Books

123 Book Tag

What adds to the merriment of blogging is the community of people of like minds and common interests that comes with it. I wasn’t tagged for this book tag, but neither was the blogger (@ Book and Corner) who I followed so I figured why not give it a go anyhow. After all, I am smitten with books and that is the only reason I need to procrastinate on writing a short story for grad school to instead write a short blog post on three books. Not to mention I was having coffee with a dear friend recently and he requested more book reviews or book related posted intermittent with my posts about faith.

Without further ado, here is my 123 Book Tag!

1. A one-word book title (Uglies)

UgliesbyScottWesterfeld.jpg

2. A book with twins (Harry Potter)

Harry Potter

3. An author with three names (The Secret Life of Bees)

The Secret Life of Bees

What would you 123 Book Tag look like?

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Books

11 Favorite Books from 2017

10 (3)

Sometimes it’s needed to take a break from writing and focus on something else for a bit. These past few months my time has been consumed with all things grad school. It’s a lot of work and time consuming, but it’s also been worth it so far. The work is challenging but rewarding because of the creativity I get to pour into the units and lessons I write and will eventually get to use. With each new activity I plan, I can see how my future students might react, and it only makes me more excited and full of anticipation to get into the classroom. Honestly, I wish I were already teaching, but not all of life has to happen at once.

This semester I’ve had to opportunity to re-immerse myself into one of the things I love the most – reading. I don’t think I’ve read this much since high school, but it’s been a blast reading new books and discovering new ones everyday because of my Young Adult Literature and Multicultural Children’s Literature classes! My friend Catlin and I joke about how our Goodreads “To Read” lists grow ever longer each day and how it’s a never ending list that we’ll never finish. But I think we’re okay with that! It just means we have more room to wonder in the World of Books.

Because my life has become a constant series of what-am-I-reading-next this semester, I thought I would deviate from writing a spiritual post and suggest some of my favorite books from this semester. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite book here!

Does my Head Look Big in This?: A piece of international literature, this young adult novel is about a young muslim girl in Australia who decides to become more committed about her faith and wear the hijab full time. This would be perfect for a teenager. There’s the general angst that teens instantly relate to. And even though she is Muslim, this book is still very applicable to anyone of faith who has had to ask the tough questions about how big of a roll God, faith, and religion play in their daily life.

Uglies: Scott Westerfeld gives an original take on dystopia fiction that was inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone in which he takes on issues from body image to environmentalism. In this society, people have complete plastic surgery-like makeovers that take them from being an Ugly to supermodel pretty. Tally, the protagonist, can’t wait to become a Pretty, especially since her best friend Peris has made the change and moved on to New Pretty Town. But that all starts to change when she finds a new friend in Shay. I remember this being a really popular read when I was in middle school but never read it until this past semester. However, I would recommend this to anyone middle school and up.

Home of the Brave: Written in verse, this novel is about a young boy who is a Sudanese refugee who has just come to America. This novel not only gives the reader some incite into the recent history of Sudan but also addresses themes such as what it means to be brave. This novel is a quick read and is great for anyone probably 4th or 5th grade and up. I could see this being a really great novel to introduce topics such as immigration and refugees to a younger age group.

The Ballad of a Broken Nose: From Norway, this international children’s book is about a shy and quirky 13-year-old eternal optimist named Bart who has a talent for opera singing and who hates the boxing lessons his mom pushes him into. One day, his classmate Ada befriends him and encourages him to perform in the school talent show…but Bart is so shy he can’t perform in front of anyone. This was a really cute read but because it hints at some heavier topics I would suggest it to no one younger than 4th or 5th grade. Possibly 3rd grade. It really just depends on the kid.

Chains: Laurie Halse Anderson seems to be the queen of telling stories that tend to go untold, which is why I love this novel even more. So many times we only consider African Americans when it comes to the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights movement. But this novel follows the story of a young slave named Isabel during the American Revolution. Isabel and her sister are first promised freedom in her mistress’s will but is only sold into slavery again when her master passes away. Together, her and her sister are sold to a prominent Loyalist man and woman, and Isabel finds herself in the perfect position to help the Rebels by spying and possibly receiving freedom or by keeping silent but also avoiding likely punishment. Just from a reading level stand point, this novel is great for middle school and up. The content itself is not too graphic either so as long as anyone has the ability to read it, there’s no reason why I would not recommend it.

