Sunday, June 25, 2017

Books That ... Influenced Me Personally

One day late again, but nobody noticed, right? ;) This is the last article in my bookish series, so there's no telling what post I will have in store for you next week! Although, with any luck, that one will actually be posted on a Saturday.


I didn't even scan my bookshelves to create this list, so these are truly books that I remember leaving some sort of lasting impact on my life. They're roughly listed in the order I read them.

The Promised Land Diaries by Anne Adams

This is a series of six books that I'm pretty sure were gifted to me at Christmas one year. Either way, I devoured them. It was my first exposure to Biblical historical fiction, and I've loved that genre ever since. With a primary fictional character who records "first hand" events surrounding Biblical women, these captured my imagination. I still loan them out to preteens at church. (Only the first of six is pictured.)


The Bluebird and the Sparrow by Janette Oke

I know I've mentioned this one before. I think the main reason it stood out to me is because it was about the contention between two sisters. Well ... the contention the older sister (that would be me) always held against her seemingly perfect younger sister. Seeing how bitter that made the main character and how hard it was for her to actually ever love left an impact on me. I was determined not to be that sister ;)





An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

I promise I don't stick this book on every list of mine just for the fun of it. Since the first time I read this was at a point in my life when I could relate to young Polly finding confidence in who she was, that left an impact on me. She was a role model of sorts. Now I can relate just as much to the older Polly and that is unusual in a book, I think. :)






The Tinker's Daughter by Wendy Lawton

Victoria Minks mentioned this in her Very Awesome Vlog Challenge #5, and it reminded me that it was one I couldn't get out of my head. It's about Mary Bunyan, the blind daughter of John Bunyan. She, too, deals with bitterness with the burdens she has to take on with her father's imprisonment. She repeats the Scripture "I can do all things" to herself incessantly to keep going. After the climax of the book, she finally begins to recite the entire verse. "...through Christ who strengthens me." I can still try to do things on my own, and that was a good reminder that a huge attitude adjustment and greater happiness can come from including Christ.

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Are you seeing a theme here? ;) I knew who John Bunyan was when I read The Tinker's Daughter, but I'm not sure my dad had read us Pilgrim's Progress aloud yet. I remember trying to unpack all the analogies and liking how the character's names described them. It really broadened my thinking about the Christian walk.




There's one more that comes to mind all the time, but I can't remember the title or character names for the life of me. I know it was about a young girl (she's on the cover--dark hair in a prison cell?) who was imprisoned for her beliefs, I think. I want to say it happened in the Philippines? Anyway. I remember another woman birthed a baby in the prison cell and the baby girl didn't live ... and all the time the main young woman kept true to God. And that stuck with me, because I never liked the idea of having to suffer for my faith as a kid. ;)

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I'm sure there are others that have influenced me since, but all of these books I read before I was a teenager. I think that's part of the reason they were able to influence me so much. What books have left an impact on your life?

Thanks for sticking around for this entire series! I hope you all enjoyed it :) I'd love to hear your thoughts on what I should blog about next.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Sorceress and the Squid by Emily Mundell // Blog Tour

Guess what book releases today?! The Sorceress and the Squid by my friend Emily Mundell. Trust me, I've read it and it's amazing. I know some of you have heard me talk about it before, but now you can actually go get a copy! :D You can read Emily's kickoff post here.

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First of all. Is that cover not amazing? I love it so much!! It's even neater because Emily commissioned a friend to paint it for her. I love that Micah Jonsson chose the nighttime scene; it fits the book so well.



Here's the description:



In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?



Hello, you should all want to read it now, because that description is awesome xP But here are some graphics Emily's concocted from Pinterest to give you a better look at her story. (Except for the last one which I made.)

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I know, that's a lot of images. But this book is so quoteable! That's its first major virtue.

Another thing I love about it, is all the characters are so creative. Because it's fantasy there are a lot of different species, the main distinction being humanoid and Fae (Old Kingdom). It's so clever though, because how many different hostilities and misunderstandings do we have in the real world based on race and religion?? There's so much credibility to the humanoids who want to rid the world of the Fae, just because they don't understand them and are fearful of their magical capabilities.

That's another part I loved: the magic. I know magic isn't for everyone, but let me assure you that if you can enjoy the lighthearted magical elements of C. S. Lewis (if only for their deeper meanings) then you can enjoy this, too! I loved how Emily described Estrella's spells and the repercussions she has to deal with ... the primary one being turning poor Jalen into squid ;)

Which brings me to another point. Besides the names all being precious and unique (but still pronounceable), the characters are just as precious. That really is the best way to describe them in my opinion. That doesn't mean they're always straightforward. Estrella is super grouchy in the beginning, but Jalen's such a sweetheart and watching them learn to get along is so fun.

