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.'

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

This is a “Top Ten Tuesday” exercise…

By ‘Auto-Buy’, I assume TTT means authors we would automatically buy just because of the author’s name on the cover.  I don’t give authors so much liberty in my world, but there are a few that seem to come up with plots that almost always go on my TBR.  Some of them I haven’t even begun to start reading, yet I consider them almost kindred spirits in way because of the way we tend to love the same sorts of subjects, plots and backdrops.  So here are a few of those KS:

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Posted by on July 15, 2019 in Book Shopping, Top Ten Tuesday


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Book Review: “The Loved One,” by Catherine Palmer, Peggy Stoks

Genre: novella; contemporary Inspirational

Plot Summary: Meg Chilton is proud of her son who is about to graduate from high school and leave for college.  But as his graduation draws nigh, Taylor announces to his parents his decision to join the military.  Devastated, Meg loses herself in her genealogical research—and learns of family’s courage and sacrifice stemming from great love.

My Book Review: I have a few books by Catherine Palmer on my TBR and this is the first I’ve read of her, co-authored with Peggy Stoks.  Actually, this was more of a novella and I zipped through it pretty quickly.  Published in 2007, it is a little dated but the content and story is still good.

The story has a strong, patriotic bent. But by the time I got to Chapter 2, I could see where the story was going and it was predictable.  However, the book flips back and forth between present day and the story of the Chilton forbears and it is the historical fictions that are the most interesting even if the contemporary scenes were repetitive.  I appreciated that the stories from the Chilton past were not wrapped up with nice little bows at the end.  Rather, the characters sacrificed family, emotional well-being and physical safety in order to do what they knew needed to be done: defend their country.

If you are interested in family history, or are looking for something patriotic to read this season, this short book will probably be just for you!

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Posted by on July 13, 2019 in Book Reviews


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June 2019 Scavenger Word List

Every month (and other alternative timelines), The Lost Challenges provide new scavenger lists of up to 50 words to look for while reading whatever you choose to read (for example, the current list includes the word “flavor”). If I come across that word while reading, I mark it down. It’s fun to see how many I can find by the end of the month. This works well if you have more than one book going at a time like me, or read very fast. I do it along with another person I know and we compare lists to see who found the most words.  THIS MONTH, I FINALLY WON!

1. Al Dente ~

2. Bake ~ Mamie was immersed in the kitchen, baking an abundance of Yule bread and black bun, the fragrance rivaling the confectionery on Water Street.  [Love’s Awakening]

3. Beat ~ “Opposition is growing fiercer toward those of us who help fugitives– more beatings, threats, torched homes and barns.” [LA]

4. Blend ~

5. Boil ~ One moment I was okay, the next, I was boiling with anger.  [Distinctly You]

6. Burn ~ But the sky above New Hope was clear and blue as a robin’s egg, and the letter she’d just received seemed to burn a hole in her pocket, spurring her on.  [LA]

7. Chill ~ A chill crept over Ellie despite the day’s heat.  [LA]

8. Chop ~

9. Cream ~ Not ebony but the hue of coffee with cream, born of a black mother and a white overseer.  [LA]

10. Cube ~

11. Dash ~

12. Dice ~

13. Drain ~ Oh, to rearrange time… drain the rivers dry so he couldn’t leave… send for Reverend Herron, who’d surely voice his objections to her wedding a rebllious Turlock when he’d expected a pious Cameron instead… becoming mistress of River Hill in the span of a blessed, passion-filled night… have Chloe returned to their care and begin a new life.  [LA]

14. Drizzle ~

15. Flavor ~ Zigzagging through a maze of short blocks, she made her way from the beach to the business area, a hodgepodge of beach culture and smalltown flavor.  [Between Us Girls]

16. Fold ~ Drawing her feet up on the stool’s edge, she wrapped her arms around her legs and the voluminous folds of her linen skirt, feeling like a little girl again.  [LA]

17. Freeze ~

18. Frost ~ A standing ovation soon freed the group from their balcony box, and they went out into the frosty night.  [LA]

19. Fry ~ They spoke of wild changes they would make to the restaurant, beginning with a French-themed decor, which made no sense at all unless they convinced people that the Eiffel Tower and French fries were somehow connected.  [BUG]

20. Grate ~ She snatched the shackles away and flung them into the hearth’s fire, where they clattered noisily against the grate.  [LA]

21. Grease ~

22. Grill ~

23. Grind ~ Inside the cavernous building, water poured over a huge mill wheel that operated alongside gears designed the century before for grinding grain.  [LA]

