Mini Review: “Everything Beautiful in Its Time” by Jenna Bush Hager

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on a recent nonfiction release, Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager.

About the Book

Jenna Bush Hager, the former first daughter and granddaughter, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and coanchor of the Today show, shares moving, funny stories about her beloved grandparents and the wisdom they passed on that has shaped her life.

To the world, George and Barbara Bush were America’s powerful president and influ­ential first lady. To Jenna Bush Hager, they were her beloved Gampy and Ganny, who taught her about respect, humility, kindness, and living a life of passion and meaning—timeless lessons that continue to guide her.

In Midland, Texas, Jenna’s maternal grandparents, Harold and Jenna Welch—Pa and Grammee—a home builder and homemaker, lived a quieter life outside the national spotlight. Yet their influence was no less indelible to their granddaughter. Throughout Jenna’s childhood and adolescence, the Welches taught her the name of every star in the sky, the way a dove uses her voice—teaching her to appreciate the beauty in the smallest things.

Now the mother of three young children, Jenna pays homage to her grandparents in this collection of heartwarming, intimate personal essays. Filled with love, laughter, and unforgettable stories, Everything Beautiful in Its Time captures the joyous and bittersweet nature of life itself. Jenna reflects on the single year in which she and her family lost Barbara and George H. W. Bush, and Jenna Welch. With the light, self-deprecating charm of the bestselling Sisters First—cowritten with her twin sister, Barbara—Jenna reveals how they navigated this difficult period with grace, faith, and nostalgic humor, uplifted by their grandparents’ sage advice and incomparable spirits.

In this moving book, Jenna remembers the past, cherishes the present, and prepares for the future—providing a wealth of anecdotes and lessons for her own children and all of us. Poignant and humorous, intimate and sincere, Everything Beautiful in Its Time is a warm and wonderful celebration of the enduring power of family and an exploration of the things that truly matter most.

“As long as I’m alive, my grandparents will not be forgotten. . . . I hear their voices in the letters they sent me and in my memories. They offer comfort, support, and guidance, and I will listen to them always.”

find it on Goodreads

Review

This is a poignant piece of nonfiction for every person who has loved and lost a grandparent. Jenna Bush Hager candidly shares her beautiful relationships with her grandparents with the reader through stories from her life, lessons and “rules”, witty and hilarious escapades of her childhood and, in turn, her children’s antics. Her perspective and experiences lend humanity and stir empathy for the persons behind the public persona of the Bushes and shed light on the less-publicly known members of her family. Threads of both her personal and her family’s faith are prominent and natural for Jenna to share, as were her relatable moments of grief and hope.

Reading this book was a special experience for me, as I spent time with my own mother while reading it aloud (mostly on short car rides!). I admit to reading through tears at times, rereading funny moments, and treasuring the time spent with my own mother as Jenna shared her stories of motherhood and laughter.

Travel Inspiration, Adventure, & Stories: “Dream, Plan, and Go” by Rachel McMillan

I love the format of this hardcover book: darling illustrations, thoughtful end-of-chapter questions, tips for travel near and far

Dream, Plan, and Go is an inspiring nonfiction book for experienced adventurers and beginners who only dream of travel and new experiences. Part travel memoir and part manual for solo adventuring, author Rachel McMillan combines anecdotes and advice for all ages hoping to see new destinations close to home and abroad.

With an easy conversational tone and candid manner, Rachel McMillan relays her personal experiences of adventure and travel — everything from childhood to adult bucket list destinations. These are framed in her descriptive style reflecting a love for history, literature, and romance (all traits that shine through in her novels!). Her stories all serve to offer encouragement and inspiration for the reader and her solo adventures; whether bravely conquering a fear of heights, trying a new restaurant in your own city, touring a historical site in your hometown, or venturing abroad for the first time.

One of my own favorite adventures: gelato in Rome!

Reading Dream, Plan, and Go has caused me to reflect on my own travels, especially the rare times I’ve traveled alone, like a few near-home adventures connected to a work trip. Rachel’s considerate approach to travel as an experience to be savored has caused me to appreciate such times in a new way. I have closed the last page with a host of ideas for future destinations — and inspiration for small things to do confidently to learn more about my own corner of the world.

About the Book

A Great Big World is Waiting for You Out There—Go Find It!

Dream, Plan, and Go Cover

Have you been putting off that trip of a lifetime hoping for a special someone to accompany you? Do you find yourself getting bored with the same old girls’ weekends? Are you hesitant to step out of your comfort zone, plan a solo vacation, pack your bags, and just go?

