November 24, 2016

Bookish Gratitude

via here and here

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you, my lovelies! I hope you're stuffing your faces full of deliciousness today. I mean, what's a holiday without great food, right? :)

So, I thought I'd share some bookish things that I am very grateful for. I must confess, however, that this idea was not original to me. I imagine other book blogs have written something similar in years prior, for one. And for another, the idea came to me from Waterbrook & Multnoma's facebook page. Y'all may or may not be aware that the awesome Jamie (who I had the privilege of actually meeting in person back in August) (!!!!!) started a new job there this summer. Naturally, that made me much more interested in what was happening in Colorado. :) They've started sharing live videos where they talk about all things bookish, you should check it out if you're on facebook. So this idea came from their most recent video (found here). Thanks for that, ladies!

Things I am grateful for:



Authors (and bloggers! :)

Fellow readers who love books as much as I.

Books that make me laugh.

Books that make me swoon.

Books that make me ponder things.

Books that inspire me.

Books that excite my imagination.

Books that remind me how much I love reading. 


Now, back to your regularly scheduled eating and napping. :)

November 23, 2016

10 Characters I'm Thankful For

I saw this idea over on The Writers Alley yesterday. As I thought more about it, I realized there are so many unforgettable characters who truly inspire me. It's amazing what writers can imagine, isn't it? What characteristics they choose and the personality quirks that make each character unique? And how they can infuse them with beautiful hearts and souls. Even though their fictional! Pretty awesome, if you ask me :)

Certain aspects we definitely connect with better than others, and these particular characters I've chosen stand out in my mind. After reading their stories, they refused to leave my heart. They feel like they're part of me now!

So! Here's my list:

1. Valancy Stirling {The Blue Castle} - because she finds her Brave

2. Charlie Lionheart {The Lady and the Lionheart} - because he understands sacrificial love

3. Emilia Mason {Can't Help Falling} - because she understands and loves all things Narnia

4. Catherine Dougall {The Thorn Keeper} - because she has inner strength

5. Samwise Gamgee {The Lord of the Rings trilogy} - because he's a true friend

6. Anne Elliot {Persuasion} - because she's learned to be strong

7. John Thornton {North and South} - because he stays true to himself and his heart

8. Cori {My Hands Came Away} - because she sees the worst and chooses to do something about it

9. Lucy Pevensie {The Chronicles of Narnia series} - because she believes

10. Samantha Moore {Dear Mr. Knightley} - because she learns she's worth it

Who are some characters you're thankful for?

November 22, 2016

A Period Drama Tag

The lovely Hamlette tagged me with this the other day. It's certainly no secret that I love period dramas, so this is perfect for me! Plus, as y'all well know, I am always happy to gush over my favorites. :)

1. What's your favorite Period Drama movie?

Like 95% of my favorites are miniseries, now that I'm thinking about it. So out of the actual movies that I've seen, I'll go with the Pride and Prejudice, 2005. I have watched just about all of the adaptations of her books that are out there and P&P still remains a fave.

2. What's your favorite Period Drama series?

North and South, of course!!! I have rewatched that miniseries countless times and I have yet to get tired of it. :)

3. Which Period Drama do you dislike the most?

I'm not sure I'd say I dislike it the most, but the first one that comes to mind is Northanger Abbey, 1986. I've tried watching it and have yet to be able to actually finish. There just wasn't anything I liked about it, which made me very wary about reading the book. But! The newer version from 2007 is one of my favorites! So I hope to finish the book soon. (I started it earlier this year, got distracted, and haven't gotten back to it yet.)

4. Anne of Green Gables or Little Dorrit?

Anne of Green Gables, for sure! I love Anne. I love Gilbert. I love Matthew and Marilla. There simply isn't much about the miniseries that I don't love! :)

5. Your favorite Period Drama dresses?

I have to confess I don't remember specific ones very well. But! I do know I love this one on Margaret, during that delightful train station scene. :)

OH! And I like this one on Anne. It's not a dress, it's an outer garment (the name is escaping me), but I admire it every time I watch this movie.

