Friday, March 23, 2018

Green Gables Read-Along | Discussion 2

Woohoo, it's Friday and the start of the weekend! Today's discussion (technically, yesterday's) for the Anne of Green Gables read-along covers chapters 14-26. The main discussion is happening at Kami's blog, Kami's Library Thoughts. You can hop over there to leave a comment! Of course, you're totally welcome to comment here, as well. :)

Here are Kami's great questions and my responses:

1. Anne has a gift for loving nature in all its forms. She even gives it delightful names. Do you find yourself appreciating nature more as you read this?

My Thoughts: I adore the way nature is described in this book! The White Way of Delight, the wooded paths in all their seasons, the way Anne puts flowers in her hat or her new teacher sends the boys up into trees to look for nests... Everything feels so vibrant and gorgeous in how L.M. Montgomery wrote it. I think it does make me appreciate nature more—or at least want to do so!

2. We have finally met Gilbert! What do you think of him? Do you think Anne is justified in hating him so much?

My Thoughts: I think Gilbert's infatuation with Anne is adorable, and I like that he's competitive, but good-natured about it. He's smart, and he seems genuinely contrite when he realizes how angry he's made Anne. I'm hoping to see more of him in the book, though. ;) Right now he's sort of a hovering presence, affecting Anne without her willing to acknowledge him. I don't think Anne's attitude toward him is justified. It may be understandable, knowing how sensitive Anne can be, but her cold shoulder feels unforgiving and over the top.

3. Anne's imagination finally got the better of her in the Haunted Wood. Do you think she learned anything from that experience? Do you think she'll tone down her imagination a bit?

My Thoughts: Based on Anne's reaction after being forced to walk through the Haunted Wood at night and her conversation with the reverend's wife (I believe?), it really does seem like she understands she went too far. But I don't know if her imagination will be toned down...maybe just redirected for now. ;) Although I'm sure as she continues to grow up and have real-world experiences, she'll find (and maybe already is finding) that life is worth experiencing in its own glory.

4. What do you think of Diana and the other schoolgirls? Do you think Anne chose wisely for her bosom friend?

My Thoughts: They're quite a group! :) It's fun to read about their schoolgirl antics and dramas. Diana seems like a very loyal and loving friend, and I think she and Anne suit each other well. I like that Diana appreciates Anne for who she is, while also not being afraid to point out when she thinks Anne is going too far (like the situation with Gilbert, even if Anne doesn't necessarily listen).

5. I've always dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island someday. Do you want to visit there also? What other real-life literature places do you want to visit?

My Thoughts: Definitely! I grew up watching The Road to Avonlea series and the Anne of Green Gables movies with my grandparents and uncle, and visiting Prince Edward Island would be a dream come true, for sure. :) I can't decide if I'd rather visit in the fall or the spring... I bet both would be delightful! As for other real-life literature places...that's a great question! I'm not really sure. Perhaps some places in Europe? (Not very specific, I know!)

* * *

It's so sweet to see Anne finding her place at Green Gables and among her new friends and family. It's also fun to spot the similarities and differences between the book and the movie (starring Megan Follows). I confess I really liked the movie's subtle changes to the scenes with Matthew getting Anne a dress with puffed sleeves. :) If you've seen the movie, are there scenes you like better in the film adaptation versus the book?

Finally, here are some of my favorite quotes from the last section of reading...
  • "It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr Bell's woods, where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond."
  • "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
  • "Ruby Gillis says when she grows up she's going to have ever so many beaux on the string and have them all crazy about her; but I think that would be too exciting. I'd rather have just one in his right mind."
  • "'When I am grown up,' said Anne decidedly, 'I'm always going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, and I'll never laugh when they use big words.'"
  • "There was a magnificent sunset, and the snowy hills and deep blue water of the St Lawrence Gulf seemed to rim in the splendour like a huge bowl of pearl and sapphire brimmed with wine and fire."
  • "I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a Christian if I could be one like her."
  • "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
  • "'The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're thinking too much about yourself. You should just think of Mrs Allan and what would be nicest and most agreeable for her,' said Marilla, hitting for once in her life on a very sound and pithy piece of advice. Anne instantly realized this."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rediscover Aladdin's Epic Journey | Review of The Orphan's Wish {Coming Summer 2018!}

About the Book (from Thomas Nelson)

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes an inspired retelling of the beloved folk tale of Aladdin.

