✓ That Off the List

I apologize for the duration of time that has passed since my last post. I have no excuses apart from life and time getting away from me. However, this time has been spent completing a 2016 reading challenge that I found on my Pinterest feed!

It has been a habit of mine to “repin” certain books that I would like to read and then they end up escaping my memory, but it was this particular reading challenge that caught my fancy. The thing that drew my attention was the fact that it didn’t have specific books that a person had to read, only a general category. For example, one of the entries on the book challenge is to read a book that is becoming a movie that year. The person completing the reading challenge is then able to choose a book that would both check off that category as well as choose a book that actually appeals to them.

While I have been striving to complete this 2016 reading challenge, I did start this in the middle of June, leaving me only six months to complete the 40 entries. As much as I am obsessed with reading as the next person, I do not have every hour of every day that is needed in order for me to complete the list by December of this year. I have, however, read and completed a good amount of the categories by November.

It has also been a trial in the sense that because I am struggling to rush through all of these entries, I’m not allowing myself to genuinely enjoy these books. Right now, I see the stack of books on my nightstand as another checkmark on the printed out page of the reading challenge. And so, I have accepted the fact that I will not complete this challenge by the end of this year, but I will from this point forward read the books for my own pleasure instead of a competition (I may or may not still make a checkmark by the titles).

If you have any reading challenges that you yourself are completing, or just any great books that you would like to recommend to me for leisurely reading, please comment with the titles!

 

Up to My Ears in Authors

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I do apologize for how long it has been since I last posted, however I do have a viable excuse. As you can see, this Christmas I received a literal box of books, nineteen to be exact, which kept me pre-occupied over the past few weeks. Many of those books were included in my Christmas wish list, which I have previously written about on my blog. Should I be ashamed that I almost shed tears at the sight of so many new novels that were in that moment in my possession? Excuse me while I hide my head under this quilted blanket.

As I read through those nineteen books I was introduced to new authors whose work I greatly admired. Tahereh Mafi, who is the proclaimed author of the “Shatter Me” trilogy, indeed shattered me when she brought an end to a world and characters that I had grown to love through the third installment. My heart raced and melted from the intense action and romance of Sara Raash‘s “Snow Like Ashes” and the sequel “Ice Like Fire”. I discovered an apocalyptic world in which I would not like to experience, however I would endure it if Raffe from Susan Ee‘s “Angelfall” was by my side. Sarah Maas captivated me from beginning to end with the book’s eerily beautiful description and unique style to the mature fantasy genre.

All of these authors were able to make their plots and themes universal, however allow each reader to apply their own life exclusively to the story. In many instances, I would find myself relating to a character’s struggle or characteristics. I highly recommend all of these authors and their work, they did an exceptional job of keeping me entertained. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations of books or authors that you may have for me, I always love to explore outside of what I already know.

I am thankful for…

It is the season of thanksgiving and blessings, which has prompted me to reflect on the books I have read through the years for which I am thankful. Many books that I read impact me in numerous ways; through the dynamic characters, gripping plot lines, or the intriguing world the author creates. However, there are a few books that after I opened the cover, the world as I knew it had changed.

At a young age, the Word of God became my comfort and source for all peace, wisdom, and guidance. It is my foundation, upon which all of my morals and actions are established. Regardless of how many versions  I have received in the past, I am always eager to stroke the leather cover of a new Bible. It remains the most vital book I have ever owned and the one for which I am most grateful to have in my possession.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry is another book that has made a lasting impact on my life. I read this series when I was a child and it did me the greatest favor; it helped me fall in love with reading. It was the first time that I refused to put a book down, I felt the need to discover what adventures waited in the following pages. Also, this story introduced me to the concept of the bitter sweet moment that occurs after finishing the last page of a book and realizing the story has ended.

Another book that I am thankful for is This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. It allowed me to look at spiritual warfare in a way that impacted the way I prayed and viewed my daily life. The author presented a spiritual realm in a light that I had never considered, evolving my view. My approach to spiritual warfare is now more specific, targeting and naming the exact areas where I am most weak.

I would love it if you would comment and tell me some of the books that you are thankful for or that have made an impact on you. I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble.

 

A Lasting Impact From “Legend”

Recently I have felt the yearning to flip through the pages of an action packed novel, and so I decided to remove a book from my Christmas wish list and purchase it. Based off of the description of “Legend” by Marie Lu, I knew that this plot line was exactly what I was looking for. Not once was I disappointed with the book I had chosen, and even after finishing the book days later, it is still consuming my thoughts.

“Legend” takes place in a futuristic United States that is now called the Republic. It follows a girl named June who is a soldier within the Republic, as well as a boy named Day who is a thief living in the outskirts of the city. On one of Day’s night raids, he runs into June’s older brother and has to assault him in order to escape. June is made aware of her brother’s untimely death and told that the person who is responsible is the celebrity thief known as Day.

