In the Bookcase


Book Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen (4 star review)

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill
Tales from Ivy Hill, #1

written by Julie Klassen

445 pages // published in 2016 // Christian historical fiction


First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!

On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

My Review

4 Star Rating

And so begins Julie Klassen's first series. I've only known of her to write enriching stand-alone novels, so this -- this -- is a whole new animal. Inspired by English novelists such as Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell, the reader is taken to a quaint village, Ivy Hill. Wherein we learn of its inhabitants, and whereupon the individual stories of the people who live there come to life.

Isn't the painted scene on the cover just refreshing? I would sooo love to visit Ivy Hill. What a delightful and decidedly British vacation from our modern world that would be.

I certainly enjoyed some of the subjects that the author reigned into the plot. I was rather fascinated with every mention of the Royal Mail, and most impressed with how much knowledge the author infused into the story about the hospitality of coaching inns (so many fine details are added to the story, it seems real!). I would certainly expect to visit The Bell if ever I were in the area.

Some of the topics that come up include healing from within, helping your neighbors, grief, faith, and even prejudice against business women. It covers a lot, and you learn to love each of the characters as you get to know them better.

If you're looking for the next, new series about a close-knit village, with a few secrets, some intrigue, some victories and misfortunes... and a dash of romance... then you should definitely try Tales from Ivy Hill. Even the church mice are charming.

"Dash it, woman. You know how to confound a man."

"And you know how to astound a woman."

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

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Why will we always love classic lit?

What are the reasons why you enjoy the classics?
I think these 3 reasons resonate strongly with me...

3 Reasons to Read Old Books

3 Reasons to Read Old Books

article by Mystie Winckler

"Often we want to be able to check off those classic titles simply to be able to say we read them, to have them on our reading resume, proving we are sophisticated readers or educated individuals.

But the real reason to read classics is not so that we can prove something about ourselves or so we accumulate “good reader points” on online quizzes. The real reason we should read classics is because they open our minds to experiencing life from a different perspective.

There are three ways that classic literature does this better than a modern best-seller, although any novel written by a perceptive author does help us see life through a new lens..."

— Continue reading at


Book Review: The Destiny of a Few

The Destiny of a Few by Sarah Holman (4 star review)

The Destiny of a Few
The Destiny Trilogy, #2

written by Sarah Holman

227 pages // published in 2011 // young adult Christian sci-fi


On her quest to find the crown prince, Maria Morris faces an abundance of obstacles. Now a marked Christian, it will be difficult and dangerous for her to travel. The USF follows her every move. (as the vibrating chip in her arm irritatingly reminds her.) Yet knowing all of this, Maria puts her trust in God and, with the help of a few new friends, refuses to give up her mission. She must find the crown prince. The Destiny Of A Few depends on it.

My Review

4 Star Rating

A fun sequel to The Destiny of One!

The big thing I like about this book is that the Maria Morris's destiny is growing. It's not just about her being able to complete a mission she's been given, but that she has reliable friends who also take their part in the destiny. Actually, Maria doesn't quite see it like this through some of the plot, but the reader knows. When people start getting hurt because of her actions in trying to complete the mission, her faith in the big plan falters. Her head is swimming in doubt and fright of what else might go wrong...

Let's talk about Winter. I didn't very much like the character of Winter, with whom Maria is traveling with while on Corateda. Winter thinks a bit too much of herself, throws childish fits, and often one gets the feeling that she doesn't care deeply for friends or in a real cause. Maria is unsure if Winter is going to be dedicated to the mission or not. Like I said, I, like Maria, didn't really like Winter... until we reach a very pivotal part of the story! Maria is just about to completely give up on solving the clues she has on finding the lost prince, when Winter grows up a little and actually offers encouragement in the fight. That might have just been my favorite moment.

Although, there also is the epic desert battle opposing the USF, which is another amazing moment. That was a pretty cool scene. Kudos to both Maria and Winter for being brave.

I still like the first book in the trilogy better, but this one is pretty good too. I just thought that Maria found "the thing she was after" (which shall not be named, so as not to spoil) a bit too quickly, or without her having to do much action or "looking". But the overall adventure is intriguing!

The main reason why I like reading this trilogy is because it really focuses on the plan that God has prepared for your life. It makes you think about it. We never know just what to expect, what amazing things that God has waiting for us just up ahead. Your destiny is great, just like Maria's, if you'll follow the path He has set for you.

Christian and homeschool families will love this sci-fi series.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

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Book Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (5 star review)

Beauty and the Beast

written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

34 pages // published in 1756 // children's fairy tale


Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale. Its first published version was written by the French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Ville­neuve in the mid-18th century. It was a novel-length story intended for adult readers and addressed the issues of the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose their husband or to refuse to marry.

The best-known version of the tale appeared sixteen years later. Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont simplified and shortened de Ville­neuve’s work and published it in a magazine for young ladies. The new abridged version became more successful, and Madame de Beaumont is now regarded as the author of the classic story.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Interested in reading the original 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale? I love classic literature, and it seemed to me like just the perfect time to read 'Beauty and the Beast'. Of course, there's many adaptations of this story out there, but for me, I wanted to get as close to the original source as possible -- and I recommend doing it too!

It's a short read. But an impacting one. I think there is not just one moral lesson to be found within its pages, but actually many.

