Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books ended up being one of those books that I can call "life changing". Really! While there was no need to convince me of the importance of books(because I have a book obsession), Reinke did convince me of so many other things. He opened my mind to many new ideas, and reminded me of many things I already knew. He also made me realize I need to keep books in their place, and never let them become idols!

Lit! is divided into 2 sections. I'm embarrassed to admit that I dragged through most of the first section. I'm embarrassed because that first section enforces that the Bible should come above ALL other books. I agree with that wholeheartedly!!! I had to write a quick review right after finishing the book, and I actually suggested that some people might even want to skip the first section. I take that back!! I did get a great deal out of the first section. It is important! I went back and re-read several parts and highlighted important sections I especially want to remember. But, again, there was a good chunk of it that I dragged through. I tell you that to let you know if you end up like me with the first part, keep going! That second section pumped me up for changes to my life, and in more ways than with just books. That's what I expect from Non-Fiction! I want something that encourages me to change for the better. I definitely got that with Lit!!

About a year ago, I had my reading challenged and I was struggling to make a decision of my own. Someone told me that ALL fantasy and magic in reading was wrong, whether it was The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, or Harry didn't matter. It was wrong. I prayed and struggled through my decision for quite awhile. I finally came to the conclusion that I didn't agree with that. If you read my blog, I'm sure you can guess that since I read a good bit of fantasy. Reinke talks about this issue in the first section of Lit!, and I really like the arguments he gave.

I do not encourage you to avoid books that mention evil. Many of the greatest works in literature are written from a perspective that captures the dark realities in life. This makes it impossible to reject books merely because they include bloody violence, illicit sexuality, scornful unbelief, or dark witchcraft. The Bible includes stories of all four.
The more important questions are these: How is the violence, sexual sin, and skepticism presented? Is it presented as evil? Is fornication celebrated, or are the consequences of sin made obvious? Does the book celebrate sin, or leave evil unresolved?

Of course, Reinke writes more on the subject, stressing the importance of following your own conscience. In general, I will not read books with illicit sex (or profanity), because I'm just not comfortable with it.

One of the biggest changes I've started making due to Lit! is computer time. With blogging, that's sometimes hard. Except when I'm writing posts, I've moved my laptop to a more uncomfortable spot. I should probably mention here that I need a new battery, so I have to keep my laptop plugged up anytime I use it. I have to move furniture to plug it up. By moving it to another spot, away from my comfy couch spot, it just doesn't have as much appeal when I have to move things around or sit in an uncomfortable chair. I'm attempting to cut the ties that my computer has on me. This is a lesson that is quickly and easily forgotten!! :)(as I sit here back on my comfy couch) :P I am trying, though! My reading time has greatly improved lately! Lit! is definitely a book that I need to read often to keep the lessons fresh on my mind.

I've never been big on writing in books. There are those special few that when I start reading, I know it's one that I'll come back to, but otherwise, I don't write or highlight in books. Reinke did such a great job of changing my mind.

The emotions displayed in the reading experience can be captured. They should be captured. Those marginal notes are where the mind of the author and the mind of the reader collide. I hope my kids will one day read over my notes and see my responses to a book.

Writing in books is a GIFT to my children!

I could use a blank Moleskin notebook, but that's not as convenient. In the margins of a book my thoughts are directly tied to the original source.

Let me point out the obvious(Reinke does, too): Don't write in library books! ;) I still never write in Fiction. I may possibly for re-reads, but I haven't yet.

There are TONS of slips of paper marking things in this book that I want to share, but it would be so much easier just to tell you to read it. This post was actually very hard to write, but only because I loved this book so much. I actually deleted a great deal! I wanted to capture enough in here to convince you Lit! is a book you NEED to read. If I haven't, check out Carrie's thoughts HERE and her review HERE. She's the one that convinced me to read it and I'm incredibly grateful! :)

*I was provided a review copy through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's on My Nightstand

What's On Your Nightstand

What's on Your Nightstand? is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books every 4th Tuesday of the month.

I've ended up with a big stack of review books for this month! As much as I try to control myself accepting reviews, sometimes I forget just how many I've taken on. Then they all come in at once. :P I am excited about each and every one of them, though.

So far, for the month of February, I've read:

(and reviewed)

Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliot

A Darkly Hidden Truth by Donna Fletcher Crow

The Art of Falling in Love by Joe Beam

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Shakespeare's Lady by Alexa Schnee

Read(haven't reviewed yet):

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke
-I'm almost done with this review. Hopefully, I'll post it tomorrow!

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
-So, apparently I'm not a Peter Pan fan. I tried to read Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, too, but I realized there's no sense torturing myself. No offense to anyone who does like Peter Pan! ;) He just wasn't for me.

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

I need to finish reading:

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
-I've been slowly reading on this one. It's ok. :P I do want to finish it, though.

A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work by The Duggars
-I'm really enjoying reading this one!

The Beautiful Wife: Focused on Christ, Fulfilled in Marriage by Sandy Ralya
-I'm using this one as my Bible study book at the moment.

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
-I just started this one, but I like it so far.

More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre by Debora Coty
-This one is perfect for grabbing a chapter here and there. It's definitely different than what I'm used to, but it's cute as a quick devotional.

In March, I hope to read:

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
-I don't know anything about this book, so at the moment I have no idea what I'm getting myself into. We'll see!

