The Power of a Praying Wife- Part I

I am not a wife. At least, not yet. However, like most future brides, I’m sure there is some fear. NO I AM NOT RUNNING AWAY! Am I sure that Ethan is my better half? Absolutely. Do I think there is anyone else in the world who could put up with me forever? Nope. Is there any one else I would rather drive crazy with my crazy? Not a chance. He compliments who I am as a person with his own stellar qualities. So why am I afraid?

Because being a wife is scary! Being a “modern Christian” wife is doubly scary. Not only are we supposed to be Proverbs 31 women, but we’re supposed to have careers too. If you read Proverbs 31, that woman’s life and job WAS being a house mom/wife. Talk about some pressure. How are we going to delegate chores? Cooking? Cleaning? How are we going to balance church, careers and a family!? Am I going to be able to do enough? Will I be able to balance everything? Will I be enough?

I don’t remember where I saw this but about 2 years ago I read this statement “Pray to be the wife your future husband is praying for,” and it changed my heart. We are taught that God will send us the perfect man, we just have to pray for it. As girls and women, it is important to remember that moms and boys are praying for future wives like you’re praying for a husband. I encourage you to get into the Word and look at who YOU need to be. Be the woman a man would want to marry. Get your heart, attitude and actions in alignment. Little did I know 2 years ago that God was really preparing me and changing me to be the woman I needed to be for the most incredible, kind, encouraging and perfect man I could ever imagine!

I wrote that about two weeks before Ethan pulled off the best surprise ever by asking me to be his wife. I’ve graduated college and Ethan is finishing up his masters. We’re both working, but kind of in limbo. I’m subbing; and as a theology major, his job options are kind of limited. We are trying to make decisions balanced between the fact that we are getting married, but we aren’t actually married yet. We have NO idea where the Lord is leading us or what we are doing. We just know that we are supposed to be together and are taking it one day and one step at a time, together.

My answer to all of this? Buckle down, start taking my own advice, and the advice of millions of people before me- start praying! I had been looking for a new devotional and settled on The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. She has written a number of books, and this one is part of her “Power of Praying” series.

Again, I’m not a wife. I’m a “I’m almost a wife so that counts for something RIGHT!?” I’m 3 days in. I started a day early since February is short, and I will have to either read 2 in one day, or go a day into March for the length of this study. This is what I’ve learned so far:

  1. That advice that I came across two years ago, is SO important. It is important to pray that the Lord work in your life to prepare you to be a good partner, and continue to pray it! Just because you find a man does not mean that you should stop! You will continue to grow, change, and face new challenges together and as an individual. Praying that God continues to work in you and make you the best team-mate is imperative. With His help, you CAN balance, do, and be, everything you need to be for your best friend, and for yourself.
  2. Not knowing what or how to pray just means you need to think outside of the box. I have been praying for direction, for jobs, for encouragement…the typical things. And they are fine! Those ideas are all chapters in the devotional. But other things like: faith, self image, his walk, his reputation, his purpose- these are all things that we as wives, and almost wives, can pray for as well. If you still aren’t quite sure HOW to pray for these things, Stormie provides sample guided prayers at the end of each chapter. She also includes what she calls “Power Tools,” which are Bible verses that go along with each focus. They might be my favorite part! *Prayers and Power Tools are available in newer copies that include new content, or separately in a book on their own.*
  3. Praying for your husband is one of the most important things that you can do in your relationship. If there is a problem, changing a man will not happen without His help. If things are going well, you should still pray for guidance, wisdom, and continued blessings. Don’t forget to thank God when things are good. The power of prayer can literally move mountains. In the first chapter, she refers to prayer as the ‘ultimate love language.’ “We want to be on the same path together. We want to be deeply compatible, lifelong companions, and have the love that lasts a lifetime. Prayer, as the ultimate love language, can make that happen” (27).

Geez. Only 3 days in, and I’ve already taken in so much. I will never be a perfect wife. Try as I might, we will have a pile or two of laundry. Dishes may get left in the sink now and again. I won’t always remember to clean the hair monster out of the tub. But I know that just by praying, and making the conscious effort, that God will change me, mould me, and bless me so that I can be the best partner, team-mate, peanut butter to his jelly, and wife that I can be. I can not wait to see what mountains are moved at the end of these 31 days.

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For more of Stormie’s books and about her, check out https://stormieomartian.com/ You can also Like her on Facebook and follow her on instagram @stormieomartian.

To keep up with my own progress through the devotional, and find out what else is happening on the blog, follow me on instagram @brunetteswithbrains.

 

Look At Me! I’m Organized!

STUDENT TEACHING HAS STARTED! Last week I got into my classroom for the semester. I have my own little desk, book-case and corner that’s ALL MINE! I can’t even begin to tell you all how excited I am and what it has taken to get here. Everything the last 4 years has led to this! I am in a wonderful school district, with a co-op that I LOVE.

