Book Review – Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney

16072406Title: Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney
Genre:  Self Help – Christian Marriage
Publisher: B & H Publishing Group
Page count: 221 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Rating – 5/5!

Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.

The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother.

The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job.

In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.

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Hello everyone! I’m excited to share my thoughts on Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney. I ran across this book on the publishers website and was blessed to receive a copy from the publisher for review!

I really wanted to read this book because it was on the topic of marriage. I love being married and am continuously looking for ways to enhance my marriage and myself. This book looked especially interesting though because it is about what happens after your whirlwind fairy tale romance culminates in the big wedding every girl dreams about and real life starts. I was one of those little girls the author writes about that grew up on a large dose of fairy tale stories and Disney movies. Even now into my adulthood I love watching romantic comedy movies and reading romances that seem like retellings of the same story. I had been planning my wedding since I was a girl and my husband (bless his heart) for the most part let me plan it how I wanted…and you guessed it, my theme was Happily Ever After. So you can imagine that when I saw this book and what it was about, it just spoke to me and sounded like something I NEEDED to read.

I am giving this book a full five star rating. Not only does it have a BEAUTIFUL cover, it was just awesome. I could not put this book down. It was honest, funny, and inspirational. I finished it in one sitting and I just feel like it spoke to me in so many ways, especially as a Christian wife. I definitely feel like in having God play a central role in our marriage, my husband and I have started out on a really strong foundation but there are still little things I learned during our first years of marriage that were just confirmed/reflected in the narrative of this book. I wish I had read this book when I was newly married (I still feel like a newlywed sometimes). I have been married for five years and I don’t yet have any children so this book helped me to understand alot of things about juggling wifehood, personhood and motherhood. I’m grateful for having read this book at this time in my life as well, because I feel like I needed to learn alot of what is shared in this book for when I do have children. I think one of the most valuable lessons in this book has to do with appreciating what you have instead of always focusing on the what I need next aspect of life. I am a victim of castle envy and just recently my husband and I toured a home that I have dubbed “our next home” that is way out of our price range but that I just fell in love with. Reading this book helped me to understand that it’s just a house and my home now is precious to me and good enough.  As far as marriage goes, it reaffirmed something that I figured out early into my marriage and that we are faithful to which is to never stop dating your spouse.

I think this book is a treasure trove of advice and lessons for women. If someone had given this to me when I first got married I feel like it would have helped me SO much in times when things were less than perfect in my marriage. Don’t get me wrong, my marriage is amazing and wonderful but all marriages are imperfect and take work just like we do as individuals as well but I just feel like this book would have helped me through rough times. I feel like after having read it, I will treasure it for years to come. There were alot of things in this book that I felt relief at for not being alone in wondering this or thinking like that. I plan on recommending this book to other wives that I know and for giving this book to brides at bridal showers. I cannot stress enough how WONDERFUL this book is, not only through the perspective of a Christian wife but even just through the perspective of a wife. I am 100% sure that I will return to these pages time and again. I highly recommend this book to women (I even feel like men would find wisdom in it’s pages). Give this book a read and then come back and let me know your thoughts! I am planning on checking out other books by this author as I loved her writing style. It was so easy to read and get into that my reading experience of this book was fantastic and it just flew by.

Happy Reading everyone!!

And just a fun bonus, here’s a pic of me taking a selfie with this wonderful book! photo (2)

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

untitledTitle: The Reflections of Queen Snow White written by David Meredith
Genre: Fantasy
Published by David Meredith
Page count: 155
Format: Ebook (Read on Barnes and Noble HD+ Kindle App)
Rating: 5/5

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White. (Goodreads)

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to thank David Meredith for inviting me to read this beautiful story.

I think everyone familiar with the fairy tale of Snow White has wondered what happens after Snow White and Prince Charming ride off into the sunset, I know I have. I’ve been excited to read this book because the prospect of getting to catch a glimpse of what comes after Happily Ever After was too intriguing to pass up. Also, I’ve always been a fan of retellings.

One thing I MUST point out is that this book is written beautifully…just beautifully. The language used in the story was just marvelous and I think that is one of the things I really appreciated about this book and it was definitely fitting for the type of book this was.

This story is a lot darker and sadder than what I expected but it is magnificent. All throughout the story as Snow White reflected on her past before and after Charming, my heart just broke for Snow…much more than it ever did in any other retelling. This story is more deeply personal than any other version so far and I really appreciated this intimate look at Snow White’s darkest times and most cherished moments. I think this story really hit home with me because it reminds you that life is short and should be cherished, a lesson that a lot of us aren’t quick to learn, just like Snow.

I love the development of her character throughout the book as she learns to find strength and pride within herself after having lived through so much heartache and grief. I love that the enchanted mirror played a big role in the story as well. I really like that something the evil Queen relied so much upon played a hand in changing Snow’s life for the better.

All in all, I absolutely loved this book and it was a SUPER fast read, one that I didn’t want to put down! I think that if you are a lover of fairy tales or even just familiar with the Snow White tale, you will be enchanted and moved by this retelling.