2017 Reading Challenge | a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

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Following Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category (and my 5th selection of the 24-book challenge): a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner is

510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks, a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.

I loved the magical ambiance of this heartwarming and charming modern children's classic of a summer vacation filled with adventure - and mayhem. I adore the children's brilliant and gentle widower father who is absentminded yet attentive, and aware of his daughters' ramblings and trampling's at the same time. He understands his children something awesome.

Although this might be considered a children's book it's appeal will reach all ages and gender. And, I kept thinking while I was reading, "I think Ella would love this book!" But, I also thought, my boys (my 19 year old sons) would love me to read this aloud. I definitely want to get the next books in the series.

The four sisters are delightful and endearing. The boy - I just wanted to reach in and pull him close, with his preening peacock mother Mrs. Tifton to contend with. Thank God for the precious and understanding housekeeper and the hardworking teenager and father-trained gardener.

I used to shy away from children's books believing they were beneath me, although beneath me is not really what I mean, maybe not literary enough. But, not any longer!

This is 6  |  100 New Books in 2017

P.S. I created a new 12 x 12 template for the remainder of this reading challenge. I will use it for updates to the challenge, as well.

And lastly, where I stand with the reading challenge:

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what I've been reading lately | january edition

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Crafting a page every month of what I've read for our family scrapbook album. Besides reading...and swimming... scrapbooking is my other love and keeping a record of everything I've been reading is inspiring me to read more.

Slim readings this month...only six books read...but almost all of them were winners. I would never have reckoned my heart around some of these titles if not for the countless other readers willing to share their reviews - well, and my desire to read new books.

81jQzNuvy4LA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Brackman. A beautiful book full of laughter and tears, love and friendship, and connections(ing). And leaving a legacy. This was my first book of the new year and a 2017 Reading Challenge selection reading for growth: a book in translation. You can see my thoughts on A Man Called Ove here.

 

 

 

 

51Q+CphZ7rLBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Shauna's collection of essays are intimately personal and inspiring. In the least, I can't wait to make some of the recipes she's shared. At the most I am looking forward to how my One Little Word for 2017, NOURISH, will work itself out in my life with Shauna's book as part of the backdrop of the story. I have no doubt this will be tucked into a favorite's list for the year and one I will revisit again - soon. This book is for my 2017 Reading Challenge also: a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.

 

 

 

71MT0ceUanLThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Um, not so much...I could probably count on both hands paragraphs - yes, paragraphs - I liked and the remainder of the book - um, not so much. This book, however, fulfilled a reading challenge (insert smiley face): a Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book for my 2017 Reading Challenge. We were talking at church, a couple of us ladies who serve together, all pretty heavy readers, plus homeschooling moms, when we had some downtown and I mentioned The Westing Game. Had anyone read it? Did they like it? When I shared my experience one mom said emphatically, "listen to the audio!!" I'm going to do just that and see how I like The Westing Game after listening to it read aloud.

 

51PTExXeL7LEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Un-put-down-able! From the first page to the last this brilliant account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent and how his plans failed and yet, Shackleton and his crew endured the unstoppable elements of nature to return home. This will surely be at the top of my list of favorite books in 2017. Beyond amazing!

 

 

 

81ghwLdY9LLThe Defector by Daniel Silva. I have enjoyed Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series immensely. This one is definitely not my favorite but the parts that held my attention (most attentively), far outweighed those that were ho-hum. As this is book 9 in the series of 16 I've come too far to allow minor ho-hum to stop my forward momentum. The main protagonist(s) have certainly evolved, with increasing depth and character through the series' progression.

 

 

 

 

 

510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. Superb! And I'm planning on buying a second copy to send to my granddaughter Ella who is in the 4th grade. I think she'll adore this book, too! This is also a 2017 Reading Challenge selection: a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner and book 6  |  100 New Books in 2017.


2017 Reading Challenge | a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able

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51PTExXeL7LFor Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for fun category: a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able is Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing and is book 4 | 100 New Books in 2017.

Hitting my list hard this is my fourth selection of the 24 book challenge and it was fabulous! I genuinely attest to Endurance as an un-put-down-able book! Amazon perfectly describes this gripping testament, "In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men.
 
For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization. Their survival, and the survival of the men they left behind, depended on their small lifeboat successfully finding the island of South Georgia—a tiny dot of land in a vast and hostile ocean.
 
In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age."

I derived great pleasure and appreciated every cleverly crafted narration Alfred Lansing wrote, leaving no stone unturned, leaving nothing for the imagination except what we must imagine Shackleton and his crew endured.

This is a novel I know my husband would enjoy...if he had time to read. The plethora of information Lansing affords his reader, in his brilliant prose and nail-biting scenes and sequences - this is a great adventure!


2017 Reading Challenge | a Newberry Award winner or Honor book

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For Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category: a Newberry Award winner or Honor book I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Sadly, I would say, "It's not going to win any awards!" But, The Westing Game is a highly- proclaimed award winning novel for over 30 years. Here is another one of those sought-after, avid-reader, acclaimed mysteries that 'just-everyone-should read' books and unfortunately it fell flat to me. I stuck with it until the end, though.  But, once I was finished I'd wished I hadn't.

It was confusing.

It was boring.

There were so many characters with little depth. I was quite frustrated.

And, the mystery. What mystery?

For me this book served two purposes. Check off a new book read in 2017 and my 2017 Reading Challenge - and that is it. Reading should not be just about quantity, but quality. 


