Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beauty of Tuck Everlasting: Confessions of a Non-Book-Purist

The sweet earth opened out its wide four corners to her like the petals of a flower ready to be picked, and it shimmered with light and possibility till she was dizzy with it. 
~ Tuck Everlasting (Book)

Let me just dive right into the confessions:
  • I watched and loved the movie many times over before I picked up the book.
  • I adored both the movie and the book.
  • I really don't mind that they were different from each other. 
  • In fact, I love them both for being their own brilliant works.
I just finished reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt for the very first time the other night. It's an enchanting and strange little tale about a 10-year-old girl who speaks for so many growing-up hearts with her conflicting desires to explore the world and never leave the familiarity of home. It's also, of course, about the Tucks - an endearing family with a desire to Winnie, to the world, to life.

There's an innocence about the story that makes the profound questions and observations all the more powerful for the contrast.

The movie version shares many similarities in plot and distinct elements. But it's also an altogether different story experience. Miles is a heartbroken man "looking for wars to fight." Romance is a much more imminent possibility for teenage Winnie. And the Tuck family is more of a sober (but still entirely lovable) mystery.

You won't find answers about everlasting life in either version, at least in a direct fashion (although I believe the movie offers a beautiful hint), but you can find thought-provoking questions, as well as memorable words and portrayals of deep love and wise living. 

Some of my favorite lines from each to ponder...

Do not fear death. Fear the unlived life. 

She had done it because - in spite of everything, she loved them. This of all things her family understood, and afterward they drew together staunchly around her.

Wake up with the dawn. 

You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that's the blessing.

I feel quite happy to have finally enjoyed the book! And I've started watching the movie again, because this story world...? It charms me and begs me to linger in a moment where time's wheel pauses and offers much-needed perspective on life, "shimmer[ing] with light and possibility."


Have you read or watched Tuck Everlasting? What struck you most about the story? 

If you've experienced both, were you OK with the movie being different from the book? Do you prefer one version over the other?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Really Reading vs. Just Skimming

As Elizabeth Bennet warns Colonel Fitzwilliam (at least in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie), "Prepare yourself for something quite dreadful."

I confess that I've gotten into a terrible habit of skimming books. Not all of them, mind you, but it seems the more "for fun" books I acquire, the easier it is to justify skipping through virtual or paper pages. Unless I've agreed to review it or determined from the get-go that I want to read every word, the temptation is there.

Perhaps that's saved me time reading books I wouldn't overly enjoy anyway.

But perhaps it's kept me from fully experiencing some great stories.

By jumping ahead to the fun, exciting, more adventurous parts, I miss the journey of characters growing and blossoming and emerging through fire. I miss meaningful encounters and everyday exchanges.

I get the gist, but I miss the chance to read between the lines.

This confession doesn't mean I'll never skim a book again. Sometimes we have to let things go so we can devote our focus to things better-suited for us.

But I hope to take the time to fully enjoy more of the books I have and to experience all that the stories might hold in store.

Same goes for how I live my life.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Wife Maker Blog Tour + Review

Wife Maker (1)
Blog Tour Schedule

Wife MakerHere's a description of the book:

(Note: This is Book 3 in a series, so there are some spoilers for previous books in this summary and review.) 

Charlotte has spent years as the husband maker, sending every guy she dates off to enjoy marital bliss with the next girl he dates. But things have now changed, and she's determined to use her husband-maker abilities one last time - on herself. And she finally knows exactly who she wants.

Angus has loved Charlotte since they were teenagers, but he's tired of waiting for her to realize how good they could be. She's broken his heart one too many times, and it's time to move on with his life. Maybe a position halfway across the country will be just what he needs to get over her. But when Charlotte won't let him go without a fight, Angus has to decide if he's willing to let her in again or if she's too late.

My Rating

My Review

When all is said and done, I'm happy. :) That doesn't mean there weren't numerous moments of frustration with certain characters (*cough* Angus *cough*). But I suppose that is all part of the fun of contemporary romance!

