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Book Review – Stepping Heavenward

19 Oct

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss is, I feel, a book that every woman should read – no matter their age or where they are in life. It was given to me by some dear friends when I graduated from culinary school and I thoroughly enjoyed  it, and learned from it then. But this time reading it as a wife and sufferer of chronic illness, I feel like I gained so much more from it.

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(side note: I’m currently trying to learn a new image editor… bear with me as I figure it out) 

We watch as Katherine grows from a sixteen year old girl, in the year of 1831, to a woman of God with a husband and children. The trials of life beat against her as she seeks to live her life honoring God.

I marked a few sections that I wanted to share in this review:

“I see now that my first desire has not been to please God but to please myself, for I am restless under His restraining hand and find my prison a very narrow one. I would be willing to bear any other trial if I could only have health and strength for my beloved ones. I pray for patience with bitter tears.”

“The scenes of sorrow through which we have been passing have brought (husband) nearer to me than ever… Besides we have modified each other. (He) is more demonstrative, more attentive to those little things that make the happiness of married life; and I am less childish, less vehement- I wish I could say less selfish, but here I seem to have come to a standstill.”

Trying not to give anything away by taking out the name of her husband!

“Bishop Wilson charges us to bear all things ‘as unto God’ and “with the greatest privacy’. How seldom I have met them save as lions in my way that I would avoid if I could, and how I have tormented my friends by tedious complaints about them! Yet when compared with the great tragedies of suffering I have both witnessed and suffered, how petty they seem!”

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I identified so often with Katherine in the struggles of life and seeking to do the right thing, that I ended the book encouraged in the path. It reminded me that we all grow and change, even if we don’t see that growth. That we are not meant to suffer through life but to thrive and to make our will aligned with His. As I said before, I recommend this book to anyone. Yes it’s written in an older style, as you can see in the sections I shared but how deep and rich a meaning of daily faith is weaved throughout this book.

Also – Elizabeth Elliot even recommended it to “men, who need to better understand the wives they live with, and to any woman who wants to walk with God.” 

~Laura

Have you read this book? what did you think of it? Have you read a book like this, that inspired you? 

Nanowrimo Prep

17 Oct

For those of you who are scratching your head about what in the world nanowrimo is. I’ll explain. It’s National Novel Writing Month, every November. It’s when people – all over the world- commit to writing a novel in one month. The minimum goal is 50k words.

I’ve done this for four years now and as much as I want to work on my second book and get a bunch of it written next month, I’m sticking to my original plan – which is working on my first book. Last year I went through and edited my first draft of the same book. Not wanting to do the exact same thing, I decided I’d write out the new scenes that I know need written. Right now the manuscript is about 70k (? possibly 80k).

So, last week I printed out the entire manuscript!!!! And now I’m reading through it, editing as I go – on the page and the computer – as well as putting tabs where I’m going to add scenes. Hopefully this will make it easy next month to work through, adding bits in! I’m glad I have a few more weeks left because I’m moving pretty slowly through it.

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The other benefit of doing this is that it’s helping me get the timeline of events straight in my head. Plus, it makes it feel more real that I’ve written a book! (cue freak-out session.)

Are you doing nano as well? Are you pantsing or prepping? 

~Laura

Series Review – English Garden by Lori Wick

6 Oct

Ahh, fellow book lovers. If you’ve been following SGL for a while, you know that I love Lori Wick books. This series is probably my favorite of hers. Although, to be completely transparent, I feel that way after every book or series of hers. They all are so delightful that the most currently-read one is my favorite.

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Photo by Ruxandra Mateiu on Unsplash

This series is set in the early 1800s in Collingbourne, England and by the end of the four books you will wish you could live in the delightful small town that Wick creates.

The Proposal – When William Jennings finds three young cousins on his doorstep, he is at a loss as to what to do with them. Needing guidance, he seeks out his sister and her husband. In the process, he meets Marianne.