Yesterday was my first day, and I finished moving in. Here is what my little corner looks like thus far.

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The front of my desk is rocking bead buddies and stained glass projects my summer school kids did this summer. If you can’t tell, the stained glasses are Beauty and the Beast themed.

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Recognize that pot? See how I made it HERE! Miss Swenda is written and facing front towards the students. “Called Equipped Prepared” is a reminder just for me! Cinderella’s glass slipper and the Disney princess cup are from a bridal shower I was at a few weeks ago.

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I am really proud of these drawers. Yes, I have an entire drawer of snacks. I have a schedule that gives me the ability to snack every few periods. I regret nothing. My other drawer holds my tea, binder clip collection, stationary, and other rando things.

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I have a nice little bookshelf to keep all of my stuff. Obviously, it’s full of classics and the majority of the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. My brother hooked me up with Dancing Groot and Albus Dumbledore and I certainly couldn’t leave them at home! Bob my Philadelphia Flyers Gnome has a place of love as well. One of the best things I learned from my previous co-op was unit binders. You can see the stack of them to the right of the above picture. For each unit, I have created a binder. Over the years I have and will continue to collect handouts, projects and general things to go with the different units. IMG_7189

The cool part of having a mom that has been working in schools for so long, is that she has some pretty fun decorations and ideas. Ma hooked me up with these cute little fall leaves. Together, we came up with “What Miss Swenda is reading…” The top leaf has the name of the book. The bottom leaf lists the author, genre, number of pages and style. I am currently reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. It falls into sci-fi/fiction/historical, has 414 pages and is written like diary/journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings. For different holidays/months I will have different shapes to show my what I’m reading. As an English teacher, I feel it’s important to show the kids not only that I am reading, but also give them a glimpse of who I am through my reading.

We have some awesome projects planned for the kids this year- I can’t wait to share some of them right here! 🙂

Paddy Eger Author Interview

Summer has become synonymous with reading and author interviews it seems. I am so excited to finally be interviewing and including West Coast author Paddy Eger to the group!

PE– Paddy Eger AS– ME

AS- I am so excited to finally be interviewing you! Your book 84 Ribbons was one of my first books to read and review last summer. You set the bar quite high for the rest of my summer reading. I am thrilled to say, you have once again set that bar! You are also now my farthest author interview/guest blogger all of the way out on the West Coast! Thank you for taking the time to chat.

AS Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any thing in particular you like to have with you? Tea, specific music, candles, outside etc…

PE I’m one of those people who sits at a desktop to work. I have my cup of tea nearby and sip it when I’m   thinking about little problems or celebrating a well-written paragraph. Usually I prefer a quiet space,            except when I’m writing about ballets my dancers are preparing to perform. Then I play the music and often find professional ballet companies YouTube videos to watch. That really inspires me!

AS You are a Washington native. How do you think the environment influenced your writing?

PE Since I live in rain country, it’s easy to spend my time writing. I like including weather and our                landscape as part of my setting since I love the salt water, the mountains and our forests. For my ballet trilogy, I’ve based in here where I grew up.

AS In 84 Ribbons, book one of the ballet trilogy, I wanted Marta to step away from her comfort zone so I        sent her to Billings, Montana. Of course, I had to explore that area so my geography was accurate. I             even stayed on an older B&B to get the feel of living in a boarding house setting. I also drove around town and spotted a large house that could become Marta’s residence. I had fun drawing the floor plans of the various locations Marta visited.

PE In When the Music Stops, book two in my trilogy, I take Marta and her mom to my favorite ocean                 beach, Kalaloch. They share an important conversation there and I’m able to introduce readers to               that stretch of Washington beach as well.

AS Writing was not your first career, teaching was! How do you think that has impacted your writing? Was it a difficult transition?

PE I’ve always loved words: their sounds, the way they feel on my tongue and how writers use those same 26 letters in such creative ways. Among my ‘wordy’ past times are reading, word searches and writing my impressions of the world around me. I was one of those test-takers who loves essays and groaned at being put into selecting True-False boxes.

I taught primary grades most of my career. Reading with kids, playing word games and also reading aloud to the class made me happy. I still work in classrooms helping students with writing so you see, I didn’t completely leave teaching.

AS You do have educational work published. When did you realize that you might actually have a knack for writing fiction and go for it?

PE For several years I lead training for classroom volunteers so I needed to create my curriculum. That       was my first attempt to write a book. I enjoyed crafting the book so I went on to create accompanying          materials. About that same time, I friend of mine, who is a well-known author, invited me to take her    writing class. I needed a piece of fiction. Since I’d danced and still had interest in ballet, I decided to       write about a young dancer who wanted to become a professional.