24. Hard ~ The hopelessness in her tone struck Ellie hard.  [LA]

25. Heat ~ see Chill.

26. Ice ~ Better to ponder the reality of the coming autumn with its corn stubble and spent fields… and winter’s rivers locked fast with ice, barring his way back to them.  [LA]

27. Knead ~ “It didn’t need nervous kneading.”  [BUG]

28. Layer ~ Biscuits layered with ham.  [LA]

29. Mash ~ They approached the bustling distillery, the scent of the mash tubs, seething with fermenting grain, overpowering and ripe.  [LA]

30. Measure ~ His balding pate shone in the dim light as he bent to measure a leg next, leaving Jack free to look about the tidy room.  [LA]

31. Melt ~ Something inside her melted.  [LA]

32. Mix ~ Ellie marveled that Mama almost made a game of it, having them practice their chosen names till they were comfortable as a well-worn garment, mixing up the slates and having everyone remember who they were with a great deal of high-spirited merriment.  [LA]

33. Mold ~

34. Oil ~ Taking her by the arm, he went inside the house, eyes trailing to the stairwell ceiling, where oil-brushed angels played their harps, reminding him again of Ellie.  [LA]

35. Oven ~ She wore flannel pajamas, ate homemade meatballs and spaghetti, and watched an evening newscast on the small television that sat next to the toaster oven on the countertop.  [BUG]

36. Pare ~

37. Peel ~

38. Pinch ~ She took a deep breath, feeling the pinch of her stays.  [LA]

39. Quarter ~ I did take my English teacher’s warning seriously and registered for a writing class each quarter.  [DY]

40. Raw ~ Why did she always feel so raw at the mere mention of him?  [LA]

41. Rise ~ “Nay, I prefer to swim sober,” Jack said, voice snatched by the rising wind.  [LA]

42. Scramble ~

43. Separate ~ Nothing could bridge the chasm that separated them.  [LA]

44. Skin ~ Strangely enough, his suit was comfortable as a second skin, the stock Sol had tied not overly tight.  [LA]

45. Smoke ~ He drew hard on his pipe and leaned back in his chair, studying her through skirls of smoke.  [LA]

46. Steam ~ “I’ve never ridden on a steamer.”  [LA]

47. Stir ~ The question, asked again and again, never failed to stir Ellie’s spirit.  [LA]

48. Toss ~ Then why did she feel so tossed about, her thoughts and emotions in a perpetual tangle?  [LA]

49. Warm ~ “It’s such a pretty day, not too warm.” [LA]

50. Whip ~ Smart as whips.  [BUG]


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Posted by on July 4, 2019 in Scavenger Word Lists



2018 ATC Seneca Awards

Like audio dramas?  Audio Theatre Central has announced the nominees for the 2018 Seneca Awards, which recognizes the best in the audio drama production industry.  Winners will be announced in July.  As a plus, these are all family friendly stories, so they can be enjoyed on those long summer vacation road trips!  There are so many exciting things happening in the audio world.  I’m really looking forward to The Adventum!  Posts to as many trailers as I can find are below:

Operation Mosul (The Brinkman Adventures)

The Treasure of the Secret Cove (Lamplighter Theatre)

The Adventum, Vol. 1

Black Rock (The Shadow Remake)

Escape from the Eagle’s Nest (Lamplighter Theatre)

Come and See

Heirloom Audio Productions have also come out with St. Bartholomew’s Eve and For the Temple, but unfortunately I could not find trailers for those.  And Lamplighter Theatre’s quality seems to be improving every year!


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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas


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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Summer 2019)

Strong, simple, sassy female writers this summer!

Distinctly You, by Cheryl Martin~ I had never heard of this author among the Christian living books before but the subtitle, “Trading Comparison and Competition for Freedom and Fulfillment” spoke to me.  I am not half finished with it yet but I am finding the simple prose and reflection super helpful.  It has already begun turning over some rocks in my life for God to work more healing.  I appreciate that Cheryl Martin is so honest with her life and never paints a picture of a spiritual person who has it all together.  You can check more of her quiet, precise voice in the following videos: 

Part 1 / Part 2 

The Money Plan for the Young, Fabulous and Broke, by Suze Orman~ I’m one who finds Dave Ramsey a bit too intimidating for me.  This was a freebie book that I picked up as a breakfast read.  What had I to lose?  An older book (pub. 2004), it’s advice is still classic.  The book is written for an audience in their 20’s, but she includes readers who are a little older and late-but-better-than-never to the party (like me).  Suze has a fun, simple style that doesn’t turn condescending and that is refreshing!  I found her explanations of things like Roth IRA’s easier to understand than a Dummy’s Guide to Investing I had tried to read earlier.  One of my pet peeves about financial advisors is boiling their message down to: “Just don’t eat out so much!”– as though all people who are broke are so because they visit McDonald’s every week.  It’s annoying and assumptive.  But Orman doesn’t get that way.  This book is a keeper and I would like to check out more of her stuff.  So if you think you’ve tried financial guidebooks before and gave up, maybe you should give one of her books a try. 


