At Lighthouse Point by Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the third book in the Three Sisters Island series by Suzanne Woods Fisher. The overall story is about a father and his three daughters who are living on a small island on the north eastern coast called Three Sisters Island. Each book focuses on one sister and her story with traces of story for the other two. The father’s story is told through all three with a lovely surprise ending for him in the final book. The series can be read out of order or as individual stories without needing a lot of background. There are always little connections that are made better by reading a complete series and this is a delightful series. I encourage you to pick them up if you have not read them. They are great summer reads if you are looking for something to start your summer break. This particular one leads up to Memorial Day weekend for it’s close.

The final novel, At Lighthouse Point, is the story of the youngest sister, Blaine Grayson. She has just returned from a trip to Paris that turned into several years in culinary school there. She was escaping some hard events that forced her out of her culinary program in the United States. She was also struggling with the continued heartache over the loss of her mother several years earlier. As she journeyed through this new life in France she found that God had a plan for her there in France but she faced some hard days to get to that point. When she arrived home she had a young man from that new life named Jean-Paul with her. These stories always have an element of faith and overcoming in them. Fisher weaves beautiful threads of faith throughout her stories.

I don’t want to spoil the stories of the other sisters here in this review so I will only say that the other two sisters are still in the picture and they are all now living with their father at Kicking Moose Camp. Paul, the father of the bunch bought the camp property in the first book and he and his daughters joined forces to get the camp up and running for the summer camp season. It seemed the community is not really excited about all the summer “guests” that come to the island during this time. There are dire mistakes made in the designing of the new kitchen and a multitude of repairs have gone unnoticed for a long time. On top of everything else the estranged grandfather of the girls and father to Paul shows up unannounced to stay indefinitely. The big question the family has to ask is, “Will we be ready to open by Memorial Day?”

There are community struggles, camp struggles, sister conflicts, life decisions, and there is always romance in the air somewhere on the island.

I received this book free of charge as part of a blog tour from Revell Books and was asked to read and give an honest review. I really enjoyed the whole series but I think this one is my favorite. I loved the young Chef Blaine and her adventures and was often hungry as I read about all her delightful food. She was a creative young culinarian with some amazing motivation to accomplish her goals and dreams.

Life Changes…

A Really Long Story…

I have wrestled with how much of this to share. I have edited it repeatedly for 2 weeks. I am leaving a great number of details out of this. In the end this is where I landed and I pray this is both informative and helpful to someone else who might be wrestling with such an experience. Sometimes we have to walk away and trust God to do the rest.

I recently took 50 days away from social media. It was going to be 50 days of quiet Lent reflection and reading and then things kind of went off the rails. It’s a good thing I fully understand who controls things when chaos hits. God used that time to shake things up a bit and teach me some very important things.

The lady I worked for made two week long trips to the hospital over that six week period. I was the lone ranger when it came to keeping things going. She has a housekeeper that continued to come twice a week and one lady (who is a retired nurse) would come do medical procedures for her daughter because I am not licensed to do that. The retired nurse also spent the night each night so I could actually go home and rest. I was grateful for that. The rest was on me… grocery lists and orders, feeding and keeping her daughter safe and comfortable (which includes constant monitoring of body temperature and room temperature), cleaning between days the maid came (that included taking all the medical and diaper trash out and doing no less than 3 loads of bedding and towel laundry a day most days), paying the other ladies when they came, and so forth. It meant 12 hour days… very long tedious 12 hour days. It was completely exhausting.

The thing is that it was also completely preventable. I have worked for this woman for 6 years and in that time I have repeatedly encouraged her to have more people on the list to help her. Other friends of hers have encouraged this as well. She made a million excuses why she could not do that and they were all just that… excuses.

When I started 6 years ago I worked once a week for 2-3 hours tops. As the years have passed more work has been added to my responsibilities taking up to 5 and sometimes 6 hours when I worked and it moved from 1 day a week to 2 days a week and then 2 days plus being on call for errands or placing orders online for her. She began to cancel her appointments that I came to help for and instead I was expected to run her errands for her, do housekeeping chores in between maid visits, cook meals, drive her car to get gas, do her banking by cashing checks at my bank (which they eventually banned), run out and get her burgers and junk food, pick up medications for both her and her daughter and whatever else she just didn’t want to do anymore.

