In the Bookcase

8.16.2017

My Top 5 Most Interesting #SUMMER Reads

Ruffles and Grace blog party!!

Blogger Victoria Lynn (whose online home is found at Ruffles and Grace) is hosting a big blog party. She has a lot of fun things happening on her blog, so be sure to check it out this week. Sooo... I've been invited to join in the fun for her BOOK DAY!

What a joy it is to be ASKED to talk about BOOKS!

So, here at In The Bookcase we're going to talk about our best reads of the summer. I hope you've squeezed in some fun titles and made summer 2017 a good one for the books.

Here's a peek at what intriguing literary gems that my eyes have been feasting on... and I want to hear from YOU too! Here's 5 books that I've been totally engrossed in during these hot summer days.


Tarissa's Top 5 2017 Summer Reads


Let's start at the top!


#1. The Magnolia Story
by Chip & Joanna Gaines

One of my favorite reads all YEAR long, not just from my summer reads. This Fixer Upper couple has been through a lot in order to have a successful business... and it's a beautiful (and inspiratinal) ride to read about. I definitely recommend this one!



#2. The Courtship of Jo March
by Trix Wilkins

Have you ever wondered what the American classic Little Women would have been like if things had just... turned out differently? I have. Truthfully, I just didn't "get" Professor Bhaer, but I'm not going to ramble about that here. This is an excellent book for fans of classic literature. {My review will be arriving on the blog shortly!}



#3. The Ape Who Guards the Balance
by Elizabeth Peters

This is book #10 in a series about Amelia Peabody, an archaeologist who excavates in Egypt with her husband Emerson at the beginning of the 1900s. This volume was a particularly good read in the series, especially if you've followed along with Peabody's earlier adventures. Intrigue, mummies, murder...



#4. Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag
by Louisa May Alcott

I read this volume during the annual Louisa May Alcott reading challenge that I host in June. I was thrilled to pieces with some of the vintage short stories found in this collection. I can't wait to read the sequel next year!



#5. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
by Agatha Christie

I haven't read much Christie yet, but I decided that I should start at the beginning somewhere, so I chose to read book #1 of the Hercule Poirot series. I was rewarded with a cozy page-turner, which has whet my appetite for the rest of the series.



I want to hear from you, readers! What were your favorite reads from this summer?!

Now since you've visited me In The Bookcase today, hop on over to Victoria's blog. She has a LOT of goodies happening this + TODAY IS BOOK DAY, which includes a FANTASTIC giveaway.

Ruffles and Grace blog GIVEAWAY!!


YOU COULD WIN SOME AMAZING PRIZES:

~ a Book Bundle of some of my favorite titles, including

· Left to Die by Ivy Rose

· Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire

· Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter

· Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter

· London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

· The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo

~ A Book Bestie (book protector) by Ruffles and Grace

~ Some special handpicked notebooks

~ A Book themed tote by Ruffles and Grace

~ Small Leather Journal


Ruffles and Grace blog GIVEAWAY!!


8.10.2017

Tactful advice for the modern writer.

What’s Wrong With Adjectives & Adverbs?



What’s Wrong With Adjectives & Adverbs?

article by Tessa Emily Hall

"When I was in elementary school, I was taught to incorporate as many adjectives and adverbs into my stories as possible.

My writing sounded like this:

The big, fat, yellow sun shined brightly against the light blue sky.

Colorful, isn’t it? And yet, sometimes those colors are the very things that distract the reader from the story...."

— Continue reading at almostanauthor.com


7.29.2017

Book Review: The Illusionist's Apprentice

The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron (4 star review)


The Illusionist's Apprentice

written by Kristy Cambron

356 pages // published in 2017 // historical fiction



BOOK DESCRIPTION

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.




My Review


4 Star Rating


It's the Jazz Age in Boston, Massachusetts. The great Harry Houdini, has left the earth, but his secrets still abound. Some people would kill to know such secrets...

