Words Words $#K@:R#@ Words

Last week in the Christian fiction book world there was a review of an upcoming book from a well known Christian fiction author that was given a rating of 1/2 a star due to language. There were other issues in the book (such as they couldn’t tell it was a Christian book at all) but that was the main focal point of the review. The reviewer summarized by saying that if this book had been marketed as a general market novel it would have gotten a higher rating but since it’s a Christian book, it was worth only 1/2 a star. There was a rather interested reaction to this review from members of the Christian fiction community. While there were those that agreed with the review, there were others (including authors and readers) who felt the review to be unjust and nitpicky.

What was most interesting to me was that in another Christian fiction book, I found a curse word used AS a curse word and NO ONE has said anything about it yet in all the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads that I’ve read through. That same reviewer in fact gave the book high stars! I don’t get it.

Let me start out by saying two things. One, I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that this publication has every right to uphold their own beliefs. The second is, I’m a Christian and I curse sometimes yet I feel that my relationship with God is on solid ground.

Cursing is not something I enjoy doing and I actually don’t do it a lot. There are certain words that I really don’t like using/seeing//hearing but it also comes with the intent behind the words. A word is really just a word. It’s all in what you mean behind it. A curse word stripped down is just a bunch of random letters lined up next to each other. It cannot hurt you until you take that word and throw it at someone in a derogatory way. That being said, any word can be used to harm someone. Chicken is word that most use to call an animal or a type of meat. Or it can be used as an insult. I mean even the word “girl” is used as an insult.

Going back to the review, personally I’m looking forward to reading this book. While I enjoy reading a lot of Christian fiction books, I also take issue to books that want to stay in the bubble. I understand that there is and always will be an audience that wants to separate themselves away from the rest of the world and I respect them for it. But at the same time, I also prefer reading books that don’t preach and is able to be enjoyed by ANYONE who picks it up. I have known for years that I’m not the target audience for most Christian fiction and that’s ok. I stated on another blog that I just like author’s who do share my beliefs and are able to tell a good story.

It just irks me when I see authors who do just that get harsh reviews from those that don’t see things that way. Again, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. It’s just funny that Christians want a label stating that it’s not “really” a Christian book, while those who aren’t of the same faith will want a label saying it’s a faith based book. While excessive cursing used as filler in any type of book is unacceptable because it’s sloppy and unimaginative, the opposite is just as bad too.  Too many times have I read novels where it’s very obvious that the writer is trying to avoid using curse words but it comes across as looking completely unrealistic.

I guess the biggest thing for me is that I feel like it shouldn’t even be that big of an issue when there are so many other things that is lacking in that genre. (Diversity for one) I do feel like Christians spend too much time worrying about keeping things clean and trying to make everything safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” – The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe


That Time I Got Really Geeked About a Spreadsheet

So I’m going to get all book nerdy on you today.

Last week I talked about my reading stats for last year and my reading goals for 2015. You might also remember that I had trouble remembering exactly how many books in each category that I read last year. This was due to Goodreads being the only source of how I kept track of my books. In order to figure out numbers in each genre, I had to count from the beginning several times. When one reads over 200 books, this becomes a bit problematic because after a while everything just runs together. I knew I wasn’t giving the correct numbers but I was tired of having to keep going back and forth.

I knew that I needed to make a different change in 2015. That’s when I decided to keep a reading spreadsheet.

Now let me first say that I really love doing data entry. I’ve worked in records management and secretly let me tell you it’s something I really enjoy. I love stats and keeping track of things so I can see trends and growth over time.

I knew that other folks had been keeping their reading habits on spreadsheets but I had dismissed them earlier. After all, I used Goodreads. Why should you use something else? Then I ran into my problem and realized I needed something more than just Goodreads.

Book Riot (which if you love books and reading is site you need to be visiting every day) had an article up a few months ago called “How I Track My Reading: The Ultimate Reading Spreadsheet.” The author of the post feels the same way I do about data, tracking, stats, and reading. She also gives a link to where one can download a template for a spreadsheet and then customize it to their own preferences.

