May 2019 Book Review

4 Jun

Now, if you’re wondering by my picture — if I really only read three books in May, no, I read more than that. Double that – plus a few I’m still reading – actually. But, some are part of a series, and one you have to wait a little longer for! You’ll be able to tell that I started and am actually still in, a genre read. It’s been fun pairing light, historical fiction novels with the meatier, slower read of Robert Jordan.

~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.~

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~I don’t know why it took me so long to pull this off of my TBR shelf but it quickly shot up to my historical-fiction-favorites list. It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I’m already ready to read it again, honestly. (I can’t though, I’ve far too large of a TBR pile) I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters – When Sonja Parker receives an inheritance from her grandmother, she buys a popular coffee shop in a small town in Wisconsin’s Door County. She eagerly leaves behind her disappointing city life and settles into the new one of business owner and coffee maker. But she quickly learns that there’s more to owning a business than serving up a good cup of coffee – repairs must be made to the building, and to her heart.  Can she make a go of this new business? And can she find her way back to the God that she’s left behind?

~I received this free in exchange for my honest review and I have to tell you, right now, it’s not a great review. I didn’t connect with Libby at all (her actions/thoughts felt more in line with someone much younger). I made it halfway through the book before giving up on it. And that took at least two weeks to get that far on it. BUT! I’m passing it on to my mom to read and then I intend on giving it another shot. 

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake – Ruth Caldwell has tried hard to live up to the expectations of her mother. But no matter how hard she tries, she always ends up doing or saying just what she shouldn’t. And she unknowingly steps into another scrape when she travels out to the Broken P Ranch. Josh McCain is stunned to learn that Ruth has a legitimate claim to the ranch, the one he was all set to inherit. His future at the ranch suddenly precarious and as ‘accidents’ around this green-eyed beauty turn sinister, Josh has to decide just who he trusts- and loves.

~Hake is now officially one of my favorite authors in her genre. Of course, I’ve read books by her before but this (and the Gooding series below) have cemented her place in the Favorites category. This is a great first book in the series, although it’s a great stand alone novel. I liked Ruth’s inclination to pitch in and help (even if things don’t necessarily go as planned) and how she gets creative to meet her goals. Even though she doesn’t fit in the mold that society has cast her in, she still is herself. The twists this story took were so unexpected that I kept gasping in surprise and shock! I enjoyed getting to know Gavin O’Sullivan and his family as well (he’s a main character in the second book -review next month!). You definitely should read this one if you are in the mood for a make you laugh and cry faith based novel. 

Serendipity (Only in Gooding #5) and That Certain Spark (#4) by Cathy Marie Hake – Apparently I’m reading this series back to front. But I’m okay with that as I’ve read all of them before. You’ll get a series review when I’m done with them. Trust me though, This series is just as much fun as you hope for.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier – click here for a full review of one of my favorite series! I have to add that I showed considerable restraint by only grabbing the first book from the library but when I went back with the intent to get the second one, it wasn’t there! It was probably for the best though, as I am still making my way through Lord of Chaos…

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells- Click here for a separate review!

 

Currently Reading:

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere by Jo Ann Stover

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

and 3 Cathy Marie Hake books I just got from the library =)

As you can see, this has definitely been a month of reading for me! What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Health Update Apr/May 2019

30 May

All I can say is at least I’m getting this up before June starts. My levels, and types, of pain have made getting this post up such a bear. fightinglymemigraines

 

 

Overall Health:  It’s been a roller-coaster ride these past six weeks. That’s really all I can think to say about it. I went from doing pretty well during the days and crashing so-so in the evenings to….rough days and passing out at 8pm because I just can’t stay awake any longer. (only to wake up an hour later and not be able to sleep again til midnight.)

 

Apr 16 started doxycycline                                                                                                              Apr 30- good energy most of the day.  1 mile walk plus housework. Migraine kicked up afternoon,  clonidine calmed.  Started thyroid 9am. Tiny bumps on face in evening, not sure why? 
May 2- decent energy in am,  hit with fatigue around noon.  IV in afternoon.  
May 3- felt pretty well today,  fatigue hit afternoon. Tiny bumps on face again this evening and a tad bit last night. 
May 5- bumps again today, also around collarbone, some itchy. Fatigue early afternoon, napped but then foggy and dehydrated rest of afternoon.  Hungry like crazy in evening,  migraine kicked up a lot.  
Observations: fibropain is less intense.  Migraines are still sharp and increase a lot in evenings.  Clonidine helps,  overall but not always.  Evening hunger is common.  Fatigue is light in am but hits mid afternoon at least.  Needing a nap most days.  Foggy brain after. 
Went off of thyroid on may 11th to see if it was causing the rash on my face. Fatigue hit hard whole of following week, rash still present although not as bad? Fibromyalgia flared the same week.  Started thyroid back up on the 17th.
May 17 – visual  aura and nuclear migraine. 
May 21 Fatigue has eased a little bit since Sunday.  Felt off all day,  fending off another crash this evening

Migraine:  SIGH. The pain has been quite terrible lately, with one full blown visual aura/nuclear migraine this past Friday and three more attempting to blow up.

