Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Interlude by Lin Stepp Reviewed

The Interlude by Lin Stepp Reviewed
Definition of Interlude: an intervening episode, period, space, etc.  

Everyone has times in our lives when we need a break from work and responsibility, especially when we are grieving.  Therefore, most of us can identify with Mallory Wingate as she seeks a refuge of peace in The Interlude.

The story takes place in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, which is the perfect place for respite and recovery.  I know from my own experience that the Smoky Mountains are a little piece of heaven here on earth. 


Synopsis of The Interlude


 The InterludeCheck PriceMallory has spent the last few years working full-time and also caring for her terminally ill mother.  When her mother dies, Mallory has an emotional breakdown at work.  Her concerned boss insists that she take time off, so Mallory returns to the one place where she has always found love and care, her grandparents home.

On the plane, a handsome man is seated next to her, but Mallory prefers to be left alone.  However, Lucas James is intent on engaging Mallory in conversation.  He even invites her to join him for dinner during the layover between flights.  What seems like a casual meeting and flirtation when traveling, actually takes on a totally different significance when the two passengers find their destination is exactly the same place, her grandparents home and resort.  

Mallory is slightly embarrassed to find out that Lucas is the pro-golf instructor at the resort.  Lucas is shocked to discover that Mallory is actually his employers granddaughter.  Both would prefer to keep their "interlude" a secret between just the two of them.  Both have their own issues and baggage that keeps them from desiring a romantic relationship.  

One of the things I found most interesting about this book was how the author showed us just how easy it is to say something hurtful to someone else without realizing, or even intending, to cause pain.  Most likely, we have all experienced that to some degree in our own lives, but seeing it written so vividly in the context of a conversation in a book, really can be eye-opening.  A promising friendship, or relationship, can be irreparably fractured by careless words and assumptions.


My Copy of the Book, The Interlude


I would like to thank the author, Lin Stepp, for gifting me with an advance copy of "The Interlude".  That gave me the opportunity to read and review it before the actual release date.  You will definitely want to grab your copy of this wonderful book today and start reading as soon as possible.

  


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Thursday, February 21, 2019

His Stubborn Sweet Bride: A Christian Historical Romance Novel Reviewed

An excellent Christian historical romance that transfixes readers with Molly's story of loss, betrayal, survival & desperate decisions. Highly Recommended!
I admit, His Stubborn Sweet Bride (Colorado Reborn Book 1) written by Chloe Carley was a big surprise for me. I loved this book! 

This is the first book by the author, Chloe Carley, that I have ever read, but it won't be the last.  I am beyond thrilled to find a new Christian author who writes unique and original content.  That is what I liked best about this book.  I didn't feel like I had ever read one that was similar in plot or characters.  Plus, I loved the unexpected surprise elements in it.  

The story takes place in 1878 in several early settlement cities in America, including Cheyenne, Wyoming, Denver &  Indian Rock, Colorado, which is beautiful, but rough country.  The depiction of the towns, the battle between the original settlers and the new comers, as well as the harrowing life events of the main character, are all reasons why I was transfixed by this story. 



The Plot of His Stubborn Sweet Bride (Colorado Reborn Book 1)


When a wealthy aristocrat from England, Nate Trowbridge, and his sister, Leonie, inherent their uncles ranch in Colorado, they decide to move to America.  Leonie is young, adventurous, and quite naive, while her older brother, Nate, is steadfast and somewhat boring.  Nate wishes to protect his sister for as long as possible.  He also desires to maintain their good name, respectability and social standing even in the new country.  

Upon arrival, they find the ranch is not exactly in the condition they expected.  Immediate repairs and restoration are necessary.  Because there is little else in Indian Rock other than his Circle T Ranch, Nate has to travel to Denver to hire craftsman, and purchase furnishings and decor.  That also gives him the opportunity to visit with old family friends.


Nate Trowbridge's Story


 His Stubborn Sweet Bride:
A Christian Historical Romance Novel
(Colorado Reborn Book 1)
Check Price
Nate believes it will be time for him to get married as soon as the ranch is renovated.  He believes his obvious choice is one of the daughters of old family friends.  Actually, over several generations, the two families have married one another to preserve their wealth and status in society.  The Chiswicks live in Denver, therefore they have already made the necessary transition to America from England.  After visiting with them, he has every reason to believe Emmaline Chiswick is like-minded and would welcome his proposal. 

