Vintage Jane Austen Blog Tour!

Hey guys! Very excited to share a little bit about this new series today!!! Some of you may remember my review of Emmeline a while back! (If you missed it, take a minute to check it out! Maybe it will whet your appetite for the rest of this exciting series!)

About the Series:
What would it be like to see Elizabeth Bennet in 1930’s clothes? What if Emma Woodhouse was the daughter of a car dealership owner? What if Marianne Dashwood was seeking to become a movie star in the golden age of film? The Vintage Jane Austen series explores the world of Jane Austen, set in 1930’s America. Five authors took on Jane Austen’s five most popular novels and retold them set in the depression era, remaining faithful to the original plots. As an extra bonus to the series, there is a collection of short stories that were inspired by Jane Austen. Which of these books do you most want to read?
Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma): The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility): Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park): It's March, 1937 and Faye Powell couldn't be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she's fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children--including Ed. The one she'll never admit she's in love with. But she hadn't reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when Faye's cousin BeBe trusts her with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye is in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe's given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to unravel Faye and Ed's hearts.
Perception by Emily Benedict (Persuasion): Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family's prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…

Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice): Coming soon…A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.
Second Impressions: Jane Austen's stories have inspired writers for this collection they inspire fiction across the genres!
From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairytale land or a retirement center...Austen's timeless characters come to life again.
Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

November 5
        Review of Emmeline - Once Upon the Ordinary
Review of Bellevere House - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Series Spotlight - A Real Writer’s Life
Interview with Kelsey Bryant - Resting Life
Series Spotlight - Kelsey’s Notebook

November 6
Interview with Sarah Holman - J. Grace Pennington
Review of Emmeline - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Mini-Reviews and interview with Sarah Scheele - Deborah O’Carroll
Interview with Rebekah Jones - Livy Lynn Blog
Review Suit and Suitability - Resting Life

November 7
Interview with Kelsey Bryant - J. Grace Pennington
Review of Perception - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Review and Interview of Perception - Purely by Faith Reviews
Review of Second Impressions - The Page Dreamer
Series Spotlight - Finding the True Fairytale
November 8
Interview and Review Suit and Suitability - Once Upon the Ordinary
Review of Suit and Suitability - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Review of Perception - A Brighter Destiny
November 9
Series Spotlight - God’s Peculiar Treasure
        Review of Second Impressions and Suit and Suitability - Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father
Interview with Rebekah Jones - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Series Spotlight – Christian Bookshelf Reviews
November 10
Review of Suit and Suitability - With a Joyful Noise
Series Spotlight - Liv K. Fisher
Review of Second Impressions- Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Review of Perception - She Hearts Fiction
Interview with Sarah Holman – Rebekah Ashleigh
November 11
Series Spotlight - Reveries Reviews
Review of Suit and Suitability - Faith Blum
Interview with Sarah Holman - Kaylee's Kind Of Writes
Interview with Hannah Scheele - Peculiar on Purpose
Review of Bellevere House - Seasons of Humility
As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card!

Click HERE to enter GiveAway!!!

Book Reivew(s): Distorted Glass & Quest for a Beast

Got the last two short story reviews for y'all today!

Distorted Glass, I felt, was a well-crafted story that dealt honestly with some heavier subject matter. I was very impressed with the way Sarah crafted Jared's character (his personality and character development as a whole). He was written as a young man who genuinely wanted to please God and help his sister-- but he wasn't perfect-- the way he diligently sought God's will was done so fervently, but realistically, with it's hiccups along the way. Never once did I feel his character was too perfect-- that a sixteen year old guy wouldn't behave that way. I did, however, finding myself wishing there was a way I could get my younger brother (more that age range) to read this story. 
As for the subject matter!! <3 I thought Sarah did a great job with Jared's sister who has an eating disorder. it was treated/discussed honestly yet wholesomely. I also loved the way  the subject of modesty was discussed in this book!! (claps hands enthusiastically) This was another reason I wanted my brother to read this! The feelings expressed by Amber about the church's focus when teaching modesty is something I have heard from young ladies close to me, and while it is not an excuse to sin, SHE IS NOT WRONG, and I LOVED that Sarah addressed that!!! 
I was very impressed with this story as a whole, and enjoyed it very much! 

