Borrowed Book By: I originally crossed paths with Ms Kellie Coates Gilbert in  wherein I met her through her participation in the group author blog “Southern Belle View Daily” which was affectionately known as ‘Southern Belle View’. I was a regular visitor who chatted with the authors on the blog and engaged in the content they were sharing. I had the opportunity to receive the first two novels of the Texas Gold series shortly afterwards, however, due to a variety of adversities which took me away from the joys of reading these past several years, it wasn’t until this New Year 2018 where I could lay heart and mind back into the stories I had to shelve for another day where I could focus properly on their contents.
I was originally gifted a copy of “A Reason to Stay” by my Mum, who knew how excited I was to start reading the Texas Gold series – this is within the year or so of this third installment’s release. I was going to surprise the author and read all three novels back to back whilst sharing my reactions with my readers as I have a self-directed focus on INSPY authors I am either re-discovering or just now becoming aware of as I re-start my readings in earnest into the INSPY realms of Fiction.
I go into why I had to borrow through ILL’ing (interlibrary loaning) this novel in this top anchour ahead of revealling my ruminations on the emotionally evocative story Ms Gilbert has written for us – however, I wanted to mention I am choosing to share my thoughts on behalf of this story for my own edification inasmuch as inspiring my readers to become acquainted with a #newtomeauthor I am truly blessed to have found. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
A unique introduction into the Texas Gold series – or rather,
why INSPY Lit is an important part of Jorie’s bookish life:
a retrospective whilst celebrating entering a 5th Year as a Book Blogger
I originally crossed paths with Ms Gilbert whilst she was part of Southern Belle View – a lovely group author blog I used to frequent six years ago, a bit prior to becoming a book blogger – of which I am celebrating my 5th Blogoversary *today!* on the 31st of March, 2018! This was the day I love to observe as the day I created Jorie Loves A Story – whereas I honour the day I launched my blog to the world on the 6th of August every year as the day in which my blog has its public ‘birthday’.
I was thankful to receive two of her novels – which she offered to send me to help me become acquainted with her Texas Gold book series as well as her writing style – as this was a few years ago, the series had just the first two novels recently released. I had hoped to have read both of them close to the time I first received them – however, most of the years I’ve been a book blogger, I’ve had a few set-backs with the plans I’ve made along the way. My health has been a big factor as well as personal strife & tribulations – as we all have lives outside of our bookish and readerly lives of which give us the most joy to share with our readership.
Earlier this year, I reconnected with Ms Gilbert – as I was trying to explain the distance between receiving her novels and being able to fully appreciate reading them this New Year, 2018 – as it was going to become my year back into reading Inspirational Fiction (#INSPY as I like to nickname it on Twitter) whilst proving to be the year I can focus on my *70 Authors Challenge* which specifically focuses on the INSPY niche of Literature as you can see on the main page I created for this personal exploration of a branch of Lit I am definitely passionate about reading! I’ve been a hybrid reader my entire life – moving in and out of INSPY and mainstream channels of interest since I was a young girl. This equated to regular visits to Christian bookstores (at the time, in the 80s and 90s the only place truly to find INSPY being sold) as well as big box, Indie and mall (remember those?) chain bookstores – to see a wide spectrum of both titles, genres and bookish realms!
I would also frequent used book shoppes – even before it was fashionable to gather a bit of insight into the books falling ‘off’ publication and/or the backlist of authors I might one day feel inclined to be reading. In essence, I’ve led quite a bookish life despite having a rocky start at learning to read (ie. as a dyslexic learner).
INSPY was a joy to be reading simply due to the beautiful uplift of JOY I received from reading the story-lines inasmuch as disappearing into fascinating worlds where kids like me were taking on keenly lived adventures! The Cooper Kids series and the Mandie series were personal favourites – of the latter, I had only hoped Ms Leppard could have lived long enough to pen the College years of Mandie’s personal growth rather than the single chapter of her University days. I cherish all of my Mandie editions, singularly regretting I never wrote the author a letter (if you can imagine, I have shy tendencies – these days I tend to reach out to authors directly on a regular basis – but I still have moments where I hesitate) and hope I have all of the installments as I had to remember which number I was on and collect as many as I could before they went out of print. Due to those fond memories of walking beside Mandie, Joe, Celia, Uncle Ned and her Grandmother – I started to explore adult INSPY Literature in my formative years. (see also the Mandie page on Wikipedia)
I settled on Judith Pella and then took a proper hiatus til I discovered Dee Henderson, Deeanne Gist and Julie Lessman. More recently in the early days as a book blogger (my 1st Year) I crossed paths with Brenda S. Anderson – of whom is now a beloved author for me to read with the added blessing of being on her Street Team. (see also the archive of my posts for Ms Anderson) I am still reading her Coming Home series this Spring – wherein I hope to reveal my thoughts on the last two installments of this series before moving into her Where the Heart Is series.
