Revolution of Love

Revolution of Love

Do small things with great love.

The Blessed Is She Bible and Bible Journaling Tools

When I received the new Blessed Is She Catholic Journaling Bible at Christmas, I was ecstatic and a little nervous. Although I am a planner lover and enjoy decorating my planner, I have never tried a journaling bible. Sure, I would jot down notes in the margins but that was it. I went on Instagram and scanned a few hashtags involving bible journaling and definitely felt like I was in over my head. I don’t water color or draw well and I’m a newbie at hand lettering. What if I mess up? Should I even be drawing in a Bible? Finally, I decided to just give it a try and let the Holy Spirit speak to me as I color. He reminded me to not be afraid to try new things. I may discover something new to love. So, with an Amazon gift card in hand, I scanned the online aisles and purchased some accessories to use on this journaling journey.

(NOTE: Revolution of Love is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I purchased these items on my own and am sharing my honest opinion about them.)

Here are the items I started with…

Scripture Ribbons

I purchased Design One Scripture Ribbons for less than $10 because I like to be able to keep track of different books in the Bible – favorite passages, books I am studying or a Gospel reading I will write about soon. The ribbons will help me to keep track.

The ribbons were attached to a white piece of cardboard that you could slip into the spine on the Bible. However, you were supposed to pull off the brown covers to reveal the sticky side of the ribbon then press the adhesive to the inside of the book spine. This may have worked well with a book wider than this bible but the ribbons kept sticking to the inside of the spine before I could push them down far enough. I tried to pull the ribbons back out but they were sticking everywhere and I landed out yanking a few right off the cardboard holder. What a mess.

To correct it, I finally go the cardboard and sticky ribbons out and fixed it so the ribbons were back on the cardboard with no exposed adhesive. I slid the cardboard back into the spine and because it was a perfect fit, I did not slip out. I have been using the ribbons for a couple weeks moving them around and rearranging them in the pages and they work great. So while I do recommend these ribbons, for this particular bible, I suggest slipping it into the spine with the adhesive covers still on the ribbons. They should stay in place without a problem.

Pens

Normally, when I write with pen, I prefer to use these:

However, I didn’t feel comfortable writing in my new Bible with pen that may bleed through and in which I could not erase my mistakes. I decided to leave that to the professionals! My fellow Blessed Is She sister Samantha is my go to girl when I want to learn more about pens. She tested out her favorites in the new journaling bible and shared her thought in Blessed Is She’s blog post – Everything You Need to Know About Catholic Bible Journaling (Tools + Resources).

As for me, I decided I am taking baby steps and wanted to start by only using colored pencils and erasable pens.

Erasable Pens

*** ***

My favorite erasable pens are Frixion markers. I have three sizes – the thicker Pilot Frixion Colors Erasable Markers, the thinner Pilot FriXion Pencil, 0.7mm Ballpoint Pen, 12 Colors Set. (Also available in the 24 pen set) and the thinnest Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen, 0.5mm, 10 Colors Set.  I find the .7mm pens to be my favorite to use in the Journaling Bible.

(One note: It has been said that the ink of these pens disappear in extreme heat but the ink will reappear if book is placed in the freezer. I have never had an issue but I also don’t live in extreme heat.)

Since I already love Frixion, I naturally bought their highlighters too – Pilot Highlighter Frixion Light, 6 Soft Color Set.

The highlighters have such pretty colors, are not too dark, have minimal shadowing and are erasable if you make a mistake.

Colored Pencils

For the colored pencils, I usually use Prismacolors but they are a little pricey so I wanted to test ones that were not as expensive. I tried Artalicious colored pencils as well as a few of the Crayola colored pencils I already had.

 

They worked well and fit nicely into my pencil carrying case.

A couple days later I pulled out my favorite Prismacolor colored pencils to see if there was a difference.  It may be my imagination but the colors seemed bolder and felt smoother on the paper. However, it wasn’t such a difference that I’d worry about it if I couldn’t afford the Prismacolors.

