Monday, December 31, 2018

Countdown to 2019 Book Style!

New Year's Eve is known for countdowns.
In the spirit of remembering what was and anticipating what is to come,
here's my top 5 Favorite Reads of 2018!

FIVE! 



FOUR!


THREE!





and (drumroll) ONE!





Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More Than I Bargained For


Author Regina Jennings' 2nd book in her Fort Reno series captures the readers attention from page 1 with her humor and charming storytelling.

Hattie Walker's longing for independence has a two month ultimatum tied to it. She has sixty days to prove to herself she's a talented and renowned artist. Failure means return home to Van Buren and marrying as per her parents wishes.  Her plans are disrupted when her stagecoach is attacked and she's rescued by a group of Arapaho Indians...not realizing they are friendly and mean her no harm.

Lieutenant Jack Hennessey hears word that a stagecoach has been robbed and a young woman is the lone survivor and witness. He saddles up to rescue her. Imagine his surprise when the "survivor" turns out to be the only woman he's ever loved and  never stopped carrying a torch for....Hattie Walker.

Wanting to impress her, Jack asks the Arapaho to arrange for a prisoner transfer; making it look very ceremonial.  Needless to say, something gets lost in translation and they both get more than they bargained for. 


The Lieutenant's Bargain had everything that hooks me as a reader: An interesting storyline, relatable and complex characters, and wit. Ms. Jennings builds Jack and Hattie's relationship in an intriguing way.  The key moments shared from their childhood, that helped shape them into who they would become as adults, was unique and very well done. She expertly keeps the reader interested with the 'will they won't they' ploy. 

A couple of elements of this story which stood out to me and I enjoyed was seeing how both Jack and Hattie communicate differently. Jack is better at using letters to convey his feelings and Hattie is able to capture moments and memories through her art. 

Another component of the story I liked was how the main characters realized their sins and shortcomings and how they dealt with them head-on versus simply acknowledging them and not taking action to change. 

 The Lieutenant's Bargain is written to be a stand alone. If you haven't read book 1 in the series (Holding the Fort) you won't be lost.  However, if you have, you'll enjoy being reunited with some of the main characters. 

If you are a fan of Ms. Jennings' novels you need to add The Lieutenant's Bargain to your list of books to read in 2019 or try to squeeze it in these last days of 2018!

Reading is adventure,
Emilee 





~~ The Lieutenant's Bargain was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 
 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child,
and bear a Son, and they shall call
His name Immanuel,”
which is translated,
“God with us.” 
Matthew 1:22-23


Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Big Question...IS the Book Always Better?


The book was so much better! 

A phrase most die-hard bibliophiles proclaim when referring to a film adaptation

of a beloved story.

For years I have watched the timeless 1940's black and white classic, Miracle on 34th Street starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and a young Natalie Wood, never realizing it was based on a novella of the same name.


 Author of the novella, Valentine Davies, wrote the story Miracle on 34th Street in 1947. It was adapted into a screenplay that same year and earned him an Academy Award for Best Story.
Other screen credits to his name are: It Happens Every Spring (1949),  The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), The Benny Goodman Story (1955), and The Glenn Miller Story (1945).

While I genuinely enjoyed this 120 page short story, I found myself continually picturing images and scenes from the original film. This is one of those rare and I do mean rare cases where the movie was better than the book.
Yes, I said it...the movie was better than the book.

Can you image a more perfect casting of characters?

I certainly can't!

This is one of those unique cases where the film embodied everything the story was and more.

In the book, there is a line that Doris says to her daughter that (I think) the film took to heart and kept that concept throughout. "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to." (Davies, 116). Miracle on 34th Street inspires you to believe and have faith in others, something we all need a little more of today. 




Fun Film Trivia:



Actress Thelma Ritter's film career began after her small part in Miracle on 34th Street. She was the exhausted mother trying to finish her Christmas shopping.



Edmund Gwenn improvised his reaction to the beard pull to get a reaction out of Natalie Wood.



 Miracle on 34th Street was ranked #9 in AFI's 2006 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.



In her autobiography, Maureen O'Hara said that she never tires of children asking her if she's the lady that knows Santa Claus. Her answer is always the same,
"Yes I am. What would you like me to tell him?"  






Sunday, December 2, 2018

Shelter of the Most High Provides the Ultimate Encouragement











Shelter of the Most High is the second book in Connilyn Cossette's Cities of Refuge series. In order to have a fuller appreciation and understanding of this wonderful novel, I recommend reading the first book A Light on the Hill.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh for the past 11 years. He still feels guilt over the tragic accident that happened in his childhood. The way the author has written Eitan you'll fall in love with him twice; once as a young love-starved boy in A Light on the Hill and now as a young man in Shelter of the Most High. Eitan is loyal and fiercely protective of his family. It makes you connect to him as a character and gives men everywhere a high standard to live up to in a good way. However, the most beautiful thing was seeing how he discovers forgiveness and can move on from his past and dream of his future.
Sofea comes from a pagan background. She's the daughter of an ungodly high priest. When she meets Eitan he's unlike any man she's ever met and she's drawn to that. I loved how this story shows how men should treat women and she finally realizes she's worthy of his respect.

