Sunday, November 30, 2014

#BookishThanks November 22-30

#BookishThanks November 22-30
I usually post #SundaySentence/Begin the Week with Words today,
but since it is the last day for #BookishThanks, I figured I'd finish it off instead!

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments. I've really, really enjoyed this month of #BookishThanks!

22. Favorite indie/self-pub author - Adria J. Cimino, wrote Paris, Rue des Martyrs.

23. Bookish event/link-up/meme - Sunday Sentence

24. Bookish technology - Overdrive

25. Relevant to me - The Truest Thing About You, by David Lomas

26. Reminded me of childhood - Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White

27. Made me hungry - I really couldn't think of one for this category!

28. Reminded me of my family - The Color of Water, by James McBride

29. Took me someplace new - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

30. Inspired me to take action - Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

Thursday, November 27, 2014

True Thanks-giving is Thanks-living*

I posted the Bible as one of the most influential books of my life in my #BookishThanks last week. Also in that post was a book on being thankful, called One Thousand Gifts. On a day like Thanksgiving, I've got to shout out a valuable lesson I've learned in the past couple years from these two main sources in my life. If you are familiar with the story of my tattoo, then this will all sound familiar, except perhaps it's better stated here than I have previously. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

There are always things for which we are grateful. The bills paid another month, the new job, the kids doing well, time spent with family and friends, the recovered health of a loved one. And rightly we should be thankful for them. But we also look to these types of thankfulness to lift us in bad times. Sometimes they do, however, in the couple years since I've started reading on the topic, I've felt challenged to look at thankfulness differently. When I think of thankfulness, should I only think of the good? Does a season of hard times lack reasons to be thankful?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." The key word is ALL. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. So giving thanks does not mean that I need to go looking for the good while living through a bad situation in order to be thankful. Or that because I cannot find the good, I have nothing for which to be thankful. It means, in the midst of the bad situation, I should be giving thanks anyway. Saint John of Avila, a Spanish priest born at the end of the Middle Ages, said, "One act of thanksgiving when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations."

Why is that? We don't naturally feel like being thankful when things are going wrong. So why should we? The real question is, What is the purpose of giving thanks? Psalm 7:17 says, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High." We give thanks because He is righteous. Because He is just. Because He is holy. Because He is worthy. There is no other reason needed; therefore, we can and should rejoice in the hard times. Job, who lost everything, said it best when he cried out, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of The Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)

You see, there is a bigger picture. God has intentions, purposes, and reasons we will never be privy to here on Earth. "For His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). God's ultimate purpose trumps all we deem important here on Earth. We need to have faith that He knows what He is doing and be thankful we are His.

Easier said than done? Absolutely, one hundred times, yes! It has taken me years upon years to even consider true thanksgiving, let alone attempt it. God never said life would be easy or that pain would be less because of our faith. And although I may not have suffered comparable to others, I have gone through a few things and come out the other side a better person for it, able to see in hindsight how God used the experience to mold me. And the "side effects" of living thanksgiving are priceless. Grace and joy miraculously abound as we put into practice a thankful heart.

Thankfulness for the good things in life is not diminished just because we need to be thankful during the bad. I have never been more thankful than I am this year and it has been through both good and bad circumstances. Each season draws me closer to this truth in its own way. And each act of thanksgiving - true eucharisteo - is a moment of grace and a filling of joy.

*title created using "thanksliving" from Ann Voskamp's site

Monday, November 24, 2014

MEV: Modern English Version Bible

Modern English Version (MEV) Bible
Publisher: Passio, Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Category: Religion, Spirituality
Source: I received two free copies from the publisher for my honest review and a giveaway. The giveaway copy will be given to a new church member in need.

Why review a Bible? Two reasons. First, there are so many versions/translations of the Bible, I wanted to know what another could possibly offer. What does the MEV offer over other Bible versions? The blurb on the book jacket claims that the MEV is "the most modern translation of the King James Version in thirty years" and that its "literal translation beautifully communicates God's Word in a way that is accurate, clear, and easy to read."

So what did I think? I examined a few chapters with which I am most familiar, one of them being 1 Corinthians 13. The meaning from the King James to the MEV is intact, as well as the formatting of the sentences. The main change is the removal of thee and thou and the "th" ending on words like "doth," using " do not" instead.

