Friday, August 1, 2014

#REVIEW: Where Courage Calls, Book One of The Canadian West Series by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected...

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men--both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

A special companion story to Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart TV series

My Take:
5 Stars!
I first saw this book made into a movie/TV mini-series called "When Calls the Heart" on The Hallmark Channel. They have done a remarkable job making so many movies out of so many of Janette Oke's books! I could sit all day, and I have sat all day watching the movies based on her books! Most all of these movies, from what I can tell, are available to watch as movies/mini-series wherever you purchase them from. You can also catch them on TV as re-runs, too, or even as dedicated days or weekends called 'for fans of Janette Oke'. I have fallen in love with the books and the movies and mini-series. If I see them coming, I take the time to rewatch them! They are so true-to-life and apply to even today, in my opinion. 
This book I am reviewing here is different than the movie version/TV series, and if you are interested in reading that book, there is a dedicated book that is has the same name as the movie version/mini-series called 'When Calls the Heart: Hallmark Channel Special Movie Edition (Canadian West Book 1)'. 
I have also LOVED Janette Oke for decades now! I used to go to the library and get her books out on cassette tape and listen to them when I had a job that had an over one-hour commute to and then home from work each way, and that time just flew by as I listened to them! I looked forward to my commute just so I could listen to the books (and read them at home) because it transformed that commute I had into a wonderful trip to so many places the characters went on their way out towards and into the prairies and the west as new settlers finding their places to call home. I was also a newlywed myself at the time, so perhaps that even struck closer to home as we were looking for a place to call home, too. These wonderful memories and seeing the show on TV got me wanting to read this series of books.
I have to say I was a little worried about how much longer Janette Oke would be writing for, especially given the number of books she has written! Her first book was published in 1979, so I was worried she might be getting tired of her long but wonderful writing career as she has written now for so long. It is truly amazing that her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan, her daughter, has now joined her and they are writing together as a team now! This makes me SO HAPPY that the Oke name will be carried on writing for many more (perhaps) decades to come, or at least I hope! I also LOVE the fact that there will be many more movies made out of her books, too! Thanks, Hallmark Channel! With that being said, it states this book is a companion story to that channel's TV series, "When Calls the Heart". Keep this in mind when reading this book because it is different than the TV movie/mini-series. It does has very subtle differences, and some definite changes at that, so it's very worthwhile to read the book. I got a lot out of reading this book. It did lack in the romance department, though as compared to the movie/mini-series, so don't have your heart set on what you saw in the television series for this particular book as this one is not at all like the movie/mini-series. I was bummed at first, but then I realized I do get to visit there yet again! This time the same place! This is where the book goes by the name I gave above.
In this similar book, we are transported back to the very late 1800's, very early 1900's, and I say that because there were mention of automobiles, one in particular taking her from the train into Coal Valley to the supposed hotel. 
Meet Elizabeth (Beth) Thatcher, named after her Aunt Elizabeth who journeyed from the east coast in Boston, out West to teach. 
She had just traveled all the way from the east coast/Boston to the west In Coal Valley, Canada, a little mining town had just suffered a horrible loss. Many of the women are now widows due to this accident they are still trying to recover from, including the children as they lost their fathers. The mothers felt the first male teacher that was provided by the mining company was not adequate at all. He seemed to have a temper and just did not care to teach in the manner they needed him to. Since their children did not have adequate schooling, these mother's hired a teacher on their own by pooling money together and hiring a professional teacher to come teach their children. 
Beth learned of the open position and wanted to follow in her aunt's footsteps, so against her mother's best wishes about Beth's constitution, as she suffered many illnesses as a child and as a young adult, she set off with her father's blessings more so than her mothers. When Beth was young, she battled illness after illness and was much more fragile than most of the other kids, and did battle some illness while in Coal Valley, but it didn't help that she bit off a little more than she could handle. 
Beth had a student leave for a while to go work in the mines. She swore she did not want this for the rest of the children she taught. She prayed to God to find out what she could do to bring more to this community, and this is a quote from the GALLEY (not the printed version as this could be different:
"God had brought her to Coal Valley, but unless something more was done - something for the town and the miners - those growing up now would face the same troubles as of their parents. In Beth's mind, the biggest need for the entire area and the one thing that would bring them together was a shared faith. But what could she do? She was just one person - and a woman. She felt hopeless."
The more she prayed, an answer came. Bring the miners and the townspeople together. So she tried.
Beth relied on God throughout the book to get her and the people of the town through all types of different things. It seemed to work.
On her train ride home for the summer going back home for just a few months, she did receive a surprise from one of the two mounties, but I'll let you read the book to find out which one that was! There were two vying for her attention. Edward, a friend of the family whom she wasn't really so fond of, and then there was Jerrick! She had a few instances where she spoke with him, and a few where they had to pull together to find one of the children who had gone missing. That's all I'll say about that!
If you really enjoyed this book, When Courage Calls - When Calls the Heart Book One, there is an entire Canadian West series based on Elizabeth Thatcher's Aunt that she talks a lot about which you may really enjoy! This would be Book One, and there are more!
When Calls the Heart - Canadian West Book One
When Comes the Spring - Canadian West Book Two
When Breaks the Dawn - Canadian West Book Three
When Hope Springs New - Canadian West Book Four
Beyond the Gathering Storm - Canadian West Book Five
When Tomorrow Comes - Canadian West Book Six
After this series, there is another series called The Women of the West!
Enjoy your reading!
I received this book for FREE from the Publisher, Bethany House, and NetGalley, in exchange to read and write a review about it. "Free" means I was provided with ZERO MONIES to do so, but to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading it and giving my own honest opinion no matter whether it is positive or negative. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the law set here:, The Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, 16 CFR 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Ebook: $  9.99
Print:   $12.30

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