May Wrap-up (Or How Janelle Survived Three Read-a-thons)

Hello everyone,

I typically don’t do monthly wrap-ups, but I thought since I participated in three read-a-thons this month, I thought I would do wrap-up and discuss whether I managed to complete any of the challenges or not.

The first read-a-thon I took part in was the May the Force Read With You, which lasted the whole month of May. I started out with the Light Side prompts, and hoped to be able to complete the Dark Side too. The one catch was that you had to complete one side first (although you could use a Neutral prompt to substitute for one of the other ones) before moving on to the other side.

I started out as a Jedi Youngling, and the first prompt I completed was Healing – Read a book in your favorite genre. Lately, I have been really into cozy mysteries, so I picked up Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I enjoyed it, and I will discuss it more in an upcoming recent reads post.

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Completing this challenge made me a Padawan. I then decided to use one of the Neutral prompts in place of the Force Spirit prompt, I went with Midi-Chlorians – Read a middle grade. For this challenge I read The Next Great Jane by K. L. Going which was another good read.

As a Jedi Knight, I attempted to complete the Knowledge prompt – Read the oldest book on your TBR, I started Dear Reader by Mary O’ Connell and despite there being elements that I would have loved, I decided to DNF it at about page 100 because it was boring and the writing style annoyed me.

Disappointed with my last attempt, I decided to cleanse my palate and read One Piece Volume 26 by Eiichiro Oda, which I used to complete the prompt Jedi Council – A sequel or a book in a series.

Having become a Jedi Master, the next prompt I completed was Cleanse – a book with a white cover. I decided to pick up The English Breakfast Murder by Laura Childs since it had a white cover, and it was a good installment in the series.

I finally made it as Master of the Order, however there was one more challenge I needed to complete in order be a fully accomplished Master of the Order was another Neutral prompt, since I did not complete the Knowledge prompt, so I went with Force Sensitive – a book with a main character who has a special ability. And I picked up The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill to complete this prompt since the main character has magical abilities. This was great middle grade read, and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read it!

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During my time as Master of the Order, I found myself becoming increasingly tempted by the Dark Side, and eventually the corruption got to me and I turned my back on the Jedi Order in exchange for the Dark Side. I found myself at the bottom as a Sith Apprentice, but I was determined to complete the obstacles in front of me and become the Emperor. My first challenge was Lightning – a book under 350 pages. To complete this challenge I read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is 171 pages. I enjoyed this sort of prequel to Jane Eyre that depicts the life of “Bertha” Mason, or the madwoman in the attic. This gave her so much more dimension and shows that her descent into madness might be due to the words and actions of others.

After achieving my position as Sith Apprentice Rank 1, I knew I wanted to get to Rank 2 as an Apprentice, so I completed the Rule of Two – Read a book that is part of a duology. In order to complete this quest, I read Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. This book has been on my shelves for ages, and I was excited to finally get to it because it is about pirates! However, it ended up not living up to my expectations. It was okay, but not as swashbuckling as I would have liked it to be. I don’t know if I will pick up the second book, or if I will just stop with this one.

Having completed my quest, I was no longer content with being an apprentice, I knew I needed to become a Sith Master, in order to do so I need to complete another quest, the one I chose was Seduction – read a romance book. In order to complete my quest, I read The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren. At this point the Disney Read-a-long had also started, and I used this book to complete two prompts for that, the first one being The Queen of Hearts – Read a book with a heart on the cover or in the title, the second one was Raya and the Last Dragon – read a new book. This was my first Christina Lauren book, and it was okay, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance, and I found the conflict towards the end to be predictable and cliché.

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Next, I decided that I needed to continue to move up the ranks and become the highest ranking Sith Master, and who knows, eventually become the Emperor. In order to move up, I was sent on a mission, to find another one who was Corrupted – a book with a black cover. I picked up Lost Stars by Claudia Gray in order to complete this mission. I also used it to kind of complete the prompt Read a book set in the city/country as your favorite Disney movie. With this one I cheated a bit, while I do love Star Wars, I’m not sure if a galaxy far, far away counts, but I’m making it count! I liked this Star Wars story, especially since we are following to characters that start out as Imperial officers and then go their separate ways. It was interesting, and I did not realize that it covered some time before the original trilogy and some time after the movies too. I liked getting a different view of some of the background characters in the films.

After completing this mission, I took a break from working my way up to Emperor. However, I still completed challenges for the Disney Read-a-long. I read Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 8 by Hiromu Arakawa which fulfilled the prompt The Robinsons – a Book about family. While Fullmetal Alchemist isn’t strictly about family, it does follow the Elric brothers, and along their journey we are introduced to those who make up their found family. I also completed the last prompt, The Enchantress – a book that you bought/avoided because of the cover. I read Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery to complete this challenge, because I bought the edition I had because of the cover. This was a reread for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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A couple of days after the Disney Read-a-long ended, the Do the Thing Read-a-thon started. The goal for this read-a-thon was just to work on your reading goals. One of my goals for this year was to finally read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I did read it and I really enjoyed it, even though it is a tough read. And all though not formally part of my goals for this year, I also picked up Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I have been meaning to read it for a while but I kept putting it off. But I am so glad that I read it and again, I enjoyed it and I plan on having a longer review up soon.

Another one of my goals for this year was to complete the reading experiments I started last year. I picked up Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas, I also used this to complete the final prompt for the May the Force Read with You to become the Emperor, Force Vision – a book set in the past or the future. This book is set in 1936 in a mining town in the Rockies. I enjoyed it, and I plan on having a review up for it soon!

I also picked up On the Road by Jack Kerouac, unfortunately I didn’t quite finish it until June 1st, but I’m counting it because I did read a good chunk of it during the last few days of May. It was an interesting read, I’ll be honest, I don’t quite know what to make of it, but it is one of my husband’s favorite books, so I wanted to read it. There is a lot that can be unpacked from the novel, but maybe I just think that because I was an English major in college.

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I think I was rather successful in all three read-a-thons last month. I read a lot more than I thought I would, and I read some unexpected additions to my TBR. I discovered some new favorites, and I was let down by a few. But it was still a pretty great reading month!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Summertime Lilies Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Summertime Lilies

Author: LM Karen

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Release date: Jan 30, 2021

A sweet and sentimental contemporary romance with a uniquely witty voice.

There are three things you should know about Brittany Masters:

  1. She’s a single mom and a nurse manager at the local cancer clinic
  2. She has big plans for a quiet summer
  3. She’s convinced that fudge pops are the answer to almost all of life’s most important questions

A new neighbor, Matt, making friends with her son while simultaneously pursuing her blow plans for a predictable summer right out of the water. A chance meeting at the cancer clinic where she works renews a connection with an old friend and gives her the perspective she’s been missing. From quiet nights on her front porch swing in Matt’s company to long talks in the clinic with her old/new friend, Brittany’s summer is anything but routine.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

At first I was worried that this would be like every other romance – boy and girl meet; they start a relationship; they have a silly misunderstanding; they breakup; they get back together. And while Summertime Lilies did follow this formula to an extent, it also had more depth and dimension than I expected. In fact, the “misunderstanding” was a very legitimate one and something that made sense as to why it would come up between Brittany and Matt. I won’t say what it is, but it makes sense and it isn’t some shallow and petty misunderstanding that often occurs in most romances.

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, and I like how they along with each other. I also liked how Brittany’s long lost friend has an impact on her life, more so than she realizes, especially in encouraging her to live life and take risks.

There is a lot more I wish I could say about Summertime Lilies, but I can’t because I don’t want to give away spoilers. I’ll end my review by saying that this was a good, clean romance that packs a punch at the end – for those of you who have read it, you’ll know what I am referring to. I highly recommend it and I cannot wait for the next book in the series. 4/5 Stars.

About the Author

LM Karen writes contemporary Christian fiction romance. As a longtime lover of words, she can generally be found behind her laptop or with a book in her hand. A graduate of Toccoa Falls College, her heart is in the mountains. She eventually made use of the voices in her head by putting them on the page.

More from LM Karen

I am not artistic. I’m not someone who can look at a space, or an item and see it’s potential. If you give me white space, I will have no idea what to fill it with. Even if I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, there is no way I could make it look like the picture in my head. My stick figures have always been lop-sided.

What I am pretty good at is making up stories in my head. At restaurants I enjoy observing other customers and giving them stories. In the grocery store I consider what a post-apocalyptic shopping experience might look like. On my drive home I might imagine the lives of the occupants in any given house I pass.

It became a hobby when I slowly began to write these stories down. If I considered a particularly interesting character the natural progression was to wonder what their story was. What started as a hobby quickly evolved into an obsession. Often times I consider myself a citizen of the world in my head more than reality (which has it’s pros and cons). I spent a lot of time quietly working on my stories, trying to become a better writer and honing my craft.

As an avid reader from a young age, I can’t count the characters that have influenced my life and the stories that have touched my heart. My deepest hope is to use my predilection for make believe to touch someone else’s life. That maybe a young girl would be positively influenced by one of my characters.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Vicky Sluiter, June 2

The Write Escape, June 3

She Lives To Read, June 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 4

Inklings and notions, June 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 6

Batya’s Bits, June 6

Texas Book-aholic, June 7

For Him and My Family, June 8

Genesis 5020, June 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 9

deb’s Book Review, June 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, June 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 12

Kayem Reads, June 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 13

Wishful Endings, June 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 14

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, L.M. is giving away the grand prize package of a signed paperback copy of the book and $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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10cfe/summertime-lilies-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Various Authors

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Various Authors. This was also the first book I completed for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge hosted by Cathy746books.

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The 12 Brides of Summer Collection has been on my radar for several years, but for whatever reason I just kept putting off picking it up. But now, I finally have, and I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings on it. As I have done for novella/short story collections in the past, I will write a short review for each story in the collection and then do my overall thoughts.

The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer

This was a sweet story. I enjoyed getting to know Katie and Pete and watching their romance bloom. I also liked how Katie comes to realize that she is so much more than what people assume of her. 4/5 Stars.

Dog Days of Summer Bride by Margaret Brownley

I loved how the main couple got together in a sort of unconventional way – through their dog who has been living part-time with both of them. A couple of the side characters got on my nerves, but it was still a cute story. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Fourth of July Bride by Amanda Cabot

This was a cute fake engagement story set in the Wyoming territory. Even though story ends in the way you would expect it to, I did like that Naomi stuck to her guns in not marrying a man who does not share her faith. I also liked that Gideon did not want to say he believed in God for the sake of marrying Naomi. 3.5/5 Stars.

A Bride Rides Herd by Mary Connealy

I enjoyed this story set in Montana, especially since Betsy and Matt met under unusual circumstances. I would have loved to see more the nieces’ antics, but I also could not help wondering why they lacked discipline so much. I was also reminded of how I really want to read more of the author’s works. Maybe I’ll try and make it a project for the Fall. 3.5/5 Stars.

Blue Moon Bride by Susan Paige Davis

I liked certain aspects of this story, such as train robberies in the Old West. However, I found that the romance was too insta-lovey and that the main characters – Ava and Joe – ended up together a little too quickly (literally within a week). 3/5 Stars.

