“Always” and “Evermore” — New Fairy Tale Stories from Jody Hedlund

I recently had the opportunity to join Jody Hedlund’s release crew for her newest Young Adult books. Always is the prequel novella for the new Lost Princesses series, which kicks-off with Evermore. If you like sweet, YA romances with Christian themes and a fairy tale setting then I think you’d enjoy these books.

Unlike Jody Hedlund’s other medieval romances, these two are more fairy tale than historical fiction. The fairy-tale quality is fairly subtle, with hints of whimsy and magic slipping through the pages but never fully realized. She has said the final two books in this series will be even more fairy-tale like, and since I love fairy tales I’m very much looking forward to those.

  • Mild spoiler warning: I’m not going to disclose any major plot points but if you don’t want to know anything about the plot and character relationships before reading the books then you’ll want to skip my post for now.

Always

This lovely little novella follows the story of lady-in-waiting Felicia and elite king’s guard Lance as they race to save the lives of three young princesses. With the invading King Ethelwulf hot on their heels, Felicia and Lance are the only things standing between death and the orphaned, 3-year-old crown princess and her newborn twin sisters. Read more

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Classics Club Update (1/2)

Almost five years ago, I committed to reading 50 classic works of literature in 5 years. I’m starting to worry I won’t actually finish my Classics Club list by the August 18 deadline, despite the fact that I’ve already read more than 50 books this year alone. They just haven’t been the right books for the list (even with swapping out some of the titles for ones I’m more interested in now).

I’m not out of time yet, though, so I’m going to keep trying. Part of the agreement includes blogging about each title, but since this isn’t really a book blog I’m not going to write a whole post about each book I’ve read. Instead, here are a collection of my thoughts on six of the twelve books that were still on my list.

Frankenstein

Classics Club Update (1/2) | LikeAnAnchor.comMary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been on my list since the beginning. I’d read some of her mother’s work and had seen an on-stage version of Frankenstein as well as a modernized YouTube series, but this was my first time reading the original novel. It wasn’t entirely what I’d expected, though the format is familiar from reading other books from this time period. The story is told as if Victor Frankenstein is sharing his research (along with a cautionary tale) to the explorer who found him pursuing his created creature toward the North Pole.

Probably the thing that fascinated me most was the role Frankinstein’s psychology played in the story. Published in 1818 — 38 years before Sigmund Freud was even born — Mary Shelley explores the idea that Frankinstein’s path was shaped by his environment and his childhood as much as by the conscious choices he made. Did he make himself into the monster that created this creature? Or did was he a tragic product of his past? The story seems unsure and leaves us to answer that question for ourselves. Read more

What Does Your Soul Love? book review

Whenever I discover a new resource for helping us “find our true selves in the people God created us to be,” I like to make sure I share it with you. One of the most recent I’ve come across is What Does Your Soul Love? Eight Questions That Reveal God’s Work In You by Gem and Alan Fadling.

This is a book about discovering who you are by learning about how God is working inside you. I requested an ARC (advance review copy) through NetGalley because I thought it might be interesting. I wasn’t expecting it to make me think so much or encourage spiritual transformation and personal growth at such a deep level.

The authors ask readers a series of eight questions designed to cultivate “deeper awareness and soul focus.”

  1. What do you really want?
  2. What is getting in your way?
  3. Where are you hiding?
  4. What is most real to you?
  5. How are you suffering?
  6. What are you afraid of?
  7. What are you clinging to?
  8. What does your soul love?

With each chapter, they discuss a core aspect of who we are deep down inside. Desire, resistance, vulnerability, truth, pain, fear, control, joy – how we experience and relate to these things has a huge impact on who we are as people. As the chapters unfold, the Fadlings discuss each topic in depth and invite us to think about change in these areas as something that happens inwardly as a result of God’s work in us rather than as outward changes we need to try and make ourselves.

Reading this book has already inspired two posts on this blog: “Am I Living A Flesh Life Or A Spirit Life?” and “There’s Only One Sovereign, And It Isn’t Me.” I really like books that make me think about something so deeply that I’m inspired to write about it. I’ve already talked about some of my favorite quotes from this book in those posts, so I won’t go over them again. There are a few others I want to share with you, though:

“We don’t change so that we’ll be loved more by God. We are measurelessly loved by God, so we are free and enabled to change in all the ways we long for.”

“The first step toward peace is to accept what is. Notice I didn’t say condone what is; I said, accept what is. We must become people who acknowledge what is actually going on.”

“Obedience and confidence go together. When I go my own way, I go alone. When I walk with God, I go forward in good company.” — all quotes by Gem and Alan Fadling from What Does Your Soul Love?

That’s just a tiny sample of the nuggets of wisdom in this book. I really liked most of the content and it prompted me to think deeply about the personal growth work I’ve been doing lately. The book also includes exercises and reflection questions at the end of each chapter, which were hit-and-miss for me personally. Some were extremely helpful while others fell-flat.