6. Who's your favorite Period Drama character? (Okay, pick at least five)

John Thornton {North and South} - I love his steady devotion to Margaret Hale, even in the face of her rejection. I love how he cares for his family and his workers. His heart is one of the best! (And okay, so it probably has a whole lot to do with Richard Armitage too. ;)

Anne Elliot {Persuasion} - I love so much about her! She's one of those characters who has such tremendous depth, that with each reread, I see a new aspect to her that I never noticed before. As Hamlette so eloquently said, "I prefer to think of her as strong. It takes a lot of inner strength to do something you don't want to do, and Anne does things she dislikes over and over."

Dorcas Lane {Lark Rise to Candleford} - I admit that it took well into the second season for me to really like Dorcas, but by season four she was one of my favorite characters on the show. Her love and care for all those around her is wonderful, and even if she does tend to be a bit of a busybody, it's always with the best of intentions. (And actually, I love all the characters from this show! If you haven't watched it, you really should. :)

Anne Shirley {Anne of Green Gables} - I love her vivid imagination! "Her imagination takes her out of her dismal world and puts her in a glorious and wonderful place. Even though it's only in her mind, the mere fact that she chooses to look at the bright side, when she's known nothing but clouds, is really incredible." Her way of seeing the best in the world, no matter her circumstances, is one of my favorite things about her.

All the "Amazons" {Cranford, & Return to Cranford} - I couldn't pick just one of these ladies! I love their friendships. They may hurt each other and at times not understand each other, but when push comes to shove, they always stay true to each other. No matter what any of them may be going through, their loyalty to one another comes through every single time. Plus they just make me laugh! :D They are each so very different, yet awesome in their own way. I simply can't love one more than another! (Well...except maybe for Miss Matty. I do love her quite a bit! :)

7. If you could join a royal ball, which dress would you wear? (Pick a Period Drama dress)

I had to go searching to try and find one, but I like either of these (from The Importance of Being Earnest).

8. What's your favorite Jane Austen movie?

Oh boy, I don't know if I can pick just one! I love all of them. :) But if I have to narrow it down, I'm going to go with these:

Persuasion ~ 2007 - I couldn't not mention my favorite Austen story! I'd probably say this one over the 1995 version simply because I love Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. :)

Emma ~ 2009 - This is the version that made me love Emma! Specifically the storyline, because I just couldn't seem to like the earlier versions much as I tried to. Let's just say that Jonny Lee Miller's Mr. Knightley convinced me.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ~ 2016 - I know, I know. But I love it! What can I say? I was trying to decide between this and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but since that one technically isn't a movie... For traditional P&P, I'd probably choose the 1995 version over the 2005, but I love both pretty equally for the record! :)

9. Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife?

Call the Midwife! I love the storylines, much better than the dramatics of Downton. (I still love Downton though! Just not as much as Call the Midwife.) The characters are unforgettable, especially the nuns. And Chummy! :) For more of my thoughts on the series, read this post.

10. Sybil Crawley, Jenny Lee, Emma Woodhouse, or Marian of Knighton?

I've not ever "met" Marian, so of the other three, I'll go with Jenny Lee. I loved how she grew and changed over the course of three seasons and her final episode was a nice send off for her.

11. Which couples of a Period Drama do you like the most? (Pick at least four)

John Thornton and Margaret Hale {North and South}

Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot {Persuasion}

Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley {Anne of Green Gables}

Molly Gibson and Roger Hamley {Wives and Daughters}

12. And last, which Period Drama villain do you like the most?

Actually I'm going to mention North and South again, because one thing I love about that story is the fact that there isn't really a villain. I guess you could say that Hannah Thornton, John's mother, kind of is, but she's not truly villainous. The biggest hindrance to the storyline is really the characters themselves. Characters who start out antagonistically, have grown and changed by the end, and some have even become friends with their "enemy" (like John and Nicholas! :).