From pastries in Vienna to becoming a tourist in your own town and all points in between, this travel memoir and guidebook will inspire you to seek romance and adventure on your own terms. You will also get practical advice on how to stay safe while traveling single, create a budget, prepare and pack efficiently, and much more.

Chapter by chapter, you’ll encounter creative ideas for excursions as well as historical insights into some of the most fascinating destinations around the globe, smart tips for savvy sojourning, and journal jumpstarts to encourage deeper reflection.

Grab with both hands the confidence you need to embrace new experiences both home and abroad. You deserve the chance to discover the joy of being your own best company—this book will show you how!  

Goodreads | Amazon

Review + Blog Tour: “There’s Something About Darcy” by Gabrielle Malcolm

As I’ve heard another blogger say, there is a WHOLE BOOK about Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy now! *cue confetti* I am excited to be a part of the blog tour today, sharing my thoughts on this essay-like portrait of a classic character still relevant today.

About the Book

For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?

Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel, and will defend their choice passionately.

In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Having been an avid fan of Austen’s film adaptations first then a reader of her timeless novels, I was eager to learn the commentary and perspective an entire book on Darcy would provide. There’s Something About Darcy adds interesting insight into Austen’s work and speaks of her influence in the literary world.

Part of this book reads like an essay on the characteristics and lasting impact of Darcy. The portions I like best are the ones denoting the history of Austen and the influences she used to compile such an impactful character, as well as the portions of her contemporaries and early works influenced by Pride & Prejudice.

A later portion of the book notes the modern works and derivatives of Pride & Prejudice, like the various adaptations (TV, film, & literature alike) and each of their merits and unique facets that interpret, add depth, or detract from Darcy and Austen’s original work. I liked this portion, as well, but some of the explanations of these contemporary works are a bit long and spoiler-y.

Overall, this is a unique analysis of Darcy and his role as hero in classic literature and beyond. While some of this work was a little tedious, I still enjoyed the insights and opinions Malcolm shared concerning history and interpretations of Austen.

Thank you to the pubilsher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Blog Tour

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

Some of these are on my TBR, some are just ones people have been telling me I MUST read, and some are new to me authors I haven’t had the chance to check out yet. My list includes a little over 10 books this week. I thought it was going to be a little tough to come up with 10, but it proved to be very easy!   In no particular order, here are the ones I keep hearing about:

TTT 10 I Keep Hearing I Must Read


Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

I’ve heard fellow bloggers and reviewers say they loved this one – and some say they didn’t like it at all. I’m anxious to see who I agree with. I have a copy sitting on my shelf, just waiting….


The “Daughters of Boston” series by Julie Lessman (A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, A Passion Denied). 

Because I LOVED the follow-up series (“Winds of Change”), I know I’ll enjoy these, too. Julie never disappoints. Several blogger friends have recommended this series.


Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck

I hear this is a realistic and cute modern-day fairy tale. Everyone dreams of becoming royalty, right? 😉


Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

The cover alone should be enough to convince me. After reading some great reviews of this one, it’s found a place on my eventual TBR list.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

After reading Jamie’s gushing review (and after reading Dear Mr. Knightley), I’m intrigued by the letter format of this story. I have a copy I’m itching to get to.


“The Heart’s Spring” series by Amber Stokes (Forget Me Not, Bleeding Heart, Morning Glory [one of her current WIP])

I really do want to read this one – it’s by fellow blogger and author Amber Stokes. She’s pretty fabulous, so I’m sure her stories will be, too. I’ve heard some great things about her writing. And have you seen her latest cover reveal????!!!


The “Alaskan Courage” series by Dani Pettrey (Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, Sabotaged releasing 2/2015 )

The McKenna family gets a lot of publicity time in the blogosphere. I think I need to read these to see what the all hype is about 🙂 Really, a contemporary suspense/romance series set in Alaska seems like the perfect setting.


The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

It seems everyone and their best friend has read this one… at least some of my friends and family have. I’m not totally convinced yet, because I HAVE seen the movie, and I’m not all that interested in spending my time to read it because I know how it ends (plus some of its content seems a little much for me). (Is that awful?)


