Since having children, I’ve wanted to really dig in to the “why” of our holidays. Memorial Day is one that I’ve glazed over in years past. But while browsing curriculum I found something simple to do this year. From Beautiful Feel Books I found a Memorial Day book collection. I’m making myself wait until we’ve finished this year before I buy more books for NEXT year… but apparently more for this year is okay. Book Fever is upon me. It’s the time of year where there’s a countdown to the end instead of counting up, but also the time when I’m hungry for fresh books. Memorial Day is May 31, 2021 and I don’t want it to be just a day of hamburgers and hotdogs. I want that too… but as a homeschool mom, (and non-homeschool moms!) holidays are perfect opportunities for teaching.
Beautiful Memorial Day Books
I was browsing curriculum collections at Beautiful Feet Books and I found a Memorial Day Collection! And yes, I bought it. Five picture books and a digital activity guide make up the pack. We have been winding down our school year the last few weeks as we get busy with spring activities. But we read often and will continue to read throughout the summer. These books aren’t piddling paperbacks that you can pick up for a dollar. They are carefully chosen and put together for a purpose. I look forward to reading them together later this month.
Read toward Memorial Day with Us?
I’d love to have you join us. Be sure to order your own pack this week and we can read the books together. I’ll be posting our experience on my Instagram and sharing our thoughts through the newsletter.
Grab your Memorial Day pack below! And hey, I also saw they have a Father’s Day collection…
If you gawk at spending $70 dollars for a small pile of books, please consider the time it will take to read them and the payback for your kids/family and the quality of the books. If you go out to the movies with just TWO people, how much is that for 2-3 hours? Take your family out to dinner, how much is that? I could keep going, but you get the idea.
If you truly can’t afford it, don’t buy it! But for me, this purchase will be well worth the investment. Because that’s what it is. An investment. The dividends will pay back for generations. I have memories of snuggling with my mom while she read to me, and I read the same books to my kids and love the nostalgia as my eyes take in the pictures that I marveled at as a child. So now I’m investing in good books with good pictures and good words and, okay, yes. I’ve talked myself into it. I’m adding the Father’s Day collection to my cart, too. Sold.
Ha! Happy Father’s Day, Ben!
Shh. Don’t tell him. No, really. Don’t tell him. And I won’t tell your husband about the books you’re buying for him, either. It’ll be our little secret.
Hi! I’m Tasha Hackett. I write books and I know stuff.
I’m Tasha Hackett, fueled by sunshine or homemade chocolate, whichever is more readily available. Though I proudly sing every word of the Wee Sing Silly Songs and often pretend to be a ballerina while unloading the dishwasher, my favorite thing is writing to entertain and encourage women. Most of my time is spent with four chatty children and an incredibly supportive husband. They give me the kind of love people write books about.
Somewhere between twelve and thirty life happened and the author vision was lost.
But one evening, with 34 prom dresses to be altered and the kids asleep for the night, I sat near a pile of red satin, carefully trimming four layers of tulle when my husband asked, “If you wrote a book, what would it be about?”
Only three and a half years later, I completed my first manuscript: Bluebird on the Prairie. I set out to create a romantic comedy while exploring themes of hope and grief and finding love again.
I almost quit writing.
After finishing my first novel, I made the decision to wait a good, long time before tackling another one. Because motherhood is more important… and being a homemaker is more important… I just couldn’t do it all. It’s true! If I had to choose, I would and I could.
Then my husband said, “I think you should keep writing.”
You guys!!! My heart filled to bursting. This feeling in my chest was an honest-to-goodness physical response. Like an opening in my heart that grew and spread and filled up with all the happiness it could hold. It bubbled up and pushed out a few tears.
He told me in six words that he doesn’t mind doing his own laundry.
Published by Barbour Books, The Soldier’s Lady is a collection of four stories that all take place on American frontier forts. Therefore, though the title of the book is The Soldier’s Lady, it contains four separate stories by four different authors:
Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that I was never chastised by my husband for being caught still reading at 3am. Perhaps my least favorite thing about this book is that the stories were too short and I was never compelled to stay up until 3am to finish the tale. I’m not a very fast reader, but I was able to finish these stories in two or three settings.
