2017 Reading Challenge | a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection


For Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category: a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection, I read Bread & Wine, a love letter to life around the table with recipes by Shauna Niequist.

Exquisite collection of essays about connections with God, family, friendships, and food. It is about ways God nourishes us and teaches us how to nourish others with ourselves and with food.

It's a beautiful book and my copy has many dog-earred pages I will be referring back to often. My prayer is that Shauna's words will nourish my heart throughout this year. Such an affirming word - nourish. Is it any wonder why NOURISH is my One Little Word for the year and God is already working out my word in my life through this book?

Shauna's words are deeply moving. She shares intensely personal truths and even more extraordinary connections. Her book left me with thought-provoking heart and soul desires; if that even makes sense to anyone but me.

I love her responses to food. It offered me a whole new meaning to nourishing my body and my family and my friendships with food.

Just a beautiful book.

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge | where I stand


I'm completely satisfied with how much I have read this year. It has been an enjoyable endeavor to read. Challenging myself to read new books (new-to-me-books) has opened an entire new world and I am loving every minute of it. I am so thankful I have a job that affords break times for which I've used the opportunity to READ.

Besides my personal challenge of reading 52 New Books in 2016 which I surpassed in September and went on to read more than 75 new books in 2016, I also participated in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge coming late to the game in August 2016. Her challenge is read one book a month in each category. Because I came in late for the party I had to seriously increase my reading time. Unfortunately, I fell short two books in the challenge. 

Here is how the challenge hammered out:

a book published this year. Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

a book you can finish in a day. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

a book you've been meaning to read. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller. I did not read this book in the challenge

a book you should have read in school. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, child, or BFF. Night Probe by Clive Cussler

a book published before you were born. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

a book that was banned at some point. The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

a book you previously abandoned. I did not read this book in the challenge (I know! I checkmarked it above but this just didn't happen!)

a book you own but have never read. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

a book that intimidates you. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

a book you have already read at least once. Thankless in Death by J. D. Robb

I'm satisfied with my accomplishments and am ready to join Modern Mrs. Darcy for her 2017 Reading Challenge.


2016 Reading Challenge | Read a book that was banned at some point


I joined Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge coming late into the challenge (I began in August) but confident I would be able to complete the challenge by the end of the year. My annual reading goal of reading 52 New Books in 2016 has long, long been surpassed and I am continuing with the reading challenge and growing my reading repertoire by simply reading for enjoyment.

Deciding what my personal reading challenge will be for 2017 - I am still undecided. I am sitting at about 70 books read this year with a month left of reading potential. 100 New Books in 2017 may be in my future.

But, today I am sharing the book I read that was banned at some point.

The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

According to the American Library Association a banned book is the removal of a book that was challenged based upon the objections of a person or group, usually by parents or teachers who seek to restrict access of books to (their) children. Thankfully, there are another group of parents or teachers and librarians and students who seek the freedom to read.

The Ender's Game was one such banned book. Mysteriously, the book was banned for its pornographic nature - yet, like everyone who has truly read the book, I could not find any of such nature. It is, however, filled with religious themes, literary devices, and symbolism.

Ender’s Game is about an earth of the not too distant future which is ruled over by a global government which controls population and suppresses religion. Ender is a “Third”, that is a third child, and third children are as a general rule illegal. Waivers can be granted for the conception of a third based on the interest of the state, however. And Ender’s parents were granted such a waiver because the family is of very high intelligence and high intelligence children were needed for the war effort. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, were both found to be of extremely high intelligence but each was temperamentally unfit for fleet command, in opposite ways. Valentine was too docile; Peter, too aggressive. Ender, it turns out, is just right.

Ender’s parents are religious, the mother is a Mormon, the father a Polish Roman Catholic named John Paul. Ender was secretly baptized as a child, as religions are suppressed in Ender’s world. In Battle School, Ender Meets Alai, an Arab boy, who whispers to Ender, “Salaam“, “Peace,” which Ender takes to be a reference to a suppressed religion. Ender’s very name is a religious reference (actually, I think it’s two religious references): he is named after St. Andrew, one of Jesus’ earliest disciples. Peter and Valentine are both consciously named after Christian saints - Jerry Bowyer, The Repression of Ender's Game, Forbes, 2013.

This was such a good book. I am not commonly a fan of fantasy science fiction, although I have dramatically broadened my horizons this past year as I've begun following avid readers' blogs and challenged my own status quo of a reading repertoire, but, man, I liked this book!
So, much so, I highly recommended it to my sons, who having seen the movie, was immediately intrigued and began reading. Win, win!


