I absolutely adore this book by Katherine Center! I love how it maintains a fun, lighthearted feel but also carries some weight. Though heartbreaking to read about a girl exactly my age hopeful to start her dreams of beginning her career after graduate school and getting engaged to her longterm boyfriend experience such a tragedy, it provides a lot of hope. Margaret demonstrates true strength as she heals not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She reworks her goals and makes even better ones. Maybe she appreciates them more knowing what she had lost and what she had to do to get to the new places. The hospital setting gave a constant for most the story, and it all flowed so well. It kept me glued to the book in eager delight.
I received an advanced reading copy of As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner from BookishFirst in exchange for a review.
I really have enjoyed taking a trip through history by reading this book. Though I can’t imagine what experiencing the Spanish Flu epidemic 100 years ago, much less compounding those great losses with those of the war during the same period, I can relate to the three sisters’ life dilemmas. They go through tough experiences and loss, and they maintain a personal strength as well as a strong connection with their family.
At first glance, I dislike jumping between perspectives, especially when it goes beyond two (this one has four). Yet I find Meissner does a good job making each character clear and interlacing the perspectives to get the story’s full picture. Especially as the book progresses, I enjoy the distinct characters and their various ages.
This book gives a great glimpse into a tough part of history. I feel as though I have lived vicariously through this family and now have a greater understanding of the time and its turmoil as well as its blessings remaining in the ashes, as the girls learn.
New school years have begun, and all of us have a reminder of fresh starts whether students or not. Retail stores offer numerous supplies to get started, ranging from pencils and pens to notebooks and planners. All these tools can give us tangible support to pursue goals. With one in hand, we can use what we have to take action.
As the semester kicks into gear and fall approaches, take time to consider what steps you can take to progress your goals. A new notebook awaits you to fill its pages with notes for planning and reporting. Each detail you choose builds your life. Take the action that helps you progress your purpose.
I read Kasie West’s recent Love, Life, and the List with my best friend and book buddy. The book and the buddy reading served as a good reminder of creating and pursuing goals. Abby generated a list of experiences that would help her gain heart to put into her heart, and she pushed herself to fulfill those and learned about life and love in the process. In turn, I received a gentle nudge to keep growing and satisfying my own goals.
Abby was in high school and therefore at least ten years younger than me, but I found her experiences relatable. Learning how to share problems with your family and understanding they have difficulties too applied to anyone. The concept of participating in new experiences to gain understanding, depth and knowledge applied to any relational or professional goals as well. Most importantly, pursuing goals and having a team of supporters fit as an overarching message.
The story had a fun, lighthearted flow. Abby navigated school, family, friends, a developing hobby and love. The situations provided a balance of a little thought with a lot of fun. I enjoyed the ride and rooted for Abby to reach her goals and to connect closer with her friends and family.
I do not stand where I would like in my life right now. My job does not progress my career path, my city leaves a lot desired, and I hold back on pursuing most my goals due to my own self doubt. Yet I can take small steps to guide me back to my purposeful path.
These days I spend a lot of my free time volunteer tutoring at a couple places in town. Those classroom hours boost my confidence that I do belong in such a setting and that I do in fact help others. It also gives me more experience in my field. Not having a job there at the moment need not stop me from getting that face time with students.
Neither this town nor this state fulfill what I imagine for where I would live long term. However, it has surprisingly offered places that fulfill some of my needs. Not only have I found several classrooms to assist, I have found ministries to aid in my own life. A local church offers free counseling, a service that helps me stay on track healing without putting me further in debt, and that same church has started a support group where I’ll meet other women in similar situations as me for the first time. Hope exists everywhere, and I can heal in this town as I plan and conquer my next step.
I have a long way to go in conquering my own self sabotage and doubt. This involves undoing walls I have put up nearly my whole life to keep others and myself out. Clearly it will take a long time to undo and rebuild. Yet it can happen. I can make the most of my situation, continue lifelong healing and progress as I grow.
My situation right now may not exist as I want or as it should. Yet each opportunity I have can get me there slowly. I must keep my eyes open for those chances and make the most of them. The majority of a situation may not fulfill needs or progress a path, but what we do with the parts within our control can make a difference in steering and following the right path.
listening back now
seems so hard to miss
that deep felt desire
for life more than this
so how did we not
see that darkness filling
what light was left
as hope went spilling
radio plays nonstop
an endless tribute stream
what now seems proof
in that musical scream
let us not forget
the reality of those songs
as hopelessness expresses
it feels it belongs
success matters not
when the mind does miss
a light, a hope, a faith
to make life worth this
I received a copy of The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
This book introduced me to Beverly Lewis as well as Amish fiction, and I’ve enjoyed my first encounter with both. Twenty year old Sallie made a good protagonist to demonstrate a healthy curiosity for the wonders of the world around her. Her situations in the story served as good examples for people exchanging culture and living peacefully together.
