Book Review: With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander

with this pledge tamera alexander book review

Synopsis:

History takes on vivid life in the stunning first full-length installment of Tamera Alexander's new series, The Carnton Novels.

On the night of November 30, 1864, a brutal battle in Franklin, Tennessee, all but decimates the Confederacy and nearly kills Captain Roland Ward Jones. A decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, Jones has a vision on the battlefield and, despite the severity of his wounds, believes his life will be spared. But a life without his leg, he can't abide. He compels Elizabeth "Lizzie" Clouston—governess to the McGavock family at the Carnton mansion—to intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate. True to her word, Lizzie speaks on his behalf and saves not only the captain's leg but also his life.

When a fourteen-year-old soldier dies in Lizzie's arms that night, the boy's final words, whispered with urgency, demand that Lizzie deliver them to their intended recipient. But all she has is the boy's first name. And, as she soon discovers, there's no record of him ever having enlisted. How can she set out alone across a land so divided by war and hatred to honor her pledge? Even more, does she dare accept Captain Jones's offer to accompany her? As he coalesces at Carnton, romance has blossomed between him and Lizzie—a woman already betrothed to a man she does not love.

From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

  • Published: 2/8/2019

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • Pages: 448

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.48

with this pledge tamera alexander book review
I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night, Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings, I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
— Psalm 63:6-8

Why I Chose This Book

Tamera first came out with the Christmas novella - Christmas as Carnton in 2017 and it was one of the first few books I reviewed here on the blog (you can read my review —-> HERE). That book took place after the Civil War, and this book takes place during the Civil War so I was excited to re meet some of the characters - The McGavock’s.

First Initial Thoughts

Elizabeth Clouston is the governess of the household for the McGavock’s children. In the beginning it starts off with a beautiful day of teaching but then all of a sudden Elizabeth starts seeing officers walking in the field ready to battle. The opening part of the book reminded me of the opening battle scene of Saving Private Ryan. Yes, Tamera went into that much detail in the horrors of battle.

The Battle mentioned in this book is Battle of Franklin. And it did actually occur near their plantation. It was one of the worst battles in the Civil War with over 6 thousand killed on the confederate side, and over 2 thousand dead on the Union side. What I couldn’t believe is that many of these kinds of battles took place so close to people’s plantations/homes! And often, the owners were forced to use their home as a “hospital” for the wounded because there really was no where else to put them. And worst of all these horrid conditions were exposed to the children of the household. I couldn’t imagine!

Captain Roland Jones is a young man who recently lost his wife and child due to influenza. He almost looses his right leg and looses part of his hand due to a cannonball. His other leg was also injured, therefore he is immobile. He then begins to have a relationship with Elizabeth while she takes care of him.

Elizabeth is engaged to Towny, a man she knew from her childhood and is her best friend. But he is just that - her best friend. She doesn’t feel romantic feelings towards him but she tries to convince herself that she will begin to love him overtime. She feels desperate to marry because she is 27 years old and wants to have children. If you remember, at that age during that era, 27 was starting to be too old to have children.

Setting

Whew, Tamera did not shy away from the obscenities of war. The aftermath - she described it in such horrid detail, the injuries, the smell, the pleas and crying out in pain. Even though it was quite hard to read, I appreciated that Tamera did this. It makes us realize the horrible result of war and what it does to the families of the victims. Tamera really brought the reader into the world of Carnton, and what it felt like living at that time.

War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible.
— Abraham Lincoln

Final Thoughts

What I found quite impressive about this book is that Tamera did extensive historical research on this novel. All the characters, letters, the battle itself, were real. Yes, all the people in this book were real people! You can check out more about her research process, view some pictures of the characters, and read her Q&A —> HERE.

I really liked the relationship between Roland and Elizabeth. I absolutely adored their conversations together and I felt that they fit so well together. Despite their differing views on slavery. I think without Roland, Elizabeth wouldn’t have started to second think her engagement to Towny. To not settle and lean on God to know on what to do. I also liked that she didn’t make Roland a Union soldier, I think that would have been to cliche.

Elizabeth, I really enjoyed seeing her development throughout the novel. In the beginning though I have to say, she was so brave in taking care of the wounded and assisting Dr. Phillips in the surgeries. I couldn’t imagine, never doing any kind of medical work, assist in surgeries, but not only any surgery - but amputations. I give her big round of a plause!