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Book Review: “Wish You Were Here,” by Beth K. Vogt

Genre: contemporary fiction; Inspirational; romance


Plot Summary: Allison Denman has only 5 more days until the big day when she marries Seth, the man she’s been dating for six years since they were kids in high school.  They’re perfect for each other (he says).  The dress is perfect (their mothers say).  But how did she end up kissing Seth’s brother Daniel this near to the wedding day? Now what?!

My Book Review: Broken-off weddings intrigue me.  It is never pleasant for the people going through it, but I am curious about the complex emotions and motives behind it.  That’s why I wanted to read this book.

The author was new to me.  I believe this is a first fiction novel for Vogt and I was surprised. You’ve heard me complain many times about the state of Christian romance fiction.  Why would I take a chance on another one?  Because I don’t believe the problem lies in the genre as much as it is individual authors’ perspective and skill.  No, I don’t enjoy the churned-out sugary novels.  But I’m always hoping to find a book where I can trust the author, sink my teeth into a good plot.

I say I was surprised, because I liked this book: a good balance between comedy and seriousness. The characters and dialogue were interesting and it wasn’t cliché.  I liked how the ending left you hanging a little.  Not everyone’s woundedness was healed by the end.  Not everything was completely wrapped up, though you had a good guess how things would turn out.

I liked the subtle presence of animals in the story. The llamas that stare at Allison’s suitors.  The kitty named Bisquick (adorable name!).  I enjoyed the setting for it all—the beautiful state of Colorado which I could picture very well in my mind, although I’ve never been.

Another word on the characters, though. I do wish that there was a little bit more development in Allison’s life after her breakup with Seth.  I appreciate the complexity in that it was hard for Allison to form new ways of relating in her relationships (with Seth, parents, etc,) and sometimes she made mistakes going back to past habits.  But I wish that she had become more fully aware of how her codependency was hurting herself and others, how it fed an unhealthy relationship, and what better ways she could learn from there on out.  I wasn’t convinced she wouldn’t go repeating it in her next relationship.

Many Christian romance novels feature ‘the perfect guy’—the hunk who rescues kittens, volunteers at the homeless shelter, and sweats while chopping wood. I liked that Daniel, the hero of Wish You Were Here, didn’t have everything right in his life, made mistakes, and almost had some of the same control traits as his younger brother.  But he faced those issues, made corrections, and made different choices.  That made for a much more interesting character!

Another interesting character is Allison’s tried and true friend, Meghan. I loved this girl as she told the truth point blank to her best friend.  She definitely had some good words of wisdom, especially as a confidant to Allison’s younger sister who was entering the dating scene.  However, it is too bad that this BFF couldn’t have been more truthful with Allison sooner in her abusive relationship with Seth.

I wish that the characters were a little more mature in their Christian walk, but some attempt is made on both their parts to grow throughout the book. I wouldn’t consider it preachy, but perhaps the spiritual element didn’t feel completely at home, either.  I don’t think that’s a reason to eliminate it, but something for authors to work on making sure things flow a bit better.

Some may be waiting for a series after this, but I don’t believe there will be. However, there is a short story sequel for fans, entitled “You Made Me Love You.”  I don’t think I’ll be reading it because I don’t enjoy short stories, but the summary made me smile!

I don’t think this book will interest everyone, esp. those who abhor romance, but for those who do like I think this will be a pleasant, surprise read.  It’s clean, and I could even recommend it to teenage girls.  It addresses some situations they face such as depression, cutting, and pornography.

If you liked this book, I also recommend…

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Posted by on June 20, 2019 in Book Reviews


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books from My Favorite Genre

This is a “Top Ten Tuesday” exercise…

I’ve almost always labeled my favorite genre as anything that includes “Adventure!”  But lately I’ve been shifting toward anything that gives me pleasurable thrills, namely “Atmospheric” stories that make me feel like I’m there.  Who doesn’t want that in a good book?  Nearly all of my favorites are memorable to me years after I’ve read them, because of landscapes or action scenes or humorous scenarios.  I’ve picked some of the sharpest-image ones to list below:

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Posted by on June 9, 2019 in Top Ten Tuesday


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