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

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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.


2017 Reading Challenge | a book in translation

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From Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Growth: a book in translation

I hope to hit these lists hard, early on, because I have 100 books to read this year. The first book for the new year is A Man Called Ove by Frederick Brackman.

"Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations" - Amazon

I adore this book.

Written by Swedish author (a book in translation) Frederick Brackman, A Man Called Ove, is a charming, witty, and delightful book that made me look at life, relationships, community, friendships, and legacy differently. How does a fiction novel impact someone so much to want to do life - better?  

I cried.

I laughed often.

Which, by the way, is my favorite thing to do.

I rooted for Ove.

I rooted for his neighbors.

I rooted for love.

I love how Ove gave of himself and he didn't even realize he was doing it.

A feel-good book.

A wonderful first book to read for the new year.


Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge | where I stand

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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.

 


15 Favorite Books of 2016

I've read over 75 books this year over multiple genres from memoir to non-fiction to fiction, to science fiction, to spiritual. A few were wastes of time. A couple were highly recommended, highly regarded, highly rated that I couldn't wrap myself around. There were those books that surprised me. I re-visited all the books I've read this year, weighed each one against likability, how it touched me and moved me and chose my 15 favorite books of 2016. These are not books necessarily published this year but books I've read this year.

Non-Fiction

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Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant. This one was for Ian. I learned so much about autism. Exceptional book.

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Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman. I was surprised by how much I loved this book. It was beautiful. 

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The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz. Anne is truly spirit-filled and gifted. This book will be visited again and again.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Breathtakingly beautiful and quite sad.

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Unashamed by Christine Caine. Seriously grounded in scripture.

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The Listening Life by Adam S McHugh

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Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. Lovely found.

 

Fiction

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Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb. I will never get enough of Robb's In Death series

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Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb. Ditto from above. And this one was truly wicked.

51PxQCRCx0LHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowlings. It took me years, obviously, to read this. Worth the wait.

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The English Assassin, The Confessor, & A Death In Vienna (a three-book series within Daniel Silva's larger Gabriel Allon series). This is a mini-series within his bigger series and they are my favorites by far. Although I 

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The Revenant by Michael Punke. A very dark book about revenge but it was really good.

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Memory Man by David Balducci. My first Balducci book and I loved it.

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The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Not my usual genre but surprisingly top-notch.

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Long. Really long. So good.

 


what I've been reading lately | december edition

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Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I have mixed emotions, convoluted views about this non-fiction book on leaving behind the frantic life for a simpler, more soulful way of living. The caveat that makes the book good is the reminder that she, like all of us seeking a deeper, yes simpler, more spiritual and soulful way of living, are a work in progress. This book really is how Shauna came face to face with a reality that was breaking her, and what she did about it. I guess, because I am a fairly mature Christian, yet still very much a work in progress, I can see her spiritual journey weaved throughout the book but she doesn't write about the nitty gritty of her relationship with Jesus before her realization, nor is she hard core 'this is where I'm at now'. This is not a self-help book. But, it can help someone if they are facing similar realities of being overwhelmed.

It was me all Along by Andie Mitchell.  I first read about Andie from her food blog where she shared how she'd lost 135 pounds and how she was keeping it off. I felt [feel] her pain. She is inspiring. I heard her memoir that came from writing her blog was good - real good. Good does not due it justice. Exceptional. Inspiring. I feel like my weight is not a lost cause and that I can do something about it. Seriously.

Unashamed by Christine Caine. I've lived with shame for much of my adult life. And, while I've tried often to leave my shame behind I seem to always be confronted with more shame to be had. It is debilitating, painful, and - well - shameful. I'm seriously tired of it! Caine hits shame hard, right between the mountains of hurt that have taken a lifetime to build and she comes at it straight from the word of God. This book is filled to the brim with scripture-based answers to my (your) shame. Phenomenal!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

In memoir, narrative form, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles a family's adventure and commitment after moving to a Virginia rural farm to live off locally grown foods - eating local, buying local, and a slow food movement (versus fast food). The book offers a wealth of informative and enthralling journalistic investigation to the old adage, you are what you eat. Long-winded at times, good information, got off on tangents that weren't in the least memoir-form, thoroughly enjoyed the parts that were strictly living off the land, eating off the land, buying local, etc.; it was the 'other' stuff that clouded the memoir.

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

For my Advent devotional this year I am reading, and reflecting, The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp and it is amazing. I wanted this Christmas season to be filled with reflection, and peace and joy and giving and remembering Jesus is the reason, always. I knew an Ann Voskamp book would set firmly in - Jesus. And her prose...oh my! Simply beautiful!

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Seeking, daring to find, the abundant life in Christ we were meant to have. Sometimes, the way Ann writes is difficult to understand. I had to read this very slow and often re-read sentences or paragraphs multiple times. That being said, this is a wonderfully gut-wrenching, difficult, beautiful book.

and one piece of fiction in the breadth of non-fiction...

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Shall I confess something? This is, truly, the first time I have ever read A Christmas Carol. Loved it!

 

This is my third month participtating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've been Reading Lately link up. Here are: November | October

You might have noticed I have been making a 12 x 12 scrapbooking page of what I've been reading. After completing my 52 New Books in 2016 project I wanted another way to document what I've been reading. I decided to make a page of each months reads. I love this kind of documentation. Plus, I'll tuck them into my yearly album. For this page I used almost 100% Ali Edwards Design Story Kit READ.

 


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

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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!