November 16, 2019

Review: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

I thoroughly enjoyed this anthology! I haven't read much by Ms. Griep before this and I've never read anything by Charles Dickens, but the synopsis of these short stories intrigued me enough to convince me to try them. And I'm so glad I did! They left me with a desire to try a Dickens novel sometime... (We shall hope! My TBR is quite tall.)

Diving into my thoughts, I have to say that I wasn't all that sure what to expect when I pulled this up on my kindle. Even though I haven't read Dickens, I have watched a few adaptations of his novels, and was curious to see just how Ms. Griep would mesh his tendency towards dark and harsh environments with a sweet love story. I shouldn't have worried because it worked wonderfully. The mysterious and sometimes sort of spooky-ish settings certainly grabbed my attention. Yet it was the unforgettable characters and the way they each fought bravely for their happy ever after that kept me turning pages. Clara and Ben, Mina and William, Bella and Edmund...none of them have it easy, but that doesn't deter them from seeking out the small glimpses of joy and warmth just on the horizon. Even as they struggled, they knew there would be a prize worthy of the battle at the end.

Suffice it to say, I had a lot of fun with these stories. Rather than a hallmark-worthy fairytale, they have some darkness and a little raw emotion at times. There is a depth here that made me decide I want to try more of Ms. Griep's writing. She had a way of making the atmosphere around the characters just as mesmerizing as they themselves. To put it simply, it worked. And I am definitely intrigued for more! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

"My mother--God rest her-- always told me to think of eternity, then live backward from that. Such a view has a way o' whittlin' down our current troubles to a size we can crumple up into a ball and toss aside."


Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

Hello, my lovelies! Long time, no talk, right? My October went a lot differently than I imagined and time for blogging just didn't happen. But here I am! In the frigid cold of VA right now. Brrrr. I was not prepared for winter to arrive quite so soon, so I feel like an ice cube when I go outside. This lady has been used to HOT weather for over a year! So this 30 something degree weather means I am wrapped in all kinds of layers while all around me people are just barely wearing sweatshirts and sweaters. *sigh* My body had a lot of adjusting yet to do! :)

Anyhoo, I finally made it to the library today and though I have a review (or ten! *sigh*) to catch up on, I wanted to write something a little more general and fun. So! Here we are, life currently for me...

Listening to: No current audiobooks, but I have been keeping up with the latest season of the Speaking With Joy podcast. It's been good for my soul.

Reading: Currently I only have two books going and they're both nonfiction. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. (Both are excellent, in case you're wondering. Very challenging and inspiring.) I have read some fun stories recently and have a few on my to-read-next list, but nothing current...

Enjoying: My hot tea in the mornings. I mean, I enjoy hot tea always, but as it's been so cold, drinking something hot has felt extra good. My favorite is Lady Grey, in case you wondered...

Watching: Hallmark Christmas movies, of course! (You knew this already, though, didn't you? ;) I thought Merry and Bright was super cute, the actors had good chemistry (which isn't always true of these movies, I have to admit). There are a number of upcoming ones that I'm excited about, too. So! Yay for Christmas movies! :D

Feeling: Relieved. I've been fighting a cold for much too many days now, but I think I might finally be on the upswing! (I sincerely hope so anyway. Being sick is for the birds.) Perfect timing to head into the holiday season. I mean, I guess technically that season has already begun, but I haven't had a clear head to truly enjoy it yet. Looking forward to enjoying Thanksgiving and Christmas at home this year! Last year the holidays were fun, but very, very, VERY different. Plus I was sick over Christmas day last year (in a hotel room in Cambodia and it was NOT pleasant let me tell you). This year I cannot wait to see all my family together! :)

Dreaming of: The Christmas letter and poem I'd like to send out this year. Hoping to work on that in the next few days and I'm looking forward to seeing my words come together. (Wish me the best? I'm just hoping I can get both written and actually sent out! *fingers crossed*)

So! What's new with you??

October 2, 2019

Review: Something Needs to Change by David Platt

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After reading Radical by this same author several months ago, I knew I'd want to read more of his books. This one did not disappoint! It is not an easy read, however. The situations he faced on the journey he is describing within these pages are fierce and difficult. I admit to crying a few times as I pictured the scenes and the people within them. When faced with so much heartbreak and need, what does one do?

That is the ultimate question which Mr. Platt is forced to reckon with, he plops it down before our eyes and there it sits. Having spent several months in Southeast Asia personally, I recognized the uncertainties and fears, feelings with which I didn't know what to do (and still don't, for that matter). When one looks into the eyes of hurting people, whether that be overseas or here at home in America, how does one respond? More than just the immediate need that you can see, how do you respond to the underlying needs that the person may not even be aware is there? How do you truly love people with the depth of love that Jesus requires? There are no easy answers to any of these questions and I appreciated that Mr. Platt is honest about that. Those answers are going to look different for everyone. But the most important thing is to begin to realize that you can and should do something.

