December 25, 2015

Movie Quote Monday {on Friday!} :: Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas


"I'm not perfect, but through it all, I have learned how to hold firm in a storm, not by holding on to whatever I can find for as long as I can, but by trusting that the one thing that matters in this world will never let go of me. And Shane, that's what perfect love is. Perfect love casts out all that pain, all that fear, and replaces it with hope."

Merry Christmas, my lovelies! I know that this is technically Friday and I normally would post a movie quote on Monday, but this is special circumstances. (Plus I totally meant to get this posted last Monday and it didn't happen, but that's neither here nor there... ;) Y'all know I love me some Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, so when this one came out last year, I fell in love with it. I would have to say that it's one of my favorites ever! Which is high praise, I know. But this little movie is so full of heart and delight and HOPE.

Which is why I wanted to post this quote today, because Christmas is all about hope. And in this world with numerous stories of tragedy and sadness, we all need to take a moment and remind ourselves that love and hope can make all the difference. All the difference, people!! No matter what you're going through today (and I know there are people out there that are going through some doozies right now), no matter what your circumstances may tell you, no matter how not-fun things can be, don't let go of hope. Okay? You'll get through this. So will I. There are better things coming (like some really great books and movies! ;). And if life is really awesome for you right now? Then hallelujah!

Hope is a powerful thing, my friends. I trust you're holding tight to yours today. And I truly hope your Christmas has been and is filled with wonder and joy and happiness. (As well as a story or two! :)



December 18, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things :: 2015 Edition


2015 has been such a crazy awesome year for me and it's rather fun taking a few moments and looking back over all the things that happened. That's what you're supposed to do at the end of the year, right? (Absolutely!) It's the memories that are made that stick with us! And memories are even better when they can be shared with others. Even if I haven't been there, I enjoy hearing about what other people have experienced and the joy life has brought them. It brings a smile to my face. So I hope you're the same? Because that's precisely what's about to happen here, I'm going to highlight some of the best moments of my year. And I'd love to hear about yours, so share in the comments if you want! :)

{There will be book stuff and life stuff and all sorts of stuff mentioned. However, I do plan to have a post listing my fave books of the year, so stay tuned for that.}

:: Participating in read-alongs! North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell was so awesome to read with friends. (Plus I met several bloggers who quickly became new friends, which was wonderful. :)
:: Getting the chance to meet Diana Peterfreund (one of my favorite authors)!!!! She was so nice and kind to awestruck-me, for which I am grateful.
:: Watching my 8 year old niece completely show me up by using chopsticks like a pro!
:: Friendships - HUGS, chats, tears, smiles, love, understanding one another, happiness
:: Reading through Persuasion again, but with friends! And analyzing every single bit of that story as I could. (I love to analyze.)
:: My nephew's band concert.
:: Blogging, twitter, and instagram chats, my online friends are awesome!
:: Starting a new job that turned out to be AMAZING.
:: Goodbye parties that involve chocolate cake.
:: Library friends who always seem to end up there when I'm stopping by.
:: Library visits in general.
:: Visiting Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia with dear friends. Wish I were still there! *daydreams*
:: Falling in love with Savannah's architecture.
:: Book anticipation! And then finally getting the chance to read them. Especially the final book in a couple of favorite series that made me wait a LONG time to find out what happened...
:: Pie baking
:: Twitter (movie) watch-alongs with Amber!
:: Finding a beautiful new copy of Persuasion to add to my bookshelf.
:: Enjoying the fresh new green of Spring and the beautiful colors of Autumn.
:: Finally reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy! (Well...I actually listened to the audiobooks, but you know what I'm saying. :)
:: Hosting my first ever book giveaway on the blog and it wasn't a complete dud! (I was worried.)
:: Watching The Crimson Field and falling in love with the series.
:: Twitter convos with my #BookBesties
:: Unexpected flower bouquets from a friend.
:: Spontaneous roadtrips!
:: Sunrises, sunsets, clouds, taking the time to look up.
:: Appreciating the little things: flowers blooming, sunshine after rain, hugs from children, watching You've Got Mail or North and South for the umpteenth time, hot tea just before bedtime {non-caffeinated!}, Chipotle for supper, chai tea from Starbucks, finding an illustrated P&P, spending time with close friends and their adorable children...
:: Getting the chance to watch Daddy Long Legs the Musical!!!! It was SO GOOD.
:: Precious time spent with my mother.
:: And of course, finding lovely new stories to read.

