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!

Technical Difficulties

For some reason I’ve been having issues with getting photos to load in my posts. I’m fiddling around with WordPress and as soon as I have that solved, I’ve got a review of a wonderful (really, really wonderful) book to share with you.

Stay tuned!  I hope you all end up liking this book as much as I did.

My 2016? Accountable

I’m not a big New Year’s resolutions person. Never have been.  However, I did find myself getting pensive at year’s end and thinking about what I want for 2016.

I love God, my family, my church and my community, and I want to keep growing in service to them. And I love reading and writing. This past year, I’ve actually been quite good on the reading.  The writing?  Not so much.

And that’s where accountability comes in. So, here it is. I’m going to be bold and actually state my intentions out here where everyone can read them – In 2016, I am going to review AT LEAST 1 book each week.  And I’m also going to do a reading challenge and finish it.

For my reading challenge, I chose the 2016 Reading Challenge over at challies.com. This challenge has 4 levels, and there’s also a group dedicated to it at Goodreads. The old me would dive in and say, “I’m going to be an Obsessed reader and go to the max on this one.” However, the realistic me knows that I have obligations and relationships to nurture. So, baby steps. I’m going to commit to the Avid reader challenge.  That’s 26 challenge books, plus time for me to read and discover to some fine, new-to-me books that may not fit under the challenge umbrella.

And readers? Feel free to nudge me gently if I’m slacking off. Hold me accountable.

What are you all looking forward to reading in 2016?

A Month of Flash Writing

confetti

All of you who have following along with my foray into blogging know that I’m not really an every single day kind of blogger. I love to read and talk about books, and I love connecting with people. However, I’m also a wife, a mom, a church member – I wear a lot of hats and I don’t always do a fantastic job of planning for online time.

However, tomorrow I’m linking up with the crew behind Five Minute Fridays and I’m committed to write for 31 days straight. I’m doing this partly because I’ve come to meet some lovely ladies by blogging on Fridays and partly because I want to see if I can do it. I’m not usually online on Sundays, so I’ll be writing those posts in advance. However, I’m determined to write my 31 blogs – and hopefully intersperse some of my reviews and bookish posts throughout the month.

So, why 31 Days Unscheduled? Well, I’m part of a community, led by Kate Motaung, that’s taking the Five Minute Fridays premise (write on a single prompt for 5 minutes with no rewriting or breaks!) and extending it across the entire month.

We’ll see how it goes. I hope you’ll join me and read along for the adventure!

So, What About Negative Reviews?

frownieI know I haven’t been online much lately. Partly, life has intervened, but there’s something else afoot as well.  I’ve been reading plenty of books, but somehow I keep finding myself wading into books I just cannot imagine recommending to others. And I don’t always know what to do about that.

On the one hand, if I’m reading something that clearly teaches ideas contrary to Scripture, I think I would have a duty to point that out because I would not want others to stumble. However, the more frequent case arises when I’m simply reading a novel that doesn’t catch my fancy, or a book that just seems poorly written.

The tendency on many book review sites, particularly Christian ones, is to post postive and sunshiney reviews. And in some circles, I do on occasion feel pressured to be all-upbeat, all the time. I definitely get enthusiastic about some books I read, but I’m not going to be dishonest with readers and pretend to like something that doesn’t work for me. However, as a Christian, I also don’t want to go in the other direction and write a mean-spirited, hurtful review of an author’s work.

In the end, after much prayer, I think I’ve reached some conclusions at least for now. Because I know that readers are spending their hard-earned money on books, I intend to review what I read and talk openly about what works for me and what doesn’t. Hopefully, by focusing on what makes a book helpful or erm…less helpful to read will assist readers in deciding whether that book might work for them.

And what does that mean for readers?  Well, it means that I won’t be turning this into a snark blog (feel free to pipe up if you disagree with a review!), but I will call them as I see them. And that means not every book on here will get 4 or 5 star reviews.

Do you review books on a blog or on a site like Goodreads?  If so, do you ever post critical or negative reviews?

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.