Stickers and Washi Tape

Nothing decorates a page quicker than washi tape and stickers, especially if you are artistically challenged. 😉 I have been collecting stickers since the age of seven and you’d think that decades later I’d be tired of it. Nope. From monthly sticker clubs (such as Pipsticks or Stickii Club) to the $1 bin at Target, there are always cute stickers to be found. For this Bible I chose floral Studio 112 stickers such as these, which are a little more pricey since they are card stock style.

For washi tape, you can pretty much find it anywhere these days – Target, Staples and craft stores such as Michael’s. I really like the Recollections brand and stock up when I have a Michael’s coupon. You can also find some of their washi collection here on Amazon. (I’ve only seen their faith/ bible journaling washi tape in the store.)  I like the Recollections brand because it is well made and can easily be removed. Scotch Expressions Washi is another good brand, as are others found in craft stores, Target, etc. You can experiment with a number of brands with cute designs, just be careful of washi tape that is too cheap since it tends to rip off the roll and/or does not remove easily from the page.

Bible Cover

Lastly, I was debating whether or not to get a Bible cover and was browsing Amazon and found this “Blessed” one. The Scripture on the front was perfect.

The cover is a little larger than the Bible, so there is about an extra inch or so but once it’s in the cover you don’t notice as much. I also like that there are two pen holders. I just have to make sure to tuck int the ribbons before I zip up.

(UPDATE: Now that I’ve used the cover for a couple weeks, I find I prefer not to keep it in the cover while using the Bible. Instead I just lay it inside (without tucking it into the cover slots) and place my prayer journal on top of it. Then I zip it up using it more like a mini suitcase that protects my bible and prayer journal when taking it outside the home. It works much better like this for me.)

Well, those are the Bible journaling tools I am using right now. I’d love to hear what products you have tried or are interested in. Let me know!

UPDATE: One final note I want to add, I am hearing from many of you that you are not artistic or don’t want to draw in the Journaling Bible. You don’t have to draw! You can use the lines to take notes, write your thoughts or copy Scripture passages that mean a lot to you. Second, I posted a few decent photos but I have many more pages where the writing is mediocre or sloppy. That’s okay! (It’s just between me and God. 😉 ) You don’t have to have pin-worthy drawing to use the Bible. Use stickers or washi as shown or you can keep it simple and minimal. There’s no “right” way so don’t stress over it.

If you haven’t purchased this beautiful Bible yet, you can find them in the Blessed Is She shop (in which proceeds go directly back into the Blessed Is She ministry) or you can also purchase a copy on Amazon.

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd, or Spotify, 😉

 

 


Friday Favorites & Link-up Vol 1 & 7QT

It’s been another busy week and I needed a break so I thought I would do a short but fun post with my Friday Favorites. Here are the things that I am loving this week. 🙂

(Note: Revolution of Love is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.)

~ 1 ~

This Week’s Fave Anticipation

Hints of Spring

It’s been rainy the last few days but there are signs of spring around as tiny buds are showing and a few are beginning to bloom. I can’t wait until March so I can start planting flowers on our deck garden.

~ 2 ~

This Week’s Fave Lotion

“Happiness” Aromatherapy Lotion

For Christmas I received a new lotion called Happiness from Bath and Body Works. It has Bergamot Essential Oil, which creates a sense of well being and Mandarin Essential Oil, which helps improve mood. I’ve gotta admit, I think it works! I love the fresh, citrusy smell and so do my boys. Each of my three little guys came up to me (at different times) and hugged me and said I smelled really good. So either this stuff is great or… I normally smell like crap. 😉

 

~ 3 ~

This Week’s Fave Book

Harry Potter

For the last three months my Reading List has been dominated by the Harry Potter series. In November I read the first book for the first time. After that I couldn’t put them down until I finished them all. (I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to wait a year between books.) Today I officially finished all the books (and the movies) with plenty of tears shed in between. After so much HP, I am not sure what book to tackle next!

I want to do a classic I have yet to read and looked over Modern Mrs. Darcy’s suggestions and have narrowed it down to either Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy or The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Any suggestions on which one to pick?

~ 4 ~

This Week’s Fave Catholic Item

Photo credit: smallthingsgr8tlove

“To Jesus through Mary” Rosary Pouch

I bought this cute canvas rosary pouch from smallthingsgr8love on etsy. This would be a great little gift for Valentines or in an Easter basket.