I think the main message of this book is to know that bad things happen but what you do after that is important. We don’t know why God lets bad things happen but we have to trust in him that all things happen for a reason and he has a plan for us. I also believe Tamera wanted to shine a light on the affects of war and what it does to one person.

Would I Recommend?

Most definitely! However, this book can be very graphic in terms of war. if you are quite sensitive (or have PTSD due to being in war) to not necessarily the act of battle, but it’s aftermath, then you might want to pass.


You can purchase the book —- > HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.

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Book Review: The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

the bride of ivy green julie klassen book review

Synopsis:

Much has happened in idyllic Ivy Hill in recent months, and while several villagers have found new love and purpose, questions remain--and a few dearly held dreams have yet to be fulfilled.

Jane Bell is torn. Gabriel Locke is back and has made his intentions clear. But Jane is reluctant to give up her inn and destine another man to a childless marriage. Then someone she never expected to see again returns to Ivy Hill. . . .

Mercy Grove has lost her school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires seems out of reach. Should she uproot herself from Ivy Cottage to become a governess for a former pupil? Her decision will change more lives than her own.

A secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, but the ladies soon suspect she isn't who she claims to be. Will they oust the imposter, or help rescue her from a dangerous predicament?

In the meantime, everyone expects Miss Brockwell to marry a titled gentleman, even though her heart is drawn to another. While the people of Ivy Hill anticipate one wedding, an unexpected bride may surprise them all.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

  • Published: 12/4/18

  • Pages: 400

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.23 Stars

the bride of ivy green by julie klassen
Mercy reminded herself that God did not promise ease and happiness in this life. But He did promise peace and joy, and she was determined to hold on to both, somehow.
— Mercy

Why I Chose This Book

I was so happy to hear that the third book in the Tales From Ivy Hill series came out in December of last year. When I received it in the mail from the publisher- I was even more excited to review it here on the blog. If you remember from previous review, I absolutely adored the second book in the series!

First Initial Thoughts

This book picks up right after the second book in the series. So, I recommend that you read this whole series in order.

The book starts off with Mercy after her school closed down. When her school closed down I really felt for her. She was just so lost on what to do afterward. it was her life purpose! Her brother and sister in law move in to her home. Her new sister in law, Helena, ugh she was a rude woman! She was a stuck up B&**! who demanded and complained about everything. She also had Mercy move upstairs to the attic so that she could make room for her family. I have no idea what her brother saw in Helena. But I guess that is what that time period was like - marriage was often arranged.

James Drake adopted Alice from the previous book. He sets up his home in Jane’s old home. Alice is a previous pupil of Mercy. Mercy absolutely adored Alice. Alice is such a sweet child - I really loved her sweet and charming character. James needs a governess for Alice and Mercy signs up despite what her family thinks.

Rachel and Sir Timothy are settling in after their honeymoon in Scotland. At home Rachel is trying to get along with her new mother in law. Her mother in law, I wouldn’t say is rude or mean but she can be demanding and forward about things. Her new sister in law Justina is a young lady who is set up to marry Sir Cyril. She is not happy about it. Rachel tries to play matchmaker - which I found quite adorable. But her mother in law is not too happy about it.

Jane is finally getting her happily ever after in the beginning. Her and Gabriel are so sweet together and I love them together. I was so happy to see her finally get the life she deserved! But then someone from her past comes into the picture - and can she move on with that person in the picture?

A new character comes into the picture in this book. A new seamstress, Victorine, comes into town bringing high fashions. Many in the town swear they have seen her before, but can’t recall where. Who is she? And why did she decide Ivy Hill of all places?

Setting

I love Ivy Hill. It is just the ideal place I could see myself living in. The old country village, the English countryside, riding horses, friendly people - yep sign me up! Julie just brings England to life during this time period in such a beautiful and idyllic kind of way.

Final Thoughts

I was so happy to read the conclusion to this series. Klassen has a true talent with attending to every detail. With that being said, this book took a little while to pick up. And be forewarned, like the previous books, there is a lot of conversation and not so much “action”. It kind of reminded me of Downton Abbey - if it was a series of books instead of a TV series.

I really enjoyed the mystery of the new comer to the town, Victorine. I chuckled when all the ladies in the town would go into her shop to “look around” when they were really trying to find answers. While some other readers thought it wasn’t needed to have a new character so late in the series, I kind of liked it. It kept the series fresh. And I won’t give anything away, but it helped answer some impending questions from the previous books.