Sleep:  I’m hitting 6 to 7 hours a night, with at least 2 wakings. Majority of them I need the ice pack on the pillow. Several I’m having night sweats -even with the ice, joy oh joy – and of course, never waken feeling refreshed.

Memory/Brain Fog:  Brain fog has stayed around again. It’s kept my ability to focus on things at a minimum.

 

Vision: I have had four  FIVE visual auras in the past week. That’s about four more than I’ve  been having every few months. I’ve noticed that even in between lately, my eyes aren’t quite right. Looking at black text/white background can be difficult…

TMJ:  I have just realized this has eased. My teeth aren’t hurting as much or often as they used to. It has only popped a few times in the past few weeks. My jaw still regularly hurts but overall, this has definitely improved.

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Fatigue: This is still my biggest current struggle. It can go from just marginally dragging to laying me out and making me fall asleep within half an hour. (this makes for interesting planning of errands…)

Fibromyalgia:  In a way this has decreased slightly. But my left side (top of head down to toes) frequently aches. If I stay away from processed sugar, the fibro stays down –remind me of this next time I’m tempted to cheat and have sugar.

Weight Loss: Non-existent.

Mood: This has been a bit topsy-turvy the last little bit but I’m sure it’s because of the levels of pain I’ve been dealing with. And hormones – hormones out of whack are fun. Eesh.

Digestion:  We’re back to my normal! woohoo!

Like I said in my notes above, I went off the Thyroid for several days to see if the mostly invisible rash that has appeared on my face was connected to it. I’m fairly confident now that it’s not, but the rash is still there (at least it is mostly impossible to see!) and I’m not sure why. I’ve also been trying to tell if the doxycycline has helped any of my symptoms, but really, with how I’ve been feeling, it’s so hard to separate the pain, you know? Even doing this update, it’s still all so foggy to be able to tell. I’ve also only been on the doxy for a month and a half, so I doubt that’s long enough to be able to tell anyway.

I will add about the Thyroid though, that I think the fatigue was going down after I first started it – so I’m hoping that will start happening again soon. I mean, I was taking Abby on a mile walk in the mornings, doing some house cleaning and making yummy dinners. Which, for me, is a pretty full/energy burning day. And now I’m barely getting her to the park, doing maybe 20 min of light cleaning and sort of maybe throwing a semblance of dinner together. Augh. I know this journey of healing is an up and down, switchback type of road but I’m ready to be through this particular rough stretch. Especially since I know that the pain in my left side would disappear if I was able to lose some weight.

~Laura

Book Reviews -April 2019

15 May

I can’t believe I’m finally getting this review up. There were just too many good books to share with you from last month to forgo doing this monthly review. I’ve been making it a point – once again – to read more instead of scrolling on my phone or watching Netflix. These 7 books are the result!

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(I know, I know, there are only 5 pictured here, but my dad is borrowing Sons and Soldiers and Fires of Heaven had to go back to the library… what’s a girl to do?)

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley- When Harry Crewe struggles to settle into the sedate world of the Homelanders, she has no idea that a chance meeting with Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk, will change her life forever.  Check out my full review here 

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke- Ariana’s life is turned upside down when two rough-looking men take her hostage from the one-room schoolhouse she teaches at. With no explanation, they bundle her through the snowy mountain passes to their hideout. Her fear increases when the boss’s son is set to guard her. Will she ever see her adopted parents again? Will she have the chance to wear her mother’s wedding dress?

~I’m sure I squealed in delight when I found this recently at a used bookstore. I’m not sure what happened to my original copy, so I snatched this up quick. I am a big Oke fan and this is one of my favorites of hers. She didn’t write many westerns (in fact, this might be her only one). I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story, some that even though I’ve read it many times over the years (it’s been several years since I’ve read it last though), I was still surprised by them. Ariana’s faith is well-written through her captivity, which is so important to me. I highly recommend this novel for younger readers on up.