~ 5 ~

This Week’s Fave Comfort

The Sisterhood/Brotherhood of Prayer

This morning Brian is going for another one of his big cancer tests. He’s taken this test three times in his life so far. The first time is when they first found the cancer. The second time was when the cancer came back after his surgery. The third time they didn’t find cancer but on that same day his dad had a stoke and was changed forever. Sooo this test has very unhappy memories for our family!

Cancer is such a roller coaster ride. Even when it is gone, you can never feel fully “free” from it since there is the constant testing to make sure it hasn’t returned. It is a good thing so it can be detected early and dealt with but it also makes it harder because you’re constantly thrown back into “what if” mode every time a test date approaches.  In the meantime, I am thankful for the prayers of my family and friends who pray not only for a positive outcome but for our family to not let fear overtake our hope and faith in God. I am so thankful to all of those lifting us up in prayer. May the end of this test be filled with joy and thanksgiving.

UPDATE: Brian’s procedure/testing went well and the doc said everything looks great. No signs of cancer. Blessed be God!

~ 6 ~

This Week’s Fave Learning Tool

Home Organization

In January, after the holidays and all the excess, I always get the itch to purge, simplify and organize. These two books have been my reading material and motivation.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

and

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living

~ 7 ~

This Week’s Fave Challenge

Organized Simplicity Challenge (Jan 22 – Feb 2 2018)

To put what I am learning into action, I have joined Stephanie Wood Weinert’s #organizedsimplicity Challenge. She is following the Organized Simplicity book (above) and has a Facebook Group for participants to follow along. Full disclosure, I can never seem to get all the work done on the days assigned since there are some days I am not home at all but I do what I can.

Katheryn Whitaker is joining Stephanie and the other day on an IG Live she said three things that really stuck with me. Paraphrased:

  1. Strive for better not perfect. Even if only a small amount of progress is made, it is still better than when we started.
  2. Purging is a process. We’re never really “done” because as time passes our family’s needs changes and the purge continues.
  3. When you have order in your home, you leave space in your heart for Christ.  (I especially love that one.)

There’s more I want to share but I’ll save that for later in a separate post. 🙂

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’d love to hear what your favorites are this week. I added a link-up for anyone interested.

And if you happen to list 7 favorites, you can also link-up with awesome Kelly for 7 Quick Takes.

Then go and link up with one of my favorite bloggers, Ashley for January’s Five Favorites. I’m so excited! I didn’t realize she was still doing Five Favorites. Plus, she is also doing an awesome give away!

Happy Friday!

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd, or Spotify, 😉

Are you ready to link up?? Here are the rules.

1. Create a post with your Friday Favorites.

2. Add a link back here so others can play along.

3. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address. Have fun!



She Who Believed: The Blessed Is She 2018 Lent Journal

It’s January 12 and I am still taking down the last of the Christmas decor. However, I’m also looking at the calendar in disbelief. Is Lent really only a month away?? It’s not possible! But the package I just received in the mail says IT IS possible because my Blessed Is She Lent Journal has arrived. Yay!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Okay, so part of me dreads Lent (where.is.the.chocolate.) and part of me loves the chance to stop, reflect and draw closer to God. Having the Blessed Is She journal to guide me along the way makes it all that much better. The journal was written by Laura Fanucci of Mothering Spirit.com (who also wrote the Advent 2017 journal) so you know it will be good.

Each day we will follow the same format – Read, Reflect, Respond and Pray. I especially love that the book explores the stories of women in the Bible (Old and New Testament) to learn what they teach us about prayer.

Laura explains it this way:

The journal also looks at four common types of prayer—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petition—and how real women wrestled with God about their struggles, their joys, and the deepest longings of their heart. My hope is that this Lent can be a season of entering into renewed relationship with God. Learning from the wisdom of those who have walked this way before us.

Another beautiful aspect of the journal is that Laura integrated “pause” days that would allow us to catch up (because, you know… life!) or to spend more time reflecting a favorite passage.

