Announcing May’s #HedlundChallenge2015 | Love Unexpected

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(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!)

In a couple of months, Jody will be releasing the next in the Beacons of Hope series (I can’t wait!) and the first in the series (including the novella!) are fabulous, so what do you say we read it together? : ) My original review of Love Unexpected can here.

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Out of the Storm / Love Unexpected

All she’s ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn’t be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can’t even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others’ problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.

But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife’s death, and it seems as though Emma’s answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous.

Discussion Date: May 26, 2015

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD.com

And don’t forget! We’ll be discussing Captured by Love right here on Books and Beverages next week, so come back for the discussion and fun!

Meet Blogger Leah | Must Love Books

I love that book blogging has opened up a world of reading friends I would have never met any other way! Today on the blog is the lovely Leah! We bonded over the fabulous Inspirational fiction there is out there (especially the fabulous Jody Hedlund : ) and I’m super excited to introduce y’all today!

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Fast 5

1. How long have you blogged?
I started blogging in January 2013 so a little over two years

2. What’s your favorite genre (or at least one of them)?
Historical Romance – but really just anything historical

3. What are you currently reading?
From a Distance by Tamera Alexander

4. What’s another blog you enjoy?
Kelv Reads Books

5. What’s something you enjoy outside of reading?
Playing volleyball.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I would never have imagined the love I have for my growing family. My parents and siblings, the family I married into, my nephew, my niece, my brother’s wife, my other brother’s fiancée. I didn’t realize my heart could grow so big!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would go to college with more of a purpose and not just get a general degree but study a specific subject.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The day that I married my husband, Isaac, and also the day I became an aunt :)

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know that it’s okay to be different. Don’t conform to the world and follow the crowd just because that’s what everyone else is doing. Stand firm in your beliefs and don’t be ashamed of who you are.

Thank you so much Leah! I hope y’all enjoyed meeting her and be sure to connect with her around the world wide web and say hey!

Where you can find Leah on the Web!
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Fun Finds for the Booknerd #26

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I love April! Spring is one of my favorite times of year and in the two states I’ve lived in, April is such a pretty time of year. Texas has wildflowers everywhere, so I’m always smiling when driving because you can spot them off the freeway, by an office building. It’s fabulous! It also means we get to hang outside and not freeze or fry. Now all I’m going to be thinking about is BBQ or Carne Asada Cookouts (my Uncle knows his Carne Asada). Mmmm…. so pretty much food and flowers will make this girl happy! And of course anything related to the written word…like these fine fellas.

1. iPad Book Dock. So…I kinda love this! This is perfect to charge my iPad and play jams while I clean on a Saturday. Or as I attempt to try a recipe from Pinterest.

2. Book Vase Bookends. As mentioned above, I heart flowers, so how fun is this little gem? Now I just need a perfect kitchen window and sill to put these on! $41.90

3. “The Book Was Better” T-Shirt. Since I recently read The Two Towers and noticed a ton of differences, my sadness over the third Hobbit movie came back in full force. Why must you change a book so much when it was already perfect? $32.99

4. “Tea and Tolkien for Me” Mugs. What more does one need on a rainy day? I love this Etsy shop and thought theses were so cute and speaks truth about me. I’m sipping English Breakfast as I type this too. I’m so British.

5. Book Quote Pillow. “She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.” Louisa May Alcott. Yep! Books have definitely turned my brain. Might as well warn all guests who enter my home right?

Find anything you like? What are some things Spring gets you thinking about?

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews | Book Review

One of the most fascinating eras of history to me is Ancient Egypt. Their history is still partly mysterious, they were so powerful and they played such a major part in Old Testament history. Plus, as mentioned probably one too many times on this blog, I love the Mummy movies. Any opportunity to read about ancient Egypt, I’m in. In Mesu Andrews latest, we’re taken to the time of Moses.

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

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While many dates and details remain a mystery to the modern day world, Andrews did an excellent job bringing to life King Tut and the politics of the day (I also appreciated the author’s intro and end notes. My history lovin heart always loves more history fun facts!). The details of everyday life, how the Israelites lived, how the Egyptians worshipped and lived with the Hebrews as their slaves, down to how linen was made opened up the world of ancient Egypt.

I admit I was weary in the beginning of several characters and how much time would pass between parts of the story, but after several chapters, characters grew and changed and I was hooked on the storyline. Some characters I’d still like to slap (if you’ve read it y’all KNOW who I’m talking about) and it was frustrating to see the character keep up with their antics. Yet, I imagine royalty in any world could have been like that. The plot also went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and that kept me turning the pages.