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A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~I was given this book (published 1972) last year and finally decided I just had to read it. I’d never read anything by Gaskin before but now I intend to read a few more. It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story. The STORY though. Sigh of happiness. I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

Heart of Wilderness by Janette Oke –  After days of anguished travel, George McMannus arrives to decide what to do with his only grandchild who is suddenly an orphan. He’s not sure just what to do with three year old Kendra Marty, after all, the life of a trapper up in the wilderness isn’t the best place to raise a child. But their hearts connect quickly and George knows that he has to try. He and his granddaughter belong together.

~I hadn’t read this book in years but I fondly remembered it. The fun thing about coming back to books you read as a young teen – early twenties is the different perspective you now have when you read them. Reading of the tragedy that brought young Kendra and ‘Papa Mac’ (as she calls him) together, and better realizing the struggle that he had in caring for her, etc etc through the years. As usual, the faith aspect was well done and both their development was good. I love Oke’s work as it’s a light read but still pulls you into the world and shares nuggets of truth. Highly recommend for teen readers on up.

Sons and Soldiers : The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson – This is the story of the German Jews who escaped Germany in the 1930s, grew up in the U.S., joined the Army and became an elite group called the Ritchie Boys.  They were specially trained in interrogation techniques and used their boyhood knowledge of Germany’s language and customs. In small groups, the Ritchie Boys were sent with each major combat unit in Europe, gathering crucial intelligence and interrogating prisoners.

~I couldn’t get a book more different than the previous ones, could I? This one took me a while to get through, but it was written in a way that you wanted and needed to know how the boys made it through the war – and if they connected with their families again. Because of the content, I’d only recommend this for older readers.

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald, Retold by Dan Larsen – It’s a dreary life in Victorian England but young Diamond is a ray of sunshine for those around him. When he meets the North Wind one night, he goes on an incredible adventure. She takes him over oceans, soaring over cities and even above the clouds. But his life is changed forever when she takes him to the back of the North Wind.

~This was a childhood read that I pulled out of storage after thinking about it for a few months. It was just about as delightful as I remembered, honestly. I enjoyed the lessons that young Diamond learned and the twist at the end! Sigh. I had completely forgotten about it. This is a great book for young readers, actually my edition is from the “Young Readers Christian Library”. 

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan – With the seals holding the Great Lord of the Dark in his prison weakening, Rand al’Thor knows he needs to strike a heavy blow at the enemy. But his plans are weakened when his allies are divided and fighting each other. Even the Aes Sedai are caught in a civil war. How can he defeat the Enemy while dealing with all of this, and struggling to maintain his sanity, his identity against the madness that’s coming?

Once again, I got completely sucked into Jordan’s elaborate world. 900 pages starts to go fast when you just can’t put it down. Watching Rand battle for his own sanity while still trying to strategize and scheme with the best of them; seeing Mat fight the pull of ta’averen, and accidentally display his own struggles to not get pulled into the past; all of the girls’ individual struggles to attain their goals —- ahhhhh. The level of plotting that just one of these novels takes has got to be unbelievable. There was a little more… sensual …context in this book that I could have done without. As usual, this is me we’re talking about. 

 

Currently Reading:

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (yes, I’m reading it again!)

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

 

To Read: 

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

~Laura

Love Comes Softly Series Review

9 May

This is one of those series that is very dear to my heart. I grew up reading this set of books and am currently trying to find/buy the last two books in the matching 2-in-1. Wish me luck. I’ve tried once and they sent me just a copy of book 7… Eesh. Anyway, that’s not why you’re here!

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If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I enjoy Janette Oke’s books for their themes of faith, realistic trials and warm fuzzies that you end up with. I’ll share those posts with you at the end of this review.

I’ll also state very quickly that, 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. Thankfully, as these are Oke novels, there isn’t anything to be worried about in that instance. I started reading this series when I was, oh, about 12? Is that about right, Mom? =)

The series starts out with Marty losing her husband in a terrible accident and having to make the tough decision to marry widower Clark Davis so she has a way to survive the winter. The deal he offered her was, if she’d be a mama to his young daughter, he’d pay her passage back east come spring. But, wonderfully, these two hurting people fall in love and the series follows their growing family and the celebrations and trials they go through. Times weren’t easy for these pioneers, stuck out in the middle of the prairie, far from civilization. Their sincere faith finds them with a secure foundation through all they go through – and trust me, there’s many trials that hit me in the gut as I read them!

You might recognize this from the tv series of the same name (I especially love the first one. I think they portrayed Clark perfectly.), but as with most shows, they changed the story quite a bit! So if that’s put you off of reading them, don’t worry – you don’t truly know the whole series.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I highly recommend this series for younger reader on up. It’s a touching read that will stay with you.

