firefly lane

Firefly Lane
By Kristin Hannah

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I was recently gifted a delightful afternoon to peruse our local Half-Price Books to my heart’s content so I decided to try and find some new authors to read.
I was drawn to this book because of the cover art. Who can resist the idea of a summer night filled with fireflies, friendship and serenity?
After reading the synopsis on the back, I decided to definitely give it a try. I love reading books about friendships between women and I was also delighted to see that the setting was in my own area of the Pacific Northwest.

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Love. Family. Friendship. Acceptance.

What everyone wants from life.

We first get to meet Kate and Tully as young teenagers who become fast friends during a time in each of their lives when they felt that they had no one.
Being a teenager is hard. Being a lonely teenager is even harder.

When I was a teenager, I had good friends. None of them ever turned into that deep connection, bosom buddies, through thick and thin type of friendship that lasts over 30 years. I always craved it, but now it is too late for that kind of relationship; the kind where you grow up together.
I now have some fantastic friendships; definitely the kind that I could see lasting the next 30 years and sitting in our rocking chairs on the front porch with our gray hair. It was bittersweet for me to read about the youthful friendship of Kate and Tully.

As I have said before, I like to be transparent with my reviews. There is a minute amount of language and a tiny amount of adult content but the majority of it is tasteful and can be skipped. 

These two women certainly had their ups and downs in their friendship. They each have a different type of personality, come from a different home life, and have different life plans and goals. Through it all, they stuck to their promise to each other to “always be best friends, no matter what”.

That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life, that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the time line of your youth and middles age, but that isn’t it at all. 
Love. Family. Laughter. That’s what I remember when it’s all said and done. For so much of my life I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven for my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed—you and Daddy and I. I had everything I ever wanted. 
Love. 
That’s what I remember. 

I pray that everyone is able to find a friendship in their life like TullyandKate; a friendship of love, anger, pain, family, growth, sweetness, bitterness, hatred, unconditional love and acceptance.

I highly recommend this book, especially as a wonderful summer-time read. Grab a floppy hat, a glass of iced tea, slather on some sunscreen and sit at the pool or on the beach and enjoy Firefly Lane.

There are additional novels that take place on Firefly Lane. From what I have read, only 2 of the stories are related.
The Kristin Hannah Collection: Volume 1: Firefly Lane, True Colors, Fly Away

Firefly Lane

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Rooms

 Rooms: A Novel
By James L. Rubart

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Rooms was the pick for my monthly book club. I will give my own review and then after my book club meets, I will expand on the discussion and others’ thoughts on this novel.

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It took a little while for me to be able to get into this one as it delves into the supernatural world in a way that has never been explored. As I continued to read through it, I began to realize how much meaning and depth was buried within its pages.

James Rubart does a fantastic job of creating a tangible, understandable way into how God and the Holy Spirit work within our hearts and lives. As we follow Micah through his journey to a closer relationship with God, it helps you to think about your own relationship with Him and to evaluate what you can do differently.

I have always thought of a life as a believer is similar to a choose your own adventure book. God has all of these different plans laid out for you, different paths but each is still His will for your life. God gives us as humans free will; He wants us to have the the ability to make our own choices because He did not intend for us to be mindless robots. He wants us to choose Him, not just be a blind follower.
Because of that free will and the freedom to make our own decisions, I think (just my own opinion here) that God has various paths laid out for us based upon which decisions and life path that we make. Just like the choose your own adventure books we read as children.

Rooms, Micah’s story, follows along with my theory, which you will see as you read through the book.

“Walk with God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. You know His voice. You’ll come to know it better as you practice listening. And listen to your heart. It knows the truth, for as you know, that is where the temple is and where the King dwells.”

Sometimes, when you have had your own dry season, it is refreshing to read about someone else’s journey and watch their path to God unfold. It changes your perspective in the desert when you watch another human just beginning their walk with God or finding their way back to Him. I loved reading Micah’s story and seeing how God worked in his life and his heart. It reminded me that the most important thing is my relationship with Him; not all of the other clutter that sometimes can get in the way.

