Showing posts with label Reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reading. Show all posts

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In Which I Serve You a Smorgasbord of News

If you've been reading my posts for any amount of time, you know this blog is nothing if not sporadic. When you're a wife and mom and you're homeschooling your kids and driving them to ballet and soccer practice and writing another novel and still doing graphic design work on the side...personal blogging tends to get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. As much as I wish I had eight hours every day solely dedicated to writing (and reading!), that's not likely to happen any time soon. (Also, is it summer vacation yet?) So consider this a catch-up post and enjoy this smorgasbord of news and goings-on...

First up: Pitch Wars 2016!

On a scale of 1 to Kristen Bell Meeting a Sloth, I'm like...


...SO EXCITED to announce that I will be a middle grade mentor for this year's Pitch Wars! That's all I can say at the moment (you'll have to wait until the mentor blog hop in July to get my full wish list) but now is the perfect time to think about entering! As a Pitch Wars 2015 alumn, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you dream about signing with a literary agent and seeing your book published, Pitch Wars is a great opportunity to make sure your manuscript and query are at their best before you hit send. You can learn more and find the contest rules and dates to be aware of here on creator Brenda Drake's website.

Next: To the Shelves!

If you're interested in hearing (slightly more often) from me, I'll be contributing occasionally to the 2015 Pitch Wars Mentees' new blog, To the Shelves, where we'll be sharing encouragement, tips, and tricks with all you wonderful writers out there. (Turns out blog posts are much more likely to get written when there's a deadline attached!) You can read my pep talk, A World of Endless Insecurities, and check out some of the other posts up now--more to come soon!

Lastly: Books!

I've read some super great books recently and, rather than try to blog reviews for each individually, I thought I'd share a few quick thumbs up (ups? upses?):


Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban and Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre are two very different books that both address a theme that I think is so important, especially in the current climate: racial prejudice. In Paper Wishes we get a glimpse at what happened during WWII, after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, when thousands of Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their homes and live in prison camps. Ten-year-old Manami's story is told in beautiful, heartbreaking prose and is an important reminder of what happens when a country becomes controlled by fear. And in Last in a Long Line of Rebels we get an incredibly fun read, filled with humor and mystery, even while it tackles tough social issues. Tyre does a fantastic job of showing the importance of fighting injustice in all the right ways as twelve-year-old Lou works to save her family's Civil War era home and grapples with prejudices, both in her family's past and her community's present.



If you're looking for a fun summer read (for yourself or the kids), might I recommend this adorable book? Fenway and Hattie is by my agency sister, Victoria J. Coe, so I may be slightly biased, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible for anyone to read this book and not love it. Told from Fenway's perspective, we see life and its changes through the eyes of a spunky Jack Russel terrier as he navigates squirrels, the super-slippery Wicked Floor, and the suddenly strange behavior of his favorite short-human, Hattie. The fact that we adopted a dog just a few weeks before I read it made it even better.



I'm currently reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, and I'm only about 28 pages in, but let me tell you IT'S SO PRETTY. And I'm reading Because of Winn-Dixie to the kids for school (confession: it's my first time reading it, too) which is some of the most fun I've ever had reading aloud, probably because the voice is amazing and my southern accent is way better than any of my english accents (you should hear me reading Harry Potter to my son and trying to do Hagrid). Despite all of my recent reading, however, my TBR list is still ridiculous.

So...yup...that's about it folks.

Ending random, unfocused blog posts is so awkward.






Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Yes, I Let My Daughter Bring a Screen to the Dinner Table

Yes, you read that correctly. I let my daughter bring an electronic device to the dinner table. And you know what? I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. (Okay, I admit, it's slightly less scandalous when I clarify that said device is neither iPad nor iPod, but her Kindle.)


I've managed to turn both of my children into voracious readers, and while my 8 year-old son still prefers for Mom to read to him, my daughter is a super independent reader. When she finds a book she loves, she hates to put it down. So on the occasions when she comes to the dinner table with Kindle in hand, I let her. Why?

Because my parents let me.

As a kid, I took my books everywhere. I read in my room, on the couch, outside, in the car, and at the dining room table. Sure, there were nights where my mom would smile and tell me I needed to put it down - just for a few minutes - to participate in conversation and, you know, actually look at what I was eating (something which I sometimes tell my daughter as well). But, more often than not, I only put my books down to shower, sleep, or do schoolwork.

I don't know about you, but I miss the days when I could just sit around and read, and the nights when I could snuggle up with a book until 2am and sleep in until 11 the next morning. I still bring my books to the table (but only for the occasional lunch-time read) and I'm no stranger to midnight (because JUST ONE MORE PAGE), but it comes with a little more guilt now. After all, there's so much that needs to be done in a day that I practically have to schedule reading time.

I'll forever be thankful that I grew up in a house where reading was encouraged, and where I wasn't often told to put my book down or turn my light off and go to bed (perks of being homeschooled). It's a huge part of the reason I'm a writer today. My love of words started early and was nurtured by parents who saw it as a good thing. Too soon my daughter will be dealing with the highs and lows of middle school. She'll have more responsibilities and more commitments. There will be friends and phone calls and boys and all sorts of other distractions. And one day, she might be a mom herself, who has to cook the dinner and dish up plates and she won't have the luxury of ignoring the rest of her family while she reads. But hopefully, through it all, books will still be a constant in her life.

So now, while she can, I'll gladly let her indulge in excessive amounts of reading, even at the dinner table.

Besides, she's reading Harry Potter. How do I tell her to put that down?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

If You Give a Pig a Pilot's License (Or the Day I Bought a Kindle)

Yes, you read that title right.

After years of staunchly defending the paperback, I, Ashley Martin, have purchased an e-reader.

