Shanley Belle and Christopher's treehouse in Ann Arbor.


Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all had a lovely Mother's Day Weekend.  I celebrated a birthday May 2nd, and then Mother's Day, so I've been very busy!  I keep intending to write a few blog posts, but it takes me a long time to accomplish just about anything these days.  

Today I'm sharing a delightful new novel by Catherine Drake: The Treehouse on Dog River Road.  I was intrigued by it because it has been compared to two books I absolutely love:  Evvie Drake Starts Over (one of my favorite books of 2019) and The Overdue Life of Amy Byler.


According to Goodreads:

Twenty-eight-year-old Hannah Spencer wants nothing more than to change everything about her life.

After ten years of living in cities, Nathan Wild has just moved back home to Vermont and doesn’t want to change anything about his.

Recently laid off from her depressing job in Boston and ready for a challenge, Hannah heads to Vermont for the summer to take care of her sister’s kids and do some serious soul searching. There, against the stunning landscape of the Green Mountains, she embarks on an ambitious project: building a treehouse for her niece and nephew. As she hammers away, she formulates a plan to jump-start her life with a new job out West. But will Nathan-next-door complicate her desire to change course? A witty, romantic, and inspiring story of a young woman taking control and making tough choices about love and work to build the life she wants, The Treehouse on Dog River Road will have you rooting for Hannah every step of the way. 


About Catherine Drake:

Catherine worked for many years in the land conservation field developing public outdoor recreation areas and preserving forests and farmland for future generations.  After raising two daughters, she and her husband moved to Vermont where she began writing her first novel, The Treehouse on Dog River Road.  Still active in the environmental community, Catherine serves on the local land trust and conservation commission and enjoys cycling, skiing, kayaking, and hiking in the Green Mountains and other beautiful spots around the world.


My Review:

I enjoyed this little gem of a book so much.  And it's true: I did root for Hannah throughout.  Her character is compelling for many reasons:

  • Hannah knows that although she was good at her corporate job in Boston, she was not making the type of contribution to society she wanted to make.
  • She quits her job and volunteers to care for her niece and nephew while her sister and brother-in-law, university research scientists, can conduct research in South America for the summer.
  • She intends to spend time while in Vermont doing a little research of her own for her next career move by exploring the type of job she'd like and seeking end of summer job interviews; she's proactively taking charge of her career change, and she's ready to move on!

Hannah does have downtime during the day while Nora and Owen are at summer day camp, so she thoughtfully puts together a vision board to help her decide what her next career choice should be.  But the vision board, shopping, and chores don't take that much time, and Hannah decides to take on quite a big project: building a treehouse for Nora and Owen.  She's confident she can accomplish this feat due to her extensive experiences as a Habitat for Humanity worker.  After graduating from college, Hannah worked for the organization in Africa.  She knows how to design and build basic structures, and she is confident she has the time to complete it.  It is becoming a summer for planning! 

Hannah would also like to meet friends and have some social time while in Vermont, too.  Her meet-cute with the new neighbor Nathan is funny yet cringe-worthy at the same time.  Hannah runs into Nathan around town several times and nimbly avoids having to speak to him.  Once they do speak, he awkwardly invites her to a family wedding which she thinks is weird (because there's a misunderstanding about the circumstances surrounding the wedding), but eventually the pair begin dating.

Another thing I like about the book is that it's about two sweet families: the Spencers (Hannah's family) and Nathan's family, the Wilds.  Nathan has a brother and two sisters, and they are all very supportive of each other, and they're close to their extended family, too.  I enjoy reading stories about close-knit families, and this book has two of them.

As the summer comes to an end, it's evident that Nathan is Hannah's perfect match.  However, Hannah is determined not to let anyone influence her about her next career move, and she's set to interview for jobs in Western States.  Her close-knit family all live in New England, and they would also miss her terribly.  But will Hannah continue on her path to pursue jobs out West and not be deterred by her family and Nathan?  Perhaps she should revisit and take note of how her vision board has changed over the summer!

If you are looking for a sweet romance about a kind, thoughtful, and goal-oriented main character with an equally engaging love interest, then you will definitely like The Treehouse on Dog River Road.  It is sure to be one of the top beach and lake reads of the summer.  