How was your 2015? Care to share? :)



December 10, 2015

Daddy Long Legs Musical



Just checking in real quick to let y'all know some amazing (and very last minute, yikes) news!! I know I've mentioned before that I love the book Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. Well, I'm not the only one evidently because it's been made into a musical! Yes, you read that right, it's a musical in New York. I've read rave reviews over it and have been so sad that I'd never get the chance to watch. BUT! The bestest, most amazing news ever is that they are livestreaming it online TONIGHT. Yeah, like I said, this is extremely last minute for which I apologize. :/ But, if you are available at 8pm, just click right here! And enjoy. I'm planning to! :D

{They are planning it for 8pm no matter what US timezone you're in, just FYI.}



December 9, 2015

Jane Austen Adaptations :: Part 1 {Persuasion & Emma}


Due to a comment (from the lovely Naomi :) on this post (plus my overall love of all things Austen, of course!), I'm currently in the mood to chat more about Jane Austen and her wonderful stories. Naomi noticed that I mentioned I have watched just about all of the adaptations out there. There are still a couple I've missed, I think, but I've gotten to see pretty much all of them. This was helped because a small library that was located very near my California house had most of them! Which was awesome. :D

Now then. I figured it was high time I talked about a few of the adaptations here, maybe rank my favorites and so on. Because I do have favorites, although some of them are harder to choose between than others. And then there's all the modern retellings out there as well! I was going to just do one big post about the adaptations of the original stories and then a second post about the many modern retellings, but I realized those posts were liable to get really, really huge, at which point I'd probably lose your interest. So! I'm separating the books out into different posts and including all adaptations (modern or no) therein. Fun, yes? I hope so. :)

Persuasion

Yes, y'all know that this is my favorite of Ms. Austen's stories. I have made no secret of this, I am well aware! So naturally I picked this one to talk about first. :) Unfortunately, there are not a lot of film adaptations of this book, which is quite terrible, I might add! In point of fact, I'm still waiting for the perfect adaptation. You know, the one that will be at least three or four hours long, with a great cast, stays pretty faithful to the book, etc. I can dream, right? And hope? :)

I did write a post on the 1995 and 2007 versions and the actors/actresses a few months ago (here) and I talked about my reasons for liking each one. I also mentioned the 1971 version and how I haven't seen it in years, but I remember it being a bit dry. I don't want to bore you with more of the same thoughts worded differently (or not), so will keep this short and sweet. {Also of note: this review of Persuasion, including the book and both recent adaptations ('95 & '07), which just made me happy. So I had mention it here!}

Persuasion (BBC, 1971)
Persuasion - 1971
Like I said, I haven't seen this one in a while, but what I remember is it's really dry and can be a bit boring. The BBC has definitely come a long way since 1971! The overall story is pretty faithful to the book, I believe. And if you don't mind the drab look of the miniseries, you may just enjoy it. Although I'd really recommend it only to the diehard Persuasion fans.


Persuasion
Persuasion - 1995
I think I love this one most for the conversation between Captain Harville and Anne near the end and where Wentworth and Anne finally come to understand one another again. You know, where Anne and Harville talk about who loves the longest, men or women. It's where we get the sweetest and quickest interaction between Anne and Wentworth as well. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds do a fantastic job in this scene, in my opinion. For all the little things that bother me about this version, that scene redeems it for me. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the moment where Wentworth gives her that incredible letter and Anne's heart gets put completely back together again! Anne's face as she reads that letter...? Oh my heart! I love it. :)


Persuasion 2007 DVD Cover.jpg
Persuasion - 2007
Yes, I will admit that a big draw to this one is Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth! It's shallow, but there you go. I love how he stares at Anne, especially in two scenes in particular. The first being when Anne is playing the piano in a room by herself at Uppercross and she imagines Wentworth watching her (or does she? We'll never know. :) and the second being when they have their chat near the end and Wentworth finds out Anne is not engaged to Mr. Elliot. Plus I love the little bits where we get things from his point of view, like his conversations with Harville. And that very last scene? True to the time period and book or not, I love it anyway! This version is not without its flaws, but I can mostly overlook them. For Rupert, I can overlook them! ;)

Emma

This is one of the books I haven't read yet. Interestingly, a dear friend hadn't read any Austen at all until earlier this year and she started with this one. And loved it! Clearly I need to move this one up my TBR. :) I've seen four versions of this, plus two modern retellings.