Examining Romans chapter 8, I also noticed that whole sentences are the same except for switching out a word or two. For example, the word "consider" in MEV to replace "reckon" in the King James. However, in places, I did find some simplification of sentence structure/grammar that is more consistent with how we speak today. For example, Romans 8:25 in the King James reads:  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. The MEV states Romans 8:25 as: But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

And because I'm no Bible expert, I thought I'd get a pastor's opinion as well. Doug Reed, head Pastor of Bridge of Hope Church (#bohchurch) in Boardman, Ohio, had this to say about the MEV Bible:
I looked through all of the major verses and big verses in which other versions tend to use different verbiage or language that alters theology. The main verses all checked out in my opinion. There were some slight differences in the words they chose to add or replace, but none of them altered the meaning of the text. It was more the preference of the translators. It's usability and layout is similar to all the other versions I have used in the past.

So, I'd say Pastor and I agree. MEV seems to be a solid Bible, sticking pretty closely to the King James Version from which it's derived, while updating the language and sentence structure as needed.

Oh, and my second reason for reviewing a Bible? See the graphic below, provided by Christian Universities Online:

The Bible

That's what I'd call a successful book. Wonder who His publicist is?! 

Favorite Bible versions anyone?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Reading Max Lucado's book Before Amen (about prayer) with two groups - one group of real life friends and one group of women who signed up with Proverbs 31 Ministries to study the book together. The book study has only begun this week, but I found one quote I know is true from experience.

Friday, November 21, 2014

#BookishThanks November 15-21

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

15. Sparked my imagination - Juliet's Nurse, by Lois Leveen

16. Stretched my mind - One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Stretched me so much, I made sure I'd never forget it!

17. Took my breath away - Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

18. Taught me something new - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

19. Discussed with a friend - The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst

20. Gave me a different perspective - The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara

21. Makes me take copious notes - The Bible

Once again, what better place for lasting impressions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Student Spotlight: Donald R.

Hi! Welcome to Student Spotlight on My Life in Books. Today's featured student writer is Donald R. He is an 11th grader and his class read Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, earlier this year. In the novel, many characters have big hopes and dreams for the future, although none of them reach their goals. Although there are extenuating circumstances for Steinbeck's characters, the Impossibility of the American Dream is one of the themes of the novel. Based on this theme, students were asked to describe and plan steps toward a possible hope or dream(s) they have for their own future. The best laid plans of mice and men may often go awry, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

I am very proud of Donald for taking this essay seriously and choosing such a thoughtful topic. Welcome Donald!

My Dream to Lose Weight

             My dream is to lose weight. The main reason I want to lose weight and gain some muscle is because it’s been along time since I’ve been at a standard or better weight. Another reason is because there’s many things I’ve wanted or want to do but my weight has been slowing me down. If I were to become healthy and lose weight, I could become more active in my life.

The way I plan to lose weight is by doing regular exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and walking daily, but pacing the exercises. I don’t want to hurt or pull a muscle, which could make me have to take time off from exercises. Another way is by having a steady diet and not eating so much junk food. Also by eating at regular times, instead of eating at anytime, so my digestive system can settle better and faster. Another way is by getting more motivated to do exercise. I’m going to listen to music that can help me focus more and block out any stress related situations.

The reason why I’ve always wanted to be healthy and in good shape is because it will help me accomplish what I’ve always wanted to do. And also because I can do more active things and better myself. The whole reason why I want to lose weight is because I’ve always hated looking at myself being fat and having dreams of being fit and healthy. And mostly, I’ve hated looking at myself in the mirror and all I see is fat and not seeing the fit side of me.

The way that being healthy and gaining muscle will help me in the future and how it would change my life is that I would be able to do more fun things and work easier. I would be able to do more outdoor activities with friends, family, or just by myself. Also another reason is I would be able to find a good job where I can be active and get paid at the same time. Finally, I wouldn’t always have to be indoors all the time and feel embarrassed. I would be able to prove to my family, friends, and those who have always made fun of me that I can lose weight and be the healthier person I want to be.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

I didn't forget about Sunday Sentence today, but didn't have time to put anything up between last night and this morning. But I found a book of poetry by an author, Tyler Knott Gregson, whom a friend of mine loves. Gregson's poetry is different in both format and appearance, so if you have a moment, Google images and take a look. My friend posted one today that I thought was quite relevant, so I figured, better late than never.

