Commentary #79: “Tiny Houses For Homeless Vets Makes A Lot Of Sense”

Today is Veterans Day. I waited to share this story, because I think it’s important.

In Kansas City, Missouri, former U.S. Army Corporal Chris Stout is definitely a hero. In more ways than one. Not only did he serve his country, but now he’s giving back to it. Through the Veterans Community Project, tiny homes have been built in the Veterans’ Village, all for veterans who are struggling with homelessness. Chris and several friends quit their jobs in 2015 to start the project, and it’s been blossoming ever since.

The first 13 homes were finished in January. Another 13 will be done by the end of this month. Each house is fully stocked – Furniture, linens, toiletries, food, and even welcome gift baskets.

However, Chris calls the houses the “sexy piece.” The bread and butter is the sense of community, camaraderie, and connecting veterans to the services they need.

In the interview, Chris stated that eight of the original 13 residents have found permanent housing. They take the furniture with them. It takes about 72 hours for a house to set up for a new resident.

The idea is for veterans to get back on their feet, with as much time as they need based on their goals, and get connected with the services they need. While starting the project, Chris found that many didn’t feel safe or have a sense of privacy with traditional shelters. The anticipated length of stay is six months, but as long as they are working on their goals, they’re welcome to stay as long as they like/need.

Another 23 houses are to set to be done by the beginning of 2019. In addition, a community center is nearly finished, which will have medical, dental, and veterinarian care, a barbershop, and a fellowship hall for group events.

When a veteran walks in, the staff gets to work with their bus pass, housing placement, job placement, legal services, food pantry, clothing closet, and emergency financial assistance. So far, the organization has helped more than 8,000 veterans.

More than 650 communities around the country have reached out to Veterans Community Project. They’re growing in Denver, Nashville, St. Louis, and more. Chris’s goal is to be in every major city, helping veterans with what they need.


Chris Stout has already been recognized as a CNN Hero. He’s in the Top 10. The hero with the most votes will receive $100,000 toward their cause. Voting ends December 4th.


Thank you to all veterans! We appreciate your service.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #65: “Fallible Justice” (ARC Review)

Over the summer, I received an email from Louise Walters, who owns and operated Louise Walters Books, asking if I was still interested in receiving an advance reading copy of Fallible Justice. I couldn’t remember how or why this happened, but I said yes. I’m so glad I did.

Although it’s taken me a full four months to finish, I’m thrilled to publish this review right before the book is scheduled to publish on November 8th.

Fallible Justice is the first in the Wilde Investigations series. I can’t wait to read more!

Like Louise wrote in her lovely letter to me that accompanied the book, the characters are one of the great strengths. I loved their interactions, and to discover how many characters worked together to achieve the same goal – Working to save a man’s life before his scheduled execution.

I also loved Laakso’s world-building. I’ve always been fascinated with the U.K. and London, but she puts an awesome spin on it with her Old London, the wilderness, and the different classes of characters. I hesitate to compare Laakso to other writers, but I felt distinct hints of J.K. Rowling throughout.

In addition, whomever created the cover should be given an award. It’s one of the most beautiful and intriguing book covers that I’ve seen!

When I first read the synopsis to my husband, Al, he immediately thought of Martin’s Game of Thrones series. While different in its own right, Laakso is definitely on to something with this first book. I was delighted to read the first chapter of book #2 at the end of the ARC, and I truly can’t wait for it to be published.

The only significant complaint I have was the book was a bit wordy and/or lengthy. It dragged in a few places, but I also recognize this to be a part of Laakso’s world-building and integrating characters. Despite a few slow areas, the book captivated my imagination and the characters kept me engaged.

I particularly loved the way Yannia and Karrion work together as they try out Karrion being a potential apprentice during this investigation. They both have different strengths, and weaknesses, but together they are a great team, and I can’t wait to see what they are assigned next.

I felt very sad when I came to the end of the book. That’s how much these characters made an impression on me. However, I’m thrilled that Laakso is creating a series. I eagerly await the publication of book two!

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #153: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter J)

ABC Book Challenge - J 2

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:


Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “J”:

Jacob Have I Loved

  • Written by Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, this is a great historical fiction novel.

James and the Giant Peach

  • Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t seen the movie adaptation (1996), I highly recommend it.

Jane Eyre

  • It took me a long time to be able to digest and appreciate Jane Austen, but Jane Eyre is one of her books that hold a permanent place on my shelves.

The Joy Luck Club

  • I resented reading this in high school as assigned reading. I actually want to re-read it at some point.

Jumanji

  • Chris Van Allsburg is another one of my favorite authors. The movie adaptation (1995) is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the recent sequel (2017) was also, surprisingly, well-made.

Just Listen

  • Sarah Dessen was a defining author throughout my high school and college years. I’m pretty sure this book is one of the first of hers that I read.

Books I Wish to Read that Start with the Letter “J”:

Jamaica Inn

  • I want to read more from Daphne du Maurier!

Jaws

  • I’ve seen the movie (1975), but I want to satisfy my curiosity by reading the book.

Jellicoe Road

  • I was very intrigued by the synopsis of this one!

The Journal of James Edmond Pease, A Civil War Union Soldier, Virginia, 1863

  • I love collecting the Dear America and My Name is America series!

Jurassic Park

  • Same story. I’ve seen the movie (1993) and sequels (1997, 2001, 2015, 2018), but I’ve never read any of Crichton’s work.

Just Between Us

  • I’ve read quite a few books by Susan Beth Pfeffer, but I don’t remember reading this one. Hopefully my library will have it.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter J? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #17: Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

Image Credit: NewInBooks

Nicholas Sparks was my absolute go-to for romance novels for a long time. I own nearly every one of his books, and he was a defining author for me for several years.

