A Book I Turn to When…

Books can be friends and reminders. We turn to books to learn and sometimes to escape. Books can hold special memories and can be comfort to turn back to.

If you’re like me, these are your favorite books—the rereads you keep coming back to for different reasons. Today I wanted to share with you some of the titles I read over and over again, and why I turn to them.

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Some of my favorite rereads: Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

A book I turn to when…

…I want to go on an adventureThe Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

The Skinjacker Trilogy—Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound—are incredible books about the world between life and death. The series follows Allie and Nick as they journey through Everlost, and it’s full of so much adventure and imagination that I love turning back to these books.

…I want to escapeThe Selection Series by Kiera Cass

I think I’ve read the original trilogy more times than any other books. I’ve written on here many times how much I love these books. The Selection is simply a fun, swoon-worthy, light read that still packs an emotional punch.

…I want to be inspiredSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is probably my favorite book ever. This is such a powerful story about rape and healing and finding your voice, and every time I read it I feel so inspired.

…I want to enjoy a classicFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite classic novel, and one of only a few classics I actually like. I love turning back to this older book from time to time because it is science fiction at its best.

…I want to encourage myselfSomewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Writing can be discouraging work, and if I need inspiration to keep going, what better work to turn back to than my own? Rereading my published book reminds me that I’ve done it before and can do it again.


What are your favorite rereads and why do you keep turning back to them?

I Liked the Movie Better…

I like to stay out of the book vs. movie debate.

Book-lovers everywhere love to argue about how accurately film versions portray their beloved stories, but I’ve never thought it made sense to compare books and movies. To me, it’s like comparing a painting to a song. Books and films are two completely different mediums in which to tell stories.

Books of course can contain many more details and story lines than can be included in a two-hour movie, but movies are a chance to see a story truly come to life. And in some cases—even as a book-lover and as a writer—I like the movie versions even better than the books.

This past month I watched the new movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and thought it was amazing. Since I liked it so much, I picked up the book from the library. While I thought both were good, I definitely liked the movie version of this story more, and so I wanted to write about it and the other movies I like better than their respective books.

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Some of the books of which I like the respective movies better

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Over the past couple years, I’ve been getting more and more into the romance genre, and this story is just too cute. I saw the movie first, and was smiling the whole time because of how fun it is. I really enjoyed the writing in the book, but I thought it didn’t have a good ending. The movie wrapped up the story in a much better way, in my opinion. I’m waiting on the other two books in this series from the library.

The Hunger Games Series
As I’ve wrote about before, these movies were made for the screen. The author was a screenwriter, and I think that just comes through in the writing of the books. I think the essence of the story just works better in a movie.

The Harry Potter Series
It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter books, it’s just that they’re so long. I have trouble sitting still long enough to read books that long. I read the first six Harry Potter books a few times when I was in middle school, but I haven’t read any of them since reading the last book when the final movie came out. I love the films though because you can see all of the magic come to life.

Stardust
The book Stardust is on my favorites list because of the excellent writing and cool story. The movie is actually pretty different than the book, but I love it even more because, again, I love seeing all of the magic come to life on screen.

Cloud Atlas
Like Harry Potter, this book is long. I’ve only read it once, and—while I think it’s amazing and I put it on my favorites list—I don’t think I have the patience to read it again. I thought the movie version was very well done, and I love what they did with the actors playing different roles in each storyline.

Les Miserables
I’ll confess, even though Les Mis is my favorite story ever, I’ve only ever read the first page of the book. It’s written like a history book, which I find boring. But I love both the movie and the musical of this story.


How do you feel about the book vs. movie debate? Do you like any movies better than the book versions?

Favorite Book Feature: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Last year I featured some of my favorite books each month with special posts saying why I love these books. You can check out my favorites book page to find links to my reviews of all of my favorites. But because I’m always adding new books to my favorites list, I thought I’d do new features each time another book makes the list.

Ask any book lover their favorite book, and they’ll find it nearly impossible to name just one. I have over fifty books on my favorites list, if you count all the books in series. If I absolutely had to say one book, it would be Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. But there are so many books that resonate with me for many different reasons, and so I call them all my favorites.

The newest addition to the list is a novel-in-verse (the first poetry to make the favorites list!)—Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough.

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Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Blood Water Paint is based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Roman painter. Artemisia had incredible talent and was one of the most talented painters of her time, but no one knew because her father would sign his name to her paintings. And despite how little women were valued in her time, Artemisia chose to speak the truth in her art and take her rapist to court, no matter the consequences.

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The afterword in Blood Water Paint

I’ve been trying to branch out a bit more in my reading this year, and one of the things I’ve been trying to read more of is verse. While I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy regular poetry, I am loving all of the novels-in-verse I have read. There is just something I love about reading the bare bones of a story along with the poetic language.