Emma (BBC, 1972)
Emma - 1972
Like Persuasion from 1971, this one is a bit dry from what I can remember. I haven't seen it in a great while either. But I can definitely say this, the BBC has been good at staying faithful to the original books when they do an Austen adaptation! The actress who plays Emma has a particular way of acting and talking, it sort of began to bug me by about halfway through. And Mr. Knightley seems a great deal older than Emma. Which, I know, he is, but it just bothered me in this version. If you're a serious Emma fan though, you might enjoy this one!


Emma
Emma - 1996
I wanted to like this one, I really did. I know several people who love it, but unfortunately I don't. Although I do admit that I haven't seen it in a while, so if I watched it again perhaps my opinion would change. But I've found a favorite version and this isn't it. I can say this in its favor however, Jeremy Northam is rather handsome as Mr. Knightley! (He's not my Mr. Knightley, but I can appreciate his good qualities nonetheless. ;) Gwyneth does a fine job, and she and Jeremy have great chemistry from what I remember. To be honest, I never could pinpoint precisely what doesn't work for me with this version. All I know is that I tried to love it and seemed unable to. Several friends love this version though, so don't just take my word for it! :)


Emma - 1996
I wanted to like this version as well, but alas. It's not quite as star-studded as the previous one, but is still very well done. I'm pretty sure where this one trips me up is Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. I just never can really like him. And you need to like Mr. Knightley, he's pretty important to the story! :) In that climactic scene with Emma, he's a bit too stern and grumpy or something. There are those that love his Mr. Knightley though, so once again don't just take my word for it. I should mention that I do like Samantha Morton as Harriet. She comes across as appropriately na├»ve, but not too silly, which I appreciate.


Emma (2009 BBC Version)
Emma - 2009
Now we reach my favorite! I had anticipated this version for months before I got the chance to watch it, hoping I would finally find an adaptation I would enjoy, and immediately fell in love with it. I love Romola as Emma! I know some people think she comes across too modern, with her facial expressions being a bit annoying, but she never bothered me at all. And Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley?! Oh my heart, he is most definitely my Mr. Knightley! ;D I loved him from his first scene, but where he cemented my love forever (well, for a long time anyway) is his delivery of that famous line, "If I loved you less, I could talk about it more." His speech in that scene just melts me every single time. And I love his gentleness and sweetness, as well as his fun banter with Emma, and the way we get to watch him realize that he's in love. *happy sigh* I LOVE this version! I've watched it umpteen times and will most likely watch it umpteen more. It just makes me happy! And I'm so glad that I can say I have a favorite version of Emma now. :)


Aisha (New Comedy Hindi Film / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema DVD)
Aisha - 2010
This is a movie from India based on Emma. I forget where I first heard about it, but was able to procure a copy and watch (with English subtitles, of course) and fall in love. Having never watched a Bollywood movie before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's quite a fun story. I'm sure there are things lost in translation, but the overall story is easy to follow and the two leads have really great chemistry. (Especially in a particularly adorable scene near the end! :) I love the music a great deal as well and, my extremely limited understanding of Bollywood movies notwithstanding, the music is an important part of the story. If you have the chance to watch it (and don't mind subtitles), I really recommend it! It's loads of fun.


Emma Approved - 2013
This is the youtube (and Pemberley Digital team from The Lizzy Bennet Diaries) modern retelling of the story. And it's adorable fun! In my opinion, obviously. :) The best thing about this version? The wonderful friendship between Alex and Emma. I loved that these two have this amazing friendship that they can count on. Love stories that begin as friendships are one of my favorite things! And these two? Oh my goodness, I dare you not to fall for these two! They just get each other, they are always, always there for each other, their friendship is just plain awesome, and when they finally realize their feelings...well. You should watch it, if you haven't already, because it's fabulous. It really, really is! :D


And there you have it! All the versions of Persuasion and Emma that I've watched. Have you watched any (or all?) of these? Which are your favorites? Tell me, tell me! And stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 to be coming soon. (Hopefully! :)



December 5, 2015

Thoughts For the Moment


Here am I, sitting and typing. Hoping for this tiny bit of moment in time I can cobble together a post so my readers will know that I'm not forgetting them. Hoping for a few seconds to click over to a friend's blog and catch up on her posts. Alas, here am I, scrambling to find words after realizing the post I had planned is much wordier than I thought. (I know. All my posts tend to be that way, don't they? What can I say? I like words. I use them a lot. Therefore, you get a lot to read. Yay?) Instead of feeling accomplished with all I got done this day, here I sit in my favorite chair at the library (am I the only one who has one of those?), wondering when I'm finally going to be able to do everything in the allotted amount of time I get for blogging each week (which is never enough, let me tell you. *sigh*).

