Friday, March 23, 2018

Green Gables Read-Along | Discussion 2

Woohoo, it's Friday and the start of the weekend! Today's discussion (technically, yesterday's) for the Anne of Green Gables read-along covers chapters 14-26. The main discussion is happening at Kami's blog, Kami's Library Thoughts. You can hop over there to leave a comment! Of course, you're totally welcome to comment here, as well. :)

Here are Kami's great questions and my responses:

1. Anne has a gift for loving nature in all its forms. She even gives it delightful names. Do you find yourself appreciating nature more as you read this?

My Thoughts: I adore the way nature is described in this book! The White Way of Delight, the wooded paths in all their seasons, the way Anne puts flowers in her hat or her new teacher sends the boys up into trees to look for nests... Everything feels so vibrant and gorgeous in how L.M. Montgomery wrote it. I think it does make me appreciate nature more—or at least want to do so!

2. We have finally met Gilbert! What do you think of him? Do you think Anne is justified in hating him so much?

My Thoughts: I think Gilbert's infatuation with Anne is adorable, and I like that he's competitive, but good-natured about it. He's smart, and he seems genuinely contrite when he realizes how angry he's made Anne. I'm hoping to see more of him in the book, though. ;) Right now he's sort of a hovering presence, affecting Anne without her willing to acknowledge him. I don't think Anne's attitude toward him is justified. It may be understandable, knowing how sensitive Anne can be, but her cold shoulder feels unforgiving and over the top.

3. Anne's imagination finally got the better of her in the Haunted Wood. Do you think she learned anything from that experience? Do you think she'll tone down her imagination a bit?

My Thoughts: Based on Anne's reaction after being forced to walk through the Haunted Wood at night and her conversation with the reverend's wife (I believe?), it really does seem like she understands she went too far. But I don't know if her imagination will be toned down...maybe just redirected for now. ;) Although I'm sure as she continues to grow up and have real-world experiences, she'll find (and maybe already is finding) that life is worth experiencing in its own glory.

4. What do you think of Diana and the other schoolgirls? Do you think Anne chose wisely for her bosom friend?

My Thoughts: They're quite a group! :) It's fun to read about their schoolgirl antics and dramas. Diana seems like a very loyal and loving friend, and I think she and Anne suit each other well. I like that Diana appreciates Anne for who she is, while also not being afraid to point out when she thinks Anne is going too far (like the situation with Gilbert, even if Anne doesn't necessarily listen).

5. I've always dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island someday. Do you want to visit there also? What other real-life literature places do you want to visit?

My Thoughts: Definitely! I grew up watching The Road to Avonlea series and the Anne of Green Gables movies with my grandparents and uncle, and visiting Prince Edward Island would be a dream come true, for sure. :) I can't decide if I'd rather visit in the fall or the spring... I bet both would be delightful! As for other real-life literature places...that's a great question! I'm not really sure. Perhaps some places in Europe? (Not very specific, I know!)

* * *

It's so sweet to see Anne finding her place at Green Gables and among her new friends and family. It's also fun to spot the similarities and differences between the book and the movie (starring Megan Follows). I confess I really liked the movie's subtle changes to the scenes with Matthew getting Anne a dress with puffed sleeves. :) If you've seen the movie, are there scenes you like better in the film adaptation versus the book?

Finally, here are some of my favorite quotes from the last section of reading...
  • "It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr Bell's woods, where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond."
  • "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
  • "Ruby Gillis says when she grows up she's going to have ever so many beaux on the string and have them all crazy about her; but I think that would be too exciting. I'd rather have just one in his right mind."
  • "'When I am grown up,' said Anne decidedly, 'I'm always going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, and I'll never laugh when they use big words.'"
  • "There was a magnificent sunset, and the snowy hills and deep blue water of the St Lawrence Gulf seemed to rim in the splendour like a huge bowl of pearl and sapphire brimmed with wine and fire."
  • "I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a Christian if I could be one like her."
  • "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
  • "'The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're thinking too much about yourself. You should just think of Mrs Allan and what would be nicest and most agreeable for her,' said Marilla, hitting for once in her life on a very sound and pithy piece of advice. Anne instantly realized this."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rediscover Aladdin's Epic Journey | Review of The Orphan's Wish {Coming Summer 2018!}

About the Book (from Thomas Nelson)

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes an inspired retelling of the beloved folk tale of Aladdin.

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break. 

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save Kirstyn from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known fairy tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

Available June 26, 2018!

My Rating


My Review

As always, Melanie Dickerson is creative in her twists and new takes on fairy tales and history! The Orphan's Wish gives new life to characters like Aladdin and Abu, while adding in the beloved royal family from previous Hagenheim books (although Kirstyn's older siblings don't play much of a part, as the main focus is on Kirstyn herself).

One of the things I appreciated most about this story was Aladdin's struggle with appearing "perfect" to others. His desire manifests itself in different ways that redirect the plot and help to open Aladdin's eyes. He is an admirable but realistically imperfect character, and a lot of the faith elements that resonated with me came from his part or lines in the story.

As for Kirstyn, she endures much in the first half of the book, but the drama doesn't end there. Although, I confess the second half felt a little less engaging to me as previous threats faded to the background and new troubles arose. A thread of tension remains, but I would say what appealed to me about the plot in the second half of the book was the cleverness of the retelling and Aladdin's growth rather than the uncertainty of what would happen next.

In this tale, there's a big emphasis on friendship, which is sweet, especially when Aladdin and Kirstyn are children. But their relationship has a bit of "modern" suspense that might detract from the historical elements.