I really liked Justina’s story line. I admired Rachel for sticking up for her when she needed it. Rachel was so sweet to be there for Justina, when she didn’t have the courage to stick up for herself. I really wanted more page time with her though.

Mercy and James - I was praying and hoping that they would end up together. I won’t spoil anything but I though they were so sweet together - and not to mention she would become the mother of Alice. And Alice just adored her!

Overall, I throughly enjoyed the third book in the series. I found that not every character got a “Happily ever after” but I liked that. It seemed relatable in a way. I think the message here is that, things don’t always go as planned. And it can be frustrating! But we have to lean into God and trust him. Trust that he has a plan for us despite the heartache and frustrations we are feeling.

Would I Recommend?

Yes. Fans of Pride & Prejudice and Downton Abbey will absolutely adore this series. Also, if your a fan of the English countryside - you will absolutely love this!



You can purchase the book —-> HERE
Read my review on the second book —> HERE

Have you read this series? If so, share your thoughts in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Book Review: In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

in times gone by tracie peterson book review

Synopsis:

After getting left at the altar, Kenzie Gifford flees to San Francisco to start her life over, determined never to love again. She's made new friends and has a good job in the office of her cousin's chocolate factory. The only thorn in her side is Dr. Micah Fisher, who insists on pursuing her despite her constant rejection.

Then the Great 1906 Earthquake strikes the city, and everything changes. The devastation all around her makes Kenzie reevaluate her outlook on life--and possibly even her feelings for Micah. But then her world is rocked again when her ex-fiancE appears, full of apologies and determined to win her back. But Arthur already broke her heart once. Does she dare trust him again? The sudden arrival of a hidden danger will expose the motivations of all involved, but it could cost Kenzie her life--as well as her heart. 

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

  • Published: 09/18

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

  • Pages: 300

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.16 Stars

in times gone by  tracie Peterson book review
1906 San Francisco Earthquake - Image via Berkley University

1906 San Francisco Earthquake - Image via Berkley University

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Why I Chose This Book

This is the third book in the Golden Gate Series by Tracie Peterson. I had to read the final book to wrap up the entire series!

First Initial Thoughts

In Times Gone By is the third book in the Golden Gate Series, and covers Kenzie’s story. Kenzie is a young woman who went out to San Francisco after being left at the alter by her former fiance. Kenzie in the previous two books have been staying with Camri and Judith in Caleb’s residence.

In the very beginning the 1906 earthquake just happened. The 1906 earthquake was one of the worst earthquakes that the city has experienced up to that point. It was a 7.9 magnitude. During this time, most buildings were not built to withhold earthquakes, therefore most buildings were obliterated, or engulfed in the flames that spread throughout the city.

Micah is a young doctor living in San Francisco. He has been trying to win the heart of Kenzie since the beginning of the series. At first she tried her best to ignore her advances. However, I think deep down she did truly like him. I think she just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I liked Micah, he was truly passionate about his practice. He loved his patience, and wanted to help the poor population. He was an honorable man for sure.

Just when Kenzie is starting to feel love for Micah her former fiance Arthur Morgan appears to win her back. Ugh I hated Arthur. He had such a fake demeanor and you could tell he was lying about why he came back to Kenzie the entire time.

Another main character in the book was Victoria. Victoria appeared in the previous book. Judith finds out she is the guardian of Victoria since she has no family left after the earthquake. I absolutely loathed Victoria. She was such a brat - stuck in a 19 year old body! She wanted her freedom and she would go to any lengths to get it.

Setting

Tracie does such a good job at creating a setting. I couldn’t imagine living in a city that was almost entirely destroyed by an Earthquake. From what I read online, about 80% of San Francisco was destroyed. I couldn’t imagine living in conditions like that.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13:13

Final Thoughts

I would recommend that you read the first two books in the series to understand what is going on in this book. There are a lot of elements from the last two books in this book- and it would be confusing if you have not read the previous two.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Micah and Kenzie. They were so cute together! And Kenzie found a new love for nursing. It’s rare to find when a couple get along so well together when working together. I am also glad she didn’t give into Arthur’s schemes and deception. He was not a good man.

Victoria and Arthur was getting on my absolute nerves by the end. I won’t spoil anything but they got what they deserved at the end.

