Heart Pressed Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Heart Pressed

Author: Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: February 23, 2021

Crushes are great for grapes, wine, and romance—not so great for hearts.

The Sweetheart Festival, an Elnora Island institution, has sparked more than a few romances over the years, but who would have thought it would light a fire in two hearts from two of the island’s oldest families. When Amara Martin and Dante Greco meet, sparks fly that may ignite more than romance.

Two wineries, old feuds, generations of traditions.

Seeing the attraction at Amara and Dante’s chance meeting, Beth Stevens and Scott Anderson join forces to do a little matchmaking, not realizing the pressure it would bring to both households and their own hearts. The new couple must decide if they will adhere to tradition or break free from expectations and choose love. Pressure on every side threatens a love that hasn’t yet had a chance to ripen—for both Amara and Dante as well as for Beth and Scott.

In this “forbidden love” novel, Heart Pressed continues the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.
The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.


Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Heart Pressed was a sweet, light-hearted romance that tackled with a few tough issues. I won’t mention what thy are, because a couple of them might be “spoilers”. But I felt that Melissa Wardwell did an excellent job at handling them, and it even got me thinking about how I view those topics and how would I handle it, should handle it, etc. And I love books that get me thinking about what I believe on a certain issue, provide me with a different perspective and makes me think about how I should approach the topic as a Christian. 

Second, I loved getting to know Amara and Dante, and I wished I could know even more about them, but I guess I will just have to wait for them to make an appearance in the other Independence Island books. I liked that it had some elements of Romeo and Juliet, mainly with the feuding families, but I also appreciated that it wasn’t the main plot point of the story. I also liked how we got to see Scott and Beth again, and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship unfold even more, as well as the success of Beth’s food truck on the islands! 

Overall, this is a really good book to read, especially as summer approaches, however it can be read anytime of the year! I am looking forward to reading more of Melissa Wardwell’s books in the future. 

About the Author

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband Jonathan, three children, a cat, and two pitbulls. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and spending quality time with her husband kayaking and fishing. Melissa likes to joke about the voices in her head, but it is those voices have inspired her to write several romance novels such as “I Know the Plans” (a story based in her hometown of Owosso) and “Finding Hope in Savannah”. When she is not penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books on her blog, Back Porch Reads. To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit http://www.melissawardwell.com


More from Melissa

“Life never goes as planned.”
That is the understatement of the century. 2020 has been the perfect example of it. Around the world, plans were made on January 1st to do this or that. Plans to use the year as a spring board for something new, better, or just a change.

Then that virus dashed all those plans. We were shut out from the world with only our books, our televisions, and our families. Some battled the shut down alone, while others had a house full (one friend of mine had eleven people in her house and only one was not her child). I know a couple of single friends who decided to stay at one house for the few weeks that Michigan was closed. Others, like myself, may not have done as well as everyone thought they were. Brave face and all. But we survived. We persevered. We adapted.

“Heart Pressed” is my covid story. It is about the unexpected way life change while you are in the middle of making plans for the future. How some changes are wonderful and rewarding, while others will bring you to the ground, begging for mercy.

Take Amara, for instance. She had a plan and put things into motion to make that plan come to fruition, but God (don’t you love those two words?) had a different plan and took hold of her heart. He softened it, molded it, made it a place where He could reside. Then life came knocking. The one person she thought would be there, couldn’t be, but God (there it is again) gave her someone to count on, hold her hand, and help her through the storms. He showed her that she wasn’t alone in this world by surrounding her with new people who loved her and cared for her.

(Disclaimer – I know God didn’t do anything, but we all have those stories in our own lives where God intervened on our behalf.)

Did you find a way to survive the storm? Did God bring people into your life, even at a distance, that made things better? Did your faith strengthen to new levels? I hope so because life never goes as we plan, but it sure is nice to have someone to hold your hand.

Blog Stops


Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 19

lakesidelivingsite, March 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 20

A Novel Pursuit, March 20

She Lives To Read, March 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 22

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 23

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, March 23

Aryn the Libraryan, March 24

deb’s Book Review, March 24

Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Blossoms and Blessings, March 25

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 26

Batya’s Bits, March 26

For Him and My Family, March 27

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 27 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, March 28

Cultivating us, March 28

Texas Book-aholic, March 29

Blogging With Carol, March 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 30

Connect in Fiction, March 30

Simple Harvest Reads, March 31 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 31

Splashes of Joy, April 1

Godly Book Reviews, April 1


To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


The Purple Nightgown Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Purple Nightgown

Author: A.D. Lawrence

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release date: March, 2021

Marvel at true but forgotten history when patients check into Linda Hazzard’s Washington state spa in 1912 and soon become victim of her twisted greed.
Book 10 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Heiress Stella Burke is plagued by insincere suitors and nonstop headaches. Exhausting all other medical aides for her migraines, Stella reads Fasting for the Cure of Disease by Linda Hazzard and determines to go to the spa the author runs. Stella’s chauffer and long-time friend, Henry Clayton, is reluctant to leave her at the spa. Something doesn’t feel right to him, still Stella submits herself into Linda Hazzard’s care. Stella soon learns the spa has a dark side and Linda a mean streak. But when Stella has had enough, all ways to leave are suddenly blocked. Will Stella become a walking skeleton like many of the other patients or succumb to a worse fate?


Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Confession…for a long time I thought that mysteries and true crime books weren’t for me. Sure, certain events fascinated me, but I could never see myself actually picking up one up and reading it. For whatever reason, when I read the synopsis of The Purple Nightgown, that changed. The subject matter intrigued me, especially since it was based on something that really happened that I had never heard about before. I found myself excited to dive into the story so that I could learn more. 

The Purple Nightgown was suspenseful and I found myself reading late into the night trying to find out what was happening and if Stella would a) ever feel well again, and b) if she will manage to leave the spa alive (and c) will something actually happen between her and Henry…you’ll have to read to find out for yourself). I found that once Stella discovered the sinister nature of the spa that I had to keep reading until the end. I could not bring myself to put this book down until I knew how it all ended. And a love for mysteries and books based on true crimes ignited!

While I thoroughly enjoyed The Purple Nightgown, there were a couple of things that I didn’t like about the book. First, it took a while to finally get to the main part of the book which was the spa, I felt like some of the first 30-40% could have been trimmed a little bit – but that’s also just me and my preference. Second, I found both Stella and Henry infuriating at times, although Stella more so, at least for the first part of the book. However, I did love her growth as a character and how she realizes she needs to change. And in some ways, Henry also realizes he needs to change to. But besides these two dislikes, again, I loved this book. I don’t know how Linda Hazzard was in real life, but the author does a great job of describing her and even making her the criminal that she really was. I also liked the author’s note at the end that goes into some of the actual facts about Linda Hazzard and her “wellness spa”, which is fascinating, I wish there was more written about her! While the author did take some creative liberties, some of Hazzard’s real “patients” also appeared in the story and I felt like that led to making it more suspenseful and thrilling. 

