My Adventures in Library Loot

My Adventures in Library Loot

I recently shocked my husband by how quickly I can find and collect a huge stack of new library reads. 😉 It’s a skill born of years of bookwormness, and I’m just waiting for the chance to somehow save the world with it. 😛

It’s true though. The library is my weakness. Especially the new releases section and the middle-grade fiction. I’ve been keeping an eye out for two books I’ve been wanting to read and just put in a request for them. The others are mostly ones whose covers caught my eye or the name just sounded really, really intriguing.

My new favorite bookmark in one of my new favorite library finds. 💖

I’m not sure which ones I’ll read. Every book goes through a rigorous process is chosen by mood, content levels, and concept/adorable cover. If it doesn’t pass those or I run out of reading space at the moment, chances are it’ll be sent back unread.

That’s okay though. The important thing is that I stacked them and brought them home. 💖

The Stack
The In Or Out Book Tag

The In Or Out Book Tag

While my braincells recuperate from pounding out a book, I thought it’d be fun to do an “easy post” and snagged a tag from Laura Tisdall at this blog. 😉 (EDIT: Since my first wasn’t clear enough, I’ve added Laura’s name. And the tag was originally created by Rick MacDonnell on his YouTube channel you can view here.)

It’s time for me to give my stances on some common bookish pet peeves, mwaha. Let’s get started!

1. Reading the Last Page First

OUT. If I run across a spoiler, the harder I try to forget it, the worse it sticks, so I’m veeery careful to not read ahead. (Not that it’s never happened.) 😉

2. Enemies to Lovers

OUT, most of the time. I don’t generally like books with a lot of conflict or drama, and when it’s in a romantic setting it can end up leaning into some pretty disrespectful or abusive tropes sometimes. 😦 I do enjoy it when characters have a flirty, good-fun rivalry though.

3. Dream Sequences

OUT, but just because I’ve been tricked by them way too many times. 😂 I do think they have their place, especially in fantasy if they’re visions of sorts, but if it’s used to mess with readers… thumbs down.

4. Love Triangles

OUT, (unless you’re the Matched trilogy and I’ll give you a pass). It comes back again to my dislike of drama, but I also find it easily leans into leading people on, feeling possessive, or cheating tropes which are not my cup of tea.

5. Cracked Spines

IN, though I’m not sure if I could bring myself to do it. I do really enjoy it when a used book is already broken in–it just makes reading so comfy. 😉

6. Back To My Small Town

IN, and Toni Shiloh and Chautona Havig use this trope in the cutest ways.

7. Monsters Are Regular People

IN. Do we mean like the world of Monsters University or a friend is a hidden mermaid in the real world? Cause I like both. 😉

8. No Paragraph Breaks

OUT. *gags* I need these for my brain!

9. Multi-Generational Sagas

*whispers very quietly* out. They tend to rely on relationship drama too much for my tastes plus I don’t often have the attention span for long series, lol. *stares in standalone and trilogy fan*

10. Re-reading

IN, theoretically. I usually remember the plots of books too well to want to re-read them, but it can be really fun and comforting too, especially if it’s a book from my childhood.

11. Artificial Intelligence

IN, mwaha. I love almost all sci-fi tropes and the ways they can be used to explore themes of humanity, entropy, control, emotions, etc. I must write a sci-fi book someday…

12. Drop Caps

IN, they’re cute.

13. Happy Endings

IIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNN. They’re the best, followed closely by bittersweet and hopeful endings.

14. Plot Points That Only Converge At The End

IN, theoretically. I love a good, huge reveal, but a little bit of satisfaction along the way is necessary. 😉

15. Detailed Magic Systems

OUT. *hides* I’m sorry, but I do not enjoy super technical world-building.

16. Classic Fantasy Races

IN. Elves, centaurs, merfolk are literally always cool?!

17. Unreliable Narrators

Hmmmm… 50/50. I’m not sure I’ve read many books like this? (Yes, I’m aware of the irony of this answer.)

18. Evil Protagonists

OUT. Nooo, I want to be able to root for you! 😭 If we’re doing a descent into madness or redemption storyline, mayyyybeee.

19. The Chosen One

IN, mostly. This one can be really fun and creative or bland and overused, lol.

20. When The Protagonist Dies

OUT. I don’t need my heart broken!