So! With Jane Austen in my head, books all around me, real life friends with struggles that hurt me too, questions unanswerable (at least for the moment), words anxious to be written, blogs not visited (I have dreams of clicking over to your posts, friends! Some day. I shall conquer this!), comments not left, pictures not taken....yes. In all the mess, here I sit. Is it just me, or do some days, some weeks or months, feel like the words and the time and ability to get it all done is just impossible?

The words are too much, I can't get them all down, so I pause, click 'save post', and write this instead.

Words are crazy things, people. Sometimes they flow, sometimes they don't. Sometimes you get lots of posts from me (which is rare, I know), sometimes I go weeks without posting. There really is no happy medium with me, is there? But lucky for me, you're still here! I'm grateful. Truly.

And now with 15 minutes left before I have to leave, I'll end with this. An actual post should hopefully be forthcoming next week. I have plans, my lovelies! I promise. My next allotted time should only be a couple days away. Thus, until that moment, hang in there with me? And while you live your lives and I live mine, busy as they always are, we'll take a moment right this very second and breathe together. Okay?

Inhale...

Exhale...

And there you go.

Thanks.



December 2, 2015

Jane Austen Week Tag {Very, Very Belatedly}


Naomi (Wonderland Creek) had a Jane Austen Week back at the beginning of November and had this tag as part of the festivities. Obviously, that week has long been over, but when I finally started catching up on my friends blogs I stumbled over this and thought how fun it would be. So I decided to participate anyway! Better late than never. :)

I've not made it a secret that I love all things Austen. Especially if Captain Wentworth is involved! (But I'd also take Jonny Lee Miller's Mr. Knightley, for that matter. *swoon* ;) Let's get to the fun questions, shall we?

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a Jane Austen fan do you consider yourself?

Hmmm. Probably a 6 or 7? I do love her stories, but as I haven't actually read all of them (*gasp* I know!), I don't think I can consider myself a 10. I do happen to have seen just about all the adaptations and love most of them though, does that count? :)

2. If "they" would make a new Jane Austen Movie, and you would be able to be cast in it, which Jane Austen character would you most like to play?

Probably Anne Elliot. So far, of the books I've read, she's the one I relate to the most and the one I like the most (she's my favorite!), so the privilege to play her would be amazing! (But let's just put out there that acting has never been my thing. Being the center of attention or at least having tons of attention on me? *shudder* No, thank you.)

3. Is there any felicity in the world superior to a walk?

Um...yes. Curled up reading a favorite story!

4. Who's your favourite Jane Austen 'villain'? (As in 'villain' meaning 'the bad guy.')

I'm going to go with Frank Churchill. Because as much as he frustrates me, he does have sweet reasons behind it all and gets a nice romance with Jane Fairfax. But still! He's very frustrating and I don't know that I can say he's my favorite. He's just one of the few that gets the chance to be redeemed. Sorta.

5. What/Who introduced you to Jane Austen?

My very first introduction to the world of Jane Austen was Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility (1995). I had the chance to watch the movie on an airplane trip....somewhere? Can't remember where now, but I do remember loving the story to bits! But it took a few more years before I had the chance to watch more of the adaptations and to begin reading her books. (I was young and easily distracted. It happens, okay?) I next fell in love with P&P, but then.......oh, but then! I read Persuasion and never, ever looked back!

6. Did you love/enjoy Jane Austen immediately, or has there been a time when you hated (um, prejudged) it?

No, I pretty much fell in love instantly. I loved Emma Thompson's Elinor and dreamed I was her many, many times (which included acting the part....when I was alone with no one to make fun of me). I loved her dresses, I loved her hair (seriously, her hair in that movie is beautiful!), I loved the accents, I loved every bit of the time period and romance. And once I read and watched more of Austen's stories, I just fell deeper in love.


7. Who, in your opinion, is the funniest Jane Austen character?

I'm not sure? So many characters have their funny moments. In fact, that's one thing I love about Austen's stories, how much sarcasm and wit there is. Even in moments when things are dire! During my reread of Persuasion back in July and August, I laughed and laughed. And I wouldn't consider the book humorous as a whole, but Austen clearly had skill with her pen. :)

(Yes, this doesn't really answer the question. I know. But oh well.....right?)