I enjoyed The Purple Nightgown, and right now I am trying to get my hands on and devour as many mysteries as I can! I received a copy of this book from the publisher and CelebrateLit in exchange for my honest review! 

About the Author

A.D. Lawrence makes her home in Northeastern Nebraska. She has been passionate about writing and true crime for years, and her two obsessions melded into the goal of authorship. She is an active member of the ACFW, writes a true crime blog, won the 2019 Crown Award and was a 2019 First Impressions finalist.

More from A.D. Lawrence

Times have changed. And like so many things, health retreats have experienced their own metamorphosis. Sure, they’ve always catered to people with both spare money and time, but aside from similar clientele, the face of the health spa is nothing like its early 20th century sister.


If you could afford a getaway to a modern-day health spa like The Golden Door, you’d be treated to the luxury of rest. Yoga on the beach. Deep tissue massages. A much-needed break from technology and life’s constant pressures. Mental well-being is valued almost as highly as physical health, and the two are thought to be connected. After days or weeks of pampering, you would return home relaxed, recharged, and ready to dip back into the hustle of the real world.


In 1911, during the time of The Purple Nightgown, the medical community took a diametrically different approach to health. Weight equaled health. The prevailing assumption was that any ailments were directly connected to weight. Thus, ‘fat camps’ grew in popularity. Men and women checked into sanatoriums where the aides put them through grueling exercise regimes and provided them with just enough food to sustain life. No coddling. Not many of us would subject ourselves to the treatments early health spas required.


In this era of already extreme health measures, Linda Hazzard made her mark in Washington State. Obsessed with fasting, she ran her patients through an unfathomable course of ‘diet and exercise’ that proved the undoing of many. She did give massages though, which you’ll learn more about when you read The Purple Nightgown.


Although it’s fun to long for a simpler time while reading historical books and watching shows like Little House on the Prairie, there are some modern ways of thinking and advances in human comfort I’d rather not give up. One of those is the vastly superior spa experience we have today. Somehow, a facial with soothing background music sounds much more appealing than running mile after mile every day with nothing to look forward to but a glass of orange juice or a bowl of canned tomato broth.


Hot stone massage anyone?

Blog Stops


Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 23

lakesidelivingsite, March 23

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 24

Godly Book Reviews, March 24

Through the Fire Blogs, March 25

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 25

For the Love of Literature, March 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 26

Mary Hake, March 26

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 27

deb’s Book Review, March 27

Pause for Tales, March 28

Remembrancy, March 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 28

Connie’s History Classroom, March 29

Genesis 5020, March 29

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, March 29

Babbling Becky L’sBook Impressions, March 30

Texas Book-aholic, March 30

Inklings and notions, March 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 31 (Author Interview)

Cathe Swanson, March 31

Older & Smarter?, April 1

Betti Mace, April 1

Rebecca Tews, April 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 2

Vicky Sluiter, April 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 3

Amanda Tero, blog, April 3

Blossoms and Blessings, April 3

Christian Bookaholic, April 4

Blogging With Carol, April 4

Spoken from the Heart, April 4

Splashes of Joy, April 5

Artistic Nobody, April 5 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Southern Gal Loves to Read, April 5


To celebrate her tour, A.D. is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Book Review: Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts.

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Finding Dorothy is a novel about the making of The Wizard of Oz and how Maud Baum, the widow of L. Frank Baum, befriends Judy Garland, as well as tries to ensure that the movie stays true to her late husband’s work.

The book follows a dual timeline, the first being in 1938 and 1939 during the making of the movie, and the second one takes us back to the 1880s when Maud first met Frank Baum and their married years up until he published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was interesting to see how beloved elements from their lives are represented in fiction I also felt like I got to know Frank Baum really well even though the main focus is on Maud throughout the book.

It was also interesting to discover that Maud’s mother was a prominent suffragette and was good friends with Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton, who were frequent guests at her childhood home. Throughout the book we see how her mother puts pressure on her, especially when it comes to college, but she does eventually decide to drop out to marry Frank.

The contrast between Maud and her sister – Julia- was interesting, especially since we see Julia marry someone out of convenience and ends up being unhappy , married to a drunkard, not allowed to speak up, etc. Whereas Maud, while her family does struggle financially, she is in a loving marriage to a husband who, while fanciful, allows her to speak her mind and respects her and as a result they have a relatively happy and loving marriage.

It was also fascinating to see how Maud and Frank complement each other, especially in how Maud is more practical and Frank loves using his imagination and coming up with ways to make life more colorful.

I loved watching Maud befriend Judy Garland and try to encourage her and give her pointers on how to accurately portray the character of Dorothy Gale.

One aspect of the novel that I was kind of let down by is that there is a constant mention of Maud wanting to help Judy because she had let the other “Dorothy” down, however this isn’t fully fleshed out – at least to me it wasn’t – is the original ‘Dorothy” her niece Magdalena? And if so does she feel like she let her down because she didn’t get to live Maud and Frank? I think it is but it could have been explained a little bit more.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and enjoyed learning more about Maud Baum and L. Frank Baum, as well as Maud’s mother, Matilda Gage, and a young Judy Garland who is faced with the pressures of stardom from both her mother and studio executives. I highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the Wizard of Oz, or just loves a good historical novel, especially one based on real historical figures. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton.

The Belles takes place in the world of Orleans where beauty is treasured, but comes at a price. Most of the people in this world are born without color, however a chosen few are born with color and beauty and the power to make the colorless beautiful, they are know as the Belles. The most coveted position amongst the Belles is that of the queen’s favorite, and Camellia Beauregard is determined to become the favorite just like her mother. However, she soon discovers that everything that she knows about being a Belle and what she is supposed to do is not all that there is to life and that there are some dangerous secrets concerning the Belles that have been hidden from everyone except for a select few people. She also learns that beauty is powerful and can be used for evil if used by the wrong people. The kingdom is at risk and soon an evil scheme might destroy the Orleans that everyone knows and loves for the sake of beauty.

The Belles is an interesting story, I will admit it was a bit slow at first and also slow-paced throughout the novel. There was a lot of build up to the climax which ends up happening in the last twenty pages and even then is left unresolved until the next book, which is slightly annoying. However, Dhonielle Clayton writes a compelling story that had me hooked and intrigued me enough to want to eventually pick up the sequel.