The Dogwood Blossom Bride by Miralee Ferrell

This was another cute story, but also very much an instant love situations. The couple get engaged after two days of having met. However, I did love Willis’ niece, Laura, and would love to read a book about her antics as she grows up. I also liked that Gracie was a tomboy and not ashamed of it, even if it meant that some considered her unmarriable. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Lumberjack’s Bride by Pam Hillman

I enjoyed this story set in the woods of Mississippi at a lumber camp. I liked learning about the camp and some of the work that the lumberjacks did. The romance was okay, I just felt like the characters barely knew each other before getting engaged. I would have loved to see them get to know each other more and have discussions about different topics. 3/5 Stars.

The Summer Harvest Bride by Maureen Lang

I liked this story, however, I do wish we could have gotten the antagonist’s perspective because the parts involving him seemed rushed. I think this story could easily have been longer than it was. 3/5 Stars.

The Wildflower Bride by Amy Lillard

This was my least favorite story of the collection. It was too insta-lovey, and I felt like the relationship was built upon infatuation. However, I did like the secondary love story involving Grace’s father, I’d love to read more about his relationship. 3/5 Stars.

The Country Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough

This was probably one of my favorite stories in the collection, with some cheesy moments peppered throughout. I liked how we meet Prudence post-redemption and her adjustment to being back in a town where many know what she did before, plus being under mother’s bad influence again. I loved her relationship with Adam, ad it was one of more realistic romances in the collection. 4/5 Stars.

The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer

This was another good addition to the collection, with a focus on learning to trust God after tragedy. I enjoyed getting to know both of the main characters, as well as the side characters. I also like that couple spent a good chunk of time together before getting engaged. 4/5 Stars.

The Sunbonnet Bride by Michelle Ule

This was another sweet story set in Nebraska after a tornado hits. Sally has caught the attention of two men, the hardworking Malcolm, and the bank owner’s son, Josiah, who would never get his hands dirty. Over time, Sally learns more about each man and discovers the best choice for her, someone that isn’t afraid of doing hard work and getting his hands dirty. I enjoyed it, and I liked that the characters knew each other before the start of the story. 3.5/5 Stars.

Overall, this was a sweet collection of stories, although I’ll admit that stories like these are not my cup of tea anymore. As mentioned in some of the individual reviews, I found some of the couples got together way too quickly, without really getting to know each other. There were couple of stories I really enjoyed and I plan on checking out more from those particular authors. Overall rating: 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline.

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If you are interested in reading my thoughts on the first book, click here.

Ready Player Two follows Wade as he takes on his role as Halliday’s heir and now a co-owner of the OASIS. The first chapter shows him discovering a headset that Halliday created which allows users to have their brain uploaded into and be able to fully experience the OASIS. Even though there is some rebuff to the release of the ONI headset, it becomes a hit! We then fast forward three years later and find out that Halliday created another Easter egg hunt – called The Search for the Seven Shards of the Siren. This sends Wade on an obsessive quest to find the shards even though he doesn’t know what the end goal is. However, things take a strange turn when a sinister being forces Wade and his friends to search for the shards or they, and several million other people, will die.

I’ll be honest and say that I had very low expectations for this just because of some of the other reviews I had read, however I really enjoyed it. Yes, it had some similar plot elements to the first book, however it took a sinister twist that I wasn’t expecting. I can understand why people didn’t like it, however those are the things that I enjoyed. Yes, there were a lot of pop culture references again, but it definitely did not seem as much as in the first book.

It took me about 80 pages to get into it, but once I did I was hooked until the end. The first 80 pages remind readers of what happened in the first book and what has happened over the last three years since Wade won Halliday’s contest.

Ready Player Two does explore some of the ethical questions concerning VR and AI and whether or not they cause more than goo, as well as briefly exploring what a posthuman world could look like, it was interesting to read, although slightly confusing. Some of these explorations took back toward the beginning of the novel seemed very similar to some of the discussions that we are having in regards to social media today. For example, Samantha (and Og’s) arguments against the release of ONI seem really pertinent, especially in light of discussion that are taking place about the effects of social media – especially since some of the creators and founders are telling people to get off social media. Although we are not at the point where we have headsets that literally take over our brains.

However, while this book does pose some interesting questions, it still provided an escape for the reader, or at least for this reader!

It was interesting how this scavenger hun, while similar to the first book, is slightly more sinister, and Wade comes to discover that his hero, James Halliday is not the person he thought he was. The different challenges they had to complete were interesting, however, I do feel too much times was spent on the Prince Afterworld challenge – if you’ve read the book you know what I’m referring too. It just seemed to drag on and I felt like the challenges after that were rushed because it dragged on.

Overall, this was a fun read that also made me think a lot about technology and our dependence on it, as well as the concept of escapism. This book isn’t for everyone, but it hit the right notes for me and I enjoyed it! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Prairie Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Prairie

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fantasy

Release date: February 13, 2013

What if you could literally wish your life away?

My name is Jessa Davidson, and I awoke one day in the place of every dream I’ve ever had—the prairie. I don’t know how I got here or where here even is, but I know one thing for certain. I can’t go home again. Ever.

If I’ve learned one thing being in this beautiful place, it’s that no matter how perfect it and its people seem, sin lives in the hearts of men and women in Prairie, too. The differences between Prairie and Pittsburgh? There are too many to count.

I grew up hearing the words of the Apostle Paul. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

Here in Prairie, they’re not a lesson. They’re a warning.

I’ve been given a gift—the greatest desire of my heart. A life in the place of my dreams, a chance at love and family, a sense of real belonging.

Can I hold onto it? Time will tell—time I may not have if I can’t learn to be content.

Prairie is the first book in the Journey of Dreams, a series of related but stand-alone contemporary Christian fantasy novels exploring truths in a whole new way.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Prairie was a reread for me, I read it back in 2013 when it was first published, before I started actively reviewing what I was reading. I remember really enjoying it back then, so I jumped at the opportunity to be able to reread and review it.

It’s been 8 years since my last encounter with the world of Prairie, my life has gone through a lot of changes, and I am older than I was back then. Needless to say, I had forgotten about a lot of the events that take place in the novel. I’ll admit that I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I had in the past, but it was still a good book. And, having lived life a bit more, I was able to have a greater understanding and appreciation for the conversations and nuances throughout the book than I did when I was 18.

I enjoyed getting to know Jessa and seeing the world of Prairie through her eyes and how she adjusts to her new reality. I loved getting to know the people of Prairie and how things work, such as town decisions, money, work, etc. I also loved the message about contentment that is woven throughout the book. It is also interesting how in this world, Jessa is welcomed by most of the people, and they don’t cast judgment on her because her actions before her arrival in Prairie. In some ways, I think we could all learn a little something from the book about how we should treat people in our everyday lives.

One of the only things that I didn’t like was something that happens near the end because it felt rushed. I won’t give anymore details because I don’t want to spoil it for others who are interested in reading the book. I will admit I might be in the minority with that particular thing.

This is another great offering from Chautona Havig, and it shows that she is an author who can delve into a variety of different genres and I highly recommend giving Prairie a read!

About the Author

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

When Your Novel Teaches You an Important Lesson

I’ve told the story before, but I’ll tell it again. Prairie began as a dream. For several days in a row, I fell asleep and found myself lost in the sway of prairie grasses undulating to the strains of “Theme from a Summer Place.”

It’s a bad habit of mine, but despite being in the middle of a writing project, I wrote down my thoughts—my impressions. Two strange things happened.

First, the story came out in first person. Folks, I don’t write in first-person perspective. Not my novels, anyway. I don’t enjoy reading it, and I really don’t enjoy writing it.

Jessa, however, demanded I let her tell her story… her way. So I did. And it’s one of the fastest novels I’ve ever written.

There’s irony in that.

You see, I didn’t know where that story would go. My dream only replayed the scene of Jessa waking up on the prairie and not knowing how she got there—only knowing she could never go home. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue.

And though I wanted to rush through so I could see where the story would take me, and though I wrote at breakneck speeds, the story unfolded at its own pace.

The people of Prairie live a different life from anything you’ve ever seen—and yet it is mostly very familiar. One thing, however, sets it apart.

Time.

Only in Prairie does time not work as it does here, and that changes everything. The story begins slowly and for a reason. Line by line, observation by observation, step by step through the grasses and down rutted lanes, the story draws you out of the breakneck speed of modern life and into a world that, if you aren’t careful, will whiz by faster than is even possible.

Here in our world, that is.

There… you’d better watch out.

Has anyone ever warned you not to wish your life away? It’s just a gentle reminder that if you’re always eager for today to end in hopes of a more exciting tomorrow, you may find you never lived.

In Prairie? It might actually happen.

Blog Stops

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 28

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 29

For the Love of Literature, May 30

Blogging With Carol, May 30

Texas Book-aholic, May 31

Inklings and notions, June 1

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, June 1

For Him and My Family, June 2

deb’s Book Review, June 3

Spoken from the Heart, June 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 4

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

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 7

Pause for Tales, June 7

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 8

Lots of Helpers, June 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, June 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of the book & 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10ca2/prairie-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess.

It’s not secret that I am a huge fan of novels told in verse – in fact I think there should be more of them. I don’t know why I love them so much, I think it has to do with just the format, as well as the fact that authors who do tell their stories in verse are really good at doing so. They are able to convey a story that is compelling while leaving out the baggage of description that often plagues regular prose.

Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess do a great job of conveying a story in verse about Blade Rutherford, who has just graduated high school, and who’s dad is a washed up rockstar trying to make his big comeback. Blade also has a girlfriend that he adores, even though her parents don’t like him because of who his father is. However, very soon his world comes crashing down when his dad ruins graduation and checks into rehab (again), his girlfriend is cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend, and he discovers that his parents have lied to him his whole life about who he really is. In an effort to discover who he is and to get some sort of closure, Blade travels to Ghana to try and meet a woman who might have the answers he is searching for, but before he meets her, he will learn that there is a whole other way of living that the plush lifestyle he is used to.

Blade is an interesting character, because there are times when he seems like a spoiled brat, but then over the course of the novel he grows as a character and chooses to be selfless, and even see that his life is pretty comfortable compared to others around the world. In some ways, Blade is forced to check his privilege when he gets to Ghana because it is a very different place from anything else he has experienced, but it ends up being the best thing that happens to him. Not only do we see Blade trying to figure out who he is, but we also see him in some ways start to forge a bond with his father again, even though it is trepidatious since Blade believes it is all for show and that his father just cares about his big comeback.

Alexander and Hess do a great job of depicting what the search for one’s identity is, especially when they discover that everything that they thought to be true comes crashing down around them. Blade is a believable character, although he gets to go on a journey of self-discovery that many people get the opportunity to do so.

Another aspect of the novel that I liked is that it is also about music, and learning to make music again and discovering it’s magic again, even after life has dealt out several blows. One of the ways that music is weaved into the novel is that we get the lyrics for some of the songs that Blade has written. Another way is that some of the titles of the passages are popular song titles and then the poem is something in the plot that is connected to that song in some way. It also cannot be denied that a lot of the verses throughout the novel have almost a lyrical quality to them, as if the novel could be a musical of some sort, except without all the flashiness of the music.