My writing was adequate, but I knew little about writing fiction so I slaved through the class. When a   book agent met with me, she said she saw potential in my writing. That’s when I felt I might be able to create a short book. I was wrong. Turns out with over three hundred pages in my first book, I wasn’t done with my story. Once I realized I had more to say, I knew the writing bug had bitten me.

AS What steps did you take to make it happen? Education, workshops, networking etc.

PE My friend’s workshop got me started writing, but I knew I needed to learn more so I attended a local conference, Write On The Sound, joined a critique group and read articles and books on the craft of writing. I continue working to better my writing by attending classes and have added a second critique group. I write and read blogs and articles, network with writers and follow several writing information sources looking for ways to improve myself. It’s a full-time job!

AS How much of Marta, Lynne, Bartley and the others, come from your own experiences in the dance world?

PE– I tried to give my female leads my love of classical music and ballet. Since I danced for seventeen years, I know many of the basics of ballet; class warm up sequencing, performance issues and understanding the late 1950s when I also danced. I never had the opportunity to dance professionally, but I knew the types of issues dancers’ faced then (and now) from people I spoke with and biographies I read. Professional dancers assure me I’m correct in addressing the issues I’ve taken on in my ballet stories.

AS I just finished reading When the Music Stops but also read 84 Ribbons, which I LOVED. I know how hard it is to write a review on a sequel, but how difficult was it writing a sequel?

PE Writing a sequel was easy since I wasn’t done telling Marta’s story when book one ended. I always knew my story’s arc; I just didn’t know all the details when I started book one. Marta’s story came to me as a title with a rough outline in one day. Characters started popping up (some uninvited) and wanted to be part of my story, so I let them in. I feel they added depth to Marta’s life.

AS *SPOILER* Marta has a few love interests between the two books. How did you decide whom she ended up with? I really, really, liked Sam. I couldn’t tell you why, but I was disappointed that she doesn’t pick him! haha

PE I liked Steve. He fell in love with Marta almost from the moment he met her. I know he was a pain at      times, but I wanted him to end up with Marta. I liked their opposites: she barely finished high school                   while he was completing college when they met, he was spontaneous while she was guarded and        cautious.

When I started book two, I didn’t know what other guys would step into her life. I had great fun              writing Dennis (the jerk!) but knew that was not going to work! Then Sam appeared and I liked him a          lot. The more time he appeared, the harder it was to dump him, but I promised Steve he’d prevail.

AS The next installment follows Lynne across Europe. Have you ever had the chance to travel to some of her stops?

PE Lynne story is totally based on places I visited on trips to Europe. Actually it was on one trip while I was writing 84 Ribbons that I decided Lynne needed a book and I started writing notes to myself about what I enjoyed in the small villages especially. As Marta’s brash sidekick, I wanted to share here story. She seems so upbeat and together when she’s in books one and two. In Letters to Follow-A Dancer’s Adventure, book three, we’ll open the curtain on her life and also tie up loose ends for Marta.

AS What is the best advice you have been given as a writer thus far?

PE Write, write, write. Sit down every day and write. Like all skills, you need to practice, practice, practice. Most of what you write will be questionable; some will be worth keeping. For now, save it all. Tidbits of ideas often lead to inspiration later on.

ALSO: Anna, I want to thank you for interviewing me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my books and main characters. After spending so much time together they feel real to me. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Thank you for writing reviews for both 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops. Hearing what readers think of our stories help us develop our craft.

To learn more about Paddy and her writings, visit her website http://www.paddyeger.com. You can also find her on Pinterest, Good Reads, and Twitter.

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When the Music Stops- Paddy Eger

84 Ribbons was my first read and book review for NetGalley. You can find that review HERE.

I have waited ALMOST an entire year for the sequel When the Music Stops by Paddy Eger. It was well worth the wait. I read the entire book in one sitting today…my Kindle app says that it took me about 3 hours. I am obviously off my game reading that slow. haha.

Since it had been a while between books, it took me a little bit to re-acquaint myself with the characters, but it was not really much of an issue. Being a sequel, it is REALLY hard to talk about the book and what choices are made and how Marta continues on her journey without giving anything away. I mean, I can’t tell you about her relationship with Steve, I can’t tell you about her professional dance career choices, I can’t tell you about teaching- I CAN’T TELL YOU ABOUT ANYTHING! It is insanely hard to write a review on a sequel. They don’t teach you how to do this in college.

In typical Anna Reading Fashion, I had at least 3 mini-meltdowns where I shook my iPad in my hand going “GAHHHH DON’T DO THAT! PICK THIS NOT THAT!!!!” Eger easily kept me on my toes throughout the book. I actually thought I had guessed the ending, told my mom, got to the ending and was pleasantly surprised that I was WRONG! This is a very important fact because reading has been dry for me of late. You can read about THAT soap box HERE. So kudos and thank you Paddy for throwing me off of my book predicting game!