She recently got a new phone because her old one was shutting apps down. When it arrived she handed it to me and told me I had to set it up for her because it was my idea to get a new one. She is quite bossy and demanding. So, the reason I recommended she get a new phone was because she had me placing all her Walmart grocery orders on my phone, paying for the groceries with my money, and then she reimbursed me later. Of course I encouraged her to get a new phone so SHE could do that for herself.

When I was setting up her phone I had to reset all her passwords because she would just look at me with a ridiculous smirk (as if I was suppose to read her mind) when I asked if she knew them. All of this was done without a single thank you from her. She has been very ungrateful for the majority of the time I have worked there.

The the hospital stays started in January 2020. She would go in with issues with her foot and then wind up staying a week at a time for treatment. She fully expected me to leave my family for 12 hours a day and just take care of her daughter. She sought no help for me in between stays. She also had no plans to pay me more than if I were coming 2-3 hours a day. At one point she even asked if I would take a pay cut so she could pay the nurse move that was coming at night. I told her I could not do that. I put up with it the first time but then I had to address it further. I asked for more money on the days I was staying 12 hours. I researched and asked around about caregiver pay to make sure I wasn’t asking for too much. Even with my request I was still getting paid less than what most caregivers do these days but I was willing to do that. It was not as if she did not have the money either… I was not being insensitive about her finances. She was angry to say the least.

I told her she needed more people to help so we could break the days down into shifts to lighten the load on the two of us taking it all on. I told her after this last hospital stay that I would no longer be available to do a week’s worth of 12 hour shifts anymore because I have my own family that needs me. She has continued to just be angry with me rather than understanding. The request for more pay was when she started looking for reasons to let me go. What is crazy is that God had already put it on my heart that it was time to walk away but I just hadn’t been brave enough to do it, yet because she still had not hired more help..

She, along with the other ladies I mentioned above began to accuse me of saying things I never said in regards to her daughter’s care. One of the women actually said the things I was being accused of but won’t admit it because she was very verbal about wanting my job… which she now has. I have not been called back to work since. I took her keys to her, addressed the issues above and that I have been an excellent employee for six years and walked away with a completely clear conscience.

She is in the same predicament she was before with limited help after hiring one person to take my place. This woman is also a caregiver for her mother so this will eventually be a problem again…. but not my problem. The saddest part of all of this is that this woman does not know Jesus. The entire time I worked for her she refused to hear anything I said on the matter. I have prayed for her, been kind to her, encouraged her and put up with a lot of verbal and time abuses. She was often crude, ugly, and outright blasphemous about God and the church and I stayed because I knew God had me there for a time to be His hands and feet for her. I am still friends with another Christian woman who used to work for her before me and she was treated the same.

I do not regret one thing I did while I worked for her except that I should have walked away a lot sooner. Everyone of my family and friends were telling me to leave. I even had three job offers the very next Sunday that church members told me about. I have opted to take time off for now and take care of things close to home. God has already provided for the missing income in a big way and I have time to make a few trips to see my parents and kids now. I see God’s care and guidance in all of this. I still pray she will someday surrender to Christ… most of this is her rebellion and bitterness toward Him so I do not take it personally. I planted a seed and someone else will have to water but we are promised that God will be the one to bring the increase when it happens. I will trust Him.

A Few Takeaways…

  1. In a situation like this I should have set better boundaries when I realized she was beginning to take advantage of me. I am sure that would have gotten me “fired” sooner but there are things I should have said no to along the way. I took my queues from her housekeeper who just puts up with it but that just encouraged her to run over us and abuse our time.

2. When God tells me to do something I should stop being a big chicken about it and just obey.

3. In the midst of all of this some needed income was taken away but God IMMEDIATELY provided for that loss for us! He can be trusted to meet our needs and oftentimes in very unexpected ways and, in this case, before we even knew we needed it.