Quest for a Beast, while cute, I felt didn't reach it's full potential. Parts of the plot felt a little contrived, stretched, to me; I also felt that the main characters displayed behaviors/did things that were not quite consistent with their ages (ie, a college-aged girl allowing herself to be swept up in fairy tales; bounty hunting of sorts). 
What I did find awesome were (again!) the lessons Sarah incorperates into her writing. a few lines in particular really stood out to me as I finished up this story today:

“What keeps it from being that simple for you? Following Christ is not easy, but it is a very simple message.”

“…we have both come face to face with an ugly part of ourselves. We both have to have the courage to allow Christ to transform us. If not, we will remain in our prisons.”
Still a good story, but I felt it could have been better. 

Thus conclude my 10 week reading challenge with Sarah Holman! Again, if you haven't yet, you should really check her books out-- especially Emmaline and the Tales of Taelis series!!! (oh! And Kate's Innocence is pretty fantastic, too!!)

That WE Can See

So last year in November, God blessed me with an amazing small group— it was a total God thing how it came about. The group of young people in it have been the most incredible blessing to me and God has used it greatly in my life these past few months to show me more about Himself and to strengthen my walk with Him!

Right now, we are studying through the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (and if you have never read it, DO IT! Go out right now and grab this book! I’ve grown up in a Christian home and good solid Bible churches that preach heavy doctrine and STILL, with every sentence my MIND. IS. BLOWN!). I am having a hard time getting caught up to where I should be in my readings because everything is so deep I get too excited about it lol.

As I was reading it yesterday, it got me thinking a few things, and I just wanted to share a little bit with you all today!

I am (finally rofl) in ‘book 2, part 2, The Invasion’, and Lewis writes,

Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is NOT NEAT, NOT OBVIOUS, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT…” (all-caps clearly mine ;) ). 
He is speaking in relation to Christianity more complex than we might expect it to be, but I had just had a conversation the other night with a dear friend along these same lines, just in a “life” context.
I first read these words, my mental Katie-response was, “yeah NO JOKE!” L. But Lewis wasn’t finished. He goes on to say, “…for instance, when you have grasped what the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planest were made to match—all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun.” And then, THEN he lays the big one on us. “In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (THAT WE CAN SEE)…”

*stops * whooooaaaa

So let’s take this out of a theological discussion mindset, and apply these statements to every day life. My friend and I were just discussing last night how our lives have turned out to be nothing like we always expected they would be like when we were little; how life has taken Michigan lefts on us; we are not doing what we thought we would be doing at our age, not who we thought we would be, not possessing or doing what we have dreamt of for oh-so-long. In a way (and even though we know better), we feel jaded. And I feel like a lot of us feel this way. What Lewis says is so so true.

LIFE is complicated. Life is odd. It is not neat, not obvious, and for so many of us, it is definitely not what we always expected it would be. We can find no rhyme or reason. There is no rhyme or reason for why we have not gotten what we have prayed for for so long. There is no rhyme or reason for us not being where we thought we would, for not accomplishing what we thought we would be; no reason.

That we can see.

When I read that little parenthetical statement, so close after my salty inner response to the earlier quote, it hit me hard.

There is no rhyme or reason that we can see (now); but God DOES SEE, and He knows exactly what He is doing.

And I know we know this. And I know it annoys us. Because the way we see it, Him knowing the big picture doesn’t help us here and now :P

But it should.
Let us let it encourage us today, sweet sisters
(brothers too, if any are reading !!)