There are a few tweaks I would have done, had I written the book. There is a build up with her addiction to diet pills. I was expecting a different outcome with the issue. It was such a huge part of the first book and even in the second, it was a steady line in the plot. I was just disappointed for some reason.

I got kind of annoyed with Steve. I mean, he was a nice guy and everything, but I felt like her relationship with him had way too many issues for it to all end the way that it did. I’ll say it, I am 100% team Sam all of the way. 

I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. She could have easily continued on a bit longer and I would have been completely satisfied. After having invested so much into these characters, I didn’t want the book to end. One minute Marta is dancing; the next she is sending a wedding announcement. I needed an in-between, an epilogue….SOMETHING to feed my curiosity!

Reading these two books has made me wish I’d never left dancing. I also rarely have the itch to find an adult class and sign back up the way I have with these books. It was like I was able to live vicariously through Marta with the barre exercises and pirouettes. I loved this book for the same reasons that I did the first, the ballet, the time period component and the ability to so easily relate to the characters. I played field hockey for 10 years. After walking off of the field my senior year of high school, I really had not had the opportunity to play since. Last summer I had the chance to play on my mission trip in Northern Ireland and the feeling was remarkable. I understood Marta in a way that so many others can easily identify with as well. For a time, it was like the music had stopped in my own life. I was unsure of how to fill my time and space. But, as Marta, I learned how to adapt.

I have already recommended both books to a few of my dancer friends since finishing the second installment just a few short hours ago. Though I am sad that the third installment will not focus on Marta and her adventures, I am super excited to follow Lynne through her next steps in life in Letters to Follow (Coming Soon). Both 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops would be perfect additions to any summer reading list, for girls of (almost) any age!

To learn more about Paddy, her other works, upcoming pieces etc, visit her website at http://www.paddyeger.com.

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The (Book) Struggle is Real

It’s mid February. I’ve gotten close to 30 new books since New Years. My wall-length bookshelves that house both my books and my mug collection are laden. The books are progressively kicking the mugs out-of-the-way. That is a problem all unto itself. But there’s another issue. I. Have. A. Major. Problem.

10407758_10205732124367468_4671440219716674028_nThis is what happens when I find a cart of free books. It might have been below zero out, I may not have been able to feel my toes or hands and I may have had slobber rolling down my face because I had a Bridge Street Chocolate espresso marshmallow stuffed in my face.

The fact that my local gently used book store has $1 book carts, by 2 get 1 free does NOT help my cause any either. I just keep telling myself….”They’re for my classroom. They’ll help my students. They are helping to build my future.” And by building my “future” I mean, building my future library room…and one day my future office at a university somewhere.

But I have this problem. I have all of these books, and well…thank goodness I’m not blowing my bank account to get them because well….none of them are grabbing my attention.

I’ve been a book-worm for as long as I can remember. I had to start wearing glasses in middle school because as a child I hid under blankets with small, dim, key chain flash lights to read Magic Tree House. My parents were always encouraging my reading habits, reading to me as a child, always getting me at least one book from the cool Scholastic Book Fair at school even though money was tight, and still getting me books for Christmas now as a 22-year-old. To be fair, many of my obnoxious reading habits have come from my father, he’s just a bit better at hiding them. I have a whole pin board that is nothing but books, book lists, and book sayings.

I created a Net Galley account last summer and I LOVE IT! Free books and all I had to do was read them and review them; but so many of them were so bad I couldn’t even finish them. Obviously they didn’t get the best reviews in return. I have made great connections with a few of the authors that I did review and enjoy like Brielle Skye, author of Solitude of a Birdcage. But those connections with both the literature and the authors are so very few and far between.

In the past 2 months, with my massive literary additions I have read 3 of them to completion and even those were a struggle. Why?

For a while I thought, well it’s got to just be the literature. Comparatively to even 10 or 20 years ago, it is SO much easier to have a book published and put out there. eBooks have made becoming an author easier than ever before. This can be a good thing and a bad thing…for obvious reasons. It’s kind of like American Idol. For years friends and family tell someone they are an amazing singer in order to avoid hurt feelings, and these poor people stand up on stage and sound like they are dying, wailing cows. The same happens with writing. People are told that they are great writers, some may have even gone to school for English or writing…but that doesn’t mean that they are good.

My other thought-standards are low. With books like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and a multitude of other books being PUBLISHED no wonder there is so much crap out there. I’m not just talking content wise either. Anyone with any kind of English grammar/writing sense can tell you that some of the best-selling books in the last 10 years are some of the most poorly written books they have read in their life. People are not only reading this stuff and enjoying it, but asking for more like there is no problem with any of it. They have no idea that they are reading poor “literature.” The term is being used quite loosely here. They make money, so they continue to be published because people aren’t standing up and saying “STOP WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF!”