Moving forward – when I first found Southern Belle View, I also found The Word Wenches (another beautifully lovely group author blog), the writerly reader blog of Ms Lauren Willig, the many blog visits of Ms (Julie) Lessman which were ‘organic blog tours’ of their own kind and the lovely blog of Ms (Mary) Ellis. I had a singular route I would visit and comment upon regularly – hence why I initially conceived of the spark of inspiration which lateron became ‘Jorie Loves A Story’.
In those early days of laying down the foundation of my blog, I wanted to re-focus on INSPY Literature – start reading the stories of the authors I was visiting with regularly in the book blogosphere and start to share my bookish life. However, I was such a newbie to book blogging – trying to sort out how I wanted to articulate my writerly style as a book blogger, whilst mindful there was a larger community out there I was slowly becoming a part of – from readers, to fellow book bloggers, to authors who had other author group blogs as well as wading into the realms of both INSPY and mainstream publishing channels of interest.
What I was surprised by is not finding a lot of other hybrid readers – those of us who move between both worlds of thought and regularly love to share our readerly adventures. I’ve been wanting to share glimpses into why I am drawn into certain INSPY authors and why I love reading INSPY Non-Fiction whereas in the past I was mostly a Historical INSPY kind of gal! Truly, as a regular time traveller of fictional worlds – you would have thought it would have dawned on me the historic past played such a pertinent role in my readerly tendencies! (sadly, it hadn’t fused to my heart until I was somewhere between my 2nd & 3rd Year as a Book Blogger!)
Fast forward – Southern Belle View was a group author blog who had a rotation of guest authors being featured each of the days they would host new posts & discussions. A few times they would host bookaways, but mostly it was a place to engage in light-hearted chatter, bookish topics and get to know the ‘writers’ themselves in an interpersonal way as you were commenting directly with them on each of their ‘daily’ posts – which is why the full name was ‘Southern Belle View Daily’ as each of the Belles themselves were living in the ‘Southern’ tier of the States – from Texas to Mississippi to Louisiana (I believe?) and someone I believe was in the Carolina’s. The uniqueness of their writing styles and the ways in which they interacted with their readership was what pulled me into their posts.
I fell lin love with Ms (Lisa) Wingate’s writing style when I first read “The Prayer Box” which touched my spirit and my heart alike – it also marked my first ‘blog tour’ as a book blogger of which I was forever grateful for JKS Communications for giving me a chance to participate in such an event during my first ‘live’ month on Jorie Loves A Story. My parents would gift me a copy of the next story in sequence as this became a series of stories – known best as the Carolina Chronicles – however, I still need to gather a copy of the omnibus edition of the novellas which released betwixt the others and the final story in the trilogy. I was planning to let this series become my gateway into other stories of the Belles but then, of course – I was honestly ‘distracted’!
As I became more active in book blogging and started to sort out how to work with authors, publisher and publicists – I sort of started to focus on garnishing a readership for Jorie Loves A Story whilst sorting out the kind of stories I wanted to focus on reading overall. I also was gaining traction on how best to balance my personal library readings with the stories I was borrowing through my public library – the balance of course remained elusive to my intentions until two years ago – wherein during 2016 I started to implement changes in my blogging schedules. I began a personal Renaissance of redirection and re-focus of my personal goals for Jorie Loves A Story in other words.
You can see the fuller effect of those efforts now in 2018 – as I purposefully schedule less blog tours, am ever more vigilant about being particularly particular about the stories I accept for review and am starting to reap the rewards of being able to read ‘more’ but read without hard deadlines (for the most part). I am also merging into a new vein of my bookish life where I am shifting towards a goal of reading 50% of the books via print editions and listening to 50% of the books via audio editions. This became more apparent as a personal need of mine when I noticed a reduction in my chronic migraines – hence why you see more audiobook reviews populating on my blog!
Towards that end – this year, I am gathering more audiobooks outside of blog tours – whilst taking advantage of being able to ILL (interlibrary loan) audiobooks on CD and borrowing eaudiobooks directly from my library’s OverDrive catalogue as well.
All of these small personal changes were leading me back to the world of INSPY Lit – whilst my Mum and Dad have been helping me as for the past year and a half they have spent my blogoversarsies and blog birthdays gifting me anthologies of INSPY novellas! You’ll see my reading adventures into those as the months move forward as I am slowly working my way through a personal list of #nextreads and #mustreads – most of which are listed on my *70 Authors Challenge* page. This gives a keen insight into the genres and themes of INSPY Lit I gravitate towards whilst owning to the fact even when I set a plan into action, I do deviate and ‘add’ more authors of focus! Laughs with mirth.
This journey of mine has led me to the writings of Kellie Coates Gilbert – she blessed me with the first two Texas Gold novels whereas Mum gifted me the third novel “A Reason to Stay” – however, during an end of Summer cleaning, I ended up packing up a large portion of my books to unpack as I finish the ones I had on my bookshelves – as I had to reduce my bookcases two years ago. This gives me a rotation of stories rather than keeping them all unpacked all at once – of course, one day I hope to have a designated room again for all the lovely stories but until then, I sorted out how to make due with less space to greet them all on a daily basis. I thought for sure I had kept all of Ms Gilbert’s novels together – yet, one went missing! This very novel – the third installment of the series!
