The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill, #1)

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill
(Tales from Ivy Hill #1)
by Julie Klassen



Slow and steady. That may not sound like a compliment for a book, but I do mean it that way.

This isn’t a fast-paced, gripping kind of story that you start reading and can’t stand to put down until you’ve sat reading for hours and finally turned the last page with a sense of relieved satisfaction. However, neither is it the kind of slow story that just drags on and on until you simply can’t bear to force yourself to read any more. It’s… Well, it’s kind of like hot chocolate. It’s warm and comforting and enjoyable, but you have to sip it slowly, taking it in bit by bit to truly enjoy it to it’s fullest.
Yeah… that’s the best way I can think to describe this book. It’s like hot chocolate. Which made it just the perfect kind of book to read on the cold days of late January and early February, eh? 😉

I did really enjoy this book. No, I wasn’t entirely sure about it at first– I worried that it might be a bit too slow for my taste, but that worry didn’t last long. I was quickly pulled into the story and enjoyed it more and more as it went along.

Jane still isn’t one of my favorite characters, but she’s definitely growing on me. I’ve enjoyed seeing her character develop and grow as she’s started taking possession and charge of the inn. I think she has a lot of potential and I’m hoping to see her grow even more. I really liked Thora a lot. She reminded me very much of Mrs. Thornton in the North & South mini-series. I haven’t read that book yet, but I could seriously hear the voice of Mrs. Thornton (played by Sinéad Cusack) in my head as I read Thora’s dialogue! They are quite a bit alike, I think… Thinking of that, I could sense hints of a few different classics throughout this book. I would just be reading along and suddenly something I’d read would conger and image in my mind from a classic I’d read or a film adaptation I had seen. I rather liked that. 🙂

But back to the characters… I must say I’m still not quite sure what I think of Patrick. I don’t like him, I know that. But I just can’t decide if I’m supposed to be starting to like him because he’s going to turn out to be a truly likable bloke– or if the author is going to try to make us readers like him just to confuse us and have him turn out to be quite the scoundrel after all. If I am supposed to like him, though, it’s going to take a bit more time and effort to get me to that point. I do like Gabriel, though I’m sure we’re all supposed to like him even while being slightly suspicious of him. I don’t hesitate to say that I’m going to be very disappointed if he turns out to be the scoundrel and Patrick turns out to be……. Well, I’ve probably already said too much on that subject so I’ll say no more. Suffice it to say, as I have already said, that I currently like Gabriel & dislike Patrick. I’ll be interested to look back on this after the series has finished to see if I still agree with those statements.

By the end of this story, things are really up in the air as far as any romance for Jane is concerned. I mean, she has– how many?– at least 3 potential suitors. And, while there’s no actual relationship between Jane and any of these men by the end of this book (sorry if I just spoiled anything for anyone!), that’s okay. I will be interested to see how Rachel’s and Mercy’s stories turn out. Rachel’s, at least, already seems to be taking an interesting turn. Thora’s own personal story turned out to be a bigger part of this book than I anticipated. I do have a bit of a gripe in regards to that… her story seemed to move in leaps and bounds toward the end and I did feel like it was rushed a bit too much, though I suppose that could be explained away in one way or another (ways which I have considered, but won’t mention due to potential spoilers).

To sum it up (because I’m afraid if I don’t stop now, I’ll just keep rambling on and on about this book…), I did really enjoy this book, and while it didn’t quite make it to my favorites list, I do give it 4 1/2 stars and a recommendation. I think anyone who loves the old classics like Austen, Gaskell, and Brontë will enjoy this book (and any of Julie’s book, really).

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.



I’m giving The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill 5 stars and highly recommend it to Regency fans and Christian Historical Fiction fans.  Read more…
~A.M. Heath

The story unfolds with an unhurried grace as Klassen transports her readers into another time and place. It celebrates the unique connections found within a community.  Read more…

I would describe this read as a warm family drama.  Read more…



Check out more of Julie Klassen’s books!
The Silent Governess The Secret of Pembrooke Park The Girl in the Gatehouse The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
 The Tutor's Daughter Lady of Milkweed Manor The Apothecary's Daughter The Painter's Daughter

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The Eye of the Photographer

Photography.  It’s about how a person sees the world…

…and how they decide to capture it.