One of the core themes of this novel is beauty and what it means to be beautiful. In this world, beauty is dictated by the rich and famous, as well as the Belles. However, all Camellia wants to do is change the standard of beauty to be more inclusive, especially of those who might have a different body shape. It is also interesting that the antagonist of this story, Princess Sophia, wants to gain the throne so she can have the power to change the beauty standards as well as undo the laws that her mother put in place to prevent people from partaking into much treatment. The main reason Sophia wants to change the beauty standards is that she wants to be in the newspapers for her outstanding beauty, which she ahs yet been able to do, she wants people to emulate her and become miniature versions of herself, and even has devised a nefarious plan that would involved using the Belles. We also see how she uses the magic of the Belles to hurt those around her who do not do her bidding. Beauty is power, especially when you are able to manipulate those who have the magic to change appearances to make others more beautiful. An example of Sophia’s abuse of Camellia’s power is when she forces her to turn one of her guest’s noses into a pig snout. Camellia is shocked by these actions because it is gross misuse of power, an it makes her realize that she has to do what she can to help prevent Sophia from gaining power of the kingdom.

Another theme that is woven masterfully throughout the novel is that of secrecy. As mentioned before, Camellia has born and raised believing that everything that the Belles do is for the good of the people and that after a few years they can retires from their positions. However, she soon discovers that there is a price to pay for using magic to make others beautiful, and that that is what ultimately leads to the demise of the Belles. She also discovers that there are other Belles who, due to deformities, have been hidden away in the various beauty houses, but are used to make the mistresses of the beauty houses more money while the Belles rest. She starts to unravel that everything she knew to be true is a lie and starts trying to search for the truth even if it hurts her.

The characters are compelling, readers will enjoy following Camellia on her journey as well as the snippets we get from her sisters throughout the book. As mentioned before, Sophia is an interesting antagonist especially since she gives the facade that she is sweet and just simply wants to be popular for her looks, however it is soon discovered that she is very sinister. The other minor characters are great, and we get to learn about a bunch of them. The world-building is fantastic, and the magic system is fascinating, however, I do wish it could have been explained a bit more, but I guess part of the novel is that not even the main character really knows what is going on.

Overall, a great fantasy read, especially for those who are not huge fans of fantasy. I looked forward to reading The Everlasting Rose soon. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Sing in the Sunlight Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Sing in the Sunlight

Author: Kathleen Denly

Genre: Christian historical fiction

Release date: March 2, 2021

Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name.

Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn’t suffer for her foolishness.

Richard Stevens’s life hasn’t turned out as he expected, and when a shocking letter turns even his past into a mystery, he travels to San Francisco in search of guidance. On the way, he encounters a mysterious young woman hiding beneath a veil. That night he experiences a dream that sends him on a quest to find the bride God has chosen for him. He never imagines she’s already told everyone they’re married.

Unwilling to lie, nor accept a marriage of mere convenience, Richard wants the real thing. Yet Clarinda’s not interested in love, only a chance to save her child. Can he help her rise above the pain that runs deeper than her scars to accept a love worth every risk?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Sing in the Sunlight was an interesting read, although I’ll be honest that since it’s been a while since I read the first book in the series, I only vaguely remembered the connections that some of the side characters had to that one. This was a great story about learning to trust in God and open yourself up to love again, even after being hurt by others. I think there is something to be said to about the importance of communicating with those we love.

Clarinda was an interesting character, and I found myself relating to her on a certain level, however I also found her irritating at times, especially when she doesn’t believe others that she doesn’t have to hide her face. But then again, I have never had to deal with the aftermath and trauma that comes from what she experienced as a child. I did find her a bit too jaded at times, but again it does kind of make sense. I also enjoyed getting to know Richard and how he genuinely cares for Clarinda even though she doesn’t understand why. I appreciate that he wasn’t completely perfect, we got to see some of his humanity at certain points that made him seem more realistic.

I loved learning more about the history of San Diego and the surrounding area. I also liked that this story had a lot going on, but not so much so that it was overwhelming. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Kathleen Denly’s books in the future.

About the Author

Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

More from Kathleen

Hiding our Flaws

We all have things we’d like to change about our physical appearance. Personally, I’ve yet to lose the weight I gained with my last pregnancy and sitting behind a desk all day hasn’t helped things any. Despite this, I know that my husband, kids, family, friends, and most importantly, God, loves me just as much now as when I was my healthiest self. I want to lose the weight not because I need to earn someone’s approval but because I know I’ll feel better and be able to do more without tiring as quickly if I do. In the meantime, I’m okay with where I am because it’s the best I’ve been able to do so far.

This level of self-acceptance has come with maturity and the love of a godly man. When I was younger, I’d spend hours in front of the mirror trying to disguise my flaws beneath layers of makeup and stomach smoothers. In fact, one of the most memorable moments of my courtship with my now husband was the day I returned from a women’s retreat. I hadn’t gotten much sleep all weekend and we’d had to pack up and leave early, so I’d made the unusual decision to skip my makeup that morning. I was going to carpool back to the church, grab my car, and head home for a nap. What was the point in painting my face when the only people who’d see it were the women who’d seen me wake up bare-faced that morning anyway? Well, it turns out my now husband had missed me. So he was waiting in the church parking lot when we arrived, just to say hi before I went home. Sweet, right? Um yeah. At the time, part of me thought it was sweet, but more of me wanted to melt into the floor’s carpet and vanish from sight. I had ZERO makeup on, people! And I had bags under my eyes! *gasp* *shudder*

Needless to say, after almost nineteen years of marriage, he’s seen me a few times without my makeup on. Actually, these days, I only wear makeup for videos, photographs I intend to share online, special events, and (if the kids are nice to me that morning) church. Not that I don’t have my insecure moments or those photographs that friends share but I really wish they wouldn’t. (You know who you are.) But overall, I am okay with how I look because I know that I am loved and accepted.