The Rescue – Weston had planned on a quiet entry into town but instead is forced into marriage within hours of his arrival. Eventually he sees that his new wife, Anne, had no choice in the matter either, but still chose to risk her reputation to protect his good name.

The Visitor – Alexander Tate has come to town to rest- and hopefully regain his eyesight. As a distraction, one of the beautiful Steele sisters comes to read to him. But he never expects to fall in love with her.

The Pursuit – Edward Steele is finally heading home from Africa when his trip is waylaid by fellow passengers in need of assistance. This adventure, from Portugal to England,  eventually leads to meeting the mysterious Nicola Bettencourt.

 

Wick admitted to being a Jane Austen fan and this series is a sort of tribute to her. Which, really, makes it that much better. I love reading books set in this time period. Wick, as usual, filled them with so much good, faith-based lessons that at the end of each one I was contemplating them just as much as I was the story. I will add that the last novel, The Pursuit, is probably my favorite of the four- it deviates from ‘just’ a romance story in a delightful way.

This series would be great for early-teens (it’s when I started reading them!) as they are clean, fun, faith-based and just great stories.

 

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

What are you currently reading? Have you read any of Lori Wick’s novels? What did you think of them? 

(also, I love getting comments from you guys! please share what you’re reading, or what you’re wanting to read!)

~Laura

Monthly Goals Link-up : Oct. 2017

3 Oct

You guys! It’s officially fall! Okay, okay, I know it has been for over a week now but I’m celebrating it now. I woke up with a craving for pumpkin muffins this morning, so that’s going to hopefully happen this week.

I got to go to Bend in September to meet my newest nephew. (have I told you guys this already?) I made it a point to get to see all of my nieces and nephews that are in town this trip. Family was the priority this go-round.

I have done pretty well on my goals this past month, well…On the ones that I knew I’d do. If that makes sense. Anyway, let’s just hop to it, shall we?

 

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Recap of Monthly Goals:

Integrate new scene into ‘Amelia’ – I’ve only worked on this a little bit. But I did finally save it on a flash drive!

Post Regularly – I missed a few (or more?) that I’d intended to write

Lose weight/work toward health – for more info, check out Health Update Aug/Sept 2017

Read more books on Jewish living –  I’m currently reading Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

Write a letter to one person a month  – nope

Try a new recipe – Mostly this month I’ve thrown meals together but I did make 2 from Against All Grains – the Banana Pancakes and Vanilla Granola. I most likely fudged both recipes, making them with things I had on hand, rather than following them exactly. But they both were yummy and I really want to make the granola again. It was the first time I’d made soaked-nut granola, also oat-free and I loved it!

Watch/Read a documentary/biography – I watched part of Gordon Buchanan’s Tribes Animals and Me.

 

Recap of Sept goals:

Finish Adirondack Chair before the rains come – nope and I doubt now that it’ll get any work done on it until spring/summer next year. For now, it’s sitting in my office. Sad.

Work on Disability – I did call a disability lawyer beginning of this month but haven’t heard back from them. I haven’t called them back either though soo….

Scrapbook Laura’s visit – I’m 3/4 of the way done with it!

Deep Clean bedroom – we bought a bed frame finally! Getting that really helped give me the motivation to finish cleaning the room.

Two things I didn’t think I could do, but I did!

~Drove to a friends’ house and back – that equals an hr drive! I was so excited that I was able to do this!

~Drove to Bend and back! – it’s 3 hours one way so I was nervous about it but I did fine!

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Oct goals:

Go to a pumpkin patch

Deep Clean Laundry Room

Call Disability Lawyer again

Buy Cover for the VW Bug

Trim crazy grass bushes in front of yard

Prep for NANOWRIMO

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Linking up with Stay Gold Autumn again!

~Laura

Sept 2017 Book Review

29 Sep

I don’t have a lot to share with you this month since my to-read list is longer than my just-read list! Ha.