Other books by Janette Oke:

Seasons of the Heart

Roses for Mama

~I have to admit that I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed more of her books! I have such a stack of them that… well, this will just have to be remedied!

If you like Oke’s books, you’ll love:

Series Review – Tucker Mills Trilogy

California Pioneer Series by Elaine Schulte

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The Collection

Do you enjoy novels of the pioneers? I’m thinking more and more that I’d like to write at least one, myself. There’s something about novels set in that time, isn’t there? If you like Janette Oke, be on the lookout for more of her books being reviewed here! Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen on my stories that I’m currently reading two novels that will be reviewed as soon as I finish them! I think you’ll like them, I’m enjoying them so far.

~Laura

~As a side note, I just took back book 8 to the library yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’ve had it for two weeks and never thought to take a series shot until the book was gone. Sigh.~

Writing Prompt- Road’s End

30 Apr

 

I’m sharing a quick writing prompt with you today. I hope you like it.

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Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

It seemed so long ago now. The sounds of gravel under the tires. The music filling the cab of the truck. The sun streaming in, blinding her from the left. She fixed her neon pink sunglasses that covered half her face. She loved those sunglasses. The field to her right stood empty, the house in front of her was one she knew well. This was her favorite retreat from the confines of the city. She reveled in knowing that she’d managed to squirrel enough time off to be there for two whole weeks. No more smog and blaring noises. No more crowds and odors that made her want to gag. Here, in this place, she was free. She adjusted her sunglasses again and sung along with the radio.

She came up to the final bend in the road and turned on her blinker. Just a quick left and then a right into the driveway and she’d be there. Anticipation riding high, she looked both ways. Nothing but emptiness that she could see. Just as she pulled out onto the tar-paved road, a horn blared. The sound of brakes squealing and tires skidding. The sudden jolt of being hit and the subsequent rolling. Over and over the truck spun. She screamed, one long, endless scream until finally the truck stopped.

In that moment, her plans changed. There would be no treks to the creek a few miles away. No evening drives down the back roads. No meandering through the country fair. No dreaming of leaving the city.

There would be no more dreaming at all.

Her sunglasses lay in the middle of the road, bent and broken.

~Laura

Mar/Apr Health Update

19 Apr

Well, this has been waiting for me to finish it for about a week now. My ability to focus has been really quite terrible lately, you guys. It’s a subtle thing though. Since I’m completely in control of my schedule, I can flit around to different things without realizing just how quickly I move on to something new… But, to move on to more exciting news, I’m doing some better! Read on!

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Overall Health:  I would say that while I’ve had some low lows, I’ve done pretty well this past month-odd. Daily, noticeable pain and fatigue but not everyday has been debilitating. I keep seeing more glimpses of ‘me’ in the mirror – you know, when I’m not asleep or laying on an ice pack.

Migraine:  Only one visual aura and nuclear migraine this time around (and that while on vacation of course). I attempted going off clonidine for a few days but that didn’t work as well as I thought it would. I’m still trying to get the edge off the pain.

Sleep:  I’m getting about 8 hours with 2 or 3 wakings in the night. Most nights I am completely exhausted but have to wait til I can get the pain down to a decent level to go to bed. OR I’ve taken such a long nap during the day that I’m just not tired enough at a reasonable hour. Eesh.

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Feeling like half of myself that morning

Memory/Brain Fog:  Brain fog has stayed around, sadly. It’s kept my ability to focus on things at a minimum.

Vision: I only had one visual aura! The beginning of March I did have a strange… quality to my vision at times but that has since gone away.

TMJ:  It pops only occasionally now but still aches so much that my teeth hurt daily. The front of my neck has started hurting again as well. I really need to get in to my bodywork doctor soon.

Fatigue: sadly, this has stayed strong. Naps are pretty frequent, ranging from twenty minutes to three hours. Eesh. Mostly though, if I space my activities out, I do pretty well. I have gotten back on the liver, daily, and it is definitely helping.

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Fibromyalgia:  It’s decreased slightly. My left calf is still tense/self flexing throughout the day and occasional cramping in my feet. Most of the time I can kind of ignore it, although when it settles into my knees like it likes to do, it’s harder to ignore (like right now)

Weight Loss: Oy. I was losing steadily and slowly and now it’s just to the point where I’m hoping I can start working out again so I don’t end up at the weight I was when I first started losing a year ago. Augh. < this is the same as last month! Oy.

Mood: Well, this has evened out again – without the use of Xiao Chai Hu Tang.

Digestion:  Much improved. I’ve even increased the amount of vitamins/supplements I take and my stomach is still doing fine. I’m so relieved.