However, in Sing in the Sunlight, my character, Clarinda, feels unloved, and unwanted by those closest to her. She describes parts of herself with words like hideous. She uses long sleeves, high necks, gloves, and veils to hide herself from a world that has rejected her. And she keeps almost everyone at arm’s length—especially God. So when she finally lets someone in, only to be betrayed, it sets off a series of desperate decisions that tangle her in a web from which she cannot find an escape. It’s my prayer that her story will touch readers’ hearts and show them how much they are loved—flaws and all.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 2

Simple Harvest Reads, March 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Texas Book-aholic, March 3

lakesidelivingsite, March 3

Inklings and notions, March 4

Genesis 5020, March 4

For Him and My Family, March 5

A Novel Pursuit, March 5

Betti Mace, March 6

deb’s Book Review, March 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 7

Labor Not in Vain, March 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 8

Connie’s History Classroom, March 9

The Meaderings of a Bookworm, March 9

Older & Smarter?, March 10

Adventures Of a Travelers Wife, March 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 12 (Author Interview)

KarenSueHadley, March 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 13

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 14

Blossoms and Blessings, March 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 15


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a Kindle Paperwhite, one bookish scarf, one pair of bookish socks, one bookish necklace, one Chaparral Hearts Pen, and one custom bookmark made and signed by Kathleen Denly!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Recent Reads Vol. 2

Something I have found I have needed to work on a lot more recently is that is my speech and my tongue, especially when it comes to communicating with my husband. I know what the Bible has to say about the tongue, but so often I have found myself glossing over those verses. A few weeks ago I cam across Conversation Peace by Mary A. Kassian at a used bookstore and decided to pick it up and go through it as a supplement to my personal Bible reading and study. Even though it does cover a lot of the usual verses about words and the tongue, Mary A. Kassian does a great job of breaking them down, as well as providing some good courses of action to improve how one speaks. She also explores all the different ways in which our speech can cause conflict, hurt others, and also be dishonorable to the Lord. I really liked how almost everything she talked about was saturated in Scripture and that she was not really grasping at straws. I will admit towards the end it got a little bit repetitive, but it was still really good. I highly recommend this one, even though it is an older book, if you are interested in learning more about working on how you communicate with others. This might be a stretch, but I really think that this book is just as good as any Spoken Communications text book that is out there.


The next book is one that I have been reading on my Kindle at nights once we turned the lights out, Dearest Josephine by Caroline George. The book follows recent high-school graduate Josie who’s last year of high school was filled of turmoil and grief, especially after the death of her father. While she figures out what she wants to do next, she travels to the manor her father had purchased before his death, and while there she discovers letters and a novel written by one of the previous owners, Elias Roch, who lived there in 1820. She starts reading these items and instantly feels a connection with someone who lived 200 years ago, especially since the letters were written to someone who was her namesake. I had mixed feelings about this book, because there were aspects that I really liked, but also there were flaws that made me not love it as much as I thought I would. I do have a longer review up that goes into more detail about what I liked and didn’t like, but I will share one thing I didn’t like. I felt like it was teased throughout most of the book that there might potentially be a paranormal aspect to it, and there wasn’t. I get why the author didn’t go that direction, but as someone who was invested in the story it was kind of a let down. Also, a big thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing and Edelweiss+ for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. Click here to read more of my thoughts on the book.


The next book I picked up was Blackout by Candace Owens. I picked it up because Candace Owens has made a name for herself as a black conservative and I was interested in reading what she had to say from her perspective. It was an interesting read just about the political climate the U.S, especially in light of everything that happened last year. It was very thought-provoking and it was definitely a different read from a lot of other books that discuss racism. Before I read Blackout, I did pick up Caste by Isabel Wilkerson in order to read from someone on the opposing side of the topic so I could educate myself on what is being said on either side.


In between chapters of Blackout, I did read Fullmetal Alchemist Volumes 4, 5 & 6 by Hiromu Arakawa. This is a manga series that follows the Elric brothers who are trying to figure out a way to get their original bodies back after they broke one of the laws of alchemy trying to bring their mother back. In these three volumes the brothers are leaving Central so that they can go back to their teacher so that they can learn more alchemy and perfect their fighting techniques in order to go up against Lust, Gluttony and Envy. In the sixth volume we get a lot more of their backstory, especially as to how they became alchemists and eventually start working for the military.

After finishing Conversation Peace, I planned on picking up Ten Words to Live By by Jen Wilkin (thank you Crossway and Netgalley for giving me an eARC in exchange for my honest review), but before I started reading it, I wanted to read through Do Christians Need the Ten Commandments? by Phylicia Masonheimer which is a concise work that provides a short but thorough overview of successionism, the free grace movement, as well as how we as Christians are still commanded to obey God’s Word, even though we are not under the law. I have no idea if what I made sense, but I highly recommend it if this is a topic you are interested in knowing more about. After reading it (it’s about 16 pages), I jumped into Ten Words to Live By by Jen Wilkin, which is about the ten commandments and how they apply to Christians today. It was a pretty decent book, I learned quite a bit in the first half, but then the second half seemed to be a rehash of what I already know. But I still appreciated how Jen Wilkin takes readers through each commandment, breaks it down, and then shows how we can apply it in our daily lives. I also loved that she emphasized that while certain sins can be viewed as “personal” sins, they still have an affect on the community as a whole (especially the Christian community). She also emphasizes the importance of knowing the Lord in able to be one of His followers and strive to follow His commands. I recommend it for those who are interested in learning more about the then commandments and their applicability today, and for fans of Jen Wilkin’s previous works.

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Dearest Josephine by Caroline George

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Dearest Josephine by Caroline George.


Dearest Josephine follows recent high-school graduate Josie who’s last year of high school was filled of turmoil and grief, especially after the death of her father. While she figures out what she wants to do next, she travels to the manor her father had purchased before his death, and while there she discovers letters and a novel written by one of the previous owners, Elias Roch, who lived there in 1820. She starts reading these items and instantly feels a connection with someone who lived 200 years ago, especially since the letters were written to someone who was her namesake. Will she finally come to terms with her grief? Or will she forever feel a deep connection who has long since died?

I had mixed feelings about Dearest Josephine. It had a lot of elements that I really liked, but it also had some flaws that made me not like it as much as I thought I would.

Some of the elements I liked was that it was told in epistolary style, and it was set against the backdrop of the British moors. Also, it dealt with the topic of grief really well. I also liked getting to know Josie, Oliver and Elias Roch, a man from 1820 who used to live in the manor that Josie is living in. I also liked how she discovered his letters and novel, and it added another dimension to the plot.

However, some of the elements I didn’t like is that in some ways is that the dual timelines never really seemed connected to each other, except for the fact that Josie is reading Elias’ letters to someone named Josephine. Also, I felt like I’d been teased that something paranormal would happen…and it didn’t, which was a let down. I get why the author chose to end the book the way she did and what she was trying to accomplish, but it was still a let down. Something else that I didn’t like was the format, although granted, I did read it as an eARC, so that could have been the reason why it was weird. I didn’t like how I would be reading a passage from Elias’ novel and then in the middle of it there was a text exchange between Josie and her friend Faith, or Oliver. The same would happen in the middle of his letters. I get that the intention was that we are seeing Josie react to what she is reading, but it made the story feel disjointed.

