Sometimes, a book series is published which I am certain I want to read, but somehow never seem to find the time or motivation to actually start. For years The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy has suffered this status. I spontaneously read two of the books out of order (and loved them), but never properly read the series from the beginning. Now, author Kellyn Roth has found the perfect way to motivate readers like me: she’s hosting a read-along in preparation for the new book she will be releasing in September!
Kellyn has truly gone all out in planning for this read-along. Whether the books sound interesting to you or not, I highly recommend checking out her blog to see everything that is going on from March to September! There will be social media live events, a Slack group, drawings, and various prizes for levels of participation. Hopefully, I will keep up with the recommended timeline of one book per month. So far I am on track, and sharing a short review of book 1, The Dressmaker’s Secret, below. I went ahead and purchased an eBook copy of the first two books in the series as that seems to be the most convenient way to read them. I will probably end up doing this with all of the books in the series, if budget permits. This also gave me a reason to re-familiarize myself with the Kindle which has seen much less use over the past few years while working on my degree. There have been a few updates since I last used it regularly, as well as some changes in how to read library digital copies on it, so I brought it to work with me and spent some time re-learning that process. Now I won’t have to grab a coworker the next time someone asks for help getting our books on their device!
About Book One
Title: The Dressmaker’s Secret (Alice & Ivy #1)
Author: Kellyn Roth
Original Publication Date: 2016
Synopsis: Claire will stop at nothing to provide for her daughters. An unwed mother, she does everything possible to raise them whilst avoiding her scandalous past. Some secrets are best kept, even between mother and daughter.
Alice longs for a father, especially if that means her mother will be happy. She takes matters into her own hands—but she never expected what she finds.
Despite her efforts to shelter her daughters, Claire’s ghosts rise up to haunt her, and any semblance of control over her life vanishes. If her secrets are uncovered, what will become of her family?
If you like reading about family drama, boy does this book have you covered! While a lot happens, it’s not exactly an action-packed story. Instead, the focus is on family relationships, social situations, and the characters themselves. And yet, there are so many twists which completely caught me off guard. Every few chapters something happened which I never could have predicted, moving the story forward and tightly holding my attention. Occasionally, it almost seemed like there was too much going on. Early on I struggled to keep straight who was who and how they were related to anyone else – but I think this was likely intentional. Even if it wasn’t I don’t mind, since I eventually did catch on and it kept my on my toes while the stage was being set for the main drama.
The protagonists are Christians, and their faith plays a significant part in some of the storylines. It is rarely the primary focus, but instead underscores various conversations, decisions, and side comments. For the most part I really like how it is included. This adds another level of depth to the characters. Always and forever, I would like to see more actual theology on the pages. Less vague statements about Jesus’ love and faith, more digging into the proof and effects and ‘hows.’ I’ll get off that soapbox though, as that is simply not the side of the story that the author chose to tell, and what she did tell is perfectly good.
One of the most interesting things about this book (and I expect the rest of the series) is the fact that it is told from a child’s perspective, but it is not a children’s book. It took me a little while to get used to this as it’s not what I usually read. It works well though. I enjoyed getting to know Alice and her family, and I am comfortable in giving this book a strong recommendation to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that is heavy on drama.
Have you ever participated in a read-along like this before? I’ve read through series to prepare for movies coming out before (eg, The Hunger Games), but this is the first time I’ve done anything hosted by the author or with nearly as many details going along with it. So far it is fun and I look forward to continuing! I started reading book two, Ivy Introspective, as soon as I finished book one. Look for its review in the next few weeks!
Until the next chapter,
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Just got around to commenting on this (I know, I know). Thank you so much for this review! And in general, for participating in the read-along. I know things have been crazy, and I appreciate the support despite the crazyness of it all.
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