21. Really Long Chapters

OUT. Again, I need the divisions for my brain otherwise I feel like the book is dragging. 🙃

22. French Flaps

IN. (This is when the cover of a paperback has a folded-over flap similar to a dust jacket, I believe.) Feels so fancy, probably because I’ve only seen the highest quality paperbacks with them. 😉

23. Deckled Edges

IN. (I had to Google to be sure, but this is basically untrimmed pages.) Absolutely gorgeous, gives an air of “yes, this is an old, mysterious library”, and I just really love how the texture feels. ❤

24. Signed Copies By The Author

IN. It reminds me there’s a real human who poured heart into these pages and having so many author friends makes this even more special.

25. Dog-Earing Pages

OUT. Be nice to the little page corners. 😠

26. Chapter Titles Instead Of Numbers

OUT? I actually don’t pay attention much to headings, though, unless they’re particularly artistic or part of the theme of the book.

There we are. 😉 This was so much fun to answer, and I hope you feel free to snag it and share your answers! 😉

New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

Hello, and yes, I’m absolutely using this tag as a cute excuse to talk about my TBR. 😁 Heaven made it look so fun (go check out her answers), I decided to give it a go.

An author that you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before).

I’m leaving this space free for the lovely indies I’m sure are about to publish their debuts. You can do it, and I can’t wait to read it!

A book you’d like to read.

All of them, please. 😂😂 But more specifically Cinder by Marissa Meyer is on the TBR, mostly because I got the most adorable copy at the thrift store. 😇

A classic you’d like to read.

I’d like to continue my tour through Agatha Christie books. I’m really enjoying her writing style and values so far. 😉

A book you’d like to re-read.

My prodigal copy of The Book Thief has returned home, and I’m ready to let it break my heart again. 😭 Also, it’s an inspiring masterclass in breaking every rule as a writer so I will be soaking that aspect up.

A book you’ve had for ages and want to read.

In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to experience its gorgeousness. 😍

A big book you’d like to read.

So big books and I aren’t exactly friends and if I read them it’s an accident, so I’ll leave this space open for whatever I find.

An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of.

J. Grace Pennington! She’s releasing more books in her Firmament series and I am here for it. 👏👏🤩

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read.

It was actually for a birthday, but The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen has been making eye contact with me from the shelves. 👀

A series you want to read from start to finish.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is one of my most concrete goals this year. I’m looking forward to hardcore judging Gale more and experiencing the little details the movies couldn’t get across. But pray for my squeamish soul. 😉

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2023?

Yesssssss. I’m shooting for 35 books this year, but we’ll see what happens. 😁

Any other reading goals?

Just to have a lot of fun and don’t be shy to DNF if a book is just not my type. 😉

Whatever happens, I know it’s gonna be a lot of fun. 😉

(Feel free to steal this tag–I want to read your answers. 😎)

2022, Nice to Meet You

2022, Nice to Meet You

Happy 2022! (aka the most sci-fi looking date ever)

As promised, here are some of my nebulous hopes and goals. ❤️

I’ve been enjoying reading a lot more lately, so I’m excited to set my reading challenge goal to 30 books. I can’t wait to find some great new reads. 🤩

I’m looking forward to graduating my recovery group as well. It’s been so helpful to me, and I’m grateful for the work God’s done in my life through it.

My fantasy novel is next up for some much needed (and really quite fun) renovation. The plan is to publish it sometime this year. 🙏😍

I’d also like to draft two brand new stories (and maybe a short story here and there) just for the delight of it.

Baking, blogging, and life with my Joshua are continuing joys I’m looking forward to, as well as whatever surprises come next. ❤️

Happy New Year!

What are your hopes and goals?

My Top 5 Favorite Books to Share

My Top 5 Favorite Books to Share

Books have the power to open up our worlds and connect them with others as we share stories with strangers, siblings, and closest friends.

Here are five of my absolute favorite books to require everyone in sight to read share. Who knows, maybe this will help you with your Christmas shopping, whether that’s for yourself or someone else. 😉

(*whispers* Buy two copies and make it a buddy read.)

1. Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne Lefleur (and sequel Threads of Blue) is one you’ve likely seen me recommend before. Set in something of a fantasy world World War II, the situations and friendships ring as true as real history. In the midst of that, an intense hope and childlike resilience shine on every page through the main character and the most poetic writing style.

This is your warning to have tissues on hand. 😭😭😉 I like to say this duology broke my heart and put it back together all in one.

Age recommendation: upper middle grade, though even more appreciated by adults.