Have you read any of these??? Are there any I’m missing that I simply MUST add to my TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Authors I Own The Most Books From

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

 

Top Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a TTT, so I thought this would be a fun one to join in on. It’s the top 10 authors I own the most books from! I decided to stick with fiction authors/books. This was fun to go through my shelves (and my Goodreads shelf) to see which authors really are the most popular with me. Just know that some titles are ebooks, so I don’t have THAT many weighting down my shelves. But that’s a topic for another day…

Top Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

 

Here’s my list of authors:

1. Karen Kingsbury (by looking at my shelves, it’s obvious I own a ton of Kingsbury books….I know 30+, so I didn’t even bother counting. At least 4 of which are on TBR)

2. Tracie Peterson (Latest count, 23, 2 on TBR,  though some are in a stack to get rid of… any takers?)

3. Kristen Heitzmann (11 total, 1 on TBR)

4. Lauraine Snelling (9, 2 on TBR)

5. Tamera Alexander (7, 1 TBR)

6. Deeanne Gist (7, 1 on TBR)

7. Colleen Coble (7, 3 on TBR)

8. Lori Wick (7, 2 on TBR)

9. Susan May Warren (7, 3 on TBR)

10. A TIE: Francine Rivers (5, 4 of which are on TBR. Crazy, right?)  and Laura Frantz (5, 1 on TBR)

 

Which authors do YOU own the most books from???

Review: The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan

The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan is a quick read that covers “10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times”. Using the Scriptural example of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea, Robert Morgan outlines these logical points for anyone facing challenges, struggles, problems, and the day to day difficulties of life.red sea rules

Because we live in a fallen world, we as Christians still face hardships every day. With candor and strong Biblical references, Robert concisely communicates his 10 strategies, each one followed by short study questions that make you think, dig deeper in scripture, and consider God’s Word in light of your current situation.

Like the first “rule” states (#1 realize that God means for you to be where you are), this book came at a very appropriate time in my life, just where God knew I would be. I was in the middle of this book when I lost someone very close to me, my dad. Though I struggle daily to see God’s plan for my life, He knew all along what my circumstances would be, and He used a portion of this book to help me realize that His ways are not like ours. They are higher, better, and sometimes only for Him to fully understand (Isaiah 55:8).

I definitely recommend this book – it’s very easy to read, filled with scripture, quotes from well-known people (like historical church leaders), and anecdotes and stories that explain and apply each rule. I found the study questions to be a great addition, allowing the reader the option to reflect on each rule. Because no one’s life is perfect, this would be a practical and helpful little addition to anyone’s library.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Thank you to BookLook and the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I’ve Read This Year

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

 

Top Ten Books I’ve Read This Year

I have a feeling this should be called the top ones I’ve read SO FAR this year, because there are some awesome books set to release soon. Also, there are a few others I really want to include, but I can’t, because they are INSPY nominations I’m judging. Alas, I can’t discuss them until the winners are announced. But, these books I’ve included are each wonderful in their own right. It’s just so hard to pick 10!

Top Ten Tuesday - Top 10 I've Read This Year

Here’s my list of this year’s top favorites, in no particular order:

It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren (review here)

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton (review here)

Dancing With Fireflies by Denise Hunter (review here)

The Sentinels of Andersonville (review here)

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger (review here)

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (review here)

A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Moseley (review here)

The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd (review here)

Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry (review here)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (mini review here)

 

What are YOUR favorites from this year???

 

 

Book Review: George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Being a birthday twin with George Washington, I’ve often been interested in the revered military leader and first president.  When I received this book for my birthday, I was very excited to delve in to the story of the secret spy ring which contributed to the success of the Patriot efforts in the Revolutionary War. Here’s my take on book #7 of my Empty Shelf Challenge:

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is a nonfiction account of the Culper Spy Ring, residing in New York City, which thwarted several attacks and plans of the British during the course of the war. They risked their lives to observe, record, and relay the British troop activities within the city and in the surrounding ports. With clever routes and methods, these 5 men — and one lady — witnessed the struggles of their cause firsthand, facing great obstacles while covertly monitoring the British.

With enthusiasm and structure, Kilmeade and Yaeger provide the background of each of the members of the Culper Spy Ring, as well as the history and events leading up to their collaboration in New York. I found it fascinating that the identities of several of these agents was revealed years later – and only then through the shrouded correspondence Washington had preserved. The identity of one man was not uncovered until the 1920s, and the identity of one “lady” is still unknown. George Washington’s Secret Six reveals the character of Washington and the members of the ring, showing them to be true “Patriots” – brave, humble, and committed to their cause. Much credit is deserved by these men and lady, though modern history often neglects to disclose the essential role they played in the success of the Revolution.

Anyone who reads this book will have a better understanding of the valiant Founding Fathers of America. Even in modern times, their examples can be respected and looked up to. The Secret Six was a very interesting read that I really enjoyed.

George Washington's Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Are you a history buff? Who is your favorite “Founding Father”?