And I have to mention the dedication as well. I loved it and having read the book before there was a dedication, they fit each other perfectly.

All in all, the entire story made me smile and curl my toes, and that really is the biggest compliment I can give :) So 10/10 shrooms. I've read it 1.5 times now and nothing stands out to dislike, so full points to a story that I love.

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Emily Mundell is a 19 year old author, artist, horsewoman and lover of the wonders of the wide world. She hails from the Great White North of Canada and has spent her life growing up in the heart of rural Alberta in a close-knit farming community - though she has often entertained fantasies of inhabiting the Shire.


Writing is her true passion – though horses and art take a close second. With fantasy as her primary genre, Emily has been writing stories since the tender age of eight when she finished her first “book.” She is currently working to complete her Creative Writing Certificate through the University of Calgary. An avid bookworm, true country-mouse, and unconventional tree-climber, Emily can usually be found on a horse, working on one of her half-dozen projects, chasing a loose cow, or being swept off her feet by the man she calls her own personal “hobbit.”


Find her on her ...

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There you have it! Did I sell you on the book? ;) It's worth your time, especially if you enjoy clever fantasy or adventure. It's just extra awesome that you get to support a deserving indie author at the same time!

I'll be returning to my normal posting schedule on Saturdays now. Be sure to check out some other stops in Emily's blog tour! And definitely let me know if you get a chance to read the book :D

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Books That ... I Recommend by Genre

Guess who completely forgot to post yesterday? I 100% did not think about it this weekend ... probably for the first time since I started blogging a year and a half ago. The weekend was insane and my laptop is unusable, so here we are. :) One day late, but the same post you were supposed to get yesterday, I promise. ;D

I ended up selecting a ton of genres because hello there are a TON of genres, so I'm only allowing myself to nominate on recommendation for each.

Nonfiction / Biography

I really don't read enough of this genre! The first book that came to mind was Sergeant York by Alvin York. The gentleman was a talented backwoodsman shooter who was drafted for World War I, but a religious protestor. After much consideration, he decides to participate in the army as well. The movie adaption with Gary Cooper does the book justice :)   


Science Fiction

Another genre I don't read very much of :P Does Frankenstein by Mary Shelley count as science fiction? I mean, it's got science and fiction, right? This would also be my horror choice, although I really don't think this book is horror. ;) The only other sci-fi book that immediately comes to mind that I've read is The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. I didn't like that one a whole lot, though.

Classic

Little Women, An Old-Fashioned Girl, and The Scarlet Pimpernel could all make my favorite list in this genre. But I think I'll choose Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. While there's no decent film adaption of this one, the book stands on its own. I could relate to the main character immensely and enjoyed the story very much (possibly because I hadn't seen a movie version when I read it).

Mystery

I'll admit I've never read Agatha Christie or Lord Peter Wimsey, and very little of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries from the library and always enjoyed them. I'm breaking the norm and choosing Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand. This book is not entirely a mystery, but the little girl staying with her extended family that she's only just meeting does try to solve the mystery of the strange rules and enmity.

Educational

After some thought, I definitely recommend The Universe Next Door by James Sire. It basically outlines at least 10 different belief systems, explaining the essential tenets in a well-outlined form. If you can't remember what existentialism, nihilism, or deism translates into in the real world, this book is so helpful. I feel so much smarter when I can remember what the content and it's very easy and useful to refer to.

Religion / Spirituality

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot was an easy choice, because everything about this book was spot on in my opinion! While the book is not on religion (I'd choose Mere Christianity or A Loving Life for that), this discusses how a young woman can live with both passion and purity through the love story of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot.

Historical Fiction

Ahh, I love this genre. The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Scarlet Pimpernel face off in this genre. However, I just read a book I was extremely impressed with, so I'll recommend it: The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson.


Poetry

I do not read nearly as much poetry as I would like (and memorize even less), but Emily Dickenson, Alexander Pope, and William Butler Yeats rank among some of my favorites. In a completely different vein is Shel Silverstein. All of his books I've found are illustrated collections of his simple, quirky poetry, so any will do, but A Light in the Attic is the first one my dad discovered at the library.

Fantasy

Harry Potter. It's not the only good fantasy series, and it does have magic. But despite differing opinions on that element, the story telling, themes, and character development are completely out of this world. I really can't even imagine being able to keep a dozen cohesive threads running through seven books the size of dictionaries. I've only read this series once, so it's time for a reread :)


Dystopian

The Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes easily wins this category! Although The Hunger Games series is a favorite of mine as well, Nadine Brandes's series is Christian and has a premise and creative technology all its own. It's so much more than dystopian and I love it.



Children's

The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood is still among my favorite children's books. The illustrations are priceless and the strawberry always makes me hungry. It's worth checking your library if you have younger siblings!



Middle Grade

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.  I read this creative, inspiring book so fast it's not even funny. Then I gifted it to a ten-year-old girl at my church and she read it within a few days. Adventures and the tale of Pi? Yes please :D


Young Adult

Hmmm ... So so many books are YA, but I don't try to specifically read that genre. Anything with a main character who is a young adult counts, I think. So I'll choose Entwined by Heather Dixon. It's a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling with some dark magic. If the dark magic (a force of wickedness) won't bother you, the family relationships and elegance will completely win your heart.





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Phew, that took a while. Have you read any of these books? What is one favorite genres to read? (I'm always up for recommendations!)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson // Blog Tour

You're not going to want to miss this! Because this book is awesome. You may have seen it appear in my newsletter and in my last post Books That ... Made Me Cry. Obviously that means this book stood out to me!


All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see? 

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that's what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern's childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.


Is that cover not glorious?! The description is pretty awesome, too. Just a glimpse of how cool the novella actually is.
Since I signed up to do a themed post, I'll focus on one of my favorite aspects of the book: friendship. First, there's the friendship between Fern and Tristan. He’s her childhood hero and imaginary friend. Second, there’s the friendship between Fern and her niece Elinore.

Fern, Tristan, and Elinore are the cutest trio ever. Fern’s a grown up now so she doesn't talk about Tristan, even though he still haunts her. Elinore is being raised by Fern, but their relationship retains that awesome niece/aunt bond. Plus, Elinore is the only one who’s totally chill with Tristan’s supposed presence.
Because Fern used to talk about Tristan and still sees things, everyone thinks she's crazy. Since Fern now questions her own sanity, she quits trusting Tristan. He’s taken it too far and she’s done with him ruining her life, so she dumps her imaginary friend for a shot at real life.
Fern’s struggle with knowing whom to trust I found very realistic. She's desperate to be normal so she can hold down a job and be allowed to raise her niece. Thanks to her imaginary friend, she has no real friends, only shrinks and the FBI. As the stakes climb and Tristan finally captures her attention, she has to decide all over again who she can trust.
Will the FBI agent believe her? Do the doctors actually want to help? Is Tristan even real? Can she keep Elinore safe?
Friendships always hang in a balance and Fern struggles with how far she’s willing to go for the people who have always been there, if only in her head. It’s really quite beautiful and you should all read about it and love the quirky bonds she has :D
Basically, the whole story is amazing, okay?! You can read my full 5 star Goodreads review here.
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seventeen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Also, because Kara is super neat, the blog tour is not any ordinary blog tour. It's a scavenger hunt! The clue from my post is this:


You'll have to visit each post in the schedule below to find all the clues, then submit them here.


And finally, stalk the book and purchase a copy. (E-book is great and all, but you'll want a paperback just for the cover.)

Have I convinced you to buy a copy and enjoy this for yourselves? Such a nifty book. Think a mix between a Marvel + FBI TV show ... but a book ;)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Books That ... Made Me Cry

I really never considered myself the kind of person who cried while reading books. I've noticed of late that it's becoming a more regular phenomenon (don't ask why), so I thought it'd be scary neat to tally up the number of books that have actually made me cry.


Again, this list is in the order that I read the books. Bear with my vulnerability here. I hate crying XD

Elsie's Widowhood by Martha Finley

Can you guess which part of this Elsie Dinsmore book made me cry? I'm pretty sure I read these when I was about ten. These get such a bad rap nowadays because of how "good" Elsie is, but I definitely enjoyed them and found them highly instructive in Christian living and the 19th century as a child. I'm thinking they're due a reread.



The Bluebird and the Sparrow
by Janette Oke

Yes, I know this one made me cry. I'm pretty sure I was no older than twelve or so when I read it for my first time. It was a family tragedy and moment of realization for the main character that finally got me on this one. I guess because I related to her nasty attitude at the time, hehe ...

Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes

All three of them. -_- Seeing as how the first book, A Time to Die, was the first book that had made me cry in forever, I was a little surprised. Reading it at 2 am didn't help, I'm sure. But still. I might have been able to resist crying in some of them if I hadn't been the only one awake in my house and completely sleep-deprived. That's how good this series is.

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

Yeah, I have no excuse for this one. I read the beginning slowly and then I rushed through the end, so I guess all the suspense built up? It was like mid-afternoon, so I wasn't extremely tired. Kara's a really good writer and this neat little novella released yesterday, so definitely check it out :)





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The good news is that list was much shorter than I'd hoped! Obviously, I've had other books make me emotional, but only those 6 have made me cry. *cheers* What books have made you cry?