Google Drive is an amazing feature. I don’t currently own Microsoft Office products but with Google Docs and Google spreadsheets, I don’t need to. And being online, I can update this spreadsheet anywhere that I can have internet access. No more waiting hours later to write down that book!

As stated last year, the biggest genre I read the most of was Christian fiction. This meant that the majority of the authors I read were white and female. This year, I want to read more diversely. This doesn’t mean I’m purposely choosing what I read but I want to keep a closely better track of what authors I’m reading. I also want to read more non fiction as well.

So here are screenshots of what my spreadsheet looks like. I have many different things I want to keep track of as you can see. And yes I have read 10 books at this point, by the time this publishes it might be more. (Click on the images to make them bigger)

Here’s the first half. The first column is for when I finish the book. Then there’s title, author, gender of author (drop down menu to choose from female, male, collaboration), publisher, year version I’m reading is published, date started, date ended, pages, Fiction or Non Fiction, Level (drop down menu for Adult, YA – young adult, or MG – Middle Grade).

Reading Spreadsheet1

The second half – Genre, Format (book, ebook, ARC – advanced reader copy, etc), source (where did I get book from), Nationality of author, Diversity – is the author a Person of Color (this is any author that is not white). Then we get to the formula tracking columns which tally up pages read, books finished and how many POC authors I’ve read.


I realize that not everyone cares so much about data like this! These are the things that are important for me to keep track of when I read however. I know that some people couldn’t care less who writes their book or even how many books they read. But I am trying to read outside my normal routine so for me it is important to know that I’m not just reading the same thing over and over. Re: tracking diversity of author, it can get a little tricky because sometimes that means researching an author’s background but after last year of reading over 200 books and only reading THREE POC authors, I want to make an effort this year of reading more.

I still use Goodreads to keep track of what books I’m reading and also because I’m doing their reading challenge. And it’s a good tool and website. I just know that for me personally, I want more info and that means doing this spreadsheet. It may mean a little bit more work but that’s ok! You may get sick of seeing spreadsheets after work all day. But for me, this is great fun.

Now on to more reading!

Thank you very much to Book Riot for the inspiration to do this.


The Year of Enjoying What I Like


This week, my posts will be taking a look back at 2014 and looking forward to 2015.

This was a rather good year geeky wise for me.

Movie wise: I saw 18 new movies in theaters (plus a few older ones thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse) including Guardians of the Galaxy five times. Yes this ties the record with The Avengers for most time seen in theaters. No I did not spend a ton of money doing this. One highlight was seeing Interstellar in real IMAX at the Smithsonian. Definitely worth it.

TV wise: All my shows I watched were great. Gracepoint was good enough for me that I want to switch to Broadchurch (this is a compliment). Peter Capaldi was wonderful on Doctor Who. The Walking Dead was gross and wonderful and will the next half please get here soon?

The shows I watched for Entertainment Weekly were quite good (ok, Metal Hurlant Chronicles wasn’t a fave). It’s a crime Selfie was canceled (it really was) but The Musketeers will be returning later this month. I’ll also be recapping Veronica Mars from the beginning as I watch it for the first time.

Book wise: I read a lot this year. I surpassed my goal and read 229 books in 2014. Here’s a breakdown of what I read.

(Numbers are a bit off because I kept losing track when counting repeatedly)

Christian Fiction 135

General Fiction 17

YA 37

Graphic Novel 19

Picture Book 1

Non Fiction 10

Diversity – 34 books written by males (All White Males)

3 books written by POC authors

Diversity wise I failed horribly. Most of those 34 books books were graphic novels so a lot were by the same authors. Also this just shows that Christian fiction is written almost exclusively by white females because that is their target audience.

But graphic novels in general are outside of my normal reading habits so I’m hoping to read more in the future.

Goals for next year?

Reading wise: I’m going to read a lot again next year. I still have a goal to read at least 200 books but I’d like to go outside of my normal reading for a change. I want to read more non fiction and I want to read out of my normal reads. This doesn’t mean less Christian fiction but more intentionally finding books outside of that genre. My “what books have you been reading” posts are quite popular so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

Movie wise: Oh 2015 is the year of two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (including new Avengers?), Hunger Games, James Bond, and a new Star Wars movie you say? Well you know where I’ll be.

Blog wise: I want to do something different on my blog this year. While I still want to keep my schedule of what I post on MWF, I’d like to incorporate a new feature for Geekness Fridays. I don’t want to plan out a set schedule of what I’m going to post every Friday because I do enjoy spontaneity. But for this year, I’d like to try something new with my favorite band ever.

Once a month I’m going to listen to a Beatles album and spend a Friday talking about it. I’m not a music expert by any means, just a huge fan. There are twelve studio albums so I’ll be talking about one once a month. It’ll be fun to try something different and I’m looking forward to listening to all the albums in their entirety again.

So yeah. That was 2014 and those are goals for 2015.

2014 has been a good geeky year and I have no doubt that 2015 will be just the same if not better.

Because I do not need these to be a geek: 20140919_162811


What Good Books Have You Been Reading Lately Vol 6

To newcomers of this blog, this is a semi-regular feature on my blog. I have no set date on when these posts will go up. It all depends on how much I read and how good the books are that I read. Lately, I have been picking good books so it’s been good reading times for me. I’m now standing at 211 out of 225 books read for my 2014 goal with about 3 weeks left to go!

The Regal Rules for Girls by Jerramy Fine (Berkley Trade, 2012)

My blurb: Prince Harry is still up for grabs and this book showed me how to get him. No, but seriously as an Anglophile and very interested in the Royals, this book gave a great insight to what it’s like to learn to BE British. It’s sort of like an etiquette book but not as proper or formal. I highly doubt it will happen to be but still very fun to read.

Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (Viking Adult, 2014)

My blurb: It’s like the story of my life! Being the daughter of Asian immigrants and reading Little House on the Prairie! This story gives a “what if” to the story of Rose, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter as well as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. It really was like reading a story about me.

The Walking Dead: Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore (Image Comics, 2006)

My blurb: I’ve been watching the show for several years and finally decided to cave and read the comics since we have all of them at the library. I’ve been reading one a week. And they are quite different from the TV show. I keep expecting Daryl to show up even though I know he never will. Characters are totally different and there are some changes in the plot. But otherwise it’s still really good and I’m enjoying it.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, 2014)

My blurb: I’m a huge Julie Klassen fan. (I was even published as a blurb in one of her books!) Her stories are set in the Austen time period. This is her best. It’s like Northanger Abbey, the gothic mystery romance. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen until the end. It’s rich and descriptive as well as a darn good story.

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

My blurb: Food and Jane Austen references and a sister story? Yes please. LOTS of food. Two sisters who have grown apart reunite due to cancer. It’s not a retelling of Pride and Prejudice which I had been a little worried about but instead it just talks about Austen a lot. It is a cancer story, so there’s that in here but I thought it was portrayed very realistically. I really loved all the characters as they are flawed and not perfect and never become so. Also interracial marriages. FTW.

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose You Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (Crown Archetype, 2014)

My blurb: I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. I mean it’s NPH and a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I however did the thing where I just read it straight through. I know. But you really can flip around and choose NPH’s destiny. It’s an extremely funny book as well as very enlightening as to what went into the real Doogie Howser/Barney Stinson’s life. I don’t normally read celeb memoirs but this one was extremely well done.

That’s what I’ve been reading. What good books have YOU been reading lately?


Reading Challenge Accepted!


Normally if I’m going to talk about books, I’d save it for Fridays for the Geekness posts. But since today is December 1 and it falls on a Monday, there’s a reason why I’m writing about books today.