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break. 

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save Kirstyn from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known fairy tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

Available June 26, 2018!

My Rating


My Review

As always, Melanie Dickerson is creative in her twists and new takes on fairy tales and history! The Orphan's Wish gives new life to characters like Aladdin and Abu, while adding in the beloved royal family from previous Hagenheim books (although Kirstyn's older siblings don't play much of a part, as the main focus is on Kirstyn herself).

One of the things I appreciated most about this story was Aladdin's struggle with appearing "perfect" to others. His desire manifests itself in different ways that redirect the plot and help to open Aladdin's eyes. He is an admirable but realistically imperfect character, and a lot of the faith elements that resonated with me came from his part or lines in the story.

As for Kirstyn, she endures much in the first half of the book, but the drama doesn't end there. Although, I confess the second half felt a little less engaging to me as previous threats faded to the background and new troubles arose. A thread of tension remains, but I would say what appealed to me about the plot in the second half of the book was the cleverness of the retelling and Aladdin's growth rather than the uncertainty of what would happen next.

In this tale, there's a big emphasis on friendship, which is sweet, especially when Aladdin and Kirstyn are children. But their relationship has a bit of "modern" suspense that might detract from the historical elements.

The Orphan's Wish hasn't usurped the position of "favorite" among Melanie Dickerson's books for me (I believe The Beautiful Pretender still holds that claim), but it does find its place in this fairy-tale series as another enjoyable story with its own unique message and characters.

*With thanks to Thomas Nelson through NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

My Reviews of Other Melanie Dickerson Books...

The Healer's Apprentice | The Merchant's Daughter | The Fairest Beauty | The Princess Spy | The Golden Braid | The Silent SongbirdThe Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | The Beautiful Pretender {I think it's my favorite so far!} | A Spy's Devotion

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Heartfelt Story of Resilience | Review of Amongst the Roses

About the Book

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg, and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

Available April 12, 2018!

My Rating


My Review

One thing I appreciate the most about Meghan's books (even if it can also be a frustration!) is the authenticity of her characters. They have flaws. They have selfish tendencies and often struggle with their circumstances or the people closest to them. And yet, while it's not always fun to read their thoughts or see how they react, it also makes them human and their stories more tangible.

Amongst the Roses is not a happy-go-lucky story, but it is a heartfelt one. Vivid descriptions highlight dramatic moments and the uncertainties of a war that hit home.

I confess the book felt rather long. While tension grips the story, not every scene seems noticeably unique or memorable. The drawn-out waiting periods and continued emotional trauma definitely feel real and true to the era, but they don't always make for exciting reading... However, like I previously noted, the characters and their bumpy roads to growth are authentic, and perhaps fans of Civil War fiction (more than historical romance) will appreciate this style. :)

Regarding the premise, I will say that I didn't completely understand certain characters' motives. I don't know why so many men in one family decided to focus on the path of one adult son while neglecting the well-being of the wife and other children. But however the characters got to where they are, it leads to an emotionally layered journey.

On the romance side, it's sweet and subtle. A lot of it is indirectly expressed through thoughts and reactions to letters, as well as the growing connection those letters provide. The next installment in the series (as this is the start of a series and not a complete story in itself) seems likely to bring more drama and possibly a different sort of romance.

Amongst the Roses is a story of resilience and the beginning of an epic series of redemption. With flawed yet endearing characters, the pain and suffering of war are explored with honesty, heart, and hope yearning to bloom.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-ARC of the book. I was not required to post a positive review, and these opinions are my own.*

My reviews of other books by Meghan M. Gorecki...
God's Will | Wrapped in Red

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Green Gables Read-Along | Discussion 1

Hope you all are having a delightful Sunday! Today's discussion for the Anne of Green Gables read-along covers chapters 1-13. The main discussion is happening at Suey's blog, It's All About Books... You can hop over there to leave a comment or learn about the upcoming Twitter chat! Of course, you're totally welcome to comment here, as well. :)

Suey noted that the following questions came from various websites:

1. In chapter 2, when Matthew is driving Anne back to Green Gables, she asks him: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive.” Given her tragic childhood, how do you think Anne is able to maintain such a positive attitude?