Readers will enjoy the journey from Los Angeles to Ghana, and the beauty of the African backdrop, while also realizing that they are very blessed and fortunate. Throughout the novel, we are taught a little about the culture and the hardship that those living in Ghana experience. It even gives some commentary bout how those who go on humanitarian trips to third-world countries think they might be doing a lot of good, but sometimes they don’t do enough. For example in the novel there is a scene where a character mentions a well that was built by some missionaries, however they never taught the people on how to fix the well when it breaks, and as a result they have to go back to traveling several miles just to get water to go about their daily lives. The same character also makes a comment that these volunteers always give them what they think they want/need, but never bother to ask the people what is that they truly need – and it was definitely interesting to read about, and also not wrong!

I highly recommend Solo for anyone who is a fan of novels in verse, as well as reading a story about the search for one’s identity. I hope to read more from Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Library Haul # 20

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another Library Haul. This particular haul includes some of the books that I am planning on reading for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, as well as some other holds I’ve been waiting to come in. I also have several renewals that I am hoping to get to.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Bite the Biscuit by Linda O. Johnston

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The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

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The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

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Grown-up Pose by Sonya Lalli

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The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

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Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

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A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

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One Piece Vol. 27 by Eiichiro Oda

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One Piece Vol. 28 by Eiichiro Oda

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One Piece Vol. 29 by Eiichiro Oda

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Renewed

File M for Murder by Miranda James

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The Jasmine Moon Murder by Laura Childs

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On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

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Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 9 by Hiromu Arakawa

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Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Recent Reads Vol. 7

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another issue of Recent Reads! I know I have been posting a lot of these lately, and that’s partially because during my brief hiatus I did read a lot, surprisingly, and I want to be able to share my brief thoughts on each book. I think I am almost all caught up with everything I read then.

After I had finished the first book in the series, I immediately jumped into the second book of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs. In this installment Theodosia Brown is serving the refreshment at a local yacht race, however a prominent member of the community dies after an unfortunate accident with the gun that is used to signal the end of the race. However, Theodosia is convinced that it was no mere accident and that someone intentionally tampered with the gun. I really enjoyed this installment, even better than the previous one. I liked how the mystery was solved, even though I had no idea who the true culprit was. I also enjoyed the explanations of the different teas and their tastes, I felt like it added to the experience even more. This is quickly becoming my favorite cozy mystery series and I plan on reading the whole series as soon as I can get my hands on each of the books.

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While I was reading the abovementioned, I was also listening to Not the Killing Type by Lorna Barrett. In this installment of the Book Town Mysteries, Tricia’s sister is running against her former lover for chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, however, another member, Stan Berry throws his hat into the ring. During a brief recess before the votes commence, Tricia finds Stan’s body, but who would want to kill him? Once again, Tricia finds herself trying to find the killer, if anything but to clear her name as the village jinx. I liked this installment, except once again we had to deal with Tricia’s rampant fatphobia. She’s always critical about people who are overweight and usually makes snide remarks to Angelica or in her head. It was especially bad when she finds out that Stan was into bigger women. However, I did appreciate that Angelica seemed to call her out on it. I enjoyed the mystery and discovering who was the killer and why they did it, I just would have liked it better if Tricia was not as judgmental as she is.

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After I had finished Gunpowder Green, I immediately jumped into the next book in the series, Shades of Earl Gray. Theodosia is having a great time, that is until everyone discovers that the groom is dead, and that he was murdered. And not only that but that an expensive and lavish wedding ring has gone missing. Not only is the search on for a killer, but also to protect some of Charleston’s precious jewels from being pilfered by the responsible party. Again, this was a great installment, and I loved how each person was crossed off the list to discover who the suspect is. Also, I enjoyed the methods that were used to trap them, Theodosia is a fantastic sleuth who always seems to have a great plan to solve the crime. After this installment, I had to wait to get my hands on the next two books in the series from the library, so it was a while between reading this and the next book.

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My cozy mystery kick continued, and I decided this time I needed to read a more coffee-centric mystery. Enter Grounds for Murder by Tara Lush, where we follow Lana Lewis, who runs her family’s coffee shop. However, she butts heads with her barista, Fabrizio, who quits without any notice and is working for the competition. But when he is found dead in the alleyway behind her store, everyone in the small town of Devil’s Beach assume that she is responsible. She uses her skills from her days as a reporter to do her own investigating to find out who the true murderer is and why they wanted him dead. I loved this mystery, in fact I couldn’t put it down! I loved getting to know Lana, and the rest of the citizen’s of Devil’s Beach that we were introduced to. My only complaint is that I have to wait until December to read the next book in the series, but I know I will definitely be first in line to read it!

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I then jumped into Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker, which is also set in a seaside town, and this time we are following iced tea shop owner, Everly Swan, who must solve the murder of a prominent town member, when he is found dead. Not only that, but a mason jar from her store is found next to him, and everyone assumes that he was poisoned by one of her teas and she loses business. However, she will also have to butt heads with the new detective in town who announced that the victim was poisoned to the whole town. This was another great cozy mystery, and I can’t wait to continue with the series just as soon as I can get the next book in the series. I loved Everly and how she is a sort of everywoman compared to some other cozy mystery sleuths. I enjoyed watching the mystery unravel and who the culprit was. Bree Baker definitely kept me on my toes while reading, but in the best way!

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Life Inside My Mind Edited by Jessica Burkhart

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Life Inside My Mind edited by Jessica Burkhart

Life Inside My Mind was an interesting read because it is a collection of essays written by thirty-one authors who discuss their personal struggles with mental illness. Each author does their best to describe their particular struggles, and they don’t hold back. Each essay is very much a testimony of the realities of life with mental illness, and is a great reminder for those who do have these struggles that they are not alone. Several of the authors provide tips on what worked with them in coping with their particular struggles, others go in depth and talk about what goes through their mind when they are struggling with depression, anxiety, etc. Some of the authors that contributed to this collection include Francesca Lia Block, Melissa Marr, Maureen Johnson, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Ellen Hopkins.

I believe that this collection could be a helpful tool for two reasons, 1) it could help teens who struggle with mental illness to read from people who have had some of the same struggles and 2) it can help make other teens be more empathetic to their peers who do have to deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.

One of the main mental illnesses discussed in this collection is anxiety, and it was interesting to read how anxiety manifests differently for different people and in varying degrees. While I was aware of that it was still interesting to read from someone’s first had experience on what that is like and how they have learned to live with their anxiety, especially when they have episodes that are particularly bad.

Another mental illness that is the theme of a good chunk of these essays is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which I also did not realize can be manifested in different ways. It was also interesting to see how depression and/or anxiety are often linked to OCD.

One issue that was discussed in a couple of the essays, particularly the essays by Melissa Marr and Ellen Hopkins was PTSD, and again how different issues can contribute to PTSD. For example, Ellen Hopkins’ essay focuses on her grandson, who her and her husband adopted (along with his siblings), because their mother is a drug addict and how they had to deal with his anger issues that were a result of PTSD from growing up in the home of an addict who was neglectful and abusive, as well as being separated from his mother. She also details how that was affecting him, but also how it affected the rest of the family. Another essay that dealt with PTSD was by Melissa Marr, who was attacked twice, once in a situation where she should have been safe and how she knows that people view her fears as irrational, and how she even recognizes that to some degree but there is very little she can do except put into practice the coping mechanisms that she has come up with in order to help settle her thoughts and make her feel somewhat safe.

Overall, this was a really good read, I enjoyed reading about the different experiences with mental illnesses and even the stigma that sometimes comes along with them. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to read the first-hand experiences of individuals who have learned to live with their particular mental illnesses. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

20 Books of Summer Challenge TBR

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another TBR, however this one is a little bit different in that instead of trying to read these books in a month long period, I am going to read them over a period of three months.

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, and when I heard about it, I knew I had to participate. It is fairly straight forward, the goal is to read 20 books from June 1st – September 1st and write reviews for each of them and post them in the 93 day period. You can choose any books you want, and you don’t even have to stick to your TBR, you can switch books out as you go along. You can also decrease the number of books to 15 or 10 if you find that 20 books is too much.

This sounded like a lot of fun, and I have been working and reworking my TBR and how I wanted to go about choosing it. It took a while, but I came up with a plan…even though it was somewhat convoluted. I decided to build my TBR by using the Random sort option of Want To Read books on Goodreads – however, I had some parameters I wanted to set for myself:

  • I must own the book, or be able to get a physical copy of it from my local library.
  • If a book has been recently published or is about to be released, it has to be on order at my library (with the hopes that it gets processed in time for me to read it.)
  • Only fiction books are allowed – mainly, because I find it hard to review Non-fiction books because I find I can never do them justice.
  • I can only include one or two books over 450 pages.
  • In the event that a book is not available at the library, or it is a non-fiction, or I have already filled my two 450+ pages spots, I will choose the next entry on the list…or keep moving down the list until an “eligible” book is found.
  • After picking a book, I will refresh the page and choose the first eligible entry that shows on the list.

However, I had a fun time creating the list, and ended up picking 100 books…and there is no way I can read 100 books in three months. So I decided to put each title onto a spreadsheet and then use a number generator to decide which 20 books I would read. I also picked 5 extra books in the event that if a book is on order at the library and doesn’t come in on time, or if I DNF a book, or if I just decide I want to mix and match. Like I said, my method for creating this list was convoluted, but I did have a lot of fun doing it.

I am hoping to stick to this list throughout the summer, however, I think what I will do is reevaluate at the end of June whether I want to change things up or not, and then decide from there what I would like to do. But you’re not here to read how I chose my TBR, you’re probably here to see what it is that I decided to read, without further ado here are the 20 books I am planning on reading for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge plus the 5 books that will be in reserve for one reason or another.

  1. The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Various Authors
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2. A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

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3. Grown-up Pose by Sonya Lalli

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4. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

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5. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

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6. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

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7. Bite the Biscuit by Linda O. Johnston

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8. The Silver Needle Murder by Laura Childs

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9. As the Tide Comes In by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

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10. The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

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11. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

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12. The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

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13. When You Are Near by Tracie Peterson

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14. The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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15. Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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16. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

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17. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

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18. William Shakespeare’s Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

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19. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

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20. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

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My Five “Emergency” Books:

  1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
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2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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3. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

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4. Scones & Bones by Laura Childs

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5. The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

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And these are all the books (plus a few extras, just in case) that I am planning on reading for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge.

Recent Reads Vol. 6

Welcome to another installment of Recent Reads, where I share some of the books I have read recently and my brief thoughts on them.

