A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade and Other Reads…

Ohio has been a wonderful place for reading.  The Upper Arlington Library System has every book I could possibly want to read.  Do you remember that old Arthur episode where the kids chant “having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card?”  There is so much fun to be had in Ohio.

I’ve delved deep into Young Adult reads the last month or two.  Each one of them deserves its own post and review… but then I wouldn’t have time to read the stack of books on my nightstand.  The Geography of You and Me, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, On the Fence, The Distance Between Us, and My Life Next Door are super cute romance reads.  Isla and the Happily Ever After, Along for the Ride, and the fantastic fantasy of Splintered are worth checking out.

I have to admit that I was a Fault-in-our-stars hater until I actually read the book.  I’ve repented of my ways and now believe that everyone in the galaxy should read Fault in our Stars at least once.  I worship the words John Green walks on.  The metaphors and writing will blow your socks off…

The kids and I have been enjoying the Life of Fred Series, Story of the World, Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, Maniac Magee, The Overlander Series, The Magic Finger, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and on a serious note – Good Pictures Bad Pictures.  Every family should own a copy of this book and talk about it on a regular basis.

Adult reads: The Shadow of Your Smile was fun. You can never go wrong with a Susan May Warren book. The Dress Shop of Dreams was well written, but kind of depressing.  I loved the characters and the magic, but the idea of living your entire life without the true love of your life made me sad.  Mermaid Collector – I loved the back story of mermaids and the way they influenced the town and people in it.  I don’t particularly enjoy stories with infidelity, but this one has a happy ending.  The minimalist in me loved the theme of “letting go of things that hold you back.”   And of course, I’ve read Edenbrooke again and again – because can you ever get sick of an book like Edenbrooke?

The ultimate icing on the book cake was Becky Wade’s newest book A Love Like Ours.  Bethany House sent a copy straight to my mailbox and I couldn’t wait to dive right in.

lovelikeoursThe book is as cute as the cover.  And seriously, the cover is cute.  It makes me want to grow my hair out and buy light blue pants.  A Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter Family Novels, Undeniably Yours and Meant to Be Mine lead the way.  You don’t have to read these two books prior to reading A Love Like Ours, but you will definitely be missing out if you don’t read them sometime in your life.

A Love Like Ours takes place in Texas with Former Marine Jake Porter and Lyndie James.  Once childhood friends, the two of them struggle to find their way together again after years of being apart.  PTSD from years of military service keep Jake distant, aloof, and rude while years of nurturing and loving animals motivates Lyndie to breach the barriers of Jake.  I love the overall theme of “letting go of fear to embrace love.”

The majority of people don’t struggle with PTSD like Jake does, but throughout every romance novel I have read this year there is a common thread of vulnerability when it comes to love.  When you really sit down and think about the fear we carry around with us, it is amazing that so many people take the leap for love each and every day.  Opening your heart to someone with the knowledge that they could hurt us – is a scary thing.  That fear can bring the best and the worst in us out.

I think this is why I love romance novels so much.  They remind me what a gift love is.  They remind me of the importance of keeping my heart open and available to my husband because “Happily Ever Afters” aren’t always easy.  They require that we continue to keep our hearts and minds open to our lovers with faith that they will do the same for us. There are times when relationships can be scary – married or not.  But the most important thing is that we don’t give up on the healthy, supportive love when it comes our way.

Like Jake, we can each overcome our fears and find the courage to let the right person into our hearts to stay.  And that is a beautiful thing.

What books have you been reading?

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books and dreams and packing it light.

i-mfCtQNn-X2A lot of life happens outside of books.  Since my last post, my husband graduated with his PhD in neuroscience.  We moved out of our house and into my parent’s house for a couple short weeks.  Ohio is calling our name and we are listening.  Among all the hustle and bustle of packing our house and moving, I have enjoyed reading the Rush Revere series and The Life of Fred with my kids.  Sixty Acres and a Bride (again), The Four Agreements, Here to Stay, The Rose Garden, Sandwich with a Side of Romance, Somebody Like You, A Tangle of Knots, and Once Upon a Prince have kept me company.  Sweet, lovely company.

Although I desperately miss my quiet read time, I am enjoying our crazy-move-across-the-United-States adventure.  Leaving our home and neighbors has been hard, but  it has forced me to evaluate my priorities.  So much of my time revolves around wanting to appear more “this or that” instead of embracing the life I have and the silly little quirks that make me, me.  I think it is natural to reach for perfection instead of embracing the perfection that already surrounds us.

