Category: real life

What I Read in November (2018)

Books Read in November: 22

Books Read for the Year: 175/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

pride

Pride, by Ibi Zoboi. (Cultural.) I’m not sure how I ended up reading two Pride and Prejudice retellings simultaneously, but…I really loved this book! I loved the diversity and seeing how this particular culture came to life. Zure was a little much at first, but I ended up loving her attitude and her pride in herself, her culture, and her family.

AHA, by Kyle Idleman. (Spiritual.) I love Idleman’s voice and his brutally honest and down-to-earth style.

Unequal Affections, by Lara S. Ormiston. (From the TBR.) I loved this re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. I thought it was very well done, and stayed true to the characters and world of the original.

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. (Classic.) How have I never read this before? An enjoyable adventure tale!

For Review

nightingale+cover

Nightingale, by Amy Lukavics. This is about a girl in the 1950s who doesn’t want to be a perfect housewife, but wants to write stories about alien abduction. She ends up in an asylum, where she realizes it’s no ordinary hospital. When I finish a book and think WHAT did I just read?, it’s not generally a good thing. This book was odd and just didn’t make sense.

love in catalina cove

Love in Catalina Cove, by Brenda Jackson. A solid read by a good author, about a woman who goes back to her hometown and finds her past is not what she thought at all.

embolden

Forbidden and also Embolden, by Syrie James and Ryan St. James. Two more “meh” reads. I love the idea of angels and Nephilim, but the main character is so selfish and ridiculous that it completely detracted from the interesting idea.

ministry of ordinary places

The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin. I don’t usually find nonfiction riveting, but this I did. Highly recommended.

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa. I love the Japanese culture and mythology, and the Iron Fey series was fantastic, so I was excited to read this. But I found this a little predictable, despite my liking for the naive main character.

the witch of willow hall

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox . Family scandal, mystery, and secrets in this Gothic tale set in 1821. I enjoyed this a lot!

when the lights go out

When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica. After her mother dies, Jessie Sloane finds out she has the name and social security number of a dead girl. As she tries to figure out what that means, her lack of sleep stretches into days and she starts seeing things that aren’t there—or are they? I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’ve never wanted a character to get some sleep so much!

the lying woods

The Lying Woods, by Ashley Elston. After Owen’s father disappears with millions of dollars, destroying the lives of most of the people who live in their small town, he moves back home to try to help his mother—and figure out  if his dad really did take the money. What Owen finds is hatred, violence, and the truth about his father. This was a fantastic read!

burning fields

Burning Fields, by Alli Sinclair. When Rosie returns home during World War II, she finds some things never change, no matter how badly you want them to, but maybe with the help of the Italian man next door, she can find out the truth about her family. A solid, enjoyable read.

a marriage in 4 vseasons

A Marriage in Four Seasons, by Kathryn K. Abdul-Baki. This tale, which opens with a miscarriage, moves to an affair and a divorce, and through to a reconciliation, is a slow, emotional read that is at times painful to follow.

when elephants fly

When Elephants Fly, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. This book was such a good read! Teenager Lily is trying to live a stress-free life to hopefully avoid the genetic curse of schizophrenia. When she was seven, her mother tried to kill her, but Lily has hopes of avoiding her mom’s fate. When she ends up covering the story of a baby elephant abandoned by its mother, she finds herself way too emotionally involved.

little white lies

Little White Lies, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It’s been a while since I read anything by this author, but I completely enjoyed this tale of Sawyer, from the wrong side of the track, who ends up living in high society for debutante season, as she tries to find out who her father is. The feel of this loosely reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series, except not as comic.

 

love a la mode

Love à la Mode, by Stephanie Kate StrohmA cute read about two teens who get into an elite cooking school in Paris. This book made me hungry!

Second Chance at Two Love Lane, by Kieran Kramer (review forthcoming). I found this kind of underwhelming. There was too-much glossing over of things, so it seemed o skip around, and several of the characters were caricatures and not fully fleshed-out. And one of the sub-plots was basically pointless, with its resolution summed-up and not resolved.

Just Because

Fury, by Rachel Vincent. I was excited to read the conclusion to the Menagerie trilogy. This is a fascinating world, and I love the characters. Great read. I finished it in one sitting, but I was not a fan of the ending.

Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing straight through. I want to be friends with Rachel!

Look Alive, Twenty-Five, by Janet Evanovich. I do love this series, but…this one was sadly lacking in humor, apart from Lula’s antics. I think this series is starting to get stale.

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Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin

 

ministry of ordinary places
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

 

Title:  The Ministry of Ordinary Places
Author:   Shannan Martin
Genre:   Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Many people dream of big ministries in places they feel at home in, surrounded by people like them. Shannan Martin found that that sort of ministry wasn’t her destiny at all. Instead, she ended up in a working-class neighborhood in Goshen, Indiana—okay, a neighborhood where sometimes finding a job to work at is hard—an ordinary place, surrounded by ordinary people who might be wildly different on the surface, but who are alike at heart:  struggling and in need of love.

Truly paying attention to both the big things and the small can open your eyes to the truth in the world around you, and Shannan built a home amidst people who were willing to do life together—no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes, when God calls people to ministry, it’s not a Billy Graham-style of ministry. Instead, it’s smaller, quieter, and has a profound effect on the people around us, the people who make up our lives.

This book. This book. Usually when I read nonfiction, I can only read a few pages at a time, but I wanted to read large chunks of this at a time. Shannan’s writing is so powerful and evocative, full of truth that touches the heart and opens the mind to broader ideas of home—and what that can look like.

Shannan Martin is a writer and speaker. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All Your Life, by Darryl Dash

how to grow
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All of Your Life
Author:   Darryl Dash
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

I want to call you to do ordinary things that will make an extraordinary difference, not just in your life but in the lives of others.

This quotation sums up the entire book in one simple sentence. This isn’t a complex book, full of convoluted to-do lists. Instead, the author offers simple, basic tenets of faith—praying, reading the Bible, involvement in a church—to build a foundation on, followed by “extra” things that can be added on after the basics are mastered. (Hint:  the basics are never completely mastered.) The conversational tone and examples from the author’s life make this easy to read and apply. I highly recommend it.

Darryl Dash is an author, pastor, and church planter in Toronto. How to Grow is his new book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Writing Update

The truth is, there is no writing happening lately, unless it’s for school or a work email. I just don’t have the brainpower. I have been feeling COMPLETELY overwhelmed with work/school/life and everything I want to accomplish…

Until I realized that wanting to do too much actually results in me doing nothing. Not with any degree of proficiency, anyway.

So…for now, I’m limiting myself to blogging/book reviews, work, school, and Holly Lisle’s Find Your Writing Voice and How to Find Your Writing Discipline workshops. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony.)

I just need to let some things go for a bit before I lose my grip on everything.

Walking to Listen, by Andrew Forsthoefel

Walking to Listen
Image belongs to Bloomsbury USA.

 

After he graduated from college, Andrew Forsthoefel decided to walk across America, really listening to what the people he met had to say. Walking to Listen is the tale of that journey.

Andrew Forsthoefel went out the door of his home in Pennsylvania with a backpack and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He’d just graduated college and was ready to start his adult life…but he didn’t know how. So, he decided to walk across America, wrestling with the hard questions he asked himself every day. Everyone he met would be his guide.

From winter in Appalachia to Death Valley in August, Andrew experienced the true breadth of American geography, but it was the people he met that truly inspired him. He met kindness and fear, diversity and prejudice as people told him their stories. He faced loneliness and fear, but love and hope carried him through his amazing journey.

Walking to Listen is the story of one man on an incredible journey, but it is more than that. The people he meets, the encounters he has are truly inspiring and bring hope for the future amidst the darkness permeating our culture. This book…sure, it’s narrative nonfiction about a journey, but it is so much more than that. The people Andrew met gave me so much hope, and made me want to reach for more. Not only does this book showcase the true diversity of this nation, but it gives a face to the human experience. I highly recommend reading this.

(Galley provided by Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley.)

Fits and Starts

Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes…it feels like running a marathon with 10-pound weights on each foot:  impossible.

This week, it has been both for me.

I did manage to get at least some words written every day Monday-Thursday, although Tuesday and Thursday only saw a handful, nowhere near my goal. Yesterday, I was mentally done with the week, and I didn’t even try.

