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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.

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Jumping on the Bandwagon

We already know I’m a late bloomer for everything. One of those things is that I get into late after the game is fandoms where everyone there has been fans for years.

It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s geek stuff, music, or sports. When it comes to those categories, I never seemed to be around right from the beginning. The one exception is maybe books but even then sometimes I’m late to the game too.

I came across this article on Cracked the other day: 3 Fan Communities That Hate Their Own Members. And it’s something that I’ve noticed whenever I (or anyone new) starts liking things well after the fact of it being established: how much people hate on other fans who all like the same thing.

I just started watching Community this past week. When it first premiered, I was at a stage in life when it didn’t appeal to me. As the years have gone by, I’ve been recommended by several people insisting I would like it. I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while but I never had access to the DVDs and it’s not streaming online. I don’t do the whole torrent thing so basically I was at a disadvantage to watching.

But once I started watching it, I loved it. I was mad at myself for not discovering it earlier. Sure I was late to the game but I could share my love about it others who did because then we’d all be fans together, right? WRONG. While I did get some positive reaction and happiness that I too now was a fan, a lot of reaction was “Late to game!” “Duh, we told you about this for years.” “Fair weather fan”. And I’m like seriously? You’re not happy for new fans?

It wasn’t as if I watched one episode, or read one comic, halfheartedly watched a game, listened to the ONE hit song a band had. When I start liking a fandom, I do my research and I go full force into it. I want to prove to myself that I can be there and so I study up. So to be told that I wasn’t really a fan because I started super late ticked me off. It also made me feel like I had to hide the fact of my excitement of discovering new things that I really enjoyed.

I remember when I went to go see New Found Glory in 2002. I had been a fan of them for about a year and a half at that point. There had been fans who liked them before I did. I’m not sure how they found out about them (find the one CD in their local record store? saw them on stage when they first started) but I know that I got into them because of other people’s enthusiasm. At that last concert, there were several young teens that only new their latest album. They didn’t know any of the old songs at all. Did it peeve me a little? Yes. Especially since they didn’t know “Hit or Miss”. But was I going to get all angry at them and tell they to get out because only true fans deserved to be there? No. Because I wouldn’t have fit that definition anyways.

I guess I’m just trying to figure out this kind of behavior. Whenever someone starts liking something that I’ve liked for years and they genuinely like it (not liking for dubious reasons), I’m excited for them. If anything I want them to like it as much as I do, though I know that overloading them too early can be fatal. I would never mock someone for being a new fan nor would I try to discourage them. Even if they ended up changing their minds and not liking it, I know they that gave it a try and I could respect that.

What makes you better than someone because you discovered it first? Does it mean you’re a better fan? Does it mean you’re a better person? Are you annoyed that you’re not the only one anymore? Is it an identity issue? Do you just hate new fans jumping on the bandwagon? What makes a true fan and why are you one and not someone else?

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What Good Books Have You Read Lately? Vol 2

It’s the 4th of July today and most people who read this blog probably won’t today due to cookouts, beach trips, fireworks, other things instead of being on the computer all day. But for those of you who DO happen to be reading this, it’s time for another edition of what books I’ve been reading lately.

Quick reading update: the year is halfway over and I’ve read 93 out of my goal of 225 books for the year. According to Goodreads I am 20 books behind schedule.

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson (Point, 2014)

My blurb: Food! Movie making! Young adult fiction! This book has it all. This is a great summer read. One to bring at the beach from some light (but not fluff) reading.

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, 2014)

My blurb: This book was a chunkster, 480 pages in the regular version, and I had borrowed the large print from the library which was a whopping 750 pages. But worth every one of them. I realized later that I hadn’t read the first book in the series but it was ok as this one stood alone. I really enjoyed how the main character is 29 (old for the time period) and single and has accepted the fact that she is not what is normally desired. Because of that her focus is not on romance, even though it does eventually happen. There’s also a good deal of food in this book as well.

Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan (Bethany House, 2014)

My blurb: Janette Oke has always been comfort reading for me and I was thrilled that they’re returning to one of my favorite series with this book. Apparently there’s a TV show based on this, though I won’t be watching. What I did like was back to the basics and returning to the roots of the series, set in the Canadian west. The characters were very believable and likable and the ending wasn’t what I expected. I’m also a sucker for pioneer west books.

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio (Plume, 2014)

My blurb: I’ve yet to meet a Sarah Jio book I didn’t like. This one features her signature style and adds in one of my favorite things ever: a book about the love of books. If you like Goodnight Moon, this story gives a “what if” story about the author.