2014 is almost up. My reading goal for this year is to read 225 books. I have currently finished 200 books. I have 31 days left to read 25 more books. This shouldn’t be a problem if all goes well.

Now then, why am I talking about this on a Monday instead of a Friday? Because I have one more reading goal for 2014. To read as many of the library books I have currently checked out before I get new ones.

I was inspired by this post on BookRiot, One Man’s Diary of a Month-Long Library Closure. In it, the author’s library was closed for a month for renovations and he prepped in advance by checking out as many things as possible to get him through the month. He thought he had gotten WAY more than he would be able to finish. He ended up finishing everything a week before the month was up and in such realized how important libraries were.

That post made me want to challenge myself to do the same thing by getting a huge number of books beforehand and prepare myself for a month without checking out new books.

This is actually harder than it seems. See I work IN a library. Plus I have library cards to three other libraries. I currently don’t have anything from one library system but between the other three systems I have 44 books checked out. This also doesn’t include all the music CDs, DVDs, and audio books I have checked out as well. My problem is that I keep checking out new books before I read the old ones. And since I work in a library, this doesn’t help at all when I keep seeing things I want to read on the shelves or being returned as I work.

Therefore I made a challenge for myself. From December 1 to December 31, I will read books that are from my current library TBR pile and NOT check out any new library books. The only exceptions are if I placed the book on hold BEFORE December 1 and I am allowed to put books on hold ONLY if they are new books to be ordered and not currently in the library system.

This challenge should then fulfill two purposes: 1) I’ll meet my 225 book goal for the year and 2) I should whittle down my library TBR pile and stop stockpiling books I should be reading.

I know to a lot of you this is slightly crazy and yeah it probably is. Still, making challenges and goals for myself is how I seem to work the best.


What Good Books Have You Been Reading Lately Vol 5

To newcomers of this blog, this is a semi-regular feature on my blog. I have no set date on when these posts will go up. It all depends on how much I read and how good the books are that I read. Lately, I have been picking good books so it’s been good reading times for me. I’m now standing at 181 out of 225 books read for my 2014 goal with about 1.5 months left to go!

Wildlife by Fiona Wood (Poppy, 2014)

My blurb: It’s a story set in a wilderness high school experience in Australia. So it’s pretty much like a story about camp. And I love camp stories. I feel the US cover is a bit deceiving because it looks like it’s all about a girl and a guy but it’s really more about two girls and told from their points of view.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae (Bloomsbury, 2014)

My blurb: I love stories that take place in other countries because if I can’t go there yet, I love reading about it. At first I was super annoyed with the main character because she was complaining about how she was being sent away to Italy to study and all she wanted to do was stay at home. But her adventures in the country really made me want to go travel there myself one day. If you liked Roman Holiday, you’ll enjoy this.

A Cry From the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

My blurb: I didn’t know what to expect when I read this because the cover seems very non descript and not at all like your typical Christian fiction cover. Well basically, it’s about historical Mormons that massacred innocent travelers and then in the modern day, a cancer recovery woman who tries to stop it from happening again. That on the cover my friends is a death mask.

The Well by Stephanie Landsem (Howard, 2013)

My blurb: I’ve always be fascinated by how many different interpretations there are of the woman at the well from the Bible. A lot of stories portray her in a horrible light because she had 5 husbands. But they never seem to consider the circumstances of why she did, they just automatically assume she’s a skank. This book however doesn’t immediately assume this. Also, the ending wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s all I will say.

Camp FoxTrot by Bill Amend (Andrews McNeel Publishing, 1998)

My blurb: FoxTrot to this day is my favorite comic of all time. I love the adventures the family has, the fact that they tied in pop/geek culture references all the time, and just how good the story is. I’ve read this collection many times but it always brings a chuckle and I love all the tiny details you don’t notice at first go round.

Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates (Andrews McNeel Publishing, 2009)

My blurb: If you’re familiar with the blog of the same name then you know what to expect. I’ve actually been waiting for 5 years to read this book! Long story short, it was everything I hoped for. There’s stuff in there that (as far as I know) wasn’t on the blog and it really makes you wonder what on earth these bakers and cake decorators were thinking. It’s always good for a laugh and then it makes you just want to eat cake.

That’s what I’ve been reading. What good books have YOU been reading lately?


Having fun isn’t hard, when you got a library card!

Full disclosure: I work in a library.

My love affair with the library started when I was about 3 years old. My mom had taught me and my sisters to read when we were super young so we loved books pretty much all our lives. The library was the best thing ever because it was a place with ALL the books. I remember loving going to church every Sunday as a small child because it meant I could check out books from the church library.

I got my first library card when I was 7. Back then there was a book limit of 20 books. To a 7 year old that seemed like a huge amount of books and I had visions of walking out with stacks of books 20 feet high. My parents never banned us from reading things from the library though they did make us read non fiction books to level out the Babysitter Club and Sweet Valley books we were also reading. We also had to read a number of classics as well. This was fine with me as I could usually find a bunch of non fiction books I enjoyed. We also participated in the summer reading program every year and ROCKED those things. We had to xerox the log in sheets because we read so much.

Fast forward a decade and a half later and I found myself working in the library I grew up in as a shelver. It was a dream come true. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got to learn the ins and outs of working in a library and got to know the collection so much better. I learned that working in a library isn’t as easy as it seems and there are some not so fun parts but I really enjoyed it. I moved up to the part time library assistant where I got to interact more with the patrons and found that challengingly fun as well. Now I currently work again in a library and it’s pretty awesome.

Now I know that some people don’t use the libraries and I respect your decision. But if you pay taxes, you really should take advantage of your local library. There’s so many free resources besides just books. I’m not going to go all into that today.

But I will say take advantage of your library if you can. Read this article here to find out 6 ways to be a power library user.

Just remember to bring back your stuff to the library. Or this guy will come after you.


What Good Books Have You Been Reading Lately Vol 4

To new comers of this blog, this is a semi-regular feature on my blog. I have no set date on when these posts will go up. It all depends on how much I read and how good the books are that I read. Lately, I have been picking good books so it’s been good reading times for me. I’m now standing at 159 out of 225 books read for my 2014 goal with about 2.5 months left to go!

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee (Howard, 2014)

My blurb: As far as I can remember, the Queen of Sheba gets a blip of a mention in Sunday School but I don’t know that much about her other than she came to visit King Solomon and they had a lot of wise talks. This book takes her character and creates a whole story for her that is incredible. You can tell there was a lot of historical research that went into the book. Tired of safe fiction coming from the Christian fiction publishers? This one has lots of sex. Good stuff. Heh.

An Accidental Life by Pamela Binnings Ewen (B&H, 2013)

My blurb: This book is about woman lawyers and abortion. But lest you think it’s a preachy pro-life book, it actually isn’t. It’s more about the legal issues surrounding the pro-life/choice debate and makes for a very compelling read.

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas (Bethany House, 2014)

My blurb: To sum up this word in just a few words: West Virginia and food. Seriously there is a ton of food in this book. And the best part is that one of the characters has the gift of making more food come. But people think she’s a witch! Like I said…..West Virginia.

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon (Putnam Adult, 2014)

My blurb: I LOVED this book. I’ve read all the Mitford books and this one was just like going home again. You know how when some authors go back to their most popular books and they just cannot recreate the magic? Not this time. Everything and everyone was there. I also haven’t laughed so much while reading a story in a long time. This is wonderful comfort reading. I don’t know if there will be more books but even if there isn’t, this was a joy to read

Blur by Steven James (Skyscape, 2014)

My blurb: Confession: Even though I LOVE Steven James’s books, I nearly avoided this one because it wasn’t published by a mainstream publisher. (I’m snobby about that.) I’m glad that I went against my normal way of thinking because this was a really great read. It’s a YA suspense with some paranormal elements and it is GOOD. James writes the story from a first person teenage boy’s POV and I believed it.