Overall, this was just okay. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it and I would definitely be interested in trying something else out by the author. Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Edelweiss for providing me a copy of Dearest Josephine in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

The Workout Diaries – Week 3

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I can’t believe it is already Week 3 of my journey to get fit, sometimes it feels like yesterday that I started trying to workout more regularly. Here is what happened during my workouts this week:

Day 11- Monday, February 22nd

Today was my first day back on the elliptical in almost two weeks. We weren’t able to fix the issue that we’d been having with it, so we ended up replacing it with a different model that will hopefully last a long time and not have the same issues that the previous one had. That being said, the new one definitely has a different feel because the resistance is harder than the previous one, and I found I had to stay at Resistance Level 1 for the duration of my workout. Also, I found that I could only do 0.3 miles in 15-16 minutes because of the resistance. However, this isn’t a bad thing, because it will hep strengthen my legs even more, it’s going to take time though. I will admit, I felt discouraged that I couldn’t even get to half a mile in 15 minutes, because it feels like I have not made as much progress as I think I should have by this point. But I’m not giving up, I’m going to keep going, and hopefully get stronger and faster and build up endurance as I go on. Ideally I would like to be able to do at least 20 minutes on the elliptical by the end of the week, we shall see how it goes. Originally, I was going to alternate between the elliptical and a HIIT workout this week, but I think I want to get used to using the elliptical again, so I’m not going to start that until next week.

Day 12 – Tuesday, February 23rd

Another day, another workout on the elliptical. I’ll admit that my legs were sore from yesterday’s workout, and I just was not feeling working out at all. But I knew that I needed to because I knew that if I allowed myself to give in, I don’t know when I would start working out again, and I also know that I would beat myself up if I didn’t. I don’t know if that is a good thing that I would be disappointed in myself for not working out, but I also don’t want to lose the little progress that I have made since I started working out twelve days ago. It’s definitely not easy to shift my mindset on the mornings I don’t want to workout, but one thing I am trying to work on is not making excuses. Unfortunately, I’ve allowed myself to make excuses to the point that there are things I neglect, and that needs to change. Being more disciplined is something I am actively working on, and being consistent in exercising is one of those steps I can take to do so.

Yesterday I mentioned that the elliptical had a harder resistance, even on Resistance Level 1, and that was still the case today. However, I did find it did feel a little easier on my legs, so maybe by the end of the week I can at least move up to Resistance Level 2. Something else I might try is change the incline and see if that does anything. But anyway, enough about that, back to today’s workout. It felt harder today, and I found myself having to take a couple of breaks to drink water and sweating a lot more. However, I did notice an improvement from yesterday in that I was able to go a little bit further – 0.4 miles – in 15 minutes, which was encouraging and is a step in the right direction, and I don’t feel like I was going faster, but apparently I did just a little bit. My legs felt like lead afterwards, but they quickly recovered and they just feel a little bit stiff. I need to figure out a way to keep my mind occupied while using the elliptical…the last couple of days I’ve been watching YouTube videos, but I find that those don’t always help with keeping me focused. Tomorrow I might switch back to listening to music, or maybe try listening to an audio book.

Day 13 – Wednesday, February 24th

This morning was a little touch and go because I woke up with some pain on my left side kind of in the general area of my kidney, I wanted to workout, but I also wanted to wait and see what happened to the pain. I’m happy to report that after about an hour it did go away and I haven’t had it since, and I was able to get my workout in at the time I usually did. My mom suggested that the pain might have been muscle pain in that area. I’m going to keep an eye on it, and it honestly just served as a reminder that I really need to up my water intake because I do not drink enough water! Anyway, so for today’s workout I did the elliptical today. One thing I did different is that I did up the incline to level 2 because I was interested to see how it affected my workout. I really liked it, but I found that at the 10 minute mark I had to bump it back down to level 1. I did keep it at Resistance Level 1, and I think tomorrow I’m going to experiment with that. The last 5 minutes of my workout felt brutal and I definitely felt the burn in my legs and it took me a lot to keep going until I hit the 15 minute-mark. However, I am excited that I was able to get to 0.5 miles in 15 minutes, which I feel like is a small accomplishment. I’m still hoping to be able to do a 20 minute workout on the elliptical by Friday, but I think I will also be okay if I don’t hit that goal because another goal is not to hurt myself to where I can’t workout. I do feel really good, and I think I have a bit more clarity of mind, which is good because I feel like my brain has been stuck in a fog for the last few months. I also started listening to an audiobook while I worked out, and I enjoyed it a lot more than watching a YouTube video, and I’m wondering if listening to audiobooks is the way to go to keep me focused while I workout, but I’m also pretty sure it will be dependent on the kind of audiobook it is. For example, the one I started is Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price which is a murder mystery retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I’m really enjoying it…maybe listening to murder mysteries and cozy mysteries is the way I need to go while I workout.

Day 14 – Thursday, February 25th

Today’s workout on the elliptical went well. Again, just 15 minutes, but I did manage to go 0.5 miles again. I also upped both the incline and the resistance to level 2. I did have to bump down the resistance down to level 1 for the last 5 minutes in order to keep going. But I’m making some progress, it’s slow, but it’s still progress, every day is another step closer towards getting more in shape. I should also mention that I weighed myself for the first time in over a year and even though I was surprised by the number, it also gives me a better idea of what I need to work on and what I am working towards (For personal reasons I’m not going to share the number on the blog, it’s just something I’d rather keep to myself…and between my husband and I). Another aspect of getting healthier that I am trying to work on is my water intake…it really is abysmal. The water bottle that I use is 24 oz., and I usually fill it up before I workout – let’s just say that there are days where I don’t finish all 24 oz. My goal today is to drink at least 48 oz. of water, which means filling it up twice. I think part of the problem is that I don’t like drinking really cold water, I prefer at around room temperature (I know, I’m weird), and since my bottle keeps water at the temperature it is when I fill it, that means if I fill it with cold tap water, it will stay cold all day. Something I’m also going to try doing is adding lemon to the “second” bottle to see if that helps me drink more. Which reminds me, I do need to fill it up in order to reach my goal of 48 oz. I will eventually up this goal, but baby steps.

Day 15 – Friday, February 26th

This morning my thighs felt very stiff and it worried me a little bit because I wasn’t sure how far I would make it into my workout. However, while it felt a little bit harder, I managed to push through, and not only do 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not only that I made it to 17 minutes. To me that is an accomplishment considering the last few days getting to the 15-minute marker has seemed challenging. I thought about pushing to 20 minutes, but I knew if I did that I might collapse on the floor…but I believe Monday is the day I am going to make it to 20 minutes. Today I worked out with a level 2 Incline, but kept it on Level 1 Resistance, because I did want to take it a little easier considering how my legs felt before I started. I’m proud of the progress I have made, but I also know that the journey is only beginning! I still have a long way to go until I am in shape somewhat…and by that I mean able to go grocery shopping without feeling like I am going to keel over as soon as I’m done…also eventually I would like to be able to do 45-60 minutes on the elliptical. I know it’s possible, but I know it’s going to take time and perseverance, I can’t slack off. And like yesterday, my goal is to drink at least 48 oz. of water, if I am able to get in more that’s great!