Stand by Me by Neta Jackson

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer
-I am SO excited to read this one! It will be my first book by Tricia, but I have been hearing great things about her since before I even knew about the whole book blogging world.

Oil by Jeff Nesbit
-This one doesn't look like anything I would ever pick up on my own, but it was sent to me as a surprise, and now I'm actually pretty curious about it.

Growing Up Ziglar: A Daughter's Broken Journey from Heartache to Hope by Julie Ziglar Norman
-I'd never heard of the Ziglars, but I've been hearing pretty good things about the book, so maybe I'll like it.

Blue Moon Promise by Coleen Coble

Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth

In anticipation for Moonblood, which releases in April(and I hope Amazon rushes my copy!), I really want to re-read Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

I've got a very busy month of reading ahead of me! I'm mostly finished with most of the "finish reading" books, so hopefully I can actually get them all in!

Friday, February 24, 2012

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren

WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011) 22 pages

My Thoughts:

God Gave Us Love is another cute addition to the "God Gave Us..." series! It follows the same family of bears, with Grandpa added in this time. (He hasn't been in the other 3 I've read). We get to see a bit of the twins, too!

In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub learns about different types of love, and discovers that you don't always like someone even when you do love them.

"How come one minute I love my sister and brother and the next minute I feel like they're pesky otters?" Little Cub asked.

"Because we want to love others as God loves us, but we don't always feel like loving them. Choosing love is always right."

As usual, we enjoyed catching up with Little Cub and her bear family!

*I was provided a review copy through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday's Fave Five(February 24th, 2012)

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Living to Tell the Story. It's a great way for me to stay on the positive side, and remember both the big and little blessings in life.

1. A relatively good report for Firefly!
Bless his heart. He's had a rough few weeks. Just as we thought he was better, he started having fever. He just felt awful. We were scared he'd ended up with pneumonia, so we got worked in this morning at his pediatrician's office. It's almost a miracle for all four of us to make it out of the house by 7:45! I'm also grateful Jonathan was off work, so he could go with us! (The boys' pediatrician is about an hour away). As much as I sometimes hate Jonathan's schedule, it's times like these that remind me how much there is to love about it!
Firefly has a mild ear infection, but the fever is most likely just caused by a new virus. He's on antibiotics for a little while, but it could have been MUCH worse, and we're all grateful it wasn't.

2. Grasshopper laughing in his sleep.
He sometimes starts giggling like someone is holding him down and tickling him. It always makes me smile. :)

3. Jonathan's supper.
One day this past week, I got Firefly to sleep, and thought Grasshopper was one his way, so I went upstairs to read. I ended up falling asleep, and when I woke up Jonathan was cooking supper. Cornbread, turnip greens, and purple hull peas....Southern food at it's best! (Another reminder of the benefits of Jonathan's schedule. Can you tell I'm working hard to remember the benefits?) ;)

4. My Mother-in-law babysitting.
Monday, Jonathan and I needed to go out of town, but with Firefly still sick, we didn't want to get him out. She came over to our house(about 30 minutes each way) to stay with both boys, and I'm incredibly grateful!

5. Simplifying!
We've been majorly purging our house especially in the past few weeks. We still have so much more to do, but it feels great getting rid of so much STUFF! We're getting to LIVE more in our house without so many extra things.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliot

Thomas Nelson (February 7, 2012) 400 pages

About the book:

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.

Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.

A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.

My Thoughts:

Last year I greatly enjoyed reading Rosslyn's debut novel, Fairer than Morning. I had high expectations going into Sweeter than Birdsong, and I'm glad to say that they were exceedingly met! I think I can now safely say that Rosslyn is one of my favorite writers. She has created two beautiful stories so far surrounding the lives of the Hanby family.

I can't remember ever reading a book where I connected SO MUCH with the main character! Kate has extreme stage fright, and she's very shy. (I'm going to put this in my social phobia section, even though I don't know if I'd completely classify her as having that condition). I could easily put myself in her shoes quite often through the story.

As you can tell from the description, Sweeter than Birdsong is a story surrounding slavery. Fairer than Morning also dealt with slavery, but in a different way. There are times when it's tough to read. Rosslyn does it all tastefully, though.

I'm guessing there will be a third installment, and I'm very much looking forward to reading it! Rosslyn has done an exceptional job of intertwining fact and fiction.

*I was provided an Advance Reader's Copy through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion.

Read an excerpt here:

To see what others on the tour are saying, click HERE.

About Rosslyn:

Rosslyn Elliott is the award-winning author of Fairer than Morning, the first in the Saddler's Legacy series. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue writing fiction. Elliott lives in Albuquerque, where she homeschools her daughter and works in children's ministry.

For more about Rosslyn, visit her WEBSITE.

In this second in the award-winning Saddler's Legacy series, Rosslyn Elliott has written a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events. With Ben Hanby, a genius composer, Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in America, and John Parker, an ex-slave who risked his life time and again to help fugitive slaves, Sweeter than Birdsong is full of real heroes to inspire us. "I hope readers will find a renewed sense of strength in their own lives," says Elliott, "knowing that change is possible, and our efforts matter. I want them to remember these unique, brave people in history who left us a shining example of what it means to live out one's beliefs with passion and commitment."

So to celebrate the music in all of us, Rosslyn and Thomas Nelson are hosting this "sweet giveaway".

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner's choice of color!)
  • Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
  • Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, season 1 of DowntownAbbey, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)

So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!