The Orphan's Wish hasn't usurped the position of "favorite" among Melanie Dickerson's books for me (I believe The Beautiful Pretender still holds that claim), but it does find its place in this fairy-tale series as another enjoyable story with its own unique message and characters.

*With thanks to Thomas Nelson through NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

My Reviews of Other Melanie Dickerson Books...

The Healer's Apprentice | The Merchant's Daughter | The Fairest Beauty | The Princess Spy | The Golden Braid | The Silent SongbirdThe Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | The Beautiful Pretender {I think it's my favorite so far!} | A Spy's Devotion

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Heartfelt Story of Resilience | Review of Amongst the Roses

About the Book

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg, and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

Available April 12, 2018!

My Rating


My Review

One thing I appreciate the most about Meghan's books (even if it can also be a frustration!) is the authenticity of her characters. They have flaws. They have selfish tendencies and often struggle with their circumstances or the people closest to them. And yet, while it's not always fun to read their thoughts or see how they react, it also makes them human and their stories more tangible.

Amongst the Roses is not a happy-go-lucky story, but it is a heartfelt one. Vivid descriptions highlight dramatic moments and the uncertainties of a war that hit home.

I confess the book felt rather long. While tension grips the story, not every scene seems noticeably unique or memorable. The drawn-out waiting periods and continued emotional trauma definitely feel real and true to the era, but they don't always make for exciting reading... However, like I previously noted, the characters and their bumpy roads to growth are authentic, and perhaps fans of Civil War fiction (more than historical romance) will appreciate this style. :)

Regarding the premise, I will say that I didn't completely understand certain characters' motives. I don't know why so many men in one family decided to focus on the path of one adult son while neglecting the well-being of the wife and other children. But however the characters got to where they are, it leads to an emotionally layered journey.

On the romance side, it's sweet and subtle. A lot of it is indirectly expressed through thoughts and reactions to letters, as well as the growing connection those letters provide. The next installment in the series (as this is the start of a series and not a complete story in itself) seems likely to bring more drama and possibly a different sort of romance.

Amongst the Roses is a story of resilience and the beginning of an epic series of redemption. With flawed yet endearing characters, the pain and suffering of war are explored with honesty, heart, and hope yearning to bloom.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-ARC of the book. I was not required to post a positive review, and these opinions are my own.*

My reviews of other books by Meghan M. Gorecki...
God's Will | Wrapped in Red

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Green Gables Read-Along | Discussion 1

Hope you all are having a delightful Sunday! Today's discussion for the Anne of Green Gables read-along covers chapters 1-13. The main discussion is happening at Suey's blog, It's All About Books... You can hop over there to leave a comment or learn about the upcoming Twitter chat! Of course, you're totally welcome to comment here, as well. :)

Suey noted that the following questions came from various websites:

1. In chapter 2, when Matthew is driving Anne back to Green Gables, she asks him: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive.” Given her tragic childhood, how do you think Anne is able to maintain such a positive attitude?

My Thoughts: It is pretty incredible to see how positive Anne tends to be despite everything she's endured! But then, she seems to be the kind of person who feels everything in extremes, from the joyful moments to the "depths of despair." I definitely think her big imagination and eager mind help her find a positive side to her difficult circumstances.

2. Anne is insistent on renaming places and inanimate things. Why do you think she does this?

My Thoughts: I think Anne has a deep need for friends and a sense of belonging. As Anne says in chapter 5, "I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people." When she names place and objects, she gives them personality and endears them more to herself. But I'm glad Anne now has a chance to make more friends and feel at home. :)

3. Marilla gives several reasons for finally deciding to keep Anne. What reason do you think most changed her mind?

My Thoughts: I guess it was probably Marilla's conscience that really swayed her. She had gotten to know Anne a bit, and it bothered her to think of leaving her with someone who would be unkind to her and mistreat her. But Matthew's love for Anne and Marilla's own growing fondness for her certainly played a part...perhaps the greater part? But it seems like she was fairly determined to send Anne back until she knew what Anne's lot would be if she left Green Gables.

4. If Anne grew up today, would she have been happier with how she looked? What would she have pined for, looks- and fashion-wise? What is our society's equivalent of plumpness, dark hair, and puffed sleeves?

My Thoughts: I think Anne still would find ways to compare herself and come up lacking. It's something we all can struggle with! If her story were contemporary, she might long for a more graceful figure, tame but attractively wavy hair, and the latest jeans or most stylish tops or accessories.

5. How would Anne have turned out if Marilla had let Mrs. Blewett take her? Would that life have crushed Anne's imaginative spirit, or would she have changed in a different way?

My Thoughts: I'm sure Anne would have found ways to hold on to hope, as she had in the other places she'd lived. She would have invented friends and found opportunities to daydream and imagine a different life for herself. But she might not have blossomed and flourished the way she does at Green Gables; she might have spent an unhealthy amount of time in her imaginings and never known real love and family.

* * *

I'm really enjoying rereading this sweet story (I'm sure I've read it at least once!) and immersing myself in the beauty of Green Gables/PEI, along with the quirky but lovable ways of Anne Shirley and her new family and friends. Here are some of my favorite quotes so far...
  • "Not even a brook could run past Mrs Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum."
  • "Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive."
  • "Listen to the trees talking in their sleep.... What nice dreams they must have!"
  • "What good would she be to us?" "We might be some good to her."
  • "It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will."
  • "Down at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn rocks or little sandy coves inlaid with pebbles as with ocean jewels."
  • "It gives you a lovely, comfortable feeling to apologize and be forgiven, doesn't it?"
  • "Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them."