How to read a historical romance without staying up all night
Do not read in bed. That’s my best piece of advice. But for these shorter stories, be sure to stop reading right before the climax and go to sleep and the next night you can happily read through the compelling middle of the story straight through until the perfect ending (and brag to your family that you went to bed a reasonable hour even though you had a story to finish.)
The Soldier’s Lady Synopsis and Review.
The Colonel’s Daughter
Nathaniel is every reader’s crush. He’s responsible, dreamy, strong, sweet, thoughtful, and he just happens to be the Colonel’s right-hand man. When Colonel Bensen’s wife and daughters come to visit at the fort, Major Nathaniel Ward is practically put on babysitting duty in order to keep the ladies safe from whatever may happen on a western fort—be it the Natives, animals, rough soldiers, or boredom. But when he develops feelings for Miss Allison Bensen, the Colonel has issues.
Mrs. Bensen has sworn she will never allow any of her daughters to strap themselves to the military life. They will soon be traveling back to St. Louis with all of the daughters in tow . . . or will they?
This story uses the classic forbidden-love trope, but hey, if you promise someone chocolate cake, you give them chocolate cake. And most of us like chocolate cake. Nathanial and Ally are a sweet couple that develop a friendship based on mutual hobbies and interests. Their love of the frontier and literature are just a few of the things that bring them together.
Here’s a snippet I loved:
“My mother warned me about waltzing.” Her voice was low and warm.
“And what did she say?”
“That I must keep the gentleman at arm’s length, and that I must keep my eyes down and never meet his gaze.”
Nathaniel swallowed, drawing her a fraction closer in his arms. “Why not?”
The Colonel’s Daughter by Gabriella Meyer
Frontier of Her Heart
The previous story in The Soldier’s Lady highlighted some of the glamour of a frontier fort when there were high-ranking Colonels and large houses and balls. This next story shows the other end of the spectrum at a fort with less finery and more work.
Doctor Boyd is care-free and always playing games or wasting time—or so thinks Emily, the young cook. She never has a spare minute with all the men to cook for and her younger brother to look after. Though she’s grateful for the job and to be sheltered from the weather and starvation, she has taken a cynical view of the world with all the hardship she’s experienced.
When she and Boyd are roped into a fort competition as a means of entertainment for the soldiers, they both begin to understand the perspective of the other. Boyd has undergone more than his fair share of sorrows, too, but has chosen to keep a joyful spirit—and chosen to stay unattached in order to protect himself from more pain.
What will these two do when they begin to fall in love?
Save the Last Word for Me
Adelina is hired by the officer’s wives to teach at the fort, but runs into trouble with Colonel Isaac Scott before classes begin. He is barely keeping things together as it is; he surely doesn’t relish the interruptions of a distracting new female mucking up the strict rules of his outfit. The new recruits are not fit for anything, the Natives have shown signs of aggression, and while his supervising officer and most of the quality soldiers are out on duty he feels the pressure of his responsibility weighing him down.
Adelina isn’t use to military life. She’s not used to taking orders from anyone and especially a man who seems to be making arbitrary rules just to make her life difficult. But she has a heart for the students that even extends to the illiterate soldiers.
Isaac’s protective nature is being noticed by others and he soon comes to realize he’s been more controlling toward Adeline because he’s more invested in her safety than he needs to be. Through a lesson in random acts of kindness, Isaac softens towards the idea of becoming a family man.
Winning the Lady’s Heart
This is a sweet mail-order-bride story gone terribly wrong. What would you do if you’d been exchanging letters with a man you were going to marry, but when you arrived, you find out all of your letters have been read by your betrothed’s best friend? Oh, and the best friend was also the one penning the letters because your man is illiterate. And minor detail, the guy you were going to marry died a few week ago while you were in route to the fort. Oh, and you can’t leave to go back home again because it’s no longer safe to travel . . .
That’s the set-up for this great story. My complaint for this one is that it was just too short. I would have loved to see this story fleshed out in a full-length novel. The main characters, Annie and Jefferson, have a lot to overcome in order to learn to trust each other again. Jefferson already knows her—he’s been reading her letters after all. But all Annie knows is that she’s been tricked and lied to. But she must get married soon or she’ll be asked to leave the fort as soon as conditions for travel change, and she doesn’t have a home of which to return.