I also love that this book is not entirely in verse. Throughout Artemisia’s story, McCullough intersperses prose narrative stories that Artemisia’s mother told her when she was young. These stories are about Susanna and Judith, heroines who end up being the subjects of Artemisia’s most famous works and who inspire Artemisia to not be silent.

The best part about Blood Water Paint is its strong take on violence against women. This book takes place a long time ago, yet not much has changed in how charges of rape are handled. Artemisia struggles to have her voice heard and risks everything to stand up for the truth. And she also finds healing through her art, which is a theme I love to explore in my writing.

Blood Water Paint is Joy McCullough’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what else she does!

Favorite Book Feature: Midnight at the Electric

Last year I featured some of my favorite books each month with special posts saying why I love these books. You can check out my favorites book page to find links to my reviews of all of my favorites. But because I’m always adding new books to my favorites list, I thought I’d do new features each time another book makes the list.

Ask any book lover their favorite book, and they’ll find it nearly impossible to name just one. I have over fifty books on my favorites list, if you count all the books in series. If I absolutely had to say one book, it would be Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. But there are so many books that resonate with me for many different reasons, and so I call them all my favorites.

The newest addition to the list is a book I’ve read three times this year—Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I had this book on my TBR ever since I first heard about it because the cover is beautiful and the title intrigued me. I was excited to read it, but I was just blown away by this story. Both historical and science fiction; set in 1919, 1934, and 2065; told in narrative, letters, and diaries; and featuring three incredible girls; this is a beautiful story about fate and lives connecting across centuries.

I have a hard time articulating why this book is so amazing. I think that’s why I’ve read it three times this year—I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how Anderson does it. This book examines the horrors of World War I and the Dust Bowl, and looks to a hopeful future on Mars. Each of the main characters—Adri, Catherine, and Lenore—all have distinct voices and compelling stories. The audiobook version is also fantastic.

I think the main reason I love this book is because of how much it has inspired my work-in-progress. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about, but reading this book made everything with my story click into place. I might just have to read it again before I start writing the first draft of my book.

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Some of my research for my work-in-progress

Are there any books you reread to figure out how the authors made them so amazing?

Kelly Balarie Guest Post: 5 Tips to Being Battle Ready

I’ve had the privilege to be on Kelly Balarie’s launch team for her new book, Battle Ready, and I’ve loved this chance to read an advanced copy and to help launch this book into the world. Today I have a special guest post to share from Kelly about being battle ready. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

This book can seriously change your life. God is using this book to help me see how my thought patterns have been hurting me and how I can change my thoughts in order to change my life. Battle Ready is full of practical methods and mindsets you can adopt to help you be ready for all the battles you face. There’s a link at the end of this post to pre-order the book and get the accompanying prayer journal!

5 Tips to Being Battle Ready
By: Kelly Balarie

If a baby bird never moves out of the nest, she’ll never fly. If a toddler never takes that one inch forward, fearing falling, she’ll never walk. If a woman never takes a small step, she’ll continually stay, nowhere.

A small step out of move-out faith is mission-critical. Why? Faith brings to life what we cannot see, but desperately hope for.

Where do you stand on the faith-scale? 1-10? Do you see new life arising from your hopes, hunger, and hardships, or are you simply staying stuck, where you are?

You know, my life has lived as a big struggle. I’ve gone through an eating disorder, depression, a health scare that threatened to take my walking legs, financial debt struggles, heart-breaking and joy-stealing relational problems, companies going under, and constant self-doubt. The list goes on-and-on…

Nearly every time, in these situations, I thought: There’s no way out. This is impossible. I don’t know what to do. I am going under. I don’t have the (time, ability, resources or wisdom) to get through this. God won’t really be there for me; He’s got better things to do. I am stupid for letting this happen. No one understands. I’m all alone.

If faith is hope in what we cannot see, I’ve lived hopelessness. If it’s “impossible to please God without faith,” no wonder I felt so displeased with myself. If God says, “everything is possible for those who believe,” I suppose I haven’t believed.

The inclination here is to be angry at myself saying, You always mess up. You always fall short. You never do anything right.

But this is not how God speaks to me. This is not being Battle Ready.

Instead, God restores me by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Knowing this prepares my mind to walk into fearlessness, boldness, and purpose.

God’s grace welcomes in new faith. This is a vital, because faith is our greatest battle weapon. It takes us places, it tames our trials and it forges us ahead, like doubt never can.

So, how do you walk out life-changing faith? Here are a couple tips from my vast arsenal of faith-building, doubt-reducing, and life-changing thought-strategies I’ve discovered on my many battlefields of hardship:

5 Small Steps To Building Battle Ready Faith

  1. Envision Jesus one step ahead of you. If you know God is at the place you’re afraid of, how much more can you trust He’s preparing it for your arrival?
  2. Hear in your mind, continually: God really cares for me. The more we believe God sees us, the more we’ll believe He’ll see us through.
  3. Taste His victory history. If you remember how you felt when God came through last time, you can almost taste him doing the same thing again. Let your mouth water for His “new thing.”
  4. Inhale the reality, God is with you. Sure, there may be bumps in the boat. This doesn’t mean Jesus is sleeping. He’s fully aware of all you’re going through, the path He has you on, and your perfect escape with Him.
  5. Hold a light schedule. If you clear way in your schedule, you’ll make room to experience God’s Word in such a way where it can begin to dwell in you.