My Thoughts: It is pretty incredible to see how positive Anne tends to be despite everything she's endured! But then, she seems to be the kind of person who feels everything in extremes, from the joyful moments to the "depths of despair." I definitely think her big imagination and eager mind help her find a positive side to her difficult circumstances.

2. Anne is insistent on renaming places and inanimate things. Why do you think she does this?

My Thoughts: I think Anne has a deep need for friends and a sense of belonging. As Anne says in chapter 5, "I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people." When she names place and objects, she gives them personality and endears them more to herself. But I'm glad Anne now has a chance to make more friends and feel at home. :)

3. Marilla gives several reasons for finally deciding to keep Anne. What reason do you think most changed her mind?

My Thoughts: I guess it was probably Marilla's conscience that really swayed her. She had gotten to know Anne a bit, and it bothered her to think of leaving her with someone who would be unkind to her and mistreat her. But Matthew's love for Anne and Marilla's own growing fondness for her certainly played a part...perhaps the greater part? But it seems like she was fairly determined to send Anne back until she knew what Anne's lot would be if she left Green Gables.

4. If Anne grew up today, would she have been happier with how she looked? What would she have pined for, looks- and fashion-wise? What is our society's equivalent of plumpness, dark hair, and puffed sleeves?

My Thoughts: I think Anne still would find ways to compare herself and come up lacking. It's something we all can struggle with! If her story were contemporary, she might long for a more graceful figure, tame but attractively wavy hair, and the latest jeans or most stylish tops or accessories.

5. How would Anne have turned out if Marilla had let Mrs. Blewett take her? Would that life have crushed Anne's imaginative spirit, or would she have changed in a different way?

My Thoughts: I'm sure Anne would have found ways to hold on to hope, as she had in the other places she'd lived. She would have invented friends and found opportunities to daydream and imagine a different life for herself. But she might not have blossomed and flourished the way she does at Green Gables; she might have spent an unhealthy amount of time in her imaginings and never known real love and family.

* * *

I'm really enjoying rereading this sweet story (I'm sure I've read it at least once!) and immersing myself in the beauty of Green Gables/PEI, along with the quirky but lovable ways of Anne Shirley and her new family and friends. Here are some of my favorite quotes so far...
  • "Not even a brook could run past Mrs Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum."
  • "Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive."
  • "Listen to the trees talking in their sleep.... What nice dreams they must have!"
  • "What good would she be to us?" "We might be some good to her."
  • "It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will."
  • "Down at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn rocks or little sandy coves inlaid with pebbles as with ocean jewels."
  • "It gives you a lovely, comfortable feeling to apologize and be forgiven, doesn't it?"
  • "Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them."

Don't forget to stop by Suey's blog for information about the upcoming Twitter chat! And please do share your thoughts about these topics or your favorite lines from the first 13 chapters of Anne of Green Gables. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes

I love to discover poignant, beautifully worded quotes. You can see a collection of some of my favorites on Goodreads. I'd hesitate to say the following list covers my all-time favorites...I'm sure there are many others I could add! But here are some I pulled from my Goodreads list because they're simply wonderful and meaningful.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

“I never said I was good,” he told her, taking the pen. “Just that I liked doing it.” 
“That’s the best kind of good.”

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

“He’d learned long ago that a life lived without risks pretty much wasn’t worth living. Life rewarded courage, even when that first step was taken neck-deep in fear.”

“Her soul was a country he longed to explore and know as well as he did every stone that pocked that creek path.”

A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler

“I spoke to God. God heard me. Sometimes that is all I need to know.”

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

“Sometimes we have to find the courage to take off our shoes and feel it all. Even the bad stuff.”

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

“I had been waiting, all my life, for someone undeceived to love me.”

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

“I think thats one of the best feelings in the world, when you know your name is safe in another persons mouth. When you know theyll never shout it out like a cuss word, but say it or whisper it like a once-upon-a-time.”

