Where Have I Been?

Yes, it’s been a little quiet here.  There’s been a couple of reasons for that.  First of all, I’m a judge for the INSPY awards this year and I’ve been having a wonderful spring reading 5 books that I’m not allowed to talk about online.  I’m passionate about good Christian fiction, so the cone of silence has been tough for me.  The INSPY award winners should be announced today, so keep an eye on their webpage!

In the meantime, while I can’t say anything about the books yet, I figure I can tell you that all of the books on the General Fiction shortlist are worth your time:

– A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

– The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

– Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

– Water from my Heart by Charles Martin

– The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

So, between reading award contenders and having early pregnancy kick my behind in terms of energy, I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Not for long, though!

I’ve read a few other good books that I’ll be talking about on here soon, so stay tuned and let’s all keep reading.  If you’ve made any good book finds this spring, let me know in the comments. My reading pile could always use feeding. 🙂

 

 

An Unexpected Treasure

treasure An unexpected gem recently came my way. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother and her sisters have been devoted readers (I wonder where I get it from?) I have many memories of them reading and discussing books.

One of my great-aunts is getting ready to move to a smaller house near her children and during the packing process, she called me. She had 3 boxes of books, and wanted me to keep what I wanted from the box and then donate the rest.

I drove out and picked up the boxes this weekend. We had company, so I only got to open them last night. Friends, it is a treasure trove!

I knew these ladies read a lot of Christian fiction, and these boxes are full to the brim with all sorts of books. There’s some non-fiction mixed in, but these are mostly fiction books.  So far, most appear to be from the 1980s and 1990s.  There are some classics I remember seeing as a child, such as Love Comes SoftlyThis Present Darkness or the House of Winslow books.

However, there are lots of new-to-me treasures to discover, too.  And that’s where readers come in.  I plan to read through the books here, and see what new treasures I discover. There’s a pretty wide selection, so if you can think of any older (pre-2000) Christian novels that you’d like to see featured on here, I’ll happily read them if I’ve got them.  Just let me know in comments.  Thanks!

Christians Reading Romance?

lovestory Do you read Christian romance? I do, on occasion.  As with all things, it depends upon the book. My husband and I both want to be wise with regard to the materials we allow into our home and more importantly, into our hearts and minds.

And then there’s the matter of personal taste. Some folks like deeply emotional stories, where all of that emotion is pretty much the whole plot.  And me? Well, I like my books to have a little more adventure, history,  or suspense mixed in. Well-written emotional scenes can move me, but I love getting a window into different facets of characters’ lives rather than a series of emotional scenes strung together.

I read a fair amount of nonfiction so that I can hopefully learn from what I read.  And I also enjoy it.  The same applies to romantic novels, believe it or not. I do enjoy a good story. However, sometimes when I read about the inner struggles of fictional characters, it helps me to see pieces of my own life more clearly. After all, it’s hard to read a well-written novel and not relate to the characters on some human level. For instance, reading about a character struggling to forgive an old wrong can sometimes help me see places in my own life where I might have hardened my heart. Continue reading

Just Showing Up

blizzarddc All my life I’ve been told that most of life is simply showing up. If you can be there and be present, you’re ahead of the game. Whatever “the game” might be.

As you may know, my home state is expected to get slammed with a blizzard today. The week has been full of monitoring storm tracks, making sure we’re stocked with the supplies I thought we were, and otherwise wondering about the storm that just may find us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being prepared for a major storm is crucial. However, obsessing about it and wondering what might happen is optional. And I spent most of my week on that. Looking back I realize I spent so much time and effort focused on Friday and Saturday that I wasn’t really present for all of Monday-Thursday.

And I wonder what I missed.

Most of life really can be described as “showing up.” This week has been a reminder to show up and soak in every moment.

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This has been written in five minutes (no editing!) for Five Minute Fridays. Want to give it a try? Come and join!

