Courting Emily and Lorie’s Heart: A Review

I am sad to admit this but I have been going through a slump with books for a while.

When I graduated from my very reading intense degree (History) I couldn’t devour “fun” books fast enough. Then I started working at a bookstore. It was like a dream come true! Books EVERYWHERE, a discount on said books AND the wonder that is ARC books. Oh Advance Reader Copies, how I love you.

Then the pressure hit me. Reading books to hand sell books, getting books I have no interest in reading, never getting books in I could sell. I stopped reading when it books were picked for me. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

You see, I am pretty devoted to my own personalized genre of books. I primarily read Christian Fiction, certain YA books, some History, some Fiction, some Romance, and some classics. I’m even pickier within those genres. It HAS to be light, fluffy, and happy romance type books. I hate wasting my time on reading something depressing-no matter if it makes you have “the feels” or re-evaluate your life. No. I cry enough thanks.

So I was stumbling around looking for something new in my “genre” of choice: Christian Fiction. I was coming up with very little in the way of variety. Then, in December, I was introduced to Amy Lillard via the 12 Brides of Christmas e-books for the Advent season. Her book, the Gingerbread Bride was probably my favorite of the 12 weeks and I started reading through her works.

I have absolutely loved all the ones I have read so far but I connected the most with books 2 and 3 in the Wells Landing series. Courting Emily and Lorie’s Heart. What I loved was that they were NEW ideas. They felt fresh and didn’t follow the same old same old with Amish fiction that I have come to see and expect. As a bibliophile, and avid reader, I am ashamed to admit at times I skip ahead and read the last 2 chapters if I feel the story is not moving anywhere. I have yet to do that with Amy’s books.

Before I launch into how much I loved books 2 and 3, I want to mention I in no way did not enjoy book one Caroline’s Secret, I just felt more of a connection to the other 2.

First off, Courting Emily. **Be Warned Spoilers**

I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

For the first time, in a long time, I felt like I could connect with the hero of the story. Elam loved Emily from afar for as long as he could remember. There’s another man in the way of them ever being together (Emily’s longtime boyfriend Luke) but in addition, Elam has his own problems.

His father was kicked in the head by one of their dairy cows. He was lucky to survive but it landed him with a childlike outlook on the world. His once strong and capable Father now had trouble walking from room to room on his own. The family responsibilities and running their dairy now fall to Elam. How is he supposed to court anyone with this added burden, let alone the love of his life who is now unexpectedly single?

I loved this book so much because I know what it is like to shoulder familial burdens. Burdens, which should not be yours to carry in the first place due to a freak accident or because of someone realizing that “fatherhood is just too hard”. I needed this book because it restored my waning Faith in that all things truly do work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Emily brought a fresh outlook on life and love to the Rhiel family. She helped with chores, she helped them heal, and found her heart softening towards Elam along the way.

Both she and Elam faced troubles, faced a crisis of faith (mostly in each other) and were too stubborn for their own good. Ultimately, there was a happy ending but what I love about the Wells Landing series is that they’re real. Real situations, real struggles, real heartache, REAL RESOLUTIONS.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Before I get into Lorie’s heart I want to thank Amy and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this advance e-book. I am honored to have been able to read it  🙂

Lorie’s Heart **SPOILERS AHEAD**

This book surprised me. I was not expecting the turn it was going to take.

More surprisingly, I didn’t expect to LIKE the turn it took! I think that’s what shocked me the most.

Lorie’s world is shaken by the death of her father. Upon his passing she finds out her father was living a double life (or so she thought).

Lorie goes on a journey of discovery as to who her father was and finds herself along the way. Never feeling like she fit in completely with the Amish the new information found on her father after his death drives Lorie to experience the English world.

I was very afraid that this would be another “love drove him/her to join/leave the Amish faith and because they have love nothing bad will happen” book. But, I love Amy’s books and she had already written a book like that (but it was AWESOME and I loved it and was not cut and dry like I made it seem above) so I kept reading.

I am so glad I did. I started reading it at about 7 pm and finished it at 7am before rushing off to work. THAT is how good it was. I stayed up late and woke up early because I HAD to know.