Freedom, Micah, the Lord is always about freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If what you do brings freedom and life, it is most likely Christianity. If it doesn’t, it is possibly religion, and there is already too much of that in the world.

Do not get stuck in the clutter and the “religion” but make sure you are finding your relationship and your freedom with the Lord.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

I think that this is one of the few books we have read in our 10 months of book club that everyone liked and had good things to say.
We all agreed that Rooms has a tremendous amount of depth and a lot to offer. Rubart was able to give us a concrete example of how we all wrestle with our subconscious and Satan and how we can rely on the Bible and our tribe to find and remind us where the truth really lies. Eventually, we all need to face our past and the people who have hurt us, so we can find healing and move forward with freedom in Christ.

The following is from the Author’s Note:

I long to step into the freedom that Micah discovers, to live more completely in the divine design and destiny God has created for me, to be victorious over the voices that hold me back from living the full life God intended me to live.
I loved writing Rooms because it’s my story. It’s your story. It’s the story of anyone who wants to step into greater freedom, step into the glory of how God uniquely mad him or her, step into the destiny planned for them from before time began.
He is the Great Healer of wounds. He is the Great Restorer of freedom.

Everyone needs to read this book. I highly recommend it.

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In fact, because I think everyone should read it, I am going to give away my copy to one of my lucky readers.

Click here to enter!

Follow the instructions at Rafflecopter to be entered into the giveaway. Giveaway ends 7/29/17 at 12:00AM. Winner will be announced on 7/30/17.
Good luck to everyone!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! 
WINNER CHOSEN!

 Rooms: A Novel

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Tuesday Thoughts

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Today marks the 200th Anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. Jane Austen is viewed in the literary world as a classical author worthy of enormous praise.
I once tried reading a Jane Austen book when I was a young teenager; Sense and Sensibility. I am not sure if it just was not her best work, if it is just not my genre of literature or if I was just too young to be able to enjoy the true beauty of the novel.

So help me out. Should I try reading it again? Should I try a different Jane Austen book? What is your favorite Jane Austen book that you have read?
I want to love her books, but I am afraid to try them again.

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My book reviews seem to go in groupings since I tend to read more than one book at a time. I hope that you understand where there is often some period of time between reviews on my blog. I seem to finish the multiple books all around the same time.

This next week, I should soon have 2-3 reviews ready to go. I have finished reading the monthly book club book, but I like to post the review after we meet and have discussion. I have one more book that I have about 1/4 of the book left to read and 2 books that I have just started.

Who else tends to read 2-3 or even 4 books all at the same time?

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One of the books I am just starting is of course More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, by Erin Odom. It is available for pre-order right now! Plus, Erin just release a FREE, 5-day E-Course called Eating Well on a Budget. I have signed up for the course myself because I am always saying that it is SO hard to eat good healthy foods while staying on a budget. You can sign up for the course HERE on the book launch sales page; scroll all the way to the bottom and you will find it.

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I’m so excited that I have been selected to be a part of Brooke McGlothlin’s Gospel-Centered Mom book tour!

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Stay tuned for more info on the book and the upcoming blog book tour!

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I am excited as my “hobby” continues to grow. I took a leap of faith and stepped into this with the hope that I could combine my long-time hobbies of reading and writing into something larger. I appreciate and treasure each of you because you are here with me at the beginning of this journey; who knows where it will go from here.
I want to share my love for books with the entire world and you can help me do that by sharing my blog, my Facebook page, and my Instagram account with your friends and family.

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In the Unlikely Event

In the Unlikely Event
By Judy Blume

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How many of you women have fond memories as a tween girl, giggling with your friends at the latest slumber party, holding a dog-eared copy of the much loved Judy Blume novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
I know that I do. A novel, treasured and coveted, that taught many life lessons within its pages.

Thank goodness for us, she now writes adult novels as well.

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A historical fiction novel, In the Unlikely Event visits the unusual and chaotic events of 3 separate plane crashes occurring in the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s.

Judy Blume is able to lend some authentication within the pages of this novel because she happened to be a teenager living in Elizabeth when the events took place. The characters and their stories in the book are fiction, however Judy was able to lend authenticity to the emotions and repercussions of the accidents because she was there during that time.