Maybe I’m just all read out. I’ve read so many books over the years that it is rare that a book ends differently than I expect. I usually have a solid guess of what is going to happen and how the characters are going to get there about 20 pages in. The excitement of “what is going to happen next,” seems to have disappeared for me. Is this my fault? Have authors gotten together, come up with a story equation, plugged in their own “details” and continue to write the same story with different names? My favorite- Nicholas Sparks. The same story over and over with a few variations, like names, diseases, and occupations. Here is a chart that has been floating around as an example-

summary_imageThis makes me feel better, that maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought I was about this theory.

I think that somewhere in my heart, I know that all of the above reasons are reasons why I am struggling. I also think that they are all contributing factors to what I am now calling “book depression.” This is very different from a Book Hangover– symptoms and other info are included in the linked post. Book depression is a deep sadness, a fear that it is going to be a very long time before you read a good book again. It’s longing for a book that you’re not sure even exists. I want to read something inspiring, something hopeful, something unexpected, something relatable, something real. I want a story with dynamic characters, with a strong plot, with antagonists and protagonists. I want something that doesn’t involve werewolves or vampires or dystopian society. I want a book with proper sentence structure, lacking comma splices, and with bright, vibrant language.

I want to fall in love with words on the pages of the book in my hand. I want to yearn for more and hope there is at least a sequel. I want to read again.

Edgar Allan Poe Mysteries

Disclaimer *This post is not about Poe theories like how he died, his mental state etc. It is about his mystery short stories.*

SAY WHAT!? Yeah, that’s right. Poe wrote mystery stories. Ya know what else? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his infamous mystery short stories off of Poe’s. :O Yes, for you literary nerds out there, you recognize Sir ACD as the creator and author of Sherlock Holmes. When it comes down to it, Poe was the creator of the mystery short story. It is here he also beautifully executes two of the main short story requirements:

1-2 Main characters that are static. There’s no time for them to change in a short story.

1-2 Locations, usually just one. Again, no time to run around the world in 1-10 pages.

I will admit, until I took my detective literature class in college, I had no idea Poe wrote mysteries. Everyone knows The Tell Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pendulum….all of his morbid horror works. Of course there’s the occasional poem. I was fortunate enough to find a Poe Anthology that includes all 3 genres of writing. Though we only read two or three of his mystery shorts in class, I have continued to read them.

Better than any CSI, Bones, Sherlock or any other mystery series on TV nowadays. The Murders in the Rue Morgue- DID NOT SEE THAT COMING! How in the world he came up with that kind of crazy twist is beyond me. The Murder of Marie Roget is actually based on the real murder of Mary Cecillia Rogers in 1841. Do some research, it’s quite an interesting story and was HUGE in the news when Poe wrote it.

Even if you don’t necessarily like Edgar Allan Poe, it’s ok. Thankfully, he had multiple skill sets and talents. If you like a good mystery, sit down with a Poe and a good cup of tea, you won’t be disappointed!

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Me Before You- Jojo Moyes

Having found a treasure of iTunes gift cards, I instantly got on and looked for books. I have book commitment issues so I downloaded a bunch of “samples” before I really committed to spending money on a book. I read a few samples and created a word document to jot down some notes so that when I went back to make my purchases I could look back at my notes and decide what was worth the money. I know, ridiculous but I’m obnoxious that way.

I’m new to Jojo Moyes. I saw her 3 NYT Best Seller books, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You, pop up on Pinterest. I decided to add it to my list of potentials.  Me Before You has been nominated for Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. Me Before You has since gone on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide. After reading it, I can see why. I got through the sample for Me Before You and I instantly bought the book.

Before doing some research on her, I instantly knew she was English- the whole lingo and setting of the story gave her away. Having just been to Northern Ireland this summer, it was easy to imagine the landscapes she described and for me to keep up with the words. BUT, for the book.

I had no idea what I was getting into. I read the book preview iTunes provided and read the sample. Nothing really prepared me for what I was reading. It was tough to read sometimes. Louisa Clark was a relate-able character for me. Through a series of events, she becomes the caretaker of a once viral, active 35 year old quadriplegic, Will. My great-grandmother has vascular dementia. She essentially has tons of mini strokes, slowly but surly destroying her synapses and her memory. She hasn’t known who I am for over a year now. We have found, that when dealing with a situation, particularly a person who is in such a predicament like my great-grandmother, that sometimes, the best way to get through them is to laugh. If you don’t laugh and you stop and think about what is really happening, all you can do is cry. Somehow, whether she knew it or not, Moyes got me through this book by doing just that. The snarky, sarcastic, snapping between Will and Lou is what kept me from sobbing. By the time I got to the end, literally, I cried just a few tears.

This is a relatively controversial book. Anytime assisted suicide is brought up, people freak out. It’s not a euthanasia story like Of Mice and Men, but a story of choice. A story of struggle. A story of quality of life. A story of love, sacrifice, growth, acceptance, and living fully. Somehow, the lessons brought forward far outweighed the shock of what the pages contain.

