Books, Books, Books

Hey!

Books and summertime go together, don’t you think? I do and I have been steadily reading this summer. I only wish I could forego all of my daily chores to sit and read for hours on end. Ah, that would be bliss!

At the start of the year, Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy issued a reading challenge: Read 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. She chose the categories and those participating chose their own books. I’ve been nibbling away at the categories and now have only 2 left to go! As far as my own personal goal to read 50 books this year, I’m on the right track with 32 read so far for the year.

#1 A book I’ve been meaning to read: Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner: This book sat on my nightstand for a couple of years. I enjoyed it and felt parts were spot on for me but I liked her book girl meets God more. A solid 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

#2 A book published this yearThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: I loved this book as much as the first one, The Queen of the Tearling. The story headed into a different direction than I expected but I’m all in for the third one. I can’t wait to see the movie with Emma Watson!  4 stars

#3 A book in a genre I don’t typically readHorrorstor by Grady Hendrix: Creepy, easy to read, quick paced and not my cup of tea. I gave this book 2.5 stars because I did like the concept of using the store as a setting which added to the creepy factor and I liked the graphics used throughout the book.

#4 A book from my childhood: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: Still love this wonderful story. I gave this book 5 stars because of sentimental reasons and because I do feel the story is excellent as well as the writing.

#5 A book that was originally written in a different language: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke: Originally written in German, this story is about a young man seeking advice from the poet. Lots of wonderful thoughts and quotes on life and writing. 4.5 stars

#6 A book everyone has read but me: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult: I couldn’t finish it. I tried really hard. I read it for book club and I read half of it [200 pages] and sort of skimmed the rest. I just don’t like Jodi Picoult’s style of writing. Everyone kept telling me I would love this one because it was not like her others. I disagree. It was exactly like her others. No rating, wouldn’t be fair.

#7 A book I chose because of the cover: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai: I’m reading this book now. The story is as beautiful as the cover. A girl accompanies her grandmother back to their native Vietnam to discover what happened to her grandfather and is learning about the value of family. Right now, the book is hovering in the 4 star region.

#8 A book by a favorite author: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good  by Jan Karon: I loved being back in Mitford with all of the familiar characters. The book did feel a little like a swan song. 4 stars because I adore this series.

#9 A book recommended by someone with great taste: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay: My friend Nancy suggested this book to me and I loved it and have recommended it to others. I ordered her second book the minute I finished this one. 4 stars

#10 A book thats currently on the bestseller listThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: This book is also not a typical genre for me but I read it for book club. I thought the book was well written and I enjoyed it but I was so stressed out reading it which is why I don’t normally read this genre, psychological thriller. 4 stars

My last 2 categories to conquer are: A book my mom loves and a book I should have read in high school. If you’d like to read my full review on any of these books (except for A Wrinkle in Time and Listen, Slowly), you can find them by clicking on the Goodreads bar on the right hand side of the page.

Blessings,

Mimi

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 NIV Bible

New On The Stack in April

Hey!

April was a great month for adding books to my book stash. This mother lode came from thrifting at shops, garage sales, and a library sale. And the best part … Most of these books were free! I lost count of how many I brought home. Not all months are like this one — this one was pure book bliss.

Here’s a sampling of what I brought home in April. book stack 1

book stack 2

Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader is a wonderful place to discover books. She offers book reviews almost every day of the week. One of her newest book posts is a link up called New on the Stack. So for all of you book lovers out there, drop by her site and share your stack!

Blessings,

Mimi

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV Bible 

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hey!

Months have passed since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t wait to share. I’ve read some good books, some I’m-not-sure-how-I-feel-about-it books, and some real duds. The book I can’t wait to share — I haven’t even finished yet. This book is that good!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure, a young blind girl, lives with her father in Paris. When Marie-Laure went blind at age 6, her father built an exact, dollhouse sized replica of their neighborhood so that she could learn to navigate her surroundings. Marie-Laure’s father serves as the locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When the Nazis invade Paris, Marie-Laure and her father escape to live with his uncle in Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure’s father is entrusted by the director of the museum with the keeping of a very important gem which might be one of three fakes or the original since the Nazis are collecting items of value.

Werner along with his sister, Jutta are orphans who are raised in a group home in Zollverein, Germany. Werner is exceptionally bright and becomes fascinated by a radio that he finds. He teaches himself how to build and fix radios which grabs the attention of a Nazi Officer who has Werner sent to a Hitler Youth Center. Werner is brutally trained for service as well as receiving additional training with radios. He is selected for a special assignment along with his team to track the transmissions of the Resistance and eliminate the enemy.

 “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”  Anthony Doerr

The story is told in flashbacks and flashforwards with the stories of Werner and Marie-Laure intermingled. Their stories begin to merge as the book progresses toward its conclusion. All The Light We Cannot See is beautifully crafted with layers of reflection. A few of which are what it means to hear, to see, to be courageous, and the symbolism of light and waves. A finalist for the National Book Award for 2014, this book would make a wonderful book club choice.

Click here to hear the author read a portion of the book.

Blessings,

Mimi

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2 NIV Bible

Bedside Books

Hey!

