Adventure Awaits

This week, next week, and probably the next one after that, I’m taking a break from the blog. I’m traveling out of the country for a couple of weeks, and then two days after I return home, I fly off again for a family reunion up North.

Let me hear you say JET. LAG.

So it’s going to be a little wild for a few weeks.

I’ll be sure to fill you in with stories and pictures once I’m back in the South and caught up on my sleep and sweet tea. In the meantime, I’m off to start packing because, although I’m not a big procrastinator, packing is one of my least favorite activities and therefore I’ve put it off as long as possible.

Have a wonderful second half of June, friends!

P.S. My sister Abby got married last Friday. I was going to leave you all with a post about that, but goodness knows I’m still way too deep in my emotions to write something heartwarming without crying all of the tears. So that will probably come later, too :)

~ Anna

Summer Book Recommendations

If you’re a bookworm like me, you look forward to reading by the pool or with your toes in the sand at the beach. You get excited about reading for fun, and you basically inhale any good story you can get your hands on.

But you may find yourself 1) Overwhelmed by all of the choices or 2) Not sure where to find a good book. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. These are books I’m constantly recommending. They’re all YA, which means the main characters are teens and the dialogue is quippy and honest.

So here’s five books/series I keep going back to whenever I want something fun to read.

After you browse this list, leave a comment with your own recommendations! I’m always  looking for the next good book!

1. The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

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I posted about this one a few months ago, so click here to read my thoughts on it! It’s a must-read if you’re into the 1920’s, mysteries, and a touch of romance.

2. There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. JonesImage result for there you'll find me

I’ve read this one probably four or five times, and I’m about to read it again. It takes place in Ireland and is told from the perspective of Finley Sinclair – a flawed and funny narrator with some big-time heartache to work through. I love this one not only because of how Jones makes the beauty of Ireland come alive on the page, but also because of the realistic/relatable narrator, humor, and message of redemption.

3. The Selection series by Kiera Cass

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I read the first three books awhile ago, and recently read the final two in the series. Now I’m reading my way through a novella collection that lets you peek into the lives of some of the supporting characters. Set in a world post-America, the series is like a teen version of The Bachelor with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Plus, there’s nothing in them that’ll make you squirm or want to wash your eyeballs. Kiera Cass is a brilliant storyteller, and you’ll find yourself wishing there was a sixth book in the series.

4. The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn

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Or, let’s be honest, anything by Robin Jones Gunn. The Christy Miller series began before I was born – back in the late 80’s – and they’re still going strong. Follow Christy from the summer she turns 15 into adulthood. The most recent book in the collection (pictured above) just released, and I inhaled it in one evening. Plus, a couple of Christy’s friends get their own series, and they’re all so good. This is one of my all-time favorites.

5. The Merciful Scar by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue 

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For a more serious, yet deeply moving story, The Merciful Scar is a must-read. Heartbreak and pain are interwoven with messages of hope, redemption, and mercy. It’s beautifully written with a narrator whose story will grip you.

I reviewed this one when it released a few years ago, so click here to read more.

Summer to Me

I need to clean my room. It’s a problem. So I poured myself a second cup of coffee anddecided to write a blog post instead.
Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer, and it made me stop and think about what comes to mind when I think of this time of year. Growing up in the South, humidity and high temperatures are toward the top of the list, but there’s so much more I associate with this time of year…

  • Stargazing
  • Watermelon
  • Reading by the pool
  • Bare feet
  • Cool grass in the evenings
  • Rocking on the front porch, watching the sun set
  • Summer freckles
  • Tan skin (“tan” being a relative term, of course)
  • Ice cream trucks
  • Shorts and t-shirts
  • Beach trips
  • Windows down, volume up driving through the middle of nowhere
  • Slip ‘n slides and water balloon fights
  • Lake days
  • The tropical smell of sunscreen
  • Late nights
  • Grilling
  • Thunderstorms
  • After dinner walks through the neighborhood
  • The smell of fresh-cut grass
  • Camp fires and s’mores
  • Fireworks
  • A chance to breathe

I could go on, but I want to stop and ask: What about you? What sweet memories or traditions do you associate with summertime?
Let me know in the comments!

~ Anna

Currently…

Happy beginning of summer, friends! Unless it’s not summer break for you yet. In that case: HANG IN THERE, BUDDY!

I just finished my second year of seminary. One more year, and I’ll have a Master’s Degree! I also recently had that quarter century birthday, so now I’m solidly in the mid-twenties and that’s something.

Since it’s been a while, I thought I’d do another “currently” post to summarize some of what’s been going on recently. After you read this, let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments section – I’d love to catch up!

Watching…

  • Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I believe this is my fifth time through (don’t even get me started…), but it’s my mom’s first time watching it. She finished up the original series this Spring, so I’m watching the new episodes with her.

Reading…

  • Fiction! I went to the library with a friend last week and came home with a stack of YA novels. I have my favorites I usually re-read in the summer, but this year, I’m trying not to do that. There’s just so much to read, and I’ve been buried in books for school all semester. I’m about to start reading The Heir by Kierra Cass since I read The Selection series last summer.

Drinking…

  • Hot peppermint tea with almond milk. Guys, this has become part of my nightly routine. A woman in my Bible study group at church introduced me to this, and I’ve been hooked. You put your teabag in a mug, then pour in a little almond milk, then add the hot water. Give it five minutes, stir, and voila. It’s amazing. It also makes me fall asleep, which is why I save it for the evening.

Preparing…

  • For my sister Abby’s wedding! We’ve got bachelorette shenanigans going down this weekend, then the wedding in a couple of weeks! It’s gotta stop raining around here so I can not be super pale in that bridesmaid dress…

Discussing…

  • Wedding stuff. Abby’s, not mine (if it were my wedding you would’ve known before now, for sure).  There’s a lot of wedding discussions going on right now.

Traveling…

  • To Europe in a few weeks with some friends! I’ll share more about that later, but my flights are booked, my passport is waiting, and I am SO EXCITED!

Praying…

  • About what’s next after grad school. I know what my heart loves, and I know what I’m called to do, so I’m asking the Lord to direct my steps in the right direction.

How about you? What are you watching/reading/praying about/etc.?

The Sound of Emeralds Birthday Blog Tour & GIVEAWAY!

unnamed.jpgToday I have the privilege of participating in The Sound of Emeralds birthday blog tour, as we celebrate The Sound of Emerald’s birthday!

The Sound of Emeralds is the third book in the Steadfast Love series by Rachelle Rea Cobb – click here to read my post about the other two books in the series!

In this post, you’ll get a peak into Emeralds, learn more about the author, and have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for a chance to win all three books in the series!

Let’s get started…

About the Steadfast Love Series

In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics.
Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?

About The Sound of Emeralds 

Image result for the sound of emeralds rachelle reaWhat once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache? With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

Find The Sound of Emeralds on…
Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/F53u5R
Kindle: http://is.gd/F53u5R
Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/RguS9l
Books a Million: http://is.gd/NdMWGr
Goodreads: http://is.gd/zRI9dg

About the Author

Times gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes aboutRachelle Rea
years long ago– her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance.
Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she
graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She’s
a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South. She is also the author of Write Well, a guide for writers, which released on March 4th!

Author Links 

Interview with the Author

1. When and where did you first get the idea for the Steadfast Love Series?

A song I was listening to on the radio inspired the title of the first book. So I wrote Diamonds, but when I finished it, I realized to my great frustration that the characters weren’t done with their story, even though I had been quite adamant that I would write a stand-alone novel. But the story wasn’t finished, so I kept writing.

2. Readers often pick out favorite quotes from a novel. Do you have a favorite of your own from The Sound of Silver?

Yes! In fact, my friend Mindy, a calligrapher, even created a beautiful piece of art from one of my favorite quotes: “Within the pages of books one’s heart can be revealed.”

3. Can you tell us what first drew you to writing Inspirational Historical Romance?

My first exposure to the genre came when I read Heartsong Presents novels when I was twelve. Those small books introduced me to how much I believe in the power of story, especially love stories set in times gone by.

4. I saw on your website that you also write reviews, articles and offer editing services. What’s one of your favorite things beyond writing novels that you enjoy?

Editing is such fun! I daresay I enjoy editing a page full of my own (or others’!) words just as much as I enjoy splashing words onto a blank page. I recently released my first nonfiction book, Write Well, which is a short ebook designed as a guide writers!

Enter the Giveaway! 

Displaying Emeralds.pngEnter using the Rafflecopter form below to signed copies of ALL THREE of Rachelle’s novels. The whole series, signed!

International friends, this giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive all three e-books.

Follow the link to go to the giveaway:  a Rafflecopter Giveaway

Thank you, friends, for stopping by today! Go ahead and grab your copies of the Steadfast Love books, and you’ll be all ready for reading by the pool this summer :)
– Anna

Right There All Along

I lost my Bible a few mornings ago. That was weird, because one minute I was sitting in bed reading John 17, and the next minute the Bible had vanished.

I didn’t have much time to look for it, so I quickly made my bed, grabbed another Bible off the shelf, and headed out the door to class.

“I still can’t find my Bible!” I called to my roommate once I got back to my apartment after class.

“Maybe it walked away,” she called back.

I sighed. “Well, the Word is living and active…”

I searched my bookshelves, then flipped on my phone’s flashlight and checked the space between my bed and the wall. Then my roommate did the same thing while I checked under my bed and all around my desk area.

Next, we flipped back each layer of covers on my bed, because knowing my pre-caffeine brain, it wouldn’t surprise me if I had tucked it in that morning. But no luck.

While my roommate stretched out across my bed to check between the mattress and the wall one more time, I stood in the middle of my room, completely baffled. Where in the world could it have gone?

Then it hit me.

“I know where it is!” I said, mentally smacking myself in the forehead.

“Where?” My roommate asked.

“In The Drawer of Secrets.” (Note: I keep my journals, notes people have written me, and other random things in this drawer. It’s just more exciting to call it “The Drawer of Secrets” than “my nightstand drawer.”)

I walked over to my nightstand and opened the drawer. There was my Bible, waiting for me. I guess I’d stashed it in there when I put my journal away.

The mystery was solved and I was once again amazed at how I can be mid-way through a Master of Arts degree in seminary and yet I can lose my Bible before I even get out of bed in the morning. Sigh.

But the whole thing served as a reminder for me.

See, sometimes I look for evidence that God is near me, but it’s hard to find. I pray, but it feels like my words just boomerang off the ceiling. I become frustrated when God doesn’t show me what to do or where to go.

It feels like God is distant.

But the truth? God is never the one who is distant. I’m the one who strays. I’m the one who gets too busy or too distracted or too stressed out. God doesn’t say, “Whoa, this one’s a handful,” and take a step back from me. He doesn’t stop loving me or showing me He’s right here with me.

I’m the one who wanders.

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us of the promise God has given His people all throughout history:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

That’s echoed all throughout Scripture. God’s people wander away from Him, love other things, and forget He’s right there, calling them back. Do a little digging in God’s Word and you’ll quickly begin to see God is not the one who moves away. He won’t give up on you or abandon you. He won’t decide you’re too much to handle or that you’re too deep into drama for Him to rescue.

Do you feel like God is distant? Spend time with Him. Read His Word, talk with Him, take time to sit and think about Him. Move in close to Him, and watch what He will teach you.

Just like my Bible was right where I’d put it all along, God has been right there all along, waiting for you to return to Him.

Reach out to Him. He’s right there and He loves you.fullsizerender

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue #16

Hey, friends! If you’re looking for the next piece of the puzzle in The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt, you’ve come to the right place!

Not sure what this is about? Click here to get started! (There’s a prize involved!)

Stick around for my review of the book, more info about the story, and clue #16!

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“I am many things, Detective Cassano, but safe isn’t one of them.” – Piper Sail

My Review 

Q: What do you get when you mix a strong female protagonist, the Roaring 20’s, and the Chicago mafia scene?

A: The Lost Girl of Astor Street, a story that will immerse you in the world of Piper Sail as she tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her best friend. Hold onto your cloche – it’s a wild ride.

The 1920s are fascinating. Flappers, jazz, speakeasies, and the likes of Al Capone all color this time period. And that’s where you’ll find Piper Sail, a tenacious eighteen-year-old determined to find answers to all of the secrets swirling around her.

Stephanie Morrill brings Piper’s world to life through vivid description and a keen eye for historical detail. The story grabs you and won’t let go, but the setting of 1924 Chicago – both the glamorous and the gritty – is enough to keep you reading. Even the dialogue is reflective of the time period.

The characters are unique and well-developed, and the plot will keep you guessing as you try to solve the mystery alongside Piper.

Lost Girl gives readers a perfect blend of suspense, humor, and romance throughout the story, which is realistic yet doesn’t include any iffy language or content.

I’m a big fan of all of Morrill’s books, but she outdoes herself with this one. It’s become one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it. I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Piper Sail!

“To love anyone is to risk.” – Piper’s father

About the book 

Lydia has vanished.
Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.
Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.
When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.
From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

About the author

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Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Website: www.stephaniemorrill.com
Facebook: facebook.com/StephanieMorrillAuthor
Twitter: @StephMorrill
Instagram: @StephanieMorrill

The clue 

Are you ready for the next clue? I thought so!

Clue #16 is…

NOT

There you go! Good luck on the rest of the hunt!

Blog stops

Here’s the complete list of stops along the clue hunt! Make sure you stop by each blog to collect all of the Lost Girl clues and be entered to win the prize!

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White