CW: implied violence, familial loss, a fire, intense danger.

Who I shared it with: siblings, Mikayla. ❤️

2. Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer is one of the few prairie romances I will tolerate and even love to pieces (I truly do) because it’s so much more than that. It’s kind of a coming of age story, a spiritual journey, and a tragically fascinating history lesson on the 1918/19 flu pandemic.

It’s the perfect balance of serious and sweet for me (with just enough moments that are slightly swoony 😉).

Age recommendation: teen and up.

CW: plague descriptions, death, loss and emotions surrounding it, kissing.

Who I shared it with: Mikayla gifted me a copy, I read it aloud to a sister right after finishing it.

3. Empowered by Catherine Parks is a newer find, and oh my, is it soooo good. 😍😍 Each chapter highlighted a woman of faith, some familiar (Joni Eareckson Tada, Fanny Crosby, the ten Boom sisters) and some previously unknown to me (Esther Ahn Kim, Charlotte Grimke, Phyllis Wheatley Peters), and brought out the amazing ways God empowered and worked through them.

Definitely pick it up.

Age recommendation: all ages. (Would be a great read-aloud!)

CW: racism, the Holocaust, and slavery.

Who I shared it with: a younger sister, though I’m still trying to convince others to read. 😉

4. Kate’s Innocence by Sarah Holman is one of the coolest indies ever. It’s the first in a series that reminds me of a cleaner version of my favorite detective shows. The main character isn’t a Christian, but many in her team are, so there’s plenty of opportunity to discuss interesting topics while solving some pretty crazy cases.

I just bought paperbacks of the next two books so I can finally welcome them to my shelves. 😍

Age recommendation: teen and up.

CW: bombing, death threats/danger.

Who I shared it with: my brother. He binge read them. 😉💪

5. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder… Don’t even get me started. It has the haunting yet childlike feel of Peter Pan or The Giver, and it exploded my mind with the poetic writing and exploration of growing up. The whole cast of characters is delightful, and the world building is perfection.

Seriously, seriously beautiful.

Age recommendation: older middle-grade and up, again possibly understood more by adults.

CW: implied danger, anger, a girl experiences her first period and is frightened.

Who I shared it with: all my siblings.

So there you go! What are your favorite books to share? Have you read of these?

The Stationery Tag

The Stationery Tag

I was tagged by Bekah from Bekah’s Books, and I’m excited to get to nerd out about books and stationery for a bit with you all. 😉 Thanks, Bekah! Be sure to check out her post here.

Journal—What kind of journaling do you do (if any, scrapbooking included)? Share a favorite spread and share a favorite book.

I absolutely love to journal, and I was just reminded of how important it has been to me and how loooonnnnggg it’s been since I’ve properly journaled. 😉 I’ve been doing a modified version marking moments down on a calendar and blogging counts too, right? XD Back when I journaled a ton it was a spill of thoughts and ideas with important mementos or pictures pasted in. 😉 Here’s an old spread about my Christmas five (?) years ago. Also, the book with it is Quiet Power by Susan Cain, a recent addition to my favorites. 😀

Pen—A good pen is an important everyday item, what’s a book that you could read again and again?

Ooo, I don’t do a lot of re-reading but one that comes to mind with huge potential for re-reading is definitely The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. There is so much to absorb and love between those pages, and I think I better pull it out again soon. 😉

Hand Lettering—Is there a certain pen you like seeing your handwriting in? Do you enjoy hand lettering? Share a book cover with a beautiful font.

I love writing in cursive and adding dotting letters with hearts when I want something to be a little cuter. And I looooveeee fonts on books. That’s one of the things that draws me to them right off the bat. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a great example of one of my favorite fonts (and favorite books!). 

Doodles—Are you a doodler? Do you have a book that has doodles anywhere on the book?

I’m a bit of a doodler, yes. 😉 But never in a book… O.o. At least currently. The doodliest book I’ve read is Annie’s Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney. Doodles inside and out. 

Stickers—What’s a genre you will always stick to and read often?

Fantasy. 😀 I feel like that’s a pretty cliche answer, but there is so much to explore in the fantasy genre and fantasy worlds themselves. I also feel like authors can play with themes and hidden allegories a bit more in fantasy which I absolutely love. 😉 Here’s a sample of some of my favorites in this genre. 

Washi Tape—Since washi tape is typically on a roll, share your best reading year when you were on a roll with reading.