Don't forget to stop by Suey's blog for information about the upcoming Twitter chat! And please do share your thoughts about these topics or your favorite lines from the first 13 chapters of Anne of Green Gables. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes

I love to discover poignant, beautifully worded quotes. You can see a collection of some of my favorites on Goodreads. I'd hesitate to say the following list covers my all-time favorites...I'm sure there are many others I could add! But here are some I pulled from my Goodreads list because they're simply wonderful and meaningful.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

“I never said I was good,” he told her, taking the pen. “Just that I liked doing it.” 
“That’s the best kind of good.”

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

“He’d learned long ago that a life lived without risks pretty much wasn’t worth living. Life rewarded courage, even when that first step was taken neck-deep in fear.”

“Her soul was a country he longed to explore and know as well as he did every stone that pocked that creek path.”

A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler

“I spoke to God. God heard me. Sometimes that is all I need to know.”

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

“Sometimes we have to find the courage to take off our shoes and feel it all. Even the bad stuff.”

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

“I had been waiting, all my life, for someone undeceived to love me.”

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

“I think thats one of the best feelings in the world, when you know your name is safe in another persons mouth. When you know theyll never shout it out like a cuss word, but say it or whisper it like a once-upon-a-time.”

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

“As much as I love it here, Im beginning to think you can do Gods work anywhere. All you have to do is look for someone whos hurting and see if you can ease the pain.”

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

“It isnt the great big pleasures that count the most; its making a great deal out of the little ones—Ive discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.”

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

“This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.”

* * *

What are some of your favorite lines from novels?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bittersweet, But Full of Hope | Review of A Love Undone

About the Book (from Waterbrook Multnomah)

A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone. 
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams. 
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine-year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him—that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

Available Now

My Rating


My Review

Cindy Woodsmall writes about difficult circumstances and true-to-life characters with skill and grace. There are three main characters in A Love Undone, in addition to the (mostly) sweet, complex cast surrounding them: Jolene, Andy, and Ray (Jolene's brother). These three have all been affected and changed by deep pain and tragedy, and more hardship threatens in the things unsaid or misunderstood.

Since Andy's history is clear from the book's description, I hope it won't be giving much away to compare the unfolding drama to Jane Eyre (as I'm sure others have noted!). While A Love Undone is a much brighter story, there's definitely a tension in the spark and passion that shouldn't be pursued. It makes this book a sad and difficult read in one sense, and yet...

There is hope in the love of family, the kindness of friends, the effort of good work, the beauty of life, and a faith that lasts through winter's lack. The journey starts out long as Jolene faces great loss, then "speeds up" in the short summer she meets Andy, and finally draws out long again in the wonder-what-they'll-decide conclusion.

This is an Amish novel of secrets, forbidden love, and hope that blossoms even in heartbreak. When the meaning behind the title becomes clear farther along, it casts the whole story in a bittersweet light...but still, there is hope. A Love Undone takes its characters through impossible circumstances, but leaves them stronger and keeps the reader engaged.

*With thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah through Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of the book.*

Friday, February 23, 2018

Soft Kisses and Birdsong | Pre-order + Giveaway Announcement

Happy Friday, friends!

Back in November I featured author Lynnette Bonner and her new historical romance novel, On Eagles' Wings. Today I get to share with you about her new contemporary romance series, including an upcoming giveaway in celebration of book 2, Soft Kisses and Birdsong! Read on to learn more...

* * *

About the Book

Years ago, he walked away from the only woman he had ever loved because he feared she wouldn’t want a man who’d failed. 

She numbly tried to move on with her life. And is finally beginning to feel she can face the future. 

Zaire Breckenridge can’t believe it when her lout of an ex-husband walks back into her life, claiming he’s a changed man. Worse than his invading the sanctuary of her town—the town they both grew up in together—is the fact that he’s invading the peace she finds at church. There really ought to be a rule. The heartbreaker should never be allowed to move back to town.

Landon Breckenridge knows that he’s made a mess of his life. But he also knows that finally surrendering everything to Jesus was the best decision he ever made. He aims to be a better person, and certainly a better witness to his friends and those who watch his rock climbing show on TV. Now if only he can convince the woman he loves to take him back. But if she won’t? Will Jesus be enough?

Sometimes the river of life cascades into a torrent of white-water. And sometimes it levels out on the other side, flowing smooth and slow, like soft kisses…and birdsong.

Releases March 6, 2018

Giveaway Announcement!

If you pre-order, when you receive your copy of the book on release day, the book will contain a special link where you can go and enter to win one of the prizes mentioned below. There is no purchase necessary to enter for these prizes, however. On release day you can go to this page (on Lynnette's website), and the link to enter the giveaway will be posted there. But buying the book on pre-order will give you a reminder to enter when you receive the book and open it, and it will support Lynnette. :) Void where prohibited.

3 winners, 3 prizes

Prize #1: $50 Gift Card

Prize #2: Kindle Fire, 8GB

Prize #3: Custom Necklace
(a one-of-a-kind creation made by the author, specifically with Riversong in mind)

You can secure your reminder to enter the giveaway by pre-ordering a copy of Soft Kisses and Birdsong today! The book releases in less than two weeks.


Want to read book 1? Angel Kisses and Riversong is available to purchase now!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Will You Join Me in the Anne of Green Gables Read-Along?

Some Twitter friends are participating in an Anne of Green Gables read-along next month (waving to Jenni and Kara ♥), and I think I'd like to join the fun! I'm fairly certain I read most of the Anne series when I was much younger... But I'm pretty sure it's been ages since I've read any of the books, and I have this absolutely gorgeous copy of the first book that I'd love to dive into!