I have to gush for a minute about this one because Janette Foreman is a college-mate and friend of mine. The next best thing to getting a book published is when your friend gets a book published. Seeing her name on the cover of another great book reminds me that there’s room for me, too! I enjoy the style of her writing and the realistic flaws and emotions of her characters. I can see snippets of her personality come through in the resolve of her protagonist.
If you enjoy clean historical romance, be sure to keep an eye out for my book coming later this spring, Bluebird on the Prairie.
I’m Tasha Hackett, born-again child of God, woman, wife, mother, author, fitness coach, and teacher. I spend most of my time with four chatty children and an incredibly supportive husband. You can see more of what I’m up to through @hackettacademy on Instagram and by subscribing to the newsletter! Home is currently in windy Nebraska and the landscape and climate is prominently featured in my first novel.
P.S. Happily-ever-afters are my favorite.
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I am pleased to work with Christianbook and loooove guiding readers to their website. If you are in the habit of online shopping, please give them a chance. Most of the novels that I love can be found on their website as well as a surplus of homeschool curriculum and thoughtful gifts. As an affiliate, I make a small commission from anything you purchase at no extra cost to you.
I love the “how we met” stories. They’re often my favorite parts of books, too. Even delicious tales with a failed one-liner are my favorite. But if the guy ends up with the girl in the long run, perhaps the line worked after all?
Once upon a time, I was 18 years old. I met a guy and we fell madly in love. It wasn’t love at first sight. But truthfully, I wish we had been able to draw out the friendship phase. The weeks of anticipation for what if he likes me as much as I like him are simply delicious.
After a month of trying so hard to just be friends we held hands for the first time Zing! and the rest is history.
And this is how we met didn’t meet.
My cousin invited me to play the piano at her wedding. I practiced every afternoon for a month of church camp at WCYC. The kitchen was my home the first two weeks and then I enjoyed two weeks as a camper for my last year of senior camp. There were few things I loved more than camp. And performing. I loved the cabins, the friends, (so many cute boys, just saying), swimming in the creek, singing around a campfire each evening, talking about boys, hanging out with boys, oh, and learning about God and studying the bible . . . with boys. Okay! you get the idea.
No, I wasn’t completely boy crazy . . . but I did enjoy their company. The point is, I had a really fun time my last year of camp, (despite the time I fell off the cliff and didn’t die, but you can read about that story here). My cousin’s wedding was at camp after all the campers had left the last day. I had a great time chilling with my camp friends as a few of them were hired to wash dishes after the wedding.
How I missed the first potential meeting of the love of my life.
I scrubbed two (I mean four) weeks of camp dirt from beneath my fingernails and dressed up in a cute summer dress and played for the 20 minutes before the wedding started. And then I took my seat somewhere off to the side where I couldn’t see anything because I’m only five feet tall.
Afterward, I snuck off to hang out with my camp friends, posed for a few family pictures and enjoyed the evening washing pots and pans.
But now it’s time for the real story. A few days later I was moved into my dorm room at college and had been enjoying freshmen orientation (and meeting lots of new boys that I may or may not have been crazy about. I’m kidding, I was actually spending most of my time with my new bestie Danae and we were, neither one of us, interested in boys. Nope. Especially not the entire team of them that played soccer.) Being a freshman, I was on campus the week before classes started, along with the soccer teams, and a few other groups. Most of the student body turned up for Sunday night communion traditionally held at the church across the street.
I wasn’t looking for a boy, especially not one with a ridiculous one-liner.
On my way out I was feeling excited. Also overwhelmed. Small. Adventurous. A little scared of everything starting up tomorrow, but mostly I was in good spirits. Standing alone, I was looking around at all the groups that had already formed and deciding if I should walk back alone or look for Danae. A boy spoke to me.
He was wearing an extra-large T-shirt (he would easily fit a medium) with an old leather jacket that was a touch too small. The jacket was zipped and he had the appearance of a T-shirt skirt, if you know what I mean. He wore a pair of army pants cut off just below the knee, white tube socks pulled up mid-calf and sturdy working boots. Oh, and did I mention he had a scraggly goatee a good two inches long? Did I just describe the man of your dreams? No? Hmm . . .
This boy dropped his one-liner, with no preamble, “Hey, would you like to go for a ride on my motorcycle?”
