The Ladies of Ivy Cottage: A Review


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The Ladies of Ivy Cottage


From the Back Cover

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood…somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she’s inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel’s hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what-or whom-has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

My Review

I really enjoyed this second book in Julie Klassen’s Tales from Ivy Hill. While I felt it was a bit slow to start, it was a very satisfying read. This book picks up where the first book,  The Inn Keeper of Ivy Hill leaves off.  In fact, I suggest reading the first book first.  It has been awhile since I read the first book and it took me a bit to remember and connect the characters again. In fact, this book is full of characters. I almost needed a guide at the beginning of the book to help me sort through them. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage tells the story of three main characters, Jane Bell (the focus of book one), Rachel Ashford, and Mercy Grove. Even though Rachel’s story seems to be the focus of this book, there are many chapters devoted to Mercy and Jane.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage reminds me so much of my favorite BBC, Masterpiece, and PBS shows. This book is not for the reader who needs instant gratification though. Because the story continues from book one, and all plot lines are yet to be resolved in this second book, a little patience is required, I appreciate the longevity of this series. I am found of Klassen’s characters and I become invested in their stories!  Fans of other village series books like Jan Karon’s Mitford series or the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford will certainly enjoy the Tales from Ivy Hill.

I am a long time fan of Julie Klassen. In fact, I have read every novel she has written.  Although The Ladies of Ivy Hill is not my favorite, it is definitely worth reading. I requested a review copy from the book’s publisher, Bethany House. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

My Favorites

My favorite titles from Julie Klassen include the following: The Painter’s Daughter, The Secret of Pembrooke Park,  and The Girl in the Gatehouse





New from Laura Frantz!!


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the lacemaker


From the Back Cover

Lady Elizabeth ”Liberty” Lawson has nearly everything a lady of her position could want. Daughter of the British lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony and a darling of fine society in a rugged land, she is anticipating an advantageous marriage. That her betrothal is a rake and love is lacking is of little consequence- or she tells herself.

Though her own life seems in order, colonial Williamsburg is a powder keg on the verge of exploding, and her fiancé’s cousin, Noble Rynallt carries the flame of the revolution in his heart. Those with connections to the British nobility are suspected as spies, and Liberty  soon finds herself left with a terrible choice. Will she stay true to her English roots? Or side with Noble and the radical revolutionaries?

My Thoughts

I was so thrilled to receive a copy of the Lacemaker in the mail this week! I simply loved it in every way. Laura Frantz tells an unforgettable story, rich in history with vivid characters and perhaps my favorite heroine yet! The story unfolds in perfect tempo, with enough turns and twists to keep you up late reading! I loved that Liberty fought for her own independence as the story unfolded. The hero of the story, Noble Rynallt, could not have been better suited for this revolutionary tale.

Many years ago, I stumbled upon Laura Frantz’s first book, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, in my local library. For me, it was love at first read. I have a short list of favorites, and Frantz is at the top! The Lacemaker is Frantz at her best! You do not want to miss this book!  As a side note, I live in Fredericksburg, Virginia, not far from Williamsburg. This book was especially thrilling to read because I know the places in it so well. Thank you Laura Frantz for another piece of perfect historical fiction!

I requested a copy of The Lacemaker from its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. I would have purchased this book had I not received a copy because Laura Frantz is my favorite! All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

About the Author

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA best-selling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, A Moonbow Night, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at

A Long Awaited New Release!


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The Sound of Rain


After reading Sarah Loudin Thomas’ new book, The Sound of Rain, I find myself ready for a part two! There must be a part two! It has been a long time since I have had the joy of reading a new book from Thomas. I can only hope she is already half finished with the next chapter of this story.

The Sound of Rain is about a West Virginia coal miner, Judd Markley, who survives a near death experience in the bowels of the mountain. He suffers a great loss that leaves him determined to live a different life. Judd finds his way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…a stark contrast to his prior existence. It is there he meets the lovely Larkin and begins work as a lumber jack for a timber company.  Both Judd and Larkin are seeking their meant to be life and the thing they were put on this earth to do.  The struggles and triumphs of Judd and Larkin make this book a good read! I highly recommend all of Sarah Loudin Thomas’ novels. I am hoping she continues this story by finding a soul mate for Larkin’s brother, Ben. It would make for a great story!

I am an avid reader of Christian Fiction, but have found after reading countless novels that only a few gifted storytellers exist. I would count Thomas as one of those gifted storytellers. Don’t miss this book or any other title by Sarah Loudin Thomas. I requested this book to review from Bethany House Fiction. I am not required to give a positive review. I have not been been compensated and all opinions are my own.