I also didn’t resonate with many (though not all) of the authors’ personal examples and found myself skimming over them a few times. However, that was more of a personal preference than an issue with the book. Overall, I found the questions, content, and perspective on growth offered in What Does Your Soul Love? challenging in all the best ways. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in spiritual growth and development.


What Does Your Soul Love? comes out on September 17th. Click here to pre-order a copy of this book. Please note that this is an affiliate link, which means that at no additional cost to you I’ll receive a small commission if you clock on the link and place an order.

My thanks to InterVarsity Press, Gem and Alan Fadling, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“A Reluctant Bride” Book Review

Several years ago, while I was in college, I stopped reading Christian fiction. The more I learned about writing and literature, the less impressed I was with the inspirational market. I felt the books were poorly written and too preachy. I don’t like shoe-horned themes or author agendas shoved in my face even when the author and I share a faith.

Then a few years ago, I gave it another chance after a review of Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love* caught my eye. That book was so good it convinced me to give the Christian fiction market another try. And I’m glad I did, or I wouldn’t be writing about the book that’s the subject of today’s post.

  • please note that links in this post marked with an * are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.

Jody Hedlund’s A Reluctant Bride kicks off her new Bride Ships series series with a heartwarming slow-burn romance. This historical fiction novel, set in the Victorian era, follows the story of Mercy Wilkins. Mercy — a compassionate, selfless young woman who grew up in one of the poorest areas of London — follows her sister’s advice to immigrate to Vancouver with a group promising jobs. It’s only after she’s on board the ship that she learns the women sailing with the Columbia Mission Society will be offered jobs only temporarily. This is a bride ship, and those traveling on-board will be expected to marry once they arrive — something Mercy has no intention of ever doing.

As one would expect from this type of story, there’s a man on board this ship with the potential to change Mercy’s mind. Lord Joseph Colville is heir to one of the noble families of England. Since the death of his parents and brother, he’s been delegating his political and social responsibilities to his aunt and focusing on his passion for medicine. He’s the doctor aboard the bride ship and fully intends to continue traveling for a few more years before settling down. But when Mercy becomes his assistant, they both start thinking that maybe marriage wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, he’s supposed to marry someone from his station and she’s supposed to marry one of the men waiting in British Columbia.

I’ll not spoil anything about the ending for you, since I hope some of you will decide to read this for yourselves. But I will say I loved the characters. The faith elements weave through the story naturally and the plot kept me turning pages eager to see how events played out.

I always appreciate when historical fiction engages with the characters’ time period in a believable fashion. Lord Colville’s choice to work as a doctor and romance a poor working-class girl is an unusual one. However, it’s handled in a way that seems fairly realistic — including the reactions of people around them and Joseph’s and Mercy’s own recognition of the challenges they face. Parts of their romance remind me of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,* which is one of my favorite books.

I’d never had the chance to read and promote a book pre-release before, so I was very excited when Jody Hedlund opened up applications to her Reader Room group, and even more excited when I became part of the release crew for A Reluctant Bride. I love her YA medieval romance series,* and I wasn’t surprised to enjoy this book as well.

A Reluctant Bride will be out on June 4th. You can click these links to order it and to learn more about Jody Hedlund’s work. (A note for those  who, like me, enjoy print books: you won’t be disappointed with this one. The cover is absolutely beautiful, the paperback feels amazing, and pictures can’t do it justice.)

"A Reluctant Bride" Book Review | LikeAnAnchor.com

The Awakening and This Side of Paradise

I’ve been trying to get caught-up on my reading for my Classics Club book list that I started almost 5 years ago. This also involves blogging about the books I’m reading in the hope that we can spread our love for classic literature all over the internet. Interestingly, the last two books I read have some similar themes and it made sense to group them together. Which is good, since book reviews aren’t the main focus of this blog.

This Side Of Paradise

This Side of Paradise was F. Scott Fitsgerald’s debut novel (published in 1920). Its publication famously helped Fitzgerald gain Zelda Sayre’s hand in marriage because he was convinced he could win her back if he became a published novelist. It must have worked, since they married just 8 days after the novel’s first printing. The initial print run of 3,000 copies sold out in three days. Read more

Lust, Murder, and Deception from Shakespeare to Today

I know this blog isn’t really about literature and reading, but I just finished two Shakespeare plays that I can’t resist writing about. I hope some of you will find this an interesting digression from our usual topics of Christianity, Myers-Briggs, and personal growth. And if not, don’t worry — I’ll get back to my more usual type of posts this weekend.

Four and a half years ago, I committed to reading 50 Classics in 5 years. You’d think someone who read 74 books just last year wouldn’t have any trouble doing that, but I let other books distract me too much and I have some catching-up to do before August 18 arrives. Today’s article is about two of the four Shakespeare plays on my classics club list (click here to read my thoughts on the other two).

These last two plays are The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice and Measure for Measure. On the surface they’re very different stories, but I was surprised to find they touch on the same core themes. Lust, murder, and deception lie at the center of both plays, and these topics are handled in a way that puts me in mind of things happening today in our modern society.

Read more