Three Souls by Janie Chang (William Morrow, 2014)

My blurb: I think this is probably the best book I’ve read this year so far. If you liked The Joy Luck Club or any of Lisa See’s books then you’ll enjoy this one. It’s set in China but it’s a different type of Chinese story set in the 1920s-30s. The main character is educated which is different from most stories set during the time period. She’s also dead from the beginning. I’m not doing justice here describing it. Basically if you’re looking for a unique read about POC characters, this one is a winner.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Dutton, 2012)

My blurb: Yes, yes. I watched the movie before reading the book. And because of that, since I knew what happened I didn’t cry while reading like most people did. However, I really enjoyed seeing Hazel and Augustus’s story fleshed out and see what was different from what was in the movie. Also, this was my first John Green book ever. Yes, yes. I’m late to the game. Also I read this as an ebook on my computer because I didn’t want to wait forever for a hard copy version from the library.

What good books have YOU been reading lately?

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My answer to “What good books have you read lately?”

Since I read a lot and everyone knows this, I’m always asked what books have you read recently that you enjoyed? I seem to have trouble describing plots to people in person (they always come off sounding really weird) so I’m not sure how much justice I do to the awesome books I have read.

I’ve read 50 books so far in 2014. This may sound like a lot to most of you but for me it’s well behind my past reading streaks and I’m actually about 25 books behind my goal of 225 books for 2014.  But irregardless of that, I’m being more choosy about what I read so lately I’ve been liking a lot of what I’m reading.

Here are just some of the books I’ve enjoyed discovering this year.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (Point, 2014)

My Blurb: It’s a book about a boy and a girl who are best friends. And realize they are attracted to each other. And all the ups and downs that come with falling in love with your best friend. It was like reading about my life.

Runaway Saint by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

My blurb: This book totally gave me a hipster feel as I was reading it. Also it’s from a Christian publisher and used the word “badass”. I applaud this.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (NAL Trade, 2014)

My blurb: Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors of all time so I knew I was going to love this book. It alternates between Ellis Island in 1911, NYC during 9/11, and then NYC 2011. Very rich and beautiful.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)

My blurb: If you haven’t read any of Rainbow Rowell’s other books before, GET ON IT. This one is a fav for many reasons including a whole entire fantasy world created just for this book (which needs to become a book series in itself).

Anything by Sarah Dessen

My blurb: I got a Sarah Dessen kick late last year. I had never read any of her books before but I always saw them on blogs, libraries, and bookstores. So I finally gave in and read one. And loved it. And proceeded to read all but the newest one in the span of 4 months. I’m delaying reading The Moon and Back because once I finish that, I’ll have no more to read from her. Can anyone recommend other authors that are like Dessen? Contemporary YA?

And now to throw the question back at you: What good books have YOU been reading lately?

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How You Can’t Really Know but You Can Prepare

I’m banking on the fact that a lot of folks won’t be reading this due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Then again if you’re reading this, you’ve just proved me wrong. I’ll start by wishing to those who are celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year and even when time have been rough, I’ve found plenty of things to be grateful for. Like this blog for example.

So last week I got real with y’all and talked about THINGS. And so now it’s basically public knowledge of where I’ve been, where I stand, and where I want to go with things. If folks who know me are still clueless about everything, at this point I’ve done all I can.

The future looks scary because it’s unknown and it’s all new. Wanting to date. That’s weird. I didn’t think I’d be here again. And it’s all changed so much since I was in college doing this. Then again, I was very young and stupid in college so I wouldn’t want to relieve those days again.

If you’ve ever hung out with me in great detail then you know how I like to be prepared (yes, here we go again with my like for spoilers). I just want to make sure I have a good knowledge of what’s coming ahead. That is why I read tourbooks for Disney World every year in hopes that one day I can really go and experience the park. I like to prepare for worst case scenarios. I even went out and got every book from the library on “How to be a bridesmaid” after being asked my best friends to be in their wedding. Yes, I am that type of person.

And while I know fully well that no book or manual or guide or book of magical spells will every fully prepare you for what happens when you date, fall in love, have heart broken, repeat, repeat, repeat, find person who wants to marry you, etc., it still doesn’t hurt to learn and prepare during your time of waiting. The first time I did this, I wasn’t prepared at all, I will admit. Now as I’ve grown up and I’m wiser, I want to be ready. There will of course still be a lot to learn but at least now I have a better idea of what to expect. I also know that there are some people who will say they don’t need any help at all. And that’s fine. I just know that I will take help when I can.

Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with EVERYTHING I’m about to list but there are key points that I do find helpful in these things. I also don’t expect you to agree with everything either.