Once the house repairs are finished, Nate sends a letter of marriage proposal by way of his ranch foreman, Jem, to Denver when he finds out that Jem has to go to the dentist there.  It is necessary for the doctor to give Jem a dose of laudanum so he can preform the dental work needed.  Jem is still under the influence of the laudanum when he searches for the address on the envelope to deliver the letter.  He immediately notes that the woman doesn't appear to be the type of woman he would expect his boss to court and certainly not to marry, but when Molly opens the letter, she accepts Nate's proposal.  Everything gets pretty hazy for Jem and later he awakens to find himself, along with Molly, on a train destined for Indian Rock, Colorado.  


Molly Clanahan's Story


Molly's story is one I had never considered a possibility, but I could easily see how it would happen in 1878.   It made me think of current day human trafficking and how we all want to believe it can't be true and would never happen.

When her father and brothers all died from influenza, Molly was left completely alone.  The bank foreclosed on her family farm and  she had no way to survive.  It seemed becoming a mail order bride would be her best option.  

Molly started corresponding with Jack in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  After she sent him a picture of herself, as requested, the man she believed to be a lonely widower sent her train fare to Wyoming.  When she arrived, she was met by Jack and immediately taken to his business, the local brothel.  She was expected to go to work immediately.  The promise of marriage was just a ploy to get her there.  Jack was abusive, threatening, and downright evil.  Molly felt trapped until she decided to risk her life and get away.  

Even after Molly has escaped the brothel, Jack swore to find her and make her pay for humiliating him.  She knew she was living under the shadow of fear and possible discovery.  She felt fortunate to get a job as a seamstress in Denver, but when Jack found her, she was once again desperate for escape.  That was when the man with the letter containing a marriage proposal showed up at her door. 


My Recommendation of "His Stubborn Sweet Bride"


I have now given you the basic background of the characters and book plot, but you must read this book yourself.  You might even find that you think twice before you jump to conclusions about people and judge their actions.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  While it dips into the dark world of murder, lies, criminals, and pure evil, nothing is too graphic, yet it clearly depicts depravity.  

In addition to the expected romantic love story, the book also aptly depicts the concern and protective nature of an older brother toward his sister.  I enjoyed the way the author developed both types of love throughout the book.

 


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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review of The Steadfast Series by Nancy Moser

Not Your Typical Christian Fiction


When I was much younger, it was hard to find good Christian fiction. Grace Livingston Hill ( who wrote between 1877 and 1947) almost owned the Christian romance genre. Her books are still popular today, but many in younger generations find her books too old-fashioned. Today's Christian readers, however, have far more choices. Many excellent books now exist in the genres of Christian contemporary romance and Christian historical fiction. We also have Randy Singer's Christian legal thrillers to compete with John Grisham. And we have Nancy Moser's contemporary Christian fiction.




Amazon classifies The Steadfast Series as religious and inspirational, as well as mystery and suspense. In my opinion it lives up to both labels. I couldn't put the books down. After reading The Seat Beside Me I had to download the other two books in the series immediately. Warning: When I finish a book in this series, the end leaves me hanging. I always feel the book is not quite complete. But isn't real life also like that? We don't always know what's next.

The Theme of The Steadfast Series


The books in The Steadfast Series emphasize the importance of individual choices. God deals each of us a hand, but we choose how we play that hand. We humans make decisions that have consequences. Each chapter of the three books in this series is introduced by a short related portion of Scripture.


The Seat Beside Me


When you fly alone, do you wonder who will be sitting beside you on your trip? I do. So do the characters in The Seat Beside Me. They have made conscious choices leading up to their presence on Flight 1382 to Phoenix. We watch many of their choices as they board and discover their seatmates. We get to know six passengers very well. Sonja is a schemer who tricks her way onto Flight 1382. She wants to be one of the three from her company to attend a corporate conference in Phoenix and hopes her attendance will help her get a promotion. She uses information she overheard to betray her colleague who was supposed to go so that she could take her place. The seat next to her is filled by a handsome black man in a suit, Roscoe Moore, who immediately engages her in conversation.

Henry's job requires him to fly, but flying scares him. He is a Christian and you see him struggle with his fear as he takes his seat. He's not afraid to die, but hates the feeling of being completely out of control of his life while in the air. He sits in the aisle seat on one side of George (below).

George lost his beloved wife seven months ago. He is grieving and is going to Phoenix to commit suicide. He has one daughter. He has left money, a note, and important documents so that she can't miss them after he is gone. George is sitting between a widow in the window seat who won't leave him alone and Henry, who rescues him from her.