Pick up your shield of faith. When the enemy throws an arrow at you, like a random email that makes you feel sad or a rejection from a friend that leaves you disappointed, remember: God is with you, for you, and He is on your side. He is working out something in you and for you that’s even better than you expected.

You can become battle ready and live victoriously. You can prepare in advance rather than emotionally responding and reacting to the hardships that you face. God will give you peace as you learn His wisdom and strategies.

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Battle Ready by Kelly Balarie

About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously

“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”

– Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to:

  • make new habits stick in just five steps
  • disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
  • exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
  • implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
  • create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

Battle Ready releases July 3rd! Pre-order Battle Ready here.

To download your pre-order bonuses and to get Battle Ready freebies after the book is released—printables, devotional reminders, a customizable daily Battle Plan, and the “Find Your Battle Style” quiz—visit: www.iambattleready.com

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Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal

To order the companion Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal that will help you practically change your thoughts, then your life, click here.

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Author Kelly Balarie

Kelly Balarie, an author and national speaker, is on a mission to encourage others not to give up. Through times of extreme testing, Kelly believes there is hope for every woman, every battle and in every circumstance. She shares this hope on her blog, Purposeful Faith, and on many writing publications such as Relevant, Crosswalk, and Today’s Christian Woman. Kelly’s work has been featured on The Today Show, 700 Club Interactive, Moody Radio and other television and radio broadcasts. When Kelly is not writing, she is chilling at the beach with her husband, a latte, and 2-toddlers who rightfully demand she build them awesome castles.

 

 

My 2018 Summer TBR

I need sunshine. I love the warmth of summer and always feel more productive with the bright and long days. I especially love having a bunch of time to read in the summer. So since it’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Ohio, I thought I’d share what’s on my summer to-be-read (TBR) list.

The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

I found this series at the library and was completely blown away by the first book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Set in the near future, these books explore how far is too far when it comes to medical technology. The best part about these books is the voice, and I couldn’t put the first book down. I can’t wait to finish the second book and read the third to find out how it all ends!

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The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

 

Sea of Ink and Gold books by Traci Chee

The Reader and The Speaker were some of my favorite books I read in 2017. You know a book was good when you miss it after you’re done reading it, and I miss Sefia and all of the other characters from this series. I’ve been wanting to go back and read them again. The final book in the series comes out this fall, and I’m so excited for it.

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The Reader and The Speaker by Traci Chee

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

This novel-in-verse is about a seventeenth century artist who is raped and who tries to find healing and a voice through her art. I’m interested in reading this both for the subject matter and because I’m trying to read more verse.

Now is Everything by Amy Giles

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book from bloggers, and am excited to try it. It’s about a girl trying to escape an abusive household, so again I’m really interested in the subject matter.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I’ve already read this book twice in 2018, but I want to read it again. Part historical fiction and part science fiction, this novel is about lives being connected across centuries and just blew me away. This book has also had a huge influence on my work-in-progress, so I keep reading it to try to figure out how Anderson did it.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough, and Now is Everything by Amy Guiles

Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Yes—I want to read my own book this summer! I’ve been struggling a lot lately with doubting myself. Reading your own writing is important because it reminds you that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

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Somewhere Only We Know

What are you reading this summer?

What I’m Reading: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Jenna Evans Welch’s debut novel, Love & Gelato, is such a fun and summery read and reminded me a lot of Jennifer E. Smiths books, like This is What Happy Looks Like. I usually don’t buy books before I read them, but when I was only fifty pages into this book and had to return my library copy, I went out and got my own copy. And it’s been a long time since I stayed up late reading a book, but I stayed up finishing this one. I love contemporary YA romances, and Love & Gelato delivered.

The books is about Lina, a girl who is spending the summer in Florence because her mother’s dying wish was for her to live with the father she didn’t know about. And even though Italy is beautiful and has amazing gelato, Lina just wants to go home until she is given the journal her mother kept when she lived in Florence before Lina was born. As Lina learns about her mother’s past and befriends Ren, she learns a secret about her past that changes everything.

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

My favorite part about this book was of course the setting. I love books that can take you away to another place, and when I read Love & Gelato I felt like I was in Italy. Everything was beautifully described, and it made me really want some gelato. While I thought the mother’s journal entries lacked depth, Lina’s narrative was funny and engrossing. And though this book dealt with topics like death and domestic abuse, it was hopeful and for the most part light-hearted.