First, during my devotional time I read Recovering the Lost Art of Reading by Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes. I picked this one up because I was intrigued by the title, and it sounded like it would be similar to another book I really enjoyed called Lit! by Tony Reinke. While there were some similarities between the two, at least in the first part of the book, I found myself getting frustrated with some of what was stated in the book concerning reading in that there are books better than others and that only reading those kinds of books can be considered practicing the art of reading. Personally, and I say this as a former English major, I find statements like these to be arrogant. Are there books that could be considered trashy? Perhaps, but there are a lot of good books out there and the definition of a good book does tend to be subjective. Did I misread some of what they were trying to convey? Maybe. But I’m also tired of people writing about how certain books are more superior than others. I think if a person enjoys reading graphic novels, it’s still reading, manga is still reading and there are some fantastic books in these categories. It is my duty to practice discernment in what I read, but other than that I do have the liberty to read what I want. The same goes for others. Sure, a cozy mystery might not have the same literary merit as a Jane Austen novel, but it is still literature and I think a lot can be learned from them. Sigh, I wanted to love this book, but I spent a good portion of it wishing I was reading a physical copy of it so I could reenact the scene from Dead Poets’ Society where Mr. Keating has his class tear out the introduction from their textbook. There is some merit to this book, and it could be beneficial to others, however I think that I am no longer the target audience for books like these. I would like to thank Crossway and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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During my workouts, and other activities once I was hooked on the story, I listened to Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett. In this installment, Tricia’s close friend Deborah Black is killed while giving a speech at Founder’s Day when a plane crashes into the town square gazebo. Initially everyone thinks it’s an accident, but Tricia senses that there is something more sinister behind the crash that killed her friend and the pilot. She decides to investigate to see who might have wanted her friend dead, but is she ready to discover the not-so-good stuff about Deborah? And why does the ever encroaching Nigela Ricita Associates seem to make quick work in acquiring Deborah’s store, The Happy Domestic? Overall, this was an interesting installment in the series, the death was somewhat unique (I’m still fairly new to the cozy mystery genre) and I found the secrets that are revealed to be fascinating. However, in some ways I’m a little upset that Deborah had to die and that she had to have some sort of sordid history that no one is aware of. It was also interesting to see how people deal with grief in different ways. Once again, the killer was not who I thought it was, and it seemed to just all of sudden be that they were the suspect, but it also made sense once all the clues were revealed. Also, I am happy that Jenny gets to spread her wings a little bit and is coming into her own.

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Right after I finished listening to Sentenced to Death, I immediately jumped into Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett. This time Tricia and Angelica are spending the night at the Sheer Comfort Inn as a practice run for the inn’s grand opening. However, when Tricia takes Angelica’s stowaway dog Sarge out for a walk in the backyard, she discovers the body of the owner, Pippa Comfort. Not only that, but she soon discovers that Pippa’s husband, Jon, is none other than her former lover, Harry Tyler, who she has believed to be dead for twenty years. However, despite his life of lies, Tricia knows that he can’t be responsible for the murders. This was another good installment in the series, although not my favorite, it seemed to be lacking something. It also seemed to be fraught with drama, especially with Tricia and some of her friends. I also was not happy with Grace’s attitude, or with her assistant who had a blatant disregard for Tricia. I was scared that something would happen to Mr. Everett’s relationship with Grace and I didn’t want it to because they are one of my favorite couples in the series. Once again the author made use of red herrings to dupe the reader into thinking they knew who the suspect was, and I was surprised who it ended up being, but I must admit, it would be nice to be able to have more indicators as to who might possibly be a little bit sooner than the third to last chapter.

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Another book that I have been working through that was recommended to me is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. While I don’t agree with everything that they discuss in this book, I did find it very helpful while I work through some stuff. The main thesis of the book is that all women just want an answer to the question, “Am I lovely?” however, instead of that question being answered, various factors have led them to doubt that they are lovely and have bruised and beaten them (whether physically or figuratively). However, while confronting the past, the authors present that there is Someone who can help us work through the healing process and is by our side – Jesus Christ. This is a very brief summary and even then I feel like I have left out some core points. I did enjoy it, and I read it at just the right time. Again, there are some things I disagree with in regards to theology, but they aren’t deal-breakers when it comes to the Gospel, and I think my disagreement to those things isn’t because it’s necessarily wrong, it’s just different from what I was taught and I’d never heard that take before, and that has caused me to think through more of why I believe what I believe, especially extrabiblical stuff. But at the same time, I felt like I was seen, and not just being told that my struggles were because I didn’t trust God enough, etc.

Since starting the BookTown Mysteries series, I have found myself addicted to cozy mysteries. A series that had caught my eye a while back was the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Child. I borrowed the first book Death by Darjeeling from Overdrive, and I immediately devoured it. In this first installment we follow Theodosia Browning who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in historic Charleston. She has the opportunity to serve tea at a garden party at one of the historic homes, however, things take a turn when one of the guests suddenly dies clutching a teacup, and everybody suspects that one of Theo’s teas is responsible. However, Theodosia is not just on a mission to convince her patrons that her tea is safe to drink, but to catch the killer. I really enjoyed Death by Darjeeling, it was a strong start to a long mystery series. I enjoyed getting to know Theodosia and her employees, as well as some of their regulars. I also liked there was some explanation about the different teas that make an appearance throughout the book. I am looking forward to continue reading this series, hopefully I will eventually catch up to the latest book.

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

The Elnora Monet Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Elnora Monet

Author: Rachel Skatvold

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: April 27, 2021

Islanders call him the Elnora Monet.

Is that island speak for “pompous, arrogant jerk?”

When Carly Mulligan volunteered to make house calls on Elnora, she never imagined treating the richest cat on the islands. What other feline has his own wing in a mansion like the Belshaw Estate?

After a wrong turn in the mansion, Carly stumbles across a secret room—one filled with incredible paintings. Perhaps there’s something more to the man than she first thought.

Most people envy Jean-Luc Belshaw’s position. The heir to a lucrative business and family fortune, he should have everything he could dream of.

But Luc dreams of days past. Days when he traveled the world with his wife and painted the breathings of his soul disappeared with Angeline’s passing. Faith and inspiration gone, he wonders if returning to France to take his place in his father’s business is the right thing to do.

Carly has a few relational demons of her own, and she’s reluctant to trust him, but Luc’s paintings draw her in even as his story touches a long-empty place in her heart.

Only God can transform two broken pasts into a work of art.

The Elnora Monet 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

I really liked The Elnora Monet and how, while on the surface it is a romance, it also deals with topics such as redemption, learning live and love again, as well as trying to not let regret over the past hold you back. 

I enjoyed revisiting Carly, and learning more of her story and getting to be in her head this time, I also loved seeing how she is trying learn from her mistakes that she made in the past, as well as trying to move past them. I also liked how she did not allow herself to be bullied by Jean-Luc at first, and stood up to him despite the fact that he is wealthy. Jean-Luc was a great character, and even though he comes across as gruff when we first meet him, he becomes more three-dimensional over the course of the novel, especially as we discover that he is dealing with grief over his wife, as well as his inability to do the very thing he loves, painting. And I enjoyed watching the relationship between the two of them blossom over the course of the novel. 

Another aspect of the novel that I liked was how it took the trope of a wealthy character falling for someone in the middle/working class and added more dimension to it and in some ways turned it on its head. Overall, I really liked The Elnora Monet, and if you are looking for a nice, clean, sweet romance for the summer, it is definitely one you should consider!

About the Author

Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance and encouraging blogs. Rachel completed her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas in 2014 and is now working on the Hart Ranch Series, set in the Montana wilderness and the Ladies of Ardena Series, set in medieval times. She is also a contributing author in the Whispers in Wyoming and Brides of Pelican Rapids Series. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons. You can find more information about Rachel and her books on her website: http://www.rachelskatvold.com.

 

More from Rachel

Thank you for helping celebrate the release of The Elnora Monet by following this Celebration Tour hosted by Celebrate Lit. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about the characters and what inspired the story. Please follow the other stops on this tour and don’t forget to enter in the giveaway. Thank you!

It has been a wonderful experience working with the talented authors and editors in the Independence Islands Series. Each of these stories has a heartwarming message of faith and the characters always teach me something new. Ever since writing Kendall Mulligan’s story in Her Merriweather Hero, I’ve been excited to share her free-spirited younger sister’s story.

Carly had many struggles in the first book, questioning what purpose God had for her life. This time around, her feet are more grounded, but she still has some growing to do when it comes to faith. Carly has been a fun character to write about because of her witty extroverted personality and some of the humorous predicaments she ends up in…one of them including getting caught snooping around a billionaire’s mansion.

While not outspoken as Carly, I can relate to the character’s search for direction. Sometimes it is difficult learning to trust, especially during troubling times, but we can rely on God’s promises. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” This verse means so much to me because I know even when I can’t understand something, He is behind the scenes guiding me in the right direction. For Carly, it leads in a direction she never expects, but it is worth it in the end.

Certain parts of the story were inspired by my mom. If you have read Her Merriweather Hero, you know the Mulligan sisters are originally from New England, close to where my mom grew up. I love hearing about her memories of spending time at Nantasket Beach, drinking orange pop, and putting chips in her sandwich so they wouldn’t blow away. Even though I grew up in the Midwest, I still put chips in my own sandwich because of watching her do the same thing and her fridge is always stocked with orange pop to this day. Little bits of my mom’s childhood are weaved into this story, making it close to my heart.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about characters and story behind The Elnora Monet. Now continue reading for a summary of the book and giveaway. Blessings!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 10

Lakesidelivingsite, May 10

Rebekah Reads Lit, May 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 11

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, May 11

She Lives to Read, May 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 12

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 13

deb’s Book Review, May 13

Texas Book-aholic, May 14

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, May 14

Inklings and notions, May 15

CarpeDiem, May 15

For Him and My Family, May 16

Cultivating Us, May 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 17

Books and Everyday Live, May 17

Blossoms and Blessings, May 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 18

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 18

Lots of Helpers, May 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 20

Blogging With Carol , May 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 21

Godly Book Reviews, May 21

Kayem Reads, May 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 22

Connect in Fiction, May 22

Splashes of Joy, May 23

Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10bb3/the-elnora-monet-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Running by Natalia Sylvester

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Running by Natalia Sylvester.

Mariana Ruiz is a fifteen-year-old Cuban American who’s father is a Senator for the state of Florida. However, he’s now got his sights set on the White House, and as a result of his running for president, Mariana’s life is invaded by campaign managers and the press, nothing is private anymore and that bothers her a lot. As she tries to work through the invasiveness of her father’s campaign, she starts to learn that she might not know everything that her father stands for, and when she learns that his unwillingness to act on a specific bill is starting to have nasty effects not just on the environment, but people within her community. She faced with the decision whether to just ignore what is going on, or should she try and take a stand, even if it could have a negative affect on her father’s campaign?

Running is a great novel that explores the idea of teenagers starting to explore politics and activism, and learning about how they can still have a voice and take a stand, even if they can not vote yet.

Throughout the novel, we see Mariana, who loves her father and wants to stand by his side, but her feelings start to change when he starts to become a different person from the man that she knows him to be. When it seems like he is allowing the press, and his campaign manager, to invade their home and personal lives, she starts to get a little annoyed, especially since whenever she talks to him he tells her to get over herself and that she needs to think about his constituents. She tries to work through her feelings, as well as what she is being told to do by those around her. Then just as her family (and their home) is about to be featured on prime time tv, she decides to run away to a place that is safe, the home of their housekeeper (Gloria).

