December 18, 2014

Love Unexpected

Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

This is my third book to read and review by Hedlund. All three were sent to me by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I enjoyed Captured by Love and A Noble Groom so much that I jumped on another opportunity to read and review another Hedlund novel. I love her writing style and her genre of historical fiction.

This book was even better than her two previous novels I read.  I love lighthouses so I was intrigued by the lighthouse on the cover. I learned more about the life of a light keeper and the toil the job can take on a person and his or her family in this book. Hedlund’s writing is so well researched and planned out that not a single chapter from this book felt out of place or extra.  It was also a perfect blend of history and fiction with more than enough romantic scenes to keep my helpless romantic side thrilled.

The writing in Love Unexpected is amazing. One of Hedlund’s greatest strengths as a writer is her descriptions whether it is of characters or scenery. In her books you really feel like you know the character or are with them on location. One of my favorite descriptions was “the shoreline like an outdoor cathedral” in the scene where they get married on the beach. I also loved following the interactions between Emma and Patrick as they grew closer. Both their inner-voice and their dialogue were so strong and real. You could really feel that Patrick was the strong silent type and that he had trouble communicating his feelings with Emma and you could feel her nervousness as she realized she was falling in love with her husband.

Patrick and Emma are such wonderful lead characters. They each have their own struggles that stem from their backgrounds, but even though they both suffered loss as children the way they grew up was vastly different. I found myself so enthralled in their lives as they got to know each other that I couldn’t stop turning pages to see how they would eventually fall in love. I also completely fell in love with the child, Josiah, even during his strong-willed temper tantrums I wished I could play with him and hug him.

I felt the structure and pace of this book was nearly perfect. I was hooked by chapter three and it kept my attention to the very last page without leaving me bored in the middle. I was intrigued by the clues we got throughout the story about Patrick’s past but didn’t guess any of the clues correctly. The ending didn’t surprise me – I knew they would end up “happily ever after” but I loved the journey.

The inner turmoil Patrick lives with from his troubled past is astounding but since it led him to a relationship with the Lord he uses it to guide his prayers rather than ruin his present. He daily strives to be a better man than he was. Emma has her own troubled past from the death of her mother, but unfortunately it caused her to draw away from God. Patrick’s prayer life begins to draw her back as she sees his faith.

Aside from great descriptions I would say that historical research is Hedlund’s other greatest strength. The amount of time and energy she puts into writing historically based and accurate novels makes her a great writer. The fact that at least three of the main characters were based loosely on real-life people from that time leads to a truly believable story unique to the time and place.

The romantic tension in this book is perfect. From the first kiss at the arranged marriage to the final consummation of the vows there were so many great moments. I love how they continually fall in love and learn to trust each other. But I also appreciated his patience while waiting for her to be ready and how he continued to invite her to visit him in the lighthouse even before they kissed a second time. The scenes where he would wrap his fingers in her hair were intense and I could read the chapter with their first real kiss over and over again!

The spiritual elements of Patrick’s life are woven so seamlessly into the book that it isn’t preachy but is just simply the way he lives his life. No one who knows him has any concern about the man of God he is or how he treats others. You constantly read about Patrick’s prayers – especially overnight when he is alone in the lighthouse. His ability to both give and receive forgiveness is nothing short of God inspired. Even when he realizes that Emma isn’t as close to God as he is he doesn’t pressure her but simply gives her a gift of a cross and tells her of the hope she can have in God. His entire life is a testament to the second chance that being a sinner saved by grace gave him and he never downplays it but instead is always giving credit to God for his new life.

The only questionable content that appears in this book is from Patrick’s past. Prostitution, piracy, and fighting are mentioned. The town also speculates murder as the cause of his wife’s accidental death. However, nothing is mentioned inappropriately and is only mentioned long enough to set a scene not to be dwelt on for chapter after chapter.

Since this book was based on real life people and a real life setting it was very original and like nothing I’ve ever read before. The love story aspect of the book was predictable in that we knew they would end up “happily ever after” but enough conflict entered their lives throughout the book that you weren’t exactly sure when or where it would happen and there were enough plot twists disguising Patrick’s past that until the very end you didn’t know the whole truth.

This book appeals to anyone who loves historical fiction with a good dose of romance but would probably not appeal to a non-Christian with as much as prayer and new life in Christ are mentioned. Yet the book could be a good opportunity to witness to friends. Youth could read the book too, but I would want to read it before a teenager to discuss the mentions of prostitution.

I’m glad I had a day off to read this book because if I had started it in an evening I would have had to stay up late to finish it and as it was I loved this book so much I’ve already read it twice and it was just as good the second time! Hedlund’s writing really transforms you into another time and place and makes you feel as if you were in the story. Reading as the characters overcame tough situations and persevered to make a loving marriage will warm your heart. I can’t wait to read book two in the series!

Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

November 6, 2014

The Life

The Life

This is a great little Bible. I would say it would be especially good for new believers or young people. It is colorful and easy to read. Since it is NLT it is especially easy to read and for me preferable to KJV for new people to the church and/or young people. I think this Bible would be an excellent "welcome to our youth group gift" to new people at a church.

This Bible is all of John and Acts but has quite a bit of Luke interspersed as it relates to the story. It also has comments and questions where you can allow yourself to dig deeper.

Tyndale provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

$10 Great Dates

Looking for more fun but don't have the money? Then this is the book for you. It has a years worth of weekly $10 date ideas. Obviously not all of them will be your cup of tea but I did find quite a few ideas that would work for us or could be easily modified to fit what E and I enjoy doing.

I especially liked some of the seasonal ideas. One involves going to festivals, another apple picking, and another looking at Christmas lights.

There were a few ideas in the book that honestly aren't something we would ever do for various reasons but the beauty of 52 ideas is that it is a pretty good chance that you'll still find quite a few good ideas or maybe be inspired to come up with some of your own. And even better many of the ideas don't even cost anything except maybe some gas money which if you're like me you don't calculate into your date budget but just your normal transportation budget.

I'd recommend this book for couples of any age or length of marriage. In fact it would even be good for engaged couples looking for some fun ideas too.

Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

November 4, 2014

Kitchen update...

Our new home...

So I knew a new house would be a lot of work but really didn't fathom how MUCH work...

Some of what we've been working on has not been NECESSARY except to make ME happy...but here is what we've done with the kitchen. It isn't 100% finished (we still need to finish a piece of trim by the stove and do some touch up painting but it is pretty close!) Oh and I need to come up with something to decorate on top of the cabinets?!?



Who puts a fridge there? That is prime cabinet and counter top space!

But we do love the tile floor and the back splash!

And that is where the fridge will be...


This isn't really any different than before but shows the nice back splash...

My new cabinets and butcher block counter top! Eric did a great job of adding tons of work space!
And yes...I do have a lot of stuff on my counters...I'm not into putting stuff away so I just leave it out... Judge away!

We packed a lot into this empty corner! On the far right you'll see my birthday gift from 2 years ago. I found the idea on Pinterest and Eric built it for me! It holds so much and pushes in next to the fridge to be totally hidden!