We don’t see any rhyme or reason for what we are walking through (or what we’re not) but God does. And it is a beautiful harmony to Him, a complex satisfying plot, and it is far more amazing and meaningful that anything we could ever hope for or imagine (Eph 3:20). Just imagine for a moment the people God is using you to reach, the lives He is touching and impacting through you right now because you are not where you thought you’d be, but because you are where He has you. Imagine the glory, the intricate, half-step-details, He is working out for us in the background right now as we serve Him in this messy, muddy, unexpected place.

God knows why you are here and why you are waiting.
And He is doing something amazing with it!!!

So trust the process sweet sister! He is already there, at the end of this time, with the solution, waiting for you to arrive but simply relying on and obeying Him. 

I will leave you with this thought: He walked this earth, as yes, wholly God, but also wholly man; the Bible tells there is nothing we experience that He did not as He walked this earth. So these feelings of heartache, anger, frustration, of being cheated? He is not just ‘oh whatever, deal with it’. He intimately understands those feelingsYou’re struggle is not lost on or insignificant to Him (Heb 4:15). It is important to your story, and He is infinitely proud of you for sticking with it. Rest in Him today, sweet sis (or bro!)

Life is not neat, not obvious, not what you expected it to be. There is no rhyme or reason to what you are experiencing or have not experienced yet—that you can see.
Today rest in and thank God that HE can see and that He is working out an even bigger and more beautiful rhyme and reason than we could ever imagine.

Love you all!

Book Review &Tour: Dreams and Devotion

Hey everyone! I have been looking forward to this blogpost for a couple weeks! I really enjoyed this book and I hope I can accurately convey my excitement as to why for all of you today!!! 

Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.
Dara's life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.
Dresden's initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?
Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.

Dreams & Devotions was actually my intro into Taelis-- I read it before I read books 1,2, & 3; so as I went back and read them in order (along with the short stories) little details included in this work made total sense. They can each totally be read alone; however, when you read it in correct sequence, you 'get' and appreciate the cameos and 'history' references so much more lol ;) 

What I Liked:
This book was just ..... super realistic. It is as though Sarah took realistic struggles we deal with today, crafted them, and plopped them into the middle ages. 
One character makes a selfish decision that leaves the rest of his family to wonder, stress, and pick up the pieces. REAL. Another character begins the book with an incredibly real and passionate walk with God-- and then experiences incredible discouragement while trying to serve Jesus and make a difference. SO, SO REAL!! Yet another suffers romantic disappointment-- and doesn't get her stereotypical 'happy ending'. STANDING OVATION, HAND-CLAPPING REAL REAL REAL!!!!!!! I am passionate about this story for these reasons! I could identify with each character and their characters (some to small degrees, and others 110% because I am literally walking through them!!!) and I can think of friends and family members who are also going through similar circumstances. I found myself saying "YES!" and being able to empathize and then being convicted and encouraged and inspired. 

These characters experience and deal with major disappointments in a very satisfying way . The story lines are so realistic, but so were the outcomes; and THAT is why I love this book. The problems the characters face that cause their character development were 'resolved' in realistic, 'this actually is what happens' ways-- not the way you 'know' or expect it to happen in a fictional story. You empathize with these characters SO much because you relate to their pain. You want them to experience their happy ending; however, they experience their "God-grace" endings. God meeting them where they are, providing the daily strength they need to survive and be a blessing to others.
This story was an incredible blessing in that way because wow. You can tell Sarah prayed over and really put heart and love into this story. It shows. You do not walk away from a neatly package bow ending thinking "yeah well that was just a story, but this is real life". You walk away thinking, "wow, that was legit!"

What I Didn't Like: 
The only thing in this story that I had a hang up about was Dresden's struggle. He goes from very spiritually mature, to having what I felt was a very immature faith problem. However! I may have struggled with this plot-line because.... well... Have I mentioned this book was real? I can't quite hate on it too much because I have done the SAME THING in my walk with God, so...... 
It was a sharp contrast that happens very fast- and I think that is what I struggled with. I know in my life it was a slower dissent into where he then finds opportunity for character development. But this may just be my reaction to it and don't think everyone will have this reaction. ;) As so many of my 'dislikes' are, it may just be because the author is talented in her craft and I was feeling the desired emotion!! :)
I loved each of these books in the Taelis series for different reasons; this story's characters and the way God meets with each of them, met me where I am at. It was a very timely read and was a great encouragement to me, and I believe it will be to others also!!! Sarah worked hard on this and it shines through in her writing! 

