Bout of Books 12 – Dysfunctional Family Challenge from Auggietalk.

How fun is this Bout of Books Challenge from Auggietalk?!

Creating my own dysfunctional family from characters in books I’ve read.

My Characters:

The Mom – Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment

The Oldest Child – Pat Peoples from Silver Linings Playbook

Middle Child – Susanna Kaysen from Girl Interrupted

The Baby – Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

I have a special fondness for each of the characters I’ve chosen and could probably create an entire series of novels out of this familys antics! Indeed it is a dramatic, flamboyant and overly quirky family. The narcissistic anxiety ridden mom who strives to control each child’s every thought and action. The oldest, the only boy in a family full of dysfunctional women; impulsive, depressed and slightly criminal. The middle daughter, depressed and mysterious; and struggling to be “normal”. The baby, the youngest daughter, quirky and flighty and living in a world of her own trying to escape her reality.
I feel like I should begin this fan-fiction series immediately! Ideas are just whirling through my mind and I’m frantically scribbling notes in my notebook!
What a fun challenge!

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Bout of Books 12 Challenge from Day Dreamers Thoughts

Bout of Books 12 Daily Challenge from A Daydreamers Thoughts – Rewrite the Story

Choose a book on your To Be Read Pile and use that title to write your own story (250-500 words) that has nothing to do with the actual story.

I chose The Diviners by Libba Bray
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Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.</strong

My Story

The startling racket coming from over the mountain woke Livvy Jessup from an already fitful sleep. What sounded like some sort of ancient chanting and a bright white light drew her out from under a pile of blankets. Anxiety is a paralyzer. At 13 years old Livvy knows the grip of that paralysis. She has succomb to it for the last 5 years. Livvy’s remedy to the paralysis is Charlotte, a gray and white Persian cat her grandfather adopted for her during her mother’s trial. The likelihood of all the racket waking Pappy was slim to none. So Livvy pulled on her pink chenille robe and slippers and scooped up Charlotte to investigate.

The path to the clearing over the mountain was a treacherous one especially considering the pitch black 2 a.m. hour. Just below the basement floor door that Livvy exited from was the door to the turn-of-the-century spring house Pappy’s father had built. The spring is magic and Livvy knows it. A tiny drop of spring water has transported Livvy to enchanted worlds inhabited by sprites and gnomes and dwarfs and goblins and even an acestral coven of witches including Livvy’s recently deceased grandmother, Elle. Livvy cups a handful of the clear spring water into her hands and puts the chilled liquid to her lips. With a small electric shock and a wave of indiscernible images Livvy and Charlotte are transported to the clearing over the top of the mountain.

It’s always a bit of a shock when the transport is completed. A frazzled feeling and butterflies in her stomach. A dry mouth and a slight hearing loss in her right ear. Livvy pats on her ear and shakes her head. Charlotte is unaffected. She takes to prowling immediately. That slinky cat walk through the Heather and the Sage bushes. Livvy follows still somewhat disoriented and, if she’s telling the truth, still a little bit spooked by the magic of the spring house though it is much less intimidating than it was that first time when she was 8 years old.

Joining The Classics Club

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So here is a perfect long term reading challenge for me to take part in!

When making my 2015 resolutions my reading resolution was very near the top, second only to my family resolutions. I am very intent on minimizing my television/movie time and increasing my written word time. I’ve started partcipating in a number of reading/writing challenges around the web and in doing so have found some outstanding book blogs and vlogs.

One that I came across was The Classics Club on WordPress.

How perfect is this! Reading the classics at your own pace over 5 years and posting reviews on your blog. This just sings to me and I can’t wait to get started!

As per the sign up requirements I am listing 51 books (actually slightly more because some of them are series) that I plan to read and review over the next several years. I’ve chosen a very diverse collection including children’s classics, young adult classics, new classics, romance, drama, science-fiction/fantasy. They run the whole spectrum!

1.  The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
2.  The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
3.  Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery
4.  Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
5.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
6.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
7.  The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
8.  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
11. Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
12. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
13. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
14. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
15. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
16. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
17. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
18. Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
19. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
20. Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie
21. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
22. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
23. Bridge of Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
24. The Giver by Lois Lowry
25. Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
26. A History of the English Speaking People by Winston Churchill
27. How the Heather Looks by Joan Joshed
28. The Complete Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
29. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
30. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
31. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
32. Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
33. Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliof
34. Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke
35. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
36. Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
37. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
38. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
39. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
40. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
41. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
42. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
43. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Tom Hardy
44. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
45. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
46. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smitg
47. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
48. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
49. The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwoox
50. Catwings Series by Ursula K Le Guin
51. Earthsea Series by Ursula K Le Guin

I have previously read a number of these books over the years but have never done a review and some of them I will be reading for the first time. I am starting with The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and hope to have a review up within the next week or two.

Finally… I am starting this challenge on 1/8/15 and hope to complete my challenge by 1/31/20.