You and I could be standing right next to each other, looking at the same view… and yet, not be seeing the same thing.  It happens all the time.  Because the way you see the world is not the same as the way I see it.  That’s how we end up with so many photos of similar things that are each slightly different in their own way.

If you’re at all familiar with my photography, you’ll know that I really enjoy nature photography and I love to see the up close details of little things that many people normally wouldn’t even notice.  How many times I have been told, “I never knew it looked like that!”  And that makes me happy.  It tells me that I have revealed something to someone– shown them something they’ve never seen before and may never have seen if I hadn’t decided to share with them my view of the world.

And how many times I have looked at a photo and thought, “Wow.  I’m glad they have an eye for that.”  Because if I had been standing in that person’s exact position, I may not have seen what they saw.  I may not have been able to capture the view that they captured.  But because that person’s eyes noticed something– saw something that caught their attention and appealed to them– they picked up their camera, snapped a photo, and shared it with me.  Maybe not with me in particular, but I was still able to see it.  For a moment, I am able to glimpse a view through that person’s eyes and see the world as they see it.

Sometimes, this can lead to a person beginning to view certain things differently than they did before.  When I started seeing photos of eyes and realized how curiously amazing they are, I decided to give it a try.  Obviously, I’m not quite as good as some at photographing eyes… but I am determined to improve on this and I am truly enjoying the journey.

Also, I used to not be at all interested in cemeteries.  Not that I thought they were too creepy or anything, but I just didn’t find them all that interesting.  When I started seeing all these very artistic cemetery photos (you can see some that I really like here: @my_minds_vagabonds), I began seeing cemeteries in a new way.  And I wanted to photograph them myself.  I started kinda creeping out my brothers with this sudden fascination too… but that’s beside the point.

Anyway… I was just sitting here today thinking about how thankful I am that so many photographers have been kind enough to allow me to glimpse the world through their eyes and, in doing so, have helped me to begin seeing the world in new ways myself.  Thank you!  I hope I have been or will be able to do the same.


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Looking Back on January 2017

Christmas Mail-Order Brides Death Comes to Pemberley At Your Request (Apart from the Crowd, #0.5) Plantation Christmas Weddings: Four-in-One Romance Collection (Romancing America) Sagebrush Christmas An Outlaw's Heart: A Southern Love Story (Among the Fair Magnolias) Let It Snow The Way Home (Seven Brides, Seven Brothers, #1)

New-To-Me Authors: 3

And the places I “visited” in my reading…

States: Wyoming – Illinois – Iowa – Nevada – Missouri – Nebraska – California – New York – Mississippi – Louisiana – Kansas – Oregon – Texas – Maryland – Massachusetts

Countries: England

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2017 Reading — Challenges & Expectations

New Year’s resolutions?  The only ones I have ever set have involved books.  😉  For me, starting the New Year off right includes setting new reading goals and figuring out all the books that I hope to read in the following year.  🙂

I started fairly early last year compiling a list of books that would be coming out in 2017 that I was looking forward to reading… You can find my list here.

These are the challenges that I have set for myself this year:

2017 Reading Challenge
—  Goal: Read a total of at least 90 books in 2017

New Authors To You Challenge
Goal: Read at least 15 new-to-me authors in 2017

Library Challenge
Goal: Read at least 50 library books in 2017

Slay the TBR Dragon Challenge
Goal: Read at least 50 books from my TBR pile in 2017

Finish The Series Challenge
Goal: Finish at least 12 series in 2017

Audiobook Challenge
Goal: Finish at least 30 audiobooks in 2017

Bingo Challenge
Goal: Finish at least 5 books in 2017 (to complete 1 Bingo on the card)

Some books that I’m really hoping to read this year:
(not including the 2017 new releases)

These, of course, are only a few of the many books I want to read– these are some of the ones that I have sitting on my shelf right now, just waiting for me to find some time for them.  I know I won’t read all the books on my to-read list, but I do hope to put a good-sized dent in it.  Wish me luck!  😉

