Author Archives: booklearner

About booklearner

booklearner is a Christian, aspiring voice over artist, and author of the blog "booklearned: Life with Books." She also volunteers as a narrator for under the name 'thestorygirl.'

Character Reflections Series: Resourceful Heroines

I haven’t done one of these posts for a long, long time and I think it’s about time to resurrect them, don’t you think?

One of the traits I admire in heroines (real or fictional) are the ones who are clever, –as in innovative or resourceful.  Not everyone has a lot of money, and maybe the ones who do are the ones who have been clever and resourceful as well.  More great ideas have been bred out of need than luxury.  It gives me inspiration to hear of how somone survives an ordeal by using what they have in a pickle.  Businesses have been born, lives saved, and frontiers won by many a hero/heroine who has thought up a great strategy for surviving and thriving.

Who are some literary heroines we can think of who fit this bill?  The first ones that come to mind are experiencing a resurgence in popularity lately (due to the new movie Little Women): Jo March and her sisters!  The March family had once upon a time been a fairly wealthy one, but have fallen upon hard times in the years during the war.  As the young girls find out, it’s not a lot of fun to be strapped. Especially when all your friends can afford beautiful ball gowns and limes.  But it doesn’t prevent them from living fully in any case.  They invent their own ways to amuse and entertain themselves– putting on plays, writing stories, making gifts.  Their stage props are made out of curtains and houseplants, but they make do with imagination.

“Being still too young to go often to the theater, and not rich enough to afford any great outlay for private performances, the girls put their wits to work, and– necessity being the mother of invetion– made whatever they needed.  Very clever were some of their productions– pasteboard guitars, antique lamps made out of old-fashioned butter boats covered with silver paper, gorgeous robes of old cotton, glittering with tin spangles from a pickle factory, and armor covered with the same useful diamond-shaped bits, left in sheets when the lids of tin preserve pots were cut out.  The furniture was used to being turned topsy-turvy, and the big chamber was the scene of many innocent revels.”

~”Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott

In fact, a large portion of a chapter details their theater inventions.  I remember reading Little Women when I was about 12 years old and this Christmas play of theirs was one of my favorite parts.  My sister and I used to mimic the March girls and come up with all sorts of ingenious substitutes for swords, costumes and props out of anything we could find in the house.  We turned “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott into a 75 page play (which we memorized) and veggie platters became our knights’ shields, ski masks our helmets, and swaths of solid polyester material that were left over from grandma’s quilt backings were our costumes held together with safety pins.  I think the only thing we bought for the entire thing was a red lightbulb for the dungeon scene.  Homemade makes better memories!

Learning to be inventive from an early age serves well in later life.  For one thing, you can think faster on your feet.  Now, this I can’t personally claim, but I did get an idea from our next heroines that aided me in a cause just today.  I recently finished the mystery novel, “Strong Poison” by Dorothy L. Sayers, where Lord Peter Wimsey (aristocratic sleuth) is determined to find a young woman innocent of a crime he knows she didn’t commit.  Of course, Lord Peter has connections that many others don’t and has an entire “Cattery” of female workers in his employ when he needs someone to infiltrate a place for info.  This is where Miss Climpson and Miss Murchison enter the picture.  These two ladies aren’t exactly what one would usually picture as heroines.  They are beyond the prime of life, spinsters, and lacking sex appeal.  That makes them perfect “spies” whom nobody suspects as having ulterior motives.  However, there is a moment when Miss Murchison is almost found out.  Her supervisor happens across her just at the moment when she is about to discover something!  Her quick thinking saves the scheme and herself, but she has to play timid and dumb.  Then there is the older Miss Climpson.  If ever there was an award for ingenuity, she would get the prize.  By her quick wits, she weedles her way into a complete stranger’s house and makes out with a person’s will!  All in the name of attaining justice, of course.  It gave me an idea today; not in stealing or anything else illegal of course, but in attaining access to a place at a time when I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  Thanks, Miss Climpson!