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Spindle’s End  by Robin Mckinley – On her name-day, Princess Briar-Rose is cursed by Pernicia to one day prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a never-ending sleep. But Katriona, a young fairy, kidnaps her in order to save her from her fate. She takes the princess to her small village and there, her aunt and her raise Briar-Rose where no one knows her true identity. But Pernicia won’t easily give up the chance to exact revenge for a defeat over four hundred years old.

~I first read this in 2015 and have to say that I enjoyed it even more this second time. The world-detail that bothered me last time didn’t even phase me. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve been reading more fantasy since then or just because..well, I’ve already read it. Perhaps a little of both, eh? Either way, this book has shot to the top ten of my favorite ‘fantasy’ books – right under Mckinley’s Beauty  and Sanderson’s Elantris and Mistborn.

 

The English Garden Series – The Visitor and The Pursuit by Lori Wick – Set in the early 1800s in England, this series has a delightful ‘Austen’ feel that I love.

~Watch for a full – separate -review of this next week!

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie OMartian – Worrying about your marriage isn’t going to do anything, but praying about it can change everything! This book is set up in a prayer-a-day format with stories from real-life and verses that go with the topic. Some of the topics are: his spiritual walk, his health, his roles as father/leader/etc, his emotions.

~ I knew I needed to get back into the habit of praying for my OH (and our marriage) so I pulled this off the shelf again and am glad that I did. I have marked the prayers that I felt were especially relevant for him and us and have plans to go back over them regularly. I reviewed this here a few years ago as well.

Currently Reading:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (how have I not finished this yet? I’ll tell you. my copy was printed in the 1800’s so I won’t read it while: eating, bathing, outside with the puppy playing in the water, etc….)

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

 

On my To-Read Next List:

Beside Still Waters by AnnaLee Conti

Collected Poems of Henry Thoreau

Pillar of Fire – Rev. J. H. Ingraham (printed 1864)

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

Brandon Sanderson books from library

 

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

What have you been reading? 

~Laura

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Boundaries

Character Creation : Aunt Angie

27 Sep

Hello again! Today I’m going to share some more information on another one of my characters from my book – I’m using this Character development sheet  although I will point out that it has changed and several of the new questions/areas aren’t what I want to focus on. So I’m a little bummed. But I pulled off aspects from the original sheet I printed last year (ish) and pulled the two together.

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So here we go!

Today’s character is Angela Barrington – nickname is Angie – American – widow – mid/late 50s – oldest of two girls – sister is Diana Hughes (Amelia’s mother)

~Loves the theatre and opera houses. Loves traveling.

Standing in Society – near the TOP

Eye Color – green

Height – 5 ft 7in

Type of body/build – slim/trim

skin tone – medium/pale

Is she healthy? – no. she has a debilitating disease that is as of yet unnamed (will it ever be?)

Favorite Literature – poets (named in story…)

Mode of Transportation – Carriages (she has several)

Daredevil or cautious – a bit of both – she had to be to end up where she is in Society

Is she the same when she’s alone? – yes. although she worries more when she’s alone

Good Characteristics – good listener, encourager, lighthearted (fun to be around)

Drives and Motivations – live life to the fullest while she can, give her niece a better life/chance to chase her dreams

Introvert or Extrovert – Extrovert

Optimist or Pessimist – optimist

Character Flaws – worries, has a hard time forgiving her sister

Biggest regret – that she didn’t have any children

Minor regrets –  won’t see Amelia wed (?)

Biggest Accomplishments- giving Amelia a new life

Character’s Darkest Secret/ does anyone know? – I can’t come up with a dark secret for her.

 

~Also, picmonkey has recently made it impossible to export photos without signing up and as I don’t want to pay/need that money for other things, does anyone have a suggestion for another free photo editor that I can start using? ~

~Laura

 

 

Book Review – Boundaries

22 Sep

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

“When to Say Yes

When to Say No

To Take Control of Your Life”

 

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Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash

My OH had been suggesting, off and on, that I read this book since we first met. And finally, after some things happened, I decided that I really could benefit from it. It took me a few months to get through – as most books like this do since I tend to read them during breakfast. I feel like I gained so much from this book, as the authors take you step-by-step through why people act the way they do. As well as how to set up boundaries in the different areas of your life – such as family, friends, work and God.  I learned so much in the sections about how we form boundaries in our childhood through what was said and what was not said from those around us.

