The Last Bride book review

I received The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis a few weeks ago but haven’t had a moment to even think about sitting still to read a book.  I finally had to MAKE time, usually right after putting the boys to bed.  It seems as though the older they get, the busier I get.  Huh… never would have guessed that! Haha!!

This is a part of Lewis’ “Home to Hickory Hollow” series.  This interweaves a lot of characters that you would be familiar with if you are an avid Lewis reader such as I, but each book is its own story, not immediately connected to the others.  This was a really sweet story of Tessie Ann Miller and her struggle to remain obedient to her parents while keeping her romance with her beau, Marcus King, alive.  Her parents disapprove of her relationship with Marcus, which is fairly odd since I gather from Lewis’ other books that who you court is kept strictly between the lovers and not even the parents find out until the couple makes their engagement announcement. Tessie’s “dat” has kept secret records though of the families in Lancaster County in their particular church district because as Tessie later finds out, she is distantly related to Marcus.  This is why her parents disapprove of her relationship with Marcus but they never reveal this to her, expecting her to obey them without question.  Tessie struggles with this, but feels that her love for Marcus is Providentially ordained.  I normally like to leave a little of the story for you to find out in case you want to read it for yourself, so if you want that PLEASE STOP READING NOW AND SKIP DOWN to the second set of asterisk marks!!  I am now going to reveal a SPOILER ALERT!!

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Tessie and Marcus secretly elope and decide they will continue living as singles in their parent’s homes until the time is right to reveal their elopement to the church.  Marcus eventually begins leasing a home that will become their future home together much to the suspicion of the people of the church district.  Tessie sneaks away in the evenings when she can to spend them with Marcus but never spends the night even though she really wants to reveal their elopement to her parents.  Marcus and Tessie continue to pray about it, and Marcus keeps a secret journal regarding his prayers for their future and how to reveal their marriage to Tessie’s Dat.  Marcus finally decides that he will reveal their marriage to Tessie’s Dat at a barn raising they are going to attend.  While working on the barn, Marcus is working on the roof and fatally falls from the roof.  Tessie knows that she shouldn’t run over to him because their marriage has not been revealed, let alone their courting relationship but she does anyways.  Tessie also sews black mourning clothes and goes into a deep mourning for Marcus.  Her parents don’t understand this and Tessie decides herself not to bother telling her parents about the marriage so they continue to raise their eyebrows to her mourning clothes (only a wife would wear black like she is, not a courting girlfriend).  As time goes along, Tessie figures out that she is pregnant, and along with some side stories going on regarding Tessie’s sister Mandy and her husband Sylvan, as well as Tessie and another young man named Levi Smucker, we eventually get to where Tessie starts to show.  She now has to give a kneeling confession to the Bishop but doesn’t reveal that she and Marcus were married because she has no proof, so everyone assumes she is pregnant out of wedlock.  Of course, everything works out in the end and it is revealed that she and Marcus were married with the proof of their elopement via a marriage certificate signed by witnesses; and she falls in love with Levi Smucker who helps to raise her daughter who, also of course, doesn’t have any genetic problems as her parents feared would happen because of the lineage of the two families being linked distantly.

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I did thoroughly enjoy this book, however I am finding that a lot of the stories are becoming so similar and ended too neatly.  As is my gripe with Lewis’ other one book novels instead of the multi-book novels, I think she fits everything too compactly in. I do appreciate when she takes the time to expand stories into multiple books.  I know this is just an issue for me though and it’s not something I should project onto Lewis, because I get lost in stories.  I feel like I’m walking one step behind them when they are walking down the road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, smelling the air with them and taking in all of the gorgeous landscape.  I never want the stories to end!  I think that’s why I am finding it harder to find time to read nowadays, because it is harder and harder to put the book down at the end, I just want to stay in the story.  Again, this is why Anne of Green Gables has always been my go-to read for this reason, I am there with them in their lives for so long!!  I would definitely recommend this book though for a short read.  I could have finished this in one evening but I managed to make it last over three nights.  I am forcing myself to put the books down now, instead of staying up a little later and reading!