4. I made the mistake of letting her into my personal life and when I was pushed away it hurt more than it should. She often used me as someone to talk to. I know she is lonely but I was hired for a job and I should have stayed in that role. I didn’t embrace her beliefs but I let her draw me into a deeper friendship than I should have. People who don’t know Christ… and in this case REFUSE Christ… are not family and cannot be close friends. I can love them… I can minister to them… I can pray for them… and I certainly told her about Christ as often as allowed but those without Christ are NOT to be part of our inner circle of trusted family and/or friends. The worldviews are too disparate, goals are not the same, and personal convictions do not line up. We can never be on the same page until we have the same Father and Savior. Non-Christians don’t understand this but it is important. Guard your inner circles, friends.

So, that’s my story… We live and learn and God uses everything to teach and grow us in some way. I look forward to the new chapter in my life which will include spending time with people I love (including my church family), taking care of my family, working on more crochet projects and reading more books. Not one of those things sounds unappealing. LOL

It’s Time for A Read-a-thon!

You can find out all about this read-a-thon here… and sign up if you like. You can find groups on all the social media platforms and Goodreads if you want to follow the challenges and shares.

This Saturday is the semi-annual Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I just thought I would check in to let you know it’s coming and share my stack with you. I have made a stack of short reads to choose from as the day goes by. I guarantee I won’t read from all of them but it helps me to have a short stack instead of the overwhelming selection from all my shelves. There is a nice variety and I will also have my Audible account handy when my eyes get tired or I need to “multitask” while walking or cooking and such.

I have two volumes from the Everyman’s Library of Pocket Poets… One is the Letters of Emily Dickinson (which is already in progress) and Poems about Food and Drink. I will use those to fill in when I want a break from longer reads. I can read snippets of those in short bursts to break up the day.

The rest of the stack contains…

  • Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
  • The View from Goose Ridge by Cheryl Bostrom (a blogger and writer I have recently discovered)
  • The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (have it on Audible)
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Help! I’m Married to My Pastor by Jani Orlund
  • Lean Hard on Jesus by Joyce Rogers
  • How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Have it on Audible)

The downloaded queue for Audible looks like this…

Bradbury only registers as finished because my husband recently listened to it. We listen to similar books and then discuss them often.

I might add more before the weekend but this really is enough to keep me busy. Anyone else joining in the fun? If you are would you share a link where you will be posting so I can check out your list (basically stalk your book shares) and posts on the read-a-thon? Please, also feel free to drop me a note below and share your favorite quick read if you have a minute. I am always looking for new authors and books to try.

Happy Reading,

~Leann

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

This is the third book in the trilogy called Serendipity and Secrets by Erica Vetsch. The first book arrived back in the spring 2020, the second one was released in July 2020. The third one has just been released in March 2021. The books are Christian Regency Novels set in 1812-1816 or so. They are definitely full of romance but they are also adventure novels. I must admit that I have had a hard time putting all three down once I start them. If you want to see the first one I reviewed it here. I reviewed the second one here and there was a short story in the series in a Christmas collection with my review found here.

Summary of Book 3

Lady Sophia Haverly has her world shaken by the death of her fiancĂ©, Rich. She knows she must continue to care for Rich’s mother, affectionately called Mamie. Mamie sporadically shows signs of memory loss as she ages. Sophia and Mamie are suddenly forced to leave their home as a new family has inherited the title and home. The women face an uncertain future. Sophia is surprised when a sea captain shows up on her front step in the midst of all of this with a trunk and news of Rich’s last days. Charles Wyvern, Rich’s commander, had made promises to Rich on his death bed. He had promised to return Rich’s things to his home and family along with his final sentiments and a promise to care for Sophie in his absence. Charles struggled with guilt over Rich’s death and blamed himself for all that Rich suffered and now with the broken hearts of Sophia and Rich’s mother. How would he ever fulfill his promises to his friend?

Sophie and Mamie make a decision to travel for a few weeks while they contemplated their future. Sophie’s own mother agrees to allow Captain Wyvern to accompany them as they head toward the seashore for a respite. On the way Captain Wyvern would stop over to accept his new title as Earl and take a quick look around his new estate. Things escalated quickly as he finds that there are three young girls left in his charge, a crumbling estate, and no reliable help to keep it going in his absence. Sophie, Mamie, and their housekeeper who came with them step in to help him put the place back together and care for the girls.

