Tag Archives: To-Read-Notebook

Random Books from Vacation!

You didn’t think I could go on vacation without hitting every library book sale and thrift store I could within a certain radius did you?  Most of these were found during an 11 day ‘business trip on vacation’ (oxymoron).  But book buying is always pleasurable, and these will be finding a place of their own on my shelves.  If I had any more shelves…



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Posted by on October 1, 2017 in Book Shopping


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Book Review: “The Prisoner of Zenda,” by Anthony Hope

2636473Genre: classic; adventure

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] “Anthony Hope’s swashbuckling romance transports his English gentleman hero, Rudolf Rassendyll, from a comfortable life in London to fast-moving adventures in Ruritania, a mythical land steeped in political intrigue. Rassendyll bears a striking resemblance to Rudolf Elphberg who is about to be crowned King of Ruritania. When the rival to the throne, Black Michael of Strelsau, attempts to seize power by imprisoning Elphberg in the Castle of Zenda, Rassendyll is obliged to impersonate the King to uphold the rightful sovereignty and ensure political stability.”

My Book Review: This story became an immediate favorite years ago when I first saw the old 1952 film version (starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr) when I was 15 years old.  I was staying at my grandpa’s and watched it over and over.  There was something about the swashbuckling adventure full of danger, intrigue, cloak and dagger, and romance that really had me at hello.  In fact, I believe it was one of the first titles I ever entered into my To-Read notebook that I wanted to make sure I read the novel of someday.  It’s been years for me to get around to it, and I was a little bit afraid that the book would let me down in comparison.

This book is not terribly long or hard to get through. I found that the movie version I loved from the first followed the plot pretty well, except for maybe some scenes removed to make for better film-length comprehension.  The book was exciting and fun to read, though I probably would have enjoyed it a little more had I read it first before the movie.  Some parts, such as the Granger-Kerr chemistry is better than the book.  But it’s a great adventure in a vintagey, old-fashioned sort of way.  I’m always in the mood for impersonation stories, intrigue, and suspense.  And I think the tale’s a bit of a classic in that a hard, bittersweet decision is made at the end that leaves you sighing and wishing…  Sort of like Casablanca.

If this sounds like a story you would enjoy diving into, just know that it is actually the second in the Ruritania Trilogy.  I’ve read the first book The Heart of Princess Osra (see book review here), but the two novels are more standalone than anything.  In fact, The Prisoner… is much more of an interesting read than the first.  I will be reading the third in the series, Rupert of Hentzau at some point in time, and I understand that particular one is a better connected sequel to PoZ.

So grab this book if you want an escape to the mountains of the fictional country of Ruritania, where old castle walls, heraldry, and swordfights await you!

“This is movie magic at its mightiest!…” Ha, ha! 😀

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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Book Reviews


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Christian Fiction for the Summer!

Happy Summer!!

Need a beach read?  The CBD catalog of Christian and Inspirational fiction has been out for a few months and I have a new list of books I’m looking forward to reading.  I was a little disappointed that it seemed thinner than usual (I don’t know why), but at the same time I found more titles for my list than I usually do so it evened out.  🙂  Here they are if you’re looking for some TBR inspiration…

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Posted by on June 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Random Books Post, the Thick of Yard Saling Season

It’s about time I posted about my random book findings, as I have about three STACKS (deserving of capitals) to update on.  Please forgive me for posting links to goodreads.  It was just a little too much HTMLing for me.  But as always, you can click to view them up closer on slideshow and read my comments on them all.  Ready?  Here we go!:

I told you. random. stacks.

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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Book Shopping


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2016 Year in Review

03e0a3b69636ab4a344b3bf6a50d257dAnd now it’s time for one of my favorite annual blog posts—Year in Review! This is where I stand back and evaluate all of my reads of the past year and decide what were my favorites and why.

