Showing posts with label Favorites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Favorites. Show all posts

Friday, August 29, 2014

10 Books That Have Influenced Me

My friend Jennifer challenged me on Facebook to list the ten books that have impacted me the most. While I typically avoid Facebook challenges, being the bookworm that I am, I rather liked this idea. Instead of posting an excruciatingly long status, I thought I'd take the opportunity for a blog post. So, here are some of the books that have shaped me--as a reader, a writer, and a person.*

*Disclaimer: This will in no way be an all inclusive list.

1. The Bible. Think me cheesy for including it if you will, but I wouldn't be the person I am today if not for this one. Favorite book of the Bible: John (because of all the gospel authors, John was truly a writer at heart).

2. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. An honest conversation about Christianity--that is totally not boring. This book (and the movie) had a huge impact on my life and really cemented my desire to interact with people--and life--in a different way. There were many moments while reading this book that I wanted to shout its pages from the rooftops. Or at least tweet as many <140 character lines as possible.

3. Love Does by Bob Goff. I wrote an in-depth review of why this book is so amazing (you can click on the title right ^ there to read it). In short: Say yes to life and love people. Seriously, JUST LOVE PEOPLE. No strings attached. The stories of how Bob has lived out this ideal are crazy awesome. It will change your world.

4. The Mandie Books by Lois Gladys Leoppard. My first book love. I bought many a book in this series with my hard-earned allowance money. Mandy, her friends Joe and Celia, and Snowball the cat get into all sorts of trouble and solve mysteries. With a little bit of history thrown in. Seven-year-old me was in heaven, and knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up: A writer.

5. The Wind in the Willows. I can still vividly remember the moment I pulled this one off the library shelf. I was immediately charmed and quickly fell in love with Mole, Otter, Toad and Badger. Years later, it would be the inspiration behind the styling and adventure-filled pages of my first children's novel, The Fantastical Adventures of Pinkletin Frog.

6. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I've talked before about my inability to make it through certain classic novels, but classic children's literature makes me swoon. And Alice is most certainly my favorite in that category. So much so, that my current work-in-progress has an awful lot to do with that magical world down the rabbit hole. Obviously classics are my muse.

7. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. When I was a preteen/teen, Young Adult fiction wasn't even close to the caliber it is today. Thank goodness for Anne. She saved me from the stacks of angsty, gag-me-with-a-spoon teen fiction and introduced me to the beautiful world of literature. Anne and Gilbert will always be my favorite literary couple.

8. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins. I've never cried so much while reading a book series. I was completely unprepared for just how much I would love these novels. Suzanne Collins has some mad, mad writing skills, y'all. Everything about these books, from the use of first person, present tense to the balance of victory vs. tragedy, is storytelling done right. And I'll have you know I was team Peeta all the way.

9. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. My very first foray into the world of epic high fantasy, I didn't read these (or The Hobbit) until I was 25. I'm so glad I did. And even more glad I read them before seeing the movies. I think the fact that I can't get through the wordiness of a Jane Austen novel, but I devoured these books is pretty telling about my personality...

10. The Circle Books by Ted Dekker. I can't describe how mind-blowing these books are. Part contemporary thriller, part epic fantasy...you just have to experience it for yourself. Plus, Ted will always be my hero for pushing the boundaries of faith-based fiction and refusing to allow people to tell him what he is and isn't allowed to write.

Runners-Up. You didn't seriously expect me to stop there, did you? I have to give a quick shout out to Jane Eyre, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Flavia de Luce novels, and Watership Down. Also, my current obsessions: The Meaning of Maggie, and The Beekeeper's Apprentice. (If you need something to hold you over until Sherlock returns, I highly recommend that last one.)

Your turn! What is one book (or two or three or five) that has influenced you or your life's journey? Have you read and loved--or hated--any of the books on my list? Share in the comments!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Small Things - June Edition

My happies for this month...

Alice in Wonderland - On Vinyl

A couple weeks ago the hubby and I hit up a little used record store while on a roadtrip. There I discovered a previously unknown fact: Back in the day they made audiobooks on vinyl. I snagged the entirety of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, read by a gentleman with a wonderful British accent. And it cost me a whole dollar. There's something so cozy and inviting about the old record pops and crackles in the background of the narration. The perfect summer version of curling up with a hardcover and a warm fire.





Veronica Mars

Yes, I got ridiculously excited when I found out about the Kickstarter, and yes, my husband and I promptly pledged. Veronica Mars has always been a guilty pleasure. It came out the same year we got married and many a night was spent watching it together. I was almost as upset about the series ending as I was when Amy Sherman-Palladino stopped writing Gilmore Girls episodes. In honor of the upcoming film, we've been watching the series on DVD. I'm currently awaiting the arrival of my Amazon shipment of season one, since a very inconsiderate library patron is literally YEARS overdue on the last 2 discs. Where are the library ninjas when you need them? They could learn a few things from Mars Investigations... 


Summer

Summer is here! Maybe not according to your calendar, but it is by mine. My reason for loving summer has nothing to do with the hot weather (I prefer fall, when the temperature is reasonable.) What makes the current season awesome is that school is out--and as a homeschooling family that means mommy gets a break along with the kids. It also means I don't have to feel guilty about sleeping in in the morning if I'm up writing (or reading) until midnight the previous night.