This would be a great book club book. There is enough to talk about for at least a solid week. There is character development, the struggle and discussion of assisted suicide, consequences, choices, love- the list goes on. Thankfully, though the idea of love and romance was in the book, it was not gross or over done. It was just enough to fulfill my girlie side without destroying and imposing what the book was about. If you want a book that makes you think, makes you assess life and makes you thankful for the life that you have- read this.

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For more on Jojo Moyes and her books, check out her super pretty and easily navigated website http://www.jojomoyes.com/.

Book Hangover

Reading is not for the faint of heart. If you have never had a book hangover you have never really read. FACT. Book Hangovers happen when you read a book so good, so stimulating, so emotionally involved, you can’t read for a while. Side effects of a book hangover include but are not limited too:
-Raised blood pressure/heart rate
-General brief periods of depression
-Unable to choose the next book to read
-Picking a new book and still not being able to start it
-Crying
-Getting emotional just talking about the book
-Unable to eat, do laundry, complete basic-need tasks because you are so engrossed reading or recovering from said book.
-When people ask “What’s wrong” you just can’t answer. They didn’t read the book. They wouldn’t understand.

Because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I asked some of my reader friends to weigh in on this potentially emotional topic. The first, is one of my best friends Faith! She is also super adventurous-like move to Ohio from PA
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This is her book hangover blanket….it’s really just her favorite crazy cat lady blanket. Also classic Faith. As you can probably assume from this absurd picture, she’s hilarious. She is my spaghetti friend.

“Dude. let me just tell you that my book hangover happened over The Hunger Games right after I saw the second [movie], Catching Fire. It all began because I figured “Oh, these movies have been pretty awesome, I bet the books are better.” As per my experience with every Nicholas Sparks book evvvver. After FOUR days of finally getting through the whole series, I close my Nook and scream NO. NO. NO. NO. I was seriously disturbed for a good month or two until I came out of my coma of “OH MY GOD I HATE PEETA.” The second time I had a hangover, speaking of Nicholas Sparks, was over his book “Safe Haven”. . . I won’t spoil the ending, but something pretty unexpected happens (one of the characters turns out being a FREAKING GHOST) and you DO NOT even THINK of that until you read the ending chapters. Blew. My. Mind. I was so distraught that it legitimately affected my work life, my home life, and I just stayed in bed trying to grasp what life was. Oh and THEN I found out they were turning it into a movie. Less of a mind blower, but still awesome.”

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Next is my lovely friend Amanda. She just graduated with a degree in psychology. I should have asked her for an in-depth response on how the brain is stimulated while reading…yadda yadda. But, I did not. I allowed her to openly and freely answer without pretentious psychological lingo. Though she should make it her masters thesis or something. 😉

“Okay SO! I’ve experienced so many book hangovers, I should be attending book recovery twice a week! My most recent book hangover was when I finished The Selection Series. Now when I started this series I had NO interest in it and thought it was way too girly for my post apocalyptic, dystopian taste. I completely changed my opinion after reading the final installment “The One”. I tore through that book so fast and hard I felt dizzy at the last few pages! I was so sad when it ended I curled up on my bed (having not checked my phone in hours) and just sat. Thinking about every detail. I didn’t move for a solid hour. The next few days I had to go out of my way to not think about the book or the world it was set in. I eventually had to throw myself into another book to end the madness, which is what always happens. It’s my go-to strategy to end a hangover. Jumping into another book shimmy!! I’m still recovering from the Divergent Series book hangover… I’m not ready to talk about that yet. I’m talkin full on book comma! The struggle is alive and well.”

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Liv gets two pictures because I told her regardless of which one she prefer I use, I was going to use the picture of us dressed up as The Witches from Macbeth. We love literature so much, when ever we get the chance to dress up or make food to go with our presentations-we do. I’d also like to clarify, both of her parents are pastors. The girl has never had alcohol in her life! 😉

“I have had many book hangovers. I probably had my first hangover in 4th or 5th grade. I cannot for the life of me remember what book, but I remember it was about the Iditarod. I was sitting alone in a classroom being used as a storage room on top of a high stack of chairs. I bawled. I cried and whimpered, and died a little on the inside. And that is when I became a bookaholic. Not just an avid reader, but a full-blown bookaholic. I had to be drunk off of words, slurring the sentences, and tipsy while turning pages. I loved it. My most noteworthy hangover stupor was after “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak. The book was over 500 pages of hard reading, kind of like hard liquor, but worse. Because at the end of it you can’t breathe, you can’t think, you can’t pull yourself out of the pages. I am assuming that the ending of this book is like drinking liquor after beer…dreadful. I haven’t actually ever done that, but because the ending of this book was so miserable, I never will. I don’t drink, but I read. I am not sure which is worse.”