I’m sure my eyes grew wide. Taking a small step back, I said, “I don’t even know who you are.” And I walked away.
It wasn’t the one-liner as much as the attire of the one who delivered it.
Riding behind a boy on a motorcycle did sound exciting and adventurous, but I was no dummy. The guy was seriously sketch. I wasn’t about to be kidnapped before college even started.
I scuttled over to my newly married cousin a few feet away, but she only laughed at me. “No, that’s Ben. He’s cool. You want to ride with him.” I did? She made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that I should be hanging out with Ben. Well . . . still. I didn’t think it wise. What if he was actually as weird as he looked?
It was decided we would all go out for a late snack. I rode with my cousin, Ben and a few others met us there, and I rode behind Ben on the motorcycle on the way home. We didn’t speak. It was awkward. But also thrilling.
A few days later I was walking to the town square for the college job fair and he jogged up behind me and said, “Hi.” He followed me around downtown as we wrote our phone numbers and dropped them into the boxes for all the drawings the businesses were offering. We talked, we joked, and I decided this guy was okay. He was flattering. Friendly. Smiled a lot. And he seemed to know everybody. And everybody seemed to smile back at him. Who was this guy? And why was he hanging out with me?
That evening I had a message waiting on my dorm phone. “Hi Tasha, this is Ben. I memorized your number while we were downtown. Since I have yours, I thought it only fair that you have mine. If you ever need a ride somewhere, give me a call.”
I did need a ride. I worked at the bank about a mile from campus. Normally I carpooled with a girl, but I was on my own next Tuesday. Walking was an option, but I called Ben and asked for a pick-up next Tuesday afternoon . . .
It was weeks before we realized we had missed meeting at camp. He was a groomsman at my cousin’s wedding and we never once noticed each other! Sixteen years later, he is still asking if I want to go for a ride, but now it’s a vehicle that seats the two of us and our four little tagalongs. Given the fact that he always takes out the trash without being asked, and tells me I should keep writing, I forgive him for growing a scraggly beard every now and then.
Do you have a fun “how we met” story? What’s your personal meet-cute?
For those who love a good regency romance, author Mary-Celeste Ricks and her book A Stage for Harriet is for you. To be candid, I just looked up the definition of “Regency Romance.” I had a basic idea that it was historical romance in England. But in case you were also unclear, it is a very specific time and place: 1811-1820 (or so) during the British Regency. We’re talking balls and carriages and communicating with dainty fans and not speaking to someone until you’ve been properly introduced and the hoopla of the social season. And: YES. I do like to read regency romance.
Mary-Celeste Ricks has written a compelling debut novel, A Stage for Harriet. The meet-cute happens right away during the first chapter—my favorite—and I won’t tell you anymore right now because I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING. Truth be told, I refuse to read book blurbs or reviews for books I want to read because I want to start the adventure with no expectations and be pleasantly surprised. If this you, rest assured. I highly endorse A Stage for Harriet and you can grab your copy right here from Kindle for a few bucks or order a hard copy for just a little more. After you’ve read it, let’s chat! Tell me what you thought. You can find me on Instagram @HackettAcademy, reply to any of my newsletter emails, or comment below.
And Now SPOILER ALERT: A Stage for Harriet Synopsis and Review.
Harriet Shore is only a farmer’s daughter. Like me, you might have have thought this meant her father was actually a farmer—no, no, no. He is a “farmer” because he manages farms and other people who do the work on his land. But he is also a gentleman’s son. Hmm . . . this is fancy regency lingo for, “Miss Harriet is stuck in an odd spot because her father is not lower class. Because he just missed upper class she can’t marry the man of her dreams because their stations aren’t equal.”
But when Stephan, her tree-climbing childhood best friend and dreamy heart throb, is absolutely and totally into her, Harriet takes herself off the table so to speak by becoming a governess in London. Does she want Stephan to chase after her? Does she want him to find someone else? Maybe he’ll decide he doesn’t actually love her and be happier without her? (The horror!)
For the girl who wants to know, “Is he going to kiss her or what?!”