**Side Note – I am having a bit of trouble figuring out how to put the Classics Club button on my blog. As soon as I work it out the button will appear on my blog.**

Bout of Books Challenge – Day 3

It’s day 3 of the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon and my challenge today comes from Writing My Own Fairytale.

The Challenge – Character Coupling – Take two charcters from two different books and put them together.

After some deliberation I think I’m going to go with…
Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (and)
Tristran Thorne from Stardust by Neil Gaiman

First off, I am a HUGE fan of both of these characters. I think that Tristran’s adventurous spirit, loyalty and single-mindedness would pair very well with Luna’s perceptive, quirky and somewhat “spacy” personality. They would balance each other out in a sense.

One of the things I’ve loathed about different characters over my years of reading are characters that attempt to change other characters. This dynamic turns me off immediately! I don’t see either of these characters attempting to change the other although they may privately wish that this or that personality was different. I see changes coming in the characters inevitably due simply to the fact of time spent together. These are the kinds of transformations I love to see in literature!

I envision Tristran and Luna as the best of friends, kindred spirits. I envision a story-line filled with cosmic events lining up and bringing them closer and closer together until a flame ignites! A serendipitous turn of events that lasts forever and endures through turmoil and peril and romance and intrigue.

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Parenting Reading Challenge Hosted by Single Mommy Blog

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Reading is perhaps my biggest goal/resolution for 2015. Looking back on 2014 I find that I spent too much time with television and movies and not enough time with my reading goals. I began home schooling my freshman daughter for the 2014/2015 school year and with that has come a huge amount of studying, information gathering, advice, recommendations and introspection.

Through a comment on one of my read-a-thon blog posts I came across a parenting book reading challenge on The Single Mommy Blog and have decided it would be a great challenge for my 2015 reading goals!

I do have quite a number of parenting/home schooling/homemaking books that I’ve collected or that have been given to me that I would like to get through this year and this is a perfect way for me to keep track of what I’ve read and to stay motivated!

To start this challenge I’ve selected a book by one of my favorite Christian authors, Elizabeth George entitled Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart.

Bout of Books – Day 2

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Today’s challenge for the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon comes from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Sarah, at Trees of Reverie and it’s a doozy!

Your Challenge – Your top 10 recommendations.  My anxieties tend to be in overdrive when asked this question.  My mind starts racing… this one, that one… oh, and that one… oh, I can’t forget this one, the classics, the new ones… Neil Gaiman, Anne Lamott, oh my gosh… Wuthering Heights (you have to)… oh and I’m reading some good YA , “Dear Lord, I can’t do this!” Let me get back to you! Whew….

Obviously, it’s quite a daunting ordeal for me, but I’ve come up with the list below:

1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I chose this book and it is number one on the list because, obviously it is my favorite book (I have not left the house without this book in my purse or in my car in years…no kidding). This is the first book I read by Mr. Gaiman and the reason I fell in love with him and his writing. Reading his books and all of his media posts has helped me to create several of my own fantasy worlds and get them down with the hopes of someday sharing them. He is an inspiration!

2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott. Miss Lammott is another great inspiration in my life. And this book is perfect encouragement for those of us that are writers. If someone I knew, who was a writer asked me for recommendation I would pick this book, above all others of it’s kind.  I come back to it year after year; month after month; day after day!

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I think that anytime I am recommending books I throw in something by Sylvia Plath because she shows what writing can be even in the midst of dire circumstances. Her writing speaks to me like few others do.

4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.  Again, I always throw in something by Virginia Woolf whether it be her novels or her journals. I have gotten an enormous amount of my journaling inspirations from Virginia.  She’s a classic author that begs to be read!

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  I have had a lifelong love affair with the Bronte Sisters, but my favorite book, by far, is Wuthering Heights! You must read and get to know Heathcliffe! He is my favorite character of all time!

6. The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. When you’re looking for an uplifting, inspiring read, look no further than Jan Karon and the Mitford series.  I have read the entire series numerous times. Every time I have found hope and recovery in it’s pages.  I usually pick up these books again when life seems to be falling apart around me.

7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – A coming of age story that truly should be read by all, even if you have already come of age; if you haven’t read it… you need to!

8. The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger. This is where my love of Steampunk came from and Miss. Carriger’s pert characters and witty banter are sure to make anyone a fan!

9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This book! I read it in a couple hours and it is so spell-binding that I think that even if your are not a fan of biographies you would thank me for recommending this book!

10. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. This was the first VERY long book I ever got through and have since read it another 10 times! The imagery in this book truly makes you feel like you have a taken a trip around the world! The imagery is mesmerizing!

And here are some of my other favorites:

1. The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingslover

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

4. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

5. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

6. Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot.

As the end of Day 2 of the read-a-thon nears it’s end. I have finished 2 books (a few chapters each): Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  I was planning on starting the Diviners by Libba Bray but I received A Street Cat Named Bob by  James Bowen in the mail today so I am starting that one.

