Monthly Archives: February 2017

3 Great Podcasts for Book Lovers

Read Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackensie

Read Aloud Revival features great children’s literature, young adult lit as well as author interviews.  Their mission is to help you build your family culture around books.  Everything connected with the Read Aloud Revival is a high quality production.

The podcast often lasts about an hour and is ad free.  There is also a membership site with access to more shows and events.  It’s a great resource for homeschoolers, teachers, librarians and anyone who loves children’s lit.

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel

Novels for adults is the forte of What Should I Read Next?  But, there is also a smattering of memoir, young adult, children’s lit,  and non-fiction.  Anne typically interviews one guest and asks them for three books they love, one book they hate and what they’re reading now.  Then she gives them recommendations about books she thinks will match their tastes.

The strength of the show is hearing not only the basic premise for good books, but also emotional reactions and reading experiences as well.  That gives readers a lot more to judge a book on rather than just other readers’ reviews.

Getting to know guests a little during the interview also helps listeners decide how similar their reading tastes are to the guest on the hot seat.

Read to Lead Podcast with Jeff Brown

The Read to Lead Podcast is aimed at business leaders.   It’s a high quality podcast.  Every episode that I’ve listened to has interesting guests and Jeff does a good job with interviews.  I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in good books related to productivity, business and leadership.

If you’re new to podcasts . . . 

they can take a little getting used to.  (Warning: They can get addictive! ) You can listen to them on your computer, which is what I usually do.  You can also download them onto a device.  That makes them perfect for exercise time, going for a walk or commuting.

 

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The Invention of Wings Book Review

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I was pleasantly surprised with The Invention of Wings.  It is masterfully written.  It reminded me Harriet Beecher Stowe and Eugenia Price.  The story follows two girls throughout their lives– one a slave girl, one the daughter of a judge.

It’s good to stop and think about what our country was like in the 1800s.  How slavery embedded itself into the very fabric of society, how the evil grew and the power that was necessary to break it’s stranglehold on large portions of the country.

One thing I appreciated about the book was the role of faith.  So many novels leave it out entirely.  Missiologists even have a term for it, the law of the excluded middle.  American culture tends to attribute everything to science and ignores the supernatural completely.  I think this is just as dangerous as the cultures who see devils behind every bush.

I was shocked to find out at the end of the book that the novel was based on the lives of real people.  Fiction was weaved in with the facts, and the author lays out what was true and what was invented at the end of the book.

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One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

This novel is brilliantly written.  The quirky characters are so relatable. The story is the unlikely friendship between an eleven year old boy and a 104 year old woman.  And, yet, it’s so much more than that.  It’s about human connection.

What makes a marriage work?  How does a parent relate to an unusual child?  How do you grieve an incomprehensible loss? What makes life worth living?

It makes you ponder the meaning of life:  what is the value of a life? Why do some people live lots of years and others not so many?  What matters most in life?

High and lofty themes, yet this novel wrestles with them well.

Any book that does that makes an A+ in my book.  It doesn’t glorify immorality, though it doesn’t take much of a stand for moral living, either.  That issue, plus a little bit of language makes me hesitant to recommend it to young people, but I highly recommend it for the discerning adult.

There is also a touch of sadness and mystery woven throughout the story. I’m coming to believe that every great story is a mystery.  That is what keeps you turning pages.

There’s a cross-cultural element as well, which I love.

 

 

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What I’m Reading, February 2017

The view from my kitchen doesn’t look like winter without snow, but I’ll take it.

This is the warmest winter I can remember in Indiana.  I’m not complaining.  Cold is not my friend.

Here’s the pic before editing;  which just goes to show what perspective and spin can do.

Five star books this month!  I think February is my new favorite month for reading great books.

Appreciation due to bloggers who post “Best of” Lists.  Read my favorite lists here.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

This novel is brilliantly written.  The quirky characters are relatable. The story is the unlikely friendship between an eleven year old boy and a 104 year old woman.  And, yet, it’s so much more than that.

It’s about human connection.

What makes a marriage work?  How does a parent relate read more

  Buy now from Amazon

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I was pleasantly surprised with The Invention of Wings.  It is masterfully written.  It reminded me Harriet Beecher Stowe and Eugenia Price.  The story follows two girls throughout their lives– one a slave girl, the other a daughter of a judge.

It’s good to stop and think about what our country was like in the 1800s.  How slavery embedded itself into the very fabric of society, how the evil grew and the power that was necessary to break it’s stranglehold on large portions of the country.

One thing I appreciated about the book read more

  Buy now from Amazon

Wonder

What a great book!  I highly recommend it for all ages.

I like the literary device of telling the story from different points of view.

I love the way it tackles head on: embarrassment, shame, discouragement, rising above difficult circumstances, the elements of a true friendship.

It strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a person.  Where do you fit into society.  How does society react to you?

It’s not just an overcomer story.  It’s a family systems story.  Our family of origin matters so much when it comes to what we believe about ourselves.

August Pullman is a likable fellow.  If he were a jerk, this story wouldn’t have worked.

I love the middle school principal in this story.  I love the way he has a deep understanding of kids.  I love how he can see past the surface level to what is happening beneath the surface.  So good for teachers, administrators, youth pastors–everyone who deals with kids, as well as kids themselves.

  Buy now from Amazon

Published. by Chandler Bolt.

This book is for anyone who has thought about writing a book.  Much has changed in the publishing landscape in the last ten years.  Bolt faces those changes head on. Drafting your book is only a small part of the equation.  He explains how to self-publish and market your book, and which tasks should be farmed out.

