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


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


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


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


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


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.



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


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


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


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


Unashamed by Christine Caine. Seriously grounded in scripture.


The Listening Life by Adam S McHugh


Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. Lovely found.




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


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.


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 


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


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


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


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


what I've been reading lately | december edition


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


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!


what I've been reading lately | november edition


Again this month I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading Lately...

This has definitely been a month of reading. It has been glorious. 12 new books. It has to be a lifetime record. I've never read so many books in one month.

I've enjoyed every minute. I tried to keep a good mix of fiction and non-fiction; read a non-fiction followed by a fiction, keeping this up almost through all 12 books. I crossed genres, as well, delving into science fiction, young adult, and true murder mysteries. I'm giddy with excitement at the books I read and just that fact that I've had the opportunity to read a bountiful.

Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs

Beautiful spiritual memoir that at its simplest Downs is looking for lovely - everywhere - and she intimately shares how her and her heart finds it, but in the deepest reaches of this book it is a journey of the heart, mind, and soul, one in which every believer who struggles with any self-worth issues needs to read. And somewhere in the midst of her journey, while not the same, I saw mine. Exquisite book.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Eingle

Another lovely and beautiful read. While it doesn't surprise me that I've never read this book as a child or as a student, now that I have I realize how thankful I am for the opportunity to homeschool my twin boys from their 7th grade through high school because it grew in me a desire to read more classics, broaden my horizons, challenge the status quo of my reading repertoire. Thus, I'm blessed to have read books such as A Wrinkle in Time.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

What an amazing story! All 850-pages of this Scottish tale between two centuries of time was magical. The sheer breadth of the novel kept me from pulling it off my shelf any sooner but reading reading blogs whereby so many have read Outlander and shared rave reviews I decided I must jump in. It's a fitting story for fall, curling up with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee and escape. Escape to the highlands of Scotland, of clans and war and strong valiant warriors.

The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh

Listening, choosing to be obedient. Wow! Centering not only your ears but also your mind, heart, and posture on someone or something other than yourself. Again, wow! In our present-day me-centered society the art of listening has definitely been put on the back burner. I have learned to listen better over the years, recognizing poor listening in others and even when I am flagging in - obedience. This book will turn you toward listening and toward obedience and be walking listeners.

The Memory Man by David Baldacci

Wow! Oh, my. What a great detective novel. The main character, Amos Decker, is the most unusual of detectives with an 'memorable' skill set. This first book involving Decker introduces the life impacting story behind the character and multiple murders that hit close to home. It's a deeply involved storyline that kept me guessing until the end. My only caveat was that it seemed to come to a screeching halt, but then that maybe in perfect tract with someone who finally remembers what he - remembers. I'm definitely going to be checking out more Baldacci novels.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

I've never read Rubin's The Happiness Project and after reading Happier at Home I don't plan on picking it up. I drudged through this book and I put it down feeling heavy and  - unhappy. It offered 'nothing new under the sun'. I believe it could serve many who have need of guidance in the little things of being happier at home but my spiritual walk has already led me down those roads. Simply, the book was not for me - at this point in my journey.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (A Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie

I did not see that coming! A brilliant, intricate murder mystery in the hands of a delightful, yet peculiar private investigator. But, here is the deal. You cannot skip a word of the book. You cannot skim through the book. You must read every word to retrieve the subtle nuisances and pertinent details. Very good and worth the time. 

Code of Conduct by Brad Thor

What I loved about Thor's book is the topic of peril the intelligence community around the world was facing. A cleverly-twined counterintelligence thriller. Some of the 'intimate' paragraphs are quite choppy and definitely not Thor's strong-suit and if it's all the same could leave it out as unnecessary to the storyline.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (Read by Joss Ackland)

My first complete audiobook reading. An ingenious and diabolical script of letters of instruction between a senior demon (uncle) and his protégé (nephew) of how to keep someone from growing as a Christian or keep someone from salvation and showcases the ways Christians are of the world and easily distracted from the things of Christ. It is quite humorous, but ultimately, it is truly NOT a funny subject but instead, one Christians should take seriously.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (Read by Robert Whitfield)

Another audiobook reading. Having never read The Great Divorce I was quite intrigued at the title. I read this perfect review on Amazon: "A man takes a bus ride through Hell, then Heaven and witnesses the choices made by others in their lives. The vivid stories within the story show that indecision is still a decision... it underscores the petty things in our lives that we allow to dominate us, things that will still plague us in Hell for eternity if we don't abandon them. Lewis' concepts (fantasized, of course) of the substance of spirit versus the substance of flesh and blood are incredibly thought provoking. There are mental images I got from reading this book that I will never forget. It is basic truth - you choose life, you choose death, or you choose not to choose. You will either give up the things that are holding you down (whether they be bitter resentments, anger, material gain, control, etc.) or you will cling to them until they become your master and you their slave. The book presents these concepts in such a non-threatening way that you've gotten a life lesson that you don't realize until you've finished this short, yet vibrant book" - Shelley Gammon, Amazon. 