However, her actions have negative consequences on Gloria, especially when her personal life comes under scrutiny. And soon, Mari’s dad, and his sleazy campaign manager start to believe that Gloria and her girlfriend have filled Mari’s head with ideas, especially concerning her dad, that are causing to her to act out and question everything her dad stands for. However, nothing could be further from the truth, the only thing that they do is encourage Mari to do her own research of her father’s platform and decide for herself whether she can truly support him. Her thinking is further challenged by a fellow student who engages with her in conversation about her father, as well as discussions about the environment.

Then Mariana discovers that her dad passed up voting on a bill that allows for sewage to be dumped into the aqueduct that provides water to the community, this especially becomes an issue when people start getting sick from the water. Mariana is shocked because her father seems to always care about the environment, but she learns that his passivity on this issue has to do with the fact that this bill benefit some of his biggest campaign donors. When she tries to confront him on the issue he downplays it and tries to convince her it was a necessary evil, but that he will try to make a change. However, she realizes that she got played by her politician father and decides to join a walkout with her fellow students, even if it means that her dad will receive bad publicity just before the Florida Primaries.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I believe that this novel can be an important read for teenagers to realize that they can still have a voice, even if they are not able to vote. It stresses the importance of still knowing what is going on politically, especially since some of the same issues are the ones that they will have to deal with sooner or later. It also stresses the importance of thinking for yourself and developing your own opinions even if they are different from those of your parents – and even your peers.

The novel also explores the idea of hypocrisy, and the invasion of privacy. One of the biggest issues that Mariana has to deal with is the fact that she has always viewed her father as her hero, but she discovers that he is a hypocrite and starts to view him in a different light. Mariana comes into her own and learns to stand up for what is right, even if it means standing up against her father. It was also interesting to see her mother, who supports her husband, but also encourages Mariana to do the right thing, even if it might mean that her husband’s campaign is destroyed in the process.

Writing style wise, I enjoyed Natalia Sylvester’s writing style, my only complaint is that she jumps to scenes in the past and it sometimes took a while for me to realize we were in a scene in the past, and also when we jumped back to the future. However, that is a minor issue compared to how good this novel is. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

First Quarter Wrap-up

Hello everyone,

This is going up later than I intended to, but I thought it would be fun to share a wrap-up of what I have read in the first quarter, as well as some statistics of what kinds of books I have been reading so far this year. I am also doing this instead of a wrap-up at the end of the year of all the books I read in the year because it will be long, and also I just want to try something different. However, I will still have a wrap-up at the end of the year, it will just be for the fourth quarter and then my stats for the year.

For this wrap-up, I have it divided by month, with a section for monthly statistics, and then at the end I will have a section of statistics covering the whole quarter.

January

  1. Past Forward Episode 14 by Chautona Havig
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2. Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

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3. Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle

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4. Past Forward Episode 15 by Chautona Havig

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5. One Piece Vol. 21 by Eiichiro Oda

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6. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 3 by Hiromu Arakawa

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7. The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

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8. Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green

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9. The Answer Is… by Alex Trebek

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10. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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11. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes

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12. Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

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13. Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

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14. One Piece Vol. 22 by Eiichiro Oda

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15. City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda ( DNF’d @ page 100)

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16. One Day in December by Josie Silver

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17. The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

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18. Court of Swans by Melanie Dickerson

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19. The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

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20. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

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21. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

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22. Assassination Classroom Vol. 19 by Yusei Matsui

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23. Assassination Classroom Vol. 20 by Yusei Matsui

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24. Assassination Classroom Vol. 21 by Yusei Matsui

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25. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

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Total Books Read: 25 books

Total Pages Read: 6500 pages

Any DNFs?: Yes, 1.

Shortest Book Read: Past Forward Episode 15 by Chautona Havig – 74 pages

Longest Book Read: Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green – 481 pages

Least Favorite Book: Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green

Favorite Book: Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

February

  1. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
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2. Dearly by Margaret Atwood

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3. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

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4. One Piece Volume 23 by Eiichiro Oda

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5. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

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6. Delia and the Drifter by Melody Carlson

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7. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

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8. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

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9. The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

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10. When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

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11. Conversation Peace by Mary A. Kassian

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12. Do Christians Need the Ten Commandments? by Phylicia Masonheimer

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13. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

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14. Dearest Josephine by Caroline George

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15. Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 4 by Hiromu Arakawa

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16. Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 5 by Hiromu Arakawa

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17. Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 6 by Hiromu Arakawa

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18. Blackout by Candace Owens

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19. Into the Dark by Claudia Gray – Did Not Finish @ page 100

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20. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Scwab – Did Not Finish @ page 220

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Total Books Read: 20 books (2 DNFs)

Total Pages: 5260 pages

DNFs? : Yes, 2 books.

Shortest Book Read: Do Christian Need the 10 Commandments? by Phylicia Masonheimer – 16 pages

Longest Book Read: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – 417 pages

Least Favorite Book: When No One Was Watching by Alyssa Cole

Favorite Book: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

March

  1. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
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2. Ten Words to Live By by Jen Wilkin

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3. Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly

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4. Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang

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5. Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2 by Gene Luen Yang

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6. Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang

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7. Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

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8. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

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9. Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett

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10. The Purple Nightgown by A. D. Lawrence

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11. Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett

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12. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – Did Not Finish @ page 101

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13. Bookmarked for Death by Lorna Barrett

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14. Heart Pressed by Melissa Wardwell

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15. The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

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16. Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

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17. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

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18. Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter

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19. Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett

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20. Recovering the Lost Art of Reading by Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes

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21. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

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22. Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett

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23. Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett

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24. Matchmaker’s Best Friend by Kari Trumbo

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Total Books Read: 24 Books (1 DNF)

Total Pages Read: 5872 pages

DNFs?: Yes, 1.

Shortest Book Read: Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Longest Book Read: Sing in the Sunlight

Least Favorite Book: Recovering the Last Art of Reading

Favorite Book: Pride and Premeditation, The Purple Nightgown.

First Quarter Statistics

Total Books Read: 69 books

Total Pages Read: 17632 pages

DNFs?: Yes, 4 books.

Shortest Book Read: Do Christians Need the Ten Commandments? by Phylicia Masonheimer – 16 pages

Longest Book Read: Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green – 488 pages

Least Favorite Book of the Quarter: Confessions of a Curious Bookseller

Favorite Book of the Quarter: Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

No. of Re-reads: 7 books (10.1 %)

No. of Adult Fiction: 36 books (52.2 %)

No. of Young Adult: 20 books (29 %)

No. of Middle Grade: 9 books (13 %)

No. of Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga: 10 books (14.5 %)

No. of books published before 2020: 40 books (58%)

No. of books published in 2020/2021: 29 books (42%)

No. of books from the library: 42 books (61%)

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Recent Reads Vol. 5

Usually my recent reads are for books I have recently read, but for some reason, I have forgotten to share my thoughts on the first three books in today’s installment, so I decided to include them today.

The first book I recently read a couple months ago is Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. While this was not one of my favorite books I have read this year, it is still an important read for teens who have been ridiculed for most of their lives due to their weight. Even though Charlie and I are different individuals, I still related to her and her struggles a lot. A lot of the conversations her mom has with her about her weight were heartbreaking, and in some ways triggering because it reminded me of all the times my mom had discussions like that with me as a teen — honestly, I’m still dealing with issues regarding body image and food because of them. I really wish that a book like this had been around when I was a teen, because most of the books with fat main characters back then were all about them losing weight so they could finally be happy. insert eye roll here. Books like Fat Chance, Charlie Vega are important because they give those of us who are fat hope that there are people out there that will accept us as we are( based on personal experience, there are more than you know!) and that it is okay to love our bodies even if they are considered “imperfect” to a lot of people. There are a few things that I didn’t like about the book, but that was more based on personal preference and taste.

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The next book that I read a couple months ago is Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. It is a novel in verse following Camino and Yahaira, two girls who live completely different lives – one in New York City, the other in Dominican Republic. Their lives are drawn together after a terrible plane crash happens and their father was one of the passengers, and as a result they discover each other and that their father had two families, and trying to deal with not only the tragedy of his death, but the secret that was hidden from them. Overall, I did like this novel, there were a few elements I didn’t like, but I did enjoy that we get a glimpse of what life in the Dominican Republic is like.

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The last book I read a couple months ago was Dearly by Margaret Atwood. It is a short collection of poetry on a variety subjects, from seemingly personal topics to environmentalism to zombies. I did really enjoy this collection, even though there are subjects and ideas that I know I disagree with the author on, however it was still a fun read in spite of that. It was also a quick read and only took me a couple of hours to complete.

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A more recent read is an audiobook that I listened to, Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett. This is the next installment of the Booktown Mysteries and this time Tricia is trying to figure out who might be behind the explosion that destroyed the history bookstore, killed the store’s owner and injured Bob Kelly, Angelica’s boyfriend. Plus Tricia must deal with a stalker, and figure out who would want to sabotage Angelica’s book tour for her new cookbook. This was an interesting installment in the series, and the author did a good job of planting several red herrings as to who the culprit might be, but I still was not expecting it to be who it was! I found my self hooked and trying to find excuses to keep listening until the end. While not as good as it’s predecessor, this installment was a good addition to the series.

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This last recent read is a hard one to review, because it sounded right up my alley, but I’ll admit that I did not read the synopsis fully other wise I would not have had such high expectations for it. Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter is set in a little seaside town in North Carolina. Sophie Lawson is about to open a book store, however, at the wedding of her younger sister she runs into her high school sweetheart, Aiden Maddox, who broke her heart right when her family was falling apart. After the blessed event, and an unforeseen accident, Aiden offers to stay and help Sophie get the store ready for it’s grand opening, but will a natural accident prevent that from happening? I honestly was not a huge fan of this book. The concept was cute, but I found both characters annoying, especially their reluctance to properly communicate with each other. They often acted like teenagers instead of the adults that they are, and when one confronts the other on an issue the other completely freaks out and the confronter also loses their cool and storms off. I’m all for second chance romances, but honestly I felt like the characters had more growing up to do in order to be with each other, and said growth seemed to happen too quickly. Also, Sophie’s family was irritating, and it was hard to believe that her sister had enough maturity to be married with some of the stuff she does…and her brother is worse! I did love the setting, and I loved the side characters we get to meet in the community, and I wish there had been more focus on them. So while I didn’t like this book, I didn’t completely hate it either, it did have a few redeemable qualities that kept me reading on. Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

The Workout Diaries: April 19th – 30th

Photo by Ryan Baker on Pexels.com

It’s been a while since I have had the time to keep up with The Workout Diaries, but now that I am done with grad school, I definitely have a lot more time to do so. Even though I stopped posting updates, I have been working out fairly consistently still. I am still doing the elliptical, have met some goals, and a few weeks ago I went on an over one mile walk, which I enjoyed, but unfortunately I also got a bad case of plantar facitis. My right foot had a lot of pain, but thankfully, after staying off of it for a couple of days and getting some inserts for my shoes, I haven’t had another flare up. I also got to see my mom last week and we went walking for just over a mile, and then we also went to a few museums together where I did a lot of walking and I didn’t need to take as many breaks. I have also found that I don’t need to lean on a cart as much when I am at the grocery store.