I often forget that no amount of skill or talent will increase my personal worth because my personal worth is already there.  It is in you and it is in me and it has been since the beginning of creation.  C.S. Lewis talks about finding the God in everyone that surrounds us and Ann at Holy Experience talks about people’s tendency to “see the world in measuring sticks instead of burning bushes.”  Whether you choose to write or read or sew or bake or take fancy pictures – your worth remains the same.

As a stay-at-home mom, I struggle with this concept.  I believe that I should bake cookies more often, fit in smaller jeans, always talk kindly, and never take a minute for myself… yet, I berate myself for not being more “in the world.”  Other moms volunteer in soup kitchens, crochet hats for the hospital, and run their own private businesses.  The act of looking around at the world with my own ruler drains my energy and decreases my appreciation for the gifts I have to offer.  Oprah relates this habit of looking and comparing the accomplishments of others to the runner that spends more time looking behind then ahead.  Panic will boil in the veins when someone behind starts to get close and desperation will saturate our courage when others pass us up.  Somehow in this life of social media connections, I have to learn to start looking ahead at the things I want to accomplish in my life.  I have to find the courage to give validation to my dreams.

I’ve learned that it is hard to “pack it light” when it comes to expectations we have for ourselves and for those that surround us.  We define what we want and we expect results.  Like my over-stuffed storage unit, we hang on to harsh personal standards that really hold us back and weigh us down.  In the book Walden, Henry David Thoreau talks about the weight and responsibility of our possessions.  We buy a little knick-knack and we have to dedicate our time and resources to keep it looking dust-free and nice.  Like our knick-knacks, our harmful thoughts and definitions of what it means to be a good person weigh us down and prevent us from enjoying the amazing blessings of today.  They force us to always see our glass as half-empty instead of overflowing, bubbly, and fizzy with gratitude for the amazing life we have to live today.

Thanks to a highly-stressful move, I am beginning to see the overflowing exciting bubbles of joy in my cup of life.  I am happy, loved, and dreaming big dreams.  I have everything I need and so much more.  And for that – I am truly grateful.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Image“…All I can say is we’ll figure it out, I swear.  When I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time.  I want to know what would [you] think about it.  I want you to be mine.  I can promise you books and conversation and all my heart.”

A.J Fikry is a bookstore owner, widow, and alcoholic.  When a baby is mysteriously left in his bookstore one evening, A.J. Fikry’s drunken and wounded heart is challenged.  The mother is found dead with her last known wish that her child be raised in a bookstore.

“It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us… but it is only because we are isolated when, you will be driving down a road.  And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there.  You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone.  You will have chosen to not be alone.”

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is story of “unexpected love [rescuing] you and [bringing] you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.”

“There is only one word that matters… we aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read.  We are, for as long as we are here, only love.  The things we loved.  The people we loved…. and these,  think these really do live on.”

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

As a general rule, I don’t read a lot of books about the WWII/Holocaust.  The words of Anne Frank, Escape from Warsaw, The Book Thief, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society paint a picture of a time that haunts my soul.  What happened to society – to people as a whole – to inspire such hatred and violence?  How did people find the courage to continue living despite such hard times?  The courage embedded within the hearts of many people inspires and amazes me while the hatred and violence of others frighten me beyond belief.

download Centered around the time of WWII/Holocaust, Saving Amelie  by Cathy Gohlke is the story of a four-year-old deaf German girl, daughter to a prominent German officer.  Having an “imperfect” child is a stain upon the father’s “record” that he is unwilling to have.  Arrangements are made for Amelie to attend a facility specialized in caring for disabled children without the mother’s consent.  Rumors have it that children like Amelie, once admitted, are never seen alive again.  Desperate to save the life of her daughter, the mother reaches out to her childhood friend Rachel for assistance.

Rachel, a daughter to a prominent American researcher, is hesitant to accept her friend’s request.  Her father’s research has shown the power of eugenics and she isn’t quite sure where she stands.  Her friend must be over-reacting.  After a spin of events, Rachel is forced to flee and enter hiding herself along with the deaf Amelie.   Saving Amelie knits together a beautiful story of individuals learning to love and sacrifice despite the risks.  It is the story of people learning to look beyond their needs to help a stranger, sister, and friend.  The words of this book, while they were powerful, made me see the importance of looking beyond my own needs in all circumstances.

