In the Bookcase

11.18.2017

A Literary Christmas 2017 begins + Link up your Christmas books!

A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com

Dear Readers,

I'd like to invite you to a SPECIAL READING EVENT this holiday season, where together we will celebrate all the excitement of Christmas book-reading during the most wonderful time of the year!

What's this holiday reading challenge about? ::: Whether you just want to read 1 amazingly-good Christmas book, or 10, you make your own list of titles to read, and finish as many of them as you can.

Where will it take place? ::: In your favorite cozy reading nook. Whether it be while wrapped in fleece blankets in bed... sitting by the fireside drinking hot chocolate...

Polar bear reading Christmas books


Or out on the ice sheets of the Arctic environment, with only starlight from the heavens and a tin lantern to illuminate the tiny text inside your vintage copy of A Christmas Carol.

But probably not the latter option.


This Christmas reading challenge is born of my own delight in filling the entirety of the month of December (and the latter of November, in most cases) with holiday-themed books galore. Literally, I keep adding to an ongoing booklist all through the year when I happen across Christmas titles that I may like to try my hand (errrr --- eyes?) at, just so I can read it when the holidays arrive.

Please tell me I'm not alone?

The challenge starts on November 18th. Sign-ups are open NOW! Just so whenever you're ready to pick up a festive holiday title, the event link-up will be open.

How to participate in A Literary Christmas:



  • Think about some Christmas books to read, or maybe re-read this season. This could include fictional stories (modern or vintage books), or non-fiction (an Advent devotional, or a book on Christmas traditions?)... it's up to you! Your goals can be 1 book, 5 books, or some short stories. AUDIO BOOKS & E-BOOKS ARE WELCOME!



  • Write a blog post or social media post to tell us that you're joining A Literary Christmas reading challenge, and maybe give us a sneak peek of the books you want to read for this challenge. Make sure to link to this blog (or even this individual post) to spread the word among your friends. Grab one of the challenge images to use in your post.

    A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com


    A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com



  • Link up below! Copy the link to your post online and add it to the linky below. Now you've joined the challenge!



  • Next step: Start reading the books on your list! When you talk about the books on your blog or review them (on Goodreads, your blog, etc.), be sure to link up your posts below so that we can all check out what everyone is reading. (I know that I hope to find some good book recommendations from you all!)

    A Literary Christmas officially begins on November 20th and ends on December 31st, 2017. (You may begin reading your Christmas books whenever it suits you though.) *wink*




  • Stay tuned!


    Once the challenge begins I think we can all gather some fresh holiday titles from each other. In the meantime, if you're looking for what books you should be reading this holiday season, check out some of the Christmas books I've shared about in the past, or visit online lists such as:

    Favorite Christmas Books

    Christian Christmas Books

    Christmas/Holiday Christian Fiction


    Link to your sign-up posts & reviews!



    11.16.2017

    There was Always Laughter in Our House // Book Review & GIVEAWAY! // BLOG TOUR


    Sarah Holman's new book, There Was Always Laughter In Our House, (her first non-fiction) will be releasing this month on Nov. 24th! Check out the great giveaway, the cover art, my review of this new title, and the other blogs in this countdown tour!


    There Was Always Laughter In Our House by Sarah Holman (5 star review)


    There Was Always Laughter In Our House

    written by Sarah Holman

    146 pages // published in 2017 // Christian non-fiction



    BOOK DESCRIPTION

    What do you get when you mix two parents who grew up in the city, six kids who have always lived in the country, and add homeschooling? You get a whole lot of laughter!

    Homeschool graduate and author Sarah Holman shares stories about her family that range from thought-provoking to side-splitting. She shares both hilarious mistakes and heartbreaking moments in her family. In this collection of stories, she endeavors capture some of the answers to the questions people have often asked her about growing up in a conservative homeschool family as well as some of the wisdom she has gleaned along the way. Sarah invites you to open up this scrapbook of memories. She hopes that you come away encouraged, inspired…and laughing.




