Thursday, June 30, 2016

#FaithRaiderReads: Sarah Addison Allen

So, like I mentioned we have a new puppy and since we got her I have turned into a total scatter brain. She's a great puppy overall but she feels a little bit like the straw the broke the camel's back and send me from mildly overwhelmed into full-on crazy mom mode.

our new puppy Bonny

Anyway I'd been meaning to write more book recommendations but hadn't really gotten around to it. I think I was wanting to recommend a perfect book. But then a friend asked for a book recommendation and I remembered why I write these posts! I could write a blog-post-long text message responding to a text like that!! So here is another installment in (fiction) books I recommend.

Today I'm writing about all of the Sarah Addison Allen books I've read so far. Because her books are each a really fun, lighthearted read. I'm going to write about them in  approximately the same order I read them in.

my baby with two of his siblings at the Library!!

It was something my friend Corinne posted about on her Instagram and I thought I'd try. I read it in about 24 hours and immediately handed it to my daughter who read it in under 12. It is like the cotton candy of literature in the best of ways. It feels light and sweet and cozy with a twinge of magic around the edges. 

The story is about Bay, a teenager with the magical ability to know where everything belongs, including people. She works with her aunt who works magic into her cooking and barely gets along with her mother, who is a wizard of sorts with her scissors and comb down at the beauty salon. Bay knows that one of the popular boys at school belongs with her but they are not permitted to hang out together, so Bay kind of longs after him from a distance. There's also a con man and a candy store and a Halloween party and a magical tree. It is about the mystery of their mother's disappearance, and about the healing of hurting hearts. It is all really lovely and less whackadoodle that it sounds in this synopsis. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Follows the story of Bay's mom & aunt when they were younger. I didn't enjoy it as much as First Frost, it is a bit cliche and more violent and has an abusive character. I'd call this closer to a PG-13 read. I thought that since I loved the characters in First Frost I would enjoy this story but I honestly didn't. 

I didn't love it as much as First Frost but I didn't dislike it as much as Garden Spells. It is about a young girl goes to live with the grandfather she didn't know existed until the death of her (single) mother. The main character walks into a town full of mysteries and secrets, where she starts to fall in love with the boy who has a Big Secret. She also has magical wallpaper that changes patterns by itself, so there's that. But it is a lovely story about love in many forms. 

preggo belly last summer when I read this book

This is one of my favorite books by Sarah Addison Allen but it is also the most cray-cray. It is about a magical alligator who lives at the lost lake. That part of the story is kind of unbelievable but the rest of the story makes up for it. It's about a woman (and her daughter) after the death of her husband. They've been living under the thumb of her mother in-law, but they decide to spend a week or so with her aunt before they move in with her. The place wakes her up, she helps her aunt, who is thinking about selling her property to the Big Bad Developer. It's about the other people who have been living there or coming every year for the last twenty years, the attractive handyman who is helping the aunt get things fixed up. It is such a beautiful story and I loved reading it, mostly in the bathtub while I was pregnant with my youngest.

This is a sweeping southern story, crossing about a hundred years, it's about the mystery of a big old house that is being renovated into a grand hotel, about the family that used to live there and the family that is renovating it and all of their family secrets. And of course a little romance is blossoming!

The Sugar Queen
I didn't finish this one - I had a ton of books checked out from the Library all at the same time, it is basically about a girl who is crazy for sugar and has a stash of sweets in her closet, or something like that. I didn't get into it. I guess I couldn't connect with the main character quickly enough. It seemed like a nice enough story and I'm sure I'll check it out of the library again at some time. 

All of these are (unless otherwise stated) pretty PG as far as violence and language, maybe stepping closer to a mild PG-13 in the romance department. If you are looking for a light fiction read any of these would be good. Let me know if you read any of these and what you think!

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. I plan to send out my first email this weekend - just to try things out - so sign up today. (You can unsubscribe at any time) To those of you who have already signed up I just wanted to say thank you! It makes me really happy that your trust me with access to your inbox. Look for something from me soon.

Friday, June 17, 2016


We have been really busy with our new dog Bonnie. I named her after the character in Toy Story 3. They are both so friendly, sweet and cheerful. She's been a terrific addition to the family. Kids need a dog, some dogs need kids and Bonnie I think is one of them. She loves the constant attention and company. She is still a puppy but has been really easy to train so far!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Faith Raider Reads: The Fault in Our Stars

I am more myself when I have a book to read. And there will always be a tiny part of me that has gotten stuck at 17. I love reading, sharing books I've enjoyed and reading books that my friends have enjoyed. I had another book in mind to recommend to you today but that one is going to have to wait because I just finished watching the DVD of "The Fault in Our Stars" again and it has me re-living the experience of reading the book by John Green, so I couldn't help myself but to share it with you. The movie version is about as close as you get when it comes to transforming a book into a movie.

I read it in about two days (because, life) I dried my eyes and handed it to my oldest daughter, Beth who was in 7th grade at the time. She read it in less than 12 hours. We went to go see the movie together a few months later when it came out in theaters.

I have been known to shed a tear or two while I read (especially during my last pregnancy) but with this book I wept. It was so touching and so tragic. 

This is a perfect type book to take on a long car ride. I imagine it might make a good poolside book (I have six kids, I know nothing of luxurious poolside reading, but I do have an imagination, and in my imagination this seems really nice).  I dare you to take more than 24 hours to read it. 

In case you have been living under a rock somewhere for the last couple of years I'll give you a brief synopsis of the story - Hazel Grace has stage four cancer, her treatment is working and for now she's pretty stable but he feels like she is a grenade, about to go off, and that it is her duty to reduce the casualties. However that become difficult when she meets Augustus Waters at cancer patient support group. He believes in living a big life, one to be remembered and he refuses to let Hazel keep him away. 

Their love story is ordinary - text messages about their favorite books and supporting their friend as he looses his eyesight. Their love story is also extraordinary- visiting Amsterdam and touring the Anne Frank house. Their love story is tender and tragic and surprising. It reminded me of what it felt like to be in love when I was 17.

Content: Because offensive content is one of the things I am most worried about when I pick up a book, one of the things I want to do in these reviews is give an honest opinion/rating of the content. I'd call this a solid PG-13 there are f-bombs and other curse words throughout but not used heavily. Considering that these are modern, non-religious teenagers (with cancer!) facing life and death situations I felt like the language was appropriate. Not everyone will agree/appreciate that, so - fair warning. There are also teenagers talking about sexuality, making out, virginity and lack of it, and a scene where the main characters sleep together but the scene is not explicit or graphic. I was comfortable with my girls, who are advanced readers in middle school, reading it. But we talk pretty openly about all of the things that were in the book. Overall I felt like it was a good portrayal of modern teenagers and I really enjoyed the characters & story. Is it a piece of amazing literature? No. Is it a sweet piece of YA fiction? In my opinion, definitely yes. 

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. (You can unsubscribe at any time). 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#FaithRaiderReads - Alan Bradley

I feel most like myself when I have a good book to read. I grew up going to the Library every week, and have been an avid reader for most of my life. However it's become more difficult to find my next book. I don't want to read anything and everything and I get frustrated when I pick up a novel from the new adult fiction table and it's just not at all something Inwant to be putting into my mind. 

So one of my goals for this blog is to have a weekly post with one book, or maybe two or three that are similar, that I enjoyed reading. I post about this on my Instagram using the hashtag #faithrphotogreads but I don't always write much of a review/description and that's what I want most from a recommendation. So here we go:

I requested this book from my library because it was recommended on Jen Hatmaker's blog - so I thought it was worth a try. It so was. I was totally engrossed. I wanted to become a super-reader or skip to the end or something because I just could not stand waiting to find out what happened!

It's about the most precocious little girl who is trying to solve the mystery of the man who she found dead in her garden. She is a character that is so vibrant and quirky. 

For a content rating I'd give it a PG. It's a strait-up murder mystery so there's that but there's not a lot of violence (just one scary scene!), lust or bad language. Because of the subject of the book I would not recommend this for older children. My oldest daughter (an advanced reader in 8th grade) read one of the books in this series but didn't enjoy it. But if you're looking for something good and clean yet clever and engaging I would give this one a try.

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. (You can unsubscribe at any time). 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Hey! Thanks for stopping by. I will be posting here soon. I'll be writing about novels that I'm reading and sharing fiction samples. If you'd like to read these posts please subscribe to my blog in the widget in the sidebar (if you're on mobile go to the bottom of the page and tap "view web version" and you'll see it).  And if you have a blog please please please let me know about it. I'd love to follow you!

About me: I'm a momma to six kiddos ages (currently) fourteen to eight months. I just started homeschooling my youngest couple of kids (turns out that is so much harder than I thought it would be!) I've been scribbling stories in notebooks and tapping them out in front of computer screens since I learned how to (barely) spell. I've been writing a blog since blogging became a thing - it's my outlet, the more stressed out I am the more I blog. This is my first attempt at a blog centered around fiction reading and writing so if you have any wisdom to share please do leave a comment, send me an email or leave a message for me on social media. You can connect with me on goodreads to see what I've been reading and to share what I should read next.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Draft Vol 1.7

Matt held her as she cried, ugly snotty, sobbing, he just stood there and held her. As the tidal waves of tears began to subside he picked her up and carried her to her bed. He tucked her under her covers and laid down next to her, on top of the covers. He wrapped an arm around her and listened as her breath began to slow. She fell asleep and he slipped out. Closing the door softly as he left.

Matt poked around the kitchen, finding not much of anything in the way of groceries. A box of cereal, some peanut butter and some bread. He washed a couple of dishes that had accumlated in the sink, took out the trash. He put the gnome back in it's spot. He went out to pick up a few groceries. Some muffins, some juice, some cheerful flowers. He laid them out on the table. Went home, showereed and slept for a few hours. 

He arrived back at Lara's house just as everyone was starting to stir. He let himself in through the back door he'd left unlocked last night and poked his head into Lara's bedroom. Lara was snuggled next to Connor, Sophie was snuggled on the other side of her and Clara was just rubbing her eyes at the foot of the bed. 

Lara looked up as she heard Matt walk in "Hey" he said "Hi" said Lara a smile slowly spreading across her sleepy face. She got up and together she and Matt packed lunches, chased down shoes and got the children ready for school.

Walking home from school together Lara put her head on Matt's arm and he kissed her on the top of her head and took her small hand in his large strong one. 

Lara stood in the kitchen, watching Matt clean up the morning mess in her kitchen. "Don't you have to go to work today?" she asked timidly. "I told Randy I'd be in late" he said casually. Matt smiled and his eyes crinkeld and twinkled. "Now you," he said, picking up Lara and plopping her down on her favorite spot on the sofa "you just let yourself be taken care of for a change." and he went to the kitchen to put a fresh pot of coffee on to brew. Matt sat down on the sofa next to Lara and gathered her into his arms. He kissed her on the top of her head, kissed her ear, his finger tips brushed against her collar bone. Lara looked at Matt, her eyes sad and and every so slightly panicked. "Matt, I can't -" she didn't know how to finish this sentance
"I know." said Matt before the words had any time to linger between them.
"I know." he said again softly, gently, as he hugged her tighter. He knew what it meant to grieve, he understod the up and down of it. 
"It's just that - " Lara began and Matt interrupted her with a kiss. 
He had hoped that their first true kiss would have been more romantic, but how long had he put this off just because the moment hadn't been perfect, now that it had happened there was no takng it back. 

"I only have one question" he said looking into her eyes "why did you shut me out?" Lara looked down at her hands, she thought for a moment, "I guess I didn't want to burden you with my mess, and also I didn't want you to see me... like this." She hugged him tighter "but now I can see that I was wrong, and" her voice quieted almost to a whisper  "and I'm sorry." she kissed him, and everything was right.

Matt poured a cup of coffee in one of her favorite mugs, he settled Lara at her desk with a list they had written together of what she needed to do, at the top of which was "call mom" at the bottom was "Dinner at Aunt Mae's".

Matt kissed her one more time and left for work, half wishing he didn't have to go, half happy for the escape. His brain understood taking things slow, his heart knew he was right, his body, however, disagreed. 

Lara sat in the sunshine at her desk with a huge, stupid smile spread across her face. She tried for a second not to smile, but couldn't. She called her mom, thanked her for reaching out to Matt, assured her that everything was fine, apologized for causing her to worry, failed to mention everything about kissing Matt. She did not want to have that conversation with her mother. Not today. And she felt right back in her High School days. But in the best of ways. 

She got through her work quickly so that she had plenty of time to walk leisurely to pick up the kids from school. Their first question when they saw her was "where's Matt?" she texted it to him. They had texed throughout the day like teenagers. He was waiting for them when they arrived back at the house. Connor launched himself at Matt, the girls hung on his arms. Lara just smiled. She wanted to fuss at Matt for creating unrealistc expectations, that he'd never be able to keep this up, she wasn't really sick, she didn't necessarily need help, but five minutes later as she attempted to wrangle kids out of school clothes and into their afternoon routine Laura found herself stressed out, overwhelmed and somewhere between screaming and sobbing, Lara found herself deeply appreciating the second pair of hands and a cheerful voice which Matt provided - brilliantly. 

Showing up at Aunt Mae's farm together for the first time, Lara's thoughts were going in a million directions at once, but one look at Mae and Lara realized that she was fully aware of this situation, probably more fully aware of it than Lara herself. She hugged Lara a little bit longer and tighter but nothing else changed.

Lara forgot how much difference a good meal made to her soul. Ms Mae served fresh fish right off the grill, piles of kale & strawberry salad, and gooey peach cobbler with homemade ice cream with fresh raspberry & mint iced tea .