I know I'm not the only one who has fallen in love with this cover/edition. :) Raise your hand if you own this copy too!

I'm also a huge fan of the Anne of Green Gables movies with Megan Follows (particularly the first two; the third is just so intense and bittersweet!). The read-along hosts are doing a watch-along/movie party after the read-along, if you're also a fan and that interests you!

Reading Schedule
  • Chapters 1-13: March 1-11
  • Chapters 14-26: March 12-22
  • Chapters 27-38: March 23-31
Discussion Schedule
To learn more about the read-along/movie party and to sign up, click HERE.

Whether you're new to Anne or wanting to re-read this first book for the thousandth time, it would be so great to have you join us! Let me know in the comments if you're signing up too. :) 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Romance Review Opportunity: Sweet Briar Rose by Lena Goldfinch

Good morning, friends! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start. I wanted to let you know about a new book from a dear friend and client, Lena Goldfinch, which is releasing in a couple of weeks. :)

We're looking for some bloggers who would be willing to review Sweet Briar Rose on their blog,, and Goodreads during the first full week of March. If you think you might be interested, keep reading for more info about the book and how to get in touch with me! And if you find yourself intrigued but can't commit to reviewing just now, please do pre-order this sweet romance, perfect for the lingering winter days...

Experience a Mail-Order Bride Story with a 
Fairy-Tale Romance

About the Book

Colorado 1880

Once upon a time, Rose was a barefoot dreamer, carving whimsical creatures from the driftwood she found on the beach. However, after the death of her father, Rose finds herself cut adrift. So she decides to answer an advertisement to become the bride of a blacksmith in Sweet Briar, Colorado, bravely leaving behind the coast of Maine and her beloved sandy beaches.

Living in the shadow of the Rockies, Emmett Southerland is a bit of a hopeless romantic—and always has been. He’s been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the dark-haired beauty in the photograph he keeps over his heart. However, once Rose arrives, he finds himself snowed in with her during the worst storm Colorado has seen in twenty-five years.

This sweet mail-order bride romance very loosely reimagines the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, complete with a satisfying happily-ever-after. Sweet Briar Rose is a short novel of approximately 42,000 words.

Releases March 2018 from Indigo Road Publishing

About the Author

LENA GOLDFINCH is the Amazon-bestselling author of sweet historical western romance, inspirational romance, and books for teens. She's always been a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it's a novel or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests.

Note to Potential Reviewers

Sweet Briar Rose is a short, clean romance novel, a bit on the sensual side. Readers who prefer light-to-no romance or only Christian fiction might want to skip this opportunity. However, for those who enjoy historical romance with a snowy setting, warm moments, and a light fairy-tale theme, don’t miss Lena’s latest!

Want to Read the Book Now?

If you're willing to share your honest thoughts on your blog,, and Goodreads between March 3rd and the 10th, I can send you a free Kindle (.mobi) e-ARC from the author! If you'd like to review the book or if you have any questions, send me an email:

To learn more about my services as a freelance book editor and marketer, please visit

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten (or Four) Tuesday: Reread-worthy Romances

Today's topic is a "Love Freebie" for Valentine's week, so I thought I'd feature a few of the romances I adore. I guess I'm actually partially borrowing a topic from later this month ("Books I Could Reread Forever"), but hopefully that's all right!

These romances aren't for everyone—a lot depends on personal preference. But these are ones that swept me away, and I found them worth enjoying more than once. :)

The Redemption by MaryLu Tyndall

This whole series is so engaging, especially for Pirates of the Caribbean fans! It's also lovely that Edmund and Charlisse's story continues through more than one book. Danger and love on the high seas? Check and check!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This fantasy novel is fascinating, as is the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex. It's a crazy journey, but layered with so much meaning and hope and passion amid the darkness. (That darker and somewhat strange/creepy nature of the book does make me hesitant to recommend this to everyone.)

Recalled by Cambria Hebert

This is another book I'm hesitant to recommend to everyone, given the premise of the boy on a mission to assassinate the girl (basically the same as Cruel Beauty, but reversed). Yet, the tension and Dex's path to falling in love are enthralling. It's funny how a book that has such a dark plot can be so sweet and touching. (As a side note, while I don't think it's the best idea to go too deep in analyzing the book's theology, there are some really powerful points and scenes in this story!)

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

This has got to be one of the sweetest stories ever! An epistolary novel about a girl spreading her wings...and finding love. A classic I can recommend to pretty much anyone. :) It's so cute and comforting and meaningful!

I'd love to know...
What are your favorite romance books?
The ones that make you smile or cry or melt?

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Sweet Start | Review of The Mayflower Bride

About the Book (from Barbour Publishing)

Can a religious separatist and an opportunistic spy make it in the New World?

Mary Elizabeth Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary Elizabeth survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

Available Now

My Rating


My Review

The Mayflower Bride is a light read with moments and lines of greater depth. Unfortunately, the majority of my thoughts are more critical in nature, but that isn't to say this story isn't enjoyable or meaningful!

I appreciated the generous nature of the main characters. Mary Elizabeth spends much of the book caring for those who are sick; William often uses his carpentry skills or strength to help on board the ship or preparing the colony; and even Mary Elizabeth's little brother, David, desires to assist others wherever he can, although he's sadly forced to grow up early as a result of the journey.

While the story doesn't dive deep into matters of faith, there are some scenes and lines that are impactful and inspiring. With all the loss these characters experience, it's powerful when they choose to trust and praise God.