This series has been one long winding road...and one heck of a road trip! I've so enjoyed getting to know Charlotte's character while joining her in the ups and downs, highs and lows, painful lessons and meaningful memories that make up life's journey, romance or no.

This last installment introduces Angus's voice to the mix. Which is sweet, no doubt, but man, he sure can try a reader's patience! I was just a bit relieved to discover early on that the story isn't told completely from his perspective...

Not that Charlotte doesn't make some questionable choices, but her voice and trials are so easy to relate to. I loved reading about her adventures and misadventures as she wholeheartedly embraced a brand-new season in her life.

And her don't want to miss meeting these characters! The relationships and banter all feel so genuine and are just plain fun to read.

This is a great conclusion to a great series - one that takes some intriguing turns and shows how stubborn we all can be, and how stubborn we need to be at times when it comes to the people and work we love.

*With thanks to I Am A Reader Blog Tours and the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Get your copy of The Wife Maker for $4.99!
About the Author

Karey WhiteKarey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Blog Tour Giveaway


$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/22/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cedar Fort Blog Tour: What Is Lost + Review

About the Book

"Angry at his failure to exact vengeance on the prince, mask maker Joch flees Venesia to find his lost love. When a red-cloaked assassin promises answers, he has little choice but to trust her—though he may be walking into a trap. Unravel the deception in this dazzling story of second chances that will keep you guessing to the last page."

My Rating


My Review

What Is Hidden and its sequel What Is Lost are so lavishly imagined that you can't help but enjoy the drama and adventure. In Joch's story, this fairy-tale retelling takes readers on board ship, through the jungle/forest, and into a new city where every twist and turn around street corners reveals dangerous and colorful characters.

It's Skidmore's creativity that once again redeemed this story for me. While there are some very obvious connections to the tale of Little Red Riding Hood - such as the red cape and names like "Grandmother" and "Wolf" - the plot and characters stand well on their own. There are also some more subtle connections between this story and its fairy-tale counterpart that I have yet to fully grasp, but I'm still intrigued and impressed by.

As for the direction this story ultimately takes, let's just say I'm left uncertain as to how I feel. I get the intention and some of the reasons for the outcome, but am I satisfied with this book as its own entity? *shrugs* It works, but I'm feeling a little...lost (emotionally speaking). And despite all that occurs and being in Joch's head throughout the story, he didn't completely win over my devotion and sympathy.

Still, What Is Lost held my interest and has me curious about Book 3 in this fanciful fantasy series.

*With thanks to Cedar Fort for providing me with a PDF copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

About the Author

Lauren Skidmore grew up in Kansas, with stints in Ohio and New York, and currently lives in Utah. She attended Brigham Young University where she earned a BA in English Teaching with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. She then spent a year in Japan teaching and traveling. When she's not exploring new places, you can probably find her on the internet with fifteen windows open and looking at just one more thing before actually getting something done. Visit her website at

Sunday, March 8, 2015

An UPlifting Find

Hello, friends! It feels like forever since I've shared a post that doesn't involve...
  • reviewing books
  • posting covers of books
  • talking about books
  • books
Not that posting about books is a bad thing, right? ;)

I'll have more bookish things to write about soon, but today I simply had to share a gem I discovered at our local Hallmark store.

First, can we just take a moment to appreciate this bag? Hallmark is so spot-on with this tagline. 

Life is a special occasion.

How awesome would it be if we remembered this every day? And not just as an excuse to eat more dessert and buy more things (which I know I can be guilty of when I take on this mentality...), but as a reason to take that chance, make that memory, and laugh off the stressful days. 

Experiences like this past Friday night, when I spent an incredibly fun and awesome evening eating way too much pizza and breadsticks and salad with some coworkers at a pizza parlor, bring this philosophy home. Life truly is a special occasion. :)

Now, let me show you the very special item I purchased...

Isn't it just darling??

Up makes me cry pretty much every time I watch it. The movie has such a great message - one that goes perfectly with the message on that bag, actually. Life is something to be cherished, even after loss. Memories of a life well-lived shouldn't hold us back - they should lift us up to continue our journey with great love and joy. 

