Observations – Europe Journal Part 2

Hey, friends! This is part 2 of my Europe travel journal. If you want to start at the beginning, click here for part 1: “Here’s to Adventure.”

(The italicized text is quoted straight from my journal – the rest are thoughts I added later).

The day after we arrived in Belgium, we were up at 5:00am to head out on a flight to Ireland. Still deliriously jet-lagged, I recorded some observations in my hotel room in Dublin that night:

Thursday, June 15

  • The first thing that popped into my head when I saw a castle in Dublin: 

“Have fun storming the castle!” – The Princess Bride

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Malahide Castle

  • Jetlag thinks it’s my boss. I slept on the way to Belgium from the airport in Germany yesterday – was it really just yesterday?! – as we drove through part of the Netherlands. Slept again most of the way to the airport this morning and the entire flight to Dublin. 

People told me flying into Ireland is beautiful. You’ve got the water and all of the green and everything. I even had an empty window seat next to me, so I could scoot over, take in the view, and snap a picture or two of this amazing view. But from the time we were told to fasten our seatbelts until the plane hit the runway in Dublin, I was asleep. So much for views.

  • But I felt a lot better after that nap, so maybe I’m evening out. Although, Belgium is 6 hours different from home, and Ireland is 5, so we’re all over the place. 

(an old abbey and graveyard in Malahide)

  • There’s a trouser press in my hotel room. I tried it on my jeans, but Emily was afraid I’d burn the hotel down. Plus, it smelled bad. I don’t think it’s meant for denim. Fail. 

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  • I had to Google Fahrenheit to celsius conversions when I woke up freezing in the middle of the night. Turns out, 16 celsius is a little chilly. 
  • Despite its interesting name, bangers and mash is all I ever dreamed it would be and more. Amazing. Ate it in an Irish Pub. IMG_6249

That’s the cool thing about pubs in Ireland – they’re a whole experience. And they’re places where you take the whole family for a burger, or fish and chips, or those glorious bangers and mash (sausage, mashed potatoes, and gravy). It’s a fun atmosphere.

Truly, all of Ireland is a fun atmosphere. From the trouser press I should’ve left alone, to Malahide Castle and all of the adventures we went on that week. It was incredible.

Next time I’ll share about my day in Dublin! You don’t want to miss St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a recreation of Jonathan Swift’s skull (I’m as confused as you), and more new food experiences.

~Anna

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Here’s to Adventure – Europe Journal Part 1

Friends! I’m back on my side of The Pond after two weeks in Europe. I have so many pictures and stories to share. I kept a travel journal while I was away so I could remember details like the sounds, tastes, and smells of my travels. Over the next several posts, I’ll share about my trip and include entries from my travel journal. Secure your seatbelt and ensure your seat and tray table are in an upright and locked position, because we’re going on an adventure…IMG_6172.JPG
Tuesday, June 13

I’m something like 30,000 feet above Northeast Georgia. In a plane on my way to Dusseldorf, Germany. I should probably figure out how to spell that. From there, we’ll go to Belgium, then Ireland. Also, this is an 8 1/2 hour flight…IMG_6175 I’m so excited, though. A little nervous, but a lot ready to have an adventure. One of the thoughts I had as I boarded a small connector plane to Atlanta earlier was that I hope I never take the view for granted. So many people travel so often and don’t look out the window at the tiny little world below, but I pray I never grow callous or numb to the experience. I pray I never lose a sense of wonder at the world God has made. I pray I never lose perspective over the truth that I am small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things and yet, by God’s grace, He chooses to love me and give me priceless worth. IMG_6179.JPG So here’s to adventure! I’ve got my dearest friend Emily by my side and The Lego Batman Movie on my screen. 

Lord, help me soak up every moment. It’s all such a wonderful gift.IMG_7560.JPG

 

 

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