So tell me, what are some of your favorite series novels?  Why do you love them so much?  

*I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review (good or bad) here on my blog and on an online shopping site*

Exciting News & Book Reviews

Ever since I started our home school journey, I was hoping to set a personal goal of blogging once each week, not just about home school but to share how this has affected my personal walk with the Lord, and I feel like I am failing on the personal goal aspect, and in more than just this goal of blogging more regularly.  On June 4 of this year, my husband and I started an exercise and weight loss journey together by following the P90X program.  Everyone that I have shared this with has said “Wow! Isn’t that such a hard program to follow?”  Yes, yes it is, but doing it with Jeff was not only exciting but fulfilling as well.  We’d wake up at 5AM each weekday morning and encourage one another through the hour long (sometimes longer) workouts, and text each other during the day if we were having a moment where we were struggling to eat well.  We did very good the first month, Jeff lost 33 lbs (hello man metabolism!) and I lost 11.  Not exactly what I was hoping for but I was so excited, I could do push ups and I was able to get through an entire workout without stopping and panting for breath every 15 minutes.  I could see progress, I felt great.  Then month two rolled along, and life got in the way and after two weeks, the 5 AM mornings were turning in to “let’s do it today after you get home from work” and then by the end of the month we had fallen off the exercise wagon.  We were still both following the nutrition program but the exercise just wasn’t there.  Total weight loss for both= nada, zip, zilch, nothing!  I did notice however that I was EXTREMELY tired all the time.  You see, I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS.  If you don’t follow a pretty specific diet for insulin resistance (low carb/high protein), chronic fatigue can be an issue.  I looked back over my last couple of weeks of eating and thought, well I did eat some carbs here and there, that must be the reason.  Then I started noting a few other symptoms I was having that just seemed to say to me, perhaps I better run to the store and get a pregnancy test… just in case.  Now it isn’t uncommon for me to think that, take the test, see a negative result then just go on about my day as if nothing happened.

This time was different.

I knew it was going to be positive, I just knew it.  Well, guess what?!?!

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I have since been to the doctor and had all of the requisite testing done, an early OB ultrasound, etc. and the little one’s due date is April 10, 2013.  This means that sometime in late March, early April we will have a new little addition to the family (I have to have a scheduled c-section).  The boys are so very excited, as am I.  We are so thankful to the Lord for this precious gift he has given us.  This definitely changed things up a bit though.  I still need to exercise since I am a hefty gal, and still need to watch my carb intake to keep Litttle One healthy, as well as myself (I had multiple issues carrying Joseph and subsequently he was born early at 36 weeks, but he turns 3 today, praise Jesus!)  I have since taken on a second job to get our financial house more in order before this new arrival makes his or her debut into the world, and this put a temporary hold on preschool until we can figure out a better schedule, since I have been home only one day in the week.  We still do lots of learning, just not in the formal mode that we were doing it in.  I have been very sad about this, as it is my heart’s desire to school our children at home.  The boys miss it dearly, and continue asking me when we can get back to doing school at the table, instead of on the go.  If you have some words of encouragement, I’d really appreciate them.  Also, if you have some advice about doing school in a “less formal” structure, please share!  I’m hungry for any tips I can get my hands on!

Now on to some book reviews that I have fallen behind on.  (Disclaimer: These are my honest reviews on books from Bethany House Publishers.  I receive books free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my opinion, good or bad, here on my blog and on a retail website such as Amazon.com.  If you are interested in joining this review program, give me a shout and I will hook you up with the information!  It’s a wonderful program.)

First up, The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis

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On a scale of 5 clovers, with 1 as “absolutely wretched” and 5 as “couldn’t put it down”, I’d like to give this book a 4.  It’s a solid Beverly Lewis book, and I have to admit she is one of my favorite historical fiction authors because of my love of everything Amish.  This was actually set in current times, and was a quaint little story about a woman named Amelia DeVries (who goes by the name Amy in certain circles) and her quest to truly find out what she wants out of life.  She is a classically trained/performing violinist, who loves her classical pieces but also has a heart for good ol’ country music fiddlin’.  Her parents want her to go on a grand European playing tour, which would be great for her career, but she doesn’t know if she should continue pursuing classical music and perhaps continue making a name for herself as a country fiddler.  Through this turmoil, she finds herself in a remote Pennsylvania cabin owned by Michael Hostetler, a young Amishman who is struggling himself to make the decision between continuing in the Amish heritage he has grown up with or “going English”.  The love story that unwinds between Amy and Michael is a sweet story, Lewis is always a good crafter of love’s twisting tales.  I have always appreciated the simple yet endearing way that Lewis writes her stories, with lots of underlying plot twists to keep you on your toes.  I have heard other reviewers say her books are all similar, but I appreciate the thought she puts into each new character.  Lewis never disappoints, but I give it a 4 clover review instead of 5 because I’d really like the trilogy to continue with these two characters and where they will go in the future and instead she is following in the footsteps of some other Bethany House authors and creating a totally different set of characters in the next book of the Home to Hickory Hollow series.  I’m a sucker for continuing love stories, which is probably why I am SO IN LOVE with the Anne of Green Gables series.  That has always been my go-to set of books for a really great story, but I digress.  Check this book out, it’s a good one!  Lewis continues to make Christ the center of her stories and you will be forced to look inward with some of the quotes from Michael as he inwardly questions whether he has made Christ the center of his own life.

Up next is a book from a new author, Becky Wade, called My Stubborn Heart.

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This book has a little bit of controversy surrounding it, which I only found out after reading other reviews when I finished the book.  I have to give this book a rating of 5 clovers.  When I say I couldn’t put the book down, I literally made myself stay awake with my very tired, pregnant self to finish this book in one night.  I paid for it the next morning and had to take a long nap the next day but this book was wonderful!  I loved the characters (which I’ll get in to in a second, allow me to indulge for a second), I loved the plot, I loved the tension, I loved the setting, I loved the sub-plots and I loved the secondary characters!  The only thing I didn’t love?  THE ENDING!  I closed the book and thought, she (the author) seriously can’t be ending the book here?  Ugh.  I would love a sequel, but doubt there will be one.  Becky Wade, if you’re reading this by any chance, please make a sequel!

So on to the actual review, hehe.  The main female character is Kate Donovan.  She is a spunky gal from Dallas who accompanies her grandma Beverly on a journey to Pennsylvania where her grandmother grew up to refurbish the house her grandmother grew up in.  The house hasn’t been lived in for a long while and there is a lot to be done so before arriving Beverly hired a handyman/contractor to assist them with the repairs and refurbishing.  Enter the main male character, Matthew Jarreau, an ex-NHL player who returned to his hometown after suffering a broken heart and walking away from the hockey game that he loves and excelled at since childhood.  Their love story is a long, winding road that was put together as delicately as an origami swan.  When the two finally share their love for each other, it just sort of abruptly ends.  I want to have more story, not just the build up to them saying I love you with an epilogue that says, oh yeah they got married and lived happily ever after.  Those types of stories should be reserved for Disney movies, not long books that would benefit from another two chapters or so that delve into their married life together.  Again, this is why I love L.M. Montgomery and the care she put into Anne and Gilbert’s love story.  With that said, this is still a wonderful love story and I found myself rooting for Matt to open up to Kate, and for Kate to let down her walls against Matt.  I’m just a big sap at heart I suppose.  In regards to the controversy surrounding the book, I will let you Google it.  I didn’t find it such a big deal, and when I Google’d it myself, I remember thinking “that is the controversy? I thought it was going to be something else” and I can’t say because you’ll just have to read the book!

So my dear blog followers, until next time! I pray you all have great weeks!