Empty Shelf #1: Songs of the Shenandoah

Yesterday, I finished my first book for the Empty Shelf Challenge! (I first introduced this challenge here).  It was Songs of the Shenandoah by Michael K. Reynolds, a sweeping drama following siblings of an Irish immigrant family as they are involved in various parts of the Civil War. Now my shelf isn’t so empty. A review is to come soon…..

Songs of the Shenandoah

Book Review: “Into the Whirlwind” by Elizabeth Camden

IntoTheWhirlwind“Sometimes it is the hardest things that make us great.”  This quote by a character in Elizabeth Camden’s Into the Whirlwind fittingly summarizes her novel. Set in the early 1870s in Chicago, Into the Whirlwind follows the story of a prestigious watchmaker’s daughter, Mollie Knox, who has inherited her father’s business, along with the responsibility of employing Civil War veterans who fought alongside her father. She faces many obstacles, including the historical Chicago fire, which challenges her business and brings two possible suitors into her life.

Into the Whirlwind was an exciting, fascinating read which captured my attention from the opening chapter.  Elizabeth Camden delightfully blended accurate historical facts with dramatic characters to paint a canvas of life as it was post-Civil wartime in Chicago. Her descriptions of the raging, turbulent fire were very realistic. The most dramatic events surrounding the fire reminded me of the burning of Atlanta in “Gone With the Wind”…. but the similarities end there.

The character Mollie must overcome the unexpected tragedy of the Chicago fire.  She does this with the help of two strong men – one, a long time “business-only” acquaintance Zack Kazmarek, and the other a caring, unexpected friend (who I’m not naming…you will have to read it for yourself!). Both men vie for her affections. I have to admit, sometimes I wanted to have a heart-to-heart with Mollie and tell her to open her eyes to see what was right in front of her. In the end, though, I think she made the right choice. I believe that the circumstances and challenges Mollie went through in the novel shaped her character and caused her to grow into a better person by the book’s end. God does the same thing in each of our lives – He uses trials and the people around us to mold our character and cause us to grow in faith and become more like Christ.

I have not read any of Elizabeth’s books prior to this one – but after this good read, I will definitely be keeping my eye out for her work!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely mine.