2016 Reading Challenge | Read a book I should have read in school



For Modern Mrs Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge which I only began in August I recently read a book I should have read in school - but did not. I read the breathtaking and exquisite A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

A 1963 (the year I was born) Newberry Medal, A Wrinkle in Time begins with, "It was a dark and stormy night..." I seriously had know idea that classic phrase was in fact the beginnings of a true literary masterpiece. I can attribute this to my sorely lacking literary education in my younger years - and not-so-younger-years.

During the six years I homeschooled John and Jarrod, from 7th grade through 12th grade and ever since, I have been attempting to rectify the situation, flushing out the old and making way for new books- new to me anyways - with 52 New Books in 2016 and 30 New Books in 2015 which turned out to be 45 books. 

Our years of homeschooling meant we read some amazing literary classics like The Scarlet Letter, The Last of the Mohicans, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Fahrenheit 451, a ton of not-so well-known wonderfully written with engaging stories, and young adult fiction like Harry Potter series or The Hunger Games trilogy that fueled my desire to read.

Then, over these couple years I've found literary blogs that have broadened my literary horizons, as well. Like Modern Mrs Darcy whose wealth of literary knowledge is amazing. Thus, I came upon an often recommended title A Wrinkle in Time and after perusing lists of books one should have read in middle school or high school I added it to my Amazon cart and raced through it in a day, a quite easy task at only 256 pages.

A Wrinkle in Time

Everyone in town thinks Meg Murry is volatile and dull-witted, and that her younger brother, Charles Wallace, is dumb. People are also saying that their physicist father has run off [with another woman] and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors and an unearthly stranger, the tesseract-touting Mrs Whatsit, Meg and Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin O'Keefe embark on a perilous quest through [time and] space to find their father. In doing so, they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep within themselves to find answers.

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is both young and adventurous as well as sophisticated and mysterious: challenging concepts of children traveling through time and space; battling good and evil with uncertain outcome, then triumphing; growing up, maturing, facing fears, confronting the status quo, solving mysteries; all within these few pages...and a delightful read. 


2016 Reading Challenge | Update


Reaching my goal of reading 52 New Books in 2016 was a resounding success. A lofty goal met with plenty of time to spare. In that spare time I am afforded the opportunity to 'catch up' on Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge. While I am participating, but because I started late into the year, I'm not truly following along and reading the books in any particular order or in any particular month.

I thought I'd share a bit of an update, a state-of-the-reading-challenge address so to speak.

As you can see I am moving right along.


  • A book published this year Apprentice in Death by JD Robb


  • A book you can finish in a day Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson


  • A book you've been meaning to read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller (I'm going to have to ask the next time I'm at the library)
  • A book you should have read in school (Books I'm considering: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or Night by Elie Wiesel)


  • A book chosen by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF Night Probe by Clive Cussler


  • A book published before you were born The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • A book that was banned at some point (Books I'm considering: I Know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou or The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger)
  • A book you own but have never read (Book I'm considering: In the Woods by Tania French)


  • A book that intimidates you  Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • A book you've already read at least once (Books I'm considering: The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian)

I have five books left on this challenge and just over three months to get-er done. Few qualms exist that I will accomplish this goal as well. The biggest excitement...I'm reading!


Read a book published this year and 52 New Books in 2016 | 52


I mentioned earlier that I'd completed my goal of 52 New Books in 2016. It was with this book: Apprentice in Death; JD Robb's latest in her In Death series with book number five thousand two hundred and ninety eight...just joking! I think it's book number is in the later 40's in the series, not counting the short stories of the same. As this is also a book published this year it goes toward my 2016 Reading Challenge: Read a book published this year.

Pretty crazy, right?

I mean 52 New Books in less than a year. I'm totally siked. I'm seriously considering upping my reading 'game' in 2017. I can see 80 new books, 90 new books, even 100 new books on the horizon. Excited beyond words.

But, to finish out this challenge I read J. D. Robb's latest, Apprentice In Death, in her In Death series. As I will forever love this series and Robb hasn't written a bad one yet - although some have been way better than others - Apprentice in Death was pretty good. Dallas and Roarke are sitting in a pretty good place and with some personal thrown in, otherwise it's all police work. I love the process Dallas goes through with her trusty sidekick and numerous other supporting cast to solve the crimes. 

Curious and curious- er if Robb is planning on ending this series anytime soon or if she'll just ride the wave. My take is for her to ride the wave of fans everywhere who would hate to see this series go. After 45+ books I haven't gotten tired of the characters or the storylines she comes up with.

So, 52 New Books in 2016 is a wrap.

I'll finish out my 2016 Reading Challenge, too, this year.

And, of course, I'll continue to read new books and see where it takes me.