Here are a few sections that stood out to me :

“Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it… We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. They guard our treasures so that people will not steal them… Sometimes, we have bad on the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to open up our boundaries to let the good in and the bad out. In other words, our fences need gates in them.” Page 31

~~~
Do not try to get to freedom without owning your reactive period and feelings. You do not need to act this out, but you do need to express the feelings. You need to practice and gain assertiveness. You need to get far enough away from abusive people to be able to fence your property against further invasion. And then you need to own the treasures you find in your soul. But do not stay there. Spiritual adulthood has higher goals than “finding yourself” “. Page 96

~~~

“... Because of unexpressed boundaries, the relationships suffered. An important thing to remember about boundaries is that they exist, and they will affect us, whether or not we communicate them... If our boundaries are not communicated and exposed directly, they will be communicated indirectly or through manipulation. The Bible speaks to this issue in many places. Listen to the words of Paul: “therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’ : do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Eph.4:25-26) The biblical mandate is be honest and be in the light.” Page 101

~~~

“Anger tells us that our boundaries have been violated. Much like a nation’s radar defense system, angry feelings serve as an “early warning system”, telling us we are in danger of being injured or controlled.” Page 112

~~~

“The more biblical our boundaries are, the less anger we experience! Individuals with mature boundaries are the least angry people in the world. While those who are just beginning boundary work see their anger increase, this passes as boundaries grow and develop… The old saying ‘don’t get mad. Just get even’ isn’t accurate. It’s far better to say, ‘don’t get mad. Set a limit!” Page 115

~~~

“You can imagine how well not taking ownership over our lives will come across the Lord then: ‘but I had a dysfunctional family.’ ‘But I was lonely.’ ‘But I didn’t have much energy.’ The rationalizing “buts” will have as much impact as excuses of the service in the parable of the talents did. This isn’t to say that we are deeply influenced for better or worse by our backgrounds and our various stressors. We certainly are. But we are ultimately responsible for what we do with our injured, immature souls.” Page 178

~~~

I especially liked the analogy of ‘fences make good neighbors’ – just make sure to ‘have a gate’. Our fences aren’t walls to keep everyone and everything out.

Like I said, these are just a few of the sections that stood out to me as I read this book. I feel like from the day I started reading it, I was recommending it. To my doctor, friends, family etc. This will most likely be a yearly read for me.

I have also read another of their books, Boundaries in Marriage, and it was equally good. I have plans to get it from the library and read it again, since it’s been four years since I read it. (I did a mini-review of it here)

I definitely recommend this book for anyone and everyone! Whether you realize that you need to set better boundaries – with yourself or those around you – or not, I know you’ll learn a lot from it.

~Laura

 

the dreaded to-do list

8 Sep

This is not a topic that is relegated only to those that deal with chronic illness – rather this is something that I believe, touches us all in fits and bursts, throughout our lives. For me, it’s because of my health problems. Before I share with you what this struggle is, I want to point something out.

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I’ve noticed that it’s very difficult to verbalize this struggle with others because the first question one is asked is, “Are you depressed?” I am honestly so frustrated over getting asked that. I feel like they are missing everything I am saying and going right to something that they feel they can then ‘fix’ or whatnot. I’m really not sure why this seems to be the main reaction.

So. Don’t react like that, and I’ll share with you.

I’m overwhelmed and tired of struggling to keep up. Everything that needs doing, or things I want to do, rushes up to me sometimes and I. Just. Can’t.

And I mean that literally. I physically can’t. I mentally can’t.

I’ve noticed that if I get overwhelmed, my brain just shuts down. It retreats so fast that I don’t even realize it’s happening until I’m cocooned.