Jenny Lockhart is a one-of-a-kind woman. She lives in a world pioneered by men, her life inspired by and propelled forward by Houdini himself. Socially, she is different than others; her dress resembles more of a classy man's than a woman's with flowing skirts. She lives fairly secluded when she's not performing her talent on stage.

What a bold woman that Jenny is! To be so independent, and to lead such a lonely life... my, my! By social standards, it would have been harder to accomplish this in the 20s than in modern day times, but she worked through it and did it by herself. Plus, she deals with the lemons that life gives her, even including villains, murder, and conniving plots to steal away her many secrets.

“A hero never causes hurt; she only lessens it.”

There are loads of references to illusions (true illusionist's don't approve of calling it magic, mind you), to the entertainment business in general, like vaudeville, and to the rush of spiritualism that was spreading around in that time period. These topics are not for everyone. I found it rather fascinating though, and I picked up on key historical elements and interesting tidbits about a world I didn't quite know about before. Also, I thought that the setting was so unique... it's not a story that takes place around Houdini's life, no! It only begins after he dies. As in, just the mention of his legend will always continue spreading the art of illusion and cloaked mystery.

“It's how we live that will convince them what is truth and what is an illusion.”

While The Illusionist's Apprentice does fall under the Christian fiction genre in a catalog, it is in no way preachy, as some similar books are. Honestly, I was slightly crestfallen while reading chapter after chapter, not finding too much spiritual food to go along with the story. I did find a spiritual message after all though, and the book was redeemed for me. Basically, it's a very clean read, and I think anyone (no matter your religious beliefs) could enjoy the story without feeling preached at.

Overall? I've now learned that Kristy Cambron is an excellent author. I would be pleased to read another of her books one day.

Thanks to NetGalley for a free copy of this book; I was not required to post a review.



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

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7.28.2017

Book Review: Keep a Quiet Heart

Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot (5 star review)


Keep a Quiet Heart

written by Elisabeth Elliot

269 pages // published in 1995 // Christian non-fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

Peace and quiet--to many of us, they're just words. Somehow we have allowed the frenetic pace of life to rob us of the quiet, restful moments with God we so desperately need. Keep a Quiet Heart features the rich devotional musings of one of America's favorite authors and points the way to a deep experience with God, away from the unsettling distractions of day-to-day living.




My Review


5 Star Rating


In Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot shares articles from her newsletters. It's a collection that encourages you to know God better. You can find Him best when your heart is quieted, and that is what we as Christians should strive for.

"A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough."
"A Quiet Heart", Keep a Quiet Heart

There are countless lessons to be heard in this volume, if you're looking for them. As Elliot prescribes, stillness of mind, quietness of heart, can lead you to God. How accurately she wrote about this subject for modern times... and this was decades ago when she penned it! It's true, busyness takes up so much of ours lives – whether you're involved with extra church, school, and work opportunities, or just taking care of your family – we're often so busy that our hearts are screaming out with worry, despair, and unsatisfactory feelings about our lives. Enter the idea of stilling the loud “noises” in life that interrupt the contentedness of your soul. Because, even unknowingly, it's those “noises” that are breaking up your communication with the Almighty.

"Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy."
"Waiting", Keep a Quiet Heart

A wide range of subjects are covered in Keep a Quiet Heart. I think a lot of them are geared towards women, but anyone can listen and hear the truth behind Elliot's words. Sometimes she shares a special story from her own life and ministry, sometimes about a trial that a friend went through, or we even hear from her own readers. At other times she'll share a devotional on a variety of topics, which could be anything from prayer, peace, culture, marriage, parenting (even about homeschooling!), and more. Always it's an encouragement and inspiration.

Perhaps the chapters that pertained to subtopics under marriage and parenting didn't always apply to my own life right now, but for the most part, I still enjoyed even those areas in the book. Because some of these topics (and others) are covered though, I would best recommend the book for adults.