Annabel Lee (Coffey & Hill, #1) By Your Side (Crisis Team #1) Deadly Encounter (FBI Task Force #1) Falcon (Quiet Professionals #3) For Such a Time as This (Women of Hope #1) The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill, #1) Intimidation (A Shefford-Johnson Case, #3) Love Everlasting (Brides of Seattle, #3) Prelude for a Lord (The Gentlemen Quartet #1) Three Wishes (River of Time: California, #1) Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom, #1) Two Days in Caracas (Titus Ray Thriller #2) Vendetta (The Nikki Boyd Files #1) Where She Belongs (Misty Willow, #1) Without Warning (Elite Guardians, #2) Written in Blood (The Foley Chronicles:Files from the 8th District Book 1)


— Have you set any reading goals for 2017?
— What books are you most looking forward to reading this year?

I wish you all a happy year of reading in 2017!! 🙂

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Top 16 Reads of 2016

Of the 100 books I read in 2016, these are my 16 favorites.  Since it would be nearly impossible to list them according to which ones I enjoyed more, I’ve listed them alphabetically.

Read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you.  And I’ve also included a link to my review of each book.

Always Watching (Elite Guardians, #1)The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.
But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.
 – My Review

Candle in the Darkness The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline’s eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail.  – My Review

The Cautious Maiden (The Everstone Chronicles #4) Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents’ New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks; but when Violet’s own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU. With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust and who to leave behind.  – My Review

Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor, #1) In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.
Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.
 – My Review

An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House, #2) Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he’s irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.
What Colin doesn’t know is that Georgina’s desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina’s plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.
 – My Review

One Enchanted Christmas Last December, mystery author Maren Grant had the most perfect night of her life. On a glimmering winter evening, she got to watch the photo shoot for her very first book and ended up on a magical date with the cover model himself—Colin Renwycke.
Fast forward one year. This December, with a looming deadline, restless spirit and her creative spark long since gone, Maren is desperate to get unstuck. And she can’t get Colin out of her head…or his year-old open invitation to spend a couple weeks writing at his family’s farm.
Drew Renwycke never planned to come home and take over the Renwycke family farm. But he’s spent too many years watching his siblings unravel, including his brother, Colin, after one terrible family mistake. If moving to Maple Valley, Iowa, renovating an old farmhouse and switching careers is what it takes to put the Renwycke family back together, he’ll do it.
But his simple plan upends when a scrappy author lands on his doorstep. And she just might be the key to coaxing his brother home. But what if he wants her all to himself? Drew will have to choose between his Christmas wish and the enchantment of a holiday romance that just might be the happy ending they all long for.
 – My Review

One Enchanted Eve (Enchanted Christmas Collection #2) A delightful Christmas romance about finding the perfect recipe for love.
After years of mistakes and regret, Colin Renwycke finally has a plan: Hone his baking talent at the Denver Culinary Institute and embark on a new career as a pastry chef. If he’s lucky, he might even manage to earn back his family’s respect. But despite his skills in the kitchen, Colin’s a mess in the classroom and his ongoing disasters are proving too much for his prickly instructor. If he loses his spot at the school, he’s out of backup plans.
Culinary school instructor Rylan Jefferson has the chance to reclaim her dream of running her own bakery. But she only has until Christmas Eve to come up with the perfect recipe to impress an eccentric investor. She has no time for holiday parties or family plans . . . and especially not for the unruly student baker who couldn’t follow a recipe if his life depended on it.
But Colin has the one ingredient Rylan needs most—talent. Lots of it. And when he makes a proposal that just might solve both their problems, Rylan can’t say no—even if it does mean traveling all the way to Iowa. It just might be that the snow-covered plains and a charming small town full of postcard Christmas cheer are exactly what her hungry heart needs . . . along with a man who is much more than he seems.
 – My Review