Monday, April 19th

It has been over a week since I was last on the elliptical, and I was not sure how that would affect my workout, but I had been doing lots of walking. I hopped on the elliptical, put on my audiobook – Book Clubbed by Lorna Barrett – and started my workout. In the beginning I was feeling a little bit of a burn, but once I got into a rhythm it felt good. Usually I stop after 0.75 miles or 21 minutes, but I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided to keep going until I hit the 25 minute mark. Once I got to the 25 minute mark, I was still feeling good and saw that I had a short distance to hit the 1 mile mark, so I kept going. I finally hit a mile, which was one of my goals that I have been striving to hit for the last two months of this journey! However, once I hit a mile, my legs still felt good, and I saw that I had about 2 minutes until I hit the 30 minute mark, so I kept going. I did stop at the 30 minute mark, because even though I felt like I could keep going, I did not want to completely trash my legs because I want to be able to hit a mile again tomorrow. My next goal is to do at least mile on every week day for the next 30 days. If I do more, great!

Tuesday, April 20th

Today I was determined to make it to a mile again, although I had some doubts whether I would be able to make it or not. My upper legs were a little sore and my arms too. However, I decided to just see how far I could go before my legs felt like trash. Today’s workout on the elliptical was definitely a bit more harder and I found myself having to push myself to keep going. While I had some pain in my thighs, I decided to just keep going. I definitely went at a slower pace than yesterday, but I still it a mile in under 28 minutes! After I hit a mile I decided to stop there for today, if I wasn’t hurting I probably would have tried to go to 30 minutes but again, I want to be able to do a mile again tomorrow. One weird thing is that I noticed my watch said that my heart rate was below fat burning zone for the majority of my workout, which is weird because I was working hard and had to the sweat to prove it. I don’t know if it is just a glitch with my watch or if my heart rate does tend to be below zone sometimes even if it feels like I am working hard – it is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Wednesday, April 21st.

Today’s workout was a little disappointing for me, but I know there are going to be days like this. I could definitely feel the burn a lot more in my legs and it took a lot for me to keep going until I hit the 0.75 mile mark. I decided to keep going until I hit about 25 minutes to finish, but I was a long way off from a mile and my body was tired and I knew that if I wanted to get off the elliptical without collapsing because my legs felt like Jello I needed to stop there. While I did not hit a mile, I am trying to think of the positives such as I pushed through for as long as I could, I managed to go about 0.8 miles, and I managed to workout for 26 minutes when it seemed like I would have a struggle making it to 20 minutes. I also found that my pace was a little slower too, even though I was putting in as much energy as I could. But tomorrow is a new day and with it a new opportunity to try and hit a mile again. I’m not going to let this discourage me and get in my head. And maybe I need to play around with the resistance and incline if my legs feel tired from the start.

Thursday, April 22nd

I didn’t hit the mile marker today, and that’s okay! I tried to, and I even had the resistance on the elliptical at a lower level, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Once I hit about the 15 minute mark I wasn’t sure whether I could make it to 20 minutes, let alone 25 minutes. But you know what, I did it. I made it to the 25 minute mark, and I managed to do about 0.85 miles. And I am proud of that! Sure, I would have loved to make it to a mile, but I also want to do so in a way that doesn’t completely destroy my body, or my drive to keep at it. Eventually, I will be able to do a mile consistently every day, but this week just wasn’t the week for that to happen, and that’s okay, I just need to keep going and eventually I will get there. Yes, it would be nice if this week had been the week, but I also need to be proud of the fact that I got moving, and I still did well, especially since when I started this journey I hadn’t done much exercising! I just need to keep persevering and not beat myself up because I am not yet where I think I should be. It’s a journey and sometimes journeys are slow.

Monday, April 26th

I ended up taking a break from the elliptical on Friday, mainly because my legs had been bothering me, especially at night and I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking I was getting a charley horse. I also was just feeling really tired. However, today I was back at it! I exercised for 30 minutes and managed to hit the mile mark! It felt easy getting to that point, however, as I discovered last week, it seems to be easier to hit a mile when I have had a break for a couple of days than doing it day after day. We shall see if the same rings true this week.

Tuesday, April 27th

I did not sleep well last night, but I tried not to let that stop me from working out. I found myself feeling antsy and I got to it. I hopped on the elliptical and it seemed to be fine, however I found after I made it 10 minutes in I was already feeling it in my legs and I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the rest of my workout. I managed to keep going to the 25 minutes mark, about 0.8 miles, and decided that I needed to stop there. About an hour later I worked to the dumpster to throw out some trash, which is the first time I’ve walked there in a while. And honestly it was a lot harder on my legs that I expected, mainly in my shins, but I made it, and it was about a 0.25 mile walk there and back. I know it’s not far, but it’s still something. I’m going to try and do that some more, however, I do think I should have waited a few more hours to walk to the dumpster because maybe I wouldn’t have had the pain in my shins. I will keep an eye on it in case it gets worse.

Thursday, April 29th

I took the day off from the elliptical yesterday because my thighs were feeling stiff, and I knew I would need to “keep up my strength” for when I cleaned my shower because it would involve kneeling and squatting at times since I was doing a deep clean. It ended up being the best decision. But today I was back, and although I was still feeling some soreness in my thighs, I did an easy session on the elliptical. My pace was slow, but I still got a workout and I was in fat burn mode for most of my workout. I managed to go for 20 minutes, and to complete 0.5 miles in that time. I honestly don’t feel like I could have done anymore than that, not without hurting myself. Tomorrow I plan on going as hard as I can, rather than the leisurely pace I went at today.

Friday, April 30th

Today I ended up doing another slower workout on the elliptical. I don’t know why but my upper legs have been feeling pretty stiff and that’s been impacting how hard I am able to go because I’m also trying to avoid hurting myself. I did another 20 minute workout and managed to go for just over half a mile. I really hope that next week I can get back to working at the intensity that I am used to. But it’s also important for me to be aware of my body and listen to it too.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Previous Workout Diaries Posts:

A May TBR of sorts (What am I getting myself into?)

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my May TBR…sort of. Okay, this is more me announcing the read-a-thons I want to take part in this month, as well as some of the books I want to read to complete the challenges. Whether I actually accomplish progressing in any of these read-a-thons is to be determined…although right now I am determined. If I am somewhat successful, I will do a wrap-up/update post on how I did in each read-a-thon.

I have three read-a-thons that I want to participate in this month (yes, you read that right, three).

The first read-a-thon I am participating in is the month-long May the Force Read With You which is being hosted by YouTubers Breakeven Books, Noelle7pages, Coffee over Apples, and Max Books. Here is Breakeven Books announcement video if you are interested in finding out more about the read-a-thon.

So I can either start as the Light Side and the Dark Side, but I have to complete the prompts on the one side before moving to the next side. There are also prompts under the Neutral side that can be used in place of one of the prompts for either side. I am hoping to complete both the Light side and the Dark side, but I am going to start with the Light side first. Each book you complete also means you move up in rank, so for the Light side I will moving from Jedi Youngling, to hopefully Master of the Order if I complete all five prompts. Here is my tentative TBR for the read-a-thon to complete the prompts:

Jedi Council – Sequel or a book in a series. Even though I’m already a couple hours into it, I will continue to listen to Poisoned Pages by Lorna Barrett. It is book 12 in the Booktown Mystery series.

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Force Spirit – a book with paranormal elements. I don’t really have any books I can use to complete this challenge, so I will be using one of the prompts from the Neutral side instead.

Force Sensitive – A book where a main character has a special ability. I have a couple of options for this one including One Piece Vol. 26, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 7, or The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

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Healing – Read a book from your favorite genre. This is a tough one because I don’t really have a favorite genre, but right now I have been obsessed with cozy mysteries, so I might read one of those. Some options include Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass, On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle, The English Breakfast Murder by Laura Childs, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Dial M for Murder by Miranda James, or A Killer Edition by Lorna Barrett.

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Knowledge – Read one of the oldest books on your TBR/Shelf. Another tricky one, only because I have quite a few books that are the oldest on my TBR and shelf. Several options include Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, or Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern.

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Cleansed – A book with a white cover. I will be using Prairie by Chautona Havig to complete this prompt.

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If I complete all five of the Light Side prompts, I will then move to the Dark Side, here are the prompts and the books I plan on using to complete them.

Rule of Two – Read a book from a duology. If I don’t use Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller for the Knowledge prompt, I will use it to complete this challenge.

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Lightning – A book under 350 pages. I will probably read any of the cozy mysteries I mentioned above, or The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport, or Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

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Force Vision Manipulation – A book with political intrigue or royalty. I can’t think of a good fit for this prompt, so I am going to do another Neutral prompt instead.

Force Vision – A book set in the past or future (sci-fi or historical fiction). I will read Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas which is set in 1936.

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Seduction – A Romance Book. I will use The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren.

Corrupted – A book with a black cover. This is a little tricky, but I have a couple of options: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (my copy is in a bind-up of all 7 novels, and the cover is black).

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The second read-a-thon I am planning on taking part in takes place from May 16th – May 22nd is the Disney Read-a-long hosted by Tiny Book Dragon. Here is the announcement video for that read-a-thon:

Since this is taking place in the middle of May, I will be using books I am reading for the May the Force Read with You read-a-thon to complete most of these challenges. Here are the prompts and my tentative TBR for the Disney Read-a-long:

Queen of Hearts – a book with a heart on the cover or in the title. To complete the prompt I will be reading The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren which has a pixelated heart on the cover.

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The Robinsons – a book about family. I will use The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to complete this prompt, or Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Raya and the Last Dragon – I will either read Go the Distance by Jen Calonita, The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser, or Under the Magnolia by T. I. Lowe.

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The Enchantress – A book you bought because of the cover, or avoided because of the cover. This is a difficult one, because I don’t really read a whole lot of books based on their covers. However, if I were to pick one it would be Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery which I got the specific box set because of the covers.

Read a book set in the same country/city as your favorite Disney movie. This was a little harder since I have several favorites. However, I decided to go with Tarzan since it’s set in Africa and I want to pick up The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith which is set in Botswana. This might be a little bit a stretch, but I’m going with it.

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The last read-a-thon I am taking part in is the Do The Thing a Thon hosted by Ashley from A Frolic Through Fiction. It will be running from May 24th-May 30th. And the main objective is to just work on your reading goals for the year, especially those that have been neglected. Here is the announcement video:

Since this read-a-thon is subjective, I decided to refer to my 2021 Plans and Bookish Goals post for inspiration. One of the first goals that caught my eye was to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee which has been on my TBR for a while, and I’ve never read it, hence the reason it was one of my goals for the year. So I am going to pick it up for the read-a-thon.

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Next, another one of my goals was to complete 5 series. So far I have only completed 2 this year. There are several options for this goal, however, the one series I could easily complete during this read-a-thon is the Harry Potter series since I only have one book left. I am going to attempt to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.

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The last goal that I want to work on during this read-a-thon is to complete my reading experiments – the ones that I’ve posted about, and ones that I am working on and keeping secret for now. Some options for this goal include: Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas, Rainwater by Sandra Brown, The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and/or The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. This is only a small sample of what I could read, there are others too!