I cannot even begin to imagine the fear that would run through a small town after not 1 or 2, but THREE airplane crashes; especially since aircraft was still a fairly new phenomenon.

Children had nightmares, families moved, women and men vowed to never fly on an airplane again and lives were changed forever after they witnessed the crashes along with the aftermath.

As we follow Miri, her family and friends through the impact these crashes had on their lives, we learn about first love, old love, anger, growing up, unexplained tragedy, mental illness, family and how secrets can affect not only your own life but those around you. We learn what it is like being a single mother, being an only child without a father, what it is like to be wealthy and what it is like to barely be able to pay the bills.
We learn that life does not always turn out how we imagine it or how we would like it to.

In true Judy Blume fashion, there is some adult content in the book; not a lot but enough that you need to be aware that it is in there.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read. I enjoy learning about historical events but still being able to lose myself in the fiction story of a novel. Judy Blume did a good job penning a work of fiction that you can get invested in all while intertwining the historical events during the early 1950’s. The book is not a work of amazing literature, but it would make a wonderful summer beach read.

“No,” Rusty said. “Enough is enough. She’s too young to understand. None of us can make sense of it–how can you expect a young girl to?”
“Not by sweeping it under the rug and pretending it didn’t happen,” Henry said.

In the Unlikely Event

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Monday Musings

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I have been selected to be on the launch team for the new book, More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom at The Humbled Homemaker!!!!!
I recently received my pre-launch book and I cannot wait to begin reading it. I will be posting quotes and tidbits on both my Instagram and Facebook pages; you can find my account info here. I am really excited to have my first “big break” as a book reviewer/book blogger.

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You can get $5 off a $15 purchase of books on Amazon now through 7/12! That means you can get More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated for as low as $6.59!!!!
Remember that pre-ordering on Amazon guarantees the lowest price between now and the book launch! In addition to the super low price, you can claim the bonuses by pre-ordering: More Than Just Making It

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I just planned 3 new books to start with each of my kids. I love reading aloud to them. I love the time I get to bond with them over books and I get to revisit some of my own childhood favorites. Sometimes, I get to read some amazing children’s books that I never had the chance to read as a child.

My 8 year old son and I will be reading Stuart Little. This is one that I have not read, although I know of the story. I hope that we will enjoy reading it together.

I will be reading The Secret Garden with my 11 year old daughter. I read this as a young girl and loved getting lost in the beautiful story. I hope she will love it as much as I did.

My 13 year old son and I began reading through the Harry Potter series when he was 9. I have read every single word aloud to him from the first 6 books and we have watched all 6 movies together. Because of various life situations we have not been able to read the 7th book yet,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . Part of it might be that I am holding back about ending this time of ours together. We have bonded over this series and found a mutual love for Harry and his magical world. But alas, it is time to bring this chapter to a close.

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I would love to hear what some of your recent favorite books are or what Must-Read books are on your list. I am always looking for new books to try and ways to get out of some of the ruts I get in.

I am working on a review for a book I recently finished. I have almost completed my book club book for the month. I have a book that I am reading for fun. I have a book that I have been very slowly working through for personal Christian Development.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the books that I not only want to read, but the ones I think I should read. Anyone else have this small panic attack occasionally?
Then I read a article on Book Riot titled You will NEVER Read All The Books – And That’s a Good Thing; and then I felt a wee bit better. I won’t ever read all the books and it is okay. If I do not read every single “classic” literature book that was ever written, it will not be the end of the world. Books are meant for enjoyment and knowledge; if it is not something I enjoy reading, I will not gain knowledge from it.
So, it is okay that I only read the books that I want to read and that I have the time to read.

What books are you currently reading? What is currently on your stack of books?

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*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty

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Alice has just been moving along through life; 3 children, impending divorce, fitness aficionado, and trying to make her mark on the world. Busy, busy, busy. Then one day while at the gym, she falls and hits her head which results in the loss of her memories from the last 10 years of her life.

Can you imagine losing 10 years of your life? Can you imagine living in a world where everyone is telling you all about your current life situations but all you can remember is how it was 10 years ago? Can you imagine how strange and difficult that would be to wrap your head around?

