Bookish Radness

Awesome Giveaway Coming Next Month!

I have a December giveaway coming up and wanted to make sure you knew about it! Because I’m sneaky, the photo above is only hint of what’s in the giveaway….

So how do you enter to win? It’s easy, just sign-up for my newsletter! I’ll have one newsletter during December and I’ll share all the fun giveaways and prizes, plus a Christmas bonus! You can sign up here. I’ll pick a lucky winner from my list of subscribers.

Does this mean you’ll start getting daily emails from me? Not at all – I send it out twice a month, featuring favorite reads and exclusive author interviews. I promise it’s fun!

I’d love for you to help spread the word, so please feel free to share this with friends! You can share this direct link or this blog post.

Sign up here!

Love and Faith

The Most Random Round Up Ever Christmas Edition

First up, some Fun Finds and Christmas ideas!

Confession: I’m a big fan of subscription boxes. I’ve always loved getting fun mail. It’s one of my love languages. There are so many out there (teas, to art, to knitting, to Cat lady gifts ;), that it makes for some unique gifts. When done well, they are way awesome! Here are a few recent ones:

Fab Fit Fun: If you listen to podcasts, you’ve definitely heard about this. I wasn’t too interested, but I finally caved when they had a box for 50% off. I genuinely became a fan, so much so that I did the year subscription. I filed that under #treatyoself. Anyway, if you want to check out a box or are looking for a unique Christmas gift (my friend’s husband got it for her last year and she said it was one of her favorite gifts), definitely look into it! You can find out all the details here.

Causebox: True story, I remember when Causebox first launched 4-5 years ago. I got the first few boxes and I recently checked it out again and it has changed so much! There’s much more variety. It’s awesome to see how they’ve changed. All items are ethically made and they support artisans around the world. You can find out more here.

Little Passports: I’ve decided one of the most fun things as a kid is getting mail. Little Passports have monthly (or one-time) boxes on all kinds of things. My favorite? The travel ones. Gotta get these world travelers started young no? Right now they have a Christmas discount, so check out all they have here!

Out of Print: I know, I know, I always mention them, but listen! They have a few new favorites – like all kinds of socks (y’all, the cats get me every time) to Velocireaders. Perfect stocking stuffers and gifts. Also, they should really just make me some kind of ambassador already.

Literary Rebels: Who would I be if I didn’t mention this little shop? 🙂

And now to some really random finds:

Disc to Digital for Vudu: Do you have a Vudu account? It’s for your library of digital movies. You can also rent movies (sorry Redbox) and I love having movies all in one spot. I’m also trying to minimize things I have (except books #obvs), so disc to digital let’s you scan it and get the digital copy for $2.00. You might be wondering why I would pay $2.00 for a movie I already have, but it’s worth it to clear out space and there’s a ton of places to sell old movies, so it all works out.

Instagram Account to follow: The Kangaroo Sanctuary. You can never follow enough animal accounts and this is a fav.

Recent Reads

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (A book club read)
  • I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
  • A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harral (Another one from book club)
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (New hardcovers releasing Spring!)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

So what are you reading and what’s on your Christmas list?

Bookish Radness

WaterBrook & Multnomah Books I’m Excited to Read

Fall is a busy season for book releases. We’re talking ALL THE BOOKS. It makes for some nonstop work days, but also that means I get to snag a lot of books from the office. There are quite a few recent releases (even a couple from earlier this year) I’m looking forward to reading from WaterBrook, so why not share with y’all?

Have you read any of these yet? Which ones are you looking forward to?

Some Kind of Crazy by Terry Wardle

An unforgettable story, in the tradition of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated, that reveals how a careful look at a broken past can open a path to profound healing and a satisfying future.

This is the intriguing story of the arduous childhood of a miner’s son growing up in the Appalachian coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania. The brokenness of Terry Wardle’s early life led to problems in adulthood that brought him to confinement in a psychiatric hospital. But that was not the end–in time Wardle experienced an emotional and spiritual transformation that began a journey toward greater health and personal freedom. So what does a man whose life was shaped by an often affectionate, sometimes hilarious, and always dysfunctional family have to share with all of us? Some Kind of Crazy is alternately, funny, tragic, insightful, and deeply biblical, a riveting book that will lead you to a place where God may touch and heal your own brokenness, whatever form it may take.