 Time for another GIVEAWAY!! 
(This is an AWESOME opportunity, btw!!! I have been living in Taelis for the past six weeks, and to be able to get the entire series free is AMAZING!) 

About the Sarah

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Book Review(s) : Waltz into the Waves & Father Forgive Them

Hey all! I am back today with two more reviews, but these are for short stories that author Sarah Holman has written! They were short and sweet, so their reviews will be as well ;) 

Up first, we have Waltz into the Waves. This is a sweet re-rendering of the classic Cinderella story <3 It follows the basic storyline we all love and are familiar with, but Sarah sprinkled the right amount of new twists and details in there that help keep it fresh. As it is a short story, you can easily blow through it in one sitting, and it was a precious, angst-filled story with just the right amount of laughter and pure, low-key, romance! If you are a fairy tale-retell junkie, this is a super cute read!! (link in the title ;) )

Next we have Father Forgive Them: A Resurrection Story. Guys. I just finished this story, and I finished it with happy tears. It is extremely short (only three chapters) but WHOA was it BEAUTIFUL!!! I wish I had read it around Good Friday/Easter, when she published it. Father Forgive Them gives us a heartfelt look at what the crucifixion might have been like from a Jew's perspective, who at first was eager to see "justice" served but then undergoes a personal struggle as he realizes, "wait.... what if that Man was who He claimed to be!?" 
The description of Jonathan's internal struggle was phenomenal! Small excerpt: "It was the feeling of darkness without starlight, the feeling of a lighting storm without rain, the feeling of hopelessness and fear...But even after the earth stopped shaking, his heart still felt heavy with fear, the fear of something he could not identify. He had been afraid before, but never had it penetrated this deep. His very soul was deeply disturbed....longer. He turned and ran toward the city, running from that feeling and fear, but he couldn’t get away from it..."
(As someone who struggles with depression/anxiety, I found this to be a beautiful and accurate word picture <3)
This was just completely beautiful and moving<3

I hope you all are having a great and Godly day! Don't forget to come back tomorrow for a first look at Sarah's new book Dreams and Devotion, coming out July 15th!!! (Also! I am still open to any blog-post ideas you all have!!! <3 )

Book Review: Tales of Taelis (books 2 & 3)

Hey all! I have got a double book review for you today! I am taking part of a challenge with author Sara Holman, which has meant reading one of her published works a week and doing reviews on them (and her unfinished upcoming work, which is goooood. I am excited to share with you about it in the coming weeks!!)
I have gotten behind the past few books so I decided to do a review of the 2nd and 3rd Tales of Taelis books together :D

Brothers & Betrayal:
Amazon Description {part of it}:  "A boy, running for his life...A princess, trying to save her people... And an archer who seeks to defend the defenseless..." {link here!

Coming after Adventures & Adversities, we have Brothers & Betrayal. This was an adventurous Robin Hood sort of story and I enjoyed the more lighthearted spirit of this one, while it still taught deep, tough lessons.
What I liked: the Archer. Oh my soul the Archer. Enough said lol. Well, no, not enough ;) I the way his character was written—courageous, Godly, intelligent, noble—with just the right amount of sass ;) I also really enjoyed Brianna’s story line, and her respectful working to right her father’s wrongs instead of brazen rebellion (the all-to-familiar stereotype of female MCs).
There was also a scene near the beginning that literally made my jaw drop. I did not see ‘that’ coming. If a book can make me involuntarily, physically react? That author has my respect.
What I didn’t like: I really enjoyed this Robin-Hoodesque story, but this was also the book during which I realized I was becoming attached to the characters. When you message an author half-way through reading a book and say, “You can’t make that happen to this character!! Why?!!??!” followed by several broken heart and bawling emojis….. Yeah. I have been living in Taelis too long ;)