Amy Lynn Andrews’ ebook, Tell Your Time and the back story behind it got me thinking.

I think, in general, our culture doesn’t value books, so they don’t budget for them and they don’t spend money on them.  People don’t mind dropping a lot of money going out to eat.  There are so many restaurants in Warsaw, yet only one bookstore.  It just isn’t part of the culture, it’s  part of the mindset. I’d love to see that change.  I think 50 page ebooks that only cost $3 could be a gateway drug.

In the same way that blogs and podcasts are gaining popularity, I think buying ebooks could become more popular.  Although, reading The Revenge of Analog is challenging that as well.

We have trained ourselves to be scanners.  To scroll through lots of information with lots of pictures.  To not read deeply, to not think deeply, to not write at all.  All this can change.  Here I am on my soapbox instead of doing a book review.

Just in case you’re wondering. . . Yes, I am in the beginning stages of writing an ebook.  Stay tuned.

 

 

  Buy now from Amazon

The Golem and the Jinni

If you read this blog much you know I’m always on the prowl for wholesome, brilliantly written novels.  This isn’t one that I’d recommend to my nieces and nephews.  Non-humans sleeping with humans made me feel uncomfortable.

That being said, there’s a lot to recommend for adult readers.  It is brilliantly written.  New York in the 1890s is fascinating. I’m intrigued by the Jewish community, the challenge of coming to the New World, even the myths and legends that are interwoven into the story.

That’s it for this month.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for February’s Quick Lit.

 

 

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

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Go Ahead, Rouse that Mama Bear

bears

I saw it in my sister this week.  She had to go up against the experts on behalf of her child.  It wasn’t a fight she was looking for or one that she relished.  She got all “Mama Bear” because her daughter needed an advocate.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

I’ve had to play the role occasionally myself.  It’s the needs of kids that propels moms into the unnatural state of fighter.

Before we had kids, my husband thought he would be up with the babies at night because I slept like a rock.  He had to drag me out of bed during a five point something earthquake aftershock because I slept through it.

But, after the birth of our first baby, the slight sound of an infant in distress was enough to wake me.  Of course, we all sleep on alert when listening for an alarm clock for fear of sleeping through it.  But, I believe it goes deeper than that.  That miraculous maternal instinct.  That sleeping mama bear that is roused in time of need.

We watched the movie, Miracles from Heaven last weekend.  I was so intrigued by the story I had to read the book to find out what was true and what was Hollywood.  (Read my book review here.)  Christy Wilson Beam, the mother in the story had to go up against the doctors on behalf of her daughter when they weren’t taking her symptoms seriously.  She referred to herself as Mama Bear when she had to fight to get the medical help her daughter needed.

What is it that turns mild-mannered mamas into to fighters?  I guess if you look at nature, it’s anything that threatens the well-being of the off-spring.  In our lives today, sometimes it’s the experts. They may know their field, but mamas know their kids.

 

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Mindful gratitude gives me perspective.

It’s easy and natural for me to focus on the negative.

I’m thankful for the practice of pausing to be grateful.

Joining other bloggers on Modern Mrs Darcy who are sharing their life-savers.

What’s Saving My Life 2016 

500 Words a Day

I got the idea from Jeff Goins.  He says to be a writer you have to write.  The man has a keen sense of the the obvious.  His point is: be consistent.  Five hundred words a day.  Every day.  So I took the challenge.  I determined at that pace, plus a little more, I could write 50,000 words in three months.  Amazingly, I hit that goal.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the coliseum.  I was writing more and blogging less.  How is that possible?  I used up my time and energy getting my 500 words down and spent very little time editing, polishing, choosing photos, posting and promoting.  So, this quarter, I’m spending another 20 minutes a day doing those things while still drafting 500 words a day.

In order to get 500 words a day recorded in as short as time as possible, I was just “brain dumping”— stream of consciousness writing, without  focus or a plan.  I’m shifting this strategy a little to be more productive to write something that’s worth editing, polishing and posting.

Here’s the thing:  writing 500 words a day on whatever comes into my head has been good for my emotional health.  I don’t want to lose that.  It’s been a slow realization over that past few years that I NEED to write.  I don’t even necessarily need to be read.  It’s the way I process.  The way I make sense of things.  Once in a while I churn out something that helps someone besides myself.

There you go.

500 words a day is saving my life.

Ah, the therapy of fingers on the keyboard, thoughts untangled, conclusions that bring peace. 

 

Best of 2016 Book Lists

I admit it.

I’m a fiction snob.

It’s hard for me to find novels I love.  So, I scour the book lists, always on the prowl for wholesome novels, brilliantly written.  Sometimes I strike gold.

I did another round up this year of my favorite Best of 16 Book Lists.  This is a survival strategy for me.  I need great books like I need air, so I’m highly motivated to find them.

Crash Course in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Dr. Wentz

Izabella Wentz, PharmD., the Thyroid Pharmacist.

Last year I discovered I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  I searched the web for advice, hoping to avoid medication.

Izabella’s website has been the most helpful.

I cut out gluten from my diet.  I added some supplements— vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc plus a daily multi-vitamin.  My migraines have all but disappeared.  I think my energy levels are up, but it’s hard to gage.  My face doesn’t break out as long as I’m taking zinc supplements.

I know one thing:  It feels good to be feeling better.  I’m thankful for Izabella.

The bottom line is bloggers are saving my life.

I am grateful.

What’s Saving Your Life?

What’s Saving My Life, 2016 edition

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