Tag Archives: Prohibition

The Chapel Car Bride

Book Review: The Chapel Car Bride

Author: Judith Miller

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back cover summary from Baker Publishing Group:

After a sheltered life in Pittsburgh, Hope Irvine is ready for a new adventure. When her father takes a position as a preacher in a railroad car converted into a traveling church, she’s thrilled at the chance to accompany him. While accommodations in their new chapel car home are tight, Hope couldn’t be happier putting her musical skills to good use and ministering to the people of West Virginia alongside her father. But when their chapel car arrives in Finch, West Virginia, they find a coal mining community that has hit hard times and is suspicious of outsiders.

Luke Hughes works for the coal mine when he can, but the struggling company doesn’t always offer steady work. When Reverend Irvine and Hope arrive in town, Luke is intrigued by what the reverend can teach him–and by the lovely and kind Hope.

When Hope’s desire to bring supplies and Sunday school classes to neighboring counties leads to her traveling with a flirtatious young mine manager, Luke is hard-pressed to suppress his jealousy. But when he begins to suspect the manager’s motives are less than charitable, can he prove it without hurting Hope, or worse, putting her in danger?

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            I had just heard about chapel cars and their fascinating history a couple weeks before I had the opportunity to read and review The Chapel Car Bride, so I couldn’t pass up the offer. This book gives some insight into what the chapel cars were like as well as adding some imagination as to how their inhabitants lived and spent their time. It also takes a look at a period of history in West Virginia that is fascinating

The plot is multi-faceted, with several different characters’ point of views. The Chapel Car Bride explores mining troubles, moonshining and revenuers, and opportunities in that day for spreading the Gospel.

While the plot and setting were intriguing, I’m afraid this book just didn’t strike home for me. It didn’t keep my attention, and some of the characters seemed kind of flat. However, the story and history were there in abundance.

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group: Judith Miller is an award-winning writer whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her family make their home in Kansas. Learn more at www.judithmccoymiller.com.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Love Comes Calling

 

love comes callingBook Review: Love Comes Calling

Author: Siri Mitchell

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Love Comes Calling:

A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That’s all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She’s tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can’t deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she’s not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It’s simple: avoid Griff’s attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call…with her very own Griff as the target.

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First of all, happy Resurrection Sunday! As a Christian, this is my favorite of holidays. It reminds me like no other of God’s grace to me, and my purpose here on this earth. Christ is risen!

I was very excited when I got the opportunity to review Siri Mitchell’s latest novel, so I signed up right away. Then I waited. And waited. Waited. Love Comes Calling refused to call on me (forgive the pun). That is, until I found out there had been a mix up in shipping the book out of the warehouse to reviewers. At last, though, it arrived. I couldn’t help myself. Though I had other books I needed to read to review, I skipped the to-be-read line and went right to Love Comes Calling.

At first, I was a wee bit confused as to how the back cover blurb tied into the story I was reading. Ellis and Griff’s relationship was different than I thought it was going to be. I was under the (misguided) impression that he worked at the telephone company. Not so. After I figured out what was going on, though, I really got into the story. Ellis’s character was really fun to read, though she frustrated me at times with her lies to herself and family, as well as broken promises. I enjoyed that Siri made her character unique, in that Ellis has ADHD, though that is never stated by any of the characters in the book. It was intriguing to see how Ellis handled this aspect of herself and how those around her reacted to her. This book is also set during Prohibition. Siri tackles the question of whether people’s morality can be governed by law, and if it even should. So if you would like to learn a little something about Prohibition and the feelings of people at the time, Love Comes Calling would be a great read.

As I came towards the end of the book, I was so ready for the spiritual tie-in I was sure was coming. Ellis struggles with being good enough for those around her, but instead of Ellis learning for herself that God makes her adequate, the book ends with someone else expressing to her that she’s good enough for them. So that was a let-down for me. I was looking for something with a more obvious message, I guess, and that just wasn’t to be found in this book.

If you’re looking for a peek into the Prohibition era, the Roaring Twenties, and the famous Hello Girls, then Love Comes Calling is a book that you’re going to want to pick up.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. ~ To learn more about Siri and her other books, visit her web page:http://www.sirimitchell.com/

I was given a review copy of Love Comes Calling from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

 

Sweet Mercy

16110344Book Review: Sweet Mercy

Author: Ann Tatlock

Review by Grace Olson

I apologize that this review is a little behind schedule. I have been working at an overnight camp for the past five weeks so the weekends have been my only time to work on my reviews. Today’s novel is set in the Great Depression era, a period in our nation’s history that I find particularly interesting as my grandma grew up during this difficult time. So without further ado, Sweet Mercy.

The Story

Taken from the back of Sweet Mercy:

When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.


Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.


When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?

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Sweet Mercy was written from Eve’s first-person point of view, something that I wished had been different as I would have liked to get into the heads of the other characters. That being said, had the book been written in third person, I would not have gotten to know Eve as well, so I don’t know that the best of both worlds is achievable. The book starts out with Eve as a grandma with her grandchild looking for something in the attic of the Marryat Island Ballroom and she tells the story of how she came to be in Mercy, Ohio and what she experienced while there. I liked how the story was wrapped up nicely in the epilogue, answering all the lingering questions the reader might be left with. I also found how Tatlock wrote about Prohibition and the strong, varied feelings of the day interesting as I hadn’t read many novels dealing with that topic.

Sweet Mercy is not a romance, though I wondered if it was going to be when I started out. The small amount of romance in the book was sweet, and I wished I could have read more of Eve’s life after the book to see her story play out.

I was expecting more from this story in regards to a spiritual message. The Catholic Church was alluded to several times as well as some of its saints, and the epilogue contained a brief mention of Jesus forgiving sins, but I didn’t feel as if it was backed up by the rest of the book. The phrase, “love shall cover the multitude of sins”, seemed to be the prevailing theme of the book, but this seemed to fall flat for me. As I am not a Catholic, I did not find the references to the Catholic Church meaningful, so that was a downside of this book for me.

About the Author 

Biography from Bethany House Publisher’s website. Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association “Book of the Year” in fiction for both All the Way Home and I’ll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her “one of Christian fiction’s better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories.” Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina. ~ To learn more about her and the other books she has written, visit her web page: http://www.anntatlock.com/

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Sweet Mercy was an entertaining read that I did enjoy, but I went into the book with expectations that I gathered from the back and from what I’m used to receiving from Bethany House Publishers, and ended up being disappointed. For those looking for an interesting read dealing with Prohibition, the feelings of the time, and a coming-of-age tale, Sweet Mercy could be the book for you.

I was given a free copy of Sweet Mercy from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review.

Sweet Mercy is available in download or paper copy.