    My Review


    5 Star Rating


    As soon as I heard about this book, I was immediately excited, and for multiple reasons:
    (1) I'm already a fan of Sarah Holman's fiction, but to get to read something true, something interesting about her and her family? Well, that's something entirely new – and exciting.
    (2) I grew up in a Christian homeschooling family, just like Sarah did, and so of course I want to read all about the fun stories from her childhood, and perhaps pick up on other similarities in our lives too.

    Well, I definitely enjoyed it. Sarah openly shares about her faith, her beliefs on many things including wearing skirts, politics, homeschooling, family life, and more. Sarah is witty and funny all throughout. Plus, there's so many chapters, each on different subjects; she has tons of little stories to tell about! The biggest takeaway that I got is that her family is a tight bunch, all devoted to each other. Her parents have built a godly character into each of their children. I liked how Sarah even wrote a chapter specifically about each of her siblings – that's pretty cool!

    “We are a group of messed-up people, saved by God's grace, and blessed enough to call each other a family.” -Sarah Holman

    I think one of my favorite bits in this book is about the ongoing battle between her and her brother on how the Narnia books should be organized on the shelf (okay, I've heard of scholarly battles on such a topic, but this is next level stuff when it comes to two people living in the same house). Oh, and that chicken story, that was pretty hilarious too...

    Sarah's story would be most enjoyed by homeschooling families or anyone who may be simply interested in that lifestyle.

    “Words have power, power we fail to recognize time and time again. Both spoken words and written words have an impact that can last forever. That's why I'm a writer.” -Sarah Holman


    Available on Amazon in ebook format.
    Pre-Order now, get it Nov. 24th!


    Add to Goodreads


    Author bio:
    Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined. You can find out more about her at her website www.thedestinyofone.com


    Author Sarah Holman

    Visit the author online!
    BlogFacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreadsLinkedin


    GIVEAWAY!!

    Win a 'Waltz Into the Waves' ebook!

    Sarah has generously offered an e-book of one of her fairytale retellings as a prize (exclusive to my blog ONLY!). Want to learn more about 'Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella Story'? Check out MY REVIEW that tells you everything you need to know.


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tour Schedule

    Be sure to check out these other blogs to find out more...


    November 16
    Reachel – What stories are you going to include, Sarah?
    J. Grace Pennington – An interview
    Esther Filbrun – A review
    Tarissa Graves – A review
    November 17
    Leona Ruth – A review
    Chloe – A review
    November 18
    Kaylee – A review
    Alexa - A Thanksgiving Story
    November 19
    Liv K. Fisher – Short Girl Jokes
    Kelsey Bryant – A review



    Quote from There was Always Laughter in Our House






    P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon (on Nov. 24th!).


    10.28.2017

    October // Book Review & GIVEAWAY! // BLOG TOUR



    J. Grace Pennington's new book, October, has just released this week! Check out the great giveaway, the beautiful cover art, my review of this new title, and the other blogs in this countdown tour!


    October by J. Grace Pennington (5 star review)


    October

    written by J. Grace Penningtone

    262 pages // published in 2017 // YA Christian fiction



    BOOK DESCRIPTION

    For Emily Baxter, life is simple. Her world is made up completely of school, church, and the community in the small farming town she calls home. All that changes one fateful Sunday, when a new girl shows up at Pleasanton Baptist—a girl unlike anyone Emily has ever seen. A girl with long red hair, crystal green eyes, and style and posture like royalty.

    A girl named October.

    The months that follow are filled with magic—the magic of ordinary things, of finding pictures in the stars, of imagination and a new sense of beauty. But as time goes by, Emily begins to sense that her enchanting new friend may have secrets that could break the spell. Is October really all she seems to be?




    My Review


    5 Star Rating


    I am genuinely intrigued by J. Grace Pennington's new novel. Why? It's heavy on the emotion, and it's thrilling; I sensed the intensity of it all throughout the story. The feelings go deep, the plot deals with modern issues, and overall, the message is honest. I felt right up close and personal to the story, as if the characters were my friends, their problems mine.