Read a book chosen by a friend and 52 New Books in 2016 | 51


I have almost met my 52 New Books in 2016 challenge. Completing this book makes my total 51 of 52 New Books in 2016. I also applying this to my Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge as 

  • A book chosen by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF

Here, I'm counting BFF as just a friend. Mary, a friend from work recommended the author Clive Cussler, who has been on my radar for awhile, so when I was in the library the other day I picked up an earlier selection of his. The library I visit didn't really have a large selection but when I told Mary what I was reading she said she has all of his books. Then, I shared with a co-worker what I was reading and his wife has all of Cussler's books, too. So, I think I'm set.

Night Probe is a unique, imaginative, and intricately-plotted novel. It is real good! I loved the telling of the 1914 historical back story that set up the novel; and played out even further as a story within the 1989 storyline. 

In the midst of an international crisis, Heidi Milligan, a beautiful, brilliant American naval commander, accidentally discovers an obscure reference to the long-buried North American Treaty, a precedent-shattering secret pact between the United States and Great Britain. The President believes that the treaty offers the single shot at salvation for an energy-starved, economically devastated nation, but the only two copies plummeted into the watery depths of the Atlantic in twin disasters long ago. The original document must be found—and the one American who can do the job is Dirk Pitt.
But in London, a daring counterplot is being orchestrated to see that the treaty is never implemented. Brian Shaw, a master spy who has often worked hand in hand with American agents, now confronts his most challenging command. Pitt’s mission: Raise the North American Treaty. Shaw’s mission: Stop Pitt. - Amazon.

As this is my first Dirk Pitt novel, I have to say I was intrigued by his qualities, so far, and that usually means I'll return for more. 


Read a book that intimidates you and 52 New Books in 2016 | 47


For my 2016 Reading Challenge, read a book that intimidates you, I chose Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It's a dystopian science fiction novel that passes back and forth between past and future, interweaving a middle-aged famous actor-playboy and the rippling effect of his death, a young girl (of the past and the future as part of a caravan of traveling actors and musicians), and a catastrophic, flu pandemic that near-erases the past and changes civilizations future. Dystopian fiction intimidates me because on my own I don't often understand the main themes of the genre, the hidden meanings behind the words. But, Station Eleven came with rave reviews. While I haven't had much luck with 'rave reviewed' books, I'm after new and different and stretching myself beyond (J.D. Robb). Ha Ha.

The first trip from past to future in Station Eleven was a shambles - for me, but as soon as I caught on, I was hooked. And, somehow I, early on, recognized one of the main themes of the book, survival is insufficient, which is lettered on the lead caravan of the Traveling Symphony, and a line from an old Star Trek episode. Simply surviving is not enough to make a life. There has to be something more. Another theme was relationship, fraught throughout the book, most, in some way centered around the famous actor's life - and in his death. Very interesting weaving of how one person can impact so many in different ways.

This was not a quick read by any stretch. It took me days to get through as I'd get sucked in for a large stretch and then would need to put it down because it weighed heavy over me. But, man, this was a sterling piece of fiction.

This is also book 47 in my 52 New Books in 2016 challenge. Which means only 5 more books to go!

Rating: 9.5

Read a book you've been meaning to read and 52 New Books in 2016 | 46


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I've been meaning to read Eleanor and Park for quite some time (Modern Mrs Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge, and mine) but I was scared, sort of. I've dislike so many well-liked books of the literary world (The Girl on the Train, The Book Thief, What She Knew), that I truly wanted to like this book, but didn't want to read it because I was afraid I wouldn't.

Thankfully, I liked it.

Actually, I liked it a lot.

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under. - Amazon

I could empathize with Eleanor in a big way. I only had compassion for her. Sure, her attitude was downright frustrating at times but people like Eleanor who have endured what Eleanor still lived have to erect walls so high so they can just get through each moment of every day. Park broke through some of those walls.

Rating: 8

P.S. You guys, I have six more books to read to reach my goal of 52 New Books in 2016! I'm so excited. I'll concentrate on finishing my 2016 Reading Challenge and continue to read...read...read. And, decide on a new challenge for the coming year.


Read a book you can finish in a day and 52 New Books in 2016 | 45


Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

I'd never read Bridge to Terabithia. There, I said it. I know, right! Why have I never read it? I'm honestly not sure, as it is on every What Books Every Kid Should Read in School - list. Granted, when it was written I was on my way out of school, but I do have four kids, you know. Because of Modern Mrs. Darcy's challenge, of which I took the challenge to complete the list of books to read, Bridge to Terabithia is my read a book you can finish in a day selection.

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie's house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief. - Amazon

I chose not to read the back, nor any reviews, other than to know that it is a Newbery Medal winner, a classic tale for elementary school age children, and it has been on the banned books list. Thus, I could have selected this book for the read a book on the banned book list but figured finishing a children's book in a day would be a given as there are tons of books on the banned books list.

And then I read it. In just a couple hours, between a busy weather morning, and I was blown away! Tucked in this 191 page little book is gold. It is about life and loss.

Rating: 10