I’d have to say 2018 (though ‘19 and what we’ve had of ‘20 have been awesome) just because I discovered so many new favorites and beginnings of series. ❤ You can see what I read here.

Stamps—Give a book you haven’t shared about enough your stamp of approval.

Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton, hands-down. It is so beautiful and inspiring, and I really don’t talk about it enough. It’s technically for young kids, but it makes me feel brave and creative too, so they’ll have to share. XD 

Sticky Notes/Post-It Notes—Do you put notes whether written or with sticky little flags in your books? If so, share one of those books and why you marked a spot.

Not really. I usually write down a page number or something, especially if I’m marking content I need to mention in a review or censor for myself. In 27 Days by Allison Gervais is a book I absolutely love in most ways, but I’m planning to use a little whiteout on. 😉

Paint/Watercolor—What’s a cover that looks like a painting or think it like art?

Oooo, definitely Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LeFleur and its sequel Threads of Blue. The way the painted covers connect with some elements of the story is really beautiful too. ❤

Underrated Craft/Stationery Item—What’s one product that you think stationery fans should know about? In the same way, what’s an underrated book that readers should know?

Index cards, hands down. I’m out of them currently (this tag is inspiring me to stock up again 😉 ), but there was a time when my desk was a veritable snowdrift of index cards with ideas and to-do lists on them. And for an underrated book… Anomaly by Krista McGee. It’s an interesting dystopian/sci-fi with great characters and the most subtle but beautiful Gospel message.

Bonus Question! Is there one stationery item that you can never say no to buying?

Notebooks… Again, I am cliche. 😉 Here are the three I’m currently living in. Also, two series I can never resist buying the next book in (and somehow forgot a picture of) are Kate’s Case Files by Sarah Holman and The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott by Perry Kirkpatrick.

Thanks so much for tagging me, Bekah, and I hope you all enjoyed. 😀

Plate Update: It’s Been Crazy and Good

Plate Update: It’s Been Crazy and Good

I can barely believe we’re already three months into this year and three days into April. And yet, it can almost feel like it’s been three years since Christmas and New Years’ just because of how full and crazy this year has been already. 😉

My own personal full plate has been a mixture of good and bad, exciting and worrying, and through it all, God has been with me.

So if you’d like, picture this “full plate” as a Thanksgiving platter with a problematic laptop, a cake cookbook, headphones, wedding programs, a choir folder, a library book, a Kindle, and sixty-million post-it notes representing my ideas all stacked up on it. 😉

What have I been READING?

Miracle at Higher Grounds Cafe (five stars)

My Name Is River (four stars)

Hope Girl (two stars)

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages (four stars)

A Name Unknown (four stars)

The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle (five stars)

Not Write Now: A How-Not-To Guide for Writing Fiction (five stars)

The Silence Between Us (four stars)

Speak Your Mind (three stars)

The Bookwanderers (two stars)

Five Star Spy (five stars)

To Sing Another Day (three stars)

Firmament: Gestern (four stars)

What have I been WATCHING?

(Please note, some of these have mild content issues or I watched them on a filter. Feel free to comment with questions, and I’ll be sure to answer.)

Signed, Sealed, Delivered movies with my family. ❤ It’s been lovely. I love all the movies except one or two, and we’re waiting for the next one.

Newsies (1992), twice. SQUEEEEE! Jack Kelly is my child.

The Last Jedi–perfect for snapping green beans to. I’ve missed all the characters, and Rose is the queen.

Karate Kid (1983) with my family. Boy, do I love that movie. ❤ I was really surprised and delighted with it.

Danger Man (1961-1968) with my younger sisters. It’s our lunch time tradition. I know we’re going to run out soon, and I’m sad. 😉

A Bear Named Winnie. Oh, I cried! Great historical movie. 😉

A rewatch of “Rose” with the Doctor Who Lockdown crew. Such fun!

What have I been WRITING?

Reviews, and until I finished a book last night I was almost caught up. 😉 #oops This quarantine has me busier than before for some reason.

39,632 words on “Awake” finishing out the first draft! 😀

Blog posts, wahoo! 😉

Textses, yay

Story notes, and there is literally no system to which notebook they go in.

What have I been LISTENING to?

Dear Happy by Gabrielle Aplin. I love her music (most anyway) so much, so I was super excited when her album dropped. 😀

Zion by Aaron Shust. (Thanks so much to the blog follower who sent it to me! You know who you are, and all the scenes of Aliyah in it make me so happy and homesick.)