New From Ann Voscamp!


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Be The Gift


I can’t think of a current author who challenges me with words on paper  (or on screen) more than Ann Voscamp. Her newest release is Be The Gift and is filled with selections from her best seller, The Broken Way.  With the Thanksgiving month upon us and Christmas right behind it, this book is a beautiful reminder to walk in kindness, generosity, and love. We can bring hope, love, healing and grace to those around us if we will open our eyes to the needs in front of us.

In her moving introduction Ann says, “The thrilling secret beyond all suffering is that even- especially- in that place of suffering, we can become God’s gift to others, and we can taste the actual goodness of his abundance.”  And, “Even the smallest seeds of kindness can begin to break the worst kind of brokenness.”  What follows is a challenge, through Ann’s personal reflection and narrative, to be the gift.  I love all of it and need this reminder that God can use all of us to be the miracle our neighbors, strangers, and friends are thirsting for. As Ann compels us to action, she reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect to participate.

Also included in this beautiful book is a list of ideas to be the gift today, and some really cute gift tags to include with the plate of warm cookies or flowers. I feel like this book would be the perfect read to launch you into a less exhausting holiday season. There is so much wisdom and love in this book! I requested a review copy from the publisher and BookLookBloggers. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have not been compensated in any way other than the joy received from reading a great book.

New Devotional from Liz Curtis Higgs!


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31 Proverbs


I love this new devotional by best selling author Liz Curtis Higgs. It is a very practical, simple, and useable 31 chapter book. Higgs walks through 31 Proverbs as a guide, teacher, and friend. She also challenges us to one simple reflection or task to that applies or highlights the Proverb in each chapter called One Minute, One Step. I found these to be enjoyable and effective.

One of my favorite chapters of 31 Proverbs To Light Your Path is Chapter 17 Smart Money.  Liz walks us through Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver.” She points out that thieves can steal your money but not your wisdom. I loved her personal story in this chapter about her new raincoat. I could so see myself in this story! She ends the chapter with a brief prayer asking God to teach her to value what He values. In her One Minute, One Step, Liz encourages us to quickly go through our closets and find an item we haven’t worn in a long time. Then, try it on and if it doesn’t fit donate it to a favorite charity shop. Again, this book is very practical and good for the soul.

I first became acquainted with Liz Curtis Higgs when I read her retelling of Ruth, Mine is the Night.  It quickly became one of the books I recommend the most to friends who are looking for a good read. I know you will enjoy this book just as much. I requested a review copy from Bloggingforbooks because i knew I would enjoy it. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. I have not been compensated.

Do Not Miss This One!


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church of the small things


I read somewhere between thirty and fifty books a year. Some I barely get through, others I like enough to give away to a friend, and I genuinely love only a few. Church of the Small Things falls in the LOVE category without a doubt.  Melanie Shankle is hilarious, and I feel like we might be long-lost friends. I laughed so much reading this book, much to the chagrin of my trying to sleep husband.

Church of the Small Things is a memoir type book with reflection sprinkled throughout.  Even if memoir isn’t your thing, this book will be. My favorite few lines I highlighted I might just frame and hang somewhere I will be sure to see often. Melanie says in her introduction:

“A life is not made from one thing, one big moment, or one huge success. It’s created moment by moment, often with pieces that don’t look like anything beautiful on their own but are the very fabric of who God meant for us to become as we pack lunches, raise kids, love our neighbors, and simply be who he created us to be – nothing more, nothing less.”

It would be a mistake to have you believe this entire book is that serious. It totally isn’t. However, it reaffirmed for me the importance of the people around me. How I should love them fiercely, and treasure them while they are here.  Also, that dreams are worth chasing, and friendship is worth the investment.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher and BookLookBloggers. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t disclose that I sought this book out. I knew I wanted to read it and so i went hunting. I was not compensated and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Book of Amazing Stories


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The Book of Amazing Stories


The Book of Amazing Stories is a 90 day devotion book filled with stories about people who have had an impact on the world.  I have read all of the devotions in the book, because I am a sucker for a good story…and there are many to be found in The Book of Amazing Stories by Robert Petterson.

Each day, Petterson tells the story of a memorable person from past. In each person’s story, there is a surprising turn or unexpected twist. I enjoyed the unknown stories of some people I knew and others I wasn’t familiar with at all. The days are numbered, but not dedicated to specific days.  At just a few pages in length, the daily devotion can be read in just a few minutes.

