In the Bookcase


A fun interview about an Austen-themed novel... Emmeline!

Hi readers,

Today I'm talking with author Sarah Holman about her book Emmeline, which was released earlier in the year. It is the first in the brand new Vintage Jane Austen series, a collaboration series with several authors participating.

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (5 star review)


written by Sarah Holman

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


What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

I've already read Emmeline myself, and definitely recommend it! Be sure to take a look at MY REVIEW of the book, and get a copy to your Austen-crazy friends!

Let's get to the chit-chat >>

TARISSA: So, let's start with the basics, Sarah ... How many of Jane Austen's books have you read? ... How long have you been an Austen fan?

SARAH: I have read three of the books: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I have also watched the movies of Pride and Prejudice and Emma many times. I discovered Jane Austen when I was fifteen. I was sick and wanted something new to watch and someone brought Pride and Prejudice from the library. I loved it so much! So I guess that makes me a Jane Austen fan for 12 years now.

TARISSA: You are leaps and bounds ahead of me. I actually haven't *cough* read any of Jane Austen's books. Even though I know I'll love her books... And even though I loved your re-telling of Emma. So... reading one (or some) Austen novels is going on my 2018 "list of things to accomplish in life".

TARISSA: After you found out that you were going to write a book in the Vintage Jane Austen series, why did you choose to rewrite the story of Emma, specifically?

SARAH: Jane Austen was brilliant at capturing flawed people that you still love. Emma was one of those characters that I normally would have hated, but with Mr. Knightley to balance her out, she became a lovable person. Mr. Knightley is my favorite literary guy ever. I love how this duo are both flawed, yet they help to bring out the best in each other (and sometimes the worst).

TARISSA: The Vintage Jane Austen series transports the reader from Regency England to the Great Depression time period in America. What were some literary hurdles you had to overcome in seamlessly guiding elements of the original novel into a different location and era?

SARAH: I think that the whole team was pretty surprised at how easy it was to transport the stories. They fit very nicely. For instance, one of the biggest things that I noticed about Emma is how many parents were missing from the story. Both Knightley parents were gone, Emma's mother was gone, and Mr. Church's mother was gone. The influenza epidemic of 1919 was the perfect explanation for all these deaths.
The locations were a bit difficult, but we worked it out as a team and I think it came out well.


TARISSA: While digging up research for historical context, did you come across any particularly interesting tidbits? (Perhaps something fascinating about Jane Austen, the Great Depression, or anything else you might have studied...)

SARAH: I have been a huge fan of Grace Livingstone Hill for years. Her books have a strong faith and feel good stories (Beauty for Ashes and By Way of the Silverthornes are two of my favorites). Some of the things she had an issue with (makeup, movies, and dancing) I didn't understand. It was in my research that I found out makeup had only been used by very bad women until the movies became big and women started copying the stars. Even then, it wasn't considered nice for a while. Movies had no rating system and had become known for putting in elements that violated basic decency. Dancing had become very sensual at this point, far from the ballroom dancing of Jane Austen's time. Those are a few of the things I learned.

TARISSA: Another double question! Who was your favorite character in Austen's Emma? ... When you were writing Emmeline, who was your favorite character to interact with?

SARAH: Mr. Kightley was my favorite character because he loved Emma despite all her flaws. He loved her enough to correct her and offer her advice even when it wasn't wanted.
While writing, anytime Fredrick was in the room, I loved it. But I wouldn't have loved him as much if Emmeline wasn't there. They kind of come as a packaged deal. One without the other just isn't as much fun.

TARISSA: How neat! Well, Sarah, I sooo enjoyed learning some "behind-the-scenes" facts about Emmeline. And I'm glad I got to interview you about this unique book of yours. I look forward to reading more of the Vintage Jane Austen series from the other contributing authors, and I hope my readers will check out these books too! Emmeline is the perfect place to start, ya'll.

Available on Amazon in e-book format.

Add to Goodreads

Visit The Vintage Jane Austen book series online!

The Vintage Jane Austen book series

Author bio:
Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Author Sarah Holman

Visit the author online!


Book Review: Asking for Trouble

Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd (5 star review)

Asking for Trouble

written by Sandra Byrd
London Confidential, #1

266 pages // published in 2010 // Christian teen fiction


When her family moves to London, 15-year-old Savvy Smith has to make her way in a new school and a new country. She just knows the school newspaper is the right place for her, but she doesn't have the required experience, and the cute editor-in-chief isn't looking for someone to train. She has to come up with a way to prove herself and nab the one available position on the newspaper staff at Wexburg Academy. London Confidential is a new series where British fashion, friendships, and guys collide, and where an all-American girl learns to love life and live out her faith.

My Review

5 Star Rating

I love this book probably more than I expected. A teenage American girl has just made the move to England with her family. She's ready to embrace all new experiences and see where God points her in this new country that has fantastic accents and fashion. Her heart (and circumstances) are leading her to the school newspaper, even though there doesn't seem to be a place for her there.

What I like? The spiritual content makes for quality, godly fiction for teen girls to be reading. Savannah's faith fits right in to her lifestyle, it's perfect. What a role model she is for the girls reading this series! Savannah truly cares about when her family is going to find the right church to attend, and how each of her family members are transitioning in life; she's figuring out how to best spread “good cheer” at Christmastime, and she ponders about the type of ministry she'd like to participate in... I was blown away by how focused this girl is in various areas of her life. Plus, she's attempting to start a career in journalism? My, my.

What else do I like? Oh my goodness. The British phrases, combined with the good-hearted humor... it makes my heart happy while I read. The British stuff you can pick up from this story is gold.

It's clean teen fiction. You'll find no bad language or mature content here. Even tweens could enjoy it.

Just a story about an average-but-amazing sophomore high school girl attempting to fit in to “year eleven” with the students at her new British school.

Available on Amazon in paperback format.

Add to Goodreads

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: The Magnolia Story

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines (5 star review)

The Magnolia Story

written by Chip & Joanna Gaines

208 pages // published in 2016 // non-fiction biography, Christian interest


Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like Who are these people?What s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover: The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby Joanna s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck Joanna s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple Memories and photos from Chip and Jo s wedding The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? Oh yeah, says Joanna. He was, and still is, my first fixer upper."

My Review

5 Star Rating

I looove this book. I just finished it, but I'm about ready to start over from the beginning and read it through again.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, now featured on a highly popular HGTV show, didn't start out with having everything. For starters, they had to find each other, and then everything else just sort of popped into place at just the right time. Now they run multiple businesses and are crazy successful in pretty much everything they try their collective four hands at.

“It was all trial and error and figuring things out. And sometimes you've got to try something outside of your comfort zone to figure out what it is that you truly love.”

After reading this book, I came to realize (even more so than I previously knew) how down-to-earth this couple is. They are fun, quirky (especially Chip, if you know what I mean), and together they are a beautifully talented couple who knows how to make a godly marriage work. They love their family, and strive to put family at the top of everything in the world, no matter where things like wealth and fame might take them. Plus, they have an incredible work ethic. This book showed me beyond a doubt, that Chip and Joanna could tackle anything they wanted to, and somehow, someway, they will get the job done, even if it requires a miracle to be involved in the solution. Seriously, they share about some amazing moments in their life and business together, where it could only have been God. Which bring me to another point I'd like to bring across. What I really love from this book is how the Gaines put God in every project, every decision, each new chapter of their life. They truly offer their thanks to Him. Just watch as the blessings and surprises along the way unfold.

Can you believe that how insanely beautiful that Joanna decorates their fixer-upper houses, that she never even thought about decorating until after she met Chip? That she never went to school for it? That her whole design concept is just life-inspired? And how she turns those houses in breathtakingly beautifully dream homes, I'll never wrap my head around.

“If all I'm doing is creating beautiful spaces, I'm failing. But if I'm creating beautiful spaces where families are thriving, then I'm really doing something.”

I have to say, my favorite part includes Chip Gaines being thrown in jail. I mean, it is one of the most hilarious stories you'll ever hear!

For a biography, this sure is an entertaining read. If this book doesn't touch your heart, I don't know what will. It's one of the most inspirational books I've read in a long time. I can't wait to visit The Silos for myself someday.

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

Add to Goodreads

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review & GIVEAWAY! Dreams and Devotion // BLOG TOUR

Dreams and Devotion by Sarah Holman (5 star review)

Dreams and Devotion
Tales of Taelis, #4

written by Sarah Holman

137 pages // published in 2017 // YA historical fiction


Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.

Dara's life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.

Dresden's initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?

Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Dreams and Devotions tackles some hard-hitting feelings. Trust. Forgiveness. Anger. Hope in the future. Diligence. Bitterness. Faith.

Dara is coping with a few problems at once. Her hopes of marriage are being dashed, her brothers have moved away from the family – one for selfish reasons, the other, selfless – the burdens are stacking on her shoulders faster than she knows how to deal with on her own.

“Dreams were wonderful, but they did not always come true.”

There is some excellent, quality spiritual content in here, which I found very encouraging. I liked seeing Dresdon's growth in his new position as priest. He had to learn to give more of himself than he thought he was going to have to, by walking in faith, not just teaching it. He matured much over the course of the book, and learned valuable lessons from God, as does the reader.

And you know what else? I really like the Taelis community. Neighbors pull together in times of need for others. They care not for credit in their work, but for the gift of giving something of themselves. This is good stuff I like to see in a book.

“ can hurt as well as heal, it tears and binds, it gives pain as well as joy. Love is always a risk. There is nothing about it that is safe. Even though you love, family can wound you, best friends betray you, and people you count on can disappoint you.”

The main thought that I pull from this book is that God is in control, and He has it all planned out for us already – perfectly. Stick with Him and you'll be alright.

“Prayer is always the best place to start for matters of the heart.”

This is an emotional read from the Taelis series, and it's one to remember. Youth and adults alike can find similarities in their own lives compared to the circumstances the characters are going through. Definitely a relatable story.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Available on Amazon as an e-book on July 15th. Pre-order now!

Add to Goodreads

Author bio:
Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Author Sarah Holman

Visit the author online!

Stops on the blog tour:
July 8
July 9
His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton
July 10
In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves
Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson
July 11
Read Another Page ~Rebekah Morris
July 12
Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott
July 13
The Page Dreamer ~ Deborah O'Carroll
July 14
Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek
With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero
Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis
July 15
Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


LITERARY DISCUSSION! Let's talk Little Women -- anyone?

Hi, Readers! Today I have a survey of sorts for you. My blogging friend and author Susan Bailey (Louisa May Alcott Is My Passion) sent me some questions to ask my blog readers...

Susan is looking for feedback while writing a book proposal for her biography on Elizabeth Alcott (that's Louisa May Alcott's younger sister, fictionally better known as Beth in the famous novel). Susan needs input from Little Women fans like yourself! >>

Comment below if you have any thoughts to share.

• What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why?

• What do you know already about her?

• Who is your favorite March sister and why? If Beth is not your favorite, why?

• Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more "real" to you?

Chime in, dear literary friends! Answer just one question, or answer all.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say on the subject.

Oh! And check out Susan's other books that you can read now: