Letting Go and Ice Cream

This morning before I left the house I asked my younger brother to spend about ten minutes working on the (very few) dishes before I got back home. He had a slight meltdown, explaining to me that when you have chores, school, and a host of goals to accomplish then ten minutes takes a really long time to get done.

He had a point.

This morning before heading to work I picked up my friend Sarah and her two little girls to take them to the library because her little girl had been begging to go. Well, somehow all of us adults forgot that the library is closed on Thursdays until Clara, who’s three stood at the doors to the dark building pulling with all of her might to get into one of her favorite buildings.

When I explained to her what was going on she sobbed for several minutes, explaining how much she wanted to go in, why she’d been looking forward to it, and how sad she was.

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And you know what? I could relate. About the library a little bit, but about life? Yes, ever so much.

See, there are times when I plan out my day perfectly. There are mornings when I wake up and everything is going fantastically well, and then one little thing happens and my day suddenly goes from bright and cheery to dark and drab. It’s amazing how fast my outlook on life can change.

Since I wanted to do something special with Clara I got her an ice cream cone then we headed to her house and read books until I had to leave for work. She perked up, was happy again, and brought me all her favorite books for me to read.

But the reaction of someone who’s dream – no matter how short-lived it was – had been crushed stayed with me.

The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. It’s hard to have to let go of an ideal, plan, or dream. It’s hard to switch tracks and let go and move on. It’s hard to acknowledge that what you spent time imagining and working towards is no longer in the realm of possibilities.

And yet, sometimes, there’s something better waiting around the corner. Like ice cream and cuddles and Dr. Seuss books.

Castle on the Rise

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the beautiful cover below? Y’all, let’s go explore some castles in real life! And go to Ireland. And possibly eat some pears.

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: Castle on the Rise
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

When Laine Forrester travels overseas to attend her best friend’s vineyard wedding, she expects to find the bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks, it seems the storybook lives they’d imagined are suddenly ripping apart.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending, Laine agrees to accompany the newlyweds to the groom’s home in Ireland—never expecting she’d be the one drawn in by its wide-open moors, backroads bordering the Irish Sea, and a mysterious castle that dares to keep its secrets hidden.

From the storied streets of Dublin to the shores of the Emerald Isle, Laine is drawn in to the land and its rich history. The castle ruins whisper stories of Issy—a photojournalist battling through the 1916 Easter Rising, and Maeve—the castle’s lady of legend, fighting for survival through the 1798 rebellion that started it all.

Spanning more than two centuries, Castle on the Rise unites the legacy of three women who must risk mending the broken places within for life, love, and the belief that even through the depths of our pain, a masterpiece of a story can emerge.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Kristy Cambron’s books and I have a strange relationship, yet despite that I always find myself wanting to read her latest release and get lost in her lovely writing. The first book in this series, Lost Castle, was one of my favorites Miss Kristy has written, so when an ebook of Castle on the Rise was up for review on NetGalley, I excitedly requested it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Here’s my strange relationship with Miss Kristy’s books: Her writing voice is one of my favorites. It’s nearly lyrical with long, flowing sentences, descriptions that whisk you straight to wherever the book is set, and rich thoughts that pull you into the heart of what’s happening. Yet her plots and delivery of information often leave me confused. Take the Ringmaster’s Wife for instance – I felt like each scene was one of the most beautiful I’d ever read, but when you added them all together the book didn’t seem to flow. And that was kinda how this book was.

First off, I think I would have enjoyed this book better if I was reading a physical copy. I was reading a NetGalley ebook version, and sometimes the formatting’s a tiny bit messed up, so I might have lost some of the story through that. Plus, I do better with keeping track of different time periods in books when I can easily flip back and forth to remember what’s happening. So, do yourself a favor and request this book at the library, listen to it as an audiobook, or buy a physical copy. I’m fairly sure you’ll enjoy it better that way.

Next, the writing was beautiful as always. Every time I pick up one of Miss Kristy’s books I’m a little in awe over how magically she weaves words together. Her sentences have a cadence that I don’t find often in writing, and completely draw me in.

And then comes the plot. Y’all. I was confused. I understand it’s a style, and I understand it’s not my style, so this really isn’t a negative overall, it’s just a negative for me. Miss Kristy has a way of writing where you see what’s happening, but only in a vague way where the focus is on the outcome, not how you got to that outcome. Then five chapters later you realize revisit what happened and realize that what actually happened wasn’t what you thought at all. Logically I know this is a cool way to write and probably is cheered on by many readers, but for me it just leaves me being like What? But why couldn’t I just know this five chapers ago? Which, writing that I’m laughing at myself because that’s the way I view all of life. I like knowing all of the information up front and being able to stand back and view the picture as a whole, so it’s no wonder I enjoy the same in literature.

Also, the time periods and setting… I didn’t realize how little I knew about Irish history until I was reading this book. The wars, uprisings, and ideals being fought for were ones that I only have the vaguest knowledge of, so therefore the details being discussed in the book were leaving me slightly confused. That isn’t a bad thing on the author’s part, it simply means if I would have gone into the book knowing more about the subject I probably would have enjoyed it better.

And then we come to the characters… Sadly, I wasn’t really able to relate to any of them, and since I’m a character-driven reader this was another drawback for me. It wasn’t that the characters were poorly written – because they weren’t. They just weren’t the character’s for me to fall in love with or relate to.

 CONCLUSION

There were a few slight things I didn’t like in the book, but for the most part, the reason it only get’s three stars from me is simply because it wasn’t the right book for me. Still, because of the beautiful writing, I’m glad I read it.

RATING

I’m giving Castle on the Rise 3 out of 5 stars.

((NetGalley was totally amazing to provide this book for review – all thoughts are my own. I mean, obviously.))

The Joy of Monday Mornings

It’s Monday morning and my life feels on-point. I ate stir-fried veggies for breakfast while reading a nonfiction book and sipping coffee with snow falling softly outside and laundry in both the washer and dryer. Now I’m walking on the treadmill while editing pictures for Instagram, blogging, and working on book reviews. And it’s not even mid-morning yet.

It’s Monday morning and I’m accomplishing my to-do list, have the rest of my day planned, and am listening to The Greatest Showman on my headphones as I guzzle water so I can check off my drink a gallon a day goal.

It’s Monday morning and I feel in control of my day, thoughts, feelings, and body. I woke up at the first ring of my alarm (aka epic music that puts me in a great mood), sat up, thought of a list of things I was thankful for, stretched, then folded my blankets. The week in front of me feels full of promise, just right for accomplishing, and rather beautiful.

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It’s Monday morning and today it’s easy to be happy. I’m doing what I want, how I want, and when I want. Sure, there were little bumps here and there (like the coffee not being ready when I hoped, my food burning, and tiredness egging me even though I slept well), but overall it’s been good.

And I’ve discovered that being happy when it’s easy to be happy and when things are going my way is really nothing to high-five about.

It’s when the car doesn’t start, or the kitchen is a wreck, or someone get’s sick, or my plans are suddenly blown apart… That’s when I have to dig down deep and remember that joy is more important than happiness.

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Happy is easy. It’s watching my plans fall into place, my phone light up with likes on my latest Bookstagram post, getting accepted to review a book I’ve been drooling over, being complimented, and checking things off my list.

Joy, on the other hand, can sometimes be hard. It’s digging deep when life gets tough. It’s having my peace and contentment come from who I am in Christ rather than what I excel at as a human. It’s realizing that my priorities are sometimes full of disillusionment and re-wiring how I think is often times necessary.

Happiness and joy are not synonymous. One flows along at the pace of my physical life, going along with my ups and downs and playing the meter of what I plan vs. what I actually end up doing. The other is who I am on a soul level, dancing strong and sure on the even ground, yet continuing as a steady friend even in the swamps and mountains.

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This week, this month, this year, this life I’m choosing joy.

Sure, happiness is fun and often a part of my every-day circumstances and something I look for, but joy is mine despite the circumstances. It’s a choice, a choice that I have the ability to make every day.

And that, my friends, is something that makes me happy. 😉

 

The Case of Windy Lake {Swearing in Children’s Books?}

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 160
Publisher: Second Story Press
Release Date: March 18, 2019
Title: The Case of Windy Lake
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. They are inseparable. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting and adventuring together, the cousins find that each new exploit adds to their reputation.

When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead.

From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Everything about this book blurb interests me, especially a character named Chickadee. I’ve always liked reading about Native Americans, and from what I researched, the First Nations are Canadian Indians. Plus, I’m working on reading more mystery books.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I have very mixed emotions about this book, and the negative emotions are the most important in this case (which is not normal for me with reviews) so I’ll start with that one.

There was swearing in the book. The words weren’t “strong” enough to make me stop reading it (and I am pretty strict about what I read), but they were enough to lower my rating no matter who the book was meant for. But, considering that the book was written for children? I understand that not everyone views minor swearing the way I do, but it was enough that I won’t recommend the book.

And now for the rest of the review: I actually liked the book a fair amount, it was interesting enough that it made me want to keep reading other books in the series to see if they were clean.

Although the mystery didn’t garner my imagination like it probably would have as a kid, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and culture that the story was soaked in. So many books I read are about people from the USA, so to read a book from the perspective of Native Canadians? That was cool.

The clubhouse that the kids had was also super cool and that in itself was enough to make me want to read more from their perspective.

CONCLUSION

I might eventually read more books from the author, although probably not for review since I had to give this one such a low rating.

RATING

I’m giving The Case of Windy Lake 2 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from NetGalley so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Dear Katey, Happy Birthday

Dear Katey,

Last year Valentine’s Day was my favorite ever, and probably one of the most memorable days of my life. Not because of anything traditionally associated with the special day, but because we were waiting for you to make your entrance into the world and your mama had invited me along for the ride.

You arrived just after midnight a year ago today, and your mama shocked me when she said: “Hello, Katey.” Because, ya know, I’d claimed that name long ago. (So, just be prepared, you’ll probably one day have a really good friend with a name similar to yours, because you know, my children and your mama’s children are bound to be great friends.)

The first year of your life was bursting – not only for you but for those around you. You attended more weddings than most infants ever do, went camping (yay for parents who raise their little munchkins right), traversed the globe, and were read to so much that you have no choice but to be a bookworm.

You, my dear, have a smile that lights up the lives of those around you. You grin, smile, give hugs and kisses with great abandon. You walk like a pro, put away your blocks, and find unparalleled merriment in fuzzy blankets. It’s been so much fun watching you grow and your personality emerge. I’m amazed by how much we can already tell about you, and I’m rather delighted that I get to standby and watch as you continue to discover the world.

Katey, you’re special. You’re loved. You’re made in the image of God. And, you have a whole group of people around you cheering you on as you discover this grand adventure called life.

Katey-did, I love you. Happy Birthday.

 

A Lack of Patience

As it turns out patience isn’t my forté.

Dedication, tenacity, and stubbornness are all attributes I can claim – which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes leaves me not knowing when or how to give up when I really should. (Because sometimes saying no or never mind or just let it rest is actually the best course of action.)

When I make a decision I’m an all-in type of person. If I decide I need to make a lifestyle change I don’t want to wait to the beginning of a week or a new year – I just jump in feet first.

If I realize I need to clarify something with someone I can barely think of anything else until that talk has been sufficiently dealt with.

When I set a goal I begin chipping away at it as soon as possible.

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And all these things can be good. They can be tools that help me grow as a person and make the lives around me better.

Yet, at the same time, they can also be detrimental. I don’t always have control of making sure that I can clarify a situation. Sometimes my lack of patience with myself makes it so that I push my body to an unhealthy point. And sometimes those around me need time to process before they’re willing to talk about something that’s bothering both of us.

Recently I’ve been learning patience. I’ve been learning what it means to let go and not have my timeline be followed or observed or even known. I’ve also been learning patience with myself. Sometimes it’s better to say So what about the expectations I had for myself? Rest is what I really need right now and although it isn’t fun, I’m discovering that it can be freeing.

Patience isn’t my forté, but as it turns out, patience, like other skills and attributes is something that can be acquired.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked about a mile while writing this)
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack  
Question of the Day: Are you patient? 

When Bookish Dreams Come True

When I was a kid I had to write a book report each week. In fact, if I didn’t have the book report written and submitted by Friday at midnight then I didn’t get my allowance for that week.

I could pick whatever book I wanted and I one week I decided to read a baby name book and review it – ya know, just to prove I could. Well, apparently I couldn’t actually because it takes a lot longer to read a couple hundredish pages of names and various spellings of names then it does to read an enthralling story. So I had to scramble at the last moment to get a book in by the end of the week.

At that time I would have never guessed that one day authors, publishers, and review sites would be sending me their books for free in exchange for reviews. It’s rather amazing and kinda mind-boggling at times.

Currently, I have six books I either have, have been approved for, or am going to read as an ebook. I feel so honored that people in the publishing industry are entrusting me with their books, and that I then get to gush to y’all about them.

Seriously, it’s so fun to get to tell you about these books before they go live because then y’all get a bit of an inside scoop on what you get to look forward to. As a kid I hardly even knew how publishing worked, and if you would have told me that one day I’d get to work with publishers? Well, there’s a fair chance I would have fainted from excitement.

Out of the six books above, I’ve only read Within These Lines, and y’all have heard me talking about how wonderful it is. I wanted to include it in this list because the author just sent out the early reader copies last week. (I received an ARC copy a few months ago which thrilled me to bits.)

I’ll be talking more about these books as/after I read them, so yay! You can check out the books on Amazon below. Have a great day, y’all!

Castle on the Rise
Within These Lines 
Far Side of the Sea
The Case of Windy Lake 
The Number of Love 
Freedom