8. Do you quote Jane Austen randomly in public?

Occasionally! But most don't get my references because very few of my real life friends love Austen like I do. So I make a reference, laugh at myself, and go on. It works. :)

9. Are children allowed to eat cake on [at] weddings?

Not if you ask Mr. Woodhouse! But in my opinion, yes. Most definitely yes! Cake is to be enjoyed, and who better to enjoy it?

10. What is your reaction when you hear that an acquaintance (e.g. A lady at Church) of yours loves Jane Austen?

*thinks* Oooo! I need to chat with them about their favorites! I wonder if they've read Persuasion. I wonder which book they love most? Have they watched any of the adaptations? I need to know! *makes mental plans to go find and ask*

I love this so much! That letter....:
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11. Who writes better letters, Mr Darcy or Captain Wentworth? (If you forgot what the letters were, shame on you, instead tell me if you prefer Strawberries to Chocolate or not.)


Captain Wentworth, thank you very much! That swoony letter of his is one of my very favorites. Mr. Darcy writes a good explanation, don't get me wrong. But that's all his letter is, an explanation. Captain Wentworth has him beat by far! *sighs happily* (Seriously! Have you read that letter? *melts* I referenced it here in case you need a refresher. ;)

12. Which Jane Austen heroine do you relate the least to?

At this point I'd probably say Fanny Price. This is just based on the adaptations I've seen, I haven't read the book yet. (And do notice I said 'yet'. I plan to read it some day!) While I tend to be on the quieter side, I do not have experience as a poor relation, nor do I harbor an unrequited love for my cousin, nor have any of my cousins or family treated me horribly ill. So.

13. What's your favourite Jane Austen house (from one of the movies)?

Oh boy. I'm having to scrounge my brain to remember them. I suppose I'll go with the Morland's house. It seems quite cozy and nice as far as I can remember right off hand. And I like cozy. :)

14. What's your favourite Jane Austen dress (from one of the movies)?


It might actually be her coat (or spencer or whatever it's called) and not her dress, but I love this one.

15. Can you turn off lit candles with your fingers?

Possibly? I'm a bit of a wimp, so have never really tried it. Blowing them out, on the other hand, that I can do! :)



November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Lucy Maud Montgomery!!

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As I'm sure you know, Ms. Montgomery was the author of Anne of Green Gables, as well as other stories. But she's more widely known for Anne. And who doesn't love Anne?! One of the best characters ever written (in my opinion :) and the reason why I'd love to go visit Prince Edward Island some day. Today is her birthday (obviously) and I just wanted to give her a shout out. Her Anne books made me a very happy reader when I was young. Actually they still make me a happy reader today! :) And of course, I'm a big fan of the adaptations as well. Ms. Montgomery had an amazing gift and I'm so glad she shared it with the world.
"...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--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world."
"It was November--the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul."

Also, I wanted to mention that Eva (from Coffee, Classics, & Craziness) is hosting a Lucy Maud Montgomery Week starting today. I'm sure there will be loads of fun going on, so be sure to check it out! :)


November 29, 2015

Currently....


I haven't done one of these posts in a while, so I thought "Why not today?". It's always a good time to see what is going on currently, right? :)

18512Listening To: I just finished the audiobook for The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien actually! And it was SO GOOD. Now I'm wondering why on earth I waited so long to read this series. Silly me! (Although I did figure I'd feel that way, at least according to all the rave reviews I've read and how much I love the movies. :)


Reading: Nothing! Crazy, right? ;) Having just finished ROTK, I have not started anything new yet. But I have plenty of stories just waiting for me, no worries there! Will just have to see what I'm in the mood for tonight. {Note: Did you know Natalie Lloyd, amazing author of A Snicker of Magic, has written a couple short stories for the holiday's? She has one for Halloween (I'm a little behind in telling you, sorry.) and one for Thanksgiving. Go! Read! Find out more about Midnight Gulch!}

Enjoying: A nice long holiday weekend! It has included some reading, writing, blogging, baking, movie-watching, and all kinds of happy. I love relaxing days like the past couple have been!

Watching: Christmas movies! (Naturally. ;) I love Hallmark Channel's line of Christmas movies every year. Can I just recommend a couple? Ice Sculpture Christmas (from 2015) and The Christmas Ornament (from 2013? I think?). Also just watched Crown For Christmas (starring Rupert Penry-Jones !!!!!!! YES that RPJ! From Persuasion and The 39 Steps.) It's adorbs! You should watch it.