Fire by Night Book 2 of Refiner’s Fire. The drama of the Civil War unfolds through the eyes of two very different Northern girls. Lovely Julia Hoffman has always enjoyed the carefree life of her well-to-do family, but when she fails to attract the attention of Rev. Nathaniel Greene, a fierce abolitionist, she determines to bring meaning to her empty and shallow existence. When she becomes a Union nurse, her eyes are opened to the realities of war and suffering. She also meets Phoebe, who has entered the army under false pretenses–and whose journey to understanding herself, as well as the tumultuous world about her, is revealed with sensitivity and drama.  – My Review

Jane Eyre Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.
 – My Review

Keep Holding On (Walker Family #3) Beckett Walker hasn’t stepped foot in Maple Valley in years. There’s no getting past the painful memories, and there’s every chance he’ll be arrested as soon as he shows his face. Which is exactly what happens when he finally returns. Suddenly his dream of adventure as a military lawyer comes skidding to a halt.
Horticulturist Kit Danby has spent too much time missing home and her childhood best friend–Beckett Walker. Now she might have a shot at reclaiming both. After years of living abroad, she returns to run her family’s apple orchard. She has one season to turn a profit and impress the father she barely knows. But she can’t do it alone.
It should be simple: Beckett needs community service hours. Kit needs a helping hand. But there’s more at stake than either of them planned. With a tangled past and futures that look nothing alike, they’ll have to find a way to weather the storms of the present . . . or risk losing everything.
 – My Review

Playing the Part (A Class of Their Own, #3) Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan’s interest turns threatening. Lucinda’s widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta’s life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson’s estate to hide out.
Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there’s much more to him than society knows.
Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail’s matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can’t ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it’ll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he
 – My Review

Like Never Before (Walker Family, #2) Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher…if only she knew who he was.
After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime–a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he’s inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.
But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley’s quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.
 – My Review

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House, #1) Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
 – My Review

Pride and Prejudice When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.  – My Review

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence, #1) Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, embark on a daring business scheme – Young Adventurers Ltd.
Their advertisement says they are ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’. But their first assignment, for the sinister Mr. Whittington, plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined…
 – My Review

Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2) After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.
FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.
Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish.
 – My Review


What were your favorite reads of 2016?
If you did a blog post, please share a link! 🙂

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2016 Reading — Best & Worst

I’ve really enjoyed posting my favorites and least favorites of the books I read, so I thought I would do that again this year.
Read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you.
(I’ll link all of these book cover images to my review of that book so that you can see it if you’d like to.)

Favorite Books of 2016…
(These are my very favorites… I think. 😛  I’ll limit myself to 5 here since I’ll have my “Top 16 Reads of 2016” post up next Tuesday.)
Playing the Part (A Class of Their Own, #3) Like Never Before (Walker Family, #2) The Cautious Maiden (The Everstone Chronicles #4) Always Watching (Elite Guardians, #1) An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House, #2)

Least-Favorite Books of 2016…
(These are books I rated at least 2 stars.  They weren’t… wholly awful, I guess… I wouldn’t tell you “don’t read them”, but I also wouldn’t recommend them.)
Double Minds by Terri Blackstock The Bracelet Second Chance Ranch A Little Bit Country His Love Endures Forever (Land of Canaan #3) The Dressmaker


Not-Worth-Reading Books of 2016…
(These are books that I forced myself to actually finish just so I could write an accurate review.  These are books that I DO NOT recommend– in fact, I’d recommend just avoiding them.)
Country Bride Starving Hearts Third Time's the Charm Brentwood's Ward

Unfinished Books of 2016
(These are books that I didn’t even finish.  Ones that I might recommend to someone who might like it better than me.  They weren’t bad books, they were just too long to waste that much time on a book that I wasn’t enjoying.)
Distortion (Moonlighters, #2) Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour, #1) Misery Loves Company No Other Will Do (Ladies of Harper’s Station, #1)

Favorite New-To-Me Authors of 2016…
Agatha ChristiePepper D. BashamNicole Deese

Least-Favorite New-To-Me Authors Of 2016…
Michelle Griep – Debbie Macomber – Rene Gutteridge – Erin Healy – Janine Mendenhall