The Miracle Thief by Iris Anthony (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2014)

My blurb: This book is an amazing historical fiction read set during France during the 900s which is a time period you don’t see a lot of these days in books. Stuff about miracles and witches and nuns and royalty. All good stuff. Also even though I know what the word means, this was the first time I’ve actually seen the word “palfrey” used in a book and multiples times at that.

Sing for Me by Karen Halvorsen Schreck (Howard, 2014)

My blurb: Interracial relationships! Jazz music! Immigrants! The 1930s during the Depression! This book was fantastic. There is a serious lack of interracial couples in Christian fiction so I’m really glad that this book happened. Lots of soul in this one.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

My blurb: Not your typical WWII Christian fiction book. It doesn’t romanticize the time period at all. But if you have a love of music and European history, you will definitely enjoy this book. Out of the box.

Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry by Perry Noble (Tyndale, 2014)

My blurb: We all know I worry a lot. And how I’m really trying not to. I’ve watched sermons from Noble’s teachings online and I’ve read excerpts from this book in an online devotional and really liked his style of teaching. I basically devoured this book in a day. There’s a lot of what goes through my mind in this book and he really touches at the heart of the manner. I don’t read a ton of non fiction normally but this is one that I needed and definitely recommend.

That’s what I’ve been reading. What good books have YOU been reading lately?


When the genre you read the most fails you

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I’m still trying to reach my goal of 225 books for 2014 (I’m currently at 144 books) so I have about 3 and a half more months to go to read about 80 books.

One of the book bloggers that I follow (S. Krishna’s Books) tweeted this the other day:

I thought that was interesting because for me the majority of books I read are written by white women. In fact out of those 144 books, only 8 were NOT written by white women. 6 of those authors were white men and the other 2 were POC authors (Asian women to be exact). That’s a rather dismal statistic. In 2013, I read 217 books. Again only 8 of those authors were NOT written by white female authors (2 male, 6 POC).

The reason why my books are geared towards this way? The majority of what I read is Christian fiction.

And that’s is incredibly sad.

I’ve been reading Christian fiction for most of my life since I was 8 years old. I’ve watched the market change throughout the years and there has been a lot of good that’s been done.

However I’ve also accepted the fact that there are some things about Christian fiction that are just not going to change.

The market is targeted at a specific kind of reader (white middle class Middle American woman who is usually a mother). There is nothing wrong with that type of market. That just usually tends to be who the authors are as well. And they write what they know. What is super popular in Christian fiction these days? Amish fiction, historical romances, and contemporary romances. All three of these genres do not really appeal to me, though I will admit sometimes I can find good books among the weeds.  I’ve accepted the fact that since I do not fall into the demographics for the market, I will never be completely satisfied with the market itself.

I’m not asking for edgy fiction. I’ll just read books outside the Christian market if I wanted that. I realize that a lot of authors don’t want to write about what they don’t know because it can sound not authentic. Ok, I can understand that. You don’t want to come across as sounding fake. It just gets me that so many of these stories feel like the characters just live in a bubble. Barely any POC characters. Maybe a few people will go through some hardships. Barely anyone questions things. To want to further your education or move to a big city for a job is a bad thing. Romances happen after 2 hours of knowing someone and marriages take place after 2 months.

I know it’s hard because you don’t want to offend people. But it just feels like to me that it only happens like that in the Christian world. I don’t see general market authors having such strict guidelines on how or what to write in fear of offending  group of readers. No wonder why Amish books are so popular. It’s so….safe.

Why then do I keep reading the books? I ask myself this question all the time. It’s not that I don’t read outside of this market. I also read a lot of general market young adult fiction as well as general market contemporary women’s fiction. I will also pick up a random book out of my normal reads from time to time and find it liking to my taste. Yet I still find myself going back to the Christian fiction for the majority of what I read.