I loved the twist that Lorie was never Amish. Yes, she was raised as one but her father had hidden him and his daughter in plain sight to hide from his deceased wife’s family. They wanted Lorie and they had the money to fight for her. Henry took his daughter and ran. Too little to know the truth, Lorie assimilated, as did Henry and felt restlessness inside and had a talent for painting that she couldn’t explain and did not want to give up.

Through many twists and turns, Lorie finds the truth, finds 2 grandmas, finds herself, and finds love.

Both of these books were amazing and I highly recommend them and Amy’s other books. You should DEFINITELY check her out!

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Say Yes to the Dress

Before I begin I want to say “No this is not a review of the show” and “It is sadly not about wedding dresses”.

This is about a very particular dress.

Almost 3 years ago now I was very happily shopping for a cute new dress to wear to my best friend’s wedding. A little bit nicer than just a summer dress but also light enough for a summer wedding. As I’m sure most of you know not only is this challenging it can also mean you would be dropping a bit of change on one. I was SO lucky to find a gorgeous dress (with pockets! ladies celebrate with me) on sale for.. wait for it… SEVENTEEN DOLLARS!!! WHHHHAAAAAAA? Needless to say, I took this only as a sign of good things to come because I immediately found an adorable navy shrug that matched perfectly-also on sale!

Not the best picture but it was the best I could do this morning ;)

Not the best picture but it was the best I could do this morning 😉

So, I went to Elizabeth’s wedding (check her blog out btw) wearing my new dress. I was a bit self conscious, I won’t lie. I’m not at an ideal weight by any means and but I knew that I would be welcomed with open arms and encouragement.. and I was right.  Everyone was so encouraging and loving and complimentary. **I want to quickly say I’m not trying to fish for compliments or sound full of myself but the contrast will make sense shortly.**

Here is all of us dancing away (sorry for stealing this from your FB Elizabeth!)

Dancing away! :)

Dancing away! 🙂

I decided to ride the wave of excitement and wear it to the convocation at my new job. We were told to dress up as if we were going to a wedding or to church. I thought “this is a dress that makes me feel good about myself, and my body”. I should have heeded my original fears.

As I am sure EVERY woman can agree sometimes you do everything right to try to replicate an outfit and one piece doesn’t work, doesn’t go together, issues with static, etc. Well- that day my mom had to take me to work. I don’t remember why now, all I remember is that for what ever reason, I would be stuck until 4:30. Well, the outfit did not work out. The static from my pantyhose was causing friction with the dress causing the skirt to rise causing me to compensate by pulling it down. This counteracted with the bra I was wearing. I was at my wits end and choking back tears when I decide to rig my shrug shut with a bent open paper clip. That’s when it all started.

  • I was told to pull my dress up no less than 4 times.
    • As if I didn’t realize. I’m sorry did you miss the tear stains and the paper clip? Do I give off the vibe that I WANT to flaunt myself?
  • At the end of the day I was told about what is considered appropriate work attire
    • I was 25 years old at the time. I know how to dress and what is appropriate. (You are wearing a SWEAT suit!)

No one was gracious or caring or understanding. I was crying and hurting and I have STILL been made fun of. I mentioned about how embarrassed I was over the way I was treated over a simple misunderstanding to a co worker, how I went home and cried to my mom for a solid hour over it when I got off. Her response? ” Oh! I would have LOVED to have seen that. “MOOOOOM everyone made me cry because my boobs were hanging out”. So… yeah.

Now, I am sorry for the sad bit but what I wanted to say was this. That dress, has hung in my closet unworn and unused out of fear for nearly 3 years now. It went from a great reminder of a great day to one of the worst and uncomfortable reminders of my life. The thing is, I know I looked good in that dress and I know it was just ONE wardrobe error that mean people won’t let go of.

So-my point- I’m wearing it again. To the VIP night at the Bookstore I work for. Sadly, I am not brave enough to wear it to my full time job before hand but I will be running home in the hour in between and swapping out fits. I will attempt to channel all of the good and happy thoughts that I received while trying to drown out the bad memories.

I’ve decided I am tired of being made to feel this way and I AM going to say yes to this dress again… and enjoy every minute of it.