Over the last week, we’ve had some beautiful days with nice spring like temps and blue skies.  The kind of days that you want to soak up because you know that they won’t last long.  They’re fragile days of winter.  I know those of you with snow are sending me firebolts shooting out of your eyes for even mentioning our lovely weather.

With you in mind though, I thought the sharing of my bedside books would be a nice way to spread some warmth from my house to yours.  I find nothing more delightful on a cold winter day than to curl up with a good book.

I tend to keep many books on my bedside table.  Some have been there waiting patiently for months while others are brand new.  I like to keep my options open and some might suggest that I have a magpie complex when it comes to books — I’m easily distracted to hoard another and another and another.  Making a book list to read at the start of the year doesn’t seem to work for me because the truth is, I never follow the list.  I’m more of a go-with-the-flow book reader.  I choose my book to read by what I’m drawn to in that moment unless its for book club.

bedside books 1

1. Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain  This book came highly recommended.  This book has been patiently waiting to be read for a long time.  This year, I’m reading it.

2. Light Through An Eastern Window by  K.C. Pillai   This book was recommended by a fellow blogger/book lover.  I bought it for insight into an eastern mindset.

3. Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go Of The Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman  I love Emily’s blog and this book’s description resonates with me.  I’ve had it for some time and no excuses, this year, I’m reading it.

4. Still: Notes On A Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner  I love her books.  She writes on faith from a Jewish and Christian perspective.

5. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott  I loved her book, Bird by Bird.  That book is on my top book list of all time.  I’ve had this book and all of her others forever and I think I’ve procrastinated reading them because I know I’m going to enjoy them and I want to savor them and I know that I don’t want them to end so I haven’t started them.  Does that make any sense to anybody else? Or is it just me?

6. Serena by Ron Rash:   This book is for book club.  A movie based on this book is coming out starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.  I’ve been told this book is awesome.  I hope so.  Book club choices lately have been a serious miss for me.

7. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, And Other Southern Specialties by Julia Reed  My daughter brought it home from the library.  She loved it and said I ought to read it.  The author is local and I enjoy reading local writers so I’m giving it a shot.

8. Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon   I’m currently reading this book and I’m so happy to be reading a book about Father Tim and Cynthia set in Mitford.  This book feels like the first books of the Mitford series before the characters went to Mississippi and to Ireland.

9. An Altar In The World by Barbara Brown Taylor  I’ve been told this author’s books will knock my socks off.

10. Icebound by Dr. Jerri Nielsen   As part of my reading for this year, I’m trying to read Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge.  On the challenge list is to read a book outside of your normal reading genre and this one fits the bill for me.

11. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith  I follow her blog and I enjoy decorating books. Enough said.

12. Soulless by Gail Carriger  A recently discovered author.  I read her book, Etiquette & Espionage  which is a quirky fun little read.  The book references her previous series, The Parasol Protectorate. This book is the first in that series.

13. The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss   A new fantasy world for me to discover.

14. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  I want to know what all the fuss is about.

15. The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks With Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater  I’m a journal keeper and this book is about keeping journals.

16. Tender At The Bone: Growing Up At The Table by Ruth Reichl    I started this food memoir but had to stop so I want to pick it back up and finish.

17. Confessions by St. Augustine  I enjoy reading classic books that have stood the test of time.

18. A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman  This book is about discovering and pursuing your art.

19. Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir Of Food And Faith by Fred Bahnson Recommended by a blogger friend.  This book connects gardening, faith, and sacrament.

20. Same Kind Of Different As Me: A modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together by Ron Hall & Denver Moore  The movie is coming out and I wanted to read it first.

21. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline   I bought this book in the fall because I’ve heard the story is very good.

Happy Reading!

Blessings,

Mimi

“Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 NIV Bible

Fun For Days Inside

Hey!

Is it cold at your house?  The temperature is frigid here.  I found this sentiment on Facebook which totally sums up my thoughts for the week.

Since going outside is a bust, how about a few suggestions for this weekend?

We’ve been captivated and enchanted by the lovely Essie Davis in her role as Phrynie Fisher in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  Produced by an Australian company, the show is set in the 1920s.  We’ve been watching via dvds from Netflix since its not available in our market.  Please PBS pick it up!  If you love Downton Abbey, I think you’d love this series.

For those of you who would prefer to read than spend your time watching TV, Modern Mrs. Darcy has issued a reading challenge for 2015 that you might like to join.  Just click this link for more details.

Or maybe this weekend, you’d rather travel the world from your computer.

Stay warm and have fun!

Blessings,

Mimi

“LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”  Psalm 16:5,6  NIV Bible

The State of State of Hospitality

Hey!

This past week, I’ve been taking inventory of the blog and making plans for this brand spanking new year.  While I was digging around and dusting off, I discovered a few things.  I’d like to share them with you and see if I’m on target to deliver you better blog posts for this year.

What did I discover was the #1 viewed post for the year?

 

Y’all LOVED My Favorite Things 2014.  In fact, 734 of you loved to read that post.  What?!  You missed it?  Catch it here.  The #2 favorite was My Favorite Things 2013 and other posts rounding out the top 10 included posts about house renovation, family events, and Catie’s cooking challenge. ( Thanks for supporting my baby! )

If I’m interpreting this data accurately, y’all would really like to know more about our family life and recommendations of favorite things or the sharing of products I like.  I’ll be writing more on these topics for this year.  To start off in the right direction, I found an awesome clothing company I can’t wait to share with y’all.  I’ll be posting about it soon.  You’ll thank me, I promise!

The time for posting about Christmas and decorations came and went.

christmas tree 2014 1I didn’t decorate much nor did I take many pictures.  Our tree was simple and inexpensive this Christmas.  The big flowers are made from brown paper bags, glitter, and paint.

reading and writing bannerI read 51 books this past year.  Overall, I had an average year as far as books I really enjoyed.  Most were only 3 stars.  I’m hoping for better adventures this year.

  • My favorite classic for 2014:  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  A 5-star book for me about a fireman whose job was to start fires not put them out.  What did they burn? Books.  Books are subversive, books cause people to think, and books are trouble.  The fireman, on a whim, decides to save one and keep it.
  • My favorite reread for 2014: The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I’m ho-hum on the movie but I love the book and the issues for discussion that surface during reading.
  • My favorite memoir for 2014: Good Old Boy by Willie Morris.  He spins a tale about growing up in Yazoo City, MS which was my grandfather’s hometown.  Reading the book was like listening to my grandfather.
  • My favorite collection of stories for 2014: A Touch of Wonder by Arthur Gordon.  The memoir tales are beautifully told pieces of wisdom.
  • My favorite YA for 2014: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.  This book is the first in a trilogy.  My credit card will be plunked down quickly for the second book.  This story is categorized under fantasy but the first book, I would not have placed in fantasy.  The story reminds me of Hunger Games meets Sleeping Beauty. Emma Watson has bought the rights and a movie is being developed. Woohoo!
  • My favorite sappy- feel good- predictable Christmas read for 2014: Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid.  A coming of age story about a young boy overcoming tragedy and loving a dog named Tucker.  Yes, tears might be involved so have tissue.
  • My favorite non-fiction for 2014: Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner.  I loved her other book, girl meets God, and this one was equally good.  Ms. Winner compares and contrasts 11 Jewish practices with Christianity.  A great resource tool.

All of the above books were 4-5 stars for me.  I read others that were good and close to 4 stars but something was amiss in the telling.  I have no favorites in a fiction category for this past year that met the 4-5 star mark.

In writing news, all I can offer is it’s coming — slow, arduous, and procrastinating-ly. (Is that even a word?)  I hope, hope, hope to be finished with the draft by the end of the month.  When that happens, I will share a little more.

Thank you to each and every one of you that choose to share a little time out of your busy lives to read my posts.  You put a smile on my face and gladness in my heart and I hope I do the same for you.

Blessings,

Mimi

“Commit to the LORD, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 NIV Bible

Simply September

Hey!

September was a month of new beginnings.

  • I started a new series of posts called Friday Finds.  Here’s a sample.
  • I started a Fall Bible Study Session at my other website, Sweeter Than Honey Ministry.  We’re currently in Week 4 of Children of the Day: A Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Beth Moore.  You can check it out here.
  • And last but not least, I registered for a blogging 101 course online.

I also began working on a special project this month.  I can’t wait to share more details about it, but for now, they’ll have to wait.

One of the lessons I’m being reminded of this month is that I can’t do everything and sometimes that means I must say no to something that I really enjoy because I’ve said yes to others.  With that lesson, comes the reality that I can’t participate in this year’s 31 Day Challenge but I’ll cheer and applaud everyone else along.

The best fiction book that I read this month was a quirky, sweet story called The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

the-rosie-project-graeme-simsion-1

The main character, Don, reminded me of Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.  Don decides he wants a wife so he puts together a questionnaire in an attempt to weed out the undesirables.  Rosie comes into his life with none of the qualifications that he is seeking and … ( I can’t spoil it for you. ) oh and beware, f-bombs fall.  Here’s a quote to give you a taste of Don’s personality.

“Throughout my life I have been criticized for a perceived lack of emotion as if this were some absolute fault….Occasionally an emotion can be enjoyed – the gratitude I felt for my sister, who visited me even during the bad times, the primitive feeling of well being after a glass of wine – but we need to be vigilant that emotions do not cripple us.  I diagnosed brain overload and set up a spreadsheet to analyze the situation.”

We’re loving these TV shows.

  • Scorpion — Nerds saving the world
  • Madame Secretary — Woman saving the world
  • Once Upon A Time — Fairy Tale Characters saving the world
  • Girlfriend Intervention — Sisters saving a basic woman from her bad wardrobe and decorating world.

I’m sensing a theme here….

delta 7 months

Delta is 7 1/2 months old now and this past weekend, her world got rocked when a little fluffy kitten decided to take up residence with us.  Delta really wanted to play and lick her face and nibble on her but she was having to learn to be gentle.  Life is so hard for a puppy.

delta and new kitten

Blessings,

Mimi

“The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one comes close to you!”  Psalm 40:5a  The Message