Brown Girl Dreaming: An autobiography written in verse, this novel is about Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in the 1960s in Ohio, South Carolina and New York. From Woodson’s early aspirations to be a writer to the disjointed family dynamics she experienced throughout her childhood, this book gives incite into the life of an African American girl who was growing up in the 60s. Again, as far as reading level goes, as long as the child can read and comprehend it, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. However, I think anyone of any age would enjoy this book.

The Vanishing American Adult: Though not an assigned book from this last semester, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse’s book is probably one of my all time favorites that I read last year. It provides great insight into my own generation. I would recommend this to any millennial but also to anyone who still has kids at home or is starting a family. I could not agree more with Sasse’s message of raising more self-reliant children to create a more independent and self-reliant society – one of the true crises America is facing and will continue to face if nothing changes.

What Elephants Know: When Nandu was a baby, he was found by Devi Kali, an elephant from the Nepalese royal stables. Since then he was raised by Devi Kali and her keeper, Subba-sahib. But now the stables face the risk of being shut down and it’s up to Nandu to try to save it. This book is perfect for just about any age. If a child isn’t quite at this reading level, it would still make a cute read-aloud. Plus, it’s a great book to teach kids about Nepal and elephants!

The Absolute True Story of a Part-Time Indian: Funny but edgy this book is not for the young ones, but it provides a young adult perspective of life on a Native reservation in Washington and what it means to break out of the path others choose for you. I would recommend this to older high school kids and up because of mature content. (Am I reading like a video game ad or movie trailer yet???)

Monster: This novel was really interesting to read. Not only is it relevant to the discussion of discrimination in the legal system, but it is also written in the format of a movie script from the first person perspective of Steve, an African American teenage boy in Harlem accused of being a part of a robbery turned murder at a local convenience store. I would recommend this to high school and maybe upper middle school depending on the kid. Adults would enjoy this, too. My only beef with this book is that the format makes it hard to read, but once you get used to that, it’s a fast and informative read.

The First Part Last: Finally, this quick read gives the reader an inside look to the rarely told narrative of a teenage father. The YA market is inundated with books about teenage mom’s but rarely of the paternal perspective. I include this one because of the “before and after” style Angela Johnson uses to tell the story. It’s seamless and incredibly well done. Also, not only is Bobby, the father, the one giving the perspective, but what makes it so great is his involvement in his daughter feather’s life and that how he reacts to the events surrounding her birth. This book wonderfully demonstrates that parenting and the responsibility of a child does not fall to the mother alone.

I hope this list gave you a good place to start for possible reading options! Reading recommendations are some of my favorite things in the world – giving and receiving. Hearing what other’s like to read gives you so much incite into who someone is and it is sure to set any intuitive mind on fire!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite books from 2017 so please share in the comments below or on facebook!

(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on January 10, 2018.)

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Books

Captivating

captivating

“Every woman has a beauty to unveil.”
John Eldredge from Captivating

Just this past weekend, I went to Barnes and Noble. I had been itching to buy a book for a while and thought now was as good a time as any because what else would a college student about to enter finals season do? Obviously not study.

Originally, I went in looking for a book about coffee–I’m lame, I know–but instead I walked out with Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Kathryn, my friend and trustee photographer, had told me about this book some months back so I thought I would check it out. So far I’m two chapters in and all I can say is “Wow!” If I could afford to give every woman on the planet a copy, I would! But sadly I’m a poor college student. (I would probably give every man a copy too if I could because it’s one of the closest things you will ever find to a guide to women.)

As I write this, I keep going back and forth between wanting to write about this book and wanting to read it! I look at my computer screen and then I look back to the book sitting next to me and it’s taking me way longer to write this than it should!