Since I wrote the above, I’ve been in to see my main doctor. It was a good appointment, and as she’d been studying Lyme again lately, she was excited about what she’d learned. Due to that, she’s had me start doxycycline and I’ve got to get to Costco to get my prescription of  Armor thyroid to start as well. I don’t believe I’ve ever taken an antibiotic before (?) so any advice that you may have, I would love to hear them. At the top of the notes she printed out for me, she wrote “Laura, you are doing great! Things will go perfect.”  Which is more encouraging than the normal version of ‘we can figure this out’ don’t you think?

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a quick selfie while on vacation

*I’ve been on the doxy for a few days, and without knowing if how I’ve been doing is related to that or not… I need to document it. I started it the 15th of april, and took a detox bath that afternoon – and had a terrible reaction to the bath. I was weak and my heart was pounding and as the day continued, my head got worse and the aching increased. And I was SO hungry in the evening. Eesh. The next day I was better but again, crazy hungry in the evening. The morning of the 18th, a terrrible, horrible, no good cramp in my left calf woke me up. I could feel my right calf cramping up as well. It went on forever (I really have no idea in reality…) before it eased.

I plan on looking up the info she was sharing with me and then I’ll pass it along to you!

~Laura

 

 

Book Reviews for March 2019

12 Apr

This has been sitting in my drafts folder for at least two weeks. Yikes! So much for getting it written early and scheduling it for spring break, eh? But, all well, ce la vie.

I hope you find something to add to your To-Read pile! And as always, I want to remind you that: 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.

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Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer- When Will runs away from his Amish community at nineteen, he leaves behind his faith, family, and a pregnant girlfriend. Years later, he returns – with a wife and two sons, and with a very different world view. What he won’t realize for many years is that his new family and life are tainted by sins of the past. And if he ever wants to reconcile with his father, or himself, he must face those head-on.

~I have had this on my shelf for quite a few months (sorry mom) and despite having picked it up several times, I never read it. I’m pleased that I finally did though- it was a different Amish story than I normally read. Part of that was that the main character was a man, and well, just the story itself. I don’t want to spoil anything for you here, but looking back on Levi’s life with him, and seeing the present consequences of it, was heartbreaking and encouraging and just…tinged with sorrow. Cramer really pulls you in with his descriptions of the locations – the Amish countryside, the mobile home the young family lives in, the war, etc. Along with that the characters were well formed – and useful. (I have this thing about useless characters in a novel). All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I don’t know how young of an audience I would recommend for it though as it does deal with some pretty heavy stuff. As always, I suggest you read it yourself before passing it on to someone younger. A book I definitely recommend!

Amish Peace : Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Peace is something that we all strive for – each in our own way. Fisher shares the way that the Amish have found it – by focusing on five different themes of their faith, she shares stories, proverbs and interesting facts about their life. She’s also included questions and thoughts to help you find peace in your own life.

~Thanks to Beverly Lewis (and some other historical fiction authors), I have a mini love for the Amish. While I don’t agree with all of the tenets of their faith, I was still drawn in by this book. Their focus on community, forgiveness and faith is incredible. Fisher shares some great stories to move her point along. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to slow down for a few minutes and think about how they are living their lives.

The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke  – A separate review of this series will be coming – once I finish the last two books! Suffice it to say, right now, that I adore this series.

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Praying Through Lyme Disease by Rebecca Vandemark – A compilation of prayers and verses that focus on topics that Lyme disease patients deal with daily. A daily reminder that you are not alone.

~First off, I received this book free for my honest review. I wasn’t compensated in any way. I have been following Vandemark for years now. (I’ve also reviewed December Caravan) I greatly appreciated these heartfelt prayers and corresponding scriptures touching on so many of the struggles/emotions that I, as someone who struggles with chronic Lyme, deal with on a daily basis. If you know someone, or are yourself, struggling with Lyme, don’t hesitate, get this book! I anticipate going through it again and again. Did I mention that there are pages to take notes for each prayer? Love it. 

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Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery – When his younger brother is stolen from them, Dym Ingleford promises his dying mother that he’ll never stop looking for him. That promise hasn’t been forgotten when, years later, he rather stumbles upon young Max Eckermann, a German prisoner.  Dym is convinced he’s Anthony. But the years of Nazi ideology have not been lost on the young boy, and convincing him that he’s now home, and safe, is quite the task. (first published 1944)

~Another book that I haven’t read in a few years, although now it will probably get moved to the ‘read-yearly’ list. Savery delivers a delightful, heart rending tale set WWII, which she wrote during the war. DURING THE WAR. That, for me, really made this tale come alive.  But the story itself is so good that I had a hard time putting it down. Max’s flight(s) from the White Priory (the family home), the patience of Dym and the danger of the war all join in a wonderful story. A five star book for me! 

Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis – Falling for a picture of a Princess, a young American artist sets out across Europe to meet her. When they are finally close enough to speak, to touch, he stands, propriety-bound and too scared to offend such a creature. He does all he can to meet her properly, but will it be enough? (first published 1895)

~ I hadn’t pulled this off of my classic shelves in so many years, I only vaguely remembered it. It was delightful. It’s a light-hearted story that you just don’t want to end. It was fun to follow Carlton as he traveled across Europe, always one step behind Aline. I highly recommend this classic!

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Dear Theo by Vincent Van Gogh, edited by Irving Stone – Vincent and his brother Theo, kept up regular correspondence for years. This collection of Vincent’s letters shows how close they were; his feelings on everyday life, his family and art. (first published 1914)

~I cannot believe it took me eight months to read this book. While on the other hand, I do. It is a hard one to read in a way because he did lead such a difficult life and you already know how it ends… and in such a tragic way. (spoiler: he commits suicide). But reading in his own letters the descriptions of the places he saw – the way he saw his own art – the way he saw colors – it keeps you reaching for it again. Will I ever read it again? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I read it at least once. 

Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee — as I didn’t finish this book before it had to go back to the library, I’m just going to quickly say that what I did read was interesting and I have plans to one day request it again. What I didn’t like was the talk of evolution (how that has any real bearing on the talk of color and how it affects us, is beyond me – I thought the author could have handled that differently. Overall, what I read (the first 1/4 of it?) was interesting.

 

Currently Reading:

Sons And Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald

Eliza by Patricia Campbell

 

To Read:

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

Love Finds a Home (#8 of Love Comes Softly series) by Janette Oke

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

Coming up in April’s book review: 

Love Takes Wing (book 7 of Love Comes Softly series) by Janette Oke

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke

A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin

~I am going to say that I’ve got a few trilogy’s to read but I’m waiting until I finish at least one of the series that I’m currently in. Anyone else have this problem?! The nice side effect of that is, that I’m reaching for books that I haven’t read in quite a while (that are mainly quick-reads).

~Laura

What have you been reading?

If you missed it, go check out the Michelli Family Series Review. Also, the City of Tranquil Light Book Review  is a must read as well!

 

Michelli Family Series Review

21 Mar

This series by Kristen Heitzmann is by far the most unique christian romance suspense series that I’ve read.

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Secrets-  When Lance Michelli’s grandmother sends him on a quest to her past, he’s not sure what secrets he’ll uncover. He ends up at a Sonoma villa, recently purchased by Rese Barrett, a toughened young woman whose own secrets will sweep him away if he’s not careful. They clash as she works on fixing the place up and he tries to complete his goal for his grandmother. The unexpected attraction that springs up causes even more complication.

Unforgotten – Lance returns to New York, to his grandmother to tell her what he’s learned about that night long ago at the villa. He’s also brought Rese, who’s hiding her own secrets. But when he tells his grandmother, she won’t listen, instead sending him on another quest. This quest, however, hits closer to home, forcing Lance to choose between the two women.

Echoes – Finchè c’è vita c’è speranza” Where there’s life, there’s hope. Sofie Michelli’s world opens up again when she hears these words. Her years of living in despair and loss are at an end and she’s ready to start again. That comes in the form of the old villa that her brother Lance, and Rese, fixed up. What was once intended as an inn, has become a refuge for the hurting and downtrodden. It takes some time for Rese to adjust to the humbled version of Lance, but this new gift of healing of his leaves her with even more questions. Things get even more complicated when Child Protective Services, Matt Hammond, shows up on their doorstep to investigate the infant left unexpectedly in their care.

This series touches on faith, mental illness, physical healing and SO much more. Some of it was outside of my normal ‘read’ so while I still enjoyed each book, I feel like my favorite was the first. That’s not to say that each book didn’t impart some wisdom as the characters learned and grew. I loved reading about Matt’s journey as he gets to know the residents at the Sonoma villa and deals with his own painful past.

While this series might not be a regular read for me, I can see myself coming back to it simply to fall back in love with the characters, appreciate how Heitzmann wove such a stunning plot that keeps you reading until the last page.

I definitely recommend this series but I would suggest pre-reading it before passing it on to a younger reader. As it deals with heavier things, it might be too much for them.

~Laura

*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.

 

February 2019 Book Reviews

13 Mar

This is a short and sweet book review for February, and then in just a few weeks, there will be another (longer) one for March!