    It's the kind of book where I didn't want to put it down for later, even when I had to. It starts out delightfully – with the beginnings of a fresh friendship. 17-year-old Emily Baxter meets the new girl in town, October Blake. The weeks tick by rather beautifully as these two girls get to know each other and have a few adventures, just spending time creating memories. For me, the intensity of the drama (while subtle and perhaps just found in quiet conversation) kept increasing as the chapters unfolded. As lovely as the friendship was coming along, I felt that the plot was heading somewhere else – somewhere that I as the reader didn't know yet, and neither did Emily. But I just couldn't wait to find out what the secret was – good or bad.

    Tobi (October) herself seems to have so many dream-like qualities akin to Anne Shirley. I wanted to be her friend just as much as Emily wanted to. “This girl seemed more fitted to lilac and lace and the smell of old books with long, beautiful words in them.” And even better, when she was asked about her favorite authors, I found that our hearts beat as one on that topic. She comes across as a strong female, yet with vulnerabilities, a true-to-life person.

    I connected really well with Emily's character too. She's a high-schooler, eager to make a new acquaintance even though it means putting herself out on the line a bit. Emily has a fun curiosity about her, aroused when this interesting girl named October enters the picture. She's ready to give this friendship her all, and from my point of view, these girls have something more precious than a friend in each other. It seems to me that they form a solid sisterhood, which is definitely my favorite element in the book.

    Then there's Jax, Emily's cousin and loyal friend. Their bond is so strong too, like they're always going to be together, fighting their way through life by each other's side. One of my favorite passages, where Emily is thinking about him, since she knows him so well: “I had known Jax my whole life. I could tell what each of his different silences meant.” He's a good-natured gentleman and a reliable comrade.

    Some of the topics in the story include self-harm, depression, and may be hinting at other mental disorders. The story is woven very well around these topics, while keeping God in the story. What the book definitely brings out is that the family and friends you know may be different on the inside than the image they project to the world around them.

    This is “clean” fiction; teens especially will like this book, and adults will enjoy it too. It has well-written faith content in it, and I'm so happy that it has Christian undertones all throughout the plot, especially when dealing with the heavier and perhaps grim topics.

    Overall? I am impressed by Pennington's October. This one seems like a story really close to the author's heart, and the reader can definitely feel it.

    P.S. Oh, and the ending really got me good, stunned me a bit. Like the classic mystery ending of My Cousin Rachel.



    Available on Amazon in paperback and ebook format.


    Add to Goodreads



    About the Author


    J. Grace Pennington has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them down since age five.  Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as adult life permits.  When she's not writing she enjoys reading good books, having adventures with her husband, and looking up at the stars.



    GIVEAWAY!!

    Grace has generously offered a paperback book of her new book as her giveaway prize. You can enter at this link or the widget below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tour Schedule

    Be sure to check out these other blogs to find out more...

    October 25, 2017
    Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory post
    God's Peculiar Treasure Rae – Character Spotlight
    Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight
    Audrey Rich – Book Spotlight

    October 26, 2017
    Frances Hoelsema – Excerpt
    Jaye L. Knight – Character Spotlight and Excerpt

    October 27, 2017
    Liv K. Fisher – Author Interview and Excerpt
    Opinions, Thoughts, and General Rambling – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
    Leila's Bookshelf – Book Spotlight

    October 28, 2017
    Rebekah Lyn Books – Excerpt
    In the Bookcase – Review
    Roxbury Books – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
    J. Grace Pennington – Special author’s post

    October 29, 2017
    Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner
     






    P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


    10.10.2017

    Book Review: Three Men On The Bummel

    Three Men On The Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (3 star review)


    Three Men On The Bummel
    Three Men series, #2

    written by Jerome K. Jerome

    207 pages // published in 1900 // Victorian humor




    BOOK DESCRIPTION

    Three Men on the Bummel is the sequel to Three Men in a Boat, which Jerome K. Jerome originally wrote as a travel guide. As the humorous anecdotes took over the story, it eventually turned into a masterpiece of comedy. This novel reprises the same three characters as they explore the Black Forest in Germany.