Oh what we
could be if we
stopped carrying
the remains 
of who we were.

Tyler Knott Gregson

Friday, November 14, 2014

#BookishThanks November 8-14

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. This time I was able to place the graphic above for your iPad was having a good day, I guess. For #BookishThanks, a category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

8. Recommended by a friend - Stones From the River, Ursula Hegi

9. Would read over and over - The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

10. Boosted my vocabulary - Anything Shakespeare

11. Love the voice - This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

12. Favorite reading accessory - fleece blanket and my dog AND 14. Favorite reading spot - bed

13. Must read author's backlist - David Mitchell (read Cloud Atlas)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Best Yes

One of my favorite things about books is discussion. Fiction is my preference for reading, but I enjoy a good discussion on life topics. And I have a number of favorite authors who write on relevant topics. The most recent is The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst. The premise of the book is that our day-to-day schedule works off of our ability to use two words, Yes and No. I read and discussed this book weekly with friends and found those who were in the same boat as me, plus those who were already good at saying no and really helped me.

I do not consider myself a people pleaser, although that would be one reason a person would say yes to more than he/she should. As I read this book and thought about it, I knew that I just like to help people. If I can help, or make a way to help, I will. Saying no felt like I was telling the person I didn't care or didn't want to help, when that's not what a no necessarily means. And I never considered the strain that put on me until a few years ago when I had a new teaching schedule that took up more time than usual. I did everything I usually did plus the extra work stress and always felt frazzled, which made me realize I've felt this frazzled-ness off and on before that.

The Best Yes is about saying no when you need to so that you have the time to say yes when you really should. Not only does this relieve the stress of an overwhelming schedule, but it also leaves you time for the most important things. The things you are meant to do. Terkeurst had so many amazing one liners that I could repeat to myself, reminders that it is okay to say no when I need to. I recently grouped a set of them into my Sunday meme, Begin the Week with Words (aka Sunday Sentence).

The book has helped. No, it's not like I no longer struggle with saying no, but I've made progress. I've pinpointed the things I feel are my current priorities in life and focus on them. I've been able to say no to things that seem very simple to some, but are a big deal for me! And I've also been learning that I don't have to give an excuse for everything I say no to. No is no and that's all there is to it. Sometimes the reason isn't always something I can share with others anyway and I end up sounding stupid trying to semi explain.

As a side note, author Lysa Terkeurst is a wife and mother of five, and also the President of the Christian Women's organization called Proverbs 31 Ministries. Regardless of what your stance on God is, TerKeurst's books are always on relevant topics all women face. Books of hers I'd recommend are Made to Crave (about eating) and Unglued (about losing your cool - see my review here). She also has a great set of marriage books, one for husbands called Capture Her Heart, and one for wives called Capture His Heart (my mini review here).

I'd have to say reading The Best Yes is one of my best yeses this year. Anyone else read any good books helping you with life topics?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gutenberg's Apprentice

Gutenberg's Apprentice, by Alix Christie
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Category: Historical fiction
Source: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

For some reason I had this book written down with a publication date of October 28th, thinking I'm only a week later with my review. Then find out as I go to write this it was September 23rd. Now how did I mess that up?'s a quick review of the plot from Amazon: Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.” Johann Gutenberg has devised a revolutionary method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. 

As Peter's skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. Peter finds himself torn between these two father figures. Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.

My thoughts? Overall I liked Gutenberg's Apprentice. The one complaint I might see people making is that it is slow paced at times. I thought so off and on as I read it, but looking back it didn't make me want to DNF it. I was extremely interested in knowing the side of the story we never hear about. Also, the technical talk about the printing process really makes the reader understand that this was not an easy process. Gutenberg didn't just invent the press and voilĂ , we have books by the hundreds. It was back breaking, all consuming work that so many others would've given up on. Lucky for us, Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust were most determined.