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

“As much as I love it here, Im beginning to think you can do Gods work anywhere. All you have to do is look for someone whos hurting and see if you can ease the pain.”

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

“It isnt the great big pleasures that count the most; its making a great deal out of the little ones—Ive discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.”

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

“This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.”

* * *

What are some of your favorite lines from novels?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bittersweet, But Full of Hope | Review of A Love Undone

About the Book (from Waterbrook Multnomah)

A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone. 
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams. 
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine-year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him—that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

Available Now

My Rating


My Review

Cindy Woodsmall writes about difficult circumstances and true-to-life characters with skill and grace. There are three main characters in A Love Undone, in addition to the (mostly) sweet, complex cast surrounding them: Jolene, Andy, and Ray (Jolene's brother). These three have all been affected and changed by deep pain and tragedy, and more hardship threatens in the things unsaid or misunderstood.

Since Andy's history is clear from the book's description, I hope it won't be giving much away to compare the unfolding drama to Jane Eyre (as I'm sure others have noted!). While A Love Undone is a much brighter story, there's definitely a tension in the spark and passion that shouldn't be pursued. It makes this book a sad and difficult read in one sense, and yet...

There is hope in the love of family, the kindness of friends, the effort of good work, the beauty of life, and a faith that lasts through winter's lack. The journey starts out long as Jolene faces great loss, then "speeds up" in the short summer she meets Andy, and finally draws out long again in the wonder-what-they'll-decide conclusion.

This is an Amish novel of secrets, forbidden love, and hope that blossoms even in heartbreak. When the meaning behind the title becomes clear farther along, it casts the whole story in a bittersweet light...but still, there is hope. A Love Undone takes its characters through impossible circumstances, but leaves them stronger and keeps the reader engaged.

*With thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah through Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of the book.*

Friday, February 23, 2018

Soft Kisses and Birdsong | Pre-order + Giveaway Announcement

Happy Friday, friends!

Back in November I featured author Lynnette Bonner and her new historical romance novel, On Eagles' Wings. Today I get to share with you about her new contemporary romance series, including an upcoming giveaway in celebration of book 2, Soft Kisses and Birdsong! Read on to learn more...

* * *

About the Book

Years ago, he walked away from the only woman he had ever loved because he feared she wouldn’t want a man who’d failed. 

She numbly tried to move on with her life. And is finally beginning to feel she can face the future. 

Zaire Breckenridge can’t believe it when her lout of an ex-husband walks back into her life, claiming he’s a changed man. Worse than his invading the sanctuary of her town—the town they both grew up in together—is the fact that he’s invading the peace she finds at church. There really ought to be a rule. The heartbreaker should never be allowed to move back to town.

Landon Breckenridge knows that he’s made a mess of his life. But he also knows that finally surrendering everything to Jesus was the best decision he ever made. He aims to be a better person, and certainly a better witness to his friends and those who watch his rock climbing show on TV. Now if only he can convince the woman he loves to take him back. But if she won’t? Will Jesus be enough?

Sometimes the river of life cascades into a torrent of white-water. And sometimes it levels out on the other side, flowing smooth and slow, like soft kisses…and birdsong.

Releases March 6, 2018

Giveaway Announcement!

If you pre-order, when you receive your copy of the book on release day, the book will contain a special link where you can go and enter to win one of the prizes mentioned below. There is no purchase necessary to enter for these prizes, however. On release day you can go to this page (on Lynnette's website), and the link to enter the giveaway will be posted there. But buying the book on pre-order will give you a reminder to enter when you receive the book and open it, and it will support Lynnette. :) Void where prohibited.

3 winners, 3 prizes

Prize #1: $50 Gift Card

Prize #2: Kindle Fire, 8GB

Prize #3: Custom Necklace
(a one-of-a-kind creation made by the author, specifically with Riversong in mind)

You can secure your reminder to enter the giveaway by pre-ordering a copy of Soft Kisses and Birdsong today! The book releases in less than two weeks.


Want to read book 1? Angel Kisses and Riversong is available to purchase now!