With a desire to go back to his life as a captain, despite his new title, Charles began to question what God was doing with his life. Sophie was asking the same questions about her future without Rich. They were going to have to face the fact that God’s plans are not always man’s plans and that what He had in store would bring them much more happiness in the end. The question was… how long would they fight Him?

What I Thought…

Book 3 in this series did not disappoint. It was full of some very unpredictable moments and some harrowing moments of adventure. Erica Vetsch has a knack for writing characters that grab your heart. I loved Sophie and Charles and their tender moments together. Sophie was truly an adventurer willing to meet the things thrown in her path with courage and a determination. The moments with Charles and the girls were very sweet and they loved him and his captain ways. He was building a new crew of his own without realizing it and they were truly a loyal crew by the end of the story. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. Erica’s books are some of my favorite Christian novels to date.

Join in the Big Giveaway… Head over to Erica’s website page to join in the fun!

I was sent this book as part of a blog tour. I was asked to read it and give my honest opinion. The books are published by Kregel Publishing which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, too. I highly recommend this entire series!

and don’t forget the final story in the series written as a short story in this Christmas collection!

Reasons I am letting go of so many review opportunities

Maybe you have noticed… maybe you haven’t. I have been taking far fewer new books for review. I just thought I would be completely honest with you about why if you come here for that reason. So, here goes…

  • I have so many other books I want to read in my home that have been neglected for a very long time. Turning down review books opens up space for others I really and truly desire to read just for the joy of it.
  • I am 54 years old and I have been married for almost 32 years. I am growing weary of young romance novels and that seems to be mostly what is available in Christian fiction these days. They are not bad stories… they just don’t connect to where I am in life anymore. I want something different. I want more stories about women like me and it would be nice, btw, if they weren’t all divorced. LOL
  • Nonfiction Christian books seem to be straying drastically from biblical messages. They are looking more like worldly thinking and giving really bad unbiblical advice. There are only one or two publishing companies I even trust anymore and I am focusing more on those books.
  • Most review opportunities are using only e-books now. This reason is a more physically motivated reason for me. I have Sicca Syndrome and that means my eyes are very sensitive to things like light, environmental exposure and constant use of screens. I just cannot look at screens for long periods of time anymore so a constant stream of ebooks is just not something I can do on a regular basis anymore. Paper books are far less of a struggle and audible books are becoming more of a choice for me, too.
  • There is a new trend I find troubling in the “book tour/street team” realm that I cannot sign off on. Many authors are now requiring their reviewers to preorder and purchase their books if you want to be on the team. That completely defeats the main reason I started reviewing books…. for FREE BOOKS! If I have to buy the book then I want the option NOT to review it and jump through all the hoops they require for those teams. I do not want to have to pay them to give them a good review. It is also a dishonest tactic to build their rank on Amazon and other book sites. In my opinion it is what I would call “playing the system” and using people who love you in a rather disingenuous way. I would not treat people that way and I certainly don’t want to be treated that way in return.

With all of those things noted I have made a decision to only take books from authors I truly love and want to support. I will only take on a book if it is available for free and in a paper format. If I really desire to read a book and it is not available for those reasons I will save up my money and wait until I can buy a used copy of said book. I am not one who has to have the newest book the day it is released. I am a patient soul who can delay gratification for extended periods of time. It is part of being content… which is something God did in me and not of my own doing, btw.

I do post shorter reviews of books I love over on Goodreads on a regular basis. Join me there if you are interested (there is a link at the bottom of this post or in my sidebar.) I will share favorites in my newsletters and here on occasion as I find something that I think will encourage you or bring you joy.

What I Am Reading Right Now…

This stack of books contains a great deal of theology and Christian living. The Dickinson Letters book is one I am reading with an online group this year. It is a challenge about women who faced health and physical challenges with fierce determination. If you are interested in learning more about that you can check out Kate Howe’s YouTube channel.

Kate is also hosting A Year in Mitford challenge. I am not starting with book #1 because I still have four to read in the series to finish for the first time through. I am starting with In the Company of Others instead.

I am trying to choose an Audible book to read each month, too. Last month was The Mother of the Brontes for the Fierce Women challenge. This month will be Brave New World because I have never read it and it is available in the Audible “free with membership” library.