The time period, mid-1400s, is not familiar to many people, I'd guess. It was very interesting to see how life was lived. Expectations for work, marriage, religion, etc. A few characters' reaction to the press being blasphemous amused me. The idea that the Bible could only be meaningful if carefully written by hand seems absolutely ludicrous. They are likely rolling in their graves over our Bible apps and such online now! But it made me keep in mind that all great things are misunderstood and challenged. They bring change, which people generally fear. Yet, look what this has brought us! I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it without Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust's work.

I love the idea of more to the story than meets the eye. Can you think of any other amazing inventions you would like to see stories about?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Often the two sides of an emotion, such as love and hate, are closely related, so that it's hard not to have one without the other. For example, how do you know what hate is, if you do not know or have a sense of what love is?

Friday, November 7, 2014

#BookishThanks November 1-7

#BookishThanks November 1-7

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

1. Made me laugh - Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

2. Scared me silly - The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

3. Couldn't put it down - The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North.

4. Love the cover - Gutenberg's Apprentice, by Alix Christie

5. Must share with others - The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult

6. Comfort read - formulaic writers like Grisham and Picoult

7. Makes me love paper - Any Chunkster (500+ pages)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Postertext - Books for Your Wall

How do you display something you love? Clothing, accessories, posters. Ah, posters. Pictures you can hang on your wall for all to see, declaring your love of your favorite movie stars, bands, and books. Wait, books? Yup! Thanks to Postertext, your favorite book can now become a work of art to hang on your wall.

Postertext is a group of dedicated book and art lovers who want to combine the closely related mediums they love. How does this work? Say you like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and want a creative hanging to display. The people at Postertext will create a poster sized image, related to the book, but completely comprised of words. Not just any words, but the actual text of the book the picture represents. What better idea than this to combine two things you love?!

It gets better. In order to find an accurate image to depict your story and the best pieces of the text to use, they first completely read every book whose poster they intend to create. That's commitment and that's just what a book lover wants to hear! They have an index of their current authors and books whose posters you can purchase. There is also the option to request a book poster and for custom designs and commissions. 

And bloggers, there's an extra tidbit for you! You can become an affiliate of Postertext and receive a commission on sales made through the link on your site. Click here for details! Anyone have any questions? Well, I've told you all I know, so send any further inquiries through their Contact form. You never know unless you ask!

I'm making a list of must haves myself. These would be wonderful in my classroom. And Christmas is just around the corner...perfect gift for the bibliophiles in your life! Or to put on your list bibliophiles!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Killer Angels

I'm teaching ninth grade again this year, for the first time in about five years. A new book was purchased for them since then, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which I've never read before. It turns out to be a challenging book for my ninth grade Honors classes. (And I'll admit, kind of a challenge for me.)

A historical topic like the Civil War has a tendency to become a larger than life topic. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely a topic deserving of so much attention, however I've always seen it as a war that changed the course of a nation. I've never taken the time to break it down and notice how the Civil War changed the course of individual lives, and therefore the lives of their family for generations to come.

That's where The Killer Angels focused my the individuals who fought. Switching between individual viewpoints from chapter to chapter, the reader gains insight to both sides of the war. It is historical fiction, so the thoughts, words, and actions written are not absolute truth. These men were actual soldiers in the Civil War though, so the research exists to support the filling. This look at individuals threw me off at first. I was expecting battles, death, and victory for the Union - the bigger than life side; but, the first battle we view doesn't take place until the second half of the book. The entire book until then, and even during the battle, provides introspection. Each man's emotions and thoughts on family, war, humanity, life, etc. comes through. Sometimes it's through memories and other times through interactions with those around them, but with every chapter a new puzzle piece falls in place to create an overall picture of each man in turn.

I would say it was slow moving at first, but I can see already that a second read will tie more of it together for me. Overall, not something I would've read on my own, but a good book for an honors level class to study: challenging and made better with discussion.

Have you ever read historical fiction that didn't read as easily as you expected?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Almost finished reading The Killer Angels with my ninth graders. For a book about the the battle of Gettysburg, there is very little action and fighting! It's very introspective historical fiction...trying to show the feelings and ideas of the major players of the war.

"This is free ground. All the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here you can be something. Here's a place to build a home. It isn't the land - there's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value, you and me, we're worth something more than the dirt. I never saw dirt I'd die for, but I'm not asking you to come join us and fight for dirt. What we're all fighting for, in the end, is each other." Union officer, Colonel Chamberlain in The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara