An #INSPY Christmas Novella Spotlight with Notes | featuring “An Ivy Hill Christmas” (Tales from Ivy Hill series, Book 3.5) by Julie Klassen

Posted Friday, 18 December, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I am unsure if I’ve blogged about my curiosity over Julie Klassen’s novels – I know I might have winked a bit about them during this year’s Christian Fiction Reading Safari in August – as I was seriously attempting to read my first Klassen novel *then!* – however, something has always distracted me and/or left me questioning which of her novels I need to be reading ‘first’ to where I have not made any progress at all in reading her collective works!! I wanted to change this sad fate of mine as she’s an author I’ve been following in the book blogosphere since a year before I became a book blogger (ie. 2012) as much as I have appreciated her guest posts, interviews and other interactions she gives to her readers whilst being a follower of hers on Twitter, too!

When I first learnt about “An Ivy Hill Christmas” – it was when this particular blog tour had been originally announced. I thought, hmm. This might be a good time to dive back into a Klassen novel and/or series – I especially love *Christmas stories* and at the time, I couldn’t discern if this was a novella which ‘fit into the series’ already established in the trilogy of stories released and/or if it was an extension of the series itself wherein new/old characters would be populating the storyline. It took some digging – both on Ms Klassen’s website, her group author’s blog (?) and a random search which led me onto a short Q&A (courtesy of Family Fiction) which revealled the truth! This is a novella within the series and it recaptures the series as it has already become established and thus, moves it forward – thereby, I anchoured this as Book 3.5 as it is a continuation of what was already established and follows suit after the third novel.

I originally borrowed a print copy of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill thinking it would be an easier way for me to read the story – best laid plans, eh? – however, I quickly amended those plans and borrowed it via audiobook digitally via my local library’s CloudLibrary instead! Whilst I also borrowed An Ivy Hill Christmas – I wasn’t in enough time to provide a proper review today, though if you’re familiar with my #25PagePreview posts time after time on Jorie Loves A Story, I think you might get a hoot of a kick out of how I’ve assembled this spotlighted feature for the blog tour with Love Books Tours!

I must confess, this spotlight is arriving late in the night on my day of the blog tour because I misplaced the tour materials and the ‘date’ my spotlight was meant to run! After a seriously long week, I settled into sorting out my blog with some Christmas Coffeehouse songs via #Spotify and tucked into how I could ring out a post about Ivy Hill even if I had to forego the schedule for the tour as I honestly couldn’t sort out where my materials had gone off too! Then, right at the point I thought all was lost – I found everything I needed in two key places – Baker Publishing and a short scribbled note which revealled the 18th was my day! *whew!*

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An #INSPY Christmas Novella Spotlight with Notes | featuring “An Ivy Hill Christmas” (Tales from Ivy Hill series, Book 3.5) by Julie KlassenAn Ivy Hill Christmas
Subtitle: A Tales from Ivy Hill Novella
by Julie Klassen
Source: Borrowed from local library's CloudLibrary

Spend a festive Christmas in the English village of Ivy Hill, as divine hope, friendship, and unexpected romance work their magic. . . .

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill's most prominent family, hasn't been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life--unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents many surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled--and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, and joyous songs, change his heart . . . and hers as well?

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780764233807

Published by Bethany House Publishers

on 1st September, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 7 hours and 35 minutes (unabridged)

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Tales of Ivy Hill series:

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie KlassenThe Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie KlassenThe Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (book one)

Welcome to the English village of Ivy Hill,
where friendships thrive, romance blossoms, and mysteries await. . . .

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

The Ladies of Ivy Hill (book two)

Return to Ivy Hill as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold . . .

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she’s inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel’s hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what–or whom–has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

The Bride of Ivy Green (book three)

Come home to Ivy Hill, where friendship endures, romance triumphs,
and mysteries are revealed in this eagerly anticipated conclusion. . . .

Spring is in the air . . . and change is too. Mercy Grove has lost her girls’ school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires is out of reach. She contemplates leaving Ivy Cottage to become a governess–a decision with consequences she never imagined.

Meanwhile, her friend Jane Bell is facing a difficult decision of her own. Should she accept Gabriel Locke even if it means giving up her inn and destining another man to a childless marriage?

When a secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, Mercy, Jane, and the other ladies of Ivy Hill attempt to befriend her, but they soon suspect she isn’t who she claims to be.

Together, the women of Ivy Hill look forward to one wedding, but surprises lie in store and dearly held dreams may yet come true.

An Ivy Hill Christmas (book 3.5)

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Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)
an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #INSPY #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic as well as #ChristmasRomance
as well as #JulieKlassen, #HolidayReads or #ChristmasReads and #INSPYRomance

About Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen Photo Credit: © Farrow Media

Julie Klassen ( loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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[ after listening to small portions of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and An Ivy Hill Christmas ]

[ The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill ] by Karen Klassen, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki (by Recorded Books)

[ notes about the story ]

Jane, as we greet her is seated alone and is simply going through the motions of life – including the comfort of ivy and the unique ways in which ivy can wind its presence into a private retreat from the world at large. There is a lot of symbolism about ivy and the ways in which ivy plays a characterised part in the background of this story. It began of course with a bit of a poem at the start of the story and ivy seems to linger on the pages – impressions I felt of how ivy can also highlight a person’s moods or their emotional states, such as the sombering mood of Jane.

The story stays with Jane for quite a bit of time before aligning us with Thora. I felt both women are at junctions in their lives where they want to ‘get on’ with living rather than feeling depressed about the memories they once lived and of the ache time can create in your heart for what is remiss once you’ve started to lose the ones you love and hold quite dear to your soul. Klassen gives gravity to their scenes by showing us what is motivating their thoughts, how they’ve emotionally have felt stuck where we’ve found them and how both are sorting out their best way forward.

What impressed me more were the simplicity of tucking into the everyday moments and hours wherein both women were beautifully detailed through the lens Klassen provided for us to truly ‘see’ them and what the goings-on in their lives entailed. Complete with the servants and staff and the quirkiness of how Thora cannot quite reconcile the fact she’s not an innkeeper or the daughter of an innkeeper any longer – as she has led a rather interesting life up until now. Jane curiously is Thora Bell’s Mum-in-Law which makes their situations all more serious as Thora has a circumstance she doesn’t quite want to reveal to Jane – at least, not in the honest and humbled direct approach in disclosing it!

A bit of a hilarious scene is seeing Katie try to help Jane with changing clothes before Thora arrives and takes Jane completely *off-guard!* by her imminent arrival. By the time Thora has well arrived, given her due to Jane and offered what only can be considered a critique of opinion about the state of affairs in Jane’s life – did I realise how captured I was by this story! I was swept inside it as if it were a Regency soap opera before I knew my time with this short introduction of the story was concluding! I definitely will keep myself inside this audiobook – it will be a good one for Winter as it has all the delights and joys I like to seek out in Historicals during this season. Plus, of course, it will be the first time I’ve found myself able to stay ‘rooted’ into a Klassen novel and that is a dash of JOY I simply wasn’t expecting this December!!

Mind you – when I go to listen to this a second time I need to better flush out my thoughts about Jane and Thora – about their dynamics of being related and of how their views are starkly different from one another as well. I have a feel the crux of the story lies within their relationship and of how they both will ultimately choose to walk forward into their futures.

Plus on a side note – I loved the scene at the cemetery but that’s from the girl who likes to dine breakfast or lunch in her local ones! They do offer the best respite from the chaotic noise of contemporary life – where nature and graves can give you a hefty pause and timeout to just enjoy the food, the company and the ambiance of a cemetery. When its not being frequented by those visiting their family or the walkers how have found a curious new route to entertain grand-children, their dogs and of course, hospital workers on a short window of a break to get in a bit of exercise! You’d be surprised how popular cemeteries are these days,.. its not just what it was built for anymore.

[ notes about the narrator ]

I am swooning – the narrator pulls you into Klassen’s story quite immediately and for me, this means, the narrator has an accent and a tone of awareness to give you the deeper impressions of Klassen’s prose and narrative. She anchours you beautifully into the portrait of Jane’s life – seeking to emotionally connect you through how she is emoting the scenes as she enunciates the words and gives credence to the dramatic story as it unfolds.