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Well, these are my super ambitious reading plans for this month. Whether or not I can make a lot of progress remains to be seen. I think I can easily read at least 10 books, but other than that I don’t know. If all goes well, as in I get through at least half of these books, I will post an update at the end of the month.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Recent Reads Vol. 4

Welcome to another installment of Recent Reads! I have been reading up a storm during my blogging break, especially since I have started listening to audiobooks while working out and doing other tasks.

Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett is a book that I have been meaning to pick up for a long time, and when I was looking for another cozy mystery to listen to while working out, I decided to finally give it a try. In this first book, we follow Tricia Miles, who lives in the small town of Stoneham and runs a mystery bookstore called Haven’t Got a Clue. Business is doing well, except for the fact that someone is hiding pamphlets for a nudist commune in her books, and her sister has just come into town. However, a fire breaks out at a neighboring bookstore that kills the owner, and the police suspect that Tricia is the culprit. In order to clear her name she sets out to find who the real killer is. I liked this introduction to the series, although it was a little slow at times, and I found there to be a lot of focus on size and fatphobia. There is also use of the r-word in reference to someone with Downs Syndrome, which really rubbed my the wrong way. However, there was something about it that, despite these two glaring flaws in the story, made me want to continue with the rest of the series – I think I wanted to find out what happens to the characters, except Tricia…honestly she kind of annoys me.

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Right after I finished listening to Murder is Binding, I started listening to the next book in the series Bookmarked for Death. This time, Tricia is hosting the author, Zoe Carter, however things become disastrous when Tricia finds her dead in her own store, and once again she must find out who the culprit is in order to clear her name. I liked this installment a bit better than the previous one, however I still found Tricia to be judgmental especially about people’s sizes. I enjoyed the mystery and I enjoyed getting to know Mr. Everett, Grace and Jenny (or Ginny?), as well as watch the relationship between Tricia and her sister, Angelica, start to change in a positive way. The author does a good job of making the reader keep guessing until the reveal of who the culprit is, and while it seemed slightly out the blue, it also made sense.

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In between listening to the abovementioned, I physically read The Sea in Winter by Christine Day. This was a touching middle-grade that follows Maisie Cannon, an aspiring ballerina who recently suffered an injury and how she tries to cope and remain strong on the outside, even though inside she feels a tumult of emotions. When her family goes on a midwinter trip to visit sites near the Makah community that her mother grew up in, she starts to feel even more alone and isolated, despite her family’s support and encouragement, especially when her injury starts to flare up again. I really appreciated how the author broached different topics such as blended families, injuries, mental health, as well as the recent history of Native Americans. I feel like I learned quite a bit about some of the communities, as well as their struggles, especially their recent struggles as far as being oppressed by outsiders who don’t understand their way of life, or refuse to understand. Along with this, is Maisie’s struggle to feel like she belongs and not knowing what her place is in the world, since so much of her identity has been in dancing for so long. I think this is a great book, and in some ways an important book that many should read, if anything just read from someone’s perspective and background that is different from one’s own.

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Next, I listened to Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett and I will say that the series seemed to finally get better with this book. In this mystery, Tricia Miles has just kicked out her former college roommate who has been crashing on her couch after she steals money from her. However, shortly after their interaction, Pammy is found dead in a dumpster in the alley behind Booked for Lunch, Tricia’s sister, Angelica’s restaurant. In order to have a piece of mind, as well as clear her name, Tricia tries to find out who could possibly have wanted her “friend” dead and why. Like I mentioned before, this third installment in the series solidified my wanting to continue on with this series. Sure, Tricia is still as flawed and judgmental as ever, but I also appreciated how those closest to her put her in her place when she makes snide remarks. Also, I enjoyed learning more about Freegans, my only knowledge of Freegans up until this point was the passing comment made in an episode of Parks and Rec of one of the characters being a Freegan Vegan. I felt like the author did a good job of explaining it and showing it in a way that wasn’t derogatory, as well as some of the reasoning behind why someone would want to be a Freegan. It was fascinating and an interesting addition to the overall mystery!

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After I finished reading The Sea in Winter I decided to pick up a graphic novel that I had heard about recently on BookTube called Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken and illustrated by Leigh Dragoon and Kit Seaton. This is a graphic novel based on one of Alexandra Bracken’s first books that she originally wrote for middle-grade readers, but when it got adapted into a graphic novel, they decided to target Young Adult Readers. We follow Syndelle Mirabel who is a talented weaver, and one day she meets a young wizard named North, who is being followed by an army that does not want him to get a message back to the queen of his kingdom. She joins him on his journey to help him find the city, as well as mend his magical cloaks that help him perform magic. On the way they encounter strange weather and a traitorous wizard that will do what he can to stop them. Overall, this was just okay, the illustrations were pretty decent, but I felt that there was too much dialog in each panel, I think it could have easily been increased by a few pages, as well as maybe cutting out some more of the dialogue by showing instead of telling the reader. I liked the concept of the story, but it felt rushed and somewhat cliched at times. I know part of that is because it is the graphic novel, but I can imagine that the actual novel wasn’t any better.

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Hope Between the Pages Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Hope Between the Pages

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Historical

Release date: April, 2021

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Hope Between the Pages is the first book I have read by Pepper Basham, and it did not disappoint! I really enjoyed this novel in which we follow Clara in the present day and her great-grandmother Sadie in 1915 and 1916. I enjoyed getting to know both women and how their lives are connected, especially since Clara knows very little about her great-grandmother Sadie except that she opened the bookstore that she now works in. I enjoyed discovering along with Clara more about her past and her family’s history, especially how things are not what they seem. 

I also enjoyed watching Sadie’s story unfold and I was satisfied for the most part with how her story concluded, although it was bittersweet. But I love how there was so much depth to her besides what Clara already knew. I also enjoyed getting to know Clara, but I wish more background information had been given for her. However, I did enjoy the sweet romance that she gets to be apart of. 

My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed, especially with why a certain character does the things that he does to the point of hurting his own family (I’m not going to elaborate because it could potentially be a spoiler). I felt like he was left one-dimensional and I would have loved to know more of his motives behind his actions. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book which was part mystery and part romance and part historical fiction. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, clean romance, a little bit of mystery and any one who enjoys dual timelines. I will be sure to check out more of Pepper Basham’s books in the future! 

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

 

More from Pepper

Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King

Appalachia is known for having a high illiteracy rate. A place of beautiful scenery and rugged landscapes, the people of the mountains developed stories through oral storytelling much more than “book learning”. As a young girl growing up in this world, I loved hearing my granny share tales from up to five generations ago, filling in the narrative gaps between a birth date and a death date on a tombstone – giving flesh and breath to the stone-etched names.

It’s no surprise then, with a heart cultivated from rich oral stories, I fell in love with reading. Books became that “portable magic” that took me places my little Appalachian community couldn’t provide. I fell in love with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Wept through the end of Bridge to Terabithia and Old Yeller. Traveled to the plains with Sarah Plain and Tall and fell in love with horses with The Black Stallion. But when I was in seventh grade, I read my very first “British” novel, The Secret Garden. In that one introduction, my world expanded into mysterious English manor houses and British classics. Before long, I’d consumed Jane Eyre, Austen’s classics, some Dickens, Dracula, Frankenstein…and the list goes on! And then…I found Tolkien and Lewis – and the ‘real’ world swelled into OTHER worlds.

I’m grateful for true stories of book-loving pioneers traveling into the world of Appalachia to provide books and literacy training to “my people”, because I know some of those books made their way to my tiny elementary school library…and not only brought me the chance to discover stories, but to write them too!

Isn’t it amazing how books can do that?

In Hope Between the Pages, I wanted to bring the same awe and discovery I felt as a child (and continue to feel as an adult reader) to the story of two people whose words had seemed small. Stories stretched their worlds, but the stories also gave them wonderful imaginations and positive perspectives. It’s still amazing to me that ink-and-paper words can make such a lasting impact on hearts and minds. They can lead us to dream, teach us new things, encourage our hearts, help us to think outside the box, swell our imaginations, broaden our horizons, and encourage our hope.

Books are not a replacement for real adventures and relationships, but they certainly provide a beautiful “door” into other lives and worlds that we may never have a chance to experience in real life. Sadie, my historical heroine, and Clara, my contemporary heroine, both have kept close to home but traveled greatly through books…and BOTH are given the opportunity to reach beyond the bindings to discover real-life adventures. I’d like to think that their love for stories helped them have the courage to step away from the page and into their own tales even more prepared than they would have been without stories.

What are some of your favorite books you read as a child? Did any of them influence you to become a more avid reader?

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, April 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 24

Worthy2Read, April 24

Texas Book-aholic, April 25

Reviewingbooksplusmore, April 25

Christian Bookaholic, April 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 25

She Lives To Read, April 26

Books and Everyday Life, April 26

For the Love of Literature, April 26

For Him and My Family, April 26

Wishful Endings, April 27

Bigreadersite, April 27

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 27

deb’s Book Review, April 27

Inklings and notions, April 28

Connect in Fiction, April 28

Writing from the Heart Land, April 28

Blogging With Carol, April 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 29

Life of Literature, April 29

Pick a good book, April 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 30

Betti Mace, April 30

Kathleen’s Blog, April 30

lakesidelivingsite, May 1

Connie’s History Classroom, May 1

Fiction Book Lover, May 1

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 1

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 2

Godly Book Reviews, May 2

Mary Hake, May 2

Older & Smarter?, May 3

Genesis 5020, May 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 4

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads , May 4

Blossoms and Blessings, May 4

sodbusterLiving, May 4

Splashes of Joy, May 5

Where Faith and Books Meet , May 5

Simple Harvest Reads, May 5 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Through the Fire Blogs, May 5

Pause for Tales, May 6

To Everything There Is A Season, May 6

Remembrancy, May 6

Lights in a Dark World, May 6

Live.Love.Read., May 7

Karen Sue Hadley, May 7

Amanda Tero, blog, May 7

The Write Escape, May 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10b27/hope-between-the-pages-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Workout Diaries – March 1st – March 12th

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

It’s been a while since I posted my last installment of this series. But before we get into that, I want to share the first five milestones that I want to achieve over my journey to get fit.

Milestone 1: Be able to workout on the elliptical for 25 minutes

Milestone 2: Do a mile on the elliptical

Milestone 3: Be able to workout on the elliptical for 30 minutes

Milestone 4: Do a mile on the elliptical for 30 days (excluding weekends).

Milestone 5: Start alternating between the elliptical and HIIT workouts.

These are just the physical and workout-oriented milestones I have. I don’t really have an overarching goal except to just be able to go for long walks and hikes without feeling like I am going to collapse after 5 minutes. Another goal is to increase my lung capacity so I can breathe better while wearing a mask since wearing one is still a thing for the forseeable future. And a lowkey goal is to lose weight. I will say, I have noticed that my breathing has already started to improve while wearing a mask, so I’m slowly achieving this goal, which is good!