I suppose what makes this book feel a little "off" in tone is the fact that there is so much hardship, and yet, while characters do mourn, emotions are not expressed in a way that makes the reader experience the pain alongside them. Some scenes feel immature or underdeveloped, especially the focus on "love at first sight" and lighthearted romance that seems out of character with the setting and time period.

One part of the plot (the sea voyage itself, and the effort to make a home in the New World) held my interest and helped me be invested in the story. But another part of the plot that is supposed to create and maintain tension throughout the book falls flat. There's danger on the journey, but it's hard to sense much threat from the "villain," even at the end.

The Mayflower Bride is a sweet beginning to the "Daughters of the Mayflower" series, but it lacks a certain amount of depth. Still, fans of Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher and those who like gentle historical romance should enjoy this, and the series (spanning American history, with some wonderful contributing authors) promises to be one to watch.

*With thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Learn more about this brand-new series...

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Raises Good Questions about Our Attitude toward Food | Review of Full

About the Book (from Moody Publishers)

Can the Bible help me with my food struggles?

Have you ever felt stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of overeating, yo-yo dieting, and obsessive thoughts about food? Whether you feel defeated by your lack of self-control or overwhelmed by thoughts and longings for food, the answer to our food fixation does not lie in the $500 billion global diet industry. This is not a diet book and it's not a healthy eating plan. Because at the core, our problem is not really what we eat. It's why we seek fullness in something that will never satisfy.

Join Asheritah Ciuciu as she shares honestly about her own battles with food and reveals the path to freedom. You'll discover the joy of living free from food fixation so you can experience deeper satisfaction in Christ, gain a renewed sense of purpose, and yes, even enjoy good food (without regret). A healthier relationship with food through a stronger relationship with Christ—that's the goal of Full.

Includes a quiz to help you find out if you have food fixation, plus practical strategies for overcoming it.

Available Now

My Rating


My Review

This book about our attitude toward food covers some great topics and challenges the reader in a good way! I started the book and set it aside for a time, but when I picked it back up, I found myself engaged by the writing, the readable structure, and the important reminders.

I found chapters 10 and 11 ("Embrace the Grace of Community" and "Serve with Food") to be especially challenging and thought-provoking. How should food be treated in the church? How can we move the focus of our hearts from food to God during times of fellowship? How can we remember and care for the hungry? These are all good questions...and things I need to think about more.

I also appreciate that a chapter is dedicated to fasting, something noted in the Bible but not overly discussed in modern times. It feels like more of a radical or foreign concept, but I don't think it's supposed to be. There's so much I have to learn about fasting, and it's helpful to have some guidance in this book.

When read too quickly, I could see Full being a bit overwhelming...there's a lot to "digest" in the area of eating! But I appreciate that the intent of this book is to direct readers to Jesus and how we can honor Him in this part of our lives that tends to "consume" a lot of our time and thinking. (Pardon the puns!)

Full is an encouraging read that tackles a touchy topic with grace.

Read my review of Asheritah's Advent devotional: 
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Conclusion

Welcome to Week 4 of the Mansfield Park read-along! If you aren't familiar with the details, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss the final part of the book: chapters 6-17 (Volume III). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Mansfield Park Volume III: Chapters 6-17

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "[Mrs. Norris] must say that she had more than half a mind to go with the young people....William and Fanny were horror-struck at the idea." [Haha! I just love that the second line there is its own paragraph; nothing else need be said regarding Mrs. Norris's grand scheme. At least William and Fanny are spared in the end!]
  • "[Mrs. Price's] days were spent in a kind of slow bustle; always busy without getting on, always behindhand and lamenting it, without altering her ways." [I feel like I could take this as a cautionary note for myself.]
  • "It was really March; but it was April in its mild air, brisk soft wind, and bright sun, occasionally clouded for a minute, and every thing looked so beautiful under the influence of such a sky, the effects of the shadows pursuing each other, on the ships at Spithead and the island beyond, with the ever-varying hues of the sea now at high water, dancing in its glee and dashing against the ramparts with so fine a sound..." [Lovely descriptions. ♥]
  • "The woman who could speak of him, and speak only of his appearance!—What an unworthy attachment!"
  • "There is nothing like employment, active, indispensable employment, for relieving sorrow."
  • "All this together most grievously convinced me that I had never understood her before, and that, as far as related to mind, it had been the creature of my own imagination, not Miss Crawford, that I had been too apt to dwell on for many months past." [*gives standing ovation*]
  • "[Tom] became what he ought to be, useful to his father, steady and quiet, and not living merely for himself." [I just love that last part!]
  • "They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice."
  • "Nobody minds having what is too good for them." :)

General Impressions

A big part of this section is spent at the Price home, which is quite a bit different than all the time at Mansfield Park leading up to it! I feel bad for Fanny, returning to her family only to see how very little her parents regard her, how chaotic her childhood home has become, and how she no longer seems to belong. But a blessing does arise from those uncomfortable months: a closer relationship with her sister Susan. :)

The book becomes semi-epistolary for a while, focused on the letters being sent to Fanny from Miss Crawford and then Lady Bertram. And finally...finally...Mr. Crawford shows his true colors for the whole world (especially Sir Thomas and Edmund) to see. Not that it's a happy situation in the slightest, but I'm happy for Fanny, that Mr. Crawford didn't continue pursuing her and eventually win her, only to run off with someone after their marriage or torture Fanny by openly flirting with other women. :(

And Miss Crawford's true colors are displayed for Edmund to see too. Phew! As sad as it is for Edmund to realize he's spent all this time falling in love with someone who didn't really exist (not in the way he believed her to be), it's a relief that everything is out in the open.