I’ve Seen the End of You by Dr. W. Lee Warren

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science–and between death and hope–as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Dr. W. Lee Warren, a practicing brain surgeon, assumed he knew most outcomes for people with glioblastoma, head injuries, and other health-care problems. Yet even as he tried to give patients hope, his own heart would sink as he realized, I’ve seen the end of you.

But it became far more personal when the acclaimed doctor experienced an unimaginable family tragedy. That’s when he reached the end of himself.

Page-turning medical stories serve as the backdrop for a raw, honest look at how we can remain on solid ground when everything goes wrong and how we can find light in the darkest hours of life. I’ve Seen the End of You is the rare book that offers tender empathy and tangible hope for those who are suffering. No matter what you’re facing, this doesn’t have to be the end. Even when nothing seems to makes sense, God can transform your circumstances and your life. And he can offer a new beginning.

A Month of Sundays by Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson was quite concerned about the language we use between Sundays. He strived for a continuity of language between the words we use in Bible studies and the words we use when we are out hiking, at work, or eating dinner with family. He illustrated this passion in his writings and weekly sermons. A Month of Sundays is a devotional collection featuring excerpts of Eugene’s Sunday sermons arranged into thoughtful readings for every day of the month, drawn from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The four gospels give us snapshots of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Dig deep into Eugene Peterson’s thoughts regarding select passages, and discover clarity, insight, and wisdom in his distinctive style of earthy spirituality.

Double Blessing by Mark Batterson

New York Times bestselling author and pastor invites readers to pursue, recognize, and flip every blessing from God. He provides the tools necessary to inventory one’s blessings and participate in double blessing – that moment when a blessing in your life is leveraged to doubly bless another.

Mark Batterson believes it’s possible to experience more of God’s blessing – but that might look different than you would initially expect. The first wave of blessing is that which God gives you: time, treasure, talent. The double blessing, the second movement in this relationship, is our giving back to God by giving to others. In a day where divine flourishing and godly stewardship has been reduced to a hashtag; #blessed, Batterson challenges readers to pursue true, God-glorifying blessing and experience an exponential impact by participating in the double blessing.

Something Needs to Change by David Platt

USA TODAY BESTSELLER – The author of Radical takes readers on a soul-searching journey through impoverished villages in the Himalayan mountains, daring them to make a difference in a world of urgent need, starting right where they live.

“Grippingly vulnerable and unforgettable. I could not put this book down.”–Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts

While leading a team on a week-long trek of the Himalayas, bestselling author and pastor David Platt was stunned by the human needs he encountered, an experience so dramatic that it “changed the trajectory of my life.” Meeting a man who’d lost his eye from a simple infection and seeing the faces of girls stolen from their families and trafficked in the cities, along with other unforgettable encounters, opened his eyes to the people behind the statistics and compelled him to wrestle with his assumptions about faith. In Something Needs to Change, Platt invites readers to come along on both the adventure of the trek, as well as the adventure of seeking answers to tough questions like, “Where is God in the middle of suffering?” “What makes my religion any better than someone else’s religion?” and “What do I believe about eternal suffering?” Platt has crafted an irresistible message about what it means to give your life for the gospel–to finally stop talking about faith and truly start living it.

Blessed Broken Given by Glenn Packiam

An invitation to find beauty and meaning in the ordinary and imperfect aspects of your life; not as a call to settle for less, but rather as a way to mysteriously participate in God’s power and purpose.

Glenn Packiam wants to empower readers to find great joy, purpose, and passion in their daily living. While bread may be one of the most common items on our dinner tables, Jesus chose to take it at the Last Supper and invest deep, wonderful, and transcendent meaning in it. Like the bread that was blessed, broken, and given; readers will see how God uses ordinary experiences to cultivate their mission and their brokenness to bring healing to the world. The ordinary is not the enemy; it is the means by which God accomplishes the miraculous. Through clear biblical teaching and practical steps, Packiam leads the reader into a more purposeful, directed, hopeful future.

Finding God’s Life For My Will by Mike Donehey

The lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for award-winning contemporary Christian band Tenth Avenue North shows readers that by seeking God first and focusing on serving Him, we can live daily in His will.

“Perhaps God isn’t giving me the plan because He wants to be the plan.”