Books That Surprised Me (in a good way) in 2016…
(These are books that I didn’t really expect to enjoy as much as I did!)
The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence, #1) The Prayer Box A Twist of Faith (Mitchell's Crossroads #1) Intervention (Intervention Series, Book 1) A Cliché Christmas An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House, #2)

Books That Disappointed Me in 2016…
(These are the books that, based on recommendations & ratings from friends, I expected to be really good… but they just fell sadly short of my expectations.)
No Other Will Do (Ladies of Harper’s Station, #1) Brentwood's Ward Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour, #1) Summer of Dreams (From This Moment #0.5) The Dressmaker

Favorite Book Covers Of 2016…
(You wouldn’t think this would be as hard as it is!  But I’m kinda picky about book covers so…..)
Playing the Part (A Class of Their Own, #3) A Cliché Christmas The Prayer Box

Favorite Re-reads of 2016…
Candle in the Darkness Fire by Night One Enchanted Christmas Pride and Prejudice Jane Eyre 

Favorite Christmas Books of 2016…
(I’m not much of a Christmas reader, but I did read some good Christmas-themed books this year, so I thought I’d share my favorites.)
One Enchanted Christmas One Enchanted Eve (Enchanted Christmas Collection #2) A Cliché Christmas 



What were some of your Best & Worst of 2016?

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2016 Reading — Challenges

I’ve done a post like this the past couple of years and I liked the way those turned out so I plan to continue in that pattern this year and post today about what I read in 2016 and what challenges I was able to complete.
So, here goes!  😉
Read my review, read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you.

Looking back on 2016…..

I set 7 reading goals for myself at the beginning of 2016 and I’m happy to say that I was able to complete all but one of them!  🙂

2016 Reading Challenge —  Goal: Read a total of at least 90 books in 2016 (lowered this from 110)
Completed: 12/10/16  — End Total: Officially 101
(And 29 of those were 2016 new releases, btw. 🙂 )

New Author Challenge — Goal: Read at least 30 new-to-me authors in 2016
Incomplete — End Total: 21

Library Book Challenge — Goal: Read at least 50 library books in 2016
Completed: 10/24/16  — End Total: 66

TBR list Challenge — Goal: Read at least 50 books from my TBR pile in 2016
Completed: 12/27/16  —  End Total: 52

Series Challenge — Goal: Finish at least 12 series in 2016
Completed: 12/19/16  — End Total: 12

Singles Challenge — Goal: Read at least 16 books in 2016 (books can’t be part of a series)
Completed: 10/03/16  — End Total: 19

Pages Challenge — Goal: Read at least 20,000 pages in 2016
Completed: 09/20/16  — End Total: 29,734 



I also tried to keep track of all the places I visited in my reading travels.  I didn’t get it written down for every book I read, but I did for most of them.

I visited at least 32 states and 7 countries in 2016! 😀

Where did I visit the most?  England and Texas.

And now I’m looking forward to seeing where 2017 will take me!


Below is a month-by-month list of the books I read in 2016…
Check them out — maybe you’ll find some books to add to your TBR list. 😉
(read my review, read a book blurb, find the rest of the books in a series, or learn more about an author by clicking on the cover of the book that interests you.)

Healing Hearts The Painter's Daughter With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry Nursing the Soldier's Heart (Village of Hope #2)

Hawk (Quiet Professionals #2) Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2) Her Cowboy Hero (Refuge Ranch #1) The Thin Man Candle in the Darkness

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (Avenue of Dreams, #1) Mail Order Cowboy (Brides of Simpson Creek, #1) Always Watching (Elite Guardians, #1) The Lightkeeper's Daughter (Mercy Falls, #1) Playing the Part (A Class of Their Own, #3) Mountain Rescue (Echo Mountain #1) Buried Secrets (Heart of the Amazon, #2) Mermaid Moon (Sunset Cove, #2) Pride and Prejudice

Intervention: A Novel Phoebe's Groom (E-mail Order Brides, #1) Vicious Cycle (Intervention, #2) The Cautious Maiden (The Everstone Chronicles #4) Lonestar Sanctuary (Lonestar Series, #1)

