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Filtering by Tag: 2016 Bookshelf

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill: A Review

Meg Chaney

Hello friends!

As 2017 begins, I have a great big pile of books to read. I'm so excited about all the book adventures I'll go on this year. Before I share any book goals for this year, I'd love to share the last book I read in 2016: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen. The Bethany House Blogger Review Program gave me a copy of this book for my honest review. 


With the death of her husband, Jane Bell finds herself unexpectedly thrown into the roll of Innkeeper, quite uncommon for 1820s England! Jane grew up in a wealthy household, and  has no idea how to run a business. At first Jane seems rather meek and dull, but as the story progresses, readers start to see a little fire and determination inside. It's as if Jane has always been asleep, but now, circumstances have changed, and she's forced to stand on her own two feet.  As the story progresses, Jane must fight for the Inn itself, and uncover the mystery surrounding her husband's death. I loved the addition of this mystery. It really added to the suspense of the story, and pushed me toward the final chapters. The secondary characters were also quite interesting. Some of their back story is left rather hazy, building up for future books in the series. At the end of the story, I was left wanting more. I'm really looking forward to book 2, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. Overall, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill was a beautiful story of a woman coming into her own, finding strength in herself, but also forming some new, unexpected friendships. I hope you enjoy it! 

What was your favorite read of last year? What are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Comment below, I'd love to hear!


The Wish: A Review

Meg Chaney


Hello friends,

I'm so excited to start reviewing books for Bethany House. Blogging programs are becoming such a fun outlet for me. I receive free copies of books, in exchange for my honest review of the book. 

When I was young, my family lived in Lancaster County, Penslvannia. I was so intrigued by our Amish neighbors there. They chose such a different way of life, without eletricity, authomotives, or even having their picture taken. They were private, devout, and rule holders. They had abundant gardens, raised countless animals, and made the most beautiful quilts. I loved going to the markets and seeing all their beautiful home goods and produce for sale. 

It's no wonder that I started reading about them as I grew older. While I don't think I could ever, personaly, be Amish, there's a certain draw, perhaps the simplicity. As a pre-teen, Beverly Lewis was one of the first Amish Fiction writers that I read. I still remember reading The Shunning, The Confession, and The Reckoning. Such good books! If you've never read Beveraly Lewis, I definitely suggest picking them up.

All that to say, I was really excited to start reading Lewis' newest book, The Wish.  

One thing I love about Lewis is there is no one answer. Sometimes her characters find a happy life loving and serving God outside of the Amish community, and sometimes that life is found within their family and faith. Each story is different, each circumstance is different. In The Wish, there's a bit of a mystery. Overnight, Leona's best friend, Gloria disappears. For some reason, Gloria and her family chose to leave their Amish community. Years later, Leona receives a letter from her friend, and has to decide what to do. Does she go get her friend, and try to bring her back home? Or does she leave her in the ouside world? Leona's decision is a tricky one, there are many feelings and opinions at stake. As a devout Amish woman, soon to be married to the decon's son, she has a lot of things she's putting on the line if she does go after her dearest friend. But if she doesn't, she might always live to regret it....

The importance of prayer is a thread through this story. When Leona didn't know what to do, when the answers, the results, weren't evident or immediate, she offered up her problems to God. She asked Him for wisdom. She asked Him for direction.

Such good reminders for my own life as well. Sometimes, we receive differing opinions, sometimes the answers are hazy, it's unclear what the right or wrong choice would be. And so, we give it all to Jesus. 

Good writing should make you think, should encourage you in your own life. Beverly Lewis has me thinking about faith, about prayer, which are such great things. And so, yes, go pick up her book. Find a little corner in a coffee shop to read, and be encouraged and uplifted today. Because good fiction should leave us feeling encouraged, yes?

Looking For Lovely- A Review

Meg Chaney

Last year I signed up for the B&H Blogger's program. It sounded like fun to read books and then get to review them. Right up my alley. And then... life got busy, other things took precedent, and I never really go down to reviewing books. They sent me a few, and I failed, horribly. 

But life is about redemption, am I right? Last month, I saw the email from the blogging team, and requested a copy of Looking For Lovely by Annie F. Downs. So yes, this is a review of a book I got for free from B & H, but the words are definitely my own. Now Annie is someone I've enjoyed for a long time! I've always loved her writing style. It's so candid and down to earth. I loved her book Let's All Be Brave, and Looking For Lovely didn't disappoint either, in fact, I may have enjoyed it even more! 

Annie encouraged me to really seek out joy in my own life, to come to terms with some things, and to see to be more complete, more the woman God created me to be. In this book, Annie share about her body image struggles, something I can definitely relate to. She writes how, when she found Zumba, she finally found an exercise she actually enjoyed. Something that gave her joy, and made her feel good about herself: "I could feel that God was restoring things to me-- confidence in myself and my body, gratitude for how He made me" (p.124).