And I love it.

I feel like I should mumble that last statement into a cough and then smoothly change the subject to something that will distract everyone from such a shocking admission.

How 'bout them Seahawks?

......

YES, OKAY, I LOVE IT. Are you happy? Some of you are gloating right now. The rest of you no doubt are doing something like this:

Who are you?

I've actually been secretly considering an e-reader for a while now. I did a ton of research and determined that the Kindle Paperwhite was definitely the one I wanted...if I ever decided to buy an e-reader...which I wouldn't....because REAL BOOKS.

Oh, how a substantial amount of Christmas cash can change a person.

I can blame thank my husband, really. He was the one to suggest the idea. And since my "they're just so expensive" excuse was no longer an issue, resistance proved futile. I ordered the Paperwhite on the final day of the post-Christmas sale (in addition, I went for the one that comes with special offers for $20 cheaper) and was cautiously excited. Honestly, I still wasn't totally sure if I would like it, but once I had it in my hands, I couldn't deny its awesomeness.

I also couldn't deny my feelings of guilt. It was like cheating on all my beautiful hardcovers. And what would this do to my street cred?

Just a couple days after my Kindle arrived, I was faced with the harrowing choice I'd feared for so long: Did I purchase the ebook version of the new Flavia de Luce novel, or buy the hardcover? To pass the time while making this difficult decision, I linked my Kindle to my Goodreads account, downloaded and devoured the newly discovered Flavia de Luce short story (available only in ebook format), purchased a children's book for bedtime reading at the insistent pleading of my seven-year-old, and checked out a book from the library without having to wait until I had time to go to the library.

At which point I decided guilt be damned. I SHALL READ ALL THE BOOKS.

And to answer your question, of course I ordered the hardcover. Psh. What kind of crazy person do you think I am?

Pigs may be flying, but you-know-where hasn't frozen over yet.

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, January 17, 2014

An Apology to My Bookshelf



Here's what my current to-read list looks like (in no particular order). And these are just the ones that currently live on my bookshelf. After reading this Buzzfeed post on 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters I think my list just got longer. Unfortunately it seems like my reading list is a lot longer than my reading time. I've been working on the same novel for about 5 weeks now...pretty sure my Bookworm card is going to get revoked now that I admitted that. *Hangs head in shame* It's a fantastic book, but I've had such a hard time allowing myself the down time to read. Right now I have six graphic design jobs going (good for the bank account, questionable for my sanity), and children and a husband who expect to be fed, and a state who expects me to educate my children, not to mention the laundry and house cleaning, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... Every spare second I have left over is being focused on writing and editing, which I've somehow been managing to squeeze in daily (even if it's just 30 minutes) and that's a great thing--especially since I eventually want it to turn into a full time career. So of course what gets sacrificed? Reading. Which I know is horribly backwards, I mean, you can't write great books if you don't read great books. I've been seriously considering making myself a daily schedule and penciling in reading time. Yes, the situation has become that dire.

To all the books (and authors) I've been neglecting: It's not you, it's me. I'm sorry. I love you. I promise I'll be back

What about you? Do you read when you have a spare moment, or are you more intentional about picking up whatever book you're currently reading? What's on your 2014 to-read list? (I'll probably regret asking that last question.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's On My Bookshelf

Today's post is part of a link-up happening over at Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. I love Anne's blog. She's one of those bloggers who has the ability to make it seem like you're just having a chat over coffee. Her blog has such a great variety of posts on books, beauty and fashion, and just...LIFE.

This week Anne asked her readers to share their bookshelves. If you know me (or if you've ever taken a gander at my "No Place Like Home" Pinterest board), you know what a perfect prompt for a blog post this is for me. I believe a home without books is no home at all, and someday I pledge to have at least one wall of floor to ceiling shelves. So, without further adieu, a peek into my living room...



These guys get the highest shelf, partly to be out of reach of small, dirty fingers, but mostly because it's my favorite shelf. This one holds all my vintage books, including some of my favorite classics. (Alice in Wonderland has a bookmark in it because it's inspiration for the NaNoWriMo novel I'm working on this month.) The best ones have inscriptions on the first page. You can read the most darling inscription in this Instagram photo.


What it looks like when you have more books than shelves. Confession: There's a book on this shelf that I bought this summer and still haven't read. But this shelf also holds the series I've read and re-read the most times: The O'Malley Chronicles by Dee Henderson. I met my husband, who was a firefighter at the time, right after reading The Protector. Needless to say, it's my favorite of the series.


This shelf holds some of my favorite, most magical children's/YA books, plus (randomly, I know--I'm surprised the cross in genres doesn't drive me crazy...) Blue Like Jazz and Start--two of the books I most often, and most highly, recommend. My Flavia deLuce novels get special attention with their poison bottle companion. And the thing that really makes this shelf awesome? The manilla folder you can just make out in the shadows to the right. That's my children's book manuscript, in all its printed glory.


And lastly, the overflow stacks. My bookshelves have pretty much reached their max capacity, so several books have wandered to the half wall between the living room and kitchen. As you can see, they don't always stay between the bookends. This is where the currently-being-read books (and a few favorites) live along with the novels visiting from the library and the pile of Relevant magazines.


Okay, one more (then I promise I'm done). My kids have their own shelves in their room, filled to overflowing. (Plus there's a basket tucked in next to the bookshelves in the living room that holds another pile of picture books, chapter books, and easy readers borrowed from the library.) One of the biggest goals I have as a mom is to pass on my love of reading. Yesterday my daughter finished one book she'd already started and then went on to read an entire Ivy+Bean novel. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for checking out this little peek into my world! Want to see what other bookworms are reading? Visit the link up post at Modern Mrs. Darcy and browse their shelves!