Lonestar Homecoming (Lonestar Series, #3) Like Never Before (Walker Family, #2) Downfall Her Rancher Bodyguard (Martin's Crossing #5) Rescued by the Farmer (Oaks Crossing #2) The Doctor Takes a Wife (Brides of Simpson Creek, #2)

Lonestar Angel (Lonestar Series, #4) Secrets of Sloane House (Chicago World's Fair Mystery #1) The Dressmaker Butterfly Palace At Love's Bidding (Ozark Mountain Romance #2) Sins of the Past His Love Endures Forever (Land of Canaan #3) Summer of Dreams (From This Moment #0.5) Fire and Ice (Wild at Heart, #3) A Twist of Faith (Mitchell's Crossroads #1)

Fire by Night Jane Eyre Lonestar Secrets (Lonestar Series, Book 2) The Baby Tree Second Chance Ranch If Ever I Would Leave You (Montana Rescue #0.5) Third Time's the Charm

A Matter of Trust (Mia Quinn, #1) The Boden Birthright (The Cimarron Legacy #0.5) A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House, #1) Obsession (A Shefford-Johnson Case, #2) A Deadly Business Distortion (Moonlighters, #2) The Case of the Missing Lady (Tommy & Tuppence Series Short) The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger: A Short Story (Tommy & Tuppence) The House of Lurking Death: A Short Tory (Tommy & Tuppence) The Case of the Middle-Aged Wife: A Short Story The Case of the Discontented Soldier Trial By Fire (FBI Task Force #0.5) Misery Loves Company The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence, #1) Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor, #1)

An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House, #2) Where There's Smoke (Montana Fire, #1) Love on the Range: A Christian Western Romance (Looking Glass Lake, #0.5) Two Little Girls in Blue Double Minds Tidewater Inn (Hope Beach, #1) Undercover Bride (Undercover Ladies #2) Calico Spy (Undercover Ladies #3) No One to Trust (Hidden Identity, #1) Starving Hearts The Goodbye Bride (Summer Harbor, #2) Nowhere to Turn (Hidden Identity, #2)

Brentwood's Ward Never Let You Go A Light to My Path

A Treasure Concealed (Sapphire Brides, #1) The Bracelet 7041799 27066698 15760496 18814682 18996650 Too Rich for a Bride (The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek, #2) 19034715


Tangled Webs (Men of Valor #3) All I Want For Christmas: A Sweet Serenade Christmas Novella One Enchanted Christmas One Enchanted Eve (Enchanted Christmas Collection #2) The Prayer Box Country Bride Keep Holding On (Walker Family #3) Traces of Guilt (Evie Blackwell Cold Case #1) Blind Trust (Second Chances, #3) Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) Broken Wings (Second Chances, #4) The Missing Bride (Christian Brides Historical) A Little Bit Country Deadly Hunt (Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations #1) A Cliché Christmas Playing With Fire (Montana Fire #2)


Click here to see what I read in 2012…
Click here to see what I read in 2013…

Click here to see what I read in 2014…
Click here to see what I read in 2015…

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Looking Back on December 2016

Tangled Webs (Men of Valor #3) All I Want For Christmas: A Sweet Serenade Christmas Novella One Enchanted Christmas One Enchanted Eve (Enchanted Christmas Collection #2) The Prayer Box Country Bride Keep Holding On (Walker Family #3) Traces of Guilt (Evie Blackwell Cold Case #1) Blind Trust (Second Chances, #3) Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) Broken Wings (Second Chances, #4) The Missing Bride (Christian Brides Historical) A Little Bit Country Deadly Hunt (Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations #1) A Cliché Christmas Playing With Fire (Montana Fire #2)

New-To-Me Authors: 4

And the places I “visited” in my reading…

States: Nebraska – Missouri – Washington – Minnesota – Iowa – Colorado – North Carolina – Massachusetts – California – Illinois – Louisiana – Maine – Georgia – Arizona – Oregon – Montana

Countries: none

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


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Good Christmas Reads

Are you still looking for a good Christmas read or two?  Well, look no further because I have a couple of very good ones for you! 😀

I read One Enchanted Christmas last year and thoroughly enjoyed it!  So when the next book, One Enchanted Eve, came out this year, I decided to re-read the first one before diving into the second one.  I have no regrets. 😉  These books are both on my favorites list.