Sally’s background differed from mine a lot, ranging from her having ten kids in her family while mine had two to her family living the Plain lifestyle while mine lived a pretty Christian and mainstream one. However, I could relate to her wanting to experience more than what she knew. I too spent my young adult years reading books to learn more about cultures and places. We both also got to reach our dream locations, hers being the beach and mine being London. Then it seemed like those trips led to beginnings of a greater enlightenment of the world and other cultures.
Sally lived with a family for the summer who did not live the Plain lifestyle, and she got to see more modern tools like iPhones, Google and a washing machine. She noticed how the family who hired her didn’t look at her or treat her differently because of her attire but also noticed how they had more material goods at their disposal. Later, she met a nice young man who shared a similar family background but differed. Sallie’s life really flourished in many ways through her experiences as a nanny in a beach area summer home.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I liked learning more about Amish culture, and I appreciated how it showed a positive way to learn about other cultures through genuine interactions with others. Sallie also demonstrated a healthy yearning to learn and experience those cultures and learn about the world and its people.
I recently finished reading Nicholas Sparks’ second newest novel See Me. Though I consider myself a big Sparks fan, I did not enjoy this story nearly as much as his other books. Seeing him write a story with a greater thriller aspect showed a range in his talents, but the story didn’t get as deep as usual.
The characters were in their mid twenties like me, and I wouldn’t have guessed that. Colin attending college classes gives him a younger aspect, but Maria didn’t seem to hold many similarities to me or any of my friends my age. Unlike most of us, she got right into a good career track and in law, a tough field. To top off the two dimensional characters, the suspense had hit and miss elements. The mystery itself for the stalker had its strength and would have fit into the thriller genre as far as I can tell since I don’t read many books in that genre. However, it took multiple paragraphs to get to an assailant sneaking up to Maria. Even I knew the forthcoming action and didn’t feel added suspense waiting those extra descriptive paragraphs just for the actual event.
I still enjoyed the book and still love Sparks. This book just might rank last in all the ones I’ve read. I suppose one has to land there. It shows Sparks can flex his writing muscles in genres outside love stories, and it demonstrated the power of a close knit family (Maria’s) and how people and look out for and comfort each other.
I recently moved south. My dad and I packed up his truck and a trailer and hauled all my precious belongings on the twelve hour drive to my new location. One of the biggest struggles involved getting my head around the fact that I would have to do it all again once or twice more within a year or so; I never liked change, especially big ones. Yet there I was facing multiple changes in jobs and homes.
This transition period included radical changes in my living arrangements. I now live with my dad, with whom I haven’t lived full time in nearly twenty years, and I have 75 percent of my belongings still in the garage. Separating from my book and movie collections, among other staples of my routine, proved difficult. The first week when I stayed at his old house had me living from my suitcase and unpacking my anxiety over the upheaval. Then I moved to the townhouse and got my clothes in the closet how I would at home. My sense of stability improved immediately.
At least a couple times a week, I found myself thinking about an item not in the current arrangement. I racked my brain about which box held the coveted item and even occasionally asked my friend who helped me pack about them. Each time I was able to remind myself that my belongings rested safe in the garage and I would have them out in due time when I got a place of my own again. I had what I needed at the moment.
That truth kept me grounded. I missed having my books and movies surrounding me, and I longed to have my place set up exactly as I wanted; yet I had what I needed. God provided me a spacious home, a comfortable bed (in a cool bedroom) and plenty of healthy food. Earlier today I finally noticed the move had made me realize and accept these truths. I caught myself contemplating the security of my phone (with stuff I still need to back up) and my preferred Ink Joy pens. Yet I stopped any anxious thoughts about them and rested in the assurance that God provided what I needed in the moment and that He would also provide provision for my belongings and my future home and routine. I learned it would continue to be a day to day provision and a day to day trust.
adventure, book, book review, books, characters, foundation, goals, Goodreads, healing, insight, life, loss, Nina George, progress, reading, results, routine, story, strategy, strength, structure, The Little Paris Bookshop, writing
Yesterday I finished reading Nina George’s novel The Little Paris Bookshop, and for the first time I gave fewer than three stars to a book on Goodreads. While the story had some insight into loss and the healing power of books, it had no strength. This came from a lack of structure. I pointed to Jean finding Manon, additionally letting go of his lost love in the process, as the overarching story goal. Yet even he didn’t seem to pursue that objective very strongly. He went on a mostly aimless adventure and made friends along the way. The added characters provided some color, but the lack of transition from scene to scene did not. Those poor people had no foundation upon which to stand.
This reminded me of how I ought to adjust the pursuit of some of my goals. Not having set times and strategies for tasks like job hunting and novel writing made it take even longer to get started, let alone see my desired progress. If I tightened my strategies with definitive times rather than as soon as I can, I could see better results. My high aims for my routine, my writing, my career and my life can stand better on a solid structure. It also would make it easier for others to grasp beneficial ideas and insight from my structure and what’s built into it.