Courage & Corruption:
Amazon DescriptionCatherine is going with her mother and younger siblings to the mountains to hide from the coming war. While she fears what might happen she is looking forward to some time away from her twin brother, with whom she often fights. One foolish act changes all their plans, and one story caused not only confusion, but more fighting. 
Christopher does not believe his father’s story that they are descended from royalty... However, he is forced to go to the mountain castle of Coraway along with his mother and siblings. Will his father ever see him as a man? Will he and his twin ever be able to stop fighting?
Little do Catherine and Christopher realize that they hold the key to Taelis’ future in their hands. While they discover the truth before it is too late? {Link here!

What I Liked: Oh where to begin with this story lol There was a little angst in this, guys. I love my angst. So I enjoyed that aspect.
This story hit a little closer to home, in while that I am not experiencing the conflicts of the MCs, per se, I am personally struggling with the lesson they learned—and kept learning (which is also something I enjoyed—but I digress). This story dealt a lot with (that big, ugly word) surrender. So this story was timely for me in that way. As mentioned previously, I appreciated that when the main character finally came to grips with “hey I’m wrong, I need to change”—he did not change over night. He wasn’t suddenly perfect—he could still be a jerk and occasionally selfish, but he was now aware and working on it, so he acted out on it less and less. This is how change usually happens in real life, so to see it occur I the story was genuine and encouraging. (Especially to see how he continued to learn and grow in it.)

What I did not Like: This is actually a good thing, but the two main characters bicker a ton in the beginning and frankly, it drove me nuts lol! However! The bickering is essential to their stories and character growth and we as readers are not supposed to enjoy it, so it was actually great writing on Sara’s part. But it drove me bonkers lol. So we get a good sense of sympathy to those suffering around our MCs because of it lol

Having finished up these three Tales of Taelis I wanted to say this: these are good stories, yall!  They were fun, entertaining. I experienced real joy, sorrow, and shock with these characters, and truly laughed at several points (the sailors arguing with Lady Laila out at sea will forever be my favorite XD) , yet, they are soo crammed full of godly truth! I am impressed with how Sara was able to weave these valuable lessons into such entertaining stories, without just tacking them on, and making them feel contrived. I stand in awe as a writer, and am inspired in my own writing in that way, thanks to her!

That having been said: she has another story coming out within the next few weeks that was by far the most applicable to where I am at right now in my life and walk with Jesus (like, beta-reading this story had me going ‘oh no, this is totally going to happen…. Oh it did…. OH DO I FEEL FOR THIS CHARACTER BC THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW!’) I think it will encourage a lot of hearts! So stay tuned!

Quick Update!

Hey all you lovelies! 

I felt the need for an update ;) No, my blog hasn’t turned from a devotional type blog to a book review blog ;) However, I have done a LOT of changing since this blogs conception and after struggling with it for a while, I realize that letting the blog change with me is OKAY :D <3 After all, it is still my God-scripted story and my desire to share and encourage others walking their own…. That story just looks and feels a loooot different than it ever did or I ever expected it to lol ;) But (shocker!) that’s how God works ;)

I would like to change the theme/design of the blog for sure, to sort of ‘update’ it--to have it be more relevant to these changes (so if anyone is an expert at or enjoys doing blog art/design—or knows anyone who is— please feel free to contact me!!! :D )

I do have certain topics dear to my heart and current situations I would like to write about…. But A) they are still so raw and fresh that I don’t have the application or endings/answers yet… and B) are so deeply personal I wonder if it is “okay” to share, or if anyone will care (which I realize is not the point at all, but just being honest here ;) So if anyone has any ideas or topics they’d like to see discussed, feel free to share those in the comments below as well!!