Merry has a husband and son. She is going to Phoenix to meet a single girlfriend and escape her family and responsibilities for a few days. Although she loves Lou and Justin and they love her, she is a discontented housewife and her marriage is going through a rough phase. Merry is not at all happy when Lou and Justin surprise her by boarding the plane, and joining her for the trip. No escape.

Anthony is an egotistical plastic surgeon. He is rude to everyone he meets as he prepares to board. He's a man with no real friends and the reader can easily see the reason why. The person who (in his opinion) overfills the seat next to him is an unattractive woman he immediately labels as "white trash." Even her substandard English offends him. She calls him a "rich la-di-da" and lets him know she hates doctors.

Tina is a high school English teacher who hates her job and doesn't like her students much, either. She is also a Christian. She is not happy to be seated next to a teenage girl who reminds her way too much of her students, but as she converses with Gayla she actually begins to like her.

Dora is a reporter who did not want to go to Phoenix. Then her mother called and begged her to come because she needed surgery and didn't want to be alone. So Dora got ready to make the trip. At the last minute her mother called and Dora didn't have to go after all because the doctor said her mother no longer needed the surgery. She is delighted to stay home.


The Weather

Book Review of The Steadfast Series Suspense Novels by Nancy Moser
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Although the passengers are ready to go, a blizzard has closed the airport and delayed all flights in or out. Even after boarding, the plane is delayed on the tarmac for several hours because of snow and icy conditions. This delay gave the passengers a lot of time to get acquainted with their seatmates. The extra time of quiet and boredom made passengers more willing to open up with each other and have conversations that touched on important issues. As we listen in we learn what choices Tina, Sonja, George, Henry, Merry, and Anthony are contemplating. We also discern a lot about their problems and characters.

Finally the pilot tells the passengers that they will be taking off. The author does a good job of foreshadowing what will happen. Readers know the plane will crash.

The Crash

We watch the passengers reactions as they begin to realize the plane is about to crash. Those who survive impact fight for their lives as the plane falls apart and they await rescue. We see the actions of the most selfless and the most selfish. None of the survivors will ever forget their experience in the icy water and the hospital. The memory of the horror and fear while waiting for the rescue helicopter stays with them. We watch  as the crash experience changes all of them. None can go back to exactly the lives they had before.

The crash, important as it is in the plot, is not the main focus of the book. It is the characters' catalyst for change. The focus is on the decisions the characters make after the crash and how those decisions affect their new lives and relationships. You will meet some of the characters in other books by Nancy Moser. One of them is the main character of the next book in the series.  

A Steadfast Surrender


In this second book in the series, crash survivor Merry, who lost her husband and son in the crash, tries to start over in the small town of Steadfast. Orphaned teen Sim runs away from her aunt and uncle guardians. Claire Adams, a famous mosaic artist, is challenged by a speaker at church to give away all her possessions in complete surrender to Christ. All three end up in the small town of Steadfast, Kansas. It is there they meet and begin to influence each other as their lives change. All three need to choose a future direction for their lives.

Much of this book is set in the public library where Merry is the librarian. I loved watching the antics of the regular library patrons and the library "ghost." Most of the characters in this book continue on to the next book in the series. In this book most of the focus is on Merry, Sim, and Claire.

The Ultimatum

This third book in the series has the most suspense. The main characters are restaurant owners, their employees, and their families. Readers will have met most of them before in A Steadfast Surrender. This book zeroes in on 
  • Annie McFay, waitress at the Plentiful Café, her husband Cal McFay, handyman, and their ten-year-old-daughter Avi  
  • Bailey, owner of Bon Vivant. the one upscale gourmet restaurant in town, and Jered (teen son) Manson
  • Merry Cavanaugh (town librarian) and Police Chief boyfriend, Kent Kendell
  • Sim, a teen runaway in previous book, now living legally with Susan
  • Susan, a nurse at the hospital emergency room
  • Claire Adams, a famous mosaic artist who now resides in Steadfast
  • Jinko, owner of Palamba Bar and Grill in Eldora, a town twenty minutes from Steadfast. 
  • Vasylko (aka Vasy), the cook at Palamba Bar and Grill

 

The Action


As the book opens, Jered is running for his life. He has been on the streets for  three months. He had argued with his dad Bailey and Bailey had collapsed with a heart attack. Jered, afraid he might have killed his dad, grabbed a few clothes and fled in his truck. First he'd gone to Kansas City, but he found it too big and dangerous, so he drove to Eldora, which was much closer to home.

He had run out of money and was eating from the garbage. As he raids a dumpster in front of the Palamba Bar and Grill, Jinko, the owner, discovers him, offers him a job and gives him money to clean himself up and return to work for him. Jered accepts and Jinko offers him a place to live. He starts by washing dishes. He is eager for Jinko's acceptance. I won't say more about this because I don't want to spoil it. 