I did NOT want to stop hearing her speak – but I owed it to myself to hear just a snippet of this first installment and then sample the novella. There is so much goodness and mirth in this audiobook you cannot help but rejoice for the discovery of both the STORY and the NARRATOR!

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[ An Ivy Hill Christmas ] by Karen Klassen, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki (by Recorded Books)

[ notes about the story ]

Richard is a hard character to warm too because he’s such a self-absorbed rake! I admit, I wasn’t truly feeling the story – whenever I come across a character like Richard it is hard to find mooring within the story. I reminded myself this is a bonus story within the series and I might feel completely different after I conclude the first three stories ahead of it – being it is placed in the 3.5 numbering of the series itself (by my own estimations). And, then… right when I was going to table listening to this until I reach it in order of the series (via audiobook, as let’s face it, I’m sold on the narrator!!) the story introduced us to a dog.

And, not your typical dog finds bloke story either – though a bit of that could still be true – no, it is more of a dog insurrects a bloke’s life to the brink he cannot live without the dog and the dog for his worth has altered how the bloke lives his life! I love how there is a change in attitude, manner and personality in Richard after he starts to dote and take care of the dog who randomly entered his life. Or, of course, being a Christmas novella – was it random indeed?

I was growing intrigued now and decided to pause the audiobook to hear the previous installments first and then I’ll loop back round to see how Richard appeals to me after the trilogy is heard.

[ notes about the narrator ]

Jasicki nails this narration!! She has a way of convincing you despite your indifference towards a certain character to hold still and ‘wait’. She pulls you through the threading of the story and once again, gives me a reason to listen harder to the storyline and to see what Klassen is showing us through the crafting of the story itself. I knew Richard is going to need a serious dose of humble pie and perhaps a bit of redeemable redemption but without Jasicki narrating this – I am not sure if the story would have held me as much as it had. She just has wicked instincts in how she articulates the story and gives you this brilliantly visual impression of the story and Klassen’s characters. Good, bad or indifferent – the whole world is happily illustrated through how she narrates – this was evidenced happily as I heard a bit of the first story The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and it continues to be the case as you arrive in this latest installment!

I also heard a maturity of centre in this audiobook by Jasicki – she knows this world intimately well and you can hear it in her voice. I love when narrators give such a personable performance and give you this additional layer of insight into the story they’ve tackled – especially as a serial performance because it enlarges how you view the series and the ways in which the author painted it alive.

One bit of JOY to shout-out about: I. LOVE. when NARRATORS. STAY. within a SERIES!

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This blog Tour is courtesy of:

An Ivy Hill Christmas blog tour banner provided by Love Books Tours and is used with permission.Be sure to follow the blog tour via @LoveBooksGroup

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Be sure to leave notes, takeaways and commentary to let me know if this has been a story on your bookish radar and/or if it is one you’re going to be adding to your own TBR! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this kind of story and others you might have already read on similar themes.

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NOTE: Similar to blog tours wherein I feature book reviews, book spotlights (with or without extracts), book announcements (or Cover Reveals) – I may elect to feature an author, editor, narrator, publisher or other creative person connected to the book, audiobook, Indie film project or otherwise creative publishing medium being featured wherein the supplemental content on my blog is never compensated monetarily nor am I ever obligated to feature this kind of content. I provide (98.5%) of all questions and guest topics regularly featured on Jorie Loves A Story. I receive direct responses back to those enquiries by publicists, literary agents, authors, blog tour companies, etc of whom I am working with to bring these supplemental features and showcases to my blog. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them: I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. Whenever there is a conflict of connection I do disclose those connections per post and disclose the connection as it applies.

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “An Ivy Hill Christmas”, “The Ladies of Ivy Cottage”, “The Bride of Ivy Green”, (as well as their synopses), author photograph (Julie Klassen) as well as the author’s biography were provided by the publisher Bethany House Publishers (courtesy of Baker Publishing Group) and are used with permission of the publisher. The tour badge was provided by Love Books Tours and is used with permission.Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Stories in the Spotlight banner, #blogmas badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 18 December, 2020 by jorielov in 19th Century, Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Love Books Tours, Sampler Chapters &/or Excerpt of Novel, the Regency era

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