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Last but not least my friend Emily, the only one to not got o school with us. Her boyfriend Jake is Eric’s roommate. We’re best friends by association. It helps that she loves books just as much as I do.

“My first book hangover was after reading the Harry Potter series. When I was roughly 7 or 8, my mother read “The Sorcerer’s Stone” to me in a full British accent. I will never forget how she had perfected Hagrid’s Scottish drawl in every word. After that, I never had the drive to read the books on my own as a child. Maybe it was the nostalgia of my mom reading the first book to me, or my own lack of desire to continue the series, but when I was 20 I read the series again, after watching all of the movies. That was when I first experienced my first true “book hangover.” I could have been diagnosed clinically depressed when I shut the 7th book for the first time. Now, for anyone who is a die-hard HP fan, you’re not a true fan until you’ve read all of the books. The movies are brilliant, but they’re only a band-aid to what these books will do to you. This series has changed me. I have now consecutively read the books three times over, and will undoubtedly start them again later this year. When I read these books I become so engrossed in them that I feel as if I’m a third-person-viewer living at Hogwarts. Saying that I have an obsession with everything that is Harry Potter would be a grave understatement. When I finish the series I feel empty, as if all of my previous happiness has gone, and my only detox is to watch all of the movies. Harry Potter will always be a part of my life. ‘Always.'”

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And for my own.

My first book hangover was in 4th grade. I read “Tudor Rose” a book on Elizabeth I. It was part of the Royal Diary Series done by the same people who do the Dear America’s. At the end of each book is historical info on the princess portrayed in the book. As I read on about the life of Elizabeth I and her family I couldn’t contain myself. Not only did this give my a hangover that left me in an awe inspired stupor, it also gave me my passion. Unlike most of my book hangovers I dove head first into everything and anything I could find on the Tudors and Elizabeth I. I am now an English major with a concentration in English Literature. That book hangover set the course of my life and who I am today. Most of my hangovers are as I described in the very beginning of this post.

As you can see, Book Hangovers do exist. They happen all of the time. It is an affliction we all deal with in our own way. And, as many who have dependencies, addictions or are just straight up masochist, we continue to read. We search high and low in the hopes of finding books that rock our worlds. That leave us dazed, confused and hungry for more. We continue to torture ourselves with the pain, pleasure, depression and satisfaction of reading JUST. ONE. MORE. PAGE.

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Dracula- Bram Stoker

I do not like vampires. I do not watch Vampire Diaries, I detest the Twilight Series. I read them all AND have seen all of the movies. Still dislike them. I am totally not into that whole Sy-Fy thing. Pride and Prejudice Zombies still makes me shiver. I chalk this up to being way too into history for my own good. But I love Dracula. And I’m not just talking about Jonathan Rhys Meyers pretending to be Dracula, though I was quite upset when I found out it was canceled 😦

Dracula was written by Irish author Bram Stoker in 1897. Hollywood has put Dracula on the map as one of the most infamous villains ever. Sometimes he is tragic, sometimes he is all evil, sometimes you can’t even get through the movie because he is so cheesy it’s hilarious. His story has been taken and twisted and morph so many time and in so many ways- and yet so few people actually read Dracula. Not many people take the time to find out where the monster came from.

I took the time. It took me forever because I read more than one book at once but I took the time. Again, I’m soooo not into the whole vampire thing, but I have 3 copies of the book and I’m trying to make my way through the classics. Every English teacher should read as many classics as possible.

It took me a bit to get into. I have found that writing from that particular time period are a bit on the tough side for me to grasp. Jane Austen took me forever to get down. But I can read EME (Early Modern English) like I was born doing it my whole life.

I liked how it was written from so many point of views in different forms. Sometimes it was a letter, other times it was like reading a diary. It bounced around from character to character so that the reader can get a full understanding and view point of what is happening throughout the story. Some people have difficulty reading a book like that trying to keep up with the characters and who is speaking at what time- I LOVE IT! I find that it helps push the story along for me. When one narrative ends, I find myself pushing through the next trying to find out what happens next. As I’ve discussed previously, I get very attached to my characters-the books themselves really. While I am reading a book it is like I am walking through it with them. I walked with Mina as she traveled with Dracula, I felt the emotions of poor Lucy.

I could never read this book at night before I went to bed. For some people, like my mother, reading puts them to sleep. For some people, like me- it wakes me up. My heart gets pumping, my mind goes 100 miles a minute asking questions, “What is going to happen next?” “Who is she going to say yes too!?” “I hope this doesn’t happen, OH GOD IT’S HAPPENING,” “What would I do if I was in that situation?” I also hate scary things so this was a day time read only for me.