I'm not quite sure who to tag, so feel free to join in if you like! The more the merrier, especially when it comes to gushing over period dramas. :)

November 18, 2016

30 Days of Books :: Day 13

Oh goodness. I looked at the theme for today and kind of stared at it for a while. To pick just one is so hard! I know I've said that before, yet it's the dilemma of every booklover isn't it? I have so very many favorite writers! But I have to narrow it down, so I'm going to do that. Yep. I will. ;)

{joining Jenni}

Day 13 :: Your favorite writer

In order to choose just one, I'm going to choose one that I've read recently. Katherine Reay for sure! Having just finished her newest a week or so ago, A Portrait of Emily Price, I can confidently say that her books only keep getting better. At only four books published currently, she has consistently written stories that resonate with me! Filled with characters I love (at least by the end of the book I do :), family relationships that draw me in and make me root for them, and simply a love of story (and classics!) that infuses every inch of her writing!

I loved Dear Mr. Knightley, as I knew I probably would considering it's based on Daddy Long Legs, one of my top favorites ever. Then came Lizzy & Jane, and The Bronte Plot. With each subsequent book, her writing has only continued to make me fall in love. Even when a character isn't so likable in the beginning (such as Lucy, in The Bronte Plot), I find myself drawn into their story nonetheless and loving them by the time I reach the final pages! As characters are a big reason for whether I love a book or no, this is obviously important. :)

Clearly yes, Katherine Reay is one of my most favorite writers. I am definitely looking forward to seeing where she takes us with her next book! (If only I didn't have another year to wait though. Where's Doctor Who when you need him?? ;)

November 17, 2016

30 Days of Books :: Day 12

So how is life for you? As busy and crazy as everyone else's? :) It certainly seems to always be something going on, something to anticipate, or something to endure. Life is just that way. My fall has been good, although I am NOT a fan of the time change and this getting dark at 530 to 6ish! I like my sunlight and my warmer weather. But! Thanksgiving is coming and so is Christmas. The holidays are definitely a bright spot, so I can't complain too much. I trust all of you lovely people are doing well. Ready for more bookish fun? I knew you were. ;)

{joining Jenni}

Day 12 :: A book you used to love, but don't anymore

Goodness! This one required a bit of thought. But I finally settled on the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. (I hope Jenni will forgive me!) I read the entire series back in early 2009, in about a weeks time. I was so obsessed with this story! I borrowed the books from a coworker and stayed up WAY too many nights in a row feverishly reading each one. (Have you seen how thick these books are?! They're huge!) Not to mention I believe I also flew back to visit my parents during that time period and the night before my early morning flight, I aimed to sleep at least a little. Alas, these books kept me awake and I got no sleep at all before leaving for the airport. None! I was probably zombie-like by the time I finally finished Breaking Dawn. Then I couldn't stop thinking about the characters for days and days.

So yes. I really liked these books then. But somewhere along the way, I lost interest. I don't know what it is precisely, but the last time (a couple years ago) that I tried reading one of them, I couldn't get into it at all. Also I will admit that there are some things about them that bother me now. Things I didn't see back then. So while I have a bit of nostalgia for the series, they aren't ones that I'd reread anymore. I know there's still a huge fanbase out there for them and I'm glad. Books are written to be enjoyed! So if you love them still, I hope you continue to do so. I'm simply okay with the fact that they are a part of my past and I'll just focus on all the newer, awesome books that I love now!

What book(s) did you used to love that you don't anymore?

November 16, 2016

30 Days of Books :: Day 11

And hello again, lovelies! Look. Look, look! I'm back with another 30 Days post! Amazing, right? ;) I am going to strive hard to get more of these posted, so that there won't be six months or longer in total time from the first post to the last. So! Here I go.

{joining Jenni}

Day 11 :: A book you hated

I admit that I had to go to my Goodreads lists to find this one, because it's been a good while since I read a story that I didn't like at all! Also it's kind of hard to say that I hated any book, although I know there have been books that I haven't enjoyed. I know writers/authors put so much time and effort into their stories, I guess what I'd rather say is that this is a book I didn't like, but someone else may!

Having said all that, Mothership is definitely a book I remember scratching my head and wondering what on earth I was reading. I didn't really like the main character, I definitely thought the romance was ridiculous, and the overall concept, while quite unique and interesting, moved just a tad too fast for my liking. There was no time for me to feel any emotions toward what was going on! Plus the romance. Seriously, I don't think I've read another lead guy who was such a "dumb-as-a-brick" type! So why Elvie liked him, I could never figure out, and I still don't think she "loved" him by the end. It all combined to make this a story that I started skimming pretty much from the beginning. It did hold enough curiosity that I wanted to finish to find out how it was going to end! So there's that, I suppose.

It simply wasn't the book for me. Have you ever had any like that?

November 15, 2016

Review: Intermission by Serena Chase

Oh wow! I knew Ms. Chase could write fantasy, as I've been a huge fan of her Eyes of E'veria series for a few years now. Which means I have been anxious to jump into her first contemporary story, to see whether my love for her writing would continue. It did! Oh yes, it certainly did. I was swept up into this beautifully heart-wrenching story and turned page after page (or touched my kindle screen more like) eagerly, wondering what would happen next. Once I clicked past the final page, I sat back in my chair, just a bit exhausted. The emotional turmoil drew me in and left my feelings spinning in lots of directions! The biggest thing I was feeling though? Was happiness. I loved every minute of this story!

The characters, first and foremost, had me from chapter one. It didn't take long to be fascinated by Faith. She is an intriguing mix of old soul and naive teenage girl. Her love of musicals and musical theater is apparent from the very beginning. It's a connection she shares with Noah and there is an instantaneous bond between them once they figure that out. (I have to say that I loved that, as I am not a musical theater nerd, I still had no trouble understanding all the references. Although I'm sure there were probably some nods here and there that I missed.) Faith and Noah simply understand one another. I loved how they took care of each other, how they talked through things honestly (even the hard things), and how they encouraged each other to hold on. No matter what! Neither is perfect (although Noah comes pretty close! :), but once they realize their mistakes, they are always willing to do whatever is needed to correct them. They really are better together, which is good because the obstacles they have to overcome are pretty huge!

Which leads me to my favorite bits of the story. (You know, aside from all the swoony romance! Because let me just say that Noah surely knows how to steal a girl's heart. ;) I absolutely loved how careful and tender Noah was with Faith and her relationship with her family. His desire to do the right thing, even when it's really, really hard, is pretty exceptional for a nineteen-year-old. He was never secretive about his faith, yet was thoughtful instead of preachy or in-your-face, he simply lived it out. He's a perfect gentleman (most of the time) who realizes that Faith is still young and needs to honor her parents wishes as much as she's able. Watching the two of them walk through this emotional minefield isn't easy at certain moments, yet I really appreciated how they chose to love each other and Faith's parents regardless of anything. They respond to some situations just like the teenagers they are, yet never lose sight of the realities they have to deal with and how best to handle them with grace.

This is not an easy read, by any means, as Faith and Noah have some tremendously difficult things to work through. With touches of several kinds of abuse, the story is not to be taken lightly, yet don't let that deter you! Ms. Chase comfortably balances between the hard and the happy, and keeps a light enough touch that one can always see the hope shining bright. And once you've met Faith and become immersed in her life, I don't think you'll ever regret journeying with her to find her happy ever after! I know I didn't. :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

I almost don't care that this guy is murdering Lin-Manuel Miranda's lyrics. He's emoting those wrong words with such...truth, it's almost as if he's changing them up as he goes, improvising the lyric around his heart.

"It's like you're a favorite old friend that I just met."

This isn't just a song. Not to them. When they talk about grace leading them home, they know the journey's not that far away.

Right on cue, my jaw tightens and my mouth dries, a familiar sensation that generally follows the appearance of those illusory butterflies. But I don't fear this particular incarnation of stage fright. I welcome the feeling now, because I suddenly remember that those butterflies are working on my behalf. They're simply condensing the magic, safeguarding it...until the moment when I step into the lights and they give it back to me.

November 14, 2016

Three Themes from Intermission by Serena Chase {guest post + giveaway!}

Is that not one of the best dedications? I think we all, whether young or old, need to be reminded that sometimes what doesn't make sense, isn't logical or reasonable, and maybe is only a gut feeling of rightness, is actually OKAY. That it matters. That it's not ridiculous to dream big! Yet at the same time, to realize that in the Dreaming Big, failure may happen and that's okay too. It may hurt, but it won't hinder, unless we let it. So pick yourselves up, dust yourself off, and keep dreaming! :)

The ever lovely Serena Chase is here today to chat about her new book Intermission (which is out tomorrow, 11/15). Thank you so much for stopping by, Serena!

About the Book

We are starlight on snow. The reflection of something already beautiful—absorbed, reflected, and remade into something...more.

And this kiss...

This kiss is everything I've needed to say...and longed to hear.

Sixteen-year-old Faith Prescott eagerly awaits the day she will exchange her small Iowa hometown for the bright lights of Broadway, but her success-driven parents want her to pursue a more practical career, labeling "artsy"people—including their daughter—as foolish dreamers worthy of little more than disdain.

When Faith meets nineteen-year-old Noah Spencer she discovers someone who understands her musical theatre dreams...because he shares them.

Faith's mother despises everything about Noah—his age, his upbringing...even his religious beliefs—and she grasps at every opportunity to belittle his plans to study theatre and pursue a stage career. When those criticisms shift further toward hostility, resulting in unjust suspicions and baseless accusations, an increasingly fearful stage is set for Faith at home, where severe restrictions and harsh penalties are put in place to remove Noah from her life.

But Faith has never connected with anyone like she has with Noah, and no matter how tight a stranglehold her mother enforces to keep them apart, Faith will not give him up. Behind the curtain, Faith's love for Noah continues to does her determination to hold on to her dreams—and him—no matter how high the cost.

Intermission is a heart-wrenching contemporary YA romance set against a backdrop of musical theatre and family drama. With coming-of-age themes that honestly explore gray areas of moral dilemmas, this novel traces the path of one talented teen girl as she crosses painful thresholds of first love, faith, and betrayal to take the necessary steps toward adulthood, independence, and the dreams that set her heart on fire.

From the Author

Three Themes from Intermission
by Serena Chase

There are multiple themes woven through my new novel, some subtle, some... not so subtle. Here are three that are fairly clear within the book:

1. It’s important to chase your dreams.
No matter how unrealistic or impractical your dreams and goals might seem to others, no matter how difficult the road appears toward that dream, if it sets your heart on fire... and that ember keeps burning within you... that dream is worth pursuing. Sometimes, the chase toward your original dream could even lead to a new and bigger—or better—dream than what you originally imagined for your life.

2. Material success is overrated.
Success should never be defined by a number on a paycheck. It is something to be realized within a life well lived. Yes, you need to find a way to have food, shelter... the basics of life. But your “job” isn’t the only place you can find the success your heart desires. The best kind of success is the kind that is regularly regenerated within an active, content spirit; one that values wide-eyed wonder above salaries and promotions and other measurable accolades.

3. Real love is worth the fight.
Kissing is great and romantic gestures are awesome, but love—real love—is costly. Beyond the warm and fuzzy feelings, beyond the heart-pounding rushes of attraction, it is a purer, truer form of love, born of intellectual and spiritual connection that makes the fight to keep it worth the cost.

What is a dream you’ve chased... or are chasing?

Is it sometimes difficult to speak that dream aloud due to fear of ridicule?

About the Author

SERENA CHASE is the author of the critically-acclaimed Eyes of E'veria series and a regular contributor to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. A lifelong performer who sometimes speaks in show tunes, Serena lives in Iowa with her husband Dave, teen daughters Delaney and Ellerie, and a 100-pound white Goldendoodle named Albus, who is the biggest star of her Instagram account. Connect with Serena Chase by visiting her website and signing up for her newsletter, "like" her official Facebook page to stay up-to-date on new release news, and enjoy her sometimes poignant, but more often chuckle-inducing random observations of life on Twitter.


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