The message that blessed me the most is one that negatively affects the heart's quietness: giving yourself too many tasks and too little time. One of Elliot's stories in particular was about a time in her life where she was stressed about hitting certain deadlines, and the dread of knowing she wasn't finishing in time. Yet, she's the one who made these deadlines, and became stressed when other elements in life appeared out of the blue, knocking her off a predetermined schedule. Well, this happens to us all, and certainly to myself. Do you know why it happens to me? It's my fault. I tell myself way too often that I need to accomplish this, this, and that by week's end, and (guess what!) many times I'm unable to finish every bit of it. This, of course, irks me, right where it hurts, in my unsettled, unquieted heart. Elliot's example showed me, that quality of work is often better (and safer on your heart) when you get things done as needed, and trim out unneeded deadline worry. Already, my days seem a little easier, when I don't have to be quite so focused on the timeliness of my actions.

"Let's never forget that some of His greatest mercies are His refusals. He says no so that He may, in some way we cannot imagine, say yes."
"Lost and Found", Keep a Quiet Heart

Overall? It's a good book. You should read it. I guarantee it will help you find balance in a crazy busy life.



Available on Amazon in paperback format.

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7.26.2017

Book Review: Suit and Suitability

Suit and Suitabilit by Kelsey Bryant (5 star review)


Suit and Suitability
Vintage Jane Austen series

written by Kelsey Bryant

364 pages // published in 2017 // Christian historical fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

The mystery surrounding their father’s criminal accusations is almost as hard to solve as the many puzzles springing on their hearts.

Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?




My Review


5 Star Rating


A review from a bookworm who's (accidentally) never read an original Jane Austen (oops!) .… but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy a historical fiction novel based on Austen's books!

To start this review off, I'd like to say that the writing style is really good. I felt liked I'd just been dropped off in Canton, Ohio in the early 30s. The descriptions of the setting felt so real. Elements of the time period are weaved in so neatly. In the way that the characters talk, certain old words they use, it's just perfectly vintage.

“...That may tie me up and you'll never hear a peep out of me except when I can remember to send a telegram with one word– no, three: 'Alive STOP M.'
- Marion Dashiell


The characters show true growth; I like that in the book. Each one of the Dashiell sisters changes over time. I also loved how the girls really looked out for each other and their family. In one scene, Ellen was alone, praying for the needs of each of her family members; that scene struck me as charming and wonderful, and has since been on my mind.

Faith plays a big part of the story, and there are some excellent Christian qualities to be found in the characters. You may not always notice while you're reading, but sometimes it's clearly there, and overall, the novel has a spiritual message in it.

“With God there is always hope.”
- Calvin Bradley


The romances are sweet. But each one comes with its individual complications. Potential suitors seem to abound everywhere, as does heartache. This isn't light fiction. The story is based on a classic, and for good reason. There's a whole gamut of emotions that shines through in Suit and Suitability.

One difference (I believe) when comparing Sense and Sensibility and Suit and Suitability, is in the fate of the Dashiell's father. I may be speaking out of turn a bit (not having reading the original Austen novel yet). But I like the fact that since this retelling is taking place in the 30s, the author took advantage of the time period of classic detective novels and spiced up her own plot with an era-authentic twist. Pretty ingenious, I think.

“I have to get to know her, too, don't forget, and I get acquainted with people at the speed of molasses.”
- Ellen Dashiell


And – oh! I loved, adored, and cherished Sport. He's a dog of the Dashiell's relatives, and deserves a little mention here. I love how the author always included fun little tidbits about Sport in various scenes.

This is a clean read. I could wholeheartedly recommend it to any Austen fan, young or old (and even to other Austen fan wannabes, like myself!).

Visit The Vintage Jane Austen book series online!
vintagejaneausten.com

The Vintage Jane Austen book series





Available on Amazon in e-book format.

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Read my review for other books in the series: Emmeline.