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?

Voskamp, Jennings, and 1,800 Miles…

The drive from Utah to Ohio was loooong.  Thanks to the help of new toys and Lego bribes, the four kids rode the 26 hour stretch without a single complaint.  Thank goodness for Lego’s.

Our house is slowly coming together.  The chaos is beginning to become somewhat organized – although, I am still missing some of those highly important items that I packed somewhere.  We have a cute little three bedroom house with an awesome backyard and plenty of room to stretch and I am so grateful to be here.  Even though it was hard to leave family and friends, it feels good.  Deep in my heart I know this move is right, and that makes it so much easier.

I’ve been reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift:  A Family Celebration of Christmas with the kids every night.  Ann Voskamp crafts a beautiful narrative of the Christmas story, our need for Jesus, and God’s glorious never-ending love.  God has the power to make good things happen from the bad and to calm our lonely hearts.  Ann has some beautiful Christmas affirmations on her website that have helped turn my heart towards the magic of Christmas among the crazy and busy move.  I don’t need to stress or worry or fear about everything being perfect.   Christ doesn’t expect me to climb up a ladder of perfection to reach Him, He comes down among my crazy life, my box infested bedroom, and my surprisingly utensil free kitchen to offer me His peace and His love.

Bethany House sent me a lovely copy of Regina Jennings’ newest book A Most inconvenient Marriage to read right before the loooong drive.  Perfect timing.  The book was amazing and the plot kept me company and occupied for a good stretch of the drive.  Like any of Regina’s books, this book is filled with fantastic, deep characters coupled with a fun/entertaining story line. When nurse Abigal is offered a ranch filled with horses, a home, and a family from a dying civil war solider – she takes it.  As she travels south to find the home, she falls in love with the area and the horses and the family.  When the widow finds herself face to face with her supposed husband that she had buried and left in the North, she has some big decisions to make.  Will she be able to save the family and horses?  Will her “husband” keep her or send her packing?  If her “husband” is alive, who was the man that she buried?  Will she ever find a place to rest and enjoy her version of a happy-ever-after?  I started this book and finished it in the same setting… and then read my favorite parts over and over again for a couple days. Soooo good.

Snow is coming.  The air is chilly and my toes are cold.  I managed to find some hot chocolate, mugs, and my internet was finally installed.  Forget the boxes and the complied messes surrounding my new-to-me house.  Little boys are calling my name with warm blankets and cute little bodies.  I plan to get a lot of hugs and reading done in the next couple of months.  I hope you have a happy holiday season and I am excited to talk with you more here about books and life and anything else that puts a smile on my face.  Until then, stay warm 🙂

Summer Reads

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Austenland by Shannon Hale.  When Jane Hayes is given the opportunity to play out her  Austen-obsessed-I-want-Mr.-Darcy fantasy by a distant recently deceased relative, she is hesitant to accept.  Decked out in empire-waist gowns, etiquette, and flirtations with the gardener – Jane finds something more valuable than love.  She finds the courage to embrace herself.  When a modern day Mr.Darcy comes waltzing into the scene, will he be the “real deal?”

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And To Only Deceive by Tasha Alexandar.  When Emily accepts Phillip’s proposal, it isn’t for love.  When Phillip mysterious dies, Emily feels little grief.  Two years later, she discovers that her husband was a far different man from the person she had believed she had married.  A dark secret uncovered in one of his journals sends Emily on a dangerous spin of events with two mysterious suitors not so far behind.

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Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt is my new favorite book this summer.  Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection? This book is beautiful, inspiring, and very well written.  It reminded me that we can’t control the way in which God heals, blesses, and loves our souls.  The only control we have is in opening our hearts to the gifts as they come our way.

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You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren.  Annalise Decker – potential-mayor’s-wife , mother of three, and PTA member – is not Annalise Decker.  After testifying against a dangerous criminal twenty years ago, Deidre O’Reilly is forced into witness relocation program and instructed to build a new life.  But when her old life comes chasing after her, will she be able to cling to the life and love she has found?

 

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Budha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.  A collection of voices shared by the early Japanese woman in America.  Their voices are inspiring, haunting, and thought provoking.  Otsuka knits together a history that has been forgotten.