This was the aha moment for Mike Donehey after years of wrestling with his obsession to know God’s specific plans for his life. He came to the realization that waiting for absolute certainty from God before making decisions may seem uberspiritual, but it can lead to a life of intense stress, paralyzing fear, and crushing regret–just the opposite of the freedom granted to those living a Christ-filled life.

“This is my story…how I gave up begging to know God’s will and began to ask His life to come and change my will.”

With his signature humor and relentless hunger for God, Mike will show you that discovering the Father’s purpose and plan for our lives is not the shell game that we all too often make it out to be. If you’re unsure what to do next, take heart and accept the ultimate invitation: learn to see God as the plan, not simply the formula to the plan.

These two aren’t traditional books, but I’m excited all the same!

My Real Story by Becky Thompson

What if you were able to recognize the story that God was writing in your life as you were living it? A popular blogger to millions of women helps you answer that question for yourself, as you create a unique keepsake journal.

Becky Thompson invites you to reflect on your own spiritual journey. With mini-devotions from Becky, artistic scripture verses, personalized prayers, reflection pages, and spaces where you can record those moments you don’t want to forget, My Real Story will encourage you to look back through the different seasons in your life in order to capture the heart of who you are in Christ.

Chase the Lion Weekly Planner by Mark Batterson

(I have used this every day since I snagged a copy)

The perfect companion product to New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson’s compelling manifesto, Chase the Lion. This undated week-at-a-glance 12-month planner features excerpts from Chase the Lion sprinkled throughout to encourage the user to face their fears, defy the odds, and hold tight to God. Each week has space in the margin for trackable items such as the week’s goals, goals met, prayer requests, to-do lists, etc. At the end of each month is a page of self-evaluation questions and space to write a step toward a personal manifesto. Finally, the planner will wrap up with a multi-year calendar for user reference.

 

Happy Reading!

Bookish Radness

“When You Want to Go To Europe, But You Can’t Yet” Book List

It’s been far too long since I’ve been to Europe. Have you ever been? There’s so much I love about it and so many countries to see. But since I don’t have a trip planned on the direct horizon, I have been wanting to read more books by European authors or set in Europe. So I’ve started and list and wanted to share with you all, in case you also have the travel bug.

Some of these I’ve read and others were recommended. Also, England, France, Spain, and Italy have all been on my list, so I’ve focused on those countries.

France

  • Paris is Always a Good Idea by Nicolas Barreau
  • The Red Notebook by Antonine Laurain
  • Author Simone de Beauvoir

Spain

  • Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez Reverte
  • Author Federico Garcia Lorca

England (not by the Inklings or Jane Austen)

  • Author Laura Purcell
  • Author Peter Mayle (bonus for the French too)

Italy

  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
  • Author Elena Ferrante

Bonus (these came up in conversation):

Chilean author – Pablo Neruda

Any other European authors to add to the list?

Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction

What I’ve Been Reading | Fall 2019 Edition

I would like to give myself a high five for blogging this week! Granted it’s a recap of books, but hey, it’s a new post! Have you read any? Would love to hear what you thought of them!

Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – Really enjoyed this series! While the conclusion felt a teeny bit rushed, I think it was more because I was sad to say goodbye to so many characters. Maybe we can get some short stories of a few years down the road :).

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl – This was a fun one for book club. It’s a quick read and produced lots of reactions. My take – if you’re looking for a fast read with some interesting historical pieces and foodie culture of NYC, it’s worth checking out.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – She continues to be one of my favorite historical authors. She always finds little bits of history I know nothing about and creates a fun story. If you want a bit of romance and history, be sure to check this one out.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Even though I hadn’t read it yet, I was really excited when I heard this was becoming a movie (I read her debut), but honestly I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. This may be a slight spoiler: The story itself is interesting, but there was a character I felt she tried to make the “perfect” character, even when their decisions were actually terrible.

Endless Night by Agatha Christie – When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. It wasn’t what I was expecting and it was in first person (which I’ve never read from Agatha), but I trust her books, so I stuck with it and I have to say it was worth it. Super eerie! Of the several I’ve read, definitely her most creepy!

The Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande – I really enjoy memoirs. No matter if you agree with every point and/or every decision a person makes, I truly believe there is always something we can learn from reading people’s stories. Grande’s is a story of an undocumented immigrant and the journey of a writer. If you’re looking for a memoir, check out this one!

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell – I’m a big fan of Siri’s historical fiction novels. As that’s her go-to genre to write, so it was so much fun to see her step into suspense and thriller!

Happy reading everyone!

Bookish Radness

A Literary Rebel

Sometimes I decide to make things and sell them. This time? My love of being a Literary Rebel.

A friend once said “Books change the world because books change people and people change the world.” Books, stories, words: They help see humanity in others, they motivate us into action, move us toward compassion, give us hope. Books also teach us, encourage us, and inspire us.

Today’s times are hard. Watch the news for 53 seconds and you know what I mean. People can no longer have discussions and have hidden behind a computer to yell and name call. Critical thinking seems like a distant memory and the art of debate buried.

As a person who loves Jesus and tries everyday to love people like He does, the environment we’ve created breaks me. People no longer see people. They see issues. Issues they have opinions about.

May that never be me. May I always see a person’s value and humanity and love them, no matter what faith they follow (if any), what life choices they make, what good or bad decisions they make, whatever it is. May I always see the person.

That’s what books help with. This isn’t just an opinion of a biased book-loving, publisher-working reader. Science, studies, and so many things point to this: When we read books and stories (especially true with fiction), we are kinder and we have compassion. Why? Because we are able to see humanity through the words of a book.

So this was going to be a one paragraph introduction to the mugs and stickers I have on Etsy, but apparently I had a word to share! So friends, keep reading books. Read books about stories you aren’t familiar with and people who look and act differently from you. Be a person known for compassion.

May we always rebel against that which isn’t love.

Want the mug or stickers? You can check out my Etsy shop >> here.

Want to get more recommendations than you’ll ever need? You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to sign-up (its free) for the Penguin Random House Readers Program. Buy books, earn points, get free books. Definitely a way to be a Literary Rebel. Sign up here#TeamPRH #ReadWithLoyalty

Bookish Radness

Earn Free Books! Penguin Random House’s Reader Rewards Program

Y’all know how much I love working for Penguin Random House. They recently kicked off the best rewards program and I want to make sure the book world knows because you know what’s the best? FREE BOOKS!

It’s simple: Sign-up HERE to become a member of the Penguin Random House loyalty program.

Buy a Penguin Random House book at any retailer(!!!) and submit your receipt.

Earn points for buying books and redeem them for free Penguin Random House books.

SERIOUSLY.

FREE BOOKS.

Sign up here!

#TeamPRH and #ReadWithLoyalty

Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading | Spring 2019 Edition

Books. Books. All the Books! Even though I don’t do book reviews anymore, I still want to keep y’all in the loop of what I’m reading! Here’s the most recent reads – some for the INSPYs, some for the different book clubs I’m in, and some for fun! Have you read any?

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano: An INSPY nominee.

The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright: Another INSPY nominee.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Y’all know how I feel about this book. I think everyone in America should be required to read this. We read it for one of my book clubs and it was a great discussion. I also did a quote series on Instagram, be sure to check it out!

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar: And another INSPY nominee.

The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong: I wrote about this a few weeks back here.

Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse: It’s a series, and I’m not so patiently waiting for the conclusion next year!

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: I love everything she writes and this was no different! Well worth your time.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim: Always love the creativity and her unique take on a story. This is definitely one of my favorites from Petersheim.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan: Can murder mysteries be fun to read? I think so! I’m a big fan of Rachel and how she brings important characters and topics to the world. Be sure to check her out if you haven’t yet!

Broken Harbor by Tana French: This is my second book by French and I’m trying really hard to like her books. I like her writing, but the two I’ve read, the endings (and murder mystery reveals) have left me wanting. Usually I give an author two books before accepting we aren’t meant to be, but I’m willing to give her one more shot.

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon: Another INSPY nominee.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon: I read this for book club and it was such a great discussion. If you’re looking for a good discussion book, I definitely recommend this one. It’s also just a great book, but extra bonus getting to discuss it with friends.

What are you reading?

Inklings

Closing out Inklings Week 2019 with International Inklings Day

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

So what exactly is International Inklings Day? It celebrates these two genius and the beginning of their friendship. On May 11th, 1926, Tolkien and Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces. I thought to close out the week, I’d re-post the story of their friendship, since it’s been a while. I hope you enjoy! (Originally posted on May 11, 2016)

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Don’t forget: Last chance to enter! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

My Year with the Inklings | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is the fabulous Katherine Reay! Her books are some of my favorites and I highly recommend them. Her upcoming, The Printed Letter Bookshop is one of my favorites this year!

Before we begin, I have a confession —it’s been a one note Inkling year. I can stretch it to two, as I rewatched The Lord of the Rings movies this year, but my focus has been primarily on C.S. Lewis.

My Writing

It all started with a single line…

The present is the point at which time touches eternity.

He states this in his deceptively simple book The Screwtape Letters. I say “deceptively simple” because it is just as much that as it is a “diabolical satire.” I am always entertained at every line and think I understand — until I look deeper, and then I’m blown away.

First of all, it’s a pithy statement. It caught my attention on that level alone. Then I found its life altering truth: The past is behind us. We cannot change it and to live there, linger there, dream of returning there, keeps us from living in the present. We don’t have to carry it as far as Miss Havisham sitting amidst the decayed ruins of her wedding banquet in Great Expectations to get my point — the past can be a dangerous place to dwell.

What about the future? I took the line and parsed that direction as well. Lewis doesn’t mean not to plan for the future, after all, “The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.” (Again, The Screwtape Letters) But to live in the future — again, danger. We can’t assume we have one and to dream that all will be roses and buttercups there only detracts us from the business of living here.

So what about the present? Now that was an idea — What would learning to live well in the present look like? And there you have it… Three women, a bookshop, a trial or two, a few mistakes, a few wrong turns and The Printed Letter Bookshop.

The Printed Letter Bookshop releases next week and I am so excited about this story, but this one line’s power over my year doesn’t end here…

As soon as I finished writing The Printed Letter Bookshop, my first nonfiction manuscript sold and this very line consumed me again. Awful Beautiful Life is Becky Powell’s story regarding an eighteen month period in her life. And this idea — living in the present — took on particular poignancy. You can read a little about the story below, but bottom line: Becky could not look back — the past held no answers and could drown her in a quagmire endless questions and anger, and she could not depend upon a future — the prospect of criminal charges and serving time in jail was real. Becky had to live in the present and take each day as God gave it to her — and I had to figure out how to write that reality and bring her story to life on the page.

Awful Beautiful Life releases December 3, 2019. As I said, it has been a Lewis year!

And it doesn’t end there…

My Reading

I have had a wonderful time reading this year. As you can surmise from my writing, I spent a great deal of time in The Screwtape Letters. But, when looking back, I realized I spent more time reading about Lewis this year than reading his works. Here are a few to add to your TBR pile:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis — This wonderful book takes a close look at Joy Davidman and her marriage to Lewis. It gives beautiful insight into Lewis, his love for his wife and the literature they created together. I have always loved Till We Have Faces and now find the story makes more sense, in both content and style, as I understand Joy’s influence on its writing and editing. And what a fun book this is— what a wonderful love story they had!!!

How to Live Like A Narnian — This little guide walks one primarily through The Chronicles of Narnia and give hints on how to live one’s best life. It’s a short book and an absolute delight. Prior to this, I never realized the joy and wonder of King Lune from The Horse and His Boy. Pay attention when next you read The Horse and His Boy. He’s not a “throw away” character at all, but a true model of joy, duty, wisdom and affection. Again, Lewis is deceptively simple — he says so much in such a small character.

Planet Narnia  — Wow!  But I must warn you… You get more from this book once you’ve read all the Narnia books plus Lewis’s space trilogy — primarily That Hideous Strength. Once you’ve done that, pick this up and marvel in Lewis’s genius. The author, Michael Ward, has done his research and presents an incredibly convincing case for the binding thought and connection, the very meta-theme, running beneath all Narnia. It’s an extraordinary read.

The Horse and His Boy — This is the only Narnian story I returned to this year. While The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds my favorite scene, this book holds my favorite line:

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

Again — deceptively simple. After I chew on that one sentence for a while, it sure makes it hard to assume I know anything about another’s story or make judgements at all. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share my year with one Inkling with you today. This next year I plan to expand  into the Inklings a little more. I recently bought The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings and can’t wait to dig in.

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS , “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Also, here’s more about Katherine’s books. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.


A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world
shattered hours after her husband’s suicide.

Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 13, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, “I’ve done something terrible.” Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark’s $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time.

Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca’s friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can’t find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope?

AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca’s journey through the two years surrounding Mark’s death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.