappointed me. The story moves both quickly in the development of the characters feelings for each other, and slowly, in the way that the plot progresses. Something that was really frustrating was the repeating of information over and over again. I really don’t feel like once a detail has been revealed and explored that it’s necessary to repeat it again a few paragraphs of chapters later. Readers are intelligent and want to be pushed to explore, not talked down to and a number of times I kinda felt that way.

I would say give this book a go if you are looking for a light vacation read that doesn’t take a lot of time or concentration! 

Final Rating: 3 

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Review: Come with Me

I have really enjoyed going through this new devotional! In Susanne Eller’s “Come With Me” she focuses us into the disciples and to see who they really are, what they did, and how we can learn from them- and Jesus! Each chapter is dedicated to a single disciple and walks you through what we know, or maybe don’t know about each of them and draws out a lot of truth that took me time to digest.

The format of each chapter is laid out really nicely and has special quotes to jump out at you from the text, and header sections that break up the reading if you wanted to read a chapter over more than one day. The end of each chapter has a list of discussion questions that would be great not just for personal use, but for a small group meeting!  There is also a memory Scripture, prayer, and a section that gives you a few ideas on putting things into practice in your life.

Something that I really appreciated from the author was her transparency in writing. She shares many personal stories throughout but while sometimes those can bog down a devo book I didn’t feel there here. Rather, I felt like I was in the company of a good friend who was taking time to mentor and disciple me with things she had learned. I highlighted a great deal in this book so I could make sure I could go back and find all of my favorite parts easily!

In the final chapter of the book Eller turns the focus back to you and I as “The Thirteenth Disciple” wrapping up and challenging us to put into practice what we learned and how we will walk with Jesus in our lives.

Final Rating: 4.5

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Book Review: The Mark of the King

Whenever I run into a book with a setting or premise that I have never heard of or read before I know that book is going to come home with me! When I saw this book, “The Mark of the King” from Jocelyn Green on the bloggers list I knew I was going to be eager to read it!

This story begins in 1719 France where our heroine, midwife Julianne Chevalier, is hard at work attending a birth. Tragedy strikes and Julianne is sentenced to one of France’s most infamous prisons- and forever branded by a fleur de lis marking her as a murderer. When Julianne finds a ticket out of prison and a chance to find her brother she takes it and finds herself in a whirlwind of events that lead to her on a boat to the fledgling Louisiana colony!  

While Julianne thought she was coming to a settled colony she finds instead the swamps of New Orleans, the push and pull of Native Indian wars sponsored by the French and British, and sickness and suffering everywhere, as well as becoming a part of soldiers and settlers alike who are forced to fight the land at every turn just to live- and still there is no definite sign of her brother. Fighting many of her own personal and professional struggles, and deep personal tragedies Julianne seeks underneath it all to find redemption from the past that marks her.   

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot of the book but I was really intrigued and surprised at every turn in this book- and there are many twists and turns the author always kept me on the edge of my seat! I loved the author’s writing style and how she expressed the characters and described the scenes!  

Readers should be given slight caution that there are two or three scenes of a stronger nature in this book. They did not damper my enjoyment of the book but it may startle more sensitive readers and may be skipped over with little trouble if desired.

Though it took me a while between busy days and nights to find time to read I was very glad that I kept going with this book! I very much enjoyed it and learned a lot too about the history of Louisiana. I think it’s great when a book is able to weave a great story and help you to learn something too! In the end I enjoyed seeing Julianna find that God’s grace covers all and we are all able to start again with Him at our side.

Final Rating: 5 

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.