 

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The Alchemist, Manuscript Found in Accra, and The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho.  Coehlo writes words that inspire, heal, and calm my soul.  These books are dog-eared, highlighted, and loved.  Read these books.

 

What have you been reading this summer?

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything…

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When a young boy discovers that today dinosaurs come with everything, errands with his mom transform from dull to “best day ever.”  The illustrations are cute and the story is so much fun.  My boys continue to ask me to read it to them over and over and over again – which is awesome because I have fallen in love with the book too.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach is a book you are going to want to pick up and try for yourself.

And then maybe when you are done reading When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, you will need to line up all your own dinosaurs to teach them the rules of the house.  They won’t mind, it will just mean that they are part of the family too.

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**Homeschool Notes:  This book encouraged discussions about family rules – the younger boys modeling the rules to their dinosaurs.  Talked  about what it means to buy a “dozen” of something.  Emphasized the importance of everyone helping around the house.  Creative writing entailed what it would be like to have a pet dinosaur and what rules they would create.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

imagesWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is an incredible story of a a young daughter named Minli and her quest to change her family’s fortune.  Traveling along the Fruitless Mountain, Minli comes in contact with dragons, goldfish, a buffalo boy, and a ruler of great city.

Minli’s quest magnifies the importance of her family. What appeared to be scarce and “not enough” became “plentiful and bountiful” the further she traveled away from her loving parents.  When the heart-breaking decision comes to for Minli to help her family or help a friend, Minli doesn’t have to think for too long.

Rich with imagination, heart, and love – this book is incredible.

And the pictures included in this book are inspiring to the imagination.

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The boys and I enjoyed this book very much and the depth to the stories and fables has left an impact on my heart.  This journeys and adventures within the pages of this book would be an incredible gift to give to a loved one – adults included.

Homeschool Notes:

While reading this book we located various rivers on the globe, studied the phases of the moon with oreos, made our own dragon symmetry art with string, studied Henri Matisse, and made our own goldfish paintings.

The book stimulated a lot of discussions about what it means to “have enough” and the power of gratitude.  In the book, Minli comes in contact with a boy and girl that do not wish to change their fortune.  They are content and grateful with what they have and do not wish for more.  Creative writing assignments were completed with the idea of “what if I had everything I wanted?” and “what if I stopped looking for more?”

And finally, we began the family practice of listing what we are grateful for during dinner every night.

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

I need a bigger library bag.

One with some serious wheels.

I can never tear myself away from the sanctuary of books without thirty (or more) books crammed inside my bag and twenty more stacked against my arms.  As a general rule, my kids come to keep me under control.  I can’t very well chase my kids around while transporting sixty books in my two arms – can I?

I wish I could.

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Beverly Cleary’s book Henry Huggins found it’s way into my bag last week.  And I am so glad that it did.  It was amazing.

Henry’s life transforms from dull to exciting when a strange dog begins begging for his ice cream.  Together they raise a million gupies, ride in a police car, catch 1,300+ worms, and develop a friendship that is true. They learn how to handle arguments with the girls and boys on their street, solve problems, and create a little mischief along the way.

We don’t own this book yet, but I have a feeling that we will soon.

 

 

 

 

Little Pear by Eleanor Francis Lattimore

BA15-lIf you judge a book by it’s cover, you have no time to love it.  I am embarrassed to admit that I almost judged Little Pear by Eleanor Francis Lattimore.  One look at the cover made me believe that my boys wouldn’t like this book.  

News flash – my boys LOVED Little Pear!

And I did too.

Little Pear is a compilation of stories about a five-year-old Chinese boy and his adventures.  He learns the importance of communicating with his family, not wandering off, and problem solving with his friends.

Some children’s books fail to communicate the consequences of lying, running away from home, and stealing.  This isn’t one of the books.  Like the book Ping, this book creatively teaches values and introduces vital conversations between parent and child.

I don’t own this book yet, but it is on my ever-growing-list of books to buy.  I love owning books with values and goodness in my house for little hands and growing minds to explore.