Book Review: The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

the bride of ivy green julie klassen book review


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?


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 Photography Tips

Book Photography Tips

Photographing books can be both equally fun and challenging at the same time. Photographing books often involve photographing indoors, which requires understanding light and your camera settings. Photographing in natural light is going to be very different from photographing indoors.

For the first year I primarily used my iPhone to take my Instagram and blog pictures and sometimes my Canon 60D. I have also used stock photography (which I always disclose on my Instagram post). Besides this blog I also am a photographer. I primarily do church and street photography - you can see my portfolio —> HERE. With that being said, I did upgrade my camera equipment and am now exclusively using the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera; with some stock photography thrown in.

While, I don’t recommend throwing tons of money on new equipment (I did because, well I am a photographer) and you really don’t need a high end DSLR to take great book photos. I will get to that shortly.

Today I am going to provide tips on how to photograph books indoors with your DSLR so that you will get the sharpest photos! These tips are going to be more on the technical side rather than the creative side. I leave the creative side up to you.

Let There Be Light!

Light is your best friend! I would recommend photographing your book(s) during the golden hour next to a window with plenty of light. What’s the golden hour? The golden hour is one hour before sunset and on hour after sunrise. However, you don’t always have to strictly follow this rule when photographing indoors. Pay attention to the room that you will be photographing in. When is the light the best - and without shadows? During this time of year in my room it is about 3 PM. You don’t want any shadows from trees, blinds, etc.

What if it’s raining or overcast out? You can still photograph probably around midday when it’s brightest- only if your camera can handle a higher ISO and slower shutter speed. I will get to that shortly.

Understand Your Camera Settings

I can’t stress this enough. Understand your camera and it’s settings. Watch a few Youtube tutorials, read your manual, etc. Understand how to set different settings, switch modes - it will save you a lot of time and grief when taking photographs.

Best Mode For Shooting Indoors

I would recommend shooting in AV (Canon) or A for other brands. AV means Aperture Priority. You select the aperture of your photo and the camera automatically sets the shutter speed for you. You will also select the ISO. You can also set the ISO to auto - which I recommend if you are a beginner. Your camera will auto select the right ISO based on the light given.

Aperture basically means the depth of field. Has anyone ever taken a photo of you and you have that nice blurry background? That is Aperture. The lower the number the more blurry - F 2.8 for example is a great setting for portraits. F8 + is generally good for landscapes, architecture, etc. So if we apply that to book photography we don’t really want a blurry background because - well we are trying to take a picture of the entire scene. We want everything in focus. I generally take my photos in F6 or 7.

Shutter speed basically determines the sharpness of your photo. Sports photographers that capture people riding a bike want to have a slow shutter speed so it can capture the person in action without blurriness. If your shutter speed is too fast your photo will start to get blurry and we don’t want that! So that is why I suggest using the Aperture priority mode - as your camera will adjust that for you.

ISO is basically the light. When photographing indoors you will need to kick up your ISO just a tad. Unless it’s miserable outside. The lower the ISO the less light is going into the camera. For example, on a sunny day outside you probably only need to have it set 100-200 ISO. But for those evening photos you will probably need to have your ISO set at 1000+.

Now that example is for outdoor photography - so I will provide some examples of indoor photos for you:

This photo was taken a little late in the day when the light was getting dark. As you can see from the harsh shadows. Here I kicked my ISO up to about 1000 with F6 aperture. Again, I was shooting in AV so the camera set the shutter speed for me.

I would not recommend going above 1200 ISO because your photos will start to look a little grainy.

Here as you can see this photo was taken around 3 PM in really good light. It was sunny that day and I had plenty of light coming through the window. Again I had my setting at F5 and ISO of only around 400.

So the general rule of thumb- is to really pay attention to your weather forecast to know when to take photos indoors. You generally want to photograph when it’s sunny or partly cloudy out. And that might mean having to take a ton of photos at once -because well, the weather doesn’t always corporate with us. Plan ahead!

If you are in a pinch and need to take a photo when it’s getting later in the day, take tips from the above photo with Angela Hunt’s book.

Best Basic Camera and Lens For Photographing Books

You really don’t need an expensive camera - especially if you are a beginner.