I fretted over it for a bit longer than I ought to have in February before Mum came to my rescue and said – before you go hog wild trying to find which box has which book, why don’t you just simplify it and borrow it through ILL’ing? You know how much you love to seek out your ILLs! lol She surely does know me well! The novel came rather promptly (in early March) however, March became a wicked horrid month for personal health – this is why I was severely under-read at the start of Spring.
I wanted dearly to read this series in order – though it is a true test of patience and faith to acknowledge not everything is meant to go according to plan! It is our continued quest towards remaining humble in our lives to realise it is ‘okay’ to do things outside of the plans we set for ourselves – owning to the fact sometimes doing things out of sequence is actually a ‘good thing’. At least this is what I resolved realising as ILLs are only with us for three weeks – given how I spent those weeks under the weather, I chose to read “A Reason to Stay” ahead of “A Woman of Fortune”.
The reason I wanted to share this longer back-story with you is to give you an insightful view of my journey back to INSPY Literature. I’ve yearned to pick up where I left off during those years where I was trapped inside a reader’s rut – researching authors and stories but never reading them. I even gathered half of my personal library during those years – spilt between as aforesaid INSPY and mainstream authors. (whether they were Indie or traditionally published as well)
One of the biggest blessings I’ve had these past five years is the JOY of reading without failure to connect to the stories – meaning, there was such a time where I felt disconnected from how novels were written as motion pictures were easier for me to ‘connect’ with in a quasi-visceral manner of enjoyment. Somewhere between the initial inspiration for Jorie Loves A Story – I not only healed my reading life but I reclaimed a passion for ‘writing’ as well. As my blog is an extension of my writerly life in a way I am sure might remain overlooked by most of my readers. You get a sense of my personal writing life if you move in and out of my posts – all five years worth – as there is a growth amongst the archives from day one to the present day.
I am overjoyed the story I get to share with you, as I celebrate my 5th Blogoversary as a Book Blogger – where I found a newfound passion for being a book cheerleader and a author’s advocate is “A Reason to Stay” because even before I read the story itself, the title struck a chord in my own heart. I found my own ‘reason to stay’ a book blogger when I realised by sharing my bookish ruminations, I get to leave notes of gratitude back to the writers who are enriching my life with their stories. I get to acknowledge how their stories affect me and what impressed me about how they approached their individual perspective of how stories can thrive when fused so eloquently with their own personal imagination and vision for the craft of writing.
I am staying a book blogger due to the pure celebration of ‘stories’ I love reading but also the continued love of pursuing the written word in all its facets of exploration – wherein the story itself is where my own enlightenment is actively found. I love spreading bookish JOY – thank you for being a part of my journey here on Jorie Loves A Story. May you remain with me as I continue to seek out the stories which touch my mind, heart and soul.
And, may 2018 be a year where I can finally re-merge my INSPY readings into my regular readerly life, as they become fused directly into my life once more – as they have been an absence I have missed reconnecting with these past five years. They’ve been there, of course, hovering in the background – but now, I am thankful they can take their rightful spot as co-navigators of my bookish world!
postscript: I am sitting on a lovely SURPRISE I received this year, connected to the Texas Gold series – as I am reading this series back to back – resuming where I left off within Faith’s story (ie. A Reason to Stay) by pursuing the journey I am about to take with Claire (ie. A Woman of Fortune) – you’ll simply have to wait to find out about the blessing I received and my further ruminations on behalf of this heart and soul centred series!
Notation on the condition of this paperback: Did you notice how well-loved this interlibrary loaned copy of “A Reason to Stay” is ?? This curling of the bottom pages is how it reached my hands – the cover is now ‘soft’ to the touch, hinting towards how many bookish spirits have entered this novel and the ways in which the pages easily turn speaks of how this story has touched a lot of hearts ahead of my own. Although I am dearly particular how I read my own books – I can recognise a smile of joy in seeing how well-read a library book is by the patrons like me who amplify their reading life by the collections of public libraries which give us a renewal of hope to be able to seek out all the stories we readily wish to be reading irregardless of our purchasing budget – as public libraries fuell our reading lives as much as our intellectual curiosities (in the Non-Fiction realms).
Places to find the book:
Published by Revell
on 6th October, 2015
Format: Trade Paperback
an imprint of Baker Publishing Group
Formats Available: Hardback, Trade Paperback and Ebook
The Texas Gold series:
A Woman of Fortune (Book One) | Synopsis
Where Rivers Part (Book Two) | Synopsis
A Reason to Stay (Book Three)
What Matters Most (Book Four) | Synopsis
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 70 Authors Challenge
- Belle Fiction | Southern Charmed Fiction