Today…it’s been going fairly well. I only have 500 words to go to meet my word count goal for the day…which was initially 0, but since Tuesday and Thursday were barely productive, I knew I needed to make them up today. So, 2,000 words so far today, 500 to go.

Feeling a lot less completely overwhelmed with life and work and school as a result.

Love

hvd
I don’t own this image.

I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have a Valentine or not. Love yourself. Eat chocolate. Be happy. Love is important, and loving yourself is near the top of the list.

Write something you love today, no matter how simple. Try out something you’ve been meaning to write. A limerick? Haiku? Adventure short story? Cheesy high school romance? If you love it, write it. Worry about the details later.

Local Writers’ Event and Reader’s Indecision

This week was fairly productive, considering it was the first week of grad school (Eep!). I did a tiny bit of writing—1,000 words or so—in The Fall, plus outlining 10 scenes in it as well. Having an outline made the writing flow pretty well. Something I know, yet I still started writing this story with no outline. Smart move, there.

I did a little outlining in the Witches revision, also. I’m sort of feeling my way with that, since I’ve revised the story several times, and this is more of a re-write than a revision, but I’m using the current draft as a guideline. We’ll see how that works out. My voice and style have changed significantly since I originally plotted the story.

Yesterday I attended a local authors’ event with a friend. It’s part of the library’s Year of the Book promotion. Each author had a table, and they each spoke for 10 minutes.

yotb
Lineup of authors.

My friend and I went because we both love Rachel Caine’s work. (I’ve read The Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season spin-offs, and her re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve been wanting to read her The Great Library series as well.)

Somehow, by sheer luck, we arrived about 15 minutes before Rachel’s talk, just in time to hear Sarah MacTavish. (I feel like I’ve heard of her, but can’t swear to it. I read SO MUCH that authors sometimes get a little bit mixed up in my mind sometimes.) I enjoyed her talk, and the short chat I had with her afterwards, and bought her book, Firebrand. Young adult fiction about the Civil War from an author who carries her supply of books in an R2D2 suitcase? I’m sold! I’m looking forward to the read, just as soon as I wrangle enough time from my schedule for it.

My purchases for the day:

books

It’s been quite a while since I purchased physical copies of fiction. The bottom two books I bought at the event, the top three at B & N beforehand. I was so excited when I got home, but I had serious reader’s indecision:  What to read first?

Answer:  Firstlife, by Gena Showalter, because I’m hoping to get approved to review the second book in the series, and because I’ve been interested in this one for a while. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

Confession:  I read the entire thing last night. Loved it! The concept is so unique, and the characters compelled me from the first page. You should definitely read this!

Things All Writers Understand

Just a few things from my Writing Pinterest board that all writers will understand. (I don’t own any of these images, but bless their creators, for totally understanding the struggle.)

block
At this point, it could be either one…
coming-together
I LOVE this feeling!
dory-writing
It’s sad how accurate this is <looks at list of 4 planned novels for this year, including the shiny new one that happened two weeks ago>.
first-draft
…one of which planned novels is the full re-write of the first thing I ever started writing…
inspiration
Motivation comes in many forms.
old
Actually, I’m too afraid to look at my VERY first draft.
plotting
If I only I could be the first one.
writer
Wait, I thought everyone hung upside down. You mean they don’t?
writing
I might resemble the last picture…
youre-a-writer
Guilty.

 

When?

When does not-writing become a thing of “because I don’t feel like it” instead of “because I have a thousand other things that have to be done”?

When does my brain stop making excuses and get itself together and get my body in front of the keyboard?

When is “tired” no longer a valid excuse for not getting things done (things besides writing)?

When will I learn that I can’t do everything I’d like to, not and give each thing the attention and focus it deserves?

When will real-life have-to’s stop interfering with my writing time? (Looking at you, last-minute work meeting on my day off.)

When will I finally beat my tendency for procrastination? (Which eventually becomes active self-sabotage.)

When will people finally understand that “I can’t, I have writing to do” does not mean “Sure, I’m not doing anything anyway”?

When will my brain finally give me an outline for The Fall, so the actual writing part feels less like wandering around with a blindfold on?

When will I finally overcome this stupid mental block/laziness and sit in my chair and actually WRITE?

When?