She is so wrapped up in her rage that she insists on going under cover and portraying a girl in poverty to draw out her brother’s murderer. After being in the city’s streets for days, she finally meets Day and his friend Tess who take care of her after she had been severely injured. As June gets to know this mysterious boy, she doesn’t see a person who is capable of murdering another human. In fact, she is introduced to the reason why he goes on robbing escapades and starts to understand the boy behind the legend.

There are plenty of secrets intertwined in this plot, and dynamic characters that will steal your attention. Marie Lu did a wonderful job developing the plot, the futuristic world, as well as the people known as Day and June. There are twists in the plot that I didn’t predict and I found that to add to the overall suspense and intrigue of the book.

“Legend” is the first installment of a three book series. The second book is called “Prodigy” and I am eager to see how Lu continues the story.

Here is the link to Marie Lu’s blog and twitter.

Building My Christmas Wish List

When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me that if I wanted to buy something in September, October, or November it would be put on my Christmas list. This used to aggravate me to no end because I wanted it then and there, however I would often forget about the item and be more surprised come Christmas morning. My mother just reached out to me and my siblings and asked us for Christmas ideas, which has forced me to reflect on the large book list that I have saved. Most people struggle to think of numerous gift ideas that loved ones can give to them for the holiday season, and yet I have an endless list of books ready to share on command. The question in my mind is how many books qualifies as too many books? What am I thinking, as if there is such a thing as too many books!
The following list of books are ones that I hope to find in my stocking on Christmas morning.

  1. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  2. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  3. Angelfall by Ee
  4. Legend by Marie Lu
  5. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  6. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  7. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
  8. Eve by William Paul Young
  9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  10. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  11. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  12. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas

Do you have any recommendations of books that you think I should add to this list? Comment on this post or tweet on my profile. Hurry Christmas hurry, I feel the need to read!

Ten of My Guilty Pleasure Books

There are several books on my shelf that I find myself returning to when I am between new reads. All of these books have made an impression on me, whether it was through the unique plot line, dynamic characters, or engaging setting. Often times people don’t reveal their own guilty pleasure books, somehow believing they should be ashamed of the books that have had them opening the cover time and time again. However, I believe these stories and authors should be celebrated for this accomplishment of entertaining readers to a point of near obsession. With that in mind, these are my top ten guilty pleasure reads.

I fell in love with the world that Veronica Roth wrote after the very first chapter that I read in “Divergent”. I think the concept of a society being separated into factions based on character traits is simply fascinating. It doesn’t hurt that the characters Roth imagined are both empowered and brave, but they also evolve and develop over the course of the series. I will forever be an avid fan of Veronica Roth’s writing as well as Tris and Four, the main characters in the series. It was also an exciting experience to see one of my favorite series played out on the big screen, and I believe that Shailene Woodley and Theo James did a wonderful job portraying the protagonists.

If I am ever in the mood to hop on an emotional roller coaster I will immediately reach for this book. Gayle Forman wrote such a beautiful story that intertwined the fine line between love and loss perfectly. There have been few books where I have genuinely felt the pain that the author is trying to portray, and “If I Stay” had me projecting the burdens of the characters onto myself. If you choose to read this book, come prepared with a box of tissues and your jaw to repeatedly fall to the floor.

I love this book because of the history that lies beneath the story, and yet to my delight Pataki didn’t write the novel in a way that demonstrated a long stream of recorded historical events. She perfectly created her own spin on the infamous story of the Austrian empress, Elisabeth and her husband, Emperor Franz. I was consumed by her words and felt the need to continuously discover what happened next to the historical figures. Whenever I read this book I feel like I am in the middle of an 1800s soap opera and despite the amount of times I have flipped through its pages I still find myself gasping at every plot twist.

Kiera Cass is one of my favorite Young Adult authors because of the interesting characters she visualizes. “The Selection” series captured my attention because of how the plot reminded me of a modern Bachelor episode. When I first read the book, I felt the suspense of certain situations the main character was involved in and I felt the compassion the character Prince Maxon had towards America, the protagonist. Not once was I disappointed with Cass’s writing and the decisions she made of which direction she believed the plot should go. I am excited to report that fans of the series will have the opportunity to view America and Prince Maxon’s relationship brought to life due to the fact that Warner Bros. have purchased the rights to the book. Soon we will enjoy the dramatic and romantic twists unfold while eating a bag of popcorn and reclining in a squeaky chair.

I often choose “Red Queen” over a new novel because the genre is a unique blend of science fiction, fantasy, and action. Aveyard envisioned a world in which there were two types of people: those with red blood and those with silver blood. The people who have red blood are considered human, they are weak and they serve the people who have silver blood. The main character is under the impression that she is a red blood, but after an unusual circumstance she is revealed to have silver blood, which means she possesses natural powers. This book was unlike any science fiction novel that I have ever read and I was captivated with the futuristic world and rare type of characters.