Beauty has been (to some degree) imprisoned -- by a strange beast. Surprisingly he takes care of her every need or whim and is attentive to any detail. For three months the Beast asks Beauty to marry him -- every single night. And every night he receives a negative answer. Doesn't this just sound senseless for the Beast to continue? But he knows in his heart he's found the right girl. The Beast loves her, and professes he would now die without her.

Beauty is truly wise for her age and notices his many kindnesses towards her. While staying in the Beast's castle, she is well-fed, well-clothed, and becomes more well-read. She senses that in fact this Beast, though frightful in his form, actually has one of the most compassionate and considerate hearts -- more so than many of the people she knew. In her own words she thinks: "'tis a thousand pities any thing so good-natured should be so ugly." And how true, Beauty, how true.

Now, Beauty has some rather nasty sisters, who actually "rubbed their eyes with an onion, to force some tears when they parted with their sister". These sisters play a big part in the moral of the story. They hate her, but I think the real element we should be examining is why -- Beauty herself is an honest, innocent and hard-working girl. She strives to do good and find good in all situations, and this completely rubs her sisters the wrong way. At a particularly wicked moment close to the end, these sisters even come up with a plan that would potentially end in Beauty's death. Of course, I dislike the characters of Beauty's sisters, but we do need them in the story for the morals to shine brightly.

What I like (at least about this particular version) is that Beauty is portrayed as a merchant's daughter. A commoner. She's not a princess at all, not even one in disguise. You don't have to be born as a princess to have a fairy tale life.

And so, when the fairy tale is ended, what are we left with?

Compassion. Kindness. Consideration for others.

Virtue ranks higher than wealth or handsomeness.

Love sees past the ugly. Love sees the most beautiful parts.

Available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover, audiobook and e-book format.

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This is book #2 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic Published Before 1800]

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Book Review: London In The Dark // BLOG TOUR

London in the Dark blog tour

London In The Dark by Victoria Lynn (5 star review)

London In The Dark
Light of London series, #1

written by Victoria Lynn

288 pages // published in 2017 // Christian historical mystery


London, 1910

Budding Private Detective Cyril Arlington Hartwell has a conundrum. London is being ravaged by the largest run of thefts in recent history. His hunch that it is all tied together may put him and those he loves in more danger than he could have reckoned.

Olivia Larken Hartwell is just home from boarding school for the summer anticipating time with her adoring parents.She misses her absent brother, Cyril, hoping for the day he will finally come home. But tragedy strikes, causing upheaval for all concerned and changes her life in a way she never could have imagined.

Olivia, Cyril, and their friends must bring the hidden to light, seek to execute justice, and dispel the darkness that hovers over London… and their hearts.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Debut author Victoria Lynn has spun us a reverberating detective story straight from the streets of London 1910.

First off, (it has to be mentioned)... Obviously the author is a Sherlock Holmes fan! Other Holmesians, just like myself, will notice all the fine details interwoven into the story that are inspired by The Great Detective himself. Many times I thought to myself, "I wonder if the author meant to have this-or-that to resemble this-or-that from the original stories?" And the answer is probably yes for all my questions.

The setting is perfect. Victorian England, complete with all the right social customs, and overall well-written historical environment that seemed accurate to the time period for me. Nailed it.

The plot was intriguing, and I found a couple of really good passages in which I relished a good laugh at. Dudley is probably my favorite character (the Watson-type friend in the story). He's just a good egg and hangs in there for the long run. Cyril comes off as a bit cold (but what kind of Holmes-type character doesn't?). To quote from the book: "He enjoyed the unusual and wanted to be able to choose his jobs." Honestly, I didn't really connect well with Cyril (and I usually love the type of character he portrayed in the plot), but it was not to be this time for me. Now, to discuss Olivia, Cyril's sister. I deeply felt for this girl -- not to give away a key turning point in the plot, but she goes through a huge amount of grief and sorrow. Her faith stood out though, and one prayer in particular really resonated with me. She whispers these words to her Savior: "Help me, help me to say that I bless you, even in this darkness, even when it's so hard." Also, I rather fell in love with Olivia's pets. It's not too often you meet a character who truly enjoys spending time with her wide assortments of animals, and it was rather cute to read about.

There is a quality Christian theme running throughout the plot. It definitely wasn't an afterthought to have the religious element into the plot, because it's so natural for it to be there. I truly appreciate how the author added it in, because I felt like the faith element is really the glue to the whole story, and I probably wouldn't have liked the book as much without it.

I like that there didn't have to be a romance in order for the story to be interesting. I get aggravated a lot when just about every book you pick up is more or less a romance novel (even in disguise). This one stands in the gap though. A good mystery, plus some stirring drama or emotion, is all you really need for a clincher.

Who would enjoy it? Well, anyone up for a good Victorian mystery, I'd say. I could even recommend it for some kids/teens. Just as a caution, there is some violence (including some gunshots) and vaguely mentioning drinking/smoking. Still, I'd consider it a "clean" read. And an enjoyable one too.

Want to win the book? If you're on Goodreads, make sure to enter your name in this giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

London In The Dark by Victoria Lynn

London In The Dark

by Victoria Lynn

Giveaway ends March 17, 2017.

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at Goodreads.

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Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she's not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

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