Another book blogger (Relz Reviewz) asked this question on her blog the other day: “Do you prefer a “comfort” read or something “out of the box” in Christian fiction?” She talked about there were some authors who when writing their books, they know what sells and what their audience wants. Therefore their stories have a same formula to them where the story and the characters are so similar that it’s completely interchangeable almost to the point of predictable. They’re comfort reads because you know what to expect. And in Christian fiction there’s A LOT of these.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m never going to be fully satisfied with the market. It’s never going to cater to exactly how I want but then again just like many things in the Christian world, there are so many personal preferences that cause dissention among everyone. I know that what I CAN do is continue to seek out writers and books that do understand that there are more readers than the targeted demographic and talk about their books (future post!).


What Good Books Have You Been Reading Lately Vol 3.

Despite the fact that it’s been my birthday week, I’ve been reading a lot more lately. Most of that is because I have library books that are due next week and I cannot renew them anymore. Also, while there will most likely be a blog post about this in the future, I was called out more than once this week for reading Amish YA books. It’s actually not a preferred genre choice despite the fact that I’ve read more than one.

There are four more months left in the year and I have read 131 out of 225 books from my Goodreads reading challenge. I’m 21 books behind schedule. It’s going to a big push.

Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner (Howard Books, 2013)

My blurb: This book came out before the Noah movie so part of me wanted to read it for that reason. The other part was because most of the reviews came from Christian reviewers who were so horribly offended by it. And to be honest, that just makes me want to read it more. I really liked this story. Biblical fiction that is not horribly “Christian fiction slanted” is very awesome. Though my favorite Noah novel of all time still goes to Many Waters by Madeleine L’engle.

I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has by Mandy Hale (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

My blurb: I’ve been a fan of Mandy Hale after reading her book The Single Woman and following her on Twitter. I got to meet her at a book signing earlier in the year. This book was not what I was expecting but in a good way. I thought it was going to be more of a self help type of book but it’s really more of a memoir. It’s a very personal and hard to read at times but I can relate to so much of it.

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki (Howard Books, 2014)

My blurb: Despite the fact that this is published by the Christian imprint of Simon and Schuster, this is not a Christian fiction book at all. It’s just a wonderfully written historical fiction. I loved it. It’s exactly what I want when I want to read historical fiction, none of that historical romance. I felt it was extremely well researched, well written narrative, and a section of US history we are aware of but don’t really know too much. There needs to be more books like this.

Passing Strangers by Angela Hunt (Christian Writers Guild, 2014)

My blurb: There hasn’t been an Angela Hunt book I haven’t liked and this one can be added to the list. Most of the story takes place on a train. I LOVE stories set trains despite the fact that I’ve only ridden on one twice and that was just to and from Baltimore. It was just a very comforting read AND there a brief mention of Reston, VA which got me super happy. Also. Food.

Swimming to the Surface by Kristin Billerbeck (Createspace, 2012)

My blurb: I normally stay away when authors self publish even if I love their work. I’m kind of snobbish in that I will usually only read publishers I know. But I do enjoy Kristin Billerbeck’s books and I read her blog and knew that the whole reason why she self pubbed this one was because none of the Christian publishers would take it due to the subject matter. So again, that was the  main reason why I wanted to read this one. It’s a hard read. It shows the weakness and failures of the church and Christians who overabuse their power. MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Press, 2014)

My blurb: I’ve enjoyed all of Rainbow Rowell’s books and again, this one was no exception. I enjoyed it so much I read it in just a few hours. Time travel? Yes please. It’s hard to explain without giving away the plot but it kind of reminded me of that Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie The Love Letter or that Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock movie The Lake House. There were a few things I did have faults with (who doesn’t charge their phone or pick up their phone?) but otherwise a very satisfying read.