Once again, Linda Ellen has crafted a wonderful piece of writing. Creating delightfully realistic, loveable characters and a plot that will keep you turning the page, Linda expertly weaves a tale worth savoring in A Bride for Sam. In a genre that often produces quick reads that tend to follow the same old formula over and over again, Linda Ellen breezes in with her refreshingly creative plots. Come for the superb story, stay to drool over Sam the lumberjack.
A Bride for Sam is a standout in the Proxy Brides series. It is a tale filled with gallantry and romance, featuring a hunky lumberjack, a daring escape, devoted friends, and a happily ever after all wrapped into one delightful package. This is a sweet read you won't want to miss, out just in time for Valentine's Day! ;)
Grab the book here.
Hope By The Book is a brand new magazine geared towards all of those bookish souls out there. I first learned of this magazine through Anne Bogel's post about its launch on Instagram, in November. I immediately subscribed and patiently awaited the first issue..... I was not disappointed. Hope By The Book is absolutely superb, so much so, that I just HAD to talk to its creator, Carrie Schmidt. Below is our conversation:
MJM: First off, I absolutely love this magazine. Who came up with the concept of a magazine for book lovers and readers?
Carrie: Oh thank you! I had been a reviewer for RT Book Reviews and when it closed in 2018 I felt like it left such a void. Particularly for readers of ‘clean fiction’ and inspirational fiction. As the idea brewed in my head, I wanted it also to be something fun that anyone who loved books could pick up and find kindred spirits on the pages. I didn’t want it to be stuffy or highbrow, but intelligent all the same. My goal was a magazine that celebrated the reading life as well as providing professional reviews of exceptionally written clean fiction in genres from fiction to children’s to non-fiction, too. I couldn’t think of any other magazine that quite did all of these things, so I decided to give it a try!
MJM: That's wonderful. What does the process of starting a magazine look like? Can you walk us through it a bit?
Carrie: I’ve learned that it takes a special sort of crazy to do this LOL. About the time that the idea for this magazine began really taking form in my mind and heart, Angelia Stone invited me to join the Hope For Women magazine team as the ‘book girl’. I quickly became overwhelmed with all the books publishers wanted me to feature – considering I could really only include about 5 at a time in each quarterly issue of HFW. So I broached my idea of a book-focused magazine to Angie and she caught the vision, handed me the reins and said “go for it”. And after I panicked (lol) I gathered a team of my favorite bookish people to be on my editorial team – and compiled a group of reviewers, many of whom had also reviewed for RT with me before it closed. Then, of course, since we’re starting from scratch, we had to come up with our vision, our mission statement… and a title! We did a call-out for ideas on social media, decided on our three favorites and then put the vote back on social media. Hope By the Book was a clear winner, and I loved that because it tied in so nicely to our sister magazine as well. Next were tasks like: find a designer, decide on our style, plan the articles, gather books to review, etc. It’s a much more involved process than I ever dreamed!
MJM: The current issue out now is actually your launch issue. I would imagine that putting together a launch issue would be particularly daunting because you’re tasked with using that issue to introduce the magazine’s concept to the public. Was this something that was front and center in your mind?
Carrie: YES. It never left my mind. And then once the magazines left my control and went out to the masses, there was this agonizing hold-your-breath span while we waited to see if people loved it or hated it. Fortunately, everyone loves it so far!
MJM: It is such a beautiful magazine. One of my favorite bookish souls, Anne Bogel is on the cover of this issue. Tell me, how did that come about? Did you know Anne previously or did you meet through this issue?
Carrie: I am a huge fan of her blog and, as I looked at our mission statement (We love books. We live books.) and our goals for the magazine, I couldn’t think of another person who embodies those concepts better than Anne does. Even though we live in the same state, I had never had the privilege of meeting her or chatting with her. It was such an honor to talk with her for the cover feature.
MJM: What can we expect from future issues?
Carrie: More décor ideas that incorporate, organize, and style books. More reviews. More book recommendations from our editors. More interviews with favorite authors. More celebrating what it means to be bookish & all the quirks and joys and sorrows that go along with that. More pages (we’re increasing each issue).
We’re also including a short story with each issue, starting with our Spring 2019 issue (February), and we’ll be trying out some other fun stuff in future issues as well!
MJM: That sounds awesome! I look forward to the future issues. I just recently saw the cover of the upcoming spring issue and I'm so excited! Any details you'd like to spill on the new issue? ;)
Carrie: Well, I can’t give too much away. :) But we’ve got an exclusive short story from Rachel Hauck, an interview with Debbie Macomber, writing tips from Jerry Jenkins, ways to embrace those stacks of books proudly, and a couple of great articles for reading moms and introverts! You’ll have to grab a copy of the issue for the rest lol!
I'm so sad to see this series come to an end. I've thoroughly enjoyed Anne's memoirs. She has left me wanting even more. Anne LaBastille is a true inspiration to this young woman. Smart, independent, strong, admitted her fears and weaknesses, and tackled her life and career head on. I've been absorbed in LaBastille's writing for the last year, and now I'm left wondering what could possibly top her books.
Woodswoman IIII is the last installment of LaBastille's wonderful memoirs. Unlike the first three books in the series, which each cover a decade of Anne's life, Woodswoman IIII only covers five years. Another thing that sets this book apart from the others is the fact that it has a Forward written by Christopher Angus, author of The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty. Readers will know Petty by the pseudonym "Albert" from Anne's memoirs. He was a very dear friend of Anne's. Fun fact: Anne actually wrote the Forward to Angus' book on Petty's life.
In Woodswoman IIII, LaBastille continues to write about her extraordinary life, detailing her experience as a self-publishing author and book seller, a harrowing night while teaching down South, the death of her beloved German Shepherd Chekika, and the pleasure of good friends. An excellent mixture of conversational and informative, Anne's writing is a delight to read. She has quickly become one of my favorite writers, a status she'll no doubt hold for the rest of my life.
I've said this numerous times, but it bears repeating, I love the way Anne writes about her dogs. She writes with love, respect, and admiration about her beloved German Shepherds. One of the chapters I enjoyed the most in this book was where Anne gave thoughtful, helpful tips on how to help the grieving process along after detailing the death of Chekika. She treats the death of a dog with respect and sensitivity, giving the love you felt for your beloved pet the dignity and understanding it deserves.
Another aspect of Anne's writing that I thoroughly enjoy is the fact that she makes sure she celebrates her friendships. She makes it quite clear that though she is a strong, independent woodswoman, she hasn't come all this way on her own. She has had the help of many devoted friends. I find her willingness to address the importance of friendships in one's life admirable. Too often people dismiss the importance of friendships in order to either build up an image of self sufficiency or to highlight the importance of marriage. Anne manages to show how one can lead an independent, self sufficient life all the while enjoying deep friendships that are mutually beneficial.
Overall, the Woodswoman series is a superb group of memoirs. I would highly recommend reading through these wonderful books, soak them up and savor them.
I give it a 9/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....