How different would your life be if you could go back to your youth when you still had some innocence left and a fresh outlook on life? What would you do differently? What would you change about your current life? What about going back 10 years but having the maturity and knowledge that you have gained?

As you follow Alice through the book trying to regain her memories, confused and unhappy with the person she has become, it makes you reflect and ponder your own life and the choices you have made.
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Have you become the person you had hoped to be? What led you to the season of life that you are currently in?
Would you change anything at all if you could?

One of the reader questions in the back of the book is “What would surprise your younger self most about the life you’re currently leading? What would disappoint you?”
Please leave your response in the comments; I would love to hear your answers.

 

Now it seemed like she could twist the lens on her life and see it from two entirely different perspectives. The perspective of her younger self. Her younger, sillier, innocent self. And her older, wiser, more cynical and sensible self.

 

I highly recommend this book. It is a fantastic read that gets you thinking and reflecting on your own personal life choices and how your decisions can and have affected your future self. Liane Moriarty does a wonderful job of creating a fiction story that gets you working on your own personal development. I hope to be able to read more of her books in the future.

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 What Alice Forgot

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Harry Potter

Harry Potter
By J.K. Rowling

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I feel like THE worst bibliophile and Harry Potter fan on the planet!
Apparently, yesterday was the 20th Anniversary (that makes me feel super old, by the way) of the release of the very first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I did not do a single post about it.

I can still remember the excitement of reading that very first book in the series; cracking it open and smelling the pages of a fresh book. I also remember the anticipation and dread when we had to wait for the next book in the series to arrive; it always felt like an eternity.
I was not always able to go to the midnight release of the next book, but I did go to a few of them. How about you? Did you attend any midnight release parties?

Those that have never read the books just cannot seem to understand the culture that has developed around Harry Potter.
Yes I am old. By society’s standards, I should not be so infatuated with a youth fiction book series. However, when I first began reading them, I was not, by any means, considered “old”. I grew up with Harry, Ron, Hermione and Hagrid. It led me to a whole unexplored genre of literature. And now, I have passed that world down to my oldest son. We have read every single Harry Potter book together, me reading aloud to him. After each book was completed, we watched the corresponding movie together. It has been a wonderful bonding time for us and it has given me some common ground to stay connected to my teenager.

Harry Potter has created memories for people, bonded families over shared literature, and helped children delve into reading when they otherwise would have had no interest. Harry Potter has provided an escape from real life for those whom need it, created a shared culture for those who may have never known such fabulous people existed, and opened up a love of reading for many that never saw reading as enjoyable.

Yes, there has been some controversy, but is that not what makes a book great?

I have read each book multiple times (too many than I will admit to) and each time I still feel that wonderful flutter that happens when you open a book for the first time; a book that you know is going to be incredible.

The Harry Potter Movies were never as good as the books; movies never are. There really is just not enough time to capture the true heart of the story or to develop the unmistakable essence of each character in a 2-3 hour movie. Overall, the movies were decent. My only complaint was that they completely changed some of the story-line. I can understand that there is not room to put everything into the movie, but I do not understand why it is necessary to change the original story.

For fun, here are some Harry Potter websites you can peruse to relive some of those favorite moments, 20 years later.

Pottermore
Why Harry Potter Matters 20 Years Later

84 Magical Facts about Harry Potter

25 Harry Potter Facts That Will Knock You Off Your Broomstick
8 Books J.K. Rowling Recommends
Reading Harry Potter with My Older Brother
A Magical Harry Potter Wonderland
Harry Potter Snowflakes
20 Years of Harry Potter
Harry Potter: 10 Most Highlighted lines on the Kindle

I would love to hear in the comments how Harry Potter has touched or changed YOUR life or the lives of your children.

Harry Potter

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Monday Musings

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I just got back from a super fun girls getaway this weekend. It was really nice to get away from “real life” for a bit and relax with some friends while feeding my inner nerd girl.
We actually had an agenda and a specific reason for the weekend and even though I went into it knowing I would probably not have any reading time, I of course packed 3 books in my overnight bag. I ended up only having time to read a single chapter. However, I never leave home without a book.