Overall, it was another good workout week. I’m noticing some small improvements in myself since I started this journey, but like I mentioned before, my fitness journey has just begun! Now that I’m getting into a rhythm with using the elliptical, I think next week I will share some of my goals/milestones that I want to achieve as I continue to exercise more frequently.

Janelle L. C.

Delia and the Drifter Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Delia and the Drifter

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre: Historical Romance (Western)

Release date: February 15, 2021

An arranged marriage to save the family from ruin?

Delia Blackstone knows what her mother is up to—she intends to marry her off to an older man who is all fortune and no future. And Delia’s having none of it.

When a mysterious visitor appears on the family doorstep and offers an opportunity for Delia to travel from Pennsylvania to Colorado, Delia knows it is time for her to strike out on her own and discover a new life. Along the way she encounters a handsome drifter who captures her heart. But is he interested in trading his exciting life of adventure for love?

Two murders, a missing will, and a number of puzzling relationships are enough to unsettle anyone—even smart, capable Delia. Who can she trust? And can she trust her heart in matters of love?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Delia and the Drifter was an interesting books because it felt like I was reading two stories. The first half of the book deals with Delia leaving behind her family to go to Colorado, and the second half deals with her time after she arrives in Colorado. I’m honestly not sure how much to share because there are certain things that could potentially be spoilers, especially the reason for her going to Colorado. But I did enjoy the plot, and even though I had my suspicions about certain people that ended up being correct, I was still impressed with how the author pulled off the reasoning behind their actions. 

I loved getting to know Delia, even though we are reminded often that she is not like other girls, which for the time period that this novel is set in, that’s true. I loved her tenacity and stubbornness and her humility and willingness to get her hands dirty. I also enjoyed getting to know Wyatt, the drifter that Delia meets on her journey to Colorado and how he wants to look out for her, I do wish we could have had him in the story a lot more. And then there is Delia’s family in Pennsylvania, who are just awful to her! They exploit her and make fun of her and look down on her because she dared to get an education. There are also the people she meets in Colorado, which I won’t get into because I think it will lessen the experience of being introduced to them all. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Delia and the Drifter and I am looking forward to reading more of Melody Carlson’s historical works!

About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

More from Melody

I love historical stories about women. Particularly ones in the American frontier and old west. Probably because I grew up hearing pioneer stories from my grandparents, whose parents arrived in covered wagons. But contributions made by pioneering females is often overshadowed by their male counterparts. That’s why I enjoy researching and telling these fictional yet reality-based stories of women who lived and loved and did their part to settle the frontier. To me they are the unsung heroes of the West.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, February 24

lakesidelivingsite, February 24

For Him and My Family, February 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 25

Blogging With Carol, February 25

She Lives To Read, February 26

Texas Book-aholic, February 26

Pause for Tales, February 26

Inklings and notions, February 27

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 27

deb’s Book Review, February 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 28

CarpeDiem, February 28

Betti Mace, March 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 1

Artistic Nobody, March 2 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 2

Simple Harvest Reads, March 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 3

Older & Smarter?, March 4

Connie’s History Classroom, March 4

Christian Bookaholic, March 5

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 5

Sara Jane Jacobs, March 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 6

Labor Not in Vain, March 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 7

Connect in Fiction, March 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 8

Splashes of Joy, March 8

Hallie Reads, March 8

Batya’s Bits, March 9

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, March 9



To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Recent Reads Vol. 1

Recently I decided to do something a little bit different from what I’ve been doing when it comes to talking about the books I’ve been reading. I want to do a combination of a wrap-up with the mini-review posts I’ve been doing, the only problem is that I have been reading a lot so far this year and to do a monthly wrap-up would be really long, and I want to do something a little bit shorter than that.

Some of the BookTubers I follow have been doing Recent Reads videos in which they recap a selection of books they have read however long they decide to do it instead of monthly wrap-ups (Hailey in Bookland is the main one who comes to mind). I’m still trying to figure out how I want to do this, but if any of you have any suggestions of how I can improve these recent reads posts, please let me know! I think my plan is to post one of these every time I read five books (or more).

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy is a book that I have wanted to read for a very long time, at least two year ago when I first discovered it’s existence. The thought of this book made me want to reread Anne of Green Gables and watch the movies again. I was a little bit worried going into this because it does have mixed reviews on GoodReads, but I fell in love with this story. As the title suggests, this follows Marilla Cuthbert starting in her teens and following her as she grows up and also explores a little bit of what happened between her and John Blythe. There was a surprising theme that factored into the story that made it more interesting and added a different dimension to the story that I never really thought about. I’m still deciding whether or not to write a longer review because I really did enjoy it and have a lot more thoughts I would like to share.

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Despite the fact that I have a pile of library books that need to be read, I decided to jump right into Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery which I fell in love with once more. This time while reading it I could definitely see more of the ways that I am like Anne (when my husband and I watched the movie, he pointed out several times how much like her I am sometimes). I love her imagination and her optimism, and reading about the different scrapes she gets into. I enjoyed revisiting Prince Edward Island and, more specifically, Avonlea and getting to know the inhabitants of that town. I loved watching Anne grow up over the span of five years and all the different events that happen in her life that shape her. Every time I reread these books I wished I had more of imagination, and in some ways makes me long for a simpler time, although I know that things weren’t necessarily rosy during the time period that it takes place in. It also made me want to binge-read the whole series.

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But before I moved on to the next book in the Anne series, I picked up The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate which I had just checked out from the library. It is the sequel to The One and Only Ivan, except this time we are following Ivan’s friend, Bob, who is a dog. The story takes place just as a hurricane is about to hit the area in which Bob, Ivan, and Ruby live, and tragedy strikes. Through the series of events that take place in the novel, Bob is forced to confront his past and learn about forgiveness. I flew through this book, and although not as good as it’s predecessor, it is still a great follow-up to it.


At this point I was itching to start Anne of Avonlea, but another one of my library books was also vying for my attention. Before I moved on to a book I own, I decided I needed to read at least one more library book, especially one that has several other people waiting to read it. So I picked up When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole, which is a thriller set in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, which falls subject to gentrification, but the speed and ways at which it is happening is suspicious to Sydney, who grew up in that community. A bunch of different things happen that lead her to believe that something about how her neighbors are quickly leaving the neighborhood seems sinister and she is on a mission to find out what it is. I thought this was okay, I felt like some of the main thriller aspects of the novel were saved for the last 30-40 pages and as a result the climax and conclusion seemed rushed. There is a lot of commentary on racism and redlining in certain communities. I will also add a caution that there is some bad language used, and there is a sex scene (sorry for the spoiler) in it, so if those are things you try to avoid, I wouldn’t pick this one up.