Disclosure:  I'd like to thank BookSparks PR and She Writes Press for sending me an ARC of The Treehouse on Dog River Road in exchange for a fair and honest review.  What a treat!



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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill




Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  

Today I'm featuring the second book in the Clover Creek Series by Sean D. Young: Secrets from the Heart.  I just started reading it, and I'm enjoying it already!  So far it hasn't mattered that I haven't read the first one in the series.

Publisher: Entangled: Bliss

Publication date: April 11, 2022

According to Goodreads:

Taking over her family’s charming and historic Red Rose Inn is a dream for Kira Davis—even if it means the extra stress of knowing the entire Davis clan is watching her every move. But ignoring her family’s wishes and hiring too-handsome Franklin Bennett as her temporary new manager might be a huge mistake…given their families’ decades-long feud.

Yet attraction still sparks between them, proving to ex–army engineer Franklin there’s something real beneath the surface. Something hopeful. Something unmistakable. But pursuing Kira could prove dangerous for a man with an uncertain future.

Now Kira and Franklin are caught between an ancient family feud and their feelings for each other. The only way they can love each other is by unraveling the terrible truth about what happened back then…and hope that love is strong enough to mend the break from so long ago.

About Sean D. Young

Sean Young has always been an avid reader. This Gary, Indiana native joined her first book club at the age of seven. A lover of the happily ever after, Sean uses her vivid imagination to craft heartwarming and passionate family love stories that deal with forgiveness, promise, romance and redemption. A certified wedding planner by trade, Sean continues to help brides plan the wedding of their dreams.

My First Impressions:

I tend to love stories about family secrets.  That's what first attracted to this novel.  I know I'm going to like this book because it's character driven, and I already like the characters.  Kira makes smart decisions for her family's boutique hotel business, and Franklin has experience serving in the Army as an engineer.

What's not to love?

And then the setting is a sweet Hallmark town, creating a recipe for a book that's right up my alley.  I'm dying to know what why Kira's family hates Franklin so much, giving me forbidden love vibes.  I'll finish it this weekend and find out!

What do you think?  Does this sound like a story you'd be interested in?


Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours to feature it on my blog.  Thank-you for allowing me to be a part of the tour!  I cat wait to finish reading it this weekend!  My daughter enjoyed it.





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Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day!  I hope you'll venture out to your local independent bookstore, buy a book, and enjoy the special activities they have planned!




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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


 

 


Hello, My Lovelies.  How are you?  

I sincerely hope your week has gone better than mine.  I thought I'd share with you what life has been like at Chez Treleaven the past week or so.

I don't think I've ever written a post quite like this, so here goes...

Welcome to Story Time with Ricki Jill.



If you're reading this at night, make decaf or Sleepy Time Tea.


Are you settled?  Good.  I shall continue.  Here's my story.

Last weekend, my caring husband wanted to purchase me the iPad of my dreams.  My old iPad, a hand-me-down from Shanley Belle's graduate school days, didn't have enough memory, and most of my apps wouldn't load because there was no room in the inn.  I prefer my iPad to look at blogs, enjoy apps, and sometimes read.  I like it much better than my laptop.  Mr. Bookish went to the apple store and had all my data, apps, etc. transferred to my new iPad.  Everything was going very well...

...until he used his Apple Card to pay for it rather than mine.

*sighs*

Once home, I wanted to play on it!  I was so happy and grateful.  Until all of Trip's accounts were showing up (his email account, for one).  Also, I subscribe to three magazines on my iPad.  It didn't recognize my subscriptions because of Mr. Bookish's iCloud and account.  This affected many of my apps.  

So what's a girl to do???

I visited YouTube to see if I could watch a tutorial to fix the problem, and I found one that helped.  It took a minute, but everything has been put to rights.  

Mondays are busy days for me.  I like to regroup on Tuesdays and assess what needs to be done for the rest of the week.  I didn't get to do that on Tuesday because I had to supervise Mr. Bookish running the drip watering system to our container gardens.  Mr.. Bookish can do everything: He has many mad skills.  :D  I am very proud of him.  The reason he needed close supervision with the containers is because he didn't know how much (or little) water each container needs.  That was all I accomplished on Tuesday, but it was a biggie.  I was feeling pretty good!  Until we came inside and realized that the upstairs air conditioner wasn't working.