All of the books above in the stack are less than 200 pages… many of them are less than 150 pages. I thought I would go Mini for March and read some of my smaller books. Many of them are also small in size being around 4 to 5 inches and great for pocket reads. They fit in my purse nicely so I can always have a great read with me. LOL

So, what are you reading this month? Inquiring minds want to know! Drop me a comment below and share something you are enjoying right now or some challenges you have taken on this year for your reading goals.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

~Leann

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre

This book is an historical novel set in the early 1900s. It is a Christian novel. The historical elements are taken from the biography of Cora Wilson Stewart who was the founder of what we now know as the adult literacy movement. She began to educate adults in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains at a time when it was believed adults could not be educated after a certain age. She called this campaign “The Moonlight School.” Cora along with many teachers in the county conducted 6 week sessions during the late summer and early fall of 1911. They opened the schoolhouses in the evenings while the moon was visible and adults could make their way to schools between 7:00 and 9:00pm. It was a remarkable program that caught on around the nation over the remainder of her lifetime. She was a pioneer in education all the way to Washington D.C. by the time of her death in 1958 at the age of 82.

Overview

The main character of this story is a fictional character named Lucy Wilson. Lucy is portrayed as Cora Wilson Stewart’s second cousin. Lucy was living as an only child with her father and his new wife in the city of Lexington, Kentucky. She had a sister 10 year prior but her little sister, Charlotte, had gone missing at a train depot and was never found. Lucy had lived with the grief of losing her sister and carried a load of guilt that it had been her fault her sister was gone.

Lucy was living a financially comfortable life after finishing boarding school with her father. She was not really sure what would be next for her when she was summoned to the mountains to work for six months with her cousin Cora. She went reluctantly. In the time she spent there she was to work as a stenographer for the people in the area that could not read or write. She would deliver and read letters to the mountain folks and then take dictation to respond in letter form to the sender.

She quickly began to see a community consumed by poverty and a deep need for education. She was also beginning to see that the lumber industry was taking advantage of the people. The conflict that was most troubling was that her father was a large part of that lumber industry. Cora began to rely on her more and more and give her more responsibility than Lucy ever imagined she could take on. Many days seemed completely overwhelming for Lucy but Cora and those around her continued to reassure her that she was capable of all that was being asked of her.

She was introduced to several people in the area like the traveling music school preacher/teacher, Brother Wyatt, Miss Mollie an elderly woman living alone from the hills, some fellow guests at Miss Maude’s boarding house, some locals who were involved in the lumber trade, students like young Angie Cooper and Finley James. The story is loaded with a colorful cast of character and some really beautiful moments and descriptive passages of the area. As Lucy spent more time there she began to see that God had given purpose to many who lived on that mountain but she was disheartened because she felt that she had no real purpose. She was encouraged by Brother Wyatt and Cora that God would show her in His own time but she was not even sure God heard her prayers much less had a real plan for her life.

What I Thought

This was a story with which I was completely unfamiliar. Suzanne Woods Fisher wove the historical aspect of Cora’s life with the fiction beautifully and I loved getting to know both Cora and Lucy as it unfolded. I think this is my new favorite Fisher novel! It was a fascinating story and I loved getting to know the hardships and triumphs of the Appalachian people through this story. As the story drew to a close I found myself reading faster and faster to find out what would happen as they opened this Moonlight School and I could not help but shed tears at the miraculous way God used the lives of Cora and those around her to bring literacy to a group of people that had been told they were too old to learn. It was amazing to me to read the way that literacy changed the lives of so many in this area of the country and how the movement would eventually spread and change the way we educate adults in our day and age.

This is a story everyone should know. I don’t think I could emphasize strongly enough how much I recommend this book! Fisher’s storytelling style plus this amazing story make it a total 5 star read for me. I hope she writes more stories like this one in the future. Order it wherever books are sold online or find a local bookstore. If they don’t have it ask them to order it and recommend it to your local library. It is a story that should be shared!

I was privileged to be part of the blog tour for this beautiful book. I received a free copy from Revell Publishing. I was asked to read it and give an honest review of it. It is certainly my favorite book from Suzanne Woods Fisher to date.