So much is covered in that last chapter, isn't it? In some ways, I'm quite satisfied. I love the lessons tucked into certain characters' stories, like how Tom "was the better for ever for his illness" ("he had suffered, and he had learnt to think, two advantages that he had never known before") and how "education had not given [Julia] so very hurtful a degree of self-consequence" (as it had for Maria; how differently Fanny in her humility had grown up to be!).

Of course, I'm also happy for Fanny and Edmund. (I especially love that sweet paragraph about the friendship formed between Sir Thomas and Fanny!) But it's hard to completely love Edmund as a romantic hero, because for almost the whole novel he very clearly sees Fanny as a sister and has romantic feelings for another woman who does not share his morals. I wish we could get more of a glimpse into the transformation of his not just know but actually see Edmund regarding Fanny in a new light and realizing how much he loves her.

I like the conclusion of their story, but it feels somewhat abrupt to go from the last line of chapter 16 ("Fanny's friendship was all that he had to cling to") to the account in chapter 17. While the timing is fine in how it's told (Edmund takes a while to grieve and figure out his own mind, falling in love with Fanny as he spends more time with her), it would be nice to have some actual scenes of them growing closer together. Perhaps that's not the main point, but still. :) Especially since Edmund spent so much of the book completely misunderstanding Fanny's feelings for him, for Mr. and Miss Crawford, etc.!

All in all, I enjoyed the story and seeing how everything turned out. It's not a favorite of mine, but it's an interesting book with interesting characters!

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Do you think Fanny's home and family had changed a lot since she left when she was a girl, or do you think Fanny was the one who changed the most?

2. Just for fun: What sort of conclusion would you give to Susan's story if you were to write a sequel/epilogue for her?

3. Which character's growth or consequences (as described in the last chapter) brought you the most satisfaction?

Final Note

As always, it was so fun to read a Jane Austen book with you, my blog friends! You provided so many great insights and thoughts, and I'm grateful for all your comments and posts. :)

Before you go, I'd love to hear your responses to the following, if you'd care to share:
  • Of the Jane Austen books you've read so far, how would you rank them in order of preference?
  • If you've seen an adaptation of Mansfield Park, which one(s) did you see and how did you like it/them in comparison with the book?
The next read-along I plan to host will be for Sense & Sensibility, and I hope it will include a watch-along too! I haven't entirely decided on the month...but maybe keep an eye out for the announcement sometime this spring. :) 

I also ran a poll on Twitter to get an idea for what books we could read together after Sense & Sensibility, and it seems like L.M. Montgomery's stories are a popular choice. So perhaps we'll need to do a read-along of Anne of the Island and/or Emily of New Moon later this year! 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of the Mansfield Park read-along! If you aren't familiar with the details, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 7-13 (Volume II) and chapters 1-5 (Volume III). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Mansfield Park Volume II: Chapters 7-13 and
Volume III: Chapters 1-5

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "He [Edmund] knows that human nature needs more lessons than a weekly sermon can convey, and that if he does not live among the parishioners and prove himself by constant attention their well-wisher and friend, he does very little either for their good or his own."
  • "I hope you will like the chain itself, Fanny. I endeavored to consult the simplicity of your taste, but at any rate I know you will be kind to my intentions, and consider it, as it really is, a token of the love of one of your oldest friends."
  • "The dejection which followed could only be relieved by the influence of fervent prayers for his happiness."
  • "Two lines more prized had never fallen from the pen of the most distinguished author....there was a felicity in the flow of the first four words, in the arrangement of 'My very dear Fanny,' which she could have looked at for ever." [♥]
  • "If we have been kind to her, she is now quite as necessary to us."
  • "Baddeley was stout. 'No, Ma'am, it is Miss Price, I am certain of its being Miss Price.' And there was a half smile with the words which meant, 'I do not think you would answer the purpose at all.'" [Ha! I love this response to Mrs. Norris.]
  • "Sure enough there was a book on the table which had the air of being very recently closed." [I like that description!]

General Impressions

This section was rather long...and dominated by Mr. Crawford's pursuit of Fanny. I am so torn over the direction of the story and the choices of the characters! I like Sir Thomas and Edmund, and yet I feel bad for how they're pressuring Fanny. And Edmund...I'm bummed that he still has his heart set on Miss Crawford. On the other hand, I do appreciate that the characters are complex, and are likable and decidedly unlikable in turn.

Part of me applauds Fanny's conviction, even in the face of very difficult opposition and guilt; she knows deep down that Mr. Crawford is still the man who pursued Maria and Julia with no regard for the damage he'd do or the hearts he'd break. Another part of me wishes that Mr. Crawford really did have a change of heart.

Is that awful of me? Could I have so quickly forgotten what a cad Mr. Crawford is? I guess it seems romantic to think that a "bad boy" could have opened his eyes to a wonderful woman and changed his ways. But we get enough glimpses of his true nature (in his pride, especially), and we hear enough admissions from his sister, to know that Fanny is being wise. If only someone else would understand and side with her!

I think it has to hurt Fanny even worse, knowing Edmund wants this for her. Instead of being jealous and realizing his own love for Fanny, he's pushing her into Mr. Crawford's arms. His feelings appear to be brotherly through and through at this point. :(

As for Miss Crawford, she's as frustrating as ever. I thought it was interesting for her to reveal that it was really her brother's idea to give Fanny the necklace. So...the one thing Edmund really admired Miss Crawford for wasn't even her idea!