Watching {part 2}: Also had to mention that I watched Jurassic World the other day and whoa. Seriously, people! It's a good one. A really good one! I've only watched the original Jurassic Park, none of the other sequels (until now) (obviously), but having heard so many good things about this one when I had the chance to watch it I didn't hesitate. And guys? I did not expect to have feelings for raptors. But....oh my goodness, my FEELINGS.

Feeling: I was going to talk about something else here, but now all I can think about is the raptor squad. *sigh* I could use a rewatch of that one. :)

Craving: My last piece of pumpkin pie that's currently sitting in my fridge. Have I mentioned I love pumpkin pie? Mmmmm.

Loving: Christmas music! I've been listening to it before today but, as it's officially official now, I am a happy lady! I'm sure I'll grow a little tired of it by the time Christmas day arrives, but for now? I'll just keep listening. And dancing! (But only in my head. Trust me. ONLY in my head. ;)

Anticipating: This delightful season we're in now. The lights and decorations, the music, the warm cups of tea, the families together, the coziness inside....the happy of Christmas!



November 27, 2015

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Sixteen

Well, I trust y'all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Mine was quiet, relaxing, and scrumptious! A delightful combination, wouldn't you agree? :) And now for more reviews! I realized I'd read three novellas that I hadn't reviewed yet, and since they're all short stories, I thought mini reviews would make the most sense. So! I surely hope you haven't gotten tired of all my reviews yet, because there's still more to come. :)

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While You're Awake by Amber Stokes
So if you haven't figured out by now, Ms. Amber Stokes is one of my most favoritest writers! :D And this little novelette has risen to the top of my list. Based around the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, it's the cutest story of Ava and Keegan. Ava, unable to sleep because of her fear of the bees that are making themselves at home in her apartment, has let that fear completely overtake her life. When Keegan finds this out, his protective instincts kick in and what follows is a sweet story of these two finding more and more ways to be adorable together. ;) Trust me, if you have a need for a story that is guaranteed to make you grin, a hero who will make you swoon, and a heroine in need of reminding of how wonderful she is, this is the story for you! It's a quick and fun read that will make you wish for more when you reach the final page. And, considering what happened to cause Amber to create this story, most definitely worth your time! Read it! You won't be sorry. I promise. :)
*I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.


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The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert
I loved this story!!! From the adorable meet cute to every other interaction between Nate and Amelia, this story reminded me so much of You've Got Mail (one my favorite movies ever) in all the best ways. From their bantery emails, to when they finally have face to face contact, it's all sweet and fun and squee-worthy! Seriously, just thinking about this story makes me automatically grin. Nate and Amelia's chemistry comes through loud and clear, even in their emails back and forth. Watching them slowly fall in love with the other's words and thoughts is incredibly sweet and romantic. It allows for an honesty that they wouldn't have nearly as quickly, so that once they see each other in person the initial awkwardness is still there slightly, but much more muted. Which, considering Amelia's shyness, is the best thing for both of them. My one complaint? I still don't know what the 24 stands for! And I'm curious, Ms. Ganshert. At least You've Got Mail told us the answer! Humph. ;)


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Love In the Details by Becky Wade
I have been a fan of Becky Wade's for several years now and couldn't wait to read this one. Short stories are perfect for a quick dose of happy when I need it! And this one most definitely delivered on the happy. :) I loved Holly and Josh's story. And I appreciated that I could feel their connection left over from their past. Their complicated emotions just about filled the air between them and watching as they spent time together again, unable to deny their chemistry was delightful! The fact that, try as they might, they couldn't keep away from each other just got me in the heart. These two have such history and know the other's flaws very well, but true love endures no matter the time, no matter the flaws, no matter the stubbornness. These two! They needed someone to hit them over the head so they'd stop being so silly. They're perfect for each other! They understood one another so well, and once they stopped being ridiculous, they realized how incredible it was that they got this second chance. But the journey to realizing this is swoony and adorable and well worth reading! So pick this one up as soon as you're able. It won't disappoint. :)