In this book authors John and Stasi are a husband-wife duo who try to capture the psyche of a woman while also encouraging women to embrace who they already are in God in this inspiring book.

Even within the first few chapters, they recognize that it is part of being a woman to want to feel beautiful, be pursued, and have an irreplaceable role in an amazing adventure. What’s even more amazing about this book is not only do they recognize some of the most basic aspects of being a woman, but they recognize that it is okay for women to recognize that about themselves.

Women don’t have to hide behind this impossible-to-achieve feminist image of a strong, independent woman who’s tough as nails and doesn’t need anybody. On the other hand, women don’t have to hide behind the also impossible-to-achieve Proverbs 31 woman and feel like their place is in the kitchen or to be insanely busy to the point of exhaustion 24/7.

The authors recognize that there is a disconnect between the woman, the world and the church. While much of society boasts the image of the feminist woman as the ideal who bares her beauty without any reservations, the church sometimes buries a woman’s beauty and discredits its worth. And by discrediting the beauty of a woman, the church discredits the very essence of God that is within her.

With these two vastly differing views on what a woman should be, it’s easy as a woman to feel like you’re the object of a vicious tug-o-war battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. John and Stasi Eldredge urge women to…well…be women.

The fact of the matter is women possess a beauty that is to be unveiled, and I can’t wait to read more of Captivating!

Be adventurous in the adventure where you cannot be replaced.

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Books

6 Books You’ll Want to Curl Up With

Winter is quickly approaching whether we like to admit it or not. We can feel it in the chill of the Oklahoma wind and in the crisp bite in the night air. Right before our very eyes we are witnessing the prelude to the colder months.

Winter is certainly not my favorite season, but there is one thing that makes the cold some what bearable and that is my books! There’s nothing more cozy that sitting in front of a blazing fire in the chair that your family or roommates jokingly call YOUR chair all bundled up in the biggest blanket you own with a book in one hand and coffee in the other. Feeling warmer, yet? I am just writing this!

To keep you warmer this winter season, here are a few books you’ll want to curl up with!

Keep a Quiet HeartKeep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot

Every time I cracked the spin of this book, I felt like I was having coffee with a much older and wiser friend–you don’t want them to stop talking because they have so many great truths to speak. It’s one of those books that you sit down to read and you just want to hear more of what the author has to say. In this book, Elliot talks being still in a world that is anything but at rest. Keep a Quiet Heart is a great read for your mediation time!

 

Harry PotterHarry Potter

Harry Potter is a classic! It’s a great go-to read and you can really start on any end of the spectrum. Looking for a more lighthearted book? Maybe read the first or second book. Want something a bit more intense? Read one of the later books. And if you haven’t read any of them, then you have a whole series to curl up with!

 

Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables

Another classic! Forget keeping warm with this gem…it’s guaranteed to melt your heart! You’ll fall in love with the mischievous redhead girl, Anne, and you won’t forget her spunk and sassiness.

 

 

An Old-Fashioned ChristmasAn Old-Fashioned Christmas

With Christmas just a few weeks away, I had to throw this one in the mix! An Old-Fashioned Christmas is a collection of holiday romance stories that will bring out the sap in anyone! Some of the stories are beyond adorable and some are cheesier than those Hallmark movies that come on this time of year, but this book is guaranteed to fill you with the warm fuzzies.

 

The HelpThe Help

This one is not only one of my favorite movies but also one of my favorite books! I love Skeeter. She’s kind of my spirit animal. With every chapter, you can’t help but rejoice with the successes of the main characters and feel heartbroken in their trials.

 

 

pride and prejudicePride and Prejudice

Another one that will fill you with the warm fuzzies! I recently reread Pride and Prejudice and was floored by how much of the humor I missed the first time I read this book when I was in high school. Maybe it’s from watching the movie (featuring Kiera Knightley, of course!), but there were times when I couldn’t help but LOL! The humor is just amazing and the love story is even better!

 

These are just a few of my favorites that I like to curl up with once it starts to get cold out. I hope they keep you warm this winter!