It hurts to walk so often these days – and if I walk a lot, my fibromyalgia flares in the evenings. I can write or crochet but only for a while or, you guessed it, my fibromyalgia flares. Cleaning the house is not only exhausting but it never stinking ends. (this one I know we all can identify with.)  To be fair, I like a tidy house, comfortable to live in but not messy. I can ignore things for a few days  but then I see it and it gnaws on me.

This list could go on, but as I said before, I know everyone feels this way from time to time – completely overwhelmed with their To-Do List. We all want to throw up our hands and say ‘I give up’ and leave the list – and all the messes – on their own.

So, let’s give ourselves permission to do just that. To leave them alone just long enough to pull back together the tattered edges of ourselves so we can get back to it with motivation. To deny the guilt that rises from taking some time for ourselves and ignoring those five loads of laundry and the entire house that needs vacuuming.  To realize that while the list will always be there, it doesn’t need to rule us.

~Laura

 

Monthly Goals Link-Up: Sept 2017

5 Sep

I can’t quite believe it yet, but we’re into September folks. Which means, for our household, we are only a few weeks away from the High Holy Days and OH starting up classes again at OIT. Bless me, but I’m not ready to have him gone a few nights a week again! He’s done with this degree come the end of winter term though, so I know I will survive! (plus, I’m not the one stuck doing homework all hours of the night.)

It’s staying hot here though, and my OH just stuck his head in the door to tell me that ash is falling. ASH. From the 15 or so forest fires that are burning this state up.

I’m looking forward to cooler weather – before the rains come – when I can step outside without getting hit with heat and humidity. Humidity just sucks any sort of feeling-slightly-human right out of me.

Anyway, August went by quickly, as I knew it would with all the things we had planned. Although, some were cancelled because both dogs have been fighting hot spots for about two months now and they just can’t go out in public when they’ve got open, raw sores. Poor things.

As for my goal list this month, I did pretty well. I’m pleased with what I was able to get done -even if it wasn’t on this list. Like travel 3 hrs to Bend, sit through a fantastic performance of Willy Wonka, then go on to hang out with friends and family the rest of the day without totally and completely crashing like I thought I was going to.

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Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Recap of Monthly Goals:

Integrate new scene into ‘Amelia’ – I’ve only worked on this a little bit.

Post Regularly 

Lose weight/work toward health – for more info, check out Health Update : July/Aug 2017

Read more books on Jewish living –  Neither are Jewish, but I’m reading Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie OMartian.

Write a letter to one person a month  – 

Try a new recipe – I made a recipe from my Eating Clean cookbook – No-Eggplant Garden Herb Ratatouille. It was good but I over-cooked the veggies, resulting in what felt like a stir-fry. I also made 2 recipes  from Against All Grain’s Meals Made Simple, Peruvian Style Chicken and Chicken Verde. Both were good but I think I liked the Peruvian Style best.

Watch/Read a documentary/biography – I watched Bear Family and Me by Gordon Buchanan. (I’m really going to be bummed when I watch all of his shows!)

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In the midst of a serious discussion

Recap of August Goals:

Finish Detox – I mostly did this. I detoxed for 12 days when I was shooting for 14.

Sand Adirondack Chair – Due to my Fibromyalgia, I am not able to do this as often as I would like. I did work on it a few times this month though.

Apply for Disability – GAH. This is the biggest frustration of August. Long story that’s still not finished.

Do Lil Laura’s Scrapbook of their visit – ha. so I had to order the pictures printed twice…. I am currently waiting for them to arrive so I can scrapbook them!

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A smoky view of Mt. Hood

September Goals:

Finish Adirondack Chair before the rains come

Work on Disability

Scrapbook Laura’s visit

Deep Clean bedroom

I’ve just decided that I want to write down at least one thing that I didn’t think I’d be able to do. Even if it’s ‘walk the dogs’ – ‘go grocery shopping’ – ‘make it through doctor appointment’ —etc. I want a visible reminder that, even if it wasn’t on this goals list, I accomplished something I wasn’t sure my body would let me do. (I’ll admit to thinking that finishing the adirondack chair will be this months)

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The indignity of wearing the “Cone of Shame”

Linking up with Stay Gold Autumn again for the link up!