November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Yup, today is Thanksgiving in the good old US of A. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day filled with family, friends, and food. Good times! :) Just wanted to let all of my dearest readers know that I'm grateful for you. For your comments, yes, but most especially for the fact that you visit this little spot. That you read my words and get excited over books and stories with me. That you watch the same movies and period dramas and love to gush with me. That you come back again and again! I wish you a happy day with a comfy spot to curl up with a good book or a game or whatever makes you smile and gives you the warm fuzzies. You are loved and appreciated! Don't ever forget that. :)



November 25, 2015

Review: The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

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This is a beautiful story. Heart-wrenching and real, Ms. Hauck delves deep into heartaches, fears, and forgiveness. It's a bit of a change from her usual fare of fluffy and romantic happiness, but oh it's worth it! (And the romantic part is still there, no worries. :) After a slow start (it took a little while for me to get into the flow of the story, I admit), it finally started to pick up and I got swept away.

The four different points of view is where I struggled with the story. But juxtaposing Jimmy (Coach) and Collette's past with Taylor and Jack's present somehow came together by the middle of the book and I was so glad I stayed with them. I was more caught up in wanting Taylor and Jack to have their happy ending, I confess, although Coach and Collette's journey is equally sweet and moving.

Where Ms. Hauck excels in her writing is with her characters. They feel real; their emotions are understandable, yet unexplainable at times. The relationships, romantic or otherwise, are raw, filled with things unspoken, and all require lots of effort and hard work. That's what struck me the most, I think. How true to life even the friendships and familial relationships felt. No heart is left unchanged and the four main characters affect one another in ways none of them ever imagined.

This is a beautiful and striking story of people whose hearts have been guarded and whose walls need to be broken down. It's not easy, but once the softening happens? It's a wonderful thing to watch them all come together! Give this one try, I don't think you'll be disappointed. And your heart might be changed by the final page as well! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Taylor peered over at Coach, who boasted a smile but his slightly rounded shoulders cracked her heart a bit wider for him.
"Coach," she squeezed his hand. "Are you really sure you want to let this place go? I just feel like there's something more here-"
He squeezed her hand back. "Trust me, kiddo, I let go a long time ago."
A brush of light feel over the pews from the western windows, spreading a gentle wheel of color through the stained glass. A soft red, pale blue, and shallow green peddled across the floor.
Then she heard it. The light whoosh-thump. Taylor whipped around toward the door, her middle taut with anticipation. "Did you hear that?"


November 18, 2015

New Cover Reveal :: How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes {Plus a Giveaway}

The always lovely Amber (from Seasons of Humility) is debuting a new cover for one of her novellas today! And I get the privilege of sharing it with all of you. :) I read this sweet story last year (here's my review) and while I liked the fantasy feel of the original cover, I admit that this new cover feels more true to the adorableness of the story. (Plus who doesn't like a cute couple cover, I ask you?! ;) Incidentally, I can't believe that this story has been out for an entire year already! Time does fly, doesn't it?

A Note From the Author

A year ago today (November 18th), my little star story, How a Star Falls, landed on Amazon. I’m thrilled to celebrate the anniversary of its release with you by introducing a brand-new cover (where the hero, Derrick, makes an appearance) and sharing a fun giveaway with prizes from some of my favorite Etsy shops!

If you journeyed with Derrick and Brielle when their story first released, thank you for allowing them into your heart. And if this will be your first time meeting them, I hope you’ll be encouraged by their story and reminded of the hope of Psalm 138:8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”

Blessings through life’s seasons!
~Amber


Isn't it sweet? Derrick and Brielle are cute, of course, but I also rather enjoy the sun setting behind them. It gives it an evening or dusk kind of feel, and since they meet at that time of day how perfect! Plus the colors are muted and wistful, which suits this story to a T. I like this cover a great deal, I admit and it fits so well with Amber's other novellas, so win win! :) Also, I just have to mention that if you haven't read this little story yet, you must remedy that soon. And then check out While You're Awake as well! Amber's stories are delightful, you won't be disappointed, I promise. :)

About the Book

Sweet New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

This novella is available in the following formats:
2-hour unabridged audiobook
Paperback
Kindle ebook

About the Author

Amber Stokes works as a marketing content writer for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at Seasons of a Story.

Giveaway

Fill out the form below to enter to win one of three prizes from some of the author’s favorite Etsy shops! The prizes are…


Why these prizes? The earrings include stars, which fit this occasion for obvious reasons. ;) The compass is a reference to a song mentioned in the story: "If My Heart Was a House" by Owl City (you can listen HERE). And the cards are a little teaser for my next contemporary romance, Where Trains Collide. (Let's just say the hero's nickname is Paul Bunyan. Can you guess the heroine's nickname?)

