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.