Bailey is plotting to swindle Cal. Annie suspects it. But the marriage is in trouble because Annie recently became a Christian and Cal not only wants nothing to do with Jesus, but also resents Annie following Him. Annie has to be careful what she says. 

Much of the plot revolves around the relationships of people and how they are trying to get ahead any way they can, escape or face their problems, and make important life choices.  Jered's dream is to be a musician but his father mocks that choice and wants Jered to work at Bon Vivant and take it over some day. Jered longs to feel important to his father and know his dad loves him. Annie wants Cal to become a Christian, but Cal wants to pull Annie away from Christ. Jinko wants to control and use Jered. Claire, Sim, Merry, and Susan play supporting roles in this drama as they help, encourage, and pray for others. 

It takes a life and death situation to truly reveal the character of Cal, Annie, Jered, and Jinko. Personal choices brought each of them to play their part in this scene where it appears someone will die. Each reveals his character or lack of it in this scene. And each must endure the consequences of his own choices and those of the others.

The Challenge

What is the purpose of life? Where can we find the significance we humans crave? The characters in these books are looking for those answers. What does God really want from us? How do we follow him in today's world? What does it mean to be a Christian? Why do bad things happen to even good people? This book helps people think through the answers to these questions as they make their own choices.

Review of The Steadfast Series by Nancy Moser: Three Christian Suspense Novels
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


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Friday, July 20, 2018

Review of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Review of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers
The Masterpiece is Francine River's most recently published book. Like all of her books, The Masterpiece isn't a typical cookie-cutter Christian fiction where everything is perfect after salvation. It is a story about people with very real issues in life.  

Rivers doesn't write about fairy-tale versions of life as a Christian.  She writes about down to earth people who have been hurt or are struggling with life and in some cases, struggling with God.  Her books are not meant to malign Christians.  Rather to assure us that we are not alone and that it is not abnormal for a Christian to hurt, suffer, or even fail.  

She also doesn't steer clear of difficult subjects like adultery, divorce, abortion, pregnancy outside of wedlock, prostitution, separation from loved ones, or even going to hell, quite literally.

For nearly two decades, Francine Rivers has been my favorite author.  Ever since I picked up her series, Mark of the Lion.  I have read and reread that series several times.  I originally purchased it in hardback since Kindles were nonexistent.  But, it was one of the first sets of books I added to my Kindle when one was gifted to me.

It may seem odd to you that I read some books several times.  I do that when I want to read something I know I will love.  It is like watching the same movie over and over again because it touches something deep inside of you.

Even though most of my current day book purchases are made in Kindle version, I collect Francine Rivers' books in hardback copies too.  I never want to be without them.


Plot of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers


 The MasterpieceCheck PriceWhen Grace Moore's father kills her mother and then commits suicide, Grace is found hiding in the closet.  Already she has seen and experienced too much for her young mind to comprehend.  She will be scared by the murder-suicide of her parents for the rest of her life.  

Grace is sent to live with a grieving single aunt she does not know.  Aunt Elizabeth has no idea how to truly care for a 7 year old child, nor does she want to learn.  Every time she looks at Grace, she is reminded of the man that killed her beloved sister.  It doesn't help that Grace looks like him.    

Having been raised in a loveless home, Grace doesn't really know or remember what love looks like.  It is no surprise that she ends up marrying a man who uses his charm to get what he wants from Grace, but who doesn't love her.  Because she believes her husband's education should come first, she drops out of college and goes to work full time to support them both and pay his tuition.  She is devastated when she comes home early from work one day and finds him with another woman.  Adulthood doesn't look anything like what she wanted, needed or expected.  She must get away and start over.  Even though she is a Christian, her problems are far from over.  

Seeking to find love in all the wrong places, she leaves a bar with a man she just met.  The decision to cast caution to the wind will change her life forever.  She ends up being a single mother torn, trying to choose what is best for her child.  She had planned to give her baby up for adoption.  Now, she wants to keep him, but the parents she had chosen to adopt her child, still want him too.

Elsewhere, Roman Velasco is a wealthy artist who has lived under the shadow of evil his entire life.  He never knew his father, and his mother died of an overdose when he was a child.  Roman moved from one foster home to another where the parents either gave up on him, or only wanted the money for taking in a foster child.  He joined a gang just so he could have a place where he fit in.  Selling drugs did not appeal to him, but he found his niche within the gang by painting graffiti on buildings.  After he is caught and arrested, he is sent to Masterson Ranch.  An isolated ranch that makes running away impossible.   However, the Mastersons and his teacher encourage him to develop his artistic abilities.  

As an adult, he changed his name from Bobby Ray Dean to Roman Velasco, and found a place where he, or at least his art, was wanted.  He became a workaholic and spent every day drawing or painting, often forgetting to eat.  He needed a personal assistant to take care of his daily tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, answering the phone, etc.   Things a wife might do, if he had one.  But the last thing Roman wanted was a wife and he certainly did not want another personal assistant who wanted to be his wife or his girlfriend.

When Grace is sent by a temp agency to be Roman Velasco's personal assistant, she is not really impressed with him.  He is demanding, yet distant.  However, the distant part is much preferred by Grace.  So much so, that she ends up moving into the cottage on his property for convenience and going to work for him permanently.  


Conclusion


You may think from the description above that you can guess what is going to happen and to some extent, you might be right.  However, expect the unexpected.  Grace is a Christian, but Roman is not, so it is hardly a relationship made in heaven.  

It is what happens to Roman when he suffers a heart attack that I found most gripping.  I have heard people describe going to heaven when they die, or even seeing the white light, but reading River's description of what going to hell might look like, sent chills down my spine.  Frankly, it isn't as far fetched as I would like for it to be.

While this may not be my all-time favorite book by Francine Rivers, I would definitely recommend it.  




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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Artisan's Wife - Refined by Love Series

When Ainslee is abandoned by her sister, she is forced to move to a new city & embrace someone else's dream.  A wonderful Christian fiction book that reminds us to wait and watch for the unexpected blessings from God while we are busy making other plans.
Previously, I reviewed the first and second books in the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller.  While it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series to enjoy The Artisan's Wife, the first book does give an introduction to all of main characters in the books and explains their immigration history.  I also highly recommend the second book in the series, The Potter's Lady which is wonderful historical fiction that can stand on it own merit.

While I enjoyed all three books in the series, I do believe my favorite was this last book.  Partly because of the resolutions, but also because the author delved into the world of asylums in the late 1800's.  She introduced me to several facts that shocked me.  But before I get into that, let me give you a brief plot synopsis of The Artisan's Wife.  


Refined by Love book series by Judith Miller - Books Reviewed on Review This

 

The Artisan's Wife Book Review

Ainslee Mckay only agreed to leave the rest of her family and move to Weston because her artistic twin sister wanted to run a tile works shop.  Since she and Adaira would embark on this new adventure together, Ainsless wasn't too concerned, even though she hated to leave her teaching position at the Pottery Works.  However, when Adaira elopes with her new beau, Ainslee feels betrayed by her sister and is quite angry.  Because her family has already purchased the tile works for the twins, she is forced to move to a new city and embrace her sister's dream alone.  Only when her brother, Ewan, agrees to sell the tile works as soon as possible, does Ainslee feel any relief or hope for her own future. 

 The Artisan's Wife (Refined by Love)Ewan helps Ainslee move to Weston and gets her set up in a boardinghouse for women.  He stays in Weston with her for several weeks as she adjusts to all of the changes.  Since she has never before run any business, she is faced with quite a monumental task.  Originally, the plan was for Ainslee to run the office, while Adaira dealt with the workers, the designs, and the bid proposals.  Now, it all fell to Ainslee to handle alone.  She braced herself to make a success of the tile works so it would be easier for Ewan to sell.

Levi Judson was also new to Weston.  He had left he job, left his dreams behind, and moved there to be close to his brother who had been committed to the asylum.  Both Levi and his brother were artists, but Levi believed his brother was truly more gifted.  Unfortunately, Noah had mental difficulties and lapses caused by a high fever when he was a child.  Levi moved into a boardinghouse for men and went in search of a new job.  He started at the local tile works where he presented his letter of introduction to the pretty girl at the front desk and ask to speak to the owner or manager about job openings. This, of course, made for a entertaining moment in the book.

Because Ainslee had just landed a new contract and because Levi was recommended, plus experienced in multiple areas of tile works, she hired him immediately. 

Like everyone else in town, Ainslee was frightened by what and who was within the walls of the asylum.  She was surprised one day when she ran into her employee, Levi Judson, leaving the grounds of the asylum.  She was even more surprised when she discovered he taught art there to a small group of men.  Being uncomfortable with deception, Levi shared that his brother lived in the asylum.  When he found out how much Ainslee enjoyed teaching, he recommended that she consider teaching a group of women in the asylum.  But it wasn't until Ainslee was hurt on the job and needed immediate medical attention, that she was taken inside the doors of the asylum to the only available doctor in town.  