Books:

The Sacred Search by Gary L. Thomas

Real Men Don’t Text by Ruthie and Michael Dean. On a personal note: reading this book was like reading the last two years of my life 😦

Cupidity: 50 Things People Do for Love and How to Avoid Them by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass by Mandy Hale

True Love Dates by Debra Fileta

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

Reclaiming Your Heart by Denise Hildreth Jones

Online sermon series:

If you think church is boring and stale and isn’t relevant, then you should take a listen to these two sermon series. The pastors are really easy to listen to, use humor, but are also very frank with what they have to say. I wish more churches would talk about these subjects as I know there are many singles, dating, and even married couples in the church who can benefit from hearing this.

Andy Stanley – 4 part sermon series “The New Rules of Love, Sex and Dating” “Are you who the person you are looking for is looking for?”

  • Part One – The Right Person Myth (Don’t Fall for the “right person” Myth”
  • Pat Two – The Gentleman’s Club (Women should be honored, and not treated like a commodity)
  • Part Three – Designer Sex (Sex is so much more than physical)
  • Part Four – If I Were You (Prepare for a Successful Marriage)

Perry Noble – 5 part sermon series “Don’t Get Married Until…

  • Part One – You Hear From God
  • Part Two – You’re Willing to Be a Man
  • Part Three – You’re Willing to be a Woman
  • Part Four – Q&A with the pastor and his wife
  • Part Five – You Deal with Your Junk

So there you go. These are resources that I found helpful. Maybe there’s someone out there who will as well. I just know that, personally, I want to do as much that I can to make things work whenever it’s time. Even though I can’t control or know how “he” is going to be, at least this time I can’t look back and say I wish I had known all these things before hand. All this is being done with a lot of prayer, a lot of trusting in God, and a lot of faith.

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It comes in pints?!

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Disclaimer: I am neither a beer critic or a heavy drinker. I am simply a beer fan.

Alcohol was never considered the devil’s drink in my house growing up but my parents didn’t drink. Due to my own personal religious convictions in high school, I had no desire to drink and may or may not have judged people my age who did back then. I went to college and actually resisted for a few months. Then because of a boy, I had my first two drinks, a Diet 7-Up mixed with gin and a Diet Sunkist mixed with rum.  After that, my next move would be to start trying out beer.

My first beer sadly was a Natural Light. I remember thinking how god-awful it tasted. My friend and I would alternate eating chips between sips. And so began a few years of drinking cheap beer because, well when you’re underage and can’t buy your own beer, beggars can’t be choosers. I went through a stage where I actually proclaimed that drinking 40s of Miller High Life was my favorite beer. All I knew of beer during those years was Coronas, Bud Lights, and the like. Drinking was mainly done not with the purpose of actually enjoying the taste of the beer. Ironically, a month before I turned 21 I stopped drinking. Yep, right before I was legal enough to actually buy beer, I decided to quit completely. For the next 7 years I was sober and became everyone’s designated driver.

Then I got older and I decided I wanted to get back into the tasting alcohol again but this time I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to drink to get drunk, make myself pass out, or get sick. I knew that I did not want to drink any of that crap I used to drink again. My memories of beer was tasting something that akin to drinking cold/warm piss/vomit. And yet I knew that there must be good beer out there. Surely people did not spend all that money drinking stuff that tasted horrible.

My first beer to get me started again was a Blue Moon. Now I know what all you beer snobs and enthusiasts think about that. But I found it delicious and refreshing. I was like “Wow! This is actually good! I like this!” So since then, I’ve been trying to discover new beers. I now know what I like (mostly wheat beers) and I’ve basically learned that if I just tell the bartender or whoever that I like Blue Moon and can you recommend me something like that, usually I can find a new beer that I like. Other than Blue Moons, I mostly drink craft beers and have found almost all of them extremely tasty and delicious. It’s fun trying out new beers, and I’m getting better at finishing a whole entire pint without passing out now!

The biggest thing I’m learning is that beer is so much better when you enjoy the taste. I don’t drink to get drunk. It’s more about enjoying the flavor of the beer. I have had tastes of beer that I don’t like. Apparently I’m not a big IPA fan and I tend to stay away from darker beers. I haven’t had a mainstream beer since I started redrinking. To me those beers were mainly chugged fast, because they tasted so awful and thus one gets drunk faster.  Whereas now, I savor my beer. I don’t nurse the thing though. I do also like cocktails as well though I am not a wine drinker at all. (But those are topics for another day)

My only problem with any sort of drinking is that I get that dreaded Asian glow where I turn bright red and I get really warm after drinking just a bit. It’s only annoying because you can definitely tell what I’ve been doing. But I’ve gotten used it and it’s now just a running joke. Just if you ever go drinking with me, expect to see a bright red face after just a few sips.

So what do I want from you, dear readers? Recommend me some good beers! To start you off, I like Blue Moon. Pretend to be a bartender and go from there! I’m counting on you! Also if you’re on Untappd, feel free to friend me @beatccr. Sadly I only just started using the app so I don’t have too many beers up yet but SOON.