After the wild ride that was When No One is Watching, I decided that it would be the perfect time to pay a visit to Anne and the village of Avonlea and picked up Anne of Avonlea. I’ll admit that I had forgotten chunks of this installment in the series, partly because it has been a while since I’ve read this (my junior year of high school), and because the movie is a combination of this and the next two books in the series. I loved revisiting Anne and watching her as the new school teacher at the Avonlea school, and her growing friendship with Gilbert Blythe. Also, I loved the new characters we are introduced to: Davy and Dora, the twins that Marilla adopts; Mr. Harrison; and Miss Lavendar. We get to watch Anne grow and mature from the ages of 16 to 18, but how she still manages to get into a few scrapes. There are some great conversations in this book, especially between Anne and Mrs. Allen, where the latter tells her that love doesn’t often come in the form of dashing knights, but sometimes blossoms from friendship. Also, I loved some of Davy’s stories and questions that he has for both Anne and Marilla even though it exasperates them both. The ending is fantastic, and serves as a catalyst for a slow burn romance of sorts. But I highly recommend the Anne series for anyone who wants some cheering up, especially in the midst of what seems like a long, dark winter.


Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

The Workout Diaries – Week 2

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here we are at week 2 of working out. This week was a pretty good week, but it had a couple of challenges that I wasn’t expecting. Since our elliptical is still out of commission, I still followed along to this video:

I had intended to set some milestones I want to accomplish during my journey to get in shape, but since some of them involve the elliptical I wanted to wait until it was fixed to do so. The main goal I had this week was to decrease the number of breaks I took during my workouts.

Day 6 – Monday, February 15th.

Yesterday I definitely felt pretty energetic, but I decided to still keep it as a rest day because I felt like it was important to do that. This morning, I was less enthusiastic about working out, mainly because I had a hard time getting to sleep. But I still worked out. I followed the Body Coach video I started doing last week. It was a little harder than I expected it to be, but it makes sense since my body is still getting used to being worked out. I did have to take three breaks during the video, again, my goal is to eventually make it through the video without having to take a break. After resting for a few minutes, I do feel better and I feel less lethargic than I did before I started. One thing I will say, is that I do sleep better on the days that I do workout, which is good!

Day 7 – Tuesday, February 16th.

Alright, so I thought yesterday was hard…but today was worse, but I still made it through! This morning I definitely felt a little more sluggish, and also I felt like my routine went a little bit haywire because my husband worked from today. But that is more my fault in believing everything about my routine needs to change when he is home, rather I can try to keep it, but also make slight adjustments instead of throwing it completely out the window. By the way, I do love having my husband at home during the day, I wish it could be more often. I also didn’t sleep well last night, but I think it was due to drinking coffee later in the afternoon – which I need to stop doing, and also worrying about whether or not my husband would have to brave the snowstorm to go to work…it also didn’t help that our hockey team lost their game last night. Anyway, I did the same HIIT workout routine that I’ve been doing, and I really enjoy it, although my thighs and lower back felt trashed afterwards, which is a little alarming, but I also don’t know if that is just due to those muscles getting used to being worked again. I did have to take three breaks again, my goal by the end of the week is to be able to make it through the video and only having to take one break…we shall see what happens. I’m also thinking maybe I need to try and do the Superman Squeeze tomorrow instead of the squats I’ve been using as a substitute and see if that helps a little bit more. But I will say, I’m really enjoying the energy I have after working out, before I would be lethargic throughout the whole day, which was awful.

Day 8 – Wednesday, February 17th

Today it took me a little bit to get going. I just felt sluggish, and I even debated whether to skip working out today or not. Part of it is that I woke up congested – which has been happening a lot to me lately, partly because of the changes in weather and air pressure we’ve been experiencing in Ohio. However, I also know that if I did that, I would probably decide not workout tomorrow and Friday. Also, I think I’ve decided that I need to try not to skip workouts unless I am really, really sick (in other words I’m unable to get out of bed or have a stomach bug). Anyway, all that to say is that I did end up working out, I just got a later start than usual. Again, I followed the 16 Minute HIIT workout, and I was expecting to have to take a lot more breaks than even yesterday. Surprisingly, I only had to take one break after 10 minutes and that was right after I did the squats that I’ve been doing as a replacement for the Superman Squeeze. I felt pretty good after my workout and also felt like I could’ve done a little bit more…so maybe tomorrow I will try out a longer low-impact HIIT workout tomorrow, we shall see!

Day 9 – Thursday, February 18th

Today was a rough start. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I didn’t want to workout. However, I did get out of bed because I wanted to spend some time with my husband before he left for work this morning. And, I did workout, because again, I knew if I didn’t do it I would make excuses not to do it tomorrow. Yesterday I had thought about doing a different routine, but since I was feeling kind of icky, I decided it would be best to just stick with following along with the video I have been doing. I will admit that I felt like I moved at a more sluggish pace than yesterday, but I think that’s okay, it’s better than not doing anything at all! But I’m not going to lie, even though I say that I do beat myself up over it. One positive from my workout is that I only had to take one break again kind of in the middle of the routine, which is good, just a couple days ago I was taking three breaks. And tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to improve. Something that I started doing yesterday was start working on what I eat, however, I this is an aspect that scares me a bit because in the past I have been too restrictive when it comes to food. And even yesterday, when it was about time for lunch, I found myself slipping into that mindset. There is nothing wrong with portion control and eating healthier things, but being so restrictive when I starve myself and/or skip meals is not a good mindset to have and that is what I want to avoid.

Day 10 – Friday, February 19th

Last night was awful, I was pretty nauseous and had to get into bed early because the only thing that seemed to help alleviate it – thankfully, I do know what caused it (No, I’m not pregnant). As a result, I still felt pretty fatigued this morning, but I still decided I needed to workout, even if it meant going at a slower pace, which I did! I worked out along with HIIT workout, adapting the couple of exercises that I have been adapting since I started doing this particular routine, I just switched some things around, mainly I saved doing squats to the end. I definitely felt weaker today during my workout, but at least I worked out, at least that’s one thing I am trying to remind myself instead of beating myself up. Also, I only had to take one break during my workout, which is still good! The one weird thing that happened was that near the end of working out I got the hiccups, it was an interesting experience, and I’m glad it happened near the end and not in the beginning or middle of my workout. But I feel pretty good, in fact I feel a lot less fatigued than I did pre-workout.

