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Starting Off Reading! From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

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IMG_0122Friends, we’ve almost made it through the first month of 2018! How are things going for you? Read any good books yet? Book club this month was my choice and I went for From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon. I was introduced to this book by my friend Krista (always trust Krista with good book choices!) and it was such a good read that I picked it for my month for book club. It’s a WWII era story (which I don’t always go for, I usually avoid heavy reads, but this one manages to leave you feeling hopeful and satisfied despite doing a phenomenal job with the war/devastation aspects that are bound to accompany this kind of book). Here’s the book blurb from Amazon:

Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.

As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.

But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

***

The writing just flows and the story flows with it, making this one enjoyable and fast-paced. I highly recommend for your book club or TBR this year! Our book club got together and discussed the story over snacks and wine at my friend Marina’s house. I love how book club discussion can go in any direction (we ended up talking about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for a long time! Ha!). This is a great story with characters you care about, gripping moments where you can’t breathe, and an ending that leaves you satisfied. Loved it!

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Losing Things and Building a Library

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So, you know that feeling of losing something? A few weeks ago we were cleaning out the garage for a garage sale and I stumbled across an old photo that I thought was lost forever. I was beyond happy to find it.

Then I lost it again.

Unbelievable, I know. I’ve been berating myself for days and trying like mad to remember what I did with it, but to no avail. It’s gone again. I had it for a few minutes, and now it’s gone again. How is that even possible? I’ve searched high and low and it’s absolutely nowhere to be found. I’d come to terms with this fact a really long time ago, when I realized it was gone forever. But then I had this spark of unexpected happiness when I saw it again. And for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did with it. I was in the middle of going through stuff for the garage sale . . . and what else can I say? I have no idea where it went. I’m trying to let go of the frustration, but obviously–I’m still frustrated.

I try not to usually let things like this get to me. Most things are replaceable. A DVD gets scratched–you can buy a new one. You spill something on a favorite book–Amazon is there for you. I once lost one of my favorite sandals at a writers conference. I got home and unpacked and only had one sandal. Very devastating, but I got over it. But this was a really old picture that wasn’t saved on the computer. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly not replaceable.

So what things can you live without and what things are absolutely irreplaceable? People are irreplaceable, obviously. And in some cases (stuff like old photos), things are irreplaceable. Family heirlooms are irreplaceable. I have a special tea set from my grandmother that is absolutely precious to me. It’s irreplaceable. But mostly, when I think of irreplaceable things in my life–I think of people.

Still, it irks me to no end that I found that photo and then lost it again. Seriously. Annoying. Today I told myself that I have to let this go. I was fine for years, when it was lost before. I’ll be fine without it again. But do you understand that horrible feeling of having lost something? It can make you crazy. All right, moving on.

Today was a sister day. Sara and I went to lunch (I was craving queso like you wouldn’t believe), then we went shopping. Then I came home and finally got to watch that movie about JK Rowling on Lifetime. I’m telling you, JK Rowling’s fairytale story is just inspiring for any writer. I am so inspired by her. Sara and I were book shopping today and talking about building up our personal libraries. Ever since Jeff and I moved into our new house, I’ve been trying to fill these great bookshelves in our office. But I ended up taking out a lot of books that I have that don’t mean anything to me. I decided that I want a library that has books that are special to me, or that I feel are important or helpful for me to have. So I currently have a box of books for Goodwill. Meanwhile, I’m working on this library of mine. I borrow most books I read from the library, but there are some books that I really think I need to have for my own library. So–if you were doing the same thing, tell me, what books would be must-haves for your library? I really want to know. Here are just a few of the books that will be staying on my bookshelves: Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Christy Miller series, Glenbrooke series, The O’Malley series, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Great Expectations, When Heaven is Silent, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, Anne of Green Gables, lots of books by Ann Rinaldi, Traveling Mercies, A Family Apart, Charlotte’s Web, Woe Is I, Uglies, If I Stay, Chateau of Echoes, The Shunning, The Little Prince, What to Expect When You’re Expecting–that’s just the beginning. I’m still working on it.It’s an ongoing project, and I have to tell you, I seriously like this project. 🙂 Buying books? Yes, please.

Interview with author Kelsey Greye

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When she wakes up on the morning of her twenty-seventh birthday, Charlotte Edwards has no idea how drastically her life is about to change. Soon everything she thought to be true will be challenged, her very life threatened, and she will be forced to make the most important decision of her life: Should she continue to conform to what is expected of her, or should she reach out and chase the dreams she has denied her entire life?

BB: Where did the inspiration for your book, The Pursuit of Miss Charlotte Edwards, come from?

KG: I actually started writing my book on a whim and a dare. It was one of those times in life when I was surrounded by people who just begged to be put into print and a good friend dared me to do just that.

BB: What’s your writing process like? Outline first? Ending first? Surprised as you go?

KG: I’m always surprised as I go, occasionally frustrated and constantly entertained. I like to let my characters do what they do and just kind of go along for the ride.

BB: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

KG: I did some creative writing in high school and then went directly to research and theological paper writing for college and seminary, which has been my focus for the past nine years or so. The Pursuit of Miss Charlotte Edwards was a combination of poking fun at people in general, loving history and letting loose my inner criminal for the mystery parts.

BB: Will you be writing a sequel? Was that planned from the beginning?

KG: I’m already working on the sequel, which focuses on a secondary character from the first novel. Mid-way through writing my first book, I realized that this character had a story of his own.

BB: Was self-publishing a positive experience for you?

KG: It’s been quite positive – no deadlines and final say on everything suit me down to the ground.

BB: What books are you currently reading?

KG: I’m about to re-read Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie for fun and am up to my neck in research books on Anselm, an 11th century Archbishop of Canterbury.

BB: What’s an interesting fact about you?

KG: I love old musicals – anything with Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Jane Powell, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra – you name it, I love it!

Thanks so much, Kelsey! You can read the first chapter of her book here.

Reading list

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Hmm. So yesterday I was reading my friend Melanie’s blog and she’s got this list on there of one hundred books (you’re supposed to see how many of them you’ve read). So I was going through the list and having a hard time remembering exactly what I’ve read. I know that if I read it, and then forgot it, it probably didn’t do all that much for me. But I had these huge reading lists in college and there were those times when I ended up just renting the movie for lack of time or motivation–and so I was trying to separate those that have been read from those that have been watched. (Terrible, I know, and I shouldn’t really admit to that, but there you have it.) So I was chastising myself and deciding instantly to read all the books on the list that definitely should be read (except for books like Kite Runner–seriously, I just can’t bring myself to choose to be depressed for hours.). Anyway, later on I was considering just how long it’s going to take me to read all those books that I’m not dying to read and I started to feel like maybe reading all those books is not in my immediate future. There are some books that I want to read because I’m interested (like The Shack) and then there are books I want to read because I just really want to read them. I’ve said before that I’m a fan of YA literature. So lately I’ve been reading the Blue Bloods series. It’s fabulous. Vampires and reincarnation and angels–who knows why I love it but I do. I’m also reading a nonfiction book at the moment called The Christian Imagination and it’s great so far. (I do try to intake more than just vampire stories 😉 ). I’m also one of those people who likes to reread her favorite books. And if I’m arguing with myself about reading something I feel I should read or reading something like, I don’t know, Harry Potter–Harry Potter would usually win. 

 Check out Mel’s blog and see just how well-read you are. 🙂 http://melanieandmatt.blogspot.com/