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I set myself a crazy goal – to read The Shadow Rising in just a few weeks. As it’s one thousand pages, it was a hefty goal. Thankfully I realized that I’d read the library due date for it wrong, and I actually had almost a week extra. I did it though, I finished it the night before! If it wasn’t such a great story – so engrossing – there’s no way I would have even attempted it. I read SO MUCH. By the time I finish each one of these books though, I am ready to jump right into the next one.

Also, remember, 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.

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Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #2) by Theodora Goss – Mary Jekell and the other four members of the Athena Club are enjoying a break after helping Sherlock Holmes solve the WhiteChapel murders. But then Mary receives a telegram from another monstrous girl and they set off across Europe to rescue her. And to stop the Alchemical Society’s evil experiments once and for all.

~This was a random pick-up at the library, although I didn’t realize that it was the second in a series. While it was vastly different from what I am used to, I overall enjoyed it. The story took many plot twists that I didn’t see coming, keeping me guessing as to who was on the girls’ side and who wasn’t. Goss also did something that I’ve never encountered in a novel – one of the characters was writing the story (their adventures) and occasionally, the others would interrupt her telling of it. At first, I felt like it really just stopped the story without adding anything to it but by the end, I liked the extra insights into who they were. Goss pulled off that clever bit of writing, I think. I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers as there was quite a bit of killing, some insinuations and just overall intensity. 

Maire )Fires of Gleannamara #1) by Linda Windsor – When Maire, queen of Gleannamara, takes Rowan Ap Emrys as hostage -and husband – she doesn’t understand his ways. Or his God. Full review here.

The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan- When Min once again enters the White Tower, she sees disturbing images, portending doom. In Tear, the Dragon Reborn debates his next move. The man with the golden eyes is hunted in Two Rivers. The only one who can stand against the rising of the Shadow is the Dragon Reborn. What he does next has to be something no one expects.

~I’ve already told you about my ‘speed read’ through this hefty book . The way that Jordan continues each character’s story without leaving you feeling like one or more are superfluous is incredible. I think that my favorite storyline and character is Perrin although Min’s is intriguing me as well. I can’t wait to get book 5 from the library! 

Medical Medium’s Liver Rescue by Anthony William – Unbeknown to the majority, having an overloaded liver can cause many health problems. With a practical guide and compassionate insight, William shares just how to save our livers and turn around our health

~I have a confession to make. I didn’t read very much of this at all. I hope to get it from the library again this year and read it through. 

I also realized that I haven’t reviewed the Michelli Family series by Kristen Heitzmann like I said I would! It’s on the calendar for next week now though.

Currently Reading: 

Dear Theo by Vincent Van Gogh

Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

Love’s Unending Legacy (Love Comes Softly #5) by Janette Oke

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

Diamond of the Rockies Series by Kristen Heitzmann

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time series #5) by Robert Jordan

 

In case you missed it, I reviewed the Sisters of Bethelehem Springs Series last month. To check out what I read in March of last year, click here!

~Laura

Health Update Jan/Feb 2019

8 Mar

Well, it’s a little later than I wanted to get it up, but my health update for January and February is finally here.

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Overall Health:  Fatigue and fibromyalgia have been hard this past month odd.  Having motivation to get anything more than the bare minimum done has been hard most weeks.

Jan 22- still bad fatigue but went grocery shopping in am. Brain fog in afternoon/evening. Migraine kicked up in late evening but not severe. Some achy fibropain last night and thru today
Jan 25 – less fatigue the past few days and have been able to take short naps. Migraine kicks up in evening. 
Pre-cycle symptoms: fibro flaring in calves, back pain, weird/bad dream
Jan 30- tired first thing but had decent energy thru out the day. Some minor fibro cramps in calves and hands. Left hip hurting in afternoon and evening. Decent day overall
Jan 31- pretty good today till fatigue hit in afternoon. Nap and clonidine kicked the migraine. Left calf cramping
Feb 2- fatigue and migraine upon getting up. Took 2 clonidine in am and took a 2 hr nap. 
Feb 6 – increased iberogast to 2 drops/day. 
— bad fatigue most of weekend and Monday (11th) and even worse on Tuesday (12th). Severe migraine on Sunday (10th). Wondering if the iberogast is why the fatigue is so bad? Or am I going low on h2plx? 🤯
Feb 13- fatigue wasn’t as bad today. Did minor housework, blogged, read. Only took one nap. A bit of a struggle to keep migraine down all day. Did 1 drop iberogast in am and evening each. Testing to see if it helps. Left hip and calf started hurting in evening
Feb 18- changing times of iberogast seems to be helping fatigue. Even with a busy Friday and Saturday, I was still able to take Abby to the park this morning. Migraine/mood flared afternoon. Calmed by evening. Left calf and Hip hurt in evenings. Took half a melatonin
Feb 19- decent in am, a little more myself. Ran to Costco in am. Hit w/ fatigue after but not awful. Migraine flared to 6/7 in afternoon. Ice and tylenol/Bayer helped. Going to bed with ice pack 💤 left calf tight, migraine in temples
Feb 25- some less fatigue but still strong. Migraine kept down with Tylenol/aspirin. Took one nap. Upset stomach afternoon and then again after dinner. Bloated stomach. Also had the sweats when stomach was worst. Foggy brain. 
Feb 27- pain in eyes, felt like auras were coming. Fatigue. took a nap and woke up exhausted. Migraine off and on all day. Did some housework etc today though so, some improvement. No stomach issues!