So what if you’re not a plainclothes detective?  What if you’re just an ordinary person in everyday life?  Maybe life feels dull, but how to spruce it up without the dramatics?  Let us turn to Jerusha “Judy” Abbott, one of my favorite heroines from one of my favorite novels, “Daddy Long Legs” (Jean Webster).  Judy is at college, surrounded by friends who come from impressive backgrounds.  Judy doesn’t have all of the perks their families provide.  She has to make her own way in the world.  This means making her own way when it comes to everyday things, as well.  As she tells her benefactor:

“Do you care you care to know how I’ve furnished my room?  It’s a symphony in brown and yellow.  The walls were tinted buff, and I’ve bought yellow denim curtains and cushions and a mahogany desk (secondhand for three dollars) and a rattan chair and a brown rug with an ink spot in the middle.  I stand the chair over the spot.
“The windows are high up; you can’t look out from an ordinary seat.  But I unscrewed the looking glass from the back of the bureau, upholstered the top, and moved it up against the window.  It’s just the right height for a window seat.  You pull out the drawers like steps and walk up.  Very comfortable!”

I’ve certainly had experience with decorating on a budget.  A few years ago I was dead set on decorating my bedroom in 1970’s pink and purple, like Rhoda’s apartment on the Mary Tyler Moore show.  But paint is expensive and I really couldn’t afford much.  Then I saw a sale in my local hardware store flyer for sample paint $2 a can (limit 2).  Guess what?  Since my bedroom is small, I was able to paint it in 2 pint sized cans of pink and purple paint alternating walls, with an old kitchen baster for a paintbrush.  I don’t think there was a drop of paint left by the end of it all, but I have a colorful bedroom to say the least.  A few thrift finds and a quilt made by my mom and grandma and I live in pink bliss!

So how about you?  Are there ways you find to be inventive in your life?  Are there any heroines you look to for inspiration?  Share below!


Posted by on March 11, 2018 in Character Reflections Series


Ready for Spring Christian Fiction 2018?

WOO-HOO!  Spring is in the air~  Today I celebrate it with some new Christian fiction I’m looking forward to (view CBD catalog here).  I’m ecstatic to say that this time around, there were many good looking fiction titles I can’t wait to get my hands on!  Maybe things are looking up in the future of this genre?

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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Random Books Post: from a Church Library

Time to go.

Hi!  Recently my church library did a big book purge because the church is getting ready to add on, remodel, and move.  It was fun to be involved in the process!  Along with that came the responsibility to go through the fiction and pare down to about 50%, partly due to our goal of being an up to date, fresh and “flowing” library.  A youth pastor sorted through the nonfiction.  In order to decide what stayed and what didn’t, we asked ourselves a couple of questions: 1) Is it a good book?  2) Will this book be used here?  And then, I had couple of pet-peeves that helped to pare down our library a little further, such as purging overly saccharine romance and almost all of the AMISH fiction (of course!).  I also took out series that took up lots of shelf space, and books that may be good books but realistically looked too dated for the average person to be interested in (like, handdrawn pioneers in 1980’s nighties… Yuck!).  I to the stacks books that all the loyal library lovers at our church had already been through, figuring they were in need of some “fresh blood”.

So what did I choose to keep?  I tried to keep a little of the popular authors (particularly more of their stand-alone novels, and newer works).  I tried to bring more balance to the different genres.  And (as was recommended to me), the ones I’d cry over if they weren’t there.  I hope I chose well.  I can’t wait to put in the new stuff and reopen in the fall!

What I did next was totally separate from my decision on whether to keep a book in the library or not: I went through the stacks and adopted some as my own before they were carted off for donation.  Therefore, I have another Random Book Post, where I share my latest home library additions.  Not all of these are from church, but a good two stacks of them are:

Have you ever been put in a position to kick or keep books on the shelves?  How did you decide?  Share any latest book finds with me!



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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Book Shopping


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~Quote for 02.18.2018~

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Quotes



Book Review: “The Melting of Molly,” by Maria Thompson Daviess


Genre: classic

Plot Summary: Molly, a young widow, has a problem: she needs to lose weight and fast!  An old beau is renewing his acquaintance by coming back to his old hometown where she still lives, but she looks nothing like she did 10 years ago.  The only one who can help her attain her goal is the next door doctor.  But he likes her as she is.  What’s a girl to do when several men start to pay her more attention?