The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I could not put this book down. Fantastic science fiction at its best. But, it is way more than sci-fi. It causes you to ask questions. Superb piece of fiction.

I'm Proud of You by Tim Madigan

Bring tissues. Be prepared to take notes, feel good, and want to live better. While the entire book is not solely about Madigan's friendship with Fred Rogers, it does however reflect the impact - and the friendship - Rodgers had with Madigan. Beautiful friendship. I knew there was good reasons to love Mr. Rodgers.

8 movies that are better than the book


...or at least just as good.

The debate continues. Can a movie that is based on a book truly be better than the original literary work? True literaries may scoff when a movie based on a book is brought to the big screen and might never admit the movie is better than the book. It's understandable. 

While it is true that most books are amazing all on there own and without a movie having been made we can simply enjoy them for the stand-alone work of literary art that they are. But, because we live in the age of books turned into screenplays, and screenplays becoming movies we can often see our favorite books (and not-so favorite books) come to life on the big screen.

The years I homeschooled John and Jarrod I had the distinct pleasure of reading aloud to them all of their required reading, both historical fiction, literary pieces, and we read aloud simply for our reading pleasure.

During this period of time movies would come to the big screen the boys would desire to go see, but I always had one caveat; we had to read the book first. There were some movies we'd already seen before we began homeschooling, and when we found an opportunity to read the book we jumped at the chance.

So it was that we, and just me on occasion, came across eight books that we [I] believe the movie is better - or just as good - or, at least, good in its own right. Here are our [my] picks:

The Princess Bride. The movie is a 10 of 10 on the ratings scale, and quite honestly, we only enjoyed the book because we had already seen the movie. When The Princess Bride first came out I was still in the military and a bunch of friends and I rented the video and hung out for a classic movie night, even though, technically, the movie wasn't a classic - yet! But, the book sure was. So, when my kids were old enough to understand the quick-witted humor we watched the movie together and they, like me, fell hard for the movie.

When I read the book to the boys we couldn't help but compare the movie to the book and we were even disappointed when we found some of our favorite scenes from the movie different in the book. The actors (and director) did such an amazing job of turning a difficult but funny book into a classic. While I believe The Princess Bride, especially the adaptation by the author, is a classic in its own right, the movie trumps the book hands down.

The Hunger Games (Book 1 of the trilogy). The movie did a wonderful job of making the book come alive. This was a trilogy I read aloud to the boys before I let them see the movie. While we loved the book, truly we did, we thought the movie to the first book was better than the book. I would not say the same of the remaining two books, Mockingjay and Catching Fire. The movies missed the boat on the sequels, especially with Hollywood's tendency these days to break up one book into two movies or even three. 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Please, do not shoot me! We had already seen all three of the movies before John and Jarrod's 11th grade year when we read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy for their British Literature course. And, we love, love, the entire trilogy of movies. They are simply amazing in their own right. They are cinematography masterpieces. Breathtaking, even. This said, we love, love, the entire trilogy of books, too! The books stand alone are 10 of 10; the movies stand alone are 10 of 10. I had never read the books before John and Jarrod's 11th grade year but when the opportunity arose - for their British Literature course - we jumped at it because...well, because we'd seen the movies! Were we disappointed in the books? No way! This is one of those times when the movies truly brought the stories to life.

The Last of the Mohicans. Although James Fenimore Cooper's Unabridged The Last of the Mohicans is a literary classic novel. But its elaborate, longwinded descriptions and slow moving plot made it, dare I say, a drudgery to read - even reading it aloud. However, my boys would disagree with me. They did not like the movie like I did and they loved the book way better. But, for me, the movie adaptation was fast-paced and told the story well. It heightened my likes (or even dislikes) of the characters and at times I felt I was watching first-hand the classic the book was supposed to be.

Patriot Games. While many of the movies created from Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series are good they don't come close to their literary forerunner. The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger, both, were detailed and exceptional American military intelligence novels that were better than their respective movies. Patriot Games, however, while the book was very good the movie - well - the movie was my favorite of all of the Jack Ryan movies and was top notch.

Unbroken. Here's the caveat: the book was very good. The movie had something exceptional to work with and they nailed it. This is one of those books that a really good movie adaptation of the book makes it even better because we can see the story. Would I have been satisfied reading just the book? Absolutely! But, I am thankful for the movie, too.

Julie and Julia. Ah, the movie was really good. The book was not. This is one of those times where the brilliance of Hollywood can take a ho-hum piece of fiction and make it come to life. I'm truly glad I watched the movie after reading the book because it redeemed the book.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. All of the latest adaptations of movies made thus far of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia have been exceptional. Stand alone they are great. But, the books. Oh, the books. So very good. In a one on one comparison The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - the book wins out easily. Prince Caspian - the book - by and far the winner over the movie, but, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - the movie - I believe packed the more punch. Is the book good? Sure it is. But, I enjoyed the movie so much more than the book.

I imagine there are many more movies that peek out as better than their respective books. But I have read these books and watched and I can compare- first hand - with their respective movies. What about you? What books have you read and movies you've watched that are better than their books?