In fact, I did my college senior thesis on his books. I studied the perceptions of love and romance from female readers. I would like to eventually publish it!

Born on New Year’s Eve 1965, Sparks was the second of three children. The family moved frequently while his father was pursuing graduate studies in Minnesota and California. Eventually, they settled in California after his father became a professor. On a track and field scholarship, Sparks majored in business finance at Notre Dame.

He married Cathy Cote in 1989, and they have had five children, three sons and twin daughters. He started writing in his early college years. His first publication was as a co-author in 1990. The book was titled Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding.

While selling pharmaceuticals in the early 1990s, Sparks wrote The Notebook. Literary agent Theresa Parks offered to represent him after finding it in her agency’s slush pile and liking it. She secured a $1 million advance from Time Warner Book Group in 1995. After its publication in October 1996, it made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week.

He lives in New Bern, North Carolina, where he donated $9 million to New Bern High School for an all-weather tartan track. He and his wife amicably separated in 2015, and subsequently divorced.

As of October 2018, he has published 22 books. He has published one book nearly every year since 1996, with two books being released in 2003, as well as 2005. Eleven books have been New York Times best-sellers. His most recent book is Every Breath.


A Walk to Remember (1999)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I honestly can’t remember if this was truly the first Sparks book I read. But, I loved it, and the movie adaptation (2002) was very good. It was also incorporated into some of our Sunday School classes and youth group activities.

The Notebook (1996)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I think I read this after the movie adaptation (2004) came out, but this is one of Sparks’s books that I treasure and re-read frequently. The movie adaptation is one of the best that’s ever been made, hands down.

Nights in Rodanthe (2002)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I felt a special connection with this book, since Rodanthe, North Carolina, is only about two hours south of where I live!

I wanted to love the movie adaptation (2008) so badly, especially since I’ve visited the house that’s featured in it multiple times, but it wasn’t that great.

Safe Haven (2010)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This book was a hard read for me. I myself was a part of an abusive relationship for several years, and this book brought back several memories. Thankfully, by the time I actually read it, I was several years into dating Al.

I’m pretty sure we watched the movie adaptation (2013) together. I liked it a lot, despite the subject matter.

The Last Song (2009)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

I waited for what seemed like FOREVER to get my hands on a copy of this from the library! I devoured it on a car trip either to or from Florida.

Most people hated / loathed the movie adaptation (2010), but I liked it.


What about you? Have you read or seen any of Nicholas Sparks’ work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #64: “Forgetting My Way Back to You” (ARC Review)

Forgetting My Way Back To You

Image Credit: Amazon

Karina Bartow asked me months ago to be a part of her blog tour, and I happily agreed! I chose to review her new book Forgetting My Way Back To You.

Here’s the link to her release /announcement blog post: “Forgetting My Way Back To You” Release: Twelve Years in the Making

Here are my thoughts!


It was just released yesterday – October 15th – but Karina was nice enough to send me a PDF to read in advance. Thanks, Karina!

Many of you know that I prefer physical copies of books to e-books, but I made an exception in this case. My eyes were a bit blurry once I finished, but I enjoyed the story.

It’s not a super-long book – The PDF was roughly 218 pages. However, it has been a LONG time since I’ve touched a book that was a love story / romance.

I liked Charlee from the beginning. I recognized several themes from the first few pages – Perseverance, determination, and grit. She’s been through a lot in a few short years, between her own struggles, and her family dealing with a serious illness / setback.

I was very skeptical about Hunter. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, or not. I think other characters had that vibe, too. However, I feel like the skepticism was a benefit to the story. It kept me interested. Considering I flew through the first 17 pages in less than 20 minutes, and then I read pages 17-58 in just thirty minutes during one of my lunch breaks, Barlow’s writing kept me engaged and interested. My husband thinks I broke a speed record with how fast I read this book!

The one plot point I had a significant issue with (no spoilers, I promise) was integral to the story, but it definitely made me roll my eyes and groan a little. Having that situation happen to Charlee was a bit cheesy, I’ll admit. I told my husband what happened in the story – I was reading next to him on my iPad while we were relaxing one night after work – and he had a similar reaction.

Despite the slight cheesiness, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and their interactions. The dialogue was well-written, and it was really easy to follow along and lose myself in a book for a while. The Pennsylvania setting was picturesque, and she captured it so well!

I look forward to reading more of Barlow’s work!

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #147: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter I)

The ABC Book Challenge - I

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:


Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “I”:

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

  • Maya Angelou is a wonderful writer!

in-cold-blood

In Cold Blood

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Insurgent

  • This was my favorite in the Divergent trilogy.

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Island of the Blue Dolphins

  • I loved this book as a kid.

Books I Wish to Read that Start with the Letter “I”:

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • This book has been on my list for years!

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In the Shadow of Blackbirds

  • Historical fiction? Yes, please!

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Into the Water


What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter I? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #141: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter H)

ABC Book Challenge - G

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:


Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “H”:

Image Credit: goodreads.com

The Happiness Project

  • It’s hard to believe that I read and reviewed this book more than three years ago. It’s still one of the best memoirs I’ve read.

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Harry Potter series

  • I was a little late to the party with the books, but once I started, I was hooked.

hunger-games-cover

The Hunger Games

  • This is the book that got me started with the dystopian genre. The series is my favorite trilogy.

Books I Wish to Read that Start with the Letter “H”:

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The Haunting of Hill House

  • This book has been recommended to me numerous times, by different people.

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Hollow City

  • We saw the movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to read the books.

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Hysteria

  • Al bought me All The Missing Girls for Christmas, so I’m intrigued to see how Megan Miranda wrote this one.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter H? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