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Books

The Twelve Year Struggle of Reading Harry Potter

CampusSunset

Classes have started back (Boomer Sooner!) and this semester is already packing a punch! My mornings start with getting up at 7 a.m. to get ready for 8:30 and 9 a.m. classes and from there I feel like I start a new marathon everyday. From class to strategically squeezing in windows of time for homework to going to meetings for PRSSA and Lindsey + Asp and going to Sooner Servants stuff, I find myself turning into a pumpkin around 10:30…and 11 if I’m lucky. All I can say is this week has been a whirlwind and this semester will probably be insane!

Speaking of insane and new happening in the life of Candace Hinnergardt, I had to get another blog for my PR publications class **cue eye roll** so if you’re interested in following the projects I’m doing in that class you can check out candacehinnergardt.oucreate.com because one can never have too many blogs I guess.

Now, to things I’d much rather spend my free time writing about: I FINISHED THE HARRY POTTER SERIES THIS WEEK!!!!!!! It was a 12 year endeavor that took multiple attempts, but I can say I powered through and finally discovered what all the hype was about.

Harry Potter

Yes, you read correctly. It took me 12 years to finally finish one the most popular series of our time and possibly of all time. I read The Sorcerers Stone in third grade and quite honestly I struggle through it. At that time I was a very particular reader and Harry Potter wasn’t exactly in line with my taste. I remember having to re-checkout the book multiple times before I finished it.

And then I went on an eight year long hiatus from the series until I decided to put on my big girl pants and pick up the series once again. At this point, I was 16 or 17 years old and most of my friends couldn’t believe I had never read all the Harry Potter books so the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I buckled down and read books two through four…but then I started the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix and you can probably guess what happened next…

I didn’t finish it. I read about 150 pages and I was done. This time Harry’s teen angst and bitterness about every aspect of his situation (though I recognize that he had a lot to be bitter about) just about drove me bonkers. Let’s just say I was lucky to get to 150 pages.

Now, fast forward about four more years to Spring 2015. I’m not sure when exactly I decided to make it my Summer 2015 goal to finish the series, but it had something to do with my travel study. Once I got back from the United Kingdom, I started looking for ways to drag out the magic of the trip and the excitement of seeing what I had only seen on TV before. Naturally, I started watching a lot more BBC shows on Netflix and I decided that I would read the rest of the Harry Potter series this summer. And I did! So YAY for goals and international travel that inspire you to make goals!

In hindsight, this is a series I would definitely suggest especially if you’re a parent looking for a series that will grow with your child. The first few books are very much geared for elementary aged children. They’re more lighthearted and fun and Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to find themselves in the craziest predicaments. As the series goes on, J.K. Rowling does some amazing things with the writing and the overall story. With each book, the story grows just a little bit darker and the writing structure becomes more advanced and sophisticated. It’s also a fairly clean series with valuable life lessons woven into the narrative about genuine love and true strength.

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Books

Breaking the Mold: a review of Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row - feature

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck challenged me. Not in the way that a work of Shakespeare or Joseph Conrad’s has and not in the way that The Book Thief or others like it have. No, Cannery Row is actually not a difficult read and it’s not exactly the most gripping story. It didn’t leave me turning the pages, wanting more. In fact the only reason I kept turning page after page was mostly because I was in a window seat on a 10 hour international flight back from London and I didn’t want to beg the person next to me to let me out to grab one of the other six books I had stored in my overhead carry-on.

So I kept turning and turning and all the while I kept wondering and wondering, “Where on earth is Steinbeck going with this one?” Before Cannery Row, I had read two other books by Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Though it’s been awhile since I’ve read either of those, I still remember Steinbeck having some kind of direction, some kind of stance in both works. Cannery Row, on the other hand, seemed to have no point.

I started to think that I was missing the point and maybe I was. It had absolutely no plot. Cannery Row was just a series of seemingly meaningless events with little vignettes weaved in. When I finally landed in Dallas and was waiting on my connecting flight, I looked up the summary on Goodreads.com and the first sentence reads as follows: “Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot.”