– One Enchanted Christmas –

One Enchanted Christmas Wow. What a pleasant surprise!
I mean, I did expect an enjoyable read — this is one of Melissa Tagg’s books, after all! 😉 — but I was still taken by surprise by how much I really enjoyed this book! If you know me well, you know that I’m not real big on Christmas books. I like them, sure, but I don’t often truly love them. Well, I think I may have to officially name this as my favorite Christmas book.
And can I just go ahead and call it quirky? Because it was. And I really like that!

I loved the writing style! I think the narrator was just what this book needed to make it better than simply “a really good read”.  I loved the characters! They were fun and likable. And quite believable, too, I think.  I loved the storyline! Like the characters, it was quite fun and even rather believable– more than I expected it to be.

I enjoyed this story and the way Melissa told it. I hope she writes more novellas like this one– I’m excited to read more! And I’m also excited to read more about the Renwycke family! (Also, did I mention I love that surname? Just a little bonus, I guess. 😉 )

UPDATE: Re-read this in 2016 and it’s just as good the second time around!

– One Enchanted Eve –

One Enchanted Eve (Enchanted Christmas Collection #2)

Before I say anything else– if you haven’t read One Enchanted Christmas yet… read it first!

I have yet to read a book of Melissa’s that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. In fact, I have yet to rate one of her books lower than 5 stars. And there’s a good reason for that: her books are fabulous!! And this one is no exception. Even though it’s “only” a 134-page novella, it doesn’t feel like it. Somehow, Melissa has managed to make her novellas feel like full-length novels, and that just makes me love it even more!

I really enjoyed the ride this book took me on back to the beloved town of Maple Valley for another cold December. I enjoyed getting to hang out with the Renwycke family and their friends, getting to know Colin better… and growing to love him, as I knew I would. The fact that he dragged his rather reluctant culinary school instructor along for the adventure that turned out so different than either of them expected, of course, just made the story even better! 😉

Colin has a lot to work out with his family. I loved seeing the struggles of his relationship with Drew as both brothers wanted to be close again, but just couldn’t seem to find a way to make it happen. And when their parents came… I’ll go ahead and admit that I did tear up a few times. But I was so happy to see relationships repaired!

And Rylan… I love her too. She’s really struggling with some things regarding her family as well as some stuff from her past. And her future? Yeah, she’s struggling with that too. And don’t forget Colin! Because having him in her class is definitely not making her life any easier! 😛 The development of their relationship was something special and will definitely have you cheering for them to get together.

Overall, this is a great read that I have plans to read again (when the third book comes out next year? Please tell me there will be another one next year!). Kudos to Melissa Tagg for making her novellas just as wonderfully enjoyable as any full length novel! 🙂



– One Enchanted Christmas –

I know what you’re thinking: “Open invitation? What’s Colin talking about? Why didn’t you let us see that part of their date? Or, for that matter, any part of their date other than that first adorable moment?” But this is a novella, dear reader. There’s simply not time to show you everything. And thus, we skip ahead to present day…

[Narrator] Again, I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, what? Drew Renwycke? What about Colin?” No worries, reader friend. You’ll get to see Book Cover Colin again. But for now, try to settle in and give Drew a chance. I have a feeling you might like him. Now back to the story…

He’d really thought that first night when Maren showed up that maybe if his family wasn’t enough to get Colin home, she might be. Maybe that’s why he’d made such an impulsive invitation for her to stay. [Narrator] Um, no, guys. He liked her. That’s why he said she could stay. But go ahead, Drew. Tell yourself whatever you want.

– One Enchanted Eve –

“You weren’t lying. It really did snow.” Colin let out a laugh at Rylan’s gasped words. “No, I wasn’t lying. Generally if I’m going to tell a lie, I try to pick a juicier topic than the weather.”

“If I die, Colin Renwycke—” “Then I promise to give a great eulogy at your funeral.” And with that, he reached one arm behind her and gave her a solid push.

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