Day 16 – Monday, March 1st

This morning I woke not feeling like working out, but I knew I had to. I think part of it is that when I am still waking up the thought of doing exercise sounds awful, but after the first 45 minutes of being awake, I was ready to go. I only intended to do about 15 minutes at first, and I thought I would need to stop and take a break at the 10 minute mark. However, when I tried to take a break, my right leg was shaky, and I decided to keep going because I felt more stable if I kept my legs moving. And when the 15 minute mark came, I felt like I was close enough to the 0.75 mile marker so I kept going until I hit it. And once I hit that, I was 2 minutes away from 20 minutes so I decided to just keep going. Once I got to the 20 minute mark, I considered trying to keep going to a mile, but since my legs were already feeling shaky when I stopped moving, I was a little worried that if I kept going I would fall trying to get off the elliptical, and since I was alone I knew that wouldn’t be a good thing. Overall, I’m happy with what I was able to do today. We shall see if I can keep it up for the rest of the week.

Day 17 – Tuesday, March 2nd

Today was another good day. I managed to do another 20 minutes on the treadmill, but I had to go a little bit slower because my right leg was feeling stiff. However, I did manage to make it 0.7 miles before I stopped my workout. However, I my legs felt trashed after I got done.

Day 18 – Wednesday, March 3rd

I debated whether to exercise today because I felt awful, it started last night and my joints ached, I felt fatigued and nauseous. I think it was due to eating more junk food yesterday than I should have. I decided to get on the elliptical and try and do as much as I could. It hurt and the last five minutes were brutal. Once I hit the 15 minute mark, I stopped. I managed to do 0.5 miles, but I was in a lot of pain (not exercise related). It didn’t help that I had leftover pizza for lunch. The main thing that hurts is my back, all over, which makes me think that I need to work on improving my posture, and also I need to work on losing weight because I know that the extra weight I’m carrying is not helping, but I also know that it is going to be a slow process.

Day 19 – Thursday, March 4th

I was feeling a lot better this morning. I hopped on the elliptical hoping to do a 20 minute workout. However, once the 10 minute mark hit, my legs started hurting. After I hit 15 minutes I got off, intending to just finish there, but after about a 10 minute break I decided to hop back on and at least get in another 5 minutes. I did it, however I also saw I was close to completing a lap (0.25 miles) and decided to keep going until I completed it. At the 7 minute mark I completed the lap, and I completed my workout. Altogether I worked out for 22 minutes and did 0.75 miles in that time. I think for the time being, in order to get to a full 20 minutes, I might need to take a break at some point during my workout for a few minutes and then continuing with my workout. Overall, I felt pretty good afterwards.

Day 20 – March 8th

Elliptical – 20 minutes, 0.55 miles

Walk – 21 minutes, 0.8 miles

Day 21 – March 9th

Elliptical – 21 minutes – 0.6 miles

Day 22 – March 10th

Elliptical – 26 minutes – 0.75 miles

Day 23 – March 11th

Elliptical – 21 minutes – 0.6 miles

Day 24 – March 12th

Elliptical – 26 minutes, 0.75 miles.

Previous Installments:

The Workout Diaries Week 1

The Workout Diaries Week 2

The Workout Diaries Week 3

Recent Reads Vol. 3

I have been a fan of Marissa Meyer ever since I read the Lunar Chronicles, however I never got into the Renegades series, so I was curious to see how her latest novel appealed to me, especially since it is her first foray into contemporary romance. Instant Karma follows overachiever, Prudence, who after an accident finds she has the ability to inflict “karma” on everyone around her. However, the only person it doesn’t seem to work on is slacker Quint Erickson, who during the school year was her lab partner and who she is trying to get to redo their final project. She discovers that he volunteers at a marine animal rescue center and volunteers there too, in order to get him to redo their project, and maybe figure out a way to bring more funding. I liked this one, I felt like Marissa Meyer did a good job with setting up the story and the romance. However, I did feel like Prudence’s karmic power wasn’t really necessary to the story line because it had a minor part in the overall story, even though it was used for main conflict in the plot, it still seemed unnecessary and the book would have still been good without it! I did enjoy the romance and getting to know the people of Fortuna Beach, and I hope there will be more books set in this town, especially since I want to see a book featuring Prudence’s best friend Ari, and maybe even her twin brother, Jude.

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After finishing Instant Karma, I started several other books, but I also prioritized reading Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Parts 1, 2, and 3 since it was due back at the library soon. It is a three-part comic book (graphic novel ?) story arc that starts almost immediately after the end of the tv series. Zuko, Aang and the Earth King are trying to figure a way to usher in peace into the Earth kingdom now that the Fire nation is no longer at war with the rest of the world. One of the ways to bring more peace is to get rid of the Fire Nation colonies that are scattered throughout the Earth Kingdom. They come up the Harmony Restoration Movement which will forcibly remove the colonies and return them to the Fire Nation. Everything seems to go well, until a year later when Zuko realizes that the situation is a lot more complicated than simply moving the colonists, and he puts an halt on the movement, which also pits him against Aang. I found this story arc interesting, and it was great to see what happened after the end of the tv show. I liked how the conflict was due to a situation that no one had considered when coming up with the plan, and how the Fire Nation colonies have been there for several generations and they’ve made roots, and have established families and relationships with the Earth Kingdom inhabitants in the area. I thought it was a good follow-up, however I did find that the main conflict was resolved to easily and quickly.

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If you’ve been following my Workout Diaries series, you might have seen that I’ve started listening to audiobooks while I workout on the elliptical. The first audiobook I picked up was Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price, which was an audio galley that I received from Netgalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. The novel is a murder mystery take on Pride and Prejudice, where Elizabeth Bennett works for her father’s law firm, Longborn and Sons, and longs to be promoted to the position of solicitor. Her father tasks her with solving a case using logic and he will seriously consider it. She soon discovers that there has been a murder and the victim is Mr. Hearst, the brother-in-law of Mr. Bingley, who is accused of the crime. She sets forth to solve the crime, while bumping heads with the aggravating Mr. Darcy, who is a solicitor for the competing law firm, Pemberley and Sons. She also has to deal with bumbling Mr. Collins and some other characters as she tries to figure out who is truly responsible for the murder. I thought this was an original take on Pride and Prejudice, that had all the elements of a mystery novel, but also keeping a lot of the elements of the source material. It definitely had a feminist undertone, with Lizzie striving to be a solicitor (which, as the author note states, would not have been done in the time period), but it wasn’t overbearing and seemed to fit really will with the plot and the character. I loved the unraveling of the mystery, and who the culprit is, it was kind of surprising, and, maybe I’m just not observant, but it did surprise me a little bit. I won’t say anything more plot-wise because I don’t want to spoil the mystery. I also liked Mr. Darcy and that we get to see a different side of him. My only complaint is that at random points in the book, especially near the end, it would lift lines from the source material which just didn’t seem to fit well, and seemed unnecessary. That being said, I really enjoyed Pride and Premeditation, and I’m looking forward to what the next book in the series accomplishes (unfortunately it only comes out next year :().

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I also picked up Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which received a lot of buzz last year. It follows a young African-American Emira who babysits the daughter of influencer Alix Chambers. However, one night, after called in to emergency babysit, Emira takes her charge to a grocery store, where she is accused of kidnapping. After the incident she just wants to go on with her life, but her well-meaning employer wants to make it up to her, and someone who was there an caught the incident on tape, wants to see justice served. Meanwhile, Emira needs to find a job that offers benefits. I found Such a Fun Age was an interesting read, it held my attention for the first half and then it kind peetered off. I appreciated the message it was trying to convey, however all the characters were unlikable. Emira doesn’t apply herself, even when those around her try to help her find another job, and she has passed up on a lot of opportunities. In some ways I have a lot of empathy for her, but at the same time it is difficult knowing that she has had opportunities. And then there is Alix Chambers, who at first I had a hard time understanding why what she did back in high school was horrible (I’m still unsure about that), but the fact that she constantly violated Emira’s privacy by looking at her phone was awful. She had a weird obsession with Emira that is kind of creepy. And then there is Kelley, who is just as performative as Alix, and he keeps trying to push Emira to get revenge for what happened at the grocery store. Overall, it was a mostly good story, and I can see why a lot of people love it, it just wasn’t for me, and that could have also have been due to when I read it. The ending left me dissatisfied and some of the dialogue was cringey.

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While I was reading the previous two books, I also started reading Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, which is a collection of 31 essays written by 31 authors and their experiences and memories with food and the comfort and joy that certain foods bring with them. Each entry also included a recipe for the dishes mentioned in the essays, although I have not had a chance to try and make any of them. I liked this collection, although I’ll admit there weren’t really any stand out essays that stuck with me – but that is just me…I can be weird like that. I do recommend it for food and cooking lovers!

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Where I’ve Been (A Life Update)

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Over the last month or so I have been sorely neglecting my blog by not posting much except for blog tour posts and my First Line Friday posts which are scheduled way in advance. So where have I been? What have I been up to?

For those of you have been following my little space of the internet for a while will know that I have been in grad. school for a while. I have been working on getting my Masters in Library and Information Science, and over the last few months I have been working on my final project for my degree. At first it was easy to keep up with posting regularly, but then my mental health took a bit of turn and as a result I got behind on my schoolwork. Once I finally kind of made it to a good headspace again, I had a lot schoolwork to do and a deadline looming on me that seemed impossible to meet. I decided to take a break from posting for a while because some posts that I enjoy writing do take a lot of time to write up, and I needed to use that time for my schoolwork. The only posts I continued doing were the blog tours, and that is because I had made a commitment for each of those months ago, and it is important for me to uphold my word and my commitments.

But now that grad school is done, I’m back. I am still trying to figure out what it is that I want to do with my blog. I love reading and I want to keep posting about books! And I also want to keep posting my workout diaries, which took a hiatus during my blogging break – although I am happy to report that I have still been working out consistently even though I have not been posting updates. I also have quite a few reviews on the back burner that have yet to be published but needed some slight edits before they went out into the world, but now that I have the time, they will make it out, it’s just going to take a while. There is a lot I want to do now that I have to do it, but it also depends on when I finally get a job…I have no idea when this will be, but I do hope it is soon!

So, what can you expect from The Meanderings of a Bookworm in the near future? A lot of blog posts! Right now I am sticking with my posting schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday with some extra posts if I have blog tours scheduled for another day of the week. I have a lot of reviews to post, and several recent reads posts too that have yet to be posted! (I have been reading a lot, especially in the evenings before bed.) First Line Fridays will continue as scheduled. And The Workout Diaries will be coming back, except I think I am going to post those every other week, just because I have so many other posts I would like to post too.

Anyway, that’s all I really have to say for now. Thank you for reading, and for following my blog!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

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

Giveaway

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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10988/heart-pressed-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Giveaway

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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1098d/the-purple-nightgown-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Giveaway

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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1089f/sing-in-the-sunlight-celebration-tour-giveaway

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Giveaway

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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1089b/delia-and-the-drifter-celebration-tour-giveaway

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

First Line Fridays #55 – Chronicles of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

Hello everyone,

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

Chronicles of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

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“Anne Shirley was curled up on the window seat of Theodora Dix’s sitting-room one Saturday evening, looking dreamingly afar at some fair starland beyond the hills of starlight.”

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.