History enthusiasts and non-history-enthusiasts will unite within the pages of Saving Amelie because every soul – regardless of age, gender, and race – has value.  It doesn’t matter when, where, or how – this value exists.  I walked away from this book with a renewed desire to teach my children the importance of respecting the people that surround us.  The only “true crime” against humanity is committed when we fail to honor the light, the life, and the love of the souls that surround us on a daily basis.  We are created equal in the eyes of God, and we must strive to remember that in all times, in all things, and in all places.

 

–Book was provided by Tyndale House for my honest review.

Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade

The more I delve into Christian Fiction, the more I fall in love.  I appreciate the clean romance, the tension between the characters, and the lessons I learn.  Becky Wade quickly became a new favorite with My Stubborn Heart and Undeniably Yours.

What I love about Becky Wade’s work is that her characters are real with tangible struggles.  I find myself in their reflection.  I learn and grow from their mistakes and overcome some of my struggles within the words of her stories.  Becky has concocted the perfect combination of faith and hope within her fun stories.

And let’s be honest… I love the romance.  The romance in Wade’s books are clean and exciting and wonderful.  She pushes beyond the tight-lipped-grandma-kisses, keeps it real, and respectfully describes the excitement of the scenes.

I am excited to tell you about Wade’s newest book, Meant to Be Mine.  But before I do that, check out the adorable photo shoot for the cute cover.

MeanttoBeMine_compCeila Park has always had a thing for Ty Porter.  When the two of them meet up in Vegas, their relationship climaxes to a cheap wedding chapel and midnight vows.  After an exciting wedding night, Celia wakes to find Ty upset.  Her happily-ever-after comes crushing down when Ty admits that he is in love with someone else.

Five and a half years later, Celia wants to stay as far away from Ty Porter as possible.  Their one-night-wedding-stand changed her life forever – and not in the way she had once dreamed.  Instead of following her own personal goals, Celia had to “give them up” to raise the honey-moon-baby from the man that didn’t love her in return.

When Ty mysteriously shows up, will the two of them be able to forge a relationship for the sake of their daughter?  Is forgiveness possible? And is it too late for Celia to get her happily-ever-after?

 

— Book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings

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In Regina Jennings first book,Sixty Acres and a Bride, we learn of the “crazy” Anne.  People avoid her.  She isn’t like everyone else.  When Anne is forced to kill her violent-abusive-husband, the town begins to avoid her more than ever. In Jenning’s second book, Love in the Balance, Anne is all alone.

Throughout the first two books, Anne’s tough (and different) exterior keep people at arms length.  When an abandoned child falls into Anne’s lap, everything begins to change and Anne becomes Caught in the Middle.  Does she have the courage to open up and love the world for the sake of the child?  Can she learn to trust again?  What about her broken and bruised heart?

Anne’s bravery and willingness to overcome her fears inspires me.  How many people surrounding me are internally hurting like Anne?  The people that surround Anne, patiently helping her learn to love again, inspire me.  And what of the romance?  Super cute.

I walked away from Caught in the Middle with a deeper understanding of what it means to love unconditionally.  People, fictional and real, are starving for love.   Everyone is lonely. Together, we can learn to put aside the judgement in honor of love… just like Anne.

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

I will say this a million times.

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Edenbrook by Julianne Donaldson is a fantastic book.  I laughed, I cried, and my heart pounded with anticipation.  The clean romance was cute, incredible, and oh-so-fun.  I read the book at least a dozen times, emphasizing my favorite parts, until my library use period had expired.  This book needs to find it’s way on my bookshelf.  Pronto.

When Donaldson’s newest book, Blackmoore hit the shelves, I requested my copy right away.

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AND I AM SO GLAD THAT I DID!

When Kate learns that her budding friendship with her almost-suitor is unsupported by his family, she goes to great lengths to prove that she will never marry.  A trip to India becomes her sure ticket to escape when she learns that he has been bethroved to a lady of his mother’s choosing.  Kate’s mother gives her permission to pack her bags and flee to India – with one condition –  she must reject three proposals within a short period of time.  Once again, I found my heart pounding in excitement.  The characters are addictive.  I want more of their story.  And the romance?  It deserves a major A++.