    My Review


    3 Star Rating


    Three Men on the Bummel is the sequel to Three Men in a Boat (the sequel being published only a year after the first title).

    This volume starts out as a rather jaunty tune; I felt like I was delightedly being led along those first chapters. It was a breeze! The men would get entrapped in petty (but oh-so-hilarious) arguments with their wives, or the three friends would be telling stories of fascinatingly comedic escapades. Everything is so quaint and Victorian, adding to the overall charm value it had.

    Now, after the narrator and his buddies take leave of the English shore and start their journey, I got a little lost in several places. Many times the long, drab passages would just muddle me up, and the story wasn't half as entertaining as before. Sometimes it read more like a traveler's guide on how to enjoy a bummel across Europe, occasionally poking fun at the Germans or Americans, etc. It just seemed to have lost its full comedy that I so enjoyed from Three Men in a Boat.

    What I did like was the wit that did shine through of Jerome K. Jerome, some pretty funny scenes, the bantering conversations, and the oh-so-British pomp -- that will all live in my memory for quite a while.

    Oh, and I do miss the dog, Montmorency, who appeared in the first volume!



    Available on Amazon in paperback, ebook and audio format.


    Add to Goodreads



    This is book #8 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
    [CATEGORY: Number in the Title]





    P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


    10.08.2017

    Book Review: Present Over Perfect

    Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (5 star review)


    Present Over Perfect
    Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

    written by Shauna Niequist

    240 pages // published in 2016 // Christian encouragement




    BOOK DESCRIPTION

    LIVE A LIFE OF MEANING AND CONNECTION
    Instead of pushing for perfection

    A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

    I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

    Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

    Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

    Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

    In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.




    My Review


    5 Star Rating


    Sometimes you have to learn that it's better to be present (in the moment, with your family, taking a breather), than it is to have people believe that you're leading a perfect, successful life. Besides, “perfect” in based on whose terms?

    A big lesson Shauna shares about that I need to use more often in my life? I can't say yes all the time to please people. I have to take care of myself and my family, and sometimes (many times) this may mean saying no to requests for my time. It's not rude. It's prudent.

    Another lesson I learned? You need to be honest to yourself. A lot of times we fudge the truth a bit with ourselves. We think that planning an event won't take too much of our time, taking on eight random projects to complete in a week will be a little hard but doable. No. We've got to stop those thoughts. Be honest. Be real.

    “Perfect and the hunt for it will ruin our lives.”

    Like Shauna, I probably have worn filters over my eyes – like sunglasses, affecting how or what I perceive. And filters over my ears and mouth too. Just like when Dorothy visited the fabled Land of Oz, and upon putting on green glasses, she believed that the entire city was sparkling in emeralds. These similar filters affected how I saw the world, and how I thought people were judging me or looking at me. Well, guess what? Everyone else has their own filters, and more than likely, theirs are different than yours. So those tiny details you fret over about yourself probably go unnoticed by others.

    “Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice.”

    There are some details I picked up on the book where Shauna relates some of her beliefs which are a little bit different than mine. It's just a difference of the kind of churches we each attend, and that's okay. In no way did this detract from the spiritual encouragement that I received.

    I think from this time on, I'll always remember some key principles that Shauna brings out. One of these good reminders will always be at Christmastime, when I hear the words “...and the soul felt its worth.” Those words have never rung so beautifully in my ears as they will now when I hear them this next Christmas. Thanks, Shauna.

    I enjoyed this kind of encouragement, from a woman who's been around the block a few times, and knows how to inspire through words.



    Available on Amazon in hardcover, ebook and audio format.


    Add to Goodreads






    P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.