When Ainslee decided to start a library in the asylum for the women, she met several of them and discovered they had been committed by their husbands.  Some were there for depression or grief, but others were there simply because their husbands had tired of them and wanted rid of them.  One lady was committed because her brother wanted access to her bank account.

Ainslee had now found a place where she was needed in Weston, but she still wanted to make the tile works successful.  To do that, she needed Levi and his brother, Noah.  The artists who could revolutionize the tile industry.


Conclusion

The Artisan's Wife is a wonderful Christian fiction book that reminds us to wait and watch for the unexpected blessings from God while we are busy making other plans.



Reviews of the Books in the Refined by Love Series

The Brickmaker's Bride (#1 in the series) Book Review

The Potter's Lady (#2 in the series) Book Review



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ReviewThisBooks.com




The Artisan's Wife Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, June 9, 2017

The Potter's Lady - Book 2 of Refined by Love Series Reviewed

The Potter's Lady Book Review on Review This!
Last week, I reviewed The Brickmaker's Bride from the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller.  If you haven't had a chance to read that review, I invite you to visit that review since that book is the foundation for the entire series.

The Potter's Lady picks up the story two years later from where The Brickmaker's Bride ended.  If you haven't read the first book in the series, this article will be a spoiler.  However, The Potter's Lady would be a delightful read regardless of whether you have read the first book.  It can easily stand on it's own merit.

This Christian historical fiction takes us back to the late 1800's where women were not encouraged to explore the working world.  Outside of being seamstresses or house help, there were very few acceptable jobs for women and none of them were considered proper for women in high society.

Reviews of the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller



Review of The Potter's Lady


Rose has just graduated from Philadelphia School of Design for Women and she is quite anxious to get back home to her family, her place of security and love.  Because she is an Irish immigrant, she was not well received by the other girls in the school.  They took every opportunity to make fun of her and to remind her that, regardless of her connections with the Woodfield family, she is still an outcast in high society. 

 The Potter's Lady (Refined by Love)As soon as she sees her brother, Ewan, she knows something is wrong.  She insists that he tell her what has upset him.  When he finally relents and shares the latest news from home, Rose is distressed to hear that Ewan has been forced out of the family brickyard business.  Since he was never made a partner as promised, when Uncle Hugh died, his wife, Margaret became the sole owner and she had her own plans for the business.  On the train ride home Ewan needs to stop to visit two other businesses that are for sale.  He hopes to start over and would like his sister's help in deciding which company would be the best investment.

They visit both a small brickyard and a pottery works company.  Even though all of Ewan's experience has been in a brickyard, the family decides to purchase the pottery company instead.  Since Rose is an artist and Ewan has management and contract negotiating experience, the family believes they would make a great team in a new business.  That decision is also based on not wanting to compete with Margaret's brickyard and potentially causing a greater divide in their extended family.

At her graduation party, Rose reconnects with Joshua Harkness.  His family also owns a pottery works in another city and she believes he might have some insight to help her succeed.  Joshua has other ideas of his own and starts courting Rose, but he also takes a mistress who happens to be Ewan's daughter's nanny.  

Rylan Campbell is a longtime employee of the pottery works that Ewan and Rose purchase.  He is key to helping them grasp the intricacies of the pottery works business.  Rose immediately sees several changes that need to be made to the daily business.  She desires a cleaner environment, as well as a school for the children working at the pottery works.  She gets a tremendous amount of resistance from the workers and even though Rylan doesn't like change, he strives to help Rose implement her ideas.   Rose and Ewan's twin sisters come to the factory to set up the school that will teach around the children's work schedules.

In spite of their hard work and factory changes, the pottery works can't seem to land any new contracts.  That is, of course, detrimental to the success and longevity of the company.  When Rose hears of a contest with a reward of a huge pottery contract, Rose and Rylan go to work on a new design that they hope will win.  However, just as before, Joshua Harkness has other ideas and plans.


My Recommendation 

As I said in the introduction, this book can easily stand on it's own merit.  Honestly, I enjoyed reading this book more than The Brickmaker's Bride, but I was glad I knew the family background, especially where Margaret was concerned.   It was also nice to already be familiar with the history of how Ewan and his family came to America and met the Woodfields.



