Unending Devotion | Jody Hedlund Challenge Discussion

(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year!)

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“If she had to leave an imprint of herself for all time, she wanted it to reflect the happiness of her life, not the heartache.”

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which is why Jamie and I chose to start this series with Unending Devotion. We meet Lily Young, the heroine of the story, in her desperate search to find her sister who has been forced into prostitution. This novel brings to light the atrocities of forcing girls into selling their bodies.

Jody wrote in her Acknowledgments about the real people who inspired the despicable James Carr and the women victimized by his cruelty, Jennie King and Frankie Osborne. What is so inspiring about this story is her call to action. She urges readers: “May we rise up, stand tall, and fight against the injustices that still exist today.” May we truly stand up for what God has called us to do! (If you would like more resources and ways to get involved, please check out some of the works these organizations are doing: International Justice Mission, A21, End It Movement).

On a lighter note, let’s talk about the characters who grace the pages in this novel:

  • Lily- Our heroine is stubborn, passionate, and is willing to die for her sister. And she’s pretty gutsy, if I do say so myself!
  • Connell- He’s the boss of three lumber camps and pretty good-looking (hello, broad shoulders, green eyes, blond hair). But, he prefers to stay out of trouble when it doesn’t involve him.
  • Vera- she had the most awful coffee and the strangest concoctions, but the warmest heart
  • Stuart- didn’t he have the most well-intentioned yet misguided heart?
  • Oren- the rough-around-the-edges old man with a heart of gold. Loved him and his fatherly love for Lily.

What quote perfectly sums up what this book was all about? Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“As long as man lives and breathes, there will always be sin in this world and consequently injustice.”

“But that doesn’t mean we should give up, sit back, and do nothing.”

“You’re right. Nor can we fight against everything. We must instead discover where God wants to use us.”

Themes of courage, love, and learning God’s purpose are intertwined throughout the pages, and brought together by this beautiful quote.

“When things don’t turn out the way we want…about the only thing we can do is know God is still there piecing together all the scraps of the events in our lives the way He has planned…He sees the big picture even when we don’t.”

This quote is a beautiful reminder that God does see everything and we can put our hope in that truth.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the book, it’s time to pass the discussion over to you, readers! Here’s a few questions to get the discussion started:

  1. What’s something you’ve pursued relentlessly?
  2. What is something you’re passionate about that God has called you to do?
  3. Who were some of your favorite characters and why?
  4. What quotes stood out to you while reading?
  5. Do you see yourself more like Lily, who takes control of the situation, or Connell, who is more reluctant to take a risk?

Answer a couple or answer them all! Let’s get this discussion started!

Announcing February Jody Hedlund Challenge Read | Rebellious Heart

Hedlund LogoThe 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year!

Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

This is my favorite Jody Hedlund book ever, so I’m super excited for our February read! (Interested in my review? Click here!) And, as February celebrates the Presidents of the United States, what better choice than a book based on John Adams, our second President?

Fun fact: Did you know John Adams also served as the first Vice President under George Washington? Or that he wrote love letters to his wife? My favorite– “I can do nothing without you.”  Guys, I’m already swooning and that’s just a hint of the character he inspired Jody to write!

Massachusetts, 1763

A Love That Would Shape History Forever

Susanna Smith has grown up with everything she’s ever wanted, except one thing: an education.

Because she’s a woman, higher learning was always closed to Susanna Smith. But her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. And she’s determined to marry well, so she’ll be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer Benjamin Ross dreams of impacting the world for the better. When introduced to the Smiths he’s taken by Susanna’s intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.

Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD.com

Discussion date: February 24, 2015

And don’t forget! We’ll be discussing Unending Devotion next week, so get ready for our first discussion!

Review: Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

I’m just going to say it:

THIS BOOK IS THE BEST!!!!!!

We may only be two weeks into 2015, but I’m pretty sure I already read one of the best books of the year. Jessica Dotta is fantastic and the Price of Privilege series is an absolutely-must read, whatever-you-do-don’t-miss-this, what-are-you-waiting-for series!

Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta
Price of Privilege, Book 3
Tyndale House, 2015

Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter–and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

This review is difficult to write because a) it picks up where book two left us and I can’t say too much, and b) I have so many FEELINGS!

Price of Privilege is engaging, thrilling, and endlessly intriguing. I had to fight the urge to devour this book in one sitting because I wanted to make it last a little longer. I was desperate to find out what was going to happen next because I could never figure it out. I mean, there were twists in nearly every chapter, so it’s impossible to put it down.

Jessica Dotta is a brilliant story teller. She has a magnificent writing talent that has blown me away. This book explores the consequences of decisions. How they affect so many lives and reach further than we can imagine when making those decisions.

When everything is stripped from you, what is left of who you are? This is the question Jessica Dotta grapples with throughout her remarkable series, and what unfolds before your eyes is the most incredible story.

Let’s talk characters:

Jameson is the best. I absolutely loved his character. His playful banter with Julia brightened the pages with humor in an otherwise dark story. In his attempts to make light of serious situations, I would find myself laughing along with Julia as she learned to open herself up to love and trust the people who had her best interests at heart.

Speaking of trust, that is one of the most interesting aspects of this series. You are perpetually anxious because you don’t know which characters to believe. What are their motives? Are they going to be a traitor? WHO CAN I TRUST?

Edward, oh how I love him. He is fierce and passionate.

And Isaac. I find his character fascinating. He is loyal to a fault and pure in heart. It was so hard to figure him out but what a complex character! I love him, too.

“The way we treat people determines what they become.” (332)

And the ending? What a surprise. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest, thrown on the ground, and stomped all over. I sat in shocked pain and disbelief when I finished. I never saw it coming, but it was fantastic.

I urge you to read this book, but please start at the beginning (otherwise so many secrets will be spoiled!).

*Thank you to the publisher, who provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

For those of you who have read it, let’s discuss! Wasn’t it everything you ever wanted in a book?

TBR List 2015

Who’s ready for the new TBR list of 2015? I know I am! I’ve been seeing lists pop up around the blogosphere of everyone’s most anticipated books coming out this year, and it’s starting to get me excited about the amazing books we will see in 2015. Here’s my list:

January

 

Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta
Beyond all Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

February

 

How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck
Sabatoged by Dani Pettrey

March

 

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund
After a Fashion by Jen Turano

April

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton
A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron
From the Start by Melissa Tagg

May

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

June

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

August

 

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin
Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

September

The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert (September, Thomas Nelson)

My plan is to read only the books I’m most excited for and want to truly read this year. No more requesting review copies just because I can. I want to enjoy what I’m reading, and if that means being more selective, I’m okay with that. Of course, this is an ever-growing list, and as more beloved authors share about their 2015 releases (Katherine Reay, Laura Frantz, etc.), their books will be added to my TBR list. And any intriguing debut authors, too!

What books are on your 2015 TBR list?

Best Books of 2014

Putting together my list of favorite books is probably one of my most anticipated posts all year. In 2014, I compiled a list of favorites as I read to make sure I didn’t let any of them slip by when it came time to share with all of you. Here are my top 14 reads of the year, including back list titles, one non-fiction, and 9 amazing reads from 2014!

Backlist Favorites:

The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund
Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta
A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Non-fiction:

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

Top 9 of 2014:2014list

The Butterfly and The Violin by Kristy Cambron
In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin
A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander
Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta
Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton
Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund
Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz
Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

If I loved them less, I might be able to talk about them more right now, but I’d rather just stare at their covers at the moment, wouldn’t you? If you’re interested in why I chose these books, click the links to be taken to the reviews I wrote.

What were your favorite books of 2014? Share in the comments so we can discuss!