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.
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.
Are there any books you reread to figure out how the authors made them so amazing?
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
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
To order the companion Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal that will help you practically change your thoughts, then your life, click here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week I talked about the genres I don’t like to read, so this week I want to tell you the genres I do! There’s a few genres I don’t read because they don’t resonate with me and I don’t get a lot out of reading them. Because time is precious and I want to be spending my time on books that I get a lot out of, these are the genres I usually turn to:
Pretty much everything I read is YA. I don’t know if it’s because these books meant so much to me growing up or because I love a good coming-of-age story or because I make up stories for a living and don’t quite feel like an adult, but YA books have always been my favorites. When I go into a bookstore or library, you can find me heading straight to the teen section.
Science Fiction and Dystopian
I’ve always been fascinated with the future and with space, and so that’s why I’ve always loved science fiction books. I love the dystopian subgenre in particular because even though these stories depict negative futures, they’re usually full of so much hope.
I don’t read fantasy books as much because they’re usually so long and I have trouble sitting still long enough to read them, but I love fantasy books because of the amazing world building. Because I write a lot of stories set in the future, world building is a big part of my writing process. Fantasy books are a great addition to science fiction to read and be inspired about world building
My faith is the most important part of my life, and so I love reading Christian living books and devotionals. These books help me to focus on God and grow in my faith, which I always want to be doing.
I only recently got into the romance genre, but because I read a lot of heavy and dystopian books, romance novels are light and fun to take a break with.These are some of my favorite books in these genres.
These are some of my favorite books in these genres.
You can definitely see the influence of my favorite genres to read on what I write. I primarily write young adult contemporary and science fiction because those stories have always resonated with me the most. What are your favorite genres to read and write?
As a writer and a book-lover, I sometimes feel pressured to read and like all kinds of books. A while back I wrote a post on giving up on reading certain books, which is a way to respect your time a writer. It’s okay not to like everything. Everything was not meant for you to be read. And if you need to give up on reading a book that’s not resonating with you, you definitely should put it down and pick up something you’d enjoy more.
So today I wanted to admit what genres I don’t like and what books I almost never pick up. There are always exceptions, but for the most part these are the genres I avoid:
When I think of classics, I think of the books I was forced to read in high school that made me hate reading for a while. I just have so much trouble connecting to stories written so long ago. Plus the different styles of writing make most of these books a struggle for me to read. I much more enjoy contemporary stories, even though there are a couple exceptions on my favorites shelf.
I’m sorry, but I don’t like poetry. I prefer straight-forward writing, and so I find poetry extremely difficult to get into. I don’t hate all poems, but I usually won’t pick poetry up by choice.
Horror, Thrillers, and Westerns
I’m grouping these together because I don’t have much experience reading any of them. But none of these genres hold any appeal to me.
I’m honestly surprised I don’t like this genre because I enjoy that feeling of mixing past and present. Urban fantasy does this by setting magical elements (which you typically think of as belonging in fairy-tale-like settings) into a modern environment. But every book I’ve tried in this genre just hasn’t seemed to click with me. I think I just prefer fairy tales too much.
These books are a few of the exceptions in these genres that I actually do enjoy.
What are the genres that you don’t like? Next week I’ll be talking about my favorite genres, so look out for that!
On the last Friday of each month of 2017 I featured one of my favorite books. Because I have way more than only twelve favorites though, I thought I’d do a couple posts on the leftovers with short features about each of the books left on my favorite’s shelf. Click here to check out part 1. Here’s the rest of my favorite books:
The Giver and its companion books by Lois Lowry
I was first introduced to this series in the fifth grade when my teacher read Gathering Blue to my class. We were all amazed by the book, so she also read Messenger to us. But I didn’t end up reading the first book of this series, The Giver, until I was in college, and it is hands-down my favorite dystopian story.
Twelve by Nick McDonell
Twelve is definitely not a book most people would like, and most people have never heard of it. But I found this book in my library when I was sixteen years old and it blew me away with its power. And when I saw that the author of the book had only been seventeen when he wrote it, this book became a major source of inspiration to young-writer me.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This book is on my favorites shelf mainly because of how innovative it is and how impressed I am by it as a writer. Spanning centuries, this book tells six different but connected stories. My favorite of these are of course the ones that take place in the future, but each of them are beautifully told.
1984 by George Orwell
This is the only classic on my shelf besides Fahrenheit 451, and I love it for many of the same reasons. Plus I had a pretty eccentric high school English teacher who covered the room from floor to ceiling with “Big Brother is Watching You” posters, so it was quite a memorable experience when I read the book for the first time.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
This book is as beautiful as it is haunting. The Lovely Bones is narrated by Suzie Salmon, a girl who was brutally murdered but who watches the aftermath of her death from her new home in heaven. This book has been a huge source of inspiration for my writing.
Unwind and the rest of the Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman
Like with [Everlost, Neal Shusterman blows my mind with everything he writes. This series takes place in the future after the second civil war was fought over abortion. Now children cannot be aborted, but from ages 13-18 they can be “unwound,” a process which results in 100% of their body being donated, so they’re not technically dead. These books are eerie and exciting and wonderful.
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
This is one of the books that made it’s way straight to my favorites shelf after reading it for the first time. This book is about a girl who was raped, and it’s a beautiful story about healing. Check out my What I’m Reading post about it here.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
I found Olive Kitteridge used and free, and I never would’ve picked it up otherwise, but my little beaten-up copy is one of my favorite books. A novel in stories, Strout tells the story of Olive and her Maine town. This book is beautiful and sad and just perfect.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of big books. I have trouble focusing for a long time, and so it took me a long time to read The Book Thief, but this is one of those books that stays with you. Told from the perspective of Death, this novel takes you through Nazi Germany and the story of a young girl who fell in love with words. This story will also always hold a special place in my heart because I watched the movie version while waiting to meet my boyfriend on the night he ended up proposing to me.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Unlike The Book Thief, Zusak’s other novel is fast-paced, funny, and still deeply meaningful. I Am the Messenger is the story of Ed and his friends who live in Australia and are just trying to get by. But then Ed receives a playing card in the mail with addresses listed on it, and he realizes he’s been chosen to deliver something important.
I hope you’ve enjoyed all of my favorite book features! I’ve loved looking back at all the amazing books on my favorites shelf and telling you all about them. Check out the My Favorite Books page on my website to find links to all of my reviews, and let me know if we share any favorite books!