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Book Review: Stuck in the Middle, by Virginia Smith

1371854Genre: romance; Christian Inspirational fiction; humor

Plot Summary: Joan Sanderson is 25 years old and has her life ahead of her, but instead of being excited she feels bored and stuck in life.  The middle of three adult sisters, she seems like a misfit compared to bossy Allie who is married and starting her own family, and flirty Tori who has a budding career and all the success.  She loves living at home with Mom and Gram, but Mom seems to be dropping hints lately about moving Gram to a nursing home, and Joan can’t afford to lose another person in her life.  But then life suddenly becomes a little more interesting when an attractive doctor moves in next door and seems to take an interest in her… or is it Tori he likes?

My Book Review:  For some reason, I felt in the mood for light reading –contemporary chick lit in particular.  This was my first book in the genre and I hoped it would keep my interest, considering all of the bad reports I’ve been hearing about modern Christian fiction lately.

I have to tell you, I actually liked it!  As far as depth or shallowness goes, it wasn’t Christianity’s most thought-provoking novel (there were no quotes I found for my quote book), but it wasn’t the worst I’ve read either.  I was pretty impressed that it managed to stay a cut above many Christian romances out there in that the plot couldn’t be summarized as, “a prelude to a kiss,” and the hero wasn’t the answer to all of the heroine’s problems.  Instead, Ken stays back while Joan works out her own problems with God.

This book peaked my interest because of the plot the main character finds herself in.  I felt like I could identify in so many ways with Joan: age-wise, feeling stuck, her fears, her past.  I even had to chuckle a little as it seems her grandmother (and maybe even Joan?) exhibit some symptoms of OCD(?), as I do as well.

I loved reading the scenes where Joan spends time with her sisters.  The sleepover, shopping, even the fighting was a lot of fun!  It felt like I was a sister joining them and just hanging out.

There were some things I didn’t love about it, though.  I did feel like the plot was a little unbalanced in that the first part of the book seems to be about Joan trying to compete with Tori for Ken’s eye.  But soon after, that plotline gets dropped and other events become the main focus.  Ken didn’t really seem to be very interesting to me and okay, I did have to roll my eyes a little over his attempts to flirt and unnecessary moments like when he answers the door with no shirt.  These few instances made me feel uncomfortably like I was reading the romance novels I abhor.

Jeremiah 29:11 I have made it through the last year since January 24, 2013 by standing on this verse. With the lost of a child there seems like no hope and a future. I don't understand God's plans but I must trust Him that he has a hope and future for me. It's in His Word. So I know it's true.I did not feel this Christian novel became preachy.  Instead, Christian characters live out their lives realistically and help each other to grow deeper spiritually.  I was even able to read some helpful thoughts for my own life, and was reminded of key Bible verses that spoke to me, in particular Jeremiah 29:11.

If you’re looking for a nice light summer chick lit read, I think you’ll enjoy this.  Know that this is the first in the Sister-to-Sister series by Virginia Smith and is followed by books centering on Joan’s sisters Allie and Tori.  For myself, I don’t plan on continuing with the series even though I had fun with the first.  I primarily read Joan’s story because her life seemed similar to mine, but I couldn’t say I have the same interest for Allie or Tori.  I wouldn’t mind reading future books by this author, though.

Have you read this book?  Share your comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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How to Propely Break in a Book

"Lo que es simplemente grande, no es tan difícil de ejecutar"...  M83 | Seasons of JuneIt was the summer I was 8 years old.  I had checked The Voyage of the Dawn Treader out of the church “library” and was busy happily reading, reaching the midway point in the book.  When all of a sudden, the spine of the paperback cracked in half and I was now holding two parts of what used to be my book.  But never fear—Grandpa was there.  Somehow, he managed to patch it back together as best he could for me.  And that was the day he taught me how to properly break in a new book.

Grandma and Grandpa were their church’s librarians, just about as reverend as the pastor in my child’s opinion).  They had authority about such things.  They had “book know-how”.  And ever since, I’ve gently taken each new book I’ve acquired (whether bookstore-new or used book-“new”) and broke them in according to my grandpa’s magic secret.

It’s sad to see poor, beat up books at a garage sale with lined cracks down the paper spine.  It’s even more heartrending when a beautiful old classic has a serious gap when you open it up midway, baring the binding threads, with pages ripping away from it.  It makes me so mad when people don’t know how to break in a properly!  And if you’re someone who “marks their place” by leaving a book open and upside down on the coffeetable… don’t ever expect to borrow a book from me!