Reviews of the Books in the Refined by Love Series

The Brickmaker's Bride Book Review

The Artisan's Wife Book Review 



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ReviewThisBooks.com




The Potter's Lady Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Brickmaker's Bride - Refined by Love Book Series Reviewed

The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller Reviewed
I just finished reading the Refined by Love book series written by Judith Miller and I ran over here as fast as I could to write my review.  I really enjoyed reading this series and was quite sorry when I realized I had read the last page in the final book.  The characters were so well developed over these 3 books that I really do feel like I know the family.  The author, Judith Miller, did an excellent job of resolving a lot of issues that a reader follows though the entire series.  

I had initially planned to review all 3 books in this one article.  However, once I started writing, I realized that would make this post too long.  Therefore, I will be reviewing The Potter's Wife (book 2) and The Artisan's Wife (book 3) in separate posts over the next 2 weeks.  

For this post, we shall focus only on The Brickmaker's Bride which is the first book in the series.

The Brickmakers Bride Book Review



The Brickmaker's Bride - #1 of the Series, Refined by Love


The title pretty much gives away the romantic side of the plot, but there is so much more to these books than just the romance.  Since they are historical fictions, the words paint a picture of what life for immigrants in in the late 1800's might have been like.  

The Brickmaker's Bride is unique because the immigrants were taken advantage of by Irish family members who brought them to America to work in Uncle Hugh's brickyard.  You would think that a family member would look out for their family, but Uncle Hugh prefers to profit off their labor and takes advantage of the needs of his own family.


The Plot

 The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love)When Hugh Crothers cheats his way to a small fortune in Ireland, he quickly loads his wife, her sister and his nephew, Ewan, on a boat bound for America.  The Irish immigrants have great plans and high hopes for their new home.  Because of their background working in brickyards, Hugh decides purchasing a brickyard would be their best investment.  Ewan agrees to help him establish the brickyard with the understanding that they will bring his sisters to America as soon as they have the funds and that Uncle Hugh will make him a partner once the brickyard is profitable.  

Hugh purchases Woodfield Brickworks from Mrs. Woodfield and her daughter Laura, who worked in the brickyard office for her father.  When Mr. Woodfield did not return from war, it was necessary for the women to sell the brickworks and few people had the capital to purchase the business.  Winston Hawkins, an attorney with political aspirations that happens to be courting Laura Woodfield, serves as the intermediary between the Woodfields, the bank, and Crothers.

From the very beginning, Uncle Hugh tries to take advantage of the women and Ewan finds himself caught in the middle.  Almost immediately there is a misunderstanding about the property included in the sale.  Uncle Hugh believes the widow's mansion is included, but the house that is included is a smaller home close to the brickyard.  It was properly spelled out in the contract, but Hugh still maintains he was cheated and should have been given the mansion for the price he paid.  Ewan maintains he should have read the contract, asked questions and even visited the house before signing any papers.  But Hugh had been in a hurry to get on with it.

It is Ewan's knowledge, honestly and integrity that would make the brickworks successful again with the help of the Woodfield women who are willing to introduce him to all the right people.  Neither Hawkins nor Crothers are happy about the alliance being formed between Ewan and the Woodfields. 

Once the brickyard is operational, more reliable workers are needed.  Because it is in his best interest, Uncle Hugh secures a loan from the bank and sends the money back to Ireland for 10 male family members and their families, plus Ewan's sisters to come to America.  Once they arrive, they are all put to work, yet they have a huge debt to payoff.  Uncle Hugh expects each one of them to pay him back for their passage, plus interest, as well as pay him for their housing.  His wife, Margaret, puts a few of the women to work as servants and maids in her new big house.

There is much stress and strife as Uncle Hugh and Margaret continue to scheme and take advantage of everyone.  There are several additional minor plots developing throughout this book since it is the foundation for the entire series.  While it may seem to drag a bit, it is necessary to properly prepare us for the following books.

Even though it is necessary to read this book to have the full background of the other two books, I have no desire to spoil this book for you.  Therefore, I will conclude this review now and let you read it for yourself.  While you won't be surprised by who gets married, you will be shocked by some of the other actions and decisions made throughout this book. 

Be sure and join me next week for the review of The Potter's Lady and the following week for The Artisan's Wife.

 
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The Brickmaker's Bride Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, May 5, 2017

At Your Request Book Review

At Your Request is a delightfully charming novella that took me less than two hours to read. It serves as an introduction to a full length novel by Jen Turano, Behind the Scenes.
At Your Request is a delightfully charming novella that took me less than two hours to read.  It was the perfect short story to entertain me while our dinner was cooking.  

From the very beginning of the story, I found myself smiling.  Throughout the novella, I found myself laughing and thoroughly enjoying the author's wit.