By the end of it, I was lost in the world of Dracula. I was sad, I was angry, I was happy, I was relieved, I felt all sorts of emotions. The book was nothing like the cheesy movies with Dracula walking around saying “I’m going to suck your blood.” It was nothing like the vampires from other works of literature, TV shows and movies. And I loved it. Every page. Every time I thought my heart would stop. Every time I wanted to throw the book. Every time the characters did exactly what I told them not too. It was fantastic. What is not fantastic is how Hollywood has destroyed the idea of the vampire and Dracula. Seriously, there should be a prison for people who destroy things like this.

Dracula has become one of my favorite classics, and I’m glad I have multiple copies.  I highly suggest reading it, it’s a great summer read. Many people THINK they know the story of Dracula. I challenge those of you reading this to read it for yourself, or reread it perhaps. Learn about the monster who inspired authors, producers, writers, and actors; even if they have bastardized his story a bit along the way.

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I love how the first edition of Dracula is bright yellow. It’s almost like Bram Stoker wanted people to think it was going to be a bright and cheery book. HAHAHAHA

PS- Search Google Images for “Dracula” the pictures are hilarious. So is looking up “Dracula Book,” seeing how the cover has changed over the decades, and how Dracula has had more than one makeover over the centuries.

The Lady of the Rivers-Philippa Gregory

My heart is so heavy. I have this thing. I totally get attached to characters. For a time, I become them. I am transported to their time and space. I wear their clothes, I feel their fears, triumphs, defeats and victories. Nobody creates a world more vivid than Philippa Gregory. This is the 3rd book in “The Cousin’s War” series based on the women of The War of the Roses that ravaged England’s lands for decades. The first two are “The White Queen,” and “The Red Queen.” The colors are representative of the York and Lancastrian lines, each with their own claim to the crown.

With The Lady of the Rivers, Gregory takes a bit of a step backwards timeline wise with the series. The main character of the book, Jacquetta, is actually first met in “The White Queen” as Elizabeth Woodville’s mother. This book begins with Jacquetta as a child living in the torn, war scarred country of France where she meets and becomes friendly with Joan of Arc. After Joan’s death, still a teenager, she is wed to the great English Lord John of Lancaster, a man in his mid 40s. Shockingly, Lord John does not want her as a wife in every sense of the word, to bear him heirs and run his household- no. Jacquetta has a gift- the gift of sight, of knowledge, and she is used by him in his quest for the elixir of life and Philosophers Stone.

Carried by Fortunes Wheel, Jacquetta finds herself widowed, remarried and in the thick of the crumbling English monarchy of King Henry VI and his French wife Margaret of Anjou.

It is her life that Gregory has plunged me once again. There is this terrible thing that happens when reading books based on history. YOU KNOW HOW IT ENDS! But at the same time, while reading, you are so engulfed in it all you forget, for the briefest of moments who prevails. The struggle is real.

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Though historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is very much so a historian that bases the lives of her subjects on her research. THIS is something that no Hunger Games or fictional novel can do. So many books try to create new worlds, new realities- but the ultimate reality is the lives and history of these women. I think that is what makes this series so impactful. Though Gregory gave these women voices, emotions and feelings that have been long lost in the shuffle of times and records in their male dominated world- this was their realty. War was the reality they lived everyday. Leaving their homes, watching their husbands and sons walk away to fight for something they didn’t know or understand. They struggled with decisions like who would be the safest to marry their sons and daughters too. They lived in a world of constant uncertainty. She gives the women who changed the course of history voices. She gives them their place and honor when they received none in life. Though these women lived in a world of wars and men, they ruled them all.

I began The Lady of the Rivers yesterday. I finished it about 20 minutes ago. Yes, I stayed up until 3am, but with 100 pages left I had to turn out the light. It’s a little over 400 pages and grabs your attention from the first page. As I said, this is technically the third book in the series but chronologically, it is the first. I did not have to wish for a next book to tell me what becomes of the family of Jacquetta because I already read it. The next two books are The King Maker’s Daughter and The White Princess. These are both waiting for me to read this afternoon. There is a third book just released this year that is after the end of The War of the Roses and dips into the reigns of both King Henry VII and King Henry VIII, The King’s Curse.

The great thing about these books is that they can all be read individually, or collectively. Each book is from a different perspective, and in most cases from either the point of view of a Lancastrian or York. I’m not quite sure how somebody could read ONE of these books and NOT want to read the rest of the books to find out what happens to everybody and how they all get there. I am an anomaly in that I am a freak about English history and know how it all works out in the end. But there are many that will read these books, unprepared to be launched into the twisted, unbelievable world of The Cousin’s War.

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For more Philippa Gregory books check out her website.

The White Queen was turned into a tv series on STARZ

Gregory provides family trees and maps of both England and France with battles and lines drawn, however I find it useful to print out copies of them to refer to while reading. I also just bought an encyclopedia of The Plantagenet’s which has been tremendous in helping me keep them all straight. Because people are usually referred too by both their titles as well as their real names, it can get confusing and overwhelming to keep it all straight.