Oh! The kiss! They shared a delicious kiss just days before she left for London and now her head is swimming with the drama of it all. One doesn’t go kissing people they’re not engaged to unless that person is a rake or loose woman. Thank goodness for British society drama to keep the excitement going. She is nearly an exact look alike of a very well-to-do lady who is, er . . . indisposed at the moment. (She’s pregnant, okay. Oh, the scandal!) The Duchess wishes to sweep the whole thing under the rug and insists on hiring Harriet. Her role is to PLAY THE PART of her daughter Virginia until the situation is resolved and Lady Virginia can take her proper place in society again.
This is all well and good until Harriet discovers she actually enjoys playing this part and enjoys the company of so many young men and she enjoys dancing at balls and fine dining . . . But what of Stephan you ask? Well . . . the poor chap has been paying calls on a certain governess in London who is never home. He’s beginning to wonder if she’s avoiding him on purpose when he meets Lady Virginia at a fancy ball. But wait! Lady Virginia, who is much to far above the social ladder to pay him any mind is the exact look-a-like of his Harriet. How can this be?
Miss Harriet Shore playing Lady Virginia does her best to ignore the love of her life, but . . . oh dear. You really ought to read the rest and find out for yourself. I haven’t even touched on the escapades of poor Mr. Brougham whose mother wishes him to court Lady Virginia. You’ll meet dashing Mr. Desford whose charm and company are more exciting than she wishes to admit. And let’s not ignore the dreadful rake who wishes to take Harriet as a mistress.
Yes, I recommend this book.
Mary-Celeste Ricks wrote a fun story that was a great change from the western historical romance streak I’ve been in. There were no rugged cowboys, prairies or shotgun-circuit-preacher-weddings. For sure I didn’t find any homesteads with chickens, but there were plenty of balls, dancing, dark-hallways-leading-to-unoccupied-libraries, and of course, a happily ever after.
Sometimes I think I’m the bee’s knees. And then I cringe. Who even says “Bee’s knees?!?!”
I do, apparently, except not really. Only when writing the first blog post on my author website. That in itself is so overwhelming I don’t even want to think about it. The first post on my AUTHOR WEBSITE. People are going read this and judge me and wonder about what I write and who I am and what if they read my blog and think I’m some weird kind of girl who uses completely random and old fashioned phrases like, “Bee’s knees.”
Coincidentally, this is me.
Writing is something I’ve been doing since forever. Only wish I hadn’t waited forever to start taking it seriously. One book isn’t enough to get all the kinks out. Word on the street is it can take an author seven books before they really get the hang of it.
My husband once accused me of being a quitter.
On the surface, you may agree with him. Though I took great offense at his accusation. Yes, honey, I “quit” 14 jobs the first five years we were together… but it’s not like that. You have to look at the bigger picture here.
I’m a starter. Not a quitter.
When you begin something new, it’s only natural that not everything else can come along for the ride. Obviously, when I started waiting tables at The Country Kitchen, I wasn’t able to also wait tables at The South Side Grill. Of course, when I started making pizza at Pizza Hut, I stopped waiting tables at The Country Kitchen.
Once I started substitute teaching, I didn’t have time for my work at Pizza Hut. And you can understand that when I started having children, I didn’t teach anymore.
Altering dresses was something I started when we were broke and wanted to pay off debt. It was a great side hustle, but when I started writing… it left precious little time for sewing.
When I had my fourth kid, I started feeling sick and overwhelmed. Therefore, writing was left behind for awhile. (See what I did there? I didn’t quit.)
Love finds a way.
My characters never quit on me. Their story never died. All the dreams and plot twists and excitement of my imaginary world only grew stronger until I started again.
It happened like this:
Realized I had to get the story out or it would claw its way from the inside.
Wrote for 30 minutes a day.
Took advantage of the extra time with the husband working from home.
Finished the manuscript and realized: I CAN DO THIS AND I LOVE IT.
So hey, this is me. I like to start things. Being an author is the start of something great for me. Just imagine how many stories I will start (and finish!).
New characters have already introduced themselves to me before I’ve begun writing their story.
Zeke and Eloise will always have a special place in my heart as my first two main characters. They taught me amazing things. Getting to know them was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever experienced. To have a character that I thought I had created start talking for herself on the page? It’s truly fascinating.
This is one of the reasons I’m not quitting. I can’t wait to see what else these characters have to say. Who knows, maybe one of them will start talking about the bee’s knees… I doubt it… but nothing’s impossible.