The story takes place in New York during the Gilded Age with fabulous fashions and high society determined to remain aloft.  The loss of family fortune also meant the loss of friends and potential suitors.  Unfortunately for Wilhelmina, that is exactly where she found herself when her father lost his money on one bad investment.  

After years of literally being the bell of the ball, she was relegated to the position of social secretary for a wealthy matron.  Plus, she was required to continue to attend the balls to observe the guests to determine who was worthy of a future invitation.  Regardless of her discomfort with her current lack of social standing, her family now needed the money to survive.


At Your Request Novella Synopsis

 At Your Request (Apart From the Crowd)
An Apart From the Crowd Novella
As Wilhelmina is sitting with the wallflowers on the sidelines watching the beautifully dressed, wealthy daughters dance with their potential suitors, she spots the one man she has ever truly loved.  Not wanting him to see her, she sits in the floor and begs her new friends to help hide her.  However, Edgar does spot her and crosses the dance floor to talk to her.  Unfortunately, in her haste to get away, she finds herself, and her bustle, stuck under a chair, unable to move.  The next events truly had me laughing out loud as her friends and Edgar endeavor to free her from her extremely embarrassing situation.

After using a mouse story as a diversion, once Wilhelmina is free, Edgar whisks her outside into the snow and freezing temperatures.  This is where I was thinking, "leave it to a man to make things worse!"   

He quickly leads her to the warmth of the conservatory.  It is there where they were found alone together a few minutes later by three woman.  A scandalous situation to say the least!  Thinking fast, Edgar announces to the ladies that Wilhelmina has finally agreed to marry him.

That announcement places them both in uncomfortable places since Wilhelmina had turned Edgar's marriage proposal down years before. Not to mention, they are no longer in the same social sphere for a marriage to be socially acceptable. If you want to know what happens next, I'm afraid you will have to read the novella for yourself. I refuse to give away anymore of the plot.


Conclusion


This novella serves as an introduction to Jen Turano's full length novel, Behind the Scenes.  Needless to say, I will be starting the novel right after dinner!

I highly recommend this short story.  It was humorous, easy to read and of course, romantic.

I am most excited about this novella because I have found a new author who I know I will be able to trust to deliver entertaining fiction without explicit or offensive content.





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At Your Request Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, February 24, 2017

Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review

Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Book
Page 1
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm is a delightful book for children written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner.  It is the first book in a new series featuring Duck and Hippo.  Quite honestly, I look forward to reading about their next adventure together. 

You may wonder why I chose to read a book for children, but I did have my reasons.  First, I recently purchased a Kindle Fire and I love being able to see the pictures in color now.  What better than a children's book to look at pictures, right?  Second, the book was a free choice on Kindle First* in February 2017 if your are an Amazon Prime member.  And last, but by no means least, I wanted to be able to review the book for Review This!

The release of this book is perfect timing!  Since their day of adventure takes place in early spring, releasing the book on March 1, 2017 is consistent with the season and weather described therein. 


Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm 


 Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
(Duck and Hippo Series Book 1)
This really is a precious story about two unlikely friends, clearly a duck and a hippopotamus, who venture out together in the rain.  They encounter a few mishaps with just enough intrigue and suspense that a child will be enthralled without being frightened.  The illustrations help with alleviating any stress because the characters are shown smiling even in the midst of possible disaster.  

As with many children's books, the pictures in this book are fabulous!  I love the way the artist dressed the animals.  The suit and bow tie are perfect for the more reserved hippo, while the red slicker and polka dot yellow umbrella reflect the ducks adventurous and outgoing personally.  I foresee that Duck will likely dream up all kinds of ventures for the more sedate Hippo in future books. 

This promises to be a great book series for children ages 3 - 7 and I would certainly recommend the delightful first book, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm.  


Children's Book on Kindle Fire


 Fire Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB, Blue Kid-Proof CaseI am thrilled to share that there are Kindle Fires made just for children!
 
As an adult I wanted a Kindle that would feature the images in color for my craft books and cookbooks.  After consulting with our in-house electronics expert, Susan Deppner, I selected the Kindle Fire.  It was an excellent choice.

Once I received it, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be for children, especially at bedtime or when riding in a car.  It would most certainly reduce the weight of books in a backpack too.  I did a little more digging and found there is indeed a Kindle Fire made just for children.  While I have no desire to replace the home library and real books, I do think Kindle Fires are fabulous when portability or weight is an issue.





*Kindle First gives Amazon Prime members the opportunity to read a new book that will be published the following month for FREE.  You can check it out by clicking here!

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Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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