Friday, December 30, 2016

Book Review: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin is a Christian historical fiction book set in two different time periods in the mid to late 1800’s. Anna Nicholson is the daughter of a prominent Chicago family, seeking answers to deep questions about her life and faith after breaking off her engagement. As she thinks about her life and what she really wants, she goes to Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan to regroup. There she meets Derk Vander Veen, a young worker at the hotel that is planning to go into ministry. At the same time, Geese de Jonge, Derk’s “adoptive” grandmother, is writing her story of emigrating to America from the Netherlands 50 years ago. Though painful at times, Geese understands that telling her story is important. She is shocked to realize that she and Anna may be connected and some of the most painful parts of her story may yield a sweet joy that she never anticipated.

The book Waves of Mercy is told is alternating points of view as Anna shares her thoughts and revelations and Geese writes about her story 50 years earlier. The reader anticipates the ending, which is unlikely but still joyful. Anna questions the expectations of faith and marriage for a woman in the upper class, but her questions are still relevant today. Similarly, Geese’s story is full of deep lows, but the hand of God is still evident through her journey. I think readers of Christian historical fiction will enjoy the characters in this story as they struggle to find peace and grow in their understanding of God. I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Review: A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White is the third book in the Ladies of the Manor series. This Christian historical fiction book continues the saga of the coveted Fire Eyes diamonds that was started in the first two books in the series. The book series is set in the early 1900's and the story is told by interweaving the perspectives of those in the upper class as well as those in service. This title features Lord James Cayton and Lady Ella Myerston and their relationship that develops despite the peril they face in protecting the diamonds.

First of all, the cover of this book is gorgeous! Easily one of my favorites that I've read this year. Many of the reviews state that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy this book and I definitely agree. There's a richness to the writing that really captures the characters and time period well. The book is full of intrigue, romance, and suspense plus characters that develop and change. Lord Cayton is actively trying to make himself a better person by studying the Bible and he also is a hands-on, doting father, something that would have been very rare for that time period. I think the book would be difficult to read and fully understand without reading the first two books. In addition, it is sometimes hard to keep characters and their relationships straight even after reading the first two books.

I received the book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears is a Christian historical fiction novel with a very timely and relevant message for all of us to hear. Lydia King is a member of the Teaville Moral Society and she truly has a heart for the poor. She's engaged to the son of the moral society's president, despite the fact that she doesn't love him. Lydia is hiding a secret about her own poverty and how close she is to being a part of those that Teaville needs to help. Lydia has been asked to get a donation for the moral society from Nicholas Lowe, the richest man in town, but he repeatedly denies her requests, regardless of how many times she asks. Lydia and Nicholas strike a bargain that shows her more about the character and heart of Nicholas than she could have possibly imagined.

This book was well written and interesting. I enjoyed the two main characters and was intrigued by the societal expectations of women of that time period. Lydia finds herself drawn into a world she couldn't have imagined, moved by the plight of women whom she's never socialized with before. Without giving too much away, I think this book has an important message for us about the hurting and marginalized people in our world. The time period changes, but the needs of people don't change.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer to Fall Transitional Wardrobe: 2016 Edition

We still have a month left of summer on the calendar, but here in Ohio, we're already feeling a bit of a weather shift. It's still quite hot and humid, but mornings and evenings are cooler. I've always had trouble with the change of season in terms of what to wear (see my 2015 transitional capsule here and some winter to spring transition tips here) so this year, I immediately recognized the need to pull together a transitional capsule.

I picked an overall color scheme of gray, black, denim/chambray, orange, green, and purple. In looking at last year's capsule, I definitely see some similarities and six of the pieces are exactly the same! Here's what in the summer to fall transitional wardrobe for 2016.


Starting with casual bottoms:

  • Merona nutmeg polka dot shorts*
  • Old Navy boyfriend jeans*
  • Boston Proper dark wash skinny jeans*
  • Sonoma medium wash skinny jeans
  • Stylus black skinnies
  • Ann Taylor LOFT denim shorts* 



Work pants:

  • Old Navy lilac Pixie pants
  • Ann Taylor LOFT white crops*
  • Talbots tan dress pants*
  • Old Navy striped Pixie pants*
  • Gap coral dot skinny minis*
  • Old Navy gray Pixie pants*
  • St. John's Bay olive pants*
  • J. Crew chambray skirt*


Tops:

  • Merona purple print blouse* 
  • Merona 3/4 sleeve striped tee
  • Mossimo gray stripe tee
  • Mossimo gray tee
  • Kiara orange chevron blouse*
  • The Limited fuchsia ruffle tee*
  • Merona dark green cap sleeve top
  • Merona leopard shell
  • Old Navy polka dot chambray*
  • Mossimo coral tee




I swapped out the green tee in the upper left hand picture for the floral Ann Taylor LOFT button up* in the photo above. I loved the colors; it's very lightweight, and I thrifted it for $1 at our Goodwill outlet!


Completer pieces and dresses:

  • Christopher and Banks olive vest*
  • Denim jacket
  • Orange cardigan*
  • Stylus gray cardigan
  • Croft and Barrow purple cardigan
  • Apt. 9 gray and black print dress*


  • Liz Claiborne chambray dress* (just thrifted, I've been looking for a chambray dress forever!!)
This capsule has a total of 32 pieces right now. This represents approximately 1/3 of my total wardrobe. I am flexible with my capsules and reserve the right to shift things in and out if something isn't working. I also have a new piece coming from Elegantees that I can't wait to share with you - it will work perfectly with this capsule! Of the 32, 20 pieces (62.5%) were purchased secondhand (or gifted from my #thriftgiving box!) from Goodwill, Schoola, Plato's Closet, garage sales etc. Five of the items were only $1 from our Goodwill outlet!!

I'm sharing my #summertofallcapsule outfits on Instagram if you're interested in checking them out!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book Review: A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson

Time for a new book review! I recently finished reading A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson, book 2 in the Sapphire Brides series. You can see my review of book 1 in the series here. In A Beauty Refined, Phoebe Von Bergen is the daughter of a German count. She is visiting America for the first time with her father as he is buying sapphires in Helena, Montana. While at the Broadwater Hotel, Phoebe meets a lapidary (gem-cutter) named Ian Harper. Ian realizes Phoebe's father is not a truthful man, and his secrets threaten to endanger his daughter's faith in her father as well as her safety.

Set in 1907, at first glance this book is a historical romance. On a deeper level, this book contains a great deal more mystery and action than I anticipated. The cover of the book is gorgeous. I really liked reading about the food and clothing in the book; I might be weird, but I always enjoy that aspect of historical fiction.

I think my main issue with this book had to do with the plot. Obviously, novels typically contain a number of "serendipitous" events that seem unlikely to occur in real life. I felt like the main premise of the book was extremely far-fetched and so the plot of the entire book was a stretch for me. This book also contained domestic violence, so if you have any trouble reading about these scenarios, I think it's important to know there are scenes where domestic violence is described.

Overall, this was an interesting book, but not my favorite title I've read recently.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.
 

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