My favorite story Petterson tells is that of  Nellie Clyde Wilson. It is actually the first daily reading in the book! In fact, the first story is what made me interested in reading the book. Not every story is as riveting as the first, but I was I found each of the 90 interesting and inspiring.

This book would make an excellent graduation gift, stocking stuffer, or a gift for an employee.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give an honest review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

My Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year!


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Daring to hope


For the first time in a long time, I ran for a highlighter while reading a book. Typically, I try to preserve the new look of book I read so that I may pass it on to a friend when I am finished. I read so many titles in a year, I can’t imagine keeping them all….unless I really love it.  I am keeping Daring to Hope, with its dog-eared, highlighted pages to reread and reference. It is refreshing, impacting, and perspective changing.

A few years ago, I worked at a Lifeway Christian Store during the holiday seasons.  During any slow times, I would straighten books and flip through any that looked interesting.  It is here that I first discovered a girl named Katie Davis in her first book  Kisses From Katie.  I was blown away by the testimony of this young, beautiful girl who relocated to Uganda to care for orphans. Since then, I have kept up with her story on social media. This new book, Daring to Hope, offers so much insight into serving, suffering, and as Katie says, singing in the dark.

In the chapter, Come to Life, I found a particular reflection that I made a point to underline. Katie says, “Our God is not too big for the small and is glorified in our ordinary moments as we invite Him in.  When I invite Him into my tiny and ordinary moments, even mundane moments become extraordinary. Small acts of love become whispers of His glory in the midst of our everydayness. ” For a mom with a lot of everyday, ordinary moments, this statement struck a chord with me.

Daring to Hope is a must read for anyone who has been through some rough times and needs a little encouragement. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to read this book. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give it a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

Unseen by Sara Hagerty


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A repost from a friend on Instagram led me to discover Sara Hagerty and her gift with words. I love this book and its holy message. Unseen challenged me in a way that I haven’t been in a very long time. Hagerty challenges me to waste time on Jesus, and to enjoy all the hidden parts of lie. As the front cover suggests, hiddeness is a gift.

Unseen addresses a heart issue that is truly new to this generation of women: “…being hidden, in a world that loves to be noticed.” Our lives are lived out loud through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Everyones’ highlight reel plays before our eyes as our thumbs flip through post after post. It becomes difficult to believe that our everyday mundane lives matter. Hagerty challenges us to see that it is in our hidden moments that we develop a relationship with Jesus.

Throughout Unseen, Sara Hagerty focuses on the story of Mary of Bethany in the book of Mark from the Bible.  Mary was ridiculed for breaking a bottle of expensive perfume and pouring it on Jesus’ feet.  Throughout Unseen, Sara points back to the story and how what many saw as waste, was truly an expression of love.  In chapter one Sara writes,

“Mary has eyes for one. Her motives were oriented toward Him. She wasn’t driven to His feet by accolades, and she stayed despite criticism. What she cultivated with this man, Jesus, in the quiet and ordinary became her greatest expression. This is radical love, according to Jesus.”

After reading Unseen, I feel like I have been given a new perspective. Being seen, noticed, or having a platform are not the goal of this life. A relationship with Jesus, a life oriented toward him is the ultimate gift.  I encourage you to put to this book at the top of your list. As soon as I started reading, I instantly thought of friends I wanted to have a copy.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher. No positive review was required and I have not been compensated.

So Close to Amazing~ KariAnne Wood


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so close to amazing


Hands down, this book was the most unexpected surprise of the summer. For starters, I had never actually heard of author, blogger, KariAnne Wood until I saw a friends repost of one of her Instagram posts. A few clicks later, I couldn’t wait to read her book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be fantastic, and I was right!

KariAnne Wood tells the story of her family’s move from Texas to Kentucky in So Close To Amazing. Her story is about their move, making new friends, and the renovation of a truly amazing farm-house that I am pretty sure I would like to buy! After reading So Close to Amazing, I am certain KariAnne and I would be best friends. She is hilarious, genuine, and an original. She is the kind of woman I admire.  Not only did I retell some of her stories to my husband so he could laugh too (about blueberry pancakes..and a pot roast), but I also found myself inspired to furnish my sparse house in more creative ways.

My list of favorite books from this year is unusually short this year, but So Close to Amazing definitely has a spot at the top.  It is unlike any book I have read and I absolutely loved it! You can find more from KariAnne Wood on her blog  I requested a copy of KariAnne’s book from Tyndale House publishers. I was not required to give this book a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.