My Book Review: This was a fast, enjoyable read!  I originally discovered it on Librivox (listen to it for free here) and soon after found an old copy of it at a library book sale.  I found it cute that, in a story about a girl on a diet, a bookworm chewed a neat little hole through the edges of the pages.  🙂

The story takes place in the Gibson girl era, where things were not much different than they are today in that a woman’s worth was often judged on the dimension of her waistline. Only they had corsets back then to help them out.  Molly is a delightfully funny character, honest and vain, but thoroughly woman.  I loved the old illustrations throughout the book as well.  And the doctor was a swoon!  Perhaps one can see the ending from the start, but poor Molly can’t and it’s fun to watch her transformation when all the time she has a good man’s unconditional love.

This book is a simple read. Don’t expect too much out of it.  But if you are wanting to get into a cute little love story, this entertaining novel will probably satisfy.  Just ask the bookworm.

I also recommend:

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Book Reviews


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Katherine Kellgren, Inspiring Storyteller

Audiobook Narrator, Katherine Kellgren

I remember seven years ago.  With a little tinny microphone and Windows Movie Maker as my editing tool, I performed my first two short stories for and a whole new world was opened to me.  Immediately I knew what I had been searching for for years: I wanted to be an audiobook narrator/voice artist!  A counselor suggested I read up on all I could find on the subject so that I knew what it took to get there.

I started my research on youtube, of course!  And I learned about professional studios, home studios, how audiobooks were made.  This was just as the audiobook boom hit and was growing in leaps and bounds.  I learned about big names in the industry: Simon Vance, Scott Brick, Jim Daly… and Katherine Kellgren.  Each one had their own unique voice, but Kellgren’s was a voice that contained culture, beautiful diction, and soul.  I enjoyed watching any video I could find with her in it because I found her to be inspiring.  I learned her background story of how she became an audiobook narrator (reading to her father who had a fatal illness).  Every year when the Audie Awards were announced, her name was nominated for at least one– usually several– and she was a winner.

I was sad to hear that Katherine Kellgren passed away just a few weeks ago.  She will leave such a big void within the audio world.  Her beautiful, classical voice will be missed by her captive audience, as I’m sure will her person by the people who knew her.

(For the record, I’m really loving her bookshelves behind her as well!)

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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in Inspiring Voices Series


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New Reading Year- Looking Ahead 2018

I’m pretty excited about the new year and what lies ahead, especially in the area of reading!  I’ve been feeling pretty psyched since I wound up 2017 with more books read than expected, and I’m off to a good start already.  I’ve already finished one book, I have another half read, and another one awaits me at the library after coming in on the interlibrary loan system.

This year my reading resolution is simple: read 24 books (2 books per month).  I’m pretty sure I can accomplish that one.  To some that may not seem very ambitious but it is a challenging, yet doable number for me.  Especially considering I have some other major projects in the works this year.

I have made up my usual reading list for this year, and can’t wait to start on it.  I wrote in a post a long time ago how I do this the week after Christmas.  However, I’m also trying something a little different.  I joined a reading challenge group on goodreads!  I’ve been mulling over joining one for a while and perused several before making up my mind to join The Seasonal Reading Challenge.  This group appealed to me for several reasons.  For one, I liked the idea that it is seasonal and goes by themes.  There many different tasks of varying difficulties and allows for a broad range of reading.  So, I made up a second reading list (did I say I love lists?) planning out titles to read that qualify under the challenges required, only it basically incorporates most of the books from my first list that I’d been planning on reading anyway.  I’m not sure how I will like this change.  You may laugh, but I’m very serious about my lists and what order I read books in.  I love rules, but only the ones I make up for myself.  Ha!  So we’ll see how I do with a reading group.

I will strive to get my reviews ‘caught up’ this year.  This is actually a little relative in my definition of being caught up.  Ever since the start of this blog I have posted reviews at least a year after having read the book and this is because the margin gives me a feeling of distance and control.  It also gives me the ability to change certain comments I make so that I don’t end up writing something I will regret later.  Of course, I sometimes still do regret things I’ve written.  But time to go back much later with hindsight is better for me.  So my goal is to ‘get caught up’ to within a year’s past reviews, if that makes any sense.

I would like to start up my ‘Character Reflections Series’ again; I miss writing them!  Also, I have had an idea for years that I would like to start adding music somehow to my blog, but have not quite figured out how to do it in a way that is not annoying.  I’ve been looking into it and playing around, so don’t be surprised if you find that appearing on booklearned!

Do you have any different reading goals this year?  Share below!



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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in Reading Habits


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