But before we get to the Awards, I want to make a confession: for the second year in a row I did not complete as many books as I would have liked. I have realized that some things in my life have changed and I have other interests so that I just don’t have the same amount of time as I used to.  This hasn’t meant I’ve quit reading or quit accumulating a never-ending TBR list!  Just means I’ll probably be finishing that list on the other side of heaven (you know- I mean, after I die).  I am trying to not be so hard on myself, and to just accept what I do get accomplished.

This year I read a total of 17 books (11 fiction + 6 nonfiction), down from last year. L I still hope to finish 3 other books yet by the end of the year, which are: “Tangled Ashes,” by Michele Phoenix; “101 Secrets for Your Twenties,” by Paul Angone; “The Lost Shipwreck of Paul,” by Robert Cornuke.  But I won’t hold my breath!

As always, I skim read a lot more non fiction books than is listed in my Complete List of Books Read page. But since I don’t count skimming as actually reading it in honesty, the numbers belie how much read-consuming I do.  Among the many non fiction subjects I read about were: sales & marketing, modern-day entertainment, biography, rust belts of America, art and philosophy.  I’m also quite proud of myself for completing one of the longest novels I’ve read in years.

Here is a fun little exercise I make it my yearly review tradition to complete, using the titles of books I’ve read during the past 12 months:

Describe yourself: Eyes of the Heart, by Christine Valters Paintner

How do you feel: The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope

Describe where you currently live: ?

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: From Bondage to Bonding, by Nancy Groom

Your favourite form of transportation: Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown

What’s the weather like: A Season of Shadows, by Paul McCusker

You and your friends are: A Flickering Light, by Jane Kirkpatrick

You fear: In Sheep’s Clothing, by Susan May Warren

What is the best advice you have to give: How to Live Like a Lady, by Sarah Tomczak

Thought for the day: Lavender and Old Lace, by Myrtle Reed

My soul’s present condition: Finding Truth, by Nancy Pearcey

How I would like to die: The Art of Immersion, by Frank Rose

That was fun! How would you answer these questions with the book titles you’ve read the past year?

And now for booklearned’s 2016 Awards! Click on the pictures below for the winners in each category, along with my comments and links:

And my favorite fiction book of 2016 was…

2016 Best Humor; 2016 Most Beautifully Written; 2016 Best Atmosphere

“Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake


It was a hard deliberation between Titus Groan and Sensible Shoes.  Both made it into my Top 20 list of all-time favorites. On one hand, I learned so much while reading Sensible Shoes.  I read it with a book club where we got together periodically to discuss it together and that was a fun experience.  But when it comes right down to it, Titus Groan refuses to leave me alone with it’s potent atmosphere.  I don’t want to give it away, but count on a book review coming on it soon.  In fact, book reviews will be available on all of these reads within the next coming months.  As soon as I get caught up finishing my book reviews from last year’s reads!  Oh, dear- I’m so far behind.  But I am determined to catch up, I promise!

What were your favorite books from 2016? Share them with me!

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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Christy Awards & Summer Reading

29a10b1668c8b0713fa0770a6b42a8b3Hey, there!  Are you looking for something really good to read this summer while on vacation?  Or maybe you’re looking for a book to take you on vacation if you can’t get away for real?  Chris Fabry recently aired a program on Chris Fabry Live where he interviewed various authors awarded the Christy Award for 2016.  He spent two hours talking about their books and the stories behind the stories.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but I can’t wait to scout out for more interesting reads to add to my To Read Notebook!  *Please be aware these programs are playable for a limited time only.


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A Book-Lover’s, List-Lover’s Guide to Reading

092fb74f214d7c8e89cd99e42c20a135I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  Now we’re headed on for the end of the year and facing a new one to come.  Christmas hasn’t arrived yet, but this is about the time I start thinking about what sort of goals I want to set for myself in the new year to come.  Do I meet all of my resolutions?  No, but at least I can say that I think I improve in certain areas over the course of the following 12 months.

One of the things I look forward to near the end of the year is making my To-Read fiction list.  This is where I sit down and peruse my notebook full of titles of fiction, curating a list of which ones I will aim to conquer reading next year.  This event is a much-anticipated one, since it appeals to the list-lover in me!  It also gets me excited about all the new stories I will be encountering, and gets me motivated to start over and accomplish my goals.