I must confess, I have been guilty of spending time at the local bookstore breaking in many new books even before they’re bought, convinced they’d be adopted by people with no idea of how to condition them properly.  I thought I was doing them a loving service.  Before you give up my blog because you think I’m total obsessive compulsive nut, I must tell you that 1) you’re right, but 2) that was when I was teenager and have learned to control myself by now

"Reading Cat," by Amanda K, via Flickr -- This adorable kitty is searching studiously, upside down, no less!But don’t go grabbing the nearest book handy and bending it backwards or in half in order to break it in.  How would you like your spine cracked like that?  Below I have decided to share with you the generational secret my grandpa taught me that summer’s day many years ago.  The secret of how to properly break in a book.  This method is painless, free of charge, and will change your life forever.  I’m sure it must be a newsflash to some folks, but if we all learn how to lovingly take care of our literary friends, the world will be a better place…

  1. Gently hold your friend and tell it, “I love you.  I promise to take care of you and treat you with respect.”
  2. Find a flat surface (table) and set the spine down on it.  The front cover will be facing left, the back cover will be facing right, and the edge of the pages will be facing up toward you.
  3. Carefully open both the front and back cover, but keep the pages standing perpendicular to the table.  Apply gentle pressure to the covers so that they lay easily parallel to the table.  Enjoy the new book smell!
  4. Next, portion off a small section of beginning pages and a small section of the ending pages and apply gentle pressure so that they lay parallel to the cover.  I usually slowly slide my fingers up and down the pages, close to where they join at the spine.
  5. Do the same thing again, portioning off another small section of pages at the beginning and end of the book.  Repeat this bit by bit while you make inroads toward the middle of the book.
  6. Reaching the middle of the book (at this point it should be wide open), apply gentle pressure down the middle of the book where the pages join together.
  7. And there you have it.  Your book should now be able to be read without creasing, cracking, gapping, or ripping.  And your book will thank you for it!
 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Notebook

One of my favorite parts about reading is the notebook I keep.  Perhaps this appeals to the OCD tendencies in me.  In any case, it’s just plain fun!

One summer about 10 years ago I spent a week with my favorite Aunt E.  One day I happened across a little notebook she kept of the titles of books she wanted to read or look up at the library.  “What a wonderful idea!” I thought, and consequently went home and made my own.

At first I started out with a little spiral notebook, just like Aunt E’s.  I filled the pages with all the titles I’d ever wanted to read, books that my favorite movies were based on, and books recommended to me by others.  That wasn’t enough—hording book titles was getting too addictive, so I took an old encyclopedia off the shelf and looked up ‘Classic Literature’, picking out the titles of books that looked good to me.  I went to the library and combed the shelves looking for titles, authors, and genres that screamed, READ ME!  If I discovered a book I loved, I looked up all the titles by the same author and copied them down.  In recent years, my collection has been added to by discoveries on LibriVox catalog, CBD catalog, and like-minded blogs.  Needless to say, I have since graduated to a much larger Mead lined notebook.

My Precious Notebook

My Precious Notebook

I want to make note that although it is a lot of fun to add more exciting discoveries to my collection (every book is a new world!), I don’t collect titles just to collect titles.  I want to pick and choose with care.  Only the books that seem the most likely to interest me or be good for me.  I don’t like to add “fluffy books”, just so I can anticipate hitting my 2,000th title mark.

Running out of room in the B section.

Running out of room in the B section.

I won’t get into how preoccupied I have sometimes gotten in the past over arranging my lists so precisely.  Yes, I am a list-maker, list-lover, list-liver…  If I’m not careful, this can take up a great deal of precious living, and I must remember there are other more important things to do.  But I do alphabetize the authors in the back of the notebook to make my life easier.  This aids me in finding a particular author already in my list, and keeps me from repeating titles.  I also keep a separate notebook just for non-fiction, categorized by subjects.

I’ve also found that leaving a few empty lines of space below a series or list of books by a certain author (especially if you’re not sure you have a complete list) allows you to add more later as you find them.  I’ve spent too many countless hours rearranging my lists because I didn’t have enough room when I discovered there were three more books to a series I was interested in.

After a book has been read, I like to check-mark it off in my notebook with the date I finished it.  Once you have completed several books, this gives you feel-good sense of accomplishment.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill: Check!

The Napoleon of Notting Hill: Check!

Keeping a notebook like this has other benefits as well.  I often use it as a reference book when I need to see what author wrote “Lois the Witch.”  Or the complete series of the Miss Read books (which comes first, “Village Diary” or “Village Christmas”?)