When Eitan meets Sofea he's intrigued and attracted to her. He loved her "vivid eyes" (Cossette, 54). when he first met her.They have obstacles to overcome. The two major ones being language barrier and coming from two different worlds (pagan vs. God-fearing). I liked the way that Ms. Cossette has them connect through using facial expressions and hand motions proving that people can adapt when faced with the challenge of different languages. It was very intriguing to read these exchanges and see how their relationship grew. I think because of these barriers it made their relationship even stronger. I really enjoyed learning how their experiences shaped them as people, but also how they worked through these challenges, something all of us can always be working on.

 One of my favorite moments in the book is when Sofea sees her worth and realizes she is loved by God. "I was inexplicably valued by the One Who Made the Stars had been worth every painful step." (Cossette, 291). This was a beautiful full circle moment and so perfectly said.

If you are looking to be inspired, encourage, pushed to grow and know your worthiness as a person, I urge you to check out this book. You will find yourself cheering and praying for Eitan and Sofea can get their love story, but more importantly, you are a better person because you've read it.

               Your fabulously blonde bookworm, 
                             Emilee


~~ Shelter of the Most High was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Christmas Heirloom is a Joy from Start to Finish


Image result for christmas heirloom karen witemeyer

Christmas Heirloom is a charming set of novellas that will make you believe in love and excitedly anticipate the upcoming Christmas season.
Being a sentimentalist, I loved the concept behind this collection of stories. One unique broach is passed down from mother to daughter over the course of multiple generations dating almost 200 years and spanning 2 continents.  
Karen Witemeyer's novella is a slice of joy. I liked how she cleverly combined the two tales that inspired Gift of the Heart. It's a blend of The Book of Ruth from the Bible and has elements of Beauty and the Beast. 
Widow Ruth Fulbright accepts a position as a cook to provide for her seven year old daughter, Naomi.
Unable to afford the cabin her employer rented out on behalf of her and her daughter, she seeks out her landlord Mr. Beauregard "Bo" Azlin who owns the whole town. Bartering her family's heirloom broach she borrows money from him and upon full payment she'll receive the treasured piece of  jewelry. 
This quote below displays Ms. Witemeyer's trademark wit and flare, all the while conveying deeper emotions and building understanding for the characters. 

"Hope was a dangerous thing to give a man, and Ruth Fulbright had just served him up two ridiculously large slices." (Witemeyer, 142).

Christmas Heirloom is the perfect book to start off your holiday reading. Cozy up with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage and just let yourself get lost in the worlds these 4 talented authors have created. One of my favorite scenes was at the end of author Sarah Loudin Thomas' novella, A Shot at Love. The ending was equal parts surprising and amusing. I would say more, but it would give away the ending. 
 I also thought it was so sweet that Ms. Witemeyer dedicated this novella to her Posse group on Facebook. This only increased her fans and readers appreciation for her kindness and generosity as an author. 
Thank you Ms. Witemeyer! 


~~ Christmas Heirloom was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Still Rings True

Hollywood in 1939 churned out many iconic and memorable films. Among them were Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Love Affair (In my opinion the 1957's remake of An Affair to Remember is the best version.) With all these unforgettable movies being released, Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was somewhat overlooked.
In honor of the 79th anniversary of this film, TCM and Fathom Events brought it back to the silver screen.
Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a naïve, idealistic young man who is appointed to the United State Senate after an unexpected vacancy. Aided by Jean Arthur who plays his secretary Miss Saunders he comes up against political corruption and remains true to who he is.

Capra's film will inspire even the most lukewarm patriot to greater loyalty to our country and invoke feelings of gratitude and devotion.

Nearing the end of the film, there's a quote from Mr. Stewart's character that struck a chord with me.
"I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness, and a little looking out for the other fella, too."
Talk about a stirring speech that inspires you to treat your fellow man with more compassion.


Fun Film Trivia:

In 2006, AFI ranked Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as #6 on the Most Inspirational Film of All Time list.

During the memorable filibuster scene, Jimmy Stewart reportedly had his throat swabbed with mercuric chloride to achieve the raspy sound in his voice. (True dedication to his craft!)

Jean Arthur cited this film as her favorite of all her films.

Actress Beulah Bondi portrayed Jimmy Stewart's mother in 5 films: Of Human Hearts (1938), Vivacious Lady (1938),  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939),  It's A Wonderful Life (1946), and The Jimmy Stewart Show (1971)