This book has helped me through difficult times in my life, always reminding me of the One who is always by my side during those those moments of trial. Charles Stanley encourages followers and non-followers of Christ alike that God does not leave us when we have stumbled or when something hurtful happens in our lives. I am reminded whenever I read the book’s passages that God has a purpose for my struggles, that this time of pain is not unnoticed, nor will it be a time in my life where God is not using me and changing me for the better.

There are numerous werewolf stories being released these days, but none have enticed me the way Maggie Stiefvater did in her book “Shiver”. I always thought prior to this book that werewolf stories could be too cheesy and overdone. However, I felt “Shiver” was a refreshing new view and approach to this type of genre. As the series progressed, I grew more attached to the stories of the characters and how they impacted each others journey.

For someone who loved the sound of Shakespearean plays but never really understood what he was trying to portray in his words, this book was right up my ally. It has a unique approach on the famous play Romeo and Juliet by giving the story a modern twist set in Italy. The protagonist is Juliet who is supposedly descended from the woman from whom the character Juliet in the play was based upon. She ventures to Italy in pursuit of solving an ancient mystery and happens to bump into a man that comes from Romeo’s lineage. I love returning to this book because it delivers action, romance, and a whole lot of suspense that I don’t expect.

“Black Ice” introduced me to the concept of Stockholm syndrome; when a captive falls in love with their captor. I felt like I was going in blind as to knowing what this book was going to be about because the description was vague. I was stunned by how quickly I finished the book. I felt true fear for the characters outcomes and at certain points of the book I dreaded turning the page because I was frightened something happened to the main character. This book is my way of experiencing a rush of adrenaline and fear in the comfort of my bed. After reading this book, it is safe to say that if my car breaks down in the middle of a snow storm in the wilderness…my doors are staying locked.

Ree Drummond started telling the story of her and her cowboy husband on her blog and when word spread of her adventures, people demanded that she write a book of her journey from the city of Chicago to Oklahoma. I loved this autobiography because I feel like I am one of her best friends gossiping with her about her mysterious cowboy boyfriend and not a reader so far away. I genuinely laughed at some of her memories that she recalls throughout the book. I pick this up off of the shelf when I want an upbeat story that gives me hope that you can find love in the most unlikely of places.

“Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Have you ever wondered why you hit a certain point when you felt you couldn’t continue, or didn’t know how to proceed with the art you are creating? David Bayles and Ted Orland explore the reasons or excuses numerous artists employ that delays their career as an artist. In the introduction, they begin by removing a reason artists fear revealing their creations. People believe they shouldn’t recognize their art unless it is deemed worthy of being acknowledged, or if others label it as art. However, the authors write, “Making art is a common and intimately human activity, filled with all the perils (and rewards) that accompany any worthwhile effort. …This, then, is a book for the rest of us.” The authors refer to any art constructed by those who are not widely known as “ordinary art”. It is important to keep in mind that several people in the world are thinking to themselves as well that in order for them to call themselves artists they need to get on the same level of recognition as Mozart or Bach. However, the truth is, those kinds of people only come along every once in a blue moon. So, until another genius comes along, I say we continue making our “ordinary art”.

Throughout the book, Bayles and Orland describe different lessons and fears that artists will experience. One of the various lessons the authors mention is, “One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential.” I found this lesson to be interesting, because when I feel something I create is not worthy of attention I get rid of it. Except, Bayles and Orland say that by keeping the failed pieces allows you to learn in what areas you need to grow or change for future pieces of art. I never considered keeping pieces that I am disappointed in and keeping them around for future reference, but I understand how this lesson is valuable to an artist. Another quote that I personally connected past experiences to was, “Artists quit when they convince themselves that their next effort is already doomed to fail.” I constantly count myself out of the ring before the bell was even rung, because my latest creation didn’t turn out they way I had intended. One thing to keep in mind is that we are bound to fail a thousand times, and yet it only takes one success in order for you to have a masterpiece on your hands. Keep on failing, because you are making your way to your masterpiece.

“By definition, whatever you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work,” Bayles and Orland wrote. Do not doubt your own capabilities or artistic expression, because those are what are going to help you create your future masterpiece. Doubt is a huge enemy of an artist, and it’s imperative that you have confidence in your skills and vision.

I recommend this book to any artist who is struggling with producing work in which they have zero faith or hope. The authors connect well with their intended target audience, going to a place in which their readers are currently with their careers. They pinpoint experiences and fears that you as an artist will eventually go through.

If you would like to experience the wisdom and insight that is revealed through these pages, you can purchase the book on Amazon here.

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