Lots of love-

Me

A Memory of Violets (Challenge Book 3)

Good afternoon all,

Book 3 finished! YAY!

Now as I was talking about last time, this was going to be one of the hardest to complete. The “read a book a friend recommends” was going to be difficult because I have way too many books to choose from. Most of my close friends are English majors and/or extreme bibliophiles like myself. I have book recommendations coming at me from everywhere. I also work in a book store. A book store where there is this:

Staff Picks

A table full of books my coworkers/friends favorite books. So, yeah, a bit of a challenge. Anyways, I picked A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor as recommended to me by my friend Anita. OH MY GOODNESS was it good!!! Ahh!!!!

violets

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. I am SO glad I had the opportunity to read it! (thank you again Anita!). It was so beautifully written, the characters were amazing, and I feel it had something to offer everyone. I VERY much enjoyed it all.

What I loved the most though was the way the story was presented to us as the audience. We start out the story from Florrie’s point of view and then switch to mostly Tilly’s point of view. I’ve read a few novels that try and hop back and forth from “present day” to the past that do not do it well. However, this is not the case for A Memory of Violets. There is a seamless transition between Tilly and Florrie and it brought more to the book to flip back and forth versus solely from Tilly’s stand point. I also loved that is was told from an “older sister” point of view and the contrast of the relationship between Tilly and Ester and Florrie and Rosie.

The added bonus that this story is based in real events makes it that much more enjoyable. I think it has something to offer every reader.

I was lucky, do to my bookstore job, to read an Advanced copy of it. Luckily though, it’s street date was listed as tomorrow, February 3rd! I HIGHLY recommend going and getting a copy. It was SO very good.

Next up is ” a book with a one word title” and I have chosen (at least temporarily) Longbourn by Jo Baker. We shall see how this goes! I don’t know if I am really following my “read outside my comfort zone” goal but I am sure enjoying myself!

Let me know what you all think! I will see everyone for book 4 if not before!

Lots of love!

Skip Rock Shallows (Challenge book 2)

Yay! Book two in the challenge complete! I believe I told you guys my next book was the “classic romance” option. Well…. that is a bit slow going and so I decided to put it on the back burner to when I have more time to read. This was my fear starting this project but I don’t want to give up entirely so I thought I better give myself some incentive!

Anyways, book 2 was ” a story from your hometown” and I had quite a difficult time finding something that would work. First off, Kentucky in general- not a place a lot of books are set. To live in a fairly unknown town makes it even harder. I did not want to read an Arcadia book about Kentucky so I broadened my horizons to the state of Kentucky. I found Jan Watson’s Skip Rock Shallows

skip rock

Stupidly, I did not realize until I finished the book that I was starting with book 3 in a series. Oh well, it was still enjoyable.

Now, I know some people might protest since this does not take place in my hometown but most of my family is from southern Kentucky and some of the places and the way people talk were so familiar to me.

I completely enjoyed reading this book! It was beautifully written and I really love the storied involving women doctors trying to make a name for themselves. It’s been a passion of mine ever since Dr. Quinn came out haha. I really loved Lilly and Armina and Ned so much. I wish I could go into more detail but critiquing writing is not my strong suit. All I know is that I loved it, I felt a connection with the places because my roots come from there too, and I am excited to read more of Jan Watson’s books!

I’ve decided challenge 3 is going to be “a book recommended by a friend”.  Now, here is the hard part about this-most of my friends are bibliophiles like me. I get recommendations all the time! In addition, I work at a local bookstore where we have a whole table of “Staff Picks”. Books myself and my friends/coworkers recommend are worth a read. Needless to say, this would be a hard task to pick just one.

In the end, I decided to go with A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor. My friend and coworker Anita suggested it and let me borrow her ARC copy of it.

More to come! Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!

84 Charing Cross Road

Hello everyone!

So, I have one book down in the 2015 Reading Challenge! I finished Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road.

84, Charing Cross Road

Like I mentioned before, I had intended to use it as my “banned” book but found out that you cannot trust Goodreads lists… which means I will have to rethink more than a few of my books…

Anyways, I have to say I enjoyed every word in this book. It was so wonderful “listening” to the cross Atlantic letters between Helene and the booksellers at 84 Charing Cross Road. It was a bit too short for me and it didn’t the end the way I wanted it to but over all it was adorable. I loved connecting with a group of people that love books as much as I do!