Note: Giveaway is open to US residents only due to shipping costs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



November 13, 2015

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Fifteen

Here I am again! More reviews for your reading pleasure. As I stated before, this is the Christian Fiction (plus one Jane Austen sequel) edition of my review-catch-up-pile. :) And now, on with the reviews!

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Greetings From the Flipside by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay
So I admit that I was a bit confused about what was going on in the first couple chapters, but once I settled into the flow it didn't take long to get swept up into the story. I really liked Hope! Watching as she stumbled her way into figuring out where she wanted her future to go was at times cringe-worthy, but always cheer-worthy. I wanted the best for her and really enjoyed getting to travel her journey with her. So glad this book is on my shelf so I can reread at my leisure. :)


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A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson
As always, I love getting more peeks into Bella Neeley's awesome family! And adding in a neighboring Greek family whose pride is just as big (and formidable) as the Rossi's made for loads of fun. Can I just say that Ms. Thompson writes great characters? I can always feel the chemistry crackle between her main couple, and Cassia and Alex are no exception. I laughed and swooned my way through this story and closed the final chapter with a happy sigh. SO much fun! :)


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A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
I stood in the store unable to put this book down, that's when I knew it had to come home with me. Miranda and Marcus' chemistry and banter are delightful! I laughed the whole way through this story, but that's not to say there isn't an intriguing mystery to add some depth and tension to it. The characters are where Ms. Hunter excels though. I think I'd like to meet the Hawthorne's if they truly existed. They are a wonderful family!


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A Lady of Esteem by Kristi Ann Hunter
Technically this novella comes before A Noble Masquerade, but it doesn't really have to be read in that order (I read it second). Either way you read it, I'm sure you'll enjoy the fun of watching a man determined not to be swayed by love only to fall for someone unexpected. Amelia and Anthony are too adorable for words. Now I'm looking forward to what Ms. Hunter has in store for her readers next!


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Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter
Ms. Hunter has been on my list of favorite authors for several years and this story just helps cement her there. I absolutely loved the gentle way Beau took care of Eden, even when not certain what her motives were for arriving as she did. Ms. Hunter is so good at writing a swoony hero! Seeing both of them fall in love, almost against their will, is so very sweetly done. And some of the obstacles in their way are handled maturely and nicely, which I appreciated. A perfect story for a cozy evening in front of the fire! :)


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Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
While I wasn't a fan of Ms. Gist's earlier work, her stories that take place around the Chicago World's Fair have very quickly risen to the top of my favorites list! Her thoroughly researched history is fascinating and her characters are amazing. Flossie, for all her faults, quickly made me love her and her interactions with Reeve never failed to make me smile. I skimmed it at the store, brought it home, and proceeded to devour it all in one sitting. It was just that good!! If you enjoy historical novels, I urge you to read this one. It is very evident that Ms. Gist put a great deal of time into making sure her history would be as correct as possible. Excellent read!!!


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The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert
A fabulous beginning to this amazing series. Ms. Ganshert kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way through and I loved it. :D But I was definitely glad I waited to read this until all three books were out because HELLO cliffhanger!


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The Awakening by K.E. Ganshert
The tension only rises here in book two. I continued to be impressed with this world that Tess lives in. For the record, I loved Tess, even if she tends to be quite frustrating at times. But Luka? *swoon* And that ending?! Not nice, Ms. Ganshert. Not nice at all.


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The Gathering by K.E. Ganshert
An epic conclusion! Tess begins this book in a pretty bad place, so I could forgive her for making some hard choices. But there were definite moments, as the story went on, where I just wanted to shake her. Yet she's had to grow up quickly and has this huge responsibility lying on her shoulders. Which I felt like the adults in her life could have helped her handle better, quite frankly! But frustrations aside, I loved every minute of this story. SO glad I was able to read all three books one after another, as each kept me hooked in until the final page. This series truly is fantastic!


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Henry and Fanny: an Alternate Ending to Mansfield Park by Sherwood Smith
This is precisely what the title says. If you've ever wondered "what if Fanny ended up with Henry instead of Edmund", then you just might enjoy this. I did! Ms. Smith strove to make it feel very much like Austen's writing and did a fair job of it in my opinion. And whether you agree with this new ending or no, it is an enjoyable read and a nice addition to Ms. Austen's famous work. :)



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