I would recommend these good entry level models:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T6i

  • Nikon D3500

  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

All these cameras are about $500. So not too bad for a DSLR (considering how some sell for over 2k). And sometimes you can find a good deal with a used model. I would only recommend buying used on Amazon though - as they are pretty strict with the quality aspect.

For lens - I always recommend a 50mm as a good all around lens. I am not too familiar with Nikon and other brands as I only use Canon. But for Canon I recommend the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens. I use this lens for my street photography and it’s been a great investment - and it’s only $125!

I do use other lens sometimes. As a photographer I have a total of 4 lens but I would say you generally only need one. Especially if only doing book photography or general photography.

Do I Need a Soft Box or Other Equipment?

Honestly, not really. I don’t use any other equipment than my own camera. I remember watching a tutorial one day on Youtube (I honestly can’t remember the name of the person/channel) but I got the best advice there - he basically stated learn your camera and the light. As a beginner start minimal - you don’t need all that fancy equipment. Learn to use your camera. When you are proficient with using your camera - then maybe look into buying a soft box, reflectors, etc.

I only would suggest purchasing a reflector if you are taking product or food photography- as you don’t want any shadows. But honestly, in book photography, I think the photo looks more natural when you have a little shadow. However, that is my style, and you need to find yours. ;)

I hope this was helpful! I know learning to take photos with a DSLR at first can be challenging (I have been there) but practice will help so much! ;)

Do you need help with editing as well? Let me know in the comments! I use lightroom/photoshop to edit my photos - so I could do a tutorial on that. I don’t really use any photo editing apps to edit my pictures, unfortunately.

the caffeinated bibliophile
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Book Review: In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

in times gone by tracie peterson book review


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.


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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5 Benefits of Reading Books

5 Reasons To Read More

Last year, I wrote an article on how to read more books. Which now has become one of my top read posts. So this year, I am providing 5 reasons why you should be reading books - more often and hopefully once a day.

Most people often set resolutions to do things more - cook healthy meals at home, exercise more, budget and spend less, etc. Often, these resolutions are forgotten by the end of January. I think one of the top ways to keep a resolution is to have a why. We need to know why we are setting that resolution. Having a why and reason behind our resolution will keep us from failing.

Therefore, if you have a resolution to read more this year, here are 5 reasons why reading is beneficial!:

It’s Good For The Brain

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are on the rise- more so than ever.

Reading is good for the brain. Reading daily has shown that the risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Dementia lowers. Reading engages your brain and keeps it active - thus lowering the risk of getting those diseases. We need to keep our brains healthy and strong!

Also reading more enables stronger analytical thinking skills. Whenever I read a murder mystery novel sometimes I can guess who did it before it even was revealed. This was due to reading consistently because I was able to put critical and analytical thinking to my reading. Having better analytical thinking skills will help in other areas of your life - such as work, driving, shopping, etc.


Did you know that it only takes six minutes of reading to ease muscle tension and lower heart rate? Yep- according to the University of Sussex. I definitely can attest to feeling better after reading in the evening. I feel more relaxed, rejuvenated, and less stressed out. I can also say it helps me sleep better and fall asleep faster.

What’s even more awesome is that researchers have now shown that reading just 30 minutes daily can add two years to your life! (University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study).

You Learn a Thing or Two

Whenever I read historical fiction I do learn a thing or two about history. Even though it is a fictional story many of these authors do research tremendously on that historical era. It’s always interesting to learn more about the past but also we can learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Knowledge is everything - and can never be taken away from you.

Better Writing Skills

When reading you learn how to write better. How is that? When reading, you observe grammar, fluidity, and different writing styles. When you sit down and write your brain will remember those specific details you remembered from reading. I have definitely noticed that I write better when I read consistently. I may not be the queen at grammar but I have noticed a difference.

Free Entertainment!

Well, not entirely free - unless you only go to the library. Reading a book is less expensive than going to the movies and even going to a concert. It transports you to another world all for probably less than $10, maybe even for free! I often forget that reading is a form of entertainment, but it’s the best entertainment you can get!

You can read my, How To Read More Books post —-> HERE

Why do you like reading books and in what ways have you noticed reading change your life?

Share in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile
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