I really liked the mystery in the story- as to why he was trying to win Kenzie back. I think Tracie paced the story well, and it wasn’t too slow or too fast. The early 1900s always fascinates me because there are not too many books set during that time. It’s always during WWI or WWII. I really enjoyed learning more about San Francisco at this time, and the political struggles it was facing.

Kenzie I thought grew the most in this story. She learned what true love really is, and to never let it go. She learned to take a chance on love, even though it’s not always going to be sunshine and roses. I think we all learn that at least once in our life, so I liked that it was relatable.

Would I Recommend?
Yes! I think this whole series is worth a read. It’s a lovely story full of love, redemption, hope, and friendship.


You can read my first book in the series —> HERE

You can read my second book in the series —-> HERE

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you ever visited San Francisco? I have and I loved it!

the caffeinated bibliophile
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Book Review: Enclave by Thomas Locke

enclave thomas locke book review

Synopsis:

It's been 50 years since the Great Crash and what was once America is now a collection of enclaves, governed on the local level and only loosely tied together by the farce of a federal government. Catawba, one of the largest and most affluent enclaves in the southern states, is relatively stable and maintains a successful business of trade with nearby enclaves, including the one at Charlotte Township. But when a new vein of gold is found beneath the feet of those in Catawba, it's only a matter of time before trouble finds them.

Now the future of Catawba may be in the hands of an untried 21-year-old trader named Caleb. And Caleb knows that if his secret were ever to come out, he would never see another dawn.

  • Genre: Christian Sci-Fi/Suspense

  • Publisher: Revell

  • Published: 11/2018

  • Pages: 288

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.79 Stars

enclave thomas locke book review
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
— Mark 13:32

Why I Chose This Book

I have been wanting to read a dystopian novel for a little while. Something different for a change. When Thomas Locke came out with a new dystopian series I thought I would give it a go.

First Initial Thoughts

Nearly a hundred years after the Great Crash, America is no longer America. It is a bunch of “enclaves”. Each enclave has a specific role/industry. I found it to be similar to Hunger Games in that aspect minus the games part. What I did like is that Thomas didn’t really explain what the Great Crash was - just enough to know that it devastated the country enough that America crumbled. It leaves it up the readers imagination and interpretation to what happened.

Catawba is one of the largest Enclaves and the people are starting to hear of a group of people who have abilities. These people have abilities like reading minds, healing others, etc. Which I could find similar to certain stories from the Bible.

Caleb is a young man who lives in Catawba. One day when there is a dispute among families he finds out that he has an ability to tell whether something bad is going to happen - and others find out. So he must flee the enclave.

Kevin is a sherif deputy. Secretly he and his mother are brining refugees across to other Enclaves through the Underground railroad. However, he is caught by the government and given a choice. Either his family and himself get executed or he captures those that have special abilities and brings them back to the government.

Setting

Dystopian novels always have a eery feeling. Some can seem a little far fetched but others like Enclave sound realistic. And that is what is freighting about it. The plot line of the story is something that could actually happen. Thomas creates a world that is desperate, devastated, and hopeless. They never knew the world as it once was - only rumors. I found this aspect to be quite depressing.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
— Romans 8:18-19

Final Thoughts

One thing I noted about Enclave, is that it read slow. Slow throughout the entire book. Sometimes a book can pick up after page 100 or so but this one just kept dragging on in my opinion. However, if this is a new series, I could see that maybe Thomas was setting things up for a next book, and maybe the next book will be more action packed.

I also noticed that whenever action did occur it was kind of hard to follow. A lot of it just suddenly happened and there wasn’t enough transition to understand completely what was going on. I also noticed as I was reading this book I was lost most of the time. I kind of felt like I was reading the second book in a series and was missing important details.

What I found interesting is that God was not mentioned at all throughout this novel. Religion was somewhat mentioned - and I could read themes of it throughout the story. However, it seemed like no one was practicing Christianity or any other religion. If this is a series, I hope that Thomas explores this further in the series because it was kind of confusing.

Despite its shortcomings, I did enjoy the story and the characters. I liked Zeke the most. His ability was being a skilled warrior. I admired that he struggled with his ability to be warrior. He felt guilty for the actions he made but also did them to help those he loved.

Would I Recommend?

Yes and no. While I didn’t enjoy this book fully, some may like it!

You can purchase the book .—-> HERE

Are you a fan of dystopian books? If so, which books/series are your favorites?

the caffeinated bibliophile
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