I’ve never been one to just go to the library and randomly pick out whichever fiction book appeals to me at the moment and come home with a stack.  There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s just not me.  I like to plan, scheme, aim, look forward to, time, get excited about, wait, then read.  This makes for more of an experience!

You can make your own list however you like.  But for fun, I’ll share with you the system I’ve developed for myself over time and how I make it work for me:

First I sit down with my To-Read notebook (read article about it here). Starting with Page 1, I go through in order and write down any books I’ve still yet to read until I’ve made a list of 72 titles.  That’s right, 72.  Will I get all of those read?  Goodness, no!  That’s too ambitious for me as I’m no speed reader, but you’ll see why I choose that many in moment.

I may look up some of the titles on goodreads (or even create my list on there to begin with) to refresh my memory on what some of books are about and re-decide if it’s really one I want to read after all.  Some of these titles have been in my notebook ever since I was a teenager and my tastes have somewhat changed over the years.

04e164c7976a0e339d6d28ba4037a590I never write down a book by more than one author for a given year.  I like to have as much variety as possible.  Gorging too much on one author’s particular style would become boring to me.  So I skip a title in my notebook if it’s a repeat-author.

If I come across a list of books in a particular series, I’ll write down the first title, but skip the rest of the books and save those for other years.  Some may not like to do this because by the time they get around to #2, they may find they’ve forgotten what #1 was about.  But I don’t really worry about this for myself.  (I can always go back and read my book reviews on this blog, after all!)  If I have already read some of the books in the series in the past, then I just go with the next in chronological order.

Once I have my list of 72, I then make out a list on a different sheet of paper that looks like this:








…and so on for the rest of the 12 months.  Again, in reality I cannot finish 6 fiction books in one month, but are you still with me?  Next, I reassign my 72 titles to my new list, choosing which month to put them under according to what season I think I would most like to read it in (you can read my article on this topic here).

The letter A stands for the first half of every month (for ex., Jan. 1-15).  B, obviously stands for the latter half (16-31).  Since most of the books I read are titles I want in particular, my small local library usually doesn’t have them in its collection.  This is why I utilize the interlibrary loan system so frequently.  Unfortunately, I have to wait for a while, usually 1-2 weeks after I’ve place an order in the state library system, so I plan to order it in advance of immediately needing it.  When do I do this?  I estimate that about the time I’ve reached the halfway marker in my current fiction novel, I will need to order the next one on my list to give it time to arrive.  That way I’m not in agony after I’ve finished one book, waiting for the next.

This is where my special system comes in handy!  When it’s time to choose which book to order/check out next, I reference my list.  What time of year is it currently?  Let’s say I’m ordering a book now, which makes it November B on my list.  I start with B#1, which is: “Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thief,” by Maurice le Blanc.  Oh, fun!  Now I can order it.

37fc069d582f189150a859fffcb1d386Usually this book will keep me preoccupied for abt. 2 weeks, unless I’m being particularly slow-pokey.  The next time I’ll be ordering a book from my list will probably be when it’s December A (which would be: “Nightbringer,” by James Byron Huggins) .  But let’s say Arsene Lupin was a fast read and it’s time to order my next book and it’s still November B.  That’s when I look up Nov. B#2, which is: “I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree,” by Laura Hillman.  But wait.  What if it’s unavailable in the system for whatever reason?  Not to worry, I’ve prepared for this.  I just go on to Nov. B#3: “The Amazing Interlude,” by Mary Roberts Rinehart.

See?  It all makes complete sense now, I hope!  For list-makers, this process is a joy that will probably take an afternoon and we will savor it the whole long while.  For others who like to live more randomly, they will probably have given up on this blogpost a long time ago and are nursing a headache.  🙂

What are some of your methods for determining what to read?  Share them with me, I’d love to know!

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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Reading Habits


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