Wednesday, December 28, 2016
The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen was a fascinating novel of a young woman who inherited a struggling inn after the death of her husband and had no idea how to run it. I liked the setting of the small village and the inner workings of the inn and everyone worked together to try to improve it. I thought the plot moved at a slow but steady pace, and it contained a couple different romance storylines that ran simultaneously. I liked how this story was really about Thora's change of heart/attitude while Jane's story is just beginning and will continue as the series goes on. Rachel and other minor characters also had chapters dedicated to what was happening in their lives, which I also think is setting the stage for the rest of the series. While I liked seeing what was happening in the entire village, it did cause the story to drag out a little bit, especially when there was only resolution to Thora's story and not the other ones. However, I am interested to see how the story of this village to continues to unfold in the following novels.
Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.
Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.
In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.
Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.
The Illusionist's Apprentice was a fascinating novel, expertly woven with fiction and true facts from the 1920's era. The plot line was well written and contained a good mixture of mystery, danger, romance, tragedy, and redemption. I was definitely shocked by who the perpetrator was, as well as the reasons for their actions. The settings were characteristic of the times, and I really felt like I was immersed in the time period. The themes of the novel were clear cut and thought provoking. I really liked the main characters; they were complex and well developed, and both had their share of secrets and weaknesses. I liked how Elliot and Wren learned to trust again and to depend on their faith in God instead of building walls around themselves. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I would highly recommend The Illusionist's Apprentice.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle's newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don't seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies' pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She'd be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.
Deputy Joel Puckett didn't want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.
For the Record by Regina Jennings was an intriguing and sweet read that included a well written mixture of romance, disappointment, mystery, and intrigue. The plot line was well developed, entertaining, and had me unable to put the book down. This book is the third in the Ozark Mountain Romance series, but it can be read alone as the other book characters are only briefly mentioned in this novel. However, having already read the other two novels, I was excited to see Betsy get her own novel. I really like her character, and I was both entertained by her whimsical nature and her vivid imagination and saddened with her when her choices caused her problems later on. I also liked Joel Puckett, and I enjoyed seeing Betsy and Joel learn and grow from their mistakes. I thought the mystery in the novel was suspenseful, and I liked seeing how the community came together in the end. Overall I highly enjoyed this novel, and I hope it is not the last of this series!
I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?
Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions. . .the kinds that make her a target for a killer.
Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?
Finding Margo was a sweet and entertaining read that I devoured in a day. I have read all of Jen Turano's novels, but this was the first one I read that was set in modern times. It was a murder mystery of sorts, and it definitely contained many twists and turns. The characters were interesting and had both serious and hilarious moments. However, I felt that Jen Turano's almost quirky and amusing style that I enjoy immensely is better suited for her previous novel settings. It seemed a little forced at times and detracted a little from the storyline in the modern setting. Also the romance was a little more rushed than in her previous books which made the relationship seem less realistic. Overall though, I liked the tie-in with the Amish community, and the murder mystery/abduction element was interesting as well. While it was just not my favorite Jen Turano novel, I look forward to reading the next couple of novels in this new series.
I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Monday, December 19, 2016
When her mother's ill-conceived marriage trap goes awry, Lady Adelaide Bell unwittingly finds herself bound to a stranger who ignores her. Lord Trent Hawthorne, who had grand plans to marry for love, is even less pleased with the match. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?
An Uncommon Courtship was a sweet and entertaining novel about Trent Hawthorne and his new wife Adelaide. Their marriage was forced upon them by circumstances, but they both learn how to treat the other with respect and eventually with love as well. I enjoyed seeing how Trent's brother and other godly, male friends came along side him and helped him to understand what it means to be a godly husband while at the same time Adelaide is learning from his sisters and mother how to be a godly wife. I loved the awkward situations between Trent and his brother, and I also enjoyed seeing how Adelaide and Trent acclimated to each other's eccentricities. Overall, I highly enjoyed the storyline and characters in this novel and how they link back to the previous Hawthorne novels.
Friday, December 16, 2016
With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis.With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.
Pursuing Gold by Cynthia L Simmons was an interesting read and had a good mixture of romance, suspense, and mystery. The chapters were very short and the book as a whole was a quick read, but the tone and style made the novel very slow paced at the same time. I had trouble getting involved in the storyline at times due to this combination of features. Peter and Mary Beth were well developed characters, but I had trouble connecting with them and their relationship seemed forced at times. However, the book did seem to be well researched, and it was interesting to experience different aspects of the Civil War, such as banking and Tennessee politics, than your typical Civil War novel.
Overall, I found this novel to be an easy read, and once I was able to get engaged in the story, it was also an interesting historical read as well.
I received this book from Litfuse Blogging Group in exchange for an honest review.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
What’s in a name?
Experiencing God Through His Names is a wonderful journey into the beauty and variety of God's names and what can happen we begin to behold the awesome nature of who God is. I love how this book comes with an insightful bookmark that describes the difference aspects of our identity in Christ on one side, with Scriptural references that back up each statement. And then on the other side, it contrasts Satan's lies about our identity with Biblical truths about who God sees when He looks at us. It was such an awesome reminder of who God is and who we really are in Him. The book itself is split into 31 days, and each day explores a different name of God. Sheryl usually begins the day with a short, often personal story that relates to the attribute being discussed. She then describes the name of God and then looks at Scriptures that illustrate the specific name. Finally, she ends with a prayer praising God for his character and what it means to her. Overall, I found this devotional to be moving and convicting as I thought about the different names of God and how that should affect how I view God and my relationship with Him.
I received this book for reviewing purposes from Litfuse Publicity.