I am an introvert so after big weekends, full of fun and lots and lots of people, I often need a recovery day. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my time or have an absolute blast. It just tends to deplete my pitcher. In order to refill my pitcher, I have to have some alone time.

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Anyone relate?

So today I do not have many literary thoughts for you because I am in recovery mode.

To go with the theme of today’s musings, here is a list of books for my fellow introverts or for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of an introvert in their life.

10 Life-Changing Books for Introverts

Have you read any of these yet? Any other recommendations?

*If anyone is interested in my nerd girl weekend, you can follow me on Instagram as I will be posting pictures there.*

The Wish Granter

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire)
By C.J. Redwine

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Once upon a time…

Humans were pathetically predictable. Always longing for more. Always desperate to get their way. Shamelessly grasping for what remained out of reach, even when it cost them dearly.
He despised them.

Does that just not grip you right from the beginning?!?

This tale is not your usual Cinderella-happily-ever-after fairy tale. This story holds more true to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

C.J. Redwine does a fantastic job of weaving bits and pieces of the authentic story of Rumpelstiltskin while giving it a fresh twist to create a compelling and unique modern fairy tale. While this novel is geared towards young adults, those of us who are “old” adults that enjoy fantasy fiction and fairy tales can lose ourselves in this quirky fable as well.

The Wish Granter is filled with magic, adventure, mystery, murder, revenge, hatred, innocence, greed, family strife and even contains a minor love story. However, C.J. Redwine does it in a way that I feel comfortable with having my 13 year old son read it. There are a couple of scenes that may be a little more graphic for some of your teens. Be cautious of their sensitivity level and stay true to your own family values. My son has been reading fantasy, sci-fi and mythology books for quite some time and I am not concerned about his ability to handle the content.

The author does a marvelous job of giving depth to each of the characters as she weaves you in and out of their lives. I loved that she gives each of the main characters their own voice by telling part of the story from their perspective.
The heroine in the book, Ari, is written as a more “real” kind of princess. She doesn’t treat the staff as if they are beneath her, she loves to still go into the kitchen and cook, and also is a little more plump then your average princess. I think Ari is a character that many teens, especially girls, will be able to relate to and it gives the fairy tale authenticity.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Wish Granter and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a stellar fantasy novel to indulge in. I look forward to her next installment of the series.

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire) is the predecessor to The Wish Granter.
It is a novel that also gives a unique twist to a well-loved fairy tale.
You do not need to read the books in order and one does not rely upon the other for their stories.

 

“I have survived betrayal, exile, and the miserable pretense of obeying human law, and you can be sure I will survive you.”

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire)

*post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Monday Musings

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I have encouraged reading and books to my children. Books have always been available to them. From board books as they were babies just learning to grasp items all the way up to bookshelves full of books bought and given as gifts.

This is currently my oldest son’s headboard.

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I think that *maybe* access to all of those books his entire life might have stuck. LOL
Like me, he tends to read multiple books at a time, depending on his mood. He also reads the same books over and over; some as many as 10 times.

He has always been an avid reader. Whether this is nature or nurture, nobody knows.
His reading ability and level of comprehension has always been way over his actual age level. I have struggled almost his whole life to find new and interesting books; for a 13 year old boy who reads at a college level vocabulary and comprehension, loves fantasy and science fiction, but that is age appropriate in the content and story-line. The struggle is real people.

I have put together a list of resources for book lists in case you have struggled with this as much as I have.

The 50 Best Read-Aloud Chapter Books for Young Kids
50 Books for Kids
67 Books Every Geek Should Read to their Kids
The Big Long List of Good Books (Grades 4-6)
A Summer Reading List for Tweens
Middle School Classical Books
100 Must Read Books for Books for Middle Grades for Summer
Summer Reading List for 8th and 9th Graders
Great Girls from Books You Daughter Should Know
40 Chapter Books for Girls
Top Read-Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls
10 Books to Read to Your Daughter
The Ultimate Book List for Boys
Character Building Chapter Books for Boys
Book List for Christian Boys
The Mighty Boy Reading List
Historical Fiction for Kids

Do you know of a great Book list for kids?
Any suggestions for my own 13 year old avid reader?

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