So here's why I recommend you read this book. Mr. Platt describes quite vividly a week long journey he took through the Himalayas and all the people he met and the things he experienced. For those not able to physically visit such a place, this book will place you inside the adventure for a bit. In such a place, you will confront severe and intense need. And you won't be able to look away. (Well. I suppose you could put the book down, but I don't think you'll want to.) This will enable you to question and ponder...and that is what I feel the point of this book is. To make all of us sit up and take notice of our own hearts and our own choices and wonder if we're truly living out the purpose God has for us. Mr. Platt doesn't give us answers to everything, he only seems to want to cause us to be willing to have our perspective changed, to challenge our own status quo. We all need a bit of shaking up now and again, right? :)

This may not be a book for everyone, I can admit that. But for those desiring to see life and culture just a tiny bit differently, I think this is a good place to start.

**I received a complimentary copy via Waterbrook & Multnoma. All opinions are my own.

"It’s easier to stomach poverty as long as you just look at numbers on a page. The poor are easier to ignore if they’re a statistic. But everything changes when you know one of them. Everything changes when you spend time with one and then two days later he’s dead. Not only does he die, but he’s dead because he was poor."

October 1, 2019

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Forty-Nine

Hello, my lovelies! And a shoutout to my awesome #bookbesties and blogging friends. There are a certain few of you who show up in my comment feed around here, even when I don't reciprocate (which is totally not cool of me!) and I am SO extremely grateful for you. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved. (In case you doubted.) THANK YOU. *blows kisses*

And just in case someone else reads my sporadic posts and doesn't comment...I appreciate you too! I hope your September has been life-giving and hope-bringing. Fall is attempting to make itself known around my little hometown, although you wouldn't know it by the heat index... Yet the changing leaves are sweet reminders that cooler weather is coming, so... (Although to be truly honest, I've had a whole year and three months of summer now, so this cooler weather potential is sorta freaking me out. I'm not ready to give up my sandal-wearing yet!!)

Anyhoo! On to reviews...

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott
This is such a humorous and engaging sort of read! I literally giggled my way through many descriptions of happenings in Ms. Philpott's life. As a bookish sort just like her, I loved how she connected stories with her life. Most of all, there was simply a whole lot of head nodding going on while I read. Especially regarding her idea that having a "mid-life crisis" is not a one and done thing. Or a stereotypical "mid-life" sort of thing either. Her uncertainties about her own life and what her purpose is were the bits I understood most. And she writes in such a relatable way. Definitely recommend if you're into quirky and wonderful memoirs.

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Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World by Rebecca K. Reynolds
Oh my goodness, this was so good, people! I have so many paragraphs highlighted, sentences that kept making me pause and reread them at least three more times. There is such depth and honesty here. The truth in these pages will hit your heart and remind it to hope again, even midst darkness. "But even in the dark, I can wait for the voice of Christ saying, “Step here. Step here.” I can know that his leading will come because this is the time that has been given to me. He has already provided strong memories to undergird me. He has provided open skies and deep forests full of running water. He has provided good, long paths to walk, lungs to take in morning air, blood that grows delightfully warm with exertion. I have been given bread, and water, and sleep. I have been given honest friends to remind me of truth I forget."

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Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson
This book is FABULOUS. With brimfuls of booklists and quotes, I don't think you could possibly read it and not immediately want to be a book girl yourself. It's not just the booklists though, it's the joyful way Ms. Clarkson interweaves the wonder of story and how it can change you through every chapter and description. The way it is clearly woven throughout her own life and how she makes you want to be the same. I've always been a book girl, but this little volume arrived in my life at just the exact time I was already thinking how I wanted to expand my reading life. How I wanted to read outside my comfort zone a little more often and search out the truth to be found within pages where I wouldn't have imagined it being. This book spoke so beautifully to that part of my heart and gave courage. Life as a book girl is a wonderful place of being and I loved this honest and joy-filled bit of encouragement.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
I confess to choosing this one because I love the movie so much. Of course, as adaptations are wont to do, the movie is nothing like the book. Which disappointed me. I knew there would probably be a lot of differences, but I wasn't expecting such a vast amount. That's not to say this book doesn't have lovely parts, however. The beginning portions, when Hassan is remembering his life in India, I really liked those bits. There is a slight atmospheric quality to those descriptions. Which continues on into the family's life in France. If the book had stopped there, I think I could've loved it more. Unfortunately, the rest of the story felt more...I don't know. Like something was missing, maybe? The heart of the story, for me, was the Haji family and the assortment of people surrounding them, so once Hassan breaks off from the rest things fell a bit flat for me. I did enjoy picturing the actors as their characters, though. And the audiobook narrator was excellent at varying accents, which considering all the ones needed is perfect for this story!


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