Migraine: Frequently, Clonidine (my prescription pain killer) doesn’t work and I take 2 Tylenol/1 Bayer instead and that does the trick. Some days, the migraine refuses to ease but others, it chills out readily. Commonly it’s in my left temple, band around the head or base of skull.

Sleep: Surprisingly, I’ve started getting more like 8 hours of sleep a night. (still with a few wakings each night of course). I’m not taking a nap every day, which, while that’s nice, I think most days I should be and just can’t.

Memory/Brain Fog: brain fog has been a definite struggle still. And of course, some words are still escaping me.

Nutrient IV : so this might be an odd category but I want to keep track of what we do, and how I respond to it. We did a drip bag this time with the full spectrum of B vitamins, A bunch of Vitamin C and whatever else she adds to it =) and a push of glutathione at the end. I’d hoped to notice a huge increase in my energy and decrease in symptoms (like I used to) but I didn’t. I noticed a small change in those things at least.

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Vision: I didn’t have one major visual aura! I have had the feelings of the beginnings of them but have been able to catch them (ice pack, eyes closed in a dark room, protein snack). However, I have had just…aching in my eyes the past few weeks. Dryness as well.

TMJ: I’ve been having more painful popping the last week odd, but before that it was pretty non-existent. My teeth/jaw do hurt every day, pretty badly sometimes.

Fatigue: Once again, this has been such a killer. I have increased my dosage of H2PLX to 3/day and that has already helped. (I just did this a few days ago). While I don’t like the price of H2PLX, the results can’t be denied. I’m trying to get more iron in my diet and contemplating going back on the liver because I’m just so worn out from this. It’s a crushing exhaustion that just wears you down all day.

Fibromyalgia:  Sadly, this hasn’t eased since last month. My left calf is still tense/self flexing throughout the day and my knees/elbows hurt to some degree all day/night. My knees hurt the worst though – some days they get ‘stuck’ and I have to slowly straighten them. Ice is still the current magic treatment.

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Weight Loss: I have gained and lost, gained and lost. It’s not been a priority lately but I’m trying to focus on it again. I’m trying to cut out corn, starch and processed sugar.

Digestion:  Somehow, this has eased to an extent. I still get an upset stomach a few times a week. I still need to talk to my doctor about it (as I ended up having to cancel my last scheduled appointment). I’m wondering if the Resveratrol was one of the main culprits to it freaking out so badly.

Mood: Overall, this has stabilized, and I haven’t even started taking the Xiao Chai Hu Tang. (one of my favorite herb combos you guys, look into it! Check the source though, the levels of arsenic can be high).

I just decided to share with you the vitamins/supplements that I’m currently taking, since I’ve had to really pare down and start over on these.

2 each : Feverfew, Magnesium, St. John’s Wort, Fibronol

1 each: Turmeric, Vitex, Andrographis, Berberine, Butterbur, Bearberry

1 Complete Mineral Complex only 3/week

3 H2PLX/day

2 drops/day Iberogast

I am wanting to start next, B2 and Calcium (and so many more after those). I also need to work on increasing the Iberogast.

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~This has been a hard month, to be completely honest. I feel like I’ve hit a valley and pitched a tent there. With my brain fog, I can’t write. With my knee pain I can’t be up and around as much as I want/need to. With the fatigue, I’m so drained that just getting food and taking care of Abby is all I can do most days.  I am trying to focus on the positives – one of those being that the fatigue has eased slightly the past few days – and look ahead to better days.

~Laura

In case you missed it, I wrote about a time recently that I took Excedrin. I used to take it regularly for my migraines (about 10 years ago now) but no longer! It’s just…. well, go check out the post. I also have a series on Encouragement for Living with Chronic Pain. 

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