First Quarter Reading Update

Wow! It’s already April 1st! I can’t believe it. I decided to take a few moments to figure out where I am in my reading goals for 2021. I realized that I did not publish a post about my goals so if you do not follow me on instragram, here is my reading plan for 2021:

10 Biographies- I decided that I really enjoy reading biographies and I would like to know more about certain people from history.

5 General Nonfiction- Any other type of nonfiction not considered a biography.

10 Fiction- because I cannot NOT read fiction!!

So, where am I as of 4/1/2021?

I have completed 1 biography. I read a YA biography on Benedict Arnold that read like a novel! It was very good. I am currently working on a biography on Mary Todd Lincoln. I’ve actually been reading on this book for nearly a year. It is very scholarly and at times I can only read a few pages in one sitting.

I have read 1 nonfiction book written by a 12 year old! It was over Dred Scott v. Sanford. I have a huge stack of books that fit this category and hope to dive into more of them over the summer.

And no surprise here, but I have completed 10 fiction books! And the stack keeps growing. I had no fears about meeting this particular goal but I hadn’t anticipated meeting it so quickly! Audibles and the Libby app have really assisted me in getting more fiction reading down these last few months. You can read my thoughts about Lovely War, Amora, and Shadows of the White City now. More reviews on my fiction reads coming each Monday.

Shadows of the White City

Shadows of the White City is the second installment in the Windy City Saga. This particular storyline is set in Chicago during the World’s Fair and follows Sylvie, the younger of the two Townshend sisters.

Sylvie Townshend is the proprietor of Corner Books & More. She has spent the first part of her life caring for her ailing father who fought in the American Civil War. A survivor of the Great Chicago Fire, Sylvie is resilient. She is determined to make her own way, independently. And yet, Sylvie is missing something. Enter Rose, a sweet child that Sylvie takes in so that she does not have to go to the children’s home. Sylvie raises Rose as her own, but like Sylvie, Rose is missing something as well. But when Rose herself goes missing, both women find exactly what they need.

Jocelyn Green really knows how to a take a reader back in time. Personally, I am very unfamiliar with the World’s Fair. Jocelyn’s writing allows for me to see just how grand this event truly was. Like with her Heroines Behind the Lines series, this storyline is unique and contains several twists and turns.

This book left me curious about the plight of those living in the poor areas of Chicago. I am also in awe of how orphans were treated in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is terrible to think many people just assumed they were worthless because they lost their parents! Not only that, but the fact that girl orphans could be bought and raised in a brothel?!? (A point that is also mentioned in Amora.)

Awesomeness:

-Jocelyn’s descriptions of the setting and historical research is always wonderful!

-The characters realize that you’re never to old for romance and family is not limited to blood relations.

Cautions:

-Treatment & living conditions of the orphans and poor is terrible. (And historically accurate.)

-Rose goes missing and Sylvie decided to visit the area of “ill-repute” to search for her. This is tastefully done but still, depending on the reader, this may be difficult to read.

Side note: I pre-ordered this book back in the fall and then found out that the first 250 pre-orders received a sign bookplate! Insert serious fangirl excitement!

I also had the privilege of participating in a virtual author even where I listened to Jocelyn Green share more about the creation of this book and a tiny teaser about the final installment coming next year! Oh the agony of waiting!!

Fun Fact: It was called the White City because all of the buildings were made out of white marble/stone!

Winner Winner!!

Y’all, I WON A BOOK!!!!

I am super pumped to have won the first book in the Columba Diaries written by Jessica Glasner. You may remember I did a review over her Seabirds Trilogy last April. This next series picks up with Grace. (If you read the Seabirds Trilogy then you know Grace’s story left off on a serious cliff-hanger!) I’ll be back to tell you all about Saving Grace. But for now, I just wanted to brag!

Amora

After the loss of their twelve-year-old daughter, Amora and Leo’s marriage crumbles. Once Amora accepts Christ, Leo becomes irate enough to denounce his wife and send her to the Colosseum.

Leo’s son, Esteban, finds himself alone and lost. Both men will experience hurt and pain beyond belief as they learn to truly accept Christ’s love and forgiveness. And, learn to forgive others.

I tend to forget about this time period in Christian history. As someone who has stood in the Colosseum, I could picture the scene as Christians were sent to their deaths. This book pulls on your heart strings and helps you to remember that no sin is too great for God’s forgiveness.

If you are a fan of Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series, then you will certainly enjoy this book.

Awesomeness:

-The relationships between the character’s are pretty realistic.

-The battle scenes and gladiator training are cool.

-The history at the back really helps to inform the reader.

-The characters grow in their understanding of forgiveness.

Cautions:

This book touches on several difficult topics such as the death of a child, martyrdom, marital discord, and verbal and physical abuse. None of the issues are written in unnecessary detail and they all add to the depth and complexity of the story.

The Seabirds Trilogy

Imagine: it’s early summer. 1939. Your mother is dying from tuberculosis. You are packed up and sent to Maine to live with an eccentric aunt while your parents sail off to Switzerland as a last ditch effort to heal your mom.

This is exactly where Agatha finds herself. What she imagines will be a drab summer of fretting over her parents and learning to paint birds, turns into a grand adventure that will set her course for the duration of World War II.

The Seabirds Trilogy follows Agatha (dubbed Piper by her aunt), her aunt Edie, Horatio, Peter, and her three German-Jewish cousins. Ultimately what starts out as a combination honeymoon and attempt to meet up with her parents (Book 1) leads to her three cousins in Palestine each fighting, in their own way, for a homeland (Book 2). And ultimately, culminates in Australia on the Western Front! (Book 3).

Glasner has created a trilogy that both entices and educates. Full of historic references, these books take you on an adventure from Europe to Palestine to Hawaii to Australia. The characters are rich and real and quite frankly, tougher than nails.

Be prepared to be transported back to, what is quite possibly, the darkest time in the world’s history. As you get lost in the story, you will escape from the Nazi’s, smuggle Jewish children out of Europe, go undercover, learn to fly planes, go on secret missions, and escape a Japanese POW camp.

Book 1: Voyage of the Sandpiper

Awesomeness:

*Historical accuracy! All of her historical references are noted so you can look into them deeper.

Cautions:

*This book is set in WWII and while Glasner does not get graphic at all, concentration camps are mentioned, characters die, anti-Semitic comments are made, and there is some undercover work necessary to save lives.

Book 2: Flight of the Seahawks (My favorite!)

Awesomeness:

*Strong female characters

*Lots of historical information regarding a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

*Uniquely written

Cautions:

*Mostly takes place in Egypt and Palestine during WWII.

*Characters get involved in the fighting.

*Relationships between Arabs and Jews

Book 3: Song of the Storm Petrel

Awesomeness:

*Continued historical references

*Characters come to know Jesus

*Families are reunited

Cautions:

*Japanese treatment of POWs

*The dropping of the Atomic bomb

Note: the author reached out for me to review her books. I received the books for free but was otherwise uncompensated. The above thoughts are my own.

Heaven Shining Through

I am super excited to present to you Joe Siccardi’s debut novella:  Heaven Shining Through. This novella was sent to me by the author for a read and review. To learn more about Mr. Siccardi and his upcoming work, visit his website.

Heaven Shining Through is a 64 page novella that centers around Samantha’s reflections on her life. Visiting her ailing mother, whom she never really got along with, Samantha is sent into a reverie of her past. She walks the reader through her teenage years and into her current life situation. Through her reflections, Samantha comes to realize that life really is unpredictable and perhaps her mother loved her more than she had ever realized.

Awesomeness: 

*As my hubby says, I’m a sucker for vocabulary. This book has excellent vocabulary. I circled 59 words that I would turn into a vocabulary lesson(s).

*The ending is a happy one in which broken relationships are healed.

*It is a short read and could easily be finished in an  hour depending on the strength of the reader.

Cautions:

*The word whore is used at one point.

*The S word is also used.

*Fondling is discussed and the main couple do experience a moment of intimacy out of wedlock.

*Several characters die. One from cancer- that could be a trigger for anyone having had that personally affect them.

*At one point, Samantha compares the Bible Church she is attending to her Catholic experience. There are not derogatory remarks against the Catholic faith, she is just merely reflecting on the differences.

Lesson Plan Ideas:

*Use context clues to define unknown words.

*Write an alternative ending to the story.

*Create a character map of Samantha. What is she feeling? Thinking? Doing?

6 Ways I am saving money on books

While reading isn’t necessarily the most expensive hobby one can have, it can add up. Below are 6 ways that I have started saving money on books. And who doesn’t like saving money??

The Overdrive App

I know I have mentioned this before, but the Overdrive App is attached to my local library. All I had to do was select my library, put in my card number and create an account. Et voila! I can check out ebooks and audio books FOR FREE!

My Reader Rewards

I was introduced to My Reader Rewards Club by Crystal Payne at moneysavingmom.com. It is a loyalty program for Tyndale Publishing and NavPress- Christian publishers. When you sign up, you’re given several tasks you can complete in order to earn points. You can then redeem those points for books. I currently have 170 points and I was able to get them all the same day I signed up. I am hoping to get enough points to add another Sally Clarkson book to my library. I have only seen a limited number of books I can redeem; I am hoping that they are only showing me books I am qualified to purchase with my points at this time. If you’d like to check it out, click my affiliate link. I will get 10 points for you signing up and you receive 25 points! Technically, these books are FREE too!

Bookbub

I was introduced to Bookbub by my dad. I am really not a huge fan of reading books on my devices, but considering I am able to get so many for FREE, it is worth it. You just need to download the app on your device and create an account. You can choose from the genres you enjoy and every day you’ll get your daily deals. On average, I receive 1 free book a week. Sometimes nearly every day. I don’t always download it, but it’s cool that I have the option. Out of the 31 books I have downloaded from bookbub over the past 2 years, I have only paid for 2! The other books are generally .99 cents to 3.99.

Audibles

Audible Membership is a monthly subscription through Amazon. It’s a little under $15/ month, which is a little less than the price of an average book. With your membership you receive 1 credit/ month. With this credit you can “purchase” and audio book. Once you have the book, it’s yours forever. If you just did this, it’d be worth it seeing as many times the audio version is more expensive than the book itself. The Audible Membership also allows you to purchase audio books at a cheaper rate. I did the FREE TRIAL and received 2 credits. When I went to cancel my subscription, I was given 3 different offers to stay on. I decided that I would do the 3 month subscription for half the price. Once my 3 months were up, I cancelled. (Note: the options given to you when canceling may be different now.) If you’ve never done audibles, the free trial is worth it!

***Currently (As of July 10, 2018), NEW PRIME MEMBERS can get a 3 month subscription for $4.95/ month. I am actually a new prime member and I am considering this offer. PRIME DAY is JULY 16, 2018!! So… you could sign up for a FREE 30 DAY TRIAL for Prime and then snag this deal. Although, I’m not sure what would happen if you cancel your prime membership after 30 days.

Prime Reading

Since I am on the subject, If you’re a prime member you can read many ebooks for FREE!! Several books come with narration too. (Read: free audio!) I haven’t yet checked any out, but I know when I am ready I plan to check out Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope by Wendy Holden.

The Public Library

I can’t forget  the cheapest and best option of all: The Public Library! Take the kids and make a day out of it!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful!

Happy Book Buying!!!

PS- One final thought: Make sure your local Half Price Books has your address because they do send out coupons! In fact, I just received a weeks worth last week. I’m holding out until my 50% off coupon is good to go grab a book I’ve had my eye on!

*This post contains affiliate links.*

The Chronicles of Narnia

If you’re like me, then you have heard of the famous series written by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7 Volume Set, but perhaps have only ever read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. This past spring, my best friend and I decided to read the series together; this was her second or third time and my first. I didn’t really have any expectations about the series, but knew it would be a fun, imaginary story.  I was not disappointed.

There are 7 total books in the series. I think they each follow a similar pattern: within the first chapter, the kids are swept away to Narnia where they spend most of the novel preparing for the big, epic event that will ultimately arrive in the last few chapters. Some of the books have a slower build up to the big event than others.

I have NO IDEA if I was pronouncing the Narnian names correctly, but really, who cares? I enjoyed getting lost in the adventures of a group of young, English kids. Be advised, these are not merely feel-good novels; There is evil and death present. The children must fight against it in a different way in every novel. The novels are all held together by one reoccurring theme: Aslan is a Christ-like figure who assists the children in fighting the evil that comes upon Narnia.

Overall, if you have a reader in your family, I think they would love to read this series. I know I can’t wait to read them aloud with Jonathan when he is old enough. (Let’s be real… I may even read them prior to that!)