I think it was really sweet of Sir Thomas to host a ball for Fanny and William. And I'm happy for William as a lieutenant. If only it didn't have to be due to Mr. Crawford... It's funny, because this is so incredibly different than Pride & Prejudice, and yet Mr. Darcy did things to help out Elizabeth's family, and he truly is a hero. I guess the difference lies in the proper motivation and a sense of humility, which are decidedly lacking in Mr. Crawford.

I am definitely curious to see how everything works out in the last part of the book!

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Which character do you feel most strongly about at this point—in either a good or disapproving way? What makes that character especially stand out to you?

2. If you were in attendance at the ball, how would you occupy your time? Would you dance the night away, or would you prefer observation and conversation?

3. What advice would you give Fanny in handling Mr. Crawford's pursuit?

Join us next Wednesday for our final discussion! 
(Vol. III: Ch. 6-17)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of the Mansfield Park read-along! If you aren't familiar with the details, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 13-18 (Volume I) and chapters 1-6 (Volume II). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Mansfield Park Volume I: Chapters 13-18 and
Volume II: Chapters 1-6

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "Fanny looked on and listened, not unamused to observe the selfishness which, more or less disguised, seemed to govern them all, and wondering how it would end." [I feel like this idea fits the whole book...]
  • "...her books—of which she had been a collector, from the first hour of her commanding a shilling..." [I love that Fanny is a collector of books!]
  • "The music which Sir Thomas called for from his daughters helped to conceal the want of real harmony." [This line is sad but beautifully composed. Pun intended!]
  • "There is nobleness in the name of Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown—of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections." [Aww, Fanny...]

General Impressions

Well, the conclusion of Volume I brings an end to the theatrical scheme at Mansfield...and an end to an era, in a sense, now that Sir Thomas has returned home at long last. With the beginning of Volume II, we see several people leave: Mr. Yates, Mr. Crawford, and Maria and Mr. Rushworth, now married and taking Julia with them for a time. This paves the way for Fanny to be brought into the spotlight—against her will, for the most part.

Just because the play ended before it could really begin doesn't mean the drama has ended at Mansfield, that's for sure! I feel quite sad for the marriage between Maria and Mr. Rushworth; pride and a need for independence hardly make a strong foundation for the future. And the fact that Maria wants her sister with them on what appears to be a honeymoon of sorts doesn't offer much hope for a growing love and intimacy.

I thought it was really sweet that Sir Thomas actually approached Maria, wanting to know her thoughts and encouraging her to be open if her impending marriage was no longer what she wanted. But then, he's hardly disappointed when she still chooses to get married, and it's a bit frustrating how Sir Thomas justifies the relationship and clings to his own sense of gain in the matter. Alas!

And then the man who did such damage to Maria's and Julia's hearts returns...wanting to claim Fanny's, solely for the sake of conquest. Poor Fanny! Her brother's arrival is both a blessing and a curse. So far it seems to preoccupy her and keep her from dwelling too much on Mr. Crawford; but her obvious affection for her brother is only endearing her to Mr. Crawford even more, which is not a good turn of events.

As for Edmund and Miss Crawford, I'm not sure what to say. Miss Crawford has her moments of kindness, in a sense, but her friendship with Fanny stems from boredom and a need for company. I don't know if Edmund is learning any lessons from all that's already happened. He's so blinded by his infatuation with Miss Crawford.

Be wise, Fanny and Edmund! The Crawfords could do a lot of damage...

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. If you were one of Maria's parents, what might you have said to her before the wedding?

2. What are your thoughts on the friendship between Fanny and Miss Crawford? What would you recommend to improve their relationship?

3. Consider Mr. Crawford's sudden interest in Fanny or Edmund's admiration of Miss Crawford. What makes them so attractive to these guys? What would you consider to be valid reasons for falling in love?

Join us next Wednesday for our third discussion! 
(Vol. II: Ch. 6-13 and Vol. III: Ch. 1-5)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten (or Three) Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions

Did you make any New Year's reading resolutions? I have a few goals...not ten, although there are more than ten books on my TBR, if that counts. ;) Be sure to check out today's post at That Artsy Reader Girl to see other bloggers' resolutions and join the Top Ten Tuesday fun!

Resolution #1: 
Read Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility

Thanks to the Mansfield Park read-along, I'm already on my way to completing this goal! Once I finish these two books, I'll have read all the main works of Jane Austen. (There are other writings, complete and incomplete, but it will be great to have read all her main novels.) And the really cool thing is that I'll have read all of those books with you, those who have participated in the Jane Austen read-alongs. :) So fun!

(Also, my sister gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, which is what I used to purchase that lovely copy of Sense & Sensibility. Can't wait to dive in for the next read-along!)

Resolution #2: 
Catch Up on Paperback Review Books

This goal comes with a shameful confession... I have too many review books that I've never read or reviewed. :( While some in this picture are ones I received unexpectedly or from giveaways, some are ones I requested, which makes it even worse that I haven't reviewed them yet.

My hope is to read all of these (13). It would feel so good to catch up! And maybe, by sharing reviews of some not-brand-new releases, I'll be able to point others to some gems they might have missed. :) 

Resolution #3:
Read 50 Books Total 

This is my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. This means reading about one book per week, which seems fairly doable... We'll see! I didn't read that much last year, but I think this year will likely be a little quieter. ;) So far I've read three books: Shades of Doon and Forever Doon, completing the Doon series, and The Sound of Rain. I have plenty of others I want to read soon! (See photo for a glimpse at some of the books on my TBR.)