:/

Mr. Bookish called and ordered a new AC.  He asked his friend, let's call him Wreck-It Ralph (not his real name....the name has been changed to protect the guilty innocent).  Ralph is also a man of many skills.  He's a contractor, and he's also a licensed AC installer.  He said he could come over the next morning and install it with one of his workers.  The A-coil of the unit is in our attic, which is above our upstairs (our house is four stories).  The attic access is a pull-down ladder in Shanley Belle's room.

Ralph's helper didn't show, so Mr. Bookish said he would help him install the units.  Wednesday morning, I had a doctor's appointment (annual check-up), and when it was over, I called Mr. Bookish to ask him how everything was going.  He suggested that I not come home.

:O

I asked why???  I am VERY LIMITED where I can go.  I can go to places with very few people, like our tiny library and a few (very small) businesses.  I asked Mr. Bookish if they'd broken anything, and he was noncommittal in his answer.  The Westies were outside, and I knew they were upset because they are literally around me (almost) 24/7.  

So I went to a small store for some skincare that I needed, and I went to another shop for greeting cards.  I met Shelley out for lunch (it was a beautiful, cool day, so we ate outside).  Then I called Mr. Bookish again, and I asked him how things were going, and he suggested that I stay away for my mental health because Ralph was banging and making tons of noise.  So I went for a drive, stopped for some coffee at a very small coffee shop, and went by the library.  By this time it was almost 4:00 and I was very tired, so I informed Mr. Bookish that I'd had enough and that mayhap he should light a fire under Ralph's butt and finish the job!

It worked.  They were just finishing up when I got home.

Mr. Bookish added a ton to the air conditioner.  Y'all, it is so cold upstairs, and whenever I walk by the staircase leading upstairs, it feels like the cold northern winds blowing over a glacier.  I had to change to Smart Wool Socks and put on a sweatshirt!

I don't remember what or if I ate dinner last night.  I was exhausted, and I reclined on our sofa and watched the Cubbies defeat the Braves.  It was glorious.  

After the game, Mr. Bookish was looking for his cell phone.  I suggested that maybe he left it in his Vespa because he'd ridden it to the grocery store earlier.  When he went to the basement garage, he started yelling my name.  

Y'all....I really don't have many pet peeves.  But one of them is when a family member yells my name from across the house.  The acoustics in our home are LOUD because of some crazy feat of architecture.  I knew that because he yelled for me that something catastrophic had happened...

...and it had.

One of our hot water heaters had blown up, and there was water all over the garage.  Fortunately, there's a slight angle to our garage, and water runs out to the driveway.  Another fortunate fact is that one of Mr. Bookish's mad skills is installing hot water heaters.  He's installed many of them.

As I watched him sweeping water, I said, "I'm out.  Deuces!" because I was too tired to function.  The Westies were exhausted, too, after a full day of chasing squirrels and chipmunks.  We tried sleeping, but Mr. Bookish had to take out the broken hot water heater and reroute the hot water upstairs.  Thank the Good Lord Above we have a second one!  The reason we have two is with three girls, Mr. Bookish, who usually showers last, because tired of always taking a cold shower.  He has put up with a lot, living in a Barbie world and all...

The process was noisy.  Very noisy.  He finished after midnight.  None of us got much sleep last night! 

And you know what they say about threes...let's hope that the universe becomes distracted!

This morning I took my art class via ZOOM, and after that I was totally wiped out.  I can barely write this post.  

But I have a functioning iPad, and I have a plan.  I am going to rest and play on it all weekend, and I'm going to try to figure out how to download Bloglovin' because it has disappeared from my devices.  Anyone have a clue what's up with that?

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Story Time with Ricki Jill.

Have a good evening!

Disclaimer:  No one was hurt during the installation of the appliances.  To the writer's knowledge, nothing was broken that she can tell, so far...  Also, the writer is very thankful that she has a safe home and a husband with mad skills.  She is also happy about her new iPad.  This post is for entertainment purposes only.