"Adventure is out there." (And although I'm not a coffee drinker, I'm sure caffeine will somehow make its way "in there" - such a cute idea for a mug!)

Are you ready for an adventure today?

While it appears that the mug is currently not available online, you can learn more about it and find a Hallmark store near you on the Hallmark website.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Revell Blog Tour: Anna's Crossing

About the Book (from Revell)

Some endings are really beginnings . . .

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna K├Ânig reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home - assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people - dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands - who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing - and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.

My Rating


My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher takes on the little explored historical Amish genre, and she does it well. As with her contemporary Amish stories, the characters come to life with their quirks and honest musings and struggles. Anna's Crossing contains an interesting cast: the heroine of faith, the troublemaker lad, the irksome girl with the lazy eye, and a couple of villains for good measure. And who wouldn't love a strong hero with a Scottish brogue and a name like Bairn (which means "child")?

I always love a good seafaring story, and this one involves plenty of peril - including some rather gruesome depictions that certainly hint at the horrors of ocean travel back in the 1700s. I appreciate that Fisher doesn't shy away from the sins and syncretism and hardships of the era, while also highlighting strong convictions and faith in God's provision.

What didn't impress me quite as much was the obviousness of certain plot twists. Secrets were revealed chunk by plain chunk to the reader, and I'm still not entirely sure how one character in particular didn't make certain connections far earlier in the story. It was neat how everything turned out, but I just wish everything wasn't quite so neat in how it came together, or at least not so obvious as to take away the *gasp!* factor.

And as fun as Felix's character is, I confess that having so many scenes from his point of view didn't feel necessary to the bigger picture. Unless his character plays a bigger role later on in the series - in which case, the scenes do share some cute insights into a young boy's mind.

All in all, though, Anna's Crossing is a solid start to the "Amish Beginnings" series, and an intriguing mix of historical and Amish romance genres.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Revell for providing me with a temporary e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Available March 2015 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{Something New}: My Review of Meant to Be Mine + March Picks

I only ended up reading "something new" in February (out of my two picks)...but it was a wonderful "something"! You'll find my thoughts on Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade below, along with my March picks for this challenge. Happy new month!

About the Book

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school - irresistible. When their paths cross again after college - still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Amazon | Goodreads

My Rating


My Review

Undoubtedly my favorite book of Becky Wade's so far! Funny enough, Meant to Be Mine has two elements that I generally don't consider a favorite in romances: a child, and a love triangle where two women are in love with the same man. Somehow this story must have been "meant for me" regardless, because I loved seeing Ty and Celia's romance play out!

This second book in the "Porter Family" series has a very unique premise, especially where Christian fiction is concerned: A Las Vegas wedding gone wrong - but a marriage that still means something even years after husband and wife have separated.

Each character, whether primary or secondary, is vividly drawn and enchantingly envisioned. Celia and her slightly hippie, baking-loving style. Ty and his utterly frustrating conceit and yet heart-melting vulnerability, values, and growth. Addie with her teal glasses, hot-pink cowgirl boots, and love of princess stories. Uncle Danny - single surfer dude with really bad luck in finding a date among his own older age group.

There are even cameos by Meg and Bo from Undeniably Yours, and scenes with younger brother Jake, who is set to star in A Love Like Ours. Let me tell you, I'm even more eager for the third book in the series after being captivated by Meant to Be Mine!

With themes of forgiveness and sacrifice woven into an engaging story about finding new dreams and reviving old love, this book is a delightful take on contemporary romance.

* * *

Care to join the {Something Old, Something New} Challenge? Visit PidginPea's Book Nook for all the details!

And now, here are my March 2015 picks...

{Something Old}
Acquired March 2012

Wisdom came as God’s gift, but sacred love was forged through passion’s fire…

Standing in the shadow of his famous father, young King Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure—a love that can be his cornerstone.

A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah has known since she first laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father secures a promise from Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true.

But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon’s harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love from a master storyteller.

Amazon | Goodreads

{Something New}
Borrowed Late 2014 (I believe...)

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor. 

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park. 

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Amazon | Goodreads