Breaking to Make Whole

When I saw this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt, I originally thought of writing something very different. But then I got caught up in a work project at home and when I came back to write, I ended up reading Kate Motaung’s intro post first.

And it made me think. You see, my son had open heart surgery recently and in his case, the doctors also had to break open his sternum to get to his damaged heart. Seeing the cartoon video of the surgery and hearing how it would be done was painful, and handing my little baby over to the anesthesiologists was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

And in the end, he’s been coming through it well. His newly strengthened heart allows him to have more energy and to grow. His scar will fade a bit with time, but it always reminds me how the doctors had to break open this precious boy to make his heart whole.

Why Building Life’s Library?

library-2When I started my blog, I puzzled over what to call it. I toyed with various review-related names. After all, I write about books, so it makes sense, doesn’t it?

One thing kept popping into my mind, though, and that is this: It is impossible for me to speak of books in any genuine sense without my life creeping into the narrative. I want to be professional in my reviewing, but because of how reading shapes my own life, I also want to be real. One reason why books have such power is because they not only entertain us for an afternoon, but they contain powerful ideas to make us think, characters who live on in our minds never to be forgotten, and stories that we tell to ourselves over and over. As we build up our libraries, our real lives off the pages are changed.

The Bible, the most important book of all, is more than just a book. It’s God’s Word and we can meet Him in its pages. At their core, the Bible and to a lesser degree, other books that we read, help shape who we become. When we let others have a glimpse into our libraries, we are showing them a glimpse of who we are. That’s huge.

As a reviewer, I want to share my ideas and opinions on books so that I can hopefully help people find books that they may want to make a part of their own libraries.  And along the way, when I talk about books, life creeps in. I want to speak honestly of books and in so doing, be real with my readers. It’s that call to be honest, real, and down-to-earth that made me name this blog what I did. I want to talk books and as we build up our book collections, the ideas we hold onto will color our lives.

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I’d been planning all week to write a post like this, and I’d been turning it over in my head. When I saw that this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt was “Real”, I figured today was the day to write. Being real with readers and writing honest reviews are what drives me, so I had to join in.

Letting Go of the Plan

todolist There was a moment, a very brief moment, when it felt like I had everything planned out. That moment was right BEFORE my son was born.

And now you’re probably chuckling.

And I probably deserve it.

Oh yes. I had planned that I would have this baby, love and mother him, work from home, strive to be a good Christian and a good wife, and we’d all live happily ever after. When you’re on bedrest, you can get a little delusional, I know.

Instead, God has taken me on a wild journey this year. I never dreamed that I would be the mother of a child who would need major surgery in his first year of life. I had no clue how hard it would be to work with a baby at home, or how long it would take to establish anything resembling a sane routine. I’m nowhere near as competent as some of the ladies in the various homemaking blogs out there, but I’m thankful they exist to inform and encourage me.

And then there’s the other piece of my life that definitely didn’t go according to plan. I’ve always loved to read, but I had no plan to be the one writing. It was that dream I never quite had to courage to take on. And somehow even though it didn’t have a place in that carefully planned life I thought I’d have, it had a place now. I’m enjoying reviewing, thinking, writing, living. I guess the best way to express it is to say I thought I had a plan for what my life would be, but God’s plan is different, and I’m learning to let go of my own plan and follow. And so we grow.

A Beginning

I read plenty of blogs, but I always told myself I’d never be a blogger.

Never say never, I suppose.

So why blog now? Well, I kept feeling words welling up inside myself and I wanted a place to say them. Plus, I’m a reader – and a re-reader. I wanted a place to talk about books and ideas and reading. And, maybe just maybe, I’ll find my tribe on here.

I have friends offline, and love them dearly. I love the vast exchange of ideas online, though, and it’s a community I’d like to dip into and be more a part of.

So, who am I? I’m more than 1 simple thing. I’m a follower of Christ, a reader, a dreamer, a wife, a mother, a daughter, friend, and sometimes just a pilgrim trying to find my way.