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



 



Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing my review of What If It's Wonderful by Nicole Zasowski.  It's a faith-based self-help book about finding joy and approaching life with an expectant heart.  Nicole is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and this book is life changing, y'all, not to mention timely.


According to Goodreads:

Don’t spend your life practicing disappointment and rehearsing tragedy when you can experience God’s gift of joy and celebration today.

Author and marriage and family therapist Nicole Zasowski knows that it’s difficult to trust joy and find the courage to celebrate when you have endured seasons of disappointment and despair. When God has been your faithful anchor in the storm, does joy then leave you unmoored? Nicole reminds us that we can stay tethered to the hope of Christ in seasons of celebration, because even joyful days hold the learning, growth, and intimate encounters with Jesus that our hearts crave.

What If It’s Wonderful? offers a new perspective. With a compelling psychological and spiritual case for the importance of embracing joy and celebration, even when it feels scary, it will help you

  • identify common barriers and hesitancies to experiencing joy, debunk their lies, and overcome your fears,
  • confront toxic messages you have received about joy as you learn to see celebration as an avenue of growth and intimacy with God,
  • approach life with an expectant heart, a receptive posture, and courage to trust God’s good gifts, and
  • stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in seasons of joy and celebration.

Things don’t always have to be hard to find God and to stay close to him. Release your fears and accept his beautiful gift of joy and celebration.


My Review:

There are so many helpful nuggets in the 200 page book that I truly don't even know where to begin.  I probably have about forty page markers in this book, and I am planning to go through it and write notes from it in my Bible journaling notebook.

Zasowski wrote this book in response to the fears and anxiety she faced during COVID.  She reveals that this time has been truly unique in that all her clients have been experiencing the same trauma from the pandemic.  Concerned about her own anxiety, she and her family began a tradition every Saturday night during summer where they lit-up their fire pit in their front yard and offered s'mores to their neighbors.  As people walked by they, too, were asked to join in the fun.  It was a celebration for no particular reason, yet passersby would often ask, "What are you celebrating?"  Sometimes the answer was "summer" or "Saturday" or "You!"  One man asked why they were doing this every week, and Nicole's response:

"Because celebration is changing everything for me."

She backs-up her assertions for the need to have joy and celebration with scientific evidence.  But what I appreciate most about this book is the biblical principle that God wants us to celebrate his goodness and grace, and he wants us to be happy for our friends and family when they are celebrating triumphs, too.  The second of the Fruits of the Spirit, our gifts from the Holy Spirit, is joy.  He wouldn't have given us joy if he didn't want us to celebrate what we have, where we are, but more importantly, what our future is in Christ.  

The book is divided into two sections:  Part I, Release Your Fears, explains why Christians are hesitant to celebrate.  Mostly it's because of shame (i.e. we don't deserve it) and protecting our hearts (i.e. constantly preparing for the worst case scenario).  Part II, Choose Joy, is the longest section, and it gives practical advice on how and why to choose to find and share joy.  Part of it concerns sharing gratitude to deserving people in your life, and part of it challenges readers to savor where they are in the here and now.  Perhaps the most compelling and helpful chapter is "Joy In Sadness." Joy is not a denial of sadness: Christ tells us we can choose joy in the midst of our sorrow by transforming pain into joy.  John 16: 22 says: "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."  This verse has three wonderful promises from Jesus that will happen in our future!  My favorite line from the entire book:

Perhaps this is the most distinguishing characteristic of the joy that Christ offers:  it extends beyond the boundaries of our circumstances.  

Again, I highly recommend this book.  Nicole Zasowski's writing style is so accessible, and her stories and anecdotes illustrate her struggles in finding joy and having an expectant heart.  Some of her stories made me cry, yet others made me celebrate with an out loud "YES!"  Although she is in a different stage of life than I (she's a young mother) anyone can learn from this book.  The book is a blessing!

I'd like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me in this important book tour, and Thomas Nelson the publisher for sending me a copy of What If It's Wonderful? in exchange for a fair and honest review.  


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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


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