I’m glad I stuck with the story and got to experience ancient Egypt through the pen of the talented Mesu Andrews!

What’s an ancient era that intrigues you?

(Thank you to Blogging for Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Books | Goodreads

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

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(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)

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This is my 1965 edition of The Two Towers. Sadly, I don’t remember who gave it to me or where I got it, but I love having an older edition!

Tolkien never fails to entertain. I love his writing, I love his creativity and this book was yet another reminder of his brilliance. Did anyone else keep noticing the differences in the books from the movies? Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the movies and watch them all the time, but I have questions Peter Jackson! I’d forgotten so much from the books and some of the changes I don’t get the reasoning. Like the fact the sword was remade long before in the book. I love that it was too. Just read this quote when Aragorn and crew first encounter the Rohirrim:

“Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Andúril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. ‘Elendil!’ he cried. ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!’

Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Èomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed in the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.”

Y’all – dang.

Or even how much it meant for Èomer to let the three travel freely in Rohan. Or that scouts never threw Aragorn over the cliff on the way to Helm’s Deep. Or the key character-revealing fact that Faramir never forced Frodo and crew to go to Minas Tirith. How about Pippin “tricking” Treebeard and the Ents to see Isengard since they had decided not to join the fight in the movie? Oh and Frodo snapping at Sam on Stairs of Cirith Ungol? Didn’t happen. Plus them going through Shelob’s Lair together further showed their bond of friendship. I promise I still like the movies, but since it’s been over 10 years since I’ve read the books, I found the changes rather surprising (and often unnecessary). Maybe that’s just me though!

I need to take a few moments to talk about the Ents. I liked Treebeard so much more in the book (not that I disliked the movie version), but there were just some things that couldn’t be portrayed in the movie. Like this description by Pippin of Treebeard’s eyes:

“One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present; like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know, but it felt as if something that grew in the ground – asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years.”

I feel like the movies made them Tree Eeyores… But they much deeper and awesome. The fact that Trolls were made in mockery of Ents (and Orcs of Elves) by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, proves they are legit. I’m also going to try to bring this into everyday vernacular: “By root and twig, but it is strange business.”

“There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men bad enough for such treachery. Down with Saruman!”

I really love the friendship between Gimli and Legolas as well – watching it play out in the book made me laugh and appreciate friendship, much like the movie. Okay. So….Helm’s Deep. Can I also share a few words about this as well? Èomer and Aragorn fighting together = awesome. Again, Aragorn having Andúril was way better. He’s the king I tell you! Then there was the wild men who fought, the conversations Aragorn had with them right before dawn and the fact that oh, you know, Legolas was the only elf there. Why must you change the Tolkien awesomeness?! Kay, I’m done with Helm’s Deep.

Then there’s good ol Saruman. I think my favorite reaction to Saruman’s final persuasive attempts was Gandalf:

“Then Gandalf laughed. The fantasy vanished like a puff of smoke.
‘Saruman, Saruman!’ Said Gandalf still laughing. ‘Saruman, you missed your path in life. You should have been the king’s jester and earned your bread, and stripes too, by mimicking his counsellors…I fear I am beyond your comprehension.”

That’s called Gandalf dropping the mic.

I still think one of the best characters created in literature is Gollum. (He’s portrayed so well in the movies too!) His split personality, wanting to refer to himself as “Lord Sméagol” or “Gollum the Great,” to how readers really do pity the creature, to his sly remarks…I love it.

Have I mentioned how much I love Sam?

“Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer

As always here’s some questions, feel free to answer any or all!

1. Did you notice the differences as much as I did? Is there something you would have liked to stay the same as the books?

2. Favorite character(s) or ones you wish were in the movie?
Sam. He’ll be one of my favorites in Return of the King too. He’s the perfect character. Like when he was ready to take on Faramir?? Love him.

Faramir. Such injustice done in the movies! He may not be the eldest, but he’s commanding in his own right.

I wish Quickbeam the Ent has a more prominent role in the movie. He’s funny and passionate! Such a missed opportunity.

3. Any favorite quotes?
“But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

4. What do you think happened with Shelob?
First off, I’m pretty sure Tolkien’s description of Shelob shall haunt my dreams until forever and then some. Personally I think she crawled back in her hole and died a miserable and slow death. No less than she deserved, as Bilbo would say.

5. As always, any other random thoughts are appreciated and welcomed!