* * *

This year I really want to focus on the books I already own (on my shelf or Kindle). There are SO many to enjoy! I won't run out of options anytime soon. :)

How about you? 
What are your reading resolutions?

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Gentle Read That Sparkles | Review of The Sound of Rain

About the Book (from Bethany House)

In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water, 
In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through 

Judd Markley knows he can never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother's life means leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world is all he knows, he puts it behind him and heads for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward's life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more—maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there—until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd's and Larkin's dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together—or maybe, it will take a miracle.

Available Now

My Rating


My Review

With an echo of some elements from Christy by Catherine Marshall, but a cast of characters with a story all their own, The Sound of Rain enchanted me. Not all at once. I liked the writing style from the beginning, but it's a gentle read, like comforting rain tapping on the roof—even through the suspenseful scenes (including facing a hurricane or the terror of a dark mine). I think part of it is because the story is more concerned about the bigger themes and doesn't let temporary things sidetrack the message.

I loved the two main characters (even though Larkin takes a bit of getting used to, with her recklessness and stubbornness). It's their interactions with the people in their life, including each other, that make the story sparkle, even when those conversations or kindnesses might seem ordinary or mundane.

This is a story about learning to love wherever you go. It's about seeking after what's important and not getting so distracted that your real life slips by. It's a sweet romance that tackles the tough questions about whose dream to follow and what togetherness can accomplish.

Meet Judd and Larkin, their families and friends, and stop for a moment to listen to the rain stirring life in ready soil.

*With thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of the Mansfield Park read-along! I'm so excited to start 2018 discussing this book with all of you. If you haven't heard the details yet, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 1-12 (Volume I). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Mansfield Park Volume I: Chapters 1-12

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "Nobody meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to secure her comfort." [How tragic for Fanny...and how true, that kindness isn't just an absence of cruelty, but requires action and reaching out to someone else.]
  • "He made reading useful by talking to her of what she read." [It's such a boost to the memory and what we can gain from a book to be able to talk about it with someone else, like what we're doing today!]
  • "You see but half. You see the evil, but you do not see the consolation. There will be little rubs and disappointments every where, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then...we find comfort somewhere—and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves." [I found this discussion intriguing. I believe Mrs. Grant is speaking here, and I like how she defends marriage. It's easy to get bogged down in the little things, missing the bigger blessing.]
  • "It was better for Miss Bertram, who might be said to have two strings to her bow. She had Rushworth-feelings, and Crawford-feelings, and in the vicinity of Sotherton, the former had considerable effect." [I won't comment on Miss Bertram's conflicting feelings here...but I do think this description is clever.]
  • "A whole family assembling regularly for the purpose of prayer, is fine!" [Preach, Fanny!]

General Impressions

Summing up our thoughts on twelve chapters is going to be difficult, I know! There's a lot that much to comment on regarding this very interesting cast of characters.

I'm not sure any one really stands out as overly likable to me, other than Fanny. Edmund has me quite torn, as there are lines and moments where he seems to really shine. He obviously cares about Fanny, and his active kindness to her makes all the difference in her experiences at Mansfield Park. I love when his affection becomes apparent; how he defends Fanny, fights for her need to get out, exercise, and be a part of things. And what's most important to Fanny (like her brother), Edmund shows great respect and attention toward.

On the other hand, there's Miss Crawford—and Edmund's obvious infatuation, despite the fact that they don't really seem to share many values. They flirt, they have some good discussions, but for someone like Edmund whose values run deep, you would think he'd be paying a little more attention to what really matters instead of the surface level. (She can play a harp splendidly, but would she really stand by your side as a pastor's wife?)

Still, I suppose it's a realistic scenario, and Miss Crawford gets Edmund to examine and share his beliefs; she paves the way for thought-provoking conversations. I think Fanny can do that too, especially with her extensive reading and book knowledge, but her views have been so shaped by Edmund and are so similar to his own that she probably doesn't challenge Edmund in the ways that Miss Crawford does. And a man does enjoy a challenge, doesn't he?

(Not to mention the fact that Fanny is still quite young and probably feels more like family to Edmund than a potential love interest. So...I get it; I just don't necessarily like it. :))

As for the other characters and their relationships, I'm not sure what to say. I feel bad for Julia having to compete with her sister for a guy's attention, while her sister already has a fiance. But then, both Julia and Maria are so focused on pride and status. I feel bad for Mr. Rushworth and his mother, who are stroking Maria's ego while her heart has wandered down a completely different path.

Mr. Craword should have stayed home. Buuuut now he's back, which does not bode well for the girls of Mansfield Park.

And then there's Mrs. Norris, who seems to be getting along just fine without having to sacrifice for anyone. But the selfish road is bound to be a lonely one, lacking in meaning. It's too bad she missed out on getting to know Fanny and having such a sweet companion.

So far, I'm enjoying the read. I'm hoping to see Fanny grow in confidence while maintaining her gentle nature. And while it would be satisfying to see certain characters open their eyes before it's too late, it will be interesting to see exactly where these not-so-ideal paths lead.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Would you consider the Bertram family taking in Fanny to be a kindness in the long run? If so, why? If not, could it have been a kindness if they approached things differently?

2. If you were a governess teaching the Bertram children and Fanny, what lesson would you specifically choose for each of them (as kids or adults)? Feel free to have fun with this!

3. Imagine you had joined the group on their visit to Sotherton. Which part of the tour would you most have enjoyed? Would we find you wandering the halls or meandering through the wilderness?

Join us next Wednesday for our second discussion! 
(Vol. I: Ch. 13-18 and Vol. II: Ch. 1-6)