Complete Series by Anthony Trollope

Complete Series by Anthony Trollope

It’s always a good thing to bring this book-friend along with me to the library or a used book sale, so that I can see which books of a particular series I already own at home.  Sometimes I’ll come across a book I don’t necessarily want to buy, but looks interesting enough to check to see if the library has, so my notebook keeps me from over-buying.  Then, too, if you are like me and live in an area where you have access to more than one public library, you can make note of which libraries have a certain book.

I realize that many people already keep a list of sorts online at goodreads, shelfari, or librarything which you can then practically access on your phone.  This may suit you much better and if it’s up your alley, go for it!  But I’m the old-fashioned hands-on type, who likes the feel of the pages turn, and likes to write down all the wonderful books I plan to read.  Appeals to the list-maker in me, once again.  I once tried an online list on Barnes and Noble, but just couldn’t get the same enjoyment out of it.  I just felt like I was spending too many wasted hours in front of a computer.  Besides, I couldn’t organize them the way I wanted to, and once I’d uploaded 500+ titles it took several minutes for it to load.  They didn’t have all the titles I was interested in, and then they ended up erasing my account after a few years, so thank goodness I never depended on it!  Though, what were to happen if I ever lost my precious Notebook at the library… years of effort forever gone… Shudder.  Hmmm… maybe I should make a second back-up notebook…

Sharpen your pencils!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2013 in For Beginners, Reading Habits

 

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Introduction

Hello!

What have you stumbled upon, you ask?

Obviously a blog, but more specifically a blog dedicated to book and story lovers, like myself.

Another blog on books?  Hmmm.  So?

I can’t promise you that this will be the most inciteful website you’ll ever happen across in your whole entire life.  I can’t promise you that I am witty and full of uber-smarts and will teach you everything you never knew you needed to know.  I can’t even promise you I’m always right.

But, though I am a humble newbie blogger who hasn’t quite figured out what a widget is yet, I know what I love to do and hope to share with you one or two thoughts that are rolling around in my head.  (ABOUT BOOKS AND ALL THINGS RELATED).  Because I promise to do my utmost not to turn this into a shallow blog where the last thing you care to read about is how many ounces of water I managed to accomplish drinking today, or how often I clip my toenails.  That’s why I don’t do Facebook.  Or Twitter.

Purpose of Booklearned:

Somewhere people hooked on books can explore for fun; to grow and be enhanced in the art of reading; and to find greater pleasures in the world of books they hadn’t known existed.

What You Will Find on Booklearned:

-book reviews

-reviews of movies and audio dramas based on books

-links to websites and videos that have to do with books, stories, audiobooks, etc.

-interesting quotes… about books

-discussions and debates about reading.  BEWARE.  I can be opinionated.

-fun ideas to enhance personal reading habits

About Booklearner:

I am a young woman, trying to turn a new page in the story of her life.  I’ve read books even before I could read (and if you’re wondering how that’s possible it’s because I memorized them by heart and narrated the pictures).  Sometimes I go through phases.  Sometimes I don’t like to read and ít’s hard to motivate myself.  Other times they’re my escape.  Sometimes I just go plumb crazy and chow down on them one right after the other.

No, I’m not really An Authority.  I’m not a librarian, am not a teacher or professor, didn’t go to college.  I’m just a booklearner, since all I know has been gained through books and experience.  But I thought it would be fun to create something interesting about something I love.

Genres I Like:

Fiction: The oldie-but-goodie classics; little known classics; Christian fiction; children’s literature.

I like adventure, historical fiction, mystery, spy thrillers, fantasy, sometimes romance (though I pick and choose with care).

I love books that make me feel like I’m in some other world.  I like the ones, where just holding the book of an undiscovered adventure in your hands gives you goosebumps.

Non-fiction:  Christian self-help, how-to’s, histories, cookbooks, arctic adventures.

I get a kick out of reading accounts of some people getting stuck up at the North Pole for years and how they survive.  I read them in the dead of winter.  Every other winter to be exact.  I don’t know why.

I should also mention that I have OCD.  Yeah, I know everybody does.  But I mean I really do.  And to people who have this disorder, it’s no joke.  This isn’t going to be a blog about OCD, but I just thought I’d mention it because somehow it makes me not feel like I’m the only one.  (Huh.  Why did wordpress automatically put a link to an OCD site at the bottom of the dashboard page??)

I also like to journal, and I do volunteer reading of public domain works, so there may be a few posts on those subjects, as well.

I welcome questions or comments.  But I cannot promise to respond to them.

I am just figuring out this blogging deal and learning the ropes, but I hope you bear with me and come back again soon!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Introduction

 

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