What about you? What's got you smiling this month?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Small Things - May Edition

Encouraging Words

I've started getting feedback from my beta readers and I gotta say, they've put a gigantic smile on my face. From my mother-in-law's (slightly biased) praise, to a mom who was inspired to read it aloud to her kids, they've been both helpful and super encouraging. But the highlight was this week at writers group when my friend brought me a message from her two boys: They like my book so much they've already planned the movie trailer. *Cuteness overload* Combine that with their love of the characters and the fact they beg for more at the end of each chapter, and my day was made. Heck, my year was made. I'm more excited than ever to take the next step toward publication. A huge shout out and thank you to all my beta-readers!


An Old Favorite

I've been revisiting one of my favorite children's books, The Wind in the Willows. My own book's style and characters were hugely inspired by this story, so it has an extra special place in my heart. What makes it even better is the fact that this particular copy is part of my collection of vintage and antique books. I love the delightful simplicity of the cover of this 1933 edition, but the best part is the inscription inside, from a mother to her son on Christmas. I love imagining that little boy curled up on a snowy winter day, absorbed in the very same book I now hold. You can see a photo of the inscription here, in my Instagram feed.



A Beautiful Mess App

Now that I've finally joined the current century and upgraded to an iPhone, I'm even more in love with taking and sharing photos. As a lover of doodles, type, and creative flair, A Beautiful Mess is everything I could dream of in a photo editing app. With beautiful hand-drawn borders, great fonts for custom type, and fun doodles and phrases, it's the perfect way to add your own funky style to your pictures. You can also create custom backgrounds using a variety of included images/patterns (like the vintage library card in the Beta-Reader thumbnail above). Just to show you how awesome this app is, I used it to create all the images in this post. It's well worth the $0.99 to download. You can also visit Elsie and Emma's lovely lifestyle blog here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Small Things

After my Favorite Things post, I decided I wanted to make that sort of thing a regular deal. So every month, I'll be sharing the stuff that I'm currently in love with--the small things that bring an extra dose of happy to my day. They might be writing related...or not. Here's what I'm digging this month...

Alter Eco Dark Chocolate with Quinoa

I love everything about this chocolate...the taste, the ingredients, the gorgeous packaging. It's just the right level of darkness (not too sweet, not too bitter) so it's still smooth. Plus, it's split into the perfect sized squares--small enough you don't feel guilty, but big enough you're not so tempted to break off a second piece. And with crispy Quinoa instead of rice, it's like a beautiful, grown-up Krackle for hipsters.




Relevant Magazine/Podcast

There's not a website, publication or podcast I love more than Relevant. From social justice news to thought-provoking articles on current issues to tongue-in-cheek humor pieces, these guys are the best. Want to find great new music? The latest in Youtube hilarity? Interviews with authors, musicians, and world changers? Look no further. Not only can you get all this from the website and bi-monthly mag, but it gets even better when you throw in the weekly Relevant Podcast (a new one releases every Friday). And don't even get me started on the iPad edition of the magazine--it's pure genius in design. Check it out. Trust me.


Plant Nanny App

It's fun and it has a practical, healthy purpose. Pick from a variety of adorable plants, then care for it while caring for yourself! Plant Nanny calculates the ideal amount of water you need each day, based on your height and weight. Each time you drink a glass of water, give one to your plant. When your plant is fully grown, stick it in your garden and start a new one. Don't drink enough, and your plant will give you sad eyes and turn brown (yes, I know this from experience). The customizable reminder alert makes it easy to create a healthy routine. Happy plant = healthier you.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things




Journals App

This Journals app is a great way to organize and jot down notes and ideas. With four different styles of journals and dozens of fonts, it's fun and easy to customize. I love the fact that each journal can be split into chapters and pages because I can keep multiple writings separate, but under one common heading. Plus, you can attach photos, videos, and even draw and record audio right there in the app. My only word of caution is to make sure you remember your password if you choose to create a locked journal, because as far as I can tell there's no recovery option. The app gets a 4.5 star rating in the app store and is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
NOTE: Since I originally posted, Journals has updated their app to allow for password reset.  



Some people need complete silence to write, others enjoy creating a writing playlist. I'm in the latter group. I love music and I love having a soundtrack attached to my stories (though admittedly the songs don't always have anything to do with what I'm writing about). English alternative rock band, A Silent Film (think sounds similar to Snow Patrol and The Killers) is one of my go-to bands to rock out to and get the creative juices flowing. I love lyrics that tell a story, and with tracks like "Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well" and "Anastasia" Sand and Snow is one of my favorite albums to put on shuffle as I write.

 


When people ask what my favorite book is, this is the answer I give them. (Yes, I know it's not just one book, but who can really pick just one?). This series is about seven siblings who choose to adopt each other after leaving the orphanage where they grew up. As adults, each one has taken an intense job: Chicago PD hostage negotiator, US Marshall, forensic pathologist, firefighter, children's trauma psychologist, paramedic, and pediatric physician, respectively. Each of the six books center around one individual's story (with one sister's story being told across the books). The novels are filled with suspense, romance and incredible details about each sibling's chosen field. The result is a story you can't put down and characters that seem incredibly real. I've read through the entire series four times, and individual books several times more. The Protector (Jack the firefighter's story) is my favorite. Since I'd just finished reading it when I met my husband--who was a volunteer firefighter at the time--the book was practically his wingman.

Feel free to share some of your favorites (current or all-time) in the comments below!