~How was your August? Are you ready to switch gears from summer to school and fall?

~Laura

Book Review – August 2017

1 Sep

I’m so proud of myself for getting this up today, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to! I feel like I should get a gold star. Kidding, just kidding. There’s quite an array of genres this month, so hopefully you find something to add to your to-read list!

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Anathema by Colleen Coble – In the peaceful Amish community in Indiana, Hannah harbors a secret. She has an English beau that she sneaks out to be with. But one night, while she’s gone, her parents are brutally murdered. The entire community is shocked but encourage Hannah to forgive the killer. Instead, she runs away with her English beau, Reese. When circumstances force her to return to the community, can Hannah find forgiveness and a place to call home once again?

~I’ve read many Amish-based novels over the years so when I heard this one was really good but very different, I was kind of skeptical. I mean, how different can you get? Well. Coble did it. This is a tear-your-heart-out story that you are so glad you read. (as opposed to those that leave you dissatisfied and wishing you hadn’t ever heard of it much less read it). There is faith mentioned but it’s not as big a message as many of the Amish books I’ve read. This would get a four out of five stars from me for characters and story line, I enjoyed it that much. I would recommend this to anyone – although you might want to pre-read it before passing it to a young teen as there are some intense scenes.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss- The beloved tale of a Swiss family being shipwrecked on an island and using everything around them in order to survive and thrive for years. From taming wild animals to building a spinning wheel and drawbridges, the Robinson’s ingenuity and tenacity inspire readers of every generation.

~If you’ve been following SGL for a while, you’ll know that I started out listening to this story via Libravox sometime near the beginning of the year. I finally bought a copy so I could finish it. Thank goodness for Powell’s, feeding my book addiction. Anyway, while there was much described that I didn’t understand (names of animals for instance), it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this story. I love the faith displayed as well. A great adventure story for just about any age.

Love Finds You in Sisters Oregon by Melody Carlson – It’s been over 10 years since Hope has been back to her hometown of Sisters, Or. And just as long since she saw her two sisters. But when her grandmother passes away, she can’t avoid them any longer. Her plan is to be there just long enough to attend the funeral and then she’s out of there. But then she finds out that she inherited Nona’s house and little dog. Not to mention a friendship with Nona’s handsome young attorney. In order to keep her inheritance, Hope is going to have to learn how to live among her sisters – who are none too happy about her inheriting everything.

~ The Love Finds You series is a large series and Carlson wrote a few of them – In Pendleton, Or, being one of them. This was a cute story overall – and it was fun knowing the places she was talking about. I  have to admit to being a bit disappointed with it though. The development of the characters seemed rushed at the end. I liked the parallels/comparison of the sisters to the Three Sisters (mountains) but the discord among them honestly got on my nerves. By the end of it, I liked it better than I did halfway through, if that helps! It was cute and it’s a good light, fun read overall though.

The English Garden Series – The Proposal and The Rescue by Lori Wick – Set in the early 1800s in England, this series has a delightful ‘Austen’ feel that I just love.

~I have read the first two and am waiting to read the rest! And then I will share a full series review with you. For now, suffice it to say that I enjoy this series every time I read it. 

I also shared three series reviews with you this month. Check them out if you missed them!

Series Review – Guardians of Childhood

Series Review: Mistborn Trilogy

Series Review: Seasons of the Heart

Currently Reading:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

The Prayer of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

 

Once again, I’m linking up with the Reading Roundup! Click the picture below for some great book reviews!

Reading Roundup
Laura
Blissful Scribbles

Musings through the journey of writing my first novel

AlwaysShawna

CHRONICALLY BLESSED

Me Set Free

If Christ has set us free, why do we keep on picking up those chains

Wordsmith Weekly

Your Inspiration Station

beautyfullmess.com

a life journal