I think what made this book even more special is that I have been to Charing Cross road. Not number 84 (to my knowledge anyways) but it is a wonderfully charming road of book shops you could easily get lost in. Britain is great at so many things, one of which is definitely her books/bookstores. You have not lived until you have been in the Piccadilly Circus Waterstones. It’s a bibliophile’s dream come true… For real.

I’m not sure what I am going to read next.. I have quite a few options sitting at home. I’m attempting to read North and South by Elizabeth Glaskell but am not making too much headway into the tale. I like the movie so very much and right now the book is quite dry.. I may put her on the back burner and start with something quicker then again this is the whole reason I am doing the challenge- to read outside of what I normal do.

2015 Reading Challenge

Hello and happy 2015 everyone!

I am so sorry for not following through with last year’s goal of posting something every day. I started to get really worried about posting something interesting and thought provoking and let it all get to my head. Anyways, no more excuses. I will post as I can and maybe that will spark more content?

Anyways, my friend Elizabeth re-blogged a post about a 2015 reading challenge. It looks SO cool!

Now, I love reading.. a lot… and while I wouldn’t say I was in a “slump” I always talk myself out of my “to read” books for various reasons ie, too long, too boring, I’m too busy, books due back to library, etc. I thought this would be something new and interesting.  I pretty much hate going outside my own Kathryn made genre of all things happy and fluffy with a bit of history mixed in 😉 so I am going to also use this as a mini challenge to myself.

I’m starting with 84, Charing Cross Road at the moment: 84, Charing Cross Road

I found it on a Goodreads list of banned books but have not been able to find it anywhere else since then.. so I am not sure if I will make it my “book with a number in the title” or “book that was made into a movie”  we’ll see! It’s great so far! 25 pages in!

Speaking of books, I never finished my advent season books reviews. I have to say most of them left me wanting. They were just WAY too short. Before we got to know the characters the story was over. My FAVORITE one though (because it had DETAILS to it!) was the last one: The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer. It was beautiful and I liked it a lot!!

Well, I hope you all are having a great day and a great 2015 so far!

Lots of Love

Late Night Musings

A few blogs back, I mentioned I had decided to take the plunge and try online dating. It really made sense to me at the time and I thought it would be a great way to meet a guy. However, I have not been successful.

The one guy I got close to and moved passed the beginning questions like ” which indoor activity sounds the most fun to you a, b, c, d, or write your own” seemed to be the prime example of what I feared the most. Pretty perfect. Odd right? Perfect has been my fear all along. It got a bit worse. After about 24-48 hours of knowing each other he was already asking questions I found incredibly uncomfortable. Not in a rude way but just a bit too personal and a bit to much for people that don’t even know each other’s last names and I had no idea what he looked like! Ok, he DID send me a pic of him and his brother… From Halloween… In costume. Does anyone else think that’s weird? He could see my face from my profile but I get a pic of him in costume?

I am the first to admit, being truly happy with a nice guy is what I want most in this world. At the same time, it scares the hell out of me. I was made to feel guilty again this evening for not giving this guy more of a chance and I just need to get a few things off my chest.

I am TERRIFIED of being stuck to a guy like my mom was. My dad had no real career goals and was perfectly happy staying in this area and blaming my mom for his misfortunes.

Another thing, I want to live in a world where it is semi believable that a man like Harry Kennedy would fall for a girl like Geraldine Granger. That liking a girl for what’s inside and because you just mesh so well is still a possibility. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe having a love that “time will lie down and be still for” is just a thing of the past and stuff of fairy tales.

I know my head is laced with tons of scenarios from countless books that I am just waiting to see played out for me. I know there is no guy pining out there wishing he’d asked me out when he had the chance… But it’s so nice to think that’s a possibility. I don’t need a knight on a white horse, I would just like some one who didn’t ask me what my allergies were right off the bat.

Like my title says, these were some late night musings full of random thoughts and feelings so take from it what you will. 🙂 Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.