I have been on a very similar journey, as of late. Back in March, I happened upon a Pilates challenge and took it on a whim. Since then, I've found something that I'm excited to wake up and do each morning. I'm excited, because I love doing it, and I can also feel myself getting stronger and more confident through the process, more the woman God created me to be, not someone hiding behind body image issues, but free, lovely, joyful. 

Annie brought such words of encouragement in her book. I found myself seeking out moments of lovely in my own life, sunshine, dancing with my children, the details at a Ladies Tea at my church. It's all so beautiful, and I'm blessed to live such a life. Here encouraging voice and easy reading style was exactly what I needed during this crazy season of my life. So yes, pick up Annie's book when you get the chance and be encouraged :) 

On My Bookshelf: April Edition

Meg Chaney

It's been awhile since I've done a bookish post, so I thought I'd hop on for a moment.  Here's some books from the first few months of 2016 :) Also, follow me over at Goodreads, where I review some of my favorite finds!

Finished Reading: 

The first 3 books were audiobooks, one of my favorite things to do when I'm sitting with my kiddos at bedtime. I used to only listen to audio books on road trips, but I've found that they're great for bedtime, long walks, cooking dinner, and even folding laundry :)  

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was not for the faint of heart. It was a  WWII tale of two French sisters. There were so truly hard moments in this book to stomach, but I found it so fascinating, seeing Nazi occupied France through their eyes! I listened to this as an audiobook, which I would highly recommend! The narrator was excellent, really pulling out the stocks with some french accents (which I thought would annoy me at first, but I ended up loving). I found myself seeking out moments to listen to this one, even staying up late at night, which is the sign of a good book! 

If I Run by Terri Blackstock was very suspenseful. It's a worst nightmare come true! Casey Cox is on the run for a murder she didn't commit. She somehow has to convince the rest of the world that she didn't do it, even though her fingerprints are all over the evidence. This was such a quick listen. It definitely left me waiting in anticipation for the next book in the series to come out!

Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer. This is another tale of a worst nightmare coming true. Neva Shilling's husband dies, leaving her alone to run their general store, raise their two children... plus the three small children of the second wife he had hidden on the side... oh dear. An emotional story of finding God's forgiveness in the hardest of moments.

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey. I'm a bit sad that her Alaskan Courage series is done, but this new series, Chesapeake Valor, does give us some interesting new story lines. I was reminded of the show Bones, but in a Christian setting, ha! There's an FBI agent, a former sniper, and an extremely intelligent forensic anthropologist, among others. The romances are a little predictable, but the story is a compelling one. I'll be tuning in for the second book!

Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. The fascinating true story of Elizabeth's husband, and the 4 other missionaries who gave their lives to share the gospel in the jungles of Ecuador. Seriously, my respect for Elisabeth Elliot only grows with time. A beautiful story!

Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis.  Slow a times, but fascinating to read about a young C.S. Lewis and his search for God. He goes from knowing God as a boy, to becoming an all out Agnostic, to realizing that God really is the only option in life. I love the candidness Lewis brings, and also the stories of the horrible conditions of English boarding schools. 

Currently Reading:

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson 

 Mrs. Roosevelt's Confident by Susan Elia MacNeal

 A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

Steadfast Love: The Response of God to the Cries of Our Heart by Lauren Chandler

A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by Jacqueline Winspear. 


2016 Reading Challenge

Meg Chaney

Hi friends! I don't know about you, but I easily get overwhelmed by the amount of books on my to-do list. Last year I joined Modern Mrs. Darcy for her reading challenge. This year, I'm joining in as well. I started with her topics, but added a few of my own. As you can see, I still need a few suggestions for some different categories, so chime in if you have any must reads for me! Also, become my friend on Goodreads! I plan on keeping track of my books on there this year, as well as my special Pinterest board. Here's to a great year of reading!

A Book Published This Year: The Summer Before The War- Helen Simonsen

If I Run-Terri Blackstock 

Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

Cold Shot- Dani Pettrey 

A Book You Can Finish In A Day: Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante- Susan Elia MacNeal

A Book You've Been Meaning to Read: Through the Gates of Splendor- Elizabeth Elliot

A Book Recommended by Your Local Librarian or Bookseller:

A Book You Should Have Read in School: Night-Eli Wiesel

A Book Chosen For You By Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF: Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life- C.S. Lewis  (Chosen by my husband)

A Book Published Before You Were Born: The Complete Pat of Silverbush & Mistress Pat-L.M. Montgomery

A Book That Was Banned at Some Point- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

A Book You Previously Abandoned: Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

A Book That Intimidates You: 

A Book You've Already Read at Least Once: A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

A Biography: A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot, Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill- by Sonia Purnell

A Book Recommended by a Friend: The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond.

A Book I Want to Read on Audible: The Bronte Plot- by Katherine Reay

Books I've already completed this year:

Jane of Lantern Hill- L.M. Montgomery

Silenced &  Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey 

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent- Susan Elia MacNeal

The Girl Who Chased The Moon- Sarah Addison Allen

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah (Check out Goodreads for my review)