Overall, it was decent week of working out. Next week, I want to be able to make it through the workout without taking break, I would also like to increase the time of my workout to 20 minutes. There is a possibility that the elliptical will be fixed, if that is the case, my plan is to workout on the elliptical on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then do a HIIT workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I do also want to try a different HIIT workout that is still low-impact and easy on the knees, eventually I want to be able to mix and match different exercises.

Janelle L. C.

The Workout Diaries Week 1

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

One of my goals this year was to get in shape. In all honesty, once lockdown happened last year, I kind of became a couch potato and any level fitness I had diminished to the point where even going to the grocery store would feel like I had just completed a marathon – wearing a mask didn’t help either, but it was only a minor complication compared to how out of shape I was.

Sure, I’d tried several times to start getting in shape, but I kept coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t exercise. We even bought a used elliptical, but then we started having some issues with it – the one wheel came off the track every so often, and we tried several different things to fix it and make sure it didn’t happen again. Our solutions seemed to work, very briefly and then it happened again. And, as you’re probably guessed, I used that as an excuse not to workout.

January 1st came around and I wrote down that getting fit was one of my goals…but of course I didn’t do anything, sure I tried playing Just Dance to see if that would help…which I soon neglected. But during the first week of February I decided I needed to stop making excuses and start working out. My plan was to use the elliptical five days a week, however, you’ll see that on the second day of working out the wheel came of the track near the end of my work out (and I can’t get it back on by myself…I’ve tried), so that left me with trying to figure out a new workout routine until we got it sorted out.

So, here is a log of my journey to get more in shape…you’ll notice I don’t say lose weight. Yes, I need to lose weight, but I really don’t want that to be my main focus for working out because in the past when I tend to give up more easily if I am not where I think I need to be, and also, I have had a bad relationship with food in the past, as well as experience with disordered eating, and I don’t want to fall into that trap again because it isn’t healthy! I’m hoping that by making fitness the goal that I can stick to a workout routine more easily, and who knows, I might lose weight in the process, but that is only a secondary goal.

My goals for the first month was to do a mile on the elliptical, 5 days a week. If I was able to do that in under 15 minutes then my goal was to try and workout for 15 minutes on the elliptical.

Day 1 – Monday, February 8th.

I got on the elliptical, and started feeling it in my legs and arms after about a minute. I had to take breaks every so often for water and just to rest a little. However, I did manage to use the arms for most of my workout, which is good! I also watched a Youtube video while I worked out and it seemed to help me no fixate on the numbers of the timer. Overall, I did one mile in 15 minutes and 30 seconds, which isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. My legs felt like lead when I got off, but only for about 30 minutes and I was fine. I actually felt like I had a lot more energy for the first time in weeks. However, I did have some pain in my upper arms later in the evening, and it took me a while to figure out why. It wasn’t bad, but I did take some ibuprofen so that it didn’t keep me up.

Day 2 – Tuesday, February 9th.

Woke up with very little pain from my workout the day before. I found that I was actually looking forward to getting on the elliptical again! However, that soon dissipated once I got on because my legs felt like trash as soon as I started. I found I had to take a few more breaks than the previous day, but again, I think it’s because the muscles had not been worked very much so they’re getting used to being used again. I almost made it to the end of my workout and I was so proud that I was about to make it because there were many times I felt like just quitting. However, at the 12 minutes and 30 second mark the left wheel came off the track which promptly ended my workout for the day. But I still got most of it in and I did 0.86 miles before that happened. But it does mean I need to look for something else to do until we can figure out what to do with the elliptical so that it doesn’t do that.

Day 3 – Wednesday, February 10th

Today was a hard to get up and moving, partly because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get my workout in on the elliptical, and partly because I had tried following along with YouTube workout videos before and couldn’t make it all the way through. However, yesterday my mom told me to check out this one YouTube channel called The Body Coach TV, so I did and there are a variety of different videos to choose from. I personally wanted something that was low-impact and easy on my knees, and this particular video was perfect for my needs:

I’ll admit, that due to my current level of fitness, I did have to stop several times to just sit and drink some water. But this was one of the first YouTube workouts I’ve been able to get through the whole thing. Most of the exercises were easy, but still provided a great workout, I’ll admit that I was a puddle of sweat at the end. There were two exercise near the end I couldn’t do, the Superman squeeze and the walk down, press and stand up exercises. However, I just used a couple of the other exercises as a replacement during these sets. My plan is to keep doing this particular routine for a couple more weeks (hopefully until the elliptical is fixed) or until it becomes easy and I feel like I need some more variety.

Day 4 – Thursday, February 11th.

Starting late yesterday afternoon I could feel muscle pain in my thighs and upper arms, so that means that the workout I did yesterday did what it was supposed to be. When I woke up this morning, I could feel it a lot more in my thighs and lower back, and a small part of me thought I should take a rest day. However, I knew I would also be disappointed in myself if I did that, especially since the weekends are going to be my rest days. I will say that doing the HIIT workout was a lot harder today due to the muscles soreness, and I found myself having to take a lot more breaks just to kind of regroup and drink water. Also, my nose felt stuffy and dry so that also seemed to impact me a little bit. Again, I substituted the two exercises I can’t really do with other ones I can do. For the Superman Squeeze I did squats, and then for the last exercise I did the second exercise, which it probably one of my favorite ones from this routine. I think once I kind of get more in the habit of working out, I want to try and do this video – or one of the Body Coach’s others – at least two times a week in between using the elliptical because it works muscles that sometimes don’t get worked out on the elliptical. The elliptical is still out of commission right now, but that’s okay, it means I can work on getting better at doing this workout routine, which more me means not stopping the video at all.

Day 5 – Friday, February 12th

I had a lot more muscle pain today and even contemplated not working out at all. But again, I knew I needed to do it. It also helped knowing that I get to have a rest day tomorrow. I expected to have a harder time doing the exercise routine, but honestly, while some of the exercises were a little harder, I found I didn’t have to take as many breaks, which is a plus! We’ll see how I do on Monday after resting over the weekend.

Results from Week 1

It was a slow start, and while I did have some muscle pain, I will say that I also felt a lot more energized than I have in a while. I know the progress will be slow, but that’s okay, I just need to keep at it. I think I will have more to report after next week as to how I am seeing results.

Janelle L. C.

First Line Fridays #47 – Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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“Scarlet was descending toward the alley behind the Rieux Tavern when her portscreen chimed from the passenger seat, followed by an automated voice: “Comm received for Mademoiselle Scarlet Benoit from the Toulouse Law Enforcement Department of Missing Persons.””

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.