Patriotic Musings on the 4th of July

A few weeks ago, a new friend asked me a question, and I started my answer with something along the lines of, “Well, you know how we’re patriotic about our country?” As the first generation of her family to be born in the USA, her quick answer was, “No, not really. Mostly I hear people talking about how much they hate different things.”

Patriotic Musings (1)

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2018 Reading List

*List updated with links to reviews for books read. Last updated 5/18/18

Christmas has past and the New Year is almost upon us. This week is a popular time for reflection, goal setting, and resolution making. Are you a New Year’s Resolution person? I’m not. However, one of my favorite bloggers has been talking a lot about her process of evaluating the past year and planning for the coming year. (The conversation about planning has been on Instagram story, not her blog.) Her process and enthusiasm for it inspired me to at least spend some time planning for 2018 in the hopes of being more productive in certain areas (like reading and, therefore, blogging). My goal? Read at least two books a month. How to achieve that goal? Make a book list of bloggable books to make it easier to pick. 

2018 Reading List

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

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Annual Indie Christian Books Sale

Four years ago, I contacted my small circle of authors friends to see if they wanted to discount their books for Black Friday and join forces to spread the word. It was supposed to be a one-time thing. This is our third year with a dedicated website for the one-week sale, our circle of authors keeps growing, we’re drawing close to having 1,000 unique visitors check out the sale, and since it’s become way to much work for little old me, Kendra E. Ardnek has joined me as a second coordinator. It’s safe to say, Indie Christian Books has a lot to be grateful for.

ICB Sale Blog

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Christmas Shopping for Bookworms

Have a hard time knowing if you should give books for Christmas or not? I’m always worried that a friend will already have the book I choose for them. It usually works out, though! There are so many books out there that, unless you choose something like The Lord of the Rings, it’s usually safe enough. Here are a few tips for buying gifts the bookworms in your life will love!

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Indie Christian Book Sale 2016

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving followed closely by Black Friday. The two often seem ironic so close together, but if not celebrated in excess, Black Friday can be a way of being smart with your money as you make purchases you’ll be thankful for in the year to come. The Indie Christian Books Black Friday sale is near and dear to my heart, and I’m expecially thankful that Kendra E. Ardnek took charge of the sale this year when I was too busy to organize it.

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5 Novels for Easter

The two most joyful proclamations in the Bible are “Unto us a child is born” and “He is risen!” This are words that cause the Christian heart to thrill. Yet, to our shame, sometimes even these pronouncements of joy loose their luster. Over the years, many stories have renewed my sense of wonder over various aspects of of the Good News. If you want to look at the Easter story with fresh eyes this year, here are some reading suggestions.

5 novels for easter

Titus Comrade of the CrossTitus: Comrade of the Cross
Good Friday
When I grabbed this book off a shelf in our basement, I didn’t give the title much thought. About halfway through the book, I began to feel a sinking sense of dread about the term comrade of the cross. Florence M. Kingsley wrote this book just before the 19th century turned to the 20th. According to Goodreads, it was written in response to a publisher’s challenge to “write a manuscript that would set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ.” This book will bring you to Golgotha through the eyes of the believing thief.

RivenRiven
Good Friday
If you read the story synopsis for this book, you won’t understand why I put it on this list. It’s a contemporary novel about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and a chaplain who has seen better days. Riven is also one of the longest books I’ve ever read, so it would take quite a time commitment to finish in one week. However, I can promise you will see Good Friday with new eyes after reading this. It’s one of the most unique, powerful stories I’ve ever read. It’s also the only book I continued crying over long after turning the last page.
Note: Not recommended for readers under 16.

Vinegar Boy

Vinegar Boy
Good Friday & Easter
This is a good read if you prefer something a little less intense than Riven or Titus: Comrade of the Cross. Vinegar boy would make a great family read-a-loud. The story follows the life of an orphan boy who wants nothing more than to be healed from a birthmark (a port wine stain) that leads people to believe he’s cursed. If he was healed, he would be adopted and have the opportunity to lead a normal life. The Rabbi from Nazareth seems his only hope–a hope dashed when he finds himself beneath the cross of Jesus’, wetting Christ’s lips with sponge of vinegar.

Ben-HurBen-Hur
Good Friday & Easter
I freely admit that I have yet to read this book front to back–the one time I digested the whole story in literary form was when I listened to it from Focus on the Family Radio Theater. However, this classic tale is the first to come to mind when considering Easter stories. This novel is a great representation of a life healed by tragedy of the crucifixion and the triumph of the resurrection. If you don’t have time for the book or audio drama, there’s always the more frequently consumed movie.
FREE FOR KINDLE

Easter Surprise, TheThe Easter Surprise
Easter
The resurrection story for the smaller members of the family. The Arch Books Bible stories are among the first books I ever read on my own. We had a good stock of them both at home and in our church’s nursery. There is a whole collection of Arch Books for this time of year, including: The Week That Led to Easter, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb, The Resurrection, He’s Risen! He’s Alive!, and The Easter Stranger.

Acts of FaithActs of Faith Trilogy
After Easter
Enter the world of the early church. Authors Janette Oke and Davis Bunn teamed up to write these stories of faith, persecution, and determination. Book two, The Hidden Flame, was my personal favorite as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the faithfulness and sacrifice of Stephen.
Note: Recommend that younger teens check with their parents before reading this trilogy.

What are your favorite Easter stories? Which novels have helped you gain a renewed appreciation of Bible events?

Guess A Quote [o1.04.16]

Best Christmas Pageant Ever [GAQ].jpgHappy New Year, my friends! I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday of the year, and I really enjoyed the time with family and friends. While I don’t have a habit of making New Year’s resolutions, I am definitely looking forward to seeing what 2016 holds!

For Leah’s Bookshelf, January 2016 is going to be devoted to helping readers start the year on the right foot. I’m going to be giving away a few devotionals for giveaway winners to enjoy over the course of the year. Stay tuned for those!

In the meantime, our last guess a quote came from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (which I reviewed right after posting the quote). If you haven’t read this book, buy it now and tuck it away to enjoy next December. It costs less than $4 on Amazon. Congratulations to Jennifer Sauer, Addyson M. Huneke, Morgan Huneke, and writefury for guessing the quote correctly.

Our quote for this week comes from a well known and loved story for kids.

You can’t always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.

Happy Guessing!

Book Review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Best Christmas PAgeant ever, TheWatching people experience things for the first time is one of my favorite things. For example, I go to church near several colleges that draw a large number of international students. I love seeing new friends from Central and South America experience New England snow for the first time!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever lets readers watch as kids from “the wrong side of the tracks” experience the Christmas story for the first time.

The Herdmans are the worst kids in town. Their teachers and classmates are pretty sure their the worst kids ever. They don’t learn anything except cuss words and manipulation tactics, and they certainly don’t pay any attention to those trying to teach or correct them. Until they stumble into church looking for snacks and forcibly insert themselves into the yearly Christmas pageant. While church regulars and their children yawn their way through the annual pageant, the Herdmans are shocked by the age old story.

Many thanks to my friend Hannah Mills for telling me about this book and the readers of Leah’s Bookshelf for convincing me to purchase it. It’s currently on sale for $3.29 on Amazon if anyone else wants to see the Christmas story in a whole new way.