After dinner she shooed Matt out of the kitchen for some girl talk at the kitchen sink. Matt winked at Lara as he chased after Connor. "Lara, how are you?" asked Mae in her typical straitforward motherly manner. "So much better." said Lara "Sunday would have been my anniversary, and I thought it would be hard but I was completely unprepared for the bone-crushing weight of sadness I felt. I did get by but barely. But then Matt came, and I know it's cliche but he was like my knight in shining armor." "I remembr the first few years after Selah and Cooper died." replied Ms. Mae "Matt would just disappear for days at a time. He'd be walking around, working hard but he'd barely eat, hardly sleep, I could barely get a word out of him, it was a piece of him was missing, it felt like he was missing too. I'd try to snap him out of it, or I'd wait for it to pass. A piece of him came back when you came, like a piece of him that died with her came back to life for you. It just makes me happy to see him happy again, after all of this time. It just warms me up inside." Lara half expected the 
"so don't break his heart speech" but Mae only said "Want to help me serve this cobbler?"

Matt, Lara and the kids spent Saturday at the ocean, the happiest day Lara could remember in a very long time. She brought her camera and took pictures of Matt and her children, the beautiful shells they found, the light on the waves, the birds against the setting sun, she took a photo with Matt as the sun set. 

They pulled in late, Matt helped Lara carry the kids into the house, baths woud wait until the morning. Matt tiptoed out of Connnor's room, Lara met him in the hallway with a soft gentle kiss, "Can I get you anything?" she asked "No, I'd best be heading back to my place, it's getting late, but thank you, for the best day in forever." He kissed her again. Lara wanted to ask him to stay, wanted to wake up next to him, but she kissed him and let him go.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Draft 1.9

It had seemed like a good idea at the time, as he'd climbed into his old pick up truck. As he pumped his gas tank full the night before he'd never been more certain of anything in all of his life, but here, driving up to Lara McMullen's little townhouse his doubts began to grow.

Matt had tried to move on, honestly, he had. He'd dated a few women, one for a couple of months even, nothing came close to what he'd felt about Lara. 

It has been two years now, since the last time he'd seen Lara. And while he would never have admitted it to a single soul he had more or less kept tabs on her through her social media. He hadn't seen any boyfriends, but how much did that mean? What if he was wrong? What if she still wasn't ready? What if she had fallen in love with someone else? He told himself it diddn't matter. He had to try, and he drove out of Florida for the first time in ten years. 

"Why didn't I just pick up the phone like a normal person?" he muttered to himself as he parked in front of her house. "I am such an idiot. She's going to think I'm such a fool. You know what? She'd be right." But he had to try. He got out of the truck and knocked on her door.

Lara opened the door. Matt thought she looked a hundred times better than the best picture she'd posted. She looked healthy. 
"Hi Lara." said Matt shyly
"Hi" Lara replied
"So, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to get a coffee with me, or somethin."
Lara was rather in a state of shock, waiting for this to be a dream, or to suddenly realize she was talking nonsense to the package delivery guy.
She opened her mouth but for a moment nothing came out
"Yes, yes of course. I'd love to. Come in, let me just get my..."
she opened the door and let him in "Right, let me just get my bag, won't be a minute."
Matt stood there, taking it in. 
It was a little cramped and slightly cluttered but it was cozy. He stepped towards a gallery wall of family photos.  There was Clara as a baby and Sophie. There was a picture of baby Connor with his dad. He recognized Marleigh, who had come to visit Lara a couple times while he'd known her. There was a collage of more recent pictures, mostly photos from the beach. There was a photo of Matt & Lara together that little Sophie had taken that day at the beach together. He reached up as if to touch it.

Lara came down the stairs "So are you in town for something, or just passing through or..." she stood there, looking at Matt, looking at the photo of them. Matt turned, their eyes locked. 
"Not really."
Lara stood there, with a deer in the headlights sort of look on her face.
Matt took a step closer.
Lara stepped closer too. 
He reached for her, willing every inch and every kind of distance between them to disappear.
She moved a little closer. She could smell him. She had always loved the way that he smelled, like a good clean honest hardworking man, She reached her arms up around his neck and his hand slid down her waits, heart exploding, speechless.
He kissed her gently.
"I missed you" he whispered
"I missed you too" said Lara and she kissed him.
Matt hugged her closer, tears welling up in his eyes. Matt enveloped Lara in a bear hug and then kissed her again. 

Matt stood there nose to nose with Lara, he pulled back and looked at Lara in the eyes and said the words he had been holding in his heart every moment from the first time he met her.
"I want it to be you." he said softly "Twenty years from now, I want to wake up, and I want it to be you."