Bout of Books Day 1 Challenge

I am participating in the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon for the first time this year! It’s a low pressure read-a-thon with lots of fun challenges and giveaways and I’m just giddy over finding it! Follow this link if you want to find out more. Bout of Books

Here are the books I found from my first scavenger hunt hosted by
Caught Read Handed.

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1. Find an author’s name with the letter “S” in it – Lisa Genova -Still Alice
2. Find a book with the color yellow in it. – Hope for the Flowers
3. Find a book with a female Protagonist – Changeless – Gail Carriger
4. Find a book with a face on it – Blue Nights – Joan Didion

Loving the idea of book scavenger hunts! Fun!

Home School/Discipleship

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Putting together this post became such an important task for me. I certainly thought that I would have had my first home schooling post done long before Thanksgiving. The journey has been such a monumental undertaking, such a whirlwind of trial and error, such a mish mosh of ideas and suggestions and finally such an unbelievable blessing that finding all the words has proven to be quite daunting.

I have truly tried to put together all of my thoughts and ideas in as logical and coherent a manner as possible. I’m sure there will be those days when I am ready to pull my hair out, when herbal tea and Mozart just don’t seem to do the trick when my anxiety and self-doubt will tell me it’s time to pick up those Lancaster Catholic enrollment forms and throw in the towel. I will be able come back to this post to remind myself why I took on the task of home schooling my 9th grade daughter, why this time and effort between mother and daughter is so vital.

Unfortunately my decision to home school my freshman daughter, Katie, was a last minute one. Last minute decisions are, at times, blessings and then at other times they just push you deeper into uncertainty. As our summer progressed I became more and more aware of Katie’s reluctance; her fear of facing her high school years in our local public school. Her anxieties and depression became nearly insurmountable as we came into August. We tossed around options such as private school and cyber school. But we had tried both of these options with less than favorable results.

I will try not to get on a soapbox here but my feelings regarding todays culture and childrens education are strong and resolute. I question how one teacher (who may or may not have their whole heart in education) can be sure that 15 – 20 students are absorbing and understanding their lessons. I question how students are to learn and understand how to write a gramatically correct sentence when a computer will correct their grammar for them. I question how young ladies are to learn the skills needed to take care of their homes and their families when the related values and morals are no longer deemed high priority. I question how and why standardized tests can make or break a future. I could go on and on here. The more I pondered these things the surer I was that home school was the answer for Katie and I.

I thank God everyday that the circumstances of my life and my husbands allow me the time to home school. My decision to home school and my research began in the last two weeks of August. My research continued into the first weeks of home school and indeed still continues today even after the end of the first marking period.

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Disciple – One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.<
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Early on in my research I came across many blog posts and articles discussing home schooling as discipleship. Looking at my day with Katie in this light has given me an inner peace. I feel as though I’m following God’s plan for me as a mother and as a woman. For as many times as I have strayed from God’s plan in my life this is a sure revolution for me! From this understanding springs a self-confidence that had previously been lacking. As I sit with her and instruct her in a lesson from beginning to end and I see her grasp the concept and hear her repeat it back to me I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in her and satisfaction with myself. I’ve done it!I’ve passed on something of use to the younger generation!

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I have finally come to a definite decision regarding curriculum. After a marking period of trial and error we have settled on The Charlotte Mason way of home schooling.

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As I study more and more of the tutorials and lesson plans on Ambleside Online I fall more and more in love with this approach to learning and teaching. Resources abound and I feel as though I just can’t soak it up fast enough! Things like living books and scripture memory and copywork and dictation… these are the perfect way for Katie to learn. This is how she learns and comprehends. The approach seems to have been tailor made for her learning style. It’s a joy and a blessing!

We can begin our day in the Word of the Lord. We can include a traditional home economics class. We can have tea and study poetry in the afternoon. We can learn from a book like Ourselves by Charlotte Mason. Katie has all the one-on-one time she needs. She is absorbing and she is comprehending using her own smarts rather than having a computer do the work for her.

It has taken me a marking period to fall into a groove and feel confident and sure in my home school endeavor but I am in the groove now. The next four years have the potential to be the most important in my life and in the life of my daughter. I feel fortunate. I feel blessed. I feel hopeful and I feel confident. As I share more about myself and our home school journey you will likely begin to envision how significant these feelings are!

And here is my precious girl!

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A Series of Unfortunate Events Read-a-long On Tumblr

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I’m a little late in joining this read-a-long, only recently came across it while scrolling through Tumblr. Lemony Snicket has forever been one of my favorites, the Boudelaire children favorite characters! Thinking of getting Katie involved as part of home school curriculum. I’m joining the read-a-long at Book 5, The Austere Academy, but will also be catching up with photos, quotes and questions.  More to come.

All Things Bright And Beautiful Hymn

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day;

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.