Phew! I breathed a sigh of when I read that. I was glad I wasn’t the only one who thought so. But the next sentence of the summary made Steinbeck’s purpose in writing the story so much clearer. It reads, “Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live ‘up the hill’ in the more respectable area of town.”

What I failed to realize in the first pages I read was that Cannery Row is depiction of everyday life and the small stories to comprise it. There is nothing gripping, nothing thrilling about the events of everyday life. Life simply happens. Life’s events begin and end not in the dramatic way that they do in most movies, books and other forms of entertainment. They simply happen. As one thing fades into the foreground of life’s chronology another fades out but despite the subtleties of events they still form the stories, however small, of the people within the cannery community.

Cannery Row doesn’t fit into the box I thought all of Steinbeck’s works fit. There is nothing grand about it. There is nothing about this book that will attract you to it other than the author. It is an easy read worth reading if you’re simply looking for something to pass the time.

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Taking Flight

A Call to Teach

Many of the teachers I have had throughout my life often said that the best way to know you’ve mastered a subject or concept is your ability to teach someone else. Another thing I also heard from many of my teachers is that when you start teaching others, you often times turn into the student, learning something from people you never thought could teach you anything and learning in ways you never thought you would.

In my twenty years of existence, I’ve had some stellar teachers from school, Bible school, in my family and among my friend groups. All in all, these teachers have taught me to love the Word and to love words (which is saying something coming from an introvert). I could list these teachers and the many things they have taught me but to do so would take too long. Instead, I will just say that all the amazing men and women who have taken the time to teach me have affected my life more than I ever thought they would.

There have been many points in my life where I have seriously considered and toyed with the idea of being a teacher because of the extraordinary people who taught me. Starting in 8th grade, I told my academic counselor that I wanted to be an English teacher. Within a year I thought about being a journalist and then as I progressed in high school I wanted to do PR, but the idea of being a teacher never completely went away. I remember in my freshman year of college I seriously debated getting a degree in both public relations and English because I thought one day I would want to teach, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it right out of college. And now I’ve started to seriously consider getting a master’s and the thought of getting a master’s in English education has crossed my mind a time or two, but so has a master’s in strategic communications or mass communications management.

Though the plans of the eighth grade version of me have faded in and out of my mind year after year, my love for words has not. My mom likes to say that she never could get a football out of my brother’s hands and books out of mine (and that’s probably partly her fault). When I was first learning to read, I remember we would read about the hilarious adventures of Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park. It was a night-time ritual of ours because she thought I wasn’t reading at the level I should be. From that point in my life I became the kid who would take a book to recess or work on stories I was writing…I guess that was the hazard in helping me read so what I’m trying to say is that this is all your fault, mom! But I wouldn’t have it any other way because as I went through middle school and high school my love for words continued to grow. From seventh grade to my senior year of high school, the line up of English teachers I had is the academic equivalent of the 1992 U.S.A. Olympic basketball dream team. I’ll let them fight over who would be Michael Jordan in this scenario.

At a whole other level is a place special made for the teachers who taught me about the Bible. Regardless of the career I have, these are the teachers I want to imitate. Regardless of the career I have, this is one subject I hope I will always teach. Whether it be in an actual Bible class or in the way I live me life, I aim to be a source of God’s Word even to those who don’t believe.

Last week, I had the opportunity to both imitate and teach the Word at a church camp in south central Oklahoma. For a whole week, I was a counselor to fifth and sixth grade girls and these girls changed my life. People tell me I’m brave, but bravery as nothing to do with it. It takes a bit of patience and a lot of love and with that you can teach anyone. During a week where it rained non-stop for three days straight, it took more patience, or “bravery” if you prefer, to teach by example than to teach these young, squirmy and loveable girls in the two Bible classes I taught. It rained so much, I thought I would never be dry again, but the positive attitudes from both the campers and the counselors left me with lessons learned from young ten and eleven year old girls who I thought wouldn’t and couldn’t teach me all that they did.

If the question is to teach or not to teach, then the answer for me will always be to teach regardless of my career path.

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