Say I Love You by Scott Mulvahill + all the livestream concerts he’s been putting on. Follow him if you don’t already. He’s the best.

The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe. I love God so much… He’s using this album, the soundtrack to some of the most hurtful times in my life, to heal me now, and the words have been speaking to me so much more than they ever did before.

Searching for Us by Skye Peterson. Guys, this whole album!! It just brings all the tears and joy. ❤

What have I PUBLISHED?

Sincerely, Jem! XD Woooohhhhooooo! ❤

What have I been MAKING?

Homemade pins as part of a library craft

Coffee cake… I found the ultimate recipe and someday when I can find it again I will share it here and yes.

Pandemic masks… Nuff said.

Orange Julius, lowkey, no ice cream. I figured out I like orange juice more with the acid toned down, so milk and vanilla added is amazing.

MINI DOUGHNUTS. Two of my siblings got me pans for my birthday, and I am so happy and I could bake for a billion years. Now that we found flour (my mom is a shopping ninja), I’m going to make some really, really good ones.

What have I been MISCELLANEOUSING?

(Please note, any activities outside of the house happened waaaay earlier this year. I haven’t left the house in almost three weeks…)

When you’re baking and listening to a concert…

Started a job as a virtual assisant (basically a secretary through online and phone calls)

Spoke at a book club with the most welcoming, fun girls ever. ❤

Obsessed over The Oscars. HAIR LOVE WON! 😉

Volunteered at my church in child care and the choir. These are honestly huge highlights of my life, and I can’t wait to get back to them. ❤

Attended two weddings. It was cool to see some friends I haven’t seen in forever.

Packing food with a huge group of friends before everything shut down. It was lovely to volunteer with them.

Celebrated my birthday. It was really the most lovely day I could have asked for, and there were some big surprises I would never have dreamed of. ❤ One of them was my rural neighbors randomly setting off fireworks. We decided they were celebrating me. 😛

I’m continuing to work, write, bake, and hang out with my family. I’m looking forward to participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, reading a new Bible study book my parents gave me, and having more virtual movie watches with my besties. 😉

What are some of your first-quarter highlights? What are you looking forward to in the next few months?

Your Guide to Epic Buddy Reads (with Mikayla, Kate, and Cheesecake)

Your Guide to Epic Buddy Reads (with Mikayla, Kate, and Cheesecake)

Today my awesome friend Mikayla and I completed our fourth official buddy read. (There have been one or two “accidental” ones, for the record.) We thought it would be super fun to share some of our buddy reading tips with you. 😉

(Photo credit: Mikayla)
  1. Choose a book you both want to read. It’s usually a good idea to have it be something you both haven’t read (but are interested in) so you can share the entire experience and your initial reactions. Series are great for this! The buddy read we just finished was book four of The Mysterious Benedict Society series. We both enjoyed the other books and were eager to read this one, so it was the perfect fit. 😉
  2. Set a chapter amount and time frame for reading that works for both of you. Mikayla is always great at organizing us on this. We talk about the length of the book when we choose it, divide it by the number of days we’d like to read it in, and read that number of chapters. This number is open to negotiation, like this time when we realized we were so excited that two chapters at a time would NOT be enough. XD
  3. Have pre set-up times to chat. Also something Mikayla is awesome at. We both have *pretty* flexible schedules, but if we have a particularly busy day coming up we tell each other beforehand so we can work around it. We tend to like to chat every one to two days, depending on what time allows. We like to schedule a videocall for when we’re done reading so we can crow about the book in real-time. 😀
  4. Be honest in your opinion of the book and don’t be afraid of asking tough questions. You’ll learn so much from and about your buddy. Seriously, buddy reading is one of the most fun ways to grow a friendship and your empathy. With our latest read, I related so much to one of characters that I was focusing almost entirely on his experience of a conflict. Mikayla noticed some of the other characters’ perspectives way better and drew my attention to them. 😀 It was a fun discussion.
  5. Bonus tip: Eat cheesecake. This is generally good life advice, but we ate cheesecake over videocall once as a celebration of the end of a series, and it was great fun. 😀
(One of my favorite chapters… Photo credit: Pearl)

For tips #6-10 (including how to deal with DNFs), check out Mikayla’s post, and enjoy your next buddy read. 😀