Lastly, although this book is called a journal, do not think that you are obligated to write or draw in it. It is a beautiful devotional on it’s own without ever having to life a pen. Plus, it is simply lovely to look at, thanks to the incredible talent of  Erica Tighe of Be A Heart Design.

Photo credit: Blessed Is She

If you have a Blessed Is She Membership then the Lent journal will be auto-shipped to you. Otherwise, the journal is available in the BIS shop to purchase. There is also a gorgeous Lent Bundle that includes the following:

The Journal

Photo credit: Blessed Is She

The 8×10 She Who Believed Print and

Photo credit: Blessed Is She

Mary’s Way of the Cross Cards

So, will be joining me on this She Who Believed Lenten journey? I hope so!

I’ll be posting my thoughts throughout Lent and you can follow along in the Blessed Is She community using the hashtags #BISLent and #BISsiterhood. Let’s do this together and encourage one another. 🙂

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd, or Spotify. 😉


My 2018 Word and Saint of the Year

It’s goals week on the blog. Yesterday I shared about joining the 2018 Reading Challenge and today I’m discussing about my word and saint of the year. 🙂

For the last few years on January 1, I have been choosing a word and saint of the year that I would focus on for the following twelve months. I already had a word in mind in early November but as I was praying and working through my Advent journal during Advent, my heart started moving in a completely different direction.I was reflecting on the fact that 2017 was a year of blessing for me and my family. We had previous years with pain, cancer, the death of loved ones etc but this year was all about family, road trips and making memories. I felt moved to focus on reaching out those who were struggling and going through difficult times.

This weekend Bella and I went on a weekend trip to San Francisco to see one of her favorite musicals Aladdin. We had an amazing time but it was also painful to see sections of San Francisco with so many hurt and homeless people. While there offering a smile, a kind word and a friendly conversation with a stranger emphasized my desire to lift people up. Later I received a phone call from an acquaintance and my first instinct was to let it go to voice mail (I’m not much of a phone person) but since it was the second time they called I knew they needed to talk. I picked up the phone and had a conversation. Sure enough, they just needed to share some news, vent about a concern and ask for prayer. I listened, offered some words of encouragement and prayed for them. When I hung up, I felt that tug again. These are little things I can do to uplift someone.

I was browsing Facebook and saw that Jen Fulwiler, who made the Saint Generator, also made the new Word of the Year Generator. I thought it would be interesting to see if I was given a word leaning towards the new word I was contemplating. I prayed, clicked the link and my word was….

TOAST.

My first thoughts… What the heck?   Toast?    As in “You’re toast.”   “Burnt toast.”   “Dry as toast.”   “My daughter’s going to marry Ian Miller. A xeno with a TOAST family.”

How was that supposed to be my word? Of course, then I thought about giving a toast. Raising a glass and saying kind words about someone. Lifting them up. Celebrating their joys. Wishing them all the best. Yes, that sounds more like what has been on my mind. The word that was really pressing on my heart was “Encourage.”

This morning as I was in bed waiting for my alarm to go off, I was thinking about the word encourage and two more points came to mind.

One, to encourage myself with positive thinking. As I am reviewing last year’s goals and making new goals I was reminded to shut down any self negative talk. (You failed at that. You can’t do that. Why would anyone care what you think? You’ll never be as good as her. You seriously suck at keeping your house clean.”) And instead use more encouraging language in my head. (Be brave. Give it a try. Focus on the positive. Be yourself. Work at it in baby steps until you get it done.) It may seem stupid but I think it makes a difference in my mental and emotional outlook.

Secondly, as I was saying my morning prayers, I felt like Jesus was reminding me that I need to turn to Him for encouragement and not to always seek comfort in a piece of chocolate or some online shopping or binging on Netflix when I’m stressed or need a break. Instead He wants me to turn to Him first. Let Him comfort and encourage my spirit. Then it’ll be easier for me to enjoy the other activities in moderation. 😉

So long story short – My word is encouragement.

My Saint of 2018

For my saint, I used the saint generator and got St. Teresa Margaret Redi. I had never heard of her before but after reading about her I discovered that her main goal in life was to love God and to share that love with others. She did her daily activities without fanfare and worked tirelessly in her convent’s infirmary taking care of people and lifting up their spirits. (It was also said that she had the gift of healing.) So, I am praying that St. Teresa Margaret will help me this year to love God, share that love with others and to bring healing to broken spirits by offering encouragement and love.

Did you pick a saint or word of the year? Do share!

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd, or Spotify, 😉
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2018 Reading Challenge and A Review of the 2017’s Book Reading

Happy 2018!! I hope you have been enjoying a wonderful beginning to the new year. After much celebrating and feasting, I am ready to sit down and review some of my goals for 2018. I signed up for the 2018 Goodread’s Reading Challenge, pledging to read 30 books this year. I will also use the 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge to help me pick books from various categories. I already have a number of books on my TBR list that would fit nicely!

(NOTE: Revolution of Love is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

I purchased these books on my own OR read them for free through Amazon Prime’s Prime Reading OR through my subscription to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service OR from my local library’s Overdrive.)

I am thinking that I will read Gone with Wind for a classic I’ve been meaning to read (although that may also be good for the book with more than 500 pages) and We Were the Lucky Ones for a book recommended by someone with great taste. There are just so many books I want to read and it is hard to choose which ones to read first!

Review of 2017’s Book Reading

Now a review of last year’s challenges. In 2017, I completed the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge.

I also completed my Goodread’s Reading Challenge by completing the 24 books I pledged, plus ten more. Since I never got a chance to finish reviewing the books I read in 2017 before the year end, I’ll review the books I read from July to December below. Maybe you’ll want to add one of these to your 2018 Reading List. 🙂

 


The Lake House

  • Author: Kate Morton
  • Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (June 7, 2016) Originally published in October 2015.

Amazon Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Keeper comes a “moody, suspenseful page-turner” (People, Best Book Pick) filled with mystery and spellbinding secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned. Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

My Thoughts:

It seems like lately many of the books I’ve been reading have two story lines that are intertwined by flashback. It can be interesting but confusing. I sometimes have to jot down notes about characters so I can keep straight who was who. The Lake House followed this same format with flashbacks and two stories. However, there was such intrigue that I had to keep turning the pages to figure out what happened. Although I was pleased overall,  I was also surprised at how neatly all the loose ends were tied, not to mention that a “coincidence” was reminiscent of a Hallmark movie. I hadn’t expected that. But it hasn’t stopped me from adding one of Morton’s other novels The Secret Keepers to my reading list. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Some adult content and language but nothing graphic.)

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The Jane Austen Project

  • Author: Kathleen A. Flynn
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 2, 2017)

Amazon Summary:

London, 1815: Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field in rural England, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. Turned away at a nearby inn, they are forced to travel by coach all night to London. They are not what they seem, but rather colleagues who have come back in time from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters—a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team from the future to “go back,” their mission is by far the most audacious: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile the woman she is with the proper lady nineteenth-century society expects her to be. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it…however heartbreaking that may prove.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge category – “A book in  a genre you usually avoid.” For me, that would be fantasy.

I really, really wanted to love this book and although I liked it, I didn’t love it. I had no problem with the concept of time travel and I found it fascinating to imagine what life was really like during the time of Jane Austen. What bugged me was Rachel’s modern personality and having to read her opinions on sex, birth control and the like. It was not in-your-face or anything but it just rubbed me the wrong way. Besides that, it was enjoyable read, particularly for a category I don’t usually give much time. I rate it 3 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Some adult content but nothing too graphic.)

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The Alice Network

  • Author: Kate Quinn
  • Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 6, 2017)

Amazon Summary:

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge category – “A book recommended by someone with great taste.”

I have mixed feelings about this book. A part of me really enjoyed it and there were sections where I could not turn the pages fast enough. However, I found the story of Eve far more fascinating than Charlotte. When a character acts a certain way or makes certain choices I like to try to understand where they are coming from and what moves them to act in such a way but I was having a hard time with Charlotte, especially with her behavior towards Finn. However, as the story progressed, as she accepted responsibility for “her little problem” and as she tried to reason with Eve and her final decisions I felt myself more sympathetic towards her.

Eve, on the other hand, was interesting from the get go. When you got past the shock of her harsh exterior and foul mouth, you then witnessed her story as a young, innocent girl who was tested through unimaginable circumstances and harrowing situations.

My only other problem with the story is reading it from a Christian worldview. I was torn between wanting to see justice done to the main villain but when does justice become revenge? What acts are justified and what acts are evil in and of themselves, no matter how honorable the intention. It definitely left me pondering afterwards.

With that said, I still really enjoyed the book and was glad that I read it. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Language, adult content and violence, particularly a torture scene.)

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The Husband’s Secret 

  • Author: Liane Moriarty
  • Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Premium edition (June 27, 2017)

Amazon Summary:

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

My Thoughts:

First, I enjoy Moriarty as an author but I must use my reading book journal to keep notes of all the characters and how they tie into one another. Her books often have numerous story lines going on at once and eventually they will collide. This one was not different. It is equally frustrating (at the beginning to keep everyone straight) and intriguing knowing that a big reveal is coming.

Second, she has a hit and miss record with me. I loved Big Little Lies, enjoyed What Alice Forgot and didn’t care for Truly, Madly, Guilty. I have mixed feelings about The Husband’s Secret. I enjoyed the premise of the book and surprisingly, the letter was revealed relatively early in the story. The intrigue came with how the contents affected various characters in the story. I found it interesting to put all the pieces together.

However, the main husband and wife are described as Catholic and the most religious in their group of friends. Well, that statement only works if you consider someone who doesn’t go to church or live the faith at all, a Catholic. It started feeling ridiculous. Is this really what the author thinks about Catholics? I would have made more sense if the characters were agnostics who didn’t follow any faith. Or at least to call them lapsed or simply cultural Catholics. To some, it will not matter at all. To me, it was like nails on a chalkboard.

For that, and an ending that seemed a little contrived, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Some adult content and bad portrayal of Catholics.)

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A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery

  • Author: Charles Todd
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)

Amazon Summary:

Charles Todd, author of the resoundingly acclaimed Ian Rutledge crime novels (“One of the best historical series being written today” —Washington Post Book World) debuts an exceptional new protagonist, World War I nurse Bess Crawford, in A Duty to the Dead. A gripping tale of perilous obligations and dark family secrets in the shadows of a nightmarish time of global conflict, A Duty to the Dead is rich in suspense, surprise, and the impeccable period atmosphere that has become a Charles Todd trademark.

My Thoughts:

I was browsing the books available at my library and picked up this story. The thought is a WWI whodunit with a female protagonist sounded intriguing. I really liked the character of Bess, a nurse during WWI, with her combination of heart, spunk and determination. It was refreshing to read a book without any language, sex or material you wouldn’t want your mother to read. The plot was interesting and I didn’t want to put the book down until I figured out what was truly happening. The ending wasn’t earth shattering but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and checked out the next book in the series to continue the adventures of Bess. (See below.)

I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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The Woman in Cabin 10

  • Author: Ruth Ware
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press; Reprint edition (April 11, 2017)

Amazon Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge category – “A book with the reputation of being un-put-down-able.”

It seems that whenever I read a modern day mystery, the female lead tends to be alcoholic, an emotional wreck and/or barely keeping it all together. Perhaps it is done on purpose so the characters in the story will not believe them when they cry foul. That seems to be the case of Lo in The Woman in Cabin 10.  There were definite page turning moments and a twisty ending but aspects of the book were a little depressing and I couldn’t get 100% into it. Maybe it was just my mood at the time and I wanted something lighter.

For whatever reason, I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Language and adult content.)

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The Bronte Plot

  • Author: Katherine Reay
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 3, 2015)

Amazon Summary:

When Lucy’s secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble. But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her. Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else. As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of impossible circumstances. Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge category – “A book about books or reading.”

I was eager to read this since it was by a favorite author, who often makes reference to beloved literary classics, and it was about one of my all time favorite books, Jane Eyre. Although I did enjoy the book, I still liked Reay’s Lizzie and Jane more. Maybe I had a harder time connecting with Lucy, although I did enjoy how she had to work though the problems in her past, particularly with her father, and forge her own way in life. The setting of the book was interesting and I love how Reay makes reference to so many classic novels and authors and ties it into the story. So although this was not my favorite of Reay’s books, it was still an enjoyable read.

I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: x.)

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Wonder by RJ Palacio

  • Author: RJ Palacio
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (February 14, 2012)

Amazon Summary:

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge category – “A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’ read yet.”

I needed a complete change of pace in my reading so I picked up a book that had been sitting on my shelf for ages. A librarian friend recommended it to me and the older kids and I was looking forward to reading it but never got around to it. However, when I heard the movie was coming out I wanted to make sure to read the book first. Wonder is an easy read physically but it definitely tugged at the heart strings and I loved it. The story of Auggie was both heart breaking and life affirming. I also enjoyed reading the book from the different viewpoints of various characters. It has many lessons to learn – both as an adult and as a child – with topics ranging from bullying to treating all people (however they look) with kindness and the inherit value of all God’s children, especially in a day and age when abortion is used to rid those deemed as less than perfect.

I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford #2) by Charles Todd

  • Author: Charles Todd
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (August 16, 2011)

Goodreads Summary:

It is the early summer of 1917. Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men. One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition, and who clings to life and the photo of his wife that is pinned to his tunic. While passing through a London train station, Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer, her grief heart-wrenching. And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar. In fact, she’s the woman in the pilot’s photo, but the man she is seeing off is not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman’s face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her. For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the station. Granted leave to speak with Scotland Yard, Bess becomes entangled in the case. Though an arrest is made, she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer. Exposing the truth is dangerous—and will put her own life on the line.

My Thoughts:

I loved the first Bess Crawford book and was eager to read the second in the series. Although I read some mixed reviews, I wasn’t disappointed. Some may criticize Bess’ knack to find herself in the midst of a murder investigation, I didn’t mind at all. I enjoyed her spirit and tenacity. I had fun unraveling the mystery. And I enjoyed learning more about her parents and Simon along the way. (I am also hoping there is more #teamsimon in book 3, which I am checking out next.)

I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel

  • Author: Angela Pisel
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; First Edition edition (August 9, 2016)

Amazon Summary:

Angela Pisel’s poignant debut explores the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter, and their quest to discover the truth and whether or not love can prevail—even from behind bars.

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever. Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don’t try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

My Thoughts:

This is not the type of book I would normally pick up but I borrowed a free copy and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The story is about Grace, a mother of two who is accused of murdering her toddler son. Now on death row, she claims that she is innocent and wants nothing more than to reconcile with her estranged daughter before she dies. It is a story of forgiveness, hope and elements of faith. It was both sad and uplifting.

I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Adult subject matter.)

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  by JK Rowling

  • Author: JK Rowling
  • Length: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; 1st Edition edition (September 1998)

Amazon Summary:

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

My Thoughts:

There is little to say about Harry Potter that you have not already heard and read before, but it’s safe to say that, like yoga and leggings, people have very strong opinions on both sides. Some feel it is harmless and holds valuable lessons and others find its magical content harmful. (I’ve heard similar thing about the Lord of the Rings books and the Star Wars movies.) I am not here to debate the sides, simply to say that after 20 years of hearing about the stories and having numerous practicing Catholic friends talk about the virtues in the books, I wanted to read them for myself. My verdict, I loved the first and second book in the series. I didn’t like the third as much and was definitely concerned about some things such as Harry’s divination class. As an adult, I enjoyed that the story was filled with adventure, human drama, humor and lessons of love and self-sacrifice. However, I do see the concern about having an impressionable child read the book without guidance. So personally, although I have read them, my boys won’t be reading them anytime soon.

I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. (Parental warning: Contains magic/ elements of the occult and a few scary sequences (such as the murder of Harry’s parents) for the younger set. I’d only recommend this after you’ve read the book first and feel your child is old enough